The Gopher story is a perfect case history for Adversarial Interoperability. The pre-Gopher information landscape was dominated by companies, departments, and individuals who were disinterested in giving users control over their own computing experience and who viewed computing as something that took place in a shared lab space, not in your home or dorm room.
Rather than pursuing an argument with these self-appointed Lords of Computing, the Gopher team simply went around them, interconnecting to their services without asking for permission. They didn't take data they weren't supposed to have—but they did make it much easier for the services' nominal users to actually access them.
The fascinating untold story of how the ancients imagined robots and other forms of artificial life—and even invented real automated machines
The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. More than 2,500 years ago, long before medieval automata, and centuries before technology made self-moving devices possible, Greek mythology was exploring ideas about creating artificial life—and grappling with still-unresolved ethical concerns about biotechne, “life through craft.” In this compelling, richly illustrated book, Adrienne Mayor tells the fascinating story of how ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese myths envisioned artificial life, automata, self-moving devices, and human enhancements—and how these visions relate to and reflect the ancient invention of real animated machines.
As early as Homer, Greeks were imagining robotic servants, animated statues, and even ancient versions of Artificial Intelligence, while in Indian legend, Buddha’s precious relics were defended by robot warriors copied from Greco-Roman designs for real automata. Mythic automata appear in tales about Jason and the Argonauts, Medea, Daedalus, Prometheus, and Pandora, and many of these machines are described as being built with the same materials and methods that human artisans used to make tools and statues. And, indeed, many sophisticated animated devices were actually built in antiquity, reaching a climax with the creation of a host of automata in the ancient city of learning, Alexandria, the original Silicon Valley.
A groundbreaking account of the earliest expressions of the timeless impulse to create artificial life, Gods and Robots reveals how some of today’s most advanced innovations in robotics and AI were foreshadowed in ancient myth—and how science has always been driven by imagination. This is mythology for the age of AI.
The modern world is full of technology, and also with anxiety about technology. We worry about robot uprisings and artificial intelligence taking over, and we contemplate what it would mean for a computer to be conscious or truly human. It should probably come as no surprise that these ideas aren’t new to modern society — they go way back, at least to the stories and mythologies of ancient Greece. Today’s guest, Adrienne Mayor, is a folklorist and historian of science, whose recent work has been on robots and artificial humans in ancient mythology. From the bronze warrior Talos to the evil fembot Pandora, mythology is rife with stories of artificial beings. It’s both fun and useful to think about our contemporary concerns in light of these ancient tales.
Adrienne Mayor is a Research Scholar Classics and History and Philosophy of Science at Stanford University. She is also a Berggruen Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Her work has encompasses fossil traditions in classical antiquity and Native America, the origins of biological weapons, and the historical precursors of the stories of Amazon warriors. In 2009 she was a finalist for the National Book Award.
We are beset by—and immersed in—apps and devices that are quietly reducing the amount of meaningful interaction we have with each other.
I came to it via an episode of the podcast The Happiness Lab.
The consumer technology I am talking about doesn’t claim or acknowledge that eliminating the need to deal with humans directly is its primary goal, but it is the outcome in a surprising number of cases. I’m sort of thinking maybe it is the primary goal, even if it was not aimed at consciously. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:35AM
Most of the tech news we get barraged with is about algorithms, AI, robots, and self-driving cars, all of which fit this pattern. I am not saying that such developments are not efficient and convenient; this is not a judgment. I am simply noticing a pattern and wondering if, in recognizing that pattern, we might realize that it is only one trajectory of many. There are other possible roads we could be going down, and the one we’re on is not inevitable or the only one; it has been (possibly unconsciously) chosen. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:36AM
What I’m seeing here is the consistent “eliminating the human” pattern. ❧
This seems as apt a name as any.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:39AM
“Social” media: This is social interaction that isn’t really social. While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection. ❧
Perhaps this is one of the things I like most about the older blogosphere and it’s more recent renaissance with the IndieWeb idea of Webmentions, a W3C recommendation spec for online interactions? While many of the interactions I get are small nods in the vein of likes, favorites, or reposts, some of them are longer, more visceral interactions.
My favorite just this past week was a piece that I’d worked on for a few days that elicited a short burst of excitement from someone who just a few minutes later wrote a reply that was almost as long as my piece itself.
To me this was completely worth the effort and the work, not because of the many other smaller interactions, but because of the human interaction that resulted. Not to mention that I’m still thinking out a reply still several days later.
This sort of human social interaction also seems to be at the heart of what Manton Reece is doing with micro.blog. By leaving out things like reposts and traditional “likes”, he’s really creating a human connection network to fix what traditional corporate social media silos have done to us. This past week’s episode of Micro Monday underlines this for us. (#)
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:52AM
Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at USC wrote about a patient he called Elliot, who had damage to his frontal lobe that made him unemotional. In all other respects he was fine—intelligent, healthy—but emotionally he was Spock. Elliot couldn’t make decisions. He’d waffle endlessly over details. Damasio concluded that although we think decision-making is rational and machinelike, it’s our emotions that enable us to actually decide. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:56AM
And in the meantime, if less human interaction enables us to forget how to cooperate, then we lose our advantage. ❧
It may seem odd, but I think a lot of the success of the IndieWeb movement and community is exactly this: a group of people has come together to work and interact and increase our abilities to cooperate to make something much bigger, more diverse, and more interesting than any of us could have done separately.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:58AM
Remove humans from the equation, and we are less complete as people and as a society. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:59AM
A version of this piece originally appeared on his website, davidbyrne.com. ❧
This piece seems so philosophical, it seems oddly trivial that I see this note here and can’t help but think about POSSE and syndication.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 11:01AM
/feed/to the end of those URLs), I’ve made a few custom feeds for aggregated content.
However, knowing that some feeds are broadly available from my site isn’t always either obvious or the same as being able to use them easily–one might think of it as a(n) (technical) accessibility problem. I thought I’d make a few tweaks to smooth out that user interface and hopefully provide a better user experience–especially since I’m publishing everything from my website first rather than in 30 different places online (which is a whole other UI problem for those wishing to follow me and my content). Since most pages on my site have a “Follow Me” button (courtesy of SubToMe), I just needed to have a list of generally useful feeds to provide it. While SubToMe has some instructions for suggesting lists of feeds, I’ve never gotten it to work the way I expected (or feed readers didn’t respect it, I’m not sure which?) But since most feed readers have feed discovery built in as a feature, I thought I’d leverage that aspect. Thus I threw into the
<head> of my website a dozen or so links from some of the most typical feeds people may be most interested in from my site. Now you can click on the follow button, choose your favorite feed reader, and then your reader should provide you with a large list of feeds which you might want to subscribe. These now broadly include the full feed, a comments feed, feeds for all the individual kinds (bookmarks, likes, favorites, replies, listens, etc.) but potentially more useful: a “microblog feed” of all my status-related updates and a “linkblog feed” for all my link-related updates (generally favorites, likes, reads, and bookmarks).
Some of these sub-feeds may be useful in some feed readers which don’t yet have the ability for you to choose within the reader what you’d like to see. I suspect that in the future social readers will allow you to subscribe to my primary firehose or comments feeds, which are putting out about 85 and 125 posts a week right now, and you’ll be able to subscribe to those, but then within their interface be able to choose individual types by means of filters to more quickly see what I’ve been bookmarking, reading, listening to or watching. Then if you want to curl up with some longer reads, filter by articles; or if you just want some quick hits, filter by notes. And of course naturally you’ll be able to do this sort of filtering across your network too. I also suspect some of them will build in velocity filters and friend-proximity filters so that you’ll be able to see material from people who don’t post as often highlighted or to see people’s content based on your personal rankings or categories (math friends, knitting circle, family, reading group, IndieWeb community, book club, etc.). I’ve recently been enjoying Kicks Condor’s FraidyCat reader which touches on some of this work though it’s not what most people would consider a full-featured feed reader but might think of as a filter/reader dashboard sort of product.
Perhaps sometime in the future I’ll write a bit of code so that each individual page on my site that you visit will provide feeds in the header for all the particular categories, tags, and post kinds that appear on that page?That might make a clever, and simple little plugin, though honestly that’s the sort of code I would expect CMSes like WordPress to provide out of the box. Of course, perhaps broader adoption of microformats and clever readers will obviate the need for all these bits?
In this episode Terry Greene chats with @JohnStewartPhD, Assistant Director for the Office of Digital Learning at the University of Oklahoma. The main topic of discussion is the wonderfully successful Domain of One’s Own project, OU Create, which has produced thousands of openly shared web sites and blogs from students and faculty across the University.
Terry definitely has mentioned show notes with links, but I’m beginning to wonder if I should be following a different feed because I’m not seeing any of the great links I was hoping for recently from these episodes?
One of the questions that came up during the SPLOT workshop is if there’s a SPLOT for podcasting, which reminded me of this post Adam Croom wrote a while back about his podcasting workflow: “My Podcasting Workflow with Amazon S3.” . We’re always on the look-out for new SPLOTs to bring to the Reclaim masses, and it would be cool to have an example that moves beyond WordPress just to make the point a SPLOT is not limited to WordPress (as much as we love it) —so maybe Adam and I can get the band back together.❧
I just outlined a tiny and relatively minimal/free way to host and create a podcast feed last night: https://boffosocko.com/2019/12/17/55761877/
I wonder if this could be used to create a SPLOT that isn’t WordPress based potentially using APIs from the Internet Archive and Huffduffer? WordPress-based infrastructure could be used to create it certainly and aggregation could be done around tags. It looks like the Huffduffer username SPLOT is available.
–annotated December 17, 2019 at 10:46AM
Today folks are gathered at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mother of All Demos (“MOAD”), a notorious event held in 1968 in San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium, where SRI’s Douglas Engelbart and others demonstrated computer systems they were developing and which many folks point to as one of the most important events to presage and shape our digital technology environment today.
The web's circle has expanded to contain the entire world. But the centre is not holding.
The first message was sent from one computer to another over ARPANET on October 29th at 22:30. ‘LO’ for Login, but then the computer crashed as Charley S Kline typed the G. Famous first words. Leonard Kleinrock describes the events that led to that first internet message in a blogpost. I was bor...
The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius covered the city of Herculaneum in twenty meters of lava, simultaneously destroying the Herculaneum scrolls through carbonization and preserving the scrolls by protecting them from the elements. Unwrapping the scrolls would damage them, but researchers are anxious to read the texts. Researchers from the University of Kentucky collaborated with the Institut de France and SkyScan to digitally unwrap and preserve the scrolls. To learn more about the EDUCE project, go to http://cs.uky.edu/dri.
Mikah Sargent speaks with David Weinberger, author of Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility about how AI, big data, and the internet are all revealing that the world is vastly more complex and unpredictable than we've allowed ourselves to see and how we're getting acculturated to these machines based on chaos.
Twitter started out like this in some sense, but ultimately closed itself off–likely to its own detriment.
One of the things I’d love to see pop up out of the discovery explorations of the IndieWeb or some of the social readers in the space is the ability to uncover some of this social reading information. Toward this end I thought I’d collect some user interface examples of things that border on this sort of data to make the brainstorming and building of such functionality easier in the near future.
If I’m missing useful examples or you’d like to add additional thoughts, please feel free to comment below.
Examples of social reading user interface for discovery
I don’t often search for reading material directly, but Google has a related bit of UI indicating that I’ve visited a website before. I sort of wish it had the ability to surface the fact that I’ve previously read or bookmarked an article or provided data about people in my social network who’ve done similarly within the browser interface for a particular article (without the search.) If a browser could use data from my personal website in the background to indicate that I’ve interacted with it before (and provide those links, notes, etc.), that would be awesome!
I’ll note here that because of the way I bookmark or post reads on my own website, my site often ranks reasonably well for those things.
In some cases, others who are posting about those things (reading, commenting, bookmarking, liking, etc.) in my social network also show up in these sorts of searches. How cool would it be to have a social reader that could display this sort of social data based on people it knows I’m following?
Hypothes.is is a great open source highlighting, annotation, and bookmarking tool with a browser extension that shows an indicator of how many annotations appear on the page. In my experience, higher numbers often indicate some interesting and engaging material. I do wish that it had a follower/following model that could indicate my social sphere has annotated a page. I also wouldn’t mind if their extension “bug” in the browser bar had another indicator in the other corner to indicate that I had previously annotated a page!
It doesn’t do it until after-the-fact, but Reading.am has a pop up overlay through its browser extension. It adds me to the list of people who’ve read an article, but it also indicates others in the network and those I’m following who have also read it (sometimes along with annotations about their thoughts).
What I wouldn’t give to see that pop up in the corner before I’ve read it!
Nuzzel is one of my favorite tools. I input my Twitter account as well as some custom lists and it surfaces articles that people in my Twitter network have been tweeting about. As a result, it’s one of the best discovery tools out there for solid longer form content. Rarely do I read content coming out of Nuzzel and feel robbed. Because of how it works, it’s automatically showing those people in my network and some of what they’ve thought about it. I love this contextualization.
Naturally sites for much longer form content will use social network data about interest, reviews, and interaction to a much greater extent since there is a larger investment of time involved. Thus social signaling can be more valuable in this context. A great example here is of Goodreads which shows me those in my network who are interested in reading a particular book or who have written reviews or given ratings.
Are there other examples I’m missing? Are you aware of similar discovery related tools for reading that leverage social network data?
How communication technologies shape our collective memory.
César A. Hidalgo is an assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab. Hidalgo’s work focuses on improving the understanding of systems by using and developing concepts of complexity, evolution, and network science; his goal is to help improve understanding of the evolution of prosperity in order to help develop industrial policies that can help countries raise the living standards of their citizens. His areas of application include economic development, systems biology, and social systems. Hidalgo is also a graphic-art enthusiast and has published and exhibited artwork that uses data collected originally for scientific purposes.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx