Your eyes and ears on the worlds of art, culture, technology, philosophy - whatever stimulates the mind and excites the imagination. We remind you that 20 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

Let's start with some of the more interesting articles on AI:

From the Data Science Institute at the University of Technology Sydney comes a report of a unique AI algorithm with a success rate of 98% in detecting covid-19 from chest X-rays. This process is exceptionally useful in countries that have a shortage of radiologists, since chest X-rays are widely available, portable and give less exposure to ionizing radiation than CT scans. Additionally, the PCR tests often used can be expensive, slow, and sometimes give false reports. The new system, called a Custom Convolutional Neural Network (Custom-CNN), can quickly distinguish between Covid-19, influenza, and pneumonia.

A project called "Human Unreadable Act II" illustrates the motion data of a unique series of movements. Dance notation is said to have a history dating back hundreds of years. Here recorded data includes sequence, tempo, and what direction is faced. Choreography recognizes that dance movements are full of imperfections based on human interpretations. Watch the video to understand more fully what is going on.

A mobile robot named Aloha can do many household chores. Developed by engineers at Stanford University along with colleagues from Google's Deep Mind, Aloha's specific tasks included hanging a shirt on a hanger, opening and closing a refrigerator door, mopping, putting things away, feeding pets and making coffee. The researchers feel that the robot's cost ($32,000.) is inexpensive compared to other robots performing household chores. Aloha can also crack eggs and open soda bottles.

A conversation with Sam Altman, founder, fired and re-hired at Open AI, reveals his thoughts on why current AI algorithms are as dumb as they will ever be and how different societies have adapted to rapid changes in technology.

According to the BBC, AI is claiming that our fingerprints may not be unique. Reseachers at Columbia University are not exactlu sure how AI comes to that conclusion, speculating that AI's methods were different from traditional methods - ie, perhaps AI examined the orientation of the ridges in the center of a finger rather than how ridges end and fork. Additionally the fingerprints used in the study were of good quality and complete, which is not always true in the real world. The researchers acknowledge that more studies are necessary beofre drawing any firm conclusions.

Apple Computer is apparently pouring billions of dollars into "AppleGPT". The amount of money is speculated to be $22.6 billion dollars, characterized as like using $1 bills laid end-to-end which would then circle the Earth 88 times. It appears that Apple may be attempting to one-up Google by eliminating Goodle Search entirely.

A number of chatbots are being modeled on real humans, including Seligman. It seems that a graduate student of Martin Seligman, the well-known American psychologist, fed every word the scientist had ever written into an AI algorithm. The result was a talking chatbot that sounded like a "folksier" version of the original, espousing some of the same ideas. The bot was nicknamed "Ask Martin", and the unnerving technology involved has been dubbed "artificial intimacy". Anyone objecting to an AI bot based on themselves would apparently have a difficult time shutting it down, since the activity is not illegal. In fact, a bill called the NO FAKES Act is circulating in the Senate Judiciary committee to force makers of digital relicas to license their use from the original humans.

AI is being investigated on several medical fronts to improve patient care and diagnosis. In one case, a start-up wants to provide quicker and less expensive life-saving drugs. Another aims to improve lives for dementia patients and their care-givers. In the U.K alone there are said to be 900,000 people suffering from dementia, leading one team to create a device that can monitor a home and someone living there without the use of cameras or microphones. Supersense Technologies and BiologIC Technologies are 2 of the companies working in the field. Significantly, the U.K. government has allocated a 100 million pound fund to promote AI in the life sciences, with an additional 2 billion pounds for engineering biology.

AGI, or Artificial General Intelligence, is prompting fears about the dangers that far surpass AI itself. The Open AI system that apparently got Sam Altman fired and then rehired is called Q* (Q Star). It has the potential to be weaponized, although little is known about how it actually functions. One key is called the "Singularity", where AI becomes smarter than humans. Rather than simply "regurgitating" existing data, AGI could be used to initiate huge cyber attacks or create dangerous pathogens. In a 2023 blog post, Altman stated that the potential for damage, accidental or intentional, does not mean that we should stop AGI development entirely, but rather figure out how to use it for the betterment of all. He emphasized that a gradual understanding of AGI is preferable to a sudden explosion into it. He also feels that "democritized access" is essential to more and better resaerch, power that is decentralized, and a broader range of people contributing to its development. In Altman's view, independent review must be undertaken before moving forward.

Emphasizing playfulness in architecture, Architecture Now magazine takes us to several projects that utilize AI to enliven the contemporary landscape.

Now on to other February treats:

Watch the fascinating Emitter, called a fluid art film derived from a semi-automatic paint drop system. (Thanks to DM for thhis).

Artist Lu Yang annually presents her "Doku: Digital Reincarnation" in New York's Times Square with nonbinary avatars of herself compiled by scientists, 3D animators, dancers and musicians. The term doku comes from a phrase in Buddhist scripture, Dokusho Dokush. which means "“We are born alone, and we die alone". Yang combines motion capture technology with ancient concepts of reincarnation.

The National Museum of Australia is presenting "Beyond the Milky Way", with an immersive 360-degree virtual reality tour of the firmaments. Using VR headsets, viewers can see farther than ever before into space-time with the hope of unearthing extra-terrestrial life. An accompanying video explains what they are attempting.

A set of exhibitions called Pip and Pop should help you out of the doldrums and into bright and playful imaginary playsets. Pip and Pop refers to a team of Australian artists that create joyful and dreamy environments reminiscent of cotton candy worlds. Called Bubblegum Pop, these over-the-top fantasy worlds are purposely sugar-saturated not only for joy but for ideas about consumerism and social mythologies.

A "unique vertical village" will be constructed out of 13 staggered cubes in Tirana, Albania. The residential development plans to start building in the spring of 2024. Another cube-inspired vertical apartment building is also planned for Tirana's New Boulvard which is scheduled to include an art gallery, cultural center, opera house and amphitheater.

The Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina, is showing "The Nature of Things" by Anna Valdez. Based in Los Angeles. Valdez calls her paintings "sculptural extravagances" on canvas, like grand stagesets illogically composed and visually engaging..

Feast your eyes on TraceLoops, an animation based on hand-drawings enhanced by perceptions of motion. You may be puzzled but you won't be bored.

An extravaganza of AI architectural models has been creatd by Arturo Tedeschi. Italian designer and architect. Tedeschi is also author of "Algorithms-Aided Design", espousing free-form organically shaped buildings and objects using Grasshopper and Rhinoceros 3D modeling software.

Nina Temple brings us fluid and expressive works on paper in delicate pastel hues, both gentle and evocative.

Danica Lundy specializes in large complex canvases with multiple hybrid forms interwoven and juxtaposed. Describing her tableaux, she writes, "A painting can become a poem, a nightmare, a construction site; a lived-in arena for testing out the limits of one’s own power".

c. Corinne Whitaker 2024

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