Sunday, June 18, 2017

Psychedelic Time Lapse


Any story about LSD experiments from the 50's is urban legend by now and should be taken with a grain of salt, or a microgram, as it were. There's the video of the dosed soldiers climbing trees and wrapping themselves in the field-telephone cord, that's a good one, and it's on video, so I guess that's less legend and more real.

Here is a series of pictures that was supposedly done by an artist after taking a dose of LSD. Maybe they were done by dozens of artists over the course of many years and even by different scientists, and only the best were chosen to narrate this story. Maybe the whole thing is made up! Who cares!?

BEGIN

1.  --  0 hr 20 min
Patient chooses to start drawing with charcoal. The subject of the experiment reports - 'Condition normal... no effect from the drug yet'.

2.  --  1 hr 30 min
The patient seems euphoric. 'I can see you clearly, so clearly. This... you... it's all... I'm having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.'

3.  --  2 hr 30 min
Patient appears very focused on the business of drawing. 'Outlines seem normal, but very vivid - everything is changing colour. My hand must follow the bold sweep of the lines. I feel as if my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that's now active - my hand, my elbow... my tongue'.

4.  --  2 hr 32 min
Patient seems gripped by his pad of paper. 'I'm trying another drawing. The outlines of the model are normal, but now those of my drawing are not. The outline of my hand is going weird too. It's not a very good drawing is it? I give up - I'll try again...'

5.  --  2 hr 35 min
Patient follows quickly with another drawing. 'I'll do a drawing in one flourish... without stopping... one line, no break!' Upon completing the drawing the patient starts laughing, then becomes startled by something on the floor.

6.  --  2 hr 45 min
Patient tries to climb into activity box, and is generally agitated - responds slowly to the suggestion he might like to draw some more. He has become largely non verbal. 'I am... everything is... changed... they're calling... your face... interwoven... who is...' Patient mumbles inaudibly to a tune (sounds like 'Thanks for the memory'). He changes medium to Tempera.

7.  --  4 hr 25 min
Patient retreated to the bunk, spending approximately 2 hours lying, waving his hands in the air. His return to the activity box is sudden and deliberate, changing media to pen and water colour.) 'This will be the best drawing, like the first one, only better. If I'm not careful I'll lose control of my movements, but I won't, because I know. I know' - (this saying is then repeated many times) Patient makes the last half-a-dozen strokes of the drawing while running back and forth across the room.

8.  --  5 hr 45 min
Patient continues to move about the room, intersecting the space in complex variations. It's an hour and a half before he settles down to draw again - he appears over the effects of the drug. 'I can feel my knees again, I think it's starting to wear off. This is a pretty good drawing - this pencil is mighty hard to hold' - (he is holding a crayon).

9.  --  8 hr 0 min
Patient sits on bunk bed. He reports the intoxication has worn off except for the occasional distorting of our faces. We ask for a final drawing which he performs with little enthusiasm. 'I have nothing to say about this last drawing, it is bad and uninteresting, I want to go home now.'

POST SCRIPT

Check out this series, again debatable authenticity, by an artist who developed mental illness, but continued to do cat drawings all his life...

Louis Wain and the Evolution of Schizophrenia
2013, Network Address

Comedy of the Commons

Balinese rice patties

Fractal patterns

Fractal planting patterns yield optimal harvests, without central control
Jun 2017, phys.org

Balinese rice farmers make some crazy patterns with their rice fields, but they don't do this on purpose. The rice fields plant themselves in this pattern, using the rice farmers. Just kidding, or not.

These farmers are all part of the same group, using the same resources, that being their rice patties. They plant their rice based on a whole bunch of variables, including the planting patterns of the other farmers who share the patties, and the amount of water flowing down the river. All of these variables are interdependent, such that the farmers in one area may change the amount of water in the river depending on when they plant, which in turn changes when other farmers will plant.

All of this decision-making, however, does not go through a centralized process, and although the farmers are making their own decisions, the final pattern of planted rice fields was not decided by them alone, but by the interaction and feedback of the system as a whole.

from the article:

"What is exciting scientifically is that this is in contrast to the tragedy of the commons, where the global optimum is not reached because everyone is maximizing his individual profit. This is what we are experiencing typically when egoistic people are using a limited resource on the planet, everyone optimizes the individual payoff and never reach an optimum for all," he says.

The scientists find that under these assumptions, the planting patterns become fractal, which is indeed the case as they confirm with satellite imagery. "Fractal patterns are abundant in natural systems but are relatively rare in man-made systems," explains Thurner. These fractal patterns make the system more resilient than it would otherwise be. "The system becomes remarkably stable, again without any planning—stability is the outcome of a remarkably simple but efficient self-organized process. And it happens extremely fast. In reality, it does not even take ten years for the system to reach this state," Thurner says.

notes:
The Tragedy of the Commons

Photonic Cognition


Researchers investigate decision-making by physical phenomena
Jun 2017, phys.org

The Illusion of Control is a common theme here on Network Address. So every once in a while we see something  about how things inhuman, and things not even alive, are making decisions just like us. This forces us to consider whether "we" make decisions at all.

From the article:

"Decision-making is typically thought of as something done by intelligent living things and, in modern times, computers. But over the past several years, researchers have demonstrated that physical objects such as a metal bar, liquids, and lasers can also "make decisions" by responding to feedback from their environments. And they have shown that, in some cases, physical objects can potentially make decisions faster and more accurately than what both humans and computers are capable of.

...
"In a new study, a team of researchers from Japan has demonstrated that the ultrafast, chaotic oscillatory dynamics in lasers makes these devices capable of decision making and reinforcement learning, which is one of the major components of machine learning. To the best of the researchers' knowledge, this is the first demonstration of ultrafast photonic decision making or reinforcement learning, and it opens the doors to future research on "photonic intelligence."

"In our demonstration, we utilize the computational power inherent in physical phenomena," coauthor Makoto Naruse at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Tokyo told Phys.org.

...
[and by the way, when we take this further, like to the inevitable AI overlord conclusion...]

"Such systems provide huge potential for our future intelligence-oriented society. We call such systems 'natural Intelligence' in contrast to artificial intelligence."

"In experiments, the researchers demonstrated that the optimal rate at which laser chaos can make decisions is 1 decision per 50 picoseconds (or about 20 decisions per nanosecond)—a speed that is unachievable by other mechanisms. With this fast speed, decision making based on laser chaos has potential applications in areas such as high-frequency trading, data center infrastructure management, and other high-end uses.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Arts Squabble

Occupy Wall Street, September 2011. Barricades remained for three years following the protests.

Urinating dog joins Wall Street statue row
May 2017, BBC

The Merrill Lynch 'Charging Bull' is the focus of some public/art controversy, after someone put a sculpture of a 'fearless girl' staring-down the bull, and then someone else put a 'pissing pug,' pissing on the girl. A timeline should help:

1987
Stock market crash.

1989
Artist Arturo Di Modica puts the 7,000-pound bronze bull right there in front of the New York Stock Exchange without telling anyone or getting any permission. (That's called guerilla art). Later that day it gets removed by police, placed in an impound lot, but later reinstalled a couple blocks away. The bull was meant to symbolize financial optimism and prosperity.

March 2017
Kristen Visbal puts Fearless Girl right in front ot the Bull. The Girl was commissioned by State Street Global Advisers for a fund on the market that considers itself gender-diverse. The Bull was paid for by Di Modica, the artist himself. The Girl was paid for by a firm. Di Modica calls it a dis to his bull, an act of commerce, not of altruism. She, the Girl, was commissioned to highlight gender inequality, but she was paid for by a firm that trades on the stock exchange.

May 2017
Alex Gardega makes a little dog sculpture, and has it pissing on the girl. He calls the Girl "corporate nonsense."

Now
It's really hard to argue that the statue of the girl has to do with gender inequality when you look at who commissioned it.

Unfortunately, because gender equality IS an issue, lots of people get lots of pissed when the girl gets dissed. Un-further-fortunately, because income inequality and corporate takeover are an even bigger problem than gender inequality, people are more upset that the symbolic girl is getting pissed on by a dog than they are that we as a society are getting pissed on by the entities that constitute the stock market, for example.

It does seem like a cheap trick, the Girl, that is.

But let's not forget that the Bull was already the voodoo doll of the Occupy Wall Street movement back in 2011, such that it was protected by barricades for three years following the protest. It represents the thing that has shaken the moral compass of Western society - corporate greed and power.

Personally, I would really, really, really like to see a bronze barricade placed around that bull.

image source: link


Organs Galore


New lung 'organoids' in a dish mimic features of full-size lung
May 2017, phys.org

"Organoids are 3-D structures containing multiple cell types that look and function like a full-sized organ. By reproducing an organ in a dish, researchers hope to develop better models of human diseases, and find new ways of testing drugs and regenerating damaged tissue."

And for making distributed intelligence composite humans that can float in a tank on a spaceship that gets blinked to Proxima Centauri.

image source: link

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Metabolism of the Anthroposphere


We’re looking at a study here, where social network activity is measured, and in turn, used to predict the level of physical damage to a location (due, for example, to a natural weather disaster)

The main conclusion of the study was obtained when the data relating to social network activity was examined alongside data relating to both the levels of aid granted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and insurance claims: there is a correlation between the mean per capita of social network activity and economic damage per capita caused by these disasters in the areas where such activity occurs. In other words, both real and perceived threats, along with the economic effects of physical disasters, are directly observable through the strength and composition of the flow of messages from Twitter.

March 2016, phys.org

Image source: link

POST SCRIPT

Other Network Address-ing on sociothermodynamics:


For the etymological origins of the anthropospher:
see Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere

And just in case you thought I made up this term, there is a book by the same title, very informative and an eye-opening read for anyone interested in what humans do:
The Metabolism of the Anthroposphere, 2nd ed. Peter Baccini and Paul H. Brunner. MIT, 2012.

Overview from the publisher’s website:
Over the last several thousand years of human life on Earth, agricultural settlements became urban cores, and these regional settlements became tightly connected through infrastructures transporting people, materials, and information. This global network of urban systems, including ecosystems, is the anthroposphere; the physical flows and stocks of matter and energy within it form its metabolism. This book offers an overview of the metabolism of the anthroposphere, with an emphasis on the design of metabolic systems. It takes a cultural historical perspective, supported with methodology from the natural sciences and engineering. The book will be of interest to scholars and practitioners in the fields of regional development, environmental protection, and material management. It will also be a resource for undergraduate and graduate students in industrial ecology, environmental engineering, and resource management.

The authors describe the characteristics of material stocks and flows of human settlements in space and time; introduce the method of material flow analysis (MFA) for metabolic studies; analyze regional metabolism and the material systems generated by basic activities; and offer four case studies of optimal metabolic system design: phosphorus management, urban mining, waste management, and mobility.

This second edition of an extremely influential book has been substantially revised and greatly expanded. Its new emphasis on design and resource utilization reflects recent debates and scholarship on sustainable development and climate change.

POST POST SCRIPT

And for the speculative fiction novel about the anthroposphere, see here:
Mass Transference Device, 2012.

Description:
In this story, humanity is headed for an end point, like the Big Bang, but in reverse, and for humans only. Humanity can avoid this moment of absolute concentration (or do they only speed its advance) by replacing “themselves” in the world with their self-replicates, and then by themselves going backwards through the trajectory of progress. From that point on, humans “progress backwards”, becoming less and less reliant on technology and approaching the original collective consciousness we were all part of before we became individuals (which is not much different than the anthroposphere concept of our future, as presented in the story, only it would be happening in reverse).

This transition is especially difficult because humans, by approximately the year 2070 will have bred out of themselves the ability to live without their anthropospheric bubble. They need, somehow, to breed back into their race, the ability to live like they used to (in the days of the early 21st century).

It is the written thought of his ancestors that Hassam Flessihfo uses to help him make this backwards transition. Together with his partner he passes on his reformed “genes” to his son Samm Ashcroftt, who in turn becomes the first human born with the ability to survive in complete independence of the anthroposphere.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bottoms Up




Lawmakers sick after drinking raw milk to celebrate legalizing raw milk
Mar 2016, reddit

Sure this is more than a year old, but come on - does this story ever get old?

I don't think I need to explain much, because this headline says it all.

Just a couple notes on public health then. Louis Pasteur is the guy who came up with pasteurization, which is just heating your milk enough to kill the bacteria, especially the bacteria for Listeria, which can kill babies and old folks and people with compromised immune systems.

Homeopathic enthusiasts say that pasteurization kills the good bacteria with the bad, and although that may be true, most people would rather take the chance and just kill the listeria-stuff.

I went to a dairy farm in Pennsylvania this month, to take a tour. You know what's in that raw milk? Puss and blood and bacteria. You know what's even better? Every cow's milk gets poured into the same huge tanker truck to mix with each other.

If you're getting it directly from a cow that you know by name, go ahead and drink it raw. But if you're drinking it from a dairy farm like this one, you might wanna wait til it's been pasteurized.

Further, our host told us that organic dairy farming has a downside in that they aren't allowed to use antibiotics on their cows. Good right? Yes, until the cow gets sick; because cows get sick just like us. The farm I visited does use antibiotics, so if a cow gets sick, as soon as they notice it (using their hi-tech milking monitors they can tell if a cow is sick based on a drop in their milk production) they remove that cow from the group and stop milking it. If you can't use antibiotics, what do you do? You hedge your bets. You leave the cow in the group, to possibly infect other cows; and you keep milking that cow as long as you can, and risk infecting your milk. The other option is to get rid of that cow, like get it off the farm forever, which is a big loss, so why would you do that if you didn't have to.

Finally, our host also mentioned how those who own 50-cow farms all share a tanker delivery truck, but if one of them has a sick cow, and sick milk, he can ruin the whole batch. The batch gets tested and if it has the wrong number of bacteria etc., it gets denied and dumped, and everyone loses out because that one farmer tried to push milk from a cow that could have been removed from the herd while it was administered antibiotics, and then returned later.

Anyway, I don't mean to come down on organic-things, but it is good to know the whole story, especially being that 'organic' has become a selling point, which means you can expect the bad parts of the organic world to be left out of the conversation. And homeopathy, keep it coming, always really good stuff.