Thursday, August 27, 2009

Innovative Calligraphy: Denis Brown and Calligraffiti

I just love calligraphy.  Here is some beautiful innovation.You can see the stuff I do on flickr.

There's something new I learned about: Calligraffiti. It's just what it sounds like.

Here's a great video of it in action. Very inspiring. 

Denis Brown is a master calligrapher who has done some very cool innovations-- one of which is the filming of ink falling in water. Watch this meditative, relaxing, gorgeous video:

You can see his more traditional stuff in action here:

Monday, August 24, 2009

AI and our Traditional Categories

Here's another great quote from Moravec (1999, p111).

...the idea of machinery with a conscious mental inner life frightens or enrages some people--an understandable visceral reaction, as the concept clashes with a deep primordial view of the nature of things. Similar vehemence greeted predictions of space travel early in the twentieth century. Space travel violated the self-evident dichotomy of the terrestrial and the celestial, a sacred distinction in most religions, whose abrogation, if possible at all, would surely upset the natural order, with horrible consequences. Thoughtful machinery violates the equally obvious and sacred dichotomy of the living and the dead, a difference embedded in our mentality. The skills for interacting with living things, with feelings, memories, and intentions, ar e utterly different from the techniques for shaping insensitive dead matter.
Although animate machines have existed for several centuries, they have acted more like inanimate things, with no awareness of past or future, responding to the skill but not the character of their handlers. But past machines were simpler than bacteria, and are as misleading a guide to future robot mentality as bacteria are to human psychology. Ancient thinkers theorized that the animating principle that separated the living from the dead was a special kind of substance, a spirit. In the last century biology, mathematics, and related sciences have gathered powerful evidence that the animating principle is not a substance, but a very particular, very complex organization. Such organization was once found only in biological matter, but is now slowly appearing in our most complex machines. In the old metaphor, we are in the process of inspiriting the dead matter around us. It will soon be our honor to welcome some of it to the land of the living, however upsetting that may be to our traditional categories.

Moravec, H. (1999). Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. Oxford University Press.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Machines break down?

Here is a great quote from Hans Moravec (1999, p2):

"Things tossed up come down" is an early theory of gravity, demonstrably true in everyday life, unquestioned for millennia, until Newton developed a new theory of gravity that gave stable orbits to sufficiently fast satellites, and let slightly faster projectiles escape to infinity. "Wood rubbed warm cools down" may have been a truism for our distant ancestors, until one of them rubbed hard enough to achieve ignition temperature, whereupon the wood flamed hotter than ever on its own. "Machines break down" is a demonstrable truth of industrial society, but as machines increasingly design, diagnose, and repair themselves, it too will be suddenly invalidated. Once given "escape velocity," machines more capable than any we know will, without further help from us, grow more capable still, learning from the world, as we did in our biological and cultural evolution. The wood is already smoldering.

Moravec, H. (1999). Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. Oxford University Press.