Monday, February 15, 2021

92 - How to Confuse Artificial Intelligence (sneak peek #2)

First...What you are about to read has nothing to do with how to confuse Artificial Intelligence. Let me explain.

Back a few posts ago, in October, 2020, I posted a small sample of my next book, which at that time went under the title, "Welcome to the Machine." It is set in the future, in 2075, and at this point my best guess is that it will be available in less than a year. This sample, that you are about to read, is the Prologue, which goes under the chapter heading, "The Dawn of Humanity." In the book it is immediately followed by "Chapter 1; 2075 - The Lunchtime of Humanity."

So, hopefully this makes sense. What you are about to read is from the ancient past. The book may or may not be titled, "How to Confuse Artificial Intelligence." In fact I'll take suggestions and responses. I've permanently turned off public comments on this blog, but you can email if you feel strongly one way or the other about any title suggestions. And now to:

Prologue - The Dawn of Humanity

Kag squatted in front of the cave wall.

He dipped the point of his stick in the bowl of red berry pigment and lifted it toward the wall.

He stroked the red pigment to his right, painting the direction of an arrow flying toward a deer.

He had not yet painted the deer.

This was all Kag cared about, this painting.


His older brothers Nog and Gog stood impatiently behind him.

"Kag, come on. We have hunting and gathering to do. The sun's already been up for an hour."

Kag did not respond. He peered intently at his cave wall painting. He moved his hand carefully toward the painting. With his stick he added a tiny dab of pigment to the tip of the arrow.


Satisfied with his revision of the arrow, Kag finally responded without turning around.

"What's that?" Kag asked sarcastically. "Another day of hunting and gathering? Ooh! I'm so excited. I'm tingly with excitement! How will this day of hunting and gathering be different from - " Kag finally stood and faced his brothers " - the other freaking five thousand days we've spent hunting gathering?"

"Oh, don't go off on that again!" Nog looked at Gog and rolled his eyes.

"There's got to be something better than this," Kag complained for, what his brothers were sure, was the millionth time. "I dream of a time when we have machines in our homes that keep our food cold until we pull it out and cook it."

"Machines!" Nog said mockingly. "What the hell are machines?"

"And what is a home?" asked Gog, laughing.

"It's where we live." Kag shifted his feet, frustrated with his brothers. "You don't think humanity is going to live in caves forever, do you."

Nog rolled his eyes again. "Someone's going to live in a looney bin if he's not careful."

Nog and Gog laughed together. Then Gog stopped. "Hey, what's a looney bin?" he asked.

Kag interrupted once again. "There has to be more to life than this, all the hunting, and the gathering."

"Look, mate," Nog replied sharply. "You're living in a fantasy world. Hunting and gathering is all there is and all there ever will be."

Kag knew he would never convince his brothers. Reluctantly he joined them, and the three brothers began walking out the cave opening.

"Well, do we have to both?" Kag asked weakly. "Do we have to hunt AND gather? Isn't gathering enough for one person? I have to hunt also?"

Peter Wick

February 15, 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021

91. So THAT'S what a bad President looks like

 I am writing this at a particular moment in time. It is Thursday, January 14, 2021. There are five days left in the Donald Trump Presidency.

I wanted to begin by marking what day it is because I feel this moment will eventually be forgotten.

Someday we will tell out grandchildren, "By the end of the Trump Presidency businesses were closed, buildings were boarded up, people couldn't leave their houses. There was a vaccine, multiple vaccines, for the virus that kept everyone in their homes, but Trump quit caring, and vaccines almost went to waste waiting to be shipped out across the country.

Our grandchildren will not believe us. "No, come on," they'll say. "You're making it up."

No, we are not making it up.

I worked under a bad boss several years ago, who quit trying, openly stopped caring, and eventually was fired by the company we worked for.

A co-worker of mine at the time said to me, "I always wondered what exactly a bad boss is. How does a bad boss act? What does a bad boss look like?  Well, now I know. That's what a bad boss looks like."

Donald Trump was always a terrible President; self-obsessed, racist, corrupt, reactionary, spiteful.

Then, eventually, he quit caring and quit trying.

Eventually the country fired him.

Many people are tempted to declare Donald Trump the worst President of all time. He might be. It's hard to tell, because moments are forgotten. We have no real way of knowing just how bad several 1800's Presidents were. Andrew Jackson? Three words: Trail of Tears. Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan? Come on down Civil War! Herbert Hoover? Hm, well, this one is an interesting comparison.

The Great Depression began on Hoover's watch, and Hoover's response was a yawn and a shrug. Homeless campouts were named after him; "Hoovervilles."

One person I was talking to about this recently suggested that this means we should rename all over-capacity hospitals "Trump-villes," or better yet, Trump Towers.

The point is a simple one. We don't know exactly how bad some of those old Presidents were in the context of their times. The only real reference point we have is how bad Trump has been from day one, and how horrifically terrible he has become in his final days in office. Trump has been so bad that many many liberal Democrats have openly said they would do anything to have Mitt Romney as President. Romney lost to Obama in 2012 (a little reference point for our grandchildren). Trump has been so bad that he has made those of us who couldn't stand George W. Bush, recall with fondness his butchering of the English language ('misunderestimate'), and pine for the good old days.

Trump has been so bad that the United States of America is poorer, worse off, more depressed and more scared than at any time in recent memory.

That's what a bad President looks like! Now we know. Good riddance Donnie baby. Don't trip over the armed extremists in the doorway on your way out. Don't be alarmed. You invited them

Peter Wick

January 14. 2021