BBC Radio 4 has kicked off a new season of the amazing science show The Infinite Monkey Cage, and the second episode of the series is a wonderful panel discussion on consciousness called Through the Doors of Perception. This episode is greatly enhanced by the presence of Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen, Lost Girls, From Hell, and many other standout comics. Moore's contributions on the relationship of art and magic to consciousness are the most interesting parts of the show -- though the whole thing is fascinating (Download the MP3).
Canada's Conservative government has become notorious for muzzling government scientists, requiring them to speak through political minders (often callow twentysomethings with no science background who received government jobs in exchange for their work on election campaigns). Government scientists are not allowed to speak to the press alone no matter how trivial the subject, and the default position when reporters seek interviews is to turn them down. (Much of Canada's state-funded science pertains to the climate and the environment; Canada's Tories were elected with strong backing from the dirty tar sands and other polluting industries)
A group of University of British Columbia students decided to measure just how extraordinarily secretive science has become in Stephen Harper's Canada. Dave Ng writes:
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Rick Kleffel just posted his interview with Jonathan Lethem (MP3) about Lethem's new novel, Dissident Gardens, his latest New York City novel. It's about a Sunnyside Gardens family whose matriarch, Rose Zimmer, is being drummed out of the Communist Party. What follows is comic, sweet, and thoroughly grounded in New York. Based on Kleffel's review, I can't wait to read it.
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Rick Kleffel interviewed Ian Tregillis, author of the amazing alternate history Milkweed books, about Nazi X-Men fighting a secret war against British warlocks. Tregillis describes the process by which he came up with the premise, and especially -- and most interestingly -- how he came up with his brilliant treatment for Gretl, a precognitive villain who is pretty much evil personified (MP3).
Shelton Drum is a first-generation outlier in the world of comics retail and convention organizing with his Charlotte NC store, Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, celebrating 30+ years in existence and Heroes Con growing stronger over a similar span of time. The TMSIDK gang traveled to Heroes Con 2013 to record the show live and the conversation spans the history of comics from the mid-60s forward through the eyes of a store owner who's seen it all.
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Jon M. Gibson is the co-founder/co-owner of iam8bit -– a production company, creative think tank, art exhibition, and gallery space in Los Angeles. iam8bit’s projects include a music video for Radiohead, A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong for the King of Kong DVD, Street Fighter Club, a custom vinyl picture disc for Tron Evolution, and marketing and artwork for Mega Man 9. After the success of the initial iam8bit shows (hosted at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight), they opened their own space and have continued to produce a variety of art exhibitions in addition to their work in the video game, film, fashion, and music industries.
Tell Me Something I Don't Know is produced and hosted by three talented cartoonists and illustrators:
Jasen Lex is a designer and illustrator from Pittsburgh. He is currently working on a graphic novel called Washington Unbound. All of his art and comics can be found at jasenlex.com.
Ed Piskor is the cartoonist who drew the comic, Wizzywig, and draws the Brain Rot/ Hip Hop Family Tree comic strip at this very site, soon to be collected by Fantagraphics Books and available for pre-order now.
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(art by Daniel Martin Diaz)Earlier today, we published my story "By His Things Will You Know Him," which is from the forthcoming Institute for the Future anthology "An Aura of Familiarity: Visions from the Coming Age of Networked Matter." I've read the story aloud for my podcast, if that's how you prefer your fiction.
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.
Many of these ideas came up in this Boing Boing post from January, which also touches on Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, a book that Vardi mentions in his interview.