Sunday, September 27, 2015


A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte with Tablet
by Matt Wuerker @ Politico
[one of many Seurat parodies]

Highlights from Dawn or Doom2
September 24 - 25, 2015

1. Lance Duerfahrd: "We all know what the light of Dawn looks like, but what is the light emitted by Doom? It is the light of a fading rectangle; the light of the cell phone is the light of Doom."
Duerfahrd began by showing a mural, similar to the above parody, in which all of Seurat's figures are holding cell phones, and comparing it to the original, in which all they gaze at the distant horizon:
In the parody, as in contemporary life, "Verizon has replaced horizon." Haha!

Dawn: the hypnotism of the horizon takes you outside of yourself

Doom: the hypnotism of the cell phone is a threat to attention

Dawn: the hypnotism of the movie screen allows you to access parts of yourself you hadn't thought about, it will to affect your perception if you let it

Doom: the cell phone is an "emerging technology" because, even though we put it away, it re-enters the atmosphere every 76 seconds (as opposed to Halley's Comet every 76 years -- get it?!)

2. Data Driven Artificial Intelligence
How about when you order a black turtleneck sweater online, and then for the next three weeks your computer screen is filled with ads for black turtlenecks? This doesn't make me feel that my computer is smart; it makes me feel that my computer is stupid. Otherwise, it might know that I'm only going to order a black turtleneck every year or so -- not every day.

The wry Deep Thoughts of Jack Handey illustrate the potential for error in data driven logic: "If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone."

My computer knows no irony and errs consistently in its choice of Flippy!

Humans can talk their way into a connection that's real; can computers do that?

3. Things to think about for next year's movie night:
Was Her --in which fictional computers discuss dental appointments and Great Books -- one of the most entertaining movies of 2013 or one of the scariest?

Or how about WALL - E (2008) with his capacity to democritize yet destroy via nostalgia

4. Melodramatic Movie Dystopias vs Reality
Instead of the Paranormal Activity film series, how about a movie called Normal Activity?

Or how about a cop show with no arrests? That would be more like it! Ha!

5. Wisdoom
I was unable to ascertain whether the word "wisdoom," as displayed on the overhead projector in one of the lectures, was an unintentional misspelling or an intentional pun. Either way, it captures the essence of "Dawn or Doom" and serves as a one - word reminder, in case we had forgotten, that "In much wisdom is much grief: and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow" (from Ecclesiastes 1: 18).

"Wisdoom" also brought to mind that old proverb: "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good." Even when something is bad, someone will usually benefit in some way. "For," as Tennessee Williams says, "there is no lie that contains no part of truth." Conversely, it would have to be an extremely good wind that blew no ill. No matter how good something is, it may bring harm as well.

Same with Dawn or Doom.

5. Xuedong Huang: To close the gap between machines and humans, the last mile is so hard; will it be possible? We overestimate what technology can do in one year and underestimate what it can do in ten years; so, best to focus instead on the five - year horizon.
Or, as Gerry McCartney has been saying for years: We always overestimate technology's impact in the short term and underestimate its impact in the long term.

Previous Posts


Dawn or Doom2

Dawn or Doom?

Safe Home


  1. "The world is violent and mercurial - it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love - love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love." ~Tennessee Williams

  2. "The right perception of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other."

    ~ Kafka
    ~ from The Parable of the Man Before the Law