EEG Body Chip

A digital chip - an epidermal electronic system (EES) is in development which would be able to carry low resolution bio-chemical information in an artificial unit much smaller than current EEG or EMG equipment. The materials are the same as other bio sensors but ananoribbons allow it to sit on a 30 μm elastic polyester sheet, it's thickness makes it flexible and it only weighs 0.009g.

It uses a glue similar to the one in temporary tattoos and has been successfully programmed to pick up electronic signals on the forehead, chest and arms. Powering it is a problem and researchers are looking at battery technology and induction to run the unit. It currently uses a solar cell but the power is far too limited for the chip to provide in-depth information on it's own.

The device is only able to be worn temporarily as the body's natural chemical excretions begin to erode the fragile construction after 24 hours.


Recent Images

Richard Mosse's infrared photography.

Image from the Human Connectome Project

Frozen Assets by Diego Rivera

A Future History of Financial Rule

I just spent 19 hours composing a timeline of the history and future of power and money. Click on it for the full res version. Be warned, it is very full res.

The Deregulated City-State

The Deregulated City

The Deregulated City-State

I've been working on constructing a world and timeline based on the relationship between government and markets, using historical reference of Church and state to try and imagine a future world of financially-centered city-states. What if the financial services, which comprise almost or just over half of the economies of most of the western world, become the dominant political force on the planet? How long before an obsession with the acquisition of futures, derivatives and options trumps the current desire to acquire equity and capital assets? The shadow banking system, the unregulated, borderless beast that amounts to over 70 times the world's GDP might become the new framework around which business and government operates.

Oil Rig Server Farm

Found it!

Sometime ago I was desperate to find a project I saw sometime ago that I loved. Finally managed to find it again; The Second Second city.

This project contends with the competing and overlaid desires for the site of the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago by creating a new tourist destination and scenario-planning infrastructure from the existing architecture. On the roof, a 1:25 miniature replica of Chicago is constructed. A clear mound protects the model, provides space for artificial weather equipment and creates unexpected visual connections between both Chicagos. Within the mound, the model acts as a simulator for various future scenarios. Consequences of global warming, new construction, earthquakes, fires, asteroid impacts, tornados, blizzards etc. are tested repeatedly while appropriate action plans are calculated. On the exterior, the mound presents a new urban landmark along Lake Shore Drive, provides space for new lake shore activities, and redirects views through and around the existing building.

The desire and plan to secure the waterfront for public access and parkland is directly attributable to Daniel Burnham and the 1909 Chicago Plan. At the time, nature and the city were conceived as separate, complementary entities. The opportunity to get away from the city and into nature was believed to cleanse the spirit and the attempts to “aerate” the urban fabric were to let it “breath.” Nature injections within the vast artificial construction were thought to cure urban ills. This proposal updates this urban operation manual with a new unnatural natural landmark. A 1/25th scale snowglobe enhancement surgery for the city.

The story of the project is primarily told through the visitor information documents. These include maps, promotional material and merchandise catalogs. It is a National Geographic exploration of an urban nature, archeology and anthropology.


Recent Images

Japan's Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector, uses water to slow down light, where the comparative speed of a neutrino is faster raising the chances of a neutrino collision to 1 to 0.000000000000000472

Photographs of cologne cathedral in 1947 by Karl Hugo Schmolz

Neurological Narrative App

Narrative App

Technology is already in development to allow a user to take their own EEG scans on their mobile devices. What if an app was developed that could allow interactive narratives for children to be written in response to a child's brain activity?

The parent might be able to set targets for the type of brain developments that they wish their child to undergo and the program would construct narratives taking the child's responses, the parent's targets and a database of neurological understanding?

Narrative App

Is this too much control over what is an ancient and natural process of a child's understanding of the world developing through their interactions with fictions in play and stories? If the results and activity could be uploaded and compared with other data, would the competitive edge of parenting over take the desire to allow a child's own self-discovery? What is the value of and who is the author in such a context?

Sub-dermal Surveillance

In Ghost In The Shell; Stand Alone Complex 1, police investigators are bugged with 'Interceptors.' These devices are fitted inside the eye and monitor whatever the subject sees. The implants are installed covertly into the police because the cyberisation of most citizens gives someone with the motivation the ability to 'hack' an individual, forcing them into unconsciousness and then re-writing their memory of what happened.

Film-maker Rob Spence, who lost his eye in an accident had a camera installed into his right eye so he could record what he saw in front of him. What interests me here isn't the technology, but the motivations and opportunities of the installers. With the Ghost in The Shell scenario the means of technology are there for the devices to be installed covertly and the justification, ie. the level of confidence brought through power by the perpetrators. A modern equivalent might be hard to make work, particularly with the regrettable lack of ability to replace someone's memories (that we, paradoxically, know of) and so a level of coercion would be required to install any sort of cybernetic prosthesis in the body, as the chemical chips I'm proposing would.

The second scenario takes a willing patient to want their body to be altered by technology. While there is no shortage of people with Robocop-esque dream abound on the Internet, the number in positions of real power and responsibility where an impact might be felt who would volunteer would probably be rare. The point is to track the chemicals of the minds of people who have the power to change things, much like Gattaca, these companies might well have strict policies on the body modifications of an individual a la piercings and grunge haircuts now and so it would attract people naturally ... natural.

Would they then volunteer to have their brains chipped in return for incentives? Or would there be a coercive way of introducing them?

The Background

In October 1929, the banking system represented over $50 billion of US GDP, over half the nation's total economy at the time.

On October 24th 1929, years of mass-speculation on the un-redeemable loans of banks to the American public caused the Wall Street Crash, plunging the US into the Great Depression. In the following years, unemployment shot up 600% to 13 million, world trade collapsed, GDP fell 30%, the stock market lost 90% of it's value and over 60% of the US populace was classified 'poor' as 2 million were made homeless.

In 1933, the Securities Exchange Commission was set up to monitor and regulate future investment banking activities and the Glass-Steagal Act put in place measures to forbid mergers of investment and savings banks so as to ensure that banks could not speculate on the savings and debts of customers.


In late 1971, President Richard Nixon begins to dismantle the regulatory rules put in place in the 1930s beginning first with the transport markets. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, under the economic teachings of Milton Freidman continue this tradition and throughout the 1970s and 80s the power and wealth of investment banks soars. In November 1999, Bill Clinton introduces the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, repealing the protection of debt that the Glass-Steagal Act ensured. Banks begin to introduce securitization - mortgage and loans banks sell their customers' debts to investment banks and the investment banks sell them to investors as Collateralized Debt Obligations. This provides protection for loan banks against their customers defaulting and thus begins a culture of risky 'sub-prime' loans and 'predatory lending.'

In March 2000, the dot-come bubble bursts and the investment banks fall back on personal debt and housing infrastructure for re-investment. At the same time, the US Federal Reserve pushes down interest and raises leverage rates to counter a recession, encouraging further risky loans and allowing banks to speculate on progressively higher levels of debt.

On August 24th 2000, Emulex, a Californian high-technology company, issues a press release stating that it was revising its profits downward and that its CEO was stepping down. The next day, when the New York Stock Exchange opened at 0930, no-one is able to reach the company's headquarters in California to confirm or assuage the rumours due to the time difference. By the time the Emulex office opens 3 hours later, Emulex's stock has tumbled 62% on the NYSE. On August 31st, Mark Jakob is arrested as the source of the story, having profited over $250,000 by short-selling his Emulex stock, a scheme now dubbed 'short and distort.'

Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, very few warn of an impeding disaster being brought on by the CDOs and the insurance being taken out on them while economists and bankers such as Alan Greenspan and Henry Paulson push publicly and internationally for further deregulation of the banks.


By March 2008, the investment bank, Bear Stearns, has $11.1bn equity propping up $395bn in assets - a leverage of 35.5:1 - a loss of only 2.8% of it's assets would result in total equity loss and bankruptcy. On the 10th March, rumours of a '30-35% that Bears Stearns would collapse' begin circulating and Bear Stearns offers a press statement, against advice from its press office that... 'There is absolutely no truth to the rumors of liquidity problems that circulated today in the market...' perhaps further fueling them. By 16th March the rumours have driven down the value of Bear Stearns to just $6bn and a takeover at $2 per share, where just two days earlier shares were priced at $172 each was enacted by JP Morgan Chase. Senator Dodd leads a popular feeling of conspiracy to drive down prices and forcibly collapse Bear Stearns: 'This goes beyond rumors, this is about collusion.'

In April 2008 Sally DeWar an executive director of the the Financial Services Authority, the UK's banking regulator, sets up an investigation into rumours at the London Stock Exchange and their ties to short selling of stock. Ireland and Iceland set up similar investigations shortly thereafter. Short-selling through false rumour begins to gain attention as a market force with the Securities Exchange Commission announcing almost daily investigations into short-sellers who they suspect of using rumour to fuel diving share prices.
The commission said Paul S. Berliner, a trader for the New York trading firm Schottenfeld Group, used instant messages to spread rumors that the Blackstone Group was considering lowering its price for Alliance Data Systems, which it had agreed to acquire for about $6.4 billion last year.

“Hearing the board is now meeting on a revised proposal,” Mr. Berliner wrote shortly after 1 p.m. on Nov. 29. “Blackstone is negotiating a lower price.”

Mr. Berliner then began selling short 10,000 shares of Alliance Data, the S.E.C. said. As the stock fell, he turned a profit of $25,000 within 10 minutes on his short positions.
On 14th September 2008, the Lehman Brothers investment bank files for bankruptcy after seeing its stock price tumble as rumours of the quality of its sub-prime holdings circulated. The insurance company AIG, who held the insurance on these sub-prime CDOs and the ones of other banks followed on 16th September. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson fails to see the international repurcussions of allowing these two financial institutions to fail and the 'Financial Crisis' begins.

Currently the US financial services sector stands at $10.1tn against the US' total economy of $14tn and outstanding over the counter derivative debt sits at a notional $684tn. This debt sits within the Shadow Banking System, being only tradeable by financial institutions that do not take deposits and is unregulated. Risk is shouldered by the parties involved and could at any time be victim to rumour or false narrative.

Since the 2008 crisis, executive members of the Securities Exchange Commission, the worlds most powerful financial regulatory body, have been under investigation for accepting bribes, destroying documents pertaining to a criminal case, unlawful dismissal of employees, and failing to act on over half of the recommendations given to them by the Project on Government Oversight. It's not hard to speculate that any form of governmental control over the banks is now ineffective.

Despite the Great Depression and the current Credit Crisis, the gambling power of the investment banks makes them the world's most powerful institutions and current policies of continued deregulation are still lobbied for and retain wholesome support in first world governments. Insititutions with financial power larger than first world nations and no form of regulation take progressively riskier gambles on the world's economy but leave themselves open to corruption by rumour and false narrative.

Recent Images

Image from the paper "The network of global corporate control" by complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich 'analyzing the ownership connections between 43,000 transnational corporations and seeing where the bulk of network control coalesces.' The results show that a "core" of 1,318 companies representing 20% of the global economy collectively own (through stock shares) an additional 60% of global revenues. Within that core is a "super-entity" of 147 companies - mostly financial institutions, depicted as red dots - that control 40% of the total revenue in the network. (via)

Computer reconstruction of images seen by subjects under fMRI from Gallant Labs

The Upjohn Brain

An Ames room

How the Ames room works

Drugs and Human Behaviour

The Singularity is Near

Not a pretty website, but one equipped with enough graphs and articles to provide substantial evidence of an irreversible, deterministic decline (or incline) into a singularity - Ray Kurzweil's idea (but one heavily supported) that technology and science is reaching an event horizon of speed, brevity and usability beyond which we cannot see. Will it mean the apocalypse? An ascension beyond the realms of the physical? A second evolutionary cornerstone where we allow our technologies to evolve us? The emergence of a controlling AI? The release of iPhone 5?

Find out in 2045

Recent Photos

new watch

More, as ever, at flickr.

Chemical Sniffing App

A year or so ago, some guys at NASA developed a chemical sensor that would go in yer iPhone and be able to pick up airborne chemical make up. As usual the reasoning put forward were to do with chemical attacks, so that if there was such a thing to happen, the data from cellphones in the area could be used to determine where exactly the chemical was spreading and how fast.

I can't imagine iPhone buyers ticking the box in the Apple Store that puts themselves down as a willing sacrifice to the Anthrax Apocalypse in return for a reduction on their monthly tariff, but it shows proof of concept of the miniturisation of the technology that would enable us to make the technology mobile.

A Game of Two Halves

Iain McGilchrist laying down some truth about neuroscientists' understanding of our divided brain with some very Crumb-esque but sadly uncredited illustrations.

Recent Images

An MRI of a dying brain.

Rows of portable stereos populate a music library room at the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang, North Korea. (David Guttenfelder/Associated Press)

Infographic: Tracing the Evolution of the Fridge & Stove

Archives Reveal Construction of a “Second Paris” to Fool WWI Bombers

Gemasolar solar power plant, near Seville in Spain.

Brain Scanners (of Fact and Fiction)

Hitachi's marketable EEG brain scanner which was promoted in the context of family based game playing from a few years back.

Developed by KDDI's R&D labs, this prototype mind-monitoring, sensor-laden headband connects wirelessly to your Android device to let you know just how stressed out you are. All it takes is a simple 30-second game of "mash mash mash the little green robot" (amongst others) to translate your focused and relaxed states into an easily readable brain pattern chart.

A brain scanner that uses a portable EEG headset to read your thought patters directly onto your headset. This won't actually detect neurochemical changes but will monitor electrical activity as per a standard EEG scanner.

Electroencephalography (EEG) is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp. EEG measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain.[2] In clinical contexts, EEG refers to the recording of the brain's spontaneous electrical activity over a short period of time, usually 20–40 minutes, as recorded from multiple electrodes placed on the scalp.

The brain's electrical charge is maintained by billions of neurons. Neurons are electrically charged (or "polarized") by membrane transport proteins that pump ions across their membranes. Neurons are constantly exchanging ions with the extracellular milieu, for example to maintain resting potential and to propagate action potentials. Ions of like charge repel each other, and when many ions are pushed out of many neurons at the same time, they can push their neighbours, who push their neighbours, and so on, in a wave. This process is known as volume conduction. When the wave of ions reaches the electrodes on the scalp, they can push or pull electrons on the metal on the electrodes. Since metal conducts the push and pull of electrons easily, the difference in push or voltage between any two electrodes can be measured by a voltmeter. Recording these voltages over time gives us the EEG.

EEG is a lot more mobile and less dangerous than MRI scanning which typically involve large, bulky and expensive equipment that involves a lot more preparation and expertise as well as radioactive materials that can be potentially dangerous with over-exposure. An EEG lends itself to more mobile an inexperienced use as evidence by the variety of 'home kits' available or use with smartphone software. However, it has it's own drawbacks such as poor resolution, an inability to map the deeper reaches of the brain with any real detail and, as mentioned earlier, no way of detecting the actual chemistry of the brain.

A, similar, and typically sleeker iOS version - Neurosky.

This is seemingly aimed at game players as per the Which? review and the headphones embedded on the latest version and previewed at the Tokyo Game Show this year. It also features sinister children dressed up as Jedis in an advert far too reminiscent of some dystopian future.

The Animus from the Assassin's Creed video game series relies on the conscious awareness of it's user to engage with the technology, it cannot be used in a surveillance context.

A later version of the Animus, reconstructed from the same technology but more minimistically.

The Aurora Chair from the Farscape tv series/ Again, it requires a submissive user and posses similar tropes and styles of a torture device.

The PASIV 'Dream Machine' from Inception. It's a lot more mobile than other models as well as more subversive and militaristic in its aesthetic. It appears to be almost home-made giving it a prototype-esque sense of value in its construction as well as making it more like a genuine invention in its more ragtag design. This seems to be more realistic than more developed models like the Animus etc. which would imply an established culture of mind reading in order for it to have got to such an advanced and slick stage without anything stopping it. A full guidebook is available here.

The device from Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind retains some of the prototype aesthetic of the PASIV but again requires user submission.