Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

NPR reports:

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely. [...]

These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you’re not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.

Even university breeders operate under these rules. When Goldwin creates a new variety of onions, carrots or table beets, a technology-transfer arm of the university licenses it to seed companies.

Full Story: NPR: Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

As the article notes, seed companies also often sell hybrid seeds, which don’t produce identical offspring — think of it as a biological “DRM” system for seeds. It’s sad that “open source” isn’t the norm in agriculture.

April 17, 2014

Mindful Cyborgs Interviews Douglas Rushkoff on Presentism

We’ve used the phrase “Present Shock” to describe what Mindful Cyborgs is about since the beginning. So obviously it was great to talk with Douglas Rushkoff, who coined the term in his book of the same title last year.

During the interview, we talked about presentism, e-cigarettes and the “male period” dictated by the lunar calendar.

Download and Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Present Shock, Corporitism, and Life in the Digital Media Enviroment

April 16, 2014

Sleep is the answer for nearly every ailment

Time reports:

Researchers have known for some time that sleep is critical for weight maintenance and hormone balance. And too little sleep is linked to everything from diabetes to heart disease to depression. Recently, the research on sleep has been overwhelming, with mounting evidence that it plays a role in nearly every aspect of health. Beyond chronic illnesses, a child’s behavioral problems at school could be rooted in mild sleep apnea. And studies have shown children with ADHD are more likely to get insufficient sleep. A recent study published in the journal SLEEP found a link between older men with poor sleep quality and cognitive decline. Another study out this week shows sleep is essential in early childhood for development, learning, and the formation and retention of memories. Dr. Allan Rechtschaffen, a pioneer of sleep research at the University of Chicago, once said, “If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process ever made.”

Full Story: Time: It’s Time to Pay Attention to Sleep, the New Health Frontier

(via Alex Holmes)

April 9, 2014

Mindful Cyborgs: What Would the Web Look Like if We Built It Today?

On the 25th anniversary of the web, Alex Williams and I talked about what the web might look like if we it were built today. Would it be more like an API than a protocol? Would it have a payment system baked in?

Download and Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 28 – Diasporic Destiny for the 21st Century Mind

April 8, 2014

Copra Issue 1 Now Online for Free

COPRA issue 1

The first Michel Fiffe’s beautiful Suicide Squad inspired indie comic Copra is now online for free.

April 3, 2014

Mindful Cyborgs: The Trial of Humanity

This week Alex Williams, Chris Dancy and I talk about the “app backlash,” touchy subjects like marginalization and what Chris calls the coming “Trial of Humanity.”

April 2, 2014

Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes Do Webcomic for the BBC

The Key by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes

The Key is a short, wordless webcomic by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes and published by the BBC.

April 1, 2014

Fundraiser for an Essay on Technology and the Occult

As long-time readers likely know, my own interest in things magical and occult has largely dissipated. But I know many of you are still interested the intersecton between technology and magic, so a project by my friend Damien Williams may well interest you. He’s raising funds to write a lengthy essay called “Techne: The State of the Art”:

I’ll show what happens when magical ideas intersect with modern technology, looking at things like AI, and why “artificial” might have been a poor choice of adjective. I’ll consider questions like, “What is it that drives humanity to create technology in our image?” “How can stories like the Golem, the Homunculus, or the Tulpa,” (and we’ll get to those) “help us in our search to create AI?” and “Might perspectives such as Jungian psychology’s take on alchemy provide us with tools to better engage our world?”

I’ll also examine the use of cutting edge tech in modern magical practices and vice versa. Musicians, roboticists, and authors who weave magical intentions through electronic music, who use magical theory in the programming of their creations and who see in our world, something like the fulfilment of Arthur C. Clarke’s line that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

You can back the project on Inkshares, a crowdfunding site for the written word.

(I missed it, but Technoccult interview alum David Forbes recently raised some money for an essay of his own about the history of far right politics in science fiction that sounds absolutely fascinating)

March 27, 2014

Mindful Cyborgs: This Time Let’s Just Sit Quietly and Breathe

This week Chris Dancy, Alex Williams and I talk about the mindfulness racket, cyborg bank robbers, wearable computing going mainstream and more.

Download and Show Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: This Time Let’s Just Sit Quietly and Breathe

March 27, 2014

In Memory of Steve Moore, Unearething by Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins is Now Online for Free

unearthing-06

Alan Moore’s mentor Steve Moore (no blood relation) passed away this month. In his memory, photographer Mitch Jenkins has posted the entirety of his work on the Unearthing, a biography of Steve written by Moore.

Mitch Jenkins: Unearthing

March 26, 2014