Category Archives: Blog

Chewing the fat and talking bollocks.

AI An Essay

Growing up with computer technology during the 1960s-70s was a unique experience. A period of technological infancy when computers were the domain of large corporations, government agencies and science fiction writers. 

Massive, complex machines. I recall seeing my first computer on a work experience visit to the ICI computer building on Teesside, three floors to house a single computer. However, as today, the impact of these technologies drew concerns about their impact on society. Now here we are, 50 years on and we sit on the brink of technology accelerating far beyond anything previously envisaged. 

AI technology will touch every aspect of our lives. Yet, without the intervention of 1,000 technology leaders and researchers writing a letter we would have heard little. The debate is now wide open.  Governments, legislators, and regulators who had previously gone AWOL are starting to listen.

I don’t profess to be an expert, just a person who enjoys technology with an interest in the debate and who having suffered a leg injury recently found myself laid up and with the time to try and get under the bonnet of those concerns and wrote this. I appreciate there are wider issues of concern, given the latest contribution from scientist have spoken about the risk of AI leading to human extermination. An alarmist headline always captures attention, but for now my concern is we are not focused on the issues, benefits and challenges AI will bring today and the media term.  

Today I’m concerned about the impact these technologies and the ethical dilemmas will have on the creative arts. This is a particularly tough time for artists who are starting to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic artists, regardless of their discipline be them ballerina, punk band, recording studio, small independent venues, etc.

Ownership and authorship: One of the biggest ethical dilemmas is who owns the artwork created by AI. Is it the artist who created the algorithm or the machine that generated the artwork? This raises questions about authorship and intellectual property rights.

Authenticity and originality: With the ability to generate endless variations of a particular style or artwork, AI raises questions about the authenticity and originality of the artwork. This could lead to a devaluation of traditional artistic skills and techniques.

Human vs. machine creativity: There is a debate about whether AI can truly be creative or if it is simply a tool for artists to use. This raises questions about the role of the artist and the value of human creativity.

Bias and discrimination: AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are fed, until that is they can think for themselves. Those who feed the data also feed their interpretation of history, politics, which risks perpetuating biases, discrimination, etc. reinforcing historic and existing societal injustices.

Privacy and data protection: The use of AI in the art world raises concerns about privacy and data protection. Artists and collectors may be hesitant to share personal data with AI systems, and there are concerns about the potential misuse of this data.

Yet, we cannot be luddites given this technology is already with us and even given these concerns AI has many benefits for the artist and those who enjoy art. 

New creative possibilities: AI can generate new and unique artworks that may not have been possible without the use of this technology. This opens new creative possibilities for artists and expands the boundaries of what is possible in art.

Efficiency and productivity: AI can automate time-consuming tasks such as image recognition, data analysis, and content curation, freeing up more time for artists to focus on the creative aspects of their work.

Personalisation and customisation: AI can be used to create personalized and customized art experiences for individual viewers or collectors. This can enhance the emotional connection between the viewer and art.

Preservation and restoration: AI can be used to preserve and restore artworks, particularly those that are damaged or deteriorating. This can help to extend the lifespan of these artworks and ensure that they are accessible for future generations.

Accessibility and inclusivity: AI can help to make art more accessible and inclusive by providing alternative ways of experiencing and interacting. For example, AI-powered virtual reality experiences can enable people to explore artworks in a more immersive and interactive way.

After completing my research, I downloaded some free software and typed the following words, “Abstract painting of 1975 British industrial landscape” into its algorithm. This is the image created.

Talking to Robots About Robots

I asked an Artificial Intelligence software programme to write a statement on the dangers of AI. This was the unedited reply.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work, but it also poses significant risks and dangers. As AI becomes more advanced and integrated into our daily lives, there are growing concerns about the potential consequences of its use.

One of the biggest dangers of AI is its potential to replace human jobs. As AI becomes more sophisticated, it has the ability to perform tasks that were previously only possible for humans, such as driving cars or diagnosing medical conditions. While this may lead to increased efficiency and productivity, it also has the potential to leave millions of people without work, which could have devastating economic and social consequences.

Another danger of AI is its potential to be used for malicious purposes. As AI becomes more advanced, it could be used to create autonomous weapons or to conduct cyberattacks, which could have catastrophic consequences. There are also concerns about the use of AI for surveillance and the potential for it to be used to violate privacy rights.

Additionally, there are concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the development and use of AI. As AI becomes more complex and autonomous, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand how it works and to ensure that it is being used ethically and responsibly.

It is important that we recognize the potential dangers of AI and take steps to mitigate these risks. This includes investing in research to better understand the risks and benefits of AI, developing regulations and guidelines to ensure that AI is used ethically and responsibly, and promoting transparency and accountability in the development and use of AI. By taking these steps, we can harness the power of AI while minimizing its potential risks and dangers.

A question of ethics

I was watching a film tonight about ethics which posed an interesting question. It went something like this. You are walking past a pond, and in the middle is a small child, stranded, with the child’s parents nowhere to be found. You look down at your shoes and realise you are wearing your new Gucci shoes and have no time to take them off before the child falls deeper into the pond and below the surface. Setting aside the self-indulgent psychopath, most people in this predicament would not think twice about launching themselves into the pond to save the child and ruin their £1000 Gucci shoes.

Yet, if the same person witnessed the same child in hunger or poverty, would they be prepared to contribute £1000 to a charity seeking to tackle said hunger and poverty – would they? A question that opens up the hollow vanity of consumerism.

He Could Be Wrong – He Could Be Wrong.

As we age, face the harsh realities of life, lose loved ones, and perhaps start to contemplate our own mortality, we have choices. We can succumb to the darkness of reactionary impulses, which have built up over the years or not.

I leave an evening with John Lydon early with mixed feelings and knowing we have parted ways. Seeking to unpick Lydon today is not a joyful experience. He has long stopped being the once charismatic leader of two charismatic bands that helped shape my personal musical journey.

Lydon’s abandonment of his class politics, which I know winds a few people up, has little importance to me. However, through his physical gesturing, his mocking of Diane Abbot, the U.K. first black female MP, says far more about his current state of thinking than any words leaving his mouth. It’s mocking straight out of the Trump playbook. It’s not funny and simply gives the impression (rightfully or wrongly) of spitefulness. I do feel a sense of unease.

Lydon’s attempts at personality assassinations are predictable, often crude and dull. Refections of his time with the Pistols are old news, regurgitated stories many would have heard countless times before. His contempt for fellow Pistol’s, especially drummer Paul Cook, are delivered like an unconvincing victim who has woken to the news that nobody really cares 40 years later.

Repeating the word cunt. I genuinely believe Lydon is the last person in the room to understand it’s all wearing thin, but he keeps repeating it, time and time again. It’s silly, tedious even. Recollections of butter adverts he made over a decade ago are told as if recent glories.

By far, the best parts of the evening are when he reflects on those he holds close. His parents, brothers and wife Nora. There is a sense of genuine reflection and encouragement for those dealing with loss or faced with the prospect of losing a loved one through the horrors of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Reflections of growing up in working-class neighbourhoods ring hollow now. There is little conviction behind the words. Just an analogue image of dusty memories, fading and recast into the light through a chipped lens of fake nostalgia and patriotism.

Lydon will always have his core fanbase. Tonight it’s an overwhelmingly white, 50+-year-old, male audience. Nothing wrong with this, of course, though one can hardly ignore the reality, like a ripple in a pond, it’s a case of ever-decreasing circles.

In truth, I’m bored; he starts to end the night by instigating an Abba singalong in memory to Sid Vicious. I’m out of here. The pantomime is over.

Weathervane: Notes from People Watching

Stood, looking half bewildered to the world surrounding his existence, a Pep Guardiola lookalike. Slightly dishevelled, thinner. His nervous twitch holds a thousand transactions with the bottle. Pep anxiously riffles through the loose change in his palm. People flow past him, and like me, are ignorant of his true story. He looks broken. 

I order tea. It is quickly dispensed into its disposal cardboard cup, the tea bag hoovers on the surface, “Say when”, the guy says as he pours the milk. “When,” I reply. He lifts his head. We capture one another’s eyes for a millisecond, and a distant sigh reverberates in our collective subconscious.

Stepping from the trailer and gripping the paper cup at its brim, I befriend an aluminium framed seat and its identical table where I place my tea and mobile phone.

25-years since I landed in Bristol. This is the place I have frequented, on and off, over those years. A tea/coffee trailer, adjacent to the Watershed, which also serves a delicious banana and chocolate crepe if you find yourself in the vicinity,

As then, and as now, it’s the perfect place to people watch. We mortals tend not to look up anymore, fixated by our devices. Connected to distance and not our immediate surroundings.

Groups of schoolchildren jostle, call each other names beyond my recognition and brag about things schoolchildren brag about. It’s all posturing, but there is the quiet one struggling to fit in and harvest a sense of belonging. An awkward shyness and sense of inadequacies. Seagulls hanker and cry for crumbs, and a wasp threatens occasionally. A guy in a leather motorcycle jacket on the next table sits back and stretches his legs out. Drawing deeply into his lungs, the cigarette smoke.  

A momentary break in the traffic, pedestrian crossing beeps announce a new flow of passer-by. A young lady, early 20s stops abruptly, combes long hair with fingers. Tilts her head slightly to the left, raises her mobile, sucks in her cheeks like a pouting trout and snaps a selfie and walks on. 

The Pep Guardiola lookalike is now loitering close to me, picking up random cigarette butts. A message appears on my iPhone 12, advising me to buy a new iPhone 13.  I sip my tea, gaze up at the Weathervane, and before I notice, the Pep Guardiola lookalike has vanished.

13aX: Unquietly

The second instalment of the 13aX journey on Irregular Patterns. This track is called Unquietly. Loaded with chill out vibes and the continual search for a lost soul.