- Looking at the aesthetic and experiential sameness of the videogame No Man's Sky, where the environments are procedurally generated. The article mentions the "10,000 bowls of oatmeal problem", where each bowl has oats arranged differently, but in doing so makes no meaningful impact or impression on the viewer/diner. At a moment when AI is hyped for its potential to displace even our most creative labors, it seems that the old ways of humans carefully crafting (whether visuals, experiences or words) will continue to outperform the machines for awhile. Maybe it takes a human to unearth what is most resonant for another human,and simply grinding out possibilities mathematically will fall short of stirring whatever essential piece of humanity we carry around inside us.
Technology as a Threat:
- How bitcoin may be contributing to the increasing amounts of ransomware taking network-accessible documents and devices hostage. The U.S. Department of Justice says there are now 4,000 such attacks per day.
- A story on a secretive program surveilling Baltimore's streets that was adapted from tactics used in Iraq. With the ongoing debate around how militarized our municipal police forces are, a localized spy program is a troubling signal of opacity where there should be transparency. If we are being continuously monitored in public spaces, citizens have a right to know how such a program works and why it exists at all. Perhaps the most curious thing about the surveillance program it was funded with private dollars, allowing it to stay in the shadows to a degree that would have been impossible with public money.
- Elsewhere: how the rich and famous skirt technologies like Google Street View, paying high prices for privacy. From architectural tricks of concealment to using shell companies on property documents, building the perfectly walled garden requires a comprehensive strategy that is beyond the means of most.
- A ghost to the machine: a paper on methods of duping machine vision systems to see faces where there are none.
Bias and Brains:
- A fairly comprehensive study that looks at how women in engineering get sidelined from their studies and careers by bias and discriminatory practices. Among the findings of the report is that women studying engineering are (more often than men) looking to apply engineering to solving social and environmental problems - it seems fair to say that the inequities in the profession could be robbing us all of a better future.