Friday, June 25, 2010

Mapping Free Will

The "Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO), [is] exploring the development of new technologies to rapidly create theoretically-informed, data-driven models of complex human, social, cultural, and behavioral dynamics that are instantiated in near-realtime simulations. These technologies would leverage the entire social science community and provide a rich test bed for establishing the empirical validity of alternative theories, and identifying gaps in knowledge that cannot be accounted for by the current body of social science theory. Other important technologies of interest include the formalization and semantic representation of social science theories, the semantic integration of disparate types of social science data, techniques for analyzing these data, and efficient computational techniques for rapid data processing. DARPA refers to this range of technologies as “Technologies for the Applications of Social Computing (TASC).” DARPA anticipates all these technologies would be integrated to develop a flexible, modular social simulation system that integrates sound social science theory with real world data, that facilitates a wide spectrum of military and intelligence applications, and that supports reliable, real-world decisions at multiple levels of analysis."

From: DARPA-SN-09-20 Request for Information (RFI): Technologies for the Applications of Social Computing (TASC)
Image: Apocalypse Now, © 1979 Omni Zoetrope

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Still from Kárhozat (Damnation) by Béla Tarr

'Artistic creation is by definition a denial of death. Therefore it is optimistic, even if in an ultimate sense the artist is tragic.’

Andrei Tarkovsky, Time Within Time: The Diaries 1970-1986, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair, London, 1994

The Screen

"Chaos does not exist; it is an abstraction because it is inseparable from a screen that makes something - something rather than nothing - emerge from it. Chaos would be a pure Many, a purely disjunctive diversity, while the something is a One, not a pregiven unity, but instead the indefinite article that designates a certain singularity. How can the Many become the One? A great screen has to be placed in between them. Like a formless elastic membrane, an electromagnetic field, or the receptacle of the Timaeus, the screen makes something issue from chaos, and even if this something differs only slightly. In this way Leibniz had long been able to ascribe several approximations to chaos. According to a cosmological approximation, chaos would be the sum of all possibles, that is, all individual essences insofar as each tends to existence on its own account; but the screen only allows compossibles -and only the best combination of compossibles -to be sifted through.

Following a physical approximation, chaos would amount to depthless shadows, but the screen disengages its dark backdrop, the "fuscum subnigrum" that, however little it differs from black, nonetheless contains all colors: the screen is like the infinitely refined machine that is the basis of Nature. From a psychic point of view, chaos would be a universal giddiness, the sum of all possible perceptions being infinitesimal or infinitely minute; but the screen would extract differentials that could be integrated in ordered perceptions. If chaos does not exist, it is because it is merely the bottom side of the great screen, and because the latter composes infinite series of wholes and parts, which appear chaotic to us (as aleatory developments) only because we are incapable of following them, or because of the insufficiency of our own screens.' Even the cavern is not a chaos, but a series whose elements remain caverns filled with an increasingly rarefied matter, each of which is extended over the following ones."

What Is an Event? by Gilles Deleuze from the Fold, Leibniz and the Baroque, translated by Tom Conley, the University of Minnesota Press, 1992.

image: Matthias Dittrich music visualization Java-Applet

Saturday, June 19, 2010


The Utah State Prison firing squad execution chamber  Photo: Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

'[Eventalization] means making visible a singularity at places where there is a temptation to invoke a historical constant, an immediate anthropological trait or an obviousness that imposes itself uniformly on all. To show that things weren’t ‘necessary as all that’; it wasn’t as a matter of course that mad people came to be regarded as mentally ill; it wasn’t self-evident that the only thing to be done with a criminal was to lock them up; it wasn’t self-evident that the causes of illness were to be sought through individual examination of bodies; and so on. A breach of self-evidence, of those self-evidences on which our knowledges, acquiescences and practices rest: this is the first theoretico-political function of eventalization.'

M. Foucault, ‘Impossible Prison’ [1980] in Foucault Live, 1996, p. 277

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Photon Farm

The power of crowd sourcing becomes obvious in its quantum application in a new experiment by the Japanese Space Agency. "A new space propulsion technology dubbed Solar Sail has been put to test in space ... When a photon strikes the surface of the sail, it bounces off, imparting its momentum to the sail. Each photon might not deliver much thrust, possibly a few millionths of a g, but due to its constant impact, it allows a build up of large velocity change over time which is ideal for long space travels."

A photon, frail by itself  as a source of thrust yet empowering and essential to the terrestrial ecosystem by its contribution to the photosynthetic process, makes its electromagnetic qualities visible through macroscopic effects. Scientists have demonstrated here that photons are capable of displaying particle qualities by harnessing its power in a swarm state.
Photo of solar sail deployment Courtesy JAXA/JSPEC

Mathematics of Hunting

When sharks and other ocean predators can’t find food, their movement patterns shift in surprising ways that are associated with particle physics rather than animal behavior. They abandon Brownian motion, the random motion seen in swirling gas molecules, for what’s known as Lévy flight — a mix of long trajectories and short, random movements found in turbulent fluids.

Computer models suggest Lévy flight is the optimal search pattern for predators in low-prey areas, and maximizes the chance of a random encounter. But real-world studies have been inconclusive, with reports of Lévy flight countered by doubts about data gathering and interpretation. As the animals went from areas of high ecological abundance to low, the equations describing their movement switched from Brownian motion to Lévy flight.

The findings raise the question of where Lévy flight comes from — whether it’s an instinctive or learned behavior, a property of individuals or a function of spatial distributions governed by as-yet-unknown laws — and how it first evolved. “Animals’ behavior is much more plastic than previously thought,” said Pade. “They have a huge repertoire of movement strategies and patterns.”

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jeff Koons BMW art-car

"I don't speed. But i like to get to my destination as soon as possible"
Jeff Koons

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