And never regret anything that makes you smile.
Show #920: Stephanie Seneff, Senior Research Scientist at MIT’s Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Subject: Farmers use 200 million pounds of the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) every year to grow food without weeds. This leads us to ask: Is glyphosate safe to eat? Topics include how genetically-engineered food crops have encouraged the increased use of glyphosate; why the manufacturers of glyphosate say its safe to eat; and how a metastudy of available research reveals that glyphosate is a “textbook example of exogenous semiotic entropy,” which is to say, the pathway to modern diseases.
There are few systemic tragedies as appalling as the outsource of rubbish from the consumer cultures to the poor people. Grinding up the earth to satisfy an insatiable hunger…and chucking the rubbish over our shoulders.
Well, it lands on actual people. Largely unseen..certainly unacknowledged.
Here we have the rising up and blossoming of the rubbish-folk. What does it mean to our cultrues to have Beethoven wheezed back at us by some gorgeous children making beauty out of what we discarded as valueless?
Finely-tuned contribution to an unexamined territory: the microscopic wilderness within.
In sheer numbers, these microbes and their genes dwarf us. It turns out that we are only 10 percent human: for every human cell that is intrinsic to our body, there are about 10 resident microbes — including commensals (generally harmless freeloaders) and mutualists (favor traders) and, in only a tiny number of cases, pathogens. To the extent that we are bearers of genetic information, more than 99 percent of it is microbial. And it appears increasingly likely that this “second genome,” as it is sometimes called, exerts an influence on our health as great and possibly even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents. But while your inherited genes are more or less fixed, it may be possible to reshape, even cultivate, your second genome.
Pollan write beautifully: nuancing his way past the temptation to go mystical, and the danger of hyper reductionism. The article has been perfectly tuned for a mass audience, and that’s an amazing display of discipline on his part.
For readers with an interest/passion in these matters Pollan contributes a solid middle ground from which to explore the extreme implications. For newcomers, he offers an intelligent yet ‘balanced’ point of entry.
The mouth, the skin, the gut: all of these are sites of enormous activity and communal evolution. Perhaps a heightened level of conversation about our internal “ecosystems” will finally help people “get it” when we speak of the importance of nurturing the global ecosystems? Might we be better able to “feel it in our guts”?
And never regret anything that makes you smile.
Yet more evidence of the human-machine coevolutionary dynamics at work. This article hints at a trend toward turning the small-change interactions over to those wacky semantically-obsessed humans while outsourcing the important big picture issues to the hyper-dimensional AI layers who can be trusted to look after them with brutal clarity.
Crowdsourced AI: the Low-Wage Knowledge Work of the Future
As both Artificial Intelligence and Robotics become more “real,” we have developed a more practical understanding of these technologies’ limitation. What is striking is that, contrary to what most people believe, the most “irreplaceable” human work tends to come at the lower end of the wage/status scale. Robots are better at surgery than they are at janitorial work, AI is better at legal scholarship and journalism than it is at customer service.
Enter Chorus, a crowdsourced chat platform
When people talk to the new crowd-powered chat system, called Chorus, using an instant messaging window, they get an experience practically indistinguishable from chatting with a single real person. Yet behind the scenes, each response is the result of tens of people paid a few cents to perform small tasks: including suggesting possible replies and voting for the best suggestions submitted by other workers…
Chorus does that with three simple types of task. First, any new chat updates from the human user are passed along to many crowd workers, who are asked to suggest a reply. Those suggestions are then voted on by crowd workers to determine the one that will be sent back. A final mechanism creates a kind of working memory that ensures that Chorus’s replies reflect the history of the conversation so far, crucial if it is to carry out long conversations—something that is a challenge for apps like Siri and even AI chatbots intended to showcase conversational skills.
For the working memory component, crowd members are asked to maintain a short running list of the eight most important snippets of information under discussion, to be used as a reference when workers suggest replies.
This is important, as to allow for the natural turnover of crowdsourcing workers. “A single person may not be around for the duration of the conversation—they come and go, and some may contribute more than others,” says Bigham.
Bigham says Chorus has the potential to be more than just a neat demonstration. “We definitely want to start embedding it into real systems,” he says. “Perhaps you could help someone with cognitive impairment by having a crowd as a personal assistant.” Another possibility is to combine Chorus with another system previously developed at Rochester, which has crowd workers collaborate to steer a robot. “Could you create a robot this way that can drive around and interact intelligently with humans?” asks Bigham.
The goal of this ongoing research project is to create a growing catalog of designs that can be employed as camouflage from face detection, both physically and digitally.
The problem with polarised views is that they co-create each other. So there’s only two kinds of situations I’m concerned with: dualisms and non-dualisms. (oops)
Really this advice can apply to all dimensions of life. My favourite is in acknowledging the role of the artistic medium (eg, drumming, dancing, painting, speaking, writing…). This is a daunting choice for some, and we are often put in front of a “technique” at an early age so that we learn its methods. I have learned many methods, and often expend my limited time messing around with practising a technique. The important discrimination, though, is to feel in myself which medium resonates with the ache of my heart….where can I forget the technique and feel safe/open/unashamed to pour forth my soul’s song. The match between heart and medium is important for me. Steinbeck found it in the word…and the top quote by Emerson nails the point home:
Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book.
In other words, the person must be visible in expression through the medium….and that requires the person to be comfortable standing in primal nakedness there to tell a story of the heart. Only then is art art.
It was eerie to stand by the river and think what these folks were going through in their fragile little ships so far from home. Made our humiliation at getting bogged the previous day a bit easier to bear.
There’s No Tomorrow.
Fantastic and very approachable summary of the energy issue. Monumental effort. Great for sobering discussion amongst people af all persuasions (ie, not just for greenies!).