Wednesday, 20 August 2014

..And it's from the old and to the new; Automation, Aphex twin & looking smart

Im having my boiler replaced this week. Or rather, im having a pair of  old smaller boilers, replaced with a newer one. Now this newer boiler has a more efficient system, that will save on the energy consumption and deliver the water and heating at a..

Okay, as much as a fan of tech as I am, I didn't listen to every word the engineer had to say during the 'pitch period' to grab all the minutae of the technical specification data . I did, however, listen to enough to help in making my decision to buy.

Having done physics and maths all the way from GCSE, though to my Degree, and even beyond when I think of how quickly I managed to assimilate all the information learned when using analog synthesizers both old and new in the studio, I just tend to listen to the cliffnotes for any unique or new and improved 'gizmo-ing' ( see my article on the right hand side, or just click here for further details on what that is), that may be of benefit.

Ultimately, a team of fitters is going around the house, draining the system down, checking the loft space tanks, moving the new boiler and tank in and so on. As far as I know, they're all human, which I've based on the brief chunks of interaction I've had with all of them, and they've all got their own sense of self ( and a sense of humour).  I mention this in prelude to the following article that caught my eyes and ears :-

Scary Smart Video Predicts Automation Will Make Human Work Obsolete

Again, I touched on this in another article I wrote a few years ago which sadly I can't locate ( the website was taken over by another party, the same may have happened with the printed version and I don't have the digital draft at hand right now..honestly), and if you watch the video, which i hope you do, it's at about the halfway mark that things start to get very interesting.

Just imagine the reality of the concept of a machine teaching another machine how to be better at something than the human who programmed the data into the machine(s) in the first place. Now imagine that being compounded at a rate beyond our natural comprehension. At some point very soon on in, the human has not only been replaced, but superceeded in terms of efficiency and capability.

We're not just talking about menial 'factory robot' style jobs, but even the writing of reports, articles, and even more subjective and emotive productivity, such as music, books, poetry and painting.That's potentially a lot of people being replaced.

Am I scared about all this? Not anymore. As I wrote in my (now lost) article, there will always be a need for human rationale at some sphere, because manufacturing emotions and the full spectrum of them, with the maelstrom of different reactions that can generate, isn't going to be easy.

More importantly, the warmth or what I call  ' the feelings aspect' of contact, no matter how brief ( for example a waiter, a concierge, a manager, a hairstylist, and so on, who just 'get you' so to speak), cannot be reproduced with cold, hard machinery. Even the staunchest technophile will have to strain to find a robot who exudes charm, which is an amalgam of more than the sum of it's parts. In human beings it's those sum of our parts which encompasses so many character traits, including our physiognomies, gesticulations, speech inflexions and slight imperfections here and there, that ultimately give us our character.

So in effect, there will always be a need for human contact and interaction even in the workplace, otherwise the faint whiff of sterility that even the best machine can generate at an interaction level, will create a cold and semi-soulless world. Besides which, if there is a return to a more natural way of doing things, in part and not necessarily as a knee-jerk reaction, as the article alludes to, then that's a good thing too. I for one am not partial to 'hugging a robot', metaphorically speaking, in nearly every transaction and interaction I participate in.

On a lighter note ( all puns intended), someone else who has participated in his own programming forays into the world of creativity and productivity is perhaps teasing us with a new album worth of material he may or may not want to release soon :-

Aphex Twin Is Teasing His New Album on the Deep Web

Richard D James (a.k.a the aphex twin) is a man who really is the living embodiment of 'my way' in the best way imaginable. For the unitiated, just like Kraftwerk before him, he has released his own genre of music, which sounded like nothing else before it, for years on end. He's also very selective about press and p.r., which amounts to next to nothing for long periods of time, followed by random bits of activity, akin to what's mentioned in the article.

But the twist is that he goes under a lot of aliases, too...or does he? Just like Kraftwerk, he's either by luck or by design ( I suspect both), weaved a level of mystique that makes the music trully matter more than any image or style bestowed upon him.

In effect, he's a very clever guy who has made good and done good on his work, by always being a little bit ahead of everyone else and producing quality work with a sense of juxtaposition in pieces that is clearly his own. It's a recognisably distinctive sonic palette, even when he tackles tradtional genres per se ( such as techno on the ANALORD series of releases) and he also takes some wild sonic risks from time to time. In any event, If an album is coming out soon, I can't wait to buy a copy.

Speaking of smartness, I wonder where any of us would rank ourselves according to the findings in this final article :-

How to Look Smart

I wont' go into the finer details here as :-

a) I'm hungry

and

 b) I think it's time I had a look-see at what the boiler fitting team are doing, in terms of progress on the job.

And on that note I'm off, because there's another detail I haven't attended to recently. The voicemail on my mobile/ cell phone isn't working properly.

So much for automation. Just like human beings, it's not perfected yet.  Unlike machines however, our flaws give us character.

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