Category Archives: technology

Jolly Crowds of Damien Hirst Fans Showed Up For the IRL Conclusion to the Artist’s NFT Experiment. Here’s What They Had to Say

“The Currency” launched in July 2021 as a collection of 10,000 NFTs, each corresponding to one of 10,000 unique spot paintings by the U.K.’s richest artist. Those who acquired one of the NFTs, originally for $2,000, had the option to keep the digital token or exchange it for the physical artwork.

“I find it fascinating,” Elphick told Artnet News. “I wanted to see where it led. [Hirst] is obviously quite clever about trying to migrate the kind of physical collector into the digital world, whereas everyone else is potentially predominantly doing digital straightaway.”

Does Dalle think it makes more sense that men should drive than women?

Here is a quick study into the narrative tropes within AI and some interesting work for semiotics. Apparently, #Dalle thinks it makes more sense that men should drive than women. In a simple experiment using an image of my daughter taking me for a drive to generate variations (the last image in this series) – in all instances, #Dalle switched the man to the driver’s seat. Even imparting imagined active gestures for the male and passive gestures for the female in the image. #ai #bias #tropes #gesture #semiotics

The Metaphysical War For The Metaverse We’re Already Losing

Virtual worlds should be as much of an expression of the people designing and living in them as possible. With the creator tools we already have and semi-open platforms like Roblox or Minecraft we can build pretty much anything within them. You could argue that even Minecraft obeys a little too much to the laws of the physical world but it wasn’t built as a metaverse platform so you can forgive it a little.

The Gamification of Humanity

When did daily life come to feel so much like a competition? In “You’ve Been Played,” Adrian Hon traces how and why gamification — the application of video-game principles like experience points, streaks, leader boards, badges and special challenges — has come to suffuse nearly every aspect of human existence in the digital era. Examples range from exercise (Nike, Strava), housework (Chore Wars) and brushing your teeth (Pokémon Smile), to — more disturbingly — going to school (ClassDojo) or work (Amazon warehouses’ PicksInSpace).

Hon slips easily between the perspectives of expert, enthusiast and critic. An education in neuroscience informs his explanation of the behaviorist underpinnings of gamification. And in his capacity leading the games company behind the popular running app Zombies, Run!, much of his working life is spent tussling with these issues. Some of the book’s most insightful moments come when Hon discusses how his team considers ethics and user experience when deciding how much to use gamification tricks in their own work.

Dress Code: The Future of Fashion in the Metaverse

But what will you buy in this brave new mall? Well, if you and your avatar are going to be seamlessly flitting between work meetings and VR concerts, shopping trips and hanging out with friends, then you can’t be expected to do it all in the same outfit. If the metaverse is about being seen—and it is about being seen—then fashion should be one of its killer apps. Currently, Meta gives users a limited selection of free clothes, all with a plasticky, toylike aesthetic that has presumably been chosen to be as inoffensive as it is easy to render. In June, Meta announced its plan to change that, at least in terms of choice, with the arrival of the Meta Avatars Store and digital outfits from powerhouse fashion brands like Balenciaga, Prada, and Thom Browne.

The cost of water risks to business could be more than five times greater than the cost of acting now to address those risks.

Warning bells have increased in just the last few months, with the world’s leading scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laying out how dramatically the climate crisis is compounding and accelerating the water crisis. A new global assessment identifies the critical sectors and industries – as well as the business activities – most significantly affecting freshwater availability and quality, while another recent analysis underscores the persistent gap in financing to achieve a water secure future. These messages make it clear that key financial players such as institutional investors, banks and development finance institutions urgently need to step up to address the water crisis.

Where Do Memes Come From? The Top Platforms From 2010-2022

To truly understand how the internet changed over time, it’s crucial to pay attention to the culture that runs through it. Memes are symbols that provide a window into what is culturally significant during a given timeframe, acting as key indicators for how social media ecosystems work.

By looking at the number of memes recorded for each platform by Know Your Meme annually, we can follow the rise and fall of different social media platforms and gauge their relative influence over digital culture at different moments in their history. Through memes, we can help to tell the story of the social internet and how it became what we see today.

‘Date Me’ Google Docs and the Hyper-Optimized Quest for Love

What do we talk about when we talk about Date Me docs, a kind of wiki to the human soul? On the one hand, none of this is new. The desire to find a mate, or just fornicate, has launched a thousand apps over the past two decades. Both Facebook and YouTube started out as versions of “Hot or Not.” But Date Me docs are uniquely paradoxical. For one, they’re not apps. The whole idea gestures towards a post-dating-app future. But the tech itself is basic. Put another way, the authors of the Date Me docs are optimizing for partnership, but some of the docs themselves feel more akin to a Craigslist post than the whiz-bang future of, I don’t know, sex in VR.

Tuning the Prompt

Perugina. Airport. Sepia. Soldier. Rome. Yet, another precious family photo lost in Google Photos among mundane recipe screenshots. And, yet, another reminder that it’s all about the prompt. The prompt I never set up and lazily relegated to the wisdom of a Google algorithm.

When we’re using prompts in search, we use them like fishing lures slowly trolling cyberspace. The more technically proficient we are, the less we are bothered by combing through junk to reach what we need. But the emerging GPT-2 and GPT-3 language models has turned that expectation upside down, revolutionizing what we can do via prompt engineering. 

Now, we can not only retrieve, we can create.

And the breadth is relatively wide from NLP to AI synthesis, emails can be generated and images can be rendered through iterations of text prompts. The trick to getting it right is through effective prompt engineering. And that is a cultural issue. (No different than ethnographies are only as good as their recruitment.)

Lisa Li Xiang and Percy Liang write about prefix tuning, “a lightweight alternative to fine-tuning for natural language generation tasks” (Li, 2021). They propose that “Fine-tuning is the de facto way of leveraging large pretrained language models for downstream tasks. However, fine-tuning modifies all the language model parameters and therefore necessitates storing a full copy for each task…good generation performance can also be attained by updating a very small prefix.”

It’s within these small spaces that cultural context can be applied. We began this discussion in March 2020 at the Intelligent Human Systems Integration Conference in Modena, Italy. The challenge is to have the design remain open to human potential, rather than structural control.

“It’s no surprise that most people engaged in ‘tech-mediated intimacy’ prefer sexting with ‘adult’ chatbots over sex robots. They can imagine a human at the other end. As designers, we need to understand human traits and be ahead of that moment” (Stock, 2020).

Let’s not forget that according to Encyclopedia Brittanica, “the words engine and ingenious are derived from the same Latin root, ingenerare, which means “to create.” This is one thing when we are haphazardly throwing prompts at Midjourney. There, it’s okay to have others run with your prompt and see where it goes.

Jason M. Allen, a maker of tabletop games, won the 2022 Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition for his AI-generated work using Midjourney. “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” took first place in the digital category. “Some artists defended Mr. Allen, saying that using A.I. to create a piece was no different from using Photoshop or other digital image-manipulation tools, and that human creativity is still required to come up with the right prompts to generate an award-winning piece” (Roos, 2022).

But, what about when we need to land effectively and quickly get to that promising work? That’s when we need to start tuning upfront.

Already, virtual prototyping is becoming essential for automotive research and design (Girling, 2022). Think about how far we could go without heavy investments in building upfront.

Imagine if we could simply focus on the thinking? Implications reach far beyond the tangible.

Consider occupational identities. Julia Yates & Sharon Cahill state “Evidence suggests that occupational prototypes have an impact on career decisions. Psychology undergrads were asked to evoke a typical member of each of four occupational groups and describe their prototype in detail. A classic grounded theory analysis identified the characteristics which were symbolised by the features of the prototypes and resulted in eight dimensions: warm, energetic, fun, intelligent, conventional, highbrow, successful and cool” (Yates, 2019). What if we could leverage prompt engineering to bring better context to education and career design too? But, then again, what if I could simply find that missing Google photo?

– by Tim Stock and Marie Lena Tupot

Works cited

Girling, W. (2022, July 29). Virtual prototyping is becoming essential for automotive R&D. Automotive World. Retrieved September 2, 2022, from 

Li, X. L., & Liang, P. (2021, January 1). Prefix-tuning: Optimizing continuous prompts for generation. Retrieved September 2, 2022, from

Roose, K. (2022, September 2). An a.i.-generated picture won an art prize. artists aren’t happy. The New York Times. Retrieved September 2, 2022, from 

Stock, T. J., & Tupot, M. L. (2020, January 22). Pre-emptive culture mapping: Exploring a system of language to better understand the abstract traits of human interaction.  Intelligent Human Systems Integration 2020. IHSI 2020. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 1131. Springer, Cham.

Yates, J., & Cahill, S. (2019). The characteristics of prototypical occupational identities: A grounded theory of four occupations. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling49(1), 115–131.