Computational Demonology at the Media Lab.

MAS.S66 - MIT Media Lab, Course Description:

When Aleister Crowley defined magic as "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will," he might as easily have been describing technology. In fact, "magic" is still the word we use to encompass the wonders of a new technology before it becomes ubiquitous. [...]

With a focus on the creation of functional prototypes and practicing real magical crafts, this class combines theatrical illusion, game design, sleight of hand, machine learning, camouflage, and neuroscience to explore how ideas from ancient magic and modern stage illusion can inform cutting edge technology.

Topics will include:

  • Stage Illusion as Information Display
  • The Neuroscience of Misdirection
  • Magical Warfare: Camouflage and Deception
  • Magic Items and the Internet of Things
  • Computational Demonology
  • Ritual Magick as User Experience Design

I suspected this was a joke, or a Laundry Files LARP, but it seems to be real.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Tags: , ,

6 Responses:

  1. NovySan says:

    Yep, it's real. ;)

    • David Konerding says:

      Was this inspired by Tufte, at all? One of his books dedicates a lot of ink to magic and its effective use of psychology to deliver (false) information.

      • NovySan says:

        Indeed, he is one of the inspirations for "Stage Illusion and Information Display," the idea that illusionists control information through design, execution, and as you've noted, psychology, to create the desired effect.

  2. Matt says:

    The pictures are real, but probably un-related to the course - they've been around for several years. I think they're from a school playground in... South Korea?

    They're alchemical circles - but that's probably because the writer of Full Metal Alchemist actually did his research - most of the sigils used in the show are actually alchemical sigils.

    But there is the course, and there is a manga series (and 2 anime series & some movies) that teaches accurate alchemical sigils, at least, to those who watch it. They're just, in this instance, unrelated.

  3. Enarc Kram says:

    I was wondering if the number of comments on this blog is decreasing over time, so I looked at the archives. This thing has been around for thirteen years, at least.
    This may be the first page:

    http://www.jwz.org/blog/page/811/

  4. NovySan says:

    http://indistinguishablefrom.media.mit.edu/syllabus/

    Yes, those images aren't related to the course in any way. I like them though!