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Keiichi Tahara (田原桂一) - Cycle: Eclat / 1988-1991
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“‘Some Bookes are to be Tasted, Others to be Swallowed, and Some Few to be Chewed and Digested: That is, some Bookes are to be read onely in Parts; Others to be read but not Curiously; And some Few to be read wholly, and with Diligence and Attention. Some Bookes may also be read by Deputy, and Extracts made of them by others: But that would be, onely in the lesse important Arguments, and the Meaner Sort of Bookes: else distilled Bookes, are like Common distilled Waters, Flashy Things.’”
–Francis Bacon, ‘Of Studies’ (1625)
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“Being alive means being susceptible to viruses and so on. And far more generally, viruses, patterns, appearance, flowers, art-these are all far from useless, they are intrinsic parts of being a thing at all. Causality itself is something to do with magical seduction. How that amounts to “tyranny” just beats me. To me, reality is literally an anarchy. Artists just aren’t tyrants. They can’t be.”
Tsiolkovsky’s Space Conquest Diagram.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was a Russian rocket pioneer. Although he never built a rocket, Tsiolkovsky’s work was highly influential in the development of Soviet rocket and space technology. He became deaf after contracting scarlet fever at around the age of 10 and from then on he schooled himself, mainly from books in his father’s library. He determined that the Earth’s escape velocity was 8 kilometres per second and showed that this could be achieved using liquid-fuel rockets. He predicted many aspects of space travel, including double-walled hulls for meteor protection and the problems of weightlessness.
“While many have said that Google long ago swept their previous “Don’t Be Evil” motto under their rugs, that might be an oversimplification. When considering how anyone moves into James-Bond-esque super villain territory, I think it’s prudent to remember one of the central tenets of good storytelling: the villain never thinks they’re the villain. Cinderella’s stepmother and sisters, Elpheba, Jafar, Javert, Satan, Hannibal Lecter (sorry friends), Bull Connor, the Southern Slave-holding States of the late 1850’s — none of these people whom we all look at with a clear and rightly assessed scorn ever thought of themselves as being in the wrong. Everyone, every person who undertakes an action for any reason, is most intimately tied to the reasoning that brought them to those actions, and so perceiving that their actions might be “wrong” or “evil” takes us a great deal of special effort.”
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Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.
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Test results commissioned by As You Sow, conducted by an independent laboratory, show that one serving of Soylent 1.5 can expose a consumer to a concentration of lead that is 12 to 25 times above California’s Safe Harbor level for reproductive health, and a concentration of cadmium that is at least 4 times greater than the Safe Harbor level for cadmium. Two separate samples of Soylent 1.5 were tested. According to the Soylent website, Soylent 1.5 is “designed for use as a staple meal by all adults.” The startup recently raised $20 million in funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
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“The Cecil event goes way beyond the politics of pity. It’s about what Occupy called the 99%. People are so beaten down by modern life that they realize quickly that they have more in common with a lion than with a dentist.”
“I’d assumed all these miles of cable—or, at least, the publicly managed ones—were long-ago mapped, and remapped regularly. It’s one of the agreed-upon best practices of the 1999 Common Ground Study’s section on utility locating. However, the second-most repeated sentiment I heard from locators was “never trust a map.” It’s less a problem of inaccuracy so much as one of incompleteness and outdated records. It’s up to the locator to fill in the gaps with spray paint. Those markings rarely, if ever, end up back in maps (although, as I was also told many times, the only thing a locator should trust less than a map is someone else’s locate markings).”
To investigate the molecular bases of cephalopod brain and body innovations, we sequenced the genome and multiple transcriptomes of the California two-spot octopus, Octopus bimaculoides. We found no evidence for hypothesized whole-genome duplications in the octopus lineage. The core developmental and neuronal gene repertoire of the octopus is broadly similar to that found across invertebrate bilaterians, except for massive expansions in two gene families previously thought to be uniquely enlarged in vertebrates: the protocadherins, which regulate neuronal development, and the C2H2 superfamily of zinc-finger transcription factors.
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Soft-bodied cephalopods such as the octopus (Fig.
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“You’re in conversation, every day, with Jacquard and Korsakov, Ada Lovelace, Babbage, Herman Hollerith, Erna Hoover, Alan Turing, John Napier, Heron of Alexandria, al-Jazari, Pingala, Liang Lingzan and all the way back to whoever cut tally marks into the Ishango Bone twenty thousand years ago. These are the spirits you speak to as you enact your shamanistic workings. These are your cunning folk.”
Lightning in the center of a cyclone, taken from ISS
The day I moved to Whidbey Island, WA in 1999, on the road back from Sea Tac, two friends and I were in a car accident that might have killed us under slightly different circumstances. That night, one of them left the radio on when he went to sleep. Whidbey is close enough to the Canadian border that one can pick up CBC 2. Between 12:00am and 4:00am, Monday through Friday, they used to air a program called Brave New Waves dedicated to (seriously) alternative music — underground rock, noise, musique concrète, etc. At midnight, without introduction, they launched into a show about Electronic Voice Phenomena, which, as you may already know, is when voices (of the dead, presumably) are detected in the background hiss of recorded audio. A ten-second clip of what sounded like pure static was played; then another, filtered version of the same clip; then another. Eventually, enough of the white noise was stripped out that a human voice became perceptible. It was shocking. You could clearly make out a little girl saying, “Mama, sono freddo.” Then a woman repeated, in a completely flat voice, “Mama, sono freddo.” Finally, in that same neutral tone, she said, “Mama, I’m cold.” And then the process started over again with more static. This went on for hours. I found it utterly terrifying. I actually felt like I was listening to dead people. Mostly, they complained: “It’s dark”, or “I miss you”, or “Where’s my hat?” By the end, I was lying spread-eagle on the carpet in front of the radio, almost in tears, but unable to turn it off. That’s when Patti Schmidt, the host of Brave New Waves, broke in to say, “Thank you for staying up with me all night, even if you couldn’t help it.”
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Stationary Traveler - chromogenic print - oplage 250 ex. - 2011
“Kiribati, as a nation faced with a very uncertain future, is calling for a global moratorium on new coal mines. It would be one positive step towards our collective global action against climate change and it is my sincere hope that you and your people would add your positive support in this endeavour”
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What was most concerning was the vehemence with which AI worriers asserted the cause’s priority over other cause areas. For one thing, we have such profound uncertainty about AI — whether general intelligence is even possible, whether intelligence is really all a computer needs to take over society, whether artificial intelligence will have an independent will and agency the way humans do or whether it’ll just remain a tool, what it would mean to develop a “friendly” versus “malevolent” AI — that it’s hard to think of ways to tackle this problem today other than doing more AI research, which itself might increase the likelihood of the very apocalypse this camp frets over. The common response I got to this was, “Yes, sure, but even if there’s a very, very, very small likelihood of us decreasing AI risk, that still trumps global poverty, because infinitesimally increasing the odds that 10^52 people in the future exist saves way more lives than poverty reduction ever could.” The problem is that you could use this logic to defend just about anything. Imagine that a wizard showed up and said, “Humans are about to go extinct unless you give me $10 to cast a magical spell.” Even if you only think there’s a, say, 0.00000000000000001 percent chance that he’s right, you should still, under this reasoning, give him the $10, because the expected value is that you’re saving 10^32 lives. Bostrom calls this scenario “Pascal’s Mugging,” and it’s a huge problem for anyone trying to defend efforts to reduce human risk of extinction to the exclusion of anything else. These arguments give a false sense of statistical precision by slapping probability values on beliefs.
What was most concerning was the vehemence with which AI worriers asserted the cause’s priority over other cause areas. For one thing, we have such profound uncertainty about AI — whether general intelligence is even possible, whether intelligence is really all a computer needs to take over society, whether artificial intelligence will have an independent will and agency the way humans do or whether it’ll just remain a tool, what it would mean to develop a “friendly” versus “malevolent” AI — that it’s hard to think of ways to tackle this problem today other than doing more AI research, which itself might increase the likelihood of the very apocalypse this camp frets over.
The common response I got to this was, “Yes, sure, but even if there’s a very, very, very small likelihood of us decreasing AI risk, that still trumps global poverty, because infinitesimally increasing the odds that 10^52 people in the future exist saves way more lives than poverty reduction ever could.”
The problem is that you could use this logic to defend just about anything. Imagine that a wizard showed up and said, “Humans are about to go extinct unless you give me $10 to cast a magical spell.” Even if you only think there’s a, say, 0.00000000000000001 percent chance that he’s right, you should still, under this reasoning, give him the $10, because the expected value is that you’re saving 10^32 lives.
Bostrom calls this scenario “Pascal’s Mugging,” and it’s a huge problem for anyone trying to defend efforts to reduce human risk of extinction to the exclusion of anything else. These arguments give a false sense of statistical precision by slapping probability values on beliefs.”
“The vanishing point where scepticism and hope converge”
Vitto Acconci, Virtual Intelligence mask, (1993)
A conventional fencing mask is used as a support structure for electronics; the electronics as a contact with the world outside.
On the front of the mask are three televisions: one larger television facing out and two miniature televisions facing in. The miniature televisions, facing in, cover the eyes of the person wearing the mask; from the outsider’s point of view, the person inside the mask is blindfolded by the two televisions. At one side of the mask is a small portable radio, positioned at the ear of the mask; the radio speaker is directed out.
On the top of the mask are two surveillance cameras, one on top of the other, one directed toward the front, one directed toward the rear. the cameras mechanically rotate side to side.
The person wearing the mask sees his/her environment the two television screens in front of his/her eyes: one screen shows what is going on in front of the person, the other shows whats going on behind.
In the meantime, the larger television and the radio are available for use by passers-by: a passer-by can switch the TV channels, change from one radio station to anotherLiterally “dial” the person wearing the mask. A passer-by can, literally, “turn” the person on.
“I looked down the barrel of the future and saw a dark, empty hole.”
–Roy Scranton,Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
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Mt Wilson Observatory has outstanding peculiar devices. by JulianBleecker (via http://flic.kr/p/wXhLKt )
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Ijen Crater, East Java by Reuben Wu (via http://flic.kr/p/wYFpB4 )
A similar shift in the behavior of the jet stream has also contributed to the California drought and severe polar vortex winters in the Northeast over the past two years. An amplified jet-stream pattern has produced an unusual doldrum off the West Coast that’s persisted for most of the past 18 months. Daniel Swain, a Stanford University meteorologist, has called it the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” – weather patterns just aren’t supposed to last this long.
The “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” sometimes shortened to “Triple R” or “RRR,” is the nickname given to a persistent region of atmospheric high pressure that occurred over the far northeastern Pacific Ocean during 2013-2014. This anomalous atmospheric feature disrupted the North Pacific storm track during the winters of 2012-2013, 2013-2014, and 2014-2015, resulting in extremely dry and warm conditions in California and along much of the West Coast.  The Ridge comprises the western half of atmospheric ridge-trough sequence associated with the highly amplified “North American dipole” pattern, which brought persistent anomalous cold and precipitation to the eastern half of North America during 2014 in addition to record-breaking warmth and drought conditions in California
“A common claim among speculative designers is that our/their designs present new worlds in which people can explore, or even debate, complex issues. But even when speculative interventions are used as a mode of inquiry, little systematic effort is put into assessing (or even asking what it might mean to assess) what participants/audiences get—or take—from design processes or products.”
– Anne Galloway, ‘On Interventionist Speculation’ (2015)