Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where have all the flowers gone?

Yep, this site has been mothballed but while you're here, the feed which lives on in real-time is worth bookmarking the site for. At least I think so. There are some interesting pickings in the archives too.

I am now posting my miscellaneous musings on my Blogversity Blog. Perhaps I'll see you there.

In the meantime, for your enjoyment...

Thank you for visiting. Have a nice day.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Computerized Gods - J. Weizenbaum Ph.D. | Rational Vedanta

As many have observed, modern science has become a religion, at least for Western man. Like other religions, it has a priesthood, roughly organized on hierarchical lines. It has temples, shrines, and rituals and it has a body of canons. And. like other religions, it has its own mythology. One myth in particular states that if, say, by experiment a scientific theory is confronted in reality with a single contradiction, one piece of discontinuing evidence, then that theory is automatically set aside and a new theory that takes the contradiction into account is adopted. This is not the way science actually works.

In fact, some people have the same type of very deep faith in modern science that others do in their respective religions. This faith in science, grounded in its own dogma, leads to a defense of scientific theories far beyond the time any disconfirming evidence is unearthed. Moreover, disconfirming evidence is generally not incorporated into the body of science in an open-minded way but by an elaboration of the already existing edifice (as, for example, by adding epicycles) and generally in a way in which the resulting structure of science and its procedures excludes the possibility of putting the enterprise itself in jeopardy. In other words, modem science has made itself immune to falsification in any terms the true believer will admit into argument.

Perhaps modern science's most devastating effect is that it leads its believers to think it to be the only legitimate source of knowledge about the world. Being a high priest, if not a bishop, in the cathedral of modern science— my university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology —I can testify that a great many of what we sometimes like to call "the MIT family," faculty and students, believe that there is indeed no legitimate source of knowledge about the world other than modern science. This is as mistaken a belief as the belief that one cannot gain legitimate knowledge from anything other than religion. Both are equally false.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kenya's ambitions for an outsourced future | BBC News

The sleek, glass building on the edge of Nairobi National park belongs to Horizon Contact Centers, one of a handful of emerging Kenyan firms that hope to grab a large slice of the global outsourcing market and establish the country as a leading provider of the call centres and back offices of the world.

Video Games Modifying Behavior Towards Good | Adam Penenberg: Fast Company

If anything qualifies as Twitter bait, it would be my latest feature on neuroeconomist Dr. Paul Zak in the July issue of Fast Company. By ginning up a special experiment for me, Zak learned that social networking (like what you do on Twitter) triggers the release of a generosity-trust chemical in our brains called oxytocin (A.K.A. "the cuddle hormone"). After the story's publication, I wondered if any companies were purposely designing products to modify users behavior and heard about Ayogo, a Vancouver-based games maker. As Ayogo's founder, Michael Fergusson, put it, the company "develops casual social games that are deployed on the web (in various locations) and on smartphones. We build games that are purely for entertainment, working with some of the biggest and most successful gaming companies in the world, and build what you might call 'serious' games that are intended to have a positive social impact." Fergusson was gracious enough to answer some questions.

New Rules for Online Living | Robert Strohmeyer, PCWorld

The technologies that drive our world have become increasingly social, calling for a new set of rules and customs to govern everyday interactions. Here are 25 essential guidelines for life in the social media age.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Social Engineering Fundamentals, Part I: Hacker Tactics - Symantec

Most articles I’ve read on the topic of social engineering begin with some sort of definition like “the art and science of getting people to comply to your wishes” (Bernz 2), “an outside hacker’s use of psychological tricks on legitimate users of a computer system, in order to obtain information he needs to gain access to the system” (Palumbo), or “getting needed information (for example, a password) from a person rather than breaking into a system” (Berg). In reality, social engineering can be any and all of these things, depending upon where you sit. The one thing that everyone seems to agree upon is that social engineering is generally a hacker’s clever manipulation of the natural human tendency to trust. The hacker’s goal is to obtain information that will allow him/her to gain unauthorized access to a valued system and the information that resides on that system.

Security is all about trust. Trust in protection and authenticity. Generally agreed upon as the weakest link in the security chain, the natural human willingness to accept someone at his or her word leaves many of us vulnerable to attack. Many experienced security experts emphasize this fact. No matter how many articles are published about network holes, patches, and firewalls, we can only reduce the threat so much... and then it’s up to Maggie in accounting or her friend, Will, dialing in from a remote site, to keep the corporate network secured.