Sitcoms in the city

I wish I could recall when my parents bought our first television set. That moment marked a clear decline in my capacity for sociability, outdoor pursuits, team sports, and homework. I recall rollerskating down our street, visiting friends, adventuring in our apple tree, improvising a bow and arrow set from strips of dowel, and hitting…More

Urban discourse

Dialogue typifies what it is to be intelligent. I’m thinking of two or more people engaged in conversation. Alan Turing proposed conversation as the test for AI. If participants or observers can’t tell the difference between a human conversing with a simulation and a human being conversing with another human then it’s fair to say…More

Intimately conscious

Sentience draws attention to feelings and sensations. Consciousness is more cognitive. It derives from Latin conscius, which is “sharing knowledge.” In my previous post I searched key texts for occurrences of “intimations of sentience” which yielded very little. A similar search on consciousness is more instructive. Intimations of consciousness “It takes a thief to catch a…More

Intimations of sentience

Something is sentient if “feels or is capable of feeling; having the power or function of sensation or of perception by the senses” (OED). Consider the following: “An AI platform that delivers conversational responses to my inputs is sentient.” That’s a very bold claim about AI. To intimate that an AI platform is sentient would…More

The imitation game

Alan Turing proposed : ‘Can machines think?’ should be replaced by ‘Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?’ (442) The following is my unedited conversation with OpenAI about the Imitation Game and Alan Turing’s test of effective AI. I’ve highlighted some key terms. AI: I am an AI created…More

Dall-E and me

The image below is one of my photographs of Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras (Mother of the Water) Reservoir, Lisbon, taken in August this year. If I was conscientious I would label it with alt-text: “plan view of a large thin metal wheel tap in a horizontal position above a reflective underground cyan pool in a…More

Thicker narrative

Gossip is a vital element of community, according to historian Yuval Harari, necessary as an ingredient in social bonding. People who gossip also like to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations, then pass along what they hear. Dialogue in stories meets a similar need. Stories that include dialogue encourage engagement. Readers put themselves in the position…More

Text therapy redux

Text therapy is simply communication between clients and their counsellors, clinicians or therapists via text media, such as email (non-synchronous) or real-time (synchronous) chat. Text chat has grown in many consumer contexts, abetted by automation: archiving, analysis, templates and AI-assisted bot technology. Those who are sufficiently literate sometimes prefer the protections and security afforded by…More

Text therapy

I met with my text therapist last week. She advised me to incorporate more story-telling into my writing. “It will help you connect with your readers on a deeper level,” she said. “How do I do that?” There was a pause. This communication was online. She could have been sipping her coffee, or composing her…More

Lucky places

Imagine two worlds: one in which apparently random events have a positive outcome for most people most of the time — it only rains when you have an umbrella, you only run out of petrol while next to a petrol station, a knocked vase falls on a soft cushion, toast always lands jam side up.…More