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What do the Beatles, Dr. Seuss, Emperor Norton I, Burger King and McDonalds, Frankenstein and Jurassic Park, Asimov's Revised Laws of Robotics, the freedom fry, and Charlie Chaplin have in common? They all stop in for a visit and help me discuss some of the ramifications of exploring artificial intelligence.

It's no secret that I've always been a fan of James Burke's Connections ~ more the column in Scientific American, but the show as well ~ and, with the spirt of that sort of thing in mind, I tackled the topic of artificial intelligence in the essay On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men. The essay's been online since 2006, in a serialized hard-to-read format, but it can now be found in one spot on Green Man Envy right here at this link!
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Now how can there possibly be any humor in a song entitled Mrs. God, a tune from 2005's Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy...

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The Mission

I really don't remember how I got him on the subject - probably discussing flute and, more specifically, pan pipes. Somehow, that led Brad - a co-worker who supplied me with flute music and books and gave me some advice for playing - to bring in the soundtrack to this film. I wasn't exactly sure I'd like it, but I gave it a spin anyway and I was hooked. Sooner or later, I just had to make an effort to see the movie that was described so brilliantly by Ennio Morricone.

There are really multiple stories in here, and one fits into the other. The overarching story is that of political and religious groups fiddling around with this brand new world they found, determining, from Europe, who lives and dies. Actually, not so much who lives and dies, but who is enslaved and who isn't, but it amounts to the same thing in the end. An inner story is one of a man seeking penance for a crime he most certainly did commit. His service of that penance places him on a side - coincidentally, the opposite of the one that he, as a noble, had taken prior to his act of violent passion - in that overall story. Another inner story is that of the Jesuit mission reaching out to the Guarani indians - of how the priests met with disaster, as shown on the cover of the soundtrack and in the opening movements of the movie, when a priest is strapped to a cross and sent down Iguaçu Falls.

The falls. They feature several times in the film - the opening, Father Gabriel's climb, Rodrigo's penance, and, at last, the enemy army's approach. They are so breathtakingly beautiful - the cinematography in this movie is deeply powerful, as it takes you deep into the jungles of South America and to these awesome falls. As horrifying as some of the actions of the major European governments might be, as unfortunate the decisions of the Catholic Church might be, it's the location and the natives that live there that are the true stars of the movie. The Guarani in the film are played by the descendants of the Guarani.

Jeremy Irons portrays Father Gabriel, the leader of the Jesuits above the falls, who reaches out to the Guarani with his oboe, who attempts to prove to the ruling faction in Rome, Spain, and Portugal that the Guarani are not animals and have souls through their expression of music. It is without a doubt the best performance I've seen from Irons, and a great character - the peaceful power, a good heart, a good man. Robert De Niro's portrayal of Rodrigo is, likewise, the one by which I'll judge all his other performances. From the initial attitude and power he exudes, fallen and broken, then striving for penance - climbing the falls with his swords and armor in a net, dragging behind him. Liam Neeson plays a part as one of the Jesuit brothers, and Aidan Quinn plays a much smaller, but no less powerful part.

Although I don't doubt you could see this movie and spin it this way or that to paint the Jesuits in the wrong, or, perhaps worse, the colonial governments in the right, that's essentially what this movie points out. Some people, no matter how allegedly religious, have only their own selfish motivations, their own greed, their own power to look after. Others... don't. They may choose different paths, they may have been on different paths to begin with, but they have chosen to pick someone up rather than push them down. To me, this is one of a handful of stories - in any media - that can teach such a critical lesson.

the turning

Apr. 8th, 2008 08:58 am
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the turning
by Everett A Warren
February 23, 1999

amidst
the
wreckage
of a distant age
walk
the gods
of yesterday

finding only silence greets their cries
they turn their attentions away

one by one
they
stalk through
lands of fallen dreams
gathering
no solace
from their creation

seeking only for words hiding in lies
they turn their attentions away

and so fades another age


Copyright (c) 1999 Everett A Warren

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in God's image
by Everett A Warren
May 19, 1999

like a river
to the sea
our breath
carries with it
life
dreams
challenges
as we stand
upon a shoreline
infinite
we count what we rule
in the name of other Names
we claim what we have found
for it is our inalienable right to rule
are we not His heirs made in His image?
a pebble rolls away taken by the tide
minus one pebble longer the shore grows
our footing lost and we fall to a grain
of sand
skyward we glance fearing a bolt for our insolence
and in lightning's forked path we might find our answers
or in the rivers and the creeks branching out
the trees reaching high dividing as they ascend
so like to our lungs and our veins
that our image is everywhere
nature is
flowing in fractal patterns
each individual
yet the same
so named
chaos
like a river
to the sea
so are we
all
in God's image


Copyright (c) 1999 Everett A Warren

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Backyard Blues
By Everett A Warren
August 31, 2007

We sing
We dance
We think we can have it all
It must be fast
It must be now
No time to waste
No time to wait
No time, like the present
Eating out of season
Demanding without reason
Distant wares
Rare made common
Global economy
Here, there, and everywhere
Only one commodity
Only one local product of manufacture
Our dirty, filthy masses
Export our refuse
Here, there, and everywhere
Not in our own backyard
Power is electric
So much greener than
Dead dinosaurs
Zipped along the lines
Clean! Safe!
Ignore the coal behind the curtain,
Ignore the fish pulp in the turbines,
Don't generate in our backyard
And our eyes will be blind to all your ills
Ship it long and ship it far
Here, there, and everywhere
We'll pay extra for a clean conscience
Out of sight
Out of mind
Here, there, and everywhere
Not in our own backyard


Copyright (c) 2007 Everett Ambrose Warren

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As the world winds down
in entropy enthroned
We cry the liar's defense:
I didn't mean it
I didn't do it
I didn't mean to be so cruel
to twist the knife and pierce the heart
to break the bones and tear the flesh
I didn't mean it
the first time nor the last
I didn't mean to cause the cut
to reopen the wound
or to silence the dying gasp

As faith lies shattered and broken
we hang our hat and bow to another
and claim it is but survival of the fittest
We were masters of the world
once upon a time
when things were rough around the edges
frayed
a real fixer-upper
And we took what we could
Formed it and molded it
an artificial world
that suited us better
in our own image and all that
concrete and tin foil
black as our asphalt souls
But we did all of that
good landlords that we are
Because it wasn't good enough for us
not to mention the money wasn't half-bad
Profits in the bank and prophets in our pockets
walking tall on the backs of others
and as they expire we find new minds to herd
blithely claiming that nothing lasts forever
except for our eternal souls
or diamonds
or plastics
or roaches
and we wonder why on judgement day
we are examined so deeply
held too long under the magnifying glass
until that cocksure soul we are so proud of
smoulders in the bright white light



Copyright (c) 2007 Everett Ambrose Warren

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They Will Come
By Everett A Warren



She walked to the cold shoreline, her head held high. A slave, they called her, but she was of a proud race. Her honey blond hair swirled in cascades around her, her long dress that swirled about her ankles plain in comparison. Once it had been embellished and ornamented as if for a princess or a queen. She had torn them off with her bare hands, for they were not of her people. He had ordered the gown for her, and he pilfered his own treasury to supply the priceless gems and metals. For that alone, she knew the gown was from Him, and the worship of their one God was not the worship of her people. She knew this, and did not weaken, for she knew something else as well. They will come.

Slowly, she lifted the wooden pipes to her lips, her eyes upon the grey mist that blanketed and bedded down the waves. She sat upon the large rock that loomed above the pebbled beach. She had sat there many a night before. As she had so many times before, she began to play. She knew this, and so she came to play, for she knew something else as well. They will hear, and they will come.

The melody was sad, plaintive; the rhythm like to the tides that rattled through the rocks on the beach. Echoing hauntingly across the waves, the waves that almost, soon, would leave ice crystals behind. Autumn was no more than a word and a distant thought here. Summer had fled, and it would be Winter soon enough. She had been here so many years now. She did not know how many years it had been since her capture, but she knew with unerring faith that someday, however far away, someday they will come.

She could hear, over the rolling and splashing of the waters, the slap of oars on waves. Barely audible to most, so quiet were the reavers, but to one of their own, especially one waiting so long to be returned to her homeland, they sounded like the pealing of the large bells in the monastery tower. Through the fog and mist and icy haze the proud bow of a dragon boat loomed forth. The shields, mounted upon the gunwales, the sail furled, the longship slid across the waves as no other type of vessel ever had before and no others ever would. For if the Greeks believed in Neptune, the Norse had allied with him. Or, she smiled as she played, conquered him. She pulled a wisp of blond hair back from her lips. She knew all along, had told everyone who would listen and those who would not hear, that someday, no matter how far away, someday they will come.

'They will not come...' )

Copyright (c) 2000 Everett A Warren

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Out on a Limb
March 19, 2006

They follow branches of the same tree
wandering away in different directions.
With nodding heads and rustling beards,
they claim Truth and Right and Just.
For some these buds will grow and flower
while others will branch again and again.
As one, they seek the same light,
no matter how unique their vision.
As one, they spread apart in their seeking,
further and further from the Truth.
For as they wander serpentine ways,
the heartwood grows straight and true.
As they reach for Heaven,
the roots are nourished in the Earth.

And so man falls and fails, and it is no surprise
that he sees not the forest for the trees,
for, in truth, as he looks upon the tree, still he fails to see,
for, with his eyes upon Heaven, he neglects Earth,
and so weakened, he dies impoverished,
where the lightest whisper of a breeze
is a gale that wrests him from his way,
tearing his life asunder and bringing him,
without fail, as all dead wood must, to ground.



Copyright (c) 2006 Everett Ambrose Warren

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On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part sixteen of sixteen

~ ~ ~

Part One
Previous

~ ~ ~



Part Sixteen )

~ ~ ~



Reference Links

17. Charlie Chaplin – Final Speech of "The Great Dictator" (also known as "Look Up, Hannah")
**** http://www.clown-ministry.com/Articles/Poetry/chaplin-great-dictator.html
**** http://promontoryartists.org/lookingcloser/movie%20reviews/A-G/chaplin.htm


~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

. . .

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On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part fifteen of sixteen

~ ~ ~

Part One
Previous

~ ~ ~



Part Fifteen )

~ ~ ~



Reference Links

16. Ashley Dunn - "Machine Intelligence, Part II: From Bumper Cars to Electronic Minds"

Next

~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

~ ~ ~

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Global Learning Program in PA Spotlight

I'm pretty close to speechless.
ellyssian: (Default)


On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part eleven of sixteen

~ ~ ~

Part One
Previous

~ ~ ~



Part Eleven )

~ ~ ~



Next

~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

~ ~ ~

ellyssian: (Default)


On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part ten of sixteen

~ ~ ~

Part One
Previous

~ ~ ~



Part Ten )

~ ~ ~



Reference Links

8. freedom fry

Next

~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

~ ~ ~

ellyssian: (Default)


On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part nine of sixteen

~ ~ ~

Part One
Previous

~ ~ ~



Part Nine )

~ ~ ~



Reference Links

7. Everett A Warren – "Impotent Spirituality" , A Work Forever In Progress, Book II Chapter 7

Next

~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

~ ~ ~

ellyssian: (Default)


On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part eight of sixteen

~ ~ ~

Part One
Previous

~ ~ ~



Part Eight )

~ ~ ~



Reference Links

6. Stephen Jay Gould – "The Monster's Human Nature" from Dinosaur in a Haystack

Next

~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

~ ~ ~

ellyssian: (Default)


On Artificial Intelligence and Machine Men
By Everett A Warren
March 14, 2004


Presented as part seven of sixteen

~ ~ ~

Part One
Previous

~ ~ ~



Part Seven )

"Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind."

I think, perhaps, that rather than trying to design an AI construct, there are more important technologies to focus on. For that very AI will sooner or later – provided we actually gave it the ability to reason – realise that, despite all our past history regarding an aversion to slavery, we have in fact gained no new ground. We resorted to creating our own slaves, and we hope we programmed them with enough self-control to restrain from thanking us for that honour. No, as much as the subject matter interests me, intrigues me, I can see the patterns of our mistakes in prior activities growing with greater speed then before, ascending to greater heights.

There is less flash, less tech-appeal, in the technologies that are of far more value.

~ ~ ~



Next

~ Questions and discussion welcome! ~

~ ~ ~

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