Tag Archives: Future

“The Secret Powers of Time”: how to present effectively! And on the absense of future tense in Sicilian dialect…

Beside the content (which is interesting, he has a message), the way of presenting it is fabulous!!! I want to do something like that as well in the future!

An interesting tidbit of information. In the talk Professor Philip Zimbardo mention that in the Sicilian dialect (Sicily in the southern part of Italy) there is no verb tense for future! I checked quickly and what I got was a discussion in the Sicilian Wikipedia pointing to a web site that is now down. Being warned about the source, below you can find the translation in English, I modified some parts but over all Google Translate did a great job. Enjoy!
“THE FUTURE. In Sicilian dialect is missing the future tense of verbs and any statement about future action is constructed with present tense and the word becomes preceded by an adverb of time (eg: Duman vegnu, Tomorrow I come). Paul Messina explains: As you can understand (almost philosophically) this anomaly? Is the starting point for a link between language and culture, ways of being and thinking. This is the historical consciousness of Heideggerian being-here to produce a continuous reduction of the future to present, of ‘hic et nunc’ (‘here and now’) and this occurs having full possession of the past definitely conquered now. Sicilians are masters of time or, to put it in Tomasi di Lampedusa word, are Gods. But to be (or to be believed to be) masters of time can mean mentally dominate life and death, to be sure of its inviolability only in the present, one that appropriates the future time to prevent death, unavoidable shadow existence. What counts is the present. Being and becoming, in short, blend or merge themselves in the metaphysics anxiety”.

Getting things done … by your search engine: just give it your task list and it will take care of everything!

Google Task list One point made by Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo! Research, during his talk at the FBK retreat was “People don’t want to search, people want to get their tasks done”. Search engines in fact try to infer the intent behind the query text and the intent of the user is getting a certain task done. And they try to offer information able to satisfy that intent. This made me think a bit.

Well, if I was a search engine, I would try to get the tasks lists of all my users. This will really make my users satisfied (and there is no more need to try to infer the intent behind search queries)!
Not a very original thought anyway, in fact, the search engine Google already provided the functionality of keeping your tasks list in Gmail and I started trying it recently. What is terribly amazing is that now Google can work offline on my tasks list and try to get MY tasks done! Automatically!

Out of curiosity, I checked the task list I currently keep in Google and I quickly realized that this is possible, already possible!
Some tasks in my task list (and, yes, I need to update the already scary list of things Google knows about you) were:

  • find someone to subrent a room in my apartment
  • find someone able to install a music player in my car
  • find a bed, possibly an used one as gift
  • check new activity on the Livememories wiki
  • fill burocracy about my work in univ of bolzano
  • write a paper about recent work on trustlet and get it published
  • book a flight for xyz around date abc

Well, for some of these tasks Google can already go around and suggest me solutions, just by juxtaposing relevant bits of information; for some can even go further and really do the task, for example I can authorize Google to search the flight and buy it for me without any intervention on my part!

just Imagine you have in the specific task page (such as http://www.google.com/paolo.massa/tasks/book_a_flight/ ) a list of suggestions or of automatic actions Google can perform or has already performed!!! This is really feasible, especially because now this can be done offline, I don’t expect Google to get the task done in the very precise moment I type it (while instead I expect Google to give me back relevant information in the moment I type a query!).

Of course Google cannot move my car and install a music player in it, but when we will move in the Internet of things (another topic that was very central in most talks at the FBK retreat) this might even become possible.

So let us analyze the possible situation in which we are/will be: now I have a robot (a software artifact, the search engine Google or Yahoo! or another one) that is replacing me in doing my stuff! Well of course we might start asking ourselves “if I am no more needed for getting things done, what is my role on earth? And why in the hell (!) would any employer pay me for what I do or I could do?”. And of course, the very next step would be “ok, robots can do everything. What about humans?” and then I would end in the not-very-original-I-must-admit forecast of a future Matrix-like world. But maybe it is better if I stop here ;)

Now this gives totally new dimensions to “getting things done“!

FBK retreat 2009: the future of scientific and technological research

Very interesting retreat at my research institute FBK (Fondazione Bruno Kessler)! Here there is the program of the retreat. There are many uber-interesting invited speaker. Personally I’m really looking forward to listen Prabhakar Raghavan (Head of Yahoo! Research) – USA, Hendrik Berndt (VP & CTO of DoCoMo Eurolabs) – Germany/Japan, Ray Perrault (Director Artificial Intelligence Center – SRI) – USA and Wolfgang Wahlster (CEO and Scientific Director of DFKI) – Germany.
Let me know if you would like to join us!

FBK retreat

New directions for scientific and technological research: a comparison of diverse views
Start: 29/01/2009 – 00:30
End: 30/01/2009 – 19:00
Trento, Italy, January 29-30 2009
(for the schedule of January 28th, see moreover)
Sala Conferenze Ovest, FBK
Via Sommarive 18, Povo (TN), Italy

January 29th (in streaming da giovedi’ 29/01)
Welcome & Opening Welcome by Andrea Zanotti (president of FBK)
The FBK Research Programs
Andrea Simoni (Director Center for Materials and Microsystems – FBK)
Paolo Traverso (Director Center for Information Technology – FBK)

9.30-11.00 – Nano & Micro Technologies (1)
Chairs: Pierluigi Bellutti – Head of MTLab, FBK; Lorenzo Gonzo – Head of Smart Optical Sensors and Interfaces, FBK
Bruno Murari (Scientific Advisor ST Microelectronics) – Italy
Peter Seitz (Vice-President Nano-medicine, CSEM SA) – Switzerland

11.00-11.30 Coffee break

11.30-13.00 Future Internet (1)
Chairs: Massimo Zancanaro –Head of Intelligent Interfaces & Interaction, FBK; Luciano Serafini – Head of Data & Knowledge Management, FBK
Mark Maybury (Executive Director – MITRE) – USA
Klaus Tochtermann (Director Know-Center Graz) – Austria

13.00-14.30 Lunch

14.30-16.00 Nano & Micro Technologies (2)
Chairs: Alberto Lui – New Materials and Analytical Methods for Biosensors and Bioelectronics Group, FBK; Leandro Lorenzelli – BioMEMS Group, FBK
Pietro Siciliano (Resp. IMM CNR – Sezione di Lecce) – Italy
David Holden (CEA- Minatec) – France

16.30-18.00 Future Internet (2)
Chair: Marco Pistore – Head of Service Oriented Applications, FBK
Hendrik Berndt (VP & CTO of DoCoMo Eurolabs) – Germany/Japan
Roger Kilian-Kehr (Research Architekt, SAP Research Center CEC Karlsruhe)

January 30th (in streaming da venerdì 30/01)
9.00-10.30 2009 – The Year of Innovation – The Challenges for ICT (1)
Chair: Alessandro Cimatti – Head of Embedded Systems, FBK
João da Silva (Director of the Network & Communication DG-INFSO)
Malik Ghallab (CEO for Science and Technology – INRIA) – France

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

11.00-12.30 Future Internet (3)
Chairs: Marcello Federico & Bernardo Magnini — Heads of Human Language Technologies, FBK
Yuichi Matsushima (Vice President of NICT) – Japan
Prabhakar Raghavan (Head of Yahoo! Research) – USA

12.30-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Embedded Intelligence: Ambient Computing & Intelligent Interaction
Chair: Oliviero Stock – Senior Fellow, FBK

Ray Perrault (Director Artificial Intelligence Center – SRI) – USA
Wolfgang Wahlster (CEO and Scientific Director of DFKI) – Germany

15.30-16.00 Coffee break

16.00-17.30 2009 – The Year of Innovation – The Challenges for ICT (2)
Chair: Paolo Traverso, Director Center for Information Technology, FBK
Lutz Heuser (Vice President of SAP Research) – Germany
Dario Avallone (Director R&D Engineering) – Italy

17.30-19.00 Concluding Remarks – Moderatore: Michele Lanzinger (Direttore Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali)
Lorenzo Dellai – President of the Trentino Autonomous Province
Andrea Zanotti – President of FBK
Andrea Simoni – Director Center for Materials and Microsystems
Paolo Traverso – Director Center for Information Technology
Discussion & Remarks by the Invited Speakers

19.00-20.00 Aperitif

Sala Conferenze Ovest, FBK
Via Sommarive 18, Povo, Trento, Italy

PLEASE NOTE: the talks are in English and attendance is upon invitation

As far as the Center for Information Technology is concerned, two additional days are being added to the programme, as follows:

– The first part on Wednesday, Jan. 28, starting from 9 a.m. and dealing with the Trentino Research System
– The second part on Monday, Feb. 2, starting from 9.30 a. m. for FBK researchers only

January 28th (no streaming!)
9.00 – 9.30 Welcome & Introduction — Paolo Traverso Director of the Center for Information Technology, FBK

9.30 – 10.00 Francesco De Natale
Director of the Dipartimento di Ingegneria e Scienza dell’Informazione (DISI), University of Trento

10.00 – 10.30 Imrich Chlamtac
President of the CREATE-NET Research Consortium

10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break

11.00 – 11.30 Raffaele De Amicis
Director of the Center for Advanced Computer Graphics
Technologies (GraphiTech)

11.30 – 12.00 Corrado Priami
President & CEO of The Microsoft Research – University of Trento Centre for Computational and Systems Biology (CoSBi)

12.00 – 12.30 Remo Job
Dean of Facoltà di Scienze Cognitive, Università di Trento

12.30 – 13.00 Discussion & Concluding Remarks

The trust is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed, or quotes and shoulders

In the future everyone will be famous for 15 persons

(myself on the shoulder of giant Andy Warhol: In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes“)


The trust is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed

(myself on the shoulder of William Gibson: The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed)

or some quotes from Trust in Peers Trumps the “A-List,” Study Finds by Steve Rubel:

Mediapost reports that a new study from Pollara found that people who engage in social networks and communities put far more trust in friends and family who are online than in popular bloggers, or strangers with 10,000 MySpace “friends.”

Some 58% of opinion elites 35-64 in 18 countries said they trust “a person like me.”

The question of targeting super nodes vs. smaller groups is all coming down to trust. While the marketplace – both marketers and publishers – continue to focus on reach, they are missing the big picture. Trust is by far a more important metric, one that clearly rules when it comes to influence.

The baseline argument is the following.
In the previous era of mass-media, each one of us was “forced” to trust the few of us who had a voice. And this created the Britney Spearses and the Paris Hiltons.
In the current era of easy self web publishing, each of us can choose whom to trust among the many of us who have a voice. And be sure my friend the 15 persons peers I choose to trust are already (and will be even more) different from the 15 persons peers you choose to trust. No more Britnear Spearses in the future, but just your own one.
Simply put, trust is now distributed.

And yes, in case you are wondering, I do believe in the future each of us will stay on the shoulders of dwarves, thousands of dwarves instead of few giants.

Fact: the entire Internet could be served from Google machines

This is probably obvious to you but I discussed this with some friends recently and they seemed to not have considered the eventuality so I thought I might post it here as well.
Straight to the point: it is already technically possible for Google to host the entire Internet and serve it from their machines.

Google already offers an email service (2 Gigabytes of emails they mantain on their servers and serve it from their machines). Google already mantains a copy of (almost) the entire Web (and they serve it from their machines, through their Web cache service). While not all the people in the world at the moment use them, they surely can scale them to all the people of the world; in short they can host all the email boxes and all the Web sites and serve them from their machines.
Just imagine what will happen if tomorrow Google announces that you can register a domain for free with Google and can use their hosted services (hosted email, blog and web page). They can afford the cost of domain registration. Actually, if they are able to get all the domains in the world, they can even outrule and substitute the ICANN (the fact I agree to pay some organization for being in control of paolomassa.com means I agree with a social-technical convention, involving domain names and how they can be found in a decentralized system; social-technical conventions can be changed of course. But I’m digressing.)
95% of the people will prefer to have everything working and for free from Google instead of investing a lot of time and money in setting up servers, DNS, backups, replication, etc. There will be no more need for email servers or web servers, basically all the servers in Internet will be Google ones, our computers will just be dumb terminals able to run a Web browser (the free software Firefox probably). We will move from a network of computers connectig each other (decentralized) to a star topology (centralized) with all the dumb terminals connected to Google central server. Google will be able to even change HTTP since all the servers will be theirs. Actually there will be no more need for the protocols I studied at the University (SMTP, HTTP, FTP, GOPHER, NNTP): all emails will move from Google machines to other Google machines (so they will be able for instance to completely change the protocol, I consider spam a feature and not a bug of a decentralized system but, if you don’t, in this way Google will be able to stop spam as well), all web sites will be served by Google machines, the only protocol remaining us would be anything able to send data to our Web browser and it could be anything.

I’m not arguing that Google will do it soon or that it is in their best interest, now. But it might be and in few years there might even be more companies technically able to host (and take control) of the entire Internet. On a related note, it is interesting to mull over how much would be worth such a company, the recipient and holder of all the knowledge created by anyone in the world.
So would this be good for the world? Of course I think not, it will be the end of the world of ends and of innovation happening on the edges. And when there is no more concurrency and a single point of failure, it will be no more in Google’s interest to stand by their “don’t be evil” motto but they will have to stand by the interests of their shareholders and the governments which will easily hunt for information in one single place.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, what if you can have all the people of the world directly creating this information in your hard disks? This is technically possible today, will it happen? Time will tell.

The future as seen by Casaleggio

Very interesting video from Casaleggio Associati about the future. Casaleggio is a consultancy company that develops network strategies from Italy, but maybe you could spot this from the accent.
Just one quote: “Virtual life is the biggest market on the planet. Prometeus finances all the space missions to find new worlds for its customers: the terrestrial avatar.
Experience is the new reality.”
Check the video.

Question for myself: creating such a video is now possible for everyone but still takes a lot of time, so why a company would do it precisely? To show potential customers that they get it? To get some buzz and links? Just for fun? I guess the first one is prominent but maybe there is a mix of these. I do hope Casaleggio becomes the consultants of Italian Government for strategies for future, this would shake a bit the atmosphere here in Italy and would show that politicians have a vision that goes beyond 6 months, which currently does not seem the case.

Money as Debt

Money is money only because people think it is money, and hence accept it as money. In reality money does not exist, it is just a piece of paper or some bits stored somewhere. So, are there better systems to regulate humans social interactions? You bet there are!
For now just start thinking about the questions that emerge from the following video, would you?
Paul Grignon’s 47-minute animated presentation of “Money as Debt” tells in very simple and effective graphic terms what money is and how it is being created.

Robot walks, then demands legal rights … then the second renaissance?

First (1) look this video on Youtube

Then (2) consider this news on BBC that says Robots could one day demand the same citizen’s rights as humans, according to a study by the British government.

Then (3) it is finally the time to go to watch The Second Renaissance, one of the short anime films which form part of The Animatrix collection.

Then (4) it is time for reflecting and trying to understand where this world is going and what you want to do about it (do you start feeling the jack on the back of your head? I do).

Second Life source code now as Free Software!

Just yesterday I was watching the YouTube video in which Ethan Zuckerman argues with Charles Nesson about Second Life. Charles Nesson is William F. Weld Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and he started an Harvard course inside Second Life. Ethan contested the fact that Charles in this way is creating “Intellectual value” that is locked in a proprietary platform where he is not able to get it back, and that with his reputation is giving a lot of visibility to Second Life in exchange for nothing and urged Charles to embrace open source alternatives, such as OpenCroquet.
At the end of the video Charles committed sepukku and this is a pity because this was not needed … it is in fact news of today that Second Life released its source code under a GPL licence, hence making it Free Software. The title of the post on Second Life’s blog announcing the huge news is particularly appropriated as well “Embracing the Inevitable“.
So now we have this great Second Life world that is Free (as in Freedom), we will soon have Ryzom Free, we now just wait for World of WarCraft to not wait until they are desperate to embrace the inevitable, and Free their source code: the inevitable is that PlaneShift or some other MMORPG already released under GPL will make World of WarCraft desperate.
“May you live in interesting times”, well, are we not? Is there anyone out there able to forecast what will happen in 1 or 5 years of Second Life now that its code is liberated? I doubt it. We live in really interesting times.

UPDATE: thanks to a comment by Francesco, I now know that Ryzom.org offer to buy the source code of Ryzom and make it free was not accepted since there were bigger monetary offers. I guess they will have to embrace the inevitable as well, sooner or later. Sooner would have been better for everyone.

UPDATE #2: I blogged too quickly and too enthusiastically the news. The points made by Ethan in his post are totally correct: LindenLab just released the code of the client (in some sense hoping to outsource the development to the Free Software community, while they maintain the code of the server absolutely proprietary and hence I cannot run my SL universe (as Francesco notes as well in the comments). Anyway I still think it is a positive news. For example now that the client code is available it would be easier to start from scratch a compatible server on SourceForge (or am I wrong again?), anyway go read the points made by Ethan because they are much deeper and more interesting than mine!

It will be TransMedia

It will not be google, nor yahoo!, nor microsoft but Transmedia. Phew, interesting times these days, eh?
TransMedia Plots Death Of The Desktop in InformationWeek.
The Glide suite, due later this month, runs on the vendor’s own servers and is accessed through a browser. It includes applications for creating, sharing, and selling photos, music, video, and documents, as well as doing content management, calendaring, E-mail, and conferencing. Can TransMedia beat Microsoft and Google?
The software, disclosed in mid-October, is called Glide Effortless. It’s a set of 12 applications for content creation, communication, E-commerce, and sharing. The apps are Glide Photos, Glide Music, Glide Video, Glide Docs, Glide AllMedia, Glide Contacts, Glide Calendar, Glide Timeline (Glide’s search engine), Glide Mail, Glide Cast (audio, text, and video conferencing), Glide Share, and Glide Shops. Because the apps were developed simultaneously, they work in concert with elegance not evident in other loosely linked software programs like Apple’s consumer media applications or Microsoft Office.
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