Monthly Archives: July 2018

A Stream of Random Thoughts

In many ways, a society’s characteristics are not plainly visible to its contemporaries ─ at least not by its overwhelming majority. But at my age I’m not exactly contemporary and have never been part of the majority. Perhaps some of the following thoughts may be of use to you.

AI is a contradiction in terms despite its tremendous current and potential technological value, but by definition there is nothing artificial about intelligence ─  the ABCs of the alphabet are the result of  human concepts, as are numbers ─ the source of language and mathematics is living tissue we call the brain ─ it is not reasonable to attribute intelligence to a machine created by human intelligence no matter how spectacular the machine’s capabilities, including self-correction and self-advancement of its functions ─ denying the exclusive concept and reality of intelligent life on the one hand and applying it to inanimate machines on the other, violates the axiom that nothing can be and not be at the same time ─ if the dreams of AI’s staunchest advocates were to be realized, over time the human brain would retrograde as an accessory to automated consciousness ─ that’s not bloody likely…

…and, about the rage for robots in the first place: a major distinction between humans and all other lifeforms is that human beings have the exclusive ability to willfully alter their environment as part of their survival skills and unlike bird nest and beaver constructions, which are products of instinct alone, human environmental adjustments combine instinct and creative thought, a function that includes imagination ─ robots can’t hack that, only humans can ─ computer engineers tell us that they have or shortly will have ‘thinking machines with imagination,’ the fact is that they haven’t a clue about how an artist creates art ─ I know, because I’m an artist…

…and, if Genetic Engineering isn’t exclusively limited to the eradication of diseases and preventative physical anomalies, the human race will face a whole new set of personal and social problems, not the least of which will be ferocious commercial cosmetic competition and even ─ God forbid ─ a race for a super race (other than robots, of course)…

…and, there have always been premature or unfounded or contradictory theories and failed predictions about humankind’s direction ─ in the large theater of human experience and its reportage, historians and anthropologists have extensively noted the BIG stories of human existence, those include wars, political movements, economic circumstances, and so on ─ titles are given to periods, ages, and eras ─ that will also be so about our time ─ whatever those big stories and grand titles may be, they will not reflect the core of life as it is lived at the daily level ─ I’ve done that one day at a time for almost a century…

…and, a sort of malaise pervades our society ─ it’s characterized by crammed work schedules, laptops on workers’ laps in transit to and from work and, I suppose, in the bathroom, never- ending acquisitions of electronic devices, their maintenance and updating, over-the-top cell phone and E-mail communications (all ostensibly urgent), and an extensive list of other activities (all ostensibly important), an obsession for brevity (ad absurdum) and breakneck speed when speaking, an inordinate volume of things being communicated in both social media and private conversations, ads screaming at us online: our lifestyle is like that of hamsters on a spinner…

…and, when people encounter friends walking towards each other but who are headed in  different directions or getting in or out of cabs or elevators, their body language and facial expressions are tense, their speech almost a blur for maximum speed, their anxiety to keep moving obvious ─  when an acquaintance whizzes past me, I feel that my quick “hello, how are you?” is being timed by an Olympic Games stopwatch ─ there is a constant sense of urgency that we used to reserve for emergencies only, ”can’t talk now! gotta go! seeyalater!” or, for maximum brevity, simply: “later!”…

…and, the worst of it, at least for me, are those instances when I must speak to people about a matter that can’t wait, but even when just a few words need to be said and my message is for their advantage, I feel pressed by them to speak more rapidly ─ I sense their impatience before they know what I need to tell them ─ I know that is somewhat my fault because I find it difficult to edit my thoughts for the sake of brevity without adherence to linear thought and communication, the form of thinking and communicating to which I’m accustomed ─ the frantic dynamic of today’s mass speed obsession is exacerbated by mental blank spots and misunderstandings within the reluctant listener’s mind: that, in itself, sets off a whole set of extra thoughts and words I must find just so that I might keep my message on track for the listener whose mind is elsewhere ─ just about everyone is continuously distracted, in effect, a victim of attention deficit…

…and, despite the blinding glare of the Information Age and its exponential advancement of technology ─ including communication devices ─ rational  and meaningful conversations are in extraordinary decline, a phenomenon that exacerbates the very isolation that millions of people who seek to escape while paradoxically and voluntarily dedicating themselves to machine  “companionship,” a dark forecast of advanced ‘artificial’ intelligence and robotic rigged ‘conversations’ with humans: that would not lead to a revolt of machines against humans physically ─ which is merely a death wish ─ but it would further reverse the combined legacy of the Classic Age, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Information Age: that could be the death of the only intelligence possible, which ─ for want of a better word ─ is natural intelligence.

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