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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’

  • 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.

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  • 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.”

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  • 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.

    Photo

  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • the_Matrix_530

    Next Nature Movie #6: The Matrix

    In the last few decades there have been numerous films that take the struggle between mankind and its increasingly intelligent and autonomous technology as a leitmotif. Ranging from Stanley Kubriks magnificent artwork Space Oddysee 2001 (1968), which is better defined as a posthuman than a nextnature film, to Disney’s cartoonish Tron (1982), to the Terminator series (1984, 1991, 2003).

    The notion of technology becoming competitive with the people who created it, is clearly a thankful movie subject. Pity though, the issue is always projected in the future – at distance from our everyday lives – as this limits the opportunity to reflect upon the co-evolutionary state people and technology have been caught up for a long time already.

    Apparently this is a movie law difficult to get around, and one that directors Andy and Larry Wachowski willingly accept. Yet they do something brilliant. They have a philosophical idea that they want to get out, but they are aware their idea is difficult to sell. If they had made it too explicit their movie would have been an art house film, or a giant flop. So they took their idea and wrapped it up in a sci-fi story, in an action packed blockbuster.

    The subtle premises of The Matrix (1999), is that the people subjected by the machines aren’t aware of the artificial intelligence that is ruling their lives. Like the prisoners in Plato’s Cave they’re blind to the simulation drawn before their eyes – a situation only stirred up with the arrival of the manga style dressed Christ–like savior Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, aka The One, played by a perfectly casted Keanu Reeves. Postmodernity in the overdrive? That’s not giving enough credit.

    Through their syncretic cocktail of ingredients from western and non-western philosophy (*), art and religion, the Wachowski brothers manage to achieve exactly what they want. Like a Trojan horse, they’ve planted something into your mind, the seed of doubt, even if you have no idea it’s there, yet it’s there. That voice in the back of your mind that something is wrong. That feeling you got left with after seeing the movie that it wasn’t just about computers and artificial intelligence but about something else, something more important, something you’re familiar with but just can’t put your finger on.

    The Matrix is a philosophical film that has cut through an entire generation, which now thinks differently about the technology in their surroundings than any generation before them. They’re aware that there may never be a day that technology awakes, becomes conscious and – politely or impolitely – introduces itself to us. They’re aware that this doesn’t withstand that technology is a strong all-pervasive force in our lives: A force that is not only driven by us, but in turn, also drives us. What is the Matrix, you ask? Something closer to reality than you think.

    YouTube Preview Image

    (*) Prior to the start of the filming the Wachowski brothers required the principal actors of the film to read three books: ‘Simulacra and Simulations’, by Jean Baudrillard, ‘Out of Control’ by Kevin Kelly, and ‘Introducing Evolutionary Psychology’ by Dylan Evans.

    Passed: Alphaville (1965), Space Oddysee 2001 (1968), Tron (1982), Tetsuo the Iron Man (1989), Terminator 2 (1991), Ghost in the Shell (1995), Technocalyps (2006).

  • avatar-james-sully

    Next Nature Movie #8: Avatar

    At first sight James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar (2009) is no more than a spectacularly rendered version of the classical Pocahontas story. We could criticize its keenly calculated ambition to please everyone, the hammy dialogs, its thinly veiled ecological message, or the somewhat bizarre spirituality in its second half. But we choose not to. Avatar is an important film and there is more than meets the eye through the 3D goggles.

    To begin with, the film familiarizes us with the beauty of hypernatural landscape even the most advanced geneticist wouldn’t dare to dream of. Similar to the landscape painters of the 17th century that taught us to appreciate an untainted landscape, Avatar presents us with flora and fauna that shine with the bioluminescence of a thousand deep sea critters, interactive plants and trees that dwarf the Empire State Building. Fantasy? Escapism? Sure, but it nonetheless mentally prepares us for some of the things scientists are working on today.

    Avatar is the kind of movie that, in retrospect, could become an icon of a shifting zeitgeist. Since Avatar, people will not instantly think you’ve lost your mind when you’re speaking about the interconnectedness of trees & plants in a forest as a sort of biological Internet – thus leveling the biosphere with the noosphere.

    EMANCIPATION OF THE VIRTIVIDUAL

    More importantly, Avatar puts the emancipation of the virtividual on the societal agenda. Its main character is Jake Sully, is an ex-marine, bound to a wheel chair, who seeks to make a fresh start on the moon Pandora. The moon has a military run mining colony – humans are playing the role of the aliens for a change – and Sully is asked to go under cover as a member of the local Na’vi species, to learn their secrets and give the humans an advantage. If successful, Sully will get his legs back.

    Admitted, the technological premises of the film is altogether unfeasible and many have criticized Cameron’s blockbuster for the lacking of a sound description of the virtual technology employed to transfer the handicapped Sully onto a healthy Na’vi donor body. Yet, this is beside the point: which is that – although less sophisticated – we are living in a society where people are constantly creating avatars for themselves to participate in games, online platforms and social networks and that, so this movie shows us, the use of avatars has radical implications for our sense of identity, community and moral judgment. As Sully becomes part of the Na’vi community and embodies their sensibilities he soon starts to feel differently about his assignment. Lesson learned: Avatars aren’t neutral.

    Presumably, our society has still a long way to go before the emancipation of the virtividual is complete. When will we cease to think in terms of borders between the virtual and the real? Will the virtividual one day claim its basic rights? Will society be forced to grant rights to someone’s virtual identity? And will we look back at Avatar as an important film that forecasted this situation? Perhaps.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Passed: eXistenZ (1999). Thanks to Tom Kniesmeijer.

  • YouTube Preview Image

    Living with First-Person shooter disease

    Now how is this for a Boomeranged Metaphor? Gene suffers from first person shooter disease, also known as Duke Nukem’s disease. It is such a sadness.

    See also: When Facebook gets Physical, World of World of Warcraft. Thanks Thomas.

  • manco_3_530

    MANKO & Vacuum [#2]

    I should tell you the story of how Manko lost a leg. You need to know about this incident to understand his recent works. So please forgive me, I first have to go back to that unfortunate day, before I continuing where we left off last month.

    Manko was 23 years old, and studied sculpture at the time. He was quite impulsive and loved to do things differently than others, just for the sake of it. An example: one day he threw himself through the window of a bus stop, just to know what that would be like, but also because he would know that he had done something than none of his friends would ever do. And he did not do it for them either. He did it to feel special. The consequence of having to pick a hundred tiny splinters of glass from his face only made it more memorable.

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  • whatareyoulookingat

    Augmented Reality Maps

    Since a few years the internet in combination with mobile phone technology brought us something that we refer to as augmented reality: A digital projection that is placed over imagery of the existing environment to create a whole new world on the screen.

    Earlier this year Microsoft Bing-Maps architect Blaise Aguera y Arcas showed how augmented reality features can be added to digital world maps. Including streaming video. This means that when you switch to the streetview mode you get to watch live video streams, at least when someone is broadcasting there at that moment. It’s also possible to see older footage that has been put in place with geographic photography techniques so ‘video time travel’ becomes an option.

    As many mobile devices already support photo and video, we can anticipate digital maps to become “live” within some years. This reminds us of the ultimate sonar system from ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’. And like the sonar system from the movie we can ponder on the ethical implications of a system that records half of the world. Will it add a whole new perspective or simply turn every camera phone into a potential security camera? The Big Augmented Reality Maps Brother is watching you!