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Showing posts from August, 2006

Moving computer...

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... is like moving house, a nightmare, often inevitable. I had to buy a new laptop in Chicago, my old Dell having decided to stop working Heaven knows why. Full backup online ok (thanks Oxford/IBM!), so no panic. Ended up buying a Toshiba, excellent choice. What about the software? Well, this is the nightmarish bit. Nothing looks exactly the same in the new digital house, and hours are spent to put the old and the new furniture in the right places. One thing that helped was this nice list of the best freeware one may need. It is updated and highly reliable, at least as far as I can tell, and definitely worth checking. I ended up downloading more useful tools than I had in the old computer. Sometime changing environment helps. The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities

The Informational Origins of Life

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Most of the times, one reads to make sure that what is read was not worth reading. But every now and then, in the forest of books and papers through which we are forced to navigate, there is a beautiful specimen, a special product of human intelligence, which makes you write a blog to tell other people to come quickly to that spot, because there is something interesting and, yes, truly worth reading, something that should be among the books that are worth saving. Today, the book I'd like to suggest to you is The Origins of Life - From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary (orig. 1999). It is a little book (the 2006 edition is a p

The best of them all?

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What's the greatest PC of all (past, for the future is open) times? PC World has recently published a top of the pop chart of all greatest PC in the last 25 years, that is, since the production of IBM's first PC, announced on August 12, 1981. The list is based on, I quote: Innovation : Did the PC do anything that was genuinely new? Did it incorporate the latest technology? Impact : Was it widely imitated? Did it become part of the cultural zeitgeist? Industrial design : Was it a looker? Did it have clever features that made using it a pleasure? Intangibles : Was there anything else about it that set it apart from the same ol' same ol'? I won't spoil your pleasure to discover which one is the winner, but I can tell you that I realised I worked with some of the best in the field, namely n. 19, 13, 11, 10, 7, 6, 5, 4, 2 but, alas, never with n. 1. And now, just click on the title of this blog.

North-American Computing And Philosophy Conference

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This year NA-CAP was hosted by RPI . It was a great success, with a large variety of papers, a packed program, plenty of entertainments and even the food was good. Three notable features of this CAP conference (CAP conferences are held around the world under the IACAP program) were: the relevance of computer/information ethics (ICE, using Charles Ess' catchy acronym). The conference was open by a panel on the topic, to which I took part; the attention devoted to robotics and its philosophical issues (this was to be expected, given the local strength in the field); and the very interesting network of papers dedicated to simulation and modelling and the epistemic/logical/methodological issues they involve. A great conference, which you can still enjoy online by clicking on the title of this blog and viewing the videos of many of the talks.

Two Ph.D. Studentships for the international project: "Evaluating the Cultural Quality of New Media Towards a Philosophy of Human-Media Relations"

The Department of Philosophy of the University of Twente in the Netherlands is looking for Two Ph.D. Students (M/F, fulltime) for the international research project: "Evaluating the Cultural Quality of New Media Towards a Philosophy of Human-Media Relations." Women are strongly encouraged to apply. The two PhD positions are part of a prestigious and exciting international research project in philosophy named "Evaluating the Cultural Quality of New Media". This five-year project, which will include five researchers and will involve collaboration with leading international scholars and research centres, has as its aim to develop a framework for better normative analyses of new media and new media culture, especially in relation to their contribution to the quality of life ("the good life"4) and the quality of society. Project leader is Dr. Philip Brey. Two postdocs have already been appointed to the project: dr. A. Briggle, PhD, University of Colorado and

Small promises: Nanotechnology and Computers

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Sometime, by reading different sources in a certain order, patterns emerge that might have not been intentionally woven by any of the texts that make up the whole. I was reading about recent discoveries, inventions and aplications in nanotechnology when I saw that the following bits of information made up quite an interesting picture: Nature (vol 441, p 489) : nanowire transistors made from silicon and germanium can outperform conventional silicon ones. Since each nanowire transistor is about half the size of the smallest silicon transistor, they could be used to obtain more processing power onto the same area of microchip. Super-fast nanoscale computing would give a much longer life to Moore's Law , according to which the number of transistors in a chip and therefore a chip’s speed would double roughly every 18 months. Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1122797) : single-molecule logic circuits , using carbon nanotubes instead of silicon pathways, could bring integrated circuits to