Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #216
May 25th, 2008

Researchers teach ‘Second Life’ avatar to think

Edd Hifeng barely merits a second glance in “Second Life.” A steel-gray robot with lanky limbs and linebacker shoulders, he looks like a typical avatar in the popular virtual world. But Edd is different. His actions are animated not by a person at a keyboard but by a computer. Edd is a creation of artificial intelligence, or AI, by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who endowed him with a limited ability to converse and reason.
Source: Michael Hill, The Associated Press, May 19, 2008

16% of US science teachers are creationists

Despite a court-ordered ban on the teaching of creationism in US schools, about one in eight high-school biology teachers still teach it as valid science, a survey reveals. And, although almost all teachers also taught evolution, those with less training in science — and especially evolutionary biology — tend to devote less class time to Darwinian principles.
Source: Bob Holmes, New Scientist, May 20, 2008

Government’s Cyber Security Plan Is Riddled With New Spying Programs

Major elements of the Bush administration’s proposed $17 billion “cyber security” initiative have little to do with protecting government networks, and a lot to do with spying, according to a budget report released by the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. The so-called National Cyber Security Initiative is also wrapped in unnecessary secrecy, and would spend billions on unproven, embryonic technology, and possibly illegal or ill-advised projects, according to the analysis.
Source: Ryan Singel, Wired News, May 15, 2008

YouTomb Keeps an Eye on YouTube’s Graveyard

Where do videos go when they “die” or are booted off YouTube for copyright infringement? Meet YouTomb. Created by a group of MIT students, the virtual video graveyard combs through Google’s data and archives information about clips that have been removed from YouTube.
Source: Jenna Wortham, Wired News, May 20, 2008

Don’t let cyberspite destroy your good name

You buy a television on eBay. When it arrives, you eagerly unwrap it, only to find it is badly scratched. You return it, and leave a negative comment about the seller on the site. The next day, you find the seller has retaliated by posting a nasty comment about you, branding you as a time-waster. Suddenly, no one wants to sell to you and your reputation is in tatters.
Source: New Scientist, May 21, 2008

Large companies paying workers to read employee e-mail

If you were thinking of using your work e-mail for job hunting or online dating, think twice. A new survey finds that 41 percent of large companies (those with 20,000 or more employees) are paying staffers to read or otherwise analyze the contents of employees’ outbound e-mail. In the study, which was commissioned by e-mail security provider Proofpoint and conducted by Forrester Research, 44 percent of the companies surveyed said they investigated an e-mail leak of confidential data in the past year and 26 percent said they fired an employee for violating e-mail policies.
Source: Elinor Mills, CNET’s News Blog, May 22, 2008

Beyond Blogs, on to Social Media

Three years ago our cover story showcased the phenomenon. A lot has changed since then.
[Note: This is a must-read article.]
Source: Stephen Baker and Heather Green, BusinessWeek Magazine, May 22, 2008

Housing bailout bill creates national fingerprint registry

The Senate housing bill approved by a committee this week was already drawing fire from fiscal conservatives and financially responsible homeowners opposed to bailing out housing speculators. […] Buried in the text of the revised legislation, approved by the Senate Banking Committee by a 19-2 vote this week, is a plan to create a new national fingerprint registry. It covers just about everyone involved in the mortgage business, including lenders, “loan originators,” and some real estate agents.
Source: Declan McCullagh, CNET’s The Iconoclast Blog, May 23, 2008


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