For a century, public health officials have contained pandemics by tracing outbreaks. COVIDsafe promises to do this – can we trust it?

How does contact tracking work? And did host Mark Pesce almost accidentally invent Bluetooth contact tracking during some experimenting back in 2005?

Dr. Genevieve Bell offers insights into the history of contact tracing – and how old ideas about sickness can be baked into the newest of our technologies.

Dr. Bell recently wrote a long and clear article on this topic for TECHNOLOGY REVIEW.

Toward the end of 2005, Mark Pesce did some ‘pinging’ of Bluetooth devices from his mobiles, and learned that a lot of other Bluetooth mobiles would answer his pings. He wrote it up in a paper:

The following year, working with artist John Tonkin, they created ‘Bluestates‘ – using Bluetooth contact tracking to generate ‘social graphs’ – maps of who associated with who – for ISEA 2006 in San Jose California. It got a fair bit of attention at the time, including a review in The New York Times. Here’s a short movie of how John Tonkin visualised the contact tracking data Mark Pesce gathered:

1968: When the World Began – Part One: THE PIVOT

In ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’, the first exhibition of computer art, curator Jasia Reichardt presented a world where computers create with us.

Jasia introducing works in the Cybernetic Serendipity show:

Jasia’s 2014 retrospective of Cybernetic Serendipity:

In 2018, Jasia gave an hour-long public lecture on the 50th anniversary of Cybernetic Serendipity:

The book accompanying the Cybernetic Serendipity was recently republished to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the exhibition – read all about it (and maybe buy yourself a copy) here.

What can you say about Norbert Wiener?  Norbert invented whole branches of mathematics and computer science – and gave us the prefix ‘cyber-‘.

Rowland Emett‘s Forget-Me-Not with Peripheral Pachyderm

John Whitney‘s Permutations is among the very first computer animations:

Running Cola is Africa is one of the pieces from the IBM Computer Technics Group in Tokyo – and a very early piece of computer art:

Both Genevieve and I have a real soft spot for another work, Return to a Square:

In 1962, IBM taught a computer to sing ‘Daisy’ — which became the core scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.