Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Indentifying fake art, update...

Can you spot which one is real and which one is fake?

Apparently you can.

Teaching a computer to spot a bogus Bruegel.

Just a small update from the Playing the Part and F for Fake Orson Welles-ish post, a computer model to identify fakery is being developed (via Geekpress).

Rockmore, a mathematician at Dartmouth College, knew of statistical techniques to detect individual styles in other arts, such as writing. Back in the 1960s, Frederick Mosteller and David Wallace had statistically analyzed a dozen essays from The Federalist Papers whose authorship was disputed. Mosteller and Wallace compared the frequencies with which the essays used non-contextual words such as “by” and “from” and showed that all 12 were far more consistent with the writing style of James Madison than that of Alexander Hamilton or John Jay.

The challenge for Rockmore was to define the “words” that comprise a painting and then to find characteristic regularities in the way a particular artist uses those elements.

To code the complex images that appear on the retina into a simple form in the brain, the human visual system takes advantage of the fact that the natural world is pretty predictable. If one spot we’re viewing is white, for example, the spot next to it is very likely to also be white. So once an image strikes the retina, the brain uses “filters,” neurons that are triggered by particular patterns in a small patch we’re viewing, Graham says. One filter, for example, might detect something like a horizontal white stripe on a black background, while another might detect a vertical white stripe on a black background. Two or more filters might be triggered by a single patch.

The particular filters our brains use are exquisitely tuned to the world around us. The brain seems to have evolved so that it needs only a handful of filters to sense any patch from an image in the natural world. But if we traveled to some world with very different visual characteristics, our brains would have to use many more filters at a time to represent what we would see.


This kind of project really highlights the current mini-theme here of perception, identifying things correctly and incorrectly, and why we like what we like. It's starting to make sense that there are certain key characteristics that define an object one way or another, authenticity vs. forgery, like vs. dislike, real or surrogate. It is also starting to become clearer that these characteristics are often such small modifications from the standard norm that often they're not immediately recognized as key characteristics for identification, at least consciously. And if it is recognized, is it a fair assessment given the bounty of experience you've had in your life?

I think it's pretty fair to say that's on a case by case basis. Anyway, I like this shit, perception needs to give way soon.. just one or two more!...

Basing ideas and concepts on a lack of evidence?

Yeah, and this naturally flows into the idea of forming conclusions based on the perception of certain observed 'key' characteristics. Thanks Matt!

It's usually pretty easy to disprove something; it's obviously a lot harder to prove something. And this is further complicated by change (Heisenberg Principle chiming in?). Is it possible to prove, even rightly conclude anything through observation alone? Quantum Mechanics (and life, really) tells us that things change the second we observe them... And the second we observe them, we change and react. It's the ultimate black box problem, where observation B not only provides only a clue to input A, but moreover changes what input A is.

I know I keep harping on this idea; I'll continue to for at least a little bit. How do you know when something is real? Attacking the problem from many sides... perception, ideas, are obviously quite complex ;)

Everything is connected. This shit is awesome.

Fish May Not Have Evolved Gills to Breathe

Fish May Not Have Evolved Gills to Breathe (via BoingBoing)

In order to keep from shriveling like your fingers in the bathtub, fish must constantly exchange ions, such as sodium and potassium, with the water. Larval fish can exchange ions through their skin, and early fish likely used rudimentary gill structures known as branchial baskets. But when the salinity of the water changes rapidly--as happened when fish invaded freshwater habitats--fish would have needed a much more efficient way of exchanging ions with their environment. That means large, complex gills.


The team placed the rainbow trout larvae in a box with two compartments: one for the head, where gills develop, and one for the tail. Clarice Fu, then a graduate student at the University of British Columbia in Canada, measured ion and oxygen levels at both ends of the larvae. After about 15 days, gills were exchanging more ions than the tail was. It took another 10 days or so for the same thing to happen with oxygen ... Greg Goss, a biologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, says the study has made him much more confident in the hypothesis that gills evolved to exchange ions. But he'd still like to know which genes turn on first--those involved in oxygen exchange or those involved in ion exchange.


This kinda makes sense and explains a few things to me.

First, you need to ask the right questions to get the right answers. To ask the right questions you need to know A LOT. I know, pretty vague, but let me dive in here a bit. Things are very rarely as simple as they appear. The process of natural selection has been taking place over millions of years within the context of millions of variables.

Now, I'm not going to tell you anything you haven't heard before, but the process of folding to increase surface area for absorption is really something special. This growth through 'branching' and folding (I'm not even going to start on the fibonacci sequence here yet.. ) is something quite special. Who could forget villi?

Both villi and gills are a great and efficient way to expand with minimal resource investment. Form often equals function... or at least originally? Things end up doing multiple things.

Leading from that, (Second,) it seems that these scientists are basing their 'what came first (evolutionary)' hypothesis on 'what comes first'. As in, since the process of ionization happens first in development, gene expression, and function, it therefore must have been the basis for the actual form of the resulting product. Is this right? It makes sense, but doesn't necessarily account for the whole story.

Anyway, this is all rather trivial in a sense.. but, I'm happy reinforcing those two ideas. I mean, some things take a long motherfucking time, tonnes of shit fails, and tonnes of shit, because it initially succeeds, grows and adapts into something more.