The Ray Cat Solution

Long-Now, 10000, nuclear, radioactivity, genetic-engineering, bioart, 1981

Philosophers Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri were part of the Human Interference Task Force, employed by the US Department of Energy and Bechtel Corp at the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in 1981. Their solution consisted of two steps. The first step is to engineer a cat that changes colours in response to radioactivity. The second is to establish a culture around these cats, in which the theme is: If your cat changes colour, you should move somewhere else.


Peer review: Troubled from the start

Nature, peer-review, science, knowledge, legitimation, public-perception, process, history, culture

‘Peer review’ was a term borrowed from the procedures that government agencies used to decide who would receive financial support for scientific and medical research. When 'referee systems’ turned into 'peer review’, the process became a mighty public symbol of the claim that these powerful and expensive investigators of the natural world had procedures for regulating themselves and for producing consensus, even though some observers quietly wondered whether scientific referees were up to this grand calling. Current attempts to reimagine peer review rightly debate the psychology of bias, the problem of objectivity, and the ability to gauge reliability and importance, but they rarely consider the multilayered history of this institution. Peer review did not develop simply out of scientists’ need to trust one another’s research. It was also a response to political demands for public accountability. To understand that other practices of scientific judgement were once in place ought to be a part of any responsible attempt to chart a future path. The imagined functions of this institution are in flux, but they were never as fixed as many believe.


The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they…

“The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.”

deleuze, negotiations,129, qtd. inporpentine’s “hot allostatic load”  (viablackshivers)

Rise Of The Trollbot

Internet, troll, bots, chatbot, machine-learning, lols, 4chan, celebrity, democracy

Right now, if you want to have someone attacked by a horde of angry strangers, you need to be a celebrity. That’s a real problem on Twitter and Facebook both, with a few users in particular becoming well-known for abusing their power to send their fans after people with whom they disagree. But remember, the Internet’s about democratising power, and this is the latest frontier. With a trollbot and some planning, this power will soon be accessible to anyone.


Does Language Influence Culture?

Language, culture, thought, time, causality, WSJ

Pormpuraawans, we found, arranged time from east to west. That is, seated facing south, time went left to right. When facing north, right to left. When facing east, toward the body, and so on. Of course, we never told any of our participants which direction they faced. The Pormpuraawans not only knew that already, but they also spontaneously used this spatial orientation to construct their representations of time. And many other ways to organize time exist in the world’s languages. In Mandarin, the future can be below and the past above. In Aymara, spoken in South America, the future is behind and the past in front. In addition to space and time, languages also shape how we understand causality.


50 Years Ago Big Oil Bragged About Being Able To Melt Glaciers, While They Knew About Climate Change


This is another “Holy Shit” moment for the new, environmentally-focused journalists.


Newly-released oil industry documents push back the start date of the world’s most successful disinformation campaign to the 1960s, if not earlier.

The must-read documents, published by The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), strengthen the hand of the numerous attorneys general investigating whether ExxonMobil engaged in a cover-up to mislead the public and investors about the dangers of human-caused climate change.

The New York Times quotes CIEL director Carroll Muffett on the stunning implications of these documents:

“From 1957 onward, there is no doubt that Humble Oil, which is now Exxon, was clearly on notice” about rising CO2 in the atmosphere and the prospect that it was likely to cause global warming, he said.

CIEL documents that back in 1946, the leading oil companies created a “Smoke and Fumes Committee” to back scientific research into air pollution issues and use their findings to shape the public debate about the environment. CIEL explains, “The express goal of their collaboration was to use science and public skepticism to prevent environmental regulations they deemed hasty, costly, and unnecessary.” The Committee, which perhaps should have been named “Smoke and Mirrors,” was later folded into the American Petroleum Institute (API).

[In 1957], scientists with the Humble Oil and Refining Company Production Research Division published — under the company name — a study called “Radiocarbon Evidence on the Dilution of Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon by Carbon from Fossil Fuels.” In other words, by 1957 the precursor company to Exxon knew that burning fossil fuels was boosting CO2 levels in the air.

As an aside, you may recall that the very next year, 1958, the American public saw the first televised warning about the dangers of CO2, global warming, and sea level rise. In a TV episode, “Unchained Goddess,” written and produced by three-time Oscar winner Frank Capra, viewers learn that unrestricted CO2 emissions could “melt the polar ice caps” leading to a world where “Tourists in glass bottom boats would be viewing the drowned towers of Miami.”

50 Years Ago Big Oil Bragged About Being Able To Melt Glaciers, While They Knew About Climate Change

Malevich shows us what it means to be a revolutionary artist: It means to join the universal material flow that destroys all the…

“Malevich shows us what it means to be a revolutionary artist: It means to join the universal material flow that destroys all the temporary political and aesthetic orders. Here the goal is not change – understood as a change from the existing, “bad” order to a new, “good” order. Rather, radical and revolutionary art abandons all goals, and enters the nonteleological, potentially infinite process that the artist cannot and does not want to bring to an end.”

Boris Groys, “In The Flow”, p. 74 (Verso, 2016). Thus, thinking with Groys, the artist’s intent is to join Kant’s metaphysical space of ‘Things’. (viajuhavantzelfde)

This tattoo-like display is made possible by a new ultra-thin protective ‘E-skin’ It sounds like something out of Star…


This tattoo-like display is made possible by a new ultra-thin protective ‘E-skin’

It sounds like something out of Star Trek: a patch thinner than a band-aid that you slap on your arm and, within moments, it lights up with heart rate, blood sugar, and so on — then peels off a few days later. That’s the goal of work by researchers at the University of Tokyo, who have invented an ultra-thin “E-skin” that can protect flexible electronics and make things like on-skin displays possible.

Full Story: Tech Crunch

5 Magical Beasts And How To Replace Them With A Shell Script

occultism, history, culture, magic, daemonology, alchemy, AI, computing, automation, bots

It was the ultimate goal of many schools of occultism to create life. In Muslim alchemy, it was called Takwin. In modern literature, Frankenstein is obviously a story of abiogenesis, and not only does the main character explicitly reference alchemy as his inspiration but it’s partially credited for sparking the Victorian craze for occultism. Both the Golem and the Homunculus are different traditions’ alchemical paths to abiogenesis, in both cases partially as a way of getting closer to the Divine by imitating its power. And abiogenesis has also been the fascinated object of a great deal of AI research. Sure, in recent times we might have started to become excited by its power to create a tireless servant who can schedule meetings, manage your Twitter account, spam forums, or just order you a pizza, but the historical context is driven by the same goal as the alchemists - create artificial life. Or more accurately, to create an artificial human. Will we get there? Is it even a good idea? One of the talks at a recent chatbot convention in London was entitled “Don’t Be Human” . Meanwhile, possibly the largest test of an intended-to-be-humanlike - and friendlike - bot is going on via the Chinese chat service WeChat.


DeepFool: A simple and accurate method to fool deep neural networks

neural-networks, DeepFool, DeepDream, CNN, classification, machine-learning, deep-learning

State-of-the-art deep neural networks have achieved impressive results on many image classification tasks. However, these same architectures have been shown to be unstable to small, well sought, perturbations of the images. In this paper, we fill this gap and propose the DeepFool framework to efficiently compute perturbations that fools deep network and thus reliably quantify the robustness of arbitrary classifiers.


Robots, lasers, poison: the high-tech bid to cull wild cats

ecology, robotics, robot, cats, feral-cats, Australia, grooming, traps

Robotic killers that detect feral cats, spray their fur with poison and rely on them to essentially lick themselves to death have been deployed in the Australian desert for the first time. Feral cats are one of the biggest threats to many of Australia’s endangered species, killing millions of animals every day throughout the country – and controlling them has proved difficult.


Inky the Octopus Escapes, Still At Large!


Inky, before he escaped from the National Aquarium of New Zealand. Here’s the story, from The New York Times:

The breakout at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, which has captured the imagination of New Zealanders and made headlines around the world, apparently began when Inky slipped through a small gap at the top of his tank.

Octopus tracks suggest he then scampered eight feet across the floor and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe that dropped him into Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of North Island, according to reports in New Zealand’s news media.

The aquarium’s keepers noticed the escape when they came to work and discovered that Inky was not in his tank. A less independence-minded octopus, Blotchy, remained behind.

Investigator’s notes:

And this report, from the BBC, so matter-of-fact BBC. Made me laugh:

Denver International Airport in Colorado covers more than 33,000 acres (52 square miles), making it is the largest airport in…


Denver International Airport in Colorado covers more than 33,000 acres (52 square miles), making it is the largest airport in the United States by total land area. The facility is the 18th-busiest airport in the world and the 6th busiest in the United States by passenger traffic with more than 54 million passengers.

39°51′42″N 104°40′23″W


Source imagery: DigitalGlobe

Happy Friday, all. This is Caitlin O’Hara (@caitlin_oh) and Mark Felix (@mdfelix) with our fifth #mashup. A woman walks down a…

Happy Friday, all. This is Caitlin O'Hara (@caitlin_oh) and Mark Felix (@mdfelix) with our fifth #mashup. A woman walks down a gravel road to get into the village of Rosia Montana. In the other photo, the view from the top of Gwanaksan (#mountain named after a traditional hat) in #Seoul, South Korea.
#서울 #한국 #관악산 #echosight #doubleexposure #rosiamontana #romania #southkorea #hiking by echosight (via

“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from…

“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front–”

G.K. Chesterton (viametaconscious)

First came the Breathalyzer, now meet the roadside police “textalyzer”

Ars, Technica, Technology, privacy, distraction, cars

Under the first-of-its-kind legislation proposed in New York, drivers involved in accidents would have to submit their phone to roadside testing from a textalyzer to determine whether the driver was using a mobile phone ahead of a crash. In a bid to get around the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the textalyzer allegedly would keep conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data private. It will solely say whether the phone was in use prior to a motor-vehicle mishap. Further analysis, which might require a warrant, could be necessary to determine whether such usage was via hands-free dashboard technology and to confirm the original finding.


“A poster bearing the image of a Pakistani girl whose parents, lawyers say, were killed in a drone strike, lies in a field at…

drones, military, extra judicial execution, collateral damage, art, culture, pakistan

“A poster bearing the image of a Pakistani girl whose parents, lawyers say, were killed in a drone strike, lies in a field at an undisclosed location in the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. A group of artists in Pakistan are hoping to generate “empathy” among US drone operators by placing giant posters of children in the country’s troubled tribal regions”


Fully automated luxury communism

automation, communism, environment, abundance, work, labour, futures, utopianism, history, Guardian

Located on the futurist left end of the political spectrum, fully automated luxury communism (FALC) aims to embrace automation to its fullest extent. The term may seem oxymoronic, but that’s part of the point: anything labeled luxury communism is going to be hard to ignore. “There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labor, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,” says Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media. “In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.” Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.


Fully automated luxury communism: a utopian critique

automation, communism, environment, abundance, work, labour, futures, utopianism, history, FALC

I believe that it is correct to view luxury communism from a utopian perspective, not in the sense of something that is impossible but in the sense of something that attempts to open up the sense of future possibilities as opposed to a mere repetition of present conditions. Partially this is to act as a critique of the present, partially to act as a spur towards an open future. Indeed, the use of the term ‘communism’ implies a radical alternative future vision, one that is subversive of the present and, yes, even utopian. It is here that I think that fully automated luxury communism, by putting too much faith in capitalist technology overcoming scarcity and the need for labour, fails to imagine a more general transformation of social relations. To avoid this tendency, and to encourage thinking about the overcoming of the paradoxes and miseries of capitalism, we need to seriously engage in utopian experimentation in future possibilities.


The dark side of digital finance: On financial machines, financial robots & financial AI

Suitpossum, finance, automation, digitisation, scale, efficiency, exploitation, labour, Capitalism

But, ‘human interfaces’ are actually quite costly to maintain. People are alive, and thus need food, sick leave, maternity leave and education. They also have a troublesome awareness of exploitation and an unpredictable ability to disobey, defraud, make mistakes or go rogue. Thus, over the years corporate managers have tried to push the power balance in this hybrid model towards the machine side. In their ideal world, bank executives would get rid of as many manual human elements as possible and replace them with software systems moving binary code around on hard drives, a process they refer to as 'digitisation’. Corporate management is fond of digitisation – and other forms of automation – because it is a force for scale, standardisation and efficiency – and in turn lowers costs, leading to enhanced profits.


What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Making

community, labour, production, supply, making, maker, culture, technology, complexity, Tim Maly

It is intoxicating to trace materials and people back towards their origins. You start with an iPhone in Brooklyn and end up in an open pit mine in Alaska, Russia, or Peru. You start with Silicon Valley and end up digging a ditch in Thailand. It is great fun, zipping along unexpected pathways to exotic locales. But Beware! Exoticization is one of the hazards of trying to grapple with networks of sublime scale. So are: oversimplification, marginalization, undue emphasis, overcomplication, obfuscation, and tedium. Tim Cook has spent a lot of his professional life trying to grapple with networks of sublime scale. His success has resulted in one of the most powerful and effective supply chains on the planet. In order to accomplish this, he has had to delegate much and abstract away much else. From the perspective of the supply chain, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, a workers’ strike, and an overlong security line at the border are more or less the same thing. Tim must also avoid oversimplification, overcomplication, marginalization, and all the rest of it. When he gets it wrong, there are substantial human costs.


Simone Hoang - Ký ức

Simone, Hoang, Photography, interview, memory, NL

‘Ký ức’ is Vietnamees voor herinnering, of eigenlijk het ontbreken ervan. Deze titel dekt voor mij de lading. Niet alleen inhoudelijk, maar ook vanwege zijn abstracte typografische uitstraling. De meeste mensen waar ik mijn werk aan laat zien spreken geen Vietnamees en voor hen blijft de titel, zonder uitleg, ontastbaar. Dat suggestieve komt altijd terug in mijn werk. Ik houd van details die verwijzen naar mijn werkwijze, maar die niet in eerste instantie alles onthullen. Zo heeft het boek een rode omslag van lee filter, die verwijst naar de verpakking van Vietnamese kokosnootsnoepjes die ik als kind at.


Dave Morton Is Quitting Everest. Maybe. (It’s Complicated.)

Everest, Chomolungma, adventure, welfare, Juniper, transition

People have been following ghosts up Mount Everest ever since George Mallory and Sandy Irvine vanished on the mountain’s flanks in 1924. A front-row look at death is part of the allure: you climb in order to taste mortality and, should all go according to plan, defeat it. Following many of the highly publicized tragedies, including the deadly Into Thin Air events of 1996, the number of commercial outfitters on the mountain has actually increased. After the 2006 season, in which 11 people died, the number of Everest climbers increased from 447 to 572. “There’s always been a disaster mystique,” said Jennifer Peedom, director of the 2016 documentary Sherpa, who spent three seasons filming on the mountain. “The worse things that happen, the more people come.” The fact that inexperienced climbers could join the parade, given the lack of regulation, only contributed to the chaos, creating a deadly feedback loop.