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February 05 2014

Refaire la ville, changer le peuple

L'urbanisme occidental ne serait-il aujourd'hui qu'un champ de ruines ? C'est ce qu'affirme Bruce Bégout , qui a consacré naguère un essai frappant à Las Vegas . Ressuscitant Guy Debord et les situationnistes, le philosophe lance une charge érudite contre l'urbanisme moderne héritier de Le (...) / France, Écologie, Idées, Inégalités, Mutation, Urbanisme, Ville, Environnement, Architecture - 2014/02

December 11 2013

Four short links: 11 December 2013

  1. Meet Jack, or What The Government Could Do With All That Location Data (ACLU) — sham slidedeck which helps laypeople see how our data exhaust can be used against us to keep us safe.
  2. PirateBay Moves Domains — different ccTLDs have different policies and operate in different jurisdictions, because ICANN gives them broad discretion to operate the country code domains. However, post-Snowden, governments are turning on the US’s stewardship of critical Internet bodies, so look for governments (i.e., law enforcement) to be meddling a lot more in DNS, IP addresses, routing, and other things which thus far have been (to good effect) fairly neutrally managed.
  3. 3D Printed Room (PopSci) — printed from sand, 11 tons, fully structural, full of the boggle. (via John Hagel)
  4. Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising — awesome tumblr, great post. (via Keith Bolland)

November 12 2013

Four short links: 13 November 2013

  1. ISS Enjoys Malware — Kaspersky reveals ISS had XP malware infestation before they shifted to Linux. The Gravity movie would have had more registry editing sessions if the producers had cared about FACTUAL ACCURACY.
  2. Big Data Approach to Computational Creativity (Arxiv) — although the “results” are a little weak (methodology for assessing creativity not described, and this sadly subjective line “professional chefs at various hotels, restaurants, and culinary schools have indicated that the system helps them explore new vistas in food”), the process and mechanism are fantastic. Bayesian surprise, crowdsourced tagged recipes, dictionaries of volatile compounds, and more. (via MIT Technology Review)
  3. Go at 4 — recapping four years of Go language growth.
  4. Las Vegas Street Lights to Record Conversations (Daily Mail) — The wireless, LED lighting, computer-operated lights are not only capable of illuminating streets, they can also play music, interact with pedestrians and are equipped with video screens, which can display police alerts, weather alerts and traffic information. The high tech lights can also stream live video of activity in the surrounding area. Technology vendor is Intellistreets. LV says, Right now our intention is not to have any cameras or recording devices. Love that “right now”. Can’t wait for malware to infest it.

September 29 2013

Four short links: 1 October 2013

  1. Farmbot Wikiopen-source, scalable, automated precision farming machines.
  2. Amazon’s Chaotic Storage — photos from inside an Amazon warehouse. At the heart of the operation is a sophisticated database that tracks and monitors every single product that enters/leaves the warehouse and keeps a tally on every single shelf space and whether it’s empty or contains a product. Software-optimised spaces, for habitation by augmented humans.
  3. Public Safety Codes of the World — Kickstarter project to fund the release of public safety codes.
  4. #xoxo Thoreau Talk (Maciej Ceglowski) — exquisitely good talk by the Pinboard creator, on success, simplicity, and focus.

September 22 2013

Allemagne | UTOPIES POLITIQUES en MAQUETTES HO ...

Allemagne | UTOPIES POLITIQUES en MAQUETTES HO ...
http://www.scoop.it/t/artpol/p/4008027416/allemagne-utopies-politiques-en-maquettes-ho?hash=7344256a-163e-4786-8002-7455

"Urbanisme, Architecture et monde politique.

"En 2009, année des élections législatives, le musée Miniatur Wonderland à Hambourg, exposant le plus grand réseau de train miniature au monde, avait invité les six grands partis politiques de l’Allemagne à conceptualiser leur programme politique par une maquette miniature de 1m2 ;

En 2013, Miniatur Wonderland a renouvelé cette expérience, et selon les directives précises de leurs représentants, et en travaillant en étroite collaboration, les maquettistes ont concrétisé, modélisé à l’échelle HO, toujours sur 1 m2, leurs visions utopiques d’un futur souhaitable pour une Allemagne parfaite. Frederick Braun, co-fondateur de Miniatur Wonderland justifie ainsi cette expérience peu commune : “ En ces temps d’apathie politique, je voulais que nos visiteurs aient un aperçu divertissant et complètement différent des programmes électoraux des partis politiques." Les modèles sont exposés en ce moment même, jusqu’au 22 septembre, et les visiteurs ont la possibilité de voter. (...)"

#art #politique #avenir #environnement #écologie #smallisbeautiful #maquette #urbanisme #architecture #utopie #société #Artpol #vangauguin

September 14 2013

pinakothek.de - Calendar Pinakothek der Moderne

pinakothek.de - Calendar Pinakothek der Moderne

http://www.pinakothek.de/en/kalender/2013-09-14/35757/afritecture-building-social-change

FRITECTURE - Building Social Change

Building Social Change

14.09.2013 - 12.01.2014
Pinakothek der Moderne

Architekturmuseum der TU München

http://www.pinakothek.de/sites/default/files/imagecache/thumb_linke_spalte/gemaelde/original/ci_5_floating_school_nle_9101_0.jpg

Contemporary architectural practice in Africa is witness to many new and innovative approaches in the area of socially committed building:
schools, nursery schools, marketplaces, hospitals, cultural centers, sports facilities and assembly halls. It is these public buildings and commonly used spaces in particular where signs of new utility and architectural concepts are made manifest. In many cases, future users are directly involved in the design and building processes. In addition to the use of the latest technology many of the construction projects are being developed with local materials and resume dormant building traditions.

#architecture #art #afrique

September 13 2013

Self Made Urbanism Rome

Self Made Urbanism Rome

http://www.smur.eu/exhibition/abstract

S.M.U.R.- Abstract

http://www.smur.eu/site/assets/files/1/logo.jpg

Rome’s unplanned growth and its diverse forms of informality are an expression of the city’s particular nature and self-willed approach to urbanism. Around a third of the built surfaces in Italy’s capital city were informally occupied by and with its future residents, and constructed without building permission or links to
the urban infrastructure. This phenomenon has a long history and very diverse forms, from self-built provisional accommodation and ethnic Roma settlements to major speculative ventures. The complex history and character of an urban landscape unstructured by any master plan is exemplary of the development of major cities in the early 21st century.

In Italy, the lived practice of self-organisation is also crucially important in current debates and arguments over the beni comuni, public property. After many years of seeing the ‘commons’ misused, public property also needs to be protected against state action as well as private interventions. This, in turn, requires the development of sustainable models of self-organisation. The numerous cultural
locations squatted over the recent years, such as the Teatro Valle Occupato or Cinema America in Rome, testify to the breadth of the movement that desires change. Self Made Urbanism Rome offers a historical framework for a range of experiences of the self-organised city – and not only individual buildings – and, in doing so, also presents new approaches to the future organisation of the public domain and common goods.

#art #urbanisme #architecture

September 12 2013

September 03 2013

Un petit coup de promotion pour la boite verte qui n'en a pas besoin, mais moi j'aime beaucoup…

Un petit coup de promotion pour la boite verte qui n’en a pas besoin, mais moi j’aime beaucoup cette initiative très rafraichissante, qui mêle rêve et réalité, qui sème ce qu’il faut de confusion pour inciter notre imagination à imaginer encore plus.

A consumer sans restriction. Quelques exemples

Carte mondiale de la couleur des boites à lettres - La boite verte
http://www.laboiteverte.fr/carte-mondiale-de-la-couleur-des-boites-a-lettres

http://www.laboiteverte.fr/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/carte-couleur-boite-lettre-poste.png

Les mini-immeubles d’Evol - La boite verte
http://www.laboiteverte.fr/les-mini-immeubles-devol

http://www.laboiteverte.fr/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/evol-mini-immeuble-01.jpg

Architectures recomposés - La boite verte
http://www.laboiteverte.fr/architectures-recomposes

http://www.laboiteverte.fr/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Filip-Dujardin11.jpg

Des paysages recomposés - La boite verte
http://www.laboiteverte.fr/des-paysages-recomposes

http://www.laboiteverte.fr/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/paysage-recompose-05.jpg

En 1900, des cartes postales imaginent l’an 2000 - La boite verte
http://www.laboiteverte.fr/en-1900-des-cartes-postales-imaginent-lan-2000

http://www.laboiteverte.fr/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/carte-postale-2000-futur-06.jpg

L’an 2000 imaginé en 1910 - La boite verte
http://www.laboiteverte.fr/lan-2000-imagine-en-1910

http://www.laboiteverte.fr/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/anticipation-retrofutur-1910-imagination-2000-19.jpg

Des immeubles isolés -
http://www.laboiteverte.fr/immeubles-isoles

http://www.laboiteverte.fr/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/immeuble-isole-04-720x489.jpg

#photographie #cartographie #art #architecture #représentation #visualisation #imaginaire

August 14 2013

Beijing - la ville où les riches sont obligés de squatter les toits des immeubles Très beau…

Beijing - la ville où les riches sont obligés de squatter les toits des immeubles
Très beau diaporama.

Felsenvilla : Chinese muss Penthouse auf Wolkenkratzer abreißen - Nachrichten Panorama - Kurioses - DIE WELT
http://www.welt.de/vermischtes/kurioses/article118973543/Chinese-muss-Penthouse-auf-Wolkenkratzer-abreissen.html
http://www.welt.de/img/vermischtes/origs118949019/834972557-w900-h600/China-illegal-construction-of-villa-on-rooftop-of-residential-bui-2-.jpg

In Peking hat ein Mann auf dem Dach eines 26-stöckigen Hochhauses unter künstlichen Felsen seine Wohnung zur Villa ausgebaut. Nun muss er sie wieder abreißen. Er ist kein Einzelfall.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/Sham_Shui_Po_rooftops.JPG
J’avoue que le cas de l’entrepreneur et professeur de médecine traditionelle chinoise obligé de démolir son jardin de pierre n’a pas grand chose à faire avec celui des bidonvilles d’immigrés sur les toits des tours d’immeubles à Hong Kong dans les années 1990. Cette histoire est pourtant intéressante car elle montre jusqu’où la folle spéculation immobilière risque de nous pousser.

#logement #chine #urbanisme #architecture

August 06 2013

« Dessine-moi ma maison ! » Architectures & Albums | Les territoires de l'album

« Dessine-moi ma maison ! » Architectures & Albums | Les territoires de l’album
http://lta.hypotheses.org/497

[…] il me semble que les livres pour enfants font partie des plus puissantes influences sur la formation des vies et des goûts des enfants. Dans ce sens, ces livres sont des moyens importants pour construire un monde meilleur, l’avenir se trouve dans une certaine mesure dans les mains des enfants d’aujourd’hui. Demain leurs idées et leurs goûts seront ceux qui compteront. Les livres créés d’abord pour le loisir peuvent agir davantage dans la formation de normes pour les pensées et les actions futures. (LEE BURTON, « Making Pictures », p.232)

Lorsque Virginia Lee Burton écrit ces lignes en 1943 c’est pour la réception de sa médaille Caldecott reçue pour son livre La Petite Maison. L’auteure américaine insiste sur l’importance du rapport texte/image comme facteur transmissif et performatif. L’album, comme l’architecture, se voit donc une sorte de « mission » qui serait de comprendre d’abord, puis de changer le monde dans lequel les hommes vivent.

#album_jeunesse #illustrations #architecture

July 16 2013

June 24 2013

Architecture : bâtir ou briller ?

Contrairement à l'art, l'architecture consiste à concevoir des objets utiles, destinés à s'inscrire dans un environnement unique et à remplir une fonction précise. Les récentes décennies ont pourtant vu se multiplier des œuvres conceptuelles et narcissiques, indifférentes à ces deux vocations. / Idées, (...) / Idées, Science, Urbanisme, Architecture - 2012/08

May 21 2013

Mosaïques de béton

Ces banlieues tracées au cordeau, ces échangeurs autoroutiers, ces immeubles pastel qui contrastent avec la rigidité des lignes de l'urbanisme moderne, ce témoignage d'un combat renouvelé contre l'herbe jaune de la steppe, ce serait la Turquie ? Les photographies de Frances Dal Chele racontent la (...) / Turquie, Transports, Urbanisme, Ville, Chômage, Banlieue, Architecture - 2013/05

May 16 2013

Random International: Rain Room / Museum of Modern Art MoMA, New York

After its premiere at the Barbican Centre in London in October 2012, Random International’s Rain Room is now installed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Follow us inside: it’s raining, but you won’t get wet (promised).

Random International’s immersive environment Rain Room is a major component of the MoMA PS1 exhibition EXPO 1: New York. The installation is presented in the lot directly adjacent to The Museum of Modern Art. Simply put, Rain Room is a field of falling water that pauses wherever a human body is detected. Thus, Rain Room offers visitors the experience of controlling the rain. “The work invites visitors to explore the roles that science, technology, and human ingenuity can play in stabilizing our environment. Using digital technology, Rain Room creates a carefully choreographed downpour, simultaneously encouraging people to become performers on an unexpected stage and creating an intimate atmosphere of contemplation.” Watch also our video covering the presentation of Rain Room at The Curve, Barbican Center and our interview with the founders of Random International, Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass and Hannes Koch.

Random International’s Rain Room turned out to be a lot of fun for the visitors, but it’s also a very complex installation. It consists of injection moulded tiles, solenoid valves, pressure regulators, 3D tracking cameras, wooden frames, steel beams, a hydraulic management system, and a grated floor. The system is controlled by custom software.

Random International are known for their digital-based contemporary art. The London-based studio creates artworks and installations that explore behaviour and interaction.

rAndom International: Rain Room. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. May 10, 2013. Video by Shimon Azulay.

For more videos featuring Random International click here!

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

Random International was founded in 2005 by Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass and Hannes Koch. They first met when they were students at the Royal College of Art in London. The studio is based in a converted warehouse in Chelsea, London. Random International have exhibited at art fairs, museums and biennials with works and installations such as Pixelroller, Temporary Graffiti, Audience, Study For A Mirror, Swarm Light, Self Portrait, Temporary Light Printing Machine, and Rain Room. The presentation of Rain Room at The Museum of Modern Art is the U.S. premiere of this environment. The piece debuted at Barbican Centre, London, in October 2012.

Photo set:

rain-room-051013

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May 10 2013

Ideas City StreetFest, New Museum, New York

Ideas City is a four-day, biennial festival of conferences, workshops, and an streetfest in New York. Ideas City was founded by the New Museum in 2011. It’s a major collaborative initiative between hundreds of arts, education, and community organizations. Ideas City explores the future of cities around the globe with a focus on arts and culture. The 2013′s theme was Untapped Capital, focusing on resources that are under-recognized or underutilized in our cities. In this video, we attend the Ideas City StreetFest on 4th May, 2013 and have a look at what ideas artists, architects, poets, technologists, and other creative people have to shape their city.

Ideas City StreetFest, New Museum, New York. May 4, 2013. Video by Shimon Azulay.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

ideas-city-050413

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April 30 2013

Hans-Peter Feldmann: Kunstausstellung / Johnen Galerie, Berlin

Johnen Galerie participated in Gallery Weekend Berlin 2013 with a solo show with works by German conceptual artist Hans-Peter Feldmann. The exhibition Kunstausstellung represents the methodology the artist has developed within the last years. The show includes two installations: Dreigruppen (Trianda); mostly forgotten or unknown artists, mainly paintings from the 19th and early 20th century. Feldmann arranges three images of different traditional subject-matters and techniques. Each viewer may perceive and interpret these constellations in his or her own way. Thus images of clearly defined theme and content are integrated in a network of open and complex relationships. Furthermore the exhibition includes works where the author actually remixes portraits, scenes with small interventions: red noses, crossed eyes and black eyes add a strikingly modern and humorous accent to the dusty and solemn images.

In this video, gallery owner Jörg Johnen introduces us to Hans-Peter Feldmann’s and oeuvre and the artist’s current exhibition.

Hans-Peter Feldmann was born in Düsseldorf in 1941. His works have been shown in numerous exhibitions, lately at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2013), Serpentine Gallery, London (2012), Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2010), Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2010) and Konsthall Malmö (2010). He lives and works in Düsseldorf.

Hans-Peter Feldmann: Kunstausstellung at Johnen Galerie Berlin (Germany). Interview with Jörg Johnen, April 26, 2013. Video by Frantisek Zachoval.

PS: Watch Hans-Peter Feldmann’s solo presentation within the framework of the exhibition The Endless Renaissance at Bass Museum in Miami Beach.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

hans-peter-feldmann-042613

April 29 2013

Richard Hughes at Anton Kern Gallery, New York

This video provides you with a walkthrough of British artist Richard Hughes’ solo show at Anton Kern Gallery in New York. Hughes was born in 1974 in Birmingham. He studied at Staffordshire University and Goldsmiths College London. Hughes lives and works in London. The current show at Anton Kern Gallery is Richard Hughes’ third solo exhibition at the gallery. It’s dominated by large sculptures that recall insect legs and seem to be made of lamp posts. The show runs until May 18, 2013. A Richard Hughes monograph was launched at the opening. More information is available after the break.

Richard Hughes. Solo exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery, New York. April 12, 2013. Video: Shimon Azulay.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

Exhibition text:

For his third solo show at Anton Kern Gallery, UK-based artist Richard Hughes has turned the gallery into a stage for a magic dance performed by a street gang of enchanted lamp posts, ice-cream-wafer-like garden walls and broken memorial statues found in the most dilapidated and dark corners of (British) suburbia. With his first artist monograph freshly published by JRP Ringier and two recent solo exhibitions at Tramway Art Space in Glasgow and Firstsite in Colchester, England, Hughes’ work is at the center of public attention.

Richard Hughes is known for his exceptional skill to turn ordinary, sometimes slightly repulsive objects that might be found in a hovel of a rooming house or unceremoniously dumped by the side of the road — bleak monuments to abused domestic or public spaces — into narrative sculptures. Their placement in a gallery space instantly invites questions as to its recent history, use, and function, or imminent action. Upon closer inspection, all objects reveal themselves as casts, meticulously crafted replicas of every-day things injected with an element of fantasy. The beauty within this ostensibly abandoned world lies in the moment of surprise when materials reveal themselves as “fakes.” This is the moment when hidden images and cultural memories become visible and intelligible, when the vernacular becomes a universal language. Hughes’ sculptures are not ready-mades. As facsimiles of common objects it’s not the object that is transformed but its reappropriated meaning and ability to reconfigure the object for the viewer. Gradually, these objects-turned-sculptures reveal their inherent capacity to tell stories, to evoke narratives that are charged with everyday-life experience and humor.

Richard Hughes has had solo exhibitions at Tramway, Glasgow (2012); Sculpture Court, Tate Britain (2006); The Showroom, London (2004); and is currently presented at Firstsite, Colchester, UK, in an exhibition entitled Time is over, time has come. His work has been exhibited internationally, including presentations at the François Pinault Collection, Punta della Dogana, Venice (2009); the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2008); and the Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (2006). Hughes was selected for the 55th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh (2008); the fourth Liverpool Biennial (2006), and the British Art Show 6 (2005). He was nominated for the Beck’s Futures award in 2006 and was the recipient of the EAST International award in 2003.

richard-hughes-041213

April 27 2013

Herzog & de Meuron Architects: Messe Basel New Hall

Just in time for Basel’s important Baselworld fair, the new hall complex of Messe Basel was inaugurated. Designed by the Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron, the new hall building changes the character of Basel’s exhibition site considerably. The exhibition square is now clearly delineated towards the city. The key architectural and urban-planning feature of Herzog & de Meuron’s new hall complex is the so-called City Lounge. This is a covered-over public space that is intended to revitalize the exhibition square. Referencing Messe Basel’s iconic “Rundhofhalle” (Hall 2, designed in the 1950s by Swiss architect Hans Hofmann), the City Lounge’s most striking feature is a huge hole that breaks through the new hall 1 and brings light to the space below. As always with Herzog & de Meuron’s designs, the facade is an essential element of the design. This time, it’s a facade of articulated twisting bands (aluminum). The two exhibition floors are also offset from each other, to avoid the “big box” effect.

Herzog & de Meuron Architects: Messe Basel New Hall. April 25, 2013.

For more videos on Herzog & de Meuron, click here!

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
> On YouTube:

Photo set:

herzog-de-meuron-042513

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April 16 2013

What is probabilistic programming?

Probabilistic programming languages are in the spotlight. This is due to the announcement of a new DARPA program to support their fundamental research. But what is probabilistic programming? What can we expect from this research? Will this effort pay off? How long will it take?

A probabilistic programming language is a high-level language that makes it easy for a developer to define probability models and then “solve” these models automatically. These languages incorporate random events as primitives and their runtime environment handles inference. Now, it is a matter of programming that enables a clean separation between modeling and inference. This can vastly reduce the time and effort associated with implementing new models and understanding data. Just as high-level programming languages transformed developer productivity by abstracting away the details of the processor and memory architecture, probabilistic languages promise to free the developer from the complexities of high-performance probabilistic inference.

What does it mean to perform inference automatically? Let’s compare a probabilistic program to a classical simulation such as a climate model. A simulation is a computer program that takes some initial conditions such as historical temperatures, estimates of energy input from the sun, and so on, as an input. Then it uses the programmer’s assumptions about the interactions between these variables that are captured in equations and code to produce forecasts about the climate in the future. Simulations are characterized by the fact that they only run in one direction: forward, from causes to hypothesized effects.

A probabilistic program turns this around. Given a universe of possible interactions between different elements of the climate system and a collection of observed data, we could automatically learn which interactions are most effective in explaining the observations — even if these interactions are quite complex. How does this work? In a nutshell, the probabilistic language’s runtime environment runs the program both forward and backward. It runs forward from causes to effects (data) and backward from the data to the causes. Clever implementations will trade off between these directions to efficiently home in on the most likely explanations for the observations.

PP Figure.002PP Figure.002

Better climate models are but one potential application of probabilistic programming. Other models include: shorter and more humane clinical trials with fewer unneeded side effects and more accurate outcomes; machine perception that transcends the capabilities of the now-ubiquitous quadcopters and even Google’s self-driving cars; and “nervous systems” that fuse data from massively distributed and noisy sensor networks to better understand both the natural world and artificial environments.

Of course, any technology this general carries a lot of uncertainty around its development path and eventual impact. So much depends on complex interactions with other technology threads and, ultimately, social factors and regulation. With all possible humility, here is one sample from the predictive distribution, conditioned on what we know so far:

  • Phase I — Probabilistic programming will transform the practice of data science by unifying anecdotal reasoning with more reliable statistical approaches. If data science is first and foremost about telling stories, then probabilistic programming is in many ways the perfect tool. Practitioners will be able to leverage the persuasive power of narrative, while staying on firm quantitative ground.
  • Phase II — Practitioners will really start to push the boundaries of modeling in fundmental ways in order to address many applications that don’t fit well into the current machine learning, text mining, or graph analysis paradigms. Many real-world datasets are a mixture of tabular, relational, textual, geospatial, audiovisual, and other data types. Probabilistic programs can weave all of these pieces together in natural ways. Current solutions that claim to integrate heterogeneous data typically do so by beating it all into a similar form, losing much of the underlying structure along the way.
  • Phase III — Probabilistic programming will push well into territory that is universally recognized as artificial intelligence. As we’re often reminded, intelligent systems are very application-specific. Good chess algorithms are unlike Google’s self-driving car, which is totally different from IBM’s Watson. But probabilistic programs can be layered and modularized, with subsystems that specialize in particular problem domains, but embedded in a shared fabric that recognizes the current context and brings appropriate modeling subsystems to bear.

What will it take to make all this real? The conceptual underpinnings of probabilistic programming languages are well in hand, thanks to trailblazing work by research groups at MIT, UMass Amherst, Microsoft Research, Harvard, and elsewhere. The core challenge at this point is developing performant inference engines that can efficiently solve the very wide range of models that these languages can express. We’ll also need new debugging, optimization, and visualization tools to help developers get the most from these systems.

This story will take years to play out in full, but I expect we’ll see real progress over the next three to four years. I’m excited.

Want to learn more? BUGS is a probabilistic programming language originally developed by statisticians more than 20 years ago. While it has a number of limitations around expressivity and dataset size, it’s a great way to get your feet wet. Also check out Rob Zinkov’s tutorial post, which includes examples of several models. Church is the most ambitious probabilistic programming language. Don’t miss the tutorials, though it may not be the most accessible or practical option until the inference engine and toolset mature. For that reason, factorie might be a better bet in the short term, especially if you like Scala, or Microsoft Research’s infer.net with C# and F# bindings. The proceedings from a recent academic workshop provide a great snapshot of the field as of late 2012. Finally, this video from a long-defunct startup that I co-founded contains one stab at explaining many of the concepts underlying probabilistic programming referred to under the more general term probabilistic computing:

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