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Tagged with “fiction” (148) activity chart

  1. Paper Radio : The Cosmic Frequency

    Paper Radio. Stories that talk. A creative audio fiction and non-fiction podcast from Australia and New Zealand.

    Before the likes of Skype and Twitter, curious people built and operated amateur ‘ham’ radios in order to connect with other curious people around the world.

    The Cosmic Frequency tells the story of Maggie Iaquinto, an American-born Australian who forged a unique relationship with the Russian cosmonauts aboard the space station Mir.

    http://www.paperradio.net/am/the-cosmic-frequency

    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  2. Are the robots waking up?

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/360/are-the-robots-waking-up3f/5352572

    Are we nearing the singularity, the point where philosophers say the computer programs we create will be smarter than us?

    Artificial intelligence is all around us. In phones, in cars, in our homes. Voice recognition systems, predicative algorithms, GPS. Sometimes they may not work very well, but they are improving all the time, you might even say they are learning.

    Come on an entertaining journey through the ethics of artificial intelligence or AI, the science behind intelligent computer programs and robotics. Some software engineers think about the philosophy of the artificial intelligence they are creating, others really don’t care.

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  3. Deep impressions

    I turned the tinted glass tablet over in my hands, looked at the perfectly ground edges, felt the silk-like quality of the cool surface and finally held it up and looked though it. The effect was astonishing, unreal, unexpected.

    “I suppose you’re going to tell me that this is some sort of quantum shit?”

    The suited executive at my side smiled a pained, corporate smile and looked around nervously — as though he expected the chaos of the kitchen to have suddenly sprouted thrusting microphones and whirring news cameras.

    “I’m not going to tell you anything, John — and I advise you not to ask. The terms of this demonstration are clearly laid out in the agreement, and we are paying you after all …”

    More free stories from Nature Futures

    Oh, yes — they were paying all right, a sudden windfall that had landed on my kitchen table like manna from a clear blue sky. Enough money to let me finish the book, buy in some kit for the next project and maybe even fix the chimney.

    I gently placed the tablet back in its foam-padded case, it made me nervous just holding it. “Does this stuff at least have a name? I’ve got to call it something in the report.”

    He gave me a sheepish look. “We’re calling it ‘OwlPlex’ … Sorry, marketing seemed to think the military would like it.”

    Yes, I’m sure the military will like it. A sheet of glass, barely a centimetre thick, with no wires or power supply — yet it acted as the highest resolution, most powerful, colour-perfect image intensifier I’d ever seen. And I’ve seen a few, in a shadowy technical career that I no longer like to think about, let alone talk about. I still had some questions though — whether he wanted them or not.

    “Where does the power come from? It can’t do this without any input.”

    He smiled again and pointed out of the window, across the beach and towards the hills. “Sunshine. It soaks up energy when light falls on it, then releases it slowly as the light fades — augmenting the photons that are passing through it at the time. And before you ask, I really can’t say any more. Oh, but don’t drop it — it’s the only prototype …” He stood up, made some pointed comments about security and edged his way to the door. “I’ll be back next week. Remember, we are looking for insights here. Novel applications, things the kids in Development haven’t thought of.”

    It stayed on the table for four days before I worked up the courage to test it fully. At nightfall I eased the tablet from the case, gripped it carefully in one hand, and turned off the light. One side of the glass glowed like a backlit laptop screen, bright but not too bright, showing me the litter on the floor under the table — including a half chewed mouse that the cat had left there. Making a mental note to clean up, I opened the back door and allowed myself a slow, tuneless whistle as the garden and hillside erupted on the screen into glorious deep autumn hues. The effect was startling, addictive — and I knew exactly what everyone was going to want for Christmas this year.

    I awoke in full daylight, with the cat pointedly stropping the end of the sofa in a way that meant he was hungry and wanted feeding now. As he ate, I looked around the room wondering what novel ideas I could come up with to justify my fee. The wall next to the fireplace was home to some of my favourite photographs, shot on 5 × 4 film to get the maximum quality. Pictures of the surrounding countryside: the headland with its granite cliffs, the tranquil sweep of the beach where the seals haul out with their pups, the pattern of dry stone walls enclosing bog cotton and coarse grasses.

    The old madness returned. It took only an hour to kludge together a holder for the tablet and secure it like a filter to the pin-sharp prime lens of the ancient technical camera. The fridge still held a box of slow, fine-grained monochrome film, so as darkness fell I loaded up the dark-slides, then hefted the tripod onto one shoulder, picked up the camera and set off.

    My assumption was that the tablet would allow a constant exposure, but after the first few photos it was clear that the tablet was fading from a lack of daylight. Cursing, I increased the shutter timing to compensate — guesstimating a 30-second exposure to harvest a final image from the rapidly dimming tablet.

    After development, the images were as sharp as I had hoped — with none of the raster artefacts I would have seen from a conventional system. The content of the last image was, like everything to do with the tablet, unexpected. After a few moments of silent thought I wandered out into the kitchen for tea and a long, long ponder — strongly regretting that I’d given up drinking.

    As I looked out over the long-deserted beach in the dawn light, I tried to visualize it as the tablet had imaged it: wooden fishing skiffs hauled out on the shingle, nets drying on the close cropped turf beyond, a single row of whitewashed cottages with split-stone roofs and racks of drying fish. The scrunch of gravel told me that my executive friend was returning, and I was wryly pleased that I’d found his killer application.

    I made a bet with myself that no one had taken a time exposure through the fading glow of dying OwlPlex before. Developers today are too hasty, you see — you need to take a long view, just as OwlPlex itself does in those crucial seconds as some weird internal field collapses. In retrospect though, a less distracted man wouldn’t have left the tablet so close to the edge of the table. It was all the opportunity the cat needed.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  4. Future Screens are Mostly Blue | 99% Invisible

    Folks looking for a lighter take on the problems of designing for an imagined future might want to screen “Desk Set,” a romantic comedy from 1957 starring Tracy & Hepburn. It concerns a group of researchers at a national network (a thinly disguised NBC) who fear being replaced by an “electronic brain” named EMERAC. Although its name is very similar to the University of Pennsylvania’s ENIAC, EMERAC is really more like Remington Rand’s UNIVAC—the first widely available mainframe.

    Considering the fact that this “sci-fi” is set, not in a world centuries beyond the Eisenhower era, but in a world we can now easily recognize as the mid-1960s, it’s amazing how much the writers, designers and set decorators got wrong. By the late ‘50s, it was already apparent that transistors would make mainframes ever smaller, yet EMERAC is gigantic, easily dwarfing every other element on the set. Granted, the size of EMERAC may have more to do with the idea that technology was a huge threat to the “ladies” of the research department. Its size was merely the physical embodiment of what the electronic revolution would mean to people who earned their livings with pencils and paper.

    In spite of the laughable beeps, boops and groans emitted by EMERAC (at one point it actually vents steam), a critical scene absolutely nails what the computer/Internet revolution would mean to clerks and librarians. The president of the network challenges the researchers to retrieve an obscure statistic about damage to U.S. forests caused by the spruce bud worm. We’re informed in an aside that it had taken weeks to find the information with traditional, library-based methods. The nerdy mistress of EMERAC sits down at a keyboard and types in: “How much damage is done annually to American forests by the spruce bud worm?” Almost instantaneously EMERAC spits out the answer.

    The original Broadway playwright, William Marchant, clearly saw where the world was headed, because we all do pretty much the same thing every day with Google.

    http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/future-screens-are-mostly-blue/

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  5. Arthur C. Clarke’s Technologies

    In our previous episode, we introduced Arthur C. Clarke, the amazing man and science fiction writer. Today we’ll be discussing his legacy and ideas on space exploration. You’ll be amazed to hear how many of the ideas we take for granted were invented or just accurately predicted by Arthur C. Clarke.

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  6. On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

    Chang-Rae Lee talks about his new novel, On Such a Full Sea, set in a future, when a long-declining America is strictly stratified by class. Abandoned urban neighborhoods have become high-walled, self-contained labor colonies. The members of the labor class work to provide quality produce and fish to elite villages. In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears.

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/such-full-sea-chang-rae-lee/

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  7. On Point: Neil Gaiman’s Newest ‘Overture’

    Norman Mailer called it “a comic strip for intellectuals.” Best-selling author Neil Gaiman joins us with his dark, new series on the origins of “The Sandman.”

    “The only people who inveigh against escape are jailers,” J.R.R. Tolkien famously said. The world’s premier artist of escapism today may be Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman wrote “The Sandman,” the dark, epic fantasy praised by connoisseurs as the greatest comic book – 75 issues long – ever written. He’s heaped with sci-fi and horror prizes – the Hugo, the Nebula, the Bram Stoker – but also with children’s prizes, the Newbery and more. He’s a literary rock star who also takes the stage – and mines our deep, dark veins. Up next On Point: storytelling rock star, Neil Gaiman.

    http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/11/25/neil-gaiman-sandman-overture

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

  8. CBS Radio Workshop - “The Space Merchants” (Part 1 of 2)

    Based on a story by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth; Performed by a full cast. First broadcast on CBS Radio on February 17th, 1957.

    From: http://www.archive.org/details/CBSRadioWorkshop

    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  9. CBS Radio Workshop - “The Space Merchants” (Part 2 of 2)

    Based on a story by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth; Performed by a full cast. First broadcast on CBS Radio on February 24th, 1957.

    From: http://www.archive.org/details/CBSRadioWorkshop

    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  10. BBC Culture Studio Picks - Neil Gaiman

    Neil Gaiman, multi-award winning popular author, talks to Janice Forsyth about his latest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, comics, graphic novels, Edinburgh, Doctor Who and much more.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/cspicks

    —Huffduffed by Clampants

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