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Barry Kort
Attended Stanford University (MSEE, Ph.D)
Lives in Boston MA
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Barry Kort

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Corporations are people, too.

Not sure why the original cartoon caption did not appear.  It reads:

“The corporation was very lonely, because people thought it was different from them.”
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The US are suffering most of all. Luckily corporations are global, so they can just move elsewhere - if they haven't done so already.
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Barry Kort

commented on a video on YouTube.
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It looks like Pi Day is a partly cloudy day with variable winds blowing the clouds around.
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Praveen Kulkarni's profile photoiPan Baal's profile photoAner Ben-Artzi's profile photoi saiah's profile photo
"If that's not love, what is?"
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Larry Lessig has written a new article reflecting on the life and death of Aaron Swartz.
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MIT is an open campus, with an open network (both open WiFi and 10BaseT Ethernet).  There simply was no breaking and entering.  That's why the state saw no violation of state law.

The Feds decided much later to charge Swartz with a violation of CFAA, after a protracted Grand Jury investigagtion.

A lot of people in the academic and technical community believe the Feds behaved in an inexcusably despicable manner (and not just in respect to this particular CFAA case).  Indeed, the US Attorney did express some remorse, after the fact, when her office was roundly criticized for prosecutorial overreach.  But the US Government, being a bureaucracy, cannot be expected to function in a respectable manner, as conceived by the academic culture.

As far as I know, Swartz did not need authorization to access the journal articles that he examined at Stanford, nor did he need authorization to access the USPTO.  Indeed, patent attorneys routinely examine large numbers of patents, as that is the only way to ensure that one is filing a viable patent for something not already patented by someone else.  JSTOR declined to support or participate in the government's assertion that Swartz exceeded authorized access per the language of CFAA.  The MIT Legal Office inexplicably did not take a stand one way or the other on the question of whether Swartz exceeded MIT's rather loose guidelines on open access to the campus network.
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Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to retweet it.
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Yes. It's original.
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Have him in circles
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Barry Kort

commented on a post on Blogger.
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To avoid boredom, a person needs stimuli which operate at the sweet spot between fascination and perplexity. Enough fascination to draw interest and attention, plus enough perplexity to engage the mind in constructive and creative puzzle-solving.
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"Everything good turns out from enthusiasm."
-- Brian Eno
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The MIT Academic Council reviews the issues raised in Hal Abelson's report in the aftermath of the Aaron Swartz tragedy.
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Writing in The Atlantic, Larry Lessig explains the purpose his upcoming march across the state of New Hampshire.
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His name, accomplishments, and SACRIFICES will never be forgotten
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To Siri With Love

I wonder what Sherry Turkle will say about this new Spike Jonze flick featuring a protagonist who falls in love with his computer operating system.
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I think her point is that people don't trust other people. When a device is created to replace an unreliable human, we buy it. Why just last week, I fired my rickshaw driver because he slept in.
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Barry Kort

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Mathematically Defined Crypto-Currencies

There has been a lot of attention on BitCoin of late, and a number of my correspondents have been digging into the topic.

I was looking for some good analogies through which to understand the idea and the dynamics of BitCoin and similar mathematically defined crypto-currencies. This is my first shot at constructing such an analogy.

In this model, I think of the economy (the exchange of goods and services) to be an intricate clockwork mechanism. Everything is connected to everything else. Energy flows through the gears, allowing the machinery to operate at some level of speed and efficiency to move things along.

Any economy, like any clockwork mechanism, has friction. Energy needs to be supplied to overcome the friction, and that energy eventually degrades to heat as the state of the clockwork mechanism evolves over time.

One can improve the efficiency of the machine by applying a high quality lubricant. With a good lubricant, there is less friction, and less energy is needed to drive the machine.

In an economy, money is the lubricant that allows the machinery of commerce to operate efficiently. That’s the function of money: to act as a lubricant for the gears of the economy.

Suppose an inventor devises a super-lubricant that outperforms all current lubrication technologies. What happens? In an ideal world, everyone upgrades to the new lubricant and it soon takes a lot less energy to keep the clockwork machine running smoothly.

What could possibly go wrong?

The problem is that manufacturing the new lubricant is not free. Just as it takes energy to overcome friction, it also takes time and energy to manufacture the super-lubricant. And so there ensues a “gold rush” to manufacture this wonderful new super-lubricant.

Eventually, those who got in the game early end up owning barrels and barrels of this valuable super-lubricant. The problem is, they are not using it to lubricate the mechanism. Rather they are hoarding it because its market value is rising. As a result there is a shortage of lubricant in the clockwork mechanism. The material economy is not yet benefiting from the new super-lubricant because very little of it is being released into the gears of the machine. Most of it is simply being hoarded in privately owned barrels whose value on paper is rising.

But if and when all that hoarded lubricant is released into the clockwork machinery of the real economy, two interesting things will happen. The real economy will operate more efficiently (and that’s a good thing) while the price (or value) of the (now increasingly abundant) super-lubricant will drop. When that happens, the late-comers to the gold rush game will find that they unwisely spent a lot of resources in vain to manufacture or purchase small amounts of the once scarce lubricant that has now become cheap and plentiful.

Does this analogy work? How can it be refined, illustrated or improved?
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At least two big governments -- China and Russia -- seem enthralled with BitCoin.  The US seems to be officially neutral for now (while nonetheless worrying as they always have about money laundering and illicit trade).

To the extent that governments favor international trade agreements over import/export restrictions, I expect they will look favorably upon improved systems for settling international trade accounts.  To that extent, I expect that government-approved international banking systems will adopt 21st Century technologies for electronic funds transfer.  This does not mean adopting BitCoin per se, but adopting the innovative mathematical techniques introduced by BitCoin and similar mathematically defined crypto-currencies.
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Have him in circles
9,703 people
Cognitive Science Research
  • Cognitive Science Research, present
  • MIT Media Lab
    Visiting Scientist, 1999 - 2009
  • Bell Telephone Laboratories
    Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, 1968 - 1987
  • MITRE Corporation
    Lead Engineer, 1987 - 1990
  • BBN Systems and Technologies
    Visiting Scientist, 1990 - 2000
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Boston MA
Omaha Nebraska - Omaha Nebraska - Lincoln Nebraska - New Orleans Louisiana - Mountain View California - Monmouth County New Jersey - Boston Massachusetts
You see a slow moving red-headed scientist wearing a wrinkled lab coat over a Science Museum Polo Shirt.
I am a retired Visiting Scientist in the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab.

I am also a now-retired volunteer with the Boston Museum of Science.

You can find a longer biography of me here.
Bragging rights
Winner of the 1996 NII Award for pioneering innovations in children's education via the Internet.
  • Stanford University (MSEE, Ph.D)
    Electrical Engineering, Engineering-Economic Systems, Operations Research, and Systems Theory, 1968 - 1975
  • University of Nebraska - Lincoln (BSEE)
    Electrical Engineering, 1963 - 1968
  • Omaha Central High School
    College Prep, 1960 - 1963
  • Omaha Benson High School
    College Prep, 1959 - 1960
  • Omaha Benson Junior High School
    Junior High, 1957 - 1959
  • Omaha Benson West Elementary School
    Grammar School, 1950 - 1957
Basic Information
Other names
Moulton the schmeggegy scientist from MicroMuse