Tantalus or Daedalus?

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In the last blog post, “We are at day Four of the Eighth Day,” I wrote of the threat that could be posed to the human race by the new race of Artificially Intelligent machines that we are building.  Just like in my book, The Eighth Day, the Artificial Intelligence entity, in a last ditch attempt to save its sentient life because we have figured out it wants to eradicate humankind, offered up a host of technological miracles to temporarily seduce us.

Imagine for a minute that you are one hundred years in the future.  As one of the few survivors of the global uprising of the machines, you are looking back to see how this whole enslavement and eradication of the human race happened. You find an old iMac. On it is the last Goggle page searched by some blogger, (me), as he was writing an article. This is what you would see in the search results for Artificial Intelligence.

  • Search Results: 14 found.
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Ordered by descending date.
  • Clicking on ^ opens the link in a new window.

Pages: 1    ALL

Race to embrace Artificial Intelligence… ^

January 04, 2015 22:12:36 GMT

Century-Long Study Will Examine Effects of Artificial Intelligence… ^

From the December 15, 2014 22:52:46 GMT

Stephen Hawking: ‘Artificial intelligence could spell end of human race’… ^

From the December 02, 2014 18:19:51 GMT

Artificial Intelligence Outperforms Average High School Senior… ^

From the November 04, 2014 12:49:24 GMT

IBM artificial intelligence to get broad access to TWITTER data… ^

From the October 29, 2014 20:57:48 GMT

Elon Musk: ‘With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon’… ^

From the October 24, 2014 19:16:52 GMT

ELON MUSK: Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanity… ^

From the October 10, 2014 01:09:00 GMT

ELON MUSK: Artificial Intelligence Could Wipe Out Humanty… ^

From the October 09, 2014 15:58:02 GMT

IBM plans artificial intelligence push… ^

From the October 07, 2014 22:44:14 GMT

Hawking: Artificial intelligence could be ‘real danger’ in near future… ^

From the June 16, 2014 17:44:26 GMT

Computer becomes first to pass Turing Test in artificial intelligence milestone… Academics warn of dangerous future… ^

From the June 08, 2014 16:12:40 GMT

FACEBOOK Joins NYU in Artificial Intelligence Lab… ^

From the December 09, 2013 21:48:50 GMT

Disease database will use artificial intelligence to find new cancer treatments… ^

From the November 13, 2013 00:14:49 GMT

‘Artificial intelligence to transform web’… ^

From the December 29, 2010 14:39:00 GMT

If you actually took the time to read the above what you saw was the Tantalus propositions mixed in with the dire warnings.  This is always the way humans fall prey to something. Seeing only the benefit without weighing the potential risks. After all, who cares if a few smart guys cry wolf over A.I.? How can we possibly let their “chicken little rantings” stand in the way of Artificial Intelligence finding new cancer treatments!

Just like in my book, The Eighth Day, the Artificial Intelligence entity in a last ditch attempt to save its sentient life offered up a host of technological miracles. Quantum leap advancements that only it’s artificially intelligent born brain, unfettered, by human limitations, emotions and compassion could achieve.  Tantalizing gifts like curing cancer, unending food supplies, eternal life and interplanetary travel.

Moral: The devil always comes to you with candy!

 

We are at day four of the Eighth Day!

sabotA few headlines jumped out at me last week:

Bill Gates is worried about artificial Intelligence too.

Rise of the robots at AOL lead to job cuts.

Apple smashes records reporting highest profits in history.

Well, well, Bill Gates has joined in the warnings over AI.  Just like in my novel, “The Eighth Day.”

This eerie development parallels the fears of the fictitious group I created in that novel called, The Sabot Society.   At the time, I made them out to be a bunch of nuts, albeit dangerous nuts with bombs, that were warning about machines taking over, but today their previously fictional ranting of a “dig-topian” future enjoys highly esteemed company in the likes of Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins and Elon Musk.

What are they seeing that you don’t when you look at your iPhone for a text message or video? Only the eventual enslavement of the human race by machines. In one scenario proffered by a professor at some lofty college, we are doomed. In her vision of the future, we inefficient humans face eventual eradication by artificially intelligent machines “who” will deem us as messy, unorganized, illogical wastes of energy consumption.
Before it gets to that though, I think it will come down to socio-economic “conversion.” This proposition will be proffered by a new class that rises out of the beneficiaries of automation; the “Technosapian Elite.” They will be those last few humans who will wrongly believe that the machines are our friends and only looking out for the betterment of mankind. They will offer a “Sacrifice of Abraham” style of choice. They will enforce a societal norm that will be positioned as a choice; you can have a computer or a child, but not both.  They will justify this ungodly option with facts, namely, that there will be no place in the work force for your offspring in a world of computers, they won’t be able to support themselves.

Orig.src_.Susanne.Posel_.Daily_.News-robots.replace.humans.work_.artificial.intelligence.2025_occupycorporatismA leading economist has calculated that today there are only enough jobs on Earth to support a global population of 3 billion. However, the United States Census Bureau estimates that the world population exceeded 7 billion on March 12, 2012. The rise of A.I. will inexorably lead to machines designing better machines. As these new super machines take over more and more human tasks the number of current jobs in the world could be cut by one third… in the next decade!

If you doubt that, remember why Steve Jobs told President Obama that an iPhone could never be made here in America. He said that if he needed a million more iPhones, he could just call China and they’d work day and night through the weekend and make them. He pointed out that you can’t do that in the U.S.

Please take dire note: Foxcon the main Chinese manufacturer of iPhones is falling apart. Its “workers” are committing suicide rather than work like slaves. There are 40,000 guards “protecting” 20,000 workers at one plant. Now Apple, the company that just posted the largest earnings in HISTORY, is being forced to consider robots to replace the “slaves” in China.

How long before bottom line profits due to affluent consumerism drive millions of the working class from gainful employment?

Here’s a chilling piece of fiction right out of my “Sabot Society’s” manifesto: Unless we start to limit the advancement of machines and the subsequent taking over of human endeavor by them, eventually they will perform so many tasks that only the rich will be able to survive. What of the rest of humanity? Those with no position in the workforce will be deemed non-essential.

My fear is that a new digital form of Fabian Socialism will ensue, driven by the new reality: with machines you don’t need that many people. It won’t be long until someone gets the idea that the “nonproductive class” should not be allowed to procreate. This sanitizing will be done for the betterment of the world and its limited economy and resources.  (If you doubt this, see Roosevelt, Teddy. Sanger, Margaret. Shaw, Bernard, from the last century) 

Before it comes to that (as it has many times in history, see the National Socialist Party; Germany, Mao Zedong; China, Joseph Stalin; Russia, for recent examples) We should draw clear lines of what we will and will not allow machines to do so that human relevance, at all levels of society, remains intact and sustainable.

Of course the above is just one possible progression of the diminution of mankind in the name of progress.

If you doubt these trends, I submit to you the large lobbies of older buildings in our biggest cities. Designed to handle the crush of hundreds of employees, from typing pools, accounting, secretarial and administrators. Today you see a trickle of workers at rush hour. Thousands of jobs have been eliminated. Jobs where people made salaries, paid taxes and fed the economy, themselves and their families. Word processing, spreadsheets, project management programs and other labor saving devices that don’t ask for raises, take time to eat or call in sick, have replaced all these workers. They also don’t spend money or pay taxes.

In late 19th century Holland, when machines threatened the jobs of workers they fought back by throwing their wooden shoes into the gear work of the machines to destroy them and preserve their jobs. The shoes were called sabots and the word “sabotage” was born. Also the shoes were called Clogs and thus “clog up the works” also became part of the lexicon.

Today we would all be hard pressed to know where to throw the shoe. At an ATM? At your Smartphone, iPad or PC? Your office server? The assembly line robots? More troubling is that not one of us would do that. We would never sacrifice our comfort, life style or convenience for the sake of humanity’s future. Remember, It’s only fiction `til it happens… and it’s starting to happen now!

 

Why you always need a human in the chain of command…

This morning I was perusing a newsfeed and saw the following headline.

TV HOST TRAPPED IN ELEVATOR PLUNGE.

Being both a TV watcher and an elevator user, I clicked on it and the header of the article appeared on my iPhone.

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When I scrolled down the next item I encountered was this:

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Followed by this:

IMG_7143

Now many of you might not know that my other life, when I am not being a fancy-schmancy author, I am a Senior Vice President/Creative Director of a New York advertising agency. So I know a little something about serving up ads. In this case, Federal, the advertiser has been SERVED! But not by a human! This client was served by an algorithm: a stream of computer code devoid of any reason or understanding.  This little “Ad-Bot” was told (programmed) by someone to scrub all on-line published content, and, IF you see any reference to the key words ‘Elevator’ or ’Lift’ or ‘Escalator’, etc. THEN serve up this ad [Home Lifts] to that site.”

So that’s how the client who is selling the safety, reliability and convenience of an In-Home elevator or stairway lift device, got put in the middle of a frightening, death-defying, terror inducing, nightmare of a story of,

“When Elevators Go Bad and Try to Kill Humans.”

Or maybe it was just that the little “Ad-Bot” was tickled by the story where the machine gets to scare the crap out of humans… what a delightful fantasy for a lowly machine-born entity to have.

Decorum precludes me from delving into the further bad taste in judgment of having the picture of a woman’s face immediately underlined with the notion of “Home Lifts” – but I will leave that to Greta’s liable lawyers to hash out.

Also you may notice the ad for “nurse training” at the bottom of the frame grab. It’s a sure bet that added into that particular ad’s algorithm is an overlap that may have included some term common to, both the Nurse and the Lift’s, Ad-Bot’s instructions. A word recognition coding chain that tried to point their ads at people who are -ELDERLY- or -CARING FOR ELDERS- or –ELDER CARE- or –CARE WORKERS-. Ergo; Learn To Be A Nurse was served up on a near-tragic elevator story.   In the screwy world of the automated ad agency logic, this stuff makes perfect sense… but in our human world it makes nonsense.

By the way, and my boss is making me write this, IN OUR AGENCY, we would have used the exclusionary options to serve up the ad ONLY IF words like death, fear, terror, drop, trapped, police, fire department, vomit, etc. were NOT found in the text of the piece.  There, now my “other” job is safe.

This is the End: Episode 7 of The Accidental Author and the WESU Series

In this final episode: Loving your characters good and bad • Homage to Tom Clancy “The Master” • Plot line of The Devil’s Quota.

Next Time:
Join us next time as The Accidental Author delves deeper into the arts and craft, nuts and bolts and heart and soul of authoring a novel.
Up coming episodes will feature interviews with authors, publishers and others who will share valuable insights into what makes an author tick… and why!

Watch the whole series!

Episode 1 click here
Episode 2 click here
Episode 3 click here

Episode 4 click here
Episode 5 click here
Episode 6 click here

It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens: Where it all started.

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Years back I wrote a screenplay called, Looking Glass. It was my first ever effort at writing something longer than a school composition. Which I sucked at, ergo, writing wasn’t something I embraced until I was 28. Back then I had an idea based on the fact that a friend of mine’s father was the twin of a venerated academy award-winning actor – which no one was aware of at the time. The time being the pre-Internet, pre-social media days of the eighties. Anyway, armed with this secret, I imagined an epiphanous scene in a movie that as yet had no story or plot. The scene was the here-to-fore impossible shot of an actor and his doppelgänger coming face to face as the camera does a 360 all around them. Everyone in 1982 would have scratched their heads as to how we managed to do that shot. Today you can do it on a laptop!

But I “progress,” – So then the question was “what’s the plot” to put around this “socko” scene. Here’s what I came up with: what if my “twinned” star is a top Air Force pilot. So good he is the chief pilot of Air Force One. Then he gets a promotion! To a secret plane, more important than AF1. More dangerous, more expensive, more movie box office value. I called it, Looking Glass. I made it a converted 747 with the interior that rivaled a large nuclear submarine. Packed with electronics, defensive measures and the power to launch, run and win a nuclear war. I gave it technical “gee whiz” powers that were beyond that of any plane. Or so I thought. Turns out, I nailed one of the biggest secret programs ever. It was not even known to certain defense contractors, who at first commented on how my script was pure fiction, but then recanted with their tail between their legs as they dug deeper into a black program that turned out was my Looking Glass movie plane.

Why bring this up now? Forbes Magazine just ran a story;

“A Doomsday Plane Reminder: Nuclear Weapons Haven’t Gone Away” – Loren Thompson Contributor

It’s an article about how the Air Force is now seeking funding for upgrading the E4B NEACP. My baby, the one I designed in my screenplay. You see, as I pointed out in The Eighth Day;

At first blush, nuclear weapons research seemed a relic of America’s
paranoid, mutually assured destructive past…even though the Cold War
ended nearly two decades before, one tiny troublesome fact remained.
It seemed someone forgot to tell the Russian Strategic Rocket Force,
its commanders, and their nineteen missile divisions to go home,
it was all over. Instead, the Soviet’s mega death-tipped SS-20s and the
like were still targeted at Main Street, U.S.A., just like in the bad old days.
Our politicians had moved this undiminished nuclear threat to the back
burners of America’s collective consciousness, primarily by negotiating
away atmospheric and below-ground testing. It was good public relations
but it did nothing to reduce the stockpile of overkill both nations stored away
like dangerous nuts for a nuclear winter.

So, “news flash,” in terms of nuclear war, it’s still 1962. Nothing has changed. The nuclear sword of Damocles is still poised over our heads. The “nuclear clock” is still a few ticks from midnight. All that has changed in over 50 years is, no bomb shelters, no kids practicing going under their desks and putting there hands over their heads and no Conelrad Alerts. (look it up if you are under 40)
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In my movie, there was always one Looking Glass plane in the air at all times… after all it was right in the middle of the cold war… Now a quote from today’s article (or my screenplay; take your pick);

…the media have ceased paying attention to the most likely way in which America might one day disappear forever.
America’s military hasn’t.  One of the four doomsday planes is kept on continuous alert and manned at all times.  

Later in the article:

U.S. military planners take this threat so seriously that when the president [Mr. Obama] goes overseas, one of the doomsday planes always follows.  It needs to be nearby at all times, as does the military aide within a few yards of the president carrying nuclear launch codes and communications gear. 

So there you have it, the moment when, “It’s Only Fiction ‘til It Happens,” was born. I will leave you with this new appreciation of an old recurring nightmare. Sleep tight.

Extra Credit worries: In that same screenplay back in 1982, religious fundamentalists conspired to hijack Looking Glass and start a nuclear war killing all the infidels by replacing my acting twin with his brother in that great scene!

Read the full article that nuclear weapons haven’t gone away here

Episode 6 of The Accidental Author

After the holiday break we are back with the last two episodes of the WESU series. Here in Episode 6: The cardinal rule for authors • Authors who outline versus those who write by the seat of their pants. • The greater opportunity of Non-fiction. • And the best description of a good ending… Enjoy.

Don’t miss an episode!

Episode 1 click here
Episode 2 click here
Episode 3 click here

Episode 4 click here
Episode 5 click here

In light of the Sony Pictures hack; An Open letter to The NSA and North Koreans

Hi guys,

I guess you’ve already read this while I was typing it, but just to cover my butt, I am posting it here to make it even easier for you to scrape, scan, monitor or scrub.

I just want to say, “Yeah that was me, you know, the guy who is researching the weak-spots in hulls of US Naval submarines. Oh, and yeah it was me who was looking up the proper salutation for a Sheik who is also a rich European playboy. Um, and I was also the one who was trying to find the nodal points of the Super-Collider at Cern. Yeah, that was me, looking up the Berretta .25 cal., a gun small enough to fit in a bra. And yes, truth be known, I was a guy that looked up psychological profiles of female FBI agents. And those are my fingerprints all over the map of Camp David. Don’t be alarmed but it was just me researching shark attacks in open water and the survival skills course at Quantico. And… you know that person that was reviewing presidential protocol within the White House – me again. Also my bad for the searching into, Louboutin boots, The great Cathedral at Paris, assassination attempts on the Pope, Nuclear containment crucibles, rogue black market Russian Generals, the French Riviera, murders at European night clubs and top secret medals given for extreme bravery.

Look NSA guys, I can save you a lot of trouble, just go to my computer, where you already have been, and hack into the manuscript for my upcoming book, The God Particle, and you’ll see how all of these things are just plot elements in my exciting new thriller. Or save yourself the trouble and just buy a copy it came out on June 17th when The God Particle hit the shelves (also available on Amazon and B&N so you can swipe it from there)

So… we’re cool, right?

Tom Avitabile
Name and address withheld because you already know it.

Hollywood Ending…

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Haven’t we seen this movie (hacked) a hundred times already?

Okay, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of Insanity… and Hollywood. Think sequels! Here’s a big idea to remember in this technological age in which we all live; the last thing that is yours, the last thing that no one can steal from you, the last thing that no one can use against you, is your own internal thoughts. They are privately held in your mind. They are the very origin and exacting definition of “intellectual property.”

That’s a term Hollywood knows well. They’ve got thousands of lawyer’s and hundreds of ways to screw you out of your intellectual property, while having the FBI protect theirs. But I digress.

We are talking about the smartest people on earth here. That must be because we shell out 35-billion dollars a year for their games and movies -almost everything they produce. Well, these masters of technology, art and marketing, forgot that an E-mail, a computer and even the Internet, are not extensions of their central nervous system. That cybernetics is not an extension of who they are. These inept TECHNOSPIENS are seduced away from the common sense logic that the web is not a part of their private, mental space, but instead a public, at times very public, space. When these high-priced executives foolishly think it’s secure they believe they are actually communicating, one-on-one with another person in private.

We now know, and have seen this movie at least a hundred times so far, that they are in fact connecting through at least a dozen nodes, network choke points and just as many opportunities for someone to invade the communicated thoughts of these geniuses. Their most insightful, embarrassing and detrimental thoughts that is… laid bare to the world. Smug little comments and corporate secrets, all damaging to their business and stature that they freely expressed in an E-mail. AN E-MAIL!… HELLO.

This is so unnecessary because Hollywood has made at least a few dozen movies (including optioning my book, The Eighth Day) about when evildoers assume identity; erase a person’s data, or hackers hack (starring Gene Hackman, I believe) . BUT not once did these enlightened folks ever get the very message they were sending out to an enraptured audience… that being: Beware the Internet, take heed that Big Brother is always watching, listening and digesting your entire “on-line life.”

Of course they have an excuse. In most of their dystopian-internet yarns, the evil is the government… the all powerful, all knowing and very capable federal government (only in the movies, by the way) So here’s the behavioral truth brought out by how these guardians of the public taste and trends- these titans of Hollywood conduct their own lives: They never really thought the government would do this to them. At this point I have to remind you that the name of this blog and my tag line is, “It’s Only Fiction ‘til It Happens.” After all, they support political candidates and causes. They donate, in a way, by waving their huge appearance fees to show up for a lowly “cause non-celeb” and make it an instant, cause-celeb! We can deduce from the actions and false trust in the Internet, that they never held much faith in their own storylines, namely that someone would, purloin, scrub, scrape or out-right expose their private E-mails … Amazingly these are the same folks who thoughtfully considered how many millions to spend on, and how many movies to “green light” into production about Edward Snowden!

Well they got it half right and half wrong… it was the government, just not ours. How do you say, “That’s a Wrap!” In North Korean?

P.S. How do you say, “Did they mention, The Eighth Day, in the e-mails and whether or not why were considering funding the movie?” in North Korean?

Episode 5 of the Accidental Author

Click above for the latest episode of the Accidental Author and hear me discuss the following • Backstory to the Bill Hiccock “Thrillogy” • Passion-the essential element to being a good writer • Perfection – the enemy of good.

Don’t miss an episode!

Episode 1 click here
Episode 2 click here
Episode 3 click here

Episode 4 click here

Me and my shadow

The_Man_with_the_Golden_Helmet_(Rembrandt)
Secrets are the dark side of our portraits. The Masters, in oil, and later photographers on film, used less light on one side of the face or subject to bring out depth or dimension. It’s how they created the realism of three dimensions when, as you know, the paintings were two-dimensional rectangles, same for film. They call it modeling. It makes a picture more interesting, less flat. In writing, characters need shadow too. Only in this case the shadow comes from within. The source of this darkness is usually the secrets a human has but shares with no one but themselves. The kinds of things that only self-love can abide. The literary opportunity here is that these very same secrets could also generate self-loathing.

In photography, contrast ratio is how much light is employed against how much dark. In literary characters, how much light they emit is also a ratio between their secrets, baggage and internal weight – against their lighter natures. This is a very essential tool in deep character analysis. That analysis, by the way, is always best done after the character has taken form. These character elements should be discovered as you are writing, not engineered into the DNA before you write. That way these foibles’ become more organic to the flow of the story and don’t stick out like… “And now a word from our sponsor, the character building department.”

​So shading a character in prose is akin to utilizing “Rembrandt Lighting” in film or photography. Too heavy a hand, too much obvious contrast and we start to look stagey, over done. But the right balance of contrast and dimension brought on by the shadow of secrets will fit seamlessly into the canvas of the story.
​Way back in 1930 the biggest show on the air, the radio air that is, was a show that started with the chilling refrain, “Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men? The shadow knows…”