Sunday Spectacle: Home Again

HOME: It’s good to be back. Went away to a professional conference in Baltimore, and came back feeling cranky and hypercritical. I go to this conference because it usually reminds me there are a lot of smart people doing interesting things in my tiny little professional world. This year… not so much. Here’s the non-political stuff that caught my attention this last week.


RIPPLES ON AN EVAPORATED LAKE: I’ve been listening to a lot of Raymond Scott lately.


OUR CREEPY PRESENT: This is… different.

Lice-Hunting Underwater Drone Protects Salmon With Lasers

“The latest of many attempts to rein in sea lice involves a software-and-camera-controlled underwater laser drone. Along with colleagues at his Oslo-based company, Beck Engineering, Esben Beck, a young Norwegian designer and engineer, developed the system that’s turning fish hatcheries into laser light shows. A couple of stereo cameras zero in on an individual louse attached to a fish in the pen; a thin laser beam shoots the bug, killing it but leaving the fish unharmed.”


AI TWITTER ASSISTANT: Hey! I suck at Twitter. Should I be using an “intelligent social media assistant”? (Actually, something like this might be useful at work.)

How Post Intelligence Uses AI And Deep Learning To Help You Not Suck On Social Media

“Post Intelligence isn’t just some janky app that dumps a bunch of trending topics in your lap for you to tweet about. Instead, Post Intelligence analyzes your tweets (if you’ve got any to analyze) through deep learning artificial intelligence. Over time it recognizes your tone, quirks and suggests topics and themes to tweet about.”

Post Intelligence


THIEMEYER: To close, a bit of fantasy.

Sunday Spectacle: What Should Humans Do?

THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE: I’m always interested in what Bruce has to say. His closing talk at SXSW this year is a real stemwinder. After warming up with a review of this year’s hot topics at South-by he takes a look at some possible UBI (Universal Basic Income) scenarios before entering into a full-on critique of our current moral cowardice and waning humanity. While Bruce thinks and writes a lot about things and ideas, these talks are always deeply about the human experience and what we can learn from history.

The Future: History That Hasn’t Happened Yet: Bruce Sterling Speech at SXSW 2017


OUR CREEPY PRESENT: I’m old enough to remember when every toddler didn’t carry around their own black mirror (i.e. smartphone or computer-gadget pacifier). It looks like the black mirror generation will be followed by the AI generation. How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants.

“Toy giant Mattel recently announced the birth of Aristotle, a home baby monitor launching this summer that ‘comforts, teaches and entertains’ using AI from Microsoft. As children get older, they can ask or answer questions. The company says, ‘Aristotle was specifically designed to grow up with a child.'”


REAL PEOPLE: AV Club pointed me to these re-edited ads. Go to the link and watch all three!

“Chevy’s latest ad campaign relies on “real people, not actors” being absolutely flabbergasted at just how amazing the company’s cars are. So the folks at Zebra Corner decided to inject some actual reality into the campaign with a little help from no-nonsense Boston consumer “Mahk.” Unlike his fellow real people, who are blown away by every new reveal about Chevy, Mahk is skeptical about just why he’s supposed to be impressed by some giant doors and an award he’s never heard of.”

SHOULD I BE READING INDEPENDENT COMICS?: I don’t (think) I know anyone who reads comics, or at least I never have conversations with anyone well-versed in the current independent comic scene. Comics Alliance series “Should I Be Reading…?” is a tremendous resource when it comes to locating high-quality, independent comics online and in print. So much good stuff here, and so much of it is available to check out online. There’s a year and a half of regular reviews here. Bookmark it and check back often.

“When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With ‘Should I Be Reading… ?’, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.”


MODERN HERMITING: Excerpt from The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel about a modern-day hermit who lived in the wilds of Maine for 27 years avoiding human contact.

“He perched at the edge of the woods and meticulously observed the habits of the families with cabins along the ponds. He watched their quiet breakfasts and dinner parties, their visitors and vacancies, the cars moving up and down the road. Nothing Knight saw tempted him to return to his former life. His surveillance was clinical, informational, mathematical. He did not learn anyone’s name. All he sought was to understand migration patterns – when people went shopping, when a cabin was unoccupied. After that, he said, everything in his life became a matter of timing. The ideal time to steal was deep in the night, midweek, preferably when it was overcast, best in the rain. A heavy downpour was prime. People stayed out of the woods when it was wet.”