Build

lava maybe, lava exploding

I love to create, to build things. Especially things bringing people together. Here are a couple ideas I’ve been working on lately. If you think any of them are interesting, connect with me. They’re all in active brainstorm mode.

Rebuilt TEDx Music Project and have been thinking a lot about how to structure visualizations of its hundreds of tracks. So far we’re leaning toward geotag for a world map of TEDx music. There’s also navigation, which might be made interestingly interactive by making a network map of communities of songs with similar attributes, such as genre, instrument or danceability. Installation on a big touchscreen. Ideas and collabs welcome.

Redoing the TEDx music site reminded me of Project HAO and that now I can actually probably set it up pretty easily. So I will. Looks like we can send a hammock + stand to US planetariums for under 200 bucks through Amazon, so I’ll probably set it up where 20 people each donate $10 and when the 20th name comes in *boom* we sent a hammock to a planetarium and are on our way towards hooking up the next. Extra funds can be used in the future to pay for international shipping once all the US planetariums have hammocks.

I’m also gearing up to do a posture measurement with Vicon motion capture software with the wonderful biomechatronics guys at MIT Media Lab. I’m going to wear ~100 sensors, do a sequences of moves and be tracked in 360 degrees at .2 mm precision. The idea is to be strategic in stretches. If one could identify asymmetries, torsions or other malalignments in posture, one could theoretically choose stretches to correct them. I’m going to test that out.

Learning about neurotech has been mind-blowing. I’m attending a pilot class at MIT this semester about how technology is catapulting neuroscience. Along the way we’ve gone from measuring genetic changes in cells to imaging an entire brain. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing professors and graduate students; seeing and using the tools. We’re currently half way through a Scientific American blog series from EyeWire that shares the experience with the world. Excited to write up the rest. So far it’s been fodder for fascinating conversations.

I titled this post “Build” because I suddenly felt compelled to share things I am building. Side projects you have here, mostly. Love a good side project. Love to learn of yours! And I was serious about that first paragraph.

@amyleerobinson

PS: recent additions to my Epic Pics folder:

capybara and monkeys hehe

filename “capybara and monkeys hehe”

Crops in Kansas

Crops in Kansas, formerly my background image

highlands in Iceland

highlands in Iceland

my notebook :), amy robinson, amy notebook, notebook, moleskin, notebook in woods

my notebook :)

do epic shit

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 8.49.59 PM

July 3, 1776 and thoughts on revolutions

“The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals.” John Adams

Last night we watched the fireworks in Boston. I marveled at the pyrotechnics. Color changing, sky spanning spectacles in a single blast. Even smiley face fireworks. (how do fireworks work?)

History came to mind. A ponderance: what do you think it was like for the signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 3, the day before they lay their names on the creation of a nation? One that 250 years later I would grow up in and through opportunities travel beyond, into the world and build ideas into collaborations, meeting new people and discovering infinite wonders. So today I googled July 3, 1776 and found some interesting letters from John Adams.

Rather legitimately inspiring to read concepts catalyzing a country to form.

I am surprised at the suddenness as well as greatness of this revolution. … Time has been given for the whole people maturely to consider the great question of independence, and to ripen their judgment, dissipate their fears, and allure their hopes, by discussing it in newspapers and pamphlets – by debating it in assemblies, conventions, committees of safety and inspection – in town and country meetings, as well as in private conversations; so that the whole people, in every colony, have now adopted it as their own act. “

Adams even gave suggestions for future independence-celebrating generations: “The second day of July, 1776, will be memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great Anniversary Festival… It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever.” Did you notice he says July 2nd? That’s the day the Continental Congress voted unanimously to instigate a revolution.

You will think me transported with enthusiasm; but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph, although you and I may rue, which I hope we shall not.

On this day, we Americans celebrate freedom. I appreciate it and life in general. After traveling to many countries and especially spending time in post-revolution Egypt on the grips of returning to dictatorship, I am reminded how many a people remain in states of oppression and lack basic rights of life and liberty. I tip my beer to you brave ones who have the wisdom to research other revolutions and the courage to catalyze your own. I suppose there is also that bit of revolution ready to happen inside each of us. A little spark that can be fanned into a daring risk, a scary change. Here’s hoping we all get a little fire in our veins today and always.

Happy Independence Day

beautiful firework revolution

Draft Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson 1776

“These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all the other acts and things which other states may rightfully do.”

 

Robots and Jobs; Man and Machine

clean towels yeah right do that without a washing machine

do that without a washing machine

A recent article in Harvard Business Review hit several key points I frequently find myself debating with colleagues who exhibit less than an optimistic stance toward the future of robotics and tech in society. Enjoy some fodder for your next futuristic philosophical discussion.

“It is becoming increasingly feasible and cost-effective today for robots to assume many of the repetitive, labor-intensive tasks that are part of many people’s jobs. … I do mean fortunately, because it is often these tasks that define the least meaningful and rewarding aspects of a person’s job.

I once mused on Quora that the biggest real first world problem is apathy. People too often live out their lives doing jobs they don’t really care about simply because those jobs pay the bills.

do this without a computer

do this without a computer

The past 20 months of my life have been spent at a computational neuroscience lab at MIT. I have a resounding, extraordinary respect for the capacity of a human mind. I find it sad – borderline tragic – for the majority of an adult’s life to be spent on a job that does not capitalize on the exquisite capacity of his or her mind. I personally find relief that there will be more creative, challenging jobs and fewer tedious, dangerous, repetitive ones in coming years.

Some think unemployment will skyrocket. Jobs will decline. Have those people forgotten the Industrial Revolution? It was challenging, but no doubt mankind has come out ahead. One glance through Steven Pinker’s stats tells you that we’re living in the most peaceful and healthy time in all of human history.

Thanks in part to an industrialized world, we enjoy modern resources like clean water and pleasures like the web. Job diversity has soared.

What’s more,

 “The robot has effectively assumed the responsibility for the dull, dirty or dangerous task – but has not replaced the human responsible for getting that job done. The robot in this equation is a tool – not at all unlike what a PC is for an office worker, a tractor is for a farmer, or a nail gun is to a home builder. All of those technologies were once speculated to be replacing or at least reducing the need for the humans that wielded them. Yet all of those professions still exist today, and the workers in those fields are better, happier, and more productive because of them.”

For more perspective on tech and innovation, I highly recommend The Pixar Story. In a nutshell, this documentary chronicles the co-evolution of computers and animation. Pixar saw computers as a tool for humans, not a substitute. Computers are not innately creative. They wouldn’t on their own accord animate Toy Story or Avatar. But humans with computers..now that’s a recipe for marvel. The same could be said for robotics. And with solid societal purpose.

“Over the next 40 years, we are going to see a dramatic drop in the percentage of working-age adults across the world. …. more people with fewer social security dollars competing for services, and fewer working people available to deliver those services to them… We will need robots to help us deal with this reality, doing the things we normally do for ourselves but that get harder to do as we get older.”

Final words of parting wisdom:

Before you dismiss this vision for a highly automated society, think about it the next time you put a load of laundry into your washing machine or hit the start button on the dishwasher as you head off to bed. These are tools that have automated unpleasant and time-consuming aspects of our lives, and given us more free time to pursue more productive or pleasurable activities.

Today most of us have great power and responsibility that we often take for granted: the power to choose how we spend our lives. As technological advances whittle away the availability of tedious employment, how will mankind respond?

Transitions are turbulent. But if the past is any indication of the future, humans will rise to the occasion.

Thoughts in Egypt

Hope and optimism. Notes I wrote recently in Alexandria.

Low on time, pardon my not typing them all up. It starts with an adventure to a citadel and evolves into a story of a day’s conversations and realizations.

Something thoughtful about seeing real pen on paper.

alexandria_manifesto_1 Amy amy robinson

writing “Amy Robinson” in Arabic by a friend

alexandria_manifesto_2 Amy amy robins

a moment of thought

alexandria_manifesto_3 amy robinson alexandria_manifesto_2 Amy Robinson

Map Mysteries

Screenshots mysterious things to identify exploring Google Earth.

First, this is beautiful. On a coast of Egypt.

this is beautiful earth, map mystery, google earth

 

Curious (tweet me your thoughts @amyleerobinson):

1. What made these tracks?

1 what is this a track of?, map, map mystery
from higher altitude:2 tracks from higher up, map mystery

2. How awesome would it be if there were a map where you could view seasonal changes on demand? Maybe it exists and I just don’t know yet?

 

3. What is this?

4 what is this?

Houses?

5 what is that there are houses

4. What are the structures built out in the water?

7 this is also beautiful and what are those things in the water?

5. Waves, not clouds?

8 waves or are they clouds

Macro Time Lapse: Great Barrier Reef

Macro coral images by Daniel Stupin of Microworld Photography. Scroll down for video.

slow life title frame Daniel Stupin macro coral Daniel Stupin video Slow Life macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature macro coral image Daniel Stupin in Slow Life Video, coral, macro coral, photography, nature

Daniel Stoupin‘s stunning reef timelapse consists of over 15,000 macro shots; each frame is 3-12 images merged together.

Despite the gorgeous footage, this view shows a near-microscopic oceanic battleground. Daniel explains:

By day most hard corals are cute and colorful. Their polyps coexist with their symbiotic algae and depend on light for nutrients produced by their photosynthetic symbionts. By night these polyps open up like flowers, but unlike flowers they turn into fierce predators, extend their tentacles, and sometimes invert their guts to digest the crap out of everything that they can reach. Coral colonies have to compete for substrate with other species, sometimes in violent battles. The winner is usually the species who digests faster or can resist digestive enzymes of the attackers better.

Enjoy the video:

Slow Life from Daniel Stoupin on Vimeo.