Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mainland China’s World Internet Conference: An Exercise In Online Hypocrisy?

Though it was touted as Beijing’s promotion of how the World Wide Web should be run, but last week’s Chinese World Internet Conference nothing more than an exercise in online hypocrisy? 

By:  Ringo Bones 

When last week’s Mainland China’s World Internet Conference was reported by the BBC back in December 16, 2015, many around the world see it as the Beijing government’s “world view” on how the global internet community should be run – i.e. the right of each country’s government’s right to impose hard line online censorship. Ever since Xi Jinping became Mainland China’s head-of-state, the country’s internet laws were further tightened by the Beijing government. In Mainland China, spreading supposed “wild rumors” via the internet – especially if it is a pro political opposition themed – carries a mandatory 7 year prison sentence. But despite the Beijing government’s expressing its right for world internet isolationism, was last week’s “Mainland China’s World Internet Conference” nothing more than an exercise in on line hypocrisy. 

Despite Mainland China being currently the world’s largest online population given that an estimated 650 million or more Mainland Chinese citizens are now regular internet users. Unfortunately, the “free world’s” top social networks and entertainment and educational sites – like Facebook, You Tube and Google just to name a few – can’t be accessed on Mainland Chinese soil thanks to the “Great Firewall Of China”, which sees to it that the rest of the free world’s internet traffic won’t be accessed on Mainland China. So effective is their “Firewall” that even relatively harmless content – like the trailer of the movie Garfield: A Tale Of two Kitties” that was released to the World Wide Web some years ago got automatically blocked in Mainland China because the Beijing government approved firewall – in the guise of their “Green Dam Youth Escort” - apparently mistaken the color of Garfield’s fur as the vestments of the Dalai Lama and thus flagging the movie trailer as a “rebellious Free Tibet message”. 

And even though there might be some merit to the Beijing government’s argument that “all countries should be allowed to make its own rules with regards to internet traffic within its sovereign territory”, what’s politically and philosophically hypocritical – from a Western point of view – on Beijing’s internet governance is that they are actively sponsoring unscrupulous hackers that actively attack and commit digital vandalism and other much worse cyber-attacks to political activists – especially exiled Chinese dissidents now residing in more democratic countries – setting up sites that criticize current human rights violations and other social ills on Mainland China. One that has gained notoriety over the years was the Unit 61398 of the Beijing 50 Cent Cyber Army where a few even have United States Federal Bureau Of Investigation arrest warrants issued against them for performing brazen cyber attacks on official US Government websites. And by the way, the Baidu Driverless Car – the Beijing government approved version of the Google Driverless Car – debuted in the Mainland China World Internet Conference. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Does Christmas Lights Slow Down Your Wi-Fi’s Speed?

Though there are a number of probable reasons from an electrical and electronic engineers’ perspective, but can Christmas lights actually slow down your home Wi-Fi’s speed? 

By: Ringo Bones 

At the time of writing, America’s right-leaning Evangelicals has yet to call this latest study as a conspiracy by the telecommunications industry to launch a “war against Christmas”, but a lot of people find it disconcerting that the most de rigueur indicator of the Yuletide Season – Christmas lights or as the Brits call them fairy lights – can actually slow down the speed of your home Wi-Fi. Worse still, quite a number of us now use broadband technology to stay connected with our loved ones through the internet and the Yuletide Season is one of the peak seasons of the year for such activities and a Wi-Fi slowdown is the last thing we need. 

In a recent research study results released by watchdog Ofcom, Christmas tree lights    / fairy lights can actually slow down your Wi-Fi’s data transfer speed and the results were in conjunction with the new app that they recently released that can check the “health” of your home broadband. The app samples Wi-Fi’s wireless signals to see if the data is flowing uninterrupted from routers to smart-phones and tablets. The app is released alongside research results, which suggests Wi-Fi in six million homes and offices participating in the Ofcom study were not running as fast as it should. 

According to the study, what causes the slowdown is the interference caused by the solid state power supplies used in modern electronics that are not transformer isolated from mains which forms the power supplies of most modern LED based Christmas lights / fairy lights that also power the electronics that makes them blink and the “singing chip”. Radio frequency emissions from baby monitors and microwave ovens can also significantly slow down Wi-Fi data transfer speeds said Ofcom in a statement. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Artificial Intelligence Computer Programs: The New Cancer Treatment Paradigm?

Even though it can’t yet pass the Turing Test, does Berg Health’s artificial intelligence computer programs represent a new paradigm in cancer treatment research and development?

By: Ringo Bones 

Even though the working principles of such computer programs were first mentioned in Star Trek: The Next Generation and other science fiction programs back in the late 1980s, it is only relatively recently that an artificial intelligent computer program had actually reduced the time and costs in the research and development of new anti-cancer drugs - which is of upmost importance if the new anti-cancer drug proves to be safer than current chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment schemes. Even though it can’t yet pass the Turing Test, it does show promise of reducing the excessive costs and lengthy development times in introducing new and more effective anti-cancer treatment drugs to the market. 

Berg Health – a pharmaceutical start up founded in back in 2008 with Silicon Valley venture capital backing, said that its proprietary artificial intelligent computer program has managed to slash both time and development costs of putting a new more effective anti-cancer drug into the market. It has already managed to develop a new anti-cancer drug that’s expected to go on sale within three years – marking seven years in development compared to the general 14 years using previous methods. 

Recent cancer research shows that healthy cells feed on glucose in the body and then die off in a process known as cell death when their usefulness draws to a close. But in some circumstances the mitochondria – the part of the cell that provides its energy – malfunctions and metabolizes lactic acid instead of glucose, turning off the built in cell death function at the same time. The cell can then become cancerous and a tumor grows. Berg Health’s new drug – BPM31510 – will reactivate the mitochondria, restarting the metabolizing of glucose as normal and reinstituting call death so the body can harmlessly pass the problem cell out of the body. 

Berg Health’s research and development team used a specialized form of artificial intelligence computer program to compare samples taken from patients with the most aggressive strains of cancer, including pancreatic, bladder and brain, with those from non-cancerous individuals. The technology highlighted disparities between the corresponding biological profiles, selecting those it predicted would respond best to the drug being tested. 

“We’re looking at 14-trillion data points in a single tissue sample. We can’t humanly process that”, says Niven Narain, a clinical oncologist and Berg Health co founder. “Because we’re tackling this data-driven approach, we need a supercomputer capability. We use them for mathematics in a big data analytic platform, so it can collate that data into various categories: healthy population for women, for men, disease candidates, etc, and it’s able to take these slices in time and integrate them so that we’re able to see where it’s gone wrong and develop drugs based on that information,” Mr. Narain said. 

Berg Health expects to begin phase two trials of the drug in January 2016, meaning it has already been proven to be effective on animal or cell culture tests and is safe to continue testing in humans. Mr. Narain said it usually takes 2.6-billion US dollars and 12 to 14 years to get a new drug to the market, and that the trial metric within four and a half years worth of development indicated the time it takes to create a new drug can be cut by at least 50-percent. This will also translate into less expenditure, he claimed. “I don’t believe we’re going to spend 1.3-billion US dollars to produce our first drug, so the cost is cut by at least 50-percent too” he added. “There’s a bit of trial and error in the old model so a lot of these costs are due to the failure of really expensive clinical trials. We’re able to be more predictive and effective…and that’s going to cut hundreds of millions of dollars off the cost.” 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Facebook: More Than Just A Social Media Network?

Given the company’s plans to acquire a telecommunications satellite to increase its coverage throughout the African continent, does Facebook plans to become more than just a mere social media network? 

By: Ringo Bones  

Facebook wants to become much more than a social media network – founder Mark Zuckerberg announced this week announced this week that the company is also building a satellite to improve internet access for parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The move is part of Facebook’s initiative with to bring free web services to people living in remote regions. A new satellite called Amos-6 will make the web accessible from big chunks of sub-Saharan Africa orbiting over the continent and serving what Zuckerberg characterized as “large parts of west, east and southern Africa. 

“Over the last year, Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam internet access down into communities from the sky” Zuckerberg wrote. “To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies.” Even though he had visited India before, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent visit to India got better press attention this time around because he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed on how universal internet access could serve as a tool to eliminate extreme poverty. Could a dedicated Facebook telecommunications satellite make such promise a reality? 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Will There Be A Great Sino-American Cyber War Truce?

Even though whatever ongoing cyber war between the United States and Mainland China may seem piecemeal, will there ever be a great Sino-American cyber war truce? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the United States managed to produce a fruitful cooperation with President Barack Obama when it comes to long-term ways of tackling climate change, the two world leaders – more or less – managed to reach a truce when it comes to the ongoing cyber war between the two countries. Even though the ongoing cyber war between the United States and The People’s Republic of china may seem piecemeal in comparison to the cyber war between Estonia and Russia a few years back, the estimated damage on the affected corporate and federal government entities in the United States since the Sino-American cyber war began had been estimated to be in the billions of US dollars. Even though the two world powers have shown enough restraint that has prevented their piecemeal cyber war from blowing up the worldwide web, will there ever be a “great Sino-American cyber war truce”? 

Even if the United States manages to mount an effective firewall against the ongoing cyber war, many a private corporate entities in the United States have since became a victim of cyber espionage launched from the Chinese Mainland as far back as before the 9/11 terror attacks. During the launch of the Green Dam Youth Escort internet censorship firewall by the Beijing government, Hollywood had complained that the Green Dam Youth Escort’s color-coded censorship scheme had “censored” or blocked the online promotional ads of Garfield A Tale of Two Kitties promotional trailer from running in Mainland China because the Green Dam Youth Escort cannot differentiate between the color of Garfield’s fur from the vestments of the Dalai Lama. 

Even though Unit 61398 – the famed cyber warfare unit of the People’s Liberation Army – have since outsourced its cyber attacks and cyber espionage jobs to the Beijing 50-Cent Cyber Army a few years ago, the damage done by the cyber warfare incidences over the years cannot be easily overlooked. A cyber war truce is needed between the United States and The People’s Republic of China but it won’t come easy for now.