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This category contains 89 posts

Index fever

In writing about the post-digital condition, media commentator Florian Cramer identified a “semiotic shift to the indexical”(22) and away from symbols. The indexical relationship is a direct connection between an object and its sign, as if the sign is caused by its object (as smoke or soot are caused by fire). According to C.S. Peirce, … Continue reading

Calculating belief

In previous posts I referenced C.S. Peirce’s (1839-1914) concept of abduction, or evidential reasoning, i.e. establishing the support a particular proposition (hypothesis) has from evidence. The theories of the Presbyterian minister/statistician Thomas Bayes (1702-1761) has relevance here. Peirce knew of Bayes’s work on probability though he didn’t support Bayes’s approach to mathematical reasoning. Never-the-less, Bayesian … Continue reading

Climate change and doubt

Who could doubt, in the face of evidence from climate science, “that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century” (10)! That’s from the recent report by the US-based Global Change Research Program. The report maintains that from the … Continue reading

The sarcophagus at the end of the Anthropocene

The recent ransomware attack hit some of the monitoring systems at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant. (See Guardian article.) The malware locks the data on your computer and you have to pay $300 in bitcoin to a specified account in order to receive the code that unlocks your computer. As it happens, the malware … Continue reading

Postcard from Chernobyl

Chernobyl is a site of melancholy. It’s not just the grief, the loss, the cost and the risk of extinction. Chernobyl and Pripyat’s melancholy is inscribed in the landscape. Forest takes over the agricultural and industrial ground plane. Apartment blocks stood proud on this stratum of Soviet achievement. But the horizon breaks through, symbol of … Continue reading

Fake followers

Singer Katy Perry has nearly 100 million followers on Twitter according to Friend or Follow. Close behind are Justin Bieber and Barack Obama, with Donald Trump ranked 34th in line with about 31 million followers. You don’t need to be a follower to find out what people are tweeting. You can just search on their … Continue reading

Reverse analytics

Can you infer a person’s politics from their online footprint? Let’s start with something less contentious: a person’s nature preference. If you were raised in a school and home environment that encouraged you to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature pursuits, then it is highly likely that in later life you will respect the environment, … Continue reading

What’s wrong with accelerationism

“You can’t always get what you want” is the puzzling refrain that echoed out over the PA at the end of Trump rallies, and was repeated at his subsequent post-victory reprieve rallies. The less audible punchline of the song is, “You just might find you get what you need.” Getting what you need is more important than … Continue reading

In bad taste

France, and some other countries, use the two-round election system. If there’s no majority vote winner from among a set of candidates then there’s a second election. It’s a playoff between the top two candidates. Binary choices are often easier to deal with, and are decisive. Of less consequence than state elections, I find it easy enough to choose … Continue reading

Reverse image search

Biologists have worked out how to use Google’s “reverse image search” to scour scientific papers for similarities between microscopic samples they have photographed and photographs reported in scientific papers by others — on the basis of image matching. This is very powerful. Can practitioners of art and design find equally useful applications of readily-available image matching technology? This weekend marks the … Continue reading

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