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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Posts Tagged ‘Digital-Presence’

  • fold-it-protein-game

    Gamers Solve Enzyme Riddle

    In a vivd example of the blur between culture and nature, players using an online game called Foldit have helped solve complex questions for researchers about enzyme models. The solution, which eluded researchers for more than 10 years was solved by gamers in only a few days, contributing towards research into anti-AIDS drugs. Giving credit where it’s due, researchers have named the gamers as co-authors in the study published in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

    Read the full story on BBC.com.

  • sins

    Sin free for just €1.59

    For just £1.19 ($1.99, €1,59) you can download an app for your iPhone which offers tips and guidelines with the sacrament, “the perfect aid for every penitent” as the description reads. This, on itself, is not so special. There are dozen of apps which help you to confess, though this is the first which is officially approved by the Catholic Church.

    The app allows users to keep track of their sins, and guides them through the sacrament (where Catholics admit their wrongdoing through).  The app is launched shortly after Pope Benedict XVI gave the advice to embrace digital communication. Although he adds: “It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.”

    Hopefully there will be a ‘Pocket Pope’ app in the near future.

    Via BBC News, iTunes

  • Brainscan App

    Brainscan App

    By hooking up a commercially available EEG headset to a Nokia N900 smartphone, Jakob Eg Larsen and colleagues at the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby have created a portable system to monitor neural activity of the brain. Wearing the headset and booting up an accompanying app, creates a simplified 3D model of the brain that lights up as brainwaves are detected. The brain-image can be rotated by swiping the screen. Furthermore, the app can connect to a remote server for more intensive data-processing, and then display the results on the cellphone. The system might assist people with conditions such as epilepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and addiction. One small step for science, but a giant leap for health care. Source: newscientist.com

    YouTube Preview Image
  • YouTube Preview Image

    I am not a Robot. I am a Unicorn.

    At Cornell Creative Machines Lab they were curious to see how two “chatbots” would make conversation. Powered by Cleverbot, created by AI researcher Rollo Carpenter, the robots were fooled into recognizing each other as humans. On YouTube someone comments: “If ever these two got married, it wouldn’t last a week.” But the contrary could be true if their somewhat intelligent chitchat helps them pass the Turing test. Till the switch do them part.

  • Physical Scrollbars

    Physical Scrollbars

    Scrollbars is a series of installations and physical scrollbar-representations created by Dutch artist Jan Robert Leegte. According to the artist, most of us consider the scrollbar to be a virtual object – but in use it triggers reactions such as frustration, which suggests a subconscious acceptance of the inherent “reality” of these objects.

    Via guerrilla innovation

  • YouTube Preview Image

    YouTube preserves unmediated Nature

    On Youtube, there’s a whole sub-genera of safari videos that show, in gruesome detail, what exactly it means to live and die in Old Nature. The above film is a particularly stomach-churning example, depicting African hunting dogs that eviscerate and devour a kudu while the antelope is still very much alive.  It’s the sort of material that winds up on the editing floor during the production of a typical nature documentary. Wildlife films sanitize the predator-prey relationship. Death occurs off-screen; if it is shown, it’s bloodless and quick.  Amateur nature videos remove a layer of artistic interpretation between the audience and “authentic” nature. Without a sound track or a narrator contextualizing the hunt, death becomes neither triumphant nor tragic. It doesn’t impart any moral lessons. In nature, as in YouTube, death just happens.

    Amateur videos like “Survival of the Fittest” compete for page views, and so still maintain the entertainment edict of traditional wildlife filmmaking. Web cams trained on nesting birds or savannah waterholes offer an even more immediate experience. They’re instantaneous, unedited, and usually unrecorded. In other words, wildlife web cams are the next best thing to being there. It used to be that professionally produced films, articles, and books were the main means for city-dwellers and office-workers to experience any wildlife more threatening than a pigeon.  Advanced digital technologies have helped to restore some ‘truth in advertising’ to the workings of wild ecosystems. In some sense, YouTube and other websites have become unintentional parks that uphold the conservation of unmediated nature.

  • typewriter animals

    Typing Out Evolution

    From the exhibit “What Machines Dream Of” in Berlin comes Life Writer, a work by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau. As the participant types, letters are projected on a scroll of paper. After pushing the return bar, the letters are transformed into animated, typographic creatures that bob and skitter across the paper. The ravenous insects then proceed to gobble up the words as fast as they’re typed. When the paper is scrolled, the creatures reproduce, birthing offspring that looks slightly different from the parent. An algorithm determines the shape and behavior of the organisms, and controls how they evolve with each generation.

    Sommer and Mignonneau use an obsolete technology to bring up very current questions about the autonomy of technological systems, and what ‘life’ means when humans can create convincing facsimiles of it. “What Machines Dream Of” is on display until August 28. It’s free, fun, and full of  next natural goodness.

  • Bare necessities

    Bare necessities

    According to a research by JWT AnxietyIndex the changing mediascape is upon us. Do to the recession people are forced to validate their luxuries and it turned out that teens and twentysomethings are willing to cut back on a lot of things, except on the internet connection and mobile phone.  Within their mediascape these are more important then traditional entertainment. Connectivity is entertainment.

    Via: We Are Organized Chaos.

    on 1 Comment »
  • backtothetribe

    Essay: Back to the Tribe

    Traditionally, technology is seen as a force that diminishes our instincts and puts us at a distance of nature. Increasingly however, we realize technology can also energize and amplify our deepest human sensibilities – even some we had forgotten about. Propelling us not so much back to, but rather forward to nature.

    By VAN MENSVOORT

    Almost two decades ago, Brian Eno – artist, composer, inventor, thinker – gave an interview in which he stated the problem with computers was that there is not enough Africa in them [1]. “Africa is everything that something like classical music isn’t. Classical – perhaps I should say ‘orchestral’ – music is so digital, so cut up, rhythmically, pitch wise and in terms of the roles of the musicians. It’s all in little boxes.”… “Do you know what a nerd is? A nerd is a human being without enough Africa in him or her. I know this sounds sort of inversely racist to say, but I think the African connection is so important. I want so desperately for that sensibility to flood into these other areas, like computers.” … “It uses so little of my body. You’re just sitting there, and it’s quite boring. You’ve got this stupid little mouse that requires one hand, and your eyes. That’s it. What about the rest of you? No African would stand for a computer like that. It’s imprisoning.”

    Read more »

  • a run on the bank

    BitFriday – First Crash for Digital Currency

    On June 10, the digital currency Bitcoin lost 30% of its value in a few hours, dropping from US $28.92 to $20.01 per coin. Bitcoins are a largely untraceable form of money, relying on a peer-to-peer  system for legitimacy, instead of a central authority like a government or Second Life’s Linden Labs. Gawker recently brought Bitcoins to mainstream attention in a report on Silk Road, a website where aspiring drug users can use the anonymous currency to purchase home delivery of any psychoactive from LSD to cocaine.

    The Bitcoin Black Friday was the result of certain events that real life markets have learned to control for – a bank rush, where Bitcoin owners exchanged their Bits back to bucks en masse, and a market that stayed open despite rapid inflation over the last few weeks. Millions of dollars in Bitcoin investments were lost in the resulting crash. This fast-moving bear market goes to show that online events increasingly mimic ‘real’ events, and that the investors in digital markets could stand to crack open their history books. Virtual economies work the same as actual ones, although all money, by definition, is already virtual.

    Via DailyTech.  Image via Dipity.

  • hiking using cell phone

    Humane Technology #6: Improve the Human Condition

    And now for the sixth and final principle: Humane technology improves the human condition and helps people realize the dreams they have of themselves.

    No matter what your government might be telling you, we probably don’t need better defense technology. Instead of killer robots and city-leveling bombs, we need tech that adds to the very best in ourselves- our health, our minds and our dreams for the future. Naturalist E.O Wilson’s notion of biophilia should not be limited just to humans. Technology should love life as much as we do.

    Humane technology, as a concept, can be tricky to pin down. What is humane in one circumstance is irritating or destructive in another. A cell phone may be more humane than a landline, permitting the talker to wander around, free to conduct business or call home from the far side of the globe. But cell phones may be inhumane for precisely this reason. A Blackberry or iPhone can seem less like an indispensable fifth limb than a second mouth that just won’t shut up. A technology can never defined as entirely humane or entirely inhumane. There is no end point that makes a certain device ‘humane.’ We may not know it by how it looks, but we will know it by how it feels.

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  • Bald is beautiful

    New steps to meld mind and machine

    Until now we’ve seen the types of brain-computer interface where the human has to put on some sort of bulky hat full of wires to control a machine. It won’t be like that for long: the future of organic electronics may already be here.  In 2009, a team of Swedish scientists created the first artificial nerve cell that communicates with nerves in their own language of neurotransmitter chemicals, rather than with electrical impulses.  More recently, another team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison scratched the surface of a new kind of brain-machine interface by wiring computer chips with living nerve cells.

    These technologies are radically shifting conventional brain-computer interfaces.  Not only can they help people with diseases such as schizophrenia or Parkinson’s, but they also present exciting possibilities for neurotypical humans.  For example, such devices could allow you to control the machines around you, and to communicate with them as well.  Yes, creepy if it gets hacked. Or here’s another idea: what if you could communicate your thoughts to another person just by thinking? Then it wouldn’t be brain-machine interfaces anymore, but brain-machine-brain interfaces.

    Photo: link

    on 1 Comment »
  • YouTube Preview Image

    Remote kissing device

    Nobuhiru Takahashi, student at the Kajimoto Laboratory of the University of Electro-Communications in Chofu City, Tokyo, invented this Internet French kissing device. When a bended straw is touched with the tongue on one end, the motion-parameters will be transferred to a similar device on the other. This invention taps a new market; the storing and trading of famous-idol-kissing-data. Takahashi, notes that “the elements of a kiss include the sense of taste, the manner of breathing, and the moistness of the tongue”. With tongue movement down, these properties have his attention now (let’s hope for Takahashi he gets to do some actual research). The device could also palliate more fundamental issues: “love miles” for instance (the miles we must travel out to people we care about).

    Though the technique is not as proficient as f.e. robotic surgery; remote kissing could herald a new compassion-through-internet era!
    No harm done yet… Lady Gaga is the best coffee-stirrer I know.

  • Hungry Birds

    Hungry Birds

    A while ago I wrote a post about birds which tried to adapt to the city by singing louder and in different tones than before.

    Now it seems the birds have taken this adaptation to the next level and started tweeting, in the digital variant. While they already lend their image and name to this popular service, they could never use it until the people of the Latvian weekly magazine “Ir” made Birds on Twitter.

    A keyboard made of fat allows the birds to tweet while they eat. Check out the poetry of the birds @hungry_birds.
    Unfortunately we will have to wait until November before they start tweeting again, as spring is setting in, which means there is much more to do than tweeting all day long.

    on 1 Comment »
  • elfoid_2

    Voodoo Phone

    Japanese professor Hiroshi Ishiguro from Osaka University has quite a track record of threading the uncanny valley. Remember his Doppelgänger Robot and Geminoid Female? His current proposal brings new dimensions to mobile communications: Humanoid dimensions.

    Although our human body language is one the most effective and natural channels for communication, it plays no role in mobile communication so far. Hence Hiroshi Ishiguro teamed up with NTT Docomo and Qualcomm to develop a humanoid shaped phone, called Elfoid, which adds an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of a remote person.


    The fleshy urethane skinned prototype has a deliberate genderless and ageless appearance, as this should allow for the projection of the personality of any caller. Equipped with a camera and motion-capture system, the Elfoid phone will be able to watch the user’s face and transmit motion data to another Elfoid phone, which should then reproduce the face and head movements in real-time.

    The Elfoid phone immediately reminded us of the voodoo communication device for lovers, conceptualized by Yu Yu Chien some years ago. Although some of the negative connotations of voodoo are better avoided, projecting a remote person in a hand held doll, has proven to provide for a powerful psychological effect. Contrary to many of Ishiguro’s earlier humanoids the Elfoid phone combines human realism with a strong symbolic quality that could turn out to be a winning team.

    Read more »

  • Robo-teacher

    Robo-teacher

    Say hello to teacher Engkey!

    The city of Daegu — South Korea, introduced 29 robot teachers in 19 elementary schools as part of a large scale project to robotize teaching. The ambitious effort envisioned robots in all 8,400 kindergartens in Korea by 2013. Source: Tim Hornyak for news.cnet.com Read more »

  • YouTube Preview Image

    Pregnant Avatars

    This interview from 2008 is exemplary for a time when people started experimenting on humanizing anonymous avatars in the virtual realm. Shopping, building, going on holiday, dancing, drinking and getting wasted, playing games, farm, prostitute, doing business and yes: becoming pregnant are some of the ways people expressed themselves. I am not sure if SecondLife is still being lived, but if it is, it makes one curious to know what has become of the virtual babies. Are they still babies or did they grow over time? Were they being neglected at some point? Socially parked? If so, then let this blogpost be a monument for all parents and their virtual darlings.

    Read more »

  • The Institute for Digital Biology

    The Institute for Digital Biology

    The Institute for Digital Biology researches next steps in the evolution of the internet, where websites and services develop into living creatures.”
    This scenario lives in the mind of Walewijn den Boer, graduated from KABK in 2010.

    During the exhibition, visitors were able to feed a colony of microscopical pop-up creatures, save Chinese websites from a pageview-shortage, preserve an Amazone tribe from extinction by subscribing to its homepage and view a short documentary on how the living internet established itself.

    Read more »