Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Everything's spinning out of control!

Okay, that's not a statistical finding -- maybe things are no more out of control than usual. Regardless, my files are bursting with craziness. Such as:

Seismologists in Italy are on trial for manslaughter for failing to warn of a serious earthquake. Who believes seismologists can predict earthquakes? It's madness!

As is, IMO, the growing popularity of burning food (aka, biofuels). From a recent WSJ interview with Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestle:
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent estimate predicts that this year, for the first time, American farmers will harvest more corn for ethanol than for feed. In Europe some 50% of the rapeseed crop is going into biofuel production, according to Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe, while 'world-wide about 18% of sugar is being used for biofuel today.'"
Despite burning such big portions of the food supply, food prices spike. How can such things happen? If only the world made sense!

Maybe it does. Read the full article ... Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has much to say about the intersection of policies affecting energy, food, and water. Very interesting stuff.)

My authorial persona takes note that "Authors Guild sues universities over online books."
"Authors and authors' groups in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom sued the University of Michigan and four other universities Monday, seeking to stop the creation of online libraries made up of as many as 7 million copyright-protected books they say were scanned without authorization."
And still looking at publishing, are you ready for the onslaught of spam ebooks? Again from the WSJ, in "Cherish the Book Publishers—You'll Miss Them When They're Gone" (note: "slush pile" is industry-speak for unsolicited manuscripts):
"The e-book era promises us all the pleasure of wading through the slush pile ourselves, even as the pile grows exponentially. Much of that growth comes from eager literary hopefuls making earnest efforts. But spammers are also making their contribution to the teeming digital library. As Reuters recently reported, some unscrupulous self-publishers have begun creating books by the ream merely by grabbing a few pages of text from websites and dumping them into ultraquickie e-books. The authors of such faux tomes can knock out 10 or 20 a day. And even if only a handful of people make the mistake of downloading one of these "books," the spammer still makes enough pennies to keep at it."
How gross is that?

Next up: the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, aka IEEE (of which I am a longtime member), provides details about the recent security lapses at DigiNotar, the big Dutch certificate authority. The short form: the penetration is a bigger, deeper, more serious mess than first reported.  See "DigiNotar Certificate Authority Breach Crashes e-Government in the Netherlands." How scary is it to know that a certificate authority (a key element of all Internet security) couldn't be bothered to run commercial anti-virus software? And that such recklessness can downgrade a modern government to paper and faxes?

I've blogged about the state of artificial intelligence (for example, from 2008, see Trope-ing the light fantastic (AI)).

What progress have our successors made toward taking over the planet? Maybe not much, at least if the Turing test is valid as a standard for intelligence. See (again courtesy of IEEE)  "Chatbot Tries to Talk to Itself, Things Get Weird." Be sure to watch the video.

And that's enough of life, the digiverse, and everything for this week.


Erik said...

The more I here about serious organizations with serious data on their serious computers having lax security, the more plausible the plot from Independence Day seems to me.

It's possible that organizations like Anon that attack systems but in general don't do overwhelming damage or steal credit cards are beneficent in the long run. Like a vaccine they sort of prep us for the more dangerous attacks that might come.

Aurana Books said...

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Edward M. Lerner said...

It's a standard Blogger layout, with very minor tweaks. (And thanks for the kind words.)

- Ed