Part 1 has some commentary from me about the future of artificial intelligence (AI), historical analogy about Luddites in the early 19th century, and whether AI will be beneficial to us or prove to be disastrous. Lots of wonderful editorial cartoons and informative Tweets about AI, the War in Sudan, and singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, who passed away a few days ago.
Part 2 of this diary is now up and focusses exclusively on senseless mass shootings and the proliferation of guns in this country.
To a large degree, we have become desensitized to the prevalent gun culture and almost daily news of mass shootings. No one seems to be able to do anything meaningful which might prevent this recurring travesty. One can reprint articles printed the week or month before and all sentiments expressed would be valid and applicable to today’s or yesterday’s horrific event.
What kind of a country are we leaving for the next generation?
Many thanks for your support.
Saying Goodbye to Modern Life
Are We Afraid of New Technology?
Developments in technology frequently come at lightning speed, one that the current political system frequently has difficulty adapting to. Given the natural human resistance to change — and a life-long pursuit by many of us of two rather elusive goals, predictability and stability in our lives — makes this transition difficult and a deep dive into the unknown.
In an era long past, fear of machines making humans redundant in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution — at a time when worker’s rights were minimal, workplace safety guarantees non-existent, and labor unions unheard of — gave rise in the early 19th century to the often-misunderstood group called the Luddites in the UK. They weren’t necessarily opposed to the idea of progress and the introduction of new technology, but, rather, only wanted technological change to preserve their livelihood and offer some control over their way of life.
The label now has many meanings, but when the group protested 200 years ago, technology wasn’t really the enemy
Despite their modern reputation, the original Luddites were neither opposed to technology nor inept at using it. Many were highly skilled machine operators in the textile industry. Nor was the technology they attacked particularly new. Moreover, the idea of smashing machines as a form of industrial protest did not begin or end with them. In truth, the secret of their enduring reputation depends less on what they did than on the name under which they did it.
You could say they were good at branding...
As the Industrial Revolution began, workers naturally worried about being displaced by increasingly efficient machines. But the Luddites themselves “were totally fine with machines,” says Kevin Binfield, editor of the 2004 collection Writings of the Luddites. They confined their attacks to manufacturers who used machines in what they called “a fraudulent and deceitful manner” to get around standard labor practices. “They just wanted machines that made high-quality goods,” says Binfield, “and they wanted these machines to be run by workers who had gone through an apprenticeship and got paid decent wages. Those were their only concerns.”
This time it is no different, for the relevant concerns are the same as in the days of Ned Ludd. Obviously, the nature of technology and the pace of change is very different from the early 19th century. This new technology will probably permeate and affect every facet of our modern, complex lives.
Dr. Max Tegmark, a professor at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology and one of the world’s foremost experts in arificial intelligence offers a sobering review in this interview — Will Artificial Intelligence Destroy Us or Set Us Free?
Should we be a bit skeptical of the benefits of AI as being pushed by pro-establishment types? Can politics keep up with technology? Will the political benefits of AI outweigh the potential threats that it poses? It also begs the age-old question of fairness and equity: who will be the bigger beneficiary of artificial intelligence, capital or labor?
It remains to be seen, for few people seem to have definitive answers as we enter this brave new world.
“President Biden, racing to upgrade the government’s artificial-intelligence expertise and role, is calling the leading architects of generative AI to Washington today to discuss guardrails for the powerful technology,” Axios reports.
“The U.S. has almost no AI-specific regulations on the books. The European Union is plowing ahead with a wide-ranging AI act.”
President Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign has often been celebrated as the first to effectively use social media as a mobilization tool to capture the White House. In the 15 years since, the technology has gone from being a novel addition to a political campaign to transcending every aspect of one.
Now, a transformative and largely untested technology looks set to revolutionize political campaigning: artificial intelligence. But the computer-generated content, which blurs the line between fact and fiction, is raising concerns ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Attribution for the above cartoon: Matt Davies @MattDavies
The World’s Leading Authority On… Something
An Early Victim of Artificial Intelligence
If This is the Future… Ugh!
Take a Break
The Godfather of Artificial Intelligence Quits Google
Who Will Tame AI?
“I Feel Your Pain”
Guess Who’ll Suffer the Most — Thank You, Trickle-Up Economics
The AI political campaign is here
Sowing the Seeds of One’s Own Destruction
An AI-Generated Image of Trump
AI: The Real Replacement Threat?
The New Writing Team
Layoffs Have Started
Should We Be Concerned?
War is Raging in Sudan
Fierce fighting across Sudan has left hopes for a peaceful transition to civilian rule in tatters. Forces loyal to two rival generals are vying for control, and as is so often the case, civilians have suffered the most.
At least 459 people have been killed and more than 4,000 injured in the unrest so far, according to the World Health Organization, while parts of the capital Khartoum have become a war zone.
What is the End Game?
Mad Max is Alive
Tearing the Country Apart
RIP, Gordon Lightfoot
Singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, the Canadian folk music laureate who crossed over to major pop fame in the U.S. during the ‘70s, died of natural causes on Monday evening at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. He was 84 years old…
Lightfoot rose to prominence in the mid-‘60s, penning such folk standards as “Early Morning Rain” (a major hit for the Canadian folk duo Ian and Sylvia Tyson), “For Loving Me” and “Ribbon of Darkness,” as well as the ambitious “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” a sort of Northern equivalent to Mickey Newbury’s “American Trilogy.”
While he was acclaimed at home and served as an inspiration for such younger Canada-bred performers as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, success in America eluded him until he signed with Warner Bros.
Tribute to a Great Singer-Songwriter
What He Did Best
“If You Could Read My Mind…”
The Pride of Ontario, Canada
Technical gibberish and forecasts of future nirvana, doom, or gloom aside, let’s hear one last word about artificial intelligence from another expert of sorts.
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