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Showing posts from May, 2014


Someone said every good blogpost starts with blood. And that guy's blog is insanely popular for good reasons. In contrast, Richard Dawkin's blog is popular for god reasons (yeah, that was cheap). While scrolling through my twitter timeline I am getting a bit tired of the religiously fervent atheism of @RichardDawkins whom I admittedly pity as he just completed his transformation from an interesting thinker to a t-shirt salesman. Glittery, silver double helix neclaces, bold atheist-'A' bumper stickers. Boring stuff. He must have fired his best ghostwriters after the n-th remake of his smart bestsellers (you do remember them, don't you?). Fortunately, before wasting too much thought on why elderly men tend to get so narrow-minded, self-pitying, and self-centered (and while laboriously calculating my own age) I was getting aware of a conversation at a nearby table in the run-down coffee shop that serves the most intense espresso in town - 'so strong, they ba

Self-replicating code-creatures abound!

The amount of data being created every second is breathtaking (five trillion bits per second, as George Dyson tells us at ). Some take this as proof for a tremendous increase in knowledge, others spot only chatter and pocket litter - (and yes, there are estimates that half of the storage capacity - and hence half of the power consumed for 'the internet' - is used for porn). Some see much more. Already in 1955, when the Norwegian-Italian mathematical biologist Nils Aaall Barricelli had heard about the machines operating on digital code in Princeton and finally managed to go there, he experimented with self-replication and cross-breeding of random strings on that machine. Being an experimentalist he observed carefully and studied patterns that reminded him of biological systems. Couldn't computer-code be treated similarly? Shouldn't there be the possibility of evolution in code? Roger Dyson highlights the fact of universal operating systems across multiple

Don't call Big Data a Revolution

Everybody in science seems to love Big Data. Put "Big Data" in your grant proposal and your file gets on top of the pile. Sure, some had the suspicion that funding for operating with big data went up because those nerds in the basement of NSA need some help sifting through cassettes of indiscriminate tapping into every utterance of every two-legged creature on earth. Those losers obviously lack the brains to ask the right questions and to target a reasonable subset of mankind - so they just grab everything they get. And stay as blind as they were before. Of course it is difficult to find a needle in a haystack - but why dump all that hay on the needle in the first place? This aside, there are believers like Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, authors of "Big Data: A Revolution that will transform how we live, work and think" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), who marvel at the transition from trying to approach a mechanism in nature with smart experimen

Tidy up!

Not all the NSA does is bad. The huge financial support for projects developing tools for the analysis of vast amounts of data, the impressive funding of research into 'big data' in general (and the fabricated hype around it) as well as the humungous pile of dollars washing over insanely overenthusiastic mega-endeavours like the 'blue brain' project are possibly related to national interest in tidying up the discs and tapes of the data-messies at NSA and their disheveled brothers and sisters. That is good. Mom would love that. But one side-effect must not be underestimated: our site-statistics show a significant increase in traffic whenever words like 'terrorism', 'NSA' or 'national security' are interspersed. I am sure, SEO professionals would offer a list of much nastier - and therefore traffic-generating - keywords, resulting in an even bigger data-mess at NSA to clean up. Good luck!