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Roundup: Singularity U, Algae Power, Solar Highway and More...

Three Days Left to Vote on Ashoka Changemakers!
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Ashoka's Changemakers, an initiative to find, fund and expand the work of social entrepreneurs worldwide, has announced the top ten finalists in the “Cultivating Innovation, Solutions for Rural Communities” competition. Entrants were asked to submit system-changing solutions, in the demonstrative phase, for agricultural and rural communities around the world. Now it is up to the public to vote (until July 8th ) and determine the three winners who will each receive an award of $5,000.

Two of the finalists we thought were standout:

• The Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) helps link urban consumers to villagers in Zambia through a business model built upon conservation and environmentally smart products. Farmers are motivated to adopt sustainable practices such as crop rotation and composting.

• In Brazil, Mandalla's Integrated Production System is developing an innovative agri-cattle production that also integrates people and the environment.

To read more about the finalists and vote, click here. (MG)


A Caution Against Too Much Faith in Digital Activism
Though people worldwide (Worldchanging included) have been getting excited about the explosion of networked activism in Iran, it's well worth remembering the limitations. Slate's Farhad Manjoo warns that the same mediums we're all cheering for can be an equally powerful tool for oppressive regimes:

The crackdown in Iran shows that, for regimes bent on survival, squashing electronic dissent isn't impossible. In many ways, modern communication tools are easier to suppress than organizing methods of the past. According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran has one of the world's most advanced surveillance networks. Using a system installed last year (and built, in part, by Nokia and Siemens), the government routes all digital traffic in the country through a single choke point. Through "deep packet inspection," the regime achieves omniscience—it has the technical capability to monitor every e-mail, tweet, blog post, and possibly even every phone call placed in Iran. Compare that with East Germany, in which the Stasi managed to tap, at most, about 100,000 phone lines—a gargantuan task that required 2,000 full-time technicians to monitor the calls. The Stasi's work force comprised 100,000 officers, and estimates put its network of citizen informants at half a million. In the digital age, Iran can monitor its citizens with a far smaller security apparatus. They can listen in on everything anyone says—and shut down anything inconvenient—with the flip of a switch.
(AS)


Singularity Univeristy Launches
Worldchanging ally David Cassel alerted us this week via email:

Image source: singularityu.org
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Ray Kurzweil answered questions at the NASA Ames Research Center for the first day of Singularity University, in an "intimate conversation" where he argued the existing IT tools for disruptive change could address the problems of humanity. (Example: using nanotechnology to harness solar power or build housing in the third world.) Funded by Google and NASA, the university ultimately had 1400 students applying for just 40 spots.
Founder Peter Diamandis explained their "benign conspiracy," saying they were chosen because they were 1) smart, 2) leaders, and 3) interested in solving big issues. Kurzweil agreed, saying "What we're trying to create here is a new community that will sustain itself after it's separated physically." Also speaking: the president of the International Space University, saying "it's these teams that make the world a better place, so that we can leave our cradle."
And Kurzweil noted the wisdom of crowds harnesses innate emotional wisdom, saying the same decentralized communication that helped speed the break up of the Soviet Union is at work today in both China and Iran.
"There are 100 million blogs in China...half the farmers in China have devices they can take out of their pocket to communicate with everybody else in the world and access all of human knowledge."

(Find ongoing coverage of Singularity University at H+ Magazine)


A VERSATILE System From An Emerging Innovator
Also from Ashoka last week: 15-year-old Javier Fernandez-Han from Houston, Tex.
won the top prize in the Ashoka Lemelson Invent Your World competition with his design of The VERSATILE System. Created to serve communities at the base of the pyramid, the algae-powered system treats waste, produces methane and bio-oil as fuel, produces food for humans and livestock, sequesters greenhouse gases, and produces oxygen.

The design combines new and existing technologies (including the PlayPump generator, which we've covered here on Worldchanging) in a closed loop where waste from one system becomes nourishment for another. Fernandez-Han demonstrated not only a knack for visionary innovation but also incredibly mature insight, acknowledging that solutions for the future will need to be multifaceted and interconnected, to reflect the integrated nature of planetary systems.

See details of The VERSATILE System described in the presentation below:


(JL)

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Oregon "Solar Highway" Broke Its Own Record
Oregon's solar highway project, the first of its kind in the U.S., broke its own record for power generation on July 2. As The Oregonian's Matthew Preusch reported, the array of solar panels, which runs the length of two football fields at the intersection of Interstates 5 and 205, "was generating about 58 kilowatts, but at mid-day production peaked at closer to 85 kilowatts."

The solar highway, installed in December 2008, is intended to produce about 112,000 kilowatt hours per year, approximately 28 percent of the 400,000 kwh used to light the interchange. The project was produced collaboratively by the Oregon Department of Transportation, PGE, and US Bank. Learn more -- and check out its user-friendly dashboard -- at its website. (SK)

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Comments

How many ‘Job Tenders’ might have been intercepted and details sold to contacts for large sums of money. Was your company one of those companies who missed vital contracts to remain business due to interception of details given?

It is most likely that large International Companies, are becoming increasingly aware that all of their Business Transmissions through the UK are at risk, and important contracts may well be in jeopardy due to interception. Hence Britain now becomes a non-place to do business in by, phone, e-mail.

All political Parties are to blame for allowing (by not contesting) such abuses to run out of control and jeopardizing our country’s chances of economic survival.

Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk


Posted by: Carl Barron on 27 Dec 09

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