Online social networks have allowed people to easily stay in touch with large groups of friends, but the flip side has been well publicized. Some users have struggled over what to do when certain people — such as a boss or an ex-boyfriend — ask to be listed as a friend on their profile. [...] Now Moli, a recently launched social-networking site, aims to win over concerned users. President and COO Judy Balint says that the site is intended for a more mature audience than the teenagers targeted by many social-networking websites. Directed at users who are trying to balance personal and professional networks, Moli offers multiple profiles — with different privacy settings — within one account.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, February 11, 2008
The European Commission will propose tomorrow that all foreign travelers entering and leaving Europe, including U.S. citizens, should be fingerprinted. [...] The United States already requires that foreigners be fingerprinted and photographed before they enter the country. So does Japan. Now top European security officials want to follow suit, with travelers being fingerprinted and some also having their facial images stored in a Europe-wide database, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Washington Post.
Source: Ellen Nakashima and John Ward Anderson, Washington Post, February 12, 2008 (Free registration)
As the world gets smaller and more tightly connected, couples are increasingly moving apart. The most recent U.S. Census in 2006 showed that about 3.8 million Americans are in commuter marriages, a 30% increase since 2000. And one driver of that trend, says Gregory Guldner, director of the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, is the perception that technology reduces the emotional separation of distance.
Source: Forbes.com, February 6, 2008
To see what this future world would be like, a pilot project involving dozens of volunteers in the University of Washington’s computer science building provides the next step in social networking, wirelessly monitoring people and things in a closed environment. Beginning in March, volunteer students, engineers and staff will wear electronic tags on their clothing and belongings to sense their location every five seconds throughout much of the six-story building. The information will be saved to a database, published to Web pages and used in various custom tools. The project is one of the largest experiments looking at wireless tags in a social setting.
Source: Hannah Hickey, University of Washington News, February 12, 2008
British students aged 14 to 19 will have their school records permanently placed on an electronic database accessible to prospective employers. The project, called Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP), will launch in September. The record will include personal details and exam results and will remain with the pupil for life.
Source: Reuters, February 13, 2008
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has awarded Lockheed Martin a US$1 billion contract to build a next-generation biometrics-based identification system. The biometric collection system and database, which has raised concerns of privacy groups, would include imaging of irises, faces and other identifying characteristics, the FBI said in a news release late Tuesday. Lockheed Martin will design, develop, test and deploy the Next Generation Identification System over the 10-year life of the contract.
Source: Grant Gross, IDG News Service, February 13, 2008
The U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) today announced the grand challenges for engineering in the 21st century. A diverse committee of experts from around the world, convened at the request of the U.S. National Science Foundation, revealed 14 challenges that, if met, would improve how we live. “Tremendous advances in quality of life have come from improved technology in areas such as farming and manufacturing,” said committee member and Google co-founder Larry Page. “If we focus our effort on the important grand challenges of our age, we can hugely improve the future.”
[Note: I don't have room enough here to mention all these challenges. So please read this news release.]
Source: The National Academies news release, February 15, 2008