Posted tagged ‘news’

The creative ghost in the machine.

March 22, 2010

We writers spend so much time trying to be original. It’s not just for our sake so we can flatter our egos and point ostentatiously back at how unique we are. We also do it because we like to think we are dreamers. We look at the world outside and reconfigure it in new ways inside to bring it back out in the form of art so others can enjoy it and share in our dream. It’s so human that nothing could replicate it. Creativity is ours and ours alone. We paint the Mona Lisas and we write the sonnets. We also make the music… until Emmy came along. Emmy, and its new version, Emily Howell, are programs that create new, original music designed by Professor David Cope. The first program baffled people by creating songs indistinguishable from Bach original pieces, inciting an enraged uproar. Now, the second version is out and creating even more inspired pieces that you can find clips of in the link along with a lengthy and interesting article. In that article you will find what I’ve said multiple times: creativity is recombination of existing elements. Yet, it is recombination with a soul, isn’t it? Does the program feel the music or the thrill of making something new? Probably not but you have to give it credit. It recombines the way a DNA synthesizer recombines, coldly and with precision but creating products that are still beautiful. I think this demonstrates how we too are like the machine. We take everything we’ve seen and heard and process it; yet we do it because we love it, because it compels us whereas Emily Howell does it because Professor Cope hits the start button yet the results are still stunning. How does it know to put the notes in such an order as to evoke emotion? Are our emotions so transparent that we can be triggered to feel something based solely on an algorithm? What does this mean for the music industry if a machine can make music that sounds more genuine and heart-felt than most of the human musicians populating the Billboard charts? Whatever the case, I look forward to a machine that creates because it shares the human love of creating something new, something no one has seen or heard before.

New cancer treatment uses nanobots to target tumors.

March 22, 2010

A new treatment option for cancer is going into Phase 1 Clinical trials. Using nanobots that swim through a person’s blood stream, targeting only the tumors and not healthy tissue, researchers are giving a new hope to people who would otherwise have to suffer through painful chemo therapy and radiation treatments that make them lose their hair, drop huge amounts of weight, suffer intense nausea, and other terrible side effects. They’ve already demonstrated that the little nanobots can get to the tumors and won’t affect healthy tissue though they still need to check for side effects and what not to make sure it’s safe for humans. Still this is an amazing leap for both nanotech and gene therapy since not only do these nanobots seek out the tumor but they also target genes responsible for tumor growth and expansion.

Hacking is the new Rubik’s Cube.

March 21, 2010

The latest trend in the UK is not jeans or sunglasses. It’s not even a new gadget. It’s the simple joy of hacking someone’s Facebook account. It turns out that a large portion of teens are enjoy hacking their friends’ accounts for no other reason than the challenge and fun of it according to a report on BBC. However, a few did admit they hack because they want to screw around with their friend’s account. Hacking is not just to steal your credit cards numbers or sneak into a company’s files. Sometime it’s just to play a prank and with April Fool’s day coming up, I suggest you tighten up those hacking skill if you want to play a trick on a friend. Or you could just send a link to a shock site but I leave it to you to find one because I’m not about to be responsible for scorched retinas.

Machine-brain dialogue through interesting research.

March 21, 2010

I’ve always thought it would be incredible to extend our nervous systems outside of ourselves to manipulate technology and machinery with just a thought. After seeing The Matrix and reading Neuromancer it seemed to open all kinds of new possibilities and who hasn’t thought it would be incredible to augment your body with mechanical parts a la Ghost in the Shell? It’s all part of the post-human dream to surpass the flesh and choose the path of our evolution through our technology. The problem is that the brain is the most intensely complex machine in the universe which makes understanding and programming for it such a difficult job. Luckily, there are lots of innovative people working on this problem and are making some really incredible advances. This video shows one of these research groups that I think really are looking at the problem, not just as one of picking up signals, but also in sending signals back to the brain. If you think about it, when your brain tells your arm to move, it is receiving signals back from the arm that confirm that the action has been done. If a chip managed to tell the brain that it was doing the assigned task, we would have a much more intuitive and intimate (as strange as that sounds) relationship with the computers we were connected to. All this new and exciting progress is getting us closer to a world in which we will connect to our environment in totally new ways. The future is looking stranger and stranger as we redefine what it is to be human.

Wednesday it comes to an end.

March 21, 2010

On Wednesday, I will have finally completed my novel. I don’t mean that I will have reached the end of the novel, put the last word down, but that I will have crested the hill of my fourth revision or so. I am very excited since this means that the final step will take me over the threshold of the crafting stage to the sales stage. To be honest, I am quite nervous. I’m still working on it, cutting, rewriting, and trying to make sure every single plot point matches and makes sense. As far as I can tell, my work is coming to an end, though as the creator of the story I will never be able to look at it as complete. There will always be things that I will think could be better or be improved. It will never be perfect in my eyes, but if I don’t stop myself then I’ll never get to the next stage in which I try to send it into the world. So, once I add in the final revision on Wednesday, expect a celebratory post which will probably include fond reminiscences of writing this thing and final stats such as page count and word count. Until, then readers, keep writing and enjoy the process.

The best part of waking up is coffee in your car… What has science done?

March 11, 2010

I love it when science gives us something to smile about. It’s not all just dystopian futures and killer robots but sometimes it’s cars powered by espresso. The Volkswagen Scirocco is powered by coffee grounds that go through a fairly complex processing system that derives energy from them to power the car. While I don’t suspect that you should look forward to a coffee bean powered car, I still think it’s pretty great to see the ingenuity it took to make this slurping speedster. Another example of how machines and humans are becoming more and more alike: we both need that pick me up first thing in the morning.

The new Tron Legacy trailer. I need a neon suit!

March 10, 2010

I love Tron. Its color scheme, its imaginative portrayal of the life inside a computer, and its gladiator games! Now, we finally get a new trailer that shows more than the VFX test shown at 2009 ComiCon. All I have to say is… well, I’d have to pick my jaw up off the floor to actually verbalize and even then I don’t know if I could put my racing thoughts into words. Tron is back and in a big way though I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed with the costuming. The original code costume design glowed brilliantly but these have gone for a sleeker, black motorcycle gear with running streaks of neon reminiscent of circuitry. The new light bikes open up a fifty gallon drum of ass whoopage and dumps it all over us. What I worry about is the story and whether Disney will muck up all the works. What I am not worried about is the music. When it kicks in you will feel the force of a dozen teravolts of cool slam your eardrums. Though what else could you expect when Daft Punk is doing to music for the movie? Well, I’ll keep my hopes up and follow this film as it progresses and I’ll have plenty of time to do that since the film comes out in December.

It's so darn bright!

The digital world has digital cows?
It’s certainly stricking.