Category: insatiable

Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas Digital…

Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

ROROTOKO : Deirdre Barrett On her book Supern…

ROROTOKO : Deirdre Barrett On her book Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose : Cutting-Edge Intellectual Interviews:

Most people don’t try to parse cuteness. Like pornography, we know it when we see it.  With a bit of examination, however, cuteness has easily quantifiable aesthetics. Take a moment to picture whatever you find cute—puppies, kittens, cartoon characters or your own children.  Cuteness is the type of attractiveness associated with youth; your “cute” objects no doubt have many youthful traits.

Infants of most species have a small body with a disproportionately large head, big eyes, small nose, chubby limbs and clumsy coordination.  Youthful behavior includes playfulness, affection, helplessness, and a need to be nurtured. A few characteristics such as dimples and baby-talk are unique to humans, but most are common across species.

Evolutionary biologists view “cuteness” as simply the mechanism by which infantile features trigger nurturing in adults—a crucial adaptation for survival.  Scientific studies find that definitions of cuteness are similar across cultures.  So are our responses.

Anyone disheartened by research demonstrating that attractive adults are better liked and better paid than their homelier peers will be further dismayed at studies on infant cuteness.  Articles such as “The Infant’s Physical Attractiveness: Its Effect on Bonding and Attachment” document that stereotypically cute babies receive the most attention from both strangers and their own parents.  They run less risk of abuse or neglect.  Cute children proceed to get better treatment from teachers. Fortunately, most babies are cute enough to attract sufficient nurturing from parents and the world around them.  The decline of cuteness normally coincides with the child’s diminished need for caretaking, which gradually shifts toward younger siblings.

Toy manufacturers are well aware of what’s cute.  Dolls have grown progressively cuter: first they looked like people, then like children, then like supernormal exaggerations of children.  In the 1990s, the Journal of Animal Behavior published a series of articles on a creature not of the wilderness but of the marketplace.

“The Evolution of the Teddy Bear” traced the origin to 1900 when President Theodore Roosevelt was photographed in the Rockies, after a hunt, with a brown bear in the background.  The early teddies looked like bears—with a low forehead and a long snout.  Over the years, the teddy “evolved” to become the cute popular creature of now, laden with infantile features, including a larger forehead and a shorter snout.  “It is obvious that the morphological changes that have occurred in teddies in the short span of a little over 100 years have contributed greatly to their reproductive fitness,” observed the authors.  “There seem to be teddies all over the place.”

With tongue in cheek, but metaphor firmly in mind, animal behaviorists continued publishing on the evolution of the teddy.  They pointed out that the changes might be likened to mutation, but are actually closer to “intelligent design,” diverting human resources to enable teddies to reproduce at a phenomenal rate.

And that, my dear Digihuman listeners, is why kittens won the internet.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

NYU Professor Adam Alter: How to Make an Exp…

NYU Professor Adam Alter: How to Make an Experience Addictive

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People t…

The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People to Play More – Extra Credits:

The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People to Play More – Extra Credits

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

From The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, author and ps…

From The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, author and psychologist Deirdre Barrett examines how “supernormal stimuli” have caused primal urges to overrun their evolutionary purpose.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

Why Are Slot Machines So Addictive?

Why Are Slot Machines So Addictive?:

Most research on compulsive gambling focuses on the psychological, biological, or even moral profiles of gambling addicts—but the real problem may be the slot machines. MIT anthropologist Natasha Dow Schull recently won the American Ethnological Society’s 2013 First Book Prize for her new work, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, which explores the relationship between gamblers and the technologically sophisticated machines that enable—and encourage—them to bet beyond their means. Schull, who spent fifteen years conducting ethnographic research in casinos, gambling industry conventions, and Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Las Vegas, explained to me over the phone, “Addiction is a relationship between a person and an activity, and I see my book as compensating for the lack of research into the object side of the relationship. With alcohol research, for instance, there has been a focus not only on the alcoholic but on the alcohol itself. With gambling, the focus is most often on the person. It’s essential to broaden that.”

Alice Robb: Why should a cultural anthropologist study gambling?

Natasha Dow Schull: Games are a great window into culture. They indicate what the populace is anxious about or is seeking out. The fact that people are being drawn to individual machine consoles rather than high-volatility, intense social games tells us a lot about the risk and volatility that people feel in the world, in their lives—think of the financial crisis, the culture of fear around terrorism, the environment, global warming. It makes sense that people would seek out games that allow them a sense of control and predictability.

You don’t think about gambling as that kind of a game. You would think it’s about thrill and risk, but actually slot machines provide people with a sense of safety and certainty.

In 1967, the anthropologist Erving Goffman described gambling as the occasion for “character contests” in which participants could demonstrate their courage, integrity and composure under pressure. Today, our anxieties are very different, and with slot machines we’re seeking a sense of safety and routine—the opposite of what Goffman describes.

AR: How does gambling promote a sense of security? Isn’t gambling about risk?

NDS: When gamblers play, they’re going into a zone that feels comfortable and safe. You’re not playing to win, you’re playing to stay in the zone— a zone where all of your daily worries, your bodily pains, your anxieties about money and time and relationships, fall away.

One addict I interviewed described being in the ‘zone’:

It’s like being in the eye of a storm…Your vision is clear on the machine in front of you but the whole world is spinning around you, and you can’t really hear anything. You aren’t really there—you’re with the machine and that’s all you’re with.”

New kinds of machines are key. With multi-line slot machines, say you put in a hundred coins. If you’re betting on 100 lines of play, you’ll always ‘win’ something back. If you put in 40 coins and get 30 back, that’s a net loss, a ‘false win’, but the machine responds as if you’ve won: The lights go off, you get the same audiovisual feedback. Almost every hand, you get the same result— there are no dry spells.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

How Dolby is measuring human emotions to hac…

How Dolby is measuring human emotions to hack Hollywood

So you guys can see in Poppy Crum’s fascinating lab. Movies with tech she’s working on are something I couldn’t get enough of 🙂

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

This can hardly be a spoiler by now – but did …

This can hardly be a spoiler by now – but did you know Hitchcock was hacking your mind with this scene? And all his movies?

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

The 100,000 Calorie Challenge | BeardMeatsFo…

The 100,000 Calorie Challenge | BeardMeatsFood

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

Dolby’s Poppy Crum wants to give you sensory s…

Dolby’s Poppy Crum wants to give you sensory superpowers:

Dolby is constantly developing new sound and imaging technologies, and an understanding of how the brain perceives is vital to doing that effectively. “All of our products take advantage of perception in some way. Our codecs are a computational neural model which reduce information but maintain the perceptual experience by getting rid of information which I wouldn’t experience in real life.” One of the products in development is an imaging technology that can produce up to 20 thousand nits (a measure of light emitted per unit area as perceived by the human eye), as opposed to the 450-1000 nits emitted by a typical HDTV display. When Crum watched a video of fire on one of these new screens, something strange happened.

“I was watching a variety of content, all of which was producing the same amount of nits, but when the content was fire, I experienced my cheeks get warm,” Crum explains. “So I used thermal imaging cameras to track people’s faces, and there were changes when they saw flame. When we see flame in real life, our bodies are already preparing to expel heat based on the luminescence which is reaching our retina in conjunction with the fact that we know it’s fire. I ran the same test on HD displays, and you don’t see anything like this. This technology is truly creating a realistic experience by tricking the body.”

If we can create technology that can trick the body, all kinds of new sensory experiences become possible. “You don’t just want to create reality, you want to create something that’s even better. By using the synergistic effects of our senses on each other, we can amplify them so we have heightened experiences and potentially heightened emotional responses. Many species have superpowers, like bats and their ability to navigate. You can look at these species and how their brains have solved problems and use technology to create an experience that is not limited by the physical capabilities of our senses.”

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable