The Matrix was right…

Posted by on June 30th, 2012

…we are batteries for the machines.

  • Clothing the body electric

    Starting with a T-shirt from a local discount store, Li’s team soaked it in a solution of fluoride, dried it and baked it at high temperature. They excluded oxygen in the oven to prevent the material from charring or simply combusting.

    The surfaces of the resulting fibers in the fabric were shown by infrared spectroscopy to have been converted from cellulose to activated carbon. Yet the material retained flexibility; it could be folded without breaking.

    “We will soon see roll-up cell phones and laptop computers on the market,” Li said. “But a flexible energy storage device is needed to make this possible.”

    The once-cotton T-shirt proved to be a repository for electricity. By using small swatches of the fabric as an electrode, the researchers showed that the flexible material, which Li’s team terms activated carbon textile, acts as a capacitor. Capacitors are components of nearly every electronic device on the market, and they have the ability to store electrical charge.

    Moreover, Li reports that activated carbon textile acts like double-layer capacitors, which are also called a supercapacitors because they can have particularly high energy storage densities.

    But Li and Bao took the material even further than that. They then coated the individual fibers in the activated carbon textile with “nanoflowers” of manganese oxide. Just a nanometer thick, this layer of manganese oxide greatly enhanced the electrode performance of the fabric. “This created a stable, high-performing supercapacitor,” said Li.

    This hybrid fabric, in which the activated carbon textile fibers are coated with nanostructured , improved the energy storage capability beyond the activated carbon textile alone. The hybrid supercapacitors were resilient: even after thousands of charge-discharge cycles, performance didn’t diminish more than 5 percent.

    “By stacking these supercapacitors up, we should be able to charge portable electronic devices such as cell phones,” Li said.

  • How Your Body Heat Could Power Future Devices

    The technology is based on a principle discovered nearly 200 years ago by physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck, who found that a combination of materials, when warmer on one side and colder on another, produces electricity.

    Current heat wave notwithstanding, the human body’s temperature of around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is usually hotter than the air around it. So Perpetua has developed an armband, soon to become a wristband, that produces enough power for small electronics — not smartphones, but items that connect to them, such as Bluetooth devices. Wearing a mock-up wristband connected to a meter, Wiant put out enough body heat for a consistent 3 to 4 volts. Headsets using a technology called Bluetooth Low Energy need only about 2 volts, he said.


they call it “beaming”

Posted by on May 14th, 2012

From the BBC:

Beaming, of a kind, is no longer pure science fiction. It is the name of an international project funded by the European Commission to investigate how a person can visit a remote location via the internet and feel fully immersed in the new environment.

The visitor may be embodied as an avatar or a robot, interacting with real people.

Motion capture technology – such as the Microsoft Kinect games console – robots, 3D glasses and special haptic suits with body sensors can all be used to create a rich, realistic experience, that reproduces that holy grail – “presence”.

Project leader Mel Slater, professor of virtual environments at University College London (UCL), calls beaming augmented reality, rather than virtual reality. In beaming – unlike the virtual worlds of computer games and the Second Life website – the robot or avatar interacts with real people in a real place.

He and his team have beamed people from Barcelona to London, embodying them either as a robot, or as an avatar in a specially equipped “cave”. One avatar was able to rehearse a play with a real actor, the stage being represented by the cave’s walls – screens projecting 3D images.

…this also raises the possibility of new types of crime.

Could beaming increase the risk of sexual harassment or even virtual rape? That is one of many ethical questions that the beaming project is considering, along with the technical challenges.

Law researcher Ray Purdy says you might get a new type of cyber crime, where lovers have consensual sexual contact via beaming and a hacker hijacks the man’s avatar to have virtual sex with the woman.

It raises all sorts of problems that courts and lawmakers may need to resolve. How could a court prove that that amounted to molestation or rape? The human who hacks into an avatar could easily live in another country, under different laws.

The electronic evidence might be insufficient for prosecution. Crimes taking place remotely might sometimes leave digital trails, but they do not leave forensic evidence, which is often vital to secure rape convictions, Purdy says.

“Clearly, laws might have to adapt to the fact that certain crimes can be committed at a distance, via the use of beamed technologies,” he says.

Sexual penetration by a robot part is another possibility. Current law may not go far enough to cover that, Purdy says. And what if a robot injured you with an over-zealous handshake? Or if an avatar made a sexually explicit gesture amounting to sexual harassment?

He argues that using a robot maliciously would be similar in law to using a gun – responsibility lies with the controller. “While it is the gun that fires the bullet, it is the person in control of the gun that commits the act – not the gun itself.”

The Kinect technology, capturing an individual’s gestures, is potentially a powerful tool in the hands of an identity thief, argues Prof Jeremy Bailenson, founder of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, California.

“A hacker can steal my very essence, really capture all of my nuances, then build a competing avatar, a copy of me,” he told the BBC. “The courts haven’t even begun to think about that.”

Prof Patrick Haggard, a neuroscientist at UCL who has been examining ethical issues thrown up by beaming, says there is a risk that such a virtual culture could reinforce body image prejudices.

But equally an avatar could form part of a therapy, he says, for example to show an obese person how he or she might look after losing weight.

As beaming develops, one of the biggest questions for philosophers may be defining where a person actually is – just as it is key for lawyers to determine in which jurisdiction an avatar’s crime is committed.

Even now people are often physically in one place but immersed in a virtual world online.

Avatars challenge the human bond between identity and a physical body.

“My body may be here in London but my life may be in a virtual apartment in New York,” says Haggard. “So where am I really?”

Click through for more, including a video demonstration of the tech.


Kevin Warwick: A Practical Guide to Human Enhancement (video)

Posted by on February 4th, 2011

Here’s the vernacular video recording of Kevin Warwick‘s recent presentation at the recent UK H+ conference; A Practical Guide to Human Enhancement:

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

PSFK’s Future of Mobile Tagging

Posted by on January 21st, 2011

Via core77:

Whether you use QR codes or not, its undeniable that mobile tagging has become an integrated part of the marketing landscape. Popping up in print advertising and corporate-sponsored event/experiences, there still seems to be a lot of confusion about the application and usage of mobile tagging in delivering a more comprehensive marketing and retail message. PSFK just released a great “Future Of” report exploring some key trends in the field and interviews with experts an innovators in the field.


Golfstromen: QR cloud project

Posted by on November 29th, 2010

QRC_Art

The QR cloud project is a recent temporary installation by the amsterdam based design group golfstromen. The project began in july 2009 and is still running in the west end of their city. the project consists of embedded QR codes in the urban environment, linking to pieces of artwork. the project features seven large QR codes that when photographed on a web-ready cell phone link viewers to small stories, poems or proverbs by dutch writers and poets. Each written piece was commissioned for the project as a short inspirational message to users. The QR codes were placed on a soon to be demolished building and focus on making the public aware of QR codes in contexts outside advertising.

Picture and words from DesignBoom.


SMS Skyscrapers

Posted by on November 25th, 2010

Created by Aaron Koblin, using the SMS traffect generated on new year’s eve:

Via NextNature.


Is That Bottle Talking to Me?

Posted by on November 5th, 2010

Tongue tied on your next date? Let your bottle of vodka do the talking for you. Medea Vodka can be programmed with up to three messages, 255 characters each in length. Your chosen message will then scroll across the screen, speaking for you, when you can’t.

MedeaBottle

Via nytimes.com.


DNA Fingerprinting Traces Global Path of Plague

Posted by on November 5th, 2010

Keim, director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics and division director of Translational Genomics Research Institute, said that while the plague is less of a threat to humans than at other periods in history, such as the Middle Ages, the current plague research can be applied to ongoing health threats around the world.

This type of DNA fingerprinting can be used to characterize both natural and nefarious plague outbreaks — which is crucial when a bacterium is used as a biological weapon.

“This work is more of a model for our control of epidemic diseases such as Salmonella, E. coli and influenza,” Keim said. “Plague took advantage of human commercial traffic on a global scale, just as the flu and food-borne diseases do today. Future epidemiologists can learn from this millennium-scale reconstruction of a devastating disease to prevent or control future infectious disease outbreaks.”

Via ScienceDaily.


Talking with Amber Case

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

Just in time for Cyborg Month!  (Well, every day is Cyborg Month around here, but you get the idea.)   Recently, M1k3y and I had the chance to have a talk with our favourite Cyborg Anthropologist, Amber Case.  We covered the history of cyborgs, the impact of her accident and subsequent surgeries, games, anthropology, the past present and future of CyborgCamp and a few other things.

You recently came close to what most people think of a Cyborg as a
result of your accident at SXSW, correct?   How has recovery been, and
has actually having implants – of a fairly mundane but important kind
- refined your ideas regarding Cyborgs?


Jeez, I am officially a Cyborg. 12:43 Am

On March 17, 2010, I slipped on a slippery deck in Austin, Texas on the last day of the SXSW conference.

The image above is an X-ray of what the orthopedic surgeon put into my ankle. The surgery was originally supposed to take 45 minutes, but when they opened up the sides of my ankle, they realized that all the bones had splintered into tiny pieces. The surgery ended up taking 4 hours. A lot of hardware was required to stabilize the bones while they healed back into place.

When I woke up from the surgery I was on so much pain killer that I couldn’t think or speak straight. I realized, as I lay in bed for the next 2 weeks, sleeping 20 hours a day, that there is a very important piece of time that is lost in the digital world. This piece of time is the time of nothingness. Of being alone with thoughts. Today, a lot of the space between moments is often filled with mobile devices. If you’re waiting in line for something, chances are, you might pull out your phone to distract yourself. This instant fix of connectivity happens all the time, so much so that your brain becomes used to non-stop stimulus and craves it when information turns off.

I couldn’t use a computer for a month after my surgery. Except for a few tweets here and there, and some E-mail on my iPhone, the rest of the day was spent in silence. Instead of living one moment to the next, I used the time to understand and plan for long term things, not just short term things. In short, getting injured provided me with a break and a completely different view on the world. I highly suggest it.

Another thing I discovered was that moving around in a wheelchair is an amazing experience. It’s slower and puts things at a completely different eye-level than usual. I found myself noticing the world around me, not just the digital world. I also gained a greater appreciation of Twitter. Even though I could barely move, I was still connected. From the 18th-20th centuries, advances in transportation were concerned with the physical self. Planes, trains and automobiles became faster and more efficient. The computer age advanced the ability for one to transport the mental self. Geography is annihilated.

How does it feel to be the name – besides Donna Haraway – that most people think of when they hear “Cyborg Anthropologist?”

In the early 90′s Donna Haraway proposed what she termed a “cyborg anthropology” to study the relation between the machine and the human, and she adds that it should proceed by “provocatively” reconceiving “the border relations among specific humans, other organisms, and machines. But Haraway wasn’t the first to discuss Cyborg Anthropology. In fact, concepts of human and technological interaction have been seriously examined by anthropologists since 1942, with the initial focus being the use and effects of feedback. These discussions led to the Macy Conferences in the 1940′s and 50′s. These were no ordinary conferences. They were attended by academic and technological luminaries such as Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, John von Neumann and Norbert Weiner, inventor of the field of Cybernetics.

Though Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” was published in 1991, it wasn’t until 1993 that the idea of a “Cyborg Anthropology” was formally proposed at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) by Joeseph Dumit and Robbie Davis-Floyd. Robbie’s interests were in human reproduction, which is one of the first fields that the study of cyborg anthropology was seriously applied to. If you think about it, the modern birthing process is extremely cybernetic. There are all sorts of machines that allow a doctor  see what a baby looks like inside the womb. If a baby has a difficult time being born, a Caesarean section can be preformed with minimal risk to the mother. If a baby is premature, it can be hooked up to an incubator, the equivalent of an external cybernetic womb.

I studied the anthropology of Internet marketing when I first left college. I knew that if I didn’t quickly make a career for myself, or be findable, I’d never survive. I wrote my thesis early and spent the last semester of college inventing courses for myself to take with titles like “Corporate Information and Power”. Then I went to conferences on marketing and business and met people. It was that networking that brought my degree to life, and it was the title cyborg anthropologist that made people stop and ask me what that meant, vs. simply being a marketer or consultant. I expected the field of Cyborg Anthropology to develop over time, and was surprised that there were not more cyborg anthropologists out there. Technically, anthropologist danah boyd’s research on teenagers and social networks falls into the field of cyborg anthropology. I’d also recommend the work of Sadie Plant (specifically her essay “On the Mobile”, and MIT’s Sherry Turkle, who wrote and edited dozens of books about humans and technology far before technology was ubiquitous as it is now.

Do you have any thoughts on on recreational cyborg-ery; the move of home gaming systems towards more physically interactive designs and the nascent field of AR gaming?

The Internet as Playground and factory is the best phrase I’ve found to describe what’s going on in the virtual and physical worlds. Foursquare makes it so that every venue in real life has a point value. Yelp makes it so that every place is an experience that can be reported on and shared. Facebook and Twitter turn everyday interactions into historical text.

But each moment of play is also a moment of work. Each additional review, each status update, and every Foursquare check-in is work. Because it is fun, there is no friction to contributing. But it is still work. The Facebook database is updated by millions of unpaid workers every day, voluntarily contributing their content in order to receive responses and content and the release of oxytocin that comes with a community’s response to their contribution. The more one contributes to Facebook, the more information Facebook has on human interests and behavior. And the more information Facebook has on human interests and behavior, the more advertiser on Facebook pay for access to demographic data.

Reality is boring. Waiting in line at the DMV suck. Real life takes time. Digital life is more instantaneous. In real life, the time and space between goals and accomplishments is often large. For some, it is physically impossible to achieve certain things, like purchasing a Ferrari or rising above middle management in their career path. Online gaming, especially sites like Farmville step in to take care of that void. Whereas one doesn’t have the money, time or room for a real garden, Farmville provides one without the back aching labor. All reality is replaced by small icons, and time is compressed so that goals and accomplishments are right next to one another. Everything has a point value and a reward. When real life takes so long to reward someone, online gaming is often a better and more enjoyable alternative.

In the future, hybrid reality, or life which is both a game and real, might blot out the mild dystopia that we all live in. Or it will make us more intolerable of the space between reality. And for those who spend a lot of time in reality, Foursquare is a good add-on for making the mundane exciting. To be crass, one might say that Foursquare is kind of like dogs pissing on fire hydrants and having other dogs come along and sniff them to see who’s been there. The dog with the most potent urine is mayor of the fire hydrant.

Some of the current hybrid reality games involve players getting +1 followers, and  +1 likes. In an RPG, you might battle creatures with similar stats, or team with them. On Twitter, you might talk or argue with those who have similar stats. These stats are not new. They always existed in some form or another in real life. The Internet is not building these stats, but is making visible stats that people already have between each other. (See Paul Adam’s brilliant slides on this subject). The web also offers the opportunity for people in different geographies and times to connect with one another based on stats.  In a reputation economy, one levels up or down after gaining or losing friends or followers. How much one levels up depends on the quality and actual connectedness of a friend or follower.

When I think of reality and mobile technology gaming I often think of the Tamagotchi. The Tamagotchi was one of the first major virtual pets to hit the market. Since its introduction in 1996, over 70 million Tamagotchis have been sold. The toy is simple. Children and teens feed, train and clean up after a virtual pet through a few buttons on the screen. In return, the pet grows older. Teens took to the toys in school and became obsessive about maintaining them. Why? The virtual pet on the device exhibited signs of life – it had needs, grew, and died. Each of these aspects caused toy owners to become mentally attached to them, responding to the stimulus with the correct series of button presses.

Real life relationships are complex. They must be maintained, or they fade away. The cell phone, like the Tamagotchi, is a virtual way to feed relationships. Friends may be fed by button presses, and looked after. A mobile phone cries, and it must be picked up and soothed back to sleep. When it runs out of battery power it must be fed. Because the mobile phone requires attention, it too resembles a living creature. Cell phones now live in our pockets and wake us up in the morning. They are our dashboards for interfacing with friends, family and appointments. They connect us to the database on which we now live.

I think one of the best people in this field is Jane McGonigal. I’d highly suggest watching her talk on “Saving the World Through Game Design” from the 2008 New Yorker conference. or reading the paper she wrote on “i love bees”, an excellent massive alternate reality game with thousands of participants.  Another great resource in this field is Mary Flanigan. She studies games and wrote a wonderful book called Critical Play that combines a view of games from 3,000 years ago, modern use of games in Art movements, and digital games.

Do you see a lot of currently externalized technologies such as cell-phones and portable entertainment platforms becoming internalized in our lifetimes? For that matter what do you think the odds are of viable and substantial life extension in the near future?

One of the risks of internalizing technologies such as cell phones is that human bodies are prone to viruses, and software and hardware devices are just not good enough. They fail all of the time. They’re full of bugs. They’re full of security risks and faultly code. This is not the problem of code, but of the messy conditions in which much of the code that runs mainstream devices is created. Marketers, managers, investors, board members, programmers – those with bad documentation practices – those who leave in the middle of a project, changing protocols, communication between devices, software updates, legacy software, production practices, pricing, cutting corners – all of these things prevent implantable hardware from functioning as well as one might like it to. There’s also a problem with upgrading hardware once it is implanted. The decision to purchase a cell phone is already a difficult one. The decision to have an operation to implant something in your body something a quite a bit more involved than that.

Feed by M.T. Anderson is an adolescent fiction book that deals with a lot of these concepts, specifically issues of class status, consumption, and faulty electronics. The premise of the book is quite simple – everyone gets an implant when they are young that allows them to connect to the “Feed” (this book was written before the idea of the Facebook feed, and before the concept of Feeds in general). Those with less money have faultier feeds than others, and this is what I expect might happen when people begin getting implants. They’ll need to be updated every few years, or less. Even today, those who do not update their external prosthetic devices experience those devices turning against them. Hang on to an old computer or car for too long, and it’ll break. If you don’t have enough money to upgrade to the next technology, bad things happen.

I guess while we’re talking about advancing technologies, I’m contractually obligated  to ask about your stance on the Technological Singularity – Where do you fall in regards to Extropianism or the Singularity?

I think the Singularity has happened already – but only three times. The first time was the Earthquake in Haiti. The second was Micheal Jackson’s death, and the third was the World Cup. It’s a snarky reply, but it’s the one I’ve been giving recently. Everyone was with technosocial access was connected in each of those situations, and everyone was following along. A more serious reply is not going to fit in this blog post, as I only barely touched it in my thesis on cell phones and technosocial sites of engagement.

What’s the quick summary of the CyborgCamp concept?

CyborgCamp is an unconference about the future of the relationship between humans and technology. We discuss topics such as social media, design, code, inventions, web 2.0, twitter, the future of communication, cyborg technology, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy. It’s a small conference that attracts around 120 participants, slightly less than Dunbar’s Number. The speakers and sponsors generally come from the local community. In 2008 we had Ward Cunningham, inventor of the first wiki. He gave a fascinating speech on Seeing that left the audience stunned. Ward does not think in the same way that anyone else thinks. His approach to problem solving is an incredible thing to watch.

CyborgCamp - Ward Cunningham @wardcunningham on Seeing

In my experience with the “unconference” structure, sometimes themes develop organically from the participants – was there a particular theme that struck you as emerging from CyborgCamp Seattle?

CyborgCamp Seattle had varying themes and people from many different backgrounds giving speeches. My favorite one was an extremely in-depth speech on the history of cybernetics. The CEO of a security company demoed his upcoming TED talk on the use of shovels in developing countries, and I gave a talk on non-visual augmented reality with SMS and GPS. At one point, a number of us got into a passionate discussion on the effect of technology on education. That one was the most unexpected and organic, and it was fun to discuss.

Have previous CyborgCamps spawned projects or offshoots of their own?

Yes, the first CyborgCamp in Portland, Oregon and it helped a local videomaker get his business off the ground. There will be one in Brazil in the next year, and there was one in Seattle a few months ago.

CyborgCamp Seattle is now in your rear-view mirror, and with CyborgCamp Portland and Brazil coming up, are there any takeaways from Seattle that you think will inform the next Camps this year?  Any thoughts on Camps further abroad than Brazil?

Each CyborgCamp takes on the unique flavor of the location in which it is planned. There is no way to predict what each one will be like before it occurs.

It’s been fantastic talking with you – is there anything you’d like to leave us with?

Thanks! It’s been a good time. If you’d like to learn more about Cyborg Anthropology, this site is slowly developing http://cyborganthropology.com/, as well as this webcast: http://cyborganthropology.com/O%27Reilly_Webcast. I’m also on Twitter at @caseorganic. There’s also a great project called 50 Posts about Cyborgs that people who like cyborgs will probably enjoy.


New App lets you use Mind-Reading headset to call your friends

Posted by on August 16th, 2010

Developers are finally coming out with the next wave in sweet apps, integrating Neurosky’s MindSet with smart phones.

From The Next Web:

ThinkContacts is designed to allow a “Motor disabled person to make a phone call to a desired contact by himself/herself”. Requiring a special headset to read users’ brainwaves, it uses brain activity to determine which of three contacts on the screen the user wants to call.

While the app is looking quite basic at present, the project’s wiki at Forum Nokia only opened six days ago meaning this is likely to be an early-stage project

YouTube Preview Image

via Chris Arkenberg


Voogle Wireless

Posted by on August 14th, 2010

Blockquoting for GreatJustice this very simple and clear explanation of the Google/Verizon Net Neutrality proposal, and just what a turnabout for Google it is:

In 2006 Google produced the following public service announcement to help sway legislative opinion leading up to the vote on the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2007 (S.215). Senator Barack Obama was a cosponsor of this bill. The PSA aired in key districts for approximately one month leading up to the vote.

http://www.vimeo.com/14099243
Early this week Verizon and Google issued a joint statement to U.S. legislators titled “Verizon-Google Legislative Framework Proposal.” In this statement, Verizon-Google suggests exempting wireless broadband access from net neutrality. This was not an oversight. This is a departure from Google’s public stance and advocacy for net neutrality.

Increasingly, technology companies are shipping devices with access to wireless broadband networks pre-installed. It’s not just smart phones any more: laptops, tablets, gaming devices, entertainment systems, navigation tools, automobiles… And while the term “wireless broadband” has come to mean wireless phone services like 3G and 4G networks, the term also likely includes wireless city initiatives. So… what could have caused Google’s founders to abandon the principles of net neutrality just as the web begins entering its wireless era? Could it be that they have the opportunity to control and to profit from a web user’s wireless experience in a not so distant future when being “wired” will be like saying you use a rotary dial phone?

Keep reading on the Voogle Wireless site for ways to encourage Google to reconsider their proposal. Don’t be EVIL!


Interview with Kevin Warwick on Motherboard.tv

Posted by on August 13th, 2010

We kind of like Kevin Warwick a lot here. And for good reason, he is, like Tony Stark, using himself as a test-pilot for the future.

So, of course, we must post this interview with him over on Motherboard.tv:

Most interesting is him further confirming that neuro-streaming will be the Next Big Thing, in Lifeblogging..

via Gizmodo


Brace yourself for Telenoid R1, the minimalist humanoid robot

Posted by on August 2nd, 2010

From beyond the Uncanny Valley comes this disturbing creation, the mutant hybrid lovechild of Casper the Friendly Ghost and Dren from Splice.

YouTube Preview Image


The portable machine features a soft silicone body that is pleasant to the touch, and it uses 9 actuators to move its eyes, mouth, head and rudimentary limbs

Now, trust me.. in an earlier experiment in journalism I hung out in a warehouse in Japan where they made fuckable mannequins.. these don’t stand a chance. Sure, they’re built for telepresence…

The robot’s actions mirror those of the remote user, whose movements are monitored by real-time face tracking software on the user’s computer. Users can also transmit their voice through the robot’s embedded speakers.

.. but you just know they’ll have preset ‘routines’ or have playable ‘games’ for them, soon enough too.

More details over on Pink Tentacle.

On sale now, from $US 8K for the low-end model, to $US 35K for the deluxe.

via JWZ


TED Talks: Steven Pinker on the myth of violence

Posted by on July 8th, 2010

Lurker SneakyLil left a link to this in our comments:

I have only read Pinker‘s How The Mind Works, but I believe most of his work to be well worth checking out.

What I would like to pick up and extend on are his comments on how ‘cosmopolitanism’ and Peter Singer‘s ‘expanding circle’ have helped erode our feafulness of the Unknown Other, through reading about and understanding cultures and people we don’t see in the world around us. As my friend David Forbes says, There Is No They.

Our increasing connectedness, and ease of making new connections, is the great benefit of technologies such as Twitter. I daily read the stories of people on every continent on this planet and above it (thanks to tweets coming in from the residents of the ISS).

I would also point to people’s further awareness of their place of ‘privilege’ through tagging their tweets #firstworldproblems. I know it can seem a tad trite at times, and it’s often just a way for people to feel better about bitching about their iPods or Macs. But then think back to your classic literature and remember just how insular and self obsessed some of these great works seem now; completely obsessed with Upper Class Problems. Yes, I’m looking at you Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde!

So tweet away and tag them guilt free.. but do try to ever expand your circle, there’s enough inward facing collectives out there today (fuck you Glenn Beck!), let’s shake things up and dare to join hands across timezones and yes, even generational limits (I dare to believe not all Boomers are evil!).


Kevin Warwick to speak at University of Melbourne this coming Wednesday

Posted by on March 21st, 2010

Transhumanist pioneer and cyborg-in-progress, Kevin Warwick, will be in the fine city of Melbourne, Australia this coming Wednesday evening.

All the details are on the IEEE Victoria site; here’s the abstract:

In this presentation a look is taken at how the use of implant and electrode technology can be employed to create biological brains for robots, to enable human enhancement and to diminish the effects of certain neural illnesses. In all cases the end result is to increase the range of abilities of the recipients. An indication is given of a number of areas in which such technology has already had a profound effect, a key element being the need for a clear interface linking a biological brain directly with computer technology. The emphasis is clearly placed on practical scientific studies that have been and are being undertaken and reported on. The area of focus is notably the use of electrode technology, where a connection is made directly with the cerebral cortex and/or nervous system. The presentation will consider the future in which robots have biological, or part-biological, brains and in which neural implants link the human nervous system bi-directionally with technology and the internet.

Previously:


Amber Case: Cyborg Anthropologist

Posted by on March 20th, 2010

What exactly is a cyborg anthropologist? 

Let Amber herself tell you, in this video from late last year on ‘prosthetic culture’:

 YouTube Preview Image

Like to know more?  Our friends over at Technoccult just did a great interview with her.

Thanks for the YouTube link Vertigo Jones!


HP Invents a Central Nervous System for the Earth

Posted by on February 19th, 2010

HP has just unveiled an incredibly ambitious project to create a “Central Nervous System for the Earth” (CeNSE) composed of billions of super sensitive, cheap, and tough sensors. The project involves distributing these sensors throughout the world and using them to gather data that could be used to detect everything from infrastructure collapse to environmental pollutants to climate change and impending earthquakes. From there, the “Internet of Things” and smarter cities are right around the corner.

HP is currently developing its first sensor to be deployed, which is an accelerometer 1,000 times more sensitive than those used in the Wii or the iPhone – it’s capable of detecting motion and vibrations as subtle as a heartbeat. The company also has plans to use nanomaterials to create chemical and biological sensors that are 100 million times more sensitive than current models. Their overall goal is to use advances in sensitivity and nanotech to shrink the size of these devices so that they are small enough to clip onto a mobile telephone.

Once HP has created an array of sensors, the next step is distributing them and making sense of all the data they generate. That’s no easy task, granted that a network of one million sensors running 24 hours a day would create 20 petabytes of data in just six months. HP is taking all that number crunching to task however, and will be harnessing its in-house networking expertise, consulting, and data storage technologies for the project.

Link via inhabitat.com.


Astro_TJ tweets from the ISS

Posted by on January 23rd, 2010

Seems a belated retraction is in order; @Astro_Mike wasn’t tweeting from orbit, but was having his updates relayed via mission control.

@Astro_TJ is the first to update live from the space station.

From the NASA press release, here’s how:

This personal Web access, called the Crew Support LAN, takes advantage of existing communication links to and from the station and gives astronauts the ability to browse and use the Web. The system will provide astronauts with direct private communications to enhance their quality of life during long-duration missions by helping to ease the isolation associated with life in a closed environment.

During periods when the station is actively communicating with the ground using high-speed Ku-band communications, the crew will have remote access to the Internet via a ground computer. The crew will view the desktop of the ground computer using an onboard laptop and interact remotely with their keyboard touchpad.


Writtenby Rug

Posted by on December 13th, 2009

Designed by Maartje Santbergen, the rug is a persons’ woven paper trail. Unraveling pieces of the rug gives the reader more information about the person that died.

Link and photos via mocoloco.com.


Motion-sensing phones that predict your every move

Posted by on December 13th, 2009

From NewScientist.com:

COULD your cellphone learn to predict what you are going to do before you’ve even started doing it?

Communications engineer Arjen Peddemors thinks so, and along with colleagues at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands he has devised a system that learns users’ behaviour patterns to provide them with an enhanced cellphone service. It could, for example, prevent the phone starting large downloads such as music tracks or podcasts when your behaviour suggests you are about to go out of network range.

Such prediction has become possible because smartphones like the Nokia N97 and Apple iPhone contain accelerometers that sense motion. They are normally used to reorient images when the screen is flipped from vertical to horizontal, or by software that responds to a shake of the phone. But Peddemors realised that they also generate a data stream that reflects every move the phone’s owner makes.

Routine events such as going to work are likely always to involve similar sequences of actions: locking the front door, opening the garage, getting in the car, for instance. The Delft system uses telltale sequences and timings like this to create an electronic signature of particular events.

A neural network software app running on the phone is then trained to predict what happens next and act accordingly. So if your regular drive to work takes you through a particular phone cell, the “going to work” signature could trigger the software to negotiate with the cellphone network to ensure that the cell will have the 3G capacity to maintain your streaming music channel as you drive through it.