Biologically, there is nothing remarkable in the fact that humans are agents of ecological change and environmental upset. All species transform their surroundings. The dizzying complexity of landscapes on Earth is not just a happy accident of geology and climate, but the result of billions of years of organisms grazing, excavating, defecating, and decomposing. Nor is it unusual that certain lucky species are able to outcompete and eventually entirely displace other species. The Great American Interchange, when North American fauna crossed the newly formed isthmus of Panama to conquer South America three million years ago1 is just one among countless examples of swift, large-scale extinctions resulting from competition and predation.
What is remarkable, however, is the stunning speed of human adaptation relative to other species, and that our adaptation is self-directed. From sonar and flight to disease immunity, humans can “evolve” exquisite new traits in a single generation. The Anthropocene represents a catastrophic mismatch between the pace of human technological evolution and the genetic evolution of nearly every other species on Earth. As with many other geological epochs, the Anthropocene has been heralded with a mass extinction, one which is generally accepted to be the sixth great one to occur on Earth.2
We use metaphors to introduce unfamiliar technologies, such as the horseless carriage and the electric candle. For digital natives, however, the online realm may become more familiar than some aspects of the ‘real’ world.
Warfare is like a first-person shooter, New York is one of many Sim Cities, and a floppy disk is a 3D printed save icon. When analogies are transferred from the virtual to the physical world, the traditional flow of meaning is reversed: the metaphor has boomeranged!
Imagine placing a cave man into a time machine that lands him at today’s Bangkok airport. He would not recognize anything… except for those tiny trees in the back! Unsure if they are made of plastic. Peculiar image of the week.
Why use Google Maps when you can get GPS directions on The Death Star Instead? Mapbox Studio is a toolkit that allows apps and websites to serve up their own custom-designed maps to users. Companies like Square, Pinterest, Foursquare, and Evernote con provide custom-skinned Mapboxes instead, changing map elements to better fit in with their brand.
But Mapbox can do far cooler stuff. It can blast you to Space Station Earth, a Mapbox that makes the entire planet look like the blinking, slate gray skin of the Star Wars Death Star.
How Technology Becomes Nature in Seven Steps.
From stone-axes to mobile phones, throughout history people have given birth to a wide range of technologies that extend our given physical and mental capabilities. Today, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without technology. Every human being on the planet employs technology of some sort, and every human has to cope with technological change at various points during his or her lifetime. Yet, despite our deep-rooted relationship with technology, and the fact that we are wholly surrounded by it, most of us are still relatively unaware of how new technologies are introduced, accepted or discarded within our society.
Wearable technologies – any technology worn close to or on the body – currently exist in two spaces: as conceptual pieces by artists and designers, and as engineering-driven wearable products that are taken to market.
Researcher Danielle Wilde explains how the future for wearable technologies lies in creating products with expressive aesthetic qualities.
Japanese artist Nobumichi Asai is known for mapping computer generated images onto cars, docks, building and more. His latest canvas? A real, live human face.
Using a combination of real-time face tracking and projection mapping, a layer of “electronic makeup” is added to a model’s face. If this technique becomes widely accessible it could allow you to regain anonymity in webcam and facetime conversations.
Sarah van Sonsbeecks Anti Drone Tent is a small construction of emergency blankets that blocks infrared sensing, making it invisible to drones.
Isn’t it ironic. While originally humans started employing technology to emancipate ourselves from the forces of old nature – think of a roof above your head to withstand wind and rain – these technologies over time caused the rising of a next nature. And we now need to emancipate ourselves from the forces of technology.
The Anti Drone tent is currently on display at the Drone Camping at Mediamatic.
A team or Harvard researchers developed a self assembling swarm of 1000 robots that can form any shape. Inspired by flock behavior in old nature – think birds, fish or ants – the scientists created an algorithm that allows a flock of simple robots to assemble in any given shape.
The researchers expect that in the future such swarms of robots could help cleaning oil spills, provide immediate emergency help at a disaster site, or guide millions of self driving cars.
Our peculiar image of the week is a new work by Jan Robert Leegte celebrating the long gone Apple scrollbar. This physical incarnation of a deceased scrollbar is currently on display in the Main Church in Haarlem, Netherlands.
Now lets analyze. Exhibiting a deceased scrollbar in a Church… what does it mean? Well, dear intelligent reader: please participate and evoke a profound thought in your brain on the relationship between technology and religion now. Can you do that? If you can, please remember: Jan Robert Leegtes work made you do it!
There is an ambiguous luster in the satellite images of Earth at night. While on a ground level our cities appear as purely cultural artifacts, a traveler from outer space might just as well marvel at them as beautifully glowing organic fungi-like structures that sprouted on our planet. Less than a millennium ago, the Earth at night was all dark. Today it is all glowing and blossoming.
Watch this video packed with elephants, giraffes, turtles and ostriches doing extreme stunts and realize how peculiarly creative we humans really are.
They are called excavator mulchers, but that’s an understatement. What they really do is swallow trees. The video is 3 minutes, but you really only need to see the first 15 seconds, which is the time it takes the mulcher monster to consume a 9 meter-tall, mature spruce – starting at the top, landing at the bottom.
The tree that was, suddenly isn’t. Technosphere vs Biosphere: 1-0, it seems. But then you calculate how many trees need to be burned to provide the mulcher with enough energy to swallow one tree. Not entirely cradle to cradle. We wonder if the monster mulchers also do Antenna Tree masts.
Then and now. Peculiar image of the week.