Forensic Architecture

Forensic Architeture is an interesting research project analyzing target sites of drone strikes from publicly available information. They remodel and reconstruct the architectural features of those sites and provide necessary context for human rights violation investigations carried out by UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights (UNSRCT) Ben Emmerson.

Elite Thinking

At Eaton they have a clear vision what the future will look like and how politicians should be trained to respond. One of the scholarship exam questions went like this:

The year is 2040. There have been riots in the streets of London after Britain has run out of petrol because of an oil crisis in the Middle East. Protesters have attacked public buildings. Several policemen have died. Consequently, the Government has deployed the Army to curb the protests. After two days the protests have been stopped but twenty-five protesters have been killed by the Army. You are the Prime Minister. Write the script for a speech for be broadcast to the nation in which you explain why employing the Army against violent protesters was the only option available to you and one which was both necessary and moral.

Source: New Statesman

via Fefe

Schizophrenics Were Right, Probably, Maybe, Hopefully Not …

An interesting article on how schizophrenics’ thoughts that they are controlled by an outside power or living in a world crafted for them has become a matter of possibility for all of us – or “how reality caught up with paranoid delusions.” Exploring advances in technology, its ubiquity and the way we consume it, we assume we perceive an altered *cough* enriched and augmented version of the world around us. We silently ignore that this allows us to be easily toyed with and manipulated without us necessarily noticing it.

This is an interesting phenomenon that is not widely known and mostly ignored. But the matter of the fact is that if you have two computers, side-by-side, open up your browser and search for the exact same thing, you won’t get the same list of results. The same happens on social networks: try looking for a non-person and compare the results and their order.
Search gurus will tell you this is the magic of “personalized results” and finding things “most interesting to you” … but what they don’t tell you is that this comes at the price of having  the possibility of doing a global and unbiased search.

Any search you do is biased, by the region you are accessing the internet from (continent, country, city), your internet history, your search history, your language preferences, time of day … basically anything quantifiably different will alter your search results. You can’t (even if you try) do a unfiltered, repeatable and global search on the internet. And anything you click in those already tailored results will only reinforce your perceived “interest.”
Eli Pariser also talks about this in his “Beware online filter bubbles” Ted Talk where he quotes Google’s Eric Schmidt:

It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.
Eric Schmidt, Google

So, what would prevent any of those search providers from manipulating results deliberately? Actually, pretty much nothing. The amount of manipulation they would have to do e.g. to influence voter preferences in an already close election would probably be too little to be noticed and it wouldn’t even be illegal. So that’s why people like Bruce Schneier demand regulation for secret algorithms that have become part of our infrastructure.

One thing is clear: it can’t stay the way it is now.

OK … enough dystopic thoughts for today. 😛

Update 2013-12-08:
Seems like reality caught up already. Case in point: South Korea.

Hayao Miyazaki And His Women

Watching Kari Gurashi no Arrietty by Studio Ghibli something occurred to me. Thinking back to my last year in high school where I watched almost all movies produced by Studio Ghibli until then (and by extension Hayao Miyazaki) the main character was “always” a female with strangely freakish history, fate or ability. Let’s “prove” this scientifically-ish … 🙂

Theory: Studio Ghibli movies by Hayao Miyazaki have this peculiarity of a strange/freakish main female character.

Data source: Wikipedia’s list of Studio Ghibli films from 1984-2014.

Let’s see how far we get. 🙂

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: pre Ghibli, but still … the heroine has a supernatural connection with the giant insect-like Ohmu … fulfilling an ancient prophecy for good measure. pass
Castle in the Sky: Sheeta is of royal decent from an ancient civilization building flying cities. pass
Grave of the Fireflies: not by Hayao Miyazaki … phew I had almost forgot about this one. 😛 skip
My Neighbor Totoro: two curious girls befriending ghosts/spirits/trolls of the forest. pass
Kiki’s Delivery Service: the main character is a witch running a delivery service. … need I say more? pass
Only Yesterday: not by Hayao Miyazaki again. 😛 skip
Porco Rosso: no “main” female character: strike 1!
Pom Poko: phew … not by Hayao Miyazaki … Tanuki to the rescue! 🙂 skip
Whisper of the Heart: … I don’t remember the plot any more … so, strike 2!
Princess Mononoke: raised-by-wolves warrior princess of the woods. pass
My Neighbors the Yamadas: haha … I was almost worried … not by Hayao Miyazaki 😀 skip
Spirited Away: Chihiro has to master her passage from childhood to adulthood in the spirit world … also falling in love with a boy-dragon-hybrid-formshifter-thing. pass
The Cat Returns: not by Hayao Miyazaki, but in this film the main character Haru is offered the hand of the Prince of the Cat Kingdom for saving him … too bad it doesn’t count. 🙂 skip/pass
Howl’s Moving Castle: The main character, Sophie, gets cursed and is transformed into an old woman. she works at the hand of the wizard Howl to remove the curse. pass
Tales from Earthsea: not by Hayao Miyazaki. skip
Ponyo: Let me quote the first line of the plot section in the Wikipedia article of the film “Brunhilde [also named Ponyo] is a fish-girl who lives with her father Fujimoto, a once-human wizard who now lives underwater, and her numerous smaller sisters.” pass
Arrietty: is only 10cm tall! pass
From Up on Poppy Hill: knowingly agreeing to incest (at least from what they knew at that time) … really?!? pass
The Wind Rises: tragic story, but no “main” female character. strike 3! 🙁
The Tale of Princess Kaguya: not by Hayao Miyazaki, but she starts out as a “miniature girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot” skip/pass
When Marnie Was There: not by Hayao Miyazaki … (not seen yet) skip

Summary: 21 Studio Ghibli films; 13 of them by/with Hayao Miyazaki; of which 10 fit the theory, with 3 “outliers” and 1 “unexamined” data point.

Not bad for a hunch. 😉

Update 14.09.2013:
Updated the list and the summary after seeing From Up on Poppy Hill.

Update 11.08.2014:
Updated the list and the summary after seeing The Wind Rises and the The Tale of Princess Kaguya.