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Scientists’ optimism & Humanists’ pessimism/relativism
Posted: 28 September 2015 03:31 AM   [ # 31 ]
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Artificial intelligence could spell end of human race – Stephen Hawking

In the article linked, Hawking seems to have lost his optimism as he speaks of the emergence of artificial intelligence: “...the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Meanwhile the journalist enumerates all the highly advanced technology that is helping Hawking, and many others, to go on with his life.

Is this a shifting of Snow’s scientific optimism and humanistic pessimism?

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Posted: 28 September 2015 08:51 AM   [ # 32 ]
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Just as Snow says that scientists believe that always something can be done in a bad social situation until proven otherwise, the scientists in this article believe to solve at least one problem that bothers the targeted population of Syria at this moment - by giving the parents daily parenting advice via the daily bread service, they hope to help them take good care of their children in case they are in distress. The scientists are optimistic in the sense that they believe to improve the situation and make the situation for the Syrian people a bit more bearable. Articles from science websites do seem to distinguish themselves from other news articles based on this optimism, as other articles I have read by journalists tended to sum up Syria’s problems and did not give any advise or solutions.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140806094830.htm

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Posted: 28 September 2015 09:00 AM   [ # 33 ]
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[BBC] “Could you love a robot?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zqq6sg8

In the text “could you love a robot” there is a clear tone of fear:” what they can do for us and what they might mean to us before we get in too deep”. In the text they try to raise questions. According to C.P. Snow this relates to de literary culture.

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Posted: 28 September 2015 12:17 PM   [ # 34 ]
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The news item (from: Het Financieele Dagblad, dinsdag 8 september 2015) relates to Snow’s view that scientists are focussed on progress and the future. In the article the robotization of the labour market is seen as a good thing, and they state that the mentality of the people should change, because progress is inevitable.

*The size of the attachement could not exceed 250KB, so unfortunately I could not upload the photograph of the article, since it was not digital.

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Posted: 28 September 2015 01:11 PM   [ # 35 ]
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I apologise in advance for going long, but the quotes are hilarious wink

Tim’s Vermeer (2013)
Tim’s Vermeer is a documentary about a Texas-based inventor Tim Jenison, who seeks to understand the painting techniques of the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. With a background in computer graphics, Tim perceives an aspect of Vermeer’s painting ‘The Music Lesson’ as an artefact caused by the usage of lenses during painting.  He creates a machine that he hypothesises is a reproduction of a device Vermeer used to create his painting, and proceeds to replicate Vermeer’s ‘The Music Lesson’ using this device.

In a sense his work is a practical experiment of the Hockney-Falco thesis, a theory of art history that claims that advances in realism and accuracy in western painting since the Renaissance were primarily the result of advances in optical aids such as the camera obscura, and other ‘products of science’, rather than soley due to the development of artistic skill.

Quite obviously this ruffles the feathers of numerous art historians and critics, and finding an example that trounces the film, isn’t that hard, with authors not veiling their ‘alleged pessimism’:

‘DIY Vermeer documentary utterly misses the point about old masters ‘
(Art Critic Jonathan Jones in The Guardian, 28 of january 2014)

“It’s like the horror film The Fly. The technology Jenison relies on can replicate art, but it does so synthetically, with no understanding of art’s inner life. The “Vermeer” it spits out is a stillborn simulacrum.”

‘Tim’s not-Vermeer’
(Blog post by Art Historian dr. Bendor Grosvenor, on the Art History News blog, 29 of january 2014)

“There is no solid evidence that Vermeer used a camera obscura. The whole camera obscura theory is of course a sad reflection of the fact that nobody can paint like the Old Masters any more. The skills (and the patience) required are gone forever, because the continual, centuries-old link through which such skills were passed from master to apprentice has been broken. You can’t learn how to paint like Vermeer, or Rubens or Rembrandt from a book (or even a film), you need to learn it by continual observation over a number of years. And so it only takes one generation to stop painting like, and appreciating, traditional painters for a whole history of skills to vanish with alarming rapidity. And because so few people can paint in the traditional way these days we try and fool ourselves that in fact not even great artists like Vermeer could do it either, and that he was just cheating. It makes us, and it makes modern artists, feel better to think that. As Jonathan Jones says, it ignores the role of the genius.”

We might argue that we have a classic case of the ‘Two Cultures’ problem here, a theory (The Hockney-Falco Thesis), an experiment (in the Popper-ian sense),  documented in the documentary, (falsifying that ‘artistic genius’ was involved in the creation of Vermeer’s painting), and two examples of humanistic scholar who proceed to utterly demolish the experiment. While the interesting thought that is presented in the documentary (that art and science at one point overlapped, and resulted in great developments in both) is shoved toward the background and not at all touched upon.

References
Tim’s Vermeer (n.d.) in Wikipedia. Retrieved on 20-09-2015 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim’s_Vermeer

Charles M. Falco (2015) “The Hockney Falco Thesis”  retrieved on 20-09-2015 from http://fp.optics.arizona.edu/SSD/art-optics/index.html

Johnathan Jones (2014) “DIY Vermeer documentary utterly misses the point about old masters”, retrieved on 21-09-2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/jan/28/tims-vermeer-fails

Bendon Grosvenor (2014) “Tim’s not-Vermeer”, retrieved on 21-09-2015 from http://www.arthistorynews.com/articles/2614_Tims_notVermeer

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Posted: 28 September 2015 08:16 PM   [ # 36 ]
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From http://www.volkskrant.nl/economie/greenpeace-gas-en-olie-in-2050-verleden-tijd~a4146221/ :

Greenpeace: gas en olie in 2050 verleden tijd

De technieken voor duurzame energie ontwikkelen zich zo snel dat we al over 35 jaar volledig afscheid kunnen nemen van fossiele energie zoals kolen, gas en olie, stelt Greenpeace.
Door: Jeroen Trommelen 21 september 2015, 07:00

English version: 100% Renewable Energy Possible by 2050, Says Greenpeace Report

The above is a typical example of techno-optimism, the belief that technology can save us from climate change. In this case not directly from the mouths of scientists, but a lobby group, although the underlying forecasts undoubtedly come from applied scientists/engineers and technologists. What they don’t mention in the headline is that although the technology may be there, attaining this goal requires huge investments (they mention some 560 billion dollars a year) which in turn means large human behavioural sacrifices will have to be made.

 

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Posted: 29 September 2015 12:07 AM   [ # 37 ]
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“Instanbul Biennal 2015: An overwhelming meditation on the tides of human misery.” by Adrian Searle, The Guardian Newspaper.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/sep/07/istanbul-biennial-2015-an-overwhelming-meditation-on-the-tides-of-human-misery

I found that there are few key words in the title that could perfectly agree with the accusation that Snow makes in the text refering to the humanist. If we analyse the title of the article we could find the word meditation as the subject of the sentence. Meditation is a word that express an act which takes place not in the past neither in the future but in the present.

[...]the scientists believe that the literary intellectuals are totally lacking in foresight, peculiarly unconcerned with their brother men, in a deep sense anti-intellectual, anxious to restrict both art and thought to the existential moment.

On the other hand Snow also acusses the humanists of being “peculiarly unconcerned with their brother men”.I totally disagree with this accusation becouse in my opinion it was really hard to find current articles in wich humanists does not care about the “brother men” this biennale itself , for example,  is “sailing the tides of human misery” and focusing on some pasages of the history of humanity, showing updated points of view and questioning the human progress.

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Posted: 29 September 2015 12:26 AM   [ # 38 ]
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What the Modern Presence of Water On Mars Means
Link: http://www.nytimes.com/section/science?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&region=TopBar&module=HPMiniNav&contentCollection=Science&WT;.nav=page

This research show the positivism that Snow detailed in his work - Mars has always been an impossibility (especially with regards to living conditions), but after extensive research it seems that is more habitable than expected. Awesome.

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Posted: 05 October 2015 12:12 PM   [ # 39 ]
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Entire Human Genome Can Now Be Sequenced For Just $1,000
http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/entire-human-genome-can-now-be-read-1000

This article has a cynical undertone and describes that nowadays “individuals can [...] get their entire genome sequenced for less than $1,000”. It describes problems to the knowledge but ends with “Dilemmas aside, hopefully all of this data will ultimately lead to better medicine and a healthier world population.”

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Posted: 05 October 2015 07:32 PM   [ # 40 ]
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barely related to S&H but I couldn’t let this one go:

Post-Structuralism explained with Hipster Beards:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisr414d8a71a/post-structuralism-explained-with-hipster-beards-xwfz

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Posted: 19 October 2015 07:25 PM   [ # 41 ]
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Malagasy Songbird Is Rare Instance Of Evolution Working “Backwards”

source: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/malagasy-songbird-rare-instance-evolution-working-backwards

Interesting article about the evolution of species as we’ve been discussing in class lately. A species of bird is found where several types go back to one type instead of one type resulting in several types.

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Posted: 22 October 2015 09:33 AM   [ # 42 ]
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Came across this, this morning;

Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing… and ignored:
http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/oct/19/humanities-research-is-groundbreaking-life-changing-and-ignored

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Posted: 27 October 2015 07:17 AM   [ # 43 ]
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http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2015/10/26/kijken-hoe-ziet-de-mens-er-over-1-000-jaar-uit

Which one of the two…?

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