Rebooting Democracy (draft..)

Medium, Indy Johar, dark matter labs, politics, civil society, democracy

The Democratic state is full stack challenge and cannot be reduced to the vote – a functioning democracy requires the democratising capital, knowledge and freedoms (agency) – making functional markets – all topped off the vote. It is why we historically built banks for the poor, schools and libraries prior to the emancipation of the vote.

via https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/rebooting-democracy-draft–6dc7b8265fd

Seeing Through The Debris

Medium, Anomalous Engineering, reality, futures, power, perception, map blindness, unknown unknowns, Blackbird Analogy, Breakaway Civilistion, Oligarchy

As interpreted, ‘Real’ Reality is something that sits outside of ‘Official Reality’. Official or ‘Red Reality’ is the reality of mainstream culture which is the preferred reality of ‘Power’ (substitute Power for Ruling Archon as is your prerogative). It is through the construction of this Official Reality that allows ‘Power’ to govern. Within the Red sphere of Reality ‘Power’ can be said to play by its own rules. The diagram also suggests that there is an expanded ‘Reality’ within which you can play by different rules. It is at the the boundary between the official sphere of reality and the outside that ‘Power’ gets to choose which rules and which cards are in and out of play.

via https://medium.com/anomalous-engineering/seeing-through-the-debris-a4185eb12cd0

We Can Weaponize Fiction, But How Do We Monetize Truth?

Medium, politics, critical theory, simulation, simulacra, postmodernism, post-truth

Postmodernism has shown itself as a tool for art or annoyance in the hands of the Left. In the hands of the Right, these principles are a heavy rock, itching to be hurled at your head. Without any intent to contribute further to the new Red Scare that seems to have started in the US Press, we still need to open our eyes and ask what exactly is going on.

via https://modernmythology.net/we-can-weaponize-fiction-but-how-do-we-monetize-truth-ef9ffb52299e3

You Just Wait

Medium, boeing, design fiction, critical design, futures, anomalous engineering

Never mind the economics of suborbital flight. One day you too may be flown over as a party favour for some super-elite. Take your in-flight relaxants, and hope you don’t bruise up too badly on your way through an atmosphere that anthropogenic climate change has made too turbulent for the cheap intercontinental flights people used to enjoy. You just wait.

via https://medium.com/anomalous-engineering/you-just-wait-f5d81d804e10

South Pacific island ditches fossil fuels to run entirely on solar power

Samoa, Ta'u, pacific, solar, energy, Tesla, island, AOSIS

A remote tropical island has catapulted itself headlong into the future by ditching diesel and powering all homes and businesses with the scorching South Pacific sun. Using more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla power packs the tiny island of Ta’u in American Samoa is now entirely self-sufficient for its electricity supply – though the process of converting has been tough and pitted with delays. Located 4,000 miles from the west coast of the United States, Ta’u has depended on over 100,000 gallons of diesel shipped in from the main island of Tutuila to survive, using it to power homes, government buildings and – crucially – water pumps. When bad weather or rough seas prevented the ferry docking, which was often, the island came to a virtual stand-still, leaving Ta’u’s 600 residents unable to work efficiently, go to school or leave their usually idyllic paradise. Utu Abe Malae, executive director of the American Samoa Power Authority, said Tutuila has subsidized Ta’u diesel shipments for decades to the tune of US$400,000 a year – and continually ran the risk of a serious environmental disaster if the delivery ships capsized during the notoriously treacherous journey.

via https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/28/south-pacific-island-ditches-fossil-fuels-to-run-entirely-on-solar-power

In “Chemical Poetry” artists Roman Hill and Paul Mignot use fluid dynamics to create incredible and engaging visuals. With a…

video link

fuckyeahfluiddynamics:

In “Chemical Poetry” artists Roman Hill and Paul Mignot use fluid dynamics to create incredible and engaging visuals. With a stunningly close eye to fluids mixing and chemicals reacting, their imagery feels like gazing on primordial acts of creation or destruction. There’s even a sequence that feels like you’re watching an explosion in slow-motion, but there’s no CGI in any of it. This is just the beauty of physics laid bare, revealing the dances driven by surface tension, the undulations of a fluid’s surface, and the dendritic spread of one fluid into another – all cleverly lit and filmed for maximum effect. It is well worth taking the time to watch the whole video and check out more of their work. (Image/video credit: NANO)

Transparency ≠ Accountability

Medium, data, society, danah boyd, transparency, accountability, algorithmics

In the next ten years we will see data-driven technologies reconfigure systems in many different sectors, from autonomous vehicles to personalized learning, predictive policing to precision medicine. While the changes that we will see will create new opportunities, they will also create new challenges — and new worries — and it behooves us to start grappling with these issues now so that we can build healthy sociotechnical systems.

via https://points.datasociety.net/transparency-accountability–3c04e4804504

Umbra, a Black Design Story

Medium, Dan Hon, design, umbra, dark patterns, black design, design fiction

Matt was in a foul mood this morning and had shut himself away in One, the meeting room with the large, black conference table and the Polycom with a custom red paint job that in a company with a higher Whimsy Score on Glassdoor (not a real thing, I need to remember to write that down for work) would have a name like Monolith or Kubrick.

via https://medium.com/umbra-a-black-design-story/wednesday-february–10–2017–7fc5a674c043

Hundreds of dwellings - all painted in a vibrant red color - make up Larung Gar, the world’s largest Buddhist institute. The…

dailyoverview:

Hundreds of dwellings - all painted in a vibrant red color - make up Larung Gar, the world’s largest Buddhist institute. The settlement is located in a remote valley in Tibet and contains a population that has grown to approximately 20,000 people since its founding in 1980. In recent years, the Chinese government has started to systemically demolish homes and force thousands of occupants out of Larung Gar, claiming the settlement is too crowded and unsafe. They have also closed off the area to all foreigners. Many Tibetans fear the erosion of their language, traditions, and ways of worship in the midst of these incursions by the Chinese government.

32.1356°N 100.4565°E

Learn more in the NY Times here: http://nyti.ms/2gBrxo0

Alain Badiou: Reflections on the Recent Election

Badiou, politics, history, fascism, communism

So these four points can be resumed: col­lect­iv­ism again­st private prop­er­ty, poly­morph­ous work­er again­st spe­cial­iz­a­tion, con­crete uni­ver­sal­ism again­st closed iden­tit­ies, and free asso­ci­ation again­st the state. It’s only a prin­ciple, it’s not a pro­gram­me. But with this prin­ciple, we can judge all polit­ic­al pro­grammes, decisions, parties, ideas, from the point of view of these four prin­ciples. Take a decision: is this decision in the dir­ec­tion of the four prin­ciples or not. The prin­ciples are the pro­to­col of judge­ment con­cern­ing all decisions, ideas, pro­pos­i­tions. If a decision, a pro­pos­i­tion, is in the dir­ec­tion of the four prin­ciples, we can say it’s a good one, we can exam­ine if it is pos­sible and so on. If clearly it’s again­st the prin­ciples, it’s a bad decision, bad idea, bad pro­gram­me. So we have a prin­ciple of judge­ment in the polit­ic­al field and in the con­struc­tion of the new stra­tegic pro­ject. That is in some sense the pos­sib­il­ity to have a true vis­ion of what is really in the new dir­ec­tion, the new stra­tegic dir­ec­tion of human­ity as such.

via http://mariborchan.si/video/alain-badiou/reflections-on-the-recent-election/

A New Dark Age Looms

climate, crisis, seasonality, history, 2016, change, unpredictability

Our foundation of Earth knowledge, largely derived from historically observed patterns, has been central to society’s progress. Early cultures kept track of nature’s ebb and flow, passing improved knowledge about hunting and agriculture to each new generation. Science has accelerated this learning process through advanced observation methods and pattern discovery techniques. These allow us to anticipate the future with a consistency unimaginable to our ancestors. But as Earth warms, our historical understanding will turn obsolete faster than we can replace it with new knowledge. Some patterns will change significantly; others will be largely unaffected, though it will be difficult to say what will change, by how much, and when.

via http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/19/opinion/a-new-dark-age-looms.html?_r=0

Recurrent generative auto-encoders and novelty search

GAN, RNN, RGAN, VAE, stability, autoencoders, pattern-recognition, Monte-Carlo, machine-learning

This post summarizes a bunch of connected tricks and methods I explored with the help of my co-authors. Following the previous post, above the stability properties of GANs, the overall aim was to improve our ability to train generative models stably and accurately, but we went through a lot of variations and experiments with different methods on the way. I’ll try to explain why I think these things worked, but we’re still exploring it ourselves as well. The basic problem is that generative neural network models seem to either be stable but fail to properly capture higher-order correlations in the data distribution (which manifests as blurriness in the image domain), or they are very unstable to train due to having to learn both the distribution and the loss function at the same time, leading to issues like non-stationarity and positive feedbacks. The way GANs capture higher order correlations is to say ‘if there’s any distinguishable statistic from real examples, the discriminator will exploit that’. That is, they try to make things individually indistinguishable from real examples, rather than in the aggregate. The cost of that is the instability arising from not having a joint loss function – the discriminator can make a move that disproportionately harms the generator, and vice versa.

via http://www.araya.org/archives/1306

James Clapper on the Future of Cyberwar and Surveillance

Clapper, USA, NSA, CIA, IC, law, ethics, surveillance, warfare, Snowden, stuxnet, internment, tortur

While Clapper grudgingly accepts the damage the Snowden affair has done to his own reputation, he worries more deeply about the impact it’s had on the intelligence workforce. He hates the thought that America might turn on his employees. He fears that, in the same way the nation and Congress turned their backs on the CIA officers who ran the agency’s “black sites” and torture program in the wake of 9/11, the country will one day turn on the people who carry out drone attacks. “I worry that people will decide retroactively that killing people with drones was wrong, and that will lead us to criticize, indict, and try people who helped kill with drones,” he says. “I find it really bothersome to set a moral standard retrospectively,” he says. “People raise all sorts of good questions about things America has done. Everyone now agrees that interning Japanese [Americans] in World War II was egregious—but at the time it seemed like it was in the best interests of the country.”

via https://www.wired.com/2016/11/james-clapper-us-intelligence/

The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon

business, climate, energy, oil, history, Rockefeller, Family, Fund, ExxonMobil, Standard

Earlier this year our organization, the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), announced that it would divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. We mean to do this gradually, but in a public statement we singled out ExxonMobil for immediate divestment because of its “morally reprehensible conduct.”1 For over a quarter-century the company tried to deceive policymakers and the public about the realities of climate change, protecting its profits at the cost of immense damage to life on this planet. Our criticism carries a certain historical irony. John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, and ExxonMobil is Standard Oil’s largest direct descendant. In a sense we were turning against the company where most of the Rockefeller family’s wealth was created. (Other members of the Rockefeller family have been trying to get ExxonMobil to change its behavior for over a decade.) Approached by some reporters for comment, an ExxonMobil spokesman replied, “It’s not surprising that they’re divesting from the company since they’re already funding a conspiracy against us.”2 What we had funded was an investigative journalism project.

via https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/12/08/the-rockefeller-family-fund-vs-exxon/

Can Hypothermia Save Gunshot Victims?

EPR, surgery, trauma, response, medecine, suspended-animation

Earlier this year, the center announced that it was conducting a trial of a procedure that may revolutionize trauma care by buying patients and their doctors even more time. Known as E.P.R., for “emergency preservation and resuscitation,” it is the result of nearly thirty years of work. The procedure has long been proved successful in animal experiments, but overcoming the institutional, logistical, and ethical obstacles to performing it on a human being has taken more than a decade. When this patient loses his pulse, the attending surgeon will, as usual, crack his chest open and clamp the descending aorta. But then, instead of trying to coax the heart back into activity, the surgeon will start pumping the body full of ice-cold saline at a rate of at least a gallon a minute. Within twenty minutes (depending on the size of the patient, the number of wounds, and the amount of blood lost), the patient’s brain temperature, measured using a probe in the ear or nose, will sink to somewhere in the low fifties Fahrenheit. At this point, the patient, his circulatory system filled with icy salt water, will have no blood, no pulse, and no brain activity. He will remain in this state of suspended animation for up to an hour, while surgeons locate the bullet holes or stab wounds and sew them up. Then, after as much as sixty minutes without a heartbeat or a breath, the patient will be resuscitated. A cardiac surgeon will attach a heart-lung bypass machine and start pumping the patient full of blood again, cold, at first, but gradually warming, one degree at a time, over the course of a couple of hours. As soon as the heartbeat returns, perhaps jump-started with the help of a gentle electric shock, and as long as the lungs seem capable of functioning, at least with the help of a ventilator, the patient will be taken off bypass.

via http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/11/28/can-hypothermia-save-gunshot-victims

Ur-Fascism by Umberto Eco

fascism, history, politics, Umberto, Eco, ur-fascism

Fascism became an all-purpose term because one can eliminate from a fascist regime one or more features, and it will still be recognizable as fascist. Take away imperialism from fascism and you still have Franco and Salazar. Take away colonialism and you still have the Balkan fascism of the Ustashes. Add to the Italian fascism a radical anti-capitalism (which never much fascinated Mussolini) and you have Ezra Pound. Add a cult of Celtic mythology and the Grail mysticism (completely alien to official fascism) and you have one of the most respected fascist gurus, Julius Evola. But in spite of this fuzziness, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

via http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1995/06/22/ur-fascism/

$100 Billion Chinese-Made City Near Singapore ‘Scares the Hell Out of Everybody’

Bloomberg, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Johor, Bahru, cities, SEZ, megacities, economics

The landscaped lawns and flowering shrubs of Country Garden Holdings Co.’s huge property showroom in southern Malaysia end abruptly at a small wire fence. Beyond, a desert of dirt stretches into the distance, filled with cranes and piling towers that the Chinese developer is using to build a $100 billion city in the sea. While Chinese home buyers have sent prices soaring from Vancouver to Sydney, in this corner of Southeast Asia it’s China’s developers that are swamping the market, pushing prices lower with a glut of hundreds of thousands of new homes. They’re betting that the city of Johor Bahru, bordering Singapore, will eventually become the next Shenzhen. “These Chinese players build by the thousands at one go, and they scare the hell out of everybody,” said Siva Shanker, head of investments at Axis-REIT Managers Bhd. and a former president of the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents. “God only knows who is going to buy all these units, and when it’s completed, the bigger question is, who is going to stay in them?” The Chinese companies have come to Malaysia as growth in many of their home cities is slowing, forcing some of the world’s biggest builders to look abroad to keep erecting the giant residential complexes that sprouted across China during the boom years. They found a prime spot in this special economic zone, three times the size of Singapore, on the southern tip of the Asian mainland.

via http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016–11–21/–100-billion-chinese-made-city-near-singapore-scares-the-hell-out-of-everybody

The Unlikely Origins of Russia’s Manifest Destiny

Foreign, Policy, economics, geopolitics, USSR, Russia, NATO

Mainstream political scientists look slightly askance at the subset of geopolitics. They regard geopoliticians much as mainstream economists regard the so-called “gold bugs,” who persist in believing in the eternal value of gold as a medium of exchange and who place their faith in the old constants which they are sure will inevitably reappear. Similarly, the geopoliticans, an exotic subculture within the expert community, believe that despite lofty principles and progress, the mean — strategic conflict over land — will always prevail. Sometimes, they are right. The Foundations of Geopolitics sold out in four editions, and continues to be assigned as a textbook at the General Staff Academy and other military universities in Russia. “There has probably not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period which has exerted a comparable influence on Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites,” writes historian John Dunlop, a Hoover Institution specialist on the Russian right.

via https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/27/geopolitics-russia-mackinder-eurasia-heartland-dugin-ukraine-eurasianism-manifest-destiny-putin/

Pre-mutated products: where did all those “hoverboards” come from? #1yrago

mostlysignssomeportents:

Those bowtie-shaped “motorized self-balancing two-wheeled scooters” you see in the windows of strip-mall cellphone repair shops and in mall-kiosks roared out of nowhere and are now everywhere, despite being so new that we don’t even know what they’re called.

This week’s Planet Money (MP3) travels to Shenzhen, China, “the world’s factory,” and tries to figure out where this all started. As near as they can tell, a Chinese engineer in the USA successfully kickstarted a self-balancing board, the videos were seen by engineers in China, who figured out a much cheaper way to make a similar board (they use a clever system of linkages between motors instead of accelerometers and gyroscopes) using commodity parts, and factories started to tool up to make the boards, selling them through Alibaba and importer/exporters.

Buzzfeed’s Joseph Bernstein also travelled to Shenzhen and spoke with many of the people in the hoverboard supply-chain: small factory owners, sales reps, workers, and exporter/distributors from around the world who’re trying to figure out which of the identical-seeming gizmos to send abroad.

Bernstein is interested in this phenomenon as “memeufacturing” – a couple of social-media stars (or garden-variety celebs) post viral videos of themselves using an obscure gadget, and halfway around the world, factories shut down their e-cig lines and convert them, almost overnight, to hoverboard manufacturing lines. Bernstein cites a source who says that there are 1,000 hoverboard factories in South China – and another one, Chic Smart, outside of Shanghai, that’s threatening to sue all the rest for patent infringement (good luck with that).

The speed at which the retooling took place is baffling. South China’s factories have the nimbleness born of precarity (retool or die!) but even by those standards, 1,000 factories is an incredible number: two factories a daysince the first (?) hoverboard shipped.

As amazing as that manufacturing story is, I think the weirdness of the product itself is even more amazing. I remember visiting China in 2007 and seeing a million bizarre variants on Ipods, which were the hot category at the time. That story was easy to understand: Apple spent a fortune opening a market for music players of a certain size and shape. China’s entrepreneurs, living in a bubble where Apple’s patents and trademarks were largely unenforceable, set to copying that design, and (this is the important part)varying it. Trying out combinations that were weird and unlikely (and almost entirely doomed). In the absence of a control-freak company with the power of the state behind it, variation flourished, a mini-Galapagos of Ipod-ish gadgets in every color and shape.

But hoverboards are different: they are knockoffs without an original. The copies of the “original” hoverboard (if anyone can ever agree on what that was) created the market, and they were already varied and mutated. There was never a moment at which all the bus-shelters and billboards touted an ideal, original hoverboard that the bottom-feeders started to nibble away at. The pre-mutated hoverboards arrived without a name (they still don’t have a name – I’m calling them hoverboards, but there are lots of other things that their riders call them). They arrived without an original shape, aspect ratio, size, charge-time, or color scheme.

They’re part of a new category of hyperspeed gadgets – like ecigs and LED lightbulbs – that have no authoritative version. Products that start life as commodities.

A fun science fiction exercise is to imagine things that are hard and formalized and regulated being replaced with things that are fluid and bottom up. Imagine what a car would look like if it were made this way. Imagine prefab buildings.

Cranes.

Airplanes.

It’s a funny old, new, world.

https://boingboing.net/2015/11/29/pre-mutated-products-where-di.html

Apparent uselessness

robot, epistemology, learning, exploration, dominant, progressivist, narratives, undreamed-of-utilit

Sometime last year I picked up on Kenneth Stanley’s and Joel Lehmann’s 2015 book called Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned - The Myth of the Objective. In the book they develop an argument for an advanced teleology based on experiments with synthetic processes of knowledge acquisition in the context of AI, ALife, and Learning. The argument roughly says, that if you want to reach a goal, that is ambitious in the sense that the exact sequence of steps (the route) which will get you there, is not known, then accumulating possible steps is a better strategy than heading directly into the direction of the goal. That’s because chances are, that some of these steps will turn out, but unforseeably so, to be precisely what is needed to make the next move when negotiating the route. So far so good

via http://x75.github.io/2016/10/06/apparent-uselessness/

EU citizenship proposal could guarantee rights in Europe after Brexit

EU, EC, Europe, Europa, Brexit, politics, citizenship, polity

The European parliament is to review a proposal for an associate EU citizenship open to nationals of a country that has left the union but who want to stay part of the European project and retain some of their EU rights. The plan, tabled by a liberal MEP from Luxembourg, could mean British citizens who opt for the new status would be able to continue to travel freely and live on the continent – rights that may no longer be automatic after Brexit. “It’s clear the UK is divided, and many people want to remain part of Europe,” said Charles Goerens, who proposed amendment 882 to a draft report by the parliament’s constitutional affairs committee on possible changes to “the current institutional set-up” of the European Union.

via https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/09/eu-citizenship-proposal-could-guarantee-rights-in-europe-after-brexit

“The ruling class tells us that the future is inevitably bright; left-leaning curmudgeons reassure themselves that the future is…

““The ruling class tells us that the future is inevitably bright; left-leaning curmudgeons reassure themselves that the future is inevitably gloomy,” he writes. But the future is neither bright nor gloomy: it’s what we make of it. Between the temptations of nihilism and utopianism lies politics, with its rhythms of long, slow struggle punctuated by the occasional social explosion. It may not provide the thrill of pretending to know the future, but it’s the only force capable of creating a world we might want to live in.”

Four Futures: Life After Capitalism review – will robots bring utopia or terror? | Books | The Guardian (vianewdarkage)

What if jobs are not the solution but the problem?

economics, politics, work, employment, UBI, culture, history

Certainly this crisis makes us ask: what comes after work? What would you do without your job as the external discipline that organises your waking life – as the social imperative that gets you up and on your way to the factory, the office, the store, the warehouse, the restaurant, wherever you work and, no matter how much you hate it, keeps you coming back? What would you do if you didn’t have to work to receive an income? And what would society and civilisation be like if we didn’t have to ‘earn’ a living – if leisure was not our choice but our lot? Would we hang out at the local Starbucks, laptops open? Or volunteer to teach children in less-developed places, such as Mississippi? Or smoke weed and watch reality TV all day? I’m not proposing a fancy thought experiment here. By now these are practical questions because there aren’t enough jobs. So it’s time we asked even more practical questions. How do you make a living without a job – can you receive income without working for it? Is it possible, to begin with and then, the hard part, is it ethical? If you were raised to believe that work is the index of your value to society – as most of us were – would it feel like cheating to get something for nothing?

via https://aeon.co/essays/what-if-jobs-are-not-the-solution-but-the-problem

One of my all-time favourite art pieces is “Grass Roots Square” by Do Ho Suh.  50,000 tiny metal sculptures, with individual…

operafantomet:

One of my all-time favourite art pieces is “Grass Roots Square” by Do Ho Suh. 

50,000 tiny metal sculptures, with individual details, forming what from a distance looks like lawn patches. The closer you get, the more fascinating it is. And of course: united they’re stronger. You can see more photos at Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/grassrootssquare/

Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better.

Medium, futures, 2030, scenarios, economics, technology, privacy, outsourced servitude, WEF

First communication became digitized and free to everyone. Then, when clean energy became free, things started to move quickly. Transportation dropped dramatically in price. It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes. We started transporting ourselves in a much more organized and coordinated way when public transport became easier, quicker and more convenient than the car. Now I can hardly believe that we accepted congestion and traffic jams, not to mention the air pollution from combustion engines. What were we thinking?

via https://medium.com/world-economic-forum/welcome-to–2030-i-own-nothing-have-no-privacy-and-life-has-never-been-better-ee2eed62f710

First they took over communication. I don’t believe what I hear anymore. I only trust what I see out there in the streets. Then, when they took over the energy grid and fuel supply, things started to move quickly. Transportation became increasingly restricted. It made no sense for us to use cars anymore, since their control systems wouldn’t let us go anywhere inside the city anyway. And the militias control the countryside, so with a bit of skin pigmentation, there’s no telling whether you’ll end up as labor or food. I wonder what those flying cars look like from the inside. The only things that fly around here are the autonomous police drones. Forget about using public transportation. Unless you want to get tased. Or shot. Their facial recognition software is not good at distinguishing dark faces, so they may well confuse you with a known threat. Now, I can hardly believe that we were once allowed to move freely about the city, not to mention not being watched by persistent, omnipresent security systems. Sometimes I use the sewers when I need to go to somewhere far. They haven’t rigged them up with cameras yet, I think. I guess the smell is deterrence enough for most people. It’s hard to wash off that journey.

via https://medium.com/@chulu/welcome-to-their-city–692f419c98b3

What is the Adjacent Possible?

Medium, adjacent possible, biology, evolution, possibillity, futures, Martin Erlić

The “adjacent possible” is the most salient, most shared and perhaps most important of a cacophony of colorful metaphors about biology, information, and networks offered us by Stuart Kauffman in his seminal “At Home in the Universe”. Kauffman is an American theoretical biologist whose work on the mathematics of boolean networks and the biology of genomic regulatory networks in practice has defined our understanding of both the possible origins of life and of the contemporary dynamics of complex adaptive systems, such as the biosphere and the econosphere at scale. So what is the adjacent possible?

via https://medium.com/@Santafebound/what-is-the-adjacent-possible–17680e4d1198

Objects From An Alien World: What is Design Fiction?

design fiction, fadesingh, mathematics, history, questions, 2015

fadesingh:

I’m just archiving this Asian Age summary of a lecture from 9th April 2015, because the newspaper webpage has vanished. [Photos

Time Out listingHow would you design an object for a world that does not exist? What does such an object say about the world in which we actually live? This idea tugs at the core of ‘design fiction’ practice. For instance, the iPad first appeared in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Its writer Arthur C. Clarke was also the first to imagine geostationary satellites. The impact of Minority Report on human-computer interfaces cannot be overstated. Even outside of fully formed fictional worlds, a standalone object can trigger many unexpected narratives, such as the famous 3D-printed gun or the US Army’s “indestructible sandwich”. We will discuss these and many other examples of speculative design in this talk. 

Asian Age Article:  (16 Apr) For Rohit Gupta, the essential question isn’t “why” but “why not”. He held forth on the concept of “design fiction” at a talk in the city recently. His previous projects include trying to figure out a way to fit astronomical contraptions on top of auto-rickshaws and coming up with a mechanism to type through walking (in which one could type out a whole text message in no less than seven hours!). While many around him may wonder “why”, for Rohit Gupta aka Compasswala aka fadesingh, the only question is “why not”. Giving a talk on design fiction at the Maker’s Asylum, the researcher who studies the history of science and mathematics explained why for him fiction was everywhere, not just in the depiction of future, but even the past. Speaking about what exactly design fiction is, Rohit says, “It’s about the objects. Design fiction deals with how to create objects that describe or imply a story or an aspect about a world that doesn’t exist.” Going on to give us an example in his own style, Rohit says, “Let us consider hypothetically that there was a catastrophic event in Mumbai in 1960 that entirely changed the city. Now let us take a map of Mumbai in 2015 that shows how it looks now in that scenario. We don’t have to describe everything that happened in the time frame between the disaster and now, but just the map, which is an object of design fiction can show or tell us a huge number of details about that world. ‘That’ is design fiction.” Rohit adds, “Design fiction has existed for a long time. Now we may have sci-fi movies and earlier there were books. But those were just the  interfaces. It has existed for long before these interfaces came about.” While sci-fi and fiction is usually considered to depict the future or altogether different realities, Rohit contends, it is equally relevant and present in describing the past as well. 

He explains, “Not many might have heard about the Ishango bone. Now the Ishango bone is considered to be the oldest mathematical instrument known to man. But basically it is just a simple bone with hand carved lines drawn on it in varying sequences. Now what these prehistoric humans were trying to do with those lines we don’t know, but researchers have interpreted various reasons ranging from calculating menstrual cycles to lunar calendars. But this is our modern interpretation of what this particular object tells us. It could well have been something else but these are the stories we are interpreting from it. So this is design fiction as well, only in the past.” Design fiction, says Rohit, varies from the miniscule to the astronomical. “You could create a simple toy in a workshop or you could even create an enter solar system like Asimov (Isaac) did in Nightfall.” But while the potential of design fiction could be limitless, it is upto us to ask the questions from whence we can derive the answers says Rohit. “This is increasingly becoming a trend. Researchers in top institutes are  taking questions that may sound ridiculous and are coming up with the most scientific explanations for them. For example, 'How does a Muslim astronomer face Mecca while in space’ but believe it or not the Malaysians have actually come up with an entire manual for it.” And progress, says Rohit is all about not shying away from doing what may sound crazy. “One of my friends, a poet named Christian Book is now engaged in a project to create the world’s first indestructible book. How he’s doing it is the most interesting part. He actually took a strain of this microbe called Dienococcus Radiodurans, which is an extremophile (Something which can survive in extreme conditions such nuclear blasts, volcanoes or even in space) and imprinting a poem into its very DNA and is planning to launch it off into space. Now whom he is writing for or what the poem itself is irrelevant. But the only question is 'Why the hell not’,” concludes the Compasswala.

We believe that abstraction, a movement away from realism but towards reality, is the ultimate form of engagement. We believe…

“We believe that abstraction, a movement away from realism but towards reality, is the ultimate form of engagement. We believe that to focus on the physical dimensions of design, to create a piece of design as a functional entity, as an object in itself, is the most social and political act a designer can perform.That’s why we believe in color and form, type and spacing, paper and ink, space and time, object and function and, most of all, context and concept.”

Experimental Jetset (viainthenoosphere)

How Do the Brains of People Who Don’t Like Music Work? Researchers from the Cognition and Cerebral Plasticity group of the…

brucesterling:

currentsinbiology:

How Do the Brains of People Who Don’t Like Music Work?

Researchers from the Cognition and Cerebral Plasticity group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Barcelona (IDIBELL-UB), in collaboration with researchers from the University of McGill (Montreal), have published a new study in which brain mechanisms associated to the lack of sensitivity to music are explained. The study, published by PNAS journal, gives clues about the importance of music at an evolutionary level based on the connection between the auditory and emotional areas of the brain.

Although listening to music is considered a rewarding activity on a universal scale, about 3-5% of the healthy population does not experience pleasurable feelings in response to any type of music. This condition is known by the specific name of musical anhedonia. “Anhedonic people do not have problems correctly perceiving and processing the information contained in a melody (such as intervals or rhythms) and present a normal pleasure response to other pleasant stimuli (such as money), but do not enjoy musical stimuli”, explains Noelia Martínez-Molina, researcher at the IDIBELL-UB group and lead author of the study. Although the existence of this phenomenon has been known for some years, it was not known why or how it was produced.

“Neural correlates of specific musical anhedonia” by Noelia Martínez-Molina, Ernest Mas-Herrero, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells, Robert J. Zatorre, and Josep Marco-Pallarés in PNAS. Published online October 31 2016 doi:10.1073/pnas.1611211113

Neural correlates of specific musical anhedonia. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to IDIBELL.

*What if you could take a pill and not like music any more

Digital Provenance and the Artwork as Derivative

art, art-theory, McKenzie-Wark, finance, simulation, derivatives, attention, provenance, production

I think what is most interesting about the relation between art and information is the reciprocal relation between art as rarity and information as ubiquity. It turns out that ubiquity can be a kind of distributed provenance, of which the artwork itself is the derivative. The artwork is then ideally a portfolio of different kinds of simulated value, the mixture of which can be a long-term hedge against the risks of various kinds of simulated value falling—such as the revealing of the name of a hidden artist, or the decline of the intellectual discourse on which the work depended, or the artist falling into banality and overproduction. Since art became a special kind of financial instrument rather than a special kind of manufactured article, it no longer needs to have a special means for its making, or even perhaps special makers. Indeed, curators now rival artists for influence the way DJs rival musicians. Both are a kind of portfolio manager of the qualitative. The next step after the dematerialization of the artwork may be the dematerialization of the art worker, whose place could be taken by new kinds of algorithmic functions. These would still have to produce the range of simulations that might anchor the artwork as a derivative of their various kinds of sign value.

via http://www.e-flux.com/journal/77/77374/digital-provenance-and-the-artwork-as-derivative/

Hong Kong’s socially conscious photography isn’t considered “as charming” as Chinese photography in the market. Yet, that is…

photography, HK, Hong Kong, Tam Hoi-ying, Being Disappeared, 被消失, IPA, interview

Hong Kong’s socially conscious photography isn’t considered “as charming” as Chinese photography in the market. Yet, that is also the reason why Hong Kong photography is so uniquely crucial to the Chinese-speaking community.Hong Kongers are not unfamiliar with the name Liu Xiaobo. The Chinese human rights activist who called for political reforms of the communist party was detained after his participation in Charter 08 in 2008, and was later sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. China is notorious for imprisoning activists and anyone whose speech are considered a threat to the communist single-party rule. Liu’s misfortune is certainly not a rare event in China, in fact he is one along the line of political prisoners, from human right lawyers investigating the school collapse during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 to more recently Lee Bo, the staff of Causeway Bay Bookstore in Hong Kong selling party-banned political books, who reportedly was arrested in Hong Kong by Chinese authority to help with an “ongoing investigation”. 

We have one year to make democracy work in Europe. Or else the Trumps take over

EU, EC, Europa, Europe, democracy, politics, sortition, randomness, Innovation, Athens, SA, Ireland

Come on, Europe. Take Europeans seriously. Let them speak. Why educate the masses if they are not allowed to talk? Look at Ireland, the most innovative democracy in Europe. Just weeks ago, a random sample of a hundred Irish citizens, drafted by lot, was brought together to form a Citizens’ Assembly. This is a country that trusts its citizens, rather than fearing them. Over the next year, they will discuss five topics, including abortion, referendums, and climate change. They will invite all the experts they want to hear. This Assembly is the second of its kind. In 2013 and 2014, a similar procedure asked Irish citizens to make policy recommendations about a range of topics including marriage equality. Their proposal for constitutional reform was later voted on in a national referendum. It was the first time in modern history that a constitution was altered after deliberation with a random sample of citizens. Now, these are ways of doing democracy in the 21st century. In South Australia earlier this year, 350 citizens were drafted by lot to decide whether the state should store nuclear waste from around the world in its desert. The topic was too technical for a referendum and too touchy for party politics. By pulling in random citizens, a much more informed policy proposal was made. (The panel decided against.) What if you were to call for a similar Citizens’ Assembly in the European Union? Every European member state could bring together a random sample of a hundred citizens. They would then meet on four occasions, over a period of several months, in order to answer one big question: How do we make the EU more democratic by 2020? From Portugal to Estonia, participants would get the same amount of time and materials. Every country would formulate ten recommendations. Then a selection of delegates from each national convention, again drafted by lot, would come together in Brussels to finalize a list of 25 shared priorities for future EU policy.

via https://thecorrespondent.com/5711/we-have-one-year-to-make-democracy-work-in-europe-or-else-the-trumps-take-over/570854427–59d8ed4b

“The Power of the Powerless” by Vaclav Havel

Medium, viral samizdat, Vaclav Havel, 1978, czechoslovakia, VONS, dissent, politics, history, osteuropa, solidarity, solidarność

A specter is haunting Eastern Europe: the specter of what in the West is called “dissent” This secter has not appeared out of thin air. It is a natural and inevitable consequence of the present historical phase of the system it is haunting. It was born at a time when this system, for a thousand reasons, can no longer base itself on the unadulterated, brutal, and arbitrary application of power, eliminating all expressions of nonconformity. What is more, the system has become so ossified politically that there is practically no way for such nonconformity to be implemented within its official structures.

via https://medium.com/@bruces/the-power-of-the-powerless-by-vaclav-havel–84b2b8d3a84a

Shirtless Trump Saves Drowning Kitten

politics, authoritarianism, agreement, post-truth, post-fact, facebook, echochambers, filter-failure

Authoritarianism doesn’t really want to convince its supporters that their fantasies are true, because truth claims are subject to verification, and thus to the possible discrediting of authority. Authoritarianism wants to convince its supporters that nothing is true, that the whole machinery of truth is an intolerable imposition on their psyches, and thus that they might as well give free rein to their fantasies. This is what Orwell meant when he wrote that the goal of totalitarianism is to destroy our “common basis of agreement,” and it seems urgent enough just now that hundreds of Facebook employees have formed a renegade group within the company to try to stop the fake-news crisis. (It isn’t only Facebook’s crisis, of course — for a while this week, Google’s top news link for “election results” pointed to a bogus site that showed Trump winning the popular vote — but Google is a search engine; Facebook is where millions of people live.) Zuckerberg should put on his best listening hoodie and hear them. Instead, they’re guerrillas in Teslas, acting in secret and fearful for their jobs. 2017 is going to be magnificent.

via http://www.mtv.com/news/2955021/shirtless-trump-saves-drowning-kitten/#pq=VD83C8

John Keats and ‘negative capability’ - The British Library

psychology, Keats, negative-capability, uncertainty, unknown

What does Keats mean by ‘negative capability’? Clearly, he is using the word ‘negative’ not in a pejorative sense, but to convey the idea that a person’s potential can be defined by what he or she does not possess – in this case a need to be clever, a determination to work everything out. Essential to literary achievement, Keats argues, is a certain passivity, a willingness to let what is mysterious or doubtful remain just that. His fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he suggests, would do well to break off from his relentless search for knowledge, and instead contemplate something beautiful and true (‘a fine verisimilitude’) caught, as if by accident, from the most secret part (‘Penetralium’) of mystery. The experience and intuitive appreciation of the beautiful is, indeed, central to poetic talent, and renders irrelevant anything that is arrived at through reason. Keats ends his brief discussion of negative capability by concluding that ‘with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration’.

via http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/john-keats-and-negative-capability

several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in…

Keats, negative capability, uncertainty

“several things dovetailed in my mind,& at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature& which Shakespeare possessed so enormously – I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact& reason – Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge”

John Keats (on ‘Negative capability’)                     

Neoliberalism has by now woven its key tenets (choice, freedom, responsibility, individualisation) and mechanisms…

“Neoliberalism has by now woven its key tenets (choice, freedom, responsibility, individualisation) and mechanisms (quasi-markets, outsourced provision, payment-by-results) through the very fabric of modern welfare states across the world. This ‘governmentalisation of government’ (Dean, 2002) – the reflexive and strategic enfolding of governmental ends into its very practices – can be understood both as an inevitable step in liberal government’s perennial fear of governing too much and as an alternative instrument to discipline subjects’ behaviours alongside direct paternalistic interventions (Dean, 2002: 50). As Soss et al. (2011: 3) describe, the neoliberalisation of welfare systems reflects the expansion and intensification of the market logic “as an organizing principle for all social relations” (Soss et al., 2009: 2) as well as to “the state as an instrument for constructing market opportunities, absorbing market costs, and imposing market discipline” (Soss et al., 2011: 3). In doing so, and quite unlike the view of markets as ‘natural’ spheres in classical liberal economics, neoliberal arrangements of welfare systems recognise the artificiality and fragility of markets and the need to constantly create, advance and protect market mechanisms and ideologies. As such, neoliberalism leads to more rather than less state involvement and intervention – a rollup and roll-out of the state rather than any roll-back (Brown, 2003; Schram et al., 2010).”

Whitworth A (2016) Neoliberal paternalism and paradoxical subjects: Confusion and contradiction in UK activation policy. Critical Social Policy 36(4): 3
(viasocio-logic)

“the state as an instrument for constructing market opportunities, absorbing market costs, and imposing market discipline” (Soss et al., 2011: 3).

(viashrinkrants)

How to regulate an algorithm

Medium, AI, algorithms, self-analysis, conversation, explication, autoexplication, self-describing-processes

As we make algorithms that can improve themselves — stumbling first steps on the road to artificial intelligence — how should we regulate them? Should we require them to tell us their every step […] Or should we let the algorithms run unfettered? Nara Logics’ Jana Eggers […] suggests that a good approach is to have algorithms explain themselves. After all, humans are terrible at tracking their actions, but software has no choice but to do so. Each time a machine learning algorithm generates a conclusion, it should explain why it did so. Then auditors and regulators can query the justifications to see if they’re allowed. On the surface, this seems like a good idea: Just turn on logging, and you’ll have a detailed record of why an algorithm chose a particular course of action, or classified something a certain way. […] There’s a tension between transparent regulation of the algorithms that rule our futures (having them explain themselves to us so we can guide and hone them) and the speed and alacrity with which an unfettered algorithm can evolve, adapt, and improve better than others. Is he who hesitates to unleash an AI without guidance lost? There’s no simple answer here. It’s more like parenting than computer science: Giving your kid some freedom, and a fundamental moral framework, and then randomly checking in to see that the kid isn’t a jerk. But simply asking to share the algorithm won’t give us the controls and changes we’re hoping to see.

via https://medium.com/pandemonio/how-to-regulate-an-algorithm-c2e70048da3

Disinformation Review

information, disinformation, news, politics, EU, Kremlin, EEAS

The Disinformation Review collects examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation all around Europe and beyond. Every week, it exposes the breadth of this campaign, showing the countries and languages targeted. We’re always looking for new partners to cooperate with us for that. The Disinformation Review is a collection of disinformation examples sent to the EEAS East StratCom Task Force from a network of over 400 journalists, civil society organisations, academics and public authorities in over 30 countries. The East Stratcom Task Force provides an analysis of the trends emerging from the reports received. Opinions and judgements expressed here do not represent official EU positions.

via https://eeas.europa.eu/topics/nuclear-safety/9443/disinformation-review_en

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release

education, history, futures, foresight, hype, Gartner, prediction, unpredictability, disruption, unc

If we believe that, indeed, “software is eating the world,” that we are living in a moment of extraordinary technological change, that we must – according to Gartner or the Horizon Report – be ever-vigilant about emerging technologies, that these technologies are contributing to uncertainty, to disruption, then it seems likely that we will demand a change in turn to our educational institutions (to lots of institutions, but let’s just focus on education). This is why this sort of forecasting is so important for us to scrutinize – to do so quantitatively and qualitatively, to look at methods and at theory, to ask who’s telling the story and who’s spreading the story, to listen for counter-narratives.

via http://hackeducation.com/2016/11/02/futures

“There often are competing claims as to who invented a technology and when, for example, and there are early prototypes that…

tech, technolgy, history, economics, the shock of the old, futures

“There often are competing claims as to who invented a technology and when, for example, and there are early prototypes that may or may not “count.” James Clerk Maxwell did publish A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in 1873. Alexander Graham Bell made his famous telephone call to his assistant in 1876. Guglielmo Marconi did file his patent for radio in 1897. John Logie Baird demonstrated a working television system in 1926. The MITS Altair 8800, an early personal computer that came as a kit you had to assemble, was released in 1975. But Martin Cooper, a Motorola exec, made the first mobile telephone call in 1973, not 1983. And the Internet? The first ARPANET link was established between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in 1969. The Internet was not invented in 1991. […] Economic historians who are interested in these sorts of comparisons of technologies and their effects typically set the threshold at 50% – that is, how long does it take after a technology is commercialized (not simply “invented”) for half the population to adopt it. This way, you’re not only looking at the economic behaviors of the wealthy, the early-adopters, the city-dwellers, and so on (but to be clear, you are still looking at a particular demographic – the privileged half.)”

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release. Audrey Watters.

What Chinese corner-cutting reveals about modernity

Chabuduo, China, modernity, improvisation, craft, production, politics, culture

In the West, unions (for manual labourers) and professional associations (for groups such as doctors and lawyers) played a critical role in setting national standards. They gave people an identity that depended, in part, on both mastery and morality, a group of peers to compete against, and to be held to account by. But, as Adam Smith argued in The Wealth of Nations (1776), every profession ‘ends in a conspiracy against the public’ and the Chinese Communist Party tolerates no conspiracies except its own. Especially since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, any group that might represent a cross-national basis of resistance to the Party has been cut down. Unionisation, outside of the toothless and corrupt All-China Trade Union Federation, is a threat to the Party, which no more wants hod-carriers or rail workers across the nation to come together than it does Christians, democrats or feminists. In the end, what perpetuates China’s carelessness most might be sheer ubiquity. Craft inspires. A writer can be stirred to the page by hearing a song or watching a car being repaired, a carpenter revved up by a poem or a motorbike. But the opposite also holds true; when you’re surrounded by the cheaply done, the half-assed and the ugly, when failure is unpunished and dedication unrewarded all around, it’s hard not to think that close enough is good enough. Chabuduo.

via https://aeon.co/essays/what-chinese-corner-cutting-reveals-about-modernity

Why Do We Study Ice?

nasa:

Discover why we study ice and how this research benefits Earth. 

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We fly our DC-8 aircraft very low over Antarctica as part of Operation IceBridge – a mission that’s conducting the largest-ever airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice.

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Records show that 2015 was the warmest year on record, and this heat affects the Arctic and Antarctica – areas that serve as a kind of air conditioner for Earth and hold an enormous of water.

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IceBridge flies over both Greenland and Antarctica to measure how the ice in these areas is changing, in part because of rising average global temperatures.

IceBridge’s data has shown that most of Antarctica’s ice loss is occurring in the western region. All that melting ice flows into the ocean, contributing to sea level rise.

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IceBridge has been flying the same routes since the mission began in 2009. Data from the flights help scientists better measure year-to-year changes.

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IceBridge carries the most sophisticated snow and ice instruments ever flown.  Its main instrument is called the Airborne Topographic Mapper, or ATM.The ATM laser measure changes in the height of the ice surface by measuring the time it takes for laser light to bounce off the ice and return to the plane – ultimately mapping ice in great detail, like in this image of Antarctica’s Crane Glacier.

For the sake of the laser, IceBridge planes have to fly very low over the surface of snow and ice, sometimes as low as 1,000 feet above the ground. For comparison, commercial flights usually stay around 30,000 feet! Two pilots and a flight enginner manage the many details involved in each 10- to 12-hour flight.

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One of the scientific radars that fly aboard IceBridge helped the British Antarctic Survey create this view of what Antarctica would look like without any ice.

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IceBridge also studies gravity using a very sensitive instrument that can measure minuscule gravitational changes, allowing scientists to map the ocean cavities underneath the ice edges of Antarctica. This data is essential for understanding how the ice and the ocean interact. The instrument’s detectors are very sensitive to cold, so we bundle it up to keep it warm!

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Though the ice sheet of Antarctica is two miles thick in places, the ice still “flows” – faster in some places and slower in others. IceBridge data helps us track how much glaciers change from year-to-year.

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Why do we call this mission IceBridge? It is bridging the gap between our Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat – which gathered data from 2003 to 2009 – and ICESat-2, which will launch in 2018.

Learn more about our IceBridge mission here: www.nasa.gov/icebridge and about all of our ice missions on Twitter at @NASA_Ice.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space:http://nasa.tumblr.com