>The People I meet on the Street « Streetphotography's Weblog


So I’m in Boston, had cause to visit Borders on Washington, and I hear someone say: Oy Vay…… Same ol same ol… I look to my left and I see this man walking alongside. For those who may not know, Oy Vay is a lovely Jewish expression that probably translates to OMG inflicted with an element of surprise!!! ( I have lived and heard and learnt this, Already!!) Same old same old thing!! This wad his reaction to people flicking though magazines, browsing.
We immediately get talking, jokes, politics, economy, business opportunities, marriage, divorce, money, Israel, palestinians, our own COA’s ( certificates of origin ), Fashion ( he boater that the $500 Jacket he was wearing was bought at Filene’s for Much less, and I won’t mention how much) and Jackie Mason whom I said he reminds me off ( by which time my daughter who lives in FL rejoins us with a CD in her hand) and we’re already taking about nice husbands!!! Jackie Mason he cried!!! Nahhhh he said! I don’t like him!! He’s jokes are too much!! Too Jewish I asked!! I don’t know he replied…..too much!! He was a rabbi did you know!!! Yes I said. In fact I met in in NYC and tool his picture! And what’s your name, I asked?? Oiving!!! OiVing i said!! If ain’t that a give away he laughed!!! It’s spelt I R V I N G! Godda go. My 10 minute friend! The people I meet on the street!!

This entry was posted on November 12, 2010 at 11:39 pm and is filed under Art, Boston MA, Fashion, Photography, Street, Street Fashion, Street Photography, TIMES, TV, digital, image democracy, portrait, streetphotography with tags , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

>Tweetbomb – A Tweet To Shake The World | Singularity Hub


A simple message, less than 140 characters, is sent out to followers around the world and within hours, perhaps minutes,  more than 100 million people have been mobilized to act.  The message might instruct those who read it to look at a certain website, protest at a designated time and place, or perform any number of other acts, promoting an agenda or cause whose intentions may be either benign or downright evil.  But whatever the message, whatever its agenda or intentions, the message has been sent and the world is shaken by its power.  A tweetbomb.  That is what this message is called.  Although we haven’t seen one yet, you better believe it is coming, and it is coming soon.  Welcome to the era of Twitter, an era of mass communication where a single individual or institution can mobilize massive numbers of people as never before.


There once was is a Twitter account @tweetbomb that used a viral technique to ‘bomb’ an increasing number of followers with a message once a day, but this was not a true tweetbomb.  It was simply an interesting exercise by the same name, quickly shutdown by Twitter for violating terms of service.  Meanwhile, as various famous tweeters are now eclipsing the milestone of one million followers, the prospect of a true tweetbomb looms ever closer.

The tweetbomb is a single, simple message that is sent into the wild of cyberspace, causing a minimum of 100 million people to act at its behest within hours, or perhaps at some future pre-determined date and time.  It is not enough for 100 million people to receive the message – those who receive the message must act upon its contents for the message to rise to true tweetbomb status.  The distinction of receiving vs acting on the message may seem minor, but in fact it is a defining feature of the powerful tweetbomb phenomenon.

Already today with our current outlets and models for information distribution we commonly see rapid dissemination of information to audiences of 100 million or more.  Take the Superbowl, where roughly 1 billion people slurp in a cocktail of promotional messages, product launches, and news updates as they tune into the big event.  Or take the death of a politician or actor with worldwide appeal and recognition, an event whose occurrence can easily travel the globe to hundreds of millions or even billions of people in a matter of hours.

Yet even as the examples above demonstrate that today’s information society already transmits pieces of information to enormous masses of people with alarming speed, there are very few examples where such large numbers of people are mobilized to take a particular, premeditated action.  Continuing with our previous example, a Superbowl may be viewed by a billion people, but it does not typically cause even a mere 1 million of these viewers to do anything particular.  With the rise of Twitter this is set to change.

It is conceivable in the next few years that a single individual or institution could have more than 100 million followers dutifully waiting to receive a message and take an associated action.  Imagine an official Twitter account for the United States or Chinese Government, created with the specific purpose of mobilizing its citizens at a moments notice to respond to a natural disaster, military attack, or any number of other emergencies.

Even before Twitter accounts reach the 100 million follower milestone a tweetbomb is almost certain to occur.  Either by direct intention or by sheer chance,  the viral nature of Twitter allows for a tweet from a single Twitter account, large or small, to serve as the seed from which a message can be continuously retweeted to hundreds of thousands of other Twitter accounts.  As a whole this cascade of viral tweeting and retweeting could ultimately lead to tweetbomb success.

At the moment, with the tweetosphere only comprising a few tens of millions of individuals, a tweetbomb is not going to happen.  But perhaps in a year or two the tweetosphere will reach a critical mass of hundreds of millions of individuals, at which point the first tweetbomb will not be far behind.

One of the first tweetbombs will likely cause the ‘action’ of sending a vast and sudden surge of 100 million users to a particular website or document somewhere on the internet.  Information distribution paradigms that came before Twitter, such as Slashdot or Digg, are famous for bringing surges of tens of thousands of users to websites within a matter of hours, but this is nothing compared to the power that will be unleashed by Twitter.  A key difference between Twitter and previous paradigms is that Twitter automatically pushes information to  users, whereas previous paradigms relied on users to seek out a specific website to find and act on information.  This makes all the difference.

The power of  a website like Digg to distribute information is only as large as the base of users that choose to go to its website within a short period of time.  This base of users will always be limited to a necessarily narrow type of user demographic, such as technologically savvy, younger individuals.  It will also be limited by the number of these individuals that are in a position and mindset to seek out the website within a short period of time, rather than cooking or driving their cars.

Twitter, on the other hand, allows information to be distributed to any number of people, anywhere, anytime with its ability to push information to users no matter what device they are using, no matter if they want it or not.  Twitter is not limited to a certain user demographic, capable of sending a message of equal interest to techno geeks and Oprah worshiping moms.

The first signs of tweetbombs are already upon us.  Look at the logs of any major website and you will see that they are littered with the remains of mini tweetbombs just waiting to become the real thing.  Increasingly traffic to websites comes in surges or waves of people following a tweet that has been tweeted and retweeted across the tweetosphere.  As the tweetosphere grows larger and larger each day, so too will these mini tweetbombs grow.  Soon webmasters will see surges of hundreds of thousands, then tens of millions of Twitter induced users to their websites.  Ultimately the tweetosphere will reach a critical mass and the first true tweetbomb will send a massive swarm of 100 million hungry eyeballs to some lucky or unlucky destination on the internet.

Having defined the tweetbomb we are compelled to ponder what it means for human society.  Are tweetbombs a good thing or a bad thing?  As with any technological weapon, tool, or advance, it depends on how you use it.  Knives help us to cut fruit and open boxes, but they can also kill people.  The same will be true for the tweetbomb.  The tweetbomb is a phenomenon of awesome power, yet depending on the action it causes, its impact on the world could land anywhere on the spectrum of good or bad, unleashing great destruction or massive benevolence.  Good or bad, like all technological breakthroughs before it the tweetbomb is inevitable.  It cannot be avoided.

If you think the tweetbomb is impressive, then take a moment to ponder the tweetnova, a single blast of information that causes not 100 million, but rather 1 billion people to act.  There may be some mathematical or other limitation that inhibits the emergence of the tweetnova within the current incarnation of a simple messaging service represented by Twitter.  But rest assured that either Twitter or some successor platform or technology will soon allow for one billion people, and ultimately every single person on the planet, to instantly receive and then choose to act on a single piece of information.

So who will initiate the first tweetbomb?  Maybe it will be us, in which case how about following @singularityhub so you can join in on the fun.  Even if Singularity Hub does not send the first tweetbomb, we have tons of daily stories just like this one that you won’t want to miss.

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>China Owns the Fastest Supercomputer …Now What? (video) | Singularity Hub



Tianhe-1A is the world’s fastest supercomputer, and it’s Chinese.

Early in October, China revealed that they have developed the world’s fastest supercomputer at their National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin. Known as the Tianhe-1A, the machine is capable of a remarkable 2.5 petaflops. That’s 2.5 thousand trillion floating point operations per second. Impressive to say the least and more than 40% faster than Jaguar, the current leading supercomputer in the US (according to Top500.org). Tianhe-1A follows a new kind of architecture, relying as much on graphics cards (from Nvidia) as it does on traditional CPUs (from Intel). While the major processing components of the Chinese supercomputer are all from the United States, the software and hardware that allows those chips to talk to each other efficiently was developed in China. What does China’s occupation of the top spot in computing mean for the world? Depends on Congress. The last time that a nation surpassed the US in supercomputing (Japan with Earth Simulator) funding was found to propel the US back to the top. With the economy still in trouble it’s unclear whether China’s supercomputer success will rally US research, or serve as the beginning for a long era of Chinese dominance.

Here’s a brief summary of the situation from the Wall Street Journal:

At least one major official is hoping to use the creation of Tianhe-1A to spur efforts in the US. Steven Koonin is the Undersecretary for Science at the Department of Energy. Among other things he’s their supercomputer guy. He recently helped organize a Simulations Summit that brought together some of the leading minds in the field to discuss future progress. Koonin also wrote a blog post on the DOE site that discussed the importance of the Chinese push in supercomputing. Tianhe-1A is just the beginning. The Undersecretary believes that China will have a supercomputer capable of a petaflop or more in the next 12 to 18 months. Only this new computer won’t rely on US chips – it will be completely home grown. Koonin’s message seems to be clear: China isn’t going to be beholden to the US for computing power, not any more. If the US wants to stay ahead it’s going to have to redouble its efforts, and soon.

I’m all for inspiring new research. In fact, I’d go so far to say that playing up the intimidation from a competitor (China) is fair game if it gets your team to work harder towards a common (peaceful) goal. Still, we need to have a reality check. China may have created the world’s single fastest supercomputer, but the US supremacy in computing is far from challenged yet. Top500.org maintains a list of the world’s fastest supercomputers. Jack Dongarra, a professor at the University of Tennessee and researcher at Oak Ridge National Labs, is one of the forces behind Top500 and the one who visited Tianhe-1A for its testing. Dongarra and Top500 report that roughly half of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers are located in the US. An overwhelming 90% of all top 500 computers use US hardware for main processing. The US may not be at number 1, but if they occupy all the other spots does it really matter?

I also want to point out that Tianhe-1A isn’t some superior tactical planning device, it isn’t slotted to be used for military purposes. According to the Wall Street Journal, the supercomputer will be used as an “open access system”. In other words, China will be selling off time on Tianhe-1A to people all over the world to help with complex calculations (protein folding, analyzing geological surveys for oil, etc). There’s a very good chance that the creation of Tianhe-1A will lead to amazing discoveries in science that will help everyone all over the world. This supercomputer then doesn’t appear to be a threat to anyone.

So maybe it’s not about threats. Maybe it’s not about China defeating the US in supercomputing. It could just be about foresight. Tianhe-1A is a remarkable achievement in computing, but it’s also a pretty predictable one. China held the number two spot last year and they have spent years working towards becoming a major player in computing, genetics, stem cells, robots, energy…everything. You can almost hear the surge of pride and confidence that is fueling their growth in science and technology. They will not be relegated to the back seat anymore. In the future, we have to expect this nation to take a larger, often leading role, in research and development. You can’t think about the global change in technology without asking, how’s China going to play a role in this? The same is going to be true for many other nations that are transitioning towards a science fueled economy. India is another great example, as are Brazil, Turkey, and many other spots in Latin America and the Middle East.

Tianhe-1A can be a wake up call for the US to redouble its efforts in supercomputing. I’d like that. But Tianhe-1A should also be a big reminder that the future of science and technology is not going to be dominated by the major players of the 20th century, at least not totally. China is going to develop its own computer chip industry to rival those in the US. It already has developed innerconnects (software and hardware to get processing chips to talk to each other) that rival or surpass those here. Expect similar competition for every field and from a wider array of competitors. Part of the amazing effect of accelerating technology is that it allows groups with shorter histories in empirical science to quickly ramp up and partake in global development. Tianhe-1A knocked the US out of the top spot, but the real change will be when the field of supercomputing gets more crowded in general. That day is coming…though perhaps not for many years.

[image credit: NVidia]

[source: Wall Street Journal, Department of Energy, NVidia, NY Times, Top500]

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>Robot Look Alikes Go On Sale in Japan (Video) | Singularity Hub


Want your own actroid?  Just two are going on sale in Japan.

Want your own actroid? Just two are going on sale in Japan.

It may be years before you can purchase a genetic clone of yourself, but robotic ones are already on sale in Japan. Department store giant Sogo & Seibu are accepting pre-orders this month for Actroids, the realistic robot doppelgangers from Kokoro. According to IT Media each Actroid will be custom built to mimic the face, body, movements, and speech of the purchaser. Only two orders will be filled, if there are more than that requested, a drawing will determine who gets to purchase the robots. Though at the steep price tag around 20 million Yen (~$220k), it’s unlikely that will be the case. While the robotic replicants Kokoro has made so far have been solely used for entertainment, it may only be a matter of years before realistic replacements could be found in every industry from military to medicine. Check out the DER2 model in a video after the break.

Actroids are the brainchild of robotics engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University. The robot has face, body, hair, eye, and eyelashes modeled on the original. Actroids can also mimic the upper body and facial movements of humans, and can replay recorded speech. These robots are a regular on the robot demonstration circuit and are always played up by the media (we couldn’t help but mention them in our iREX 2009 coverage). As with other replicant robots, I can’t help but get a little creeped out by the life-like but not quite life-like enough quality to these creations. Still, if engineers are marching robots at a steady pace down into the Uncanny Valley, it should only be a matter of time until they start climbing out of it on the other side. As humans, we all get lonely. Looks like we’ll one day be able to build our own companions. In the meantime, what could be a better addition to your home or office than a 20 million Yen robotic copy of yourself that’s guaranteed to frighten children?

[photo credit: Pink Tentacle]

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>Stanford’s Robot Car Slides into Parking Spot Like a Badass (video) | Singularity Hub



Stanford’s latest stunt for extreme autonomous driving is a tire squealing high speed 180 degree spin into a parking spot. Looks like Junior’s all grown up.

A good robot car knows how to make the tough decisions. Stanford’s Junior, the robot car that took second place at DARPA’s Grand Challenge in 2007, has learned some new tricks. Namely it can decide when to follow traditional physics models of how to drive, and when it should simply try to repeat a past performance. What’s the first task Stanford students asked it to test its capabilities on? The same maneuver that every slick operator from James Bond to the Blues Brothers relishes: a tire squealing 180 degree spin into a skin-tight parking space. We’ve got some great videos of this move that you have to see. Check them out below.

The DARPA Urban Challenge (aka Grand Challenge) has provided the prize money necessary to generate major interest in getting cars automated. During the contest in 2007, Junior traversed a simulated town without colliding into moving and stationary objects. Since then, Stanford’s taken on automated parking and we’ve seen one of the university’s cars perform well for that task. Junior’s latest sliding maneuver isn’t really about parking, however. It’s about handling the extremes of driving. Just as Stanford’s new vehicle, Shelley, is looking to race up Pike’s Peak at breakneck speeds, Junior is testing the limits of what robot cars can do. These cars are pushing the boundaries of automated systems and they’re looking awesome while doing it:

As recently discussed in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation and presented at ICRA 2010, Junior’s slide into private parking spot is all the more impressive for the way that it was performed. Standford has given the car the ability to choose between two different ways of driving. Junior can follow traditional physical models of driving or it can try to replicate a move its seen before. The latter choice is good for hard to understand but repeatable tasks, such as making James Bond look like a pansy. Check out the explanation in the following video:

If you wanted further proof of the power of Junior’s new decision making, watch the video below. You’ll see how a closed loop (physically well understood) approach fails, as does the open loop (imitation, non-physical). When combined, the multi-modal approach succeeds with flying colors:

Junior’s baby bear methodology can place it within two feet of its target every time. That’s remarkably accurate, though still not so good as to warrant you handing your keys over to Stanford anytime soon. As Junior continues to be refined, we may see its capability to hit its target improve, but that’s really besides the point. The real story here is Junior’s ability to cleanly switch between various methods of driving. There’s real power there. An operator can show Junior how to perform a difficult maneuver (like the 180 slide) and Junior can decide when best to follow that demonstration. That means Junior could have an entire language of extreme driving maneuvers it could unleash when called upon, but that it could also drive reliably under normal conditions without them. If we want robots to eventually take over much of our driving duties, this sort of decision making will be critical to keep passengers safe. Watching Junior slide into a parking spot is fun, but it’s also a sign that the cars of the future will be able to respond to any adverse condition with remarkable driving talent. I can’t wait until one of these guys gets into a car chase with police.

[image credit: Kolter et al, ICRA 2010]

[source: Stanford, Kolter et al, ICRA 2010]

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>Stanford Automotive, part II: The future of autonomous cars — building43


Last week at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), we looked at a car designed to study vehicle dynamics. Today, we get a look at how engineers and computer scientists are building cars that don’t need drivers—and are better for it.

Mike Sokolsky is a research engineer in the artificial intelligence lab at Stanford. He works as a systems integrator for “Junior,” Stanford’s car that tests computer vision, decision-making, and probabilistic planning. “If you think about a GPS device, right now you can plug in a place and it tells you how to get there,” says Sokolsky. “The extension that we want to get to is, you plug in a place, and it takes you there. That’s the interface that we want, ultimately, to be able to interact with our cars: sit back, relax, and it takes care of all the driving for you.”

What they’re working on now at CARS is taking the autonomous car from the test environment to real roads, with real problems and lots of unknowns, like construction. “You can’t rely on the roads being the same every time you come back. You have to be able to adapt to all these changing situations,” says Sokolsky.

While the interior of Junior looks pretty much like a normal car, the trunk of the car looks like a miniature data center. But computers in back are nothing special, says Sokolsky: “We’ve put a lot of effort into making sure that the software we write is scalable, and works sort of incrementally, so you don’t need to worry about massive data. There’s already a huge amount of data that comes in from all the cameras, sensors, and the laser on the roof, and to integrate all this is a big effort in itself. So we try to keep things as simple as possible and solve problems with minimal effort.”

Sokolsky estimates that many of the features that Junior employs, like cameras monitoring lanes and blind spot detection, will start becoming standard over the next ten years. But he also thinks that people will have to adapt, at least as much as the cars. “In some ways I think the technology is going to come along much faster than both the legal issues and societal acceptance,” says Sokolsky. “Because you’re going to have to convince people to give up driving their car everywhere, and some people are going to be extremely reluctant to do that. In this field, we sort of lose sight of this, but we talk to people, and they say, ‘That sounds terrifying.’ There’s a lot to overcome in terms of that.”

More info:
Stanford Automotive: http://me.stanford.edu/groups/design/automotive/
Video of Junior doing an amazing parking job: http://singularityhub.com/2010/05/12/stanfords-robot-car-slides-into-parking-spot-like-a-badass-video/

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