How a Bad Think-Thing Destroyed the World
A short story by Vic Grout
Download as a PDF: https://vicgrout.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/eric-1.pdf
On the planet ‘Arth’ (which, if it helps, you can think of as being like Earth but without the ‘E’), things were going pretty smoothly. Arth society was organised roughly into three groups of people: doers, thinkers, and leaders. There was no great difference in status or esteem among the three groups but there were a good many more doers than thinkers and a lot more of both than leaders.
So, yes, most people were doers: they did things. They found raw materials and turned them into what people needed; they made clothes, built shelter, grew food; they moved it all to where it had to go; they repaired and cleaned. They cared and treated mind and body; kept people safe; raised families; looked after the young, the old and the ill; they taught new generations. There were also doers that entertained; made nice things to look at, told stories, played music or sport. All of these doers together made Arth a comfortable and happy place to live.
Fully Automated Luxury … Dancing? (A futuristic conspiracy theory in the making)
Vic Grout, Professor of Computing Futures, Wrexham Glyndŵr University
Download the PDF version: Fully Automated Luxury Dancing – Download Version 1
[Note/Disclaimer: Some of the discussion in this piece is shockingly brief. A limit of 10,000 words was planned and (just) adhered to.]
We’ve encountered Michael Moorcock’s masterpiece, Dancers at the End of Time, before on these pages: both as an example of sci-fi doing what it does best (providing a blank canvas for a bigger discussion) and the problems futurologists have with not seeing key disruptive technology (the Internet, in Moorcock’s case). But, for this post, an entirely different question to ponder: who exactly ARE ‘The Dancers’?
Because answering that puzzle (there aren’t that many clues to go on in the novel itself and obviously it is only a story) takes us to considering problems in (apparently) entirely different fields: environment, politics, economics, etc. (which is the important point really, of course) and may lead us to a view of the future quite at odds with current thinking right across the political spectrum. Specifically, what’s usually wrong with long-term ‘futuristic’ political and economic prophesising? Particularly the very well-intentioned left-wing stuff. What’s the one thing that everything from Karl Marx’s Das Capital to Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism appear to take for granted? (Spoiler alert: in simple terms it’s the belief that just because a political/economic system’s crap, it will naturally yield to something better – but we’ll come to that.)
Special Issue Information: Advanced Machine Learning and Data Mining: A New Frontier in Artificial Intelligence Research (Big Data and Cognitive Computing Journal)
Call for Papers
Without data, there is no machine learning (ML), so there is no doubt that big data and ML are inextricably linked. However, much research to date has tended to treat them as separate areas of development. As we are confronted with today’s difficult problems and the wealth of held data continues to grow, it is vital that new, innovative ways of examining, testing, and using big data to produce useful information are both researched/developed and integrated. Whether this be for the social good (health diagnostics, for example) or corporate gain (competitive advantage), given the exponentially increase in both the volume of data and the velocity by which it is generated, the need for the expansion of direct cooperation of mining big data with ML is long overdue. For this Special Issue, as the individual fields of advanced machine learning and advanced data mining are well established, the focus will be specifically on their intersection: the point―or points―at which one aids, needs, or enhances the other.
This new frontier is almost boundless, but will eventually become the norm. Automatically learning and improving from experience without being explicitly programmed gives great opportunities. The quality of the data being used, its speed of acquisition, and the effectiveness of processing are all of vital importance―if Microsoft’s AI chatbot Tay taught us anything at all, it is certainly this.
I was pleased to be asked to be a member of the Llangollen Fringe 2020 Climate Summit panel this month
You can see the recorded video here:
(It doesn’t really get going until about 11 minutes in!)
The full ‘line-up’ was:
- Documentary Filmmaker, Bruce Parry: best known for his BBC series Tribe which saw him living with indigenous peoples around the world, and thereafter his work focusing on globalisation and climate change. More recently Bruce switched from television to the big screen with his directorial debut, ’Tawai, a voice from the forest’ – his attempt to dive deeper into the heart of what he had learned on his many years travelling the world. Bruce screened this film at the Llangollen Fringe Festival 2019.
- Deputy Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn MS
- Kate Hamilton, Director of Renew Wales
- Jessica Lloyd-Jones, Local Visual Artist
It was pleasure to be part of the discussion with such a distinguished group!