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Could Ms. Pac-Man Train the Next Generation of Military Drones?

The New Yorker

Thirty-five years ago, while Martin Amis was writing "Money," one of the novels that defined the nineteen-eighties, he admitted to a distracting dalliance with another contemporary icon. "I have spent weeks in a PacMan-fed stupor, unwilling and unable to think about anything else," he wrote in "Invasion of the Space Invaders," his "addict's guide" to the nascent arcade. Amis was not alone in his obsession. The Japanese-made game, in which players guide an auto-munching yellow head through a Daedalian maze, consuming a trail of pellets while fleeing four candy-tone ghosts, earned more than a billion dollars in quarters in its first year, surpassing the highest-grossing "Star Wars" film at the time. Pac-Man towered, Amis wrote, over "a vast garbage dump of rocky romances and wrecked careers."


Ted Chiang's Soulful Science Fiction

The New Yorker

In the early nineteen-nineties, a few occurrences sparked something in Ted Chiang's mind. He attended a one-man show in Seattle, where he lives, about a woman's death from cancer. A little later, a friend had a baby and told Chiang about recognizing her son from his movements in the womb. Chiang thought back to certain physical principles he had learned about in high school, in Port Jefferson, New York, having to do with the nature of time. The idea for a story emerged, about accepting the arrival of the inevitable.


An Artist Who Explores the Deep Creepiness of Facial-Recognition Technology

The New Yorker

On a very warm afternoon in April, the image of a bald young white man's head floated on a gray screen at the Kitchen, in Chelsea. The man spoke in a tone that shifted worryingly between aggressive and confessional, punctuating his lines with two disembodied hands. "And I could have been your haruspex, sexy," he said at one point, snarling. "I could have read omens in your extricated liver." There were pale red marks beneath his eyes, a five-o'clock shadow on his jaw.