Artificially Intelligent Killer Robots

Autonomous weapons select and engage targets without human intervention. They might include, for example, armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has reached a point where the deployment of such systems is — practically if not legally — feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.

– Autonomous Weapons: an Open Letter from AI & Robotics Researchers

Earthquakes & Tsunamis

I mentioned The Really Big One after reading about the Cascadia subduction zone a few weeks ago. Kathryn Schultz put together a fascinating report for The New Yorker on the seismic history and future of the Pacific Northwest. 

The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.

Not surprisingly, this caused some alarm among readers in the region. This week she published a follow-up, How to Stay Safe When the Big One Comes

Take the Trees

Walking through a forest is the best way I know to improve my mood. Several studies to understand how and why have recently been published.

These results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers.

How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain, New York Times.

Something deep within us responds to the three-dimensional geometry of nature.

How Trees Calm Us Down, The New Yorker.


Steve McQueen with Kanye West: All Day / I Feel Like That

Steve McQueen + Kanye West All Day / I Feel Like That

Steve McQueen and Kanye West collaborated to create a short film for West’s songs “All Day / I Feel Like That.” The film is 9 minutes, shot in one take at a historic dockyard outside of London. It will premiere as a pop-up installation at LACMA from Saturday, July 25–Tuesday, July 28, 2015.

If you're in Los Angeles on Saturday, definitely stop by LACMA for this and the 24-hour screening of Christian Marclay's The Clock.

MCQUEEN: How do you approach the visuals?
WEST: Well, I'm a trained fine artist. I went to art school from the time I was 5 years old. I was, like, a prodigy out of Chicago. I'd been in national competitions from the age of 14. I got three scholarships to art schools—to St. Xavier, to the American Academy of Art, and to the Art Institute of Chicago—and I went to the American Academy of Art. So the joke that I've actually played on everyone is that the entire time, I've actually just been a fine artist. I just make sonic paintings, and these sonic paintings have led me to become whatever people think of when you say “Kanye West.”

Read the full interview between Steve McQueen and Kanye West

The biggest slavery that we have is our opinion of ourselves.




Spider Silk Clothing

A fascinating look at Bolt Threads, a company that has engineered synthetic spider silk for industrial production. Chic.

Spider silk, like all silk, is a type of protein. The material is highly valued not only for its famed strength but also because natural spider silk comes in a variety of forms. Each spider spins about seven different types of silk. They produce an incredibly soft variety for egg wrapping; another type, called flagelliform silk, is incredibly stretchy like spandex. These varieties have evolved for spiders’ specific ecological needs, and also happen to be qualities we’d like in our clothing, too.