Archive for 2014/11/30

Bits and bytes look like such sweet music

Very Appreciated Reader Ethan alerts me to a cool project:

Hey Andy, I’m a big fan of your books, and just wanted to let you know of a fun little project I just did inspired by “Superliminal”. An assignment for my literature of science fiction class was to create a visual representation of a scifi concept, with several options. I opted for artificial and post-human life forms, which transhuman learning falls under. My original plan was to make a video game, but running out of time I was flipping through my sci fi books, and yours popped out. So, I wrote a little PHP script to convert a file of a known size into a PNG containing one greyscale pixel per 128 bits (take the head two hex digits). Anyways, I had a lot of fun with the project and thought you may like to see the result. The following is an MP3 version of Lorde’s “Royals” translated into PNG (again, only using 256 colors, since the full 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,455 would have been too much):

Ethan, thanks for sending this in!

Non-inclusive reasons why this is cool:

1) If you’ve read my book “Superliminal“, you’ll recall one of the plot points has to do with this exact thing – embedding non-picture information into a picture. When I write, I don’t hold myself to “hard” science fiction – I knowingly cross the line to what is “science fantasy”. Ethan’s project is proof that at least some of what I wrote about is possible!

2) Ethan teaches us: Human communication isn’t just about using slang or video or paper or House Atreides battle language… One form of communication can be used to transmit information from another medium. Here we have an MP3 audio file (already translated from another medium) converted into a picture. Now, reading the above photo might be tough, but that’s what computers are for. And since technology will eventually merge with our bodies anyway, I fully expect that some day, humans will be able to look at the above picture, and have my “eyes” read the song, my “mouth” sing it, and my “ears” hear it.

Be thou human or machine
Gaze at the above picture

Some envision but static
But those few who see true, sooth… 

In their eyes glows the future