Orange Tangent Study

A boutique consultant service created by


Kameelah Janan Rasheed

➕ Week 002: August 2, 2021

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This week: interdisciplinary thought, ant collaboration, birds falsely advertising their mating qualifications, and synthetic voices!

Public Thinker: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein Looks To The Night Sky

(Public Books | Katherine McKittrick | March 9, 2021)

“CPW: I’m sure someone’s going to say, “I knew it!” But the truth is that I’m trying to synthesize all the ways through which I relate to the world. And that required figuring out how these different parts of my life—familial, intellectual, and political—could be put in conversation with each other.”

Floating Fire Ant Rafts Form Mesmerizing Amoeba-Like Shapes

(Smithsonian Magazine | Shi En Kim| June 29, 2021)

“As the researchers expected, the ants would initially huddle together around the rod in a circular pancake. Over the next few hours, the ant boat would randomly form tentacle-like features, making the raft look less like a pancake and more like an amoeba—an evolving shape with a mind of its own.”

Some Male Birds Fly Under False Colors to Attract Mates, Study Suggests

(The New York Times | Emily Anthes | April 21, 2021)

“But some birds may be guilty of false advertising, a new study suggests. Male tanagers have microstructures in their feathers that enhance their colors, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports. These microstructures, like evolution’s own Instagram filters, may make the males seem as if they are more attractive than they truly are.”

AI voice actors sound more human than ever—and they’re ready to hire

(MIT Technology Review | Karen Hao | July 9, 2021)

“Not too long ago, such deepfake voices had something of a lousy reputation for their use in scam calls and internet trickery. But their improving quality has since piqued the interest of a growing number of companies. Recent breakthroughs in deep learning have made it possible to replicate many of the subtleties of human speech. These voices pause and breathe in all the right places. They can change their style or emotion. You can spot the trick if they speak for too long, but in short audio clips, some have become indistinguishable from humans.”

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