The Inevitable Connection Between Artificial Intelligence and Surveillance

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AISight

1. Surveillance by artificial intelligence... how else did we think law enforcement would process all that video footage?

"Artificial intelligence is already in use across surveillance networks around the world. At high security sites like prisons, nuclear facilities or government agencies, it's commonplace for security systems to set up a number of rules-based alerts for their video analytics. So if an object on the screen (a person, or a car, for instance) crosses a designated part of the scene, an alert is passed on to the human operator. The operator surveys the footage, and works out if further action needs to be taken... BRS Labs' AISight is different because it doesn't rely on a human programmer to tell it what behaviour is suspicious. It learns that all by itself."
 

2. Lytro light-field photography is finally going professional with the Illum

"A few tweaks here and there and this black brick will be Lytro’s Illum, a brand-new $1,599 camera designed to show professional photographers, and the world, the power of light-field photography. It’s the company’s second camera, the follow-up to its eponymous point-and-shoot that could refocus a photo after it was shot. The Illum does that better, and takes much better and more versatile pictures in general. But for Lytro, the real plan is only beginning to unfold. The company’s job, its mission, is to fundamentally change the way we think about images. To not just provide better, faster cameras that take beautiful pictures, but to reimagine what a picture is in the first place. That part hasn’t changed since the dawn of photography nearly two centuries ago, and Lytro believes it holds the keys to the next phase."

 

3. The greatest college course: MYO guitar.

"'The Electric Guitar in American Culture.' It doesn’t sounds like your typical history course and for 23 students taking it this semester, it’s been more than a run of the mill history lesson on the iconic instrument. Not only are they learning about the history of the guitar, they are each learning to build one. Taught by Professor Todd Gernes, the class explores the electric guitar as an instrument, symbol and artifact of modern culture. The American Studies course uses an interdisciplinary approach as students study the impact of the electric guitar on music, from blues to heavy metal, and they dig into the lives of the musicians and manufacturers who gave the electric guitar its cultural status."

+ Dave Chappelle explains the electric guitar in American culture

 

4. Even if you've seen the project before, Rachel Sussman's work documenting the oldest living things in the world remains awesome.

"I approach my subjects as individuals of whom I’m making portraits in order to facilitate an anthropomorphic connection to a deep timescale otherwise too physiologically challenging for our brain to internalize. It’s difficult to stay in Deep Time – we are constantly drawn back to the surface. This vast timescale is held in tension with the shallow time inherent to photography. What does it mean to capture a multi-millennial lifespan in 1/60th of a second? Or for that matter, to be an organism in my 30s bearing witness to organisms that precede human history and will hopefully survive us well into future generations? "

+ And she has a new book out.

 

5. The rise and fall of "dadventures," a beloved 1990s genre.

"The trend is more obvious in Hollywood, where the dadventure—don’t look for that term elsewhere; I’m making it up right here—found greater traction than ever in the nineties. You’ll recognize the dadventure if you give it some thought; it’s a subgenre in which the protagonist is a capital-F Father, one whose fatherhood defines both his relationship to the film’s other characters and supplies the film’s central drama. In a dadventure, the stability of the family is threatened—whether by violence or drama, it’s almost always because of some negligence around the dadly duties—and only dad can save the family by coming face to face with his fatherly responsibilities. In the end, he learns just how much fun being a dad can be."

 

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

beat. The old p.p. beat, still the only form in dead beat, lingers colloquially also in the sense worsted, baffled (I won't be beat; has never been beat), but now suggests ignorance rather than archaism. To beat about (US aroundthe bush, i.e. approach a subject in a roundabout manner, is not modern slang, but has a history back to the 16th c.

 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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