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IBM Pulls the Plug on Drug-Discovering Watson AI

IBM is halting development and sales of its Watson AI designed to find promising new medications, according to a new STAT story.

Bye, Watson

On Thursday, STAT published a story claiming that IBM is halting sales of Watson for Drug Discovery — a service that uses the company’s Watson AI to analyze connections between genes, drugs, and diseases on the hunt for useful new medications — citing as its source a person familiar with IBM’s internal decision-making.

“We are focusing our resources within Watson Health to double down on the adjacent field of clinical development where we see an even greater market need for our data and AI capabilities,” an IBM spokesperson told STAT — a sign that eight years after launching Watson Health, IBM still isn’t quite sure how AI should factor into the future of healthcare.

Overpromised, Underdelivered

The STAT source cited a “lackluster financial performance” as IBM’s reason for no longer developing and selling Watson for Drug Discovery. That mirrors the “lack of demand” reasoning IBM gave for scaling back the part of Watson Health dedicated to helping hospitals manage certain contracts in June 2018.

It’s hard to imagine why the systems would be in high demand, though — several healthcare experts told IEEE Spectrum earlier in April that IBM had “overpromised and underdelivered” with Watson Health.

“Merely proving that you have powerful technology is not sufficient,” healthcare data strategist Martin Kohn told the publication. “Prove to me that it will actually do something useful — that it will make my life better, and my patients’ lives better.”

READ MORE: IBM halting sales of Watson AI tool for drug discovery amid sluggish growth [STAT]

More on Watson Health: Doctors Are Losing Faith in IBM Watson’s AI Doctor

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Scientists Find Genetic Variants That Prevent Obesity, Diabetes

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered genetic variants that protect people from obesity and its symptoms.

Drug Discovery

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered genetic variants, or mutations, that protect people from obesity and its symptoms — and they think the discovery could lead to new weight-loss medications.

“A powerful emerging concept is that genetic variants that protect against disease can be used as models for the development of medicines that are more effective and safer,” researcher Luca Lotta said in a news release.

The Weight Gene

In a study published on Thursday in the journal Cell, the team details how it analyzed the MC4R gene in half a million volunteers who participated in the U.K. Biobank study.

They already knew the gene played a role in regulating weight, but through their new research they discovered 61 distinct variants of it, some of which help people avoid becoming obese. Others provided protection against obesity symptoms, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Understanding Obesity

The study does more than just illuminate a path toward new weight-loss medications — it also shines a light on the very nature of obesity.

“This study drives home the fact that genetics plays a major role in why some people are obese,” researcher Sadaf Farooqi said in the news release, “and that some people are fortunate enough to have genes that protect them from obesity.”

READ MORE: Discovery of genetic variants that protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes could lead to new weight loss medicines [University of Cambridge]

More on MC4R: Mutated Animals Show Why Gene Editing Isn’t Ready for Human Trials 

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Scientists Create Material With “Artificial Metabolism”

A new biomaterial exhibits metabolism-like behaviors. It appears in some ways to act like a living thing, blurring the line between biology and machinery.

Slime Mold

Scientists just got one step closer to creating living machines — or at least machines that mimic biological life as we know it.

A new biomaterial built in a Cornell University bioengineering lab uses synthetic DNA to continuously and autonomously organize, assemble, and restructure itself in a process so similar to how biological cells and tissues grow that the researchers are calling “artificial metabolism,” according to research published in Science Robotics last week.

 We Can Regrow It

It’s clear that the scientists are dancing around the idea of creating lifelike machinery. They stop short of straight-up claiming that their metabolizing biomaterial is alive, but the research begins by coyly listing the characteristics of life that the material exhibits — self-assembly, organization, and metabolism.

“We are introducing a brand-new, lifelike material concept powered by its very own artificial metabolism,” Cornell engineer Dan Lui said in a university-published press release. “We are not making something that’s alive, but we are creating materials that are much more lifelike than have ever been seen before.”

Worming Along

The biomaterial mimics a biological organism’s endless metabolic cycle of taking in energy and replacing old cells. When placed in a nutrient-rich environment, the material grew in the direction of the raw materials and food it needed to thrive — not unlike how a developing brain’s neurons grow out in the direction of specific molecules.

Meanwhile, the material also let its tail end die off and decay, giving the appearance of a constantly-regrowing slime mold traveling around toward food.

While the little bio-blob isn’t alive, it does appear to move and grow like a living thing, suggesting that scientists are blurring the line between life and machine more and more.

READ MORE: FORGET ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE; THINK ARTIFICIAL LIFE [Hackaday]

More on biomaterials: Scientists Manipulated a Material for Robots That Grows Like Human Skin

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Scientists Create Material With “Artificial Metabolism”

Futurism – Wikipedia

Futurism (Italian: Futurismo) was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasised speed, technology, youth, violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane, and the industrial city. Its key figures were the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carr, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, and Luigi Russolo. It glorified modernity and aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past.[1] Cubism contributed to the formation of Italian Futurism’s artistic style.[2] Important Futurist works included Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism, Boccioni’s sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Balla’s painting Abstract Speed + Sound, and Russolo’s The Art of Noises.

Although it was largely an Italian phenomenon, there were parallel movements in Russia, England, Belgium and elsewhere. The Futurists practiced in every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture, and even cooking. To some extent Futurism influenced the art movements Art Deco, Constructivism, Surrealism, Dada, and to a greater degree Precisionism, Rayonism, and Vorticism.

Futurism is an avant-garde movement founded in Milan in 1909 by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.[1] Marinetti launched the movement in his Manifesto of Futurism,[3] which he published for the first time on 5 February 1909 in La gazzetta dell’Emilia, an article then reproduced in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro on Saturday 20 February 1909.[4][5][6] He was soon joined by the painters Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carr, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini and the composer Luigi Russolo. Marinetti expressed a passionate loathing of everything old, especially political and artistic tradition. “We want no part of it, the past”, he wrote, “we the young and strong Futurists!” The Futurists admired speed, technology, youth and violence, the car, the airplane and the industrial city, all that represented the technological triumph of humanity over nature, and they were passionate nationalists. They repudiated the cult of the past and all imitation, praised originality, “however daring, however violent”, bore proudly “the smear of madness”, dismissed art critics as useless, rebelled against harmony and good taste, swept away all the themes and subjects of all previous art, and gloried in science.

Publishing manifestos was a feature of Futurism, and the Futurists (usually led or prompted by Marinetti) wrote them on many topics, including painting, architecture, religion, clothing and cooking.[7]

The founding manifesto did not contain a positive artistic programme, which the Futurists attempted to create in their subsequent Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting (1914).[8] This committed them to a “universal dynamism”, which was to be directly represented in painting. Objects in reality were not separate from one another or from their surroundings: “The sixteen people around you in a rolling motor bus are in turn and at the same time one, ten four three; they are motionless and they change places. … The motor bus rushes into the houses which it passes, and in their turn the houses throw themselves upon the motor bus and are blended with it.”[9]

The Futurist painters were slow to develop a distinctive style and subject matter. In 1910 and 1911 they used the techniques of Divisionism, breaking light and color down into a field of stippled dots and stripes, which had been adopted from Divisionism by Giovanni Segantini and others. Later, Severini, who lived in Paris, attributed their backwardness in style and method at this time to their distance from Paris, the centre of avant-garde art.[10] Severini was the first to come into contact with Cubism and following a visit to Paris in 1911 the Futurist painters adopted the methods of the Cubists. Cubism offered them a means of analysing energy in paintings and expressing dynamism.

They often painted modern urban scenes. Carr’s Funeral of the Anarchist Galli (191011) is a large canvas representing events that the artist had himself been involved in, in 1904. The action of a police attack and riot is rendered energetically with diagonals and broken planes. His Leaving the Theatre (191011) uses a Divisionist technique to render isolated and faceless figures trudging home at night under street lights.

Boccioni’s The City Rises (1910) represents scenes of construction and manual labour with a huge, rearing red horse in the centre foreground, which workmen struggle to control. His States of Mind, in three large panels, The Farewell, Those who Go, and Those Who Stay, “made his first great statement of Futurist painting, bringing his interests in Bergson, Cubism and the individual’s complex experience of the modern world together in what has been described as one of the ‘minor masterpieces’ of early twentieth century painting.”[11] The work attempts to convey feelings and sensations experienced in time, using new means of expression, including “lines of force”, which were intended to convey the directional tendencies of objects through space, “simultaneity”, which combined memories, present impressions and anticipation of future events, and “emotional ambience” in which the artist seeks by intuition to link sympathies between the exterior scene and interior emotion.[11]

Boccioni’s intentions in art were strongly influenced by the ideas of Bergson, including the idea of intuition, which Bergson defined as a simple, indivisible experience of sympathy through which one is moved into the inner being of an object to grasp what is unique and ineffable within it. The Futurists aimed through their art thus to enable the viewer to apprehend the inner being of what they depicted. Boccioni developed these ideas at length in his book, Pittura scultura Futuriste: Dinamismo plastico (Futurist Painting Sculpture: Plastic Dynamism) (1914).[12]

Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (1912) exemplifies the Futurists’ insistence that the perceived world is in constant movement. The painting depicts a dog whose legs, tail and leashand the feet of the woman walking ithave been multiplied to a blur of movement. It illustrates the precepts of the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting that, “On account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rapid vibrations, in their mad career. Thus a running horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular.”[9] His Rhythm of the Bow (1912) similarly depicts the movements of a violinist’s hand and instrument, rendered in rapid strokes within a triangular frame.

The adoption of Cubism determined the style of much subsequent Futurist painting, which Boccioni and Severini in particular continued to render in the broken colors and short brush-strokes of divisionism. But Futurist painting differed in both subject matter and treatment from the quiet and static Cubism of Picasso, Braque and Gris. Although there were Futurist portraits (e.g. Carr’s Woman with Absinthe (1911), Severini’s Self-Portrait (1912), and Boccioni’s Matter (1912)), it was the urban scene and vehicles in motion that typified Futurist paintinge.g. Boccioni’s The Street Enters the House (1911), Severini’s Dynamic Hieroglyph of the Bal Tabarin (1912), and Russolo’s Automobile at Speed (1913)

In 1912 and 1913, Boccioni turned to sculpture to translate into three dimensions his Futurist ideas. In Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) he attempted to realise the relationship between the object and its environment, which was central to his theory of “dynamism”. The sculpture represents a striding figure, cast in bronze posthumously and exhibited in the Tate Modern. (It now appears on the national side of Italian 20 eurocent coins). He explored the theme further in Synthesis of Human Dynamism (1912), Speeding Muscles (1913) and Spiral Expansion of Speeding Muscles (1913). His ideas on sculpture were published in the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture[13] In 1915 Balla also turned to sculpture making abstract “reconstructions”, which were created out of various materials, were apparently moveable and even made noises. He said that, after making twenty pictures in which he had studied the velocity of automobiles, he understood that “the single plane of the canvas did not permit the suggestion of the dynamic volume of speed in depth … I felt the need to construct the first dynamic plastic complex with iron wires, cardboard planes, cloth and tissue paper, etc.”[14]

In 1914, personal quarrels and artistic differences between the Milan group, around Marinetti, Boccioni, and Balla, and the Florence group, around Carr, Ardengo Soffici (18791964) and Giovanni Papini (18811956), created a rift in Italian Futurism. The Florence group resented the dominance of Marinetti and Boccioni, whom they accused of trying to establish “an immobile church with an infallible creed”, and each group dismissed the other as passiste.

Futurism had from the outset admired violence and was intensely patriotic. The Futurist Manifesto had declared, “We will glorify warthe world’s only hygienemilitarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.”[6][15] Although it owed much of its character and some of its ideas to radical political movements, it was not much involved in politics until the autumn of 1913.[14] Then, fearing the re-election of Giolitti, Marinetti published a political manifesto. In 1914 the Futurists began to campaign actively against the Austro-Hungarian empire, which still controlled some Italian territories, and Italian neutrality between the major powers. In September, Boccioni, seated in the balcony of the Teatro dal Verme in Milan, tore up an Austrian flag and threw it into the audience, while Marinetti waved an Italian flag. When Italy entered the First World War in 1915, many Futurists enlisted.[16] The experience of the war marked several Futurists, particularly Marinetti, who fought in the mountains of Trentino at the border of Italy and Austria-Hungary, actively engaging in propaganda.[17] The combat experience also influenced Futurist music.[18]

The outbreak of war disguised the fact that Italian Futurism had come to an end. The Florence group had formally acknowledged their withdrawal from the movement by the end of 1914. Boccioni produced only one war picture and was killed in 1916. Severini painted some significant war pictures in 1915 (e.g. War, Armored Train, and Red Cross Train), but in Paris turned towards Cubism and post-war was associated with the Return to Order.

After the war, Marinetti revived the movement. This revival was called il secondo Futurismo (Second Futurism) by writers in the 1960s. The art historian Giovanni Lista has classified Futurism by decades: “Plastic Dynamism” for the first decade, “Mechanical Art” for the 1920s, “Aeroaesthetics” for the 1930s.

Russian Futurism was a movement of literature and the visual arts. The poet Vladimir Mayakovsky was a prominent member of the movement. Visual artists such as David Burlyuk, Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova and Kazimir Malevich found inspiration in the imagery of Futurist writings and were poets themselves. It has also a larger impact on the all suprematism movement. Other poets adopting Futurism included Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksey Kruchenykh. Poets and painters collaborated on theatre production such as the Futurist opera Victory Over the Sun, with texts by Kruchenykh and sets by Malevich.

The main style of painting was Cubo-Futurism, adopted in 1913 when Aristarkh Lentulov returned from Paris and exhibited his paintings in Moscow. Cubo-Futurism combines the forms of Cubism with the representation of movement. Like their Italian predecessors the Russian Futurists were fascinated with dynamism, speed and the restlessness of modern urban life.

The Russian Futurists sought controversy by repudiating the art of the past, saying that Pushkin and Dostoevsky should be “heaved overboard from the steamship of modernity”. They acknowledged no authority and professed not to owe anything even to Marinetti, whose principles they had earlier adopted, obstructing him when he came to Russia to proselytize in 1914.

The movement began to decline after the revolution of 1917. Some Futurists died, others emigrated. Mayakovsky and Malevich became part of the Soviet establishment and the Agitprop movement of the 1920s. Others were persecuted. Mayakovsky committed suicide on April 14, 1930.

The Futurist architect Antonio Sant’Elia expressed his ideas of modernity in his drawings for La Citt Nuova (The New City) (19121914). This project was never built and Sant’Elia was killed in the First World War, but his ideas influenced later generations of architects and artists. The city was a backdrop onto which the dynamism of Futurist life is projected. The city had replaced the landscape as the setting for the exciting modern life. Sant’Elia aimed to create a city as an efficient, fast-paced machine. He manipulates light and shape to emphasize the sculptural quality of his projects. Baroque curves and encrustations had been stripped away to reveal the essential lines of forms unprecedented from their simplicity. In the new city, every aspect of life was to be rationalized and centralized into one great powerhouse of energy. The city was not meant to last, and each subsequent generation was expected to build their own city rather than inheriting the architecture of the past.

Futurist architects were sometimes at odds with the Fascist state’s tendency towards Roman imperial-classical aesthetic patterns. Nevertheless, several Futurist buildings were built in the years 19201940, including public buildings such as railway stations, maritime resorts and post offices. Examples of Futurist buildings still in use today are Trento’s railway station, built by Angiolo Mazzoni, and the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. The Florence station was designed in 1932 by the Gruppo Toscano (Tuscan Group) of architects, which included Giovanni Michelucci and Italo Gamberini, with contributions by Mazzoni.

Futurist music rejected tradition and introduced experimental sounds inspired by machinery, and would influence several 20th-century composers.

Francesco Balilla Pratella joined the Futurist movement in 1910 and wrote a Manifesto of Futurist Musicians in which he appealed to the young (as had Marinetti), because only they could understand what he had to say. According to Pratella, Italian music was inferior to music abroad. He praised the “sublime genius” of Wagner and saw some value in the work of other contemporary composers, for example Richard Strauss, Elgar, Mussorgsky, and Sibelius. By contrast, the Italian symphony was dominated by opera in an “absurd and anti-musical form”. The conservatories was said to encourage backwardness and mediocrity. The publishers perpetuated mediocrity and the domination of music by the “rickety and vulgar” operas of Puccini and Umberto Giordano. The only Italian Pratella could praise was his teacher Pietro Mascagni, because he had rebelled against the publishers and attempted innovation in opera, but even Mascagni was too traditional for Pratella’s tastes. In the face of this mediocrity and conservatism, Pratella unfurled “the red flag of Futurism, calling to its flaming symbol such young composers as have hearts to love and fight, minds to conceive, and brows free of cowardice.”

Luigi Russolo (18851947) wrote The Art of Noises (1913),[19][20] an influential text in 20th-century musical aesthetics. Russolo used instruments he called intonarumori, which were acoustic noise generators that permitted the performer to create and control the dynamics and pitch of several different types of noises. Russolo and Marinetti gave the first concert of Futurist music, complete with intonarumori, in 1914. However they were prevented from performing in many major European cities by the outbreak of war.

Futurism was one of several 20th-century movements in art music that paid homage to, included or imitated machines. Ferruccio Busoni has been seen as anticipating some Futurist ideas, though he remained wedded to tradition.[21] Russolo’s intonarumori influenced Stravinsky, Arthur Honegger, George Antheil, Edgar Varse,[11] Stockhausen and John Cage. In Pacific 231, Honegger imitated the sound of a steam locomotive. There are also Futurist elements in Prokofiev’s The Steel Step and in his Second Symphony.

Most notable in this respect, however, is the American George Antheil. His fascination with machinery is evident in his Airplane Sonata, Death of the Machines, and the 30-minute Ballet Mcanique. The Ballet Mcanique was originally intended to accompany an experimental film by Fernand Lger, but the musical score is twice the length of the film and now stands alone. The score calls for a percussion ensemble consisting of three xylophones, four bass drums, a tam-tam, three airplane propellers, seven electric bells, a siren, two “live pianists”, and sixteen synchronized player pianos. Antheil’s piece was the first to synchronize machines with human players and to exploit the difference between what machines and humans can play.

Other composers offered more melodic variants of Futurist music, notably Franco Casavola, who was active with the movement at the invitation of Marinetti between 1924 and 1927, and Arthur-Vincent Louri, the first Russian Futurist musician, and a signatory of the St Petersburg Futurist Manifesto in 1914. His five Synthses offer a form of dodecaphony, while Formes en l’air was dedicated to Picasso and is a Cubo-Futurist concept. Born in Ukraine and raised in New York, Leo Ornstein gave his first recital of ‘Futurist Music’ at the Steinway Hall in London on 27 March 1914. According to the Daily Sketch newspaper “one listened with considerable distress. Nothing so horrible as Mr Ornstein’s music has been heard so far. Sufferers from complete deafness should attend the next recital.”

The Futuristic movement also influenced the concept of dance. Indeed, dancing was interpreted as an alternative way of expressing man’s ultimate fusion with the machine. The altitude of a flying plane, the power of a car’s motor and the roaring loud sounds of complex machinery were all signs of man’s intelligence and excellence which the art of dance had to emphasize and praise. This type of dance is considered futuristic since it disrupts the referential system of traditional, classical dance and introduces a different style, new to the sophisticated bourgeois audience. The dancer no longer performs a story, a clear content, that can be read according to the rules of ballet. One of the most famous futuristic dancers was the Italian Giannina Censi[it]. Trained as a classical ballerina, she is known for her “Aerodanze” and continued to earn her living by performing in classical and popular productions. She describes this innovative form of dance as the result of a deep collaboration with Marinetti and his poetry. Through these words, she explains: ” I launched this idea of the aerial-futurist poetry with Marinetti, he himself declaiming the poetry. A small stage of a few square meters;… I made myself a satin costume with a helmet; everything that the plane did had to be expressed by my body. It flew and, moreover, it gave the impression of these wings that trembled, of the apparatus that trembled,… And the face had to express what the pilot felt.”[22][23]

Futurism as a literary movement made its official debut with F.T. Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism (1909), as it delineated the various ideals Futurist poetry should strive for. Poetry, the predominate medium of Futurist literature, can be characterized by its unexpected combinations of images and hyper-conciseness (not to be confused with the actual length of the poem). The Futurists called their style of poetry parole in libert (word autonomy) in which all ideas of meter were rejected and the word became the main unit of concern. In this way, the Futurists managed to create a new language free of syntax punctuation, and metrics that allowed for free expression.

Theater also has an important place within the Futurist universe. Works in this genre have scenes that are few sentences long, have an emphasis on nonsensical humor, and attempt to discredit the deep rooted traditions via parody and other devaluation techniques.There are a number of examples of Futurist novels from both the initial period of Futurism and the neo-Futurist period, from Marinetti himself to a number of lesser known Futurists, such as Primo Conti, Ardengo Soffici and Giordano Bruno Sanzin (Zig Zag, Il Romanzo Futurista edited by Alessandro Masi, 1995). They are very diverse in style, with very little recourse to the characteristics of Futurist Poetry, such as ‘parole in libert’. Arnaldo Ginna’s ‘Le locomotive con le calze'(Trains with socks on)plunges into a world of absurd nonsense, childishly crude. His brother Bruno Corra wrote in Sam Dunn morto (Sam Dunn is Dead) a masterpiece of Futurist fiction, in a genre he himself called ‘Synthetic’ characterized by compression, and precision; it is a sophisticated piece that rises above the other novels through the strength and pervasiveness of its irony.

When interviewed about her favorite film of all times,[24] famed movie critic Pauline Kael stated that the director Dimitri Kirsanoff, in his silent experimental film Mnilmontant “developed a technique that suggests the movement known in painting as Futurism”.[25]

Many Italian Futurists supported Fascism in the hope of modernizing a country divided between the industrialising north and the rural, archaic South. Like the Fascists, the Futurists were Italian nationalists, radicals, admirers of violence, and were opposed to parliamentary democracy. Marinetti founded the Futurist Political Party (Partito Politico Futurista) in early 1918, which was absorbed into Benito Mussolini’s Fasci Italiano di Combattimento in 1919, making Marinetti one of the first members of the National Fascist Party. He opposed Fascism’s later exaltation of existing institutions, calling them “reactionary”, and walked out of the 1920 Fascist party congress in disgust, withdrawing from politics for three years; but he supported Italian Fascism until his death in 1944. The Futurists’ association with Fascism after its triumph in 1922 brought them official acceptance in Italy and the ability to carry out important work, especially in architecture. After the Second World War, many Futurist artists had difficulty in their careers because of their association with a defeated and discredited regime.

Marinetti sought to make Futurism the official state art of Fascist Italy but failed to do so. Mussolini chose to give patronage to numerous styles and movements in order to keep artists loyal to the regime. Opening the exhibition of art by the Novecento Italiano group in 1923, he said, “I declare that it is far from my idea to encourage anything like a state art. Art belongs to the domain of the individual. The state has only one duty: not to undermine art, to provide humane conditions for artists, to encourage them from the artistic and national point of view.”[26] Mussolini’s mistress, Margherita Sarfatti, who was as able a cultural entrepreneur as Marinetti, successfully promoted the rival Novecento group, and even persuaded Marinetti to sit on its board. Although in the early years of Italian Fascism modern art was tolerated and even embraced, towards the end of the 1930s, right-wing Fascists introduced the concept of “degenerate art” from Germany to Italy and condemned Futurism.

Marinetti made numerous moves to ingratiate himself with the regime, becoming less radical and avant-garde with each. He moved from Milan to Rome to be nearer the centre of things. He became an academician despite his condemnation of academies, married despite his condemnation of marriage, promoted religious art after the Lateran Treaty of 1929 and even reconciled himself to the Catholic Church, declaring that Jesus was a Futurist.

Although Futurism mostly became identified with Fascism, it had leftist and anti-Fascist supporters. They tended to oppose Marinetti’s artistic and political direction of the movement, and in 1924 the socialists, communists and anarchists walked out of the Milan Futurist Congress. The anti-Fascist voices in Futurism were not completely silenced until the annexation of Abyssinia and the Italo-German Pact of Steel in 1939.[27] This association of Fascists, socialists and anarchists in the Futurist movement, which may seem odd today, can be understood in terms of the influence of Georges Sorel, whose ideas about the regenerative effect of political violence had adherents right across the political spectrum.

Futurism expanded to encompass many artistic domains and ultimately included painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, theatre design, textiles, drama, literature, music and architecture.

Aeropainting (aeropittura) was a major expression of the second generation of Futurism beginning in 1926. The technology and excitement of flight, directly experienced by most aeropainters,[28] offered aeroplanes and aerial landscape as new subject matter. Aeropainting was varied in subject matter and treatment, including realism (especially in works of propaganda), abstraction, dynamism, quiet Umbrian landscapes,[29] portraits of Mussolini (e.g. Dottori’s Portrait of il Duce), devotional religious paintings, decorative art, and pictures of planes.

Aeropainting was launched in a manifesto of 1929, Perspectives of Flight, signed by Benedetta, Depero, Dottori, Filla, Marinetti, Prampolini, Somenzi and Tato (Guglielmo Sansoni). The artists stated that “The changing perspectives of flight constitute an absolutely new reality that has nothing in common with the reality traditionally constituted by a terrestrial perspective” and that “Painting from this new reality requires a profound contempt for detail and a need to synthesise and transfigure everything.” Crispolti identifies three main “positions” in aeropainting: “a vision of cosmic projection, at its most typical in Prampolini’s ‘cosmic idealism’ …; a ‘reverie’ of aerial fantasies sometimes verging on fairy-tale (for example in Dottori …); and a kind of aeronautical documentarism that comes dizzyingly close to direct celebration of machinery (particularly in Crali, but also in Tato and Ambrosi).”[30]

Eventually there were over a hundred aeropainters. Major figures include Fortunato Depero, Enrico Prampolini, Gerardo Dottori and Crali. Crali continued to produce aeropittura up until the 1980s.

Futurism influenced many other twentieth-century art movements, including Art Deco, Vorticism, Constructivism, Surrealism, Dada, and much later Neo-Futurism.[31][32] Futurism as a coherent and organized artistic movement is now regarded as extinct, having died out in 1944 with the death of its leader Marinetti.

Nonetheless, the ideals of Futurism remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and culture. Ridley Scott consciously evoked the designs of Sant’Elia in Blade Runner. Echoes of Marinetti’s thought, especially his “dreamt-of metallization of the human body”, are still strongly prevalent in Japanese culture, and surface in manga/anime and the works of artists such as Shinya Tsukamoto, director of the Tetsuo (lit. “Ironman”) films. Futurism has produced several reactions, including the literary genre of cyberpunkin which technology was often treated with a critical eyewhilst artists who came to prominence during the first flush of the Internet, such as Stelarc and Mariko Mori, produce work which comments on Futurist ideals. and the art and architecture movement Neo-Futurism in which technology is considered a driver to a better quality of life and sustainability values.[33][34]

A revival of sorts of the Futurist movement in theatre began in 1988 with the creation of the Neo-Futurist style in Chicago, which utilizes Futurism’s focus on speed and brevity to create a new form of immediate theatre. Currently, there are active Neo-Futurist troupes in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Montreal.[35]

Futurist ideas have been discerned in Western dance music since the 1980s.[36]

Japanese Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s 1986 album ‘Futurista’ was inspired by the movement. It features a speech from Tommaso Marinetti in the track ‘Variety Show’.[37]

In 2009, Italian director Marco Bellocchio included Futurist art in his feature film Vincere.[38]

In 2014, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum featured the exhibition “Italian Futurism, 19091944: Reconstructing the Universe”.[39] This was the first comprehensive overview of Italian Futurism to be presented in the United States.[40]

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is a museum in London with a collection centered around Italian futurist artists and their paintings.

Umberto Boccioni, 1911, La rue entre dans la maison; Luigi Russolo, 1911, Souvenir dune nuit. Published in Les Annales politiques et littraires, 1 December 1912

Paintings by Gino Severini, 1911, La Danse du Pan-Pan, and Severini, 1913, Lautobus. Published in Les Annales politiques et littraires, Le Paradoxe Cubiste, 14 March 1920

Paintings by Gino Severini, 1911, Souvenirs de Voyage; Albert Gleizes, 1912, Man on a Balcony, LHomme au balcon; Severini, 191213, Portrait de Mlle Jeanne Paul-Fort; Luigi Russolo, 191112, La Rvolte. Published in Les Annales politiques et littraires, Le Paradoxe Cubiste (continued), n. 1916, 14 March 1920

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Futurism – Wikipedia

Futurism | Definition, Manifesto, Artists, & Facts …

Futurism, Italian Futurismo, Russian Futurizm, early 20th-century artistic movement centred in Italy that emphasized the dynamism, speed, energy, and power of the machine and the vitality, change, and restlessness of modern life. During the second decade of the 20th century, the movements influence radiated outward across most of Europe, most significantly to the Russian avant-garde. The most-significant results of the movement were in the visual arts and poetry.

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theatre: Futurism in Italy

Although it produced one major dramatist, Luigi Pirandello, in the period between the two world wars, the Italian theatre contributed very

Futurism was first announced on February 20, 1909, when the Paris newspaper Le Figaro published a manifesto by the Italian poet and editor Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Marinetti coined the word Futurism to reflect his goal of discarding the art of the past and celebrating change, originality, and innovation in culture and society. Marinettis manifesto glorified the new technology of the automobile and the beauty of its speed, power, and movement. Exalting violence and conflict, he called for the sweeping repudiation of traditional values and the destruction of cultural institutions such as museums and libraries. The manifestos rhetoric was passionately bombastic; its aggressive tone was purposely intended to inspire public anger and arouse controversy.

Britannica Quiz

Meet the Futurists

In 1919 Futurisms leader, F.T. Marinetti, was a parliamentary candidate in Italy for what party?

Marinettis manifesto inspired a group of young painters in Milan to apply Futurist ideas to the visual arts. Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carr, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, and Gino Severini published several manifestos on painting in 1910. Like Marinetti, they glorified originality and expressed their disdain for inherited artistic traditions.

Although they were not yet working in what was to become the Futurist style, the group called for artists to have an emotional involvement in the dynamics of modern life. They wanted to depict visually the perception of movement, speed, and change. To achieve this, the Futurist painters adopted the Cubist technique of using fragmented and intersecting plane surfaces and outlines to show several simultaneous views of an object. But the Futurists additionally sought to portray the objects movement, so their works typically include rhythmic spatial repetitions of an objects outlines during transit. The effect resembles multiple photographic exposures of a moving object. An example is Ballas painting Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (1912), in which a trotting dachshunds legs are depicted as a blur of multiple images. The Futurist paintings differed from Cubist work in other important ways. While the Cubists favoured still life and portraiture, the Futurists preferred subjects such as speeding automobiles and trains, racing cyclists, dancers, animals, and urban crowds. Futurist paintings have brighter and more vibrant colours than Cubist works, and they reveal dynamic, agitated compositions in which rhythmically swirling forms reach crescendos of violent movement.

Boccioni also became interested in sculpture, publishing a manifesto on the subject in the spring of 1912. He is considered to have most fully realized his theories in two sculptures, Development of a Bottle in Space (1912), in which he represented both the inner and outer contours of a bottle, and Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), in which a human figure is not portrayed as one solid form but is instead composed of the multiple planes in space through which the figure moves.

Futurist principles extended to architecture as well. Antonio SantElia formulated a Futurist manifesto on architecture in 1914. His visionary drawings of highly mechanized cities and boldly modern skyscrapers prefigure some of the most imaginative 20th-century architectural planning.

Boccioni, who had been the most-talented artist in the group, and SantElia both died during military service in 1916. Boccionis death, combined with expansion of the groups personnel and the sobering realities of the devastation caused by World War I, effectively brought an end to the Futurist movement as an important historical force in the visual arts.

Not content with merely taking over the urban and modernist themes of Futurist painting, the writers who embraced Italian literary Futurism sought to develop a language appropriate for what they perceived to be the speed and ruthlessness of the early 20th century. They established new genres, the most significant being parole in libert (words-in-freedom), also referred to as free-word poetry. It was poetry liberated from the constraints of linear typography and conventional syntax and spelling. A brief extract from Marinettis war poem Battaglia peso + odore (1912; Battle Weight + Smell) was appended to one of the Futurists manifestos as an example of words-in-freedom:

Arterial-roads bulging heat fermenting hair armpits drum blinding blondness breathing + rucksack 18 kilograms common sense = seesaw metal moneybox weakness: 3 shudders commands stones anger enemy magnet lightness glory heroism Vanguards: 100 meters machine guns rifle-fire explosion violins brass pim pum pac pac tim tum machine guns tataratatarata

Designed analogies (pictograms where shape analogically mimics meaning), dipinti paroliberi (literary collages combining graphic elements with free-word poetry), and sintesi (minimalist plays) were among other new genres. New forms of dissemination were favoured, including Futurist evenings, mixed-media events, and the use of manifesto leaflets, poster poems, and broadsheet-format journals containing a mixture of literature, painting, and theoretical pronouncements. Until 1914, however, output fell far short of the movements declared program, and Futurist poetsin contrast to Marinettiremained largely traditionalist in their subject matter and idiom, as was demonstrated by the movements debut anthology I poeti futuristi (1912; The Futurist Poets).

Marinetti was for some time primarily associated with his African Mafarka le futuriste (1910; Mafarka the Futurist), a tale of rape, pillage, and battle set in North Africa. Apart from its misogyny, racism, and glorification of a cult of violence, the novel is remembered for its heros creation of a machine brought to life as a superman destined to inherit the future. Only when Marinetti started grounding his avant-garde poetry in the realities of his combat experiences as a war reporter during World War I, however, did a distinctly innovative Futurist idiom emerge, one that represented a significant break from past poetic practices.

The title of literary Futurisms most important manifesto, Distruzione della sintassiimmaginazione senza filiparole in libert (1913; Destruction of SyntaxWireless ImaginationWords-in-Freedom), represented Marinettis demands for a pared-down elliptical language, stripped of adjectives and adverbs, with verbs in the infinitive and mathematical signs and word pairings used to convey information more economically and more boldly. The resultant telegraphic lyricism is most effective in Marinettis war poetry, especially Zang tumb tumb and Dunes (both 1914). A desire to make language more intensive led to a pronounced use of onomatopoeia in poems dealing with machines and waras in the title of Zang tumb tumb, intended to mimic the sound of artillery fireand to a departure from uniform, horizontal typography. A number of Futurist painter-poets blurred the distinction between literature and visual art, as Severini did in Danza serpentina (1914; Serpentine Dance). While Marinettis poetic experiments revealed an indebtedness to Cubism, he elevated Italian literary collage, often created for the purpose of pro-war propaganda, to a distinctively Futurist art form. The culmination of this tendency came with Carrs Festa patriottica (1914; Patriotic Celebration) and Marinettis Les Mots en libert futuristes (1919; Futurist Words-in-Freedom).

A typographical revolution was also proclaimed in the Futurists 1913 manifesto; it grew out of both a desire to make form visually dynamic and a perceived need for visual effects in type that were capable of reflectingthrough size and boldnessthe noise of modern warfare and urban life. A diverse series of shaped poetic layouts depicted speeding cars, trains, and airplanes, exploding bombs, and the confusions of battle. Apart from Marinettis work, the most accomplished typographical experiments are to be found in the poetry of Francesco Cangiullo and Fortunato Depero.

During its first decade, Italian literary Futurism remained a largely homogeneous movement. By contrast, Russian Futurism was fragmented into a number of splinter groups (Ego-Futurists, Cubo-Futurists, Hylaea [Russian Gileya]) associated with a large number of anthologies representing continually regrouping artistic factions. While there was an urbanist strand to Russian Futurism, especially in the poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Yelena Guro, Russian writers were less preoccupied with machines, speed, and violence than their Italian counterparts. The dominant strain of primitivism in Russian Futurism led some to conclude that the two movements have little in common apart from the word Futurism. While there was a shared interest in the renewal of language, the Italians innovations were invariably designed to express an ultramodern sensibility, whereas Russian Futurist poets and playwrights confined their attentions to The Word as Such (the title of one of their most famous manifestos, Slovo kak takovoye, published in 1913). A number of these writers, most impressively Velimir Khlebnikov, explored the archaic roots of language and drew on primitive folk culture for their inspiration.

As was the case in Italy, the main achievements of Russian Futurism lie in poetry and drama. As it did in Italy, neologism played a large role in Russian attempts to renew language, which in turn aimed at the destruction of syntax. The most-famous Futurist poem, Khlebnikovs Zaklyatiye smekhom (1910; Incantation by Laughter), generates a series of permutations built on the root -smekh (laughter) by adding impossible prefixes and suffixes. The result is a typical (for Russian Futurism) concern with etymology and word creation. Khlebnikovs and Alexey Kruchenykhs radical forays into linguistic poetry went hand in hand with an interest in the word as pure sound. Their invented zaumthe largely untranslatable name given to their transrational languagewas intended to take language beyond logical meanings in the direction of a new visionary mysticism. Kruchenykhs opera Pobeda nad solncem (1913; Victory over the Sun) and Khlebnikovs play Zangezi (1922) are two of the most-important examples of the Futurist blend of transrationalism with the cult of the primitive. Mayakovsky, the greatest Russian poet to have gone through a Futurist phase, was coauthor of the manifesto Poshchochina obshchestvennomu vkusu (1912; A Slap in the Face of Public Taste), and his poems figure in many of the movements key anthologies. While sharing an Italian-influenced Futurist sensibility with the Ego-Futurists and belonging more, on account of their concern with verbal innovation, to the body of works by the Cubo-Futurist painter-poets, his poetry and plays are, above all, Futurist in their provocative rejection of the past and their subjectivist approach to the renewal of poetic language.

During the 1920s, Marinetti and those around him gravitated toward fascism, whereas the Soviet communist regime became increasingly intolerant of what it dismissed as avant-garde Formalism. While relations between Italian and Russian Futurism were, on the whole, strained, the Italian Futurists exercised a strong influence on German Expressionism, English Vorticism, and international Dada.

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Futurism | Definition, Manifesto, Artists, & Facts …

Futurism | Define Futurism at Dictionary.com

(sometimes initial capital letter) a style of the fine arts developed originally by a group of Italian artists about 1910 in which forms derived chiefly from cubism were used to represent rapid movement and dynamic motion.

(often initial capital letter) a style of art, literature, music, etc., and a theory of art and life in which violence, power, speed, mechanization or machines, and hostility to the past or to traditional forms of expression were advocated or portrayed.

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Futurism | Define Futurism at Dictionary.com

FUTURISM – YouTube

LO99 – Sometime ft. Owl Eyes [Official Music Video]Out now on Medium Rare Recordings:https://mrr.lnk.to/Sometime

Follow LO’99 & Owl Eyeshttps://soundcloud.com/lo99https://facebook.com/getlo99https://instagram.com/getlo99https:/owleyes.com.au

Director: Ryan Sauerhttps://ryansauermedia.com

The Mountain GoatsMountain Goats DP – Harry JoaquinAC / Focus Puller – Thomas BrownlowCamera Rig Driver – Pope CrilleyMoVI Operator – Michael CiarloCamera Operator Daniel De Silvahttps://themountaingoats.co…

Lighting: Additivehttps://additive.lighting

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HMUA: Kate Ryan

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Assistant & Runner: Ben O’Connor

Find the latest music from FUTURISMYouTube – https://youtube.com/futuris…Spotifyhttps://open.spotify.com/us……Soundcloudhttps://soundcloud.com/futu…

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The Israeli Moon Lander Is About to Touch Down

SpaceIL's Moon lander, Beresheet, is expected to touch down on the lunar surface on Thursday, landing Israeli a place in the history books.

Lunar Lander

If all goes according to plan, Israel will earn a place in history on Thursday as the fourth nation ever to land a spacecraft on the Moon — and unlike any craft that came before it, this Moon lander was privately funded.

Beresheet is the work of SpaceIL, a nonprofit Israeli space company. On Feb. 21, the company launched its $100 million spacecraft on a journey to the Moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and on April 4, it settled into the Moon’s orbit.

The next step in the mission is for Beresheet to attempt to land on the surface of the Moon sometime between 3 and 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Watch Along

Beresheet’s target landing site is in the northeastern part of Mare Serenitatis, also known as the Sea of Serenity.

“On the basis of our experience with Apollo, the Serenitatis sites favor both landing safety and scientific reward,” SpaceIL team member Jim Head said in a press release.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, the company that built Beresheet, will live-stream Thursday’s touch-down attempt, so the world will have a chance to watch along as Israel tries to land itself a spot in the history books.

READ MORE: Israel’s Beresheet space probe prepares for historic moon landing [NBC News]

More on Beresheet: Israel’s Moon Lander Just Got Photobombed by the Earth

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The Israeli Moon Lander Is About to Touch Down

Some People Are Exceptionally Good at Predicting the Future

Some people are adept at forecasting, predicting the likelihood of future events, and a new contest aims to suss them out.

Super-Forecasters

Some people have a knack for accurately predicting the likelihood of future events. You might even be one of these “super-forecasters” and not know it — but now there’s an easy way to find out.

BBC Future has teamed up with UK-based charity Nesta and forecasting services organization Good Judgement on the “You Predict the Future” challenge. The purpose is to study how individuals and teams predict the likelihood of certain events, ranging from the technological to the geopolitical.

All Winners

Anyone interested in testing their own forecasting skills can sign up for the challenge to answer a series of multiple-choice questions and assign a percentage to how likely each answer is to come true.

“When you’re part of the challenge, you’ll get feedback on how accurate your forecasts are,” Kathy Peach, who leads Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, told BBC Future. “You’ll be able to see how well you do compared to other forecasters. And there’s a leader board, which shows who the best performing forecasters are.”

Collective Intelligence

You’ll also be helping advance research on collective intelligence, which focuses on the intellectual abilities of groups of people acting as one.

Additionally, as Peach told BBC Future, “New research shows that forecasting increases open-mindedness, the ability to consider alternative scenarios, and reduces political polarisation,”  — meaning even if you don’t find out you’re a “super-forecaster,” you might just end up a better person after making your predictions.

READ MORE: Could you be a super-forecaster? [BBC Future]

More on forecasting: Forecasting the Future: Can the Hive Mind Let Us Predict the Future?

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Some People Are Exceptionally Good at Predicting the Future

Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

A new type of quantum material can directly measure neural activity and translate it into electrical signals for a computer.

Computer Brain

Scientists say they’ve developed a new “quantum material” that could one day transfer information directly from human brains to a computer.

The research is in early stages, but it invokes ideas like uploading brains to the cloud or hooking people up to a computer to track deep health metrics — concepts that until now existed solely in science fiction.

Quantum Interface

The new quantum material, described in research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, is a “nickelate lattice” that the scientists say could directly translate the brain’s electrochemical signals into electrical activity that could be interpreted by a computer.

“We can confidently say that this material is a potential pathway to building a computing device that would store and transfer memories,” Purdue University engineer Shriram Ramanathan told ScienceBlog.

Running Diagnostics

Right now, the new material can only detect the activity of some neurotransmitters — so we can’t yet upload a whole brain or anything like that. But if the tech progresses, the researchers hypothesize that it could be used to detect neurological diseases, or perhaps even store memories.

“Imagine putting an electronic device in the brain, so that when natural brain functions start deteriorating, a person could still retrieve memories from that device,” Ramanathan said.

READ MORE: New Quantum Material Could Warn Of Neurological Disease [ScienceBlog]

More on brain-computer interface: This Neural Implant Accesses Your Brain Through the Jugular Vein

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Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

Scientists Find a New Way to Kickstart Stable Fusion Reactions

A new technique for nuclear fusion can generate plasma without requiring as much space-consuming equipment within a reactor.

Warm Fusion

Scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory say that they’ve found a new way to start up nuclear fusion reactions.

The new technique, described in research published last month in the journal Physics of Plasmas, provides an alternate means for reactors to convert gas into the superhot plasma that gets fusion reactions going with less equipment taking up valuable lab space — another step in the long road to practical fusion power.

Out With The Old

Right in the center of a tokamak, a common type of experimental nuclear fusion reactor, there’s a large central magnet that helps generate plasma. The new technique, called “transient coaxial helical injection,” does away with the magnet but still generates a stable reaction, freeing up the space taken up by the magnet for other equipment.

“The good news from this study,” Max Planck Institute researcher Kenneth Hammond said in a press release, “is that the projections for startup in large-scale devices look promising.”

READ MORE: Ready, set, go: Scientists evaluate novel technique for firing up fusion-reaction fuel [Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory newsroom via ScienceDaily]

More on nuclear fusion: Scientists Found a New Way to Make Fusion Reactors More Efficient

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Scientists Find a New Way to Kickstart Stable Fusion Reactions

MIT Prof: If We Live in a Simulation, Are We Players or NPCs?

An MIT scientist asks whether we're protagonists in a simulated reality or so-called NPCs who exist to round out a player character's experience. 

Simulation Hypothesis

Futurism readers may recognize Rizwan Virk as the MIT researcher touting a new book arguing that we’re likely living in a game-like computer simulation.

Now, in new interview with Vox, Virk goes even further — by probing whether we’re protagonists in the simulation or so-called “non-player characters” who are presumably included to round out a player character’s experience.

Great Simulation

Virk speculated about whether we’re players or side characters when Vox writer Sean Illing asked a question likely pondered by anyone who’s seen “The Matrix”: If you were living in a simulation, would you actually want to know?

“Probably the most important question related to this is whether we are NPCs (non-player characters) or PCs (player characters) in the video game,” Virk told Vox. “If we are PCs, then that means we are just playing a character inside the video game of life, which I call the Great Simulation.”

More Frightening

It’s a line of inquiry that cuts to the core of the simulation hypothesis: If the universe is essentially a video game, who built it — and why?

“The question is, are all of us NPCs in a simulation, and what is the purpose of that simulation?” Virk asked. “A knowledge of the fact that we’re in a simulation, and the goals of the simulation and the goals of our character, I think, would still be interesting to many people.”

READ MORE: Are we living in a computer simulation? I don’t know. Probably. [Vox]

More on the simulation hypothesis: Famous Hacker Thinks We’re Living in Simulation, Wants to Escape

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MIT Prof: If We Live in a Simulation, Are We Players or NPCs?

Here’s How Big the M87 Black Hole Is Compared to the Earth

The black hole that scientists imaged is a stellar giant. It would take millions of Earths lined up side-by-side to span its length.

Pale Black Dot

On Wednesday, a team of scientists from around the world released the first ever directly-observed image of the event horizon of a black hole.

The black hole, M87*, is found within the constellation Virgo — and as the webcomic XKCD illustrated, it’s as big as our entire solar system.

Stellar Giant

The gigantic black hole, not counting the giant rings of trapped light orbiting it, is about 23.6 billion miles (38 billion kilometers) across, according to Science News.

Meanwhile, the Earth is just 7,917 miles in diameter — meaning our planet wouldn’t even be a drop in the bucket of the giant, black void. Based Futurism’s calculations, it would take just over 2.98 million Earths lined up in a row to span the length of M87*. For a sense of scale, that’s about how many adult giraffes it would take to span the diameter of Earth.

Paging Pluto

Our entire solar system is just about 2.27 billion miles wide, meaning we could just barely fit the whole thing into the newly-imaged black hole’s event horizon.

Thankfully, M87* is about 55 million light years away — so while we could readily fit inside its gaping maw, we’re way too far to get sucked in.

READ MORE: Revealed: a black hole the size of the solar system [Cosmos]

More on M87*: Scientists: Next Black Whole Image Will Be Way Clearer

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Here’s How Big the M87 Black Hole Is Compared to the Earth

Amazon Workers Listen to Your Alexa Conversations, Then Mock Them

A new Bloomberg piece shared the experiences of Amazon workers tasked with listening to Alexa recordings, and what they hear isn't always mundane.

I Hear You

Amazon pays thousands of workers across the globe to review audio picked up by its Echo speakers — and their behavior raises serious concerns about both privacy and safety.

Bloomberg recently spoke with seven people who participated in Amazon’s audio review process. Each worker was tasked with listening to, transcribing, and annotating voice recordings with the goal of improving the ability of Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant to understand and respond to human speech.

But sometimes, according to Bloomberg, they share private recordings in a disrespectful way.

“I think we’ve been conditioned to the [assumption] that these machines are just doing magic machine learning” University of Michigan professor Florian Schaub told Bloomberg. “But the fact is there is still manual processing involved.”

Listen to This

The job is usually boring, according to Bloomberg’s sources. But if they heard something out of the ordinary, they said, sometimes they’d share the Alexa recordings with other workers via internal chat rooms.

Occasionally, it was just because they found the audio amusing — a person singing off-key, for example — but other times, the sharing was “a way of relieving stress” after hearing something disturbing, such as when two of Bloomberg’s sources heard what sounded like a sexual assault.

When they asked Amazon how to handle cases like the latter, the workers said they were told “it wasn’t Amazon’s job to interfere.” Amazon, meanwhile, said it had procedures in place for when workers hear something “distressing” in Alexa recordings.

READ MORE: Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa [Bloomberg]

More on Echo: Thanks, Amazon! Echo Recorded and Sent Audio to Random Contacts Without Warning

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Amazon Workers Listen to Your Alexa Conversations, Then Mock Them

Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

Former Tesla and clinic employees share how doctors blocked workers' compensation claims and put injured people back to work to avoid payouts.

Here’s A Band-Aid

Tesla’s on-site clinic, Access Omnicare, has allegedly been downplaying workers’ injuries to keep the electric automaker off the hook for workers’ compensation.

Several former Tesla employees, all of whom got hurt on the job, and former employees of Access Omnicare, told Reveal News that the clinic was minimizing worker injuries so that the automaker wouldn’t have to pay workers’ comp — suggesting that the barely-profitable car company is willing to do whatever it takes to stay out of the red and avoid negative press.

Back To Work

Reveal, which is a project by the Center for Investigative Reporting, described cases in which employees suffered electrocution, broken bones, and mold-related rashes while working in a Tesla factory — only for Omnicare to deny that the injuries warranted time off work.

The clinic’s top doctor “wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,” former Omnicare operations manager Yvette Bonnet told Reveal. “He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.”

Missing Paperwork

Meanwhile, employees who requested the paperwork to file for workers’ comp were repeatedly ignored, according to Reveal.

“I just knew after the third or fourth time that they weren’t going to do anything about it,” a former employee whose back was crushed under a falling Model X hatchback told Reveal. “I was very frustrated. I was upset.”

The automaker is on the hook for up to $750,000 in medical payments per workers’ comp claim, according to Reveal‘s reporting.

Meanwhile, both Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Laurie Shelby, the company’s VP of safety, have publicly praised Access Omnicare, Reveal found. Musk even recently announced plans to extend it to other plants, “so that we have really immediate first-class health care available right on the spot when people need it.”

READ MORE: How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ comp [Reveal News]

More on Tesla: Video Shows Tesla Autopilot Steering Toward Highway Barriers

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Infertile Couple Gives Birth to “Three-Parent Baby”

A Greek couple just gave birth to a three-parent baby, the first conceived as part of a clinical trial to treat infertility.

Happy Birthday

On Tuesday, a couple gave birth to what researchers are calling a “three-parent baby” — giving new hope to infertile couples across the globe.

After four cycles of in vitro fertilization failed to result in a pregnancy, the Greek couple enrolled in a clinical trial for mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) — meaning doctors placed the nucleus from the mother’s egg into a donor egg that had its nucleus removed. Then they fertilized the egg with sperm from the father and implanted it into the mother.

Due to this procedure, the six-pound baby boy has DNA from both his mother and father, as well as a tiny bit from the woman who donated the egg.

Greek Life

The Greek baby wasn’t the first “three-parent baby” born after his parents underwent MRT — that honor goes to the offspring of a Jordanian woman who gave birth in 2016.

However, in her case and others that followed it, doctors used the technique to prevent a baby from inheriting a parent’s genetic defect. This marked the first time a couple used MRT as part of a clinical trial to treat infertility.

“Our excellent collaboration and this exceptional result will help countless women to realise their dream of becoming mothers with their own genetic material,” Nuno Costa-Borges, co-founder of Embryotools, one of the companies behind the trial, said in a statement.

READ MORE: Baby with DNA from three people born in Greece [The Guardian]

More on three-parent babies: An Infertile Couple Is Now Pregnant With a “Three-Parent Baby”

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Infertile Couple Gives Birth to “Three-Parent Baby”

NASA Is Funding the Development of 18 Bizarre New Projects

Through the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, NASA funds projects that go

Nurturing the Bizarre

NASA isn’t afraid to take a chance on the weird. In fact, it has a program designed for that specific purpose, called NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) — and on Wednesday, the agency announced 18 bizarre new projects receiving funding through the program.

“Our NIAC program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions by investing in revolutionary technologies,” NASA exec Jim Reuter said in a press release. “We look to America’s innovators to help us push the boundaries of space exploration with new technology.”

Sci-Fi to Sci-Fact

The 18 newly funded projects are divided into two groups: Phase I and Phase II.

The 12 recipients of the Phase I awards will each receive approximately $125,000 to fund nine month’s worth of feasibility studies for their concepts. These include a project to beam power through Venus’ atmosphere to support long-term missions, a spacesuit with self-healing skin, and floating microprobes inspired by spiders.

The six Phase II recipients, meanwhile, will each receive up to $500,000 to support two-year studies dedicated to fine-tuning their concepts and investigating potential ways to implement the technologies, which include a flexible telescope, a neutrino detector, and materials for solar surfing.

“NIAC is about going to the edge of science fiction, but not over,” Jason Derleth, NIAC program executive, said in the press release. “We are supporting high impact technology concepts that could change how we explore within the solar system and beyond.”

READ MORE: NASA Invests in Potentially Revolutionary Tech Concepts [Jet Propulsion Laboratory]

More on bizarre NASA plans: New NASA Plan for Mars Is Moderately-Terrifying-Sounding, Also, Completely-Awesome: Robotic. Bees.

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Israel’s Lunar Lander Just Crashed Into the Moon

The Beresheet lunar lander crashed into the surface of the moon after experiencing engine failure during its final descent.

Landing Attempt

Beresheet, the lunar lander built by Israeli space nonprofit SpaceIL, crashed into the surface of the Moon on Thursday.

It would have been the first privately-owned lander on the surface of the Moon, and would have made Israel the fourth country to reach the surface of the Moon — but the craft experienced engine failure during its final approach.

“We have a failure of the spacecraft,” said Israel Aerospace Industries general manager Opher Doron on livestream, according to CNBC. “We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully,”

Final Approach

As Beresheet was approaching the surface of the Moon, the main engine failed and Beresheet was forced to reset the engine.

With about 10 kilometers left to go (6.2 miles), the main engine cut out and the lander crashed into the Moon traveling at about 134 meters per second, according to the livestream.

“We failed the first try, we’ll make it in the second… within two years we’ll try it again,” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to CNBC.

Definitely Tried

SpaceIL tweeted a photo of the lander’s final approach minutes before it lost contact with the craft. In it, the Moon looms ominously in the background.

“We didn’t make it. But we definitely tried,” said SpaceIL.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional details.

READ MORE: Israeli spacecraft Beresheet falls short of history as moon landing fails in final moments [CNBC]

More on Beresheet: The Israeli Moon Lander Is About to Touch Down

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Israel’s Lunar Lander Just Crashed Into the Moon

We Wouldn’t Have the First Black Hole Image Without Katie Bouman

Katie Bouman, a 29-year-old computer scientist, led the development of the algorithm that made the first black hole image possible.

Algorithmic Assist

It took a team of more than 200 scientists to create the first image of the event horizon of a black hole — and the internet is currently in love with one of them.

Computer scientist Katie Bouman led the development of the algorithm that made the breathtaking black hole image possible, and soon after the Event Horizon Telescope team revealed the photo on Wednesday, another image — this one a shot of Bouman that she posted to her Facebook page — started making the rounds online.

“Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed,” the 29-year-old wrote of the photo, which was subsequently shared by everyone from CNN to Kamala Harris.

Here's the moment when the first black hole image was processed, from the eyes of researcher Katie Bouman. #EHTBlackHole #BlackHoleDay #BlackHole (v/@dfbarajas) pic.twitter.com/n0ZnIoeG1d

— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) April 10, 2019

Women Who Code

The online photo frenzy wasn’t over, though.

Many in the Twitterverse and beyond noted the similarities between an image of Bouman with piles of hard drives containing black hole image data and an image of another female computer scientist, Margaret Hamilton, standing next to the stacks of code she wrote to help NASA put astronauts on the Moon in 1969.

Still, Bouman, who is now an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology, is quick to note that creating the first black hole image wasn’t a one-woman job.

“No one of us could’ve done it alone,” she told CNN. “It came together because of lots of different people from many different backgrounds.”

Left: MIT computer scientist Katie Bouman w/stacks of hard drives of black hole image data.

Right: MIT computer scientist Margaret Hamilton w/the code she wrote that helped put a man on the moon.

(image credit @floragraham)#EHTblackhole #BlackHoleDay #BlackHole pic.twitter.com/Iv5PIc8IYd

— MIT CSAIL (@MIT_CSAIL) April 10, 2019

READ MORE: That image of a black hole you saw everywhere? Thank this grad student for making it possible [CNN]

More on the black hole image: Scientists Just Released the First-Ever Image of a Black Hole

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We Wouldn’t Have the First Black Hole Image Without Katie Bouman

SpaceX Milestone: Company Lands Three Falcon Heavy Boosters

SpaceX successfully landed all three of its Falcon Heavy boosters during the rocket's second launch ever, marking a new milestone in reusable rocketry.

The Falcons Have Landed

The second time is apparently the charm for SpaceX.

In February 2018, Elon Musk’s space company launched a Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, but it wasn’t able to recover all three of the rocket’s boosters — rather than landing on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship like it was supposed to, the center core splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. Whoops.

On Thursday, the company attempted its second Falcon Heavy launch, and this time it nailed the landing of all three boosters — marking a new milestone in reusable rocketry.

Watch SpaceX's #FalconHeavy rocket lands its center core on a ship for the first time ? pic.twitter.com/VltoKVaAox

— CNET (@CNET) April 12, 2019

Democratizing Space

The Falcon Heavy is currently the most powerful launch vehicle in operation. Because SpaceX designed the rocket to be reusable, it can keep the cost of launches lower than would otherwise be possible — and cheaper launches mean more launches, thereby advancing humanity’s efforts to study, explore, and exploit space.

Now that SpaceX has proven it can successfully recover all three Falcon Heavy boosters, it can start looking ahead to the five launches already on the rocket’s manifest — and the others that will likely follow.

Falcon Heavy’s side boosters land on Landing Zones 1 and 2 pic.twitter.com/nJCCaVHOeo

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 12, 2019

READ MORE: SpaceX launches mega rocket, lands all three boosters [Phys.org]

More on Falcon Heavy: The Falcon Heavy Launched. Here’s What’s Next for SpaceX.

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SpaceX Milestone: Company Lands Three Falcon Heavy Boosters


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