WBEZ | computers http://www.wbez.org/tags/computers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rise of the Super Smart Supercomputer: How massively powerful computers and big data are transforming science and our lives http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/rise-super-smart-supercomputer-how-massively-powerful-computers-and-big <p><p><strong>Pete Beckman</strong> explains how math and supercomputers are accelerating scientific discovery and helping us predict the future. From discovering the secret inner workings of the universe to developing cars that can drive themselves, Pete Beckman will share with you the technology and science fueling a new breed of massive, smart supercomputers that will improve our world.</p><p>Pete Beckman is a recognized global expert in high-end computing systems. During the past 25 years, he has designed and built software and architectures for large-scale parallel and distributed computing systems. Peter helped found Indiana University&rsquo;s Extreme Computing Laboratory. He also founded the Linux cluster team at the Advanced Computing Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and a Turbolinux-sponsored research laboratory that developed the world&rsquo;s first dynamic provisioning system for cloud computing and HPC clusters. Furthermore, he acted as vice president of Turbolinux&rsquo;s worldwide engineering efforts.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Argonne-webstory.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Thursday, March 14, 2013 at&nbsp;Argonne National Laboratory.</p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/rise-super-smart-supercomputer-how-massively-powerful-computers-and-big Is technology changing our lives too much? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-03/technology-changing-our-lives-too-much-106033 <p><p>In the last 10 years, the electronic age has us totally interconnected. Social networking of all kinds &ndash; Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Socialcam, texting, platforms such as iPads, iPhones, smartphones and computers of all kinds.</p><p>These tools have forever altered the normal concept of time and space. They have replaced it with an immediacy that has taken on a life of its own. All of us are now no more than a click away from communicating with everyone we have ever met or known in real or virtual time.</p><p>Thanks to the wild, wild word of the web, we can be anywhere and everywhere with the stroke of a key or click of a mouse.</p><p>In essence, what all of this has done is to radically change the pace and rate of our lives. Not only are we bombarded with more input, information and data than ever before, we are now required or at least strongly expected to respond to it faster than ever before. At one level, the increased pace and rate of change is a good thing. It forces us to be more agile, more responsive, more adaptable to an ever-evolving world. It opens us to more options and possibilities.</p><p>On the other hand, the increased rate and speed of input and change is exhausting. Here&rsquo;s the problem. When life becomes an Olympic endurance event (the Everydayathon), when the stopwatch is always ticking, when are we supposed to have fun?</p><p>When will there be a time to be human in the old fashioned way? As Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt, professor of leisure studies, so aptly put it, &ldquo;Having to go so fast to keep up, we miss stuff-our existence is truncated. Some things simply cannot be done going full speed: love, sex, conversation, food, family friends, nature. In the whirl, we are less capable of appreciation, enjoyment, sustained concentration, sorrow, memory.&rdquo;</p><p>I think, if we can be honest with ourselves, we all do too much or try to do too much. My mother used to accuse me of having &ldquo;eyes bigger than my stomach.&rdquo;</p><p>She told me that I both literally and figuratively put too many things on my plate.</p><p>&ldquo;Alfredó,&rdquo; she&rsquo;d say, &ldquo;you do too much. Slow down, take smaller bites, or you&rsquo;re not going to enjoy anything. Piano, piano arrive sano!&rdquo; (Slowly, slowly, and you&rsquo;ll get there surely, safely!)</p><p>You know what, maybe we should all slow down, take a moment, and reflect on the wisdom of my mother&rsquo;s words. It couldn&rsquo;t hurt.</p></p> Tue, 12 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-03/technology-changing-our-lives-too-much-106033 The panic of New Year's Eve 1999 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/panic-new-years-eve-1999-104573 <p><p>Remember December 31, 1999?</p><p>Okay, I hear you. And I&#39;m with you--sometimes I have trouble remembering thirteen days ago, let alone thirteen years ago.</p><p>But thirteen years ago today, Chicago and the rest of the world were preparing for the Turn of the Millennium. We were also preparing for a possible catastrophe called Y2K.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-31--Chicago Y2K.JPG" title="Will this be Chicago's last sunset?" /></div><p>&ldquo;Y2K&rdquo; was short for Year 2000, and the problem was with computers. Computer programmers had long been rendering years with the last two digits only. For example, &ldquo;63&Prime; was used in place of 1963. It was a way of saving bits on the computer.&nbsp;</p><p>So what would happen when 1999 clicked over into 2000? Would computers think we were moving back in time to 1900? Then anything electronic might go crazy!&nbsp;</p><p>Massive power failures! Financial records gone! Elevators crashing! Planes falling from the sky! Missiles being launched by mistake! During the late 1990s, a whole industry of Y2K-fixers sprang up. And of course, there was the usual Presidential Commission to study the matter.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-31--program%20Y2K_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 410px; float: right;" title="How I Spent Y2K" />As doomsday approached, Chicago got ready for the worst. Local businesses coughed up over $2 billion to upgrade their computers. Motorola was the biggest spender at $230 million, followed by Abbott Labs at $100 million.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Government agencies were also running up large tabs. A Tollway official calculated they&rsquo;d have to collect tolls from 36 million vehicles just to pay for their Y2K costs. The city&rsquo;s Department of Children and Family Services said their agency could have used the money they&rsquo;d spent to hire 186 more caseworkers.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">One Oakbrook firm was trying to look on the bright side&ndash;they&rsquo;d hesitated about modernizing their computer system, but now Y2K was making them do it. Other businesses planned on moving more heavily into e-commerce. A Ford dealer was thinking about selling used cars over the internet.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">December 31st arrived. The weather was unseasonably warm in Chicago that evening, but many people refused to venture far from their homes. If Y2K did cause chaos, they were playing it safe.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">So we counted down. Five . . . Four . . . Three . . . Two . . . One . . .&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Happy New Year! Happy New Century! Happy New Millennium!&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And nothing happened. Any Y2K problems that did turn up were minor.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cynics claimed the Y2K dangers had been greatly exaggerated, that the thing was a plot by computer geeks to make money for needless work. The computer geeks gave their response&ndash;the dangers had been real, but because of all the precautions that had been taken, our civilization escaped disaster. No one really knows how much of either view is correct.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But we had survived Y2K. Just like we survived the Mayan Apocalypse.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 31 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/panic-new-years-eve-1999-104573 Ill. House OKs ban on password snooping by bosses http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-house-oks-ban-password-snooping-bosses-97753 <p><p>The Illinois House wants to bar employers from asking workers and job applicants for access to social media like Facebook.</p><p>The legislation passed 78-30 Thursday and now goes to the Senate.</p><p>Some employers, particularly law enforcement, have begun asking for passwords so they can review the online activities of job applicants.</p><p>Under the legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. La Shawn Ford, workers could file lawsuits if pressured to open up private accounts or they're denied a job for refusing. Bosses could still ask for usernames to view public information online, and they can monitor work-owned computers.</p></p> Fri, 30 Mar 2012 14:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/ill-house-oks-ban-password-snooping-bosses-97753 The unseen consequences of leaving a data trail http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-13/unseen-consequences-leaving-data-trail-96289 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-February/2012-02-10/5769368009_c566ea6f13_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As Americans spend more of their lives online, companies are finding an increasing number of ways to follow our data trails and find out all sorts of things about our spending habits, our likes and our dislikes.</p><p>The information is being used to determine things like a person’s access to credit, employability and insurance coverage.</p><p><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> guest <a href="http://www.newcreditrules.com/" target="_blank">Kevin Johnson</a> discussed a letter he received from a credit card company that said they lowered his credit limit because of where he shopped.</p><p><a href="http://www.kentlaw.edu/faculty/landrews/" target="_blank">Lori Andrews</a>, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, explained the legal implications.</p><p>And Erin Peterson, head of talent acquisition for <a href="http://www.aon.com/human-capital-consulting/default.jsp" target="_blank">Aon Hewitt</a>, answered why employers care more and more about candidates’ social media profiles.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 13 Feb 2012 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-13/unseen-consequences-leaving-data-trail-96289 Computers changing the essential nature of cities http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-25/computers-changing-essential-nature-cities-93456 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/barry1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The great historical turns in the evolution of the city have been agriculture, industrialization, globalization and now, what has been called the “information revolution” in the last thirty years. Digital logic circuits have produced continuously faster, more powerful and smaller computers, mobile telephones, smart phones and countless other innovations. The fruits are many. The WorldCat allows librarians to access 1.75 billions entries from 72,000 libraries in 170 countries. Perhaps the most universal emblem of this era is the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are constantly clutching their mobile phone as if they were awaiting word of a heart transplant. This revolution has profoundly changed the city, its relationship to nature, and our relationship to each other.&nbsp;</p><p>Today the digitization of the city reaches almost every urban resident in some manner, from traffic lights to observation camera’s on the corner. According to <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/internet_matters/index.asp" target="_blank">McKinsey &amp; Company</a>, internet sector consumption and expenditure is bigger than either agriculture or energy. Computers are used for a huge variety of functions that, we are told, make the city more efficient, safer and intelligent.</p><p>The first electronic computer emerged in 1946 and the worldwide web started in 1989. Computers store 40% more data annually. But computer ownership and internet use are still the privilege of a minority worldwide. Few people have done as much to escalate the digital divide as Steve Jobs of Apple. He was devoted to produce beautiful products that are not affordable by hardly anyone worldwide, and is alleged to have strenuously objected to price reducing initiatives. Although the executive of the richest corporation in the world, he made no effort to narrow the digital divide.</p><p>Cities, particularly large cities, are increasingly functioning like a computer. The traditional language of the city is also the language of the computer; “networks”, "gate," "port," "pipeline," "cache," etc. Cities are becoming more like computers. The “smart city” of the future will control movement, climate, communications, consumption, health, crime, energy and virtually every aspect of human experience. Feeling and thinking are not required for city life. As the connection to nature and to each other is increasingly regulated by computer people are alienated from nature and each other.</p><p>The euphemism for this transformation has been the “Smart City” or the “Intelligent City,” promoted by corporations such as Siemens or IBM. The direction of this transformation is "Super Intelligence," or machines that are more intelligent, and more capable, than human beings. This was portrayed in the character of Data on <em>Star Trek</em>, or the robots in <em>I-Robot</em> with Will Smith. Nowhere has this “intelligence” been utilized to greater effect than the military drones. Digital logic circuits, and their successors, are now co-producing our evolutionary future.</p><p>Charles Darwin declared that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” How well is our species adapting to this information revolution? As cities grow “smarter,” do they become more just or ecological? Is artificial intelligence better than human intelligence? Or is there a Faustian danger of trading ones soul to obtain greater information and power? Unfortunately, it has been intelligent people that led the planet into the current condition of ecological peril. And of course, intelligent people have unleashed some of the most barbaric episodes in human history.</p><p>What are the values of the information revolution? Technology is not neutral. Every technology contains the values of the people that designed it. Albert Einstein understood that, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Never has this been more so than today. We have utilized our sophisticated technology to occupy, dominate and threaten every ecosystem on the planet. Today, our technology dominates our cities, and us.</p><p>Increasingly digital networks are replacing people networks. The character of the digital relationship is not the same as a personal relationship. The quantity of the communication is not the same as the quality of the communication. One documentary on the Intelligent City boasted that “humans don’t have to make any decisions.” The seduction of communication, or technology, for its own sake is far different than the production of value. Some argue that information is the glue of society. While information has its value, we are glued together by the emotions we share, by love, not the information we acquire. The homogenization of experience, which is the result of the digital city, runs contrary to our development as a species.&nbsp; Oliver Sacks said, “We must humanize technology before it dehumanizes us.” Or is the genie out of the bottle until death do us part?</p><p>It is often stated that computers can be used for extreme invasions of privacy and lead to extraordinary levels of vulnerability. The recent breakdown of the Blackberry is an instance of this vulnerability. What if the impact of the computer, and the entire information revolution, is the homogenization of the human being and therefore, our cities. What if the price of being plugged in is to be turned off?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Barry Weisberg is global cities contributor for </em>Worldview<em>. His </em><em>commentaries reflect his own views and not necessarily those of </em>Worldview<em> or 91.5 WBEZ.</em></p></p> Tue, 25 Oct 2011 15:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-25/computers-changing-essential-nature-cities-93456 Is this simple test too hard for you? http://www.wbez.org/blog/amy-krouse-rosenthal/simple-test-too-hard-you <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Oh, this is good.</p><p>I implore you to stop what you're doing for just a moment and click on the link below.</p><p>I can't tell you more than that without giving it away. &nbsp;But I assure you, there's really nothing to it.</p><p><a href="http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com/">HERE YOU GO</a></p><p>(Now let's get a hand count in the comment section:&nbsp; <strong>Did you pass? Or did you fail?</strong> :)</p><p>in peace,</p><p>amy</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 27 Jan 2011 22:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/amy-krouse-rosenthal/simple-test-too-hard-you