Archive for the ‘AI’ Category
The Biological Canvas parades a group of hand selected artists who articulate their concepts with body as the primary vessel. Each artist uses body uniquely, experimenting with body as the medium: body as canvas, body as brush, and body as subject matter. Despite the approach, it is clear that we are seeing new explorations with the body as canvas beginning to emerge as commonplace in the 21st century.
There are reasons for this refocusing of the lens or eye toward body. Living today is an experience quite different from that of a century, generation, decade, or (with new versions emerging daily) even a year ago. The body truly is changing, both biologically and technologically, at an abrupt rate. Traditional understanding of what body, or even what human, can be defined as are beginning to come under speculation. Transhuman, Posthuman, Cyborg, Robot, Singularity, Embodiment, Avatar, Brain Machine Interface, Nanotechnology …these are terms we run across in media today. They are the face of the future – the dictators of how we will come to understand our environment, biosphere, and selves. The artists in this exhibition are responding to this paradigm shift with interests in a newfound control over bodies, a moment of self-discovery or realization that the body has extended out from its biological beginnings, or perhaps that the traditional body has become obsolete.
We see in the work of Orlan and Stelarc that the body becomes the malleable canvas. Here we see some of the earliest executions of art by way of designer evolution, where the artist can use new tools to redesign the body to make a statement of controlled evolution. In these works the direct changes to the body open up to sculpting the body to be better suited for today’s world and move beyond an outmoded body. Stelarc, with his Ear on Arm project specifically attacks shortcomings in the human body by presenting the augmented sense that his third ear brings. Acting as a cybernetic ear, he can move beyond subjective hearing and share that aural experience to listeners around the world. Commenting on the practicality of the traditional body living in a networked world, Stelarc begins to take into his own hands the design of networked senses. Orlan uses her surgical art to conceptualize the practice Stelarc is using – saying that body has become a form that can be reconfigured, structured, and applied to suit the desires of the mind within that body. Carnal Art, as Orland terms it, allows for the body to become a modifiable ready-made instead of a static object born out of the Earth. Through the use of new technologies human beings are now able to reform selections of their body as they deem necessary and appropriate for their own ventures.
Not far from the surgical work of Orlan and Stelarc we come to Natasha Vita-More’s Electro 2011, Human Enhancement of Life Expansion, a project that acts as a guide for advancing the biological self into a more fit machine. Integrating emerging technologies to build a more complete human, transhuman, and eventual posthuman body, Vita-More strives for a human-computer interface that will include neurophysiologic and cognitive enhancement that build on longevity and performance. Included in the enhancement plan we see such technologies as atmospheric sensors, solar protective nanoskin, metabrain error correction, and replaceable genes. Vita-More’s Primo Posthuman is the idealized application of what artists like Stelarc and Orlan are beginning to explore with their own reconstructive surgical enhancements.
The use of body in the artwork of Nandita Kumar’s Birth of Brain Fly and Suk Kyoung Choi + Mark Nazemi’s Corner Monster reflect on how embodiment and techno-saturation are having psychological effects on the human mind. In each of their works we travel into the imagined world of the mind, where the notice of self, identity, and sense of place begin to struggle to hold on to fixed points of order. Kumar talks about her neuroscape continually morphing as it is placed in new conditions and environments that are ever changing. Beginning with an awareness of ones own constant programming that leads to a new understanding of self through love, the film goes on a journey through the depths of self, ego, and physical limitations. Kumar’s animations provide an eerie journey through the mind as viewed from the vantage of an artist’s creative eye, all the while postulating an internal neuroscape evolving in accordance with an external electroscape. Corner Monster examines the relationship between self and others in an embodied world. The installation includes an array of visual stimulation in a dark environment. As viewers engage with the world before them they are hooked up simultaneously (two at a time) to biofeedback sensors, which measure an array of biodata to be used in the interactive production of the environment before their eyes. This project surveys the psychological self as it is engrossed by surrounding media, leading to both occasional systems of organized feedback as well as scattered responses that are convolutions of an over stimulated mind.
Marco Donnarumma also integrates a biofeedback system in his work to allow participants to shape musical compositions with their limbs. By moving a particular body part sounds will be triggered and volume increased depending on the pace of that movement. Here we see the body acting as brush; literally painting the soundscape through its own creative motion. As the performer experiments with each portion of their body there is a slow realization that the sounds have become analogous for the neuro and biological yearning of the body, each one seeking a particular upgrade that targets a specific need for that segment of the body. For instance, a move of the left arm constantly provides a rich vibrato, reminding me of the sound of Vita-More’s solar protective nanoskin.
Our final three artists all use body in their artwork as components of the fabricated results, acting like paint in a traditional artistic sense. Marie-Pier Malouin weaves strands of hair together to reference genetic predisposal that all living things come out of this world with. Here, Malouin uses the media to reference suicidal tendencies – looking once again toward the fragility of the human mind, body and spirit as it exists in a traditional biological state. The hair, a dead mass of growth, which we groom, straighten, smooth, and arrange, resembles the same obsession with which we analyze, evaluate, dissect and anatomize the nature of suicide. Stan Strembicki also engages with the fragility of the human body in his Body, Soul and Science. In his photographic imagery Strembicki turns a keen eye on the medical industry and its developments over time. As with all technology, Strembicki concludes the medical industry is one we can see as temporally corrective, gaining dramatic strides as new nascent developments emerge. Perhaps we can take Tracy Longley-Cook’s skinscapes, which she compares to earth changing landforms of geology, ecology and climatology as an analogy for our changing understanding of skin, body and self. Can we begin to mold and sculpt the body much like we have done with the land we inhabit?
There is a tie between the conceptual and material strands of these last few works that we cannot overlook: memento mori. The shortcomings and frailties of our natural bodies – those components that artists like Vita-More, Stelarc, and Orlan are beginning to interpret as being resolved through the mastery of human enhancement and advancement. In a world churning new technologies and creative ideas it is hard to look toward the future and dismiss the possibilities. Perhaps the worries of fragility and biological shortcomings will be both posed and answered by the scientific and artistic community, something that is panning out to be very likely, if not certain. As you browse the work of The Biological Canvas I would like to invite your own imagination to engage. Look at you life, your culture, your world and draw parallels with the artwork – open your own imaginations to what our future may bring, or, perhaps more properly stated, what we will bring to our future.
Source | VASA Project
IDG Computerworld | Conveying physical emotions through a phone call or email is difficult, but researchers from Japan’s Osaka University, in collaboration with the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute, have developed a robot called Telenoid that they think can do just that.
Source: IDG Computerworld
It seems the sci-fi industry has done it again. Predictions made in novels like Johnny Mnemonic and Neuromancer back in the 1980s of neural implants linking our brains to machines have become a reality.
Back then it seemed unthinkable that we’d ever have megabytes stashed in our brain as Keanu Reeves’ character Johnny Mnemonic did in the movie based on William Gibson’s novel. Or that The Matrix character Neo could have martial arts abilities uploaded to his brain, making famous the line, “I know Kung Fu.” (Why Keanu Reeves became the poster boy of sci-fi movies, I’ll never know.) But today we have macaque monkeys that can control a robotic arm with thoughts alone. We have paraplegics given the ability to control computer cursors and wheelchairs with their brain waves. Of course this is about the brain controlling a device. But what about the other direction where we might have a device amplifying the brain? While the cochlear implant might be the best known device of this sort, scientists have been working on brain implants with the goal to enhance memory. This sort of breakthrough could lead to building a neural prosthesis to help stroke victims or those with Alzheimer’s. Or at the extreme, think uploading Kung Fu talent into our brains.
Decade-long work led by Theodore Berger at University of Southern California, in collaboration with teams from Wake Forest University, has provided a big step in the direction of artificial working memory. Their study is finally published today in the Journal of Neural Engineering. A microchip implanted into a rat’s brain can take on the role of the hippocampus—the area responsible for long-term memories—encoding memory brain wave patterns and then sending that same electrical pattern of signals through the brain. Back in 2008, Berger told Scientific American, that if the brain patterns for the sentence, “See Spot Run,” or even an entire book could be deciphered, then we might make uploading instructions to the brain a reality. “The kinds of examples [the U.S. Department of Defense] likes to typically use are coded information for flying an F-15,” Berger is quoted in the article as saying.
In this current study the scientists had rats learn a task, pressing one of two levers to receive a sip of water. Scientists inserted a microchip into the rat’s brain, with wires threaded into their hippocampus. Here the chip recorded electrical patterns from two specific areas labeled CA1 and CA3 that work together to learn and store the new information of which lever to press to get water. Scientists then shut down CA1 with a drug. And built an artificial hippocampal part that could duplicate such electrical patterns between CA1 and CA3, and inserted it into the rat’s brain. With this artificial part, rats whose CA1 had been pharmacologically blocked, could still encode long-term memories. And in those rats who had normally functioning CA1, the new implant extended the length of time a memory could be held.
The next step is to test the device in monkeys, and then in humans. Of course at this early stage a breakthrough like this brings up more questions than solutions. Memory is hugely complex, based on our individual experiences and perceptions. If we have the electrical pattern for the phrase, See Spot Run, mentioned above, would this mean the same thing for you as it does for me? How would such a device work within context? As writer Gary Stix asked in the Scientific American article, “Would “See Spot Run” be misinterpreted as laundry mishap instead of a trotting dog?” Or as the science journalist John Horgan once put it, you might hear your wedding song, but I hear a stale pop tune.
We are provided with the same structural blueprint for our brains, but its circuitry is built from experience and genetics, and this is a tapestry unique to each of us. Something that many scientists feel we’ll never be able to fully crack and decode, let alone insert into it an experiential memory.
Source | Smart Planet
A team of scientists has assembled in Switzerland and Germany to pursue a unique goal – the building of a computer model of a human brain.
Called the Human Brain Project – but perhaps inevitably dubbed ‘Team Frankenstein’ in the media – it is in discussion with the EU for a £1billion grant.
Scientists claim success may lead to cures for various diseases like Parkinson’s.
It could also lead to intelligent robots and supercomputers which would dwarf those currently in existence.
Henry Markram, a neuroscientist at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, has assembled a team of nine top European scientists for the research effort.
‘This is one of the three grand challenges for humanity. We need to understand earth, space and the brain. We need to understand what makes us human.’ Markram told Germany’s Spiegel magazine.
The scientists and researchers working with the Human Brain Project believe that if they secure the funding, they will be able to replicate mankind’s most vital organ in 12 years.
The applications for it if successful are enormous; drug companies for instance would be able to dramatically shorten testing times by bypassing humans to test new medicaments on the computer model.
Supercomputers at the Jülich Research Center near Cologne are earmarked to play a vital role in the research which Makram says will involve ‘a tsunami of data.’
Jülich neuroscientist Katrin Amunts has begun work on a detailed atlas of the brain which involved slicing one into 8,000 parts which were then digitalized with a scanner.
Makram added: ‘It is not impossible to build a human brain. We can do it in just over 10 years.
‘This will, when successful, help two billion people annually who suffer from some type of brain impairment.’
The project has already created an artificial neocortical column which is unique to mammals.
We have many of these columns to cope with complex cognitive functions including parenthood and social interactions.
It was digitally constructed using a software model of tens of thousands of neurons.
July 16-17, 2011 || New York City
Deadline for submissions: June 5, 2011
Ray Kurzweil and Barry Ptolemy appeared on the Charlie Rose show Friday night to discuss the movie Transcendent Man, directed by Barry Ptolemy. You can see the interview here. You can also watch “In Charlie’s Green Room with Ray Kurzweil,” recorded the same evening.
Transcendent Man by Barry Ptolemy focuses on the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil. It is currently available on iTunes in the United States and Canada and on DVD. Tickets to the London and San Francisco screenings in April are available.
In his landmark 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” the mathematician, philosopher and code breaker Alan Turing proposed a method for answering the question “Can machines think?”: an “imitation game” in which an “interrogator,” C, interviews two players, A and B, via teleprinter, then decides on the basis of the exchange which is human and which is a computer.
Turing’s radical premise was that the question “Can a machine win the imitation game?” could replace the question “Can machines think?” — an upsetting idea at the time, as the neurosurgeon Sir Geoffrey Jefferson asserted in 1949: “Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain — that is, not only write it but know that it had written it.” Turing demurred: if the only way to be certain that a machine is thinking “is to be the machine and to feel oneself thinking,” wouldn’t it follow that “the only way to know that a man thinks is to be that particular man”? Nor was the imitation game, for Turing, a mere thought experiment. On the contrary, he predicted that in 50 years, “it will be possible to program computers . . . to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than 70 percent chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning.”
Well, he was almost right, as Brian Christian explains in “The Most Human Human,” his illuminating book about the Turing test. In 2008, a computer program called Elbot came just one vote shy of breaking Turing’s 30 percent silicon ceiling. The occasion was the annual Loebner Prize Competition, at which programs called “chatterbots” or “chatbots” face off against human “confederates” in scrupulous enactments of the imitation game. The winning chatbot is awarded the title “Most Human Computer,” while the confederate who elicits “the greatest number of votes and greatest confidence from the judges” is awarded the title “Most Human Human.”
It was this title that Christian — a poet with degrees in computer science and philosophy — set out, in 2009, to win. And he was not about to go “head-to-head (head-to-motherboard?) against the top A.I. programs,” he writes, without first getting, as it were, in peak condition. After all, for Elbot to have fooled the judges almost 30 percent of the time into believing that it was human, its rivals had to have failed almost 30 percent of the time to persuade the judges that they were human. To earn the “Most Human Human” title, Christian realized, he would have to figure out not just why Elbot won, but why humanity lost.
His quest is, more or less, the subject of “The Most Human Human,” an irreverent picaresque that follows its hero from the recondite arena of the “Nicomachean Ethics” to the even more recondite arena of legal deposition to perhaps the most recondite arena of all, that of speed dating — and on beyond zebra. What Christian learns along the way is that if machines win the imitation game as often as they do, it’s not because they’re getting better at acting human; it’s because we’re getting worse.
Take, for example, the loathsome infinite regress of telephone customer service. You pummel your way through a blockade of menu options only to find that the live operator, once you reach her, talks exactly like the automated voice you’re trying to escape. And why is this? Because, Christian discovers, that’s how operators are trained to talk. Nor is this emulation of the electronic limited to the commercial realm. In chess, he notes, the “victory” of the computer program Deep Blue over Garry Kasparov had the paradoxical effect of convincing a whole generation of young chess players that the route to a grandmaster title was through rote memorization of famous matches. Whereas in the past these chess players might have dreamed of growing up to be Kasparov, master of strategy, now they dream of growing up to be Deep Blue, master of memory.
So how do you win the imitation game? “Just be yourself,” a past confederate advises Christian. But what does it mean to “be yourself”? In pursuing the question, Christian finds his way to Nietzsche, who “held the startling opinion that the most important part of ‘being oneself’ was — in the Brown University philosopher Bernard Reginster’s words — ‘being one self, any self.’ ” Which, as it turns out, is immensely challenging for computers. For instance, to circumvent the difficulty, the program known as Cleverbot “crowdsources” selfhood, borrowing intelligence from the humans who visit its Web site; it’s from this “conversational purée” that it draws its remarks and retorts, thereby generating the illusion of what Christian calls “coherence of identity.” But while Cleverbot can speak persuasively about “the things to which there is a right answer independent of the speaker,” if you ask it where it lives, “you get a pastiche of thousands of people talking about thousands of places.” What you realize, in other words, isn’t that “you aren’t talking with a human,” but that “you aren’t talking with a human.”
And that’s precisely the difficulty. In a wiki-age that privileges the collective over the personal, Christian suggests, we have become tone deaf to the difference between the human voice and the chatbot voice. Nor is the effect limited to the Loebner Prize. From smartphones whose predictive-text algorithms auto-correct the originality out of our language (“the more helpful our phones get, the harder it is to be ourselves”) to “super-automatic” espresso machines that sidestep the nuanced maneuvers of the human barista, technology militates against Ford Madox Ford’s “personal note,” Nietzsche’s “single taste”: against selfhood itself.
Christian is at his best when he is at his most hortatory. “Cobbled-together bits of human interaction do not a human relationship make,” he inveighs early on. “Not 50 one-night stands, not 50 speed dates, not 50 transfers through the bureaucratic pachinko. No more than sapling tied to sapling, oak though they may be, makes an oak. Fragmentary humanity isn’t humanity.” And later: “For everyone out there fighting to write idiosyncratic, high-entropy, unpredictable, unruly text, swimming upstream of spell-check and predictive auto-completion: Don’t let them banalize you.”
As “The Most Human Human” demonstrates, Christian has taken his own words to heart. An authentic son of Frost, he learns by going where he has to go, and in doing so proves that both he and his book deserve their title.
David Leavitt’s books include “The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer” and “The Indian Clerk.”
Source | New York Times
A mechanical machine that can solve the same algorithms as a modern computer has now been built out of wood and scrap metal. Created by software engineer Jim MacArthur it works by using levers and cams and only requires electricity to power a small motor (see video above).
The machine is a close physical model of the theoretical Turing machine – a device first described by Alan Turing in 1937 as a thought experiment to understand the limits of mechanical computation. According to the theory, the machine performs calculations using a set of rules to manipulate symbols on an infinite strip of tape.
Instead of using tape, this machine’s memory uses ball bearings placed on a steel grid. A ball can represent one of five different symbols based on its position on the grid. The machine reads and writes data by repositioning the balls into different cells. It does this by moving along the grid, lifting ball bearings with magnets and then depositing them into a new position based on a set of rules.
A true Turing machine requires an infinite track or tape to run on but according to MacArthur, his machine is as close as you can get to a physical replica. It has no practical computing applications and would take months to add a few numbers together but MacArthur says it was fun to build. “Since you can see this computer working, it could be useful for educational purposes,” he says.
His machine was showcased earlier this month at Maker Faire UK in Newcastle.
If you enjoyed this video, you might also like to see the world’s oldest computer recreated from Lego or a reconstruction of the computer that broke German code during the second world war.
Source | New Scientist