Archive for July 12th, 2012
Morgan Freeman doesn’t want a Black History Month because “Black History is American History.”
On Sixty Minutes, Mike Wallace asked Freeman how we could solve America’s race problem? Freeman’s answer: “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”
I like this approach immensely, since there is no scientific basis for “race.” I also offer a slightly different suggestion: All of us should acknowledge that we are all from Africa. Whenever people ask me about my ancestors, I tell I’m “African,” because it is true, despite my outward appearance.
Specialists in race, both geneticists and anthropologists, maintain that modern ideas of race are . . . primarily historical constructions that reflect the pattern of contact between previously distinct populations in the colonial period.
Given recent findings, though, I shouldn’t merely say that I’m “African.” I should add, “With a touch of Neanderthal.” And I should add one more thing to be even more accurate: I’m a descendant of many other critters, including sponges, fungi and bacteria.
It’s amazing how so many of us still put any emphasis on “race.” It’s time to admit that it was a ridiculous category to create in the first place, and that it has caused only mischief ever since. The characteristics associated with “race” are a infinitesimally small part of what it means to be a physical human being. It’s time to bring our culture in line with our physical reality.
“How do our computers see us?”
“Maybe if we could see what our computer sees, we would stare differently.”
Here’s a fascinating article by Kyle McDonald at Wired: “When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: ‘People Staring at Computers.’” McDonald secretly loaded up his custom-made app onto numerous computers displayed at a Manhattan Apple store in order to create an art project. He was fascinated with the expressionless faces displayed while people use computers. McDonald is a programmer, and using his automated app, he gathered faces of Apple customers (check out the video he created based on people staring at their computers).
Eventually, Apple figured out what McDonald had done. Next came the knock on McDonald’s door by the U.S. Electronic Crimes Task Force, and a lot of inconvenience. What started out as an art project expanded to include a discussion of privacy and snooping, including corporate and government snooping.
What did people think of his project? Here are a few of the hundreds of comments he received:
Interesting how he as able to capture a truly expressionless face. It made me think about how too much computer time may make us retract from social interactions. Weird .
Facial expressions are partially reflexive but partially social. It’s not a surprise that expressions get bland when there is no one around to non-verbally communicate with.
We ARE social animals and we can only guess at the long term effect of computers on our species.
I like the idea of “how does a computer sees you” any Asimov reader would daydream after such sentence.
McDonald has written a long article, but it’s extremely thoroughly engaging throughout.