Category Archives: Machines / gadgets / technology / games

Automata of our own making

[Currently reading Minsoo Kang, Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: the Automaton in the European Imagination (Harvard UP, 2011).] Human beings groove on creating things in which they can see themselves. Mirrors, of course – but also cave paintings, sculptures, plays, … Continue reading

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Early modern European automata

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The Fermi Paradox, Mass Effect, and Transhumanism

The Fermi Paradox The story is that sometime in the early 1950s, four physicists were walking to lunch and discussing flying saucers. The place was Los Alamos, and the lunch group included Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller, Emil Konopinski, and Herbert … Continue reading

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On killing virtual dogs

(an excerpt from How You Play the Game): I have killed three dogs in Minecraft. The way to get a dog is to find a wolf, and then feed bones to the wolf until red Valentine’s hearts blossom forth from … Continue reading

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A personal ethics of clicking

Now that every click we make is watched, archived, and meta-data-fied, it is time to start thinking seriously about a personal ethics of internet consumption. This goes beyond mere paranoia and worry over what others might think of what you’re … Continue reading

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Leibniz’s Stepped Reckoner, and a clock to last for the next 10,000 years

In 1671, in some letters exchanged with the French mathematician Pierre de Carcavy, Leibniz mentioned his plans to create a calculating machine. Apparently, he had been inspired by a pedometer, probably thinking that if machines could count, they could then … Continue reading

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On solitary confinement and social media

Last month (April 19, 2014), 3QD’s Robin Varghese linked to an article by philosopher Lisa Guenther on the effects of solitary confinement on the mind. (The original article was published in the online magazine Aeon.) Guenther’s essay is fascinating, as it … Continue reading

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My training to take over the world

I am a great believer in technology’s capacity to build our native skills, and so lately I have been augmenting my talents for world domination through playing Sid Meier’s Civilization IV. (For some reason, Sid Meier thinks it’s important that … Continue reading

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How the internet, and computers generally, impart education

Answer: by not working very well. I’ll explain. My son spends a lot of time playing Minecraft. It’s a brilliant game that operates in two modes: creative mode, in which you can build all sorts of structures and even simple … Continue reading

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Getting the 4-1-1

I recently read James Gleick’s book Information: a history, a theory, a flood. It’s a fascinating account of our varying relationships to information. For a long time, we were only set on getting as much of it as we could; … Continue reading

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A geeky confession

OK, here it is: I really dig computer puzzle games with fantasy themes. Several years ago I tried “Myst” and became became hooked on the whole series of games. I am proud to say I completed Myst 1-4 (yes, I … Continue reading

Posted in Machines / gadgets / technology / games, This & that in the life of CH | 10 Comments