Archive for February 21st, 2012

February 21, 2012

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day was an event held on 20 May 2010 in support of free speech and freedom of artistic expression of those threatened by violence for drawing representations of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. It began as a protest against censorship of an American television show, ‘South Park,’ ’201′ by its distributor, Comedy Central, in response to death threats against some of those responsible for two segments broadcast in April. Observance of the day began with a drawing posted on the Internet on April 20, 2010, accompanied by text suggesting that ‘everybody’ create a drawing representing Muhammad, on May 20, 2010, as a protest against efforts to limit freedom of speech. U.S. cartoonist Molly Norris of Seattle created the artwork. Depictions of Muhammad are explicitly forbidden by a few hadiths (sayings of and about Muhammad), though not by the Qur’an.

South Park episodes ’200′ and ’201,’ broadcast in April 2010, featured a character in a bear costume, who various other characters stated was Muhammad. The ‘South Park’ episode sparked statements from the extremist website Revolution Muslim, which posted a picture of the partially decapitated body of the Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, with a statement declaring that Parker and Stone could meet a similar fate. Comedy Central self-censored the episode when it was broadcast by removing the word ‘Muhammad’ and a speech about intimidation and fear from the episode.

February 21, 2012

The Beginning of Infinity

The Beginning of Infinity is a popular science book by physicist David Deutsch that was published in 2011. Deutsch views the enlightenment of the 18th century as near the beginning of an infinite sequence of purposeful knowledge creation. Knowledge here consists of information with good explanatory function that is resistant to falsifiability. Any real process physically possible is able to be performed provided the knowledge to do so has been acquired. The enlightenment set up the conditions for knowledge creation which disrupted the static societies that previously existed. These conditions are the valuing of creativity and the free and open debate that exposed ideas to criticism to reveal those good explanatory ideas that naturally resist being falsified due to their having basis in reality. Deutsch points to previous moments in history, such as Renaissance Florence and Plato’s Academy in Golden age Athens, where this process almost got underway before succumbing to their static societies’ resistance to change.

The source of intelligence is more complicated than brute computational power, Deutsch conjectures, and he points to the lack of progress in Turing test AI programs in the six decades since the Turing test was first proposed. What matters for knowledge creation, Deutsch says, is creativity. New ideas that provide good explanations for phenomena require out side the box thinking as the unknown is not easily predicted from past experience. To test this Deutsch suggests an AI behavioral evolution program for robot locomation should be fed random numbers to see if knowledge spontaneously arises without inadvertent contamination from a human programmer’s creative input. If it did Deutsch would concede that intelligence is not as difficult a problem as he currently thinks it is.

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February 21, 2012

Turing Test

The Turing test is a test to see if a computer can trick a person into believing that the computer is a person too. Alan Turing thought that if a human could not tell the difference between another human and the computer, then that computer must be as intelligent as a human. No one has made a computer that can pass the Turing test. A chatterbot called Elbot came close in 2008.

The test was introduced by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence,’ which opens with the words: ‘I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?” Since ‘thinking’ is difficult to define, Turing chooses to ‘replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words’: ‘Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?’ (a party game in which a man and a woman go into separate rooms and guests try to tell them apart by writing a series of questions and reading the typewritten answers sent back; both the man and the woman aim to convince the guests that they are the other). This question, Turing believed, is one that can actually be answered. In the remainder of the paper, he argued against all the major objections to the proposition that ‘machines can think.’ In the years since 1950, the test has proven to be both highly influential and widely criticized, and it is an essential concept in the philosophy of artificial intelligence.

February 21, 2012

Simulated Reality

Simulated reality is the proposition that reality could be simulated—perhaps by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from ‘true’ reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality. Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from ‘true’ reality.

February 21, 2012

Dwarf Fortress

‘Slaves to Armok: God of Blood, Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress,’ most commonly known simply as Dwarf Fortress, is a freeware video game by Bay 12 Games for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X set in a high fantasy universe that combines aspects of roguelike (a sub-genre of role-playing video games, characterized by randomization for replayability, permanent death, and turn-based movement) and city-building games. It is primarily known for its unique level of complexity and difficulty. The title of the game is inspired by its primary focus on the construction, management, and exploration of dwarven fortresses within the game world. Development started in 2002; the game’s first public release was in 2006.

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February 21, 2012

Post-painterly Abstraction

Post-painterly abstraction is a term created by art critic Clement Greenberg as the title for an exhibit he curated for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1964, which subsequently travelled to the Walker Art Center and the Art Gallery of Toronto. Greenberg had perceived that there was a new movement in painting that derived from the abstract expressionism of the 1940s and 1950s but ‘favored openness or clarity’ as opposed to the dense painterly surfaces of that painting style. As painting continued to move in different directions, initially away from abstract expressionism, powered by the spirit of innovation of the time, the term, which had obtained some currency in the 1960s, was gradually supplanted by minimalism, hard-edge painting, lyrical abstraction, and color field painting.

February 21, 2012

Hard-edge Painting

Hard-edge painting is painting in which abrupt transitions are found between color areas. Color areas are often of one unvarying color. The Hard-edge painting style is related to Geometric abstraction, Op Art, Post-painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting. The term was coined by writer, curator and ‘Los Angeles Times’ art critic Jules Langsner, along with Peter Selz, in 1959, to describe the work of painters from California, who, in their reaction to the more painterly or gestural forms of Abstract expressionism, adopted a knowingly impersonal paint application and delineated areas of color with particular sharpness and clarity. This approach to abstract painting became widespread in the 1960s, though California was its creative center. Curated by Langsner, ‘Four Abstract Classicists’ opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1959 featuring Karl Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, Frederick Hammersley, and John McLaughlin.

Other, earlier, movements, or styles have also contained the quality of hard-edgedness, for instance the Precisionists also displayed this quality to a great degree in their work. Hard-edge can be seen to be associated with one or more school of painting, but is also a generally descriptive term, for these qualities found in any painting. Hard-edged painting can be both figurative or nonrepresentational.

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February 21, 2012

Electronica

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Electronica includes a wide range of contemporary electronic music designed for a wide range of uses, including listening, dancing, and background music for other activities. Unlike electronic dance music, which is sub-genre in the category, all examples of electronica are not necessarily made for dancing. Genres such as techno, drum and bass, downtempo, and ambient are among those encompassed by the umbrella term, entering the American mainstream from ‘alternative’ or ‘underground’ venues during the late 1990s.

With newly prominent music styles such as reggaeton, and subgenres such as electroclash, indie pop, and favela funk, electronic music styles in the current decade are seen to permeate nearly all genres of the mainstream and indie landscape such that a distinct ‘electronica’ genre of pop music is rarely noted.

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February 21, 2012

Fourth Way

The Fourth Way refers to a concept used by Russian spiritualist G.I. Gurdjieff to describe an approach to self-development learned over years of travel in the East that combined what he saw as three established traditional ‘ways,’ or ‘schools’ into a fourth way. These three ways were of the body, mind, and emotions. The term ,The Fourth Way, was further developed by Russian esotericist P.D. Ouspensky in his lectures and writings. Posthumously, Ouspensky’s students published a book entitled ‘Fourth Way,’ based on his lectures. The ‘Fourth Way’ is sometimes referred to as ‘The Work,’ ‘Work on oneself,’ or ‘The System.’

According to this system, the chief difference between the three traditional schools, or ways, and the fourth way is that ‘they are permanent forms which have survived throughout history mostly unchanged, and are based on religion. Where schools of yogis, monks or fakirs exist, they are barely distinguishable from religious schools. The fourth way differs in that it is not a permanent way. It has no specific forms or institutions and comes and goes controlled by some particular laws of its own.’

February 21, 2012

A Guide for the Perplexed

A Guide for the Perplexed is a short book by E. F. Schumacher, published in 1977. The title is a reference to Maimonides’s ‘The Guide for the Perplexed.’ Schumacher himself considered ‘A Guide for the Perplexed’ to be his most important achievement, although he was better known for his 1974 environmental economics bestseller ‘Small Is Beautiful,’ which made him a leading figure within the ecology movement. His daughter wrote that her father handed her the book on his deathbed, five days before he died and he told her ‘this is what my life has been leading to.’ The book is a statement of the philosophical underpinnings that inform ‘Small is Beautiful.’

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