Autonomic Computing

Monday, December 7, 2009

Autonomic Computing promises to make both our hardware and software more agile and secure, by allowing them to self-manage themselves. Four critical aspects of autonomous computing are: 1) self-protecting: ability to diagnose and protect the resource from attacks, 2) self-healing: ability to recover from failures and attacks, 3) self-configuring: ability to reconfigure in order to become more efficient, and 4) self-optimizing: the ability to constantly tweak the parameters in order to perform the task at hand in a more effective and efficient manner.

While IBM has led in this topic, many have begun to contribute in areas related to server reconfiguration and software that heals itself. Please see the following links for more information:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Remote (Driverless) Driving

I decided to analyze the topic of remote driving, and was amazed at how much research has already been conducted. Some research has focused on driving a vehicle remotely, but in the sense that an external device must be physically close to the vehicle (such as a wire). Other research has required that no other vehicles be on the same road as the test vehicle, which is fine for development purposes, but not as an end goal. However, the most promising research I found was conducted by GM, which can be read at:

The article states that although remote, or driverless, cars can be on the road by the year 2018, the biggest hurdle in its path is society itself. Society must decide what to do with the technology, whether it will trust it, or find use for it. Some challenges will remain, such as automatically responding to unforeseen failures, like blown tires. Nevertheless, it is a promising area that will definitely have an impact on all of us.

PsychoHistory - Analyzing themes from The Futurists

In the chapter titled "The Futurists",(from the book: The Fortune Sellers) the author states that "Given that people individually and collectively are not very predictable and that social theories are weak, making predictions about the behaviors of various groups of people can be very dangerous." This statement reminded me of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series, where the concept of psychohistory is introduced as a means of predicting what humans, as a mass, will do in the future. A curious side note is that some critics have surmised that Asimov was influenced by Karl Marx's theory of history writings, which were also discussed in the same chapter. Please see the following links:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

OCW - Free training via this Web 2.0 tool

This is a nice tool that allows you to search for free courses.  Although it focuses on freebies, this Open CourseWare Finder (OCW) will identify courses that you can take online ranging from Java to Chemical Engineering. This should be no surprise given that the OCW Consortium is made up of over 100 higher ed institutions and organizations from around the world. Check it out!

SDP and Intentional Communities

The residents of the Bryn Gweled (Bucks County, PA) intentional community, met on January 2003 with hopes of defining intentions for the future of their community. To this end, they decided to apply the Structured Design Process (SDP), as is documented in Alexander’s Christakis’ text, How People Harness Their Collective Wisdom and Power to Construct the Future in Co-Laboratories of Democracy.

The group of stakeholders generated 42 different intentions, of which the top five were selected based on their higher relative importance. Quite interestingly, the two most influential intentions, based on the diagnosed influence tree, were also among the top five.

By utilizing SDP, the residents of this community now feel that they’re on the correct path to constructing their future.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Web 2.0 app is really useful for all of us doing research (doctoral student or not). Refseek gives you the choice of searching through its mass library of documents and web sites, retrieving a host of useful links pertaining to whatever subject you enter. My initial test run returned about 150,000 more hits than Google Scholar, although I haven't tested the relevancy of each returned link. I did, however, spot most of my own research references, which were not easy to compile without this cool little app. Give it a try!

TED's Talk Video

I recently watched Tim Berners-Lee's video on the next web.  Tim, credited with inventing the World Wide Web (WWW) about twenty years ago, is recorded giving a presentation to TED about what he envisions the next web to be like.  The primary difference he notes from the current web is that he believes that the next web will be one where data is interchanged freely between users.  In other words, users would simply post their raw data online (at one point, he leads the audience in a "Raw - Data - Now!" chant, which invoked memories of many sub-par political speeches) and other users would be free to query the data in different forms.  He encourages listeners to demand that the data that governments have collected, be accessible to all.

While I applaud this type of innovative thinking, I am not too sure that we want all of our data to be accessible by all.  Recent world events have shown us that detailed information (such as a map) in the wrong hands can give an advantage to those seeking to do harm.  Furthermore, merging of different data points may portray a "digital profile" that might reveal private information. My point is, perhaps not all data should be released for public consumption.  Someone (due to security reasons, I would agree that the government would be best) would need to determine what is releasable and what needs to be kept from the public.  After all, once the data is made public, it would be nearly impossible to remove it from the web.