Woody Anderson visits the city’s sights and sounds and a quick rundown on current communities.
Woody Anderson visits the city’s sights and sounds and a quick rundown on current communities.
Watch the future with augmented reality as realized by London designer, Keiichi Matsuda. Either it kills you or makes you stronger….
There is fresh fury over revered artist, Banksy and his take on the colossal 2012 Olympics. You be the judge. As the Guardian paper recently posted:
“This attack on one of contemporary London’s most renowned traditions reveals how deeply uncomfortable the cultural relationship between this city and the Olympics really is,” writes Jonathan Jones in The Guardian. “An event that is all about massive finance, colossal scale, hyper-organisation and culture delivered from above is being superimposed on a capital that happens to be best at improvisation, dirty realism, punk aesthetics and low art. It’s like Versailles versus the sans-culottes. And this time Versailles is determined to win.”
Scientists say they’re getting closer to Matrix-style instant learning
What price effortless learning? In a paper published in the latest issue of Science, neuroscientists say they’ve developed a novel method of learning, that can cause long-lasting improvement in tasks that demand a high level of visual performance.
And while the so-called neurofeedback method could one day be used to teach you kung fu, or to aid spinal-injury patients on the road to rehabilitation, evidence also suggests the technology could be used to target people without their knowledge, opening doors to numerous important ethical questions.
According to a press release from the National Science Foundation:
New research published today in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s “Matrix” franchise.
Experiments conducted at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, recently demonstrated that through a person’s visual cortex, researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks.
Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future.
But here’s the bit that’s really interesting (and also pretty creepy): the researchers found that this novel learning approach worked even when test subjects weren’t aware of what they were learning:
“The most surprising thing in this study is that mere inductions of neural activation patterns…led to visual performance improvement…without presenting the feature or subjects’ awareness of what was to be learned,” said lead researcher Takeo Watanabe. He continues:
We found that subjects were not aware of what was to be learned while behavioral data obtained before and after the neurofeedback training showed that subjects’ visual performance improved specifically for the target orientation, which was used in the neurofeedback training.
Is this research mind-blowing and exciting? Absolutely. I mean come on — automated learning? Yes. Sign me up. But according to research co-author Mitsuo Kawato, the neurofeedback mechanism could just as soon be used for purposes of hypnosis or covert mind control. And that… I’m not so keen on.
“We have to be careful,” he explains, “so that this method is not used in an unethical way.” [Science via NSF]
I’ve always admired free spirits as the ultimate expression of life. Perhaps because I often feel the conservative constraints imposed on all of us rather acutely. Take for example the incredible fusion of Rick Owens and Michele Lamy, locked in, creatively and as a whole. A fascinating look at their dynamics and of course, their incredible works.
I have included some stills as I was not able to insert this video from “Another Mag” but have this full screen link here:
More: Rick Owens
If your desk is an entry into your soul, then certainly these vignettes hold the key to something rather dark. Hailing from Sweden, Carl Hammoud focuses on tumultuous settings but in very calming and appealing color. Great draftsmanship as well… Perhaps one above my desk might make me feel more at home.
See more of his work here: Carl Hammoud
As we approach the end of the first decade of the new millennium, let’s consider what life will be like a decade hence. Changes in our lives from technology are moving faster and faster. The telephone took 50 years to reach a quarter of the U.S. population. Search engines, social networks and blogs have done that in just a few years time. Consider that Facebook started as a way for Harvard students to meet each other just six years ago; it now has 350 million users and counting.
Between now and 2020, the trend will continue, spreading cutting-edge technologies to every corner of the country and beginning to make innovations once consigned to the realm of science fiction real for millions of Americans. Specifically what can we expect? Solar power on steroids, longer lives, the chance to get rid of obesity once and for all, and portable computing devices that start becoming part of your body rather than being held in your hand.
What will drive all this accelerating change is precisely what has driven it this past half-century: the exponential growth in the power of information technology, which approximately doubles for the same cost every year. When I was an MIT undergraduate in 1965, we all shared a computer that took up half a building and cost tens of millions of dollars. The computer in my pocket today is a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful. That’s a billion-fold increase in the amount of computation per dollar since I was a student.
That incredible force — information technology that moves faster, then faster, then faster still — will power changes in every imaginable realm over the next decade.
Start with the basics. You’ve no doubt noticed that electronic gadgets are getting smaller and smaller; the iPod Shuffle holds 1,000 songs and weighs 0.38 ounces. Your phone is smaller than it was a few years ago and can do much more. By 2020, memory devices will be integrated into our clothing. And the very idea of a “smart phone” will begin to change. Rather than looking at a tiny screen, our glasses will beam images directly to our retinas, creating a high resolution virtual display that hovers in air.
That virtual display will be able to take over our entire visual field of view, putting us in a three-dimensional full immersion virtual reality environment. We’ll watch movies virtually and read virtual books. A lot of our personal and business meetings will take place in these 3D virtual worlds. The design of new virtual environments will be an art form. We’ll even have ways to touch one another virtually.
There are already beginning to be apps available for your iPhone or Android phone that allow you to look at a building and have the display superimpose what stores are inside it; Google Goggles, released last week, is the first free, widely-available version of such software. By 2020 we’ll routinely have pop ups in our visual field of view that give us background about the people and places that we’re looking at.
In other words, your memory will be constantly, instantaneously aided by the information available on the Internet. The two will begin to become indistinguishable.
How about energy? That doesn’t sound like an information technology. Fossil fuels, after all, are an early first industrial revolution, 19th century technology. But we are now applying nanotechnology — the science of essentially reprogramming matter at the level of molecules to create new materials and devices—to the design of renewable energy technologies such as solar energy. As a result, the cost per watt of solar energy is coming down rapidly and the total amount of solar energy is growing exponentially. It has in fact been doubling every two years for the past 20 years and is now only eight doublings away from meeting all of the world’s energy needs.
When I shared this fact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a few weeks ago, he asked, “but is there enough sunlight to double solar energy eight more times?” I responded that we have 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to do this. The prime minister announced an Israeli energy initiative the next day at the Israeli Presidential Conference based on our conversation, setting a 10-year goal to create the technologies to completely replace fossil fuels.
It’s not just the gadgets we carry around and the power we use to fuel our lives that are subject to what I call “the law of accelerating returns.” Health and medicine, which used to be a hit or miss process, has now become an information technology.
We now have the software of life (our genes) and the means of upgrading that software. How long do you go without updating the software on your cell phone? Not long: it does it itself every few days or weeks. Yet we are walking around with obsolete software in our bodies that evolved thousands of years ago. Within 10 years, that will change.
Already today, there are over a thousand projects to change our genes away from disease and toward health, not just in newborns but in mature individuals. The Human Genome Project, which has catalogued our genetic material, was itself a very good example of the law of accelerating returns; the amount of genetic data that is sequenced has doubled every year and the cost has come down by half every year. We can now design health interventions on computers and test them out on biological simulators. These technologies are doubling in power every year and will be a thousand times more powerful in a decade.
By 2020, we will have the means to program our biology away from disease and aging, and toward significant advances in our ability to treat major diseases such as heart disease and cancer — an approach that will be fully mature by 2030.
We won’t just be able to lengthen our lives; we’ll be able to improve our lifestyles. By 2020, we will be testing drugs that will turn off the fat insulin receptor gene that tells our fat cells to hold on to every calorie. Holding on to every calorie was a good idea thousands of years ago when our genes evolved in the first place. Today it underlies an epidemic of obesity. By 2030, we will have made major strides in our ability to remain alive and healthy – and young – for very long periods of time. At that time, we’ll be adding more than a year every year to our remaining life expectancy, so the sands of time will start running in instead of running out.
No, it’s not going to be an entirely brave new world. Some things will look pretty similar in 2020. We’ll still drive cars — although they will have the intelligence to avoid many accidents and self-driving cars will at least be experimented with. All-electric cars will be popular. And in cities, don’t expect subways or buses to go away.
But in more and more ways big and small, hang in there and we’ll all get to see the remarkable century ahead.
Kurzweil is former recipient of the MIT-Lemelson prize, the world’s largest for innovation, and in 1999 was awarded the National Medal of Technology. He is the author of the books “The Singularity is Near” and “The Age of Spiritual Machines.”
An underground youth culture in Japan which makes a rebellious fashion statement against traditional rules on eastern beauty, is taking hold on Britain’s youth.
Manba involves devotees wearing dark tans, white make-up around their eyes and hair that is often a combination of neon colours.
British teenagers like 18-year-olds Eilish and Declan got caught up in manba after an interest in Japanese culture led them to start researching on the internet, where they came across the style.
Manba in Japan is also known as ganguro, gonguro, yamamba and mamba.
Yama-uba in Japanese is the name of a mountain hag in Japanese folklore whom the fashion is thought to resemble.
It has been around for nearly a decade and is an eye-catching statement against conformity.
When the practitioners began darkening their skin, widening their eyes and wearing blue contact lenses, they were making a rebellious statement against the traditions of fair-skinned beauty.
The rebellion has now, perhaps somewhat ironically, been taken up by Britain’s naturally fair-skinned youth.
I went to spend some time with Eilish and Declan to find out why the fashion appeals them to.
When I met them early one morning, they had already started applying their make-up as they planned to meet other British members of their Japanese circle later that afternoon in London’s China Town.
I just think it looks good – nowadays it’s more popular to be tanned
They start their routine by applying self tan to their bodies.
Eilish rubs the self tan on her neck but her face is darkened much more heavily.
She smears the coffee-bean powder on her pale skin and tries to rub it in so that it does not look “patchy”.
Declan explains that he buys his foundation from Afro-Caribbean shops as normal shops do not sell powders that are dark enough.
They then use black eyeliner pencils and a white marker pens to create big eyes which look like they droop, framed by false eyelashes.
The look is finished off with glitter and white lipstick.
They tell me they learnt to apply the make-up through watching make-up tutorials on YouTube.
Declan and Eilish say they have been accused of racism for darkening their skin in this way, but they say this could not be further from the truth.
Eilish insists that she is “not mocking anybody” and Declan asks, “what black person looks like this?”
Another member of the group says that she does not like her white skin and covers up if she is unable to get a spray tan.
“I just think it looks good – nowadays it’s more popular to be tanned,” Declan adds.
The British followers of this Japanese subculture are also into the music, which is called Eurobeat, and practise dance moves called Para-Para.
“It’s kind of like line dancing,” says Eilish.
“But it’s a group dance where everyone does the same thing and it just uses your hands.”
Eilish’s mobile phone rings every time she receives a message on Facebook.
Her social networks are important as she has friends in Japan and the US who are also into the style.
We’re Western girls trying to be Japanese girls, trying to be Western – it seems like a funny circle to go around
Gabby, manba follower
“There’s a Japanese Facebook [type of site] called Mixi and there are a lot of manba on there and when they find out that you’re manba in the UK, they’re like, ‘what?!'”
“They all speak in Japanese so I have to use a translator to talk to them. There are also some in America. I’m quite good friends with some of the girls who do it in America.”
Eilish’s father Peter thinks that his daughter might look a bit strange, but she is, he says, “learning about another culture”
Her mother insists that the style is about much more than just “dressing up”.
She tells me she thinks that this is more about creative expression and that she admires her daughter for her interest.
As we all walk out the house and down the street, people look.
Brightly coloured hair, clothes and unusual make-up sets them apart from the crowds who are travelling into London on the underground.
Eilish says that people often don’t want to sit next to them.
In China Town, Eilish and Declan meet some of their follow manba followers.
Gabby, 22, with her bright pink hair and sunglasses, says she loves the style.
“I think it’s adorable, it looks really cute, it takes a lot of skill,” she says.
“Some people have the attitude that Western girls can’t do it as well, but we’re doing our own thing.”
Toni, 21, says she really likes to have make-up that creates really wide eyes.
She acknowledges though that it might “sound really silly” because what they are doing is trying to be like the girls in Japan who are trying to look like Western girls.
“We’re Western girls trying to be Japanese girls, trying to be Western – it seems like a funny circle to go around.”