Inequality in nature and society
Marten Scheffer, Bas van Bavel, Ingrid A. van de Leemput, Egbert H. van Nes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2017/12/25
Something to think about for the holidays. The authors identify "striking similarities between patterns of inequality between species abundances in nature and wealth in society." Then, in a kicker, they "demonstrate that in the absence of equalizing forces, such large inequality will arise from chance alone." The only way to respond to this is through some sort of regulation; in the forest, this might occur through natural factors, but in society, unless there is some sort of regulation, the inevitable result is massive inequality. The authors note, "this does not imply that wealth inequality is 'natural.' Indeed, in nature, the amount of resources held by individuals (e.g., territory size) is typically quite equal within a species." It's just that as society grows it becomes more difficult to scale regulations. And lest you think there's no real problem, note that "Excessive concentration of wealth is widely thought to hamper economic growth, concentrate power in the hands of a small elite, and increase the chance of social unrest and political instability."
This interesting look back on what Cisco was up to in 2017 is also a look forward for many of us. It's just a listicle, sadly; the short items just beg for links to longer articles. There's encrypted traffic analytics, whihc identifies malware in encrypted traffic without violating privacy, there's Cisco's cloud deal with Google, there's a hyperconvergence infrastructure, and more along the same lines.
In Nova Scotia an agreement has been reached that "would allow people without teaching degrees to work as substitute teachers in the region’s largest board." Obviously this is far from ideal, and it sounds like the measure was adopted very reluctantly. But it also points to the weakness of the traditional model of education in developing regions: it is expensive, and it requires qualified people. Sometimes, this is not possible. What then? Sadly, this column offers no real solution to the problem. But I can say that bitter contract disputes and legislated working conditions don't help. Not at all.
This is not a product but a vision of a product. In a nutshell: it's paper, but where every scrap of paper has the capabilities of a computer. The idea is to allow us to create large surfaces (like the surface of a table) where we collaborate using these scraps. The system also uses clay and tokens and toy cars, all interacting with the paper. The creators are describing it as a 50-year project. Here's the research agenda. It's neat idea and I like the concept, though the videos still seem a bit opaque to me. I hope it's successful. Via Tom Woodward.
Jenny Mackness summarizes some of the recent discussion around the idea of a 'pedagogy of harmony'. She links to Kevin Hodgson's video of a 'found poem' from Laura Ritchie's post (definitely required viewing). Harmony doesn't seem to be enough, she suggests. "'Don’t we need dissonance to be able to recognise harmony?’ and in terms of pedagogy ‘Don’t we need dissonance to maintain interest and attention?'" And she also asks, ‘Can one person’s harmony be another person’s dissonance?’ All true, of course. But all - in my view - part of the concept of harmony. In a separate Google Plus post I explain some of my thinking behind the concept (why Google Plus? Too shot for a blog post, too long for Twitter/Mastodon).
Tutanota is a fully encrypted email service. According to the website, "In the future Tutanota will be our replacement for Gmail with a calendar, notes, cloud storage - everything encrypted by default!" The service is free with one gigabyte of storage with plans for more. It's open source (GPL v3) and available on GitHub.
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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: email@example.comThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.