Tag Archives: technology

How The Enlightenment Ends

Yesterday (18 May) I read a thought provoking article by Henry Kissinger on the subject of artificial intelligence or AI. The gist of Kissinger’s article is that the enlightenment liberated humanity while we are in danger (by relying on AI) of becoming slaves to the emerging technology and loosing our ability to think critically. The below quote from Kissinger’s article strikes me as containing much wisdom, particularly his point about many technophiles taking refuge from solitude in technology:

“Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs. In the process, search-engine algorithms acquire the capacity to predict the preferences of individual clients, enabling the algorithms to personalize results and make them available to other parties for political or commercial purposes. Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.

Inundated via social media with the opinions of multitudes, users are diverted from introspection; in truth many technophiles use the internet to avoid the solitude they dread. All of these pressures weaken the fortitude required to develop and sustain convictions that can be implemented only by traveling a lonely road, which is the essence of creativity”.

To read the article please visit https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/henry-kissinger-ai-could-mean-the-end-of-human-history/559124/.

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Forever Frozen

When he awoke
The folk
He could neither understand
Nor command.

They looked at him with pitty
And made witty
Observations he could not comprehend.
Having no friend
He pondered on whether all that expense
Made sense.

When he had handed over his gold
They had told
Him that “centuries hence
You will be forever free
To be
Whoever you wish to be.
What matter the expense
When you can shatter
This human clay
And forever as a god stay?”

Alone
On his eternal throne
He sits
As wits
Come and go.
I know
Not whether he is content
Nor whether ‘tis the acent
Or the descent of mankind.

Or perhaps many centuries hence
Our descendants will laugh over the expense
Of the vain
Who remain
Frozen in ice.
For the dead can not be broken hearted
And a fool and his money are soon parted.

Dogbotics

A friend, who works in the field of the biological sciences, informs me of a breakthrough in the sphere of human to animal communication. The development in question pertains to our canine friends and, as a dog lover of many years, I am delighted to be able to launch this exciting story upon the world.

My friend works in the little known field of Dogbotics. I must confess to not having heard of Dogbotics until I had the good fortune to become acquainted with my friend who, being of a shy and retiring disposition wishes to remain anonomous. Obviously being, as I am a man of the upmost integrity I will, of course respect the wishes of my dear friend and not reveal her identity.

Anyway, returning to the matter in hand, Dogbotics have developed a tiny chip which (when implanted into the neck of a canine) allows said animal to speak. I must confess to having been sceptical of this development until I heard it with my own ears. Imagine my surprise (I mean shock) when my own four-legged friend, Trigger (after having had the chip implanted) addressed me in the following manner:

“Hello, I’m Fido”.

Admittedly, his name is not Fido but (as mentioned above) Trigger. However his ability to voice in any manner (other than a growl, woof or whine) is truly staggering and will improve over time (or so my friend in Dogbotics informs me). In the meantime, I must remain content with such statements as that quoted above, together with such gems as

“Woof, I feel rough, that six day old pie I found in the street earlier is giving me a sore belly. Quick, I need to go outside!”.

I shall, of course keep you fully informed of the progresss of this exciting and innovative technology.

Kevin

Words Caper

Words caper
On virtual paper,
As my thoughts one another chase,
Only to be lost in cyberspace.
‘Else my words on pages
Moulder for ages.

But it is not the case
That cyberspace
Does forget,
And dusty tomes, may be read yet.

Online Distractions

Yesterday evening (Sunday 26 November), found me contentedly sitting on the sofa in my living room, reading a recently purchased braille edition of Robert Frost’s “North of Boston”, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3026/3026-h/3026-h.htm. On turning to the final poem in “North of Boston”, which is entitled “Good Hours” https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/good-hours, I came across the word profanation.

Being wholly unfamiliar with the word I was keen to ascertain its meaning. I had, however turned off my computer (quite deliberately as I wished to spend the remainder of Sunday evening reading, undisturbed by technology). I do not own a braille dictionary (they are, to my knowledge no longer produced as blind users can access online dictionaries), consequently the only way in which I would have been able to find the definition of profanation would have been by turning on my computer or looking up the word using the search engine on my mobile phone, (both devices are equipped with screen readers which convert text into speech and braille).

To cut a long story short, due to my unwillingness to succumb to the demon of technology, I left my curiosity unsatisfied until this evening (Monday 27 November).

I spend much of my life engaging with technology. My job entails the use of a computer Monday through to Friday, while my poetry is written using a laptop. Consequently I relish time away from electronic gadgetry, hence my disinclination to engage with technology yesterday evening.

I do, of course recognise the value of online reference books. Language is constantly evolving and it is not always convenient to lug a heavy dictionary around with one. However, when writing it is easy to go to one of the many online dictionaries, only to get caught up with online distractions such as webmail, social media etc. Had I the choice, I would not go online while writing but would rely on a good old-fashioned paper dictionary. However given the absence of braille dictionaries (as explained above) I have no option other than to use the internet. I will, however continue to avoid the temptation to go online during my leisure time, while reading for pleasure. We all, in my view benefit when we take a break from the World Wide Web and technology more generally.

Incidentally, for anyone interested in ascertaining the meaning of profanation, Merriam-Webster defines it as follows:
“the act or an instance of profaning”, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/profanation

Future Love

In the future, will robots dress
To impress?
And will men and women sigh
Over a lover’s imperfect thigh?
And choose
To lose
Their very being
In the never seeing
Robot eye?
For therein does lie
Perfection,
For there can be no rejection
For you or I.
And one can not sin
With a thing of tin.