Saturday art blogging: making art with the help of AI

by Eszter Hargittai on December 8, 2018

Remember those days when you would discover a Web site and completely lose track of time as you got sucked into its amazingness? I hope you have some time, because I am about to point you to such a site.

The video below is purely for the purposes of showcasing multiple images at once not because I think such a video is particularly interesting in and of itself. The generated individual images are. My hope with the video is for you to get a sense of what’s possible with the Deep Dream Generator. You upload an image and then select one of their available styles or upload another image to serve as the basis of the style that will be applied to your main image. Needless to say, the possibilities are endless.

I show you the styles I used below the fold and give you some additional rendered examples from other base images. [click to continue…]

A small piece of good news for the global climate

by John Quiggin on December 8, 2018

The market price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is plummeting, having dropped by 10 per cent over the last couple of days, and 50 per cent over the past month. The bubble that reached maximum expansion a year ago is gradually deflating.

The good news is that a lower Bitcoin price makes the energy-wasting process of Bitcoin mining unprofitable for many, so lots of miners are turning off their servers. Most estimates of the marginal cost of mining are around $4500 per coin, but the market price has just fallen to $3500.

That situation won’t last long. Every couple of weeks (more precisely, every 2016 blocks) Bitcoin adjusts the difficulty of the pointless algorithm used to mine coins, so as to ensure a steady flow of around one every 10 minutes. As mining effort has declined, the difficulty is reduced, which means less electricity wasted per Bitcoin.

The rapidity with which Bitcoin prices are falling give some hope that the entire disastrous episode will soon be over. If the current rate of decline (50 per cent per month) is maintained, Bitcoins will be worth less than dollar coins in a year’s time, and their impact on electricity demand will be negligible. That’s equivalent to taking a small country like New Zealand off-grid.

In this context, it doesn’t matter whether Bitcoin miners are using renewable energy or coal. The opportunity cost of the electricity they use is the coal-fired electricity that would otherwise be displaced by renewables.