Koert van Mensvoort

Creative Director
Artist and philosopher. The discovery of Next Nature has been the most profound experience in his life so far.
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Anthropomorphobia

Sexy Car – From Russia with Love

You must be crazy to dress up your car with a tanga to increase its sex appeal, however, it is only slightly crazier than seeing car as ‘sexy’ in the first place.

Projecting a level of sexyness on machines and design objects is pretty normal in our society. How did that ever happen? People cannot have intercourse with cars or replicate with them, so why would we find cars sexy anyhow? Gives us shivers of Anthropomorphobia.

Peculiar image of the week via Carztune.com.

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Digital-Presence

Googles Natural Tracking Technology

Search giant Google is developing a new interaction sensor that can track movements with great accuracy using radar technology. It’s only the size of a small computer chip and can be inserted into everyday objects and things we use daily.

Watch the video for a guaranteed moment of amazement. If the Google’s Soli technology final implementation will be as precise as the demonstration, we may soon all be making magical gestures to interact with our digital devices. And the best thing: it will feel entirely natural.

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Food Technology

Grow your Dinner in a Kitchen Insect Farm

No, this isn’t another lab meat vision from the Bistro In Vitro restaurant. While today’s meat production will be hard to maintain as the world population increases, there are other ways to get our protein fix.

The Kitchen Insect Farm created by Katarina Unger enables you to grow your own protein source at home. The table-top device provides an environment for Black Soldier Fly eggs to grow into larvae that feed on bio-waste.

It takes the device 432 hours to turn one gram of Black Soldier Fly eggs into 2.4 kilogram of larvae protein. Once matured the larvae self-harvest and fall clean and ready to eat into the harvest bucket of the device. A few of the harvested larvae are selected to be dropped back into the top of the machine and start the cycle again.

We especially appreciate the clean medical look of the device, that subtly counterbalances the stereotypical associations people have with consuming insects.

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Anthropomorphobia

IBM Predicts Artificial Intelligence Future

Watson, IBM’s signature artificial-intelligence system, became famous in 2011 for beating Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings at his own game. But now IBM has much larger plans for it.

At the World of Watson event held last week in New York, Ginni Rometty, the chairman and CEO of IBM, stood on stage in front of a packed room and announced that she was going to make “a bold prediction”.

“In the future, every decision that mankind makes is going to be informed by a cognitive system like Watson,” she said “and our lives will be better for it”.

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Designed-by-Evolution

Plastivore – A Bird that Feeds on Plastic

Imagine humankind would magically disappear from the planet today. We would leave the ruins of cities, roads, cars and… plastics. Since its invention in 1907, plastic steadily worked its way into the geology of Earth. As plastics hardly break down they could survive humankind.

Artist Britt Duppen envisions that, in due time, new species might evolve that could feed on plastic. Her speculative ‘Plastivore’ bird (Latin for ‘plastic eater’, plasticio meaning ‘plastic’ or ‘food that contains particles of plastic’ and vorare meaning ‘to devour’) thrives on a diet of fungi and plastics.

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manufactured-landscapes

Ambient City

Today, 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a percentage that is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. Will the city eventually be the nextnatural habitat for humans, like the beehive is for bees?

The forthcoming Ars Electronica investigates the ambient city theme, questioning how cities will function when there are more robots than people working in factories, everything is intelligently interlinked, autos drive autonomously and drones deliver the mail.

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Back to the Tribe

MyWebwill Dead Before its Subscribers

Nowadays we live a large part of our lives online, but what happens to our digital identity after we are gone? Five years ago we wrote about a tech startup that serves your online wishes after dead. The company MyWebwill helped you to manage your digital afterlife. Unfortunately the company itself has now deceased.

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Green Blues

Solar Eclipse May Impact Power Supply Due to Increased Use of Solar Panels

For the first time in human history a solar eclipse is expected to impact our electrical power supply systems. Not because the forthcoming eclipse of 20th march 2015 is bigger or longer lasting than earlier solar eclipses, but rather due to the increased use of solar energy for power supply.

Back in 1999, around the time of the last large solar eclipse in Europe, solar power covered just 0.1 per cent of all the electricity produced in Europe from renewable energy sources. Since then solar power generation increased to at least 10.5 per cent as countries subsidize green power to meet EU renewable energy targets.

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Food Technology

In Vitro Meat Godfather Dies at Age of 91

Dutch researcher and entrepreneur, Willem van Eelen, has died in Amsterdam on the 24th of February 2015. Van Eelen was born in 1923, the son of a doctor, and a child of colonial privilege. After suffering starvation in a Japanese P.O.W. camp during the second World War, Van Eelen imagined growing meat in the laboratory, late 1940. The idea came to him while attending a scientific lecture on how to preserve meat as a psychology student at the University of Amsterdam.

For more than half a century, Van Eelen relentlessly researched and promoted In Vitro Meat, also known as victimless meat, cultured meat, tubesteak, frankenmeat, shmeat, and test-tube meat. Admitted, he was not the first to envision the idea of growing meat – or muscle tissue – outside of the animal, yet his lasting effort to turn the vision into a reality earned him the title The Godfather of In Vitro Meat.

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Symbolic-Overdrive

Meet the Modern Miners

The good people of Motherboard gained access to a massive, secretive Bitcoin mine that is said to make 4050 bitcoins a month, which converts to some 800,000 Euro at the current rate. The mine consists of 3,000 computers specifically build to mine for bitcoins and is based in a re-purposed factory in rural northeast China.

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Wild Systems

Cities Evolve in Similar Ways as Galaxies

Satellite images of Earth at night evoke ambiguous feelings: 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.

Scientists think the laws governing the structure of galaxies in outer space are the same laws underlying the growth of cities. Henry Lin and Abraham Loeb at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have used models for showing how galaxies evolve based on matter density to propose a unifying theory for scaling laws of human populations.

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Designed-by-Evolution

Seowoo and her Pink Things

Nowadays the average teenage girl owns more personal (pink!) things than an emperor 1000 years ago. Please keep in mind next time you talk about progress.

Peculiar image of the week by JeongMee Yong. Via TheNewInstitute.

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Intimate Technology

Australians Wake Up One Hour Early Due to System Error in Their Mobile Phones

Customers of the Australian Telecom provider Optus didn’t get as much sleep as they’d hoped last week. Due to incorrectly set switching units in Brisbane, some phones in the state’s south-east automatically switched their time zone.

The glitch meant many woke an hour earlier than usual, leaving not just phone customers but whole households unhappy about rising early.

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Anthropomorphobia

Mother Nature is Speaking

She has the voice of Julia Roberts. And while we typically think of her as fragile and threatened, she is in fact an invincible and independent lady.

Video by Conservation International. Thanks Dagan.

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Biomimicry

Bio Art & Design Awards 2015

So, you are well aware that biotech will drive our evolution, you took the crash course on synthetic genomics, you’ve got your map of the DNA world in your backpack and are now eager to redesign some microbes that turn waste into energy, eat plastic, detect flu, or build a better being altogether? You have a brilliant project plan already, but only need some – let say– euro 25.000 and a bit of help from a research group to turn your vision into reality? We have cake for you.

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Biomimicry

Over 300 Sharks are Now on Twitter

Twitter is steadily growing its user base. Recently 338 sharks in Western Australia subscribed to the microblogging service. They are now tweeting out where they are.

Australian researchers have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters that monitor where the animals swim. When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark’s size, breed and approximate location.

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Digital-Presence

Mark Zuckerberg Discovers ‘Books’

The Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg made a New Year’s resolution to read a book every other week, and last week he invited his 30 million Facebook followers to join him in what could become the world’s largest book club.

“I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling,” Zuckerberg said in a post. “Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.”

Hooray for Mark! And his book club is so influential that the paperback version of the first book Zuck chose to read for the group,”The End of Power” has now sold out on Amazon. Naturally we have a special book recommendation for Mark.

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Design-for-debate

Experimental Office: No Chairs, No Desks

How natural is it to work from nine to five sitting on a chair behind a desk, staring at a computer screen, wearing a suit and tie? Although it is today’s standard, genetically people aren’t really attuned to this norm. To counter the sitting dogma, design firm RAAAF and artist Barbara Visser experimented with more dynamic office concept, entirely based on movement and leaning.

The next office is meant to help combat all of the health problems—from heart disease to diabetes—that the typical desk job can contribute to or exacerbate. Throughout the day, people lean in different positions and keep moving around the room.  Supported by giant rock-like sculptures that presumably invite to a healthier, more active way to work than anything that’s come before.

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