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review 2017-05-09 18:40
Sculpting the future
How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection - David F. Dufty

Longtime readers of the blog will recall that I've had a certain fear fascination with robots and A.I or Artifical Intelligence. You can check out my posts about books like Our Final Invention which details the growth artifical intelligence into super intelligence or In Our Own Image which is a thought experiment about what the evolution of AI will look like in the future to get an idea of what I mean. Today's book is somewhere in the middle. How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection by David F. Dufty covers the creation of a robotic incarnation of the famous sci-fi author which (according to its creators) has the ability to learn as it communicates with humans i.e. it is self-aware. The novelty of this machine was that it was created in the image of a man who was known for his paranoia about 'thinking' machines and that it was an artistic as much as technological acheivement. This book chronicled the creation of the android from its inception including the sculpting of the head and body by Dr. David Hanson through to its programming by Andrew Olney. (Not to mention the many volunteers from the FedEx Institute of Technology in Memphis who logged many hours helping to make this dream a reality without any compensation.) The PKD android was a sensation among scientific circles as well as among laypeople because of his realistic facial features, expressions, and his seemingly intelligent responses to questions. However, I am not convinced that he would have passed the Turing Test which proves that he was a self-aware artificially intelligent machine. Moreover, I found this book was lacking in many areas. Each of the chapters seemed to end without any real resolution and the ending fell flat. Also, one of my pet peeves is a nonfiction book without any endnotes or at the very least a bibliography and this one committed that sin. Overall, I'd say that this book would appeal to someone who hasn't done any significant research into this field and wants to dip their toe into that world but for me it didn't make the grade. 5/10

 

If you want to see the PKD android in action then you can check out the Hanson Robotics website. Be forewarned, if the idea of a seemingly artificially intelligent machine with human-like characteristics freaks you out then you shouldn't go to that website. To see what I mean, take a look at the pictures below. *shudder*

 

Source: Ascend Surgical

 

Source: Philip K. Dick Android Project

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-01-13 14:44
The pneumatic tube
The Secret Subway - Red Nose Studio,Shana Corey

How could I not want to read The Secret Subway by Shana Corey while I'm living in New York City? Truthfully, it wasn't the setting of the story that drew me in. It was the front cover illustration by Red Nose Studio aka Chris Sickels that really caught my eye. His artwork reminds me of old school claymation. His creations are sculpted using materials found around his home and he makes not only books but stop motion animation with them. The Secret Subway is a fictionalized account of the creation of the New York Subway system. The imaginative inventiveness of Eli Beach is factual as is his idea of a subterranean transit system fueled by a pneumatic system. (Picture a giant fan pushing a train car and then reversing its flow to suck the car back the way it had come!) It's the minute details which have been slightly fudged by Corey to liven up the tale (which honestly doesn't really need much embellishment). The back of the book contains the facts of the event which I urge you to read as they are fascinating. It's so amazing seeing what the human imagination can create! This was a visually impressive book but if I'm honest it didn't really WOW me. I'd give it a solid 6/10 but if you're interested in the art (you will be) I urge you to check it out for yourself.

 

PS Aren't these sculptures gorgeous?

 

Source: rednosestudio.com

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-11-12 00:14
Fairytales and sculptures make a great combo
The Singing Bones - Shaun Tan

As I've mentioned in two other posts (here and here), I'm a fan of Shaun Tan's works. What's better than a book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan? A book of Grimm's Fairytales illustrated with sculptures by Shaun Tan with an introduction by Neil Gaiman! If you've ready anything by Gaiman then you know his wheelhouse is dark, creepy fantasy. The Singing Bones definitely qualifies to enter that wheelhouse (why do they call it a wheelhouse by the way?). Each of Tan's sculptures are accompanied by a short passage from one of the Brothers Grimm fairytales. It's all about the emotion that the stories evoke and how they can be interpreted through art. Despair, fear, and hope are just a few of the feelings elicited within the pages of this book. If you're familiar with Tan's illustrations then you know the kind of artwork he creates tends to be eerie and full of emotion. This is no exception. I know that most people are familiar with the sweet illustrations and the happily ever after versions of these tales but Tan used the original text to create his art which makes it much more raw. I took my time with it much as you would with a large storybook. I personally think it would make an excellent coffee table book. I'd give it a 8/10 only because I would have liked the full versions of the stories and more art because I'm super greedy like that.

 

Source: Booktopia

 

Rapunzel (Source: The Galaxial Word)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2007-12-01 00:00
Flameworking: Creating Glass Beads, Sculptures & Functional Objects
Flameworking: Creating Glass Beads, Sculptures & Functional Objects - Elizabeth Mears Step-by-step instructions for borosilicate glassworking. Easy to understand but pretty far over my skill level. I did pick up some tips I think will work on soft glass, though.
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