Posts Tagged ‘MIT’

Part of the problem that we’ve seen is that our general commitment as a society to basic research has diminished.  Our confidence in collective action has been chipped away, partly because of ideology and rhetoric.
The analogy that we still use when it comes to a great technology achievement, even 50 years later, is a moon shot.  And somebody reminded me that the space program was half a percent of GDP.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but in today’s dollars that would be $80 billion that we would be spending annually … on AI.  Right now we’re spending probably less than a billion.  That undoubtedly will accelerate, but part of what we’re gonna have to understand is that if we want the values of a diverse community represented in these breakthrough technologies, then government funding has to be a part of it.  And if government is not part of financing it, then all these issues that Joi has raised about the values embedded in these technologies end up being potentially lost or at least not properly debated.
I was a sucker for Star Trek when I was a kid.  They were always fun to watch.  What made the show lasting was it wasn’t actu­ally about technology.  It was about values and relationships.  Which is why it didn’t matter that the special effects were kind of cheesy and bad, right?  They’d land on a planet and there are all these papier-mâché boulders. [Laughs.]  But it didn’t matter because it was really talking about a notion of a common humanity and a confidence in our ability to solve problems.
A recent movie captured the same spirit — The Martian.  Not because it had a hugely complicated plot, but because it showed a bunch of different people trying to solve a problem.  And employing creativity and grit and hard work, and having confidence that if it’s out there, we can figure it out.  That is what I love most about America and why it continues to attract people from all around the world for all of the challenges that we face, that spirit of “Oh, we can figure this out.”  And what I value most about science is this notion that we can figure this out.  Well, we’re gonna try this — if it doesn’t work, we’re gonna figure out why it didn’t work and then we’re gonna try something else.  And we will revel in our mistakes, because that is gonna teach us how to ultimately crack the code on the thing that we’re trying to solve.  And if we ever lose that spirit, then we’re gonna lose what is essential about America and what I think is essential about being human.
Star Trek, like any good story, says that we’re all complicated, and we’ve all got a little bit of Spock and a little bit of Kirk [laughs] and a little bit of Scotty, maybe some Klingon in us, right?  But that is what I mean about figuring it out.  Part of figuring it out is being able to work across barriers and differences.  There’s a certain faith in rationality, tempered by some humility.  Which is true of the best art and true of the best science.  The sense that we possess these incredible minds that we should use, and we’re still just scratching the surface, but we shouldn’t get too cocky.  We should remind ourselves that there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know.
    —    President Barack Obama
Discussing A.I., Star Trek and the future in an interview in:  Wired Magazine
The interviewer is:  Scott Dadich
I read this in the November 2016 issue of Wired Magazine
The article is: “The President in Conversation With MIT’s Joi Ito and WIRED’s Scott Dadich
The link to the article:  https://www.wired.com/2016/10/president-obama-mit-joi-ito-interview/
On This Day In:
2016 Just Enough
2015 Bourne Bond
Springs Eternal
2014 Brains First
2013 Not Listening Anymore
2012 At Your Marks!
2011 We Are Not Alone
Underlying Rationality
2010 Is the Obama Administration Failing?
In Other Words…
Quite Please!
In A Hostage Situation…
Are We Done Yet?
In Order…
Proof of Choice…
On “Leading” A Democracy To War…
Actually, It’s All About Me…

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The following are my brief reviews of four documentaries I watched on Netflix…
Requiem for the American Dream  (2016)   —  movie / documentary review
This documentary is (more or less) a seminar about the consolidation of wealth in the hands of the few (1%) and the subsequent use of wealth to control the government and thereby use the government to increase their wealth.  The documentary presents the views of Noam Chomsky, an MIT emeritus professor who made his fame in the study of linguistics and philosophy.  Chomsky is a long-time “leftist”, but not in the traditional sense of Communist or Socialist, and more in terms of being pro-democracy, that is supporting the rule of the governed as opposed to the rule of the elite.  More specifically, the people should control the governmental (government and regulations) business environment, not the business’s (or the mega-wealthy).  I didn’t find much which was really new in this documentary, but then I have considered Chomsky’s positions previously and have long agreed with him.  If I have any problems with this film it’s that it is presented in a “relatively” dry (“academic”) format.  So, while I agree with Chomsky, the American public doesn’t seem to mind government of the elite, by the elite and for the elite – hence, the election of Donald Trump.  Final recommendation: highly recommended, particularly if you are angry about the state of the country and / or worried about your job / career and place in our economic class system.
Sneakerheadz  (2015)   —  movie / documentary review
A short (just over an hour long documentary) summary / description of people who obsessively purchase sports shoes.  I agree with one of the commentators – a young lady – who says (in effect): “If you grow up poor and wanting things, like name-brand shoes and clothes, when you grow up and have enough money to buy them, you do.  To excess…“)   As I watched, I recognized myself and realize that except constrained by money, I could / would otherwise fall into this “addition”.  Beyond the simple ego-boost of being able to get something you previously could not afford, there is an underlying message of people seeking a place in society by creating an image of themselves which they can project out to others.  Interestingly, it seems this message is learned at an early age and then becomes the goal of their (the Sneakerheadz) life.  There is also a strong message about societal values and the ability of marketing to influence those values.  Not an original idea, but I still found it interesting to hear it stated so openly in documentary about shoe collectors.  Final recommendation: highly recommended.
A Drummer’s Dream  (2010)  —  movie / documentary review
What happens when you take some of the greatest drummers in the world, put them in an isolated Canadian farmland with a bunch of kids and all the drum kits and money the drummers can bring together?  It seems you get smiles, effervescent passion and irresistible personality. Starring drummers: Nasyr Abdul Al-Khabyyr, Dennis Chambers, Kenwood Dennard, Horacio “El-Negro” Hernadez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Mike Mangini and Raul Rekow, the documentary captures you with Rock, jazz, Latin fusion, and soul, but mostly it is about the drummers and their joy in playing…  And, did I mention smiles!  These musicians are driven by the beats of their hearts – full of love and joy of life.  Final recommendation: Highly recommended!  I found myself tapping my hands and feet for days after watching this.  Fortunately, my attention deficit disorder prevents me from becoming obsessive (in this way) or I’d still be drumming and trying to find / share their joy.  Come for the percussion, stay for the smiles…!
The Real Miyagi  (2015)    —  movie / documentary review
Back in the 1960’s, a young Japanese man came to America with little but an expertise in Martial Arts.  He subsequently went on to become an internationally recognized Martial Arts instructor and stunt back-up actor.  That man is Fumio Demura.  If you have seen any of the first four “Karate Kid” movies, you’ve seen sensei Demura in action (probably without realizing it). Pat Morita’s iconic sensei (Mr. Miyagi) in ‘The Karate Kid’ was based on sensei Fumio Demura and Demura was Morita’s stunt double in the action sequences.  I don’t mean based on Demura’s actual life, as Mr. Miyagi was a fictional Japanese-American character who fought in World War II.  Rather, Mr. Miyagi is based on the idea of a man perfecting (improving) himself using art – in Miyagi’s case it is Karate and Bonsai trees.  The documentary traces sensei Demura’s life and offers multiple tributes from his students which offer insight into the man behind the title “sensei”.  Final recommendation: strong if you have only a casual interest in Martial Arts, highly if you have a personal interest in Martial Arts or in historic Martial Artists.
On This Day In:
2015 Just Like All The Others
2014 In My Own Vanity
2013 Filled With Words
2012 Lectio Auget Existentiae Meae
2011 Lied Lately?
2010 Born To Work At Faux News
Lost Again (Uh, Make That Still)
Qui Genus Humanum Ingenio Superavit
They’re Back… (Part 1)

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