How is it that my brother, Po, marooned out in the wilds of the high desert at Canyon Blanco is first one to tell me about the synthetic brain news? Here I am, wired up to the ears with wireless routers zapping me and servers buzzing underfoot…only a beer cap toss from a major data center…and as far as I knew I had a unique and unreplaceable hunk of gray matter floating in my skull. Sure it’s a little frayed around the edges, has its foibles, is a beast when it comes to cold starts on a winter morning, but still - after all it’s been through - it seemed a right decent old brain, as far as I was concerned. But now we know that these dweebs over at Blue Brain Project have already concocted a rat’s brain, and are madly tuning their skills to create a human brain within ten years. BBC Story Is it just me, or does that seem like it might not work out according to plan?
If life is actually lived, awareness begins to unravel the basic mystery of how the human race got this way. Then we begin to wonder, in the words of Mario Vargas Llosa, at what precise moment had
Reading Clay Shirky’s latest thought-piece on the demise of newspapers poses for all of us the interesting question: what sort of social / professional / technological model will we develop to replace print newspapers when they all go belly up? Shirky makes a pretty solid demonstration of the facts regarding the transition from those inky presses (thrashing out miles of newsprint every morning) to a new paradigm, but he is careful not to speculate too precisely about what form that future paradigm will take. Indeed, the whole point he is making is that we are now living through a revolution in which print media is being overthrown. During these last five hundred years, the cost of print production and the profits made on the distribution of printed objects was tightly bound up with dissemination of knowledge, art, technology, and of information of all kinds. Now, with the advent of the Internet and the speedy exchange of digital objects of all kinds, the flawless reproduction of information-laden media objects is no longer bound to the burdens of physical products that must be moved through space. The near-frictionless pathways that our digital infrastructure provides, has creatively destroyed the entire centuries-old paradigm of manufacturing, selling, and regulating the rights for commerce for media such as books, recordings, images, at least in the material manifestions that we have come to know and love.
An interesting article by James Parker in this week’s Phoenix recounts Jack Borden‘s life of cloud gazing. Struck by an amazing epiphany while lying on a grassy slope in 1977, Borden suddenly experienced the entire sky as direct connection with the cosmos. According to Jack, he was… “just waking up from a nap, and - there it all was! Close, out-of-scale, real close. It was scary. I looked at it for not longer than three seconds and I had to look away. It just plain blew me away! This tremendous scene, somewhere between majesty and frightfulness - it was as if the sky were saying, Goddammit, if I couldn’t do anything to wake you up, maybe this’ll do it!” After this satori, Jack went on to found the non-profit, For Spacious Skies, which has promoted the art and benefits of cloud gazing for more than twenty five years.