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The Open World of 'Rage 2' Is More Barren Than It Should Be

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Culture, Culture / Videogames | 0 comments

The new shooter from Avalanche Studios and id Software attempts to hybridize two disparate game design approaches—and neither of them fully work.
Source: Wired

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James Charles, Tati Westbrook, and the Future of Beauty YouTube

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Culture, Culture / Digital Culture | 0 comments

Fans are setting their Charles-branded makeup on fire, but his feud with Westbrook is about public loyalties—not business.
Source: Wired

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Netflix is pursuing more interactive content, including, maybe, a rom-com

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in Bandersnatch, black mirror, Culture, Interactive storytelling, Mumbai, Netflix, reporter, storytelling, Streaming Media, TC | 0 comments

On the heels of its groundbreaking foray into interactive storytelling with the choose-your-own-adventure style “Black Mirror” episode, Bandersnatch, Netflix will look to produce much more interactive entertainment, according to vice president of content, Todd Yellin.

Speaking at the FICCI-Frames conference for Indian media and entertainment in Mumbai, Yellin said in a keynote that audiences could expect many more interactive stories to come from the streaming media service, according to a report in Variety.

“We realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on,” Yellin reportedly said. “We’re doubling down on that. So expect over the next year or two to see more interactive storytelling.”

One of the things Yellin floated was the idea of a romantic comedy where the audience would choose “will-they or won’t-they”? It sets up the potential for a world where viewers could determine that Ross and Rachel never go on a break.

The initiative would likely require a lot of heavy lifting from writers, editors and actors. Black Mirror took two years to get from concept to screen and involved a lot of heavy lifting from Netflix .

In Bandersnatch, Netflix collaborated with the writers and directors of Black Mirror to develop the technology to support streaming a film that relied on the “branching narrative” storytelling structure that required viewers to pick between choices to advance the story.

Filmed over a seven-week shoot, the filmmaking process took 250 distinct video segments that were stitched together to cover all possible endings, according to a lengthy description of the making of the episode in The Hollywood Reporter.

Bandersnatch doesn’t have an official run time, and viewers can spend anywhere from an hour and a half to two and a half hours to make it until the credits roll.

Netflix’s investment included new technology that the company calls “state tracking” which logs the choices viewers make as they watch the Bandersnatch episode. The company also engineered a new technology that would load the episode without any lags. And Netflix created a new internal writing tool called Branch Manager so that Brooker could write his script and deliver it directly to the company, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

After all of that internal investment, it’s little wonder that Netflix is planning to roll the new narrative framework out in other storylines, or across different titles.

Netflix had previously applied the choose-your-own-adventure style narratives to children’s animated programming, but since the success of Bandersnatch, that is definitely going to be expanding.

“We do want to take a number of gos at this and see what works for different audiences,” Netflix’s director of product innovation, Carla Engelbrecht Fisher told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s what we’re engaged in now: What are the other kinds of stories that we can tell and that folks are excited to tell? And continuing to unearth this iceberg of opportunity and see what’s there.”

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Game of Thrones Marketing Is Out for Blood—Mine

Posted by on Mar 12, 2019 in Culture | 0 comments

At SXSW, HBO is partnering with the American Red Cross to drain the blood of fans. For Westeros!
Source: Wired

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The Goat-Birthing, Tomato-Fermenting Homesteaders of YouTube

Posted by on Mar 12, 2019 in Culture | 0 comments

Broadly back-to-the-land, this farming movement goes off-grid in all but the most obvious way: They’re still very much online.
Source: Wired

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Facebook and the Ephemerality Trap 

Posted by on Mar 12, 2019 in Culture | 0 comments

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg touts “reducing permanence” as a principle for his company’s privacy-focused future, but it’s hard to make things disappear from the internet.
Source: Wired

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Blindfolded Bird Box Challenger crashes car

Posted by on Jan 14, 2019 in Automotive, bird box, Culture, film, Meme, Netflix, utah, viral | 0 comments

Remember, way back on January 2 when Netflix issued a warning to its customers over the viral Bird Box challenge meme to “PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE?”

That warning wasn’t heard or followed by at least one 17-year-old in Utah who decided to give the challenge — which involves a blindfold — a whirl while driving. The result was what one might expect. There was a crash (hat tip CNN, which spotted the tweet from Layton Police).

Netflix released a horror concept movie in December called Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock. In Bird Box, Bullock and her children, Boy and Girl, are forced to wear blindfolds and navigate a river and spooky forest to protect themselves against the evil monster that, if seen, causes people to kill themselves.

The horror flick not only broke viewership records, it inspired a bevy of #BirdBoxChallenge memes, including ones in which folks record themselves blindfolded and attempting to do complete tasks, many of which are depicted in the movie.

In this case, there were no injuries. Although the vehicles didn’t appear to escape the Bird Box challenge. And there will likely be more of these blindfolded while driving attempts. Here’s some advice: Just like eating Tide Pods, this isn’t a healthy activity.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Safe artificial intelligence requires cultural intelligence

Posted by on Sep 11, 2018 in Artificial Intelligence, Column, Culture, cybernetics, Future, journalist, life 3.0, TC, Technology, transhumanism | 0 comments

Knowledge, to paraphrase British journalist Miles Kington, is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing there’s a norm against putting it in a fruit salad.

Any kind of artificial intelligence clearly needs to possess great knowledge. But if we are going to deploy AI agents widely in society at large — on our highways, in our nursing homes and schools, in our businesses and governments — we will need machines to be wise as well as smart.

Researchers who focus on a problem known as AI safety or AI alignment define artificial intelligence as machines that can meet or beat human performance at a specific cognitive task. Today’s self-driving cars and facial recognition algorithms fall into this narrow type of AI.

But some researchers are working to develop artificial general intelligence (AGI) — machines that can outperform humans at any cognitive task. We don’t know yet when or even if AGI will be achieved, but it’s clear that the research path is leading to ever more powerful and autonomous AI systems performing more and more tasks in our economies and societies.

Building machines that can perform any cognitive task means figuring out how to build AI that can not only learn about things like the biology of tomatoes but also about our highly variable and changing systems of norms about things like what we do with tomatoes.

Humans live lives populated by a multitude of norms, from how we eat, dress and speak to how we share information, treat one another and pursue our goals.

For AI to be truly powerful will require machines to comprehend that norms can vary tremendously from group to group, making them seem unnecessary, yet it can be critical to follow them in a given community.

Tomatoes in fruit salads may seem odd to the Brits for whom Kington was writing, but they are perfectly fine if you are cooking for Koreans or a member of the culinary avant-garde.  And while it may seem minor, serving them the wrong way to a particular guest can cause confusion, disgust, even anger. That’s not a recipe for healthy future relationships.

Norms concern things not only as apparently minor as what foods to combine but also things that communities consider tremendously consequential: who can marry whom, how children are to be treated, who is entitled to hold power, how businesses make and price their goods and services, when and how criticism can be shared publicly.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Successful and safe AI that achieves our goals within the limits of socially accepted norms requires an understanding of not only how our physical systems behave, but also how human normative systems behave. Norms are not just fixed features of the environment, like the biology of a plant. They are dynamic and responsive structures that we make and remake on a daily basis, as we decide whether or when to let someone know that “this” is the way “we” do things around here.

These normative systems are the systems on which we rely to solve the challenge of ensuring that people behave the way we want them to in our communities, workplaces and social environments. Only with confidence about how everyone around us is likely to behave are we all willing to trust and live and invest with one another.

Ensuring that powerful AIs behave the way we want them to will not be so terribly different. Just as we need to raise our children to be competent participants in our systems of norms, we will need to train our machines to be similarly competent. It is not enough to be extremely knowledgeable about the facts of the universe; extreme competence also requires wisdom enough to know that there may be a rule here, in this group but not in that group. And that ignoring that rule may not just annoy the group; it may lead them to fear or reject the machine in their midst.

Ultimately, then, the success of Life 3.0 depends on our ability to understand Life 1.0.  And that is where we may face the greatest challenge in AI research.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Fleeing White House Lawyers Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

Posted by on Sep 2, 2018 in Culture | 0 comments

Someone needs to stop oiling that revolving door in the White House—and the rest of the news you missed this week.
Source: Wired

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The Ecologist on a Mission to Count New York's Whales

Posted by on Sep 1, 2018 in Culture, Photo | 0 comments

Arthur Kopelman conducts whale-watching cruises to collect data—while also educating the curious public.
Source: Wired

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