When algorithms become unexpected

mandelbrot Keith Hall, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/fire_brace/145565373/
This is a really good piece on the unpredictability of algorithms : Machine learning algorithms are not like other computer programs. In the usual sort of programming, a human programmer tells the computer exactly what to do. In machine learning, the human programmer merely gives the algorithm the problem to be solved, and through trial-and-error t...
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When computer-generated Instagram models fight

When computer-generated Instagram models fight Bermuda /v Instagram
Lil Miquela is a 19-year old singer, model, and influencer. With around 900k followers on Instagram, you might wonder why she hasn't occupied the ​Mail Online ​ sidebar of shame yet. The answer is simple: ​she doesn't exist ​. The space in which Miquela occupies is the hyperrealistic one predicted in many a famous SF novel over the past 40-or-so ye...
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Mailchimp offers GDPR advice

Mailchimp offers GDPR advice Robyn Mack, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/robynmack96/35573892502
​You're going to be bombarded with promoted tweets by companies offering GDPR advice over coming weeks, in advance of its enforcement from 25 May onwards. Thankfully, Mailchimp has published some advice on web form compliance with the legislation. Here are some things to know before you begin this process. Enabling GDPR fields on your signup forms ...
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Everyone is the same but different

Everyone is the same but different Uggboy, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/uggboy/5457409837/
This is very good on how algorithms are creating a homogenous gloop of style and fashion, rather than diverse individualism: The threat of banality (or the lack of surprise) implicit in full machine curation reminds me of the seemingly random vocabulary meant to improve SEO on Craigslist posts. As one chair listing I encountered put it: "Goes with ...
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The shape of change - Marcus Brown waxes lyrically on digital transformation

​ "It's my change and when I get to define it, I can control it". Here's Marcus's first posting in his series of TubeNotes. It's clear, it's eloquent, and it's beautifully produced. The first few seconds take you in through their setting of the Bavarian countryside, and it just gets better and better from there.

The art of shitposting: how Simpsons fans learned to steam a good ham

The art of shitposting: how Simpsons fans learned to steam a good ham
​ A scene from a 1996 episode of The Simpsons recently spawned a fresh clutch of memes across the web, shedding light on a very specific – and, for the average web user, peculiar and dubiously-named – form of online fan activity: shitposting. Like other Internet memes, shitposting involves users remixing and remaking snippets of popular culture – i...
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French Parlimentarian debates AI ethics

4635679132_7b97d7222b_b Jody McIntyre, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/scjody/4635679132/
This is a very good read, from Cedric Villani, mathematician and member of the French Parliament: Defining artificial intelligence is no easy matter. Since the mid-20th century when it was first recognized as a specific field of research, AI has always been envisioned as an evolving boundary, rather than a settled research field. Fundamentally, it ...
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If robots are intelligent, can they be criminals?

Think lawsuits involving humans are tricky? Try taking an intelligent robot to court. While autonomous robots with humanlike, all-encompassing capabilities are still decades away, European lawmakers, legal experts and manufacturers are already locked in a high-stakes debate about their legal status: whether it's these machines or human beings who s...
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TubeNotes: Marcus launches short talks on the future

TubeNotes: Marcus launches short talks on the future
"I really want a more difficult channel, a more demanding channel, that allows me to mix up all of the things that I'm interested in at the moment." Friend of Imperica Marcus Brown ​ has launched ​TubeNotes ​, a regular dispatch on what he's doing, what interests him at the moment, and the development of his forthcoming book, ​The Passing ​. "​This...
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Sir Martin Sorrell leaves WPP

Sir Martin Sorrell leaves WPP Wikipedia, CC licence
Sir Martin Sorrell has resigned from WPP. Here is his statement to employees of the group which he started in 1985, through its takeover of Wire & Plastic Products after Sorrell left his position as CFO at Saatchis. Here is his leaving letter to employees. Disappointingly, for as much as WPP companies talk about the 24/7 always-on reputation-le...
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Web Curios 13/04/18

Web Curios 13/04/18
HELLO WE ARE BACK DID YOU MISS US WE MISSED YOU HELLO HELLO HELLO! Well, it's great to be back in the saddle. One more week and I'd have done a right Scanners, so your reading this is effectively an act of mercy; rest assured, I am VERY VERY GRATEFUL. So while we were away Imperica has undergone a bit of a refresh - it will have MORE STUFF on it, b...
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The soft bulletin: Leigh Alexander's "algowave" short story

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A lovely piece of writing from Leigh Alexander: For the past few weeks, I'm pretty sure I've been seeing another me. Wednesday afternoon I left my apartment to walk to the train and I saw her — me — crossing the intersection at the top of the hill, walking briskly. Then over the weekend I was washing dishes and staring out the window, just spacing ...
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In a world of fake news, what is truth?

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Excellent stuff from Jay Owens: But authenticity became a performance, as we started to speak to audiences of hundreds and thousands beyond our 'real' pools of friends and family, and 'likes' and follower counts trained us to create the kinds of content that would be the most popular, over the realistic depictions of our day-to-day. Our Instagram f...
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The 90s are over

The 90s are over "Slacker", Richard Linklater, 1991
A lovely, long read by Rebecca Schuman on the 90s: In the nineties, the worst insult you could lob — or get — was to be a sellout. Dominant mass-produced mainstream culture — literally anything, the exact moment it became popular enough to no longer be confined to your friend's basement and maybe a 'zine — deserved to be mocked. If you were lucky e...
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Artform: Crowdfunding culture

Artform: Crowdfunding culture Artform
 Kickstarter is becoming something of a maze these days; knowing which route to take and separating the good projects from the bad ones is becoming increasingly difficult, as there is simply so much on it. Enter ​Artform ​, which intends to be a crowdfunder solely focussed on cultural projects. The site is very nicely put together; it's clean,...
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Numa is a new, distributed social network

Numa is a new social network built on Ethereum. Open source and federated, it can also talk to other such networks, including last year's competitor-to-Twitter-for-around-a-week, Mastodon. Although it's built on Ethereum, the developers are keen to point out that you don't need, or need to understand, cryptocurrencies to use it: The only costs you ...
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AI researchers call for boycott of "killer robot" university

847695350_564cb9526f_b Logan Ingalls, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/plutor/847695350
​ Academics call for a snub:​ Artificial intelligence researchers from nearly 30 countries are boycotting a South Korean university over concerns a new lab in partnership with a leading defence company could lead to "killer robots". More than 50 leading academics signed the letter calling for a boycott of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Tec...
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The end of Windows

The end of Windows LN Klein, CC licence
​Hooooold on. Ben Thompson isn't ​actually ​ predicting the end of Microsoft's cash cow just yet - but he is predicting that it plays a much less important role in the company's future: If culture flows from success, then it follows that an attempt to change culture is far easier to accomplish when the most obvious indicator of success — one that h...
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World Product Day is May 23

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We're not sure  ​why ​ the world needs a World Product Day, but there is one, and it's on May 23.   Each city will host their regular ProductTank meetup, livestream their event, and make a ton of noise on the hashtags #worldproductday and #producttank – leading to a wave of product discussion starting in Wellington, New Zealand, spanning ...
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Maps of cities which don't exist

Imaginary Cities Chirijin
​Let's Go to the Imaginary Cities ​ is a project from Japan which draws maps, infrastructure, and even service provider logotypes for cities which don't actually exist. The whole thing is rather beautiful, and a great deal of care and attention has been taken to make everything look as it should be. We have all invented fictitious places and maps i...
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