"Bio-synthetic"
Or, semiannual shit-test.
Listen to cat music.
•••••
Ft.: xanthoria (orange wall lichen), usnea (old man’s beard), cladonia rangiferina (reindeer moss), bracket fungi (shelf mushrooms), shield lichen, cushion moss, mycena haematopus (purple mushroom), and irradiated quartz (angel aura)

"Bio-synthetic"

Or, semiannual shit-test.

Listen to cat music.

•••••

Ft.: xanthoria (orange wall lichen), usnea (old man’s beard), cladonia rangiferina (reindeer moss), bracket fungi (shelf mushrooms), shield lichen, cushion moss, mycena haematopus (purple mushroom), and irradiated quartz (angel aura)

kerberos30 asked:

Hello Olena, I really appreciate your works.I wonder if it's possible for you to send me a virtual copy of your work 'Oh deer' in big resolution.I will be really happy if you can do so.

Thank you. That’s not something I do. A hi-res copy is essentially a printable, reproducible copy that’s usually purchased with a license and usage agreement.

Be Interested to Be Interesting

It’s funny when people say “you’re lucky you found something that you love doing.”

It reminds me of that thing Picasso supposedly said when some Parisian marveled at his 5-minute napkin drawing: “Sure it took 5 minutes… and forty years.” Quoted very loosely, but hopefully you get the idea. It’s a result of time and effort.

It’s also a strange thing to say (although I do understand what they mean) because it’s not like taking something from a grab-bag and deciding, “Oh yeah this one’s pretty good. I can do this.”

I used to think that way, as a child. I had no idea about the weight of things. There were fun things (like drawing) and horrible, boring things (like math). What depth was there? For a child, why not change your mind weekly: Teacher, Disney Animator, Doctor… What else? Same with subjects in school: all treated basically equally.

It’s only fairly recently that I started to see that maybe all’s not so equal at all. So when someone says “you’re lucky,” I wonder if they really don’t see it. It has nothing to do with luck. It’s just plain wonder. Taking a step back from living for a second, to wonder at it. Isn’t it WEIRD? Isn’t it interesting that you’re this bunch of non-sentient stuff that’s put together with some bits of code and rules and all of it comes together to make this “living” thing? Don’t you want to know more about that?

It’s unlike anything else, to wonder at that. You can say history is important or finances are important, but then it’s arbitrary human stuff. It could go this way or that, and have little effect on nature outside of our silly little planet. (Although we like to pretend otherwise, and superimpose biological feelings generally unique to our species onto the rest of the universe, with phrases like “Love conquers all.”) But there’s something you can learn about that does affect EVERYthing, regardless of planet or size or anything… Is that luck? It’s noticing. Finally noticing.

It’s important that humans have varied communities with members that have different skillsets in order to function, so we can’t possibly all have the same interests. But if you’re really wondering what to do with yourself, why revert to that grab-bag of subjects? Certainly sometimes circumstances dictate how you can proceed, but when you can make a choice, Why not Be Interested? There’s so much more outside of us…

We can’t answer questions about ourselves the same way anymore — by just thinking about it philosophically, looking for some metaphysical reason.

Call it reductionist if you must, but it’s beautiful that even weekly we’re ever-closer to answering our deepest questions by looking into our biological, chemical — and deeper still — physical blueprints.

When wondering why we animals do as we do, we can also inquire about what the particles do, and how those activities travel up and down the chain of magnifications to create a whole, and the epiphenomenon we finally witness.

Did you know that quantum effects are observed in macroscopic, biological processes?

Polymers, Soft Robots, & iPhones

Perhaps I’ll give someone who researches these things a really good idea:

Would it be possible to use responsive materials (like those that respond to pressure, or that used for { Harvard’s flexible robots }) for touchscreens and tablets, to emulate the texture of paper when touched with a stylus?

One thing that’s missing from the experience of any freehand writing or drawing on such a device (even Wacom) is the friction of pen-on-paper. For me, the lack of texture is totally confusing.

But is a Virtual Artist Interesting?

Yesterday at Google’s Creative Sandbox, Ed Ulbrich of { Digital Domain } talked about the process of bringing Tupac Shakur back to life as a hologram { Pepper’s Ghost }.

Initially, Digital Domain (here on in, “DD”) was approached by Dr. Dre with the idea of creating a “virtual artist”. The rapper-cum-entrepreneur was inspired by some of DD’s work for film, involving 3D human mapping/simulation.

A series of serendipitous events later, Dre’s spark became Tupac and performed at April 2012’s Coachella. The response was massive — “Tupac Hologram” soared on Google’s search trends. People were absolutely dumbfounded and excited by an age-old effect. Pepper’s Ghost was magical again.

Since then, DD hasn’t given up on the idea of developing a computer generated star. Ulbrich prompted the Sandbox audience to "Imagine a virtual artist — one who can perform at any time, anywhere, and doesn’t have to go to rehab!”

But, to be honest, I think we want our artists to go to rehab

Ulbrich himself analyzed why Tupac was interesting: he appeared real. It seemed, for a moment, as though he had to have been “brought back” because the body was his, the voice was his, and yet, Tupac had never done a Coachella concert before. This wasn’t prerecorded. How could he be interacting with the audience and his friends on stage? The mystery made “him” something to talk about.

So how can one expect audiences to be just as wooed by an artificial being? Something created just for performance, without the real back story and struggles of a human artist? Knowing that any story or personality present are implanted to incite customers into buying into this spectacle? The show alone can’t be enough — we’re not truly interested in Lady Gaga or Bieber for their talent. We’re there for the idiosyncrasies: to see how and why these humans made the decisions they did in convincing everyone, themselves even, of their image, and to see how they’ll progress. We “want [them] to go to rehab” because we want to see how a human reacts to those decisions — to fame. We’re there for the vulnerability, because we can all relate to that.

There is one extremely successful performer I can think of who has no story, no struggle, and no reaction: Japan’s { Hatsune Miku }. Miku is essentially a bit of software with a huge world-wide following. She’s even had live tours. She has no biography nor personality, but that happens to work for a cute anime girl: her fans create their owns stories, spin-offs, etc. She’s an open-source collaboration for some, and a personal fantasy for others. And luckily for her creators, the customers keep buying into it.

But can Miku’s formula be effective in the West, particularly for something more “human”? As stated, no personality is fine for someone who’s already imaginary, with no pretense of trying to be like us. We’re able to go along with the fiction, knowing it’s just that. Yet if Miku was made to look realistically human, we’d probably have to be lied to to be OK with it. (And how long can you keep that up? Pepper’s Ghosts and holograms only work in certain conditions.) She would be a creepy, empty shell with a pretty face and a nice singing voice. After 5 minutes, the audience for that is much more limited. How can one relate to, and thus be interested in, some”one” created to be famous and comparatively perfect? Someone who never fails because they don’t actually produce anything, are backed from the beginning, and even when a wrong move is made by their strategists, it doesn’t matter because the virtual star can have no real reaction to a failure. 

Despite these problems and doubts — due to a fascination with sci-fi and futurism, and because I have no qualms about { artificiality } — I’m all for this and can readily imagine this type of entertainer in our future. I just wonder what the right concoction will be. Will we have to leave them in the realm of the fantastic in order to avoid the Uncanny Valley, both aesthetically and in terms of personality? Or perhaps { creative AI } will be a solution…?

So, you want to study science to inform your art work, is that right?

I was asked this recently.

The intention was good, but those words in that order are entirely wrong. This is the kind of art I’m *least* interested in — a shallow concept with a little Science thrown in to liven things up and make it all seem that much more GENIUS!

But, I remain interested in Art as a means of communication, for one thing. Not design or illustration or painting or anything so specific — these are all forms Art can take, although they are not necessarily Art. Carrots are vegetables but not all vegetables are carrots, right? So aren’t we grocers, and not carrot-men?

By Art, whatever form it takes, I mean the one practice that’s free enough to load with something heavy, the one that can handle ideas about our universe that won’t fit elsewhere. Art as a vehicle for those ideas and experiences that are too extravagant to allow elsewhere.

So, no. In truth, my agenda is closer to something like studying “science” (specifics aside) so that my art may *carry* it.

Asked: You don’t believe it’s possible to influence our lives via our will?

OS: Never said this.

And what I mean by “never said this” is that I may have said something like it or perhaps even those words exactly, but my meaning when I say these things is loaded —

I don’t approve of the whole “Secret” phenomenon that encourages people to think believe that they have control over their lives via magical/supernatural/”energy”-related phenomena.

Thought influences action. It influences chemistry. It influences processes, and thus what an individual system notices, what they focus on and carry out and look for.

Thought is definitely powerful, but let’s think about why that happens and how, and find out more about it… not just chalk it up to magic*.

That’s all I’m saying.

*Nor attribute it to wave-particle duality &/or quantum physics.

—› This Will [Should Not] Mindfuck You [All That Much]: The Double-Slit Experiment.
The link above features a video narrated by “Dr. Quantum” about the Double Slit Experiment, and a new variation of the experiment by A. Wheeler.
Using those as evidence, the writer proposes:

…there is something NOT quite logical or scientific about this universe. The mere act of observation can completely change the outcome of an event!
…
When a camera observed the electrons, they acted as particles. However, when the no equipment was used to observe the electrons, they acted as waves and particles simultaneously.
So what’s the reason for this? Does the electron somehow know that it is being watched? That was the only “logical” reason that scientists could come up with so much skepticism and controversy followed.

That is not true, or just poorly phrased. A particle’s ‘sentience’ was not a “logical” reason proposed by scientists to explain this phenomenon. Competing theories about wave-particle were.
The experiment is well-known in the science community and has been widely explored since ~ 1801 — TWO CENTURIES! — but somehow it’s still boggling the general public’s minds in all the wrong ways.
••••••
The information is misunderstood and misconstrued, leading to this kind of thing in the comments section:
This is proof that we can affect our lives!
This is proof that God exists and scientists don’t understand anything!
This is proof that everything is conscious energy!
…And other new-agey garbage.
(The double-slit experiment is not proof of any of the above.
And though some things can’t be ruled out since we don’t know for certain, it doesn’t mean that all’s equal — we do know how nature works to an extent, and some theories have a greater probability of being true than others.)
The reason I concern myself with this so much is that, not knowing any better, I used to believe some similar ideas. I’d read some things by people who sounded like they knew what they were saying, watched “What the Bleep Do We Know?, etc.
…and then I accessed the giant library that is the internet and found that those ideas were misguided at best, even if well-intentioned.
••••••
A few problems with the “implications” listed by the author:
The term observation in quantum physics does not mean the same thing as it does for us in our daily experience, as the poster above illustrates.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that “macroscopic events” can be influenced in the way the author means — our human events do not directly translate to Nature’s language. We must attempt to understand that, no matter how much we’d like it to be the case that we can influence our lives with quantum mind power.
More of a question, and the real reason I’m posting this: (it would be great if anyone could contribute answers) — If we must disturb a particle to observe what it did, and the author claims that the experiment was designed so that the particle would not be disturbed until after it “decided” to act as wave or particle… how do we know that it decided to be a [particle] at all?  I’d love a better explanation of Wheeler’s variation on the double-slit since I don’t really understand how it works, but don’t trust that this particular author has the right idea about it.

—› This Will [Should Not] Mindfuck You [All That Much]: The Double-Slit Experiment.

The link above features a video narrated by “Dr. Quantum” about the Double Slit Experiment, and a new variation of the experiment by A. Wheeler.

Using those as evidence, the writer proposes:

…there is something NOT quite logical or scientific about this universe. The mere act of observation can completely change the outcome of an event!

When a camera observed the electrons, they acted as particles. However, when the no equipment was used to observe the electrons, they acted as waves and particles simultaneously.

So what’s the reason for this? Does the electron somehow know that it is being watched? That was the only “logical” reason that scientists could come up with so much skepticism and controversy followed.

That is not true, or just poorly phrased. A particle’s ‘sentience’ was not a “logical” reason proposed by scientists to explain this phenomenon. Competing theories about wave-particle were.

The experiment is well-known in the science community and has been widely explored since ~ 1801 — TWO CENTURIES! — but somehow it’s still boggling the general public’s minds in all the wrong ways.

••••••

The information is misunderstood and misconstrued, leading to this kind of thing in the comments section:

  • This is proof that we can affect our lives!
  • This is proof that God exists and scientists don’t understand anything!
  • This is proof that everything is conscious energy!
  • …And other new-agey garbage.

(The double-slit experiment is not proof of any of the above.

And though some things can’t be ruled out since we don’t know for certain, it doesn’t mean that all’s equal — we do know how nature works to an extent, and some theories have a greater probability of being true than others.)

The reason I concern myself with this so much is that, not knowing any better, I used to believe some similar ideas. I’d read some things by people who sounded like they knew what they were saying, watched “What the Bleep Do We Know?, etc.

…and then I accessed the giant library that is the internet and found that those ideas were misguided at best, even if well-intentioned.

••••••

A few problems with the “implications” listed by the author:

  • The term observation in quantum physics does not mean the same thing as it does for us in our daily experience, as the poster above illustrates.

  • It doesn’t necessarily follow that “macroscopic events” can be influenced in the way the author means — our human events do not directly translate to Nature’s language. We must attempt to understand that, no matter how much we’d like it to be the case that we can influence our lives with quantum mind power.

  • More of a question, and the real reason I’m posting this: (it would be great if anyone could contribute answers) —

    If we must disturb a particle to observe what it did, and the author claims that the experiment was designed so that the particle would not be disturbed until after it “decided” to act as wave or particle… how do we know that it decided to be a [particle] at all? 

    I’d love a better explanation of Wheeler’s variation on the double-slit since I don’t really understand how it works, but don’t trust that this particular author has the right idea about it.

[in this exclusive to KurzweilAI] Lt Col Garretson — one of the USAF’s most farsighted and original thinkers — … pushes the boundary of long-term thinking about humanity’s survival out to the edge … and beyond.

Most people can scarcely even envision or carry out an annual goal, a scary percentage of the American population is still in denial of human evolution (a timeline of only several million years, depending where one begins) …

and this man has the audacity to think of a billion year plan?

Well, excellent. Someone should be.

But veering slightly away from the topic of the essay, two thoughts struck me:

  1. I once created a graphic design project involving Kardashev’s Civilization Types. Admittedly it wasn’t very good, but the memory is irritating because of what my professor [or Art Director, really] said about it at the time: “I don’t understand this, and I don’t think anyone in the future will, either.”

    If Big — complex, possibly not easily digestible — Ideas are constantly rejected in the commercial realm due to a general lack of knowledge about them, or because of their difficult nature, or because the head of the project himself is more interested in using some idea of “The Future” that humanity thought of in the 1970’s, then the options are few:

    Change [the nature of] Graphic Design — something I don’t care to do, because the field itself is just a container for a motive: to be able to communicate these Ideas to a lot of people in a comprehensible way. Whether or not that happens as/within Graphic Design is not my concern. Or, leave the major — which I did.

  2. How does a “Thinker” pay the bills?

On Multilingualism & Understanding

My reply to a question about whether I speak other languages; I wasn’t sure if the asker wanted his question published, but felt the answer is relevant to what I write about here:

I grew up speaking English and Ukrainian, and then learned French as well. I’ve often thought about the differences in a multilingual brain vs. a single-language speaker’s. Not so much physical differences as the way in which we perceive things. For example, when learning a new language, as with French, I’m able to try to understand what a word means in that language as opposed to trying to directly translate it. This is important; as we all know, a lot of things can’t be translated well, so the only way to understand them is to have a grasp of the culture they belong to and their history. That opens up whole other avenues of of communication that aren’t there when we try to simply learn another language at face value, relating it only to our own language, our own experience.

Having said all that, I wonder if this has contributed to my strong dislike of anthropocentrism in general — of the human tendency to try to comprehend the world on uniquely human terms, instead of making an effort to know nature from outside themselves and in its own languages.

My entry for the Fluevog Creative contest. I’d really appreciate it if you’d { click through } to the Fluevog site and press the “Click here if you like this!” link!
••••••
Even as We FloatOlena Shmahalo
An absurd sci-fi short:Bodiless cosmic explorers must make an anatomical adjustment in order to keep their favorite shoes.
"Even as we floated away incorporeally,hoping to know the universe…
We couldn’t bear to partwith our Fluevogs!”
••••••
It’s not voting time yet, but if I make it to the final round I’d be really grateful if you’d help re-blog this and vote for me! I’ll be re-posting this, then.
Thank you.

My entry for the Fluevog Creative contest. I’d really appreciate it if you’d { click through } to the Fluevog site and press the “Click here if you like this!” link!

••••••

Even as We Float
Olena Shmahalo

An absurd sci-fi short:
Bodiless cosmic explorers must make an anatomical adjustment in order to keep their favorite shoes.

"Even as we floated away incorporeally,
hoping to know the universe…

We couldn’t bear to part
with our Fluevogs!”

••••••

It’s not voting time yet, but if I make it to the final round I’d be really grateful if you’d help re-blog this and vote for me! I’ll be re-posting this, then.

Thank you.

Robot learns self-awarenessAugust 24, 2012

“Only humans can be self-aware.”
Another myth bites the dust. Yale roboticists have programmed Nico, a robot, to be able to recognize itself in a mirror.

via { KurzweilAI }
••••••
This is huge news.
It’s not only important because “robots will need to learn about themselves and how they affect the world around them — especially people,” as stated in the original article;
this has massive implications for the way we think of ourselves, of what we are, what we can do.
There’s an argument that often comes up among laymen at any scientific gathering: that humans are “special” because we have consciousness, we recognize ourselves, we have thoughts, Minds.
While that is amazing, for the scientifically literate person it’s more like this: what we know to be “the mind” emerges from a system of integrated parts — from “bits” of information, if you like. A lot of little pieces come together into a whole synergetically, and that system-of-parts comes to “know itself” via interaction with the larger system (environment, universe). It’s incredible, but it’s not magic. It makes sense for a thing to be self-aware to some extent, if it’s to function as a whole in a world at all.
Certainly a human is very complex, but again, the complexity is an emergent property.
An illustration: It’s like the images we see on our monitors. What looks to us to be a 17th century painting, our friend, or the comic above, is just a set of cleverly arranged 1’s, 0’s, and some physical equipment that, combined, creates something that looks like an image — not like its components. An even simpler example: a Pointillist painting up close vs. far away.
So, to build a robot with this functionality is… expected, really. We should expect that “unconscious” parts can become aware if they’re built to do so.
The technology may be in its infancy, but it’s a great representation of the above (systemic perception) in action.
••••••
{ memeengine }:

I like the photo, and the idea. But… I think recognizing one’s own physical self doesn’t have much to do with self-awareness. We could train REALLY simple systems to recognize any specific shape and name it “self”.

OS RE ME:

I should have made it more clear; of course I’m stretching it here, and consciousness =/= self-recognition. It’s a baby step. But I think it’s possible to do, eventually. Most essentially, I’m referencing the idea of abiogenesis, and artificial intelligence.
But, also, do you have an example of such trainable simple systems? Curious.
Thanks!

Robot learns self-awareness
August 24, 2012

“Only humans can be self-aware.”

Another myth bites the dust. Yale roboticists have programmed Nico, a robot, to be able to recognize itself in a mirror.

via { KurzweilAI }

••••••

This is huge news.

It’s not only important because “robots will need to learn about themselves and how they affect the world around them — especially people,” as stated in the original article;

this has massive implications for the way we think of ourselves, of what we are, what we can do.

There’s an argument that often comes up among laymen at any scientific gathering: that humans are “special” because we have consciousness, we recognize ourselves, we have thoughts, Minds.

While that is amazing, for the scientifically literate person it’s more like this: what we know to be “the mind” emerges from a system of integrated parts — from “bits” of information, if you like. A lot of little pieces come together into a whole synergetically, and that system-of-parts comes to “know itself” via interaction with the larger system (environment, universe). It’s incredible, but it’s not magic. It makes sense for a thing to be self-aware to some extent, if it’s to function as a whole in a world at all.

Certainly a human is very complex, but again, the complexity is an emergent property.

An illustration: It’s like the images we see on our monitors. What looks to us to be a 17th century painting, our friend, or the comic above, is just a set of cleverly arranged 1’s, 0’s, and some physical equipment that, combined, creates something that looks like an image — not like its components. An even simpler example: a Pointillist painting up close vs. far away.

So, to build a robot with this functionality is… expected, really. We should expect that “unconscious” parts can become aware if they’re built to do so.

The technology may be in its infancy, but it’s a great representation of the above (systemic perception) in action.

••••••

{ memeengine }:

I like the photo, and the idea. But… I think recognizing one’s own physical self doesn’t have much to do with self-awareness. We could train REALLY simple systems to recognize any specific shape and name it “self”.

OS RE ME:

I should have made it more clear; of course I’m stretching it here, and consciousness =/= self-recognition. It’s a baby step. But I think it’s possible to do, eventually. Most essentially, I’m referencing the idea of abiogenesis, and artificial intelligence.

But, also, do you have an example of such trainable simple systems? Curious.

Thanks!