Francis Meyrick


Ray Kurzweil – Google Intelligence

Posted on October 6, 2015

Ray Kurzweil – Google Intelligence

10/4/15

“Philosophers are useful, but I’ll put my money on the Engineer”

I wish, of course, that I understood the intrinsic details of what these gentlemen are talking about. I wish. In truth, I am more like a dusty old mole, debating crossing a Freeway during rush hour. Something tells me it’s all WAY above my level of safe navigation. I’m more at home in the outlying fields, harmlessly nibbling away on a dandelion. But my infernal curiosity being what it is, half blind or not, I’m curious to know what lies on the other side of that noisy Freeway. So I started trundling across, nose sniffing in the air, my tiny feet laboriously dragging my carcass over unfamiliar concrete. Unusual noises notwithstanding, I aim to continue my quest. Some kind soul hinted to me I was -and am- way out of my league. Well, I already knew that. But that won’t stop me. A less kind soul told me the unusual noises were called “tires”, and that they were doing a thing called “screeching”, and that was apparently an indication that they were not happy with my plodding presence. Oh, and those other noisy things, apparently they also communicated displeasure at my obstinacy. They were called… what was it again? Oh, yes, “air horns”. But I don’t care. I shall not be dissuaded. Half blind and slow I may be, but my curiosity shall not be frustrated. What did he say again? Oh, yes.

“Moggy, you don’t half dribble some sh…!”

(a very loud… airhorn)

I had to stop and start this video many times. And go back. Make a cup of coffee. Half drink it. Lose situational awareness (the coffee went cold), and drag my thoughts back to what this fascinating man was actually saying. Google, I have to say, has been amazing for me. Kurzweil is so right in things he says. It is indeed, so hard to imagine now, what life was like before Google. Before the Internet. Before Social media. If you took it all away from me now, you would be cutting my tiny mole legs off. Right in the middle of the Freeway. Please… don’t do that.
Some things change dramatically. Others stay the same. Great progress is made in some areas, and a bitterly disappointing status quo persists in other human endeavors. Never before have we simpletons had so much technology at our disposal. So much information. So much creative opportunity. So much self education potential. Has this led to a happier society? A better human race? More empathy, more unselfishness, more peaceful coexistence?

I have always scribbled. Always. Pen on paper. The overwhelming bulk of all that stuff lost, molded away. Then along came computers and the Internet. I scribbled more, and more. And posted stuff here and there. I got feedback. Encouragement. As well as screeching tires and (loud) air horns. I didn’t care. I just plodded on. I joined a website called…

“Writers’ Café”

…and I was initially very happy there. But I left eventually, disappointed at the unkindness I saw everywhere. Writers everywhere seemed to have bloated egos. Haughty spirits. Few exhibited the gentleness I sought. And admire. I departed, to set up my own little website. And this is where technology came to my aid. I contracted with an enthusiastic young coder, called Max, from Jordan, and told him what I wanted, and within short order, I had a working website. Now I could post stories. Receive feedback. And I could try and keep the trolls and the hateful spirits out. I kept adding stories. Not, I hasten to tell you, out of some conviction that I was a great writer, who needed to shine his light out into the world. Not at all. I just wanted to blog & scribble, as a means to ventilate my spirit. As a method of coping. And as a form of therapy. For my brain would fill with racing thoughts, and I would be unable to sleep. If I wrote down how I felt, and expunged the Darkness, I could then rest.

Strange obsession.

But technology had come to my rescue. I was able to draw on amazing resources, made possible by gifted scientists and engineers. You know who you are, and this half blind mole thanks you most sincerely. For you have helped me live a much more interesting, fulfilling and creative life. From stuff on paper moldering away in a shoebox, I have gone to stuff moldering away on forgotten hard drives. And from there, to stuff appearing on my own website. It is at this stage I have to refer to one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given. A guy called Andy Warhol gave it to me. I know, he doesn’t know me from a half blind mole making the Freeway unsafe, but he still gave it to me, personally, through this amazing medium called the World Wide Web. Here is his advice:

Andy, I just want you to know I have faithfully abided by your advice. I got her done. I’m still getting her done. Mind, those air horns do make my ears hurt.
My point is that technology, as pioneered and envisaged by these visionary people, was seized upon by this simple mole, and hugely enjoyed. Initially I could only place text on my website. But Max soon added, at my request, the ability to add photos, videos, color, and hyperlinks. Time and time again, I was excited like a five year old. And off I would go, and play with my new toy. One amazing experience stands out, and I would like to recall that one for you two regular readers. (Jimmy hit the bottle again).
I realized that the website was becoming a jumble. All kinds of stories mixed up together. There was a need for organization. So I opened a page as a listing of all my aviation related stories. I bought the domain name www.chopperstories.com. And I then proceeded to laboriously post hyperlinks to each story. I thought of it as a room in a large house, with all my aviation paintings collected together. I was pretty pleased with myself. I added in some images, and the results seemed respectable. A few weeks went by, and then I googled “chopper stories”. Disappointment. My humble little ‘cyber portal’ into my website came in at the bottom of page 97 or something. I had picked a bad name. All the searches for “chopper stories” led to some sadistic dude down in Australia. He was in jail for murdering people. Apparently his specialty was chopping off their fingers and toes. Nice, warm sort of fellow. Well, people being people, some moron had decided this guy was actually a Robin Hood figure, all misunderstood like, and they had even made a heroic movie out of Mister Mark Chopper.

All the search results were about this murderer, including people defending him as basically a good guy, who only chopped of body parts that belonged to bad people. Uh-huh. The fact that, on his death bed, he confessed that he hadn’t actually killed twenty-eight, but only four, apparently was overlooked by his devotees. Strange values some people maintain. Anyway, I decided I had picked a poor choice of domain name.
After some thought, I picked a new domain name www.helicopterstories.com and cut my losses. I didn’t cancel the first one, but I kind of forgot about it. Well, here comes technology for you. Eighteen months went by. On a whim, I googled www.chopperstories.com again. I was shocked when it came in number one. Out of 22 million results. I guessed it had to be a mistake. Probably, I reasoned, it was just something to do with my own laptop. I called my son in London. I was in Texas. I asked him to do a Google search. Same result. My coder in North California? Same result. Really?

I know that a percentage of hits are “bots”, and I wonder how many people landed and left after just a few seconds. But still, it was interesting. As a simple, half blind mole, Technology was trying hard to give me wings. I wasn’t sure how safe I would be in the air, or how clumsy a flying mole would look, but -hey!- Andy Warhol would have approved of me. So would Ray Kurzweil. It was a long way from moldy pen-on-paper efforts, moldering away in an old shoe box.
Which brings me to… the future. Emerging technology. Artificial Intelligence. What is coming down the road, that I can use? Explore? In my life time?
I know I wish I could create something that looked more like a mixture of text and flowing movie. With different elements woven together: music, spoken word, written text… but in such a way that it all blended together seamlessly. Some of that technology is already available, and I need to apply myself to study what’s out there.
Three Dimensional writing? Holograms? Imagine you could have your readers wear a 3-D headset, and they could look around at a whole universe. A Moggyverse. With sunrise and sunset, trees that spoke poetry, and streams that told a story. Imagine you could interact with historical personalities, and watch History unfold. Imagine you could see and hear me sitting on a rock, and imagine you could argue with me, and tell me to get off the damn freeway.
Imagine we could access knowledge and databases with exceptional ease. Imagine we could bring up the battle of the Somme, or the sinking of the Titanic, in astonishing technicolor detail. Imagine if Science and Technology could put at our disposal some form of Artificial Intelligence, with whom we could communicate easily. Imagine I could say: “Suicide among young people seems almost unstoppable. How do we help these people want to live?”, and the A.I.would search its knowledge of me, and my scribbles. The A.I. would reflect on my psychological make up, my experiences. Imagine the A.I. would be capable of feeling sympathy, exercising kindness, applying humor, and would try to follow the meanderings of my mind. The A.I. could present to me a succinct summary of suicide prevention strategies for young people, and link these to some of my stories already written. An A.I. that was a billion times more intelligent than me, might be a guide, a mentor, and absorb some of my humanity. It is a matter of access. I may not need probes in my brain. As long as my mind can download and upload between myself and that A.I., we have the event horizon unfolding these people are talking about.
The future will be vastly different. My brother Paul is helping me e-book publish my stories. The first e-book should be available in a few weeks. I wonder if we sell 1 a month, or maybe even 2. But courtesy of Andy Harhol, quoted above, I don’t care. My little scribblings, and my half blind mole thunkings, will be interesting in three to four generations time. When my great grandchildren will look back on an epoch so profoundly different from their own times, that we will appear quaint, and naively funny, in our simple -dangerous- flying contraptions. Our helicopters, and our biplanes. Not to mention our motorcycles, our short & dangerous lives, and our pollution. I write to express something, and I do not write for an audience. If they read, great. If they don’t, great. The Expression of what is inside, is a goal in itself. One day, in the far future, people will likely be amused by my stories. Technology, marvelously, will keep them available.
I would be amiss if I did not point out that I personally embrace all this emerging technology, but that I fear those who will -inevitably- seek only to abuse it. In that respect, the price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance. As much as things change, they also stay -disappointingly – the same. I have not crossed the Freeway yet, and I probably never will. But I feel pumped. Motivated.

And for that, I say “Thank you” to so many of you, who have tried to give me wings. And who are sympathetic to my clumsy airmanship.

Scribbling Moggy

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on October 6, 2015, 7:35 am


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