Machines creating machines: Reinforcement learning for chip design

Machines can design machines? Yes, they can. This message is reinforced by the latest in reinforcement learning, the publication yesterday of an article in Nature. A team of Google and Stanford researchers describe a reinforcement learning system that has designed the next generation of tensor processing units. The paper itself was written by humans, and many at that: 20 authors, and another 15 people acknowledged for help and support. Continue Reading

Computational Design and the Look of Meaning: The semiotic weight of XX

As an undergraduate studying graphic design, I remember a professor in a crit saying that another student’s poster had “the look of meaning”.  As students, we had our antennae out for snarky comments, but it turned out that this was meant as a compliment. We then used this phrase over and over. It  somehow got to the heart of graphic design, whose reference theory is semiotics. Syntax is the look, semantics is the words,  and pragmatics is the effect the design has – the actions that follow. Should the graphic designer strive to create form with an understated typography that stays out of the way of the meaning? Continue Reading

Digital Art Renaissance

This past decade has seen the birth several key technologies and applications which have empowered digital artists to author work at an unprecedented level of realism.  Effects that once required deep knowledge across teams of specialists can now be created by generalists that deal with all aspects of their creations. Innovations like physically-based shading, GPU advancements, and workflow enhancements all played a part. In this article I’d like to highlight, and celebrate, how we have arrived at where we are today. Continue Reading