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mardi 9 février 2016

Lift 2016

This week will take place the Lift16 conference in Geneva (see also last years' entries: Lift15, Lift 14).

Selected sessions:

Blockchain Technology Beyond Bitcoin - From art to science, law, politics and innovation, what unexpected and disruptive opportunities does the blockchain technology open? Since its open-source release in 2009, the blockchain has expanded from a public ledger recording money transactions for Bitcoin into an accountability system with features for performance, anonymity, storage and smart contracts. What lies beyond the distributed and trusted protocol that runs the most used decentralized cryptocurrency in the world? This session will explore the realm of possibility for the blockchain, beyond Bitcoin.

Enter the Anti-Disciplinary Space - Our world is complex. How are we to tackle problems that only get harder? Complex questions require the know-how from different fields, cultures and perspectives. We need to collaborate and experiment in-between and beyond set boundaries until new ideas emerge. Putting designers, artists, technologists, and researchers together in a ‘free space’ is a great start. Though, we need people who do not fit in any box - strange animals if you will - who are able to change the way we look at things. Who are these adventurers who challenge our concepts of creation and what can we learn from them?

Selected breakouts:

Deep Dive into the Blockchain - During this two-hour hype-free workshop, experts will take you through the pros and cons of the blockchain, and demystify how this technology actually works, before digging into how smart contracts will eventually be enforced in the physical world. Keeping the techno-jargon to a minimum, Clement Epie and Stephan Tual will take you through the advantages of Blockchain over existing technologies, what could potentially be replaced by blockchains, its future prospects and market impact as well as which industries could be disrupted first. Following up will be Christoph and Simon Jentzsch going into how exactly the Blockchain functions, how to write smart contracts, as well as give you an overview of the various tools available today to build on top of Blockchain technology. We will keep a pragmatic approach, covering for example how you could use the Blockchain to directly rent your apartment or office space, without third parties. Finally we'll have an extensive Q&A exploring the pros and cons of this new technology, where it makes sense to use blockchain, where it doesn't, and touch on questions of standardisation, regulations and what could bring blockchain to the mainstream.

Sustainable By Design: implementing new performance metrics for innovative projects and enterprises? - How to reorient corporate activity and innovation towards sustainability? Can we natively measure financial performance together with environmental performance? What new, accessible and common indicators, accounting methods and tools, and reporting mechanisms can we design to help in that process? This workshop, co-designed by the Transitions2 network and the MIT Climate CoLab, invites participants who believe that environmental and economic performance should now be measured simultaneously and given a similar importance - and are interested in discussing how this could be achieved in real life. Its concrete outcome could be the launch of one of the Climate CoLab's "contests", harnessing the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to create, analyze, and select detailed proposals to make innovation "sustainable by design".

The Creative Power of IMPROV-Theatre! - IMPROV-Theatre is a fun way to boost your creativity by making full use of your body, voice, mind, soul and your emotions. IMPROV enables you to reach new levels of Out-of–the-Box ideas AND experiences by one simple rule: radical acceptance! There is no “NO”! EVERYTHING is allowed and expandable!. This workshop gives IMPROV-Newbies a chance to learn a whole set of practical techniques and exercises which provide for exciting and creative trips into a world of instantaneous new stories, amazing plots and pure playful joy. And also experienced IMPROV players might learn a few new tricks. Enjoy a fresh unobstructed view on multiple realities. Fun guaranteed!

Bringing Narrative into Science Education with Virtual Reality - Dive deep into the field of Science Storytelling with Neal Hartman and several participants of the Storytelling Science VR Hackathon, recently organized by CineGlobe in partnership with Festival Tous Ecrans and supported by the Lift. Behind all good communication, and therefore education, lies good storytelling; this workshop will show how this rule applies to science as well, and give examples of great science storytelling projects. Hear from participants of the VR Hackathon how they approached the challenge of bringing narrative into education of a scientific nature, and then brainstorm your own science-education narratives in groups guided by the creators. The workshop will also discuss some of the ins and outs of making VR projects for immersive headsets like the Oculus Rift.

See you there!

lundi 4 mai 2015

The art of presentation

A few references to help you with storytelling and slide design should you have a presentation to make.

Not extremely new but still good books: Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story (2003), by Jerry Weissman, and its sequel Winning strategies for power presentations : Jerry Weissman delivers lessons from the world's best presenters (2013) introduce among other ideas the concept of WIIFY (What's In It For You).

TED talk: 10 tips for better slide decks, aka "10 tips on how to make slides that communicate your idea":

Big picture:

  1. Think about your slides last. - Too often, I see slide decks that feel more like presenter notes, but I think it’s far more effective when the slides are for the audience to give them a visual experience that adds to the words.
  2. Create a consistent look and feel.
  3. Think about topic transitions.
  4. With text, less is almost always more.
  5. Use photos that enhance meaning.

And now some tactical tips…

  1. Go easy on the effects and transitions. .
  2. Use masking to direct attention in images.
  3. Try panning large images.
  4. For video, don’t use autoplay.'
  5. Reproduce simple charts and graphs.

and the end: a couple book recommendations. The first is Resonate, by Nancy Duarte. It’s not so much about slides, but about public speaking in general – which is the foundation for any presentation, regardless of how great your slides are. In it, she breaks down the anatomy of what makes a great presentation, how to establish a central message and structure your talk, and more. (One of her case studies comes from Benjamin Zander’s charming TED Talk about classical music, a talk that captivated the audience from start to finish.) Think of this as prerequisite reading for [a] second recommendation, also by Duarte: Slide:ology. This is more focused on presentation visuals and slides.

Slideshare presentation: 8 tips for an awesome powerpoint presentation

  1. F-ck normality, don't use templates, create your own design, let your creativity flow..
  2. Colors are nice, play with colors, fond your like, contrast is your friend.
  3. Use good fonts.
  4. Text is evil, let your slides breathe.
  5. Images say more than a thousand words.
  6. BIg is beautiful, think Big, think Bold, think Bam. View every slide as an ad.
  7. Infographics are amazing.
  8. Get inspired.

mardi 14 octobre 2014

Race Yourself

La vie est-elle une course contre soi-même ?

Race Yourself est un jeu incrémental IRL qui répond oui à cette question.

Course contre les fantômes du passé ou ceux de l'avenir, chacun le sait. Dans tous les sports, l'entraînement évolue.

vendredi 28 février 2014

Life as a video game

Sometimes it's good to do a little bit of introspection or extraspection. In the former case, you see yourself from an internal point of view. In the latter, you see yourself from an external point of view, like in a video game. After all, isn't life role playing?

Seeing yourself as a character of a videogame that you control remotely offers some insights for personal development, as the video game programmer Steve Pavlina noticed in his podcast on reality.

Now it took me over a year to figure this out, but I think I finally understand it in a way that makes sense, and that seems internally congruent. So here's how I currently see the nature of reality.

I see that physical reality is the program, consciousness is the programmer, and the Law of Attraction is the interface between them. Or physical reality is a simulation, or a projection, of consciousness. There's only one consciousness, and that's what my identity is centered on, this one consciousness. Now, the consciousness is not my physical body, my physical body is part of my consciousness, just as equally as everything else experience, I experience.

So while, the physical body I control gives me perspective, it gives me a way of interacting and communicating with the simulation. But it's no more me, it's no more my real identity, than if I were, say, playing a video game? And I'm controlling a character on the screen. See, my physical body is just the character I control on the screen. But really, when I'm playing the video game, the game is the entire simulation. And my real being is outside that simulation.

Well, in this case, I'm saying that my real being is consciousness itself, and that the entire simulation of reality is taking place within that consciousness. I am that consciousness, but I have control over a part of the simulation, direct control, over my physical body. That's the part I can control the best. However, through the Law of Attraction, I also have control over every other part of the simulation as well. But there are some limitations on that.

See, the thoughts are the instructions, to the simulation. My thoughts. The thoughts of consciousness itself. But _every_ thought is an instruction. Or, in the language of the Law of Attraction, you would say, every thought is an intention. And physical reality is the sum total of every instruction or of every intention.

Now let's talk about some of the limitations on this, and some of the mechanisms by which this works. First of all, perception is also thought, which means it's also intention, which means it's also creative. See, there's no perception without creation. This answers the question, why does reality seem persistent? Why can't you just think of a thought that's totally incongruent with the reality you're experiencing, and have an immediate shift? And the reason is that you're always perceiving the reality you're getting. And so you can't have that immediate shift because your observations are also your thoughts, your observations are new instructions that are feeding back into the simulation. So the simulation has this persistence to it because the very act of perceiving it perpetuates it. Does that make sense?

So by observing the simulation, you're actually instructing it. Your observations about the simulations are in fact instructions to continue perpetuating what you're getting. This is why your life tends to be somewhat consistent from day to day to day - because your thoughts are persistent, because you keep observing the same things, you live in the same place, you keep observing the same location. If you changed your observations about reality, however, in a massive way, then reality itself, the simulation would be reprogrammed, and would shift in a massive way as well. And in fact, this is exactly what happens, but it happens in such a way that you don't even think about it.

In practice, it is possible to feel this body-mind dualism! Outer Body Labs, a "technologically induced out-of-body-experience game studio" who was present at Lift14, and whose pitch is see yourself seeing your self, offers such an experience. Imagine wearing a helmet or goggles (think Google Glass ou Oculus Rift) inside which you see what an external bluetooth camera pointed to you broadcasts. Or, imagine yourself wearing these electronic glasses, and carrying some big antenna with a camera mounted at the top directed downwards and feeding the glasses, in such a way that you would see yourself from an external eye.

See and control yourself from a third person perspective as you compete or collaborate in various physical tasks, games, activities and puzzles.

This is not virtual reality! At OuterBody Labs we move your eyesight, and your sense of self, into a video camera that is aimed at your body. This mind-hack has unique and wonderful dissociative effects. Will you be able to put your subjectivity into perspective?

So, what you see in the glasses is yourself, from the point of view of the camera (which can be fixed or mobile). On the screen, it appears as a character in a video game, that you can act upon remotely using your body as the controller, like real-life Sims. It offers a new perspective to your life!

The Machine to be Another project also goes in this direction. It "is an Open Source Art investigation on the relation of Identity and Empathy that has been developed on a basis of low budget experiments of Embodiment and Virtual Body Extension".

This interactive performance-installation is built in 2 identical spaces: one for the user and another for the performer.

Through immersive goggles (head mounted displays), the user sees a video with the eyes’ perspective of a different person (the performer), who follows the former’s movements. So, it all happens in a way in which the user kind of ‘controls’ the performer‘s movements.

The user can move and interact with objects inside a room, while listening to the performer‘s thoughts through a set of headphones. That generates the perception of someone speaking inside their mind.

The video transmitted to the user’s goggles is generated by a camera attached to the perfomer, that records his/her point of view in real time. The performer also wears a microphone used to tell a short story about his/her existence. This non lineal narrative is connected to the objects in the room (a photo of someone, a childhood toy, a pack of cigarettes, a mirror, etc), making them interactive: when the user interact with one object, the performer starts to speak about his experience and memories related to this object.

In general terms, the system merges technology with other variables: the performance, an interactive narrative (related to objects disposed at the same position in two identical spaces), the experiment’s assistants (with whom they can explore the touch sense), as well as sensorial/motor/physical stimuli disposed in the space, with which the user can interact. As for the objects, we always make use of mirrors and other different things that the user can either throw or feel (like a glass of water or a bunch of flowers).

Beyond augmented or virtual reality, it has to be kept in mind that such perspective can also be attained with spiritual practices like meditation or mind-altering subtances such as kratom or blue lotus. The movie Enter the void evocates dimethyltryptamine (DMT) as a chemical path to see yourself from the outside.

It can lead to larger, metaphysical considerations such as the universe being a simulation or our brains being a vat.

Much ado about nothing, or new perspectives for life?

mardi 10 septembre 2013

5 inspirational cartoons

From zen pencils, who "adapts inspirational quotes into cartoons" (a bit in the spirit of the KabbalaToons clips), here is a selection of five cartoons for inspiration and enjoyment, to start the new year with some perspective.

That's for the 1%.

שנה טובה

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.

Thomas Alva Edison

lundi 18 mars 2013

Robots (I)

Les musée des arts et métiers organisait cet hiver une exposition sur les robots.

Certaines considérations morales autour des robots et de leurs prérogatives avaient été envisagées il y a bien longtemps par les auteurs de science-fiction, comme l'illustrent les trois lois de la robotique d'Isaac Asimov :

  1. Un robot ne peut porter atteinte à un être humain, ni, restant passif, permettre qu'un être humain soit exposé au danger.
  2. Un robot doit obéir aux ordres que lui donne un être humain, sauf si de tels ordres entrent en conflit avec la Première loi.
  3. Un robot doit protéger son existence tant que cette protection n'entre pas en conflit avec la Première ou la Deuxième loi.

Avec la présence de Nao (présenté dans l'article sur la neutralité du net) et autres consorts, l'histoire des robots se déclinait selon :

  1. Introduction (à la veille d'une révolution ?)
  2. Robot, qui es-tu ?
  3. Robot, d'où viens-tu ? (différence entre robots et automates)
    1. Introduction
    2. De l’Égypte des pharaons aux ingénieurs mécaniciens grecs
    3. La popularisation des automates et la naissance de l’horlogerie
    4. Lorsque l’androïde paraît...
    5. XIXe et XXe siècle : la consécration avant le déclin
    6. Des automates pour tous
  4. Nom de code Robota
    1. La cybernétique, projet de l’après-guerre (oeuvre et leg de Norbert Wiener)
    2. Les robots dans l’industrie (tâches répétitives, pénibles, et dangereuses confiées aux machines, taylorisme, collaboration homme-robot)
    3. Robots et nucléaire : servir et protéger en milieu extrême (remplacer l'homme en milieu hostile en cas de catastrophe nucléaire)
    4. Les robots des abysses (robots téléopérés et sous-marins autonomes dans la pression et l'opacité des milieux sous-marins)
    5. Les robots au coeur de la conquête spatiale (Lunokhod 1, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity)
    6. Robots et défense : préserver des vies et des territoires ? (zones de conflit : robots biomimétiques, robots-soldats, robots multifonctions autonomes (ex : drones))
  5. Robots Domesticus
    1. Usables et corvéables (surveillance, nettoyage)
    2. Des robots au foyer (domotique)
  6. Le robot est-il l'avenir de l'homme ? (robots-chirurgiens, prothèses bioniques, exosquelettes, greffes et implants mécatroniques)
  7. Robots entre science et fiction (androïdes, imitations mécaniques d’un homme parfait)

Comme l'art aléatoire, les robots soulèvent de nombreuses questions d'éthique, depuis le golem du maharal de Prague : intelligence artificielle, conscience robotique, droit des robots, etc.

jeudi 15 novembre 2012

Can one grow intuition?

This is the 100th entry on the blog! Cheers!

After the 2012 US elections, statistician Nate Silver has known his fifteen minutes of fame when it appeared that his predictions regarding the results had been fulfilled despite the strong opposition by a good number of opponents.

Now, the same Nate Silver had previously authored The Signal and the Noise - Why so many predictions fail, but some don't, where he reports an anecdote about the 1997 Kasparov vs Deep Blue match (mentioned in the entry about the future of information science).

Nevertheless, there were some bugs in Deep Blue’s inventory: not many, but a few. Toward the end of my interview with him, [Murray] Campbell somewhat mischievously referred to an incident that had occurred toward the end of the first game in their 1997 match with Kasparov. “A bug occurred in the game and it may have made Kasparov misunderstand the capabilities of Deep Blue,” Campbell told me. “He didn’t come up with the theory that the move it played was a bug.” The bug had arisen on the forty-fourth move of their first game against Kasparov; unable to select a move, the program had defaulted to a last-resort fail-safe in which it picked a play completely at random. (...) Kasparov had concluded that the counterintuitive play must be a sign of superior intelligence. He had never considered that it was simply a bug.

Years later, at a authors@google talk interesting to have a look at in its entirety, Garry Kasparov (whose famous game against Topalov can be seen here) is asked if he relies on intuition to make decisions in chess[1]. His answer:

It's the most valuable quality of a human being in my view. Yeah, it's probably... we live at a time when we just want to touch something before we can make our opinion about the subject. I believe that intuition is like any other muscle. So, like people know that if you go to the gym you improve your physical conditions, they know that for training memory, there're also exercises, but intuition is the same. So you have to learn how to trust your intuition. My view is that we similarly undermine the importance of intuition because intuition means taking too much risk. And we, whether we like it or not, we live in a risk adverse culture. And intuitive decision very often cannot be explained into terms that should be required by corporate cullture or by your other family members. So, in my view, by adding this quality of intuition to the decision-making process, we can dramatically improve the results.

"Can intuition be developed?" is half-counter-intuitive, so to say, in the sense that people who have good intuition will say "yes", and people who have a bad intuition will say "no". Still, anyone can observe that a common quality shared by the chess player Bobby Fischer (evoked in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer), and the poker player Stu Ungar[2] (whose life is narrated in High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story) is that both had a very powerful intuition. Everyone can draw his own conclusions.


[1] The next question in the talk is about the importance of psychology. From Kasparov's answer: "It could actually work in a very strange way when you're facing the computer because many computers, even today, have their own strengths and own weaknesses. And if you can understand so it may help you to design the game which will be the most unpleasant for certain computer. Because it's actually machine, it might sound very odd, but machine definitely has a "personality" and it very much depends on the people behind the computer. So, some of the machines are playing more aggressive chess; some play less aggressive chess. And again, I don't know whether it's an irony or not, but the Israeli-made computers are more aggressive than the German-made computers."

[2] Stu Ungar, jewish, clever, lover of poker, died of a heart failure due to his excesses.

mercredi 5 septembre 2012

La contractualisation des progrès

En sport comme dans d'autres domaines de la vie, la fixation d'objectifs s’est avérée l’un des mécanismes de motivation les plus simples et les plus efficaces pour progresser et parvenir à ses fins.

La page 30 du guide des entraîneurs de Special Olympics, un organisme développant la pratique sportive chez les handicapés, explique pourquoi il est important d'avoir des objectifs étant :

  • mesurables et spécifiques
  • difficiles mais réalistes
  • à court et à long terme
  • positifs et négatifs
  • etc.

Christophe Carrio ne dit pas autre chose :

Les objectifs ont une action puissante et directe sur la motivation et l’énergie. Ils agissent également sur l’état émotionnel (baisse de l’anxiété) et la confiance en soi (renforcée). Mal construits ou mal définis, les objectifs peuvent déstabiliser la personne et avoir les effets opposés – la confiance et la motivation peuvent être anéanties.

Les objectifs doivent être précis, datés et mesurables pour maintenir la motivation. Ces trois qualités sont indissociables quel que soit l’objectif, à court, moyen ou long terme. Les baisses de motivation sont souvent liées à des objectifs flous. « Je veux avoir un beau corps » « Je veux être fine » « Je veux me sentir moins molle » ... sont des objectifs trop vagues. En revanche « je veux perdre un tour de taille d’ici 3 mois », « je veux courir plus vite sur tel parcours et me sentir plus tonique sur chacune de mes foulées en 3 mois », « je veux effectuer 10 muscle up, ou 100 pompes dans 3 mois » sont des objectifs beaucoup plus précis.

Vos objectifs doivent être ambitieux, difficiles à atteindre mais raisonnables. Un objectif, pour être efficace, ne doit pas être déstabilisant et doit se situer au bon niveau. Trop bas, il provoque l’ennui, voire la régression et donc une perte de motivation. Trop important, il entraîne déception, frustration, perte de confiance en soi et stress face à l’échec. Il faut donc se méfier des objectifs trop rigides, sans marge d’échec.

Un objectif à long terme se décline d’abord à court et moyen terme. On peut multiplier les objectifs dans tous les secteurs de sa vie, sachant que rien n’est jamais étanche, une joie ou une déconvenue dans un secteur rejaillit sur tous les autres. Plus les objectifs sont bien déclinés à court et moyen terme et plus vous serez concentrés, focalisés et vous aurez l’énergie nécessaire pour les mener à bien en dépit des tracas et de tous les impondérables du quotidien.

Écrire ses objectifs sur papier -où sur octets-, c'est bien, et c'est un euphémisme. Toutefois la psychologie contemporaine vient nous dire que la motivation pour les accomplir peut être démultipliée lorsque ceux-ci prennent une tournure contractuelle.

Le site stickK propose ainsi d'établir des contrats d'engagement (commitment contracts) allant dans cette optique[1]. Le principe sous-tendant l'efficacité des objectifs contractuels est, selon la FAQ (traduction assez libre) :

Nous commençons tous par vouloir atteindre nos objectifs, mais la plupart du temps il n'y a simplement rien qui nous force à nous conformer à notre parole. En signant un contrat d'engagement, ne pas tenir sa promesse devient beaucoup plus difficile.

Sans trop rentrer dans les détails, trois exemples fictifs de tels contrats d'engagements :

  • Si je n'obtiens pas ma ceinture jaune de judo, je devrai donner 100 euros à l'UNICEF.
  • Si je ne cours pas le prochain marathon de Paris en moins de quatre heures, alors tous mes amis seront informés de cet échec et se moqueront de moi.
  • Si je ne perds pas dix kilos d'ici trois mois, je devrai verser un mois de mon précieux salaire au front national (lose it or lose it).

Autrement dit, la méthode consiste à augmenter artificiellement la priorité d'un objectif en corrélant son non-accomplissement à des conséquences bien plus négatives que celles de l'échec seul. Un objectif mineur ou insuffisamment motivant est ainsi transformé en objectif majeur via sa contractualisation[2]. Dès lors que le « pourquoi » devient si important, le « comment » suit.

En résumé, internet et psychologie au service du sport, et de la vie.

Hat man sein warum? des Lebens, so verträgt man sich fast mit jedem wie?[3]

Friedrich Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung


[1] D'après les créateurs du site, il a été prouvé les contrats d'engagement peuvent tripler les chances de succès. C'est hélas une affirmation tellement floue qu'il est plus simple de la laisser aux marketing guys.

[2] Pour reprendre les mots de Tim Ferriss dans The four-hour body (4HB pour les intimes) : Most people have an insufficient reason for action. The pain isn’t painful enough. It’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have. Le livre défend aussi l'importance de la mesurabilité des objectifs : To eliminate words you shouldn’t use in body redesign, the question to ask is: can I measure it? “I just want to be healthy” is not actionable. “I want to increase my HDL cholesterol and improve my time for a one-mile jog (or walk)” is actionable. “Healthy” is subject to the fads and regime du jour. Useless..

[3] Celui qui a son pourquoi dans la vie peut affronter n'importe quel comment. (Le crépuscule des idoles)