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SkyKnit: How an AI Took Over an Adult Knitting Community

SkyKnit

Janelle Shane is a humorist who creates and mines her material from neural networks, the form of machine learning that has come to dominate the field of artificial intelligence over the last half-decade. Perhaps you’ve seen the candy-heart slogans she generated for Valentine’s Day: DEAR ME, MY MY, LOVE BOT, CUTE KISS, MY BEAR, and LOVE BUN. Or her new paint-color names: Parp Green, Shy Bather, Farty Red, and Bull Cream. Or her neural-net-generated Halloween costumes: Punk Tree, Disco Monster, Spartan Gandalf, Starfleet Shark, and A Masked Box.

Her latest project, still ongoing, pushes the joke into a new, physical realm. Prodded by a knitter on the knitting forum Ravelry, Shane trained a type of neural network on a series of over 500 sets of knitting instructions. Then, she generated new instructions, which members of the Ravelry community have actually attempted to knit.

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How to Make a Bulletproof T-Shirt

bulletproof t-shirt

An international team of scientists from Switzerland, China, and the United States have moved one step closer towards the goal of a bulletproof T-shirt by combining cotton with boron carbide—the third hardest material known on earth and the stuff used to armor battle tanks.

Boron carbide—the third hardest material on earth—has been built into the fabric of cotton T-shirts, dramatically increasing its toughness. The process is a novel way to make nanocomposites that are both strong and flexible, and is a step towards creating effective new materials for body armour.

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How the Spacesuit Was Designed?

Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

Nicholas de Monchaux is an architect, historian, and educator based in Berkeley, California. His work spans a huge range of topics and scales, as his new and utterly fascinating book, Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo, makes clear.

From the fashionable worlds of Christian Dior and Playtex to the military-industrial complex working overtime on efforts to create a protective suit for U.S. exploration of the moon, and from early computerized analyses of urban management to an “android” history of the French court, all by way of long chapters on the experimental high-flyers and military theorists who collaborated to push human beings further and further above the weather—and eventually off the planet itself—de Monchaux’s book shows the often shocking juxtapositions that give such rich texture and detail to the invention of the spacesuit: pressurized clothing for human survival in space.

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Artificial Intelligence Envisions Predictive Fashion in Future

artificial intelligence predictive fashion

Artificial intelligence might just spawn a whole new style trend: call it “predictive fashion.” In a paper published on the ArXiv, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Adobe have outlined a way for AI to not only learn a person’s style but create computer-generated images of items that match that style. The system could let retailers create personalized pieces of clothing, or could even be used to help predict broader fashion trends.

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How Textiles Repeatedly Revolutionised Human Technology

textiles thread

In February 1939, Vogue ran a major feature on the fashions of the future. Inspired by the soon-to-open New York World’s Fair, the magazine asked nine industrial designers to imagine what the people of ‘a far Tomorrow’ might wear and why. (The editors deemed fashion designers too of-the-moment for such speculations.) A mock‑up of each outfit was manufactured and photographed for a lavish nine-page colour spread.

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Fashion Has a Pollution Problem—Can Biology Fix It?

Fashion has a pollution problem

You’re watching the life cycle of a Streptomyces coelicolor. It’s a strain of bacteria that’s found in the soil where it lives in a community with other organisms, decomposing organic matter. Coelicolor is a beautiful organism.

A powerhouse for synthesizing organic chemical compounds. It produces an antibiotic called actinorhodin, which ranges in color from blue to pink and purple, depending on the acidity of its environment. That it produces these pigment molecules sparked my curiosity and led me to collaborate closely with coelicolor. It is an unlikely partnership, but it’s one that completely transformed my practice as a materials designer.

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How Algorithms are Transforming Artistic Creativity?

art by algorithm

When IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer defeated the world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, humanity let out a collective sigh, recognising the loss of an essential human territory to the onslaught of thinking machines. Chess, that inscrutably challenging game, with more possible game states than there are atoms in the Universe, was no longer a canvas for individual human achievement. Newsweek called it ‘The Brain’s Last Stand’.

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