Towards the Personal Assist – Robot

Envision a Robot

In 20th century days, robotics was the domain of science fiction and film. Two things drew interest. A future with robots of humanlike construct manipulating the world around them, and the interactive possibilities of evolving artificial intelligence.

Early personal computers, without graphical interface, showed their potential to express the fantastical eye. Ray-tracing turned numerical formulae into scenes, where every photon in a view is rendered visible. Fractals are a mathematical abstraction used to describe and simulate naturally occurring objects. Chaos theory deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.

Adding these concepts to computing has dramatically increased the ability of the digital environment to more accurately model the physical world. A human generation of hardware and software improvements have made the tools building real life model increasingly accessible and provided significant versatility.

As much as the visual arts pulled me to movie theatres to see the future world made real, the tools also advanced to actually make the future. Advances in the visual arts have fueled human expression of the future. The evolution of circuitry, machinery and robots is first envisoned by the pioneers and then pursued by technicians attempting to make it real. As the toolset expanded, so did the refinement of the vision

The internet and 3D printable world make programming and integrated circuitry more and more versatile. Industrial and medical uses of robots have become more commonplace, machines that could manipulate the physical world with programmed purpose and tactile response.

Advances in memory, big data, sensor versatility, and machine-learning allow for the beginnings of artificial intelligence, algorithmes that agraggate and augment the user experience.

Personal Assistant with a Head

The door opens to personal ‘robots’. The personal assistant in your phone or network is being given its own exo-skeleton. A number of interactive models exist or are soon planned.

They are just at the beginning. Not one can go get you a drink from the fridge, but many provide tools at would allow expanded capabilities. What they miss in tangible physical skills, they try to make up for in personality and a physical anthropomorphic humanoid expression and appearance.

The first step is the assistant who can bring intelligence to its personalized user, remembering, reminding, responding, and picking up the habits of the user. It is the human requesting a verbal response. The robotic side is the ability to perform actions and tasks in the physical world will follow.

The following list is a sample of both command response robotic, and intelligent interactive assistant devices (with cutesy faces) coming to the consumer market at the moment (2017/04). It is not intended to be complete, but anyone knowing of others is welcome to let me know. I believe this field to be one of the most interesting technical areas.

Here’s a list of personal assistants, so we can follow-up, and track their evolution.

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Pillo Health

Pillo can answer healthcare Q&A, connect with doctors, sync with mobile & wireless devices, store & dispense vitamins & medication, & can even re-order them for you from your favorite pharmacy.

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Buddy

Open source and easy to use, BUDDY connects, protects, and interacts with each member of your family. BUDDY is also democratizing robotics. BUDDY is built on an open-source technology platform making it easy for global developers to build applications.

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Cosmo

A gifted little guy with a mind of his own. He’s a real-life robot like you’ve only seen in movies, with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out. He’ll nudge you to play and keep you constantly surprised. Cozmo’s your accomplice in a crazy amount of fun.

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Jibo

Jibo experiences the world, and reacts with surprisingly thoughtful movements and responses that show he’s no ordinary bot. So while he’ll gladly snap a photo or send a message, he’ll also get to know you and the people you care about, for more meaningful relationships.

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Aido

Aido is a sophisticated yet affordable home robot. It’s an all in one package that comes with the best of home automation, security, assistance, entertainment and much more.

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NAO

NAO is an interactive companion robot.

Moving : 25 degrees of freedom and a humanoid shape that enable him to move and adapt to the world around him. His inertial unit enables him to maintain his balance and to know whether he is standing up or lying down.

Feeling : The numerous sensors in his head, hands and feet, as well as his sonars, enable him to perceive his environment and get his bearings.

Hearing and speaking : With his 4 directional microphones and loudspeakers, NAO interacts with humans in a completely natural manner, by listening and speaking.

Seeing : NAO is equipped with two cameras that film his environment in high resolution, helping him to recognise shapes and objects.

Connecting : To access the Internet autonomously, NAO is able to use a range of different connection modes (WiFi, Ethernet).

Thinking : We can’t really talk about “Artificial Intelligence” with NAO, but the robots are already able to reproduce human behaviour.

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Pepper, the robot who understands your emotions

Pepper is capable of identifying the principal emotions: joy, sadness, anger or surprise.

He is also capable of interpreting a smile, a frown, your tone of voice, as well as the lexical field you use and non-verbal language such as the angle of your head, for example.

The combination of all this information enables the robot to determine whether his human interlocutor is in a good or a bad mood.

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ROMEO

Romeo is a 140 cm tall humanoid robot, designed to explore and further research into assisting elderly people and those who are losing their autonomy. Romeo is the fruit of collaboration between numerous French and European laboratories and institutions.

His size was determined so as to enable him to open doors, climb stairs and reach objects on a table.

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Autonomous PA robot

Robot Base

This robot will connect to every device, switch, and lock in the house to make it easier for you to control everything. Not only will it keep your house safer but will also help decrease your electricity bills.

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Budgee from 5 Elements Robotics

This robot is targeted to disabled people as it follows them around and helps them with daily chores, carrying things. Some believe it might be a useful shopping cart.

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FURi-o from future robot

Shaped like a traffic cone doesn’t only plan your schedules and protect your house, it can also tell bedtime stories and teach you how to cook!

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EMYS
Flash Robotics designed a robot named Emys that’s supposed to teach kids another language. Emys might be successful because of its built-in tablet and unique, expressive face, which relies on three moving disks and two smartwatch displays. It was inspired by emoticons :).

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Asus Zenbo

Move, See, Speak, Hear, Play Music, Connect, Learn

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Alpha – personal robots from UB Tech

The domestic robot was designed to offer an intuitive and responsive platform that is designed to be both intelligent and useful. Because of that, the Alpha 2 is completely programmable and operates on an open-source operating system.

These are already interesting studies and designs in both movement and interactivity. Advances will see mobility and intelligence integration. The evolution of higher function in integrated circuitry is picking up momentum. Utterly fascinating.

Aroh Wendelin

April 2017

Chalcolithic Age – Dawn of cultures

Language and cultural values define the parameters of human association, critical for early cities and civilization.

It was commonly held that agriculture was the driving force behind early cities, cultures and civilizations. Discoveries in recent decades reveal that commenerative sites pre-date the earliest cities, thereby bringing people together culturally ahead of permanant cohabitation and advanced agriculture.

Permanant settlements developed before full agricultural domestication. Humans first began to give up their nomadic life before there were fields and flocks to tend. Instead, the first requirement was to set up common belief systems and social boundaries. These allow non-related humans to spend time together, within the context of predictable behaviour and mores. Once a cultural language is established, humans can spend more time in proximity than just clan-gathering celebrations and ceremonies.

Changing the way humans feed themselves was a secondary consideration to this early cultural era in humans. The value of urban trade of wares and stories was understood early. Settlements were a focus of human interest.

Another important feature to keep in mind is that many societies of this time had this developing ‘culture’ begin and blossom. No civilization grew in isolation; there were always others some distance away, or before / after them.

Great civilizations are like magestic buildings. They are hugely interesting and complex, but they must be appreciated in the context of a city where other, smaller buildings and cultural groups share the landscape, and many of the same features.

Early Social Casting

Agriculture was a slow development that lasted thousands of years, arguably until today. It is now seen as a result of cultural developments, not its origin. Then, as now, being a farmer is a harder lifestyle than that of a hunter. A farmer must tend the flock, the orchard, the fields every day, and can never really be away from it; the hunter is required more intermittently.

Labour division in the family naturally falls into young adults and children, with older family members assisting. Tasks divided among those best capable lead the way to social classes. The first specialization is likely to be best hunter or most knowledgable gatherer. But a clan`s storyteller and cultural keeper would be held in high regard, and this was often a role for the elders. It seems to follow that those in charge of sanctuary, of monument building would be seen as a priestly caste.

The specialist making valuable contributions will be sought after, while the unskilled offer less. Specialization will drive barter, more formal education, and status. During fishing season, the hook maker is king, while the successful well-digger is exhalted during drought.

Genetics can hand natural skill to the next generation, but formal grooming is usually how young people grow into the social position. Achieved and ascribed status play a central role in the development of social classes and inequalities, a feature less prominent in hunter-gatherer culture.

As the last cultural artifact to develop, agriculture may have been the last resort for those without other skills. There may in fact be truth to the age old saying: vegetarian is another word for bad hunter.

Before the Copper Age

After the Younger Dryas a geological period from approximately 10,900 – 9700 BCE (c. 12,900 to c. 11,700 years ago), winter finally relented. It was the final heave of the the last ice age, the Pliocene-Quaternary glaciation which had lasted 2.8 million years and with it, winter began to retreat.

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reconstruction of Dolní Věstonice (ca. 27 000 to 23 000 BCE) – by Giovanni Caselli

Some humans put aside the nomadic lifestyle that defined the Gravettian culture, the last of the Paleolithic age. By 10,000 BCE, it marked the transition from Old Stone Age, to Neolithic (New Stone) Age, also widely known as the Agricultural Revolution.

The long ice age had dropped sea levels, connecting land masses that are today separated by expanses of sea. The harsh conditions of the era pushed early humans to explore and set up in many parts of the world, including the Americas, the Far East, South Asia and Australia.

With the warming trend, cultures and civilizations sprung up independently worldwide. Archeological findings of these early cultural blossoms show that technological advances are either found independently, or are shared through trade networks.

The long ice age may partially explain modern society’s blasée attitude toward contemporary climate change as a genetic pre-disposition.

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fertile crecent of the Near-East

Some of the earliest examples of this cultural expansion is seen in the Fertile Crescent, stretching from the Nile River valley, across the Sinai to the Rift Valley on the eastern Meddeterranean, across the southern reaches of the Taurus mountains, and down into the Mesopotamian river valleys to the Persian Gulf.

Yet before agriculture, the steppe of central and southern Turkey was home to a coalescing hunter-gatherer culture.

Göbekli Tepe

This is a pre-historic site dating from roughly 12000 years ago, near Sanliurfa, Turkey. These structures come from a pre-pottery society. The pre-Neolithic hill was discovered by Klaus Schmidt in 1994.

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reconstruction of Göbekli Tepe

Rather than an inhabited site, the large and extensive stone work is interpreted as cerimonial. The sanctuary has 23 known circular monuments around dual centre totems. Once completed, the temples in the complex was intentionally buried, with newer smaller obelisc built nearby.

The site is significant as it was built by a hunter-gather culture, at a time where stone tools and timber were the only real available to quarry, move, sculpt and erect steles. One viewpoint is that a more bountiful climate allowed large numbers of people to participate in annual ritual gatherings.

Summer – Autumn festivals must have collected clans from distant locations for annual celebrations, for families and young people to associate, for trade and story telling. Long travel suggests a weeks or months long stay at the sanctuary.

This duration gave opportunity for ritual site building, memorializing their gatherings, their growing culture, and possibly their dead. Having young adults work with older, more experienced people from other families and clans can build strong bonds, language, and continuity.

Rituals then like now, mixed with veneration of the ancients and mysteries, firelight, music, dance and possibly even intoxicants. The magical mood such events create for participants would certainly have a profound impact on young people, and further existing and new cultural codification.

It is now considered that seasonal clan gatherings first built such culturally binding complexes. Only later were more permanent large towns and domestic buildings constructed.

Aşıklı Höyük – Çatalhöyük

There were settlements that later sprung up in this region in general proximity to the temple site. To the west of Göbekli Tepe 600 km two signficant sites were discovered.

Aşıklı Höyük, in central Cappadocia ( 9000 – 7400 BC) , and Çatalhöyük, the larger, later settlement 200 km to the northeast (7500 – 5600 B.C).are some of the earliest known.

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reconstruction of Çatalhöyük

Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic proto-city settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed for nearly 2000 years, and flourished around 7000 BC. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A nearby site is Boncuklu Höyük (Beaded Mount), approximately 10 km to the north, and is considered to date to 9500 BC, before Çatalhöyük.

external resources
Aşıklı Höyük – fe-mitolojisozlugu (Turkish)
Aşıklı Höyük – TAY project
Asikli Hoyuk – Megalithic Portal
Çatalhöyük comes Home – Archaeology International

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TAY settlement timeline

Jericho and the Natufian

Another pre-neolithic site is Jericho, near the western shore of the Jordan River, a setttlement present near the Ein es-Sultan spring. It is said that the Natufian culture, which existed from around 12,500 to 9,500 BC, first created the settlement between approximately 10,000 BCE.

Previously known as Tell es-Sultan, it is considered by some to be the oldest known city. Its habitation and culture were not continuous, but it has yielded many layers of archeological information.

Early bread oven

A great deal of what is known about the history of the cities of Jericho are credited to Kathleen Kenyon , a leading archaeologist of Neolithic culture in the Fertile Crescent.

Ghassulian culture – an image of the Chalcolithic Age

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Jordan River Valley and northern Dead Sea site

A lesser known culture was based out of Teleilat Ghassul, a settlement / site on the eastern bank of the Jordan River just where it enters the Dead Sea. It thrived over a thousand years during the first phase of the Neolithic agricultural revolution.

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Chalcolithic age settlement (4500 – 3200 BCE)

Researchers say the crossroads market town,Teleilat Ghassul lasted most of the Chalcolithic (Copper) Age, (4,500-3,200 BCE). It declined es as the Copper Age shifts into the Bronze Age, and other cultures (Canaanite, Sumerian, and Egyptian) ascended.

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It’s proximity to fresh water, salt and copper ore drew traders. herdsmen, and travellers from distant lands to exchange with and through the Ghassulian culture. Early olive, fruit and nut tree cultivation, as well as animal domestication for wool (fabrics), cheese and eggs were among cultural artifacts. Evidence of perfumes, spices, dyes, resins and wine were also to be found.

Surplus gave rise to trade, and people were quickly attracted to markets with exotics and riches. The key was to have multiple conditions focused, so a variety of goods were available.

“Ghassulian culture has been identified at numerous other places in southern Palestine, especially in the region of Beersheba. The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan materials in Crete.”

Ghassulian culture | Britannica.com

Evidence for food storage and predomestication granaries 11,000 years ago in the Jordan Valley – link is at the site of Bab edh-Dhra, which some link to Sodom

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The delicate and volatile nature of field crops such as grains and vegetables was one of last innovations to make its way into the cultures. Earth quality, pests, water scarcity made this farming risky. Extended agriculture is suggested by irrigation that would have required the work of many to accomplish, attesting to public work projects.

The domestication of water: water management in the ancient world and its prehistoric origins in the Jordan ValleySteven Mithen

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Farming – Tightning of the social noose

Once settlements and towns became permanent, agriculture would become another way by which such places could stockpile supplies and sustain local populations and visitors. Graneries could be more filled in plentiful harvests, and better feed during winter and famine. As a concept, it makes sense, but who would do this work?

Overall, large-scale agriculture may have been the result of reducing food resources caused by climate change and population growth, and perhaps pushed by biblical scale flooding. Yet certainly it originates from orchard tending, and backyard gardening, gradually becoming subsistence farming, and then larger harvests.

Most argue that farming is a far more laborious lifestyle than hunting and gathering. The herd needs water, pasture, milking, protection. Planting and harvests happen at specific times and are sensitive to adversity.

Understanding how and making convenient a crop field isn’t as important, as accepting the volume of work required. Preparing seed stock, planting, protecting it from animal / pest invasion, and harvest would need to be a mutual and work intensive effort. Creating the surplus would require a team and a captain who prioritized and organized activity.

Group effort for monument first, then settlement building open the way for group food cultivation and social ranking. Unlike hunters, or even gatherers where great skill could bring great results and social leadership, and lack of skill excluded others from participating, agricultural work could be done by unskilled members of the society. The social clan esteem of the”food provider” is reduced in agriculture.

In the context of a early castes, farmers provide a basic but non-specialized need. Their contribution to the social complex in early cultures is entry-level, except maybe the organizer of field-hands. So agriculture drew in the unskilled, the young, the old, the semi-feeble, who in hunter-gatherer society would not have had to work.

Farming becomes the stepping stone for a work-based society, where everyone should have a worth, and provide the sacrifice of themselves in favour of their families, clan, and culture and city. It also drove the interest in the organizations to seek out inexpensive workers, or even slaves.

The earliest clear evidence of the domestication of Einkorn dates from 10,600 to 9,900 years before present (8,650 BC to 7,950 BC), from Çayönü ( 7200 to 6600 BC) and Cafer Höyük (8920 BCE) two Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B archaeological sites in southern Turkey. These are approximate 600 km to the West of Çatalhöyük, near the upper Euphrates. These settlements seem to coincide with their pre-agricultural neighbors, but didn’t quite get to be as large. Agriculture was a feature of this time, but not the dominant one.

Agricultural History links
The Oasis Theory and the Origins of AgricultureK. Kris Hirst
The Origins of Farming in South-West Asia
Art of cheese-making is 7,500 years old
The Late Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic Transition at Teleilat GhassulStephen J. Bourke
Chalcolithic Period – The Beginnings of Copper Metallurgy – K. Kris Hirst
Definitive evidence for the full domestication of emmer wheat is not found until the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (10,200 to 9,500 BP), at sites such as Beidha, Tell Ghoraifé, Jericho, Abu Hureyra, Tell Halula, Tell Aswad and Cafer Höyük.
Ancient Jericho: Tell es-Sultan – UNESCO World Heritage Centre
Kathleen Kenyon, (5 January 1906 – 24 August 1978), was a leading archaeologist of Neolithic culture in the Fertile Crescent.

Dolmen

Respect for the dead is a cultural binder that humans have done for up to 100,000 years. Funerary Dolmen, common throughout the Neolithic world also required large scale cooperation in the community, feats that require a common focus among the population, as well as vision and leadership to organize it.

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Flint dolmen in Johfiyeh, Jordan

Ghassoulian Star

The discovery of the Ghassoulian Star painted on an interior wall has led to the thought this was an early cultural binding symbol, possibly even religious. Such an artifact points to the continued role of cultural / religious identification and organization.

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Star of Gassul- reconstructed

That the symbol is idenfied as as star has two significances. First is the association with yearly seasons, and secondly binding the star with our own sun. Together these suggest a calendar marked by points in the year. Knowledge of this flow would be a cultural bind and be expressed in ritual.

Cultural Decline

The development of cultures would also see their decline. Factors contibute to a region becoming less influencial, and cause the abandonment of a city, and decline of a culture, a phenomena seen often in archeology. Not all human developments are progressive.

The decline of the Ghassulian culture came about for one or more of the top three reasons. A changing agricultural / resource climate, diversification in other cultures to locally source the commodities that had once been rare, and warfare. All three reasons speak to cultural obsolescence.

Bronze brought advanced weaponry, warfare and feudal rule, which is always detrimental to a border region without military might.

Written history

Written history is considered to be only 6,000 years old. Sumerian Cuneiform and Egyptian glyph mark the beginning of the Bronze Age around 3500 BCE. Earlier forms of proto-writing are seen in the Vinča symbols and signs written on the Dispilio tablet, both from central and southern Europe from the sixth millenium BCE, as well as the Jiahu symbols from ancient China of seventh millennium BCE.

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Ancient Code

The written use of numbers is much older, possibly 40,000 years old. And what are these earliest writings about? Record-keeping and tallies for gambling, horses, personal services and trade-goods. This recording of daily domestic and trade was the beginning of written language.

Numbers and early math were truly the universal written language. Glyph was attempt to unite multiple verbal languages, but those outside such a common zone would not understand.

Like any two humans who do not share a language, visual cues including body gesture, and stick drawing in the dirt may be used to get one’s message across. Fingers and recorded marks representing numbers are the cornerstone to more precise, negotiated, mercantile exchange, and may have complimented the origins of languages.

When the written word did appear, it was to register laws, transactions, and, only more recently, to capture cultural artifact.

Stories of epic adventures of heroes, their struggle and victory is far more interesting than accounting records, but were recounted by bard song, illustration, drama, music and sculpture at worksites, at meals, together in groups. Written words are a limited artistic expression of dramas, and didn’t find much early expression.

Reading text by one’s self is different than the shared artistic execution of a campfire epic, or sculpture of a common hero in a palace. It took time to develop the tool and the audience.

Bronze – Introducing State Warfare

The transition to the Bronze age saw the rise of warfare and defensive construction, a development that tended to erase cultures that were conquered or defeated, but also left behind more city walls and stone structures. Like the Chalcolithic period, the landscape saw many geographies and cultures develop and decline over the centuries, which is an important feature when reviewing ancient histories. It’s like looking at a building but forgetting that is part of a cityscape.

Starting with the Ebla kingdoms in Syria (3500 – 1600BC), a history of three destructions by invading forces. The ascent of Egypt (3150 BC), Mesopotamia (2900 BC) and the Hittite in Anatolia (1800 – 1100 BC). Strattling the cresent was the Western European civilization known as the Beaker culture grow between 2900 – 1800 BC), while to the East of Mesopotamia was Elam (3200 – 540 BC), an early Persian culture, which linked to cultures further East in the Indian subcontinent.

The early cultures of the copper age began to rub against one another, sometimes creating trade and growth, other times causing warfare and destruction. Competition is an biological imperative, but now humans had cultural and technological tools to pursue this on a scale not yet seen.

The challenges of the hunt are muted by the advent of agriculture. The achievement of a regulated food regime lessened the stories of overcoming life-and-death adversity that came from the hunt. War became one way to put back the group importance lost to the monotany of the farmer, and enhance cultural binds between people.

Feast – the key to civilization

One principle legacy from the Paleolithic stone age was the feast. A successful hunt or harvest would animate the participants. It would envigorate people, and bring them together, to share stories and songs of the day, of the past. Food and drink, and even intoxicants would lubricate such occasions.

High festivals would be organized around specific times, such as the bountiful days of high summer, and draw people from distant places. These assemblies would become significant milestones for participants, as they prepared provisions and gifts. Long travel and infrequent meetings made such gatherings meaningful. Young adults would use the opportunity to be coupled with those outside their clan or village; adults meet up with old friends, children make new connections.

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Modern Wiccan – Wheel of the Year

Commemorative artifact gave permanance to the occasions, and to the site that held them. The attraction of people to one another pulls them together, in families, clans, and regional festivals. Language and cultural values defined the parameters of association. This is the basis upon which humans could begin to develop cities, agriculture and civilizations.

Aroh Wendelin
2017/03

The Urban Transformation of Millenials

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I found clarity in the gen-x rebellion against what for years has been the prevailing culture of excess. Life in North America during the second half of the twentieth century has been an experience in consumption, accumulation and exceleration. The hardships of the second war in Europe in my grandparents’ generation was soon forgotten in a haze of new affluence in my parents cohort.

The appeal of innovation drives forward every field. The quality of life for humans has generally improved, but has led to excess. Increased productivity, technology and population during the baby-boomer years have resulted in a frantic, exponential pace.

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As a kid riding on the coattail of the 60’s / 70’s counter-culture, a change to the rigid formula of post-war measure of North American wealth, suburbia was inevitable. It was thought once boomers began to take over all facets of society, they would curtail the growing excesses of their war-torn parents.

Yet it became clear that the counter-culture ‘revolution’ only partially represented the cohort. Most fulfilled and exceeded the aspirations of their parents, embracing and extending the consumer dream.

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The radical sixties were explained away as simply the rebellion of youth. The boomers ‘sold out’, and bought into the car-centric culture handed to them. Cars drove new tract housing and ring highway projects across the continent, with appointments in distant quadants. Habitual traffic, roadrage, MADD, seatbelt laws, EZPass toll roads, express lanes became part of the cultural landscape.

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North American state and provincial governments offer municipalities property tax as the mechanism to finance themselves. This allows local municipalities to compete to attract higher revenue properties and taxes.

It is usually agricultural land on the urban periphery that goes up in value. Higher property values mean an increase in property tax, although agricultural revenue remains unchanged. Unregulated, municipalities change the composition of their communities. Locals give up farming in proximity to urban areas. Such ‘fallowed’ land are in turn often re-zoned to be suburban residential.

Not having urban planning at a more regional level led to urban centers were left to those who didn’t or couldn’t buy into the model. Career workers moved their family to the suburbs as a sign of achievement. Kids who grew up in such neighbourhoods were frightened by the urban core. They also stayed a part of the suburban donout. Without young affluent families to fill neighborhoods, cities centres declined.

Yet somewhere towards the end of the twentieth century, the push came back. Words like environment, conservation and sustainable made their way back into the discussion. Not in a revolutionary way, as much as a quiet shift back, a trend sometimes referred to as ‘market forces’.

Millenials are considered to be driven by other priorities than their parents and grand-parents. There is less focus on career and wealth, and more on the hyper-sentient experiences and services in the world. Life as adventure.

The internet in our hands phenomena of 2007 has greatly influenced and accelerated all facets. Online shopping, banking, media, gaming and food servives are most noticeable, compared with older first gen computer users who spend more time plugged into social networks, maybe even more time at it.

Downtown restaurants now bustle with young professionals and respected craftmen who’ve been and come from worldwide destinations. Millenial celebrity now includes a good many chefs. They are multicultural, complex, and enjoy it in others. Family life is pushed into their forties. Many don’t have a driver’s license and most don’t have a car. Don’t need one, they order what they need when they need it.

City governments and businesses became savvy at setting up their services to be desireable. The shift to communal resources is finally becoming part of the Zeitgeist.

We are moving to the share-economy..

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Aroh Wendelin

2016/12

Antarctica and beyond

Winter is the training ground for life to move beyond our aquarium into the cosmos.

Boreanaut

Deep winter is a model for astronaut – cosmonaut training.  You suit up with insulated boots, hooded parka, tuque, and thick gloves before hitting the pressure lock and going out-of-doors. Close to the poles, winter days are short, and it is often dark out there.

Thick boots cushion you from the salt and pellet ice pack, fresh snow, and melting slop. Headsets for music and phone calls keep the modern ‘Boreanaut’ plugged in. The cold can be tolerated, but the real test is the wind, which when cold, makes everything difficult.

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Boreas – the North wind

As the last great city on the northern edge of the America’s two giant megalopolis, winter is the harsh reality of living on the edge of the habitable zone.  Geography and meteorological constraints keeps population density from moving further toward the pole.

Regular winter temperatures below -20 C push the tolerance threshold of most people.  If it were any colder, we’d be on the moon is a common expression.

 

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Touch the Sky

The association of latitude and altitude tells me that were I to live at the equator, my biome / habitation zone would be at 3000 – 4000 metres above sea level.  Up in the higher latitudes and altitudes, one is naturally closer to the sky, closer to space, closer to the cold. Aurora at the poles are that eerie quiet, pulsing light that keep your gaze up.

The cold makes metal more brittle, and fine motor skills slower. Any project in winter requires extra preparation and accommodation.  Anything that needs to be done in space must be proven in winter.

It came as no surprise to learn that scientists use Antarctica as a test harness for space sciences.  Yes, you can drive a rover over rocks in climate deserts, but if you want to know how it’ll perform on the moon or Mars, drive it around the -50 degree temperatures of the polar regions.

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Off-World Driving Record (to July 28, 2014)

Northern Space Colonies

We’ve had years of the space stations, and the cosmonauts who have provided decades of science to our understanding.  The model could be taken to other cosmic bodies to be a mining community.

This northern city has winter in a large metropolitan, technically advanced setting.  You can imagine beyond a cosmic mining camp cluster.  Walking downtown streets and tunnels in the blizzard, and looking at the vibrant manmade bustle, it’s possible to see humans are soon ready to build a well-developed off world colony.

The Earth as the cradle of life is a warm drop in the vastness.  Living at its edge, the cold of winter and space challenges us to adapt and adopt. The perimeter of Earth’s bubble is the training ground for life to move beyond our aquarium.

It is here that we search how to further integrate life into the cosmos.  We seek ways by which life becomes a common & changing force beyond Earth, similar to how life has become ingrained into the fabric and chemical forces of Earth.

Extra terrestrial mandate

The biosphere of Earth has invested heavily to create the sentient, curious, able-bodied and extremely adaptable species that is human.  We are burning through the biomass as we advance our capabilities to mold our world.  Now our species is on the cusp of our true mandate; to take life off this planet and establish it elsewhere.  That ability will help us bring this biosphere to balance.

Cover image : Halley VI

Aroh Wendelin
2017-07-12 – last updated –

 

Enter the Hive

City Core

There been some change moving into the core of the hive. This has happened after years spent wondering how to next exemplify my conservationist lean.  The move downtown, to a large multiplex, a single building housing many people was the next step in a years long process.

The windowed living space high above the ground looks out into a sea of buildings, a honeycomb of others.  Inhabitants are based in cells, an aquarium vantage where they sleep and keep their things. We call it the Fishbowl.

The street traffic and building installations create the hum interjected with passing music, loud voices, church bells, sirens and horns.  My car is parked 20 stories under my bed.  I walk commercial arteries to work, and pass tourists and shoppers with evening groceries at the end of the day.  As a destination city for much of the world, immigrants, students and visitors all bring diversity to the crowds.

My city block has over 500 people living in it, hundreds in offices, half a dozen restuarants. The plaza and its subway entrance below is a muster point for office workers, tour guides, protests, parades, lunch yoga and evening skateboarders with video cameras.  Even dogs living in the heights above come down and sniff around the fountains and benches.

Urban Peaks

Walking in a forest of buildings, some over 25 stories is like living in a manmade moutains range.  The buildings in the core are another tier higher than their older cousins, making the 10th to 14th stories a rolling high mountain plateau visible from the new peaks heaved up by recent human tectonics.

climate-change

The valley streets are the river transport for vehicles and are lined with commerce, residents and visitors.  The economic clouds created in these mountains impacts the countryside around it.

The highest peaks and largest complexes have names, the lesser ones do too, if you dig.  In winter, signs warn of avalanches and landslides.   Each mountain building, each street valley block has its own micro-climate, level of bustle, community and history.

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Urban Spelunking

Living in the core makes me a local to some of the hidden features of the landscape.  Many buildings are connected with tunnel mazes, accessible through the underground subway,  while another six lanes of road traffic tunnel below the underground central train station.

picidelly-circus

Piccadilly Circus cut-out

There are some who never leave the underground during the harshest period of Northeast winter.  They can get to work, the grocery, the gym without needing a spacesuit to go outdoors.

How Much Space Do You Need?

My pod dwelling is shiny and new.  White, glass and chrome dominate the space, which is only one-third the size of the house. Building access from the street, or underground parking is restricted to those with access.

Technological advances for media such as with music, movies, games and books mean no longer needing to keep personal libraries, which liberates quite a bit of space. Your provide your own ‘natural’ setting, where indoor plants frame the urban views beyond.

Moving the right things into the tower, and having to let go a number of possessions to be able to fit has taken months.  Like all moves, you realize how little of what you have is really required.

The vertical formula allows more people to be in proximity; the model of small dwellings allows cheaper, smaller units and better communal services.  There is the added challenge to convention which directly defines affluence with space and possession.

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A tiny habitation is still viewed as the unwilling choice of the sick, of the incarcerated, of the poor, of the hordes.  It pulls opposite to the North American lure of the aseptic McMansion, its personal gardens, private pools.  A pod unit does not carry the status of suburban throne and individual fortress.

Cultural Acceptance of Micro-Living

It is here that the millenial generation are making the transition to micro-living in order to be in proximity to urban life.  The cultural barriers to living and being successful in the city are being driven away from squalor to fantastic opportunities.

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from  vincent callebaut

Life in the bedroom community has long been understood by youth to be featureless and restrictive.  That viewpoint derives from those who do not drive or youthful energy that is negatively viewed upon by the watchful community establishment.

Why conform, why drive?  This generation sees the opportunity of urban life.  They understand that an enclosed yard with grass is not a natural setting; a lawn is land green paved and guarded against ‘outsiders’.  It is definitely not a free, outdoor space.

The Entertaining Space of Urban Living

Only the most intimate of circles of friends and family are accomodated at home.  There’s just no room for groups.

In the urban setting, the entertaining space is not the home, but rather the public spaces of the city, restuarants, cafes, parks, online.  Like urban dwellers have always done, they make the public landscape of the city an important part of their daily lives, both spirtually and socially.

A Walk-on in the World

It is with this sense of sharing the city with others where one senses the success of urban living.  Rather than be among a regular group of people in a village or suburban cul-de-sac, the city is a constantly changing kaleidoscope of humanity.

Exposure to diversity and cultures is key to tolerance.  Streets full of all kinds of people are a tactile reminder that I count myself but one among the multitude.

 

Aroh Wendelin
2016/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evolution in non-biologicals

Starting with digital soup and integrated circuitry through to robotics and artificial intelligence, a new type of life emerges.

Artificial Evolution

As a decades long systems analyst, I have seen a lot of code written, some of it used, some of it surpassing expectations, most of it, just conversational, passing like water under the bridge.

We are creating non-biological lifeforms, not so much a species as an entire fauna.  The specific creation/creature does not matter as much as the micro-climate it comes from.  The cultural community that speaks and works within their framework is crucial.  Human thought and attention is the food source of our digital creations.

It’s interesting to note that human generated system lifecycles follow the evolutionary tract.

Digital Soup

Single cell systems serving various tasks were the norm for a long time.  Software was installed like spores placed on digitally enabled media and performed tasks written into its code like genes.

#!/bin/ksh
#This script will return the total disk space in system.
df -t | awk 'BEGIN {tot=0} $2 == "total" {tot=tot+$1} END 
{print (tot*512)/1000000}'

 

There’s no thinking outside the box at this bacterial level.  If you wanted to send a page to be printed on the new printer in the office, you’d have to get out the drivers and install them.

 

next_disk

 

But some of the media were machines capable of properly hosting the software for long periods.  The first time I logged into a machine that had been running for ten years without interruption, I got goosebumps.

xm03

Digital – Geological strata

Functions and features that performed better survived, while others did not and became the decayed non-organic code from which others could better grow.  A digital detritus mesh underpins a thriving lichen software, and ir is now a significant part of landscape.  Versions are layers, and code snippets and designs evolve in rich test beds of older systems, or even independantly, to be more effective models.

layer

The code evolves in the next versions, and integrated code has found its way into many sensory and thought-based systems.  Data capture began to dramatically expand as demand for it grew. Like early photosynthesis produced oxygen and changed the world, computer systems changed the environment around them, new ways of thinking, better methodologies, enhanced scientific breakthroughs.

Business intelligence was born to create useful information from ever increasing data streams.  I always thought a key performance indicator (kpi)  to be an artificial nerve, sensitive to a specific stimulus, and a dashboard a primitive brain.

kpi-dashboard-template-300x275

 

Digital third eye

Next came wide spread, multi-cellular systems with specialized, collaborative, symbiotic skills.  Today individuals create a personal digital entity and use it to communicate with systems, such as work, family, friends, travel plans, banking.  It’s become a little like your shadow.  Without it, others might suspect you not to be real.

infohighway

 

eTickets please

The 21st  century Ark will certainly have a number of integrated digital (re: paired bit) systems / species.  Their place is assumed.

 

Aroh Wendelin
2016/11 (updated 2017-07-12)

Human Migration & the Need for More

The ebb and flow of the human tide

Like the great flood stories themselves, humanity revolves around a cyclical pattern of tranquility and upheaval.  We fluctuate between personal / familial comfort and social / adventure seeking.  Too much of one raises the value of the other.

Many of us grow up in a world with family structure.  Loyalty and fraternity extend to friends, clans and country.  We build into a community.  Families bring up children, and children may in turn have their own family.  This model has a comfort for most.

mesopotamiahavingmeal

Sumerian family life

Sometimes the place is bountiful and easy, while others are harsh and austere.  Finding the symbiosis between humans and their environment is a defining feature in human culture.

Why Leave?

Like in all animal populations, there comes a point when younger, less established individuals move out of their birth community.  It might be a locality is over-burdened and can no longer sustain further growth .  It is often that inter-personal struggle does not offer adequate personal opportunity or integration of the young into established social structures.  Packing up and moving on is in the fabric of our history.

Over the course of 10,000 generations, modern humans have reached nearly every region of the world, and have created existences in all manner of places.

In a simplistic viewpoint, this sounds like a benign growth model.  We know that at its core, growth and progress are struggle.    Even travel means finding food and shelter along the trail, and setting up to live somewhere is usually difficult and consumes a lot of energy and focus with no guarantee of success.

punishment_sisyph
Sisyphys (1548-1549) by Titian

 

Hardly the first

Since our earliest days, it has actually been rare to find some uninhabited corner of the world. Most of the time, when people arrive anywhere, there are already inhabitants.  Such visits by one culture to another vary from tourism to invasion.  The larger the cohort moving from one place to another, the more likely that there is tension and conflict.

invasions_of_the_roman_empire_1

By User:MapMasterOwn work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

 

Getting Crowded

It’s been more than ten thousand years since humans reached the tip of South America, considered to be the last point in the great human migrations out of Africa.  All easily habitable corners of this globe already have their communities.

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In the last century, our population has swelled to over 7 billion.  More of us are learning how to live in larger cities and taller buildings, but we are reaching the limits of our biosphere.  We have to contribute more to our upkeep.   We must understand more of the planet’s complexity, its balance and integration.  One way to do that is to simulate our understanding of the environment needed to sustain us in an environment that does not have those conditions.  Whether underwater or in space,  in deserts or arctic zones, advances in such places are a success to our abilities.

We need to come up with new corners to explore, to settle, to make home.

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Aroh Wendelin
2016/11