But what is a neural network?

19 minutes

Nellie Bly makes the news

23 minutes

Take the Five

3 minutes

EXCLUSIVE

Sundays with Riki

19 minutes

Random events

31 minutes

Aeon for Friends

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Why artificial neural networks have a long way to go before they can ‘see’ like us

Artificial neural networks were created to imitate processes in our brains, and in many respects – such as performing the quick, complex calculations necessary to win strategic games such as chess and Go – they’ve already surpassed us. But if you’ve ever clicked through a CAPTCHA test online to prove you’re human, you know that our visual cortex still reigns supreme over its artificial imitators (for now, at least). So if schooling world chess champions has become a breeze, what’s so hard about, say, positively identifying a handwritten ‘9’? This explainer from the US YouTuber Grant Sanderson, who creates maths videos under the moniker 3Blue1Brown, works from a program designed to identify handwritten variations of each of the 10 Arabic numerals (0-9) to detail the basics of how artificial neural networks operate. It’s a handy crash-course – and one that will almost certainly make you appreciate the extraordinary amount of work your brain does to accomplish what might seem like simple tasks.

Video by 3Blue1Brown

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Nellie Bly transformed investigative journalism by bending facts in pursuit of truth

I didn’t like the story I was given. So I wrote a new one.

A feminist, a social-justice advocate and a media sensation in her own right, the US journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (1864-1922) – aka, Nellie Bly – would have been right at home in the 21st-century media environment. Yet she started her writing career more than three decades before women in the US got the right to vote. First hired by The Pittsburgh Dispatch after writing a spirited rebuke to a sexist column entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’, Bly then moved on to the New York World, where she exposed the squalid conditions inside mental institutions by getting herself committed to an asylum. The resulting piece, published in 1887, catapulted her career, making her one of the most well-known and widely read reporters in the country.

In Nellie Bly Makes the News, the US director Penny Lane melds fiction and documentary to chart Bly’s improbable rise from domestic worker to famous journalist. Using a combination of scripted recreations of scenes from her life, expert interviews and faux ‘interviews’ with Bly herself, this inventive and frequently funny animation probes the good, the bad and the everything-in-between of her legacy, cleverly exploring the ever-blurry border between journalism and storytelling.

Director: Penny Lane

Writers: Thom Stylinski, Penny Lane

Producer: Gabriel Sedgwick

Director of animation: Julie Gratz

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Chase rolling hills and windmills on a jazzy ride through the California countryside

Interstate 5, the primary highway on the West Coast of the United States, runs for more than 1,000 miles between Mexico and Canada, through California, Oregon and Washington. In this experimental short film, the US filmmaker Conner Griffith takes the Californian stretches of the highway, and flips, spins, intercuts and speeds them up to exhilarating effect, set to a vigorous rendition of Take the ‘A’ Train, performed by the US jazz pianist Richard Tee. The video cleverly juxtaposes quintessentially East Coast urban music with West Coast rural imagery but, more than anything, it’s a wildly fun ride.

Video by Conner Griffith

Score: Richard Tee – Take the A Train

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‘You wanna get rid of me?’ When the time comes to move mom into assisted living

During their weekly Sunday breakfast together, Ivy discovers that her octogenarian mother Riki is losing her memory. Soon after, Ivy decides that Riki would be better off moving out of the cozy Brooklyn apartment where she lives alone, and into an assisted living community in the Bronx, closer to Ivy’s own home. But, of course, when it comes to big family decisions, nothing is ever quite that easy. Ivy is making the request out of love, but Riki – resistant every step of the way – thinks her daughter is being controlling. When the time for a trial run at the community arrives, Ivy’s siblings start to question whether the move is premature, while Riki’s neighbours suggest that she’ll never be back. These delicate interpersonal dynamics are skilfully explored in this short documentary by New York-based filmmaker Brandon Barr. A tender and intimate portrait of ageing and the complexities of familial love, Sundays with Riki is likely to resonate with anyone who has helped to care for – or just cares about – an elderly relative.

Director: Brandon Barr

Producer: Max Mooney

Colourist: Anthony Riso

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A classic film finds order in randomness with the aid of some improbably elaborate sets

The Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) was formed in 1956 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the mission to create science-education materials for US high-school classrooms. In this PSSC film from 1961, the physics professors J N Patterson Hume and Donald Ivey of the University of Toronto deploy their expertise – as well as some seriously elaborate sets – to demonstrate how, with enough data, highly predictable patterns can emerge from unpredictable events. This version of Random Events has been visually and aurally enhanced by the Aeon Video team. For more elaborate educational wizardry from the PSSC, watch Frames of Reference.

Director: John Friedman

Visual restoration: Tamur Qutab

Audio restoration: Adam D’Arpino

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Why artificial neural networks have a long way to go before they can ‘see’ like us

Artificial neural networks were created to imitate processes in our brains, and in many respects – such as performing the quick, complex calculations necessary to win strategic games such as chess and Go – they’ve already surpassed us. But if you’ve ever clicked through a CAPTCHA test online to prove you’re human, you know that our visual cortex still reigns supreme over its artificial imitators (for now, at least). So if schooling world chess champions has become a breeze, what’s so hard about, say, positively identifying a handwritten ‘9’? This explainer from the US YouTuber Grant Sanderson, who creates maths videos under the moniker 3Blue1Brown, works from a program designed to identify handwritten variations of each of the 10 Arabic numerals (0-9) to detail the basics of how artificial neural networks operate. It’s a handy crash-course – and one that will almost certainly make you appreciate the extraordinary amount of work your brain does to accomplish what might seem like simple tasks.

Video by 3Blue1Brown

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