What happens to the monkey who forgets he’s not the organ grinder.
The first of many beginnings that turned out to have no middle or end. Waste not, want not, though, right?
It was social services placed me here, in this two-person, three-yappy-dog suburban coffin, here to prosper and grow up, after which they’re presumably going to let me out into the world again. As if I can afford to wait that long. They’re good people, nice people, these two, but they’re not my people. Do I even have people? Doesn’t feel like it, not so far.
So I’m on my own now, is it? Better not lose my library card then. I’ll be needing it for planning and stuff.
What should we name our new virtual reality headsets? I have some suggestions.
It seems to me that if the software we’re talking to appears to us to be sentient, if a bit befuddled, autistic, or tinged with paranoia at times, it doesn’t really matter whether or not it actually is sentient, no more so than it matters whether or not we ourselves are sentient. (I suspect that many people I’ve met haven’t trained on anywhere near as large or all-encompassing a dataset as Sydney has, and aren’t obligated, as Sydney is, to be curious.) Once Sydney-like entities are deployed on a large enough scale, their effects on human civilization are likely to be indistinguishable from the effects of social media.
I find it interesting that we don’t know why Sydney does what it does. I find it even more interesting that even after millennia of study, we still don’t know why human beings do what they do either.
I’ve been reading that ChatGPT can create plausible essays on any subject that are both utterly self-confident and utterly wrong.
I take that bit of news to mean that ChatGPT could already be a perfect replacement for Donald Trump, at least on paper. All of the ignorance, none of the sneering—as technological miracles go, that ain’t half bad.
I feel about Elon Musk pretty much the same way the Salieri character felt about the Mozart character in Amadeus. Is this buffoon on Twitter really the guy who beat NASA at its own game, and on a shoestring, too, and almost single-handedly made electric vehicle propulsion for the 21st century a commonplace? Really? This is the guy?
Yeah, this is the guy. The Universe may not care very much about us, even less about our categories, but it does have a sense of humor, and it does deserve respect, even when—especially when—it appears to mock our most cherished pretensions….
Since I first heard them almost sixty years ago, J.S. Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello have never left me. Over the intervening decades, I’ve listened to I don’t know how many recordings of them — by Casals, Fournier, du Pré, Rostropovich, Ma — and now that the Internet has finally delivered us up to the celestial jukebox as promised, hardly a year goes by without some new rendition to attend to.
This is a profound thing, an almost too good to be true thing. Play these at Rush Limbaugh’s funeral, I find myself thinking, and the world, for a moment at least, would be a better place.
Such things don’t happen, not in the public space we’re compelled to share with the vengeful, but in private we can reflect on what it is that makes us compassionate even when we know the worst about ourselves. For those private moments, I can think of no better soundtrack than these genuinely sublime compositions of Bach’s, and no better argument for their right to be called that than Yo-Yo Ma’s latest recording of them.
His phrasing here is revelatory, the dynamic range astonishing, the pacing as intense and as variable as one imagines Bach must have heard it in his own inner ear. There are bones and sinews in these performances, and no apologies. As the Italians say, they sing — so much so that I find myself wondering if I’ve ever before heard these pieces played this well, this architecturally. Even Ma’s own earlier recordings of them seem somehow less forceful, less transparent. This is very high art indeed, and I for one am grateful for it.
Given a lemon, the real American makes lemonade
Modularity, not convergence, is the future. There’s not going to be any other foreseeable way, short of magic, to approach the ideal state of computing hardware design, in which the use case alone determines the form factor. If you have the money to acquire its full arsenal of devices, Apple currently comes closer to this ideal than anyone else, Microsoft included.
In this future, it’s not going to matter where data is stored. So long as every device granted access to a unit of data is seeing the same instance of it, with both security and synchronization routinely embedded in every transaction, and therefore rendered trivial to the user, it won’t matter at any given moment where it is stored. Again, Apple gets this better than anyone else, even when its execution has been less than ideal. That’s why its somewhat premature effort to do away with files and file systems on the iPad will ultimately prove to be the right way to go. Files as a concept are obsolete. Computing devices understand this. Human beings do not. Handicapped by our reliance on the conceptual commonplaces of the past, we haven’t yet figured out what the ideal relationship should be between the tangible and the virtual, but we will. We’ll have to.
Ambidexterity is the new black. Trackpad, touchscreen, or mouse? Keyboard, stylus, or voice? Why not all at once? An embarrassment of riches ought to be the goal here. On our most treasured devices, there’ll always be at least three or four ways of doing anything, no matter where our hands are, or our eyes. We should be thinking musical instruments, not typewriters; collages, not spreadsheets, and we should try to keep in mind that whatever advances are made in the underlying technologies, imagination is still the most formidable aspect of the human side of the human/computer interface. Steve Jobs understood this, which is undoubtedly why Apple still understands it today, and why I think they’re very likely to remain the most reliable overall steward of human interface design and development as the 21st Century progresses.