Friday, December 19, 2003

Sometimes The Headline Says It All

"Cats Try to Eat Incapacitated Owner

LOS ANGELES - A group of hungry cats began to eat their 86-year-old owner after she suffered an apparent stroke and couldn't get up for nearly a week, officials said Thursday.

'The cats were trying to survive in the conditions that they were in, faced with the outcome they had. They did what they had to do to survive,' animal control Officer Ernesto Poblano told KABC-TV. 'The cats were all emaciated, very, very emaciated.'

The cats, apparently without food for that time, also tried to eat Lowrie's small dog, said Jackie David, a spokeswoman for the city Animal Services Department."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Terminator Will Strike From Above

Over the past few days, Albert and I have been discussing the eventual destruction of mankind. It seems pretty clear that the rapid advance of technology will eventually lead to machines that are more intelligent and more powerful than man. We can hope that our creations will be more merciful, but I wouldn't bet my bottom dollar on it.

The Economist ran a special article on the future of flight--too bad it reads like the end of mankind. Here are some excerpts:

"According to a UAV road map from America's Department of Defence, by 2012 UAVs the size of F-16 fighter aircraft are likely to exist. These will be capable of many combat and support missions, including the suppression of enemy air defences and electronic attacks on enemy sensors."

"By 2015-2020, as onboard processing power begins to take off, UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] are expected to start thinking for themselves. This could lead ultimately to completely autonomous UAVs and swarms of UAVs that talk to one another and operate as a single unit."

So, by 2020, we'll have swarms of flying combat robots the size of F-16s, heavily armed, operating in packs. Does any of this seem like a bad idea to you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Quantity Has A Quality All Its Own

How's this for meta? The following is a quote of Tim Oren quoting Kevin Kelly quoting Bayles and Orland.

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one - to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."

I've always subscribed the Law of Quantity over Quality. When I was a design student at Stanford University, I always marveled at the easy confidence of my fellow art students. I had no instincts or feel for art whatsoever. All I could do is compensate with volume and filtering. In photo class, we were told to shoot at least 20 rolls of film (720 photos) to generate our final portfolio. I once shot 20 rolls in 48 hours. It was not a coincidence that I got an A in the class.