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Traditional artists try virtual reality art for the first time

We all know that art can exist in virtual reality, from games like Adr1ft, to films such as Collisions. Virtual reality has shown itself to be a unique medium for immersing audiences in a work of art. But what about creating art within virtual reality? Google’s Virtual Art Sessions set out to experiment with exactly that. Google invited six artists who all work with different mediums and material, to test out Google’s new Tilt Brush software. Tilt Brush functions as a palette and a brush that simulates painting in a 3D environment. Jeff Nusz, one of the people on the…

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Surreal Google Earth images break the illusion of digital mapping

Postcards from Google Earth, a project by Brooklyn-based artist, Clement Valla, which started in 2010, is a collection of warped Google Earth screenshots. As eerie and uncanny as they appear it can be easy to dismiss the images as nothing more than odd screenshots, but by touching on these visual mishaps, Valla wants to pull back the curtain on Google’s processes for us to consider. With the photorealism of Google Earth its easy to take its visual representations as accurate. Postcards from Google Earth is a reminder that all representations are approximates, no matter how convincing they may seem. It is…

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Smart devices still struggle to cope with mental health crises

Content warning: This article discusses suicide and depression. /// Most days can be good days, even when you’re diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Or at least they can be made to look as such. You learn to put on a good face, to make it through the day. All of this means that when you spiral—and you will inevitably spiral—it’s harder to reach out for help. So much of your effort is devoted to convincing people that you’re okay, to putting on a good face, that it’s hard to say things are going wrong. So, when you spiral, you are…

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Glaciers writes poetry using Google’s most popular searches

Currently wrapping up its first weekend on display at New York’s Postmasters art gallery, Glaciers is the latest art project from Sage Solitaire (2015) creator and Tharsis systems designer Zach Gage, as well as several billion unknowing co-authors. The exhibit features a collection of small e-ink screens, each displaying a digital poem generated using the top three Google autocomplete results to a specific prompt, such as “how much,” “does he want,” and “should I save.” The poems refresh once per day, meaning that like their namesake, they have the potential to change shape and meaning over time. Though Gage is well known for his…

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AlphaGo’s win is a victory for humans, not machines

Google’s stream of the 5-game Go series between DeepMind’s AlphaGo and Lee Sedol was odd. It put little vector-graphic landmarks from Seoul opposite little vector-graphic landmarks from London. But I never once heard it suggested that this was a battle between Korea and the UK. Maybe it would have been more appropriate to put a brain on one side and a processor on the other, but that’s equally inaccurate. It may not seem it at first, but AlphaGo and its victory represents human effort and human progress. While we still have “the machines” under control, they are tools for our…

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Just what are we losing to Google’s AlphaGo?

In Tang dynasty China, Go was one of the skills socially required of a certain class of educated elite—along with calligraphy, painting, and the ability to play the stringed guqin, it was part of a kind of artistic quadrivium. The art and beauty of the game are present in the way it is played, but also in descriptions and metaphors for the shapes that appear on the board during play. One of the first shapes shown to new players is the “eye.” If a group of white stones is surrounded by black stones on all sides, it is captured. The…

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This Go student has become the Go master—and it’s a computer

If Go is mentioned in the US, it’s in the context of complicated games, or hard games, or games with some element of “purity.” It’s just white stones and black stones on a nineteen by nineteen board. You play by putting stones down, not moving them, if you surround your opponent’s stones they are “captured,” and that’s more or less it. Ostensibly, no game could be simpler. But if you’ve ever tried to learn how to play Go, you’ll know it feels a lot more like the spoiled-for-choice paralysis of staring at a blank page The board has 361 spaces,…

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Welcome to the adolescence of AI

Artificial intelligence does not have the cuddliest of reputations. It is either coming for your livelihood or, if movies are to be believed, your life. Google, however, has unearthed a new problem: Its AI is too friendly—much, much too friendly. In early November, the advertising (and search, and web) giant introduced “Smart Reply,” a feature in its Inbox app that could automatically reply to basic emails. “Machine learning is used to scan emails and understand if they need replying to or not, before creating three response options,” Wired’s James Temperton explained. He continued: “An email asking about vacation plans, for…

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What is #DeepDream and why is everyone getting so weird with it?

To answer your question, Mr. Dick, yes, androids do dream of electric sheep. Or, at least, artificial intelligence does. And it’s less sheep and more like an insectoid nightmare of sheep as seen through a faint kaleidoscopic filter. We are fascinated and disturbed, Mr. Dick, but the future isn’t quite as horrendous as you might have thought it to be. Not yet. Look! Here’s another of these strange machine dreams, this time featuring US president Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill morphed into an arachnid’s face. Another! This time of one of the most iconic images of 9/11, yet the…