Art and Technology News


art and technology news 

My recent blog post asking whatever happened to good old customer service certainly resonated with more than a few of you. If you missed it you can find it here.

I was inundated with emails suggesting that I had indeed hit the nail on the head of corporate away days. It seems like everyone who has ever had to attend one had found the same sandwich selection and the push for an early exit after the afternoon break.

So what happened? Amazon decided to remove customer service all together and introduced a grocery shop without queues or checkouts.

The Just Walk Out shopping experience apparently uses similar technology to self-driving cars so clearly nothing can go wrong with this, detecting when items are removed and returned to shelves and charging everything you walk out of the door with to your Amazon account.

Customers have to swipe their mobile phones which are connected to their Amazon account on entry to the store, and then customers’ just place whatever they want in to a bag and carry it out. No need to wait in line or use those ghastly self-service checkouts that keep insisting that there is an unexpected item in the bagging area. That unexpected item wasn’t all that unexpected, I was shopping for the wife. Have you noticed how everyone in the store looks at you when this happens? They are keen to see just what you tried to purchase too.

Now I know this will be replicated by other stores in the not too distant future, but it’s too much. I don’t like waiting in queues, and I don’t always want to have a conversation about the weather whilst the cashier is calling for help because the barcode couldn’t be read. But I do like that people are gainfully employed and can usually take time to help me when I cannot quite decide on what food type goes with what wine.

There is just so little customer service involved in the process and it appears to me at least that this experience is a tad gimmicky and would make an excellent practice arena for shoplifters to hone their skills without the risk of being caught. Obviously they will get charged on the way out, but I can imagine that people will feel as if they are walking out without paying for the goods even though they will be charged. That will be a problem when they become so used to Amazon Go that they try to do the same thing in other stores too.

Whilst the concept is to provide a simple shopping experience, the technology behind it is really sophisticated so what will happen when it all goes wrong or there is a power cut in the area?
It is as the New York Post said, the end of jobs and I would suggest that if people aren’t earning they certainly aren’t buying. Please wake up to this concept dear tech companies. When the robots make the robots who feed the robots, it is pretty much the end.

Technology taking away jobs 


Blippar are a tech company who are in the augmented reality business and they are doing some things that seem to me at least, a little over intrusive. Now don’t get me wrong, I love technology more than anyone reasonably should, but there is some technology that is starting to make me want to give up using it entirely.

Blippar you see is adding facial recognition to its app, and whilst there will be some who think it is cool, there are many of us who have read the book 1984.

The app will give you information about the people it recognises. That in itself seems like a great idea if you are anything like me and really struggle remembering names of people. For now it is public figures who will be recognised by the app, and this is the kind of technology that Google Glass would have been ideal for. But I can see in a few years we will all be identified by augmented reality and whilst that is good for things such as waiting at airport security lines, I’m not too sure I would want to know everyone walking through Covent Garden on a Tuesday night.

They say it is a totally opt in service meaning that your information will only appear if you let it, but I have a feeling that we have heard this before.

Now where the technology does come into its own is that it will also identify famous artworks. This is exactly what is needed in the art world, but not just to identify the Masters, that’s nice, but to also identify the many thousands, indeed millions of pieces of art that we see from local and independent artists.

There have been times when I have visited exhibitions or seen art in hotels that I really would like to buy at least a print of, yet there are no names anywhere and rarely do they tell you where the print can be purchased from.

Now if Blippar set up a register of new artworks from local and independent artists, I really might just be convinced to buy in to that as an artist myself.

You can see more at: Blippar


Another interesting read I stumbled across recently was that the River Thames, a rather cold and often fast flowing river allegedly of historical importance in England’s capital, London is to be used as a canvas for a unique art project.

The Illuminated River will become visible as a project in 2018 and is the result of public-private partnerships which are costing an eye watering $24.8 million. The project is being designed to transform the river in to a glowing river of light and spectacle.

Personally I have always thought this of the Thames, it is wonderful to walk along the side of Thames at night at the best of times, seeing all of the wonderful vibrant reflections of a city that seems to never sleep. This project though will bring much more than that.

The website suggests that six teams have been shortlisted following an international design competition run by the Illuminated River Foundation and the Mayor of London. You can see more information here

I have to say that the concept ideas look visually stunning and it will be a must see if you are visiting the capital. Wouldn’t it be great if the event could be staged along different rivers around the UK at some point in the future?


Facebook introduced a marketplace feature recently and I still battle with notifications telling me that someone has a five pound note (sterling) for sale with the serial number AK99 or AB202 or something similar. I know that low numbered monetary notes can be worth a small fortune, but by the time you see an AB or AK note, I can’t see them being worth quite so much. I actually found an AK54 note for sale and the seller wanted offers over £300. The entire marketplace was full of AB’s, AK’s and no AA’s at all. Even if they were, the lowest numbers are usually given to Her Majesty the Queen, and I doubt she will be putting them up on Facebook Marketplace anytime soon for any price. Mind, having said that, some maintenance work needs to be completed at Buckingham Palace (I can recommend the Salmon if you ever get invited), and there has been some lively debate in the UK over who pays.

So this five pound note is made from a polymer and around twenty four other nations use a similar product to manufacture their notes. Paper notes tear, and end up fraying very quickly, and it has been scientifically proven that a large majority of paper notes have traces of cocaine on them, and aren’t really hygienic at all.

I was surprised that cocaine was actually on notes at all, I must have lead a very sheltered life, but I was even more surprised to find out that the notes actually contain minuscule traces of tallow, an animal fat usually derived from cows. The way the currency is manufactured means that the notes are waterproof which is useful if you leave them in your pocket when your jeans go through the wash.

But this revelation hasn’t pleased vegetarians and vegans who have complained in droves, and The Bank of England have now released a statement and they say;

We are aware of some people’s concerns about traces of tallow in our new five pound note. We respect those concerns and are treating them with the utmost seriousness.

This issue has only just come to light, and the Bank did not know about it when the contract was signed.

Information recently provided by our supplier, Innovia, and its supply chain shows that an extremely small amount of tallow is used in an early stage of the production process of polymer pellets, which are then used to create the base substrate for the five pound note.
Innovia is now working intensively with its supply chain and will keep the Bank informed on progress towards potential solutions.

So it looks like a solution being is now being worked on to eradicate tallow from the process.


I know a few artist friends who live in the US and indeed elsewhere have been posting updates on social media around the proposed route of the Dakota Pipeline. On the 4th December 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not approve a 1,100-feet easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that would run under North Dakota’s Lake Oahe.

Following continued discussions with the Standing Rock Sioux and learning of its concerns around the possibility of water contamination and a violation of treaty rights, the Army Core have now stated that they would explore an alternative route and conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement.

There is an expectation that this measure could take anywhere between months and years to complete, and is now expected to put a halt to the construction of the 1,172 mile pipeline at least for the foreseeable future. Despite the recent issues the Corps of Engineers had not officially signed off on the easement to permit the pipe under a Missouri River reservoir owned by the Corps previously.


That’s all for today but I have some really interesting blog posts coming up over the next few weeks as we lead up to the start of the Christmas holiday season. I already have the tree up, and the outside Christmas lights are on. Now I am waiting to get a week away from the day job and going out to fly two new drones that will enable me to take some really good cockpit view video.

If you wish to purchase any of my art there is still time to do so with orders still being taken for pre-Christmas delivery. My range of works is available on everything from a museum quality stretched canvas, home décor items, apparel and more. You can buy my work on these amazing quality mediums and get a 30-day Money Back Guarantee at Pixels

Now my artwork is also available on Coffee Mugs! Click on the link above to see the entire range!

Mark Taylor art Coffee Mugs 


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