Kiirtoidu lõhnadest kraanajuhtideni ja mustkunstnike metodoloogiast tehisintellekti arendamiseni

Jesse Smith kirjutab enda kirjust elust korteris, mis asub juhuslikult ühe kiirtoidukoha köögi kohal. Päevast-päeva toidulõhnadega elamisest, mis üpris kiiresti vastuvõtmatuks muutusida, ja kiirtoidukohtade varjatud hingeelu jälgimisest saab päris huvitava loo:

I imagine that one of the most universal but least discussed rites of passage is the discovery that the house you grew up in has a very distinct smell, and that it wasn’t just everyone else’s house that smelled peculiar. Recognized only on return from your first long time away, this is typically not the romantic smell of baking pies or pipe tobacco, but neither is it anything foul, like a backed-up septic tank or mildew. It’s instead something that defies description, a complex olfactoral web that is unique to the group living under one roof. Like snowflakes, no two are ever alike.

I live next to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant, and the smell of my home is very describable: It’s the smell of Wendy’s food cooking. The last thing I want is to have my future kids return from college one day only to realize that their childhood home smells like something called a Baconator.

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Louise Armitstead kirjutas Telegraphis mõned nädalad tagasi Dubai megaprojektide saatusest ja kinnisvara olukorrast selles kõrbelinnas üldisemalt, kuid kõige intrigeerivam on loo algus, kus on juttu ka müütilis-legendaarsest kraanajuhist:

Known as the “Indian on top of the world”, Mr Sassi is the crane operator at the tallest building on earth – the 819m Burj Dubai. Sassi’s office, the cramped crane cab precariously perched on top of the Burj, is also his home – apparently it takes too long to come down to ground level each day to make it worthwhile.

In his absence, stories about his daily dalliance with death are discussed in revered terms by Dubai’s workers. Some say he has been up there for over a year, others whisper that he’s paid 30,000Dh (£5,300) a month compared with the average wage of 800Dh (£140) per month. All agree he’s worth it. One chat room post said: “[Sassi] must be a real expert at cranes or totally insane.”

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Sonny Bunch kirjutab Washinton Times’is sellest, kuidas Criterioni Kollektsiooni raames müügile tulevaid filme taastatakse, mida protsess endast kujutab ja kuidas Criterion filmiklassikasse suhtub ja kuidas järkjärgult võetakse vanemate filmide taastamiseks ja esitamiseks kasutusele uuemat tehnoloogiat:

The first trick is finding a print suitable for transferring. The prints that are shipped to theaters invariably are damaged as they run through projectors manned by ill-trained operators: They get scratched, broken, taped back together and otherwise mangled. As a result, Mr. Kline and his cohort of techies scour the globe for the original film elements.

After finding the cleanest print possible, Mr. Kline and company run the film through a Spirit film scanner. “Over the last 15 years or so, we’ve learned how to use this machine and make really good high-definition transfers,” Mr. Kline says.

Finding the print is only half the battle: The restoration process looms. “Removing reel changes, scratches, dirt, debris, flicker, shaky images, out-of-focus stuff” as well as correcting color and other little touch-ups are performed on the prints to ensure that the movies look like they did when they were first run.

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David Ivanovich on DC Examineri jaoks hakkama saanud portreelooga Tyler Cowenist. Mees on piisavalt andekas ja huvitav, et iga natukese aja tagant temast keegi mõne portreeloo igati õigustatult ka kirjutab. Vabalogi otsingusse Cowen’i nime sisestamine peaks tooma hulgaliselt tulemusi, mis viitavad varasematele portreelugudele nagu ka Coweni enda artiklitele. Mees ise peab enda kõige olulisemaks panuseks majandusteadusesse kuntsiökonoomika edasi arendamist:

Cowen thinks his greatest contribution to his field has been his research on the economics of the arts. His love of the arts is palpable, his taste all over the lot. 

He likes classical Indian music, for instance, and is an avid collector of Mexican “Outsider” art. Colorful folk paintings, many produced by a single, extended family from a remote Mexican village, cover the walls of Cowen’s Fairfax living room, and ceramic piggy banks decorate his hearth.

“Someone can be talking to him about hip-hop music, and he’ll be conversing fluently on that,” Tabarrok says. “The next minute, he’s talking about monetary theory. A few minutes later he’ll be talking about European history, then Beethoven or Schubert. On all of these topics, each person who spoke with him will say, ‘That’s really an expert on something I thought I really knew well.”’

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Bruce Bower kirjutab uuest lähenemisest tehisintellekti arendamisel, mis võimaldab ehk jõuda sinna kuhu siiani pole jõutud. Lähenemise erilisus seisneb selles, et õppimise üheks lahutamatuks osaks on ka vahetu füüsiline tagasiside, mis kujundab näiteks inimlaste arusaama maailmast:

Studies suggest that toddlers rapidly learn words by coordinating their activity and attention with what their parents do. Other work indicates that bodily experiences orchestrate the widespread, but apparently not universal, belief that right-handedness and the right side of space are good, while left-handedness and the left side of space are bad.

Then there’s the budding field of social robotics, in which machines such as Leonardo manage to interact with and learn from people. This new generation of robots may eventually provide key insights into the way human minds develop, says psychologist Lawrence Barsalou of Emory University in Atlanta.

“I predict that in the next 30 years grounded processes will be shown to play a causal role in cognition,” Barsalou says.

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Scientific American’is ilmus hiljuti artikkel sellest, kuidas mustkunstnikud kasutavad ära inimtaju puudusi ja tõlgendusvigasid, et meid üllatada ja vaimustada. Viimaste aastate jooksul on aga huvi mustkunstnike meetodite vastu kasvanud just inimtaju uurivate teadlaste seas, kelle jaoks on tegu huvitava ja eksperimentide rohke valdkonnaga, mis võimaldab paremini mõista seda, kuidas me üldse maailma tajume ja puudusi kompenseerime:

All during Thompson’s patter after his little “joke,” each spectator’s visual system is undergoing a brain process called neural adaptation. The responsiveness of a neural system to a constant stimulus (as measured by the firing rate of the relevant neurons) decreases with time. It is as if neurons actively ignore a constant stimulus to save their strength for signaling that a stimulus is changing. When the constant stimulus is turned off, the adapted neurons fire a “rebound” response known as an afterdischarge.

In this case, the adapting stimulus is the red-lit dress, and Thompson knows that the spectators’ retinal neurons will rebound for a fraction of a second after the lights are dimmed. The audience will continue to see a red afterimage in the shape of the woman. During that split second, a trap door in the stage opens briefly, and the white dress, held only lightly in place with Velcro and attached to invisible cables leading under the stage, is ripped from her body. Then the lights come back up.

Two other factors help to make the trick work. First, the lighting is so bright just before the dress comes off that when it dims, the spectators cannot see the rapid motions of the cables and the white dress as they disappear underneath the stage. The same temporary blindness can overtake you when you walk from a sunny street into a dimly lit shop. Second, Thompson performs the real trick only after the audience thinks it is already over. That gains him an important cognitive advantage—the spectators are not looking for a trick at the critical moment, and so they slightly relax their scrutiny.

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