Improving the Search for Intelligence

Returning intelligent results from a search conducted on ‘unstructured’ information is discussed in this article. It is not Google that is able to do these type of search results because most internet search engines simply rank the hits by their popularity, as measured by the number of other sites that link to them.

The search engine discussed uses statistical techniques to return information and phrases related to, but not necessarily including, the search terms entered. So a search for “drug dealing in supermarket car parks” will generate the expected returns, as well as related hits that mention none of those terms; it knows that Wal-Mart and Sainsbury’s are supermarkets, for example, and that cannabis and crack are drugs.

Autism and Second Life

It was so wonderful to find the following article that I have tried to summarise below. Enjoy and then think about it….

Torley Wong who is a project manager at Linden Labs in San Francisco, which created Second Life, is not the only person with an autism spectrum disorder who prefers online communication to meeting people in the flesh. In the past few years, people with all forms of ASD — from Asperger’s to the more severe forms, known as “low-functioning” or “classic” autism — have taken to the Web, joining virtual worlds, writing blogs and posting videos on Web sites such as YouTube.

Torley uses interactions inside the virtual world to learn more about how to socialize off-line. He buys “gestures” — animations of avatars making faces — and plays them back to himself. “I can observe gestures, and watch them repeatedly, to learn body language,” he says. “It seems very odd off-line to tell someone to keep smiling for me, I want to pick up on that.”

Not all autistic Web users are interested in learning to behave in a more conventional way. Laurent Mottron, an autism researcher and doctor at the University of Montreal in Canada, has noticed quite the opposite. “People with autism are using the Web in a totally different way,” he says. “They have a social drive, but the exchange does not go through non-verbal stuff or emotional sharing, what they are interested in is sharing information.” This is why communication through the Web is particularly appealing, he says. “It bypasses all the non-verbal stuff, which they are not interested in.”

One example is Michelle Dawson, an autistic woman who recently joined Mottron as a research collaborator. As well as her own blog, she has also set up online forums where contributors, many of whom have autism, exchange research papers and discuss autism-related issues. “They talk very seriously. They exchange information which is also verified by sources, evidence-based issues,” says Mottron. That is the strength of the Web, he says. “It can be used by crazy teenagers to chat, or by autistics to exchange very serious information.”

Many blogs and Web sites created by people with autism promote the idea of “neural diversity”, the notion that the condition is not a disease that must be cured, but simply a different brain “wiring”.

Equality and Second Life

There has been much talk of what goes on in Second Life (SL), such as gambling -which incidentally is now banned according to this mornings Swedish newspaper, dancing, shopping, chatting, biking, flying, virtual sex. Anything is possible in SL. However what is not talked so much about is the concept of SL gives equality for all residents regardless of race, creed, gender, age, size or disability. Hence we have the potential of equality there. For example nobody need know you are unable to walk in the physical world because in the virtual world you can, everyone can!

If we take away the name ‘Second Life’ which automatically conquers up imagines in our minds influenced by what we have been reading in the press, and just ponder on the ‘concept’ alone. The possibilities are interesting and exciting. Take a look at an article out May this year.

Sailing at night

I was out last night sailing, we were 4 in a old wooden sailing boat. The sea was calm, and we sailed until after 11 o’clock at night. It was not too dark, and we used a flashlight reflected on the sail so others could see us, but there were few out on the Baltic last night.

I learned how when sailing one does not turn to the right or left, one turns in the direction of the wind or against the wind. Moving the rudder is tricky because our minds are programed to think in left and right not otherwise. We have to read the sails and the water, and when we lose the wind, no worries it will return again soon 🙂


Abstract on Article from NY Times on New York City to adopt London-style surveillance system designed to detect, track and deter terrorists that would be first in United States; police officials say more than 100 cameras will begin monitoring cars moving through Lower Manhattan by end of this year in beginning phase of project; so-called Lower Manhattan Security Initiative will resemble London’s Ring of Steel, which is credited with helping track suspects after London subway bombings in 2005 and car bomb plots last month; program in New York, if fully financed, will include not only license plate readers but 3,000 public and private security cameras below Canal Street, as well as center staffed by police and private security officers, and movable roadblocks; critics question plan’s efficacy and cost, as well as implications of having such heavy surveillance over such broad swath of city; Police Comr Raymond W Kelly says department has obtained $25 million from city and Homeland Security Dept toward estimated $90 million cost of plan; says operation will cost about $8 million to run the first year.

White Paper published for Privacy and Identity Management

Ralf Bendrath had this linked into his blog. Should have come across this before myself! The PRIME consortium is an EU funded project looking into identity and privacy.

The Privacy and Identity Management for Europe (PRIME) consortium has published a new White Paper that is recommended reading for everyone working on ID management.

Biometrics collected by schools today will be used tomorrow as a lifelong key to our children’s identity!

Take a look what has just landed in my email. Thanks for this article Michael!

Yesterday it was reported that schools will be given guidance on how to use and store pupils’ biometric information, such as fingerprints. UK schools started fingerprinting children in around 2002. Quietly encouraged by central Government, parents were not generally informed. By 2007, more than 5,000 schools have fingerprinted children, some as young as five. More than 20 firms now sell school biometric systems, some costing as much as £25,000.

School systems store fingerprint templates, the lifelong key to a person’s identity. Within 10 years these will be used to authenticate bank accounts and passports…… keep reading there is more