Posts tagged simulation
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.
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.
There are no shortage of stories about couples carrying on “relationships” exclusively via Second Life, a sort of fictional, virtual world. The game critic Kate Gray recently published an ode to “Dorian,” a character she fell in love with in a video game. (“Isn’t it odd how it’s taken so long to reach this stage in games – the stage at which human conversations and relationships feel real?” she writes.) Researchers have even suggested that spambots induce some kind of emotional response in us, perhaps because they flatter our vanities; conversely, one anthropologist has argued that our relationships are increasingly so mediated by tech that they’ve become indistinguishable from Tamagotchis. […] All things considered, it’s hardly a jump to suggest someone might develop feelings for a “believable” virtual human who caters to her every whim. That’s basically the plot of “Her,” isn’t it? (For the record, Homann says, his start-up began before that movie did.)
One way to appreciate the virtues of climate models is to compare them with a field where mirages are pretty much the standard product: economics. The computer models that economists operate have to use equations that represent human behaviour, among other things, and by common consent, they do it amazingly badly. Climate modellers, all using the same agreed equations from physics, are reluctant to consider economic models as models at all. Economists, it seems, can just decide to use whatever equations they prefer.
Product failure is deceptively difficult to understand. It depends not just on how customers use a product but on the intrinsic properties of each part—what it’s made of and how those materials respond to wildly varying conditions. Estimating a product’s lifespan is an art that even the most sophisticated manufacturers still struggle with. And it’s getting harder. In our Moore’s law-driven age, we expect devices to continuously be getting smaller, lighter, more powerful, and more efficient. This thinking has seeped into our expectations about lots of product categories: Cars must get better gas mileage. Bicycles must get lighter. Washing machines need to get clothes cleaner with less water. Almost every industry is expected to make major advances every year. To do this they are constantly reaching for new materials and design techniques. All this is great for innovation, but it’s terrible for reliability.
We present what we argue is the generic generalization of Conway’s “Game of Life” to a continuous domain. We describe the theoretical model and the explicit implementation on a computer.