Message to My Senator Boxer: Uphold your Oath of Office: Squash Shadow Secret Gov’t

Remind your elected officials from the President on down to keep their oath of office: to Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States of America.Senate Oath of OfficeJust a reminder you swore an oath of office to uphold the Constitution but you are not upholding it if you are not investigating and prosecuting those in all branches of the government that have been sidestepping the Constitution.

The 13 years of Cheney/Obama administrations has set up a shadow secret government with its own courts, laws and interpretations of the public laws.

Arrest and Try James Clapper for Lying to CongressMembers of at least the current administration have now been proven to have lied under oath in front of congressional hearing.

But nothing has been done. Instead the whistleblowers are in jail or forced to seek asylum in other nations and the real criminals are in the seats of the White House, Congress, the Judiciary and the Media.

I’m not even bothering to write to Diane “NSA” Feinstein but I for some reason still have hope that maybe you have a bone of integrity left in your body.

You are being called to get out of your comfort zone and safeguard our Democracy before its too late (though it may be too late already, especially if you and at least some colleagues don’t do something about it)

Data Wants to be Free (as in Freedom)

Tonight I was at the Sensored Meetup #10: Data! APIs! Standards!. Besides some great thought provoking talks, there was some great discussions afterward that got me thinking more clearly about some stuff that has been bubbling in my brain.

Scott McNealy Was Right - Privacy: ‘Get Over It’

Scot McNealyI really thought McNealy was wrong when he said way back in 1999 that consumer privacy issues are a “red herring.” ”You have zero privacy anyway,” But today in conversation with one of the participants, Antoine Lizee, about how can we get people’s  Medical data available to medical researchers I realized that McNealy was correct.

We both felt that if medical sensor and other data from  millions of people could be made available in some open source form to researchers, huge breakthroughs in medical science would quickly emerge just from modern data mining, machine learning and statistical processing. Of course the issue of privacy came up almost immediately. But from his experience and from recent news that even anonymized DNA sequences can be traced back to an individual’s identity. So even with anonymization, its almost impossible to completely protect an individual’s identity in light of modern big data techniques.

I wondered, “Actually, what are people real fears about their Medical Data getting out?”. Is it any different than 5 or ten years ago when people said they would NEVER use a credit card on the Internet

I would never by something over the Internet. I'd hate to have my credit card number floating around there.

Dilbert by Scott Adams January 11, 1996

How long and what would it take to have a similar change in mass mentality that would allow folks to not mind that their medical data might be use “on the Internet”?

Big Data Processing of  Medical Sensors: A Solution to Rising Health Care Costs

I have long believed that if the data collected from medical sensors and the burgeoning world of the Quantified Self could be aggregated and made available to researchers (and not just “medical researchers”) we would enter a new golden era of medical breakthrough and real cures for major illnesses.

With sample sizes of MILLIONs instead of the 10 to 100 people in most modern medical studies, just using statistical processing on the billions of data samples  patterns of health and illness will practically just apear. That alone would make it worthwhile for us to do it, the government (or insurance companies) to fund it and for individuals to feel there would be a value to allow their data to be aggregated. Even if it meant that their data may leak out.

And using similar Big Data techniques used today to sell more stuff on the Internet (like we did at my last company Runa), we could map some of those discoveries of patterns back to the real time processing of individual’s sensor data to let them know if their personal real time data stream indicates they are about to have a heart attack or something.

Just Do It

nike-fuel-band-launched_smallMy conclusion was that we need to break the logjam and start some projects that demonstrate how powerful it will be to do open Big Data medical research using aggregated data. One way would be to get companies with silos of Quantified Self and similar data to make it available (with permission from the individuals) to open medical research. I’m sure there are other short term ways the community can come up with to show that this kind of research can have huge positive results.

Legal Protections are More Viable than Technical Protections

Mechanisms, that can be publicly audited,  should be made to make the data a anonymized as possible but as mentioned earlier, the nature of medical data is inherently personally identifiable, especially if drawn from multiple sources and linked with other publicly available personal info (aka Facebook and the like).

There can be huge benefits of allowing at least some explicit linkage of personal data to the person. The primary one would be to allow the processor of the data to notify the individual if they found patterns that would indicate a medical problem or would predict a high probability of a future medical problem.DNA Privacy

So we need the aggregators and users of this huge pool of data to be responsible and we need to make sure individuals don’t have to worry about discrimination or other negative impacts of their medical info leaking out.

This is much more a legal issue than a technical one. There already is The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 and related laws that protects Americans from discrimination based on their genetic information in both health insurance (Title I) and employment (Title II). Just as the laws and policies of banks limits the risk of using your Credit Card on the Internet makes people much more comfortable, we need appropriate laws and corporate policies to allow people to feel comfortable sharing their medical and personal sensor data as well.

So if we could implement as much technical and legal means as possible combined with the huge individual and collective win of using machine learning and statistical processing on the huge corpus of personal & medical data that is already being collected by individuals, we could come up with major new cures and solutions to age old health problems and solve the US core economic problem (Health Care Costs) in one very low cost way.

Install Wine on Mac Mountain Lion with Homebrew

It was nice to see that I could

brew install wine

Until it failed trying to install libicns:

==> ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/Cellar/libicns/0.8.1
==> make install
_WritePNGImage in icns2png.o
ld: symbol(s) not found for architecture i386
clang: error: linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)
make[1]: *** [icns2png] Error 1
make: *** [install-recursive] Error 1


These open issues may also help:

Fortunately the second link showed what needed to be done:

brew rm libpng
brew remove freetype
brew install libpng --universal
brew install freetype --universal
brew install wine

Self-Driving Cars: Biggest Societal Change Since… Cars

KITT: The Self Driving Car

KITT: The Self Driving Car

New Scientist is having a contest with the prize being a trip of a lifetime to the Arctic Circle and the bottom of the North Sea. I discovered after I wrote my entry that they only wanted less than 100 words. So here is what I originally wrote before I had to truncate it to something like Self Driving Cars FTW!

Self driving cars will be one of the biggest changes to society since, well, cars. Transportation is about 28% of all energy consumed in the US and cars are 60% of that. Self driving cars increase the efficiency of the use of cars in many ways.

Robotic cars won’t have a “lead foot” they can accelerate and decelerate optimally most of the time whereas human drivers are crazy on the accelerator and the brake. This will dramatically improve the overall efficiency of stop and go / around town driving.

Another dramatic optimization will be that automated vehicles will be able to operate safely as dynamic “trains” on highways. As cars flow onto a highway, they will all know where each other are going and can spontaneously form trains for the longer distances.  Wind resistance is where most of your car’s energy consumption goes to once you go faster than around town speeds, putting cars into trains would be a huge savings. Eventually automated cars could even get on rails for long distance travel and then convert back to tires for local road travel. A steel wheel in contact with a steel rail reduces by 85-99% the amount of rolling friction than a rubber tire on asphalt/concrete.

There will be other  significant indirect savings of energy due to changes in how we lay out cities, suburbs and highways. We can probably have fewer and smaller highways (or at least not have to widen highways as automated vehicles will be able to use less lanes and gaps. And if we can replace  interstate highways with rails but still have personalized transportation with automated vehicles, we could eliminate most long distance highways.

We’ll also need significantly less cars to be manufactured each year as most people will not have to own a car. Transportation as a Service (TaaS) will emerge as the most popular mode. You just use your personal communicator to schedule or  fetch the most available TaaS vehicle and it come picks you up. A huge amount of energy (let alone capital) would be saved by not building so many cars.

And that’s just for the generation of negawatts (the amount of energy we do NOT have to generate). The amount of personal and societal capital savings will be huge. To begin with, just think of how much capital is idle in all the parked cars at any instant. We might even get more exercise! Our cities and residential areas can be taken back from cars since we don’t need to leave a car at our destination anymore. And we’ll need to allocate much less of our space to roads and parking. Ecosystems can be restored since there won’t be as a huge swath of  interstate highway all over. The list goes on and there are many other unexpected savings to be found.

I can’t wait!

Google Self Driving Car Today