Increasingly, we’re surrounded by fake people. Sometimes we know it and sometimes we don’t. They offer us customer service on Web sites, target us in video games, and fill our social-media feeds; they trade stocks and, with the help of systems such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, can write essays, articles, and e-mails. By no means are these A.I. systems up to all the tasks expected of a full-fledged person. But they excel in certain domains, and they’re branching out.
Many researchers involved in A.I. believe that today’s fake people are just the beginning. In their view, there’s a good chance that current A.I. technology will develop into artificial general intelligence, or A.G.I.—a higher form of A.I. capable of thinking at a human level in many or most regards. A smaller group argues that A.G.I.’s power could escalate exponentially. If a computer system can write code—as ChatGPT already can—then it might eventually learn to improve itself over and over again until computing technology reaches what’s known as “the singularity”: a point at which it escapes our control. In the worst-case scenario envisioned by these thinkers, uncontrollable A.I.s could infiltrate every aspect of our technological lives, disrupting or redirecting our infrastructure, financial systems, communications, and more. Fake people, now endowed with superhuman cunning, might persuade us to vote for measures and invest in concerns that fortify their standing, and susceptible individuals or factions could overthrow governments or terrorize populations.
The singularity is by no means a foregone conclusion. It could be that A.G.I. is out of reach, or that computers won’t be able to make themselves smarter. But transitions between A.I., A.G.I., and superintelligence could happen without our detecting them; our A.I. systems have often surprised us. And recent advances in A.I. have made the most concerning scenarios more plausible.
“The Honeymooners” (1955-56), the greatest American television comedy, is—to a degree more evident now than then—essentially a series about public transportation in New York. Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) is a New York City bus driver, deeply proud to be so and drawing a salary sufficient to support a nonworking wife in a Brooklyn apartment, not to mention a place in a thriving bowling league and membership in the Loyal Order of Raccoon Lodge. His employer is the Gotham Bus Company, which seems to be the sort of private-public enterprise that, like the I.R.T., built the subways. He and his best friend, Ed Norton (Art Carney), who works in the sewers, make daily use of the subway and bus system, which was designed to whisk the outer-borough working classes into light-industrial Manhattan. Neither the Kramdens nor the Nortons seem to own an automobile. When Ed and Ralph go to Minneapolis for a Raccoons convention, they take a sleeper car on a train.
What’s striking is that no one watching in the fifties needed to think about any of this. Public transportation was the self-evident bedrock of working-class life. Yet it was also in the mid-fifties that the hipsters and beatniks and rebels feverishly celebrated the car and the burst of autonomy, even anarchy, it offered to postwar life. In Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” the car was the vehicle of liberty for the bohemian kids of those working-class Brooklynites.
Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” pities those “who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on Benzedrine / until the noise of wheels and children brought them low,” while dreaming wetly of the glories of the open road, which leads to sex, possibly with an idealized version of Neal Cassady, subsequently memorialized as Kerouac’s irresistible Dean Moriarty. Cars are for poets and outlaws, the subway for the intimidated and the enslaved.
In the last few years, his mother died, his father-in-law died, and he had to put his beloved dog, Gus, a 120-pound mutt, to sleep after more than a decade of loyal companionship. And then there was an almost biblical series of health challenges, many of them indirectly related to his Parkinson’s disease.
“I broke this shoulder — had it replaced. I broke this elbow. I broke this hand. I had an infection that almost cost me this finger. I broke my face. I broke this humerus,” Fox says, pointing to each part of his fractured body, before concluding with a wry snort. “And that sucked.”
That’s to say nothing of the spinal surgery he underwent in 2018 to remove a tumor, a visit to the hospital completely independent of the falls he experiences more frequently as Parkinson’s robs him of his balance. The whole thing left Fox feeling nearly as despondent as when he was first diagnosed with the disease in 1991 at the age of 29. In those days, he would retreat into his bathroom, get in the tub and ruminate with a bottle of wine or some vodka. Now sober for more than 30 years, he hasn’t used booze as a shield for a long time.
Read the rest of this article at: Variety
On 18 November 2017, Simon Speirs, 60, a retired lawyer from Bristol, was hauling on his waterproofs below deck on a yacht in rough seas in the Southern Ocean. For nearly three months, he’d endured cold, cramped quarters, soaked clothing, sea sickness and very little sleep. As one of the crews competing in the Clipper Round the World yacht race, Speirs had completed more than 13,000 nautical miles since leaving Britain, but the wild remoteness of the Southern Ocean was more challenging than anything he had experienced before.
Speirs had a hacking cough and a heavy cold, but as leader of the watch he had to get out on deck. The race had so far taken them across the northern Atlantic Ocean to Uruguay and back across the southern Atlantic to South Africa. Two months in, he’d asked for a break. But after only a week his replacement had fallen out of his bunk and hurt his wrist, and Speirs had to resume his role.
Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian
EXCLUSIVE: In 2016, the hottest book in Hollywood hadn’t even been published yet. Circulating in galley proofs, it was the latest non-fiction work from author David Grann, whose 2009 book The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon had recently been filmed by James Gray and produced by Plan B. His new book was another mouthful — Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI — and it proved just as tasty.
Seven-figure bids materialized, with talent attachments that included Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and J.J. Abrams. The deal ended with a statement buy by Imperative Entertainment’s Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas, who went well beyond the bids and took it off the table for $5 million. With Martin Scorsese directing, they would set it up at Paramount, casting DiCaprio alongside Robert De Niro in the most iconic pairing since Michael Mann’s Heat with De Niro and Al Pacino, but on opposing sides of the law.
Read the rest of this article at: Deadline