What Google sees

Sam Bland has spent a lot of time with Google Goggles. He’s learned how it sees the world and how it communicates — they play games together.

Goggles is the image search feature in the Google mobile app, and by layering the app’s best attempts to match his photos, Bland has created an artistic view of the world as seen through Google’s eyes.
— Wired.com

Consent is king

Expect Labs' MindMeld receives strategic investment from IBM, Samsung and Telefónica towards the creation of 'anticipatory' or 'perceptive' computing - systems which are socially and contextually grounded by mediating interactions and constantly listening (and semantically parsing) what they hear.

We used to say 'content is king'. Now we say 'context is king'. Tomorrow will we say 'consent is king'.

Glitch cabinet

Ferrucio Laviani’s Good Vibrations cabinet blends traditional furniture design with a thoroughly modern “glitch” aesthetic to stunning effect. Lavini’s piece looks, for the most part, like any meticulously-crafted cabinet, complete with ornate carvings that wouldn’t look out of place at in a 16th-century home. What makes it special, however, is a trio of “glitches” inspired by the errors that occur when a digital image doesn’t render correctly. To achieve the glitches, Laviani carved the cabinet from oak using a CNC machine.

Michael Meacher's (unchallenged) letter to the Guardian

The annual Sunday Times Rich List yields four very important conclusions for the governance of Britain (Report, Weekend, 28 April). It shows that the richest 1,000 persons, just 0.003% of the adult population, increased their wealth over the last three years by £155bn. That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire current UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30bn to spare.

Second, this mega-rich elite, containing many of the bankers and hedge fund and private equity operators who caused the financial crash in the first place, have not been made subject to any tax payback whatever commensurate to their gains. Some 77% of the budget deficit is being recouped by public expenditure cuts and benefit cuts, and only 23% is being repaid by tax increases. More than half of the tax increases is accounted for by the VAT rise which hits the poorest hardest. None of the tax increases is specifically aimed at the super-rich.

Third, despite the biggest slump for nearly a century, these 1,000 richest are now sitting on wealth greater even than at the height of the boom just before the crash. Their wealth now amounts to £414bn, equivalent to more than a third of Britain’s entire GDP. They include 77 billionaires and 23 others, each possessing more than £750m.

The increase in wealth of this richest 1,000 has been £315bn over the last 15 years. If they were charged capital gains tax on this at the current 28% rate, it would yield £88bn, enough to pay off 70% of the entire deficit. It seems however that Osborne takes the notorious view of the New York heiress, Leonora Helmsley: “Only the little people pay taxes.”
— Michael Meacher MP, Labour, Oldham West and Royton 2/May/2012

"Where are they?" - An Omen

The mystery that nagged at Tsiolkovsky arose from his Copernican convictions, his belief that the universe is uniform throughout. If there is nothing uniquely fertile about our corner of the cosmos, he reasoned, intelligent civilisations should arise everywhere. They should bloom wherever there are planetary cradles like Earth. And if intelligent civilisations are destined to expand out into the universe, then scores of them should be crisscrossing our skies. Bostrom’s expanding bubbles of infrastructure should have enveloped Earth several times over.
— Ross Andersen interviews Nick Bostrom for Aeon

Artificial Audrey Hepburn

Framestore began by searching for a suitable Hepburn double — someone, ideally, who would “share as many of her features and characteristics as possible.” Once identified, the doppelganger’s face was scanned using a facial action coding system that allowed Framestore to extract the muscle movements and textures needed to build a more faithful, CG Hepburn. Upon the completion of live shooting along the Amalfi Coast, the team returned to its in-house Capture Lab to further refine their actress’ face, smoothing out transitions and expressions for animation.
— Amar Toor, The Verge.

Are you living in a computer simulation?

This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.
— Nick Bostrom, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University

You both see and hear language

Gerty 3000 Robotic Assist from 'Moon'.

The perception of speech is multisensory: it involves visual and tactile sensory input in addition to the auditory information you associate with hearing. This means that, when you see and hear someone speak, the areas of the brain associated with hearing, vision and multisensory processing interact with one another.


Tech_spec is the most beautiful blog I've seen. It drifts through colour palettes as you scroll down, which is super hypnotic. Thanks to @andystewart_ for making me aware of it. 

ARGUS-IS drone

...the system can detect and track moving objects as small as six inches from 20,000 feet in the air. But what’s most terrifying about ARGUS (fittingly named after Argus Panoptes, the 100-eyed giant of Greek myth) is what happens afterward: the system gives its owner (and eventually, DARPA says, a well-programmed A.I.) the ability to scan an entire city for all sorts of “suspicious” activity, not just in real-time but after the fact. It all adds up to around 6 petabytes (6,000 terabytes) worth of 12 frames-per-second video per day.
— The Verge

Portrait of a woman

Some 26,000 years ago, in a valley teeming with game in what is now Moravia, a man or woman carved this little head with skill and not a little persistence, using stone tools to smooth away the recalcitrant, hard ivory.
— The Guardian, 24 January 2012

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

This [binary] calculus could be implemented by a machine (without wheels)... provided with holes in such a way that they can be opened and closed. They are to be open at those places that correspond to a 1 and remain closed at those that correspond to a 0. Through the opened gates small cubes or marble are to fall into tracks, through the others nothing. It [the gate array] is to be shifted from column to column as required...
— 16 March 1679

Watch your thoughts...

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
— Lao Tzu


Exformation (originally spelt eksformation in Danish) is a term coined by Danish science writer Tor Nørretranders in his book The User Illusion published in English 1998. It means explicitly discarded information. Often in language, as much meaning is conveyed in what you omit as in what you include.

Dreams in infrared

Doctors at the Veterans’ Administration diagnosed Bryant with post-traumatic stress disorder. General hopes for a comfortable war — one that could be completed without emotional wounds — haven’t been fulfilled. Indeed, Bryan’s world has melded with that of the child in Afghanistan. It’s like a short circuit in the brain of the drones.

Why isn’t he with the Air Force anymore? There was one day, he says, when he knew that he wouldn’t sign the next contract. It was the day Bryant walked into the cockpit and heard himself saying to his coworkers: “Hey, what motherfucker is going to die today?”
— Der Spiegel, 14 Dec 2012

How brain science will change computing

Excellent TED talk from Jeff Hawkins, arguing that intelligence should not be behaviourly measured but instead by the ability to predict - and that the principle function of the neo-cortex is to record and replay experience into the mammalian brain, providing a stream of predictive expectations.