Thursday, June 12, 2014


Solar powered self-mowing lawnmowers are the most mind-numbing thing there is, when you think about it.

Second in line is the fact that we have had to build structures to keep the Alaskan pipeline from sinking into the  earth due to global warming.

Lastly, 'synthetic musk' is the thing in dryer sheets that make you want to make love to dryer sheets.

The Panopticon is Among Us

via heliocentra tumblr

Ultra tiny camera has no lens – uses algorithm to develop pictures
Mar 28, 2014, 

An extremely tiny lensless camera, developed by Rambus, has been slowly making waves over the past year. Researchers for the company, David Stork and Patrick Gill won a Best Paper award at last year's Sencomm 2013 for describing what the company has created. They spoke again at last month's Mobile World Congress, describing their new type of camera—one that might someday soon be used to give virtually any digital device, some degree of vision.

Instead of a lens, a pattern is etched into the glass above the chip—the imager reads the light that is received, processes it using an algorithm developed by Rambus and converts it into a recognizable image. What's amazing is that the etched pattern on the glass and the chip are both roughly the size of a period at the end of a sentence.

Particular etched patterns allow for light to be intentionally refracted in different ways as it passes through the glass—images made from them would appear unrecognizable to the human eye, but the algorithm makes use of refraction properties to reconstruct the light received into a recognizable image.

Trying to grind ever smaller lenses has reached its limits, thus something new had be developed.

Making a camera so tiny opens the door for its use in a whole host of new applications, allowing them to become aware of their physical surroundings, all at a very low cost—perhaps just pennies per chip—that means they could be embedded in clothes, toys, mirrors, security systems, etc., bounded only by the imagination of device makers. On the other hand, such tiny cameras could also open a Pandora's box if they are used to invade privacy or for control purposes.

More information: Lensless Ultra-Miniature CMOS Computational Imagers and Sensors
PDF paper
PDF presentation

New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time
Craig Timberg, Washington Post, 5 Feb 2014

Maurizio Galimberti_photographer

[This system, stationed miles above an area, can watch many square miles, for hours at a time, where 'targets' are single blips on the area below, being followed for the duration of time. All data can be stored indefinitely.]

Now You Can See Which Websites Are Tracking You in Real-Time
vice, 25 Nov 2013

Self-Replicates - First Attempts

Google patents robot help for social media burnout
BBC, 22 Nov 2013

If maintaining your presence on social media is becoming a burden, Google may be able to help.

The search giant has patented plans for software which slowly learns how you react on social networks.

The software can mimic your usual responses to updates and messages from friends and relations to help cope with the daily data deluge.

The software also analyses continuing interaction and flags messages that demand a more personal response.

Global Emotional Synchrony

that is all
Social networks like Facebook can spread moods
BBC, 13 Mar 2014

taiwanese army

'Emotional contagion' sweeps Facebook, Jun 2014

"People who had positive content experimentally reduced on their Facebook news feed, for one week, used more negative words in their status updates," reports Jeff Hancock, professor of communication at Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and co-director of its Social Media Lab. "When news feed negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred: Significantly more positive words were used in peoples' status updates."

(editor's note)
I do believe that the article above dated March 2014 is referring to the same research as the June 2014 article. Said research caused a major uproar due the ethically questionable but legally solvent 'experiments' done on a set of Facebook participants. So, what I would like to see next is the data showing what happened between the first release of the study's conclusions (in April) and the next burst of media coverage that took place months later. Why the lag and through what channels did it eventually reach mass media?

On Closeness, Distal Perception, and the Medium

grandma's got a point

When people say, about the weather, “It’s close out”, meaning, “It’s humid”, it’s because some things, in a relative way, actually are closer.

Deep sounds, with longer wavelengths, like a rumbling train; and “base note” smells, with larger molecules, like the mercaptans of cigarette smoke, are – relative to our ‘normal’ range of distal perception – closer to us, because they can travel more easily on the excess moisture in the air.

Informational Cascades and the Bubble of False Causation

Information technology amplifies irrational group behavior
Apr 11, 2013,

...information technologies can mislead us by magnifying social processes that distort facts and make us act contrary to our own interests.

Informational Cascade
Curiously, an old book entitled Love Letters of Great Men and Women: From the 18th Century to the Present Day, which in 2007 suddenly climbed the bestseller list, provides a good example of group behaviour set in an online context:

"What generated the huge interest in this long forgotten book was a scene in the movie Sex and the City in which the main character Carrie Bradshaw reads a book entitled Love Letters of Great Men – which does not exist. So, when fans of the movie searched for this book, Amazon's search engine suggested Love Letters of Great Men and Women instead, which made a lot of people buy a book they did not want. goes on to talk about group polarization, echo chambers, and radicalization via information selection algorithms in online forums or searches

"Infostorms", Pelle G. Hansen, Vincent F. Hendricks, Rasmus K. Rendsvig, Metaphilosophy, Volume 44, Issue 3, pages 301–326, April 2013
DOI: 10.1111/meta.12028

see also:
Margaret Heffernan: Dare to Disagree, Aug 2012

Research funding has become prone to bubble formation
Nov 22, 2013,

...past decade's massive investments in cognitive neuroscience as a potential bubble

"These investments have been preceded by a dramatic rise in fields that attach 'neuro' to some human behaviour or trait with promises that the techniques of neuroscience will explain it – and into game-changing explanations of the human mind," Budtz Pedersen

due to ... traditional scientific incentives such as academic capital and reputation are being replaced by monetary incentives and competition

These structural reforms of research management may amplify social phenomena like "pluralistic ignorance" and "lemming effects" ...

"When researchers choose to ignore their private information and instead mimick the actions of researchers before them, they initialise a so-called lemming effect in which everybody publishes in the same journals and applies for funding for the same type of projects. Such a scientific bubble will eventually bust when the programmes' scientific explanations are put to the test, but the problem is that they may already have drained the research system from resources. And then the system will be faced with an investor confidence crisis."

"Science Bubbles", David Budtz Pedersen, Vincent F. Hendricks. Philosophy & Technology, Nov 2013

Pseudoscience, Forgeries, and Faking It for Real

tech support

California lawmaker wants teens to learn to spot fake news
Jan 2017, Associated Press

Science publisher fooled by gibberish papers, Feb 2014

Publisher of science journals Springer said Thursday it would scrap 16 papers from its archives after they were revealed to be computer-generated gibberish.

Sokal's Pseudoscientific Hoax
The Sokal affair, also called the Sokal hoax, was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the journal's intellectual rigor and, specifically, to investigate whether "a leading North American journal of cultural studies – whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross – [would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions".

The article, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity", was published in the Social Text Spring/Summer 1996 "Science Wars" issue. It proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. At that time, the journal did not practice academic peer review and it did not submit the article for outside expert review by a physicist. On its date of publication (May 1996), Sokal revealed in Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax, identifying it as "a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense...structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] he could find about mathematics and physics".

"Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" proposed that quantum gravity has progressive political implications, and that the "morphogenetic field" could be a cutting-edge theory of quantum gravity (a morphogenetic field is a concept proposed by Rupert Sheldrake that Sokal characterized in the affair's aftermath as "a bizarre New Age idea"). Sokal wrote that the concept of "an external world whose properties are independent of any individual human being" was "dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook". ... footnotes conflate academic terms with sociopolitical rhetoric...
[Sheldrake is himself known in the scientific community as a pseudo-scienctist.]
Sokal, Alan D. (May 1996). "A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies". Lingua Franca. Retrieved April 3, 2007.

In the second paragraph I declare without the slightest evidence or argument, that "physical 'reality' (note the scare quotes)... is at bottom a social and linguistic construct." Not our theories of physical reality, mind you, but the reality itself. Fair enough. Anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. I live on the twenty-first floor.
Gross, John, The Oxford Book of Parodies, Oxford University Press, 2010, pg. 307

The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to scientific humor, in the form of a satirical take on the standard academic journal. AIR, published six times a year since 1995, usually showcases at least one piece of scientific research being done on a strange or unexpected topic, but most of their articles concern real or fictional absurd experiments, such as a comparison of apples and oranges using infrared spectroscopy.

Naked Came the Stranger is a 1969 novel written as a literary hoax poking fun at contemporary American culture. Though credited to "Penelope Ashe", it was in fact written by a group of twenty-four journalists led by Newsday columnist Mike McGrady. McGrady's intention was to write a deliberately terrible book with a lot of sex, to illustrate the point that popular American literary culture had become mindlessly vulgar. The book fulfilled the authors' expectations and became a bestseller in 1969; they revealed the hoax later that year, further spurring the book's popularity.

Fictitious entries, also known as fake entries, Mountweazels, ghost words and nihil articles, are deliberately incorrect entries or articles in reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and directories. Entries in reference works normally originate from a reliable external source, but no such source exists for a fictitious entry. Copyright trap is a specific case where the motivation for the entry is to detect plagiarism or copyright infringement.

Fictitious entries on maps may be called phantom settlements, trap streets, paper towns, cartographer's follies, or other names. They are intended to serve as traps for identifying copyright infringements.

The fictional town of Agloe, New York, was invented by map makers, but eventually became identified as a real place by its county administration because a building, the Agloe General Store, was erected at its fictional location. The "town" is featured in the novel Paper Towns by John Green.

Google, alleging its search results for a misspelling of tarsorrhaphy started appearing in Bing results partway through the summer of 2010, created fabricated search results where a hundred query terms like "hiybbprqag", "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" and "juegosdeben1ogrande" each returned a link to a single unrelated webpage. Nine of the hundred fraudulent results planted by Google were later observed as the first result for the bogus term on Bing.
[wtf does this even mean?]

Disumbrationism was a hoax masquerading as an art movement that was launched in 1924 by Paul Jordan-Smith, a novelist, Latin scholar, and authority on Robert Burton from Los Angeles, California.

Annoyed at the cold reception his wife's realistic still lifes had received from an art exhibition jury, Jordan-Smith sought revenge by styling himself as "Pavel Jerdanowitch", a variation on his own name, and entering a blurry, badly painted picture of a Pacific islander woman brandishing a banana skin, under the title "Exaltation". He made a suitably dark and brooding photograph of himself as Jerdanowitch, and submitted the work to the same group of critics as representative of the new school, "Disumbrationism". He explained "Exaltation" as a symbol of "breaking the shackles of womanhood."[1] To his dismay, if not to his surprise, the Disumbrationist daub won praise from the critics who had belittled his wife's realistic painting.

loser of one of the competitions 

Since 2006 there has been held a yearly painting contest in memory of Paul Jordan-Smith and the disumbrationist school of arts: the "International Pavel Jerdanowitch Painting contest".

[how in the world do you make a fake painting for a contest about fake paintings where all the judges know that all the paintings are meant to be fake? furthermore, how do you spoof THIS contest? by making real paintings?]

Entrants do not strive to "win"; they want to lose: "Badness is the fraction of the voters which selected the painting as the worst. Each voter was shown five randomly selected paintings. Therefore the average badness is 0.2. The maximum possible badness is one and the minimum possible badness is zero."

see some samples here

spot the forgeries, take the quiz!
Vermeer or Meegeren?

On Hindsight and Blindness, 12-2012
background on the Vermeer forgeries, the most famous story of forgeries in art, which spawned the science of art forgery forensics

The Postmodernism Generator is a computer program that automatically produces imitations of postmodernist writing. It was written in 1996 by Andrew C. Bulhak of Monash University using the Dada Engine, a system for generating random text from recursive grammars. A free version is also hosted online. The essays are produced from a formal grammar defined by a recursive transition network [graph theoretical schematic used to represent the rules of a context-free grammar].

Racter: Writing Robots, 03-2012
linking to a book written by a computer - The Policeman's Beard Is Half-Constructed (1984)

[suggested reading]
List of topics characterized as pseudoscience

[news on forgeries]
Belgrade researchers view art as self-organization process, Jun 2015

"Our approach is based on the premise that the creativity is a process of artist's self-organization on the mental level reflected in the self-organization of forms, patterns, textures and brush strokes of the painting which determine the aesthetic quality of the artwork."

They wrote that "complexity and self-organization are numerical quantities which could be used to differentiate between an original, creative, artistic intension and realization from the technical process which produces a copy of the work of art."