The “MANIAC” at Los Alamos National Laboratory
One of the first computers, the name stood for Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, And Computer.  Its creator, Nicholas Metropolis, named it in reaction to the long (sometimes absurd) acronyms that were used for these machines at the time.


Beyond Blood – Emotional attachment and inheritance by algorithm

‘Beyond Blood’ imagines a legal system where algorithms take over the inheritance process during intestacy situations where the deceased has not left a will and the state has to distribute the estates.

In his book Shaping Things, science fiction writer Bruce Sterling predicts that in the near-future every object will be tracked and logged by a computer system. He called these objects SPIMES. This project builds on this theory to suggest that by tracking people and objects over a number of years, computers will be able to infer the significance of an object to a particular individual. It can then designate assets based on different parameters, which can be altered by the policy makers.

The project explores this through an examination of the life and death of Howard Hughes, an American aviator and movie maker who passed in 1976 without leaving a will. Unmarried and without children at the time of his death, Hughes’ US$2.5 billion estate was eventually split in 1983 among 22 cousins whom he had never visited, and never liked.

‘Beyond Blood’ uses the film “Aviator”, which depicts the life of Howard Hughes, to create a fictional computational model for generating a will on Hughes’ behalf. In this alternative history of the life of Howard Hughes, every asset and object is a “spime” that senses human interactions and is tracked and logged by computer systems.

[read more] [Sures Kumar]

A Computer Glossary from 1968

We used to think the brain was like a computer. But now we realize that’s not true — there’s no programming of the brain, there’s no windows. And we think the brain is more like a large corporation. … In a corporation, you have subdivisions that operate independently of the main office. And that’s why we have an unconscious mind, because you have to have, for example, emotional reactions to things very quickly.

"When we use computers to simulate some process in the real world—the behavior of a weather system, the processing of information in the brain, the deformation of a car in a crash—our concern is to correctly model the necessary features of this process or system. We want to be able to test how our model would behave in different conditions with different data, and the last thing we want to do is for computers to introduce some new properties into the model that we ourselves did not specify. In short, when we use computers as a general-purpose medium for simulation, we want this medium to be completely “transparent.”"
Manovich, Lev. Software Takes Command: Extending the Language of New Media. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. (via carvalhais)

"The digital world offers us many advantages, but if we yield to that world too completely we may lose the privacy we need to develop a self. Activities that require time and careful attention, like serious reading, are at risk; we read less and skim more as the Internet occupies more of our lives. And there’s a link between selfhood and reading slowly, rather than scanning for quick information, as the Web encourages us to do. Recent work in sociology and psychology suggests that reading books, a private experience, is an important aspect of coming to know who we are."

Cellular Forms uses a simplified model of cellular growth to create intricate sculptural shape. Structures are created out of interconnected cells, with rules for the forces between cells, as well as rules for how cells accumulate internal nutrients. When the nutrient level in a cell exceeds a given threshold the cell splits into two, with both the parent and daughter cells reconnecting to their immediate neighbours. Many different complex organic structures are seen to arise from subtle variations on these rules, creating forms with strong reminiscences of plants, corals, internal organs and micro-organisms.

The aim is to create structures emergently: exploring generic similarities between many different forms in nature rather than recreating any particular organism, in the process exploring universal archetypal forms that can come from growth processes rather than top-down externally engineered design.

For more information: andylomas.com

"When a Web-based work becomes technologically obsolete, does updated software simply restore it? Or is the piece fundamentally changed?"

The Cycloid [red] is generated by tracing a point on a rolling circle. This animation shows a curious symmetry between the Cycloid and itself shifted. The traced lines are always crossing at right angles to the top cycloid and are tangent to the bottom. [The Cycloid is its own evolute]  [code] [more]
Point Cloud is an attempt to reimagine our daily interaction with weather data.