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 »

Weaving New Webs of Art, Science and Innovation: Inaugural Essinova Salon Explores Neural Insights in Multiple Dimensions

October 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

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Written by: Timothy McCormick

Essinova’s inaugural salon and popup gallery on Sept 29 was a great success! A capacity crowd of over 100 guests from widely varied backgrounds gathered at SAP’s AppHaus in Palo Alto, to see the groundbreaking work of neuroscientist/artist Greg Dunn, and to hear talks by Dunn and by Janaki Mythily Kumar, SAP’s VP and Head of Design & Co-Innovation Center.

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Greg Dunn’s original artworks on display at Essinova Salon and Popup Gallery at SAP Labs. Click to view event photo album.

We were honored to share with new audiences the extraordinary work of Greg Dunn, PhD, Philadelphia-based neuroscientist and leading art+science pioneer, who explores novel and visually stunning methods to depict and explain brain structure and functioning. The salon featured a variety of original works and prints by Dunn, including his latest and perhaps most ambitious work to date, “Self Reflected,” which the artist describes as the most detailed and complex artistic depiction of the brain ever been created .”Self Reflected” was funded by National Science Foundation and is on permanent display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

BeiBei Song introducing Essinova Salon and the evening’s program

The event program was led of with an introduction by BeiBei Song, Founder of Essinova interdisciplinary creativity agency, in which she described a recent serendipitous encounter in Finland with “lights hunters” who travel to view and record Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) displays. Describing a scientist, adventurer, executive coach, artist and photographer she befriended there, Song suggested how science, art, design and innovation are driven by related mixtures of passion, curiosity, delight, and a determination to question, understand and explain. Understanding these diverse and mingled drives and roles can open us to richer discoveries across all fields, personally and as a society; and give us the more holistic understandings needed for both business and society to evolve sustainably and creatively, she suggested. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Big Picture, I – The Fourth Industrial Revolution

April 4, 2016 § 3 Comments

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond

By Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, for Davos 2016

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Excerpts:

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. … « Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

A Birthday Dreamscape | Act I: Digital Gods and A Voyage to the Edge of the Universe

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Synopsis:

Amidst birthday blues, a middle-aged woman contemplates humans’ digital trajectory, the Age of Data, and her own destiny, as she samples arts reflecting artificial intelligence, quantified self, virtual reality, lifelogging and other digital advances,  in a series of reveries.

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

Act III – The hybrid Here and Now

Epilogue – The comfort of my cake


April.  My birthday was coming.
Perhaps as a defense mechanism against the anxiety of putting on another year, my mind wandered far and wide.

Act I –  Voyage to the edge of the Universe

Sapiens bookcoverFirst it scans the entire humanity’s creation and evolution, as narrated by the brilliant Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari in his brilliant new book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind”.  Homo sapiens (of whom I am one) came to dominate the Planet through three great “Revolutions”: the Cognitive, the Agricultural, and the Scientific, he posited.  We conquered the world because of our affinity for myth-making and stories. Our fictions allow us to cooperate.    We buy into universally accepted “imagined realities” that bind us together and have given us power: Religion. Money. Nation states. Corporations…  We are now so powerful we can trump nature and be our own intelligent designers.

Harari’s framework makes perfect sense to me.  His wit, sarcasm and subversive humor are very much to my taste.  However, more than how we got here, I am on an emergency to know where we are going.  Hence, I cannot help but skip 70,000 years to jump to the last chapter: “The End of Homo Sapiens”. « Read the rest of this entry »

Futuristic Opera “Death and the Powers” Asks Life’s Oldest Questions, with New Dimensions

February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Since the emergence of human consciousness,  mankind has been grappling with two eternal questions:

  • What is life and where did life come from?
  • What is death and what happens after death?

These questions gave rise to religion.  They also endure in works of art.

Paul Gaugain inscribed this on one of his masterpieces:
D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous
(Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?)
Woher_kommen_wir_Wer_sind_wir_Wohin_gehen_wir “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” by Paul Gauguin

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E.B. White asked in “Charlotte’s Web”:

“After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.”

NA_11death4 Photo by: Nathan Hunsinger

For fellow humans living in the 21st century, composer Tod Machover asks these existential questions again in a futuristic opera “Death and the Powers“, a production of the MIT Media Lab where he teaches Music and Media. « Read the rest of this entry »

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