I've written before about Moran Cerf -- celebrated neuroscientist, former military hacker, and good-guy bank robber -- who also happens to be a great storyteller. Here's a video in which Cerf recounts some clever and fascinating neuroscience experiments that use neurofeedback to help people resolve competition between different thoughts and wills in their minds. The applications are even more interesting -- mentally controlling a robotic arm, for example.
Jaime sez, "In honor of Children's Book Week, I'm sharing a link about a book written by 8-year old Griffin Hehmeyer. His mom tells the story of how Griffin wrote a book, enlisted his friends and classmates for help editing and illustrating it, and eventually published it. The book serves as a model for children interested in creating literature of their own, practicing skills like story-telling, writing, empathy, collaboration, and persistence in the process."
The story was inspired by a make-believe game Griffin had been playing for several years with a good friend of his named Maya. In the game he was the king of the wolves, just like Makamom is in the book. Griffin says of the writing process, “When I first started this book, I had a hard time thinking of ideas. As I got closer to the ending it was easier to think of what to say.”
At the end of each chapter Griffin would read what he had written to his classmates and incorporate their feedback into the draft. When the draft was complete, Griffin and his teacher then spent another month reading through the book and correcting any errors before sending it to me. I think the editing process was the most frustrating part for Griffin, since he was impatient to be done. I had told him we’d print it out and get it bound, so he was excited to have a real book-like copy to enjoy.
By April I knew of the book's existence, but I hadn’t yet read any of it. When I received the completed draft, I was somewhat hesitant to undertake the reading such a large chunk of text written by an 8 year old – even if that 8 year old was my own son. To my surprise, however, the book turned out to be really good. As a colleague said when I shared a draft with him, “The book kept me reading it until the end, in one pass. It is a very interesting, clever, and engrossing story.” I also enjoyed watching my husband read the book to our other three children each night before bed. They laughed and gasped at all the right places, and begged their dada to continue reading well after lights out.
In a fascinating installment of the IEEE Techwise podcast [MP3], Rice University Computational Engineering prof Moshe Vardi discusses the possibility that robots will obviate human labor faster than new jobs are created, leaving us with no jobs. This needn't be a bad thing -- it might mean finally realizing the age of leisure we've been promised since the first glimmers of the industrial revolution -- but if market economies can't figure out how to equitably distribute the fruits of automation, it might end up with an even bigger, even more hopeless underclass.
I think the issue of machine intelligence and jobs deserves some serious discussion. I don’t know that we will reach a definite conclusion, and it’s not clear how easy it will be to agree on desired actions, but I think the topic is important enough that it deserves discussion. And right now I would say it’s mostly being discussed by economists, by labor economists. It has to also be discussed by the people that produce the technology, because one of the questions we could ask is, you know, there is a concept that, for example, that people have started talking about, which is that we are using, we are creating technology that has no friction, okay? Creating many things that are just too easy to do.
Back in January, I blogged my visit to Toronto's MakerKids, a wonderful makerspace for kids. Now, MakerKids is running a 3D printing weekend for kids at Toronto's Harbourfront centre. Andy from Makerkids writes, "This weekend, at the 11th annual Toronto International Circus Festival (from May 16th-18th at the Harbourfront Centre), MakerKids will be helping kids to do 3D printing of circus creatures! At our station at this free event, kids will design fantastical animals and characters they'd like to see in a circus using the 123D Creature app. The crowd's favourites will be 3D printed for their designers to bring home!"
Miss Cakehead writes, "This set of Zombie Swimming Pool Rules was comissioned from graphic designer Pictographik to promote the Resident Evil Revelations blood swimming pool, and was based on an the iconic traditional British swimming pool rules.
The pop up 'blood' filled swimming pool opens in London next week to mark the release of Resident Evil Revelations. In addition to its bloody appearance the swimming pool will offer floats in the form of human torsos, feature brains and intestines as lane markers, have Zombie lifeguards on duty and even offer a diving board in the form of a 'freshly killed human corpse'."
Kristen sez, "The DoomBuggies website has released a version of the Haunted Mansion Corridor of Doors wallpaper in fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap, and according to the DoomBuggies facebook page, it's the same graphic that has been used by Disney. 'This is created from the same artwork that we created for Disney's official Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary CD box set and CD insert,' according to Jeff Baham, the owner of DoomBuggies.com."
Kaja and Phil Foglio have launched a Kickstarter to fund the printing of volume 12 of the wonderful Girl Genius webcomic, and to reprint the older books. These are multi-award-winning, independent steampunk delights, and $30 gets you "an actual, dead-tree, SOFTCOVER copy of Girl Genius Volume 12: Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg. 192 pages in full color. Shipped to you by means of one of the largest government agencies on Earth!"
Printing the actual books is our biggest single expense. The first print run of a typical volume costs in excess of US$25,000. If that seems high, you must remember that we print eight thousand of them, and they usually run to around 120 pages. Our latest volume, number 12, will be even more expensive, as it comes in at 192 pages, and we’ll be printing nine thousand of them, because eight thousand wasn’t enough last time. Exciting? Yes, but one can’t pay the printer with excitement.
We also have to ship the books. Actually, we have to ship them twice. Once from the printer to the fulfillment center, and once again from the fulfillment center to the customer. And whether a book is shrink–wrapped with thousands of its friends onto a pallet and loaded into a truck, or carefully packaged for individual shipping, several thousand pounds of books cost serious money to transport.
It's got a short fuse on it because they want to get the books in hand in time for San Diego Comic-Con. Act now!
When I first saw this Angus McKie illustration, I had a moment when I thought it depicted the Earth being encased in a huge, space-going shell and I flashed back to Damon Knight's spectacular novel Why Do Birds?, a straight-faced yet comic novel about a man who puts the whole human race in a box. Then I realized that the picture depicted a hollow, space-going sphere being fitted with an armored cover and my mind spun into a deep future from which it hasn't entirely returned. Beautiful work. Here's the official McKie site, but it appears to be down.
Usborne's 1983 classic Introduction to Machine Code for Beginners is an astounding book, written, designed and illustrated by Naomi Reed, Graham Round and Lynne Norman. It uses beautiful infographics and clear writing to provide an introduction to 6502 and Z80 assembler, and it's no wonder that used copies go for as much as $600. I was reminded of it this morning when @amanicdroid tweeted me with a link to a PDF of the book's interior. I'd love to see this book updated for modern computers and reprinted.
"Quaestus" is the latest assemblage from sculptor Jud Turner. He sez,
“Quaestus” is a latin word meaning “gain or profit extracted from work”, a concept darkly represented in my latest sculpture: 5 tiny employees are trapped in an endless task inside a gigantic machine, toiling to keep up with the conveyor belts they are walking on. Each work station has a 2 digit counter which seems to be keeping some kind of score. If the employees don't keep up with the machine, they will fall off the ends of their conveyor belts and be fed to the machine.. The employees actually power this machine, but are unaware and unable to stop moving forward for fear of falling behind.
It's an amazing piece. Click through for hi-rez and details.
Noah Scalin sez, "Thought you might enjoy this little video I made to promote the latest release from my science fiction project League of Space Pirates (yes, apparently they still have As Seen On TV commercials in the future). It's a return to the classic book & record format of the 70s/80s. In this case the 16 page comic book features illustrated stories based on the lyrics of two original songs from the League of Space Pirates band"