Note — Nov 29, 2020

No.152 Asides

  • 📡 😭 🇵🇷 Arecibo Observatory, a Great Eye on the Cosmos, Is Going Dark. “One of its directors was astronomer Frank Drake, then at Cornell, now retired from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was famous for first pointing a radio telescope at another star for indications of friendly aliens, then for an equation, still in use today, that tries to predict how many of “them” are out there.”
  • 🤯 😳 These are getting good!! (However, please don’t say "mind of a computer.” Ever.) Do These A.I.-Created Fake People Look Real to You? “Given the pace of improvement, it’s easy to imagine a not-so-distant future in which we are confronted with not just single portraits of fake people but whole collections of them — at a party with fake friends, hanging out with their fake dogs, holding their fake babies. It will become increasingly difficult to tell who is real online and who is a figment of a computer’s imagination.”
  • 🦠 🇺🇸 The Moral Calculus of COVID-19. “This is contrarianism on a scale not usually seen in a newspaper article. (They’re usually too short to take this many turns.) It is one thing to counter received wisdom by posing a counterfactual. It is another to spend hours of reporting, gathering facts, calling in experts, putting everything on the record, and then deciding that none of that matters.”
  • 🌼 🧮 Artificial Blooms: Digital Botanics Showcase the Fractals, Tessellations, and Repetitive Features of the Natural World. “The digital renderings showcase the complexity of organic structures while also highlighting the fractals and endless intricacies inherent to nature’s designs. … [I]t was fascinating to find that a lot of floral and plant structures follow certain mathematical rules, which we could replicate and apply to our own structures.’”
  • 🇩🇪 🐻 Berlin’s Second-Hand Craze Is Turning It into a ‘Zero-Waste City’. “‘Shopping and Saving the World,’ reads the sign at the entrance. Beyond is a 7,000-square-foot sales area displaying all manner of upcycled goods: sparkling beer glasses; CDs, records and books; an overhauled vacuum cleaner; tables and beds made of discarded wood from Berlin construction sites; children’s toys; hi-fi systems, and rows and rows of textiles.”
  • 6 Sci-Fi Writers Imagine the Beguiling, Troubling Future of Work. “How are our impulses to fear, to hope, and to wonder built into the root directories of our tech? Will we become more machine-like, or realize the humanity in the algorithm? Will our answers fall somewhere in symbiotic in-between spaces yet unrealized?”
  • 👽 🇺🇸 Aliens or Artists? Metallic Monolith Discovered in Rural Utah. “We’re not saying it’s definitely aliens, but it’s definitely aliens. We’re ready to go home, aliens, but be careful when you come back to Earth. We wouldn’t want you to get covid-19, a disease that has so far afflicted over 59 million humans and killed 1.39 million on this stupid planet of ours. On second thought, just vaporize us if you need to.”