Dead Ends

There was an article on AI in last week’s Sunday Times with the headline Robot wars: if we can’t beat them, let’s become them. It’s behind a paywall but some excerpts:

The truth is that Bob, Alice and Tay [AI programs) were straws in a wind that could, one day soon, blow humans off the planet

New machines could soon wipe out millions of jobs

As one technologist put it to me: “You can be confident your laptop isn’t going to strangle you, but it might with the help of your fridge.” We already know what the bad bots can do to our bank accounts

The article carries on in this vein. The writer, Brian Appleyard, does briefly offer up a counter view through Luciano Floridi but concludes:

Maybe he’s right. Or maybe one day soon our cars and fridges or future Bobs, Alices and Tays, talking gibberish, hating feminists and supporting Hitler, will decide that we’re just getting in the way

This type of article (it just so happens to be the most recent one I’ve read, though it is probably the guiltiest) only leads to what Tom Chatfield – a writer whose even handedness when writing about technology I really like – calls the dead end of human vs machine panic. It’s a dead end because it doesn’t encourage conversation, or reasoning, it just serves to set people to anxiety and worry.

 

Stranger than Fiction

In the Financial Times (I know, I know) yesterday there was an article headlined Drama is struggling to match the reality of Donald Trump. It’s behind a paywall unfortunately, but it discusses, albeit briefly, how “satire, theatre and TV shows are challenged with the restless US news agenda”.

Continue reading “Stranger than Fiction”

Money, Money, Money / Must Be Funny

I was left with this feeling that we are all still borrowing money we don’t have to spend on stuff we don’t need – we are still dancing on the deck of the Titanic

As voice-command purchasing is enabled as default on the Echo devices, some viewers’ Alexa units interpreteded Patton’s words as a command, resulting in a series of additional dollhouse dispatches

These two quotes are taken from the new issue of Delayed Gratification, a magazine which again I’d recommend. The first is from Laura Greenfield, a photo journalist, “who has spent 25 years documenting dept, the growth of consumerism and the rise, fall and rise again of the super-rich”; the second from a regular feature in DG, The butterfly effect, which in this issue shows how a derailed banking career in C19 Vienna led to the mass online ordering of dollhouses in January 2017.

Feature followed article and I felt the two quotes, by accident or design, highlighted and complimented each other nicely.

Under No Illusion

To follow a minute-by-minute cycle of news is to be constantly threatened by illusion. So I’m not just staying off Twitter, I’m cutting back on the news sites in my RSS feed, and deleting browser bookmarks to newspapers. Instead, I am turning more of my attention to monthly magazines, quarterly journals, and books. I’m trying to get a somewhat longer view of things — trying to start thinking about issues one when some of the basic facts about them have been sorted out. Taking the short view has burned me far too many times.

– Alan Jacobs

My copy of the new issue of Delayed Gratification arrived in the post today.

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I began buying it about a year ago and thanks to a subscription bought for me for Christmas by my sister I will be reading it well into this year. It’s difficult to remember what sparked my initial decision to buy it, but the issues Alan Jacobs brings up in this post from earlier this year are definitely similar to the ones bothering me at the time.

Whether Delayed Gratification will usher in a slow news revolution is debatable. Perhaps it’s unimportant. For currently it provides an alternative to the existing news landscape and I’d definitely recommend you buying a copy.

Going For A Song: ‘Steady Jam’

Sad City – Steady Jam

When it comes to introducing me to new music the Gilles Peterson show and Stuart Maconie’s Freak Show (and its offshoot the Freakier Zone) on BBC6 Music have filled the role the music press used to play. I’ve mentioned and featured songs I’ve heard on the Freak Show in this blog previously, so I wanted to give a quick mention to the Gilles Peterson show.

On a Saturday afternoon the scope of what he is able to play, unencumbered it seems by any restrictions, is impressive. It’s a compliment to the show I think that I can hear it being broadcast at 3pm or 3am. This by Sad City is an example of one of the longer tunes Peterson seems to be able to place seamlessly into the show; and is yet another song heard on the show I’ve since listened to again and again.