Welcome to the Future of Air Conditioning, says a poster at Venice airport, straight after passport control. Next to the words is an image of a composite Shanghai/Dubai-like city, made of sealed towers of the kind that would be impossible without artificial air. Any association with this year’s Rolex-sponsored Venice Biennale of Architecture is coincidental, but the poster is an eloquent exhibit of the event’s main theme. This is: thousands of years of architectural history are being changed utterly by modern techniques of constructing and servicing buildings which, predetermined by technical considerations, make architects marginal to their making. If, for example, a fireplace was once an occasion for social gathering and ornamental embellishment, there are now sensors that can track an individual and provide heating specific to that one person. The provision of heat becomes a solitary, dematerialised and invisible affair.
“I’ve made a bot that ‘likes’ everything on Facebook,” said Julien Deswaef […]
While it sounds an easy project to execute, it turns out that Facebook has its own scripts programmed to penalise ruthless automation. Because of this, Julien has had to mimic the sporadic interactions of humans to keep the bot under the radar. The artist has also had to forfeit his own Facebook account to the bot — you could interpret this as performance art, but Julien calls it software art. Many of his friends instantly complained about having everything liked by him. I follow him/it on Facebook, and yes it’s frustrating, but it is only irritating because it holds up a mirror of how pathetic your Facebook life really is; the bot likes every single mundane trace you leave on the site.
In fact, it’s all about the butts. Because players see their avatars from a third-person perspective from behind, men are confronted with whether they want to stare at a guy’s butt or a girl’s butt for 20 hours a week. Or as the study authors put it in more academic prose, gender-switching men “prefer the esthetics of watching a female avatar form.” This means that gender-switching men somehow end up adopting a few female speech patterns even though they had no intention of pretending to be a woman.
A Hong Kong VC fund has just appointed an algorithm to its board.
Deep Knowledge Ventures, a firm that focuses on age-related disease drugs and regenerative medicine projects, says the program, called VITAL, can make investment recommendations about life sciences firms by poring over large amounts of data.
Just like other members of the board, the algorithm gets to vote on whether the firm makes an investment in a specific company or not. The program will be the sixth member of DKV’s board.
By analogy, the opening of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is nothing but a string of short phrases. Yet no one could contend that this portion of Dickens’ work is unworthy of copyright protection because it can be broken into those shorter constituent components.
By 1 p.m., Philip would leave the small yellow house in Silver Spring where he lived alone. He walked a half-block, waited for the No. 5 bus, took it to his job as a taxi dispatcher, returned home, cooked a late dinner, watched Charlie Rose and went to sleep. He never locked his front door and often left it wide open. Part was defiance. This is how I live. Part was warmth. Anyone is welcome.
One February night, someone came inside — someone Philip may have known — and beat him to death. The case remains Montgomery’s only unsolved killing this year.
Philip seemed to have no secrets and no enemies. And he left behind no electronic footprints — the text messages, e-mails, cellphone logs and social-media traffic that police routinely use these days as they seek out unknown quarrels and final movements.
“Those records usually help,” said Capt. Marcus Jones, commander of Montgomery County’s major-crimes division. “We don’t have any of that.”
For Philip’s family and friends, the case brings a terrible possibility: Could everything that made the lifelong bachelor so unique, so stubborn, so confounding, so wonderful — a life rooted in rejection of instant communication — be allowing his killer to get away with it?