Tuesday, 30 July 2019

typecast and tunnel-vision

We found this discussion on the difference between the gymnasium of serendipities and the human- or increasingly algorithmically-jured recommendations that are designed to maximise engagement and prolong our stay in any of several walled-gardens from Kottke guest contributor Patrick Tanguay to be a particularly resonant one and worth considering in full.
Not that programming and curation is not a skill and many enterprises and endeavours have failed for lack of an organiser to marshal interest, one ought to hold prompts and suggestions in a healthy contempt  and be a touch wistful over our limited palette (sort of the apposite of FOMO) and suspicious of the customised world of news, entertainment and advertising presented to us, unique and inscrutable and tedious.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

maskinรฅldern

In a noble and hopefully not misguided attempt to remove human biases though we consistently see how technology amplifies our worst instincts, the city council of Upplands-Bro is experimenting with a robot interviewer that will screen candidates and hopefully determine the best qualified fit for their municipal coordinator of on-line media services.
What do you think? I wonder if having a robot interlocutor has a calming effect or is more like focusing a rather unforgiving camera on the subject. This community outside of Stockholm has demographically one of the highest concentrations of people of non-Swedish heritage and the city government is hoping to signal through this experiment its willingness to combat discrimination in the jobs market and corporate culture that is not inclusive.

Friday, 26 April 2019

7x7

imperium: the rise and fall of colonial powers visualised

aggressively, chillingly ahuman: for some inscrutable algorithmic purpose, a bot created a video of a blog post—via Super Punch

wholecloth: these colourful quilts from artist Bisa Butler that tell a story

acanthus leaf: Plants and their Application to Ornament (1896) from Eugรจne Grasset

totus mundus agit histrionem: for the Bard’s birthday, a Shakespearean version of Trivial Pursuit

law-suuuuuuuu-uuuit: the yodeller behind the Yahoo! campaign was led to believe it was only a regional promotion—via Miss Cellania’s Links

belt and road project: the Australian Strategic Policy Institute conducted a comprehensive study of Chinese technological influence globally—via Maps Mania 

Thursday, 25 April 2019

completely automated public turing test to tell computers and humans apart

NPR’s Planet Money recently presented a really engrossing episode on CAPTCHA technologies—previously and which is the title initialism—that shows how the counter-measures against spam and subterfuge not only evolved with but also to a big degree informed the developing internet to make it a richer and more connected experience.
It reminds me of the possibly apocryphal story that the suite of games pre-installed in Windows (despite taxing precious system resources) was distributed in order to teach users the manual dexterity needed to operate a computer mouse and while I do remember some times being asked to provide my human credentials by identifying a blurry building number, what I failed to realise was that human we’re just being shown skewed text and images to thwart automated bots but were also being enlisted by comprehensive mapping services and earlier by newspaper archives to perform the optical character recognition that machines were not yet able to decipher when the copy was suboptimal. Later iterations of the test tasked people with identifying cars, boats and buildings and aided in machine-learning by tutoring neural networks in a funny sort of feedback loop that’s enabled computers to beat the original methods of minding the gates.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

architecture of choice

A team of researchers who trained a neural network to play arcade games would often ask human teachers, role-models to explain the rational behind the moves they made, veering left or jumping forward to avoid an obstacle, etc. to help the robot learn.
In efforts for transparency in algorithmic decision making and hopefully presenting AI as less of an inscrutable black box and more of an auditable system, the research team also trained the machine to generate a running account of each move it made. While this sounds well-intentioned, the more likely outcome will result in AI that comes up with a plausible and civil explanations ex-post facto, much like all people in certain situations measuring the programme’s response and against past human-user reactions and gradually building trust and a rapport based on what the AI has learned that we want to hear. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, 29 March 2019

shy ethics disciplinarian

Referred by the always brilliant Nag on the Lake, we are enjoying pondering the duty descriptions that would pair with these satirical job titles generated to distinguish graphic designers from one another—created by Attachรฉ of Brutal Design Intel Xtian Miller and Ethical UI Scientist Boris Crowther. Give Pseudo Design Titles a go and cycle through endless possibilities perhaps find your calling. We were also particularly fond of Sympathetic Busybody of Persuasive Design, Accessibility Diplomat and Habituรฉ of Engagement.

Friday, 22 March 2019

technocracy

Previously we’ve demonstrated—anecdotally—that despots and robots don’t seem to mix well, and whilst people have anxieties over being made redundant through automation and that there are definite trade-offs to be found in unfettered technological progress, tempered by the consul of the past or not, a surprisingly large portion of Europeans recently polled, a solid quarter of respondents, would favour allowing artificial intelligences to craft and execute policy over politicians.
What do you think?  We agree that there’s some share of disillusionment and political estrangement contributing to this outlook and the paternalistic bent as well as the tendency to reflect and amplify our worst inclinations to some advancements shouldn’t be ignored—which is why transparency is vitally important—but we suspect there’s also a vote of confidence to be found here as well—that perhaps in coalition with machines, governance could be a fairer and more equitable process.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

a stroke of genius

Via The Awesomer, we learn that computer powerhouse nVIDIA has developed a generative adversarial network (previously) they’re calling GauGAN, after the post-impressionist Paul Gauguin, which transforms sketches and doodles into convincingly real but wholly fictitious landscapes, scouring billions of images to make a seamless composite scene. The algorithm and subroutine is still being coached but may be available for the general public soon.

Friday, 15 March 2019

meet cute

Via Coudal Partner’s Fresh Signals, we are greeted by the disembodied and non-gendered voice of Q, meant to be the identity overlaying the interactions of virtual assistants who’ve been so far unable to distance themselves from a female persona.

Though decidedly feminine if one is looking to assign gender (and with Q, depending on how hard one, I suppose, wants a voice to be either or and it seems to modulate between the two), it reminds us of the ship’s computer on Star Trek, warm and authoritative and voiced by actor and producer Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (*1932 - †2008) who also played Nurse Christine Chapel and Lwaxnan Troi on three series of the franchise.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

7x7

see saw margery daw: a look at the illustrated Nursery Songs of William Darton, Jr

i know you are but what am i: an AI designed to detect bot-written text—previously

bespoke: a fun round-up of design oddities

ziegelei: a private brick museum (with eighteen hundred unique specimens) in Berlin documents the history of industry and architectural growth in German and beyond

simpson, eh? yes sir—all the recent events in your life have revolved around him in some way: Apple’s patient CEO has not been the only name that Trump has forgotten

colombophilie militarire: the past, present and future use of pigeons for espionage and wartime communications—via the New Shelton Wet/Dry

wither shall I wander: an epistolary look at the character Mother Goose—via Strange Company 

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

7x7

bathdoom: interior remodelling as a first-person shooter game

philosophical zombies: the Turing Test for AI consciousness

waste management: budget cuts are rubbishing recycling programmes and good intentions on the municipal level in the US and elsewhere, via Digg

das botenkind: a radio host who broadcasted for the US Army in West Berlin had her sobriquet translated as “Newsbabe”

human hoberman: an mesmerising synchronised dance on a slick floor

brick-and-mortar: gorgeous letterpress posters of artful arranged Lego reminiscent of printed circuit boards

lotus eaters: parrot junkies are having the poppy harvest in Madhya Pradesh

Saturday, 2 March 2019

tulpenmanie

Recognising a clear line of succession from the first socio-economic bubble—the Tulip fever (previously) whose speculative collapse had never been experienced before (though have little financial impact on the Dutch Republic) straight through to the disruptive power of crypto-currency, Berlin-based artist Anna Ridler is using artificial intelligence to mine for impossible flowers. Naming her installation “Mosaic Virus” after the vector that produces the unpredictable but highly-sought after variety in the monocots, Ridler employs a generative adversarial network as an algorithm to weed out undesirable mutations and select for valued traits—a contemplation on nature and market tendencies coloured by human impulse and aesthetic.

Monday, 25 February 2019

reverse look-up

In much the same way as a neural network can conjure people into existence before wishing them to the cornfield, we find a rather mysterious Swiss registered website—via LitHub—that seemingly authors short bits of stream-of-conscious fiction in the comments section of a Whois domain ownership query.
A refresh yields a different story with a different cast of characters and trajectory and only the holding company (a safe and infamous target in a former affiliate of bounty-hunting collections agency that was scandalous dissolved in 2011) remains the same. What do you make of this? Beyond the writing prompts offered up out of random noise—assuming that there is not some deeper feedback experiment going on here—we are all eager and programmed to tease pattern and intention out chaos and disruption, jolting something out of a background of near non sequitir, much like the reaching reassurance of a horoscope or fortune-teller.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

jpeg image, 1024 x 1024 pixels

Via Swiss Miss, here’s a seemingly unending and disconcerting gallery of head-and-shoulders images of people (the name of the website is a constant reminder) that do not exist except as the figment of a machine’s imagination (see also here and here).
There are a few glitches when generating the images, sometimes noticeable in the background, make-up, hair or clothing but it’s beyond the Uncanny Valley of the Dolls in terms of realism. Paying a visit to the website, just hit the refresh button to summon another non-entity into being however temporarily. So many incept dates—I know they’re just fabrications, collages (though they could probably be readily assigned an extensive and made-up biography) but I also can’t help wondering what happens when one clicks next.

Friday, 15 February 2019

wpm

A research group has trained a neural network that when given a prompt for prose or a news item can extrapolate a whole, plausible sounding passage, which for all its naturalness is wholly a product of machine learning and the computational musings, however, convincing are divorced from reality.
Recognising the potential for propagandise the automation of literature and the press (here’s a less scary example), the group is for now withholding releasing their findings to the public, until such time as we are better equipped to use such abilities in positive ways and not suffer under the abuse of them but I wonder if we’ll ever truly be prepared and sufficiently girded against our own copyediting and desire for a quick turn-over reflected back at us far faster than we could churn it out. Read more at the link up top.

Friday, 1 February 2019

i, robot

Hearing of this experiment—really a thought-experiment put through the paces of reality and practise thanks to advanced computing, via Slashdot, of a robot booted-up without prior knowledge of itself or its programming was able after a period of adjustment was able to imagine itself and deduce its identity reminded us of Avicenna’s concept of the floating man.
Buoyed aloft, blindfolded and deprived of sensation, the philosopher, whose ideas informed the thinking of later luminaries like Renรฉ Descartes, reasoned that even in this state of sensory deprivation, that the figure would still differentiate himself from the surrounding environment and have a sense of self. What do you think? To my mind, it seems like we are lurching towards self-awareness but there’s always the counter-argument that the machines are not quite pandering to their programmers but we do tend to prefer revelling in outcomes that confirm our own pet-theories—absent any counter-factuals.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

generative adversarial network

We’ve previously explored what we’ve called the electronic brain’s experience of pareidolia and generative adversarial networks synthesising images—things only exist in the mind of a computer
but we were quite pleased to have our accomplished neural network trainer Janelle Shane (previously) guide us through the methodologies and application of one of the most powerful processors and for sharing some of the chimera conjured up.  Still a bit off-putting but nowhere near as disturbing as some of the nightmares of the early stages of Deep Dreaming, this image is the result of querying bookshop plus radio telescope with a little bit of Boston terrier thrown in. Explore more at AI Weirdness (aka Lewis & Quark) at the link above and learn how to use the application itself here.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

uncanny cruiser

Via the always intriguing Things magazine, while we are still trying to adapt to and come to terms with the idea of wholly convincing composite people generated by a neural network enforced through machine-learning, we discover a slightly less menacing though disorientating all the same nuance with hypothetical motor vehicles (relatedly) that only exist virtually and are the product of robot day-dreams. At the same time this roadworthy experiment was being conducted, the neural network tried its hand at a dataset of images of hotel, bed-and-breakfast rooms to create the ideal, average guest accommodations—mostly bedspreads and mountains of pillows. The programme is still learning and we are not sure of the parameters but perhaps once this algorithm gets fantastic coaches right, it will be able to engineer concept vehicles that surpass passenger expectations. Much more to consider and to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

bric-a, brac-a firecracker!

Equally awed by the unnoticed taxonomy that go into the everyday with unspoken rules that perhaps an independent observer could best identify, we really enjoyed this latest instalment (previously) of a neural network generating branded identities for imagined sorts of pyrotechnic displays. The database of names were gathered in part from Dutch sources—where Silvester fireworks are a serious matter as well—which makes the output all the more interesting. Some of our favourites were:

Pronk XL
Sheeperstrike
Shark Whistler
Sneaking Veet Box 3
Event Badger One Assortiment

More to explore at the links above and be sure to subscribe so as to never miss an experiment, which are all pretty telling of and revelatory about our own foibles and naming-conventions.

doomba

Though never an avid player of games from the first-person shooter perspective, I did always appreciate the world-building work that went into developing the video game franchises.
We’re especially taken just now with the concept that one’s own smart vacuum’s plotted course through one’s living quarters isn’t just a domestic double-agent but can be used to craft rich new terrains and levels for fighting off zombies in space. Given what these robotic vacuums have in terms of creativity and imagination, it seems right that they ought to be rewarded with a new outlet instead of just doing menial tasks—though we’d be better off vanquishing dust bunnies ourselves and gamifying household chores without an avatar.