With four types of different building blocks – soft and hard tissues and two types of muscles – scientistic simulated evolution, with the one rule for success that the fastest robots create more offspring. Do you remember when you first got out of the ocean, brushed the water off your fins and tried your first steps? Aww. It’s a parade of puffing creatures you can not miss.
In a fortuitous mixture of old and next nature, park officials in Kaziranga National Park in India are now deploying aerial drones to monitor the critically endangered one-horned rhinoceros. Poaching is a serious issue in the 480 square kilometer park, where illegal hunting took 22 rhinos last year, and another 16 in the first three months of 2013. This uptick in poaching triggered mass upset in Assam State as the animal is a source of local pride and much-needed tourism revenue. Drones have already been used in the Chitwan National Park in Nepal, where rhino deaths have been drastically reduced. Drones in parks? Further proof that the noosphere is expanding by the day.
Like bees and the flowers, we are entangled in a co-evolutionary relationship with our technology. But as in any relationship, we should make sure both parties are actually benefiting from the affair.
Looking at this next natural comic, it seems like our relationship might need some work. Thanks Ad.
Did an algorithm write this blog post? If it did, you’d likely never know it. Chicago-based Narrative Science is producing smart software that writes stories for parents of Little Leaguers all the way on up to media giants like Forbes. You might expect stilted, formulaic prose from a robot, but the result is surprisingly lively:
“Friona fell 10-8 to Boys Ranch in five innings on Monday at Friona despite racking up seven hits and eight runs. Friona was led by a flawless day at the dish by Hunter Sundre, who went 2-2 against Boys Ranch pitching. Sundre singled in the third inning and tripled in the fourth inning … Friona piled up the steals, swiping eight bags in all …”
Kristian Hammond, cofounder of Narrative Science, predicts that in 15 years, 90% of all news will be auto-generated in this manner. The company’s software may someday be programmed to spit out snark, wry commentary, or philosophical reflections on the effable beauty of a spring day. As Big Data mines every minute aspect of our lives, the time is ripe for a writer – human or otherwise – to transform these reams of data into stories.
Read more about Narrative Science at Wired.
Along with drowning polar bears and melting glaciers, global warming is enacting another astonishing change on the arctic landscape. The vegetation at the earth’s northernmost latitudes now resembles that found 250 to 430 miles south. ”Ecologically off limits” only a few decades ago, an area the size of the continental United States is now green with new vegetation.
While the northwards march of lower-latitude ecosystems may seem great at first glance, it’s actually contributing to what’s called an amplified greenhouse effect. Darker forests absorb more energy from the sun than white snow, while the melting of the permafrost releases methane and CO2, two major greenhouse gases. Good news for anyone looking to invest in Arctic farmland, bad news for everyone else.
Our peculiar image of the week shows the DARPA Military Robot Bull in a field test. This mobile four legged robot is developed to support troops carry gear through rugged terrain. Unsure if it gives milk. Action movies are available here.
Via Global News Pointer. Thanks Monique.
1. Choose a name for you and your fellows’ cell in honor of an inspiring historical personality.
2. Destroy as many CCTV cameras as you can.
3. Post videos or pictures of your conquests to earn points.
These are the rules for CAMOVER, a real-life game started under the motto Freiheit stirbt mit Sicherheit: Freedom dies with security. CAMOVER was founded in Berlin in response to the increasing number of security cameras getting installed around the German capital.
A majority of the energy we produce today comes from finite resources. As those resources are used up and we become increasingly concerned with the consequences of exhausting them, developing new, renewable sources of energy will be of extreme importance. At present, industries such as solar, wind and biofuel are already maturing; but those are just the tip of the iceberg and new technologies are beginning to evolve. One renewable source that could have the power to revolutionise the production of electricity is termed “atmospheric energy”.
A ship shipping ships. Like the bees, who help the flowers propagate, have people become the sex organs of technology? Peculiar image of the week.
Through cigarette butts and strands of loose hair, we constantly and carelessly discard our genetic material. One New York-based artist, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, used these random traces left behind by unsuspecting strangers to make sculptures of what their owners might look like.
In her Stranger Visions series, Dewey-Hagborg created physical models using DNA facial modeling software and a 3D printer. The masks reflect eye color, geographical roots, sex, and other traits, but not exact facial features because forensic phenotyping can’t yet fill in all the details. Stranger Visions calls attention to the potential for a culture of “genetic surveillance” made possible by inexpensive $1,000 DNA sequencers. “As a society,” says Dewey-Hagborg, ”we need to have a discussion about that.”
Soon, our entire genome may be accessible to strangers within minutes, with fears of cloning or genetic hacking to go along with it. It’s unsettling to think that our DNA, and therefore our identities, are not as precious as we think they are.
A new study from the marine conservation group Oceana reveals that a full one-third of seafood across the US is mislabeled. Not surprisingly, the most expensive fish is also the most lied-about. Tuna was anything but tuna 57% of the time, while red snapper was another species in a whopping 87% of all cases. While cheaper, harmless species like tilapia are often substituted for the real deal, there’s at least one health threat on record: “White tuna” might actually be escolar, a tasty fish that nonetheless causes oily, explosive diarrhea.
As with the horse meat scandal, it’s astonishing how few consumers can tell the difference between species the we assume to be wildly different. It all comes down to marketing that treats fish like brands – just as that Nike swoosh is more important than the shoe itself, the words “bluefin tuna” matter far more than the actual taste.
Image from Flickr user Whologwhy.
De menselijke impact op onze planeet kan nauwelijks worden onderschat. Klimaatverandering, massa-urbanisatie, synthetische biologie. Ongerepte natuur wordt steeds zeldzamer, tegelijkertijd wordt onze technologische omgeving zo complex en oncontroleerbaar dat we deze als een natuur op zichzelf gaan ervaren. Ons beeld van natuur moet worden aangepast.
Project Genesis is a short movie which imagines an alternate world populated by old Macintosh computers, directed by Alessio Fava. In this world the computers get excited about new releases of ‘Humans’.
The robot in the picture above chases and attacks the living rat rights besides it. The W-3, as the robot is named, is designed to make rats seriously depressed. In fact, this robot is one of the best methods to induce depression in lab rats.
Making a rat depressed might seem strange or even unethical, but researchers have already done it for years. After all, you can’t develop antidepressants without having depressed rats to test them on. Current methods to make rats depressed, like making them swim for hours or giving them electric shocks, do not quite mimic the day-to-day situations humans go through. Therefore, the researchers at Tokyo’s Waseda University developed a robot that more precisely mimics the social stressors that can trigger depression in humans.
I wonder how a depression-inducing robot for humans might look.
Story via Spectrum IEEE.
As we strive to milk all available energy from nature, we not only harvest but alter our surroundings in the process. By mixing the warm sea air with cooler air above, offshore wind farms create their own clouds and could even alter weather and storm patterns. This phenomenon might even project the future potential of constructing wind farms to disperse storms and evade natural disasters before they happen.
From the Greenopolis website: “Wind farms receive a lot of praise in the fight against climate change. Along with solar, they’re often pitched as our last hope for energy independence. Ironically, not only do they “fight” climate change but they also create micro-climates… Studies have shown that wind farms are even capable of changing weather patterns.”
Image via Greenopolis.
It’s a self-evident truth that there’s nothing that can’t be better with bacon – including housing. While Next Nature was busy dreaming up new in vitro meat (IVM) foods, the mad scientists of Terreform ONE in New York went ahead and designed an entire dwelling made of IVM pig cells. While the prototype for the “victimless shelter” is just conventional pig leather, the real deal (if it ever exists) would be a complex structure with tissue-engineered bone for support and giant sphincters for windows. We’ll leave it up to the religious authorities to decide whether a pork house is kosher.
What would happen if you let computer and man compete? Not in obvious ways, like who can do faster calculations or win the Jeopardy game show. Rather, what about a challenge right on the border of our abilities?
Speech is one such border. Many smartphones have fairly advanced speech recognition. Although humans can still recognize spoken words much better than a computer, we can easily misinterpret a message or forget it. To pit human against machine, design student Ylja Band made an online experiment in which she makes man and machine compete in the form of the Chinese whisper challenge. The human participant and the computer try to pass the same message via speech, ending up with very different results.