Media


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Communications of the ACM

Cambit pieces can be assembled to create a dozen different imaging systems. The cameras in our phones and tablets have turned us all into avid photographers, regularly using them to capture special moments and document our lives. One notable feature of camera phones is they are compact and fully automatic, enabling us to point and shoot without having to adjust any settings. However, when we need to capture photos of high aesthetic quality, we resort to more sophisticated DSLR cameras in which a variety of lenses and flashes can be used interchangeably. This flexibility is important for spanning the entire range of real-world imaging scenarios, while enabling us to be more creative.


The Last Invention of Man - Issue 53: Monsters

Nautilus

When they launched, Prometheus was slightly worse than them at programming AI systems, but made up for this by being vastly faster, spending the equivalent of thousands of person-years chugging away at the problem while they chugged a Red Bull. For each such task category, the Omegas had Prometheus design a lean custom-built narrow AI software module that could do precisely such tasks and nothing else. It simply boiled down to maximizing their rate of return on investment, but normal investment strategies were a slow-motion parody of what they could do: Whereas a normal investor might be pleased with a 9 percent return per year, their MTurk investments had yielded 9 percent per hour, generating eight times more money each day. If this brought in $250 million in a week, they would have doubled their investment eight times in eight days, giving a return of 3 percent per hour--slightly worse than their MTurk start, but much more sustainable.


How Science Makes "Rick and Morty" Great - Facts So Romantic

Nautilus

Every hard sci-fi book that's good is something that draws you in, has characters that are experiencing things, that are telling it in a human way that makes scientific concepts feel interesting. We did something with Rick's car having a great AI in an episode, second season, where Summer gets trapped in the car, but I would really love to go to a planet ... "Futurama" did it, though. When we're talking about the sci-fi elements and the scientific elements of "Rick and Morty," we try to get them as plausible as we can, so that after the show's over you might turn to your buddy and go, "Man, that was a really funny episode," and then they're going to say to you, "Well, actually, it was a really good sciencey, scientific episode," and you'd both be right. He's the one from the "Get Schwifty" episode, played by Keith David, who's amazing.


Trust and Distrust in Online Fact-Checking Services

Communications of the ACM

While the internet has the potential to give people ready access to relevant and factual information, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made filtering and assessing online content increasingly difficult due to its rapid flow and enormous volume. To explore how social media users perceive the trustworthiness and usefulness of these services, we applied a research approach designed to take advantage of unstructured social media conversations (see Figure 3). While investigations of trust and usefulness often rely on structured data from questionnaire-based surveys, social media conversations represent a highly relevant data source for our purpose, as they arguably reflect the raw, authentic perceptions of social media users. To create a sufficient dataset for analysis, we removed all duplicates, including a small number of non-relevant posts lacking personal opinions about fact checkers.


How I Taught My Computer to Write Its Own Music - Issue 50: Emergence

Nautilus

We wanted to invent a silicon-based life form to help make music that mere carbon-based life forms could never imagine on their own. After three years of discussions and experiments, Bill and I produced an album of electronic music called s_traits. The database sources included fragments of discarded pieces; field recordings; recordings of our respective early works; acoustic instrumental samples, including recordings Bill and I made on a beautiful Steinway at Duke; electronic drones; soundtracks from obscure, old documentaries; and digital noise generated by opening PDFs as raw data in a sound editor. We wanted to invent a silicon-based life form to help make music that mere carbon-based life forms could never imagine on their own.


"Alien: Covenant" Bursts with Pomposity

The New Yorker

Ridley Scott's extraterrestrial adventure "Alien: Covenant" is deadly serious about matters that he takes deadly seriously, and the only things that he derides with any irony--muffled and sardonic though it may be--are the movie's snippets of art greater than his own, by artists greater than himself--starting with Richard Wagner, whose "Entry of the Gods into Valhalla" is heard in the first and last scene. There are seven years left in the voyage, during which its crew and more than two thousand colonists--plus another thousand human embryos--are lodged in locked pods, asleep in an unaging suspended animation, as the ship is supervised by the android Walter (Fassbender), who is David's double but with an American accent. There, in isolation with Karine (Carmen Ejogo), Oram's wife, and another crew member, Maggie Faris (Amy Seimetz), his back bursts open and he gives birth to a slimy, boneless xenomorph. Scott's David is a stereotypical movie Nazi, from the air of refinement and the insinuating sexuality to the British accent; for that matter, with a tiny twist involving his misidentification of a poet, he's a walking reference to a Nazi villain in "Schindler's List."


A Brilliant Return for a Talking Heads Album

The New Yorker

Byrne and the other Talking Heads--the guitarist and keyboardist Jerry Harrison, the bassist Tina Weymouth, the drummer Chris Frantz--had spent several weeks jamming in recording studios, swapping instruments and bringing in other musicians, such as the guitarist Adrian Belew, who had played with David Bowie and Frank Zappa. The questions nearly broke up the band--and when Weymouth and Frantz's side project, Tom Tom Club, caught on with black listeners (more than "Remain in Light" did), it was seen by some people as sweet revenge. Thirty-seven years after Hendryx sang "Houses in Motion" in Central Park with Talking Heads, she sang it with Kidjo, and the sight and sound of these two women passing the lyrics back and forth gave fresh meaning to the notion of call and response--suggesting that this notion, better than the language of identity or influence, expresses the way musicians respond to the call of songs from other ages and other cultures, making their responses into calls to other musicians going forward. It was a one-world moment, and yet just as often Kidjo's band re-rooted Talking Heads songs in American vernacular music.


A Generational Shift in Independent Filmmaking, at the 2017 Maryland Film Festival

The New Yorker

She looks at Nessa and Blaise with an urgent intimacy that often bypasses facial expressions to isolate aspects of the body--including facial features, hand gestures, postures, or even tools and articles of clothing--that transmit emotions without declaring them. Sylvio works as a bill collector, making phone calls by way of a voice-generating computer on which he types, but he dreams of a career as a performer--as a puppeteer--and at home he performs with a bald-headed, mustachioed, middle-class-Everyman hand puppet and records his performances on video for his own pleasure. Where that older generation had the benefit of a shared sense of mission that was reflected in a shared sense of style, younger filmmakers following in their wake are venturing out alone and starting more tentatively--with short films--before hazarding a feature. The seeming family resemblance of the last decade's worth of innovative independent filmmaking--founded largely on improvisation based on situations close to the filmmakers' own and using performers they find in their own circles--is somewhat deceptive.


Margaret Atwood, the Prophet of Dystopia

The New Yorker

When Margaret Atwood was in her twenties, an aunt shared with her a family legend about a possible seventeenth-century forebear: Mary Webster, whose neighbors, in the Puritan town of Hadley, Massachusetts, had accused her of witchcraft. "The townspeople didn't like her, so they strung her up," Atwood said recently. "But it was before the age of drop hanging, and she didn't die. She dangled there all night, and in the morning, when they came to cut the body down, she was still alive." Webster became known as Half-Hanged Mary.


Daniel Dennett's Science of the Soul

The New Yorker

The physicalists believe, with Dennett, that science can explain consciousness in purely material terms. Rainier, dozens of researchers shared speculative work on honeybee brains, mouse minds, octopus intelligence, avian cognition, and the mental faculties of monkeys and human children. The zombie problem is a conversational vortex among those who study animal minds: the researchers, anticipating the discussion's inexorable transformation into a meditation on "Westworld," clutched their heads and sighed. Animals have fewer mental layers than people--in particular, they lack language, which Dennett believes endows human mental life with its complexity and texture--but this doesn't make them zombies.