American exceptionalism or not, the events in Washington D.C. have reached far and wide into both the Analog and Digital worlds. The offices of The Analog Underground are feeling a little somber contemplating what was lost (Life and illusions) and also what was not (aspiration and potential). While we’ve got thoughts on transcendence and unity and doing one’s duty, we’ll leave those to our sister publication, The Wondering Pathfinder and be good digerati, confining our scope to the Analog/Digital aspects of events.
The realm of thinking on free speech and its rational limits has always been fertile ground for Analog/Digital philosophers, for what is speech but the original discrete encoding mechanism for the continuous reality of the world around us. We have been editing what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell into more consumable chunks called words for as long as there are records of, well, us. And from day one, those words, always one or more steps away from actual reality, have probably tempted us to try and improve on the reality we encountered. Og probably inflated the size of that Mammoth that got away. Continue reading →
Over the last year, it seemed like Artificial Intelligence was on quite a run and that days of complacently serving our robot overlords in a kind of de-natured paradise were right around the corner. Self-driving cars were in the advanced stages of development and not by the tweedy academics but by giants of industry and not the old industry, either. These happy engineers were the new guys who had already changed our lives in ways both big and small through the triplet miracles of design, technology and marketing. The Internet of Things had its own acronym (IoT) in the mass media and my house was getting smarter by the nano-second. Oh swoony singularity.
Well, maybe not so much. Perhaps the first hint was a little blurb that a Google car got a ticket. Seems like it was driving too slow for conditions and causing a bit of traffic jam. Not a big deal. Perhaps just a case of the new ethics exposing the depravity of the old.
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“Well, it’s as much an art as a science.” You’ve said it. I’ve said it. We’ve all said it at one time or another, usually to deflect some misguided wish for certainty, simplicity, or immediacy. Beyond the verbal hand-waving, however, there is a deeper truth. The professions we choose are, ultimately, all human endeavors and as such come with the all the mystery and ambiguity of human instincts, emotions, visions and even intellect. The whole truth is the “Art and Science” phrase is said as much to comfort ourselves in what we don’t know or completely understand as it is to suggest an elevated status conferred by access to some secret wisdom. Continue reading →