System Analysis 6: Capitalism and Industrial Scale Production

 

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Is capitalism good for anyone, or does it just create an excess of “goods” that emerge only to protect producers from the decreasing profit that is to be made as productivity becomes easier and easier. Take for example a fast food chain like McDonalds or Burger King the price that the consumer pays for food at these restaurants is currently at a concerning low. The political economic system of capitalism is what caused production to increase and prices to decline as far as they have. Capitalism causes a feedback loop, in which production increases to account for the decline in the price consumers pay for good every time that the production of a good increases. Essential capitalism’s goal is to increase production nearly infinitely untilConsumer price cannot get any lower or production cannot become anymore efficient. The main problem with this system is that it doesn’t take resources into account.

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When we don’t take resources into account we end up running out of these resources and having to outsource our resource production this leads to environmental depletion, first we deplete the environment around us, and then we move on to someone else environment paying to destroy it until there is no where else to do this. I am not saying that capitalism is evil or destroying the planet, I just think it could use some checks and balances, like our political system, after all it can’t be all about the money.

 

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There is a lot of art that depicts the struggle against consumerism and capitalism in America. Street artists like Banksy and Shepard Farley (before he sold out to Obey) were some of the first to cleverly and satirically poke fun at the system of capitalism, what it was doing to not only the planet, but to everyone, turning them into mindless consumers. There is a lot of social programming that goes on to try to convince us that contributing to the economy is what makes us happy, because that is how capitalism and corporations benefit. Luckily for us artists continue the discussion of capitalism as a politically economic agenda, and question who is really benefiting from this system and we all have the choice to create rather than consume.

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Adbusters is a Canadian  nonprofit that has been actively using art to fight capitalism and consumerism, and protect the environment for 25 years now. They do a lot of really cool stuff like subverting iconic advertisements to reveal their true meanings and a couple years ago they attempted to interrupt a hockey broadcast to unleash a political mind bomb and skew the results of the Canadian election by exposing how un-environmentally friendly the candidates were. Imagine the change we could make in America if we as artists, activists, writers, and thinkers could network together and come up with ideas to progress ourselves into a new and better era in American history.

Adbusters

Crash Course: Capitalism and Socialism

System Analysis 5: Artificial Intelligence History and Future

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Most people have experienced AI in video games, you might have though it was smart AI or dumb AI, but this is not the only place in which AI is applicable. The first AI was created in the 1950s for the IBM 704, and was designed to be better than a person at checkers.The simplest definition of artificial intelligence is a computer program that is designed to solve a problem. The problem that this AI had to solve was how to reliably win at checkers. Most programs only execute the instructions given to it by it’s coder, good AI comes up with it’s own solution to the problem at hand. AI does this by mimicking human intuition and creativity, since computers cannot be subjective. AI acts a lot like humans when they are problem solving with a goal in mind, for example when we play any kind of game. AI learns the rules of the world, experiments with what it can achieve and focus on solving the task at hand as efficiently as possible.

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One way the computer programs can calculate the most efficient way to solve a task at hand is by brute force, which refers to analyzing every possible move that could be made, and picking the move that moves the AI towards it’s goal in the most efficient manner, this however, is not ideal on it’s own, because it uses a lot of the computers resources (memory and processors). Soon, heuristics were added to AI. Heuristics act as a rule of thumb, which limits brute force searching by selecting solutions that may not be the most ideal or efficient, but are “good enough”, ei they move the AI toward it ultimate goal.

Heuristics were a step in the right direction, but AI had not quite reached a human like level of intuition and creativity. When it comes to problem solving Heuristics is just a more efficient version of brute force. The production system was introduced to the field in 1980 when it was used in the Deep-thought AI which was designed to play chess. The production system was made up of pre programmed, complex, comparative rules used to categorize symbols. Even at  rate of 700,000 moves analyzed per second this AI still couldn’t beat the world’s best chess player, which is a statement to the complexity of human intelligence. Deep-thought couldn’t beat the best chess player until it upped it’s rate to 300,000,000 moves analyzed per second and it was mostly using brute force at this point.

In recent years AI has continued to get smarter. Neural networks introduced a new precedent in efficiency and subjectivity for AI. Deep neural networks made of layers of computer systems (neurons) stacked on top of each other running parallel and attacking problems from multiple angles. Each layer judges the problem using different criteria. When all layers agree on a move meeting each individual criteria the system acts. This again mimics the subjectivity that computers can not actually comprehend.

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A.I in Art

Until very recently most people assumed that artists held one job that computers could never replace. At Google’s DeepMind AI lab in London this is exactly what is going on. They are creating AI that makes art, and it is doing a surprising good job. The first project of this sort that was built was DeepDream AI art a neural net, similar to the algorithms used in google image searches looks for familiar patterns in an image. It enhances those patterns. And then it repeats the process with the same image, building what could be called generative art.“This creates a feedback loop: if a cloud looks a little bit like a bird, the network will make it look more like a bird,” -Google, when it first unveiled the project

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The difference between this and generate art is that AI art is created by a simulation of an actual brain. DeepDream AI was created by a Google engineer named Alexander Mordvintsev, as a way of better understanding the way neural networks, and perhaps our own brains behave. In the past four years this has evolved into a new field in machine learning known as deep learning. These algorithms learn how to classify images to a much greater accuracy than before. They are trained by giving them a huge number of images, and telling them what object is in each image, so that it learns to spot these patterns in other images, and it builds a new image by continuing the pattern, It even can say how unsure it is about what an image is or how it fits into the pattern which is incredibly humanlike and intriguing. It was always hard to tell what the algorithms were “seeing” or “thinking” so google started this project as a method for visualizing what algorithms saw.

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In 2015 google released the code for DeepDream AI, and since then artists have been looking for new ways to build upon this A.I. By feeding the images of a well known artist into this AI we can create new works reminiscent of that artist work such as the dali esque piece above.

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SciShow

AI 101

Article by Wired on DeepDream

How it works

System Analysis 4: Movile Cave: poisonous air and a shitty smelling lake.

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Somewhere underneath a barren plain in Romania is a cave that has been untouched for some 5.5 million years, and inside that cave is a unique ecosystem that likely resembles some of the earliest life on earth. The air is toxic containing twice as much Carbon Dioxide and Half the oxygen of the air on the surface, humans can only spend around 6 hours in the cave before their kidney’s begin to fail. The hydrogen sulfide and methane heavy lake at the bottom of the cavern  smells like rotten eggs and cow shit. The only entrance is dropping down a 20 meter hole in the ground.

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Inside the cave living on the surface of it’s lake is are the keystone species of it’s ancient, and strange ecosystem, chemosynthetic bacteria, which gains energy from chemical reactions involving toxic gas found in the cave such as Hydrogen Sulfide. Other kinds of autotrophic bacteria feed off of inorganic compounds like Carbon dioxide and carbon in methane gas found in the lake in the depths of the cave. Worms, shrimp and other small critters feed on the bacteria that feeds off these chemicals, and spiders, centipedes and a terrifying, strange creature called the water scorpion feed on them, without the lake or these small autotrophic bacteria the ecosystem in the cave would cease to function. These bacteria actually shape the cave itself as well by releasing Sulphuric acid that erodes the limestone that makes up the cave gradually increasing the space within the cavern while releasing more carbon dioxide to feed off of.

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Scientists hypothesize that changing climate after the miocene epoch 5.5 million years ago may have been what originally drove life forms such as invertebrates into the isolation chamber that is the movile cave in the first place. after the miocene epoch the earth experience colder drier conditions on it’s surface, the invertebrates migrated underground, seeking shelter and warmth. The creatures living in the dark depths of the Movile cave exhibit Troglomorphic adaptations. Because they spend their lives in the dark, they are characterized by their lack of skin pigmentation,extra long antenna and lack of eyes. The sealed off Movile Caverns are similar to only the vents on the bottom of the ocean which resembles the dark gassy conditions of the early history of earth and also are devoid of light. This lead to the scientific discussion that these Movile microbes, organisms and invertebrates may be similar or the same as some of the first life forms on earth.

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Article by BBC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrzExz9ZqSI

 

 

System Analysis 3: Baby’s First Errand- Independence In American vs Japanese Children

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Why are Japanese children able to walk to school and navigate public transit independently from a young age? Contrary to what you may think the difference between Japanese and American children is not self sufficiency, but, it is actually group reliance. Imagine if instead of being scared by “Stranger Danger” we were actually taught that members of the community can be called upon for help when we are confused or need an adult. This is reinforced in schools by having the kids take turns cleaning up after each other and serve each other lunch, rather than having custodial services, this also teaches the kids consequences for their actions. This spreading out of work lets the kids know that it is ok to call on other’s for help while giving them the experience of helping out others for  themselves.

Japans significantly lower crime rate also contributes to parents willingness to let their children navigate in public by themselves. Also contributing to Japanese children’s mobility is Japanese culture and architecture’s promoting of walking and public transit over driving in cars. In Tokyo cars only account for one forth of the traffic on the streets. Tokyo has even attempted to solve subway groping by introducing women only cars to their trains. Many parents still allow their children to navigate the subway on their own, and if the children get lost or confused, thanks to modern technology the kids can use their cell phone to call home for help. I think what baffles most americans about this concept is the fact that there is so much trust that happens between complete strangers, this is just very different from western culture, where we fear unknown people, and are afraid to ask for help, even when we may need it.

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The best part about all of this is that for 25 years japan has had a popular television show titled My First Errand which features children as young as 2-3 being sent off into the world by there parents to slowly but surely do their errands for them. Most of the show seems to be kids either crying or getting distracted, but somehow they always seem to wander into the right store and pick up a kiwi or something and miraculously bring it home to their proud parents.

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Kid tasks!

Article by The Atlantic

System Analysis 2: Human Evolution

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Just as many modern days birds such as the chicken have experienced an insane evolution pattern humankind’s ancestors also appeared and acted strikingly different than humans, and in fact as early as 20 generations ago lived completely different lives. It is really interesting to note that in the past there were many different species of Humans (Homo) but today only the homo sapiens remain. Essential to the survival and success of the Homo Sapiens was the ability and knowledge to use tools. The use of tools eventually led to early humans learning how to control fire, which led to cooking which helped these early humans brains develop.

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Eventually early human species were able to form small hunter gatherer societies and developed a primitive language, they even had culture and buried their dead. Eventually over a series of gene mutations humans brains would grow more complex, and this is why it doesn’t take babies of today very long to start grasping language and social systems. These brain mutations led to humans beginning to be able to cooperate very well and form communities which, along with the discovery of agriculture, led to formation civilizations that passed along and built upon knowledge eventually leading to breakthroughs such as math, science and computer’s. What is really interesting is that early human’s were actually stronger then most humans and were individually smarter, but today humankind is collectively smarter thanks to those who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of expanding our collective knowledge.

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System Analysis 1: Hair Coloring

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What is hair?

Hair is dead tissue made up of proteins, mainly keratin, a protein which is also found in our skin and fingernails. The hair shaft, basically each individual hair, is made up of the protective cuticle layer the natural color containing cortex and the innermost medulla, which is made up of round cells and is actually only found in thick, coarse hair and not in naturally blonde fine hair. Natural hair color relies to the ratio and quantities of two proteins eumelanin and pheomelanin. Higher eumelanin causes brown and black hair color, while higher pheomelanin causes blonde, ginger and red hair color, gray hair is the result of the absence of these proteins.

Temporary cool

There are many ways to go about changing the color of your hair from your natural color to any desired color. If you dye your hair using a temporary or semi permeant method the process may work by depositing acidic dyes onto the outside of the hair shaft, or it may happen through small pigment molecules which slide inside the hair shaft using a small amount of peroxide to break through the cuticle of the hair shaft. Temporary dyes do not contain ammonia meaning the hair shaft is not opened up during the process and the hair returns to it’s natural color once the product washes out.

Bleach Blonde

In order to achieve a hair color that is brighter than your natural color one must bleach their hair. Bleach reacts to Melanin in hair causing it to oxidize, and removes the color in an irreversible chemical reaction. The apparent yellow color that results from bleaching hair is actually the natural color of keratin, the structural protein in hair.

Consequential actions

For hair coloring to become permanent the outer layer of the hair shaft, the cuticle must be opened before permanent color can react with the cortex of the hair shaft. Most often this happens in a two step process in which the original hair color is removed and a new color is deposited. Ammonia is a alkaline chemical that opens the cuticle and allows hair dye to penetrate the cortex. Peroxide is a catalyst used to oxidize and remove pre-existing color, this breaks chemical bonds in the hair and releases sulfur. Finally conditioners are used to close the cuticle  after coloring to seal in and protect new hair color.

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Sources:

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howthingswork/a/aa101203a.htm

http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/everyday-innovations/hair-coloring.htm