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George Lois's "Self-Induced" Design Epiphany

Question: When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

George\r\n Lois: From the time I was three or four years old, I drew all the \r\ntime.  Drew all the time, every second.  When I worked in my father's \r\nflorist, he was a, from the old country, and he was a Greek immigrant, \r\nalong with my mother, but when I worked, and I worked at his store as a \r\ngood Greek son always did, I drew all the time and when I was in the \r\nstore and I wasn't actually working, I was drawing, drawing, drawing, \r\ndrawing, drawing.

I was at the High School of Music and Art, I \r\ncall it the greatest school of learning since Alexander sat at the feet \r\nof Aristotle, but I took design courses among, you know, along with \r\nhistory of art courses and along with academic courses. And I had a \r\nflair for it, whatever that means, but at the very beginning of the \r\ndesign courses, they were basically, you know, kind of a retro, you \r\nknow, Kandinskys and [...] and Paul Klees, and we did designs with \r\ncircles and then we did a design with circles and triangles, and then \r\nwith the circles, triangles, and squares, etc., rectangles.  And at the \r\nend of my very first term, after doing that for a term, you know, along \r\nwith all my other courses, he, Mr. Patterson gave us a beautiful 18 x 24\r\n sheet of Strathmore, expensive sheet of Strathmore, must have cost at \r\nleast a quarter in those days, which was big bucks. And he said, "What \r\nwe're going to do in the next hour and a half will be one half of your \r\nmark for the term."  You know, we  had dozens and dozens of them.  And \r\nhe said, "And the subject this time is rectangles—period."  And \r\neverybody started to work and I just sat there for an hour and a half \r\nand I didn't move, just kind of looked around the room.  And he was \r\nfurious, you know, you could see him walking around, everyone trying to,\r\n everybody busy as hell cutting out squares and, you know, and doing a \r\nshape here, doing Maleviches, you know, red-shape-blue-shape... and I \r\ndidn't move.  And an hour and a half later he said, "Time's up."  And he\r\n started to pick up, he was furious, he was turning red, and he came up \r\nto me and he went to grab my 18 x 24 sheet and I said, "Hold it just a \r\nminute, Mr. Patterson," and I wrote, I stuck my name, my signature in \r\nthe corner, and I handed him a 18 x 24 rectangle.  And he still didn't \r\nget it, he was furious.  And he tore it away, and I said, "Oh, my God, \r\nhe didn't get it, oh, boy." And I came in the next morning and there \r\nwere two or three teachers in the hallway who stopped me and they said, \r\n"George, what you did for Mr. Patterson's class was brilliant," he \r\nobviously had gone into the locker room or something as they were \r\nleaving school and he said, "What's wrong with that George Lois?  You \r\nknow, he's a terrific student and he's, he... he did nothing, he just \r\nhanded me an 18 x 24... rectangle." 

Anyway, that was kind of a,\r\n I've always said that was kind of a, my epiphany, my self-induced \r\nepiphany, when I realized that, and I made public, over at the High \r\nSchool of Music and Art, that any problem, any design problem, any \r\ncommunications problem, there's a chance to do something unusual, \r\nexciting, dramatic, unique. And my whole career is based on the fact \r\nthat everything I work on, what I have to create, whether it's an \r\nadvertisement or, you know, a music video, or a magazine cover or \r\npromotion piece, that my answer's got to be totally surprising and \r\nunique and thrilling.

So somehow in that first year at the High \r\nSchool of Music and Art, I knew what I was going to be, some kind of a \r\ncommunicator, a designer—and also, I was really inspired greatly by the \r\nwork of Paul Rand, who at that time, that was '45, and I was 14 years \r\nold, and he must have been like 26 or something, he was a wunderkind, \r\nand he was a, he was writing and creating his own advertising for \r\npeople, for clients like Orbachs, and he was doing IBM logos, etc.  And \r\nit was thrilling to look at his work, not that my work is anything near \r\nwhat his is, but I was thrilled with the idea that you could work as a \r\ncommunicator, as a designer, as an advertising guy, and create your own \r\nwork and not be a whore.  And not do, you know, awful, terrible work.  \r\nSo that inspired.

Recorded April 5, 2010

Lois realized in high school that every design and communications problem presented an opportunity to do something unusual, exciting, dramatic, and unique.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.