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The canary in the coal mine was an actual thing. The bird and its cage formed a cybernetic device whose sensitivity to adverse conditions - like the sudden collection of dangerous gases - would provide a visual and clear warning to those working in the tunnels.

Biotech’s development has been so far mostly ignored by mainstream culture around the world, one of those silent exponential curves that’ll blow up into pop consciousness fully formed. The $100 genome sequencing, mRNA vaccine platforms, materials built by microbes, fuels engineered out of algae from the deep ocean, impossible and delicious food, personal genomics and predictive medicine, designer babies, real designer drugs, gene auctions and private collections, biofashion and aesthetics - and the unthinkable war machine.

The current controversies around gender identity and its political and discursive implications provide a clear warning about what is to come. From our individual and collective desires, from our willingness and increasing ability to change ourselves and the world through synthetic biology will emerge a societal turbulence unlike any other.

Fluidity, shape-shifting, the endless remixing of categories and possibilities. Biology, enabled by software, will again transform the world.

The Blind Machine is brought to you by the good people at chumbo

Listen to our playlist on Spotify, a careful selection of old & new futures.

Thank you for being here.

Making buildings, cars and planes from materials based on plant fibres

on Jul 10, 2022 11:36 am

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USING carrots to create concrete, turning wood into plastic, or even compressing it into a “super wood” that is as light and strong as titanium might sound like a series of almost Frankensteinish experiments. Yet all three are among the latest examples of employing natural fibres from plants as eco-friendly additives or alternatives to man-made materials.

Materials-science researchers are finding that plant fibres can add durability and strength to substances already used in the construction of buildings and in goods that range from toys and furniture to cars and aircraft. A big bonus is that, because plants lock up carbon in their structure, using their fibres to make things should mean less carbon dioxide is emitted.

Human-centred mechanism design with Democratic AI

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

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Building artificial intelligence (AI) that aligns with human values is an unsolved problem. Here we developed a human-in-the-loop research pipeline called Democratic AI, in which reinforcement learning is used to design a social mechanism that humans prefer by majority. A large group of humans played an online investment game that involved deciding whether to keep a monetary endowment or to share it with others for collective benefit. Shared revenue was returned to players under two different redistribution mechanisms, one designed by the AI and the other by humans. The AI discovered a mechanism that redressed initial wealth imbalance, sanctioned free riders and successfully won the majority vote. By optimising for human preferences, Democratic AI offers a proof of concept for value-aligned policy innovation.

Project Drawdown updates world’s leading set of climate solutions—adding 11 new solutions for addressing the climate crisis

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

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Five years ago Project Drawdown published a collection of “drawdown solutions,” technologies and practices that, if ambitiously implemented together, can achieve drawdown—the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change. A newly released update of this landmark analysis adds 11 new solutions and confirms with even more clarity and conviction that humanity has the solutions needed to reach drawdown quickly, safely, efficiently, and equitably.

Werner Herzog’s Wondrous Novel of Nothingness in the Jungle

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

The Japanese lieutenant Hiroo Onoda emerged from hiding, in 1974, after fighting the Second World War for twenty-nine years.

“The Twilight World” is a funny novel in the same way that Herzog’s film “Grizzly Man”—about an environmentalist who loved bears, and was eaten by them—is a funny movie. To call it dark, dry, or deadpan is an understatement; it’s more like cosmic farce, or field recordings of the hiccups of fate. The novel’s most humorous events are also its most despairing. When, at last, Onoda left Lubang, in 1974, he was reluctant to abandon the elaborate dream he’d inhabited. He’d stumbled upon a Japanese tourist who’d gone looking for him. As Onoda held him at gunpoint, the tourist swore that the war was over. To prove it, he returned a few weeks later with Onoda’s commanding officer, now an old man, who ordered the soldier to stand down. Onoda still hoped that it wasn’t true, that the Army “had merely wanted to test his dependability.”

A little history of the Fierce Goddess

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

Many Indian philosophies are popular today, but Kali, the vital and existential goddess, stands in splendorous opposition to more placid religious traditions.

In 1913 a British lawyer set to work trying to export the philosophy of India’s fiercest goddess to the world. Sir John Woodroffe had been born in 1865 in what was then Calcutta, growing up in an English family with sympathies for the cause of Indian independence.

A Visual Guide to the Aztec Pantheon

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

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Aztec gods, in iconographic sources, are like paper dolls. Each has a base form that is “dressed” with important symbolic accessories. Even specialists have difficulty identifying gods as these symbols can be emphasized for a particular worship, or switched between deities if they share similar fields of competence. Thus, gods can have multiple disguises, also known as aspects or nahual, and will freely share them with others.

The Gods illustrated below are imaginary. These made-up illustrations show how symbols and attributes in real Aztec iconography were composed to depict a God’s domain, abilities and needs.

Through these illustrations, I hope to commemorate the complexity of the Aztec Pantheon, make the academic research more accessible, and show how this civilization is still alive in our global culture.

Why America Will Lose Semiconductors

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

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The US has always been the world leader in semiconductors: design, manufacturing, and the tools to produce them. Semiconductors are the base of all technological innovation in computing and information technology. Without them, companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Meta, Apple, and Tesla would not exist. The US has slowly been losing its dominance over the semiconductor industry over the last couple of decades. In recent years, the rate of loss has been accelerating. If it is lost, then the foundational building block of modern technology is lost, and the US will cede its overarching technology advantage. In this article we will discuss the major causes of this problem and offer solutions which should be bipartisan in nature.

The Secret Life of an Hermès Scarf

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

What does Detroit have in common with Hermès? It’s not a trick question. For one, both have French roots: The Motor City was founded by French colonist Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701, and Hermès, well, Hermès’s Gallic bona fides, which date to 1837, are well established.

French Gallerist Cecile Fakhoury On The Contemporary African Art Scene

on Jul 10, 2022 10:36 am

Abidjan, Dakar and Paris: the Ivory Coast-based art gallery owner Cécile Fakhoury today runs three eponymous spaces in three different world capitals dedicated to artists from the African continent, defending the voices that she is passionate about.


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The Blind Machine is a publication about Pop Culture, Software Studies, Business Strategy, Media Platforms, Algorithmic Management, Game Design, and everything in between.
Copyright © 2022 chumbo, All rights reserved.

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