#FPQ 198: When Machines Take Over

Fandango’s question this week has to do with artificial intelligence…

What would happen if Al surpassed human intelligence?

Of course, he didn’t come up with the question, he tells us: he asked an AI program called Genie to come up with the question for him. Naturally, being the smartass you all have come to know and love, I downloaded Genie and had it answer the question for me.

If AI surpassed human intelligence, it could potentially lead to a variety of outcomes. It could lead to the automation of many jobs, the development of new technologies, and the potential for AI to solve complex problems that humans are unable to. It could also lead to the potential for AI to become a threat to humanity, as it could potentially become more powerful than humans and be used for malicious purposes.

I could leave it at that, but that would be too easy.

I watched a video last night by Rick Beato, an Atlanta-based musician, producer, music teacher, and vlogger. The video I watched was ostensibly about Auto-Tune, but the first part is his reaction to a segment of an interview he did with Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. Rather than try and summarize what Rick and Billy said, here’s the video.

Seeing Rick’s example of writing a song using AI, I just had to try it myself, so I asked Genie to write a song about batteries in the style of George Harrison. Here’s what it came up with…

Verse 1:
Batteries, they power our lives,
From the cars we drive to the lights that shine so bright.
We rely on them to keep us going,
And they never seem to be slowing.

Chorus:
Batteries, they keep us alive,
They’re the source of our energy drive.
We can’t do without them,
They’re the power that we need.

Verse 2:
Batteries, they make our lives so much easier,
From the phones we use to the toys that make us cheer.
We depend on them to keep us going,
And they never seem to be slowing.

Chorus:
Batteries, they keep us alive,
They’re the source of our energy drive.
We can’t do without them,
They’re the power that we need.

Bridge:
We need to take care of our batteries,
And make sure they’re always charged.
We need to use them wisely,
And never let them be discharged.

Chorus:
Batteries, they keep us alive,
They’re the source of our energy drive.
We can’t do without them,
They’re the power that we need.

Somewhere, George is laughing his ass off. Meanwhile, many of you are thinking "I knew you didn’t write it! It’s too good!"

I think AI is a good thing and ultimately will cause more good than harm, and it wouldn’t surprise me if AI grew to be more intelligent than humans. In fact, I think that’s the idea. Ultimately, though, it comes down to the coding: a machine won’t try and take over the world unless, at some point in the process, someone supplies the code to give the machine that idea.

And that’s the best I can do…

#FPQ 197: Keep Politics Out Of It

Fandango posited this question yesterday:

I wasn’t going to answer this, but I saw something this morning that’s (more or less) on the topic that was so good, I have to share it, and I’ll actually cut-and-paste it from the original…

Remember when you were a kid and you were fighting with a sibling or classmate, and a responsible adult intervened, and both parties to the contretemps would immediately start with “HE/SHE STARTED IT!” The responsible adult’s response was usually something along the lines of “I don’t care who started it, I want you to stop it!” And “If you can’t play nice, maybe you both had better go home.” Or words to that effect.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that, particularly in the last several election cycles, this animosity between the Red Team and the Blue Team has gotten totally out of hand, and that we’ve forgotten something very important: we’re not playing the game, we’re just there as observers. It reminds me of my college days:

There are two large Catholic universities in Chicago, Loyola and DePaul. The majority of students at both were graduates of one of the over 100 Catholic high schools in the city and suburbs. So, if you went to Loyola, you had friends who went to DePaul, and vice versa. Once a year, Loyola and DePaul played each other in basketball at one of the large arenas in town. We’d all go to the game together, sit on opposite sides of the court, yell and scream and give the finger to our friends on the other side, then, when the game was over, we’d all get back together and go out for beers. We understood: it’s just a game.

The goings-on in Washington that are allegedly being undertaken for the benefit of We The People actually have little or nothing to do with us and everything to do with political gamesmanship, which the mainstream media (the legacy networks, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) concerns itself with as though it’s the most important thing they have to report on. Sure, we can have our opinions. Sure, we can write to our Congresscritters and express our opinion on the legislation they’re considering (after which, we get a nicely-printed letter on Congressional letterhead (paid for by the taxpayers) telling us basically “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, and screw you if you don’t like it”). But in the end, it’s not our fight. True, we have to live with the outcome, but we really have nothing to do with it.

Anyway, getting back to whatever it was I was saying…

There was an adage a long time ago: “Religion and politics have no place in polite conversation.” The best way to deal with family and friends who have opposing viewpoints is not to focus on them (the differences, not the people). I think all of us need to learn to change the subject. Your family and your friends are your loved ones. When you’re together with them, the focus should be on each other, not on things that total strangers are doing in Washington.

Okay? Okay!

#FPQ CXCIV: Toothbrushes!

This week, Fandango wants to know about our oral hygiene, or at least one aspect thereof…

We use Oral-B Pulsar toothbrushes, which feature a battery-powered vibrating head to shake all the food particles and other flotsam and jetsam off our teeth as we brush. The battery (which can neither be replaced or recharged) lasts about 4-6 weeks, at which time we get new ones. Mary, being the frugal sort, buys them whenever she sees them on sale, so we always have several fresh ones held in reserve.

#FPQ 192: The Joy Of Anonymity

This week, Fandango’s Stimulating Interrogative takes us to the world of fame and fortune and asks us if we’re interested…

If you could, would you want to be famous if it meant sacrificing your personal life and privacy? Why or why not?

I can think of no reason why I would want to sacrifice the relative calm and peace that I have in my life so that I can be spoken of in the news media (both electronic and print) and on social media by a bunch of strangers. I mean, look what it did to Carrie Bradshaw…

Seriously, I’m happy to be out of the spotlight after having never been in it.

Tally-ho and away we go!
See you next week with a brand new show!

#FPQ 190: Money, Money, Money…

Every time the subject of money comes up, I have to play this song…

Fandango was talking about the guy who won $2 billion in the Powerball, and asked the question everyone does after someone wins that much money…

You just won a giant lottery jackpot. What are the first three things you’re going to do with the money you won?

I suppose this is after Uncle Sam grabs his share of it. I’d still have a considerable amount left, of course. So, after that…

  1. I’d totally redo the inside of my house. I like my house and my neighborhood, but it’s not terribly handicapped-friendly, and the bathrooms and kitchen need redoing anyway. (Don’t they always?)
  2. Donate a hefty chunk of it to a few charities, including my parish, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and the Lingap Center.
  3. Invest most of the rest of it in something safe.

After that, who knows? Only I do…

Tally-ho and away we go!
See you next week with a brand new show!