Algorithm, Analog Computing, Art, Automata, Bacteria, Biological Computation, Biology, Cybernetics, Deep Learning

Beyond design: cybernetics, biological computers and hylozoism (Pickering 2008)

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AI, Algorithm, Automata, Biological Computation, Code, Cybernetics, Deep Learning, Emergence, Man/Machine, Neural Networks, Robots, Science, Social intelligence, Society

Can a robot be too nice?

“Designing artificial entities perfectly groomed to meet our emotional needs has an obvious appeal, like creating the exact right person for a job from thin air. But it’s also not hard to imagine the problems that might arise in a world where we’re constantly dealing with robots calibrated to treat us, on an interpersonal level, exactly the way we want. We might start to prefer the company of robots to that of other, less perfectly optimized humans. We might react against them, hungry for some of the normal friction of human relations. As Lanier worried, we might start to see the lines blur, and become convinced that machines—which in some ways are vastly inferior to us, and in other ways vastly superior—are actually our equals.”

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AI, Algorithm, Biometrics, Brain, Capitalism, Cybernetics, Economy, Education, Emergence, Ethics, Man/Machine, Robots, Science, Social intelligence, Society

Will You Lose Your Job To a Robot?

“The biggest exception will be jobs that depend upon empathy as a core capacity — schoolteacher, personal service worker, nurse. These jobs are often those traditionally performed by women. One of the bigger social questions of the mid-late 2020s will be the role of men in this world.” — Jamais Cascio, technology writer and futurist

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Algorithm, Analog Computing, Brain, Code, Cybernetics, Download, History, Interface, Logic, Mathematics, Memory

From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind’s Machine (1991)

“Vannevar Bush, the engineer who designed the world’s most powerful analog computer, envisioned the development of a new kind of computing machine he called Memex. For many computer and information scientists, Bush’s Memex has been the prototype for a machine to help people think. This volume, which the editors have divided into sections on the creation, extension, and legacy of the Memex, combines seven essays by Bush with eleven others by others that set his ideas within a variety of contexts. The essays by Bush range chronologically from the early “The Inscrutable Thirties” (1933), “Memorandum Regarding Memex” (1941), and “As We May Think” (1945), to “Memex II” (1959), “Science Pauses” (1967), “Memex Revisited” (1967), and a passage from “Of Inventions and Inventors” (1970). Bush’s essays are surrounded by four chapters that place his changing plans for the Memex within his career and within information technology before digital computing. The contributors include Larry Owens, Colin Burke, Douglas C. Engelbart, Theodor H. Nelson, Linda C. Smith, Norman Meyrowitz, Tim Oren, Gregory Crane, and Randall H. Trigg.”

Memex animation

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AI, Algorithm, Automata, Biological Computation, Brain, Code, Cybernetics, Deep Learning, Logic, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Neural Networks, Science, Social intelligence

Neural Networks and Deep Learning

“Will we understand how such intelligent networks work? Perhaps the networks will be opaque to us, with weights and biases we don’t understand, because they’ve been learned automatically. In the early days of AI research people hoped that the effort to build an AI would also help us understand the principles behind intelligence and, maybe, the functioning of the human brain. But perhaps the outcome will be that we end up understanding neither the brain nor how artificial intelligence works!”

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Algorithm, Architecture, Art, Automata, Biological Computation, Chaos, Code, Cybernetics, Drawing machine, History, Interface, Kinetic, Light, Logic, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Neural Networks, PDF, Social intelligence, Society, Tactical Media

Cybernetic Serendipity the Computer and the Arts – (1968)

Exhibition catalogue. Edited by Jasia Reichardt (Studio International Special Issue, London. 1968)

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Computing Machinery and Intelligence : Turing, A.M. (1950).

The fact that Babbage’s Analytical Engine was to be entirely mechanical will help us to rid ourselves of a superstition. Importance is often attached to the fact that modern digital computers are electrical, and that the nervous system also is electrical. Since Babbage’s machine was not electrical, and since all digital computers are in a sense equivalent, we see that this use of electricity cannot be of theoretical importance. Of course electricity usually comes in where fast signalling is concerned, so that it is not surprising that we find it in both these connections. In the nervous system chemical phenomena are at least as important as electrical. In certain computers the storage system is mainly acoustic. The feature of using electricity is thus seen to be only a very superficial similarity. If we wish to find such similarities we should took rather for mathematical analogies of function.

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Algorithm, Art, Brain, Man/Machine, Music, phenomenology, Sound

Andrew Lucia : Rhythm to Pitch

“To the human, the transformation of rhythm to pitch occurs at a particular perceptual threshold of roughly 16 to 20 Hz. For example, a sonic rhythm sped up above roughly 20 pulses per second will blur perceptually from a rhythm to a pitch. For our studies, we specifically examine these gaps between each new bit of information received by an observer. These gaps can exist spatially as the interval between each bit, or temporally as the duration between each bit. Our investigations presented here visually demonstrate formal aspects of underlying frequency space and structure inspired by the examination of two particular works of the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; Kontakte and Elektronische Musik Studie II.”

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Water Memory

“This paper demonstrates that the waves produced on the surface of water can be used as the medium for a “Liquid State Machine” that pre-processes inputs so allowing a simple perceptron to solve the XOR problem and undertake speech recognition. Interference between waves allows non-linear parallel computation upon simultaneous sensory inputs. Temporal patterns of stimulation are converted to spatial patterns of water waves upon which a linear discrimination can be made. Whereas Wolfgang Maass’ Liquid State Machine requires fine tuning of the spiking neural network parameters, water has inherent self-organising properties such as strong local interactions, time-dependent spread of activation to distant areas, inherent stability to a wide variety of inputs, and high complexity. Water achieves this “for free”, and does so without the time-consuming computation required by realistic neural models. An analogy is made between water molecules and neurons in a recurrent neural network.”

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Algorithm, Anthropology, Biometrics, Economy, Interface, Medicine, Society

Computational Anthropology

“The increasing availability of big data from mobile phones and location-based apps has triggered a revolution in the understanding of human mobility patterns. This data shows the ebb and flow of the daily commute in and out of cities, the pattern of travel around the world and even how disease can spread through cities via their transport systems.”

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History of Computer Art : Cybernetic Sculptures

“In 1968 artists and musicians like Stephen Antonakos, Terry Riley, Charles Ross and Robert Whitman realised installations producing light and sound events for the exhibition “The Magic Theatre”. James Seawright constructed “Electronic Peristyle” 37: an uncommon work for an uncommon exhibition. He installed “power supplies” in a base under a sphere. The sphere was made of transparent plastic and contained 12 photocells. A “cylindrical metal box” with 12 “light beam projectors” was mounted underneath the “plastic sphere”. The electronics in this vertical structure with round segments “was either digital (the earliest family of Motorola RTL logic chips)” or it contained “conventional analog transistor circuits.” These electronics controlled the generation of sounds by “electronic synthesizer modules”. These modules were developed by Robert Moog. He integrated his analog equipment in Seawright´s installation.”

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Crypto Water Computers from 1936

“In the front right corner, in a structure that resembles a large cupboard with a transparent front, stands a Rube Goldberg collection of tubes, tanks, valves, pumps and sluices. You could think of it as a hydraulic computer. Water flows through a series of clear pipes, mimicking the way that money flows through the economy. It lets you see (literally) what would happen if you lower tax rates or increase the money supply or whatever; just open a valve here or pull a lever there and the machine sloshes away, showing in real time how the water levels rise and fall in various tanks representing the growth in personal savings, tax revenue, and so on.”

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Algorithm, Art, Astrology, Automata, Biology, Chaos, DIY, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Nature

Owen Schuh

“Owen Schuh uses mathematical procedures, sometimes with the aid of a calculator as well as bespoke drawing machines, to generate emergent drawings which evoke computational and natural system visualisations. One of the key aspects of Owen’s work is the use of simple formulae, iteratively, to direct the growth of complex structures – local calculations give rise to autonomous and unexpected global configurations.”

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The Algorithmic Origins Of Life

“To avoid an infinite regress, in which the blueprint of a self-replicating UC contains the blueprint which contains the blueprint . . . ad infinitum, Von Neumann proposed that in the biological case the blueprint must play a dual role: it should contain instructions – an algorithm – to make a certain kind of machine (e.g. UC – Universal Constructor) but should also be blindly copied as a mere physical structure, without reference to the instructions its contains, and thus reference itself only indirectly. This dual hardware/software role mirrors precisely that played by DNA, where genes act both passively as physical structures to be copied, and are actively read-out as a source of algorithmic instructions. To implement this dualistic role, von Neumann appended a “supervisory unit” to his automata whose task is to supervise which of these two roles the blueprint must play at a given time, thereby ensuring that the blueprint is treated both as an algorithm to be read–out and as a structure to be copied, depending on the context. In this manner, the organization of a von Neumann automaton ensures that instructions remain logically differentiated from their physical representation. To be functional over successive generations, a complete self-replicating automaton must therefore consist of three components: a UC, an (instructional) blueprint, and a supervisory unit.”

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Lord Kelvin’s Harmonic Synthesizer

“Originally designed as a tide predictor in 1873, the system can combine numerous component waves—in some devices, up to 64 separate components—into a single curve. It is based on the earlier pin-and-slot device, which produces simple harmonic motion with the turn of a crank.”

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Robot Ethnography

“Rather, the point of anthropology is typically to locate a people who are typically strange and foreign to us, and then relate the way in which those people live, showing not only how they are different from us but also how they are the same. In doing so, we learn not only about others, but also ourselves. So in that framework, I tend to agree with the critics who say that only way to give a vitalistic account of a robot society is by projecting too many human qualities onto the non-human. What is then left is a non-vitalistic ethnography: an account of a culture devoid of life. Like with Latour and agency, once we show that life is not a necessary criterion for this thing called culture, then the fun really begins — and you can see why lots of people would oppose this.”

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When Machines Play Chopin

“However, as the eighteenth-century androids show, machines and or­ ganic nature, including human cognition, were not always polar opposites. Philipp Sarasin writes in his book on machines and the body that the machine and the organic were interchangeable in pre-Romantic thought (75). In another study on machines in human history, Herbert Heckman explains that the relationship between the body and the machine starts with the stone-age necessity to build tools as extensions of the body in order to survive (11). The nineteenth-century desire to separate the mechanical from the organic was a reaction to Enlightenment philosophy and an attempt to break away from this thinking in favour of an emphasis of expression and spirit over form.”

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Algorithm, Animals, Biology, Biometrics, Brain, Film, Man/Machine, Medicine, Nature, Neural Networks, Science

Filming the World Laboratory Cybernetic History in Das Netz

“But in the brain as McCulloch and Pitts imagine it, computation does not proceed along an infinite linear tape. Instead, complex series of equations are mapped out as pathways through a finite network of neurons. Patterns of electrochemical impulses correspond to the propositions of symbolic logic, expressed in the mathematical terms developed earlier in the century by logical empiricists such as Carnap (with whom Pitts had studied).7 Thus, the very process of thinking in language becomes equivalent to neural computation. In this way, the two scientists arrived at their fundamental breakthrough, stated in the title of their 1943 paper: “A Logical Calculus of Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity.”8 What they had done was to map out the possible circuits of feedback in the flesh.”

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Neuro inspired computational elements (Dyson Lecture)

“Alfred Smee (1818-1877) is known for publishing a series of books on a field he called electro-biology, the relation of electricity to the vital functions of the human body. He argued that instinct and reason could be deduced from electro-biology. For Smee, an idea consists of a collection of electrically stimulated nerve fibers. Using the technology of the 19th century, Smee conceived mechanical machines for presenting his ideas. Smee’s Relational Machine (so called because it represented the relationship between the various properties, comprising an idea), was intended to represent one thought, idea, or mental image at a time.”

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Earth Computer

“The earth computer conceives of a (computational) device of the same substance as the earth, to be embedded in the earth and embedding a quotation (after Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym). The central conceit is the use of the earth itself as a dirty, irrational computational device. An attempt will be made to reproduce common components, such as memory, power supply, and CPU with earth-based elements; a form of computational land art. Techniques borrowed from the semiconductor and computer industry will be applied to the raw earth substrate either in situ (documented actions at Whitby) or as a speculative performance.”

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Agricultural Printing/Altered Landscapes

“The project uses the idea of “Agricultural Printing” to explore the possibilities of digital fabrication carried over into farming. The experiment applies algorithms to partition and to create an environmentally beneficial structure into a standard biomass/energy production field. These additional areas establish, or improve, the connectivity for fauna and flora between habitats. This increased diversity also eases typical problems of monocultures e.g. less vermin → reduced usage of pesticides.”

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Post-Human Musics

“Might they not, too, be interested in music? After all, they will have unfettered access to the cultural products of the human world, and they will share DNA—the same hardware, languages, and algorithms—with electronic music. They will have networked relationships with devices and systems capable of generating sound. Freed from the limitations of the fallible human body, they will certainly be capable of playing expertly, although it’s more plausible they won’t need to play at all. It used to take a laser, a magnet, or a needle to reproduce sound. Now all it takes is code.”

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Algorithm predicts your next action on video

“Just as in some languages nouns can go before or after verbs but adjectives have to precede nouns, in a particular action, like making tea, the preparer could put a tea bag into an empty cup before or after putting the water on to boil, but no matter what the kettle will go on the stove before the water is poured. The grammar model has another advantage: The algorithm can make educated guesses about partially completed actions in a streaming video. The software makes its best guess as to what the action is and subsequently revises it if necessary.”

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Autodesk Builds Its Own Virus, as the Software Giant Develops Design Tools for Life Itself

“Of course, putting these tools into more people’s hands carries risks as well. While scientists see great potential to create novel medicines, vaccines and nanomaterials, bad actors could attempt to use them to create bio-weapons.”

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Algorithm, Capitalism, Economy, Education, Man/Machine, Robots, Society

Automation and the end of Capitalism

“If the owners and operators of the machines kept for themselves all the proceeds from robot production, the state could not for long provide enough income to the rest to enable them to buy the goods and services produced by the elite….but if most of the elite’s money were taken from them by the state to provide incomes for the leisure class so that they could buy goods and services, why would the elite bother to produce anything? It seems to me that fully automated production and a world in which few people work for a living is not in the interests of capitalism or of capitalists. Maybe capitalists DO need a large labour force. Their survival depends on it. “

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“Jeeves, bring up my feed”

“It’s entirely possible that the influence of our virtual minders could reach far further. What if we tell our OS that we’ll only ever buy products that meet certain ethical standards; hit certain carbon emission targets or treat their employees in a certain way? Our computer may say no to brands for many different reasons. This may sound like science fiction, but actually we are close to combining concept areas such as big personal data management, the internet of things and operating systems that learn how to provide the perfect approach to life management, just for us. The ingredients are already there and companies that could potentially deliver a “Her” are already hard at work putting the building blocks of personal technology in place.”

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Familiar Face

“Face-matching today could enable mass surveillance, “basically robbing everyone of their anonymity,” he says, and inhibit people’s normal behavior outside their homes. Pointing to the intelligence documents made public by Edward J. Snowden, he adds that once companies amass consumers’ facial data, government agencies might obtain access to it, too.”

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Ralf Baecker is my hero.

“Ralf Baecker is an artist with a background in computer science, who works with and about technologie. He builds speculative machines and installations that investigate the digital and its cultural origin, with a focus on the encounter of thought and the (physical) world. He considers computers and cybernetic machines as epistemological hardware rather than tools.”

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