London cabbies brains.

Cant resist quoting this piece from Retrospectacle. The size and shape of the brains of London taxi drivers who have done the knowledge is significantly different from others. The knowledge is a thorough and demanding test of routes through London which all black cab drivers must pass. A study, “Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi…

Can we handle very large datasets safely?

Cryptome quotes a statement by the (London) Metropolitan Police a about the recent anti-terrorism arrests. The quantity of evidence gathered is interesting, and raises questions about human ability to handle large datasets and the social implications of generating them. According to the Met: “There have been 69 searches. These have been in houses, flats and…

Cyberstorm exercise

Cryptome leaked, and Wired wrote up, details of a Department of Homeland Security led “international cyber terror simulation involving 115 public and private organizations in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand”, held last year. A leaked powerpoint can be found here. To judge from the lessons learned, a major problem was coordination and…

Big computer systems

This story about the FBIs failed $170 million computer system. Yes, this may have been a bad example, but are any successful huge systems really possible? The original press release describes the system thus: “a single sign-on to access multiple applications from any workstation within the FBI and transform the user interface into a consistent,…

An example of repurposed data

The Enron Email Corpus is an excellent example of repurposed data: generated for one purpose, published, and the re-used for another. After the Enron affair, the FERC (US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) published many of the companys documents, including a collection of emails, the Enron Email Corpus. Of course this was in itself a repurposing…

Using simulation to cure PTSD

Wired and Business Week both report that the US military are using simulators to help PTSD victims. Theres an academic paper here, giving some of the history of virtual reality attempts to handle PTSD. The therapeutic assumption is that people can learn to overcome PTSD if they can re-live the events that caused it, under…

Change blindness

Fascinating example on Cognitive Daily of how we find it difficult to see change over time. This is based on an article Sustained Change Blindness to Incremental Scene Rotation: A Dissociation between Explicit Change Detection and Visual Memory by Andrew Hollingworth and John M. Henderson. By gradually rotating an object, they demonstrate that it is…