Author Archives: Steve Ruda

Now Is the Greatest Time to Be Alive

I’ve been off grid the last few months working on a few projects which I’ll talk about in future posts. But something caught my eye this last week which I wanted to share in its entirety.
Last week President Obama published an article in Wired magazine titled, “Now is the greatest time to be alive.”

What he wrote ignoring the political sentiment kind of sums up what I’m trying to propel here in my blog, I feel obligated to share what he wrote, as it’s superbly written.

I find it refreshing and inspiring to have one of our great world leaders who understands and embraces science and technology express his views in such a noble manner.

 

“Now Is the Greatest Time to Be Alive”President Obama
By President Obama

We are far better equipped to take on the challenges we face than ever before. I know that might sound at odds with what we see and hear these days in the cacophony of cable news and social media. But the next time you’re bombarded with over-the-top claims about how our country is doomed or the world is coming apart at the seams, brush off the cynics and fear mongers.

Because the truth is, if you had to choose any time in the course of human history to be alive, you’d choose this one. Right here in America, right now.

Let’s start with the big picture. By almost every measure, this country is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, 30 years ago, or even eight years ago. Leave aside the sepia tones of the 1950s, a time when women, minorities, and people with disabilities were shut out of huge parts of American life. Just since 1983, when I finished college, things like crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, and poverty rates are all down.

Life expectancy is up. The share of Americans with a college education is up too. Tens of millions of Americans recently gained the security of health insurance. Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks to lead our businesses and communities. Women are a larger part of our workforce and are earning more money. Once-quiet factories are alive again, with assembly lines churning out the components of a clean-energy age.

And just as America has gotten better, so has the world. More countries know democracy. More kids are going to school. A smaller share of humans know chronic hunger or live in extreme poverty. In nearly two-dozen countries—including our own—people now have the freedom to marry whomever they love. And last year the nations of the world joined together to forge the most comprehensive agreement to battle climate change in human history.”

This kind of progress hasn’t happened on its own. It happened because people organized and voted for better prospects; because leaders enacted smart, forward-looking policies; because people’s perspectives opened up, and with them, societies did too.

But this progress also happened because we scienced the heck out of our challenges. Science is how we were able to combat acid rain and the AIDS epidemic. Technology is what allowed us to communicate across oceans and empathize with one another when a wall came down in Berlin or a TV personality came out. Without Norman Borlaug’s wheat, we could not feed the world’s hungry. Without Grace Hopper’s code, we might still be analyzing data with pencil and paper.

That’s one reason why I’m so optimistic about the future: the constant churn of scientific progress. Think about the changes we’ve seen just during my presidency. When I came into office, I broke new ground by pecking away at a BlackBerry. Today I read my briefings on an iPad and explore national parks through a virtual-reality headset. Who knows what kind of changes are in store for our next president and the ones who follow?

Because the truth is, while we’ve made great progress, there’s no shortage of challenges ahead: Climate change. Economic inequality. Cybersecurity. Terrorism and gun violence. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Just as in the past, to clear these hurdles we’re going to need everyone—policy makers and community leaders, teachers and workers and grassroots activists, presidents and soon-to-be-former presidents.

And to accelerate that change, we need science. We need researchers and academics and engineers; programmers, surgeons, and botanists. And most important, we need not only the folks at MIT or Stanford or the NIH but also the mom in West Virginia tinkering with a 3-D printer, the girl on the South Side of Chicago learning to code, the dreamer in San Antonio seeking investors for his new app, the dad in North Dakota learning new skills so he can help lead the green revolution.

That’s how we will overcome the challenges we face: by unleashing the power of all of us for all of us. Not just for those of us who are fortunate, but for everybody. That means creating not just a quicker way to deliver takeout downtown but also a system that distributes excess produce to communities where too many kids go to bed hungry. Not just inventing a service that fills your car with gas but also creating cars that don’t need fossil fuels at all. Not just making our social networks more fun for sharing memes but also harnessing their power to counter terrorist ideologies and online hate speech.

The point is: we need today’s big thinkers thinking big. Think like you did when you were watching Star Trek or Star Wars or Inspector Gadget. Think like the kids I meet every year at the White House Science Fair. We started this event in 2010 with a simple premise: We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated but the winner of the science fair.

We must continue to nurture our children’s curiosity. We must keep funding scientific, technological, and medical research. And above all, we must embrace that quintessentially American compulsion to race for new frontiers and push the boundaries of what’s possible. If we do, I’m hopeful that tomorrow’s Americans will be able to look back at what we did—the diseases we conquered, the social problems we solved, the planet we protected for them—and when they see all that, they’ll plainly see that theirs is the best time to be alive. And then they’ll take a page from our book and write the next great chapter in our American story, emboldened to keep going where no one has gone before.

 

To the next

 

Steve

Over a Billion Miles – A Journeys End for Juno

I’ve been travelling a lot this past few months hence the radio silence. But one radio event that has come into view albeit on a more cosmic scale is the latest news that Juno NASA’s Jupiter mission probe is entering its last phase of an extremely long journey.  So I’d thought I’d dedicate this next post to a subject that is close to the title of my blog and draw on the analogy this brings.

We can only wonder at the immense feat this has accomplished.

 

Over half a solar system away, NASA’s $Billion Juno space probe is getting ready to fire its breaking rockets in a final push to enter Jupiter’s orbit on a day that has become popular for spaceflight landmarks — the 4th of July. Juno’s five-year, nearly 2 billion mile journey is expected to come to an end just like other missions that have shared special events on America’s Independence Day, like the touchdown of the Mars Pathfinder in 1997 and a comet collision as part of the Deep Impact mission in 2013.
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The Juno mission is designed to peer beneath Jupiter’s thick clouds and to see what’s inside. That, in turn, may yield clues to how our entire solar system came to be. “It formed first, so its formation, its gravity, will have affected the other planets as they formed,” Juno Project Scientist Gary Levin told USA TODAY. This is not NASA’s first visit to Jupiter. Besides several flyby missions, the Galileo spacecraft studied Jupiter and its moons from 1995 until 2003. But Galileo avoided getting too close to Jupiter’s intense, electronics-frying radiation. Juno’s mission is focused entirely on Jupiter itself — no moons – and takes a much more dangerous approach. The mission’s vicinity will allow Juno to measure Jupiter’s gravity, magnetic field, and microwaves, which scientists can use to determine its composition.
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One of the most intriguing questions is whether Jupiter is entirely gas or has a solid core deep in its center.“Right now our best theorists think that deep inside Jupiter … is this dense core somewhere between three and twenty times the mass of earth.
We have no direct evidence at all,” says Levin. Juno’s gravity readings should help confirm or refute that theory. Juno’s measurements should also allow scientists to estimate the amount of water on Jupiter and shed new light on how the planet was formed. “The water all by itself will tell us a lot about those theories of formation because if it formed from clumps of ice you’re going get a different amount of water than if it formed from the same cloud of dust that formed the sun,” Levin says.Although Juno is the second craft to orbit Jupiter, its design is quite different from the earlier one. For one, to address the dangers of dipping inside the radiation belts, the engineers built a titanium vault to shield the spacecraft’s electronics. 
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Juno’s flight plan will take it though a complex pattern of elliptical orbits that dive beneath the belts, but quickly reemerge, limiting the exposure to once every two weeks.Another mission first is Juno’s massive solar panels. Jupiter’s distance from the sun—nearly five times that of earth—means Juno only receives a small fraction of the solar energy available to Earth satellites. Engineers were forced to build huge panels to capture enough energy to deliver what is still a modest amount of power. Power being the operative word as the craft has to slow down from travelling 168,000 mph to close to Mach 2.
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Imagine experiencing the breaking G force on that ..at our earths gravity level. Beyond comprehension!!!! As stateside people get ready to celebrate with their pyrotechnics maybe the best fireworks this 4th of July will be in Jupiters orbit, 365 million miles away. But all you space buffs out there will have to be patient. As all the images and footage from Junos’ cameras will take some time to reach us here on planet Earth. For one I’ll be looking forward to seeing Jupiters Aurora’s in all their glory. I wonder how they compare to the lightshow so evident in our own Northern Hemisphere.

To all you reaching for the stars and fulfilling your life’s potential.

To the next

Steve

SuperComputers Learn Deeper

The NVIDIA DGX-1 is a supercomputer that’s designed especially for deep learning. The “turnkey system” has GPU accelerators that can deliver the equivalent throughput of 250 x86 servers, plus an array of deep learning software, development tools and hardware. All together, the system can deliver “12X faster training than four-way NVIDIA Maxwell architecture-based solutions from just one year ago,” according to a NVIDIA press release.

circuit-board-brain-background-22720244

“Artificial Intelligence is the most far-reaching technological advancement in our lifetime,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO and co-founder of NVIDIA. “It changes every industry, every company, everything. It will open up markets to benefit everyone. Data scientists and AI researchers today spend far too much time on home-brewed high performance computing solutions. The DGX-1 is easy to deploy and was created for one purpose: to unlock the powers of superhuman capabilities and apply them to problems that were once unsolvable.”

A new class of intelligent machines will be borne that will learn, see and perceive the world as humans do. It delivers unprecedented levels of computing power to drive next-generation AI applications, allowing researchers to dramatically reduce the time to train larger, more sophisticated deep neural networks.

“Microsoft is developing super deep neural networks that are more than 1,000 layers,” said Xuedong Huang, chief speech scientist at Microsoft Research. “NVIDIA Tesla P100’s impressive horsepower will enable Microsoft’s CNTK to accelerate AI breakthroughs.”

As I mentioned in my first post of the year 2016 will be the year of AI.

To your success

Steve

 

Cars Will Think for Themselves

In a rare move, the world’s 20 largest automakers have come together and agreed to make AEB – (emergency braking) technology standard on all new cars they produce by September 1, 2022.

2013-Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-2

The system varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it’s typically built around a camera, a laser, or a radar that’s discreetly mounted either behind the rear-view mirror or somewhere on the front fascia, as pictured above on a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It permanently scopes out the road ahead and warns the driver if it senses that a collision with another car is imminent, and it automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn’t react in time.

The companies that signed the agreement represent 99 percent of the new car market in the United States alone. The list of participants includes BMW, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, the Volkswagen Group, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Jaguar-Land Rover, Fiat-Chrysler, Volvo, Tesla, Subaru, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Mazda. The broad list ensures that consumers will benefit from AEB regardless of whether they spend $16,000 on a Nissan or $160,000 on a Porsche.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says this single move has the potential to reduce rear-end collisions in the U.S. by 40 percent. It’s also an important precedent that paves the way for car manufacturers to agree on standards for autonomous features in their vehicles without being prodded by their incumbent  governments.

Sleepy drivers take note !

To your success.

 

Steve

Elon Musk – Can summon his car!

 

Having just returned from Elon’s home country in South Africa; I understand where he is coming from in terms of making our roads safer. Driving over there was erratic to say the least. ” Talk about being on your toes”

Tesla Model S and Model X owners recently got a software update introducing Summon, a feature that enables the cars to park themselves. With this release, CEO Elon Musk made a bold prediction: in 2018, this feature will work anywhere a Tesla can drive.

This is a glimpse into the (very near) future of car ownership, courtesy of Tesla: Your car will “…eventually be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way. It will synchronise with your calendar to know exactly when to arrive.”

With the update, Musk also made a bold statement about the Model S. “It is probably better than human at this point in highway driving.” He qualified that by saying, “It’s certainly better than human at staying in the center of the lane [and] if it isn’t better than human yet, it will be in the coming months.”

To us all driving safer on the highways

Steve

Nanobots Will Keep You Healthy

January is always the month for starting your New Year resolutions, Exercise ..no doubt being one of them. But what about the mental determination in keeping that body healthy and staying away from the Bagels & Doughnuts…..

……Ever thought that tech could  assist your new held desires?

Well… in the not too distant future what if you could install nanobots into your blood system to automatically and autonomously clear your arteries, thereby preventing heart disease with an army of tiny groups of magnetically charged particles that band together to break up clogged vessels…Imagine that.? An international team of researchers from the U.S., South Korea and Switzerland are already collaborating on this very task, and this year, they’ll begin trials on mice.

The nanorobot molecules will be able to deliver drugs to soften clogged arteries, then drill in to break up blockages. An MRI machine serves as the command and control center, as well as the power source for the robots; the robots are controlled by harnessing the power of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the tunnel-like machines more commonly used for X-ray imaging in hospitals. Working with the nanobots, they both steer and observe the magnetically charged bots as they navigate their way around inside the body; blasting unwanted clogs in the canals. If all goes well, human trials will commence by 2019.

As powerful computing capabilities continue to dematerialize and demonetize, it won’t be long until we have an army of robot surgeons inside our bodies, detecting cancers and unblocking arteries keeping us healthy and extending the human life cycle .

One to ponder over.

To your health

Steve

2016 – The Year of AI

Well the long festive season is over and I’m back at my desk  after a well deserved break and contemplating this New Year with renewed energy, vigour and excitement. This is going to be a great year for ideas and making new connections and sharing common visions to discover your purpose. Which leads me onto my first topic of the season and one which is going to make a lot of ripples in knowledge based industries.

Microsoft has hailed 2016 the “Year of AI,” according to its annual trend list. Microsoft asked 16 members of its technology and research team to forecast the biggest breakthroughs for 2016, and AI was the area generating the most excitement. Virtual assistants, conversation assistants, AI-enabled user interfaces and customer service AIs were some of the user cases described.

The tech giants see this era as an important step to  focus on artificial intelligence, and they’re predicting major breakthroughs in 2016 — we shall see more evidence of this technology’s rapid advancement from deceptive to disruptive growth phases as the year progresses..

In 2015, artificial intelligence went mainstream. Major tech companies including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter made huge in roads into AI, almost all of technology research company predictions included AI, and declared that AI-driven technologies were the next big disruptor to enterprise software.  This makes it likely that in 2016, new inventions will increasingly come to market from companies discovering new ways to apply this wonderful technology versus building it. With game changers now having access to cost effective quality AI platforms to create new products, we’ll also likely see an explosion in new startups using AI.

Smart machines will assist employees being more productive, not replace them. Analytics industry leader, Tom Davenport, predicted that “smart leaders will realize that augmentation—combining smart humans with smart machines—is a better strategy than automation.”

Business leaders will be given the choice to use these intelligent vehicles so that AI sourced information has the option to present solutions and explain how they arrive at their answers to common problems and allow better, more efficient decisions be made as part of a companies growth.

AI-powered applications will start to infiltrate companies other than technology firms. Employees, teams and entire departments will champion process re-engineering efforts with these intelligent systems whether they realize it or not. As each individual app eliminates a task, employees will automate many of the mundane parts of their jobs and assemble their own stack of AI-powered apps. Teammates eager to be  competitive will follow, along with team managers who are looking to execute on cost-cutting efforts.

With innovation progressing rapidly within large organizations in sectors such as retail, finance and pharmaceutical will focus even more efforts on remaining competitive and discovering the next big thing by forming innovation hubs. Innovation laboratories have existed for some time, but in 2016, we’ll begin to see more resources devoted to innovation  and more technologies discovered in these think tanks actually implemented across different company functions and business lines.

2016 will be a big year for AI. But what is even more significant, 2016 will bring about a major shift in the perception of AI. It will cease to be an intimidating, hypothetical set of notions and theories and will be better understood and accepted as more people realize the advantages of AI to supplement what we do to make our lives even more rewarding.

To your Success in 2016

Steve

100 Years of Age – Will be the new 60

As Technology has gathered pace this last 20 years ….Do you ever stop to consider that it’s kinda weird that we can now order a take away from our mobiles and yet no one can figure out how to stop (or at least reduce) the inevitable march towards death? Well, you’re not alone.

Science has been trying to figure out this whole ageing thing for a long time now, and a new development just could be one of those landmark moments in science history. According to recent reports, a new anti-ageing drug is going to be tested on human subjects starting next year. The potential result of this could mean that we, human beings, could extend our life spans to 120 years of age and be in good health to the very end.

The drug in question is a widely used diabetes pill called Metformin and costs mere pennies to make. Metformin helps to increase oxygen flow on a cellular level, thereby slowing the necessary cell divisions that keep our bodies both functioning correctly but ultimately lead to aging.

Belgian researchers have tested the drug on roundworms, and have had positive results so the next step is to do a human trial.

“I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable,” says ageing expert Professor Gordon Lithgow.

“But there is every reason to believe it’s possible. The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans.”

Imagine that… 100 will be truly the new 60 . Human longevity will be the new buzzword.

To your good health, living longer and immortal insight.

Steve

Weed Free Soil – A Gardeners Paradise

This Weed-Killing Robot Makes Herbicides Obsolete

The Bosch BoniRob is a LIDAR-enabled robot that identifies weeds you don’t want and squashes them into the ground with impressive force. It can run for up to 24 hours at once, killing about two weeds a second.

According to Bosch, the robot is about the size of a small vehicle, and uses the same type of laser-radar vision system that Google’s self-driving cars use to navigate the world. BoniRob is programmed by being shown pictures of leaves from plants farmers want to harvest and  differentiates them from weeds. Using machine learning—a form of artificial intelligence that allows it to make decisions based on what it’s been shown—it applies its own information to what it sees when it’s in the field, stamping down only on the weeds it’s been asked to eliminate. BoniRob could potentially rid farms of the need to use herbicides or other weed killers on crops, which have been seen as potentially harmful to humans.

Machine learning systems get better with more information, so with each new weed or plant it sees, BoniRob refines its interpretation of what each of them are, getting more advanced at doing its job each time. In tests on carrot patches, BoniRob stamped out about 90% of weeds, according to “Popular Science”.
BoniRob is currently being tested on real farmland, and IEEE Spectrum says that it can run autonomously for about a whole day before it runs out of fuel. Bosch intends to rent or sell the robot to farmers looking to cut down on labour costs. According to the company, farmers today can harvest about 3-4 times what they could from the same amount of land in the 1950s, and as our population continues to increase, we’ll have to find new ways to keep growing crops efficiently and safely.

This self-driven robot shows how machine learning and sensor technology can create better, more powerful agriculture robots. One day, robots like this one will eradicate the need for herbicides and pesticides.

Imagine a  future with an army of self-driving BoniRobs could be all that’s needed to harvest our fields. Once self-driving lorries can bring the food to stores, and self-driving robots can stack it on supermarket shelves, just like in an Amazon warehouse hub; we’ll be able to have a completely self-driven robot farm-to-table meal. Future foody hipsters will be in heaven .

To your healthy future.

 

Steve

 

Harvesting Energy from our Oceans

Energy harvesting from our surroundings has now taken on another leap forward from what is a limitless supply from our oceans. For all you sun worshippers out there living near the coast; in the not too distant future you may have your household electricity being supplied by clever power stations that extract the energy stored from your local sun bathed surf.

Hawaii’s new OTEC power plant harvests energy stored in warm ocean water;

The OTEC plant cost $5 million to build and is the world’s largest power plant using this renewable and clean energy source. The project was funded and developed through a jont venture between Hawaii’s Makai Ocean Engineering, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) at the University of Hawaii.

It’s new technology enables  thermal energy using the temperature differential between warm surface water and deep sea cold water to turn a turbine that is used to generate electricity. As it relies on surface heating from sunlight, the supply of ocean thermal energy is practically limitless, especially in sub tropical areas where the ocean’s sea water warms up rapidly. Similar to a fossil fuel plant, the OTEC system provides this energy in a steady supply that can be notched up or scaled back quickly in response to grid demand.

 

Whilst the inital investment to get this  innovation off the ground seems small in comparison to traditional grid stations Makai still face financial hurdles. They plan to develop a site in Japan and then hopefully the collective interest will enable further expansion on what is poised to be the next must have technology for clean renewable energy.

A fantastic business which could significantly reduce our fossil fuel emissions around the globe. And one topic I’d like to discuss in our forum.

 

To the next

 

Steve