Absurdism, Books

Windmills of the mind, Part 2

Don Quixote’s madness stems from his literal reading of books of chivalric romance and his deluded belief that he actually is a knight errant. He rides out into the realist world of Cervantes’ novel with a lofty dedication, inflicting his good intentions on others, and time and again is buffeted by stubborn reality. Quixote is generous, brave, courteous, resilient, knowledgeable, eloquent, and a complete idiot. I wrote about Part 1 of the novel last month. He rides out again, in Part 2, with his trusty squire Sancho Panza, having been revived after a month’s rest and the consumption of six hundred eggs.

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Absurdism, Books

Robotic morality tales

Last year Professor Stephen Hawking said that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” The A.I. community has responded to this impending apocalypse by proposing this week that robots be given stories to read. This will allow, according to associate professor Mark Riedl of the Georgia Institute of Technology, robots to learn to take a first step towards moral reasoning, or “value alignment” as his scientific paper bafflingly calls it.“We believe story comprehension in robots can eliminate psychotic-appearing behaviour and reinforce choices that won’t harm humans” he said. Continue reading

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