05.15.18

Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong, And How To Teach Machines To *Really* Think

"We read about computers that can master ancient games and drive cars. [Turing Award-winning researcher Judea] Pearl is underwhelmed. As he sees it, the state of the art in artificial intelligence today is merely a souped-up version of what machines could already do a generation ago: find hidden regularities in a large set of data. ... The key, he argues, is to replace reasoning by association with causal reasoning" - that is, teach machines to process cause and effect.

Why Doesn’t Great Opera Singing Get The Cheers In New York That It Gets In Barcelona, Munich, Or Vienna?

Fred Plotkin recalls the rapturous reception he's seen terrific performances get - not just at the final curtain calls, but at the ends of acts and even after arias - and offers an idea or two as to why he so rarely sees such excitement from the audience at the Met. (It's not just because they have trains to catch.) And, by the way, he thinks the Met should make more use of its fabulous gold curtain.

Is It Really ‘The Age Of The Twink’? And What Does That Actually Mean?

Spencer Kornhaber: "The New York Times article, 'Welcome to the Age of the Twink,' that Twitter has gleefully torn apart this week is a bit too slight to sustain a full reckoning with the very real questions it raises. ... Certainly, if it's the age of the twink now, it's been the age of the twink all along. Slender, smooth types have achieved dreamy superstar status at a pretty steady pace over the years ... Yet there's something poetic in the otherwise risible idea that the 'emo boy' of 2006 is the hetero 'twink' of 2018. Because if anything has shifted with regards to straight men's bodies, it's that they have slowly begun to be subjected to the same scrutiny women's and gay men's have."

It Takes People Longer To Say Nouns Than Verbs

"A study published this week ... found that nouns actually take longer to spit out than verbs do, presumably because they require more thought to produce. ... Which is to say, the future word casts a shadow over the present one. And that shadow is measurable: the researchers found that, in all nine languages, the speech immediately preceding a noun is three-and-a-half-per-cent slower than the speech preceding a verb. And in eight of nine languages, the speaker was about twice as likely to introduce a pause before a noun than before a verb." (The outlier was English.)

Deaf Fans Fight For Access To Music

The idea that deafness impedes the appreciation of music is gradually being debunked. In 2013, sign language interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego went viral in the US for her animated performance for rapper Kendrick Lamar at the Lollapalooza festival. Rather than merely signing the words, she embodies musical textures with her face and movements, showcasing a unique technique that she describes as “showing the density of sounds visually”.

Our Imagination Is Fired By What We See. How Does That Work?

Learning to see is not an innate gift; it is an iterative process, always in flux and constituted by the culture in which we find ourselves and the tools we have to hand. Harriot’s 6-power telescope certainly didn’t provide him with the level of detail of Galileo’s 20-power. Yet the historian Samuel Y Edgerton has argued that Harriot’s initial (and literal) lack of vision had more to do with his ignorance of chiaroscuro – a technique from the visual arts first brought to full development by Italian artists in the late 15th century.

Mood Disorders And Genius, A Love Story?

For many, the idea of the ‘creative person’ comes from popular media, which inundates us with news stories and movie portrayals of the suffering artist and the mad genius. And there are anecdotal accounts closer to our real lives: many of us have heard stories about someone who suffers from a deep depression – but also creates beautiful poetry. Repeatedly hearing these accounts fuels a stereotype. When we frequently see two unique things (eg, extraordinary creativity and mood disorders) occur together, they become paired in our minds, creating what is termed an illusory correlation.