Tag: Sentient Spaces

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Information Decoration Scarf

Remember the Information Decoration essay which argued our so-called information society barely employs our human bandwidth, as most of the data in our lives is presented in square, electronic screens – rather than using the richness of patterns in our environment as information carrier?

Over time, Information Decoration grew into a design methodology that is applied in numerous times and places. As it would be against its own argument to read the original essay on a computer screen, the text is now also available on an elegant 100% silk scarf. Designed by Mieke Gerritzen.

Run click to the store and toast your neck with it for 69 euro.

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Sentient Spaces

Trading Humans for Trading Algorithms

The economic system and profit motive has been a driving force that steers and even dictates social change. Investors and stockbrokers have been a major influence to these social changes, as they decide where money is allocated to serve a specific function. The reason why money is invested in some rather than other businesses isn’t always related to evidence that any given company will do better than the other. Rumors and trading floor gossip sometimes fuel speculations that reap major profits for some and painful losses for others. Losses that could mean the termination of jobs. Of course investment and successive financial gains can also lead to job losses, mostly due to automation where machines replace human workers.

Now in a strange yet somewhat satisfactory twist of irony, the people who have been making money out of money, have a growing chance of being replaced by faster and cheaper algorithms that can do their jobs better.

“The Foresight Project” by the “Government Office for Science” of the United Kingdom produced a report called “The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets” which investigates the trends of computer trading and its effects on financial markets. One of these effects is the replacement of human speculators by algorithms. Thus far about a third of UK trading is done by computers compared to three quarters in the United States.

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elephant noosphere

The Non-Human Noosphere

The definition of the noosphere as “the sphere of human thought on earth” is woefully anthropocentric. It ignores that fact that our fellow sentient organisms have noospheres of their own. Elephants have their own social networks, maintaining close friendships and extended tribes, and keeping touch over long distances through subsonic rumbles.

If the noosphere can loosely be defined as the interaction and interconnection of conscious minds, then clearly cetaceans, wolves, great apes, elephants, and many species of birds have their own forms of a noosphere. Granted, these noospheres are not as large and complex as ours. Humans have telecommunications, the biggest brain-to-body ratio on earth, and the force of numbers – 7 billion of us, versus a few tens of thousands for African elephants, and a few hundred thousand for chimpanzees.

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Theriomorphous Cyborg

The Animal Architecture Awards have just announced the winners of their 2011 contest. Taking first place is Simone Ferracina’s Theriomorphous Cyborg, a (speculative) augmented reality game inspired by Jacob von Uexküll’s notion…

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Back to the Tribe

Dead Drops

Wikileaks gone physical? Aram Bartholl’s Dead Drops is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody…

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Let the Algorithms Roam Free

In this TED talk, Kevin Slavin explains how computer algorithms are breaking free of their virtual habitats and changing the physical world to their liking. Through algorithms, humans are starting to understand …

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Boomeranged Metaphors

Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts

Our proposal to study the financial system as an ecosystem is sometimes criticized as ‘abuse of vegetational concepts’. Interestingly enough BBC documentary maker Adam Curtis now argues the whole notion of the…

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An Ecstatic Dialogue with Richard Doyle

When techno–optimist and fellow at the Hybrid Reality Institute, Jason Silva, meets with Richard Doyle, author of Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants and the Evolution of the Noosphere, we must buckle up for an Ecstatic Dialogue on language, reality, ancient Internets and how psychedelics make us human.

JASONSILVA: Your new book Darwin’s Pharmacy talks about the relationship between psychedelic plants and the accelerating evolution of the “noosphere”, which some define as the knowledge substrate of reality, the invisible, informational dimension of collective intelligence and human knowledge. Is this more or less accurate?

RICHDOYLE: The book features a set of nested claims about the evolution of mind, psychedelics (or, as I  prefer and propose, “ecodelics”),  and the evolution of the noosphere, but all of the claims can be understood via two claims:

(1) Ecodelics have been an integral part of the human toolkit, so suppressing them is like suppressing music, jokes or other aspects of our humanity. (Here I am following Samorini, Siegel, and others)


(2) As integral parts of the human toolkit, ecodelics are best modeled as part of sexual selection – the competition for mates and the leaving of progeny. A careful look at Charles Darwin’s writings on sexual selection will show that sexual selection works through the management of attention – what we would now call “information technologies.” Think birdsong, bioluminescence ( the most widespread communication technology on the planet), poetry.  The peacock is managing and focusing peahen attention with his feathers, so what we have called “mind” has been involved in evolution for a very long time. Mandrilles eat iboga before competing for mates.

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It’s a plane!

By nature, man is not meant to fly. But while we’re at it, we may as well turn it into an experience. Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering, envisions a fusion…

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Catalytic Clothing

Catalytic Clothing is a fashionably calm technology that aims to tackle air pollution by embedding a substance in the clothing that purifies air when you wear it. The purifying effect is established…

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The Sound of the Blue Canary

Blue is a beautiful color, but its sound is simply irresistible. It is the song of the unhappy and the depressed. It is a sound that touches people. It was also the sound of a little songbird, the Serinus Canaria Domestica, a sound that so moved me, I was led on a voyage of discovery into the world of birdsong. The Serinus Canaria Domestica is the man-made descendant of the Wild Canary, a finch originally from the Canary Islands, which nowadays exists in many different breeds. This essay deals with the cultivation of the song-bred canary and imagines how its story might lend inspiration to the sound design of electric cars.

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Tokyo Nightscape – Before and After

By fading between scenes of pre- and post-quake Tokyo, this time-lapse video shows how Tokyo’s nightscape has been affected by ongoing conservation efforts and power shortages. Via PinkTentacle.…

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Hungry Birds

Hungry Birds

A while ago I wrote a post about birds which tried to adapt to the city by singing louder and in different tones than before. Now it seems the birds have taken…

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Morphing Cutlery

Imagine a world where the shapes of all objects around you would be able to change on the fly. Envision a future where nanotechnology and morphing become ubiquitous and blend in with the physical environment of the everyday. One day society will look back on our crude, static appliances and wonder how we survived without programmable matter catering to our needs.

It is the goal of designer Jeffrey Braun to explore how to design for a new interaction paradigm that is proposed as ‘Morphing Interaction’, as conducted at the Next Nature lab. When the digital merges with the physical world, our perceptions of space, time and the physical become a play with reality. As morphological properties do not impose specific forms or interactions for a design, it allows for an abundance of functionalities. The freedom of form that will be inherent to these products might not inform the user about the physical actions. Meaningful actions, forms and states will need to be created, where a harmony between human physicality, interface and physical representation is needed.

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Kinetic architecture

Architecture has now come to a stage where the technical possibilities seem limitless. Buildings become more fluent, dynamic and organic. Examples can be found in most buildings of architect Zaha Hadid.

This proposal by designers Kinetura portraits ‘dynamic lines’ quite literal, and imitates flowers that open in the sunlight.

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