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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 ‘Technorhetoric’

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    Nano Supermarket Opens its Doors

    Nanotechnology is an important emerging technology of our time – it radically intervenes with our sense of what is natural – yet most people are still relatively unaware of its consequences. The NANO Supermarket presents speculative nanotech products that may hit the shelves within the next ten years: medicinal candy, interactive wall paint, programmable wine, a twitter implant, invisible security spray.

    Our products are both innovative and useful as well as uncanny and disturbing. They were envisioned as scenarios for potential nano futures, that help us decide what nano future we want. Come visit the Nano Supermarket to taste & test the products and experience the impact of nanotechnology on our everyday lives.

    More info: www.nextnature.net/nano-supermarket

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    European Parliament goes Next Nature

    Alright the title “Making Perfect Life”‘ may sound a bit 20th-century-modernistic-techno-optimistic-naive, but for the rest we are confident this conference is going to be pretty good study material for the European parliament members.

    “Biology is increasingly engineered in much the same way as technology, while technology is becoming more and more life-like. These two engineering trends not only intensify current debates about the desirability and acceptability of genetic engineering and human enhancement, but also raises novel issues, like who’s in control of machines with a life of their own? The social and political consequences of these two bio-engineering trends are discussed at the conference Making Perfect Life on November 10th 2010 in the European Parliament in Brussels.”

    Organized by our friends of the Rathenau Institute. And guess what, you can register too.

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    The Great Cleaving

    We usually just click ‘Ok’ on every update request, but perhaps the one proposed in this religiously uncanny video by Doctor AlexXross needs a bit more contemplation?

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    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!

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    Spot of the Month: Arbor Artificialis Naturalis

    Our first spot of the month was made by Tijn Kooijmans, who pinpointed the first Dutch Arbor Artificialis Naturalis planted in 1999 by telecom provider Libertel.

    You too can share your favorite and most peculiar nextnature spots in your surroundings via our nextnature spotter for iPhone. Who knows your submission will be the spot of the month someday which means fame & goodies. Congratulations Tijn, T-shirt and DVD are coming your way.

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    The Buttons

    Nowadays buttons are completely mundane and natural objects in our environment. You find them on phones, alarm clocks, keyboards, elevators, dishwashers and of course on the computer screen. You press buttons countless times throughout your day, but hardly think of them consciously.

    The little symbols of control are so omnipresent, it is difficult to imagine that buttons did not always exist. Certainly people in the stone age did not press them – taken that nipples do not count as buttons – but we don’t know exactly when we started pushing buttons and who invented them.

    Apparently buttons were unknown until the early 20th Century, with the possible exception of valves on wind instruments. When small controls were needed, for example on camera shutters, they were usually styled after latches or triggers.

    Recent RCA graduate Nitipak Samsen, took it upon himself to re-investigate and re-design the concept of the button altogether, moving from the button as a symbol of control, an extension of the human desire to harness the planet, to inter-control.

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  • Whether or not we should engineer the Weather

    “Owning the Weather” is a documentary about geo-engineering by Robert Greene.  It’s about whether or not we should engineer the weather and the different impacts that this has. And not only because we can, but also because actually we are already doing so.

    “There are more than fifty active weather modification programs in the United States alone. Through the eyes of key individuals on the front lines of a crucial but largely unknown debate, the film introduces the cloud seeders struggling for mainstream recognition, the ‘legitimate’ scientists who doubt them, and the activists who decry any attempts to mess with Mother Nature.”
    -Source: www.owningtheweather.com

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    Search Stories

    Once upon a time humans told stories by painting on cave walls, showing plays in an amphitheater, pressing text on paper and shining light trough pieces of film. Today we tell our stories with Google.

    ‘Googling’ is part of everybody’s daily life, and millions of things are searched for and found every day. While searching seems so simple, fast and formal; when all your searches are connected you get a rather accurate sketch of your personality or social situation.

    Check out some of the touching, funny and sad videos on the Search Stories video channel on Youtube, or make your own. I recommend watching Dog, Graduation and Brother and Sister.

    If we have to believe Google, “Every search is a quest. Every quest is a story. These videos show that anyone can do anything when paired with the power of search.”

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  • Bob_Moog


    In Next Nature, not only old nature is being idealized. Because of the rapidness of new emerging technologies, we have a tendency to dwell on earlier prototypes. To recall memories, or to give that ‘real’ experience. We call this bittersweet longing for past technologies technostalgia. Technostalgia shapes our memories, our past and thus our present.

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    Here Comes the iPhone Virus

    By analyzing billions of phone calls, researchers at Scandinavian telecom company Telenor, mapped how social connections between people – measured partly by how often they called each other – correlated with the spread of Apple’s iPhone after its 2007 debut.

    The diagram above shows the evolution of the largest network of Telenor iPhone users over time. Each node represents one subscriber, and its color indicates the model used. In this case, red equals 2G, green means 3G, and yellow means 3GS.

    Researchers learned that its owners helped spread the iPhone virus spread rapidly throughout their social network. A person with just one iPhone-carrying friend was three times more likely to own one themselves than a person whose friends had no iPhones. People with two friends who had iPhones were more than five times as likely to have sprung for the Apple device. Apparently the iPhone virus was highly contagious.

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    Technology vs Football: 4-4

    Some matches remain interesting, even though they’re predictable. Take the continuous battle between technology and football. Every time the stakes get high, such as at the World Championship, the debate is reopened.

    Since the mistakenly denied goal of Engeland – Lampard’s shot bounced down from the crossbar over the goal line – the heat is on in football land. The error of the referee created fury all over the world, and brought the issue of technology and football again on the agenda of FIFA. Last week, FIFA announced that they will reconsider goal-line technologies.

    A couple of these technologies have been rejected by FIFA in the past years. In 1999, a proposal by the Football League to install cameras in goalposts was discarded. In 2007, FIFA experimented with the ‘smartball’ (a micro-chipped ball) and the HawkEye System (cameras that would send the position of the ball to the referee), but both got suspended because they faced technical difficulties. FIFA voted instead for adding extra referees. Just last March, after a similar vote, FIFA tried to kill the debate by announcing that “This is an end to the potential use of technology within football.” It lasted for two months.

    Would goal-line technology ‘kill football’ as some suggest? How much technology can a game based on human skill and chance endure? And to what extent are referees part of the game? Football and technology are already intertwined: the endless camera viewpoints and slow motion stills, the referees with headsets, the tweaked football shoes. Is goal-line technology so much different? Would we rather accept a failing micro-chip than a tired referee? And who is easier to blame: a referee that takes sides, or a cleverly hacked football?

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    When Dreams become a Commodity

    As neuroscience progresses, we gain access to previously inaccessible and unexplored areas of the human mind. Consequentially the intricate processes in our brain are cultivated and transferred into explicit information. Soon after, they become a commodity.

    In his forthcoming film Inception, director Christopher Nolan – renowned from blockbusters like The Prestige and The Dark Knight – explores the notion of people entering and sharing a dream space. If you had the ability to access somebody’s unconscious mind, what would that be used and abused for? The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cob, an expert in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable.

    “What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind, can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules. Which is why I have to steal it.”

    Although the technologies presented in the film are vastly speculative and assume a level of info-neuroscience that might never be realized – if only because the fundamentally distributed architecture of the human brain would turn out principally incompatible with digital information technology – the thought experiment of having shared dream spaces and being able to steal thoughts directly from someones mind, has a certain luster nonetheless.

    Besides the obvious implications on governmental, corporate and personal espionage – I know where you slept last night – , there could be serious ramification on our copyright & patent system as well. While one currently has to materialize an idea to a certain extend when filing a patent, the technology to share and record your dream space allows you to have witnesses that can prove you did indeed already have that certain brilliant idea, long before someone else filed the patent, in your dreams…  Yet another step in the materialization of the virtual.

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    As our everyday living spaces are packed with electronics and become increasingly sentient, we might one wake up in a house that knows more about your family’s state than you do.

    Designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau (remember their lustrous audio tooth?) are investigating if such technology would be helpful or too invasive. Their HappyLife project consists of a visual display linked to the thermal image camera, which employs facial recognition to differentiate between members of the family.

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  • Runaway Robots Hunted by the Mammals They Were Designed to Replace

    Runaway Robots Hunted by the Mammals They Were Designed to Replace

    Last week, the U.S. Navy announced that four of their “REMUS 100” unmanned underwater vehicles sailed off-radar and stopped responding to commands. The ‘bots were part of a fleet of thirteen drones being used in a training exercise to locate mine-like objects on the ocean floor off the coast of Virginia.

    After days of searching for the runaway bots using manned boats and aircrafts, the U.S. Navy has yet to find anything. So now, they’ve called in the real underwater experts: dolphins and sea lions, trained to detect mines.

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  • Making a Telegraph with Stone Age Tools

    The suited guy in the video is an employee from the office of materials that goes into the wilderness to test if it would have been possible to create a fully functioning telegraph with stone-age tools.

    Guess what? Using no modern tools or materials and relying entirely on material found on the ground in the wilderness, a telegraph switch producing .7 volts of electricity was completed. This shows that – if only one had the right knowledge –
    an entire telegraphic network could have been constructed in the stone age.

    Now our suited friend only has to wait for another stone-ager to create a second telegraph so he has someone to communicate with. Perhaps smoke signs would have been a better plan? Anyhow it is comforting to see that the presence of human knowledge and skill is more decisive than the existence of manufacturing infrastructure.

  • One day at the Dentist

    One day at the Dentist

    Do you also have that feeling sometimes that your dentist is undertaking all kinds of activities in your mouth that aren’t really necessary? Yet, you usually just trust the dentist on its expertise as you realize the prospect of an all organic natural mouth just isn’t an viable alternative  – at least, not one your environment will appreciate.

    Dentistry is technological by definition, but when to say enough? Perhaps one day when your dentist proposes to implant a Tooth Phone? Although it might be handy to silently listen to your voicemail, chew SMS with your friends and have your insurance company continuously monitor your health levels and food intake – feeling paranoid already? Don’t worry, the Tooth implant from Motorola is science fiction (still).

    Rendering created by Sean Hamilton Alexander. Same guy who photoshopped the Google lens.

  • LED Religion

    LED Religion

    The Catholic Church is not exactly renowned for its progressive attitude towards technological progress. Just think of the belligerent attitude the Church still has towards contemporary next nature phenomena like condom use, the anti–conception pill or gay marriage and you’ll get the drift. When it comes to fund raising, however, the Church tends to be more technologically progressive.

    During a recent visit of the Central Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, I spotted these LED based wake lights, which seamlessly replace the wax candles traditionally used to make your prayer tangible. Apparently the God fearing people in control of the Church decided there is no noteworthy spiritual difference between LED’s and burning candles?

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