You’re an @sshole: Being right in the Digital Age

You’re an @sshole: Being right in the Digital Age

The Digital Age is the current period of human history in which we moved  from the industry-based society of the Industrial Revolution to a focus on computerizing information and creating a knowledge-based society. The Digital Age Also known as the Age of Information, the Digital Age’s greatest achievement is the internet. With the internet (connecting computers through a series of networks) comes access to things we may never have gotten our hands on, and certainly not all at once. Information has, throughout human history, been a priceless commodity and has never before been so readily available as it is today. So when we ask the question, Have we become more intelligent or less in the Digital Age? the knee jerk response is of course we’re smarter now. We have access to a wealth of information (a seemingly unlimited amount). We can connect cultures, and all of the learning therein, with the click of a button. And what’s more, we have the opportunity to share/spread that knowledge in the most revolutionary way since the printing press. But as has also been discussed (in the article Why facts won’t help win an argument, for example), we often latch only onto the things that we agree with, or, more importantly, the things that agree with us. With the amount of half-truths, unfounded claims, and falsehoods on the internet, it has become too easy to trade truth for misinformation. We’re not always getting the truth or the right information, and then we pass it along thinking we’re doing the world a favor. And, even if we are more informed, we’re not necessarily smarter. The convergence of computer ability, data storage,...
Tech in MN/Doc on MN tech coming soon

Tech in MN/Doc on MN tech coming soon

Minnesota was named the fastest-growing state for tech jobs in the country by Forbes in 2015. CNET also championed the Minnesota tech scene for startups seeking funding, and Huffington Post listed Minneapolis as one of the top 10 cities for techies should move to earlier this year. Quietly, the North Star State has emerged as a leader in tech jobs and startups. But, even with all the positive press, “quietly” is still the operative word. Minnesota still isn’t known, or respected, as a tech hub.   Minnesota’s issues with tech One possible reason for this is Minnesota’s wariness when moving forward with the speed required to keep up with the industry. It took only a year for California to change legislation and allow the testing of driverless cars. Would/could the same thing happen in Minnesota, a state notorious for spending ample time, money, resources “studying” before enacting change? As the Star Tribune identified: “For a state known for innovation (think 3M or Best Buy), there’s also a confounding resistance to change that interferes with making improvements or exploring new ideas at work.” It was also noted by the Strib, back in 2014, that the lack of a major tech firm (a Google, Amazon, Apple, etc.) was causing many of Minnesota’s startups to head west; the problem isn’t founding startups, the problem is keeping them here. We may have a plethora of Fortune 500 companies hiring tech workers, but when a startup looks to sell out or merge, they must do it outside of the state. To go even further back, you’ll find that Minnesota was once a major presence in America’s growing...
The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

Alchemy Architects, a modern architectural firm that gained fame for creating the weeHouse, is working with home builder Robert Engstrom Co., the East Side Neighborhood Development Co., and the Metropolitan Council to create a tiny house community right here in St. Paul. The neighborhood is being planned on Payne at Maryland Avenue in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, and each unit (in the 900-1200 square foot range) would cost $100-$150k. But don’t start packing just yet. First they’ll have to convince St. Paul to change its zoning codes to allow the small structures. This has been the biggest challenge for small home communities across the country. But it has happened. Washington D.C. for example, has loosened restrictions to allow tiny homes to be built, and in Colorado, construction of the country’s largest tiny home community is already underway. Live a smaller life So what is a tiny house? And what are the benefits of owning one? Tiny houses give homeowners the ability to downsize the space they live in. It provides an option for urban home buyers who can’t afford, or simply don’t want, a larger house. After the housing market collapse of 2008, where foreclosures and financial ruin made the idea of owning a home superfluous to many Americans, the idea of “less is more” began to seem a lot more appealing. It’s also one of the greenest places to call home, as the energy expenditure is about 7% of that of a normal home. These tiny houses are a boast of the latest domestic technologies, from appliances to lighting to online tools. For example, Alchemy Architect’s model LightHouse features a dashboard website (pictured above) that shows the minute-by-minute usage of...
You and A.I. | Living with Artificial Intelligence

You and A.I. | Living with Artificial Intelligence

Public perception of A.I. and robots has changed often in the last 100 years. A.I. robots have been represented in pop culture as both friendly helpers like Wall-E, and sentient computer killers like HAL 9000. But now that actual homes and automobiles run on smart technology, it’s no longer just pop culture. As robots are starting to look an awful lot like humans, science fiction is starting to look a lot less like fiction. If true A.I. (i.e. a machine/robot as smart and with behavior capabilities as skillful and flexible as ours) becomes a reality, is a world where humans have been replaced as dominant species nigh? We have to start thinking seriously about what this reality will look like for humans. We’re not just talking about simple robots. We have already been living with “robots” for ages. Your car, cell phone, TV, etc. are all extensions of your human body. The roof of your home is an extension of your head/skull. Your shoes extend the abilities of your feet. Your clothes are the result of adaptations to different weather conditions; every time you put on a jacket you’re more or less putting on a robot. The arrival of the computer adds a complexity which we don’t yet fully understand, but our first instinct is to classify it as an extension of our brain. Artificial Intelligence At the University of Minnesota’s Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vision Laboratory (AIRVL), they’re studying things like Intelligent Transportation Systems and building mini-robots (including adorable Lego-based mini-robots). These inventions range from incredibly useful on multiple levels to simply being really cool toys. Infusing already commonplace things with A.I. has thus far only been positive...