Tag Archives | Technology

First robot wedding: The bride wore white and the groom wore out his batteries

Scott Pakulski (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Scott Pakulski (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lydia Willgress via Daily Mail Online:

Two robots have tied the knot in Japan in what is thought to be the first wedding of its kind in the world.

Frois, the groom, and bride Yukirin walked the aisle, wore traditional outfits and even carried out a ‘wedding kiss’ at the event in Tokyo on Saturday.

Special invitations were made, featuring a picture of the two robots inset in a heart, and the 100-strong congregation included a range of smaller robotic models.

After the ceremony the couple even managed to ‘cut a cake’ before an automated orchestra performed a song for the equivalent of their first dance.

The event was organised by Maywa Denki, which produces electronic accessories and designed the groom Frois.

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The Logic of Surveillance Capitalism

Allseeingeye

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

You have probably noticed it already. There is a strange logic at the heart of the modern tech industry. The goal of many new tech startups is not to produce products or services for which consumers are willing to pay. Instead, the goal is create a digital platform or hub that will capture information from as many users as possible — to grab as many ‘eyeballs’ as you can. This information can then be analysed, repackaged and monetised in various ways. The appetite for this information-capture and analysis seems to be insatiable, with ever increasing volumes of information being extracted and analysed from an ever-expanding array of data-monitoring technologies.

The famous Harvard business theorist Shoshana Zuboff refers to this phenomenon assurveillance capitalism and she believes that it has its own internal ‘logic’ that we need to carefully and critically assess. The word ‘logic’ is somewhat obscure in this context.… Read the rest

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Computer Hallucinations: Large Scale Deep Neural Net

red-tree-small-long

Recently, Disinfo ran an article about how Google set up feedback loops to its image recognition software and created some very interesting “dream”-like effects. Yeah, Google. “Dream.” You can view a gallery of their images here.

Some other software engineers, among whom is Jonas Degrave, a Belgian PhD student, who are not nearly as concerned with euphemism, have created an “LSD neural net,” which is similar in concept to Google’s feedback loops. Except they actually made a channel on Twitch that shows the algorithmic permutations in real time video, constantly zooming in like a fractal. Remarkably, the viewers in the video chat can type in two objects, for example “tent + gondola,” and the algorithm randomly choose one entry and morph using images of these objects. It is really quite interesting.

If you’re some kind of freak that actually knows how this stuff works, feel free to check out the write up giving background on how the engineers technically created this piece on Jonas Degrave’s site.… Read the rest

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The Return of the God Helmet

GodHelmet-657x360I’d completely lost track of what was going on with Michael Persinger’s “God Helmet” but in stumbling on a few new articles I got the gist. As with much controversial research into altered states of consciousness or psi, what apparently went down is that someone (who probably had an enormous confirmation bias) tried to replicate the results and failed (likely on purpose). So in the court of popular/scientific opinion, that was it. Nothing to see here. Except that scientists in Brazil have just effectively replicated his results so you know, game on:

“A team of neurotheology researchers have replicated and confirmed the results of the iconic “God Helmet” experiment. The apparatus, originally developed by renowned neuroscientists, Stanley Koren and Michael Persinger, generates weak magnetic fields around the test subject’s temporal lobes, and elicits a distinct set of experiential phenomena in the participant’s brain, including: altered mystic states, visions of God, and the feeling of a sensed God-like presence.… Read the rest

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Yes, androids do dream of electric sheep

Alex Hern at The Guardian:

Google sets up feedback loop in its image recognition neural network – which looks for patterns in pictures – creating hallucinatory images of animals, buildings and landscapes which veer from beautiful to terrifying.

What do machines dream of? New images released by Google give us one potential answer: hypnotic landscapes of buildings, fountains and bridges merging into one.

The pictures, which veer from beautiful to terrifying, were created by the company’s image recognition neural network, which has been “taught” to identify features such as buildings, animals and objects in photographs.

They were created by feeding a picture into the network, asking it to recognise a feature of it, and modify the picture to emphasise the feature it recognises. That modified picture is then fed back into the network, which is again tasked to recognise features and emphasise them, and so on. Eventually, the feedback loop modifies the picture beyond all recognition.

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Chiara Marletto: The Code of the Cosmos

In this article Oxford Physicist Chiara Marletto explores whether we should consider information, rather than matter as the fundamental building block of the universe.

593 The Universe Code.cxjIII

Information has come to play an increasingly fundamental role in our lives during the last few decades: billions of computers are now interconnected over the world, and our technology – and hence our survival and well-being – crucially rely on them.

It is much harder to argue that information plays a role in fundamental physics.

Traditionally, fundamental physics expresses predictions about where, say, a particle will go, given its initial state and its laws of motion. This paradigm has been the prevailing one since Galileo and Newton and has been extremely successful – allowing us to formulate deeper and deeper explanations of the physical world, of which quantum theory and general relativity are the current best examples. Yet, there are things in the physical world that this mode of explanation cannot adequately capture for us.

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No Fare!

copolla

Monday

As usual, the weekend off messed with my circadian rhythm and I have not had a wink of sleep, even with my generic iPhone harp alarm set to a late 5 o’clock. But the hour later setting was not an attempt at extending my sleepless bed time for a chance that I might actually get some. It was in the hopes that Tony will call me preemptively from the Citizen’s Cab office asking if I want to take the day off and get covered by one of the (now defunct) Arrow Cab transplants hoping to go out. Tony has gotten wise to my all too frequent call-ins on Mondays asking to get covered, on account of lack of sleep. Hence, he’s taken to sometimes calling me first, around 5. Anyway, the last thing a cabbie wants is to start out a 10-hour shift on the cutthroat streets of San Francisco tired and set like a trap ready to spring.

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Cell Phone Radiation Is Probably Cooking Your Brain and Balls (and What You Can Do About It)

mobilize

Via Midwest Real

Kevin Kunze is the filmmaker behind Mobilize, an investigative documentary exploring the negative long-term health effects of cell phone radiation. The film examines recent scientific research, follows national legislative efforts, and exposes the influence that technology companies have on public health.

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This is an unfortunate rabbit hole my friends, because I love me some technology. I’m constantly ranting about it, tweeting about it, or manipulating it in some manner. It’s certainly not lost on me that without it, this show and this site wouldn’t even exist in the first place. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that technology and the insatiable, uniquely human, desire to continually lift our circumstances is intimately intertwined with the destiny of mankind (if that’s a thing).

As Terence McKenna put it:

“Technology is the real skin of our species… We take in matter that has a low degree of organization; we put it through mental filters, and we extrude jewelry, gospels, space shuttles.

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Who owns your face?

Screen shot via.

Screen shot via.

Jeff John Roberts via Fortune:

In a fateful moment for privacy, Facebook’s “Moments” uses facial recognition to expose where people went and who they were with.

What a bad week for privacy. Consumer watchdogs gave up on government talks over facial recognition software after industry groups appeared to reject even basic restrictions on face-scanning. Meanwhile, Facebook rolled out a new service called “Moments” that expands the use of the company’s powerful “faceprint” technology.

This doesn’t mean the privacy apocalypse is upon us; for now least, the Facebook “Moments” tool is just one more creepy-but-useful social media innovation. But if loss of liberty happens gradually, June of 2015 could be a watershed we look back on with regret. It marks a time when we took new steps towards accepting the use of our very faces as a universal ID card – without deciding on the rules for using it.

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How might algorithms rule our lives? Mapping the logical space of algocracy

IBM_Blue_Gene_P_supercomputer

This post was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.

This post is a bit of an experiment. As you may know, I have written a series of articles looking at how big data and algorithm-based decision-making could affect society. In doing so, I have highlighted some concerns we may have about a future in which many legal-bureaucratic decisions are either taken over by or made heavily dependent on data-mining algorithms and other artificial intelligence systems. I have even referred to such a future state of governance as being a state of ‘algocracy’ (rule by algorithm).

Anyway, one thing that has bothered me about these past discussions is their relative lack of nuance when it comes to the different forms that algocratic systems could take. If we paint with too broad a brush, we may end up ignoring both the advantages and disadvantages of such systems. Cognisant of this danger, I have been trying to come up with a better way to taxonomise and categorise the different possible forms of algocracy.… Read the rest

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