Inside the Black Box – Luis Fernando Montaño & Bohdan Mykhaylyk

Inside the Black Box

We as humans believe that everything around us has a cause and a tractable effect. This illusion makes us feel in control of ourselves and our environment. In reality, most systems around us –and within us– are like mysterious black boxes. We cannot look inside them, and we only know what goes in and out. For example, think of a patient as a black box, where a treatment is the input and the health is the output. How much do we trust our intuition about how black boxes respond? When treating real-world problems like a bacterial infection, we must learn how to deal with the box’s behaviour. Otherwise, ill-advised solutions such as self-medication may backfire.
With the aid of mathematics and computers, scientists in many fields can simulate how a black box (i.e. a complex system) transforms any input into an output. This allows us to build predictive models of how the real system would respond.

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In ‘Inside the black box’, we simulate a bacterial infection controlled by a hidden circuitry of interacting components. We challenge the audience to control the growing bacterial infection (red light) by interactively administering treatment (green light). In the process, we will collect time-series data about the behaviour of complex systems and test whether human intuition can outsmart intricate black boxes. If played by enough people as a game, data from high scoring simulations could reveal optimal strategies for diagnosis and treatment of real patients.

Luis Fernando Montaño(Centre for Synthetic & Systems Biology – nando.mgu@gmail.com)
Bohdan Mykhaylyk (School of Chemistry – s1036449@sms.ed.ac.uk)

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Surface of Significance – Lucas Godfrey & Matt Giannotti

Surface of Significance is an ongoing research project in the School of GeoSciences with the aim of reconceptualising geographic space such that a relative view of space may be modelled computationally to support highly contextual maps on mobile devices. The Surface of Significance is a creative articulation of some of the core ideas that underpin the project. This audio visual installation explores the relationship between space, materiality and process, and focuses in particular on two ideas. Firstly, that space is not an independent, inert phenomenon, but is dynamic and has an intrinsic relation to the material world in the sense that structure and the spatiality of form are co-produced. The second key idea the piece explores is the notion of a unified whole that we interpret as exhibiting various different behaviours but is in fact a single ‘thing’. In this sense, form is space and vice versa, and our observation of the interconnectedness of the world gives way to a sense of a singular condition manifest in space and time.

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At the heart of this work is the opportunity that is provided by computational technology to represent different phenomena as data, allowing us to conceptualise aspects of the world in a way that emphasises relatedness rather than reinforcing distinction. The Surface of Significance explores this idea by representing an infinite material surface both visually and through sound, with locally defined differentiation giving way to an all-encompassing structural state that is unified

Lucas Godfrey – PhD Automated Map Content Selection – lucas.godfrey@ed.ac.uk
Matt Giannotti – PhD Music – mattgiannotti@gmail.com

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