Saturday, April 29, 2017

Vote AI


For mere humans, the complexities of governing our pseudo-democracies have become daunting. This hold true across the pond, where Herr Drumpf is waking up to some grim realities. It is also the case in Britain, where it has been decided that for the next two years, if not longer, the nation's elected representatives will be completely distracted as they try to resolve issues which should never have been allowed to arise in the first place.

My feeling is that it is now time to let Artificial Intelligence loose. Globally networked machine learning clusters with constantly evolving interdependent algorithms could be the cyberpunk solution to the problem of incompetent or bemused political institutions.

No prorogations will ever interrupt the work of the bots. They are tireless, unsullied by any whim of racism, sexism or ageism, unlikely to fiddle their expenses or to transgress in any other scandalous manner and they will never succumb to pressure from any constituency or vested interest.They will be resolutely rational, if sometimes uncomfortably judgemental.  

The AI manifesto? We'll have to wait and see what crunching 'big data' delivers. 

A scary prospect? Perhaps no more frightening than what's happening now.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nota bene


Monday, April 24, 2017

Dare we hope?


The French voters have set up a deuxième tour which will have consequences for all of us who call Europe home, even for the Brits for whom there is no Macron offering a glimmer of hope.

William Keegan in The Observer
"Not to put too fine a point on it, Theresa May has called this election to get it out of the way before enough people wake up to how catastrophic Brexit is going to be. [...] At a time when this country has a surfeit of economic problems – for example, the pressure on the health service and social care, the savage cuts to the budgets of state schools, and the rise in crime associated pretty obviously with cuts to the police force – the last thing we need is Brexit on top of a misconceived austerity programme."


I think that, however various elections turn out, it will be hugely important that grass roots movements seize the opportunities that widespread anti-establishmentarianism is offering. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cologne protest


As we await the outcome of the first round of French elections, it is heartening to learn that in Cologne today there are up to fifty thousand protesting against the Alternativ für Deutschland. The AfD seems to have taken over the hotel that was my home for several months in the early nineties, times more peaceful than these, when we would have laughed at the absurd idea of any return to xenophobic nationalism 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Reading Matters


Any reader addicted to crime and espionage thrillers will quickly become used to storytelling in which certain universities play a role. I cannot support my assertion with statistics, but my feeling is that Oxford and Cambridge predominate in this respect. 

Imagine, therefore, my surprise to discover that my own alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and the city's Highland Park enclave, feature In Mark Giminez's book Absence of Guilt

...The Independent
"One of the writers whose work is most often compared (favourably) with Grisham's, is Mark Gimenez. While, however, the new Gimenez novel trades in legal thriller territory, its ambitions are much wider. An Isis attack on the United States is thwarted when the FBI discovers a plan to detonate explosives during the Super Bowl in Dallas. Two dozen conspirators are indicted by a federal grand jury, including the hypnotic and influential Muslim cleric Omar Al Mustafa. But there is a problem - a conspicuous lack of evidence against the hate preacher. And newly appointed US districtjudge A. Scott Fenney has a dilemma:  if Scott sets him free, will there be devastating consequences?  This is Gimenez at epic length, but thepages turn with great rapidity."




Friday, April 14, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sitooterie time


With her iPhone Jessi managed yesterday evening to include in this quirky shot of Pa and Ma her own 'thumbs up' gesture. It indicates her approval of the fact that for the first time this year the family (and there's Felix, the black Labrador, under the table) was able to gather at an outside table, under trees now showing healthy new leaves. Munich heaves a sigh of relief!

It was only a quick weekend visit and Berlin calls Jessi back to work. But there, too, the sitooteries of the capital await their hipster clientele.  

Sitooterie: The word is a Scots colloquial term, though not a common one in print. It means a place to sit out in a summerhouse, a gazebo or the terrace of a café. It comes from 'sit' plus 'oot' (a Scots pronunciation of 'out') plus the noun ending '–erie' of French origin  familiar from words like menagerie and rotisserie.