Sunday, December 20, 2015

Meta-Atoms and Light-Bits

120-cell_Carlos Sequin

This is about freezing light, mostly so it can be used as memory in photonic computing, which is one of the places we are going with the future of computing, that is, beyond circuits for electric information. The following two articles are just about the ubiquity of quantum mechanical manipulation in increasingly 'normal' circumstances.

[The Rise of Photonics]
Device can theoretically trap a light 'bit' for an infinite amount of time

To overcome light's penchant for escaping, Lannebère and Silveirinha utilized an idea proposed by John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner in 1929, and later extended by others, which has led to the discovery that transparent structures with tailored geometries can perfectly confine light by scattering it in a very specific way.

Lannebère and Silveirinha showed that this strategy for confining light can be achieved by shining light on a spherical "meta-atom," so-named because it allows light to have only a specific quantized energy value (creating a light "bit"), similar to how an atom allows electrons to occupy only certain quantized energy levels.

Quantum entanglement achieved at room temperature in semiconductor wafers, Nov 2015
[Room temperature, whatever.]

Physicists mimic quantum entanglement with laser pointer to double data speeds, Oct 2015
"While there's no 'spooky action at a distance,' it's amazing that quantum entanglement aspects can be mimicked by something that simple."

The Beginnings of the Mass Transference Device

AKA Metabots, Mindborgs, and Organic Computing


This now makes three-people babies the second scariest thing I've ever heard.

Wiring Monkey Brains Together Has a Point, Say Scientists
WIRED, July 2015

"Today, researchers at Duke University announced they have done nearly that, wiring animal brains together so they could collaborate on simple tasks. Network monkeys displayed motor skills, and networked rats performed computations.

"That’s right. They made a botnet out of brains."

"To build the monkey network, Nicolelis’ team first implanted electrodes in rhesus macaque brains, positioned to pick up signals from a few hundred neurons. Then they connected two or three of the macaques to a computer with a display showing a CG monkey arm. The monkeys were supposed to control the arm, directing it toward a target like a boat crew rows forward. When the monkeys got the arm to hit the target, the researchers rewarded them with juice. (“Each monkey had different juice preference,” says Nicolelis. “We had to do a preference test beforehand.”) To be clear, the monkeys don’t think “move my arm” and the arm moves—they learn what kind of thinking makes the arm move and keep doing that—because monkeys love juice.

"The rat study was even weirder. For this one, the neuroscientists directly wired four rats’ brains together—using the implants to both collect and transmit information about neural activity—so one rat that responded to touch, for example, could pass on their knowledge of that stimulus to another rat. Then the researchers set the rats to a bunch of different abstract tasks—guessing whether it might rain from temperature and air pressure data, for example, or telling the difference between different kinds of touch-stimuli. The brain collectives always did at least as well on those tests as an individual rat would have, and sometimes even better. And in a successful effort to squidge people out, the researchers called these rat-borg collectives “organic computers” or, even worse, “brainets.”"

Animal brains connected up to make mind-melded computer
New Scientist, July 2015

Building an organic computing device with multiple interconnected brains

Computing Arm Movements with a Monkey Brainet

Inherent Fallibility Algorithms and Autonomous Driving

This is a real car sold by hotwheels

Autonomous cars are not working because they follow the rules. All the time. They drive too slow, they don't roll through stop signs, and they aren't aggressive enough to fit the flow of regular human traffic. First of all, how can you legally design into the algos of the car to break the speed limit? But more importantly, and beyond the realm of car-driving, which is better - the perfect world of autonomous-everything, or the one where messy, impatient, fallible humans run the show?

Humans Are Slamming Into Driverless Cars and Exposing a Key Flaw
Bloomberg Business, Dec 2015

The Semibots Are Coming

astronaut painting by Jeremy Geddes 

Talk about artificial intelligence becoming sentient needs to be tempered by the grey-area of semi-autonomy, or the half-robot half-human, because that's where it's really at.

Some fembots are all-robot, but the ones that will really getcha are the ones that are real people working along with intelligent algorithms, and I like to call these semibots.

How Ashley Madison Hid Its Fembot Con From Users and Investigators
Gizmodo, Sep 215

Ashley Madison created tens of thousands of fembots to lure men into paying for credits on the “have an affair” site. When men signed up for a free account, they would immediately be shown profiles of what internal documents call “Angels,” or fake women whose details and photos had been batch-generated using specially designed software. To bring the fake women to life, the company’s developers also created software bots to animate these Angels, sending email and chat messages on their behalf.

To the Ashley Madison “guest,” or non-paying member, it would appear that he was being personally contacted by eager women. But if he wanted to read or respond to them, he would have to shell out for a package of Ashley Madison credits, which range in price from $60 to $290. Each subsequent message and chat cost the man credits. As documents from company e-mails now reveal, 80 percent of first purchases on Ashley Madison were a result of a man trying to contact a bot, or reading a message from one. The overwhelming majority of men on Ashley Madison were paying to chat with Angels like Sensuous Kitten, whose minds were made of software and whose promises were nothing more than hastily written outputs from algorithms.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Network Science is the Ur-Science

(for now, that is)

Understanding of complex networks could help unify gravity and quantum mechanics, Sep 2015

"What we can see is that space-time at the quantum-scale might be networked in a very similar way to things we are starting to understand very well like biological networks in cells, our brains and online social networks."

[personally, I always thought this was the case, but since I am not formally trained in any of these disciplines, I just could never find such suggestions...nonetheless, it is one of the great experiences in life to watch the story of Science unfold.]

Animals Are People Too

Everytime I see articles like this, I think to myself, not that maybe animals are just like people, but instead that the things we consider so special, and the things that 'make us human', are not so.

Social insights from whale chatter
BBC News, Sep 2015

[modified from article]
These great beasts live in very tight social networks, chatting amongst each other using a system of clicks like Morse code - patterns of three to 12 or 15 clicks that vary in rhythm and tempo

The researchers have shown how separate clans - perhaps numbering thousands of animals - will use their own particular subtle sequence of noises.

These vocalisations are not innate - they must be learned, and may indicate the whales are behaving in ways that at some level mirror the operation of human cultures.

"In one clan we call the 'regular clan', we heard regularly spaced clicks, but in another vocal clan that we call the 'plus-ones', the coda types they make have an extended pause at the end before the last click."
-PhD student Maurício Cantor

Homeopathy Psychopathy Astrology Oh My


Can't make it up, folks!

Homeopathy conference ends in chaos after delegates take hallucinogenic drug - 29 men and women “staggering around, rolling in a meadow, talking gibberish and suffering severe cramps”
The Independent, Sep 2015

Trollers Gonna Troll

Patent trolls basically comb the internet looking for people who are committing (something akin to) copyright infringement, and then rat them out to the property owners, while suggesting that they use their own lawyers to take care of the suit right quick.

Needless to say, this is on a scale from pretty annoying to financially crippling for creative entities, and an obstacle to creativity in general.

Now a trolling company, Soverain, which has no discernible business beyond filing patent lawsuits (making them a legit trolling company) is suing their own lawyers after losing a case against some patents. Ah, the news.

Trolling company schooled by Newegg over “shopping cart” patent sues its own attorneys
Ars Technica, Sep 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

In Honor of Christina Symanski

"Life Support", Christina Symanski, circa 2010

Her's a story that will make you stop thinking. To put one's self in the mind of Christina, and to make her final decision, is impossible.

Christina Symanski was a classmate. I was certainly inspired by her enthusiasm and dedication as a studying art teacher. Years later, when I discovered that she had become paralyzed, it hit me very hard. We had gone through the same program together, and had the same job. I don't know many other art teachers. Although the nature of any accident is that it can happen to anyone, something about it made me acutely aware that this could have been my story instead.

She continued to teach, paralyzed. Art. To be honest, I wasn't surprised at this. She was tenaciously dedicated to her work, and I always had this feeling that she was motivated by a force far beyond my ability to comprehend. Some people can stupefy you in that regard. Not to say that her valiancy wasn't any less potent, only that I had given up trying to understand such a person. What she did next was an act of the human spirit which no person can truly judge. I will not recount it in detail, only to say that she chose to end her life.

The legacy of Christina Symanski lives on in so many ways. But whenever I hear stories about robotic exoskeletons, I like to imagine that she is still with us, and that she is wearing one, and then what would she be doing with her life? It is from daydreams like this we draw our inspiration. And as such advancements build one upon another, and one hundred years from now when paralysis means something very different than it does today, then Christina's story will hold even more power. Forever an instructor, of art and life.  

First paralyzed human treated with stem cells has now regained his upper body movement
Jan 2017, The Hearty Soul

A 39-year-old man who had had been completely paralyzed for four years was able to voluntarily control his leg muscles and take thousands of steps in a "robotic exoskeleton" device
Sep 2015


Foot and Mouth Painting Artists have been helping paralyzed artists make a living for themselves for over fifty years. Their artwork is a truly astonishing feat of the indomitable human spirit.

The book about Christina's life:
Life, Paralyzed

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Color Revolution

ReginaLee Blaszczyk, MIT Press 2012

Book Review by Allen Barkkume

This book is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series

From the genesis of the modern color industry through the Byzantine conduits of culture, The Color Revolution presents color as a force to be reckoned with.

Wielding new powers, stunning new clientele, color undergoes a renaissance at the turn of the 20th century. It is unleashed from its crypt by new discoveries in chemistry, then standardized, codified, coordinated, and disseminated to the public in every consumable form – clothes, cars, appliances, architecture, and of course, the public education system. This book offers a good look at how technological change ripples throughout a culture. Also, if you’ve ever had a hunch that there are such things as “color forecasters” and global color committees, you’ll now be well-informed.

Blaszczyk pulls open the first curtain on the Queen’s Lilac, the first synthetic dye color (whereas today we would consider lilac a pale purple, at this time it referred to a mauve/magenta). The Queen of England draped herself in this emblem of modernity, and changed the color preference of an entire population.

Chemist William Henry Perkin discovers the dye by mistake while trying to synthesize quinine from coal tar. Many major discoveries were made at this time, by accident, while trying to make things out of the newfound abundance of coal waste. Benzene, for example, which can be seen as the emblem of all organic chemistry, was finally synthesized by someone working with coal tar. Aniline dye, synthesized from a waste product, showed what chemistry could do for the bottom line of the fashion industry.

With the new synthetic dyes came a new taste for color, a demand for vibrancy. And with this explosion came a need for understanding. The first treatise on “the principles of color harmony” was published in 1854, breaking the chromasphere  down into Hue, Value, Chroma. The standardization of color was prepared in Germany – the epicenter of the dye market in the late 1800’s – to facilitate communication among manufacturers, buyers, and designers. Soon, “color forecasting”, “color management”, and “color engineering” became legitimate branches of this industry.

The public understanding of color came about as a competition between two color theorists. Munsell and Prang pushed their own version of color organization on the United States’ public education system, a major market promising generous and sustained monetary returns to the winner. It was at this time that the 6-part color wheel originates. All the while, as these two entrepreneurial intellects fought for supremacy over the minds of America’s young photoreceptors, the field of color psychology was emerging. Statements like “There is no color outside ourselves” (Prang), and “Color is in us – not outside” (Munsell) attempted to bridge the divide between the practical and the scientific understanding of color by way of a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Furthermore, this systematic organization of color, along with the newly created Textile Color Color Association (TCCA) of the United States, allowed unprecedented coordination between the various players in the fashion industry. During WWI, France, the Western seat of all things fashion, stopped sending their “silk cards” to the US, seriously limiting design production. This spurred the creation of the TCCA, and a new Standard Color Card of America that would provide “chromatic archetypes” for the textile mills, garment makers, retailers – all parties. This monumental coordination effort did have some bumps in the road.

Blaszczyk describes the struggle for standardization. The TCCA put a general request via the New York Herald in 1919 asking for samples of battle ship gray. Manufacturers were asked for samples of basic colors as they appear in nature, in the form of jewels, minerals, flowers, fruits and metals. Upon receiving these, the TCCA found 50 examples of navy blue. An expert committee of textile industry veterans and major department store buyers contemplated and recommended these color archetypes to the association directors, and in the end, the Standard Color Card of America gave a “common language and a universal tool” to the industry. This new common language of the Standard would go on to symbolize American efficiency, as well as its fledgling independence from French fashion.

In a fascinating diversion, Blaszczyk describes the discovery of the science of camouflage. Nothing facilitates scientific discovery like the real-world laboratory of the battlefield. The advent of aerial technology and long-distance artillery changed the visual battlefield and demanded new strategies. Combined with the new discoveries of color harmony and discord in the fashion industry, war-minded individuals questioning whether this new knowledge could lead to an advantage on the field found their answer in the form of the camoufleur, a new kind of military strategist. “A camoufleur combined a painter’s command of optical illusion with a naturalist’s understanding of deceptive coloration.”

Just like many other wartime technologies, the principles and promise of camouflage followed soldiers home and found its way into the life of the general public. Theories of camouflage were used to transform the common home, and a new kind of color – “functional color” was born.

From the fashion and printing/advertising industries to other consumer products, like cars, color soon saturated the commercial landscape. This is especially relevant to that paragon of American consumer culture, the automobile. Once the automotive industry realized that using the right color-designs could substantially increase profits, they began spending more time and money researching color production and consumer color preferences. Every ten days car dealers sent sales reports to provide feedback and enhance the predictive power of “color futures”.

Nothing shows this tremendous research effort like the painting reproduced in Chapter 5 where an American Duco colorist “reproduces” the color of French silks – fresh from Paris! Although the US gained a good deal of independence from French fashion in the early 20th century, it was still important to follow the trends. So important, in fact, that the automobile industry sends an artist to Paris to paint a selection of draped silk fabrics, and then send that painting back to the US where the “color intel” could be used to inform color choices and combinations.

The incremental distancing of American color-culture from that of Europe is galvanized in Chapter 6. Blaszczyk titles the chapter “Entente” to emphasize the partnership between both sides of the Atlantic, but does more to show-off the uniquely American aspect of modern culture.

Although Blaszczyk points out the combining of American scientific management with European tradition of craftsmanship, quality and style, it is the cultural transformation taking place in America that makes the most impact. Social psychologist mastermind Edward Bernays secretly promoted the green color of Lucky Strikes packaging to be seen as more harmonious with women’s fashion. Rayon looks better on film, and so Hollywood almost unconsciously pushes the synthetic fabric’s popularity. America becomes a distinct and formidable cultural entity, creating its own expectations and demands.

Distinctly American things revolving around the American artworld, urban renewal, and ‘functional color’ (for industrial safety and communication) are the drivers of change. In these interim chapters, Blaszczyk reaches far and beyond “the industry” to the arts, architecture, and society at large – which, after all, is the source of any revolution.

In regards to manufacturing, it’s interesting to note that colorists were required for matching all the different parts of a telephone (rubber cords, metal dials, plastic bodies), for example, because all the different materials involved take their color differently.

Of all industries most integral to the color revolution, none were so pervasive, or as quintessentially American, as that of the automobile industry. Colorists, chemists, and automotive stylists advanced companies like DuPont to create new pigments, lacquers, and enamels. In the world of Fordist production, or Levittown houses, where every unit looks the same, you sell the color of the product, not the product itself.

But as regional tastes, lingering biases, and socio-economic differences all contributed to the weakening of sales (or the inevitable inability of color forecasters to keep-up with the complexity of “culture”). In concluding, I’ll quote Blaszczyk:

“The color expansion of the postwar years was evidence of the extravagances of a growth economy and the maturation of American consumer society. […] By the last quarter of the 20th century, more Americans than ever before had dishwashers, phones and cars, but they were available in fewer colors.

*An overarching lesson of this book is that as for the color world, it was figured out very early on, and continues to this day, that if there is an industry where women hold the most valued opinions and preferences, it is that of Big Color.

Scientific Babel: How Science Was Done Before and After Global English

Michael D. Gordin, University of Chicago Press, 2015

 Book Review by Allen Barkkume

Scientific Babel: How Science Was Done Before and After Global English does everything you wanted to. Michael Gordon charts the map of scientific language from consolidation of the triumvirate – English, French, German – in the 1850’s, to the forecasted future. Everywhere in between is strung together by multilingual transactions of scientists in pursuit of universal truth and entire populations at the whim of geopolitical dynamics.

Perhaps we should begin with the lamentations of the French linguist Louis Coturat, near the end of the 19th century, as he pits the most sufficiently advanced technology against this ageless, human problem of communication:

“What is the good of telegraphing from one continent to another, or telephoning from one country to another, if the two correspondents do not have a common language in which they can converse?”

And on the plight of the scientist? “To keep themselves acquainted with the special scientific work and studies which interested them, all savants would have to be polyglots; but to become polyglots they would have to abandon every other study, and therefore they would be almost destitute of knowledge of their special subjects.” (p107).

Science must have a means of transporting itself from one scientist to another, and with this, Gordon defines the vehicular language, or the auxiliary language. In opposition, people – both ordinary people and scientists alike – best express their own thoughts in a way that is comfortable and meaningful to them, a natural language. One is for the mind, and the other for the heart (p113). These are the forces that push language-choice throughout history. From Latin roots to warring 20th century fragments, the chosen language of science has shifted dramatically over this time. In the final chapter and conclusion, Gordin explains this trend toward Global English and questions its implications.

Language is a very fluid thing, and to tell the history of language requires tremendous orchestration of not only dates, events, and people, but knowledge from other subjects as well. In this book, that subject is Science itself. The body of scientific knowledge is immense, to say the least, but this story centers mostly on Chemistry as the discipline of study. During the most critical period of the monolingual formation that took place within the 20th century, organic chemistry was full-steam-ahead the most popular branch of science at the time. But furthermore, “Chemistry is the science of description, taxonomy, and nomenclature as much as it is about test tubes, pipettes, and Bunsen Burners.” (21).

Chemistry was the most dominant branch of study at the time when the triumvirate of German-English-French was the most common language choice. In fact, Gordin begins his story by retelling the standardization of the Periodic Table of Elements as a nationalist competition between Germany and Russia, with a little bit of translator’s error thrown in. (Gordin later reminds us, via H. Beam Piper’s 1957 sci-fi story Omnilingual – That’s the Periodic Table; It’s the only one there is.)

Russian and Japanese became very important during the second half of the century, and so the subject moves to mathematics and nuclear physics. But by then, machine translation enters the scene and redistributes the priorities of all players. By the 21st century, the global language for scientific communication is Global English.

Not only is the study of language a meta-logic activity in that the language is just as much about speakers and subject matter as it is about the words themselves, but the language of Science?... double meta-(!). Gordin reminds us that "scientific utterances are a kind of ‘meta-language’ that are only partially expressed in any individual tongue but are equally true in all of them." (p11). And Science, as it is presented here, is seen in its true light: A thing that ought to be very clear and forthright is instead obfuscated by the floating lexicon of a multilingual system of communication.

In the search for a universal language of communication to match the universal truth of science, one should immediately ask – why not Latin? And with good reason; Latin was, until Global English, the most universal language in the Western world. Perhaps the most mnemonically useful bit used by Gordin to explain why not Latin is this: “Classical Latin has no present or past participle of the verb ‘to be’, which makes rendering medieval metaphysics rather dicey.” (p34). It seems somewhat counterintuitive, as one scientist notes, since Latin was already dead and no longer subject to change. Nonetheless, Latin was simply no longer usable as an auxiliary language because it was so far removed from living speakers' natural tongues.

The language problem in science has always existed, but it was not until the Chemical Revolution of the mid 1800’s that it became a huge obstacle in the pursuit of knowledge. The introduction of the aromatic ring-structure theory of organic chemistry brought thousands of new compounds. The subsequent fledgling industries of pharmaceuticals and artificial dyestuffs required a consistent nomenclature for these new chemicals. Furthermore, the language of chemistry is a language of formulas, and as such, translation is difficult.

For the duration of the 20th century, Science sought a balance between a language that everyone could both agree upon and understand. Considering the tumult of 20th century geopolitics, consensus in this area was not easily obtained. Language is a symbol of a people, a nation, a way of life. At a time when such things were threatened in their very existence, one can imagine the embedded contention when deciding which language would win.

As a side note, because this isn't expounded too much in the book, Gordin does point out that Chemical nomenclature, despite its multi-lingual origins, did tend towards a convergence of syntax. The lexicon may have differed, but the linguistic formula of science rose above semantics. This is one of the points that makes this book so interesting – science really is a language to itself.

Back to the core of the story. As the standardized International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) eventually makes clear, Chemical nomenclatures are ultimately artificial. That is to say, they do not grow organically from the mouths of entire populations over generations, but instead flow from the minds of a concentrated few, and from painstakingly organized conferences. And with this, it seems less surprising that whole languages had been constructed from scratch to facilitate communication amongst all parties. Esperanto is the most well known of these constructed languages but it's not the only one, and its life is not as simple nor as ill-fated as one might expect. (There still exist today native speakers of Esperanto.)

As Gordin explains, an entirely artificial language is not as outlandish as it first seems. In fact, he reminds us that “scientific languages have to be quite consciously constructed [because] modern science focuses upon novelty: new objects in the world, new ideas, new theories.” (p81). The discovery of a never-before-known chemical element needs to be named, and anew.

Again, writing a book about the “language” of an ostensible meta-language (Science) is not without its self-reflective humor. This book is laden with correspondence between scientists, and it shouldn't be lost on the reader that so much of this correspondence is itself prefaced by the reasons for the writer’s use of the chosen language of correspondence – “I wanted to write you in Russian, however...,” or concluded with apologies for fumbling with an unfamiliar tongue (p88).

Take also the vociferous and intricate debates over the grammar and lexicon of artificially-created languages, all undertaken itself in a bevy of languages. It's enough to make your head spin, so if that's what you expected when you saw this title, you'll be satisfied.

The story marches onward, although with the advent of computerized machine translation, one would assume the problem solved. However due to the “hype cycle” of new technologies, the promises of mind-machine melding did not fully deliver. That, combined with the debilitating paranoia of the Cold War, forced the dream of computerized super-lingual omniscience to get a reality-check.

Gordin also details the effects of the sheer volume of writing. By the mid 1900’s the scientific publishing industry resorted to compiling “abstract journals” where “each month a hefty tome would arrive at an office in the US, be ripped apart, distributed, translated, edited, stitched back together, and printed, all within 6 months – and this was done for dozens of journals, every month, for decades.” (p258). In the end, Global English didn’t win because it was the best-suited to scientific inquiry and discourse; it just happened to be the natural language of the largest publishing and distribution infrastructure on the planet.

Low and behold, we find ourselves in a new century, and with a new solution to the ageless problem. The last chapter and the conclusion, “Anglophonia” and “Babel Beyond,” can stand by themselves. Granted, the corpus of research planted before this gives the authority under which it is read, but honestly, I would have paid the price of the book for these two chapters, and since I already am, I’ll continue in a rambling fashion.

Why English? Besides the emergent behavior of the scientific publishing industry, Gordin reminds us that “the perception of neutrality has been the engine enabling English omnipresence in international science” (p295). On a side note, he questions why the inconsistency in English spelling isn’t brought up more often as a problem in scientific English – and finishes the thought by suggesting “probably because the lexicon is so circumscribed for each sub-discipline.” (p296). He reminds us that even as late as 1947, there were people anticipating the continuation of the triumvirate. He throws this one at you – “There are more words in English dedicated to the various sciences than for any other function… There are also more scientific words in English that have at least partly Ancient Greek roots than there are words in Ancient Greek.” (p299). And then he sums it up:

English has attained its current position owing to a series of historical transformations that it also in turn shaped, exploiting a perception of neutrality that it gained through being distinctly non-neutral in either its British or American guise. p315

Then he really lets loose. In “Babel Beyond,” he drops an entire short sci-fi story, and then goes on to explain how SETI is an extension of this line of thought resounding in the book – it’s a decision about language (albeit alien language). And in case you were wondering – the language of interstellar discourse? Mathematics, obviously.

This book is a well-documented body of research, but the way it’s been assembled, and the underlying theme are intriguing, stimulating, and current. Science is like humans – messy. It takes a good writer to clean it up just enough to be presentable, but not enough that it’s no longer exciting. Michael Gordin has done just that.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Inceptionism vs Trypophobia

Left my computer dreaming overnight, found this when I woke up


Deep Learning in Reverse Shows You What an Algorithm Sees

Phantasmagoric neural net visions, Jun 2015

All I have to say is, sucks to be trypophobic right now.

Deep Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, Kyle McDonald/Flickr

Google’s New Visualization Tool Slips Slimy and Furry Creatures into Art History
Claire Voon, Hypoallergic, July 7, 2015

Each layer of the network deals with features at a different level of abstraction, so the complexity of features we generate depends on which layer we choose to enhance. For example, lower layers tend to produce strokes or simple ornament-like patterns, because those layers are sensitive to basic features such as edges and their orientations.

"...overinterpret [...] oversaturated with snippets of other images."

Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, @aut0mata /Twitter

Phantasmagoric neural net visions, Jun 2015

[mindhacks always has the best explanations]

by using the neural networks “in reverse” they could elicit visualisations of the representations that the networks had developed over training.

pictures are freaky because they look sort of like the things the network had been trained to classify, but without the coherence of real-world scenes

The obvious parallel is to images from dreams or other altered states – situations where ‘low level’ constraints in our vision are obviously still operating, but the high-level constraints – the kind of thing that tries to impose an abstract and unitary coherence on what we see – is loosened. In these situations we get to observe something that reflects our own processes as much as what is out there in the world.



the code has been opened for all to use; let the dreaming begin

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cogito Ergo Ignoramus et Ignorabimus

Cloaking Device_John Howell_Joseph Choi_University of Rochester_

The Latin maxim ignoramus et ignorabimus, meaning "we do not know and will not know", stood for a position on the limits of scientific knowledge, in the thought of the nineteenth century. It was given credibility by Emil du Bois-Reymond, a German physiologist, in his Über die Grenzen des Naturerkennens ("On the limits of our understanding of nature") of 1872.

Novel mathematical research for quantifying and predicting uncertainty in design models, Jan 2015

...engineers have come to rely on extensive testing to verify their modeling results—a repetitive process of design, test, verify, re-design, re-test, re-verify that can add years to the development process.

DARPA's Enabling Quantification of Uncertainty in Physical Systems (EQUiPS) program aims to solve this problem by developing the mathematical tools and methods to efficiently quantify, propagate and manage multiple sources of uncertainty.

predict the performance

"[Current technologies] methodologies can now handle forward problems for a small number of uncertain parameters, but they still can't handle more complex, extremely high-dimensional industrial physical systems and [he goes on]..."

"Dealing with the 'curse of dimensionality' where the associated computational cost grows exponentially as a function of the number of random variables remains a major challenge in simulation and design under uncertainty."
-Fariba Fahroo, DARPA program manager

The Beginnings of the Retroactive Acausal Network

torrentless tire wrapping

Private companies know where you've been, thanks to license plate cameras
Marnie Eisenstadt, 2015 Jan 15,
modified article:

...because license plate data starts as a snapshot on a public street, your records are their right.

"The whole notion that there is a privacy concern ... is just not valid," said Brian Shockley, Vigilant's vice president for marketing. "It's not a people. It's a license plate. It's not connected to personal information, at all."

DRN and Vigilant don't connect the data to personal information, Shockley said. That happens when the data leaves DRN's database.

The license plate data is rarely used on its own. It's combined with DMV information that identifies who owns the car. New York made more than $4.3 million selling personal DMV data this year and last, according to state contracts.

Type in one name. Up pops a map of where your car has been spotted over the course of the past three months. Mouse over the location and the map tells you what each place is. A few more mouse clicks show your phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts and home addresses. Yet another few taps on the keyboard and there is social network work map, showing you, your family members, spouses, friends, acquaintances.

"We have created a groundbreaking new product for your investigative and risk management needs," the company's website reads.

TransUnion's spokesman, David Blumberg, said that only law enforcement or other "credentialed customers" can access reports with the license plate data. The list includes private detectives, lawyers, people who work at mortgage companies, people who work at insurance companies, people who work in risk management and people who work in fraud detection.

While access to driver's license data is restricted by federal law, license plate data is not. Blumberg said that, for now, TransUnion is applying the same restrictions to license plate data voluntarily.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Archives - Artwork

Although the curatorial juxtaposition of Title-Content-Image-Tags is the primary 'artwork' here at Network Address, added below is a sample of the author's artwork, some current, some recent, and some favorites. This is all original content unless otherwise noted.

Evolution of Adult Lactose Absorption: An Infographic 


Study in curvilinear perspective

The Dubble Bubble Vortex

Ice Crystals on Frozen Birdshit

I saw this coming a mile away and waited til the right moment. Seriously. On a flip-phone.

sketch - construction site

compositional sketch - under the bridge

sketch - figure drawing

*this is not an original, just a study

Fake-False parquet deformation a la Douglas Hofstadter:
There are only two other sets of words in English that do this, but none of them make this much sense while doing it

Screenshot taken from Google NGram Viewer:
The phrase "Once Upon a Time" as a function of time,
via the Google corpus of Western literature

Monday, January 19, 2015

To Unsee and The Streisand Effect

'Hidden From Google' lists pages blocked by search engine
BBC, Kevin Rawlinson, 15 July 2014

Hidden From Google

Right to be Forgotten
[The ruling gave people the right to ask for articles to be removed from search engine results if the piece included their names, as well as "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive" information about them.

It does not include a requirement for articles to be taken offline altogether. However, because of the popularity of search engines, it has been argued that the effect is similar.]

Searches on Google in Europe for some of the articles listed now return links to Hidden From Google by virtue of their mention on it.

"It is not as if the links are going away, it is just Google results within Europe that they are removed from, so you have this before-and-after picture with Google US," he said.

Afaq Tariq, the US web developer who set up the site in June this year.

Streisand effect
Mr Tariq said he had not yet made up his mind on the issue in general. But the inclusion of articles removed from search engine results on Hidden From Google raises the possibility of the "Streisand effect" - when demanding silence on a subject only serves to draw more attention to it.

The term was coined after the singer unsuccessfully attempted to suppress publication of photographs of her home, inadvertently drawing more attention to them.

Magnonic Holographic Memory Device

Your Mind is Belong to Us

Researchers demonstrate holographic memory device, Feb 2014

and on that note:

Scientists develop thought-controlled gene switch
BBC News - Nov 2014

Self-deceived individuals deceive others better, Aug 2014

"These findings suggest that people don't always reward the most accomplished individual but rather the most self-deceived."

Over confident people can fool others into believing they are more talented than they actually are, a study has found.

These 'self-deceived' individuals could be more likely to get promotions and reach influential positions in banks and other organisations. And these people are more likely to overestimate other people's abilities and take greater risks, possibly creating problems for their organisations.

-from Newcastle University and the University of Exeter 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

As The Meatbody Fails

Wikipedia accuses PR firm of posting biased entries for cash
Steve Dent, engadget, 11-2013

Wikipedia has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Texas publicity firm Wiki-PR over its alleged practices:

Sockpuppeting - posting articles for pay that make its clients look good. ... 300 phoney accounts to create articles that appear to be from unbiased sources.

Meatpuppetry - using false identities to advocate certain positions in its user discussion forums.

China's internet vigilantes and the 'human flesh search engine'
BBC News, Jan 2014

[the human flesh search engine is basically a kind of blackmarket google that uses large amounts of real people instead of an algorithm in order to find things, like other people, for example]


Some people think astrology is a science – here's why
Jul 02 2014,

["Astrology" vs. "Horoscopes", essentially]

According to the Wellcome Trust Monitor Survey, 21% of adults in Britain read their horoscopes "often" or "fairly often".

From the Wellcome Trust Monitor survey, we know that less than 10% [of the British] think horoscopes are "very" or "quite" scientific. And a similar proportion thinks the same across the European Union as a whole.

However, if we ask people whether they think astrology is scientific, we see a different picture. In a Eurobarometer survey of attitudes towards science and technology, a randomly selected half of respondents were asked how scientific they thought astrology was. The other half were asked the same question about horoscopes.

The results shows a surprising disparity in opinion. More than 25% think that astrology is "very scientific" compared to only 7% for horoscopes. 

In research I carried out a few years ago, I tested the hypothesis that people get confused between astrology and astronomy, and it is this that could account for widespread apparent belief in the scientific status of astrology. Even well-respected national newspapers have been known to make this mistake.

My survey also asked people how scientific they believed various activities to be. One of these was astronomy. Using a statistical technique known as regression analysis, I discovered, after adjusting for age, gender and education, that people who were particularly likely to think that astronomy was very scientific were also very likely to think the same about astrology. This points to semantic confusion about these terms among the general public.

This story is published courtesy of The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution/No derivatives).

On Swarm Computation and the Analog

[while listening to a lecture at the Santa Fe Institute, on complexity and collective decision-making.]

Perhaps it is not that swarms perform computation by their own kinematics. It is instead that we can finally analyze their behavior using computational analogies.

On the Craft of Memetic Infection

a screenshot of predictive analytics, USA, circa 2013

Yahoo! —which, according to the American author and marketer Ryan Holiday, tests more than 45,000 combinations of headlines and images every five minutes on its home page.

What is the real cost of your online attention?
Tom Chatfield, Aeon MAgazine, 2013

If you’re using a free online service, the adage goes, you are the product. It’s an arresting line, but one that deserves putting more precisely: it’s not you, but your behavioural data and the quantifiable facts of your engagement that are constantly blended for sale, with the aggregate of every single interaction (yours included) becoming a mechanism for ever-more-finely tuning the business of attracting and retaining users.

When a Rose is no longer a Rose

("Rose" is her real name)

Google+ abandons need to use real names, July 2014

Google+ apologized Tuesday and stopped requiring people to use their real names while mingling in the online social network, as it looks to gain ground on market leader Facebook.