It is sometimes said in TV and cinema that “you can ask an audience to believe the impossible, but not the improbable,” or as…

“It is sometimes said in TV and cinema that “you can ask an audience to believe the impossible, but not the improbable,” or as James Wood writes in How Fiction Works, “This is surely why Aristotle writes that a convincing impossibility in mimesis is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility.””

Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2013. (viacarvalhais)

ESA’s camera will not survive the reentry, expected to occur some 80–70 km up, but it is linked to the ‘SatCom’ sphere with a…

ESA’s camera will not survive the reentry, expected to occur some 80–70 km up, but it is linked to the ‘SatCom’ sphere with a ceramic thermal protection system to endure the searing 1500°C.

Once SatCom is falling free, it will transmit its stored data to any Iridium communication satellites in view.

Plunging through the top of the atmosphere at around 7 km/s, it will itself be surrounded by scorching plasma known to block radio signals, but the hope is that its omnidirectional antenna will be able to exploit a gap in its trail.

Camera to record doomed ATV’s disintegration – from inside / Space Engineering& Technology / Our Activities / ESA (viaiamdanw)

The Silk Road Trial: WIRED’s Coverage

Wired, Silk Road, USA, crime, commerce, trade, black market, legal, illegal

After 13 short days of trial, Ross Ulbricht has been convicted of running the unprecedented, anonymous online black market known as the Silk Road. In terms of drama, those days included everything: a hidden drug empire, a secret journal, lofty ideals, friendship and betrayal, deception, threats of violence, and in the end, a highly coordinated law enforcement sting operation. The jury in Ulbricht’s case deliberated for only three and a half hours before convicting him on all counts, including conspiring to sell narcotics, hacking software and counterfeit documents, and a “kingpin” charge usually reserved for organized crime bosses. But despite that quick outcome, the case will be remembered for delving into issues as varied as bitcoin’s legal status as money, the FBI’s right to warrantlessly hack into foreign servers used by Americans, and the power and limits of anonymity on the internet.

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/silk-road-trial-wireds-full-coverage/

02014 (365) in overview

photography, first person, review, 2014, 365

On the surface, the 365 photgraphs that accumulated daily during last year exhibit a sense of repetition, familiarity, continuity (cf. 02011, 02012 and 02013). As in the previous years, blur (49), light (82), leaves (40), texture (38), shadows (34) and reflections (33) are all present. Many were greyscale (170).

Below the surface there has been a change of pace as the daily practice grows more habitual. The contradictions of the digital present, the inevitable everything of ubiquitous imagery and the more hesitant, folded, reticulated images on expired film, exposure, finding light and shadow, composition, the present moment. The sympathetic magic that every photograph, no matter how disposable holds over time.

02014 (365) in overview

Quite remarkably, while the insolvent states are visited upon by stern IMF and EU officials, are constantly reviled by the…

“Quite remarkably, while the insolvent states are visited upon by stern IMF and EU officials, are constantly reviled by the ‘serious’ press for their ‘profligacy’ and ‘wayward’ fiscal stance, the banks go on receiving ECB liquidity and state funding (plus guarantees) with no strings attached. No memoranda, no conditionalities, nothing.”

BBC News - Yanis Varoufakis: In his own words (viajuhavantzelfde)

Transoceanic shipping is, in large part, responsible for these widening inequalities: since shipping operates beyond the…

“Transoceanic shipping is, in large part, responsible for these widening inequalities: since shipping operates beyond the territorial spaces governed by labor regulations, it allows corporations to do away with the hard-fought democratic and labor rights struggled for and earned within local labor contexts. The internationalization of the supply chain, in other words, is aided by increasing innovations in the speed and efficiency of the shipping market. As a result, circulation has been folded into the production process, becoming a field of experimentation for value-generation in its own right. Of course, there are highly uneven aspects to this story of logistics. Even as members of the International Longshore and Workers Union negotiate their contract under embattled circumstances on the west coast of North America, indentured truck drivers struggle against overwhelming legal barriers to unionization in Oakland and LA, port workers in mushrooming Chinese ports can scarcely dream of ILWU wages or safeguards, and factory workers around the world toil under the poverty line. The world of logistics looks very different indeed from the perspective of Taiwan, California, or the Ocean.”

The Slow Boat to China (viaiamdanw)

All day, we have been sailing through a fog that has hung so thickly around the ship that it has seemed we are drifting through…

“All day, we have been sailing through a fog that has hung so thickly around the ship that it has seemed we are drifting through clouds. The fog has delayed our pilot by four hours: sailing through the Puget Sound’s narrow channel is already a formidable task, made Herculean by the fact that no one can see past the ship’s nose. Take that, multiply it by the fact that the port of Tacoma is situated in a tight bottleneck of an inlet, that an unusual volume of vessels are docked in anchorages clogging passage to the port, and that the captain is being hounded by the charterer to get us to berth on time, and you get the shipper’s molotov cocktail. Short of risking navigating by radar, avoiding ships via yellow blips on a screen, waiting the fog out is the best option. At dinner, the captain sighs. “Fog, congestion, work slowdowns: at this rate, we will never get to China.””

The Quiet Port is Logistics’ Nightmare (viaiamdanw)

The idea of utopia is far more interesting when used as a stimulus to keep idealism alive, not as something to try to make real…

“The idea of utopia is far more interesting when used as a stimulus to keep idealism alive, not as something to try to make real but as a reminder of the possibility of alternatives, as somewhere to aim for rather than build. For us, Zygmunt Buman captures the value of utopian thinking perfectly: “To measure the life “as it is” by a life as it should be (that is, a life imagined to be different from the life known, and particularly a life that is better and would be preferable to the life known) is a defining, constitutive feature of humanity.””

Dunne, Anthony, and Fiona Raby. Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2013. (viacarvalhais)

Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe…

crime, psychology, memory, false memory, conviction, story telling

Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe in and confess to committing crimes they didn’t actually commit. New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years.

The research, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that the participants came to internalize the stories they were told, providing rich and detailed descriptions of events that never actually took place.

“Our findings show that false memories of committing crime with police contact can be surprisingly easy to generate, and can have all the same kinds of complex details as real memories,”

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/people-can-be-convinced-they-committed-a-crime-they-dont-remember.html

In an era of breathtaking, earth-changing engineering projects, this has been billed as the biggest of them all. Three times as…

The Guardian, infrastructure, canal, nicaragua, china, engineering, change, disruption

In an era of breathtaking, earth-changing engineering projects, this has been billed as the biggest of them all. Three times as long and almost twice as deep as its rival in Panama, Nicaragua’s channel will require the removal of more than 4.5bn cubic metres of earth – enough to bury the entire island of Manhattan up to the 21st floor of the Empire State Building. It will also swamp the economy, society and environment of one of Latin America’s poorest and most sparsely populated countries. Senior officials compare the scale of change to that brought by the arrival of the first colonisers.

“It’s like when the Spanish came here, they brought a new culture. The same is coming with the canal,” said Manuel Coronel Kautz, the garrulous head of the canal authority. “It is very difficult to see what will happen later – just as it was difficult for the indigenous people to imagine what would happen when they saw the first [European] boats.”

For the native Americans, of course, that first glimpse of Spanish caravels was the beginning of an apocalypse. Columbus’s ships were soon followed by waves of conquistadores whose feuding, disease and hunger for gold and slaves led to the annihilation of many indigenous populations.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/20/-sp-nicaragua-canal-land-opportunity-fear-route

The Yiwu - Madrid Railway line is a goods railway line from the Chinese city of Yiwu to the Spanish city of Madrid, a distance…

“The Yiwu - Madrid Railway line is a goods railway line from the Chinese city of Yiwu to the Spanish city of Madrid, a distance of roughly 10,000 kilometres (about 8,111 miles), 741 kilometres more than the Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest until now. It is a major component of the New Eurasian Land Bridge.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiwu_-_Madrid_Railway_line

Experimental Simulation of Closed Timelike Curves

physics, quantum physics, time travel, close timelike curves, quantum computing, gravity

Closed timelike curves are among the most controversial features of modern physics. As legitimate solutions to Einstein’s field equations, they allow for time travel, which instinctively seems paradoxical. However, in the quantum regime these paradoxes can be resolved leaving closed timelike curves consistent with relativity. The study of these systems therefore provides valuable insight into non-linearities and the emergence of causal structures in quantum mechanics-essential for any formulation of a quantum theory of gravity. Here we experimentally simulate the non-linear behaviour of a qubit interacting unitarily with an older version of itself, addressing some of the fascinating effects that arise in systems traversing a closed timelike curve. These include perfect discrimination of non-orthogonal states and, most intriguingly, the ability to distinguish nominally equivalent ways of preparing pure quantum states. Finally, we examine the dependence of these effects on the initial qubit state, the form of the unitary interaction, and the influence of decoherence.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1501.05014

The Cathedral of Computation

The Atlantic, culture, technology, algorithmic culture, machine, religion, automation, computing, me

The algorithmic metaphor is just a special version of the machine metaphor, one specifying a particular kind of machine (the computer) and a particular way of operating it (via a step-by-step procedure for calculation). And when left unseen, we are able to invent a transcendental ideal for the algorithm. The canonical algorithm is not just a model sequence but a concise and efficient one. In its ideological, mythic incarnation, the ideal algorithm is thought to be some flawless little trifle of lithe computer code, processing data into tapestry like a robotic silkworm. A perfect flower, elegant and pristine, simple and singular. A thing you can hold in your palm and caress. A beautiful thing. A divine one. But just as the machine metaphor gives us a distorted view of automated manufacture as prime mover, so the algorithmic metaphor gives us a distorted, theological view of computational action.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/the-cathedral-of-computation/384300/

Extrastatecraft is a study of “infrastructure space”, which Easterling, a professor of architecture at Yale, defines as “the…

Extrastatecraft is a study of “infrastructure space”, which Easterling, a professor of architecture at Yale, defines as “the rules governing the space of everyday life” – mostly mundane, repeatable spaces such as car parks and hotels, cash machines, suburbs, business parks, satellite communications and electronic devices. Easterling sees urbanism as lying not in buildings so much as in the information layer of the city that determines how people, objects, buildings (and information itself) are organised and circulated. Urban space is delocalised into a “formula” that “replicates Shenzhen or Dubai anywhere in the world with a drumbeat of generic skyscrapers”.

The art of building this infrastructural space is of course “extra-state”: it still involves state planning and law, but is directed by “new constellations of international, intergovernmental and non-governmental players”. In infrastructure space, companies can be as big as governments.

Jay Owens (hautepop ) Reviews Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller Easterling for Icon //http://www.iconeye.com/opinion/review/item/11449-extrastatecraft-the-power-of-infrastructure-space (viastacktivism)

Imagine, for instance, a bike-rental system administered by a DAC hosted across hundreds or thousands of different computers in…

Imagine, for instance, a bike-rental system administered by a DAC hosted across hundreds or thousands of different computers in its home city. The DAC would handle the day-to-day management of bikes and payments, following parameters laid down by a group of founders. Those hosting the management programme would be paid in the system’s own cryptocurrency – let’s call it BikeCoin. That currency could be used to rent bikes – in fact, it would be required to, and would derive its value on exchanges such as BitShares from the demand for local bike rentals.

Guided by its management protocols, our bike DAC would use its revenue to pay for repairs and other upkeep. It could use online information to find the right people for various maintenance tasks, and to evaluate their performance. A sufficiently advanced system could choose locations for new stations based on analysis of traffic information, and then make the arrangements to have them built.

David Z. Morris, ‘RoboCorp’ (2015)