Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Factual Folklore: The 1958 wave of concern with automation

As the epigraph to Wasn’t the Grass Greener?: A Curmudgeon’s Fond Memories (1999), Barbara Holland uses a passage from Edward Fitzgerald’s exercise in vers de société“Chivalry at a Discount”:

“Then every cross-bow had a string,        
  And every heart a fetter;  
And making love was quite the thing,     
  And making verses better;
And maiden aunts were never seen,        
  And gallant beaux were plenty;  
And lasses married at sixteen,      
  And died at one-and-twenty.
Ay, those were glorious days! The moon
  Had then her true adorers;                
And there were lyres and lutes in tune,  
  And no such thing as snorers.”

The 1958 wave of concern with automation

10 podcasts you should be listening to

At the end of his lecture, Dylan describes the moment in the Odyssey when Odysseus visits Achilles in the underworld. Achilles tells him that trading a long life of peace for a short one of honor and glory was a mistake. He is dead for eternity; “if he could, he would choose to go back and be a lowly slave to a tenant farmer on Earth rather than be what he is—a king in the land of the dead,” Dylan says. “That’s what songs are, too. Our songs are alive in the land of the living.” Dylan never needed to make that trade. He has had more lives than a cat, and all of them add up to one long life of enough honor and glory to sustain a small nation. One day, he, too, will go down under the ground. But his songs will stay forever alive, up here. 

Bob Dylan’s Singular, Quirky Performance Of His Nobel Speech


Why Your Next Creative Collaborator Might Be An AI

“The computer learns by having another algorithm—a teacher—progressively introduce constraints—here are different available instruments, these are chords, this what it means to sing in soprano. In essence, the algorithm is replicating Bach’s creativity based, not evolving its own creative genius. As such, AI algorithms are best suited to be creative collaborators.”

In Britain’s Election, The Parties Are Taking Culture Seriously

“Labour will create a £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund to invest in and upgrade the UK’s cultural facilities. It will be among the biggest ever arts infrastructure funds to boost arts, music, theatre, literature and more. We’ll create an arts pupil premium worth £160 million a year, to allow every primary school child in England the chance to learn an instrument, take part in drama and dance and have regular access to a theatre, gallery or museum.”

Vrbov Tatranka Marta Chamilova

The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things . . . the trivial pleasure like cooking, one's home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.
— Barbara Pym, born around this date in 1913

"Because here’s the thing: fact-checking isn’t friendly. Nor should it be. Fact-checking developed to hold powerful people to account: it’s confrontational, and it’s like that because it has to be. If we want to change people’s minds, we should really take a different approach. Because no one likes being told they’re wrong." — Rowland Manthorpe in Wired

Australia's ABC Fact Check closed one year ago due to budget cuts. This week — with the headline "Just when you thought it was safe to bend the truth" — it relaunched across all of ABC's platforms in a partnership with RMIT University. The resuscitated site includes a "fact files" feature designed to explain issues rather than fact-check politicians' statements. Read more here.