☾ by EmilyJHansell (via http://flic.kr/p/NPkNBJ )
Huginn and Muninn by Natan Vance (via http://flic.kr/p/Q8vPcN )
Device for Distilling Lunar Humidity, Sigismund Bacstrom, 1797. Frontispiece of Johann Friedrich Fleischer, “Chemical Moonshine,” 1797. 950053
Another uh-oh fact emerging, this time from historical records versus climate models projecting into the future.
We watch those science shows on TV or read about the giant drills that poke deep beneath the surface of the earth and haul up tubes of ice and rocks and soil. From those samples, we learn. This is one of those learning moments: the rocks hauled up show that they weren’t covered in ice during previous warming periods.
Scientists found that Greenland rocks now buried under 10,000 feet of ice were ice-free for long stretches during the past 1.4 million years, leading them to predict the Greenland Ice Sheet could melt more suddenly than previously believed.
That could raise global sea level far beyond current projections over the next few centuries, including recent estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The research challenges the prevailing idea that the ice sheet remained relatively intact during the recent geological past, showing even the thickest ice had vanished during warm periods between ice ages.
Columbia University paleoclimatologist Joerg Schaefer, who co-authored the study, said the findings show the Greenland Ice Sheet may be much less stable than scientists thought.
“Over the last 15 years, it looked like we wouldn’t have to worry too much about the Greenland ice sheet melting too fast,” Schaefer said. “Most of the climate models treated it as a solid ice cube sitting on bedrock. With climate warming, it melts off the top, but it takes a long time. Compared to other ice sheets like West Antarctica, is looked pretty strong and resilient to warming.”
New, direct samples of the bedrock pierced that belief.
If the ice sheet had persisted across most of Greenland during those warm periods, there was hope that it could stay mostly intact despite the Earth’s thickening blanket of greenhouse gases. The new study suggests that, because it mostly melted, there’s little doubt the planet’s warming trajectory will melt the Greenland Ice Sheet in the centuries ahead.
Witness by Hengki Koentjoro (via http://flic.kr/p/NRq9Cz )
As we pass the tipping point toward a world fast enough and interconnected enough to be dominated by emergent systems, our methods of making decisions, and the tools available to help us make them, are changing. Here are some rules of thumb and useful modes of understanding for managing ourselves and others in The Emergent Era.
- Organize around information flows; ditch hierarchy and bureaucracy.
- Empower individuals.
- Replace long lists of rules with a good M.O.
- Get Used to Living in the “In Between.”
- Open up new feedback loops
- Tap into the power of minds and machines.
no.962 by lee jin woo (Republic of Korea) (via http://flic.kr/p/NVZir4 )
by (x)99. (via http://flic.kr/p/NQKhtx )
NYC. by (x)99. (via http://flic.kr/p/Q5gPa8 )
zarzonia by scampagni (via http://flic.kr/p/PSLzzn )
From The Gregorian
Greenland by MMPFilms
“We humans are structurally made of contradictions, living peacefully, sometimes painfully…”
John Glenn’s Mercury Suit
Image credit:Dan Winters
Weirding, as a phenomenon, does not respect the boundaries of your emotional and intellectual mental models and maps. You may not think actual dead moths have a role to play in the functioning of computers, but reality decided otherwise in at least one case. To work, troubleshooting too should not not respect the boundaries of mental models. There is always a non-zero probability that a true understanding of your weird situation will involve dead moths. If your ways of thinking and feeling behaviors cannot deal with that possibility, they are fundamentally fragile.
In 1959, as the director of a secret military computer research centre, Kitov turned his attention to devoting ‘unlimited quantities of reliable calculating processing power’ to better planning the national economy, which was the most persistent information-coordination problem besetting the Soviet socialist project. (It was discovered in 1962, for example, that a handmade calculation error in the 1959 census goofed the population prediction by 4 million people.) Kitov wrote his thoughts down in the ‘Red Book letter’, which he sent to Khrushchev. He proposed allowing ‘civilian organisations’ to use functioning military computer ‘complexes’ for economic planning in the nighttime hours, when most military men were sleeping. Here, he thought, economic planners could harness the military’s computational surplus to adjust for census problems in real-time, tweaking the economic plan nightly if needed. He named his military-civilian national computer network the Economic Automated Management System.
by Kaometet (via http://flic.kr/p/PVd3No )
Fake US embassy operated in Ghana for a decade
Git versioning and diff visualizing tools for designers (video recording from #LGM16) #Git #Design #Webdiff
Trees are like humans in many ways, but they do not age like us or die as we do:
The evolution of emoji is impressive and fascinating, but it makes for an uncomfortable contrast when other pictorial writing systems – the most commonly-used writing systems on the planet – are on the chopping block. We have an unambiguous, cross-platform way to represent “PILE OF POO” (💩), while we’re still debating which of the 1.2 billion native Chinese speakers deserve to spell their own names correctly.
by (x)99. (via http://flic.kr/p/PRFMkB )
by Reuben Wu (via http://flic.kr/p/PFCcim )
A few weeks ago, I was trying to call Cuba. I got an error message—which, okay, international telephone codes are long and my fingers are clumsy—but the phone oddly started dialing again before I could hang up. A voice answered. It had a British accent and it was reading: “…the moon was shining brightly. The Martians had taken away the excavating-machine…” Apparently, I had somehow called into an audiobook of The War of the Worlds. Suspicious of my clumsy fingers, I double-checked the number. It was correct (weird), but I tried the number again, figuring that at worst, I’d learn what happened after the Martians took away the excavating machine. This time, I got the initial error message and the call disconnected. No Martians.
“Octopus in the parking garage” is the new“canary in the coalmine”
–Scott Smith, Changeist
“A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end… but not necessarily in that order.”
Anthropology Today SI on capitalism and magic: (🔓)
Mogamma: Part 1, 2012
Ink and acrylic on canvas
“People that say facts are facts. They’re not really facts.There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.”
“The Reef 2050 Plan was released by the Australian and Queensland governments in March 2015 and is the overarching framework for protecting and managing the Reef until 2050. The Plan is a world-first document that outlines concrete management measures for the next 35 years to ensure the Outstanding Universal Value of the Reef is preserved now and for generations to come.”
We at Changeist, along with a few associates, set up the Thingclash project about 18 months ago now, with the intention of starting a conversation around human values in the Internet of Things (IoT), and to provide tools to help make that conversation easier, more expansive, and more inclusive. We’d like to think we helped drive some of the public critical discussion around the IoT that is now happening more in the mainstream than it was two years ago. With a toolkit finally in place, we have run workshops at various scales, and focused on various specialist topics, over the past year or more. Now, to mark the return of Thingscon NL in Amsterdam, where we ran our first public workshop, we’re compiling the array of cards and exercises together to release as a single Creative Commons-licensed set of materials, available for download.
For sound complexity, one language stands out. !Xóõ, spoken by just a few thousand, mostly in Botswana, has a blistering array of unusual sounds. Its vowels include plain, pharyngealised, strident and breathy, and they carry four tones. It has five basic clicks and 17 accompanying ones. The leading expert on the !Xóõ, Tony Traill, developed a lump on his larynx from learning to make their sounds. Further research showed that adult !Xóõ-speakers had the same lump (children had not developed it yet).
Tuyuca, of the eastern Amazon has a sound system with simple consonants and a few nasal vowels, so is not as hard to speak as Ubykh or !Xóõ. Like Turkish, it is heavily agglutinating, so that one word, hóabãsiriga means “I do not know how to write.” Like Kwaio, it has two words for “we”, inclusive and exclusive. The noun classes (genders) in Tuyuca’s language family (including close relatives) have been estimated at between 50 and 140. Some are rare, such as “bark that does not cling closely to a tree”, which can be extended to things such as baggy trousers, or wet plywood that has begun to peel apart.
Most fascinating is a feature that would make any journalist tremble. Tuyuca requires verb-endings on statements to show how the speaker knows something. Diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)”. English can provide such information, but for Tuyuca that is an obligatory ending on the verb. Evidential languages force speakers to think hard about how they learned what they say they know.
Abandoned Poetic Resonance by bibire.deviantart.com (via http://flic.kr/p/Fd6ko8 )
Tournestantza Colopteareo Uluitaa by bibire.deviantart.com (via http://flic.kr/p/FR4q4v )
“Its form doesn’t matter: no form manages to circumscribe and alter it. Mirror is light. A tiny piece of mirror is always the whole mirror.”
–Clarice Lispector, Agua Viva
by ETWKWWTWK (via http://flic.kr/p/PzYTzi )
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A reading list created by a group of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Muslim, and Jewish people who are writers, organizers, teachers, anti-fascists, anti-capitalists, and radicals.
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)
(via http://flic.kr/p/Pz7FSv )
Towards the black surreal by snowghoul (via http://flic.kr/p/Pxn2rK )
river 291116-1-1 by chrisfriel (via http://flic.kr/p/PxvkXM )
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.
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.
Stunning photo taken in Singapore by Leslie Heng
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.
Learn more in the NY Times here: http://nyti.ms/2gBrxo0
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.
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.
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.
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.”
The Jupyter Notebook is a web application that allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations and explanatory text. Uses include: data cleaning and transformation, numerical simulation, statistical modeling, machine learning and much more.
COLMAP is a general-purpose Structure-from-Motion (SfM) and Multi-View Stereo (MVS) pipeline with a graphical and command-line interface. It offers a wide range of features for reconstruction of ordered and unordered image collections. The software is licensed under the GNU General Public License.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lygia Clark - Óculos (Goggles). 1968. (Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988 May 10–August 24, 2014 @ MoMA).
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.
It’s a funny old, new, world.
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.
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
““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.”
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?
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:
#abstract, #patterns, #fractal, #geometry by x7557x (via http://flic.kr/p/PwtFny )
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?
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.
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?
After spending so much time researching CRISPR, I thought I’d save everyone else the time, write a summary of why I think it’s a big deal, and then curate some of the best content on the subject I found.
by (x)99. (via http://flic.kr/p/Nn24Bo )
“Rewilding is not conservation biology but conversation biology”
I’m just archiving this Asian Age summary of a lecture from 9th April 2015, because the newspaper webpage has vanished. [Photos]
Time Out listing: How 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.