Sex Robots, an African Heroine, and the Uncanny Valley (Part 1)

May 26, 2017 § Leave a comment

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When I first came across African artist Milumbe Haimbe a couple years ago, thanks to introduction by Cissie Swig, beloved San Francisco art benefactor, her graphic novel “The Revolutionist” was clearly a science fiction. The story is set in the near future on a satellite colony off the orbit of mainland Earth, dominated by a corporation. Social conformity is subliminally reinforced, the economy is purely corporate-driven, exploitation of human by human thrives and the insatiable appetite for sex robots threatens to tip the already delicate social balance. This gives rise to the resistance called Army for the Restoration of Womanhood. The protagonist Ananiya is a special agent in its Covert Operations Division when news spreads that the Corporation is developing a prototype robot that is sophisticated and sexually attractive enough to replace human women altogether. Before long the resistance galvanizes into a full-blown revolution, and Ananiya thrives to become the most unlikely hero on a mission to destruct the prototype before it enters the mass market.

If the story of robots replacing real women sounds far-fetched, I am here to report that Abyss Creations, manufacturer of RealDoll, life-size sex dolls designed to recreate the appearance, texture, and weight of the human form, has launched Harmony AI, bringing artificial intelligence to the dolls the company has been making for 20+ years.  “Harmony smiles, blinks and frowns. She can hold a conversation, tell jokes and quote Shakespeare. She’ll remember your birthday, […], what you like to eat, and the names of your brothers and sisters. She can hold a conversation about music, movies and books. And of course, Harmony will have sex with you whenever you want”, as Jenny Kleeman reports for The Guardian after visiting the factory and interacting with the prototype.   « Read the rest of this entry »

PULSE | Spring 2017: Science Imagery Oscars, Dementia & Arts, Design in Tech, Innovation Measurement, and the Disruption Myth

March 30, 2017 § Leave a comment

Introducing PULSE: Essinova’s quarterly highlight of insights, news and events at the creative edge across art, science, design, (purposeful) technology, leadership and innovation.

…Tis the Season for Science Imagery Oscars!

(And congratulations Greg and Brian!)

Spring is when both Wellcome and NSF/Popular Science unveil their awards for the best science images, videos and visualizations.

Wellcome Image Awards 2017

The Wellcome Image Awards are Wellcome’s most eye-catching celebration of science, medicine and life. Now in their 20th year, the Awards recognise the creators of informative, striking and technically excellent images that communicate significant aspects of healthcare and biomedical science.

This year’s Wellcome Image Awards were presented on 15 March 2017, celebrating the scientists, clinicians, photographers and artists who bring science to life through remarkable imaging.

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Beauty and Brains. The Nerd Wears Prada. My “Smart Jewelry” Reconnaissance.

January 16, 2016 § 2 Comments

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The first week of 2016 found me in Las Vegas, to attend CES, the giant annual Consumer Electronics Show, for the very first time.  In the sea of gadgets large and small, I wandered in the area designated for “wearables”.

Wearables have not, before now, really grabbed me, in spite of my coverage of health technology for years, and enthusiasm for the category in the tech world and beyond.  I tried out a Fitbit last year for a few days initially, then in a few more short stretches of heightened self-motivation, but have let it collect dust on my night stand ever since.

Just around New Year’s I learned of “smart jewelry,” and we featured two collections — Ringly and Tyia — in our Lifestyle gallery.  They made me realize why I had stopped wearing the Fitbit – many times I had been embarrassed by the unsightly plastic on my wrist, compromising my outfit.

With no better plans for my last afternoon at CES (my presumed primary mission having proven a bust the day before), I decided to just take it easy and see if I could find anything else like Ringly and Tyia that may actually be, well, “wearable”.  I’m glad I did – these last few hours made the whole trip worthwhile.

I now share with you my review and stories of five “smart jewelry” makers, including my picks from CES; as well as my thoughts about this new generation of “wearables”. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Day at A Travel Hackathon; and An Evening of Dance, Science, and Interactive Tech

November 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

IMG_4096_editedThis past weekend, we proudly exhibited interactive 3D data art created by Kineviz, during Emirates Travel Hackathon hosted at Runway Incubator in San Francisco, where 300+ developers and designers built innovative travel-centric applications aimed at improving customer experience, in competition for a trip to Dubai and various tech and cash prizes.
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LAST Festival Art Expo Highlights

October 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

The 3rd installation of the L.A.S.T. Festival, organized by Thymos Foundation and originally conceived by Piero Scaruffi, took place over the weekend of October 16 to 18, at Stanford University.  The L.A.S.T. Festival celebrates the confluence of art with the multiplicity of new media technologies and nascent sciences that are transforming sociality and experience in the 21st century.

The Festival featured four programs:

  • Interactive multimedia art installations that break the “Do not touch!” taboo of the traditional museum and are meant to let people experience something they never experienced before
  • Inspirational talks by luminaries on cutting-edge technology and science, including Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotech, Space Exploration, and Neuroscience
  • Live performances
  • Interactive workshops or talks by artists

Click to watch video recordings of the talks.

And here are some photos of the art installations.  Click on the images to learn more about each installation. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Birthday Dreamscape | Act III: The Hybrid Here and Now

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the universe

Act II – Quantified-self, lifelogs and someone else’ mindscape

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake


Act III – The hybrid Here and Now

The birthday came and went, but the angst have not subsided.

Stop thinking so much about the future.  Worry not about your place in the universe.  Quit the futile attempt of analyzing yourself.  “Here and now” I remind myself.  Live the moment as it is!

But where is Here and what is in the Now?  And how best to capture the moment?  Suddenly I am so disoriented that even the zen attitude is challenged on the most fundamental levels.

The lifelogging exhibition still open for a few more days, my mind revisits the Science Gallery to take a look at another installation, which could be a superior method of capturing the “now”.  Compared to some of the other works, it also emphasizes “caring for oneself” more than “knowing oneself”.  Since the 24th September 2003, Alberto Frigo, an Italian media artist currently living in Sweden, has been photographing objects he has used with his right hand, as one of eighteen different aspects of reality he is collecting.

It has been 31 years since I inked the very first word in my journal, but my teenage self at the time gave it no forethought whatsoever about this number. Three decades in the future would have felt like the next life to her, too distant to be bothered with.   Frigo’s project, on the other hand, is well planned out – it will be 36-years-long, from 2004 to 2040 when he turns 60.

Alberto Frigo’s exhibition at Dapiran Art Project Space, Utrecht, Netherland, April 2015

Alberto Frigo’s exhibition at Dapiran Art Project Space, Utrecht, Netherland, April 2015

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My journal since July 1984

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A Birthday Dreamscape | Act II: Quantified-self, Lifelogs and Someone Else’ Mindscape

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the universe

Act III – The hybrid Here and Now

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake


Act II – Quantified-self, lifelogs and someone else’ mindscape

I don’t quite know how “generations” worked, be it human and digital cross-bred or purely digital procreation.  But at this point, my mind stops to care.

However fast technology develops, superhuman upgrade will unlikely be readily available at the end of MY lifetime.  More than “Our” place in the Universe, what I really want to know is “My” place in the Universe.

Perhaps starting with a smaller, simpler question: “why am I lying in bed thinking about these things, when I’m supposed to be sleeping?”

Yes, know thyself first!

Last autumn I went back to corporate employment to take a sabbatical from entrepreneurial independence.  Besides health insurance, a benefit of this sensible move has been perks such as a free Fitbit.  A wearable laggard, I finally wrapped one around my wrist, courtesy of my employer.  The nights before my birthday, my teal-colored Fitbit records my sleep pattern like this:

20150410 sleep log per Fitbit web

20150410 sleep log per Fitbit phone_IMG_2894 « Read the rest of this entry »

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