howLAB

Jul 21

kqedscience:

Flush Your Kids Down the Toilet in a New Exhibition in Japan

The new “Human Waste & Earth’s Future” exhibition at Miraikan in Japan lets visitors experience what it’s like when their lives are going down the toilet. The creative exhibition invites kids to get flushed, by climbing a flight of stairs to the porcelain throne and sliding down the tubes to enter. To top it all off, each kid is given a poop hat, to crown them on their journey to learn about what happens to human waste.”

(via Inhabitat)

Jul 21

Non-human animals as autonomous economic actors

Technology within our grasp will enable non-human animals to act within the current human economic system. This autonomy is provided by a type of digital wallet, for example in the form of a dog collar. This wallet will be able to perform transactions with a proximity communication device and perhaps some sort of motion which “unlocks” it. With such a device non-human animal will be able to pay for products or services, but more importantly to earn currency. Currency could be earned for example by working as a fire fighting dog for a day or by helping people cross the street. Either by working a “job” or by singular tasks. Purchases could act much like buying products from a simplified vending machine. A marketing industry advertising products directly to dogs might even emerge. Considerable amounts of effort might be required to classically train these non-human animals to overcome the steep learning curve associated with functioning autonomously in a human economic system. This would be one way to provide pets greater autonomy and even perhaps technological species equality.

A similar system for economically-autonomous self-driving taxis has been proposed.

Related: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solaris_(novel)

Jul 21

Interface category filing. I hope to make a list of all the types of interfaces so designers can have an easier time figuring out which interfaces, and which combinations of interfaces, will suit their needs.
Second, an idea to have sound more integral to the operation of a computer machine. New users especially have trouble remembering what key commands, buttons and levers to pull push and left click (once). As a microwave dings, computer functions can be paired with sound to assist memory retention.
Third, a guy with a machine that melds with his brain using a spiny hook. Every day he needs to pull it out a little more, because it’s attempting to take over all brain functioning for him. The tool that is designed to make life easier tends to guess what the human brain wants to do, instead of opening options to him.

Interface category filing. I hope to make a list of all the types of interfaces so designers can have an easier time figuring out which interfaces, and which combinations of interfaces, will suit their needs.

Second, an idea to have sound more integral to the operation of a computer machine. New users especially have trouble remembering what key commands, buttons and levers to pull push and left click (once). As a microwave dings, computer functions can be paired with sound to assist memory retention.

Third, a guy with a machine that melds with his brain using a spiny hook. Every day he needs to pull it out a little more, because it’s attempting to take over all brain functioning for him. The tool that is designed to make life easier tends to guess what the human brain wants to do, instead of opening options to him.

Jul 20

MANIFESTO FOR AN ACCELERATIONIST POLITICS →

Jul 15

quote

This is big in the Grinder community. Most people start off by implanting magnets in their fingertips, which gives you the ability to feel magnetic fields. Your fingertips have lots of nerve endings jammed into one area and they are really sensitive to stimuli. Magnets twitch or move in the presence of magnetic fields, and when you implant one in your finger you can really start to feel different magnetic fields around you. So it is like a sixth sense. At first you will be waving your hand around appliances, probing fields like someone looking for a light switch in the dark. After a few days or weeks you will almost forget you have the implant because your brain has fully incorporated the sense into your normal world experience. When you sleep you will notice that even your dreams have changed to include the sense. You can now perceive an otherwise invisible world.

This makes many curious about all of the other things happening around them that they can’t see and they want more. So let’s expand on the magnet thing. We can buy all kinds of different sensors to detect heat, radiation, radio signals, wifi, whatever you want. If we wrap a wire around our implanted finger and attach that wire to our new sensor, we find that the wire creates a small magnetic field to the beat of the sensor. This of course makes our magnet twitch, and now we can feel heat from a distance, feel wifi, or whatever.

Why limit ourselves to feeling these sensations? We have other senses we can induce synesthesia in. I got some media attention in June of 2013 after I implanted headphones in my tragus to do just that. I had some practical reasons for doing this in addition to my thirst for exploration. A few years earlier I suddenly became legally blind in one eye. Lenses cannot correct it and my original eye doctor informed me that the other eye was likely to follow, at which point I would be legally blind, lose my job, etc. With this inevitability in mind I decided to be proactive. Ultrasonic rangefinders are devices used to determine how far away an object is. I knew that most blind people find acoustic variations help them identify the proximity of objects, so I figured I might be able to amplify this by converting rangefinder data into audio I could send wirelessly to my headphone implants. It turned out to be much more complicated than I thought, but that is a part of Grinding that I have come to appreciate. My setbacks lead me deeper into the rabbit hole of audiology where I discovered knowledge that has unlocked a thousand more possibilities.

I’d say that 25% of the people I talk to about sensory enhancement think it’s really cool and some go get implants themselves. The other 75% will nod their head and hope the conversation ends or they laugh and ask “why would anyone want to feel magnetic fields?” I get asked that question so much, and I still find it hard to articulate. They usually point out that “you don’t need it,” to which I counter “what if you lost the ability to taste? You don’t really need it to survive.” Ask anyone with an implant how they would feel if they lost the implant, and almost all of them will tell you they would miss it. A small bit of richness would be missing from their life experience.

Visible light is but a tiny portion of the greater magnetic spectrum that we cannot see. If we modeled the entire spectrum as a road stretching from LA to New York, the amount of visible light that humans can see would equal a few nanometers. Humans, from our allegorical caves, have nonetheless managed to form and test theories about things at the edges of perception but these discoveries took thousands of years. Where would humans be now technologically if we never developed sight? How long would it take us to theorize the existence of the aurora borealis or to hypothesize about the existence of stars? This reduction of input obviously cripples the rate of input.

So is the opposite true? Would expanding our senses accelerate our advancement? My answer is yes. Some Grinder friends of mine formed a team called Science for the Masses to discover if they could biologically push human perception of visible light into the near-infrared spectrum. This is a small increase, around 6% above our current abilities. The impact is dramatic. The new light allows you to see through fog and haze, tinted windows, and some clothing. Stars can be seen during day hours. Subtle changes in blood flow can be seen under the skin, allowing anyone to detect circulation problems and find clots. Seeing blood flow takes some of the guesswork out of determining what mood your date is in and lying becomes nearly impossible. Imagine how this awareness would have altered human history, politics, art, courtship, and relationships. Does human psychology benefit in a world where sincerity and emotional context can be seen with the naked eye rather than hypothesized or conjured? The new layers of info I’ve detailed above are actually just the tip of the iceberg. The real magic of sensory expansion comes from finding deviations and surprises that don’t fit within our scientific understanding because it makes us reconcile our mental models of the world with reality.

— Zoltan Istvan interviews Rich Lee, http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/istvan20140708 (via grinderbot)
Jul 13
Jul 06
currentsinbiology:

Whales as ecosystem engineers
"Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part," wrote Herman Melville in Moby Dick. Today, we no longer dread whales, but their subtlety remains. "For a long time, whales have been considered too rare to make much of a difference in the oceans," notes University of Vermont conservation biologist Joe Roman. That was a mistake.
In a new paper, Roman and a team of biologists have tallied several decades of research on whales from around the world; it shows that whales, in fact, make a huge difference—they have a powerful and positive influence on the function of oceans, global carbon storage, and the health of commercial fisheries. “The decline in great whale numbers, estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, has likely altered the structure and function of the oceans,” Roman and his colleagues write in the July 3, 2014, online edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, ” but recovery is possible and in many cases is already underway.”

"The continued recovery of great whales may help to buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses," the team of scientists writes. This recovered role may be especially important as climate change threatens ocean ecosystems with rising temperatures and acidification. "As long-lived species, they enhance the predictability and stability of marine ecosystems," Roman said.

Caption: Huge blue whales plunge to 500 feet or deeper and feed on tiny krill. Then they return to the surface—and poop. This ‘whale pump’ provides many nutrients, in the form of feces, to support plankton growth. It’s one of many examples of how whales maintain the health of oceans described in a new scientific paper by the University of Vermont’s Joe Roman and nine other whale biologists from around the globe.
Credit: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

currentsinbiology:

Whales as ecosystem engineers

"Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part," wrote Herman Melville in Moby Dick. Today, we no longer dread whales, but their subtlety remains. "For a long time, whales have been considered too rare to make much of a difference in the oceans," notes University of Vermont conservation biologist Joe Roman. That was a mistake.

In a new paper, Roman and a team of biologists have tallied several decades of research on whales from around the world; it shows that whales, in fact, make a huge difference—they have a powerful and positive influence on the function of oceans, global carbon storage, and the health of commercial fisheries. “The decline in great whale numbers, estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, has likely altered the structure and function of the oceans,” Roman and his colleagues write in the July 3, 2014, online edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, ” but recovery is possible and in many cases is already underway.”

"The continued recovery of great whales may help to buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses," the team of scientists writes. This recovered role may be especially important as climate change threatens ocean ecosystems with rising temperatures and acidification. "As long-lived species, they enhance the predictability and stability of marine ecosystems," Roman said.

Caption: Huge blue whales plunge to 500 feet or deeper and feed on tiny krill. Then they return to the surface—and poop. This ‘whale pump’ provides many nutrients, in the form of feces, to support plankton growth. It’s one of many examples of how whales maintain the health of oceans described in a new scientific paper by the University of Vermont’s Joe Roman and nine other whale biologists from around the globe.

Credit: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Jul 04
climateadaptation:

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture developing a Climate Super Chicken to withstand higher temperatures. Via Bloomberg
Research study summary, USDA Adapting animal production to climate change.

climateadaptation:

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture developing a Climate Super Chicken to withstand higher temperatures. Via Bloomberg

Research study summary, USDA Adapting animal production to climate change.

Jul 03

10 Breakthrough Innovations That Will Shape The World In 2025 →

Jun 30

quote Everything changes everything. There are no independent events. … The virtual world has created a very different kind of nervous system for people who spend their lives in that world.