Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 8, 2020

in rsslog •  7 months ago 

Intel's 17.3" foldable laptop; An argument that a market-based solution is needed for online data and privacy; An IT executive pleads guilty to wire fraud after being accused of running a fake business; Recent progress in understanding the physiology of memories; and a Steem post arguing for a space station around the moon


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First posted on my Steem blog: SteemIt, SteemPeak*, StemGeeks.

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  1. Intel just revealed a foldable laptop concept that features a massive, 17-inch OLED display inside - Click through for photos of Intel's new "Horseshoe Bend" foldable laptop. Unfolded, the screen is 17.3 inches. In it's folded configuration, the user can hold it like a book or position it like a laptop computer. In its straight configuration, it can be held vertically or propped on the ground horizontally using its kickstand. The device also has a detachable keyboard. The device was revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and is intended to show off the capabilities of the company's new Tiger Lake processors, so it may not become available as a consumer product any time soon.

    Here is a video from Intel's web site:

  2. Personal Data Is Valuable. Give Pricing Power to the People - This article argues that a new market is needed for personal data so that people can establish their own balance between the value of their data and their desire for privacy. It points out that some ideas along this line have already been discussed, including Gavin Newsome's plan to forcibly redistribute some data revenue or Jaron Lanier and Glen Weyl's call for collective bargaining and "data dignity" (Covered in Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for October 3, 2019.) This article goes further, arguing that each user has their own level of preference for data privacy, and an effective market needs to account for those individual needs and desires. It says that two fundamental elements are needed in order to shift the current, asymmetric balance of power to a more fair distribution of control. These are: (i) increased control over data privacy at the individual level; and (ii) An increase in data scarcity. This sort of personalized data management, it says, "will require four structural elements: personalized data management; the assignment of data ownership; a transaction infrastructure; and dynamic data pricing." Click through to read the details on each of those structural components. In conclusion, the article argues that the technologies that are required already exist, and a long slog is needed to wrest the one-sided control away from the big-tech silos that currently monopolize the value of online data.

  3. IT exec sets up fake biz, uses it to bill his bosses $6m for phantom gear, gets caught by Microsoft Word metadata - Hicham Kabbaj was an executive with purchasing authority for an unnamed "global Internet company" with a Manhattan headquarters. He recently pled guilty to wire-fraud charges and will be sentenced later in the year. His maximum sentence is 20 years, but his actual sentence is expected to be much less. According to court filings, he set up a shell Company, Interactive Systems, in 2015, which was basically just a name and a bank account. Over the next four years, Interactive Systems billed his employer for a variety of non-existent sales, including a firewall and 16 servers. When payment was received, Kabbaj would withdraw it. In order to avoid detection, prosecutors allege that Kabbaj omitted serial numbers or other identifying information from the invoices, but he ended up being caught due to metadata in four of the MS Word documents. As part of the settlement, Kabbaj agreed to return $6,051,453 to his now-former employer along with any proceeds from the theft, including homes in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and Hewitt, NJ. The employer was not identified, so it may be coincidental that there is a LinkedIn profile for one Hicham Kabbaj, who worked for Rakuten Marketing, a global online marketing outfit, in New York.

  4. Zeroing In on Memories - Scientists and philosophers have known since Ancient Greece that the brain is central to cognitive functioning, but the particular mechanism by which memories are retained has eluded discovery. As a result, neuroscientists during the 20th century worked to pin down the specific structures within the brain that are responsible for memories. A recent paper reveals that scientists have made some key advances towards confirming the engram theory during the last dozen years. Scientists have identified the engram as a set of neurons that fire together when a particular memory is recalled and pegged their location to the engram complex, which includes neurons from the hippocampus and the amygdala. They have also demonstrated that memories can be recalled by activating related and overlapping memories. Further, researchers have determined that when memories form, there is competition among neurons to be included in the new memory. Because the more excitable neurons generally win that competition, researchers conclude that excitability is important to memory formation. Other researchers have determined that plasticity is also important. Finally, researchers working with mice have determined that artificial memories can be formed by manipulating the neurons in the engram complex. In closing, the article notes that it's probably still to early to conclude that the engram theory has been confirmed, but confirmation seems to be getting close. -h/t RealClear Science

  5. STEEM Let's Put A Space Station Around The Moon! - This post contains an embedded youtube video by @answerswithjoe discussing the plans for space exploration around the moon. NASA's Artemis 3 project plans to land on the moon in 2024 and establish a permanent presence there. In order to accomplish this, a supply chain is needed for logistics. A key part of the plan for the supply chain is to launch a Lunar Orbital Platform, which will accomplish the transfer of astronauts from space to the moon. An orbiting space station would also make an ideal staging point for a mission to Mars because the vehicle could use the orbital velocity as a "sling shot" to speed its journey to Mars. The video also acknowledges that the idea might be made obsolete by the SpaceX StarShip and that a number of astronautic influencers are opposed to the idea.

    Here is the video (but click through and give @answerswithjoe an upvote):


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