Archive for February, 2011

February 24, 2011

The Singularity: Artificial vs. Human Intelligence

A compelling article in Time Magazine explored the idea (and to a lesser extent the movement growing around it) that technology is advancing so rapidly, it’s close to surpassing and potentially replacing the human brain as a generator of pretty much everything. I may take a sip, but I’m not drinking the whole glass of Kool-Aid just yet (despite my fascination with tech.)

My initial problem with this theory is that we don’t even know what our brains are capable of, so how can we begin to track technology’s  race against them? My next issue with the singularity concept is in response to this:

“So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness. . .”

This statement assumes that brains create consciousness. Without getting into a creationist argument, I’m not sure we understand consciousness, and what little we think we know via quantum physics seems to dictate a more global answer to the mystery of consciousness or awareness than the simple thought that our brains create it.  It’s a chicken and egg scenario run amuck in a clusterfuck of science, metaphysics and religion in a man vs. machine themed video game; I’d rather write a poem, hold a puppy or water a garden.

Furthermore, should it begin to look as though, indeed, the elements of humanness that separate us from machinery–creativity, compassion, emotion– are in peril vis a vis the technology we birthed, that we are in danger of being usurped by our own Frankenstein monster, than I’m passing out hammers.

February 18, 2011

Music and stuff

Last night folks from Ventura City Hall descended the Ivory Tower to discuss the state of live music in the city with (gasp!) musicians and others who care.  All in all it was a positive exchange that left the city with a better understanding of the obstacles that litter the path of music makers and promoters in a region that is overstocked with talent.

Ideas were tossed around but whether or not anything comes to fruition is anyone’s guess. Chris Jay suggested a laminated parking pass for venues to give musicians so they can load gear without worrying about being ticketed.  Everyone agreed that a lack of all-ages venues (and the regulations that exist which prevent the under-21’s from attending shows, are the biggest issues facing the scene).

Bottom line is government needs to stay out of the way. If it wants to lean on the arts for identity, then it better give artists some room to do what they do: make art. When the city has no money to work with, what else can it do anyway?

Update: Singer-songwriter Rain Perry, who was in attendance, wrote this today.

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