When Screens Touch Back

“As students of media, however, we are (rightly) trained to be suspicious of technofetishistic and deterministic narratives. Instead of grounding our analysis in what tactile touch screens promise to do later, we should rather try to understand them for what they are being asked to do, to understand the desires embodied in the various attempts to give touchscreens a dynamic tactility. The following questions then come into view: what economic imperatives are steering and configuring this project of making tactile? What sensations does the screen allow into the tactile field, and which ones does it shield the user from? What sensations are desirable, and which are to be marginalized? What sorts of new intersubjective contacts are opened up? When the screen can touch us, whose touch is it acting as a surrogate for? (Or, “who penetrates whom” through tactile prosthesis?)” (David Parisi, FLOW)

Also check out the Popular Science clip on “Haptics” that Parisi references.

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

IBM says future computers will be constant learners

IBM says future computers will be constant learners - Computerworld

Image: NYTimes.com

“The key to this technology, Ferrucci said, is that it queries both itself and its users for feedback on the answers it generates. ‘As you use the system, it will follow up with you and ask you questions that will help improve its confidence of its answer. In its work with you it will capture new information it can use,’ he said.

One field IBM is investigating is medicine. The company is working with medical researchers and doctors from Columbia University to adapt Watson so it can offer medical diagnosis and treatment.” (Joab Jackson, Computerworld)

The Industrial Robot Revolution

Stand-alone and embedded industrial robots are taking their place alongside humans

“One small step for man, a giant leap for robot-kind.  NASA recently launched Curiosity, the newest rover to explore Mars. Curiosity is a supercharged robot that can collect, analyze and transmit data about the experience on the Red Planet using environmental sensors, radiation monitors, chemistry instruments and more.  And although the project’s price tag – $2.5 billion – might seem staggering, it’s a clear statement to the world that the future is in robotics. A message that is not lost here on Earth.” (Sandra Gittlen, Network World)

(Note: The article is about more than just $2.5 billion dollar robots…)

Computer scientist sees artistic side to father of computer

Computer scientist sees artistic side to father of computer - UChicago News

Photo: UChicago

“Turing is remembered for developing concepts that made modern computers possible, and for leading complex military decoding efforts that proved critical in World War II. But Soare argues that Turing’s landmark 1936 paper on computability theory contains beauty as well as scientific breakthroughs. He compares the concepts in that paper to Michelangelo’s statue, David. ‘Michelangelo and Turing both completely transcended conventional approaches. They created something completely new from their own visions, something which went far beyond the achievements of their contemporaries,’ Soare writes.” (Steve Koppes, UChicago News)

History’s Worst Software Bugs

History's Worst Software Bugs - Wired

Wikimedia Commons: User:B4

“With that [Toyota] recall, the Prius joined the ranks of the buggy computer — a club that began in 1945 when engineers found a moth in Panel F, Relay #70 of the Harvard Mark II system.The computer was running a test of its multiplier and adder when the engineers noticed something was wrong. The moth was trapped, removed and taped into the computer’s logbook with the words: ‘first actual case of a bug being found.’ ” (Simson Garfinkel, Wired)

It Started Digital Wheels Turning

It Started Digital Wheels Turning - New York Times

Science Museum Archive/Science & Society Picture Library

“What it may do, though, is answer a question that has tantalized historians for decades: Did an eccentric mathematician named Charles Babbage conceive of the first programmable computer in the 1830s, a hundred years before the idea was put forth in its modern form by Alan Turing?” (John Markoff, NYTimes.com)