Some interesting links from around the web. Collection in progress.
Assessment of the impact of machine intelligence on art, and the history of artists' adoption of new technology.
"This requires that we apply ourselves rigorously and imaginatively across disciplines. The work can’t be done by technophobic humanists, any more than it can be done by inhuman technologists."
Enlightening short article about butterflies and their representation in popular culture.
'Beginner's Guide' to gardening at different scales. Details some prerequesites and processes involved and offers some plans for different-sized spaces.
Discussion with artist Amalia Ulman and Rob Horning about 'authenticity' and self identity on social media
Curious short overview of a historical belief in a strange animal - the 'sea monk' or 'sea bishop' - with several illustrations from the 16th century onwards
Memo Akten discussing his work in relation to surveillance, machine intelligence and religion. A (much) shorter article by the same author on surveillance replacing the role of the traditional God is here.
Interesting article documenting a historical craze for new technology and people's resulting disdain - parallels with today's technology.
Incredible series of images found on Google Street View by Jon Rafman. Street photography in the internet era.
Techinical yet accessible overview of research into upgrading photosynthesis' efficiency (stated as 0.5-2%, naturally). Proposals for increasing efficiency at each stage of the process.
Interesting overview of the history of the colour blue, and how it has been used throughout history by artists
Very long, now old (1996), article about someone travelling the world following the cabling of the internet. Interesting characters and geopolitical aspects of humanity's development of communication infrastructure. A long read but worth it.
Audio visual interactive history of M. C. Escher and in particular his 'Metamorphosis' peices. Also includes a tool for generating Escher-like tesslated patterns.
Caustics love. Overview of a project to reverse-engineer refractions to create materials which produce images when light is passed through or reflected from. More related examples here.
Fascinating analysis of pain - why we feel it, whether we need it, different types of it, what it is. With some gnarly examples of people who don't feel it. Part of a much longer, wider article.
"Any mental quality or emotion or sensation which is not accompanied by a demandingness, an involuntary taking-into-consideration, is not pain. ... the pain cannot and must not be overridden: human organisms can’t be trusted to simply ‘turn off’ pain and indulge an idle curiosity about cutting off hands. We are insufficiently intelligent, our priors insufficiently strong, our reasoning and planning too poor, and we must do too much learning within each life to do without pain."
Excellent essay on software design with useful insights on what to consider when creating better applications.
"For information software, all interaction is essentially navigation around a data space."People use software to get specific information from an infinite sphere of possible information - we should make it as easy as possible to provide this through context or other inference without the user having to unneccessarily try to find it. All work I've read by Bret Victor has been well-thought out and interesting. Good talks, too.
Network of pages outlining an ambitious biotech project based on utilitarian grounds - to "use genetic engineering and nanotechnology to remove suffering in all sentient life". Lots to digest and think about, some to disagree with - see the gwern post above, for example - but a fascinating utopian project.
Defence of the importance of language for social communication in the face of 'language-less' brain to brain communication.
Critique of the current state of the internet as a technology that accelerates capitalism's creation of inequality and other negative traits.
Transcript of a talk by Dennett looking at the computation done by the brain as being 'bottom-up' instead of 'top-down', capitalist instead of communist; produced by the interaction of individual selfish neurons, instead of cooperation organised by a CPU. Relating termites, arts, political organisation. A slightly simpler video version of the talk is viewable here
Account of an almost-forgotten hedge along a customs line in British colonial India, to facilitate taxation of salt.