Sunday, 6 August 2017


Geoff Manaugh’s latest speculative piece in BLDGBlog that turns over the aesthetics of civil engineering to an algorithm that has demonstrated a knack for the scenic initially made me think of another trail of a neural network plucking idyllic postcards from vast collections of unprocessed data, but the examination went deeper to question what these heralded breakthroughs in artificial intelligence might mean when the gauge of their success is our hazy ideal.
Humans own sense of taste and proportion are in turn thought to be informed, like our myths and oral traditions, by surveying the plains of Africa and learning that certain configurations of contour and shading invite prey and shelter—and are in tour reflected in the art and landscaping that we find unconsciously resonant. Advertisers exploit these sort of backdrops all the time to draw us in—or at least not to offend by choosing something anodyne and universal. What do you think? I do admit that in a moment of laziness recently that has since proven quite serendipitous and worth repeating I have turned to a PfRC site-specific image search to try to pick illustrations to go with some posts that I don’t have a specific for. With over four thousand articles and more photographs (mostly confusingly captioned or labelled), I’d prefer to recycle one of my own—especially pictures I’ve taken myself rather than accumulating more, I restrict the search criteria to this site and tell the search engine a few topics in the post, and I’ll get results like the one pictured—which is exactly what I had in mind. If our digital amanuensis and analyst is only rewarded for being a feed-back loop that draws on our oldest comforts neither side is challenged and the process seems like atrophy rather than growth.