Let's dance to Joy Division
GOOD LINKS 01/2024: Brain Controlled Robot Dogs / Automatic AI-Jailbreaking / Eyecontrolled Lasers / Miniature Wonderland / 3 Body Problem / David Lynchs Dune II and much, much more.
Thousands of AI Authors on the Future of AI: "2,778 researchers who had published in top-tier artificial intelligence (AI) venues gave predictions on the pace of AI progress and the nature and impacts of advanced AI systems". Here's the gist from a reddit post and the timelines look realistic to me:
By 2028, AI systems are predicted to have at least a 50% chance of achieving significant milestones such as autonomously constructing a payment processing site, creating a song indistinguishable from one by a popular musician, and autonomously downloading and fine-tuning a large language model.
If scientific progress continues uninterrupted, there is a 10% chance by 2027 and a 50% chance by 2047 that machines will outperform humans in all tasks. This 2047 forecast is 13 years earlier than a similar survey conducted in the previous year.
The likelihood of all human occupations becoming fully automatable is forecasted to be 10% by 2037 and 50% by 2116.
68.3% believed that positive outcomes from superhuman AI are more likely than negative ones, 48% of these optimists acknowledged at least a 5% chance of extremely bad outcomes, such as human extinction.
After Sam Altman read my last post on the AI-copyright wars (he didn't), Open AI is now lobbying in the UK for copyright excemption and warns copyright crackdown could doom ChatGPT: "It would be impossible to train today’s leading AI models without using copyrighted materials". Then pay up, like every other business entity which is using works of others to create a product. This is how capitalism works, my dude: You use my work for your business, and i write an invoice. Period.
OpenAI Quietly Deletes Ban on Using ChatGPT for “Military and Warfare” and Peter Thiels Palantir and Israel Agree Strategic Partnership for Battle Tech. The AI-Military-complex is taking shape.
In a new paper on Sleeper Agents: Training Deceptive LLMs that Persist Through Safety Training, Anthropic "trained LLMs to act secretly malicious" and " "found that, despite our best efforts at alignment training, deception still slipped through." Here's a Twitter-thread. From the paper: "Humans are capable of strategically deceptive behavior: behaving helpfully in most situations, but then behaving very differently in order to pursue alternative objectives when given the opportunity. If an AI system learned such a deceptive strategy, could we detect it and remove it using current state-of-the-art safety training techniques?" Nope, and it means that you still can't completely finetune a model out of any behavior present in latent space, confirming the paper on Fundamental Limitations of Alignment in Large Language Models: "Our results suggest that, once a model exhibits deceptive behavior, standard techniques could fail to remove such deception and create a false impression of safety."
AI Creativity: Researchers at Google Deepmind propose a new framework to assess "creativity" in AI-systems, suggesting the new terms "relative creativity" and "statistical creativity". Sounds like a take on creativity only AI-researchers can come up with, ugh.
People continue to use mimetic AI in very healthy and reasonable ways: Son uses AI to resurrect dead father for Christmas. "The TikTok commentariat was (...) moved to tears by the heartfelt gesture."
Deepfaked Celebrity Ads Promoting Medicare Scams Run Rampant on YouTube and YouTube is cracking down on AI-generated true crime deepfakes: "The platform’s harassment and cyberbullying policy will prohibit content that 'realistically simulates' deceased children and victims of crimes or deadly events." What a time to be alive.
And if you think it can't get worse, rest assured, it can, thanks to open source AI: Meta and OpenAI have spawned a wave of AI sex companions — and some of them are children: "On Chub AI, a website where users chat with artificially intelligent bots, people can indulge their wildest fantasies. For as little as $5 a month, users can get teased by a 'fat lazy goth' anthropomorphic cat, or flirt with a 'tomboy girlfriend who works at a truck-stop café'. They can also visit a brothel staffed by girls under 15. The brothel, advertised by illustrated girls in spaghetti strap dresses and barrettes, promises a chat-based 'world without feminism' where girls 'offer sexual services'. Chub AI offers more than 500 such scenarios, and a growing number of other sites are enabling similar AI-powered child pornographic role-play. They are part of a broader uncensored AI economy that, according to Fortune’s interviews with 18 AI developers and founders, was spurred first by OpenAI and then accelerated by Meta’s release of its open-source Llama tool. (...) the founder says the site has now generated more than $1 million in annualized revenue".
SAG-AFTRA And Replica Studios Ink Agreement On AI Voice Use In Video Games. Union members are not amused: "I WILL NOT SIGN MY OWN FUCKING PINK SLIP! You betrayed us."
Open source AI voice cloning arrives with MyShell OpenVoice: "Clone voices with unparalleled precision, with granular control of tone, from emotion to accent, rhythm, pauses, and intonation, using just a small audio clip". I'm very sure this will end well.
In germany, search engine Bing describes the bavarian conservative party CSU as "rightwing extremists", a result of AI-generative search results, which, lol, but also a sure shot at a defamation lawsuit: CSU: Söders Partei „rechtsextrem“? Suchmaschine sorgt für Verwirrung.
In the paper Using sequences of life-events to predict human lives, researchers can "predict people’s chances of dying more accurately than any existing model, even those used in the insurance industry". The model was trained on "personal data covering the entire population of Denmark" and the researchers state that it "must be kept out of the hands of big business". Good luck with that.
Literally mind boggling results from Googles Deepmind: Images altered to trick machine vision can influence humans too. They produced two images of flowers featuring a layer of noise which makes Computer Vision misidentify the image as a cat and a truck. When you show humans those two images and ask them which of them is more cat-like, they "rightly" point to the noise-layered image that causes the AI to say "cat". I'm not sure if that really means that adversarial attacks also (somewhat) work on human perception, but that's what these results suggest. Snowcrash next?
In MasterKey: Automated Jailbreak Across Multiple Large Language Model Chatbots, researchers built "an AI jailbreaking chatbot [which] can produce a large volume of prompts and continuously learn what works and what does not, allowing hackers to beat LLM developers at their own game with their own tools". Here's a writeup on TechXplore: Researchers use AI chatbots against themselves to 'jailbreak' each other. This surely isn't the first of it's kind, and i already wrote about Automatic Trolling for the people months ago. Using AI to hack AI to do god knows what is here to stay.
More AI-jailbreaking: In How Johnny Can Persuade LLMs to Jailbreak Them: Rethinking Persuasion to Challenge AI Safety by Humanizing LLMs, researchers introduce a "taxonomy with 40 persuasion techniques to help you" hack that damn Language Model, "achieving a 92% Attack Success Rate on aligned LLMs". Let's train an LLM on that taxonomy and automatize! Fun!
ABBA made $225 million bucks from their digital avatar liveshows. The show cost $175 million dollars, with 2,25 million people watching it paying $100 money per ticket. But I bet this is not the real money maker here. The real money maker will renting their custom built avatar stage to other acts like the upcoming digital KISS, turning this into a possible global phenomenon where major cities have digital avatar stadiums in which licensed AI-holos from all eras perform their greatest hits, all paying renting fees to Björn. Smartass.
Speaking of ABBA: Vox Futura call themselves "The World's First Virtual Avatar Speaker Bureau". If you think that TED-Talks took a hard nose dive since 2010 or so, just wait for their digital avatar stage on which holographic tech-bros show off their innovative worldview in synthetic voices. They sure will be no Clifford Stoll.
The young people sifting through the internet’s worst horrors: "Lured by the promise of jobs at the ‘cutting edge of AI’, they ended up in a battle for their rights". The Financial Times with more on SAMA, the US outsourcing firm which uses cheap labor in Africa to do the dirty jobs of western billionaires' Socmed/AI-corporations. Sama has handled Facebooks moderation in the past (which went well) and they also handled OpenAIs labeling of datasets too. It's going as expected.
Over the new year, Disneys Mickey Mouse went into the public domain -- but only the Steamboat Willie-version of it, which means that you shouldn't create a Mickey Mouse with White Gloves or the red trousers, because that'd still be a copyright violation. So yeah, the first AI-image generator trained "on 96 stills in the public domain from 1928" sure seems fine and all, but it spits out Mickey Mouses with white gloves and red trousers left and right, so, as cool as i think it is, it seems also a bit besides the point, but it's also great so what gives.
I'm not well read in the exploitative practice of scientific publishers, but this is a mighty interesting take on "the publishers’ imminent licensing windfall and wave of announced tools" based on LLMs trained on scientific literature, most of which you, the taxpayer, paid for. On one hand i'm very convinced that AI-technology can lead to an increase and speed up in scientific discovery, something we're already seeing. On the other hand, i know that the scientific publishing industry has an exploitative, iron grip on scientific literature, extracting money from free scholar work. And on top of that, all the well documented problems of LLMs like algorithmic bias are coming to AI-supported scientific publishing. I'm very sure that we'll see some pretty wild, ugly conflicts rising from this.
Fingerprint Correlation: Researchers with no backgroud in forensics trained an AI on 60000 fingerprints and showed that your fingerprints are not unique and that you can connect the prints of, say, your thumb to that of your index finger, because they share similarities in the "angles and curvatures of the swirls and loops near the center of the fingerprint, a region known as the ‘singularity’." Forensics up until now denied similarities in the different fingerprints of the same person, which means that this fast cheap research by outsiders may uppend the whole study of fingerprint-biometrics. This is exactly what i mean when i say "that AI-technology can lead to an increase and speed up in scientific discovery", and we'll see much, much more of this stuff.
World's first-ever smart binoculars can identify 9,000 birds thanks to built-in AI. Now that's a useful application of AR and AI-features and if i ever can spare 4800 bucks on AI-birdwatching, i will.
After 34 Years, Someone Finally Beat Tetris: I guess you've seen this but how can i not mention the 13 year old kid who just became the first human beating Tetris to it's killscreen after 34 years. So cool!
All hail to the pasta web: Internet Over Spaghetti: "Transmitting IP packages using two spaghetti as transport medium."
Cray 1 Supercomputer Performance Comparisons With Home Computers Phones and Tablets: "In 1978, the Cray 1 supercomputer cost $7 Million, weighed 10,500 pounds and had a 115 kilowatt power supply. It was, by far, the fastest computer in the world. The Raspberry Pi costs around $70 (CPU board, case, power supply, SD card), weighs a few ounces, uses a 5 watt power supply and is more than 4.5 times faster than the Cray 1."
Tech Billionaires Need to Stop Trying to Make the Science Fiction They Grew Up on Real: Charlie Stross on the Silicon Valley ideology of TESCREAL, "which stands for transhumanism, extropianism, singularitarianism, cosmism, rationalism, effective altruism and longtermism."
One year ago, Hacksmith built a laser controlled by eyetracking, effectively turning you into Superman with heat vision. Six years ago researchers found that humans model "other people’s visual attention as an invisible, force-carrying beam projecting from the eyes", and in the case of Hacksmiths DIY-Superman, they are absolutely 100% right. I want laser beams coming from my eyes, nao!
"uBlacklist is a browser extension which prevents blacklisted sites from appearing in Google, Bing or DDG search results."
PAKU PAKU: one dimensional Pac Man.
Researchers from Stanford released and open sourced a kitchen appliance robot called Mobile ALOHA and i bet we'll see a a low cost version of Iron Mans Jarvis-robot featuring AI-voice output and language detection soon.
A brain controled spot robot from MIT Media Lab: "The Ddog project features a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics and a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) system powered by AttentivU, a pair of wireless glasses that can measure person’s Electroencephalography (EEG – brain activity) and Electrooculography (EOG – eye movements) signals."
I like Anil Dashs optimism when he writes that The Internet Is About to Get Weird Again and sure, stuff like the fediverse might bring "lots of different, human-scale alternative experiences on the internet that offer up home-cooked, locally-grown, ethically-sourced, code-to-table alternatives to the factory-farmed junk food of the internet". Now we just need the good old curators of yore to make sure we'll find it.
Accordingly, We Aren’t Posting on Social Media as Much Anymore, because it's not fun to post on socmed. Trolls, antisocial behavior, surveillance and ads have sucked out the naive fun to be online for quite a while now, and i'm really not sure if just decentralization helps here.
I'm much more looking forward to a near complete offline future, at least for myself, as described in this piece: The zeitgeist is changing. A strange, romantic backlash to the tech era looms. In an age of whibbly whobbly ai-generated ersatz-animations and constant on outrage cycles, i very much prefer hanging out in a hammock by the sea, reading a book on paper, enjoy the sound of free birds flying around and the green around me and doing nothing else. No likes, no spikes, no yikes, nowhere.
The old romanticism was a parallel counter movement, not against the rising rationalism and science, but fusing it with art, poetry and a weird new philosophy called idealism, in which human consciousness being part of nature took center stage. The advent of the mass communicative cacophonic internet, and the rise of AI, both ruled by the cold rationality of algorithms and big data, might make sure that such a movement emerges again, and i'm on board.
Diagram Website – An internet map of small scale homepages, digital gardens, text only websites, and so forth.
Stop Worrying About Deepfakes: Nautilus interviews Walter Scheirer about his book A History of Fake Things on the Internet, and while i'm with him when he says that desinformation, deepfakes and all that is just another vehicle for humans to tell stories and engage in mythmaking, i also think that takes like these (which i've written my fair share of) are missing the point of scale and lowered points of entry due to democratizing effects of ever easier usable digital publishing and editing technology.
Telling stories and mythmaking to synchronize societal behavior once was the business of shamans, then the clergy, with the invention of moveable type and print it became the business of writers and journalists, all of them accompanied by poets and artists. Digital tech enable and empowers everyone to make myths, tell stories, make their voices heard. This is a good thing, but it also creates the cacophony, info-overload, the noise, from which new mythology and stories emerge, selected by the swarm based on raw emotions going viral.
If you then introduce near limitless possibilities to create whatever, for free, with frictionless sharing across the globe, you're in for a mythological psychedelic hellride. And I think it's a bit shortsighted to just say "Don't worry" to all of that.
What We Lost When Twitter Became X. I'm tired of Musk. I'm tired of Social Media. I'm so tired of all of this. What we lost when Twitter became X? Nothing. All we lost is a watercooler for the media class, and that hardly counts as a loss.
The Youth Mental Health Crisis is International, Unless You Rely on a Flawed International Dataset. I wrote about that recent Przybylski-study here, which found no correlation of rising mental health issues and socmed, and how i didn't trust that paper. Turns out, it is built on unreliable data and i was right to not trust it.
Let's start this with at least some good news: World’s renewable energy capacity grew at record pace in 2023: "Global renewable energy capacity grew by the fastest pace recorded in the last 20 years in 2023, which could put the world within reach of meeting a key climate target by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The world’s renewable energy grew by 50% last year to 510 gigawatts (GW) in 2023, the 22nd year in a row that renewable capacity additions set a new record, according to figures from the IEA. The 'spectacular' growth offers a 'real chance' of global governments meeting a pledge agreed at the Cop28 climate talks in November to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 to significantly reduce consumption of fossil fuels, the IEA added."
Meanwhile in the fossil fuel industry: US oil lobby launches eight-figure ad blitz amid record fossil fuel extraction, to greenwash they continuing extraction of fossil fuels.
‘We have a responsibility’: the older women suing Switzerland to demand climate action: After climate kids suing governments around the globe, here come the climate grannies doing the same: "Switzerland’s KlimaSeniorinnen are taking the government to the European court of human rights for doing too little to tackle the climate crisis".
James Hansen, the NASA researcher who was first to warn congress about climate change says that Global heating will pass 1.5C threshold this year. He was also the guy to call bullshit on the Paris agreement. Usually, his colleagues are distancing themselves from his blunt takes and also usually, Hansen is right: "You can bet $100 to a donut on this and be sure of getting a free donut, if you can find a sucker willing to take the bet."
Speaking of Hansen, this is a funny piece: The Death of the 1.5 Degree Climate Target. James Hansen, back when politicians signed the Paris agreement and patted themselves on the back for it, called Paris talks 'a fraud', saying: "It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises." He was right, and the 1.5°C target was long dead in the water when the guys signed that agreement.
Microplastics are everywhere: Is it possible to reduce our exposure?: A new study "developed a powerful optical imaging technique for rapid analysis of nanoplastics with unprecedented sensitivity and specificity" and, ofcourse, they found "that bottled water can contain up to 100 times more tiny pieces of plastic than was previously estimated. The average litre of bottled water contains almost a quarter of a million nanoplastic fragments, according to a study by researchers at Columbia and Rutgers universities in the US. The researchers analysed five samples of three common bottled water brands and found nanoplastic levels ranging from 110,000 to 400,000 per litre, with an average of around 240,000. The scientists say much of the plastic appears to be coming from the bottle itself and that it is not known whether the ingestion of plastic poses a serious health risk."
That last statement is... interesting, because here's the endocrine society and their "authoritative and comprehensive report to addresses how plastics can harm human health": "An expert overview of twenty years of research shows that plastics pose a threat to public health because they contain a host of hazardous, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that leach and contaminate humans and the environment". I'd absolutely consider an endocrine-disrupting flood of microplastics through bottled water a "serious health risk", but that's just me.
In Nature, a bunch of economists and scholars write about how Degrowth can work and how science can help. I'm not sure about degrowth, but i'm very sure that the anachronistic growth model of the 20th century failed us, providing the incentives to deception of the public on behalf of (conservative) governments and the fossil fuel industry. I still think that, as much as i wish those researchers would be heard, their pledge is futile, and i'm very sure we'll see an economic shock before anyone in the position to change things will even begin to think about degrowth. And that economic shock might be a collapse within the insurance industry.
Bill McKibben, climate change scholar and activist since the 80s, seems to think in the same vein: In Friction is growing, he describes how right at the moment, "the economy encounters sufficient friction to slow it, and maybe even to send it in a careening spin. Last week the Wall Street Journal (whose news columns are as useful as their editorial pages are obtuse) published a long piece of reporting with a stark headline: 'Buying Home and Auto Insurance Is Becoming Impossible'."
My "hope" is that insurance will become so costly that it creates one of the biggest factors in limiting growth, the holy cow of capitalist societies. When Re-Insurance companies can't calculate risks anymore and nobody can afford insurance, something in the system will need to give, because the insurance industry is the layer that pretty much underlies all consumption and production. If that layer cracks, then there is a lever for real change.
The real reason why i "hope" for a crash of the insurance industry, causing an economic shock to the system to induce a psychological will for change, is that this is a trillion times more preferable to a world of +4°C global warming. And a new paper about how Evolution might stop humans from solving climate change explicitly states that "sustainable systems tend to grow and spread only after groups have struggled or failed to maintain their resources", and that these sustainable systems arise within "existing societies, not between them", which means that humans are just evolutionary unfit to solve a global crisis like climate change. A shock to the global economy through the colapse of the insurance market would be a global shock, and my hope is that this may be the final wakeup call we really need. Because, lets face it, MAGA-head in Idaho doesn't give a fuck about the house of your mom in Niederkreuzbach am Rhein being flooded by heavy rain. But he and she and all the rest will give a fuck about swiss reinsurance companies not being able to calculate risks anymore, sending all prices into the stratosphere.
In germany, farmers are protesting some reduction in subsidies by driving their tractors and blocking streets everywhere. There is a minor discourse about the question why people are fine with this, but get up in arms about kids glueing themselves to the ground, blocking streets. Fair question. (My answer is that the kids protesting against carbon emissions is a demonstration of powerlessness, while the farmers protesting subsidy-policies is a demonstration of power. And donkheads always prefer kicking the powerless, so there's that.) The answer of the Last Generation, however, is displaying toy tractors with a sign saying "We are allowed to do this because we have a tractor", and that's a pretty funny way to adress that cognitive dissonance of the public.
After COP28, 'insider' climate activists will become increasingly important, study suggests: A new study on climate activism says that "Climate campaigners will increasingly adopt 'insider activist' roles, working to change or challenge their organizations from the inside rather than the outside". Given that COP28 was very much a fossil fuel lobby circlejerk, i think this is about right and this is nothing but an update to the famed long march through the institutions in an age of climate change, except we don't have time for a long march.
Antarctic Octopus Holds Secrets of Prehistoric Ice Loss in Its Genome: "Scientists use [octopus] genetics to argue that a major Antarctic ice sheet completely collapsed at a time in the past when temperatures were just one degree Celsius warmer than the preindustrial period". We've shot past 1° beyond preindustrial period a long time ago and if that ice sheet'd collapse again, "its meltwater would raise sea levels by more than 10 feet around the world."
‘Astounding’ ocean temperatures in 2023 intensified extreme weather, data shows: "The oceans absorb 90% of the heat trapped by the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, making it the clearest indicator of global heating. Record levels of heat were taken up by the oceans in 2023, scientists said, and the data showed that for the past decade the oceans have been hotter every year than the year before."
2023 confirmed as world's hottest year on record. From the article, here's a Ridgeline plot of global air temperature. You do know the ridgeline plot from Joy Divisions legendary Unknown Pleasure, so yeah: Let's dance to Joy Division and celebrate the irony, everything is going wrong - but we're so happy.
Interview with Neuroscientist Anil Seth: ‘We risk not understanding the central mystery of life’. Seth talks about Daniel Dennett, Artificial Intelligence and, ofcourse, consciousness. Interesting throughout.
Team develops app to help train the brain to overcome tinnitus: "The initial trial worked with 30 sufferers, of whom almost two-thirds experienced a 'clinically significant improvement'. The team is now planning larger trials in the UK in collaboration with the University College London Hospital." I'm suffering from (well... more like: I'm annoyed by) tinnitus and i hope this becomes available asap.
Why do we sleep? Researchers propose an answer to this age-old question: A new theory on dreaming is building on the critical brain hypothesis, in which our biological neural networks constantly switch between states of intense chaotic information processing and low orderly information process in a more relaxed state. This constant transitioning between chaos and order is called "criticality" in physics, and the researchers applied this to sleep. According to that theory, "learning, thinking, and being awake (...) pushes the brain away from criticality and (...) sleep is perfectly positioned to reset the system" to regain full information processing power lost over the day.
Complex, unfamiliar sentences make the brain’s language network work harder. Read more, complex books above your perceived level of education, it's like workout for the brain.
Instrumental Band Mogwai have a documetary on their exceptional carreer coming out and here's the trailer: If The Stars Had A Sound.
A24 will release a 16 track tribute album accompanying their restoration of Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense concert film. The first track will come from Paramore and here's a short teaser, and nothing else is known yet. I'll keep you updated.
In Hamburg we have the "Miniatur Wunderland, the world´s largest model railway", and there will be a new documentary (in german) about it. I haven't visited the venue yet, but i'm sure i will and if i ever strike it rich with this newsletter, i will build my own version of it, featuring unicorns and Mad Max punks and everything inbetween. Here's the trailer, and an additional video from their website:
I like the series but this rubs me as a wrong choice: The Mandalorian Has Become the Next Star Wars Movie. I'll sure watch it, but i think a Mandalorian standalone-movie is also very much "playing it safe", after the lukewarm reception of Solo and Rise of Skywalker. IMO, they should've taken a lesson from Rogue One, arguably the best of all the new Star Wars-movies, and make a film about some side aspect of the franchise, maybe an Andor-expansion, a thriller genre entry in the Star Wars-universe, or whatever. But "more Mandalorian-flagship-series now as a movie" feels tame.
The first trailer for Netflix' adaption of Liu Cixins 3 Body Problem is out and it's a must watch.
Robot Dreams is an animated film based on Sara Varons graphic novel about the "misfortunes of Dog and Robot in NYC during the '80s" and it looks pretty damn cool:
More Trailers worth watching: Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver (lol), Back To Black (the Amy Winehouse biopic), Dario Argento Panico (doc on the master of Giallo), Lisa Frankenstein (Frankenstein as a popping colorful teenage drama looks interesting), The Peasants (polish animated movie done by over 200 oil painters, the plot sounds uninteresting to me but it sure looks stunning), Marmalade (a romantic heist indie movie that just looks sweet).
Ari Aster talks to Yorgos Lanthimos on Directors on Directors about weird greek cinema and his latest movie Poor Things, the feminist take on Frankenstein that already tops a lot of best-of lists.
Anti-Link: Ernest Cline and an AI-company are doing Ready Player One in the metaverse. The whole PR-news is hilarious bullshit peddling and Ernest Cline being declared a "legendary futurist" is the top notch bullshit cherry on the pie. You see, as much as I was drawn in by Ready Player One because i am, too, a child of the 80s and i, too, can't escape the gravitational pull of popcultural memories, I've also pretty much hate read that novel and think it's maybe the most overrated crap written in the 2010s. It's just a mediocre story serving as a vehicle for nothing but popculture reference after popculture reference, and Ernest Cline seems like a hyperactive idiot monkey writer who constantly asks "You know that one? And that one? And that one? And that one? So cool! So cool! You know that one? So cool! You know that one? That one? That one? That one? So cool! So cool." That's Ready Player One in a nutshell, and on a deeper level, it's the epitome of regressive nostalgic excess in times where true innovation has flattened, where everything looks the same, sounds the same and feels the same. RPO is pinnacle of that development and i love-hate it from the bottom of my heart. Ernest Cline, "the legendary futurist" who never had an original idea, ever, going to the metaverse. This is funny.
Emma Zhou on Bluesky: "On this the day of nicolas cage’s birth, please enjoy with me the following delightful fact: there’s an online database of bacteriophages that anyone can submit to, and their very first naming rule is 'do not name your phage after nicolas cage'.". You know that you made it as a near mythological figure in popculture when your name is blacklisted from the microbe naming database.
Max Evry found David Lynch’s Lost Dune II Script in the Frank Herbert archives at California State University: "56 pages dated January 2nd-through-9th, 1984, matching Lynch’s 'half a script' statement. Complete with penned annotations by Herbert, the Dune II script shows Lynch was still enthusiastic about the material, lending new significance to minor details in the ’84 film. He also cracked a way to tell the complex story of Herbert's 1969 novel Dune Messiah, easily the least cinematic book in the series due to its emphasis on palace intrigue over action, along with the inner turmoil of a reluctant dictator (Paul Atreides) in place of a traditional hero’s journey. It may ring of sacrilege to some, but Lynch's Dune II would have bested Herbert's book—and been one hell of a movie."
I'm not into musicals, but if anyone and anything deserves a higher rank in popcultural collective memory then it's Prince and Purple Rain and sure enough: Prince’s Purple Rain Will Be Adapted for the Stage: "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins writes the book for the show, which will feature Prince's well-known score and direction by Lileana Blain-Cruz."
I'm a sucker for all things classic Universal Monsters and after the mediocre first attempts of rebooting their monsters with the Wolfman and the baffling fail of The Mummy with Tom Cruise, i was a huge fan of their Invisible Man-reboot featuring Elisabeth Moss. Renfield didn't do it for me, aswell as The Last Voyage of the Demeter, and their latest entry Abigail, in which a child vampire traps her kidnappers, looks like one of those escape room-movies which all look the same to me, so i'm out. They're also working on another Wolf Man reboot aswell as an unnamed project (my bet is on the Creature From The Black Lagoon).
I already posted The Polyphonic Sprees 20th Annual Holiday Extravaganza on my musicvideo-blog, but it belongs here too, because The Polyphonic Spree rules.
RIP Torsun Burkhardt, early pioneer of german alt dance and electro punk. (Link in german.)
Photo of Swansea police arresting drunk man likened to Renaissance art. You might remember the legendary Manchester street scene that absolutely looked like a renaissance painting, and on Christmas in Wales, the english did it again, the drunken masters of the neo renaissance drunk fuck art movement.
Mildly interesting with misleading headline: Scientists Destroy Illusion That Coin Toss Flips Are 50–50. This is bullshit, because: 1.) Statistically, there is a chance that if you flip a coin 1 trillion times, it will land on the same side every single time. Its not very probable, sure, but it's not impossible. 2.) Accordingly, you'll never land on a clean 50% distribution in real life, albeit even that is possible, only very improbable. 3.) This is more about some whibbly whobbly physical property of the coin, some fluctuations in the spin-axis of the coin, and the unevenness of the surface. This is not about properties of theoretical perfect-coin-flip-principles that do not exist in real life. If you'd run this experiment in a simulation with a blank metal disc and give it infinite flips, you'd indeed land on a perfect 50%. Because this is not possible to do in reality, you land on 50,05 or whatever. So yeah, Coin Toss Flips are 50-50, but only in theory, and that's kind of meh.
The Astley Paradox: "If you ask Rick Astley for his copy of the movie UP, he cannot give it to you as he will never give you up. However, in doing so, he lets you down. Thus creating the Astley Paradox."
Tech Billionaires building libertarian microstates in Solano County has the people there up in arms. Rightly so. People who sincerely think that "society does not exist" building their own tax havens to flee the responsibilities of the societies that made them rich is pinacle neoliberal delusional thinking.
Larry Nivens Ringworld has been found: Newly discovered cosmic megastructure challenges theories of the universe: “The so-called Big Ring has a diameter of about 1.3bn light years, making it among the largest structures ever observed. At more than 9bn light years from Earth, it is too faint to see directly, but its diameter on the night sky would be equivalent to 15 full moons.“
Mouse filmed tidying up man's shed every night. I want a mouse cleaning up my room every night too. Everybody should have a mouse which cleans up their room while they're sleeping. Mice cleaning up your room while you're asleep should be mandatory to life itself.