Tuesday, November 06, 2007

How Big is the Global One-Mind Machine?

I've swooned for Wired "Senior Maverick" Kevin Kelly in the past, when he wrote his eloquent paean to the Web's first decade, We Are the Web. Kelly's latest mind-blower is Dimensions of the One Machine, which outlines the contours of our current cyberspace and posits the future rate of growth. Among the startling specs:

There are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain. Today the Machine has as 5 orders more transistors than you have neurons in your head. And the Machine, unlike your brain, is doubling in power every couple of years at the minimum.

I was recently blown away when I realized my $40 4 gigabyte thumb drive, about a third the size of a pencil, contains storage equal to 3 thousand of those old hard plastic 3 1/4" floppy discs we all used until a few years ago. You can now buy a terabyte (1000 gigabytes) hard drive for around $400. To discuss the One Machine, Kelly talks in exabytes (1 billion gigabytes) and zetabytes (1000 exabytes):

One of the problems we have discussing this Machine is that its dimensions so far exceeds the ordinary units we are accustomed to, so we don't have a way to reckon its scale. For instance, the total international bandwidth of the global machine is approximately 7 teratbytes per second. We used to talk about one Library-of Congress-worth of information (10 terabytes), but that volume seems absolutely puny now. In ten years terabytes will fit on your iPod. Keeping that metric for the moment, one Library-of Congress-worth of information is zipped around on the Machine every second. These are very deep cycles of processing. What will we use to measure traffic in another 15 years?

We could start by saying the Machine currently has 1 HB (Human Brain) equivalent . That measure might hold up for a decade or so, but after it gets to 100 HB, or 10,000 HB, it begins to feel like using inches to measure galactic space.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Letter to a Senator or Congressman (or Congresswoman)

This is in response to an excellent email from Democrats.com, reprinted in italics at the end of this post.

Dear Senator or Congressman,

As I write this, our President is in the midst of an extraordinary power grab. He is attempting to turn America into a dictatorship, in which secret prisons and torture are accepted and commonplace, and rampant extraordinary corruption the norm. You know this and I know this--in fact, the whole world knows it.

What I don't know is why you are aiding and abetting this crime.

But I do know this. The American people are a sleeping giant and you are beginning to arouse the beast. America will not stop until the President and Vice President have been impeached and tried in an International Court for war crimes and treason. Along with the President and Vice President, the court will also focus its attention onto their willing executioners. And you, Senator or Congressman, will be called to account and will likely be charged with being an accessory to torture, treason, and other war crimes.

I believe that you contain within you more power for good than evil. But some sort of allegiance to the dark side is making you betray your country and instead support the dangerous occupants of the White House. I urge you to cast off the dark and follow the light. Protect the American people. Protect the Constitution, and protect America and everything great for which it stands.

Now is the time for you to show your strongest mettle, Senator. History will remember you for what you do from this day forward. Let there be Light.



Email from Democrats.com

No Waterboarding. No Dictatorship. No Mukasey.

In an impassioned floor speech opposing the nomination of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked: "Will we join that gloomy historical line leading from the Inquisition, through the prisons of tyrant regimes, through gulags and dark cells, and through Saddam Hussein's torture chambers? Will that be the path we choose?"

Mukasey refuses to say that waterboarding is torture because Dick Cheney won't let him - otherwise he would have to prosecute Cheney and Bush as war criminals . Mukasey also believes the President can ignore FISA and the Constitution and wiretap American citizens without a warrant, which makes the President a Dictator.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Mukasey next Tuesday. All 9 Republicans will support him, so all 10 Democrats must oppose him. Joe Biden, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, and Sheldon Whitehouse already do, but the others are undecided (Ben Cardin, Russ Feingold, Herb Kohl, and Pat Leahy) or leaning towards Mukasey (Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer).

Tell your Senators to oppose Mukasey:

Call the undecided Senators and report their responses:

Chuck Schumer is the key vote and he chairs the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee - so if you give them money call 202-224-2447 to say you will not contribute if Mukasey is confirmed.


No Wiretaps

Democrats.com has led the fight against Bush's warrantless wiretapping since it was exposed by the New York Times in December 2005. We believe it must end immediately, we believe Cheney and Bush should be impeached for it, and we believe everyone involved should be punished through prosecution and lawsuits.

Senators Jay Rockefeller and Harry Reid do not agree with us. They are working overtime on a bill to expand Bush's wiretap power and give full immunity for all past crimes. But Senator Chris Dodd is outraged and promises to filibuster the Rockefeller bill. Dodd gave a tremendous speech on Friday and spoke for all of us.

Dodd needs 40 Senators to support his filibuster, so please write your Senators: