Saturday, May 20, 2017

Semibotic Semibiotic

It's not often you get to see an article about consciousness on the BBC, but you do, it's Dan Dennett getting mega-memetical. (just kidding, that doesn't even make sense, in this context.)

Is consciousness just an illusion?
Apr 2017, BBC

We're not just are robots", he says. "We're robots, made of robots, made of robots".
-Dan Dennett

More Human Than Human

It's Alive

[This image is of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, illustrated by artist Matt Kish.]

New Zealand river first in the world to be given legal human status
March 2017, BBC

["It's no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies." -New Zealand's Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.]


Buildings On Ice

No it's real though.

If there is one thing I learned in architecture school, it's that water is the building's number one enemy. (Insects are number two, by the way.)

High winds turned this New York home into an ice house
the internet, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Smearing the Clock

This image was made by smearing together hundreds of photos; it's by Toronto photographer Matt Molloy, and it's called time-stacking. Source.

I wrote a whole book on approximation and ambiguity. Not really; it was about smells and how the language of smells is imprecise and ambiguous.

But really, we see here how the slowly thawing truth of a quantum science is smearing our sense of reality all over the place:

'Blurred times' in a quantum world
Mar 2017,

The more precise a given clock is, the more it "blurs" the flow of time measured by neighbouring clocks.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Architecture inspired concrete desk accessories - The Islam

The artist/teacher/architect/art historian in me is really excited about this project that recently debuted - Architrays are an art history lesson in the form of indulgent decoration. These concrete trays are designed and fabricated by 7thFl, an industrial design duo (from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, same place I spent a good 5 years of my life learning about sustainable design). Each tray they make represents a historical period of architecture, from Gothic to Roman to the Islam tray pictured above. When it comes to geometric design, Islam knows what's up.

Here you see an example of how this kind of design is developed from a very simple algorithm, genius in its simplicity. You start with a circle, then you draw another circle so that its center lies anywhere on the first circle. Then you draw a third circle, again so that its center lies on the first circle, BUT so that the center of all three circles now make an equilateral triangle with 60 degree angles.

If you repeat this pattern all around the first circle, you get a hexagon. Look at the points of the image in the upper left, and see that they can make equilateral triangles and a hexagon. This is the starting point for the most complex, most beautiful of patterns.  And this is the theme cast into concrete by 7thFl for their Islamic Architray. In other words, these 'architrays' are a beautiful reminder of a rich history of art, design, and architecture. Check it out

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Making Memetics Work

After being thoroughly schooled on this topic of the transmission of cultural products (see the book linked below), I realize that memetics may never be the science of mind control that I think it is. However,  I think the name, the origin of the idea, and the 'stickiness' of the memtics narrative, that is, the ease with which we can explain the idea to other people, all these things make memetics the best representative of this nebulous subject of thought propagation.

As a reminder then, the meme of the meme comes from Richard Dawkins in his 1982 book, The Extended Phenotype (sequel to The Selfish Gene), where he uses likens the meme to a gene but for ideas.

Anyway, we are truly living in an age where the behavior of thoughts have become independent of their thinkers.

Viral charity campaigns have a psychological 'recipe' and all-too-brief lifespan
Feb 2017,

*Cultural Evolution: Society, Technology, Language, and Religion
(Strüngmann Forum Reports), 2013. PJ Richerson, CH Morten.

More Neurophysics

The thermodynamics of learning
Feb 2017,

While investigating how efficiently the brain can learn new information, physicists have found that, at the neuronal level, learning efficiency is ultimately limited by the laws of thermodynamics

"The second law is a very powerful statement about which transformations are possible—and learning is just a transformation of a neural network at the expense of energy. "
- Sebastian Goldt at the University of Stuttgart, Germany

In the new study, the scientists showed that learning efficiency is bounded by the total entropy production of a neural network. They demonstrated that, the slower a neuron learns, the less heat and entropy it produces, increasing its efficiency. In light of this finding, the scientists introduced a new measure of learning efficiency based on energy requirements and thermodynamics.

I Got Your Back

Topless. Now that I have your attention.

This is just nuts. The guy is renting out his back - no - he sold his back, like the back of his body, to an artist who tattooed it and now showcases the guy like an objectified piece of art, and the artist will eventually own his body long after he dies.

Dinner party conversation, discuss amongst yourselves.

The man who sold his back to an art dealer
BBC, 2016

The work, entitled TIM, sold for 150,000 euros (£130,000) to German art collector Rik Reinking in 2008, with Steiner receiving one third of the sum.
"My skin belongs to Rik Reinking now," he says. "My back is the canvas, I am the temporary frame."

As part of the deal, when Steiner dies his back is to be skinned, and the skin framed permanently, taking up a place in Reinking's personal art collection.

This practice is common in Japanese art history(?)

"As part of his contract, Steiner must exhibit the tattoo by sitting topless in a gallery at least three times a year.

His first exhibition took place in Zurich in June 2006 - when the tattoo was still a work-in-progress. When the 10th anniversary fell last year, he was in the middle of his longest-ever exhibition, a whole year at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Hobart, Tasmania, working five hours a day, six days a week.

"I've been touched, blown on, screamed at, pushed and spat on, it's often been quite a circus," he says. "But I wasn't touched a single time on this trip, it's a miracle."
But he rejects the idea that this is performance art. "If the name Wim Delvoye was not attached to this tattoo, it would have no artistic relevance," he insists.
It is part of Delvoye's intention, though, to show the difference between a picture on the wall and a "living canvas" that changes over time.
"I can get fat, scarred, burned, anything," Steiner says. "It's the process of living. I've had two lower back operations."
"And one day TIM will just hang there. Beautiful."

Start Your Engines

A Refrigerator? What are we supposed to do with that?

Australian scientists use soybean oil to create graphene
Feb 2017, BBC

We've been waiting some time for this, after all the talk about what graphene can do, making it is finally a practical possibility. I try so hard to imagine what this world will be like in 20 years, after the impact of graphene. Like trying to imagine what facetime is like back in 1990. Or tupperware in the 50's? Ah, the refrigerator in the 30's. I remember seeing a picture of people putting their canned goods in the fridge; they just had no idea what to do with it.

Also note, as it goes, this advancement was not a result of human intent, or at least not in full.

Dr Han said the discovery, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, was made "kind of by accident".

Post Script
Australian scientists use soybean oil to create graphene
Feb 2017, BBC

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Biology Takes Acid

I don't even think this is a chimera by definition, but it looks cooler.

Big week in biology news. Sometimes I read the news and I'm like, What the F is going on...Can't make this sh** up. This really is turning out to be the century of biology.

Human-pig 'chimera embryos' detailed
Jan 2017, BBC

Scientists create the first ever autistic monkeys
Jan 2017, BBC


idk it just looks cool...and sometimes I just get upset when I see something that I just didn't see coming.

Droneboarding takes off in Latvia
Jan 2017,

It's Alive

AKA - The Selfish Meme grows legs

Network Address has been slacking on the Fake News front, simply because we tend to avoid anything on the front lines (since you're probably already getting that news from somewhere else) but this stuff is just too good...

As information bursts forth from the noosphere into the anthroposphere, from the inorganic to the organic, from the dematerialized idea to the materialized corpuscule, we see...

Cambridge scientists consider fake news 'vaccine'
Jan 2017, BBC

Researchers suggest "pre-emptively exposing" readers to a small "dose" of the misinformation can help organisations cancel out bogus claims. a virus...contagion...


But let us not forget - Charles Darwin used the taxonomy of Language to explain his theory of evolution.

Natural Selection X Artificial Intelligence
Network Address, 2012

Also check out The Extended PhenotypeVirus of the Mind, Thought Contagion, and memes, meta-, and memetics in general

Welcome to Asgardia

Asgardia is the first ever space faring nation.

"Asgardia's philosophical envelope is to ‘digitalise’ the Noosphere, creating a mirror of humanity in space but without Earthly division into states, religions and nations. In Asgardia we are all just Earthlings!"

Not sure what a philosophical envelope is, but I do like to see the word Noosphere in print...


Friday, January 6, 2017

To See Better

The automation of artmaking - Adobe's Project Felix

The automation of artmaking - Adobe's Project Felix

Adobe’s Project Felix Uses AI to Help You Craft Hyper-Realistic 3-D Renderings

Nov 2016, WIRED

This thing is nuts, and makes me scared for my job. (But not really; I used to be an art teacher, but am no more.)

The Nightmare Machine

This is not from the Nightmare Machine, but from the 20th century horror-artist Francis Bacon. Surely he could teach Google's AI a thing or two.

AI creates gallery of nightmare images for Halloween
Oct 2016, BBC

The creators of the Nightmare Machine are trying to "help our algorithms learn scariness." In other words, they're teaching machines how to scare us. They called it the Nightmare Machine, not me. And if this isn't enough to scare Stephen Hawking on Halloween, I don't know what is.

Two techniques they're using are called style transfer and generative adversarial networks; just mentioning this because they sound cool.


On Google AI's previous project, Deep Dream:

Inceptionism vs Trypophobia
Network Address, 2015

Deep Bosch
Network Address, 2015


HR Giger's Babies, the guy who did Alien

Baby Lynlee 'born twice' after life-saving tumour surgery
BBC News, Oct 2016

They take the baby out, perform surgery on her, and put her back in for 12 weeks.

I don't know what it is about advances in reproductive technology, but it always seems to scare the sh** out of me, like the three-people babies stuff.

I don't know what it is about advances in reproductive technology, but it always seems to scare the sh** out of me, like the three-people babies stuff.

For those who aren't up to it yet, "three-people babies" are when the mitochondrial DNA of one mother is implanted in another mother (who's mDNA is no good), which results in an organism with DNA from three people, which is totally unprecedented in life as we know it.

Gene Therapy To Prevent Inherited Diseases May Cause Other Ills
NPR, Jan 2017

On the dangers of using mitochondrial transplants:

"When the mother's nucleus is transferred, it's like a plant dug up out of ground — a bit of the original soil (in this case, the mother's mitochondria) is still clinging to the roots. That creates a situation that never happens in nature: Two different mitochondrial genomes from two different women are forced to live inside the same cell. In most cases, a tiny percentage (usually less than 2 percent) of the diseased mitochondria remain — but that tiny percentage can really matter."

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Network Science News

I took this image and the explanation below from Coventry University and

Science sheds light on 250-year-old literary controversy
Oct 2016,

"In the social network underlying the Ossianic epic, the 325 nodes represent characters appearing in the narratives and the 748 links represent interactions between them."

Ben Franklin Says What

Ben Franklin in a fur hat

Major commuting differences found between rich and poor in Colombia
Oct 2016,

Their findings: The rich do not rise early. What do you say about that, Ben Franklin?

Beyond Biomimicry

The Pompidou in Paris, built in 1970's by  Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and Gianfranco Franchini. It's not under construction, it's an inside-out building. It's probably easier to fix this way, but do we like the way that looks? (It's actually a nightmare to clean the place.)

Color-changing materials could be used to detect structural failure in energy-related equipment, July 2016

"Researchers at MIT are making fluorescent polymer gels that change color when they're shaken, heated, exposed to acid, or otherwise disrupted. Given such a response, these novel materials could be effective sensors for detecting changes in structures, fluids, or the environment."

Buildings are not alive, so they don't heal themselves. It's hard for us to find out what's wrong with them, because most of their critical parts have been made invisible according to our cultural-architectural preferences.

But now, if there's structural damage in a place that's been doped with pressure-sensitive colorgel, we can see it.

Beyond Human

Meet Graham, a 'human' designed to survive a car crash
July 2016, CNN

The TAC (Transport Authority in Victoria Australia...sort of like the DMV in the USA) in collaboration with Melbourne artist Patricia Piccinini have launched Graham, a human made of silicon designed to survive a car crash...

This is a great example of how our own technology has outpaced the rate of biological change. If technology changed at the same rate as our biology, we would look like this right now. But we don't. We also (some of us) can digest milk. That was another point at which we outpaced ourselves, putting culture ahead of genes. Ah, the human condition.

Lost in Translation

Mathieu Tremblin's "Tag Clouds" [before]
Mathieu Tremblin's "Tag Clouds" [before]

Don’t Understand Graffiti? Here It Is Translated in Helvetica
Ju;y 2017, WIRED

Mathieu Tremblin's "Tag Clouds"
"He carefully catalogs each tag, erases it, and then reinstates it. But not in graffiti script. Tremblin re-stencils tags in Helvetica, Arial, Times New Roman, and Georgia."

The history of graffiti, as it relates to gangs etc., requires a degree of 'unreadability' in order to separate the intended 'readers' from the unintentional. There is something about not being able to read one's tag that makes it valuable as a work of art (if you can call it that...and if you think it's valuable at all).

Are Clothes Modern

Are Clothes Modern? An Essay on Contemporary Apparel, Bernard Rudofsky, 1947

Neanderthals' failure to make parkas may have sealed their demise
Aug 2016,

Insect-Affluence Index and Sociothermodynamics

image source

Homes in wealthier neighborhoods found to harbor more arthropod species
Aug 2016,

"They note also that prior studies had found that richer neighborhoods tended to have more plant and animal diversity in areas outside of the home. For this study, they wanted to know what was going on inside.


"In studying the numbers, the researchers found that the average home in a wealthy neighborhood had approximately 100 different species of arthropods in it, whereas those in less expensive neighborhoods had roughly half that number. The researchers suggest the discrepancy is due to differences in the environment outside of the homes. Richer neighborhoods tend to have houses with lush gardens and parks and the people that live there tend to expend more time and money on them resulting in more places for bugs to breed."

Mirror Body and Virtual Self

This image is for the wifi article below

Brain-robot training triggers improvement in paralysis
BBC, Aug 2016

"In virtually every one of these patients, the brain had erased the notion of having legs. You're paralysed, you're not moving, the legs are not providing feedback signals.

"By using a brain-machine interface in a virtual environment, we were able to see this concept gradually re-emerging into the brain."

The team intended to use that re-awakened control to drive the robotic legs - but within 12 months they saw such improvement in basic clinical scores that four of the eight patients were upgraded to a diagnosis of only partial paraplegia.

"When I saw this, I couldn't believe it," said Prof Nicolelis.

[and don't forget]
'Brain wi-fi' reverses leg paralysis in primate first
BBC, Nov 2016

And then, let's also not forget that in the remote controlled monkey brain experiments, the wifi-controlled monkey across the world gets its remote signal faster via wifi than our own nervous system. In other words, it takes longer to go from your brain to your legs than it does to go from NY to Shanghai.

Fake Police

You got that??

'Chemtrails' not real, say leading atmospheric science experts
Aug 2016,

"Well-understood physical and chemical processes can easily explain the alleged evidence of a secret, large-scale atmospheric spraying program, commonly referred to as "chemtrails" or "covert geoengineering," concludes a new study from Carnegie Science, University of California Irvine, and the nonprofit organization Near Zero."


On the Illusion of Intent and Mass Conspiracy
Network Address, circa 2014

Culture Fail 
Network Address, circa 2012

On Knots

Captain Tying Knots

You've heard of string theory. What about knot theory?
Feb 2016,

Tait Flyping Conjecture: the basis for a periodic table of knots in which hydrogen would be the "unknot" — the unknotted circle — and heavier elements would be knots whose filaments crossed over themselves an ever-higher number of times.

On Science and Religion

Study finds beliefs about all-knowing gods fosters co-operation

The research, an international collaboration among anthropologists and psychologists, looked at how religion affects humans' willingness to co-operate with those outside their social circle.

I'm a strong believer that religion serves the purpose of large-scale human population cooperation, and that despite how much people (like myself even) think it instead today acts as a thought-smothering default state in response to difficult decision-making tasks, it has been, in the early development of human civilization, totally necessary for that development to take place, and that science (a kind of anti-religion) would not exist today had it not been for religion, and that the two are part of the same continuum of cultural evolution. This piece here is a good start for a more well-articulated discussion on the matter.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A New Way of Seeing

image source

New imaging system uses an open-ended bundle of optical fibers—no lenses, protective housing needed
Feb 2016

In Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants 2011, he mentions how seeing always makes eyeballs, and digestion the gut.

cool blog about eyes
and a video about the The Evolution of the Human Eye

What One is Not

image source

The Surreal Drama of Actors Playing Sick for Med Students
WIRED, Jan 2016

I thought this was cool because I like pretend things, and especially fake things.

“The important thing about simulation is that imagination, or suspension of disbelief, is required,” Botz says. “Pretending to be a doctor is not easy for some, but life requires a certain amount of pretending to be what one is not. As a young resident, you must convince a patient you are more competent than you feel.”
-photographer Corinne May Botz

(check out her series of photos Bedside Manner here)

And btw, I heard someone say the other day they were 'texting all messed up' when they called-out of work, which made me think this is the new version of coughing while you're on the phone with your boss.

Nature Nature Everywhere

Van Gogh's starry swirls are generally known to be formed according to Levy distributions, which are mathematical formulae, and can be found in turbulent water and other natural phenomena

Musical melodies obey same laws as foraging animals, Jan 2016

"The researchers found that the distribution of melodic intervals in two classical concertos and two folk songs can be modeled by a Lévy distribution... [which] describes many other diverse scenarios, such as the turbulent motion of a particle in a liquid or gas, the changes in the price of a stock, earthquake activity, and the foraging paths of wild animals."

It really makes you wonder natural vs artificial, and free will etc.

Did Van Gogh really put those lines there, or was he just following his animal instinct. Debussy?


Music, the Arts and Ideas
Leonard B. Meyer, U. of Chicago, 1967

“It is impossible to stand outside of culture, for the models and categories we use on conceptualizing and ordering the world are necessarily limited to, if not determined by, those which are provided by our particular culture.” (viii)

“A culture, like a musical style, is a learned probability system.” (p17, footnote 21)

Culture as Learned Probability System
Network Address, 2012