Tag Archives | machines

Xerox Copiers Randomly Alter Numbers In Copied Documents

xeroxA preview of how our society eventually crumbles – subtle sabotage by algorithms in everyday machines? The FontFeed on a mind-boggling discovery:

Last Wednesday German computer scientist David Kriesel had a bizarre discovery. After scanning a construction plan on a Xerox Workcentre and printing it, he noticed the plan suddenly contained incorrect numbers. The Xerox Workcentre somehow changed the numbers whilst scanning.

On his website Kriesel analyses what causes the problem in Xerox Workcentre 7535 and 7556 machines – a compression algorithm randomly replaces patches of pixel data in an almost unnoticeable way.

Apparently Xerox machines use JBIG2, an algorithm that creates a dictionary of image patches it considers similar. As long as the error generated by these patches is not too high, the machine reuses them instead of using the original image data.

Why is this issue so crucial? First of all, these are widespread machines, commonly used in service centres and copy shops, and Xerox seemed to be unaware of the issue until David Kriesel notified them last Wednesday.

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The Mininum Wage Machine

Via Andrew Fishman’s Art, minimum wage machine is a sculpture installation by Blake Fall-Conroy, allowing anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they wish:

Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York.

This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary.  Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.

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The Pressing Conundrum Of Creating Moral Machines

Via the New Yorker, Gary Marcus on how we will soon need our machines to be ethical, but have no idea how to do this:

Google’s driver-less cars are already street-legal in California, Florida, and Nevada, and some day similar devices may not just be possible but mandatory. Eventually automated vehicles will be able to drive better, and more safely than you can; within two or three decades the difference between automated driving and human driving will be so great you may not be legally allowed to drive your own car.

That moment will signal the era in which it will no longer be optional for machines to have ethical systems. Your car is speeding along a bridge when an errant school bus carrying forty children crosses its path. Should your car swerve, risking the life of its owner (you), in order to save the children, or keep going?

Many approaches to machine ethics are fraught [with problems].

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The Religious Worship Of Robotic Machines As Nature Perfected

The video manifesto of the Japanese art collective and new age cult AUJIK:
A guide named Nashi narrates the audience journey in an uncanny forest. What are the creatures that live there, living beings or robots? Nashi states that even the things we consider synthetic and artificial are as sacred as plants and stones. AUJIK are a new age group that shares Shintos' belief that everything of nature is animated. Just as with other forms of animism, AUJIK worships everything that comes out of nature, the main difference with AUJIK is that science and technology is considered as sacred as stones and trees. The Shinto priest Hideaki spoke about similar things in the 18th century after he had seen a Karakuri doll(a clockwork robot made of wood) and claimed that in the future we will create mechanical characters that will become so superior to our own intelligence that we will subject [ourselves] as they were gods.    
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The Immortal: Life Support Machines In Perpetual Loop

Are life support machines on loop all we are? The Immortal is a divine, Rube Goldberg-esque contraption concocted by artist Revital Cohen:
A Heart-Lung Machine, Dialysis Machine, an Infant Incubator, a Mechanical Ventilator and an Intraoperative Cell Salvage Machine...are connected to each other, circulating liquids and air in attempt to mimic a biological structure. The Immortal investigates human dependence on electronics, the desire to make machines replicate organisms and our perception of anatomy as reflected by biomedical engineering. The organ replacement machines operate in orchestrated loops, keeping each other alive through circulation of electrical impulses, oxygen and artificial blood. The interpretation of anatomy with a mechanical vocabulary reflects strongly on the Western perception of the body. Defining the body as a machine - where dysfunctional parts can be replaced by mechanics - speaks of how we understand life.  
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