Tag: Feed-Back


Electronic Gadget Cemetery in Ghana

We love buying shiny new gadgets every now and then, but have you ever wondered where your old device ends up when you get rid of it? Agbogbloshie in Ghana is one of the places where electronics, such as computers, mobile phones and televisions, go to die.

Read more

egyptian polio victim
Back to the Tribe

How Modern Sanitation Gave Us Polio

For most of history, poliomyelitis was a relatively unremarkable disease – it caused paralysis and occasionally death, but only in a tiny fraction of those infected. It was essentially unknown in infants and adults, and usually only caused mild symptoms in children. This all changed in the early 1900s, when the disease mysteriously transformed into an epidemic, killing many and maiming many more, even among the supposedly ‘protected’ populations of adults and babies.

Deadly recurrences of polio became a fact of life in developed countries, particularly in cities during the summer. Movie theaters, beaches and swimming pools were closed; families fled to the countryside when the weather got warm. Clearly something had changed, but what could cause a mild disease to turn into a killer all but overnight? The secret lies, paradoxically, in our better understanding of sanitation.

Read more

from conservationphotos.com

Have We Passed “Peak Automobile”?

You’ve heard about peak oil, but what about peak automobile? There is mounting evidence that society has already passed the years of maximum car use. Fewer young consumers are getting driver’s licenses than their parents, and they are also buying fewer cars.  Numerous studies point to a significant change in consumption that is not explained away by the recent financial crisis.

Read more

Super Mario bros

Computer Teaches Itself to Play Games

Computer games were originally designed to be fun for humans, not for algorithms. Programmer Tom Murphy challenged himself to create a computer algorithm that could learn to play (and beat) Super Mario Bros.

During a human-played session, the algorithm observes the player, mapping events to buttons used. This allows the algorithm to complete levels of the games which were not even ‘learned’ during the input session. This is different from normal artificial intelligence algorithms that are trained to do a specific task.

Murphy’s program teaches itself to play rather than it being programmed to take certain actions on specific events. Even though the algorithm was made for Super Mario bros, it works well with any older, side-scrolling game.


Treating Mental Illness with Video Games

Treating mental illness has never been an easy or short task. But what if the process can be controlled entirely by the patient, and is as interesting as playing video games? This idea, call neurofeedback, and was relegated to the realm of pseudoscience for decades. However, new research has set off a revolution in this field.

Read more


Get Ready for the Arctic to Bloom

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.

Via Io9

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 11.54.28 AM

Chinese Whisper Challenge Pits Man Against Machine

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.


Portrait of MAN

If only this short by Steve Cuts wasn’t so incredibly well made, I would dare to criticize it for promoting a misanthropic perspective on humankind that stands in an outdated Christian tradition, portraying people as a sinful beings that merely destroy the Paradise we were once kicked-out of.

I doubt if such self-hatred is helpful in understanding our human position on the planet. Great animation, still. And at least there is a happy ending. Thanks Ad.


Architect Aims to Build House From Plastic Waste

Some years ago we wrote about the utterly nextnatural proposal by WHIM architects to create floating city composed of plastics from the great pacific garbage patch – a concentration of plastic litter in the central North Pacific about the size of France.

Although the proposal was highly speculative, they deserved kudos for perceiving the plastics in the Earths ecosystem as building material rather than waste. Now they want to get practical and construct the first floating villa of plastic waste material.

As we write, their Kickstarter project has gathered only $676, but that can quickly change if the billionaire readers of this website step in, no? Click here to get your unique villa from plastic material for only $70.000.


Jewels from the Ocean

Designer and former fashion model Barbara de Vries was cleaning plastic litter off her favorite beach in the Bahamas, when she noticed the plastic fragments were all uniquely tinted and molded after years tumbling in the ocean.  The beauty of the litter inspired her to create a jewelery collection. Diamonds plastics are forever!

Read more