The Rise Of The Tool

stone-axe

Dictionary definitions of “tool” generally refer to some device used by humans to serve a purpose but recent investigations have shown that many creatures other than humans have found it useful to extend their physical abilities with various available implements. Nevertheless, humans excel above all other creatures in developing new ways to fabricate sophisticated objects to manipulate, not only their environment, but each other to create and control the complex of human society.

Viewed as a greater generality than a specific object, a tool can also be a concept or an idea or some generally accepted social mechanism which is used to dominate human relationships. This extends the basic concept of the tool to a social continuum far greater than a mere object and becomes an object lesson in how the tool itself can overpower its creator and endanger the entire nature of society to the detriment of all life. The recent US presidential election clearly indicates how a social tool, the Electoral College, dominated its master, the democratic popular vote, to create a rather odd and quite frightening situation. The alternative candidate who exhibited an equal relish for demolishing planetary life with the exorbitant feral delight in extending the US dominance in a nuclear conflict with Russia did not seem much of an encouraging alternative. But more general human social tools such as money, the military-industrial complex, private property, and many more complex social relationships currently are in operation in ways not particularly favorable to this most peculiar species, the entirety of humanity or, to be more general, all other life on the planet.

To step somewhat aside from a strictly human viewpoint one can perhaps see the tool itself as a kind of independent creature utilizing the ingenuity of living creatures to evolutionize into an independent dynamic factor. This is not an original novel concept. It was explored in the novel “Looking Backward” published in 1888 by Edward Bellamy but it seems especially pertinent in looking over current advances.

There are several contemporary areas where this peculiar activity is becoming a dynamic invasive of and dangerous to human existence. They become strangely independent ideational ecologies with a life of their own, a jungle full of vicious conceptual monsters with frightful destructive capacities. The internet itself, considered originally as a gateway to the freedoms of availability of all sorts of wonderful human interactions has provided an incredibly rich field to distorted minds who make off regularly with huge robberies of funds never before possible and with wild distortions of information that result in frightful international and local catastrophes. One might take the opposite view that these were merely aware individuals open to new opportunities but these individuals can also be perceived oppositely as a constant field of human negative qualities available to the internet as an entity for opportunistic activity.

To move down to a more specific area, Hawking’s cautions on the advances in artificial intelligence very definitely illustrate where most peculiar tool evolution can demonstrate massive negative possibilities. I remember clearly back in 1939 when I was thirteen years old seeing, in the Westinghouse Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair a massive android toy offered as a robot whose marvelous accomplishment was to click the fingers of one raised hand and vocally count to five and smoke a cigarette. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuyTRbj8QSA). Lately the field is advancing into military areas where, inspite of Isaac Asimov’s cautionary laws, technology is on the point of granting robots the right to decide whether or not to kill people. The visions of robots going wild as depicted in the Terminator   film series has not at all deterred military technology where their toys have become somewhat more sophisticated than counting to five and smoking cigarettes. Obama’s weekly deployment of drones to wipe away suspected terrorist threats and incidentally blasting wedding and funeral parties look to make large advances in robot innovation, especially since the most recent reports that human control pilots of these remote aircraft seem to be becoming reluctant to act as conscious agents of random remote obliteration.

I have read that, especially in Japan, the aging population requires care that is beginning to be beyond the capabilities of the human social services and, as robotry produces more acceptable and economically viable units to penetrate social organizations, these artificial creatures will become common throughout society.  China which has become the production center for much of the world  is moving towards massive numbers of robots to replace workers (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601215/china-is-building-a-robot-army-of-model-workers/) and this move towards non-human production is creating huge problems within the foundational economic system where workers are rewarded for their labor with the means to obtain the results of production. The very odd social and financial pressures to replace humans with machines that have no motivation to require the end products of the factory totally destroys a vital fundamental of society and there seems to be almost no consideration of this social destruction. It is, of course, a very long step from this situation to imply that the tools themselves, the robots, have some sort of conscious motivation to destroy society.  But when one includes the organizations of human management into the mix the factor of motivation becomes intrinsic to the problem. In a weird way the robots have incorporated a powerful sector of active humanity into their evolutionary development and penetration into human society.

And beyond this, as with the internet and including the current potentials of the internet to pervert and corrupt social relationships, the extensive incorporation of robots in both production centers and the most intimate and personal areas of everyday life leaves civilization in its entirety at the mercy of the unavoidable massive errors in a technological civilization. Most recently, the internet of things including many facilities for transportation and maintenance of individual households are falling into automatic controls and the bedlams possible out of the types of interference by perverse and criminal opportunists can become equivalent to the worst scenarios of terrorist attacks. Even back in the old days of the 1950’s there were imaginative humorous stories in magazines of intelligent vacuum cleaners  and lighting systems developing peculiar emotional desires to the consternation of people and now as the eagerness to automate everything proceeds strange things can happen.

Hawking was concerned with the AI potentials of super intellect wherein organic human intelligence has neither the speed of reaction nor the massive recourse to bulk information that even the machines of today exhibit. As with the film “AI”       (which was a technological update of the old tale Pinocchio) the ideal was sort of a human centered desire of artificial intellect to attain human acceptance of this artificial life but, no doubt, Hawking was fully aware of many of the limits of humans to penetrate and assimilate the very odd structures of the natural world. Evolution fashions each life form to exist and multiply within its specific ecology and humans have remarkably extended this very limited base of natural perceptions and their implications. But an intellect constructed with none of the limitations of organic survival and devoted to its extension and control through many factors that have never even been apprehended within human exploration is a tool which is far outside of human control or perhaps understanding. Its “conquest” of humanity probably would be as little concern to it as a human desire to dominate a dandelion. I really have no idea as to what its motivations might be but if it came to the point of conflict with humanity the elimination our species its consideration would probably come to the same level as plucking a flower.

At end I can only conclude we become the tools of our tools.

Appraisal

universe-mind

To look inside

Delight, deride,

Examine and decide

What might have value

And what can be set aside

Is a process, to arrive,

Not at an end,

But a beginning.

This is, of course,

A personal report.

An effort to resort

To survey with success

That swirling inside mess

Where I must fish and catch

Worthwhile calculations,

Speculations, innovations,

Infestations of personal peculiarities

That question accepted regularities

To disassemble infidelities of rationalities.

But mind is no simplistic compilation,

A compound open clear to easy observation.

Like a forest replete with life that interweaves,

Fear and hunger, desires and loves which stalk its leaves,

The mind flows and bulks in the oddest ways,

Connects or breaks, streams freely or delays.

How to grasp and what to hold amidst the fluctuations

Is just the start on this adventure into contemplations.

This plunge into one’s self requires some attention

To the interface that protoplasm devises

To offer a moist fingertip to the winds of intervention.

We are, at best, a pseudopod of life’s surmises

Built to exist, persist, replicate and not much more.

Thereby lay our limits to confront random surprises,

To anticipate destructions or what else might be in store.

The brain, the mind, the nucleus of thought

Sits inside its shell to snag what the universe has wrought.

It does not see, is deaf and dumb, knows not of any scents.

It gathers only inputs from its nerves, constructing intelligence.

It can, of course, apprise the source where impulse does arise.

It respects, selects, directs notices from touch and ears and eyes

And engages, gauges many stages in this compilation enterprise.

From these bits and hints and other elements

That integrate into a guess, what might be termed reality.

The massive complicated interactions of totality

Remain a mystery, certainly a challenge to common sense.

Thus, the eye of I must accept, be content, to reside

Like a rabbit in its burrow or a Socratic prisoner encaved

Inside the artificial structure of the mind with which I am enslaved.

A status of great limitations wherein sanity may abide.

There are no claims to be made of universal congruence.

This stab at inherent sensible integration is individual.

We each hold unique in time and place and influence,

Not to be deterred but things change, nothing is perpetual.

So, it appears the active mind cannot be impaled, fixed, nailed

Where the universe itself eludes frozen fixation.

A good mind is wild, must be free to roam or die when jailed

If thought is caged it is justly enraged to scream in furious frustration.

Value

dinosaur-dollar

The length of my life has transported me to an area of personal survival in which I am in an extended quest for discovering why and what I am doing here. What is currently valuable to me and what registers as meaningless. In my life, I have explored a number of areas. I have had some success in a few directions and not very much in others and never discovered within myself the powerful driving force that captures many others in their efforts to gain what they so desire. So, I am left with an uncomfortable emptiness as to what it is all about.

 

Even the most casual survey of the state of current civilization produces much evidence of extraordinary accomplishments of the human animal in comparison to other planetary life. Historical and current life indicates that this most odd creature has yet to produce a reasonable system for granting even a large percentage of its members a decent fulfilling life. But there remain exceedingly strong forces at work to not only exterminate all human life plus also almost all current life on the planet. What amazes me is that this rather well informed civilization is well aware of its oncoming extinction and yet there is not much more than a few feeble and rather ineffective efforts to actually confront this ultimate disaster. Any real attempt to turn it around is not in evidence. There are some indications that this dire situation may have come to the point where it is unstoppable but somehow, I have the concept it is still worthwhile to try. Nevertheless, in general, this seems to be a minor opinion at best.

 

As my illustration above indicates, the sectors of humanity that create most major policies, are so deeply embedded in the pursuit of financial power that they are acting energetically to ensure that when this planet finally acquires in its environment its full solar acceptance of warming they will have a respectable supply of monetary paper to light their way to that final blazing incineration. If this is the desired endpoint of civilization it differs considerably from my own.

 

When humanity evolved out of its origins, like any other product of the process, it took advantage of what the planet had to offer and prospered or declined as the ecology matched or ceased to match its basic needs of food and shelter. As it became more knowledgeable and, perhaps, more clever, it adapted the ecological offerings more closely to its needs and modified its own behavior to radically influence the planet’s offerings in its favor. These interactions eventually changed both humans and the environment to such an extent that there was little relationship between what the untended environment had to offer humanity and what the species required to survive. Huge human effort was continuously required to supply the requirements of humanity to maintain itself.

 

But within this accumulated understanding and advanced ability to manipulate nature there developed various disciplines with self-generating motivations to advance the entire culture in a revolutionary way. The economic systems which required human interaction with natural processes to provide the necessities for human existence more and more developed mechanisms of one kind or another to replace the human element in the entire process. Currently the impact of this replacement has a long way to go to affect in a major way the economic systems which required human participation.  But the trend is unmistakable and the pace of this change is increasing rapidly. The rather exclusive sector of humanity which had profited immensely out of the human participation is relentlessly driven out of economics to substitute machinery for humanity with little if any provision for people to acquire the benefits of this innovation.

 

In other words, in a most odd way, by elimination of a major portion of humanity from the creation of the needs of human culture, the end point is to return humanity to its origins in receiving the blessings offered by the planet with little if any effort from humanity. It seems obvious that once the system is established as self-sustaining there is small need, if any, for a sector of humans to supervise what humans need to exist and prosper. No doubt there will be objections that humans will always seek innovation and I cannot necessarily presume that mechanics can always supply that requirement. But in the last few years systems have been devised to outwit even the best of humans in the most abstract areas so it is problematical as to what may occur.

 

To return to my original curiosity as to how or why I should function within this entire endeavor I remain mystified. Obviously, I shall not live long enough to see whatever endpoint is reached and I shall have to settle for that, whatever its value. I have lived long enough to be well aware that every few years understandings and events have occurred totally unexpected and rather surreal. No doubt they will continue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quiet

dust-illustration

So must I at sunset times and early morning darknesses

Attend the swirls of random thoughts that murmur,

Whisper, groan, cry and caress the past

At the graves of distant distress.

These quiet moments, vulnerable

To ancient thunders that shake all reality,

To leave a blank sky empty of stars

Permitting only a finger to form

Helpless patterns in the dust.

A Finnish Merry Christmas

 christmas-rabbit

A MESSAGE FROM YOUR CHRISTMAS RABBIT

A NEW ERA

 

We bunnies have been allocated a special place in the yearly schedule and have done well in that slot. That is why we have become disturbed in the inefficiencies in the manner of operations of the person known as Santa Claus. The man has obviously passed his prime and we realized that, for the benefit of the tradition and out of pity for the elderly Father Christmas something radical had to take place. So we assumed time was ripe for an aggressive takeover. We have accomplished this with dispatch and minimum damage.

 

Of course, some downsizing was imperative and we have performed this carefully. Rumors of elves wandering the Arctic wastes in a daze are absolutely untrue. Most are now employed by McDonalds and Walmart at standard wages which are quite sufficient to sustain an elf. Santa himself is living comfortably ln a large cardboard carton in a safe dry area under the Brooklyn Bridge. Visitors should be forewarned that he has not yet come to appreciate the benefits of being brought into the modern era.

 

One of the forthcoming rewards is a sale of delicious reindeer steaks soon to be available on Ebay.

 

We are moving Christmas Corporate Headquarters to Australia where the bunny population is more available for management positions.

 

It is noteworthy that the Australian Government has indulged in rabbit genocide using biological weapons and our consensus is that it is time for a regime change. We feel secure that it is only a matter of time before a rabbit is elected as prime minister and we intend to see to it that this improvement takes place as soon as possible in the near future.

 

PLEASE DO HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY

 

 

Birds

humphry

 

This is Humphrey. He was stolen from his nest as a baby by a seagull but fell at my feet while I waited for a bus. I put him in my pocket and raised him and he lived with me for 8 years but my superintendent forced me to give him to a friend where he lived for another three years. He was a good friend and I will miss him. He died last week and taught me to speak a bit of sparrow. I have known several birds and they taught me a something about birds. As you can see.

 

angry-bird

bird-1

bird-2

bird-4OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbird-3bird-conglomerateblackwing-birdblue-line-birdbrown-bird-flyingbird-descendingghost-birdsexotic-birdmagpiepigeonred-black-birdThe Bird of Dawnthe-last-birdpigeon-in-flight

Thinking With Pattern

 

Although I grew up in a family of artists it often puzzled me as to why my parents, who frequently explored the locale of New York City and the neighboring areas of New Jersey  for subject matter, chose one view or another to create their water color landscapes. Insofar as complex patterns are concerned, any view of the city and its environs seemed to me to be equally interesting for form and color.

As I matured and started working in graphics this vague puzzle pursued me and it combined with the limitations I had in accurately rendering form which many artists pursued. I could perform in these areas but not with a good deal of ease. I discovered that it was a good deal easier to recognize images than to create them from scratch on a blank surface. This led me to a somewhat different approach to creating what might be interesting. Instead of consciously assembling a pattern I experimented with various pigments based on both water and other liquids such as oil or laquers that dissolve or reject dissolving in a variety of thinners such as alcohol or acetone. After first wetting a surface with water or another liquid I could apply various based pigments or inks using a brush or a bit of foam plastic or merely spattering in various ways.  The wetted surfaces permitted the colors to move amongst each other in various intensities to form very interesting patterns. After they had dried I could copy them into my computer through a scanner and thus make several copies for experiments and retain the original for further exploration. I could also take a pattern and play with color variation and intensity with Photoshop.

Thus I created a base source for future work with recognizing images in these random forms and intensifying that recognition with whatever skills I could manage with my basic artistic skills, a kind of Rorschach process wherein it is much easier to recognize an image than to create one originally. It is quite surprising how photographic  some random patterns can be.

two-men

This same pattern turned upside down created a new image

clown-at-the-ball

And here are further images using the same approach.

bird-descending

cat-at-night-modified-2

bush-republican-new-lettering

confrontation

death

eve-and-the-snake

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