AI is neither artificial nor intelligent, discuss.

What do we mean when we say, Artificial Intelligence? A quick look at Wikipedia shows that the word Artificiality is the state of being the product of intentional human manufacture, rather than occurring naturally through processes not involving or requiring human activity. There is little in this world that has not been affected by human activity, or human presence. In the largest sense, it seems that there is little that has not been affected by human activity. Now we may be splitting semantic hairs but let us step back and look at the larger picture and a more interesting question. We have found that algorithms and AI have begun to play some games better than we can and even learn things on their own using a rewards-based system.

But are they intelligent?

I think not.  Here is the reason why. AI and any computer will tell you that 2+2=4. But will they tell you that 2+2=7. The talent that we have that computers may never have is the ability to see what is not there. Anyone can look at the first problem and say, “Yes, that is right”. But what about the guy who looks at the second and says- that’s right too and here is why. The 2 is actually a 5 upside down and 2+5 is 7.” What about the ability to see what isn’t there? What about the ability, like they said of Michelangelo, to see the David in the piece of stone and to take away everything that was not in his vision. What about the Edison’s, Einstein’s, the Picassos and Mozart’s? Our greatest talent is to see what isn’t there and to will it into being. This is a talent that as far as we know only humans have- perhaps one of our greatest gifts. Our hearts are not stirred by the accountant or the analyst but by those who can remind us take that leap and learn to fly on the way down. For it is only in our taking the illogical step, by pushing us to make no small plans and to accept nothing other than our own intelligence and vision.


Eighteen and a half minutes

To those old enough to remember the unfolding of the Watergate investigation, the words eighteen and half minutes have resonance. That was the amount of time that was erased from the taped conversation that then-President Nixon was having with JR Halderman, his Chief of Staff. This comes to mind when thinking about the ongoing conversation about the “right to be forgotten”. For those unfamiliar, this rule states “personal data must be erased immediately where the data are no longer needed for their original processing purpose, or the data subject has withdrawn his consent and there is no other legal ground for processing, the data subject has objected and there are no overriding legitimate grounds for the processing or erasure is required to fulfil a statutory obligation under the EU law or the right of the Member States.” In short, we can create our own eighteen and a half minutes of invisibility, take anything that happened and erase it when we think it is no longer appropriate to the current image we wish to project. While at once of two minds about this, I now have come down on the side that the past is something that we can reinterpret at will, it should not be something plastic to mold and form to fit into the current style.

While there are many who may argue over the Holocaust, perhaps the numbers of people extinguished, the importance or legacy that has left behind, but there is still a historical record, there are people who were there, who remember, photographs, lonely piles of shoes and glasses, the only remnants once-living people turned to ash. As we move to a more silicon-based memory, we must remember the physical is a testament too. While it may seem so, our entire lives have not been transformed by a blue light fairy into a Tron like existence, solely in a binary world. They used to say New York is a snake that devours itself every 50 years, are we not quickly approaching the same fate?  Are we creating a world where the past is simply a thing to be shed off in pursuit of an ever distant promise of becoming? Where ones past has no importance, or relevance. A world lost in a constant now?



Technology, Uncategorized

Swept Away by the Tide of Innovation

A few years ago, I was working at at company that made promotional items and got a call from a client who was looking for an pen to match their brand color, a pantone color. Having not worked there long I asked one of my associates if it was possible for us to search our online cataloge in that way. “oh, no” I was told “we cant do anything like that”  All of the data was obviously in a database, in our computer and all known information. The thing lacking was either the skill or the desire to make the most of the resources that are easily available.

It seems that in many cases we are more interested in maintianing the status quo or our comfort zone than exploring what is possible and profitable. A recent article mentioned that banks outdated approach to IT could lead to their demise as they are unable to cope with disruptive technology. If you are standing on a slowly revolving disk, you need to keep moving slightly to keep staring at the same spot. Technology is making changes faster and that perimage our lives more and more every day.  We need to let go of our desire for the status quo and understand that change is the order of the day and as the rate of change accelerates, we have to learn to cope or be swept away by the tide of innovation.


No matter where you go, your there.

I am old. I say that not as a statement about my age but my perspective is that of someone who has seen time elapse and hopefully gleaned some wisdom or wonder from that. Nowhere is that more apparent than a recent trip through the 10 best rock albums of all time while completing a project at work. Earbuds firmly screwed into my ears, I started listening to old friends, and other albums that I was not familiar with in their entirety. While I did skip around a bit, I was most surprised to hear “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and met with a familiar unfamiliarity. While we have discussed the Mandella Effect here before, this was a more immediate confrontation with my personal perceptions of the album. After the first few seconds of the album, I found myself checking the download wondering if this might have been a remix or a remastered version. Paul Mc Cartney’s voice never seemed to be such a light tenor and the whole sound of the album is different then I remember hearing from my brother’s stereo playing the new vinyl album. While not proposing this is a Pepper from an alternate universe, it does pose questions about our relationship to the past and our personal and collective history.

Again, there are those of us who may remember the excitement around the airing of “Wizard of Oz”, once a year on TV, popcorn was popped and it became an event that we looked forward to every year until we were too old or jaded to care. Yet, now, the thrill around seeing something is gone, we can watch it at any time, anywhere and watch for as briefly, or as long as we like. After my self imposed exile from Sgt. Pepper perhaps the only thing that changed was me. In this world with so much innovation and revolutionary changes, perhaps we need that unchanging still place in the movies or music of our youth. And while it may (or may not-remember the Mandella effect) change, it may be our need for a constant in this world of change that makes us examine everything, not realizing that the thing that has changed is us.


Try a little tenderness

Here at the Galaxy, we have taken a moment to step back and watch the parade of media pundits, soothsayers and prophets of doom commenting on everything from the fate of the planet and the democracy to the condition of the Bachelor after a freak accident and will he return. Instead of diving into this chaff to look for a grain of wheat we have decided to step back and to try to make the kindest choice we could for this week. This week we ask you to take a moment out of your day and click for a donation to the Hunger Site, a not for profit whose clicks go to feed those in need. While there are those who have told me that the site is a scam, perhaps now we need to live in the hope that each of us can make a difference.  Please take a moment, donate with a click. Perhaps in crazy times the sanest thing we can do is help one another.

social media, Technology, Uncategorized

In the Halls of Smoke and Mirrors

Let’s cut to the chase, we know that technology changes society. The idea of disruptive innovation has been around for a while but while – that being that innovations disrupt markets is not carried over to the idea that technology also disrupts society seems to be glossed over as a cost of business.  Yet as technology continues to change the parameters of our existence, it doesn’t seem to take into account the human cost which, as long as we cannot profit from it (yet) can either not be measured or be something to be concerned with. But how are we to go on when all the guideposts we were given have been bleached out by the ever-increasing glare of technology. We try to order our life by rituals by moments in time that we attach importance no longer seem to matter. Growing up we were taught that certain things were important, having dinner together as a family, a basic connection to one another,  and a common agreement as to what was important. However, technology seems to have erased our past like footsteps in the sand. While my childhood weekends were spent outside riding my bike to a friends house, playing games with the neighborhood kids coming home only when the street lights came on at night.

Today, my kids spend their weekends in their rooms glued to their screens, watching life as opposed to living it. Friends are spoken to online, no need for face to face interactions. The ideas some of us may have been raised with have now become quaint museum pieces. A job isn’t something that you have for life, there is no 40-year watch on your retirement any more (I still have my grandfather’s watch given to him on his retirement) but it has become a transitory relationship, a landing point till something else comes along. Friends are not people but clicks on Facebook pages. Why experience something when we can see it from the safety of our room- as there are no new frontiers, at least we can watch the reruns of the old ones.

And yet, how are we to understand this recreated world when we find ourselves lost in a hall of mirrors, where all our maps have become obsolete. We cant raise our children to hope for a better life than what we had as everything is so different we don’t know what is to come. We dare not put a value on anything for the future may convert our diamonds into handfuls of dust. What else to explain this old white man rage, this shaking fist at a furious rate of change that could leave them in a cloud of irrelevance. Our octagenarian leaders sit wag their double chins at the marvels that the computer age has brought, both creating and destroying. Media brings us a constant barrage of dystopian messages only serve as a signal of the old orders distrust of the future and the loss of their value. Hopefully, that marking will too fall by the wayside like a bleached out road sign in the desert.

lady from shanghi

What do you do when the future looks nothing like your past



“You’re on Candid Camera!”

You may remember the name Alan Funt and the catchphrase, “You’re on Candid Camera!” For those uninitiated, Candid Camera is an American hidden camera/practical joke reality television series that involved concealing cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, sometimes involving trick props, when the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show’s catchphrase, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.” It seems now that Alan Funt should be the next Mayor of London, as it has become the surveillance capital of the world. With one camera for every 14 people in the city, it is thought that you may be seen by as many as 300 cameras in one day. Now while the accepted idea has been that this surveillance was in place to reduce crime it seems that only  3% of the crimes are solved using closed-circuit television.

So why are Londoners being recorded everywhere they go, more than anywhere else on earth. One may also ask the same reason why Google and other internet companies are tracking us. While the idea that this is solely so that companies can market their products and services to us does sound plausible, the fact is they are tracking our every move, as a recent New York Times article noted, you are being tracked almost every moment of the day to almost your exact latitude and longitude. Now while it would be pretty to think that this is all to give us the convenience of having what someone else thinks we might need brought to us, it begs the question, is this anything that we as humans really need? Is there not something to be said for the quest of anything in one’s life? By the same measure, what is the need for Londoners to be tracked from place to place? Unfortunately, the more plausible truth is that someone is profiting off all of these transactions, either in financial currency or in the manipulation of power. You can control people by controlling the options that they have to choose from and by manipulating the ideas of what is acceptable to be “safe”. Anyone who has children has used the , a method of controlling the choices of a child to make them feel as if they have power over a very controlled outcome, for example, “You can wear either the red or the blue t-shirt to school” rather than a myriad of choices. While we may not like the idea that we are being controlled like children, we should like even less than we are being surveilled to also keep us under control. Surveillance is expensive and why should we be surprised that London, the financial capital of the world, the wealthy are doing everything to keep their status protected. You can control what you can predict, and how do we learn to predict but by watching past behavior.

Now there are those who may think this is all being too cynical but then, what would be the other choice, that we are being watched over by benevolent machines and the wealthy whose concern is our highest good? Yes, that must be it…

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