magic and technology

   Prof Alan Jacobs wants to know whether magic and technology can learn to get along with each other. He laments the dominant tone of fantasy literature that sees natural magic opposed to cultural machinery.  Jacobs hopes for: "A fictional world where magic rules but is not the only game in town". This sounds … Continue reading magic and technology

Puzzling over the economics of academic journals

Oliver Marc Hartwich of the Centre for Independent Studies wrote in the Australian about the academic journal industry. He was just as puzzled about it as Fourcultures has been. The case study he used to illustrate the point was the Australian Economic Review (but any journal from the Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis, and … Continue reading Puzzling over the economics of academic journals

The Ethics of Autonomous robots

Further to a recent post about the ethics of autonomous robots, it seems military robots are not the only kind that can kill, allbeit by 'mistake'. In Japan there are already robots that feed the elderly and baby-sitting robots in shopping centres. So who exactly should be held responsible when they go wrong? It's an … Continue reading The Ethics of Autonomous robots

Beware – Dangerous Robots!

Dan Kahan of the Cultural Cognition Project has been thinking about the possible ways of reacting to robots that kill. It's a relatively new set of technologies, but what happens when AI merges with weaponry to produce robots that want to kill you? He thinks the arguments could go in several ways and I tend … Continue reading Beware – Dangerous Robots!

Characterising the Open Source Movement: It’s not the ‘new socialism’

Just as I reach the end of reading Rebel Code by Glyn Moody , a riveting (to my mind) early history of GNU/Linux (subtitled Linux and the Open Source Revolution), Kevin Kelly’s article in Wired mag comes to my attention. Kelly claims the open source movement is ‘the new socialism’. No, it isn’t. For example, … Continue reading Characterising the Open Source Movement: It’s not the ‘new socialism’

Energy Efficiency: Running to stand still?

Is energy efficiency a key factor in reducing greenhouse emissions? Matthew Taylor of the RSA thinks home energy efficiency should take priority, and Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute is also very keen on large scale efficiency gains. The Jevons Paradox is the idea formulated in 1865 that making coal-burning more efficient will lead … Continue reading Energy Efficiency: Running to stand still?