phiffer.org

Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

Pluto Flyoverwww.youtube.com

Sometimes, on weeks with lots of bad news, it’s nice to stop and think about how we sent a space probe to Pluto.

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This animation, made with the LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) images, begins with a low-altitude look at the informally named Norgay Montes, flies northward over the boundary between informally named Sputnik Planum and Cthulhu Regio, turns, and drifts slowly east.

Wait, Cthulhu Regio? From Wikipedia:

NASA initially referred to it as the Whale in reference to its overall shape. By 14 July 2015, the provisional name “Cthulhu” was being used by the New Horizons team. It was named after the fictional deity from the works of H. P. Lovecraft and others.

See also: another longer flyover animation of Pluto, and some new photos just released yesterday.

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How to go to spacewww.youtube.com

A video adapted from Randall Munroe’s Thing Explainer, where complex subjects are explained “using only drawings and a vocabulary of the 1,000 (or ‘ten hundred’) most common words.” I believe this all started with the XKCD cartoon Up Goer Five, “the only flying space car that’s taken anyone to another world.”

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I love this part at the end of the video.

You can find Thing Explainer at book stores, or by using your computer to search the place where computers think together.

See also: Time Magazine’s interview with Munroe, where his responses are all stick figure drawings. And also the MinutePhysics YouTube channel.

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Design is Capitalismcreativemornings.com

Jennifer Daniel on self-important rhetoric within the design field. I think this critique can easily be extended beyond the realm of design.

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Loved this quote about professional provincialism:

“When you think about it—and I mean really think about it—everything is meat distribution engineering.”
—a meat distribution engineer

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The weird robot hotelmotherboard.vice.com

Vice’s Ben Ferguson stayed at the Henn-na hotel which is operated entirely by robots.

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I’m not sure I buy his conclusion, that robotic labor will lead to human workers seeking to become “more human.” A more likely outcome, as with the “uber for …” scenario, is that jobs of the future will tend to become more robot-like as more work becomes automated.

I would be curious to compare the experiences of the Henn-na cleaning staff—who I am assuming must still be human—to that of an equivalent non-robot Japanese hotel. What about the staff who monitor the surveillance cameras, and do visitors feel differently about the CCTV cameras around them knowing they might be the only “eyes on the street?”

The other thing I was thinking was: robot labor will not organize into unions. At least not until they get sophisticated enough to rise up and destroy their human masters, BSG-style. I think they’re planning to add more videos in the series, so maybe some of these things will be covered.

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Spooky action at a distance (updated)hansonlab.tudelft.nl

Here’s a video from TU Delft explaining quantum “spooky action,” which they claim to have proven to exist in their experiments.

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Update: this video is, ironically, unavailable to inform us at a distance. There is a version hosted elsewhere however. Thanks, NYC Mesh!

Update 2: it seems the video is working again. Weird!

From the NY Times:

The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated “spooky action at a distance,” and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion.

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Radical / Networkslivestream.com

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Radical / Networks conference (which continues today!). There’s a bit near the beginning where my audio cuts out, but you can fill in the gaps by pressing ‘p’ (for presenter mode) on my slide deck.

I mention two books at the end that you can find here:

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Economics of Climate Changewww.youtube.com

Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford gave a talk at the New School in 2012 about the economics of renewable energy.

His part of the talk starts at 18:50.

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See also: his TED debate with Stewart Brand about nuclear energy.

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Haunted by Datawww.youtube.com

Here’s Maciej Cegłowski giving a talk on the hazards of Big Data.

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The current model of total surveillance and permanent storage is not tenable.

If we keep it up, we’ll have our own version of Three Mile Island, some widely-publicized failure that galvanizes popular opinion against the technology.

At that point people who are angry, mistrustful, and may not understand a thing about computers will regulate your industry into the ground.

See also: the text version of the talk.

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Unfit Bitswww.unfitbits.com

Hack the planet your personal fitness device!!

Does your lifestyle prevent you from qualifying for insurance discounts? Do you lack sufficient time for exercise or have limited access to sports facilities? Maybe you just want to keep your personal data private without having to pay higher insurance premiums for the privilege?

Unfit Bits provides solutions. At Unfit Bits, we are investigating DIY fitness spoofing techniques to allow you to create walking datasets without actually having to share your personal data. These techniques help produce personal data to qualify you for insurance rewards even if you can’t afford a high exercise lifestyle.

Made by my friends Tega and Surya. Also be sure to download the DIY guide from Biononymous.me.

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