Computer Representation of Chemical Bonding

I got really excited about this one. It has some diagrams that I really enjoy.


Bicycle Built for Two Thousand Using Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk was used to make 2,000 people sing ‘Daisy Bell’ in HAL style, unbeknownst to them (by imitating a sound.)  Great creative use of an interesting site.

Spatial Temporal Biological Boundary Gradation and Senescence

Many advances in the realm of artificial intelligence are now occurring. A new and related branch of investigation building upon these studies is the robotic paradigm of neosentience, or an intelligent, embodied, multimodal sensing and computational robotic system (Seaman and Rossler 2008). With the ability to learn, intelligently navigate, interact through natural language, generate simulations of behavior, create, display mirror competence, and gain contextual knowledge through multimodal sensing, the neosentient exhibits the mechanistic triumphs of the human body. The human, however, is rapidly shifting in how it interacts with the external environment. Organic, compartmentalized, and discrete interactions are being replaced with inorganic, nebulous, and gradation-based relationships. With rapid changes occurring in the way the humans relate to their environment, the neosentient, and its potential for multimodal sensing and intelligent interaction with other entities, may be defined both spatially and temporally.

There have been numerous models proposed to define an entity as living or non-living. An integral portion of many of these theories is defining the boundary between the external environment and the actual living organism. The traditional and biological view of living things takes root in compartmentalization. A discrete boundary exists between the organism of interest and the environment. Amongst program, improvisation, energy, regeneration, adaptability, and seclusion, Koshland has classified compartmentalization as a key component of a living entity (Koshland 2002). This requirement of sequestering functional parts has been defined as crucial for organisms on the terrestrial (McKay 2004) as well as extraterrestrial level (Ricardo 2009). Additionally, life has been strongly classified as being based in organic materials. The atoms of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon have been identified as the fundamental building blocks for life. With the exception of a few metal ions, organic molecules have predominantly been associated with living systems (Shapiro 2007).

With recent advances in the fields of biomedical engineering, neuroscience, materials science, and computer science, these traditional definitions of life are being challenged. In particular, there has been a significant progress made expanding the interface of the external environment and the organism. New theories of what defines a part of a living organism are trending away from absolute boundaries and compartmentalization. In the realm of human health, numerous advances in prosthetics for damaged body parts are already being implemented. Cochlear implants, mechanical devices implanted within the inner ear, are being utilized to augment hearing and provide sensation back to those who have damaged their sensory organs. Artificial limbs and prosthetics, far more functional than ever before, are being given to patients for amputated appendages. These devices often restore not only the ability to engage in normal daily activities, but also provide them with the skill and prestige to participate in sports—displays of heightened and refined physical ability. Additionally, transplants for organs from donors of not singularly human origin, are being performed daily. The completion of the Human Biome Project has closely linked the microflora of the intestinal tract to human health. It has now become clear that there is an intricate and intimate linkage between the human genome and intestinal microbiome. Collectively, microorganisms and the human make up the human metagenome, revolutionizing medical intervention and care (Hattori and Taylor 2009). The boundary between the living and the environment is becoming increasingly nebulous.

Furthermore, researchers are looking into the use of inorganic and other “new” macromolecules. These new collections of atoms could be used to synthesize life and recreate the formation of the first cells. Silicon in particular has showed promise. The element has the same valence electron pattern as carbon, the “backbone” of most life on earth and has the potential to show similar bonding properties. Many physicians are looking towards utilizing artificial parts for transplantation. Widespread use of xenogenic transplantation utilization, fetal brain cell transplantation, and transplantation of isolated cells proved wrong. Research for the twenty first century mostly likely will consist of hybrid and entirely artificial, implantable devices (Rowinski 2007).

From these changing dynamics, I will argue that we must view the body in both space and time. This new view will have important implications subsequently for the neosentient. In reflecting upon the importance of spatial location for the neosentient, I will draw upon the embryological model of sequential induction. To further emphasize that the environment is only not influential at an infinitely large distance away, I will draw upon the physics theories of gravitational and electrical potential energy. In examining the role of time and the environment in relation to the neosentient, I will examine aging and degradation of mechanical and chemical elements.

I will next look at the implications of this new viewing of the human and neosentient form for the established definition of the neosentient. Sensing and application potentials, interactions with other neosentients and humans, senescence, and senility for the neosentient will all be explored. Subsequently, I will reflect upon how our own definitions of sentience and senility may change. Senescence and aging may trend towards having an inorganic rather than organic basis. Products of material science research are being implemented for sports health and medicine. Health and the process of aging may be limited more by materials than by biological elements.

From this analysis, I will reflect upon the important questions this new definition of boundary will address. In particular, the value of aging and death for the neosentient is worth exploring as the boundary between living and non-living is blurred.

Neosentience & Chemical – Cognitive Collective Memory

Where does knowledge come from? How can we trace it? Is knowledge comparable to information storage? Is it something with a location? Or is it ever-present? A virtual understanding realized in the embodied act of remembering?

Many of the ways we currently speak about memory are drawn from analogies to trails – physical evidence of a path through time. From medieval relics – objects promising access to timeless holy wisdom – to our current solid-state hard drives – objects promising not wisdom but information, through a process of encoding at the smallest achievable level. Both of these doors to knowledge can be viewed on a chemical and a cognitive level. The objects can be described as the result of chemical bonds. The knowledge (a point on the spectrum of wisdom and information) can be described as the sentient act of interpreting meaning from these results: on a macro level (as in the wisdom of a holy object), and on a micro level (as in the information magnetized onto a hard drive).

I will make the argument that much of how we interpret the validity of a link to truth  (a piece of chemical evidence) is the product of the scale on which we cognitively view the object.

If the neosentient is form from an evolution of our current computer systems, it will maintain the scale of the hard drive – one of intense micro analysis. The neosentient will thus either lack a mythology or create a new mythology on a scale we cannot comprehend. Without such a mythology, the neosentient will not be able to maintain belief in the notion of continuous progress over time – a concept deeply tied to our sustained belief in the reality and influence of a collective societal memory.

The nature of the neosentients’ collective societal memory is very important to the understanding of the culture of the neosentient. If, for example, the neosentient maintains a “hive” system of knowledge and communication, their form of memory will be more technically accurate and possibly incompatible with our dual systems of personal memory and sculptural memory (each with their own systems of prosthesis). One presumes that a true collective memory would invalidate much of what we accept from the human concept of collective memory. In our hive example, the value of “perspective” (mass or individual) is lost when truth becomes singular by consensus and shared experience. Yet, we must ask ourselves if this is a dystopia or a true utopia? Is our habit of calling perspective not the product of a desire for holistic truth?

I would like to make a framework of cross-sections to discuss collective memory: a macro/micro, digital/analogue, chemical/cognitive. This will bring to light not only important elements in the homosapien conversation about memory but the unique position of a neosentient coming from a specifically digital background and it’s situation as an entity starting as chemical and becoming cognitive, starting as discrete and becoming continuous. I will also discuss the alternative possibility – the ethical impact of the cultural developments that may arise from a sentient with a specifically digital/micro outlook.

Neosentient: detecting a relaying a visual representation of self and others

Technology as an extension…
Technology becomes an extension by which we experience the world. A plane allows a pilot to experience flight, though he himself is not flying. A telescope gives a sailor a magnified vision of the shore, something which is imperceptible at our current vantage point. A camera allows a person to “see” a loved one through video chat and suddenly they become telepresent. We experience the world through our body, but more and more we rely on technology which transforms it into an extension of our body. In the example of the video chat, the camera physically exists within the space in the place of our eyes. The camera becomes our eyes. The technology detects that experience in some ways but does not have the same level of sentience as we do. The camera technology is detecting particular variables of that reality, such as image and audio, and relaying a representation to us. I am interested in creating an experience in which people come into a critical awareness of this phenomenon of extended experience through technology with by altering the representations which they expect to have.

I am interested in studying each element within this relationship
and each transfer of information which happens (arrows)…

In relation to Neo-sentience….
When thinking about technology as extensions Bill Seaman asked the question, if that technological object had a phenomenology in the way that we do, what would that be like? The neo-sentient is that the technology might have not only aspects of the sentience we have but also new aspects of perception and understanding about the environment.
It is interesting to think about this idea of the phenomenology of a neosentient in reference to the diagram above. The neosentient would not just be detecting and relaying a representation to us but also is aware of their own representation and perception of reality. It could detect one thing and relay something else. (We often feel this way with humans.) It could relay a representation that was endowed with additional pertinent information.

In review of all these things here are some questions:
What if the technology could be sentient of the experience it is relaying to us? If it could have an enhanced way of experiencing that moment more similar to the way we experience how could that change our relationship with both technology and the represented reality? What could be the phenomenology of that camera, telescope, or plane which is the intermediary actually creating the vision, clarity, or flight.

Representations of self // Developing the final project….
A mirror is a simple kind of technology which yields a representation of ourselves and has a high degree of expectation from previous interactions. It lends nicely to a comparison of the way in which we create digital representations of ourselves. It is also an object which represents self-consciousness and self-image.

I would like to create a mirror which replaces or alters the reflection you expect to see.
I am using the mirror as a way to think about issues of how we create and rely on digital representations of ourselves and others through digital technology and the internet.

Below: Simplified diagram of the transfer between the self and the digital representation of self and others. (eg: Could be thought of as a diagram of social media)

Below: We expect a mirror to supply a representation (reflection) of ourselves.

However what if this reflection/representation was partly altered or replaced.

  • watching a mirror means watching yourself, looking at yourself
  • moments of lag of in reflection
  • long periods of lag
  • a mirror gives an image of what is in front of it, but what if it wasn’t in front of it
  • a mirror which gives a reflection of the back of your body not the front
  • glitches in image (like pixels)
  • glitches in image: broken image (mirror)
  • image of someone else
  • replaced body part (technology as extensions of body)
  • enhanced body part (fun house)
  • What is the memory of the mirror? What data does it have?
  • What is the phenomenology of the mirror?
  • Could a mirror also be looking at you? Not just you looking at it
  • parallels self-consciousness (watching self) and self-image
  • People don’t look at mirror but past the mirror right? to see themselves (maybe a mirror as its own object has power in that way, if it had it’s own will, because it could provide a false sense of reality)
  • a mirror which matches your emotion
  • a mirror which presents a version of the current you and the previous digital representations of yourself
  • the mirror as a surface: a mirror which has images just below the surface
  • a mirror which alters the reflection of you and another person, switches them in some way?
  • Think about times that you see a mirror in which there is an illusion which doesn’t exist such as in a store where it looks like the room s extended.
  • what if you were looking in the mirror and whatever you fixated on would morph
  • perhaps the image of yourself shows up somewhere else instead of in front of you, like on the ceiling
  • think about how we rely on the representation in the mirror, ie- seeing what we look like to understand who we are/how our physical appearance is

Stories of process….
Previously I was interested in looking at tangible interactions and embodied experience as a way to contrast with the cognitive and disembodied experiences of technology. I was still interested in experience and digital versions of ourselves, making sense of the world through extensions of technology. I was a little confused as to how to think about this relationship and was having problems approaching it through this way of focusing on the differences between the embodied experience I have in the physical world and disembodied experience I have when I am engaging with technology, such as the computer.

Ranulf Glanville suggested I reflect on situations in which I was having an extended experience through technology but instead of feeling disembodied perhaps I it felt as if it was embodied or as if it was transcendent of embodiment. I identified and actually noticed two particular experiences which happened during skype chats with a loved one. This lead me to think about technology as an extension of the body as well as technology relaying representations of ourselves and another person to us.

Below are personal notations of these experiences…

  1. experience 1: I had a video chat in which I experienced a sense of helplessness in the telepresent moment however I realized it was exactly similar to that which would be happening if I was actually present. In this moment of helplessness all I had was the opportunity to be aware of my feelings and empathetically extending them to my loved one whom I was video chatting with. I caught myself looking at this person and it created a self-awareness of this action. It was an odd experience.
  2. experience 2 video chat: extension of body, I had an experience where I was video chatting with a loved one and they left the room for an extended time. I was busy on the phone while they left the video chat and was not aware, upon returning to the chat screen, that 1.the camera was still on and 2. that the person had truly left. This was an odd experience as I realized there was a hyper awareness in which it felt as if I was in fact in the room. My imagination ran wild and I imagined a situation in which I saw something such as a ghost or an intruder in the apartment. This thought was interesting because it operated off of my expectation to see something in the other side of the frame. Also, it made me aware that in the case of the intruder I would experience vulnerability, though I wouldn’t be physically vulnerable. The technology was an extension by which because of my expectation there was a hyper awareness of the room.
  3. accidental pocket dials This previous experience made me think of when someone pocket dials you and for the first 30 seconds of the message you are listening very closely because you are confused and expecting a voice but get background noise or lots of voices instead. I liked the idea of thinking of the phone as translating voice messages as representations of people/places/times. I also liked how in listening to a pocket dial, the way you listen to the information you are receiving changes as you realize it is not a typical message.
  4. surveillance cameras (connection to 2) I also thought about surveillance cameras and looked at an artists project to surveil her love life. This was through the Exposed exhibit at Tate Modern. She noted that when she went on dates the awareness of the camera created a hyper attention in the beginning but wore off as time went on. I also thought of an experience I had in which I was watching a surveillance output at a grocery store elevator. The elevators were in front of me and I was watching people on other floors.
  5. expectations and representations I thought about a bed which has a form of a person from the blankets and we think it is a person, or a tube which we mistake as a snake. I also like the combination of surveillance and representative physical form in this work I saw by Ryan Roe, called hang in:

Duke Professor Doing Interesting Brain/Machine Work

“Miguel Nicolelis, M.D. Ph.D., is the Anne W. Deane Professor of Neuroscience at Duke University, Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering and Psychology and founder of Duke’s Center for Neuroengineering. Although for the past decade, Dr. Nicolelis is best known for his pioneering studies of Brain Machine Interfaces (BMI) and neuroprosthetics in human patients and non-human primates, he has also developed an integrative approach to studying neurological and psychiatric disorders including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder. He has also made fundamental contributions in the fields of sensory plasticity, gustation, sleep, reward and learning”


“Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino

From the foot of the Great Khan’s throne a majolica pavement extended. Marco Polo, mute informant, spread out on it the samples of the wares he had brought back from his journeys to the ends of the empire: a helmet, a seashell, a coconut, a fan. Arranging the objects in a certain order on the black and white tiles, and occasionally shifting them with studied moves, the ambassador tried to depict for the monarch’s eyes the vicissitudes of his travels, the conditions of the empire, the prerogatives of the distant provincial seats.

Kublai was a keen chess player; following Marco’s movements, he observed that certain pieces implied or excluded the vicinity of other pieces and were shifted along certain lines. Ignoring the objects’ variety of form, he could grasp the system of arranging one with respect to the others on the majolica floor. He thought: “If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.”

Read more of this post