Monthly Archives: June 2021

The Canada Council for the Arts, a digital strategy research report on blockchains and culture, and Vancouver (Canada)

Is the May 17, 2021 “Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks (BACP) Digital Strategy Research Report” discussing a hoped for future transformative experience? Given the report’s subtitle: “Towards a Digitally Cooperative Culture: Recommoning Land, Data and Objects,” and the various essays included in the 200 pp document, I say the answer is ‘yes’.

The report was launched by 221 A, a Vancouver (Canada)-based arts and culture organization and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts through their Digital Strategy Fund. Here’s more from the BACP report in the voice of its research leader, Jesse McKee,

… The blockchain is the openly readable and unalterable ledger technology, which is most broadly known for supporting such applications as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This report documents the first research phase in a three-phased approach to establishing our digital strategy [emphasis mine], as we [emphasis mine] learn from the blockchain development communities. This initiative’s approach is an institutional one, not one that is interpreting the technology for individuals, artists and designers alone. The central concept of the blockchain is that exchanges of value need not rely on centralized authentication from institutions such as banks, credit cards or the state, and that this exchange of value is better programmed and tracked with metadata to support the virtues, goals and values of a particular network. This concept relies on a shared, decentralized and trustless ledger. “Trustless” in the blockchain community is an evolution of the term trust, shifting its signification as a contract usually held between individuals, managed and upheld by a centralized social institution, and redistributing it amongst the actors in a blockchain network who uphold the platform’s technical operational codes and can access ledgers of exchange. All parties involved in the system are then able to reach a consensus on what the canonical truth is regarding the holding and exchange of value within the system.

… [from page 6 of the report]

McKee manages to keep the report from floating away in a sea of utopian bliss with some cautionary notes. Still, as a writer I’m surprised he didn’t notice that ‘blockchain‘ which (in English) is supposed to ‘unlock padlocks’ poses a linguistic conundrum if nothing else.

This looks like an interesting report but it’s helpful to have some ‘critical theory’ jargon. That said, the bulk of the report is relatively accessible reading although some of the essays (at the end) from the artist-researchers are tough going.

One more thought, the report does present many exciting and transformative possibilities and I would dearly love to see much of this come to pass. I am more hesitant than McKee and his colleagues and that hesitation is beautifully described in an essay (The Vampire Problem: Illustrating the Paradox of Transformative Experience) first published September 3, 2017 by Maria Popova (originally published on Brain Pickings),

To be human is to suffer from a peculiar congenital blindness: On the precipice of any great change, we can see with terrifying clarity the familiar firm footing we stand to lose, but we fill the abyss of the unfamiliar before us with dread at the potential loss rather than jubilation over the potential gain of gladnesses and gratifications we fail to envision because we haven’t yet experienced them. …

Arts and blockchain events in Vancouver

The 221 A launch event for the report kicked off a series of related events, here’s more from a 221 A May 17, 2021 news release (Note: the first and second events have already taken place),

Events Series

Please join us for a live stream events series bringing together key contributors of the Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Research Report alongside a host of leading figures across academic, urbanism, media and blockchain development communities.

Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Digital Strategy Launch

May 25, 10 am PDT / 1 pm EDT / 7 CEST

With Jesse McKee, BACP Lead Investigator and 221A Head of Strategy; Rosemary Heather, BACP Editorial Director and Principal Researcher; moderated by Svitlana Matviyenko, Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Simon Fraser University’s Digital Democracies Institute.

The Valuation of Necessity: A Cosmological View of our Technologies and Culture

June 4, 10 am PDT / 1 pm EDT / 7pm CEST

With BACP researcher, artist and theorist Patricia Reed; critical geographer Maral Sotoudehnia, and Wassim Alsindi of 0x Salon, Berlin, who conducts research on the legal and ecological externalities of blockchain networks.

Recommoning Territory: Diversifying Housing Tenure Through Platform Cooperatives

June 18, 10 am PDT / 1 pm EDT / 7pm CEST

With 221A Fellows Maksym Rokmaniko and Francis Tseng (DOMA [a nonprofit organization developing a distributed housing platform]); Andy Yan (Simon Fraser University); and BACP researcher and critical geographer Maral Sotoudehnia.

Roundtable: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) & Social Tokens

Released June 25, Pre-recorded

Roundtable co-organized with Daniel Keller of newmodels.io, with participation from development teams and researchers from @albiverse, trust.support, Circles UBI, folia.app, SayDAO, and Blockchain@UBC

Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks is supported by the Digital Strategy Fund of the Canada Council for the Arts.

For more, contact us hello@221a.ca

Coming up: Vancouver’s Voxel Bridge

The Vancouver Biennale folks first sent me information about Voxel Bridge in 2018 but this new material is the most substantive description yet, even without an opening date. From a June 6, 2021 article by Kevin Griffin for the Vancouver Sun (Note: Links have been removed),

The underside of the Cambie Bridge is about to be transformed into the unique digital world of Voxel Bridge. Part of the Vancouver Biennale, Voxel Bridge will exist both as a physical analogue art work and an online digital one.

The public art installation is by Jessica Angel. When it’s fully operational, Voxel Bridge will have several non-fungible tokens called NFTs that exist in an interactive 3-D world that uses blockchain technology. The intention is to create a fully immersive installation. Voxel Bridge is being described as the largest digital public art installation of its kind.

“To my knowledge, nothing has been done at this scale outdoors that’s fully interactive,” said Sammi Wei, the Vancouver Biennale‘s operations director. “Once the digital world is built in your phone, you’ll be able to walk around objects. When you touch one, it kind of vibrates.”

Just as a pixel refers to a point in a two-dimensional world, voxel refers to a similar unit in a 3-D world.

Voxel Bridge will be about itself: it will tell the story of what it means to use new decentralized technology called blockchain to create Voxel Bridge.

There are a few more Voxel Bridge details in a June 7, 2021 article by Vincent Plana for the Daily Hive,

Voxel Bridge draws parallels between blockchain technology and the structural integrity of the underpass itself. The installation will be created by using adhesive vinyl and augmented reality technology.

Gfiffin’s description in his June 6, 2021 article gives you a sense of what it will be like to become immersed in Voxel Bridge,

Starting Monday [June 14, 2021], a crew will begin installing a vinyl overlay directly on the architecture on the underside of the bridge deck, around the columns, and underfoot on the sidewalk from West 2nd to the parking-lot road. Enclosing a space of about 18,000 square feet, the vinyl layer will be visible without any digital enhancement. It will look like an off-kilter circuit board.

“It’ll be like you’re standing in the middle of a circuit board,” [emphasis mine] she said. “At the same time, the visual perception will be slightly off. It’s like an optical illusion. You feel the ground is not quite where it’s supposed to be.”

Griffin’s June 6, 2021 article offers good detail and a glossary.

So, Vancouver is offering more than one opportunity to learn about and/or experience blockchain.

Stronger concrete with graphene derived from tires

I’ve become strangely fascinated with concrete these last few months. Possibly, this is a consequence of a lot more ‘concrete’ research being published. Here’s a March 29, 2021 news item on phys.org featuring work from Rice University (Texas, US),

This could be where the rubber truly hits the road.

Rice University scientists have optimized a process to convert waste from rubber tires into graphene that can, in turn, be used to strengthen concrete.

The environmental benefits of adding graphene to concrete are clear, chemist James Tour said.

“Concrete is the most-produced material in the world, and simply making it produces as much as 9% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” Tour said. “If we can use less concrete in our roads, buildings and bridges, we can eliminate some of the emissions at the very start.”

A March 29, 2021 Rice University news release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, provides context for the work and more technical details,

Recycled tire waste is already used as a component of Portland cement, but graphene has been proven to strengthen cementitious materials, concrete among them, at the molecular level.

While the majority of the 800 million tires discarded annually are burned for fuel or ground up for other applications, 16% of them wind up in landfills.

“Reclaiming even a fraction of those as graphene will keep millions of tires from reaching landfills,” Tour said.

The “flash” process introduced by Tour and his colleagues in 2020 has been used to convert food waste, plastic and other carbon sources by exposing them to a jolt of electricity that removes everything but carbon atoms from the sample.

Those atoms reassemble into valuable turbostratic graphene, which has misaligned layers that are more soluble than graphene produced via exfoliation from graphite. That makes it easier to use in composite materials.

Rubber proved more challenging than food or plastic to turn into graphene, but the lab optimized the process by using commercial pyrolyzed waste rubber from tires. After useful oils are extracted from waste tires, this carbon residue has until now had near-zero value, Tour said.

Tire-derived carbon black or a blend of shredded rubber tires and commercial carbon black can be flashed into graphene. Because turbostratic graphene is soluble, it can easily be added to cement to make more environmentally friendly concrete.

The research led by Tour and Rouzbeh Shahsavari of C-Crete Technologies is detailed in the journal Carbon.

The Rice lab flashed tire-derived carbon black and found about 70% of the material converted to graphene. When flashing shredded rubber tires mixed with plain carbon black to add conductivity, about 47% converted to graphene. Elements besides carbon were vented out for other uses.

The electrical pulses lasted between 300 milliseconds and 1 second. The lab calculated electricity used in the conversion process would cost about $100 per ton of starting carbon.

The researchers blended minute amounts of tire-derived graphene — 0.1 weight/percent (wt%) for tire carbon black and 0.05 wt% for carbon black and shredded tires — with Portland cement and used it to produce concrete cylinders. Tested after curing for seven days, the cylinders showed gains of 30% or more in compressive strength. After 28 days, 0.1 wt% of graphene sufficed to give both products a strength gain of at least 30%.

“This increase in strength is in part due to a seeding effect of 2D graphene for better growth of cement hydrate products, and in part due to a reinforcing effect at later stages,” Shahsavari said.

Set of tires on a sky background

I’m not sure where I got this stock shot but it is pretty (if tires can ever be described that way).

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Flash Graphene from Rubber Waste by Paul A. Advincula, Duy Xuan Luong, Weiyin Chen, Shivaranjan Raghuraman, Rouzbeh Shahsavari, James M.Tour. Carbon Available online 28 March 2021 In Press, Journal Pre-proof DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.carbon.2021.03.020

This paper is behind a paywall.

Impact of graphene flakes (nanoparticles) on neurons

This research suggests that graphene flakes might have an impact on anxiety-related behaviour. If I read the work correctly, the graphene flakes don’t exacerbate anxiety but, instead, may provide relief.

A March 10, 2021 news item on phys.org announces the research into graphene flakes and neurons (rat), Note: Links have been removed,

Effective, specific, with a reversible and non-harmful action: the identikit of the perfect biomaterial seems to correspond to graphene flakes, the subject of a new study carried out by SISSA—International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste, Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) of Barcelona, and the National Graphene Institute of the University of Manchester, as part of the European Graphene Flagship project. This nanomaterial has demonstrated the ability to interact with the functions of the nervous system in vertebrates in a very specific manner, interrupting the building up of a pathological process that leads to anxiety-related behavior.

“We previously showed that when graphene flakes are delivered to neurons they interfere spontaneously with excitatory synapses by transiently preventing glutamate release from presynaptic terminals,” says Laura Ballerini of SISSA, the leader of the team that carried out the research study “Graphene oxide prevents lateral amygdala dysfunctional synaptic plasticity and reverts long lasting anxiety behavior in rats,” recently published in Biomaterials.

A March 10, 2021 Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA) press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, provides more detail,

“We investigated whether such a reduction in synaptic activity was sufficient to modify related behaviours, in particular the pathological ones that develop due to a transient and localised hyper-function of excitatory synapses”. This approach would fortify the strategy of selective and transient targeting of synapses to prevent the development of brain pathologies by using the so-called precise medicine treatments.

To test this hypothesis, the team focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and carried out the experiments in two phases, in vivo and in vitro.

“We analysed defensive behaviours caused in rats [emphasis mine] by the presence of a predator, using the exposure to cat odour, to induce an aversive memory” explains Audrey Franceschi Biagioni of SISSA, the first author of the study. “If exposed to the predator odour, the rat has a defensive response, holing up, and this experience is so well-imprinted in the memory, that when the animal is placed in the same context even six days later, the animal remembers the odour of the predator and acts the same protective behaviour. This is a well-known and consolidated model, that we used to reproduce a stress behaviour. Exposure to the predator can modify neuronal connections – a phenomenon that is technically known as plasticity – and increases synaptic activity in a specific area of the amygdala that therefore represented the target of our study to test the effects of the nanomaterial”.

Laura Ballerini adds: “We hypothesised that graphene flakes that we showed to temporarily inhibit excitatory synapses (without causing inflammation, damage to neurons or other side effects) could be injected in the lateral amygdala when the plasticity associated with memory was consolidated. If the nanomaterial was efficient in blocking excitatory synapses, it should inhibit plasticity and decrease the anxiety related response. And this is what happened: the animals that were administered with graphene flakes, after six days, “forgot” the anxiety related responses, rescuing their behaviour”.

The second part of the research was performed in vitro. “In vivo we could observe only behavioural changes and could not evaluate the impact of the graphene flakes on synapses,” explains Giada Cellot, researcher at SISSA and first author of the study together with Audrey Franceschi Biagioni. “In vitro experiments allowed to work on a simplified model, to get insight about the mechanisms through which the graphene flakes can interact with neurons. We used neuronal cultures obtained from the amygdala, the region of the brain where the stress response occurs, and we observed that the effects of nanomaterials were specific for the excitatory synapses and a short exposure to graphene flakes could prevent the pathological plasticity of the synapses”.

Thanks to these findings, graphene flakes have shown their potential as nanotools (biomedical tools composed of nanomaterials) that could act in a specific and reversible way on synaptic activity to interrupt a pathological process and therefore they might be used also to transport drugs or for other applications in the field of precision medicine.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Graphene oxide prevents lateral amygdala dysfunctional synaptic plasticity and reverts long lasting anxiety behavior in rats by Audrey Franceschi Biagionia1, Giada Cellot, Elisa Pati, Neus Lozano, Belén Ballesteros, Raffaele Casani, Norberto Cysne Coimbra, Kostas Kostarelos, Laura Ballerini. Biomaterials Volume 271, April 2021, 120749 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2021.120749

This paper is open access.

An electronics-free, soft robotic dragonfly

From the description on YouTube,

With the ability to sense changes in pH, temperature and oil, this completely soft, electronics-free robot dubbed “DraBot” could be the prototype for future environmental sentinels. …

Music: Joneve by Mello C from the Free Music Archive

A favourite motif in the Art Nouveau movement (more about that later in the post), dragonflies or a facsimile thereof feature in March 25, 2021 Duke University news release (also on EurekAlert) by Ken Kingery,

Engineers at Duke University have developed an electronics-free, entirely soft robot shaped like a dragonfly that can skim across water and react to environmental conditions such as pH, temperature or the presence of oil. The proof-of-principle demonstration could be the precursor to more advanced, autonomous, long-range environmental sentinels for monitoring a wide range of potential telltale signs of problems.

The soft robot is described online March 25 [2021] in the journal Advanced Intelligent Systems.

Soft robots are a growing trend in the industry due to their versatility. Soft parts can handle delicate objects such as biological tissues that metal or ceramic components would damage. Soft bodies can help robots float or squeeze into tight spaces where rigid frames would get stuck.

The expanding field was on the mind of Shyni Varghese, professor of biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, and orthopaedic surgery at Duke, when inspiration struck.

“I got an email from Shyni from the airport saying she had an idea for a soft robot that uses a self-healing hydrogel that her group has invented in the past to react and move autonomously,” said Vardhman Kumar, a PhD student in Varghese’s laboratory and first author of the paper. “But that was the extent of the email, and I didn’t hear from her again for days. So the idea sort of sat in limbo for a little while until I had enough free time to pursue it, and Shyni said to go for it.”

In 2012, Varghese and her laboratory created a self-healing hydrogel that reacts to changes in pH in a matter of seconds. Whether it be a crack in the hydrogel or two adjoining pieces “painted” with it, a change in acidity causes the hydrogel to form new bonds, which are completely reversible when the pH returns to its original levels.

Varghese’s hastily written idea was to find a way to use this hydrogel on a soft robot that could travel across water and indicate places where the pH changes. Along with a few other innovations to signal changes in its surroundings, she figured her lab could design such a robot as a sort of autonomous environmental sensor.

With the help of Ung Hyun Ko, a postdoctoral fellow also in Varghese’s laboratory, Kumar began designing a soft robot based on a fly. After several iterations, the pair settled on the shape of a dragonfly engineered with a network of interior microchannels that allow it to be controlled with air pressure.

They created the body–about 2.25 inches long with a 1.4-inch wingspan–by pouring silicon into an aluminum mold and baking it. The team used soft lithography to create interior channels and connected with flexible silicon tubing.

DraBot was born.

“Getting DraBot to respond to air pressure controls over long distances using only self-actuators without any electronics was difficult,” said Ko. “That was definitely the most challenging part.”

DraBot works by controlling the air pressure coming into its wings. Microchannels carry the air into the front wings, where it escapes through a series of holes pointed directly into the back wings. If both back wings are down, the airflow is blocked, and DraBot goes nowhere. But if both wings are up, DraBot goes forward.

To add an element of control, the team also designed balloon actuators under each of the back wings close to DraBot’s body. When inflated, the balloons cause the wings to curl upward. By changing which wings are up or down, the researchers tell DraBot where to go.

“We were happy when we were able to control DraBot, but it’s based on living things,” said Kumar. “And living things don’t just move around on their own, they react to their environment.”

That’s where self-healing hydrogel comes in. By painting one set of wings with the hydrogel, the researchers were able to make DraBot responsive to changes in the surrounding water’s pH. If the water becomes acidic, one side’s front wing fuses with the back wing. Instead of traveling in a straight line as instructed, the imbalance causes the robot to spin in a circle. Once the pH returns to a normal level, the hydrogel “un-heals,” the fused wings separate, and DraBot once again becomes fully responsive to commands.

To beef up its environmental awareness, the researchers also leveraged the sponges under the wings and doped the wings with temperature-responsive materials. When DraBot skims over water with oil floating on the surface, the sponges will soak it up and change color to the corresponding color of oil. And when the water becomes overly warm, DraBot’s wings change from red to yellow.

The researchers believe these types of measurements could play an important part in an environmental robotic sensor in the future. Responsiveness to pH can detect freshwater acidification, which is a serious environmental problem affecting several geologically-sensitive regions. The ability to soak up oils makes such long-distance skimming robots an ideal candidate for early detection of oil spills. Changing colors due to temperatures could help spot signs of red tide and the bleaching of coral reefs, which leads to decline in the population of aquatic life.

The team also sees many ways that they could improve on their proof-of-concept. Wireless cameras or solid-state sensors could enhance the capabilities of DraBot. And creating a form of onboard propellant would help similar bots break free of their tubing.

“Instead of using air pressure to control the wings, I could envision using some sort of synthetic biology that generates energy,” said Varghese. “That’s a totally different field than I work in, so we’ll have to have a conversation with some potential collaborators to see what’s possible. But that’s part of the fun of working on an interdisciplinary project like this.”

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Microengineered Materials with Self‐Healing Features for Soft Robotics by Vardhman Kumar, Ung Hyun Ko, Yilong Zhou, Jiaul Hoque, Gaurav Arya, Shyni Varghese. Advanced Intelligent Systems DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/aisy.202100005 First published: 25 March 2021

This paper is open access.

The earlier reference to Art Nouveau gives me an excuse to introduce this March 7, 2020 (?) essay by Bex Simon (artist blacksmith) on her eponymous website.

Dragonflies, in particular, are a very poplar subject matter in the Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau, with its wonderful flowing lines and hidden fantasies, is full of symbolism.  The movement was a response to the profound social changes and industrialization of every day life and the style of the moment was, in part, inspired by Japanese art.

Simon features examples of Art Nouveau dragonfly art along with examples of her own take on the subject. She also has this,

[downloaded from https://www.bexsimon.com/dragonflies-and-butterflies-in-art-nouveau/]

This is a closeup of a real dragonfly as seen on Simon’s website. If you have an interest, reading her March 7, 2020 (?) essay and gazing at the images won’t take much time.

Art, sound, AI, & the Metacreation Lab’s Spring 2021 newsletter

The Metacreation Lab’s Spring 2021 newsletter (received via email) features a number of events either currently taking place or about to take place.

2021 AI Song Contest

2021 marks the 2nd year for this international event, an artificial intelligence/AI Song Contest 2021. The folks at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Metacreation Lab have an entry for the 2021 event, A song about the weekend (and you can do whatever you want). Should you click on the song entry, you will find an audio file, a survey/vote consisting of four questions and, if you keep scrolling down, more information about the creative, team, the song and more,

Driven by collaborations involving scientists, experts in artificial intelligence, cognitive sciences, designers, and artists, the Metacreation Lab for Creative AI is at the forefront of the development of generative systems, whether these are embedded in interactive experiences or automating workflows integrated into cutting-edge creative software.

Team:

Cale Plut (Composer and musician) is a PhD Student in the Metacreation lab, researching AI music applications in video games.

Philippe Pasquier (Producer and supervisor) is an Associate Professor, and leads the Metacreation Lab. 

Jeff Ens (AI programmer) is a PhD Candidate in the Metacreation lab, researching AI models for music generation.

Renaud Tchemeube (Producer and interaction designer) is a PhD Student in the Metacreation Lab, researching interaction software design for creativity.

Tara Jadidi (Research Assistant) is an undergraduate student at FUM, Iran, working with the Metacreation lab.

Dimiter Zlatkov (Research Assistant) is an undergraduate student at UBC, working with the Metacreation lab.

ABOUT THE SONG

A song about the weekend (and you can do whatever you want) explores the relationships between AI, humans, labour, and creation in a lighthearted and fun song. It is co-created with the Multi-track Music Machine (MMM)

Through the history of automation and industrialization, the relationship between the labour magnification power of automation and the recipients of the benefits of that magnification have been in contention. While increasing levels of automation are often accompanied by promises of future leisure increases, this rarely materializes for the workers whose labour is multiplied. By primarily using automated methods to create a “fun” song about leisure, we highlight both the promise of AI-human cooperation as well as the disparities in its real-world deployment. 

As for the competition itself, here’s more from the FAQs (frequently asked questions),

What is the AI Song Contest?

AI Song Contest is an international creative AI contest. Teams from all over the world try to create a 4-minute pop song with the help of artificial intelligence.

When and where does it take place?

Between June 1, 2021 and July 1, 2021 voting is open for the international public. On July 6 there will be multiple online panel sessions, and the winner of the AI Song Contest 2021 will be announced in an online award ceremony. All sessions on July 6 are organised in collaboration with Wallifornia MusicTech.

How is the winner determined?

Each participating team will be awarded two sets of points: one a public vote by the contest’s international audience, the other the determination of an expert jury.

Anyone can evaluate as many songs as they like: from one, up to all thirty-eight. Every song can be evaluated only once. Even though it won’t count in the grand total, lyrics can be evaluated too; we do like to determine which team wrote the best accoring to the audience.

Can I vote multiple times for the same team?

No, votes are controlled by IP address. So only one of your votes will count.

Is this the first time the contest is organised?

This is the second time the AI Song Contest is organised. The contest was first initiated in 2020 by Dutch public broadcaster VPRO together with NPO Innovation and NPO 3FM. Teams from Europe and Australia tried to create a Eurovision kind of song with the help of AI. Team Uncanny Valley from Australia won the first edition with their song Beautiful the World. The 2021 edition is organised independently.

What is the definition of artificial intelligence in this contest?

Artificial intelligence is a very broad concept. For this contest it will mean that teams can use techniques such as -but not limited to- machine learning, such as deep learning, natural language processing, algorithmic composition or combining rule-based approaches with neural networks for the creation of their songs. Teams can create their own AI tools, or use existing models and algorithms.  

What are possible challenges?

Read here about the challenges teams from last year’s contest faced.

As an AI researcher, can I collaborate with musicians?

Yes – this is strongly encouraged!

For the 2020 edition, all songs had to be Eurovision-style. Is that also the intention for 2021 entries?

Last year, the first year the contest was organized, it was indeed all about Eurovision. For this year’s competition, we are trying to expand geographically, culturally, and musically. Teams from all over the world can compete, and songs in all genres can be submitted.

If you’re not familiar with Eurovision-style, you can find a compilation video with brief excerpts from the 26 finalists for Eurovision 2021 here (Bill Young’s May 23, 2021 posting on tellyspotting.kera.org; the video runs under 10 mins.). There’s also the “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” 2020 movie starring Rachel McAdams, Will Ferrell, and Dan Stevens. It’s intended as a gentle parody but the style is all there.

ART MACHINES 2: International Symposium on Machine Learning and Art 2021

The symposium, Art Machines 2, started yesterday (June 10, 2021 and runs to June 14, 2021) in Hong Kong and SFU’s Metacreation Lab will be represented (from the Spring 2021 newsletter received via email),

On Sunday, June 13 [2021] at 21:45 Hong Kong Standard Time (UTC +8) as part of the Sound Art Paper Session chaired by Ryo Ikeshiro, the Metacreation Lab’s Mahsoo Salimi and Philippe Pasquier will present their paper, Exploiting Swarm Aesthetics in Sound Art. We’ve included a more detailed preview of the paper in this newsletter below.

Concurrent with ART MACHINES 2 is the launch of two exhibitions – Constructing Contexts and System Dreams. Constructing Contexts, curated by Tobias Klein and Rodrigo Guzman-Serrano, will bring together 27 works with unique approaches to the question of contexts as applied by generative adversarial networks. System Dreams highlights work from the latest MFA talent from the School of Creative Media. While the exhibitions take place in Hong Kong, the participating artists and artwork are well documented online.

Liminal Tones: Swarm Aesthetics in Sound Art

Applications of swarm aesthetics in music composition are not new and have already resulted in volumes of complex soundscapes and musical compositions. Using an experimental approach, Mahsoo Salimi and Philippe Pasquier create a series of sound textures know as Liminal Tones (B/ Rain Dream) based on swarming behaviours

Findings of the Liminal Tones project will be presented in papers for the Art Machines 2: International Symposium on Machine Learning (June 10-14 [2021]) and the International Conference on Swarm Intelligence (July 17-21 [2021]).

Talk about Creative AI at the University of British Columbia

This is the last item I’m excerpting from the newsletter. (Should you be curious about what else is listed, you can go to the Metacreation Lab’s contact page and sign up for the newsletter there.) On June 22, 2021 at 2:00 PM PDT, there will be this event,

Creative AI: on the partial or complete automation of creative tasks @ CAIDA

Philippe Pasquier will be giving a talk on creative applications of AI at CAIDA: UBC ICICS Centre for Artificial Intelligence Decision-making and Action. Overviewing the state of the art of computer-assisted creativity and embedded systems and their various applications, the talk will survey the design, deployment, and evaluation of generative systems.

Free registration for the talk is available at the link below.

Register for Creative AI @ CAIDA

Remember, if you want to see the rest of the newsletter, you can sign up at the Metacreation Lab’s contact page.

Sublime—art or nature?

A March 17, 2021 PLOS [Public Library of Science] news release on EurekAlert announced research into people’s experiences of art and nature as represented in virtual reality and on video,

An immersive, 360° video of a painting versus a video of the actual location depicted in the painting elicit similar levels of “the sublime,” an experience closely associated with feelings of awe. Alice Chirico of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Italy, and colleagues present their findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 17, 2021.

For centuries, philosophers have debated the nature of the sublime, which can be thought of as an aesthetic experience evoked by stimuli that may be perceived as vast, powerful, or rare–such as a landscape or a storm. Psychologists often equate the sublime to awe, and to study it, many have used pictures or videos of natural scenes to induce the sublime in study participants.

Chirico and colleagues now report the first investigation into whether artistic and photorealistic representations of nature differ in evoking the sublime. They measured the emotional responses of 50 study participants before and after viewing immersive, 360° videos of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the natural location depicted in the painting.

Statistical analysis of the participants’ responses showed that both virtual-reality videos induced the sublime with similar intensity. However, they differed with regards to certain sub-dimensions of the sublime. For instance, the nature-based video evoked a greater sense of vastness and a greater perception of existential danger.

Moreover, while the videos elicited similar emotions, the nature-based video evoked feelings of fear and positive affect that were of significantly higher intensity than those elicited by the art-based video. Participants also reported a greater sense of being present in the nature-based video than in the art-based one.

These findings demonstrate the potential for virtual reality as a research tool to deepen understanding of the sublime and other complex phenomena. Because participants in this study were already familiar with The Starry Night, future work could explore how people’s prior acquaintance with stimuli might impact their experience of the sublime.

The authors add: “By using virtual reality, we provided the first empirical contribution to the enduring debate about whether nature or instead art is better at evoking the experience of the sublime. We found that both nature and art are effective elicitors, although they exhibit different nuances.”

Caption: Starry night Credit: Alice Chirico

Following on Starry night (the photo above), Vancouver’s Imagine Van Gogh opened on the weekend of March 20-21, 2021. Tickets have been selling quickly, they’ve attended hours and extended the show’s run to August 2021. You can find out more here in Vincent Plano’s March 17, 2021 article for the Daily Hive. His images are not particularly good but there are many of them, which gives you some idea about the show. Rebecca Bollwitt’s March 19, 2021 posting on Miss 604 offers fewer but better quality pictures.

Back to the sublime, here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Nature versus art as elicitors of the sublime: A virtual reality study by Alice Chirico, Robert R. Clewis, David B. Yaden, Andrea Gaggioli. PLOS [Public Library of Science] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233628 Published: March 22, 2021

This is an open access paper.

A nano big bang event

Here’s what you’re seeing (from the YouTube entry),

Berkeley Lab scientists and collaborators took advantage of one of the best microscopes in the world – the TEAM I electron microscope at the Molecular Foundry – to watch how individual gold atoms organized themselves into crystals on top of graphene. The research team observed as groups of gold atoms formed and broke apart many times, trying out different configurations, before finally stabilizing. The discovery of this fast-changing and reversible process was possible thanks to these high-speed images captured at atomic resolution. Credit: Berkeley Lab

The work was announced in a March 25, 2021 news item on phys.org,

When we grow crystals, atoms first group together into small clusters—a process called nucleation. But understanding exactly how such atomic ordering emerges from the chaos of randomly moving atoms has long eluded scientists.

Classical nucleation theory suggests that crystals form one atom at a time, steadily increasing the level of order. Modern studies have also observed a two-step nucleation process, where a temporary, high-energy structure forms first, which then changes into a stable crystal. But according to an international research team co-led by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the real story is even more complicated.

Their findings, recently reported in the journal Science, reveal that rather than grouping together one-by-one or making a single irreversible transition, gold atoms will instead self-organize, fall apart, regroup, and then reorganize many times before establishing a stable, ordered crystal. Using an advanced electron microscope, the researchers witnessed this rapid, reversible nucleation process for the first time. Their work provides tangible insights into the early stages of many growth processes such as thin-film deposition and nanoparticle formation.

A March 25, 2021 DOE [US Dept. of Energy]/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory news release (also on EurekAlert) by Clarissa Bhargava, which originated the news item, expands on the topic,

“As scientists seek to control matter at smaller length scales to produce new materials and devices, this study helps us understand exactly how some crystals form,” said Peter Ercius, one of the study’s lead authors and a staff scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry.

In line with scientists’ conventional understanding, once the crystals in the study reached a certain size, they no longer returned to the disordered, unstable state. Won Chul Lee, one of the professors guiding the project, describes it this way: if we imagine each atom as a Lego brick, then instead of building a house one brick at a time, it turns out that the bricks repeatedly fit together and break apart again until they are finally strong enough to stay together. Once the foundation is set, however, more bricks can be added without disrupting the overall structure.

The unstable structures were only visible because of the speed of newly developed detectors on the TEAM I [Transmission Electron Aberration-corrected Microscope], one of the world’s most powerful electron microscopes. A team of in-house experts guided the experiments at the National Center for Electron Microscopy in Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry. Using the TEAM I microscope, researchers captured real-time, atomic-resolution images at speeds up to 625 frames per second, which is exceptionally fast for electron microcopy and about 100 times faster than previous studies. The researchers observed individual gold atoms as they formed into crystals, broke apart into individual atoms, and then reformed again and again into different crystal configurations before finally stabilizing.

“Slower observations would miss this very fast, reversible process and just see a blur instead of the transitions, which explains why this nucleation behavior has never been seen before,” said Ercius.

The reason behind this reversible phenomenon is that crystal formation is an exothermic process – that is, it releases energy. In fact, the very energy released when atoms attach to the tiny nuclei can raise the local “temperature” and melt the crystal. In this way, the initial crystal formation process works against itself, fluctuating between order and disorder many times before building a nucleus that is stable enough to withstand the heat. The research team validated this interpretation of their experimental observations by performing calculations of binding reactions between a hypothetical gold atom and a nanocrystal.

Now, scientists are developing even faster detectors which could be used to image the process at higher speeds. This could help them understand if there are more features of nucleation hidden in the atomic chaos. The team is also hoping to spot similar transitions in different atomic systems to determine whether this discovery reflects a general process of nucleation.

One of the study’s lead authors, Jungwon Park, summarized the work: “From a scientific point of view, we discovered a new principle of crystal nucleation process, and we proved it experimentally.”

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Reversible disorder-order transitions in atomic crystal nucleation by Sungho Jeon, Taeyeong Heo, Sang-Yeon Hwang, Jim Ciston, Karen C. Bustillo, Bryan W. Reed, Jimin Ham, Sungsu Kang, Sungin Kim, Joowon Lim, Kitaek Lim, Ji Soo Kim, Min-Ho Kang, Ruth S. Bloom, Sukjoon Hong, Kwanpyo Kim, Alex Zettl, Woo Youn Kim, Peter Ercius, Jungwon Park, Won Chul Lee. Science 29 Jan 2021: Vol. 371, Issue 6528, pp. 498-503 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7555

This paper is behind a paywall.

Events: COVID-19 Collages and colour, Summer Solstice Celebration of Star Knowledge—Africa and Rapanui (Easter Island), and Tools for Catching Clouds (Biennale Architettura 2021)

I have three events, two of them taking place in Canada on June 9, and June 22 2021 respectively and the third takes place in Venice, Italy.

Covid19 Collage Project on June 9, 2021

A June 7, 2019 Art/Sci Salon announcement (received via email) included this image to illustrate Ilene Sova’s COVID collages,

Pink Ruffle Credit: Ilene Sova

Here’s more from the Colour Research Society of Canada’s (CRSC) Kaleidoscope Lecture: Covid19 Collage Project by OCAD Professor Ilene Sova event page,

In this unique colour-focused artist talk, Sova will explore her Covid19 Collage Project created in direct response to the pandemic. She will take the audience through an analysis of how she utilizes the precise symbolic and aesthetic qualities of colour-choice to reflect her psychological response to our current times and amplify the intent in her artist statement: ‘Former eyes have been replaced, and the curtain pulled back on the inequities that we didn’t fully see before. Newsfeeds are full of surreal deaths and devastating condolences. Different eyes; metallic and shiny. Eyes that no longer know how to ‘look to our future” for hope and possibilities. Our Instagram lives and our vitriolic materialism now laid bare. We are left to self-reflect, face ourselves, slow down, and toss and turn at night with vivid crackling dreams alive with messages screaming from our subconscious. We thought we were separate from nature, but now we know we are one. Sequestered in our homes, our minds begin to change, fracture with confusion. We float in a sea of unknowns, covering our faces with psychological and real masks. In a sparkly shiny isolated dreamy space; how will we prophesize our new future and manifest in a new uncertain one?

Bio: Ilene Sova holds the position of Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Drawing and Painting in the Faculty of Art at Ontario College of Art and Design University [OCAD University]. She identifies as Mixed Race, with a white settler, Afro-Caribbean, and Black Seminole ancestry. She is also an artist who lives with the disability of Epilepsy. As such, she passionately identifies with the tenets of intersectional feminism and has dedicated her creative career to art and activism. Ilene Sova is also the founder of the Feminist Art Collective and Blank Canvases, an in-school creative arts programme for elementary school students. She holds an Honours BFA from the University of Ottawa in Painting and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Windsor. With extensive solo and group exhibitions in Canada and abroad, Sova’s work has most notably been shown at Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Mutuo Centro de Arte in Barcelona. Sova’s artwork has been featured internationally in the Journal of Psychology and Counselling, the Nigerian Arts Journal, Tabula and the Italian feminist journal, Woman’O’Clock. In her academic career, Sova has been invited to speak on diversity and equity in arts curriculum at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Pratt University and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design conference in Los Angeles. A passionate public speaker, Sova was chosen to speak at the first TEDx Women event in Toronto, and Southern University New York where she gave an all University Lecture on Art and Social Change. Additionally, Sova was invited to deliver the Arthur C. Danto Memorial Keynote Lecture at the 76th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics (ASA). Sova’s exhibitions and advocacy in education have been featured on Global Television, CBC Radio, the Toronto Star, Canada AM, The Metro, National Post, Canadian Art, and MSN News.

Register here on eventbrite

Date and time

Wed, June 9, 2021

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM PDT

A Zoom link will be emailed to registered participants approximately 1 hour before the talk, and posted on our CRSC webpage.

Summer Solstice Celebration of Star Knowledge—Africa and Rapanui (Easter Island) on June 22, 2021

Ingenium’s* Indigenous Star Knowledge Symposia series was first mentioned here in a September 18, 2020 posting: Casting your eyes upon the night heavens in advance of the Autumnal (Fall) Equinox celebration, the first in the series.

With the Summer Solstice, we have the fourth and, I believe, the last in the series. From the Summer Solstice, Celebration of Star Knowledge from Africa and Rapanui (Easter Island) event page,

June 22, 2021. 3 p.m. Eastern.

Featured Speakers: Edmundo Edwards Eastman (Rapanui) and Jarita Holbrook (African culture)

Welcome from: Anita Tenasco, Kitigan Zibi, Quebec (Algonquin)

Opening Prayer: Wilfred Buck, Manitoba (Ininew)

Moderated by: Yasmin Catricheo, Chile (Mapuche)

Presentation #1: Cosmovision of the Polynesia and Rapanui. 

Featured Speaker: Edmundo Edwards Eastman. Archeoastronomy. President Fundación
Planetario Rapanui

Abstract: Some 3,500 years ago, the ancestors of the Polynesians led the speediest human expansion of the pre-historic world, guided by nothing more than their complex astronomical observations and an understanding of natural signs. This knowledge, coupled with tremendous navigational skills and human ingenuity, allowed the Polynesians to explore the vast Pacific Ocean and develop highly sophisticated cultures on thousands of different islands.  

Bio: Edmundo’s passion for archaeology started when he was 12 years old and discovered a pre-Incan site in northern Chile, yet it was after visiting Rapa Nui in 1957, that he became enthralled by Rapanui culture and returned to the island in 1960 with archaeologist William Mulloy.  Edmundo has lived and worked in Polynesia ever since. In 1977 he co-founded the Centro de Estudios de Isla de Pascua where he carried out archaeological and ethnographic studies for the University of Chile until 1985. He then left for Tahiti, conducting archaeological surveys and leading restoration work in the Society, Marquesas, and Austral Islands until he returned to Rapa Nui in 1994. Edmundo has since then devoted himself to the scientific study and preservation of the archaeology and culture of the Pacific islands.  He is the co-founder of the Pacific Islands Research Institute (PIRI) and co-owner of Archaeological Travel Service (ATS). Edmundo is an active member of the Explorers Club and in 2011 he was honored with the Lowell Thomas Award for his exceptional contribution to human knowledge through his valuable research and discoveries in Polynesia, and in 2016 he received the Citation of Merit.

Presentation #2: Celestial Africa

Featured Speaker: Jarita Holbrook

Abstract: The continent of Africa is large and has thousands of ethnic groups living in over 50 countries. Though home to some of the biggest astronomical telescopes in the world, there remains the perception that Africans have little awareness of the celestial realm. In reality, African indigenous astronomy is rich with many cultural connections to the sky as well as many practical uses of the sky. Holbrook will share some of the African legacy of rich skylore, artistic works, and practices connected to the sky.

Bio: Jarita Holbrook is a Marie Skłowdowska Curie Fellow in Science, Technology & Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Holbrook has successfully navigated the physical science and the social sciences. Upon moving to South Africa in 2013 to the Physics department at the University of the Western Cape, Holbrook was engaged in indigenous astronomy, studying the sociocultural aspects of astrophysics education in South Africa, and making a film about the social issues connected to building the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. Using interview based inquiry, Holbrook researches the practices of inclusion and exclusion through analyzing socioeconomic class, gender, and ethnicity among database-driven astrophysics collaborations. Holbrook’s current project, ASTROMOVES, explores these in the context of career decision making among astrophysicists.

Panellists:

Anita Tenasco is an Anishinabeg from Kitigan Zibi. She has a Bachelor’s degree in history and teaching from the University of Ottawa, as well as a First Nations leadership certificate from Saint Paul’s University, in Ottawa. She has also taken courses in public administration at ENAP (The University of Public Administration). In Kitigan Zibi, she has held various positions in the field of education and, since 2005, is director of education in her community.

Anita was an active participant in the Honouring Our Ancestors project, in which the Anishinabeg Nation of Kitigan Zibi, under Gilbert Whiteduck’s direction, was successful in the restitution of the remains of ancestors conserved at the Canadian Museum of History, in Gatineau. Anita also participated in the organizing of a conference on repatriation, in Kitigan Zibi, in 2005. She plays an important role in this research project.

http://nikanishk.ca/en/blog/project-participants/anita-tenasco-2/

Wilfred Buck is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He obtained his B.Ed. & Post Bacc. from the University of Manitoba.

As an educator Wilfred has had the opportunity and good fortune to travel to South and Central America as well as Europe and met, shared and listened to Indigenous people from all over the world.

He is a husband, father of four, son, uncle, brother, nephew, story-teller, mad scientist, teacher, singer, pipe-carrier, sweat lodge keeper, old person and sun dance leader. Researching Ininew star stories Wilfred found a host of information which had to be interpreted and analyzed to identify if the stories were referring to the stars. The journey began… The easiest way to go about doing this, he was told, was to look up. 

“The greatest teaching that was ever given to me, other than my wife and children, is the ability to see the humor in the world”…Wilfred Buck

https://acakwuskwun.com/

Yasmin Catricheo is the STEM Education Scholar at AUI’s Office of Education and Public Engagement. She is a physics educator from Chile, and of Mapuche origin. Yasmin is passionate about the teaching of science and more recently has focused in the area of astronomy and STEM. In her professional training she has taken a range of courses in science and science education, and researched the benefits of scientific argumentation in the physics classroom, earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Bío-Bío. Yasmín is also a member of the indigenous group “Mapu Trafun”, and she works closely with the Mapuche community to recover the culture and communicate the message of the Mapuche Worldview. In 2018 Yasmín was selected as the Chilean representative for Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador Program (ACEAP) founded by NSF.

Associated Universities Inc.

Register for the Webinar

Note: You can also find the information on Ingenium’s French language event page: Solstice d’été : une célébration des connaissances stellaires de l’Afrique et de Rapa Nui (l’île de Pâques).

*Ingenium is the name for Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, which acts as an umbrella organization for the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Tools for Catching Clouds at Venice’s Biennale Architettura 2021

This information comes from a June 8, 2021 email received from the artist himself, Lanfranco Aceti,

Tools for Catching Clouds is a new series of works of art by Lanfranco Aceti. They are a segment of Preferring Sinking to Surrender — the artist’s installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021. The installation is comprised of drawings, sculptures, paintings, videos, performances, and a vegetable garden. 

Curated by Alessandro Melis for the Italian Pavilion, Preferring Sinking to Surrender is a progression and accumulation of works of art that will be developed throughout the duration of the Venice Architecture Biennale, from May 21, 2021, to November 21, 2021. 

The artist reimagines the future in matriarchal terms and bypasses social upheavals and legacies of environmental disasters through a series of aesthetic approaches that navigate melancholia, anger, and hope. The works of art retrace the legacies of the past — back to the Italic tribes that populated the Apennines before the founding of Rome and the arrival of Greeks in southern Italy.  

The worship of the Magna Mater — or the Great Black Mediterranean Mother — by the Italic tribes is a necessary rediscovery to understand the resilience of matriarchy and its values of acceptance and inclusion within societies that have become patriarchal in nature and, de facto, hierarchical and exclusionary. Nevertheless, these values resist and persist, and have empowered entire generations who were considered ‘outsiders’ and who have found, in the embrace of the ‘Mamma Schiavona’ (another name for the Magna Mater), their strength, networks of solidarity, and empowerment. 

Aceti’s research in gender issues and alternative structures to patriarchy, developed during a one year affiliation at Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) @ MIT, inspired a continued analysis of pre-Roman matriarchal societies. This led to the conception of Preferring Sinking to Surrender as an alternative space and narrative to current capitalistic cultural frameworks. 

“I have to say that it is a pleasure working with Alessandro Melis,” said Aceti. “Not every curator is fond of process based art. For me it is particularly rewarding to have found a curator that is both empowering and supportive.” 

For more information and images of Tools for Catching Clouds, click here

About the Artist

Lanfranco Aceti is known for his extensive career as artist, curator, and academic. He has exhibited numerous personal projects including Car Park, a public performance in the UK at the John Hansard Gallery; Who The People?, an installation artwork acquired in its entirety by the Chetham’s Library and Museum in Manchester; Sowing and Reaping, installation artworks acquired in their entirety by the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Cyprus; Hope Coming On, a site-specific choral performance he designed for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and realized in front of Turner’s Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On); Shimmer, a series of sculptural, photographic, and painting works curated by Irini Papadimitriou (V&A) at the Tobazi Mansion in Hydra; a large choral performance titled Accursed for the Thessaloniki Biennial in Greece; and Knock, Knock, Knocking a public space installation in the Mediterranean Garden Pavilion of the New Sea Waterfront of Thessaloniki. Currently, he is developing a large international project, Preferring Sinking to Surrender for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, which includes performances in major cities around the world. 

About The Studium

The Studium is Lanfranco Aceti’s artistic studio. It has partnered with public and private organizations as well as with individuals to realize the artist’s works and to develop fora for the discussion of aesthetic approaches to public space, the role of contemporary art in the social political landscape, and themes of social and environmental justice.

For questions or information and materials, please contact The Studium’s Marketing Director, John Francescutti.

The Venice Architecture Biennale (or Biennale Architettura 2021), from May 21, 2021, to November 21, 2021.

A Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club on June 9, 2021

The link between science fiction and science innovation and technology has been documented and argued over elsewhere online and in print. However, the link between policy and science fiction is new to me.

First, here’s the upcoming event which caught my eye (from the Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club event page),

[ONLINE] – Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Science fiction can have real science policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. And with such a rich cache of science fiction to choose from, we think a book club is in order.

Join us [emphasis mine] for the first installment of our Science Fiction/Real Policy book club, a partnership with Issues in Science and Technology. Our first read will be Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. Autonomous follows the story of a female pharmaceutical pirate named Jack, an anti-patent scientist who has set out to bring cheap drugs to the poor. Without giving away too many spoilers, Newitz’s tale also includes a military agent-robot love story, a quest for justice, and the danger late capitalist modernity poses to personhood.

Join us for a jam-packed evening where we’ll discuss Autonomous and the questions it raises about labor and power, robot ethics, gender, patent law, the pharmaceutical industry, geopolitics, and much more.

Featured discussants

Joey Eschrich
Editor and Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University [ASU]

Tahir Amin
Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, I-MAK

When

Jun. 9, 2021 [Wednesday]
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Where

Online Only Webcast link

RSVP here

Follow the conversation online using #FTBookClub and by following @FutureTenseNow.

Who is ‘us’?

The hosting organization is New America (newamerica.org). If you click on their About tab/button, you’ll find this,

We are dedicated to renewing the promise of America by continuing the quest to realize our nation’s highest ideals, honestly confronting the challenges caused by rapid technological and social change, and seizing the opportunities those changes create.

Amongst other programs, New America is participating in Future Tense,

Future Tense is a partnership between New America, Arizona State University, and Slate magazine to explore emerging technologies and their transformative effects on society and public policy. Central to the partnership is a series of events that take in-depth, provocative looks at issues that, while little-understood today, will dramatically reshape the policy debates of the coming decade.

It took me a while but I finally realized that the book club is a Future Tense initiative.

As for I-MAK, it’s an organization devoted to improving access to medicines globally and amongst other activities, solving the drug patent problem.