CenturyLink (Paul Allen’s company) missed an awesome opportunity. They are going around talking up their high speed internet, etc. But they have created packages and prices EXACTLY like comcast. They could have arrived as a total hero, breezing into Seattle selling affordable internet with no strings attached and people would have LOVED THEM. They gave up a stellar opportunity to go into business and have people breaking down the door to give them money, while joyfully thumbing their nose at comcast. My God, the customer loyalty they would have had and the tidal wave of popular support from new markets. Continue reading
There is no “idea” or blueprint of a hive. No ant works or dies “for the hive” No ant is sentient though there is a localized being with some flexibility of response. Scientists have observed a range of “personality” types or at least behavioral types. Some ants are lazy. Some are even by ant standards, dumb. No ant thinks of the past or future.
In 100 million years no ant has ever imagined or thought of a hive. There is no hive except through the combined actions of essentially unconscious operators. And yet, operational responses to various situations flow naturally with seemingly coordinated group efforts to collect food, care for larva, fight off enemies and rebuild walls. What the hell is the model in the brain of a worker ant rebuilding a broken wall that says: “OK, I’m done.” ?
The hive is the emergent whole of its tiny individual parts. It doesn’t exist without them and they don’t exist without it.
What are you a tiny constituent of? What emerges from variations of YOU multiplied a million times? Can you see it? Can you think of it?
I ran a couple of photos through Google’s Deep Dream software. It attempts to recognize patterns using a buttload of heuristics about characteristics that would indicate various things; buildings, animals, landscapes,etc.
It can be sort of gently psychedelic and beautiful or if you turn the levels up a bit frankly horrifying. In its nicer form It reminds me of things I’ve seen when responsibly ingesting socially acceptable pharmaceuticals…or something. This feels more like what I imagine schizophrenia might be like. Here’s the worst before and after ever.
In an interesting way this is a computer emulating the very human trait of constantly seeing things in the world around them that are mental projections. Like “Doesn’t that cloud look like a bunny attacking Abe Lincoln?” This trait is keyed into our ability to recognize anything but also to our ability to recognize types of things. Like recognizing a letter of the alphabet in a strange distorted font. Or like recognizing a building as a bank or a school without seeing a sign. It’s probably also related to the neurological blinders we develop with which we see exactly what we expect to see and don’t see anything we don’t expect to see.
The role this plays in scientific discovery seems clear cut to me. The role this plays in various kinds of bigotry and blind prejudice seems clear too. Continue reading
Benjamin Bratton reveals the truth behind the “happy pill” that is TED talks.
It’s a short sharp shock for TED but hopefully corrective. The point isn’t that TED should shutdown but that it should splash a little water on its face and notice how formulaic it has become and how it actually steers clear of real problems, preferring happy talk.