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Odd Items, Part 3

(434 posts)

  1. Greg
    Member

    ...because the previous Odd Items thread is very long, and possibly broken. (I can't seem to make any new posts there that remain visible after I've logged out. There may be a glitch having to do with the posting of external links with names that include a line break.)

    Here are links to the previous Odd Items threads:

    Odd Items (Beginning 3 years ago.)

    Odd Items Redux (Beginning 1 year ago.)

    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. JohnWThiel
    Member

    Hm, yes, Byron Bailey did start that one. Haven't seen him for a time.

    Well, three cheers to the latest odd items. I've plenty I might want to contribute to it.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. Greg
    Member

    I have no clue what this is about, but it's definitely odd. Presumably the video was shot somewhere on this planet.

    https://www.facebook.com/374141389410276/videos/468148710009543/

    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. JohnWThiel
    Member

    Those are mockups of man-eating plants.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  5. Greg
    Member

    Japanese block prints on the theme of Star Wars, executed in the traditional manner. Scroll down for large images. There are also photos of the wood engravers cutting the blocks.

    The website is in Japanese. Makuake appears to be a Japanese version of Kickstarter. It's no surprise that the limited edition prints are sold out. I doubt if many escaped from Japan.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. Greg
    Member

    It seems strange enough seeing a world full of people glued to their smartphones. Things are about to get a whole lot stranger.

    https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us/experience

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. Greg
    Member

    This is very strange. The linked video shows what happens when random video noise is fed into Google pattern-matching software, and the resultant video output is repeatedly cycled back through the same software. You get recursion. Then the software begins to hallucinate.

    Something weird is going on here. I'm not quite sure what the implications might be for an Artificial Intelligence. A machine that dreams? Machine psychosis? A machine that lives within it's own virtual reality construct?

    http://boingboing.net/2015/07/08/fhtagn-the-inceptionized-rout.html?utm_source=moreatbb&utm_medium=nextpost&utm_campaign=nextpostthumbnails

    Posted 3 years ago #
  8. JohnWThiel
    Member

    Hey, I just posted about a bird phenomenon. Claimed it was SF-like. Maybe there's some relation seeing these two odd item posts.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. Greg
    Member

    A cable series based on Lev Grossman's The Magicians fantasy trilogy is currently in production and scheduled to debut on the Syfy Channel in 2016.

    Here's an official trailer.

    Here's a scene from the first episode.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. Greg
    Member

    Planet of the Ape Mamas

    http://media.giphy.com/media/TEeUUJiN9lVm0/giphy.gif

    Yes, it is distressing.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  11. Greg
    Member

    A simple laboratory experiment, involving three Aldebaran NAO robots and one question. The results aren't so easy to figure out. There's a video midway down the page:

    Cute robot politely shows self-awareness

    Extra points essay question: As the future arrives, do science fiction writers have more or less to write about?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. geoffhart1962
    Member

    It's a bit disingenuous to describe self-awareness as a criterion for AI; it's the same criterion used to describe organic intelligence. (Those who claim we are qualitatively different from animals keep having their props pulled out from under them; self-awareness is in the process of being added to the "animals too" list of criteria for which the deniers will lack a prop.)

    The essay question isn't hard: as the future arrives, science keeps pushing back the boundaries of what we know, and each new boundary represents new fictional opportunities. Sometimes science throws out the whole prevailing paradigm in favour of something radically different, and that too is fodder for fiction.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. Greg
    Member

    I'm not sure what all is implied by the term "self-awareness." Self-awareness might be said to exist when a data processor is doing nothing more than collecting and responding to data about itself in addition to data having to do with its surrounding environment. The question that interests me is what self-awareness has to do with what is commonly called "inner experience." At what point is an inner light turned on? When is someone suddenly "at home?"

    My own thought is that this might happen at a very early stage. A housefly might have a tiny spark of that sort of inner light. The nature of the housefly experience would doubtless be utterly alien--a shifting, kaleidoscopic abstraction relating to changing sensory data about the outside world, with "inside" and "outside" hardly differentiated from each other--but a light nevertheless. If that's the case, and consciousness is a broad spectrum, the little robot in the video might be more than a doll-size automaton exhibiting a complexity of behavior that we tend to project our own imaginings on.

    As a society, we probably won't be able to sort this out at the rate technology will be pitching fastballs. A lot of people don't seem to be able to process the fact that animals aren't just empty biological machines. A lot of people don't even seem to be able to empathize with other people.

    I don't really know about the essay question. I can see the point about new knowledge opening new areas for speculation. On the other hand, it becomes harder to achieve a sense of wonder when technology is making so many wonders commonplace. I was born shortly after the Second World War. While there's no flying car in my driveway, my house is full of the science fictional wonders of my childhood. I fully expect to be talking with intelligent machines before I move on.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  14. Chris DeVito
    Member

    Greg sez: "A lot of people don't seem to be able to process the fact that animals aren't just empty biological machines."

    I asts: Have you read Ted Chiang's latest, "The Great Silence"?

    http://supercommunity.e-flux.com/texts/the-great-silence/

    Posted 3 years ago #
  15. Dr. Sardonicus
    Member

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/inside-japan-robot-hotel-hennna-where-staff-are-robots/

    It occurred to me to wonder how long it would be until an android checked in as a guest...

    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. Greg
    Member

    @ Chris DeVito:

    A good story! It resonates with old memories. I spent two years on the island a long time ago. The Arecibo radio telescope installation was new then. It was impressive and not easy to get to. Sadly, I never had a close look at a parrot. I may have glimpsed one once, crossing a cloud-covered valley far below an observation tower in the El Yunque rain forest. It might have been a ghost parrot. Mt. Britton feels like a place where you might see ghosts.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  17. Greg
    Member

    @ Dr. Sardonicus:

    Interesting video. I really like the robotic staff manning the front desk. I'd be stuck checking in with the English-speaking velociraptor.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  18. Marian
    Member

    And the next step, a hitchhiking robot! http://m.hitchbot.me/usa/

    Posted 3 years ago #
  19. geoffhart1962
    Member

    More news on the EmDrive:
    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-07/24/emdrive-space-drive-pluto-mission

    And some tests that suggest but don't yet prove that the phenomenon might be real:
    http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.2015-4083

    Posted 3 years ago #
  20. geoffhart1962
    Member

    Additional thought on the EmDrive:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Futurology/comments/34cq1b/the_facts_as_we_currently_know_them_about_the/

    It'll be fascinating to see what happens in coming months. This might just be another "cold fusion", or it might be a game changer. Or possibly something in between. Stay tuned!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  21. Greg
    Member

    Apropos of nothing, it has taken Amazon Japan over 3 years to at last get a Look Inside preview of my story collection up. The electronic edition can be yours for a mere 100 yen.

    I'm curious how well or poorly English text might display on a Japanese language Kindle. I've had disturbing visions of my prose laid out in vertical columns of letters, possibly beginning with the last page and continuing on to the first.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  22. Chris DeVito
    Member

  23. Marian
    Member

    Instead of outerspace, here's some innerspace, up close and personal. First picture is of serotonin. http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/07/health/gallery/body-close-up-science-is-beautiful/index.html

    Posted 3 years ago #
  24. Greg
    Member

    An Unidentified Flying Oddity: The Baptism of Christ, painted by Dutch artist Aert de Gelder around 1710.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  25. geoffhart1962
    Member

    Someone's invented Terry Pratchett's "the luggage":
    http://gizmodo.com/an-auto-following-stroller-using-vws-adaptive-cruise-co-1723904021

    Life imitates art.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  26. Marian
    Member

    It's a first step but it lacks a zillion legs and a malicious intelligence. Maybe that's just as well. Imagine a world with a whole herd of Pratchett's luggage!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  27. Greg
    Member

    HA!

    I want about 100 of these things to follow me into battle. I haven't decided yet who or what to lead a charge against.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  28. geoffhart1962
    Member

    Octopi/octopuses/octopodes give humans a run for our money in terms of genetic sophistication:

    http://www.nature.com/news/octopus-genome-holds-clues-to-uncanny-intelligence-1.18177

    (The newspaper headlines that "octopuses are aliens" is more fun, but less accurate.)

    Posted 3 years ago #
  29. Marian
    Member

    Fascinating about the octopus genome (Yeah, I too have given up on figuring the plural!) Elsewhere I've read that the mother octopus does not long survive after her babies are hatched. This means there is no continuity from generation to generation of stories, technology, etc. Each generation has to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.
    In other words, that's the only reason the octopus family hasn't displaced us primates. Teach them to read and they'll take over the earth! Here is the amazing and sad story of the octopus mother with pictures http://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2011/06/02/136860918/the-hardest-working-mom-on-the-planet

    Here's the final word about the plural - There is no correct or incorrect version! http://grammarist.com/usage/octopi-octopuses/

    Posted 3 years ago #
  30. geoffhart1962
    Member

    Neil Gaiman's dreams, as recorded by his partner:
    http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/07/30/behind-the-trees-neil-gaiman-dream-amanda-palmer/

    Posted 3 years ago #

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