Saturday, November 2, 2013

2/11/2013: WLASze: Weekend Links on Arts, Sciences and zero economics

This is this week's only WLASze: Weekend Links on Arts, Sciences and zero economics post - sorry folks, busy weekend full of work and a major announcement coming up Monday am.

A NY Times article that resonates on ALL levels with what I have to say about the modern state of intellectual inquiry and our society's willingness to face the truth: ideas, thoughts, words, creativity, innovation, insight - these things are not free. They require effort, input, dedication. And if you value them - you should be prepared to pay for them.

The deeper issue here is whether the 'free' nature of these goods in the age of internet is destroying the quality of these goods being supplied? I don't have an answer to this, but I can tell you that I have never had a free lunch that I actually enjoyed. If something has a value, it is never free. If something is free, it has no value.

Many of you have noticed that I significantly cut back on commenting in the media and focused on only such 'free' activities which grant me the power to enjoy real freedom to express myself (this blog, for example) and/or which allow me to do real good (non-profit IMHO work). The reason for this is that I no longer find much satisfaction in what I do.

So can 'free' (or exposure-focused) work be of value?

But that is too close to economics, to be here in a WLASze post, so let's backtrack into arts and sciences…

Those who follow my weekend posts know that I am a bit of a fan of space-defining private Japanese architecture. And here's another example, from a public building, but still on human (private) scale:
Two images: the table first

and then a wonderful counter-point of the wave-faced reflecting wall:

This is a seamless integration of space (room and framed gardens beyond the window), object (table, wall), subject (wave: water to light), light (window to wall or table), personal (constrained space) to total (open-ended reflection in the wall merging with all dimensions of the space around it)… It is an infinite within the finite… Brodskovian:

"Я обнял эти плечи и взглянул
на то, что оказалось за спиною,
и увидал, что выдвинутый стул
сливался с освещенною стеною.
Был в лампочке повышенный накал,
невыгодный для мебели истертой,
и потому диван в углу сверкал
коричневою кожей, словно желтой.
Стол пустовал. Поблескивал паркет.
Темнела печка. В раме запыленной
застыл пейзаж. И лишь один буфет
казался мне тогда одушевленным.

Но мотылек по комнате кружил,
и он мой взгляд с недвижимости сдвинул.
И если призрак здесь когда-то жил,
то он покинул этот дом. Покинул."

Or in english version:

I threw my arms about those shoulders, glancing
at what emerged behind that back,
and saw a chair pushed slightly forward,
merging now with the lighted wall.
The lamp glared too bright to show
the shabby furniture to some advantage,
and that is why sofa of brown leather
shone a sort of yellow in a corner.
The table looked bare, the parquet glossy,
the stove quite dark, and in a dusty frame
a landscape did not stir. Only the sideboard
seemed to me to have some animation.
But a moth flitted round the room,
causing my arrested glance to shift;
and if at any time a ghost had lived here,
he now was gone, abandoning this house.

And while we are on 'spaces' and architecture and imagery, here are the images from the Open House Dublin 2013 photography competition:

And to round off, on science side, two posts on AI and the role it plays and might play in the future…

Via BusinessInsider, the story how use of computers in chess training is shifting the nature of the game when played by humans. Now, loads of good stuff here, but the key to me is the point that grandmasters now have to be more creative in their plays, since computerised training of their opponents assigns disadvantage to predictable opening moves and strategies. In other words, indirectly, computer-assisted training leads to increased creativity...
This is a classic example of what I termed computer-enabled innovation and creativity - not a system that operates by design, but a system that generates, promotes, advances human innovation.

As computer-assisted cooking does as well, except in this case, it is computer-generated creativity…
I had a pleasure engaging with IBM few years ago in developing new ideas for using Watson's capabilities in finance and insurance, but I never could have imagined that the most powerful AI system can be used to write new recipes for the kitchen…

Enjoy. I will be cooking Uzbeki Plov tomorrow for the family… Computer un-assisted cooking and a recipe that is centuries old...

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