Thursday, June 23. 2016
Platform of Future-Past by fabric | ch, architecture competition, (ex)1st price | #data #architecture #experimentation
Note: we've been working recently at fabric | ch on a project that we couldn't publish or talk about for contractual reasons... It concerned a relatively large information pavilion we had to create for three new museums in Switzerland (in Lausanne) and a renewed public space (railway station square). This pavilion was supposed to last for a decade, or a bit longer. The process was challenging, the work was good (we believed), but it finally didn't get build... Political stuff...
Sounds miserable but common isn't it? (yet certainly not acceptable).
We'll see where these many "..." will lead us, but in the meantime and as a matter of documentation, let's stick to the interesting part and publish a first report about this project.
It consisted in an evolution of a prior spatial installation entitled Heterochrony (pdf). A second post will follow soon with the developments of this competition proposal. Both posts will show how we try to combine small size experiments (exhibitions) with more permanent ones (architecture) in our work. It also marks as well our desire at fabric | ch to confront more regularly our ideas and researches with architectural programs.
This first post only consists in a few snapshots of the competition documents, while the following one should present the "final" project and ideas linked to it.
By fabric | ch
On the jury paper, it was written under "price" -- as we predictably didn't get any money for the 1st price itself -- : "Réalisation" (realization). Just below in the same letter, "according to point 1.5 of the competition", no realization will be attributed... How ironic.
A few words about the project taken from its presentation:
" (...) This platform with physically moving parts could almost be considered an archaeological footbridge or an unknown scientific device, reconfigurable and shiftable, overlooking and giving to see some past industrial remains, allowing to document the present, making foresee the future.
The pavilion, or rather pavilions, equipped with numerous sensor systems, could equally be considered an "architecture of documentation" and interaction, in the sense that there will be extensive data collected to inform in an open and fluid manner over the continuous changes on the sites of construction and tranformations. Taken from the various "points of interets' on the platform, these data will feed back applications ("architectural intelligence"?), media objects, spatial and lighting behaviors. The ensemble will play with the idea of a combination of various time frames and will combine the existing, the imagined and the evanescent. (...) "
Download pdf (14 mb).
Project: fabric | ch
Team: Patrick Keller, Christophe Guignard, Sinan Mansuroglu, Nicolas Besson.
Tuesday, June 14. 2016
Note: the architecture (of atmospheres) could become atomized into fine particles that aggregate in different manners along time, following different "rules" (these "rules" being the ones to be designed by the architect).
While we digg into sensors than monitor elements of the atmosphere (physical and non physical elements), we're definitely looking for a kind of architecture that would "deal" with these elements/particles and recompose them.
Via Cabinet (Spring 2001)
By David Gissen
In the history of architecture and design there have only been a few "effects"—electric light, forced air—that have had the capacity to cause massive environmental and behavioral shifts. Last year at Barcelona's annual design fair, the Catalonian designer Marti Guixe presented another—breathable food. "Pharma-food, a system of nourishment by breathing," is an appliance that was developed by Guixe to explore the transformation of food into pure information.
Dust Food Muesli. Photos: Inga Knölke.
Pharma-food joins the work of other, primarily European, designers who are exploring alternative regimens for such activities as washing or eating. One of Guixe's Catalonian contemporaries, Ana Mir, is exploring a technology that allows one to wash without water. Like Guixe's approach, this project would allow washing to occur anywhere. In their work, these designers not only free regimens from their fixed location in relation to certain products; they also free these activities from their traditional engagement with the body. Unlike designers such as Philippe Starck or Richard Sapper, who strive to revise traditional technologies, Guixe has discovered that the problem of eating does not involve the design of a new type of stove, sink, or refrigerator—the problem of eating requires finding a new mouth.
Pharma-BAR. Photo: Inga Knölke.
Guixe, who has been studying alternative forms of eating for several years, realized that the breathing of "food" already occurs via the inhalation of dust that hangs in the air at work and at home. Guixe hypothesized that this form of eating, from which one gains a miniscule amount of minerals and vitamins, could be trans-formed into a more potent meal, a "dust-muesli," that would supply a powerful dose of nutrients. The Pharma-Food appliance, which sprays this ærosolized nutrition, connects to a computer and requires Microsoft Excel to enter exact values for such things as riboflavin, vitamin C, and protein. The combination of these nutrients are saved on the computer as documents with names such as "SPAMT," which has the nutrient "language" of tomatoes and bread, and "Costa Brova," a "seafood" dish that is heavy on the iodine and light on carbohydrates. Guixe imagines diners composing these "meals" and sending them as e-mail attachments to other owners of the Pharma-food emitter. "Like MP3," says Guixe.
David Gissen is associate curator for architecture and design at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. He is currently developing an exhibition on human conveyance (elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks) and one on flying buildings.
Monday, June 13. 2016
Note: after a few weeks posting about the Universal Income, here comes the "Universal data accumulator for devices, sensors, programs, humans & more" by Wolfram (best known for Wolfram Alpha computational engine and the former Mathematica libraries, on which most of their other services seem to be built).
Funilly, we've picked a very similar name for a very similar data service we've set up for ourselves and our friends last year, during an exhibition at H3K: Datadroppers (!), with a different set of references in our mind (Drop City? --from which we borrowed the colors-- "Turn on, tune in, drop out"?) Even if our service is logically much more grassroots, less developed but therfore quite light to use as well.
We developed this project around data dropping/picking with another architectural project in mind that I'll speak about in the coming days: Public Platform of Future-Past. It was clearly and closely linked.
"Universal" is back in the loop as a keyword therefore... (I would rather adopt a different word for myself and the work we are doing though: "Diversal" --which is a word I'm using for 2 yearnow and naively thought I "invented", but not...)
"The Wolfram Data Drop is an open service that makes it easy to accumulate data of any kind, from anywhere—setting it up for immediate computation, visualization, analysis, querying, or other operations." - which looks more oriented towards data analysis than use in third party designs and projects.
"Datadroppers is a public and open data commune, it is a tool dedicated to data collection and sharing that tries to remain as simple, minimal and easy to use as possible." Direct and light data tool for designers, belonging to designers (fabric | ch) that use it for their own projects...
Tuesday, June 07. 2016
Note: I've posted several articles about automation recently. This was the occasion to continue collect some thoughts about the topic (automation then) so as the larger social implications that this might trigger.
But it was also a "collection" that took place at a special moment in Switzerland when we had to vote about the "Revenu the Base Inconditionnel" (Unconditional Basic Income). I mentioned it in a previous post ("On Algorithmic Communism"), in particular the relation that is often made between this idea (Basic Income / Universal Income) and the probable evolution of work in the decades to come (less work for "humans" vs. more for "robots").
Well, the campain and votation triggered very interesting debates among the civil population, but in the end and predictably, the idea was largely rejected (~25% of the voters accepted it, with some small geographical areas that indeed acceted it at more than 50% --urban areas mainly--. Some where not so far, for exemple the city capital, Bern, voted at 40% for the RBI).
This was very new and a probably too (?) early question for the Swiss population, but it will undoubtedly become a growing debate in the decades to come. A question that has many important associated stakes.
Press talking about the RBI, image from RTS website.
Friday, May 27. 2016
Note: "(...) For example, technologists might be held responsible if they use poor quality data to train AI systems, or fossilize prejudices based on race, age, or gender into the algorithms they design."
Mind your data and the ones you'll use to "fossilize", so to say (and as long as you'll already know what's in your data)... It is then no more about "if" you're collecting data, but "which" data you'll use to feed your AIs, and "how". Now that we clearly see that large corporations plan to use more and more of these kind of techs to also drive "domestic" applications (and by extension as we already know "personal" applications of all sorts), it will be important to understand the stakes behind them as it will become part of our social and design context.
An important problem that I can see for designers and architects is that if you don't agree with the principles --commercial, social, ethical and almost conceptual-- implied by the technologies (i.e. any "homekit" like platforms controlled by bots), you won't find many if any counter propositions/techs to work with (all large diffusion products will support iOS, Android and the likes). It is almost a dictatorship of products hidden behind a "participate" paradigma. Either you'll be in and accept the conditions (you might use an API provided with the service --FB, Twitter, IFTTT, Apple, Google, Wolfram, Siemens, MS, etc.--, but then feed the central company nonetheless), or out... or possibly develop you own solution(s) that will probably be a pain in the ass to use for your client because it/they will clearly be side products hard to maintain, update, etc.
"Some" open source projects driven by "some" communities could be/become (should be) alternative solutions of course, but for now these are good for prototyping and teaching, not for consistent "domestic" applications... And when they'll possibly do so, they might likely be bought. So we'll have "difficulties" as (interaction) designers, so to say: you'll work for your client(s) ... and the corp. that provides the services you'll use!
The Obama administration is vowing not to get left behind in the rush to artificial intelligence, but determining how to regulate it isn’t easy.
By Mark Harris
Should the government regulate artificial intelligence? That was the central question of the first White House workshop on the legal and governance implications of AI, held in Seattle on Tuesday.
“We are observing issues around AI and machine learning popping up all over the government,” said Ed Felten, White House deputy chief technology officer. “We are nowhere near the point of broadly regulating AI … but the challenge is how to ensure AI remains safe, controllable, and predictable as it gets smarter.”
One of the key aims of the workshop, said one of its organizers, University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo, was to help the public understand where the technology is now and where it’s headed. “The idea is not for the government to step in and regulate AI but rather to use its many other levers, like coördination among the agencies and procurement power,” he said. Attendees included technology entrepreneurs, academics, and members of the public.
In a keynote speech, Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, noted that we are still in the Dark Ages of machine learning, with AI systems that generally only work well on well-structured problems like board games and highway driving. He championed a collaborative approach where AI can help humans to become safer and more efficient. “Hospital errors are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.,” he said. “AI can help here. Every year, people are dying because we’re not using AI properly in hospitals.”
Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, left, speaks with attendees at the White House workshop on artificial intelligence.
Nevertheless, Etzioni considers it far too early to talk about regulating AI: “Deep learning is still 99 percent human work and human ingenuity. ‘My robot did it’ is not an excuse. We have to take responsibility for what our robots, AI, and algorithms do.”
A panel on “artificial wisdom” focused on when these human-AI interactions go wrong, such as the case of an algorithm designed to predict future criminal offenders that appears to be racially biased. “The problem is not about the AI agents themselves, it’s about humans using technological tools to oppress other humans in finance, criminal justice, and education,” said Jack Balkin of Yale Law School.
Several academics supported the idea of an “information fiduciary”: giving people who collect big data and use AI the legal duties of good faith and trustworthiness. For example, technologists might be held responsible if they use poor quality data to train AI systems, or fossilize prejudices based on race, age, or gender into the algorithms they design.
As government institutions increasingly rely on AI systems for decision making, those institutions will need personnel who understand the limitations and biases inherent in data and AI technology, noted Kate Crawford, a social scientist at Microsoft Research. She suggested that students be taught ethics alongside programming skills.
Bryant Walker Smith from the University of South Carolina proposed regulatory flexibility for rapidly evolving technologies, such as driverless cars. “Individual companies should make a public case for the safety of their autonomous vehicles,” he said. “They should establish measures and then monitor them over the lifetime of their systems. We need a diversity of approaches to inform public debate.”
This was the first of four workshops planned for the coming months. Two will address AI for social good and issues around safety and control, while the last will dig deeper into the technology’s social and economic implications. Felten also announced that the White House would shortly issue a request for information to give the general public an opportunity to weigh in on the future of AI.
The elephant in the room, of course, was November’s presidential election. In a blog post earlier this month, Felten unveiled a new National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, focused on using AI to improve government services “between now and the end of the Administration.”
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fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
This website is used by fabric | ch as archive, references and resources. It is shared with all those interested in the same topics as we are, in the hope that they will also find valuable references and content in it.
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