Tom Vanderbilt Explains Why We Could Predict Self-Driving Cars, But Not Women in the Workplace
The historian Lawrence Samuel has called social progress the “Achilles heel” of futurism.8 He argues that people forget the injunction of the historian and philosopher Arnold Toynbee: Ideas, not technology, have driven the biggest historical changes. When technology changes people, it is often not in the ways one might expect: Mobile technology, for example, did not augur the “death of distance,” but actually strengthened the power of urbanism. The washing machine freed women from labor, and, as the social psychologists Nina Hansen and Tom Postmes note, could have sparked a revolution in gender roles and relations. But, “instead of fueling feminism,” they write, “technology adoption (at least in the first instance) enabled the emergence of the new role of housewife: middle-class women did not take advantage of the freed-up time … to rebel against structures or even to capitalize on their independence.” Instead, the authors argue, the women simply assumed the jobs once held by their servants.
Take away the object from the historical view, and you lose sight of the historical behavior. Projecting the future often presents a similar problem: The object is foregrounded, while the behavioral impact is occluded. The “Jetsons idea” of jetpacking and meals in a pill missed what actually has changed: The notion of a stable career, or the social ritual of lunch.
One futurist noted that a 1960s film of the “office of the future” made on-par technological predictions (fax machines and the like), but had a glaring omission: The office had no women.9 Self-driving car images of the 1950s showed families playing board games as their tail-finned cars whisked down the highways. Now, 70 years later, we suspect the automated car will simply allow for the expansion of productive time, and hence working hours. The self-driving car has, in a sense, always been a given. But modern culture hasn’t.
‘Super Mario Maker’ And the User-Generated Content Playground | Inverse
By far the greatest gift the internet has given our species is collaboration. Sharing work over thousands of miles away has made our big world just a wee bit smaller and intimate.
Video games have evolved with sandbox creation tools faster than any other form of entertainment. Players were modding Doom way before YouTube and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s collaborative filmmaking platform hitRECord. But Super Mario Maker, which comes as a ready-to-tinker toolbox, seems exactly what we have been getting to all along.
It began with modding PC games in the early ‘90s, a hobby equal to automotive geeks tricking out their cars but way dorkier, and continues to thrive today. Entirely new games like Team Fortress were crafted from ripping apart Quake — like making Eve out of Adam’s rib (that shit’s sexist, btw). In recent years, dozens of games have included robust creation spaces within the games themselves.
Email-a-Tree Service Doesn’t Go As Planned in the Best Possible Way – The Atlantic
Officials assigned the trees ID numbers and email addresses in 2013 as part of a program designed to make it easier for citizens to report problems like dangerous branches.
The “unintended but positive consequence,” as the chair of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio, Councillor Arron Wood, put it to me in an email, was that people did more than just report issues. They also wrote directly to the trees, which have received thousands of messages—everything from banal greetings and questions about current events to love letters and existential dilemmas.
Ray Bradbury on Writing, Emotion vs. Intelligence, and the Core of Creativity | Brain Pickings.
If I’m anything at all, I’m not really a science-fiction writer — I’m a writer of fairy tales and modern myths about technology.
Game design is the art of applying design and aesthetics to create a game to facilitate interaction between players for playful, healthful, educational, or simulation purposes. Game design can be applied both to games and, increasingly, to other interactions, particularly virtual ones (see gamification).
Game design creates goals, rules, and challenges to define a sport, tabletop game, casino game, video game, role-playing game, or simulation that produces desirable interactions among its participants and, possibly, spectators.
Academically, game design is part of game studies, while game theory studies strategic decision making (primarily in non-game situations). Games have historically inspired seminal research in the fields of probability, artificial intelligence, economics, and optimization theory. Applying game design to itself is a current research topic in metadesign.
via Game design – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the interview, Dick roams over so many of his personal theories about what these “unexpected things” signify that it’s difficult to keep track. However, at that same conference, he delivered a talk titled “If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others” (in edited form above), that settles on one particular theory—that the universe is a highly-advanced computer simulation. (The talk has circulated on the internet as “Did Philip K. Dick disclose the real Matrix in 1977?”).
Finally, Dick makes his Matrix point, and makes it very clearly: “we are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs.” These alterations feel just like déjà vu, says Dick, a sensation that proves that “a variable has been changed” (by whom—note the passive voice—he does not say) and “an alternative world branched off.”
Dick, who had the capacity for a very oblique kind of humor, assures his audience several times that he is deadly serious. (The looks on many of their faces betray incredulity at the very least.) And yet, maybe Dick’s crazy hypothesis has been validated after all, and not simpy by the success of the PKD-esque The Matrix and ubiquity of Matrix analogies. For several years now, theoretical physicists and philosophers have entertained the theory that we do in fact live in a computer-generated simulation and, what’s more, that “we may even be able to detect it.”
via Philip K. Dick Theorizes The Matrix in 1977, Declares That We Live in “A Computer-Programmed Reality” | Open Culture.
The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think – The Atlantic.
“It depends on what you mean by artificial intelligence.” Douglas Hofstadter is in a grocery store in Bloomington, Indiana, picking out salad ingredients. “If somebody meant by artificial intelligence the attempt to understand the mind, or to create something human-like, they might say—maybe they wouldn’t go this far—but they might say this is some of the only good work that’s ever been done.”
Their operating premise is simple: the mind is a very unusual piece of software, and the best way to understand how a piece of software works is to write it yourself. Computers are flexible enough to model the strange evolved convolutions of our thought, and yet responsive only to precise instructions. So if the endeavor succeeds, it will be a double victory: we will finally come to know the exact mechanics of our selves—and we’ll have made intelligent machines.