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Daily Archives: April 26, 2020
Posted: April 26, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Psilocybin was shunned by mainstream society in the 1960s as "Substance 1" dangerous and of no medical use. And for decades, evidence suggesting that psilocybin could be therapeutic lay buried in books. But over the past decade, a resurgence in psychedelic research has yielded new insights, with some labs running human trials.
David Nutt calls it the "brave new world of psychedelic psychiatry." Nutt is a neuro-psycho-pharmacologist and professor at Imperial College London. He suggests psychiatry is slowly emerging from a 30-year dark age, during which anti-depressants were the only accepted medicinal treatment for mental health conditions.
Apart from being costly, Nutt says anti-depressants help only a small percentage of the people who take them. Side effects can include a blunting of the emotions.
"I like to think of it as a force field," says Nutt. "They protect you. They cocoon you from the stresses of life, which are many and repeated, and they allow your brain to heal."
But the effects only last as long as you take anti-depressants. When you come off them, you can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. And perhaps more importantly, anti-depressants do not deal with the root cause of depression or anxiety, says Nutt.
Meanwhile, psilocybin appears to offer a different and longer-lasting alternative.
Nutt and his team of researchers have been concluding a second human trial of psilocybin to treat depression.
Read more:Coronavirus and mental health: 'We are not made for social isolation'
Neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt warns of severe withdrawal symptoms of anti-depressants.
Controlling the trip
Volunteers with moderate to severe depression are given a 25 milligram (0.000881849 ounce) pill of psilocybin. That's a macrodose which causes a powerful, deep "trip" for about four hours.
But it's not like hippies tripping in a field. The tests are done in a controlled environment, with two therapists assigned to each volunteer.
"Depressed people having a trip aren't having fun," says Nutt. "They are often going back to the most horrible experiences of their lives and reliving things which they've often forgotten but which are causing the depression."
The therapists prepare the volunteers for what they might experience. They hold the volunteers' hands during the test to provide a sense of security. And after the trip, the therapists help the volunteers make sense of the experience through psychotherapy.
"This is not something you just go and do outdoors by yourself," says Nutt. "This is serious medicine. This is powerful medicine."A glimpse of the first clinical trial at Imperial College London can be found in this youtube video:
Rapid and lasting effects
In one trial, 20 patients who had not responded to treatment for depression, were given two doses of psilocybin one week apart. Nutt's team found rapid and long-lasting improvements in the patients' health. None of the patients required traditional anti-depressants for the first five weeks after the tests. Six months later, they had follow-up tests that showed many of their symptoms had stayed away.
But there was no control groupno way to compare the results directly. A team under Robin Carhart-Harris at the Centre for Psychedelics Research in London is now running similar tests with such controls in place.
Patient testimonies, available online, report huge improvements in health. One patient, called Andy, says that all standard treatments had failed him. No therapy had helped him find an underlying cause for his depression. But he says psilocybin gave him a missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle. It was "the one that changed things."
Read more:Happiness, where are you?
Andy participated in the first ever clinical trial of psilocybin to treat depression
Science and society
It's been difficult for some health professionals and scientists to accept any therapeutic benefits of psilocybin despite the evidence.
For decades, doctors have told people how dangerous these drugs areand those dangers or risks are real when psychedelics are taken in uncontrolled, so-called "recreational," settings.
In controlled settings, however, psychedelics could offer patients, suffering from depression or addiction, treatments that work better for them than traditional anti-depressants, or plain will power.
"They should at least have the opportunity of treatments which might work for them," says Nutt. "To deny them that on the basis of some kind of moral philosophy against drugs is, I think, unethical."
Stephen Ross, a psychiatrist based in New York, has had to confront that belief himself. In his entire medical training at the University of California, Los Angeles, there was no mention of psychedelics.
Psilocybin in the active ingredient found inside magic mushrooms
Psychedelics buried deep in literature
Then in 2006, Ross heard about a conference, marking the 100th birthday of Albert Hofmann, a Swiss scientist who discovered lysergic acid diethylamide and synthesized psilocybin.
Ross was puzzled. "Why would anybody be celebrating the discovery of LSD? All I had heard about LSD from my training was that it was a bad, dangerous drug."
So, he started looking into the medical history and found a huge body of research hidden in plain sight. The 1950s, 60s and 70s were a rich time for psychedelic research. Among the reports Ross found, there was a strong focus on using LSD to treat alcoholism. As an addiction psychiatrist, Ross' curiosity was piqued.
But with LSD shunned as a Substance 1 drug, it was a struggle to get funding for research.
To increase his chances at success, Ross turned to psilocybin, a psychedelic that like LSD had been branded a Substance 1 drug, but it was one with "less cultural baggage." And he turned to a condition with less social stigma than depression or addiction: cancer.
Read more:Never tried LSD - the drug my father discovered
Stephen Ross is conducting clinical trials of psilocybin on terminal cancer patients.
Psilocybin and cancer
"Cancer is a very scary thing in any culture. Cancer patients start to have this existential distress, where they feel hopeless, that life is meaningless, pointless," says Ross, now associate professor at New York University's School of Medicine. "And there's no treatment for that kind of existential distress."
In 2016, Ross completed the first human trial with psilocybin to reduce depression and anxiety in 29 patients with terminal cancer.
He says that psilocybin helps people reconceptualize cancer as "a part of their life," rather than it being their whole life.
"A lot of patients come out of the experience and say that they connected to this profound sense of love or universal love or God's love, or that the feeling of love was profoundly healing to them," says Ross.
Read more:Differences in personality: What psychiatrists can learn from mice to treat depression
The spheres show connectivity inside a human brain.
Under the influence of a psychedelic drug like psilocybin, more and more neurons interact with each other. These neurons may not have been interacting before because the mind was in a rut or fixed pattern of thinking. Psychedelics add flexibility. A placebo is shown to compare how evident the effect is.
Careful, it's a new revolution
Psychedelics could also be used to treat other conditions, including anorexia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders.
But Ross says we still need to be careful with psychedelics. He says there may be a bias among researchersafter years of struggling to get psychedelic studies funded, combined with the excitement of new resultsto believe that psilocybin will cure everything.
Their work is finding a new audience and perhaps a new form of acceptance, with popular science books out on the shelves. But researchers say there is a lot more work to be done before psychedelics can be used in medicinal treatment.
"I'm not saying that psychedelics should be used clinically yet at all. We need more research," says Ross. And even then, psychedelic treatments may not be for everyone. Researchers warn against using psychedelic treatments with patients suffering a psychosis, or young people whose brains are still developing.
Link to the documentary:A New Understanding: The Science of Psilocybin
Read more:Instant gratification and the pursuit of perfection: Why our brains love Instagram
When done in moderation, endurance sports like jogging and cycling are ideal for fighting stress and its negative consequences. They help to decrease stress hormones while strengthening the heart and improving circulation. The endorphins released make you feel happier and more energetic. However competitive sports often do the contrary, as they create a new source of stress.
Relaxation therapies like Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Autogenic Training have scientifically-proven benefits. And many people swear by yoga and meditation. They all reduce muscle tension and agitation, making people more stress-resistant, relaxed and happy. These relaxation techniques can also provide emergency relief in acute stress situations.
Silence is an effective medicine in relieving stress. It calms frazzled nerves and helps the mind unwind. If there's a quiet room in your home, consciously spend 15 or 20 minutes there each day. Even bustling big cities have peaceful places of refuge -- like museums, libraries and churches. You just have to look for them!
Dutch researchers have discovered that green is a calming color that makes us happy. And it's been proven that people who have a garden or live by a park have better mental health and fewer circulatory problems than other city dwellers. So make sure to get out into nature, take a deep breath, and listen to the leaves rustling and the birds singing!
Regularly make time in your schedule for stress busters like jogging, Autogenic Training or a trip to the park. City dwellers in particular tend to fill up their free time with appointments and dinner engagements. So if you're feeling stressed, reduce your social engagements in favour of relaxation time.
Body and spirit both need time to regenerate. Spending the whole day sitting behind a desk can cause tense muscles and back pain, and cause the levels of stress hormones in your bloodstream to soar. Going for a brisk walk in the fresh air and stretching your muscles can help. And you'll return to your desk feeling calm and composed.
Most people get too little sleep. The amount you need varies from person to person, but make sure you give your body enough time to recharge! Sleep is also a natural stress reducer. When possible, sleep in a well-ventilated room that's free from disturbances -- including snoring bed partners!
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Posted: at 6:46 pm
While trying to understand what makes the psychedelic drug LSD work, Dr. Mattias Liechti, head of the Liechti Laboratory at the University of Basel Hospital, stumbled onto something unexpected. During his research, he found a substance that seemed to abort the hallucinogenic effects of LSD within 20 to 30 minutes.
MindMed, a pharmaceutical company focused on developing psychedelic drugs into medicines, has filed for a patent on the research in collaboration with the laboratory. The company plans to develop it into a drug that might help reduce the length of time people experience hallucinations on an LSD trip.
Mitigating LSDs effects is a real focus for MindMed as it continues to study ways in which the drug can be used as a treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety and attention deficit disorder. While it has shown promise in research, not everyone is comfortable with the reality-altering side effects of the drug. The main issue with using LSD to treat medical conditions is that its effects are prominent and they last a long time, anywhere from 12 to 18 hours.
If you can neutralize LSD, you potentially can help in emergency situations, says Scott Freeman, chief medical officer at MindMed. Our concern is: Can we make a better therapeutic experience?
Freeman says his company is exploring ways in which this LSD neutralizer might be used. It could become a drug that someone takes to end a trip in progress. Alternatively, MindMed may explore how the substance might be time-released within another drug. In many ways, the latter scenario would be preferable, because it allows the company to ensure the recipient is getting the best effects from the drug while mitigating potentially negative experiences. Such a drug could also deter abuse.
LSD is actually an amazing drug, says Freeman. The real issue with it is the abuse potential.
Freeman notes that LSD is one of the safest drugs out there from a physiological perspective. However, if you take a psychedelic dose, people have died through suicide, jumping in front of cars, jumping off bridges, he says. So there is a death toll from LSD, but its a psychiatric death toll, not physiological.
LSD was discovered in Switzerland, and the country has remained open to research related to the substance even after other countries have made the drug illegal. Dr. Liechtis work is focused on understanding the mechanisms of MDMA and LSD and the use of both substances in psychotherapy.
Early research shows that LSD may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, though more research still needs to be done. MindMed is hoping to contribute to that field as it works to bring psychedelics and versions of psychedelics with fewer side effects to market. Already, the company is planning to start safety trials on a variant of ibogaine, a psychedelic drug that has shown potential against addiction, in the second half of 2020.
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Netflixs The Midnight Gospel Is a Profoundly Weird Psychedelic Trip You Want To Take – Mashable India
Posted: at 6:46 pm
If you have watched Adventure Time and Rick and Morty, youre pretty much prepared for The Midnight Gospel. The Netflix animated series by Adventure Time creators, comedian Duncan Trussell and animator Pendleton Ward is a sort of creative test for the limits of podcast-style narrations. But more importantly, it's a technicolour dream for stoners. The show revolves around spacecaster Clancey, who owns a malfunctioning multiverse simulator. With this device, he travels through several universes including versions of Earth to record material for his space-wide podcast (more like spacecast) in hopes of gaining subscribers. The Midnight Gospel holds with it the promise of trippy visuals to match with seemingly spontaneous conversations that go nowhere but wind up on innately profound subjects. Even non-stoners want that! When the trailer dropped it was met with expectations of a visual high.
The Midnight Gospel Trailer: A Trippy Escape For Adventure Time Fans
Did I mention that the multiverse simulator has a portal through which Clancy traverses across universes? He begins his travels by putting his head through a device which happens to look like a giant vagina, no big deal moving on. Cryptic as the trailer is, The Midnight Gospel is basically a mash-up of Duncan and Pendleton doing what they do best - Duncan, known for The Duncan Trussell Family Hour goes back to podcast conversations and Ward, to his inventive animation. The whole thing looks like improvised chats that are shot into space creating enough run-time for the most bizarre plots. Every episode begins with Clancy picking a universe and planet to land on, zeroing in on an interview subject and being launched into space. As the episodes play out the conversations with his subjects get progressively profound, weird but profound. It's practically a series of frank, real talks set on the backdrop of psychedelic visuals.
If you think the trailer was a bit much on the spectacles you aren't prepared for how many landscapes, characters, colours and details the show can pack in a single frame of 20+ minutes of binge-able episodes. It's almost exhausting how much your eyes are exposed to. But all that distraction is evenly matched with engaging dialogue. This works like a perfect blend of action-heavy scenes set on good music except the action scenes are the animation scenes and the music is the conversation. Clancy takes relatable questions to a cosmic level exploration of life, the universe and everything. And that's a trip you will want to take.
Disclaimer: This article contains partial spoilers of The Midnight Gospel. If you havent watched the first episode of the show, this is your chance to leave. Spoilers drop in 3... 2 1
More than anything, this show is about questions, questions that you and I have all the time, things you would discuss at a chill house party session while waiting for a high to hit or in complete sobriety. The first episode sees Clancy launched onto an Earth embroiled in a hilarious zombie apocalypse. Here, he talks to the President of the United States who is between shooting zombies and protecting the White House. Clancy tags along with a series of questions like - Should marijuana be legalised? What if a high-induced hallucination takes you lower? Are psychedelics even useful? What are the ambiguous feelings you have while meditating and what happens when you and follow them? All of this unsurmountable discussion takes place with a running narrative of zombies painting the town blood red. Thats not even it, there are moments that look totally random but create a plot full of survival and escape tropes. These are pretty serious themes for otherwise light conversations. The real high hits when the technicolour visions on-screen get down to play a representation of a high adding music to the mix (of course, psychedelic music plays a big role in the show). It will change your perception and leave you wondering long after the end credits which by the way are a spin on dialogue highlights of the episode.
In every episode, Clancy meets a new person or creature and they begin to look increasingly like a manifestation of his own inner thoughts and struggles. The further you move into run-time the more personal the conversations get. Every once in a while, the spacecaster will throw in his own experiences, some of which are really disturbing if you take the distractions of the colourful episodes away. The context of the narrations is a lot less trivial than the scenes make them out to be. This is where the show is at its most impactful height. In these moments you will find the serious parts of the language of the show right before it goes back to mindless details of mind-melting scenes.
Youll find that The Midnight Gospel comes with its own set of limitations. Viewers could find the overarching story monotonous pretty early into the 8-episode binge. You could also tire of the barrage of visuals. Or you could choose to get lost into them, somewhere in the multiverse, coming to terms with your own existentialism. Either way, this is a fun option for weird yet profound shows to escape into.
The Midnight Gospel is now available on Netflix.
Cover artwork: Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India
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Posted: at 6:46 pm
Hallucinogens have been used in religious ceremonies, mind control experiments, therapy
Use of hallucinogens can cause hallucinations within 20 to 90 minutes after ingestion. The trips can last from six to 12 hours.
For centuries, hallucinogens, also known as psychedelics, have been used by people in many cultures for religious rituals and recreation as well as by artists to spark creativity.
Kenneth Faunce, a WSU history clinical assistant professor who teaches classes on drugs and its history, said hallucinogens are a class of drugs that can cause hallucinations or sensations and images that seem real although they are not.
Experiences while under the influence of hallucinogens are commonly referred to as trips, he said. Trips can begin within 20 to 90 minutes of ingesting a hallucinogen and last for about six to 12 hours.
Faunce said the most remarkable potential benefit of hallucinogens is an ego death. This is an experience where people lose their sense of self-identity and, as a result, can relieve themselves of concerns like fear of death, addiction and anxiety.
In the past a lot of psychedelics was used in religious ceremonies, he said. It was considered opening your mind up for enlightenment and opening your mind up to visions from the spirits or the gods.
He said although hallucinogens remain illegal, they are being used in guided ceremonies, also called sessions, and are happening across the country.
The Native American church is allowed to use psychedelics because its considered part of a religious practice but only if you are a true member, said Faunce.
Government agencies like the CIA used synthetic hallucinogens to experiment with it for mind control, he said. The agencies thought if they dosed people with LSD, it would make them more pliable to answer questions or follow commands.
Faunce said Project MK-Ultra was a top-secret CIA project in which the agency conducted hundreds of experiments to assess the potential use of LSD and other drugs for mind control, information gathering and psychological torture.
People who have mental or emotional issues might try hallucinogens to alter their state of mind, Faunce said. Research has been conducted on hallucinogens to see whether they can be used as a form of therapy for some individuals.
Matthew, whose name has been changed for his protection, said he has used shrooms, which are also known as magic mushrooms or psychedelic mushrooms.
You have a three-hour long moment of profound clarity, where everything you dont know about yourself, and that you dont know about the world around you suddenly become perfectly clear, Matthew said.
Faunce said a bad hallucinogenic experience can result in a lost sense of reality and even long-term psychological trauma in very rare situations. This can happen in people using other drugs or with a history of mental health issues.
He said the stigmatization of psychedelics has lessened over time, but it still very much persists.
I think the science and the eroding of the cultural stigma of psychedelics goes hand in hand, Faunce said.
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Media Central moves to provide coverage on emerging Psychedelics and eGames sectors – Proactive Investors USA & Canada
Posted: at 6:46 pm
Media Central Corp (CSE: FLYY) CEO Brian Kalish joined Steve Darling from Proactive Vancouver to discuss the company making a major move to cover two very big sectors, eGames and Psychedelics.
Kalish discusses just how big these two topics are and how they plan on providing coverage for them. Kalish also told Proactive about the big increase in readership for their publications during the worldwide pandemic.
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Posted: at 6:46 pm
After just a 15-minute experience with Soundself, people were reporting a unitive experience of consciousness with the same regularity that youd get with a psilocybin trip.
Thats Robin Arnott, the creator of a new video game named Soundself: A Technodelic.Calling it a video game might be a little derivative, actually, Arnott would prefer you call it a transformative gaming experience a suitable enough title for an idea that came to him one year at Burning Man.
History has seen its fair share of trippy video game moments, accidental or otherwise. Descending into the Lovecraftian horror of latter-halfBloodborne, accidentally inhaling half a hemp field in Far Cry 3, or experiencing game-coded psychosis inHellblade: Senuas Sacrificeare all moments made to disorientate or flat-out freak out the player, but whatSoundselfdoes is a little different.
After checking that your microphone works, the game starts you at the base of tree, looking upward to a night sky. Youre then invited to begin breathing, concentrating on the stillness of your body and the gaps between your breaths. To rise up the tree, you must sing out in long, constant tones; ohhmmm. And when you reach its canopy, the world explodes into a neon-coloured, swirling landscape of fractals, spirals, and sound.
Every noise you make, picked up via your microphone, is fed back to you with differing levels of distortion. Where other games for example voice-controlled Kinect commands in Mass Effect 3or movement recognition inJust Dance have tried to embrace the whole body as a sort of controller, none have really made the integration seamless. Thats whatSoundselfattempts, as Arnott tells us.
you look at most games you play and youre using your fingers. Youre either using a keyboard and mouse or a joystick or something, which means that the game is only really interfacing with your sense of agency, with that which youre trying to do. But its not listening to your heart, its not listening to your breath, its not getting to know you intimately, its getting to know you on a very mental level.
As a result, most games wind up being pretty disembodying. Youre not playing it with your whole body, youre not wholly in it, youre projecting an identity into it and youre experiencing a kind of disembodied fantasy.
How do I, instead of having a persons attention going outward, how do I draw their attention back inward? How do I give them something to do, but while Im doing that, nourish something deep within them? And we can use game design principles to give people really powerful transformative experiences, but theyre not I think when we see the purpose of our gaming as an escape, that really limits how much of ourselves we can bring into the experience.
The game draws its design principles from meditation and ceremony and quite obviously, psychedelic experiences. Soundselfis more like a guided meditation than any conventional video game, although the only actual guidancecomes at the start and end of each session.
Soundselfscreator is an experimental game designer who has been a longstanding speaker for mindfulness in games. In Arnotts words, his whole career has been looking at meditation and ceremony and mysticism through the lens of video games.
Which isnt an especially difficult connection to make; both gaming and meditation rely on a voluntary disconnection from the outside world and the immersion in an inner world, whether thats within yourself or written into a CD. To Arnott, the two practices are closer than most people realise.
A meditation is a game; if youre doing a breath meditation, youre playing a game. The game is Im going to bring my attention back to my breath when I notice my attention deviating. And when you play that game, it has the psychological effect just like if you play God of War or something like that itll have the psychological effect of increasing your cortisol levels and getting you amped up and excited.
Youll have these bouts of tension, release, tension, release, which can be pretty emotionally satisfying, sure, but theres certain predictable effects from playing a game like that. When you play a game of meditation, it has a certain predictable effect, which is that its going to disengage your mental narrative, its going to help you witness yourself, and its going to drop you into a state of stillness.
The idea for Soundself came to Arnott while he was mid-LSD trip at Burning Man; the annual Black Rock City festival known for its wild ideas and wilder inhabitants. Like most realisations that burn into ones mind during a psychedelic experience, it took some time to blossom thereafter:
I had my first oneness experience at Burning Man and it just it didnt leave me untouched, it didnt leave me the same. And a few months later, when I was remembering that experience, I had the insight that video games are very powerful, theyre very trance-inducing, they bring us to places especially with the advent of virtual reality they can teleport us, they can evoke incredible emotion in us.
And I had this insight that a video game could do for a person what meditation does, and do for a person what psychedelics do without needing to take the risk of taking psychedelics or without having to practice the discipline of meditation because a game could provide the interactive context that could lull your mind into a trance state.
For a video game to do what psychedelics can accomplish is a bold goal. Substances such as psilocybin, LSD, or DMT are repeatedly cited as being responsible for some of the most emotionally significant and spiritual experiences of users lives. To climb that mountain in 15 minutes, at face value, seems impossible.
When I playedSoundself, I chose a 20-minute session. The gameplay footage above doesnt quite do the immersive nature of the experience justice you do lose yourself within the halls of sound and colour; a hyper-digitised feedback loop that that invites you in and doesnt let go.
The experience was deeply relaxing and Ill definitely be back for another session, but it didnt boast the same arresting power as certain chemicals have for me in the past. That said, I was a sample size of one, and research conducted by the games creator has shown that yes, this game can take you to the same places psilocybin can.
I just had to do the research and so we started working with Dr. Jeff Tarrant, whos a real expert on EEG and meditation and he knows the signatures of those transcendent states like anyone. It was just a small study and what we found were really remarkable brainwave patterns, we found a big increase in high gamma which is one of the signatures of a psychedelic experience.
But also from the subjective questionnaires we found that people report unitive states of consciousness with and this is after just a 15-minute experience with Soundself people were reporting a unitive experience of consciousness with the same regularity that youd get with a psilocybin trip.
Whether or not youve experienced psychedelic substances, Soundselfis a game aimed at you. Its an excellent introduction to meditation for those whove long wanted to dip into that world, and its delivery in the video game format means itll likely inform a new audience to the benefits of these practices.
And hey, it might take you into an altered state that was previously only accessible through meditation training or eating up some magic mushrooms. The only way to find out is to turn on, tune in, drop out toSoundself: A Technodelic yourself.
Soundself: A Technodelicout now on PC, MAC and PC VR via Steam.
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Posted: at 6:46 pm
Infinite colors. Spaces wider than the mind can comprehend. This is where White Nights dwells. Eschewing the black metal which obviously inspires the project, the mystery person behind White Nights embraces the kaleidoscope, resulting in a psychedelic, droning, metallic experience. Listen to an exclusive stream of Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother below.
At times both harsh and soothing, this debut EP draws from a variety of influences, be it the droning, motorik nature of kraut rock, the darkness of deathrock, or the pummeling nature of black metal, yet it is neither. This is a truly creative, bizarre release which transcends genre. Read a brief interview with the mystery person behind White Nights below.
White Nights has elements from a variety of sources, the most of which is black metal. However, black metal can be strict about defining itself. Do you consider White Nights to be black metal? If not, what do you classify it as?
I would say the influence is obvious and inescapable considering our love of the satanic arts, but we are not a black metal band by any stretch of the imagination. In fact our full-length, if it ever comes out, has even less of that influence running through it overall. We try to not define or classify what we do. We feel that its best to leave that to people who actually care about such nonsense.
The album itself and the visual elements which accompany it are psychedelic in nature a kaleidoscope of colors and mushrooms adorn the presented artwork. Is this album meant to be accompanied with psychedelics?
Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong. Terence McKenna
The European pagan elements (Irminsul, for instance) clash with the more new-agey/Eastern psychedelia which paints the albums color palette. What spiritually inspired the creation of Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother?
The Yuga Cycle doctrine tells us that we are now living in the Kali Yuga; the age of darkness, when moral virtue and mental capabilities reach their lowest point in the cycle. The Indian epic The Mahabharata describes the Kali Yuga as the period when the World Soul is Black in hue; only one quarter of virtue remains, which slowly dwindles to zero at the end of the Kali Yuga. Men turn to wickedness; disease, lethargy, anger, natural calamities, anguish and fear of scarcity dominate. Penance, sacrifices and religious observances fall into disuse. All creatures degenerate. Change passes over all things, without exception. Bibhu Dev Misra
Brothers will fight and kill each other, sisters children will defile kinship. It is harsh in the world, whoredom rifean axe age, a sword ageshields are rivena wind age, a wolf agebefore the world goes headlong. No man will have mercy on another. Vlusp
The vocals which accompany the music are half-dictated and half-sung, which creates a harsh dichotomy when compared to the black metal roots to which the album clings. What led to the use of this vocal style?
The music is not black metal, so it made sense to also make the vocals, art, etc. of a similar nature. As I stated above, if we ever release our full-length, everything will continue to be a reflection of itself as it unfolds. Less of some, more of others or possibly nothing at all!
Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother releases April 24th viaIron Bonehead Productions.
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Doctors are using AI to triage covid-19 patients. The tools may be here to stay – MIT Technology Review
Posted: at 6:45 pm
The pandemic, in other words, has turned into a gateway for AI adoption in health carebringing both opportunity and risk. On the one hand, it is pushing doctors and hospitals to fast-track promising new technologies. On the other, this accelerated process could allow unvetted tools to bypass regulatory processes, putting patients in harms way.
At a high level, artificial intelligence in health care is very exciting, says Chris Longhurst, the chief information officer at UC San Diego Health. But health care is one of those industries where there are a lot of factors that come into play. A change in the system can have potentially fatal unintended consequences.
Before the pandemic, health-care AI was already a booming area of research. Deep learning, in particular, has demonstrated impressive results for analyzing medical images to identify diseases like breast and lung cancer or glaucoma at least as accurately as human specialists. Studies have also shown the potential of using computer vision to monitor elderly people in their homes and patients in intensive care units.
But there have been significant obstacles to translating that research into real-world applications. Privacy concerns make it challenging to collect enough data for training algorithms; issues related to bias and generalizability make regulators cautious to grant approvals. Even for applications that do get certified, hospitals rightly have their own intensive vetting procedures and established protocols. Physicians, like everybody elsewere all creatures of habit, says Albert Hsiao, a radiologist at UCSD Health who is now trialing his own covid detection algorithm based on chest x-rays. We dont change unless were forced to change.
As a result, AI has been slow to gain a foothold. It feels like theres something there; there are a lot of papers that show a lot of promise, said Andrew Ng, a leading AI practitioner, in a recent webinar on its applications in medicine. But its not yet as widely deployed as we wish.
Pierre Durand, a physician and radiologist based in France, experienced the same difficulty when he cofounded the teleradiology firm Vizyon in 2018. The company operates as a middleman: it licenses software from firms like Qure.ai and a Seoul-based startup called Lunit and offers the package of options to hospitals. Before the pandemic, however, it struggled to gain traction. Customers were interested in the artificial-intelligence application for imaging, Durand says, but they could not find the right place for it in their clinical setup.
The onset of covid-19 changed that. In France, as caseloads began to overwhelm the health-care system and the government failed to ramp up testing capacity, triaging patients via chest x-raythough less accurate than a PCR diagnosticbecame a fallback solution. Even for patients who could get genetic tests, results could take at least 12 hours and sometimes days to returntoo long for a doctor to wait before deciding whether to isolate someone. By comparison, Vizyons system using Lunits software, for example, takes only 10 minutes to scan a patient and calculate a probability of infection. (Lunit says its own preliminary study found that the tool was comparable to a human radiologist in its risk analysis, but this research has not been published.) When there are a lot of patients coming, Durand says, its really an attractive solution.
Vizyon has since signed partnerships with two of the largest hospitals in the country and says it is in talks with hospitals in the Middle East and Africa. Qure.ai, meanwhile, has now expanded to Italy, the US, and Mexico on top of existing clients. Lunit is also now working with four new hospitals each in France, Italy, Mexico, and Portugal.
In addition to the speed of evaluation, Durand identifies something else that may have encouraged hospitals to adopt AI during the pandemic: they are thinking about how to prepare for the inevitable staff shortages that will arise after the crisis. Traumatic events like a pandemic are often followed by an exodus of doctors and nurses. Some doctors may want to change their way of life, he says. Whats coming, we dont know.
Hospitals new openness to AI tools hasnt gone unnoticed. Many companies have begun offering their products for a free trial period, hoping it will lead to a longer contract.
It's a good way for us to demonstrate the utility of AI, says Brandon Suh, the CEO of Lunit. Prashant Warier, the CEO and cofounder of Qure.ai, echoes that sentiment. In my experience outside of covid, once people start using our algorithms, they never stop, he says.
Both Qure.ais and Lunits lung screening products were certified by the European Unions health and safety agency before the crisis. In adapting the tools to covid, the companies repurposed the same functionalities that had already been approved.
Qure.ais qXR, for example, uses a combination of deep-learning models to detect common types of lung abnormalities. To retool it, the firm worked with a panel of experts to review the latest medical literature and determine the typical features of covid-induced pneumonia, such as opaque patches in the image that have a ground glass pattern and dense regions on the sides of the lungs. It then encoded that knowledge into qXR, allowing the tool to calculate the risk of infection from the number of telltale characteristics present in a scan. A preliminary validation study the firm ran on over 11,000 patient images found that the tool was able to distinguish between covid and non-covid patients with 95% accuracy.
But not all firms have been as rigorous. In the early days of the crisis, Malik exchanged emails with 36 companies and spoke with 24, all pitching him AI-based covid screening tools. Most of them were utter junk, he says. They were trying to capitalize on the panic and anxiety. The trend makes him worry: hospitals in the thick of the crisis may not have time to perform due diligence. When youre drowning so much, he says, a thirsty man will reach out for any source of water.
Kay Firth-Butterfield, the head of AI and machine learning at the World Economic Forum, urges hospitals not to weaken their regulatory protocols or formalize long-term contracts without proper validation. Using AI to help with this pandemic is obviously a great thing to be doing, she says. But the problems that come with AI dont go away just because there is a pandemic.
UCSDs Longhurst also encourages hospitals to use this opportunity to partner with firms on clinical trials. We need to have clear, hard evidence before we declare this as the standard of care, he says. Anything less would be a disservice to patients.
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Artificial intelligence has become a focus of certain ethical concerns, but it also has some major sustainability issues.
Last June, researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst released a startling report estimating that the amount of power required for training and searching a certain neural network architecture involves the emissions of roughly 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. Thats equivalent to nearly five times the lifetime emissions of the average U.S. car, including its manufacturing.
This issue gets even more severe in the model deployment phase, where deep neural networks need to be deployed on diverse hardware platforms, each with different properties and computational resources.
MIT researchers have developed a new automated AI system for training and running certain neural networks. Results indicate that, by improving the computational efficiency of the system in some key ways, the system can cut down the pounds of carbon emissions involved in some cases, down to low triple digits.
The researchers system, which they call a once-for-all network, trains one large neural network comprising many pretrained subnetworks of different sizes that can be tailored to diverse hardware platforms without retraining. This dramatically reduces the energy usually required to train each specialized neural network for new platforms which can include billions of internet of things (IoT) devices. Using the system to train a computer-vision model, they estimated that the process required roughly 1/1,300 the carbon emissions compared to todays state-of-the-art neural architecture search approaches, while reducing the inference time by 1.5-2.6 times.
The aim is smaller, greener neural networks, says Song Han, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Searching efficient neural network architectures has until now had a huge carbon footprint. But we reduced that footprint by orders of magnitude with these new methods.
The work was carried out on Satori, an efficient computing cluster donated to MIT by IBM that is capable of performing 2 quadrillion calculations per second. The paper is being presented next week at the International Conference on Learning Representations. Joining Han on the paper are four undergraduate and graduate students from EECS, MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Creating a once-for-all network
The researchers built the system on a recent AI advance called AutoML (for automatic machine learning), which eliminates manual network design. Neural networks automatically search massive design spaces for network architectures tailored, for instance, to specific hardware platforms. But theres still a training efficiency issue: Each model has to be selected then trained from scratch for its platform architecture.
How do we train all those networks efficiently for such a broad spectrum of devices from a $10 IoT device to a $600 smartphone? Given the diversity of IoT devices, the computation cost of neural architecture search will explode, Han says.
The researchers invented an AutoML system that trains only a single, large once-for-all (OFA) network that serves as a mother network, nesting an extremely high number of subnetworks that are sparsely activated from the mother network. OFA shares all its learned weights with all subnetworks meaning they come essentially pretrained. Thus, each subnetwork can operate independently at inference time without retraining.
The team trained an OFA convolutional neural network (CNN) commonly used for image-processing tasks with versatile architectural configurations, including different numbers of layers and neurons, diverse filter sizes, and diverse input image resolutions. Given a specific platform, the system uses the OFA as the search space to find the best subnetwork based on the accuracy and latency tradeoffs that correlate to the platforms power and speed limits. For an IoT device, for instance, the system will find a smaller subnetwork. For smartphones, it will select larger subnetworks, but with different structures depending on individual battery lifetimes and computation resources. OFA decouples model training and architecture search, and spreads the one-time training cost across many inference hardware platforms and resource constraints.
This relies on a progressive shrinking algorithm that efficiently trains the OFA network to support all of the subnetworks simultaneously. It starts with training the full network with the maximum size, then progressively shrinks the sizes of the network to include smaller subnetworks. Smaller subnetworks are trained with the help of large subnetworks to grow together. In the end, all of the subnetworks with different sizes are supported, allowing fast specialization based on the platforms power and speed limits. It supports many hardware devices with zero training cost when adding a new device.In total, one OFA, the researchers found, can comprise more than 10 quintillion thats a 1 followed by 19 zeroes architectural settings, covering probably all platforms ever needed. But training the OFA and searching it ends up being far more efficient than spending hours training each neural network per platform. Moreover, OFA does not compromise accuracy or inference efficiency. Instead, it provides state-of-the-art ImageNet accuracy on mobile devices. And, compared with state-of-the-art industry-leading CNN models , the researchers say OFA provides 1.5-2.6 times speedup, with superior accuracy. Thats a breakthrough technology, Han says. If we want to run powerful AI on consumer devices, we have to figure out how to shrink AI down to size.
The model is really compact. I am very excited to see OFA can keep pushing the boundary of efficient deep learning on edge devices, says Chuang Gan, a researcher at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab and co-author of the paper.
If rapid progress in AI is to continue, we need to reduce its environmental impact, says John Cohn, an IBM fellow and member of the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. The upside of developing methods to make AI models smaller and more efficient is that the models may also perform better.
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Posted: at 6:45 pm
Open Resources to Become Knowledgeable in the Field of AI
As Artificial Intelligence has become one of the most significant forces driving innovation and economic development, this societal transformation requires new knowledge and an additional set of skills. Just as knowing a BIM software has become a prerequisite for most architecture jobs, understanding or even knowing how to use AI-related tools would become a desirable asset, if not a requirement in the future. However, with a vast array of information available, how does one begin to venture into this topic? The following is a compilation of online resources, lectures, and courses, that could provide a better understanding of the field and how to incorporate it into the practice of architecture.
What does Artificial Intelligence represent, what is the difference between machine learning and deep learning? These notions might seem interchangeable and so navigating the topic could become confusing. Before diving into the actual list of resources, it is essential to have the proper use of the most common terms.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with the development of systems able to perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence. The AI encountered in different applications today is Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), or "weak AI", used on performing a specific task, within a limited context, following pre-programmed rules. Google search, personal assistants, image recognition software, all fall into this category. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) or Strong AI is still the realm of science fiction, as it would entail the general intelligence of a human being, able to solve any problem.
Put simply, Machine Learning is a subfield of AI, which consists of feeding data to a computer and using statistics and trial and error to help the network learn how to get better at a task, without having been programmed explicitly for that task, thus eliminating the need for writing overwhelmingly extensive code. Machine learning allows computers to make connections, discover patterns and make predictions based on what they learned in the past. A great way of understanding how this works in practice is the visual introduction in machine learning, created by R2D3, which uses a hypothetical example to explain the machine learning process.
Deep learning is a type of machine learning that feeds the data through a neural network architecture inspired by the human way of processing information, known as Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs). An example of usage for machine learning and deep learning is Google Image search.
Generative Design is a buzzword that has penetrated the architecture field a while now (see Archdaily's coverage of the topic here), but can it be framed as Artificial Intelligence or is it just a problem solver engaging multiple variables? Generative design is an iterative and exploratory process, where the input consists of parameters such as spatial requirements, performance, material constraints, as well as design goals. The software explores all possible solutions. Whether it falls in the realm of AI or not depends on whether the software is capable of testing and learning from each iteration, thus "learning" to give optimized answers.
With the ambitious goal to educate 1 % of European citizens in the fundamentals of AI by 2021, Elements of AI, a series of online courses created by Reaktor and the University of Helsinki sets the foundation for understanding the field, explaining what AI is, what it can and can't do, and how to start employing AI methods. The course is free and available in multiple languages, the aim being to teach people from a variety of backgrounds on the basic concepts of artificial intelligence technology. With almost 400.000 students so far from over 170 countries, the course is indeed proving an accessible and engaging resource.
Another beginner course, Coursera's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, is also a great place to start building up the foundation concepts of the field, and it also contains some hands-on exercises.
For a non-aficionado, navigating literature on the subject of AI can be daunting. Therefore this Machine Learning Glossary provided by Google is a fast and reliable way of checking the meaning of terms when facing specialized jargon. The concepts are explained in a clear, straightforward fashion, and the glossary is an information resource in itself.
Learning is always more successful with a hands-on approach, and you can get acquainted with AI tools without having to learn to code. Project Runway ML is a public beta software and a platform dedicated to creators of all kinds that allow them to use AI tools without necessitating coding experience. From object detection to generating images from sketches, or creating text descriptions for images, the platform is a fun way to explore some design applications of AI.
This discussion at Columbia GSAPP explores artificial intelligence in architecture through the lens of several research projects.
Harvard GSD's lecture presents how AI-based tools and computer simulations could support landscape architecture.
In this lecture at the Strelka Institute, sociologist and professor Benjamin Bratton talks about AI and shares the results of the research projects undertaken in collaboration with Google Research. Read more about Bratton's ideas concerning in this Archdaily interview.
In addition, you can now take a virtual tour of the AI & Architecture exhibition, which was scheduled to take place at the Pavillon de l'Arsenal in Paris, France, but closed down due to the COVID-19 crisis. The curators decided to offer to the public an immersive experience, by recreating the exhibit as a virtual tour. Featuring the opening conference, a timeline of AI development, examples of its application to architecture, the exhibition is very rich in information and indeed an immersive experience.
Going further would require maths, as well as computer science prior training. Still, there are plenty of online resources addressing a more knowledgeable audience.
Google's Machine Learning Crash Course does not require any prior knowledge in machine learning, but students should have some experience programming in Python. However, all the different topics have an Introduction page that can at least provide an idea about how the process works.
Another Machine Learning course, this time offered by Stanford University, focuses on gaining the practical know-how on the subject.
For those already skilled in computer science, there is also the Artificial Intelligence course available on MIT's Youtube channel.
For a more comprehensive picture of AI in architecture, see Archdaily's coverage of the topic here.
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