My thoughts on the top--and top-ish--stories in this week's political, sports, and pop culture news.
"I’ve always held out hope that this hard candy shell of prejudice would be licked away by the wet tongue of time until we reached the tasty center of equity and mutual respect."
I love this sentence! How did you come up with that image?!? :)
I'd like to make a few comments about what I'm seeing on the anti-Semitism issue from my point of view. I am a 65 year old Hispanic female from Albuquerque who lives in Fresno California for my adulthood. In my childhood which took place in the sixties and seventies, my family and many Black and Brown families as you would say, we're very supportive of the Jews and of the Blacks. A major reason was the context historically. We had Martin Luther King,for example. My father, although the son of a widow, volunteered to go to World War II as a 17 year old in big part to protect the Jewish people. As children my parents told us that they wanted us to really know what was going on in the country and they would take us to the Deep South where we observed riots as they went on and to the various hotspots in the Bay Area and in LA we observed what was going on there. My childhood bookends were my first semester of first grade President Kennedy was assassinated my senior year in high school Richard Nixon resigned. Thus it was a very informed family and populous that I came from. We were actively encouraged to support Jewish and Black people. My mother told us on the way to first grade the following. She said "You're going to go to the school and they're going to tell you don't play with those children over there because they're black as midnight. And you tell them well I'm quarter to 12 myself and I most certainly will play with those children." We had actually people come to the door to sign a petition to not allow black people in the neighborhood I got to observe my mother say the only way I'm going to sign that petition is if it's a letter of congratulations because I had to work twice as hard as you to get here and they had to work three times as hard as me. Needless to say I had the role modeling both as a Hispanic and as a Catholic from New Mexico during that time period to stand up. We supported the New Mexico Lobos basketball team my parents and my family all stood up against the BYU team with our fist raise proudly. Because of their racism. So that's what it took it took as my dad would say, the church, the community, and the family. But now it is different. People that are younger than me did not live through the 60s and '70s the way I did. My cousin Louise pointed out that as baby boomer cousins, all 40 of us did not not seeing with the same generation. She said take everybody born before 1960. They did not live through the assassinations they did not live through the Civil Rights issues and they do not have our dedication because they did not live it. I wonder what people think of that idea? I've seen it once Louise said it it became very clear that that is what I was seeing in my culture. So I think a big part of the anti-Semitism is they did not have parents who were in World War II as my dad was. They did not have friends March in the pretend Death March like my dad did
THEY’LL HAFTA PRY OUR INDUCTION RANGE OUT OF OUR COLD DEAD HANDS!
The big difference between human and AI art is that AI art steals from human artists and people are monetizing stolen AI art at the expense of human artists. My niece Kelly McKernan is a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit about this. Here is the link that explains the issue, the artists and the litigation. https://stablediffusionlitigation.com/
You sir are a gifted human being. Thank you for developing and sharing those gifts as an inspiration to the rest of us.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, I'm just checking in to say you're one of my favorite commentators on the human condition. I don't know why an African-American eastern urban kid who grew up to be a pro athlete (that's you) and a white son of Colorado ranchers/farmers who grew up to be a journeyman writer and editor (me) would end up agreeing on almost everything, but we seem to. I like your writing style, too. Just saying. Please keep it up.
This is not exactly the most important subject I could comment on, but it caught my eye and I just wanted to point out a misconception and provide another point of view regarding modern electric stoves and ovens.
Kareem, you said "I get it that gas stove cooking is better" than electric. Below is info that I believe reenforces your major thesis, which I completely agree with, but is also a small enlightenment.
We all remember how electric cooking used to be. Things have changed... a lot. Electric stove and oven technology has been vastly improved over the past few years. In fact, through an optional feature called "induction", electric cooking can be now be much, much better for home use, though also considerably more expensive:
1. Electric induction heat is instant on, and at maximum useful heat.
2. Electric induction can provide considerably more heat, more evenly dispersed across the cooking surface.
3. Electric induction cooking is inherently safer than gas, since it features faster heating surface cool down after shut off, plus there are warnings by each heat surface area when still too hot to touch.
These three factors WERE why we used to think "gas is better". The induction process, featuring those black glass stove tops, sans those ugly "burners", is even a lot more attractive.
The only downside to the induction cooking process, beyond higher cost, is that special pans must be used. I think they cannot contain any copper though I really don't for know sure what makes them special.
This technology is, so far at least, unsuitable for commercial cooking uses, but in the home it's better than gas. Period. At least that's my, and especially my wife's opinion, after using for about 6 years. We would not want to go back.
I'm Jewish and I grew up in a mostly non Jewish suburb south Chicago. The African American and Hispanic population was zero. By 1970 I'd never experienced Anti-Semitism , but then I won an election at my very large, 99 % white High School and became Junior class president. While no one called me Mr. President, a minority called me "you mother f-cking Jew K-ke F-g Pr-ck. Each morning I walked through a gauntlet to my locker. In this affluent suburb where I grew up I became the other. It was an awakening for me. Hatred is always festering in the minds of narrow people.
“That can seem to reduce our emotions and thoughts to simple formulas that even a machine can figure out. Which makes us as predictable and manipulatable as machines. Well, we are, which every artist has figured out, which is how they are able to manipulate our emotions and thoughts.”
I feel… angry, a sense of injustice… incredulous… accompanied by a vicious counter argument. I feel…
I need to temper the viciousness for expressed, it would only push you away.
When I connect or even disconnect with a real human, the emotions involved are meaningful to me. When I find out an essay is AI generated, there is a certain truth about the creativity behind it, but I don’t think I can connect with it. It may be “correct,” but there can be no empathy—shared emotion.
—Unless we count the emotion of the human created essays that went into training the AI.
Either way, technically, reducing humans to formulas is well beyond man’s current reach.
Yes our brains are circuits and chemicals. That doesn’t make life and being human any less special—and don’t forget, none of
this would be remotely possible without the super organism of connected humans using the technology of languages and visual arts.
One of my college roommates (and still best friends) is Black. Over at his house one night, watching TV, the news reported a robbery. My friend's dad said (in an off-handed way) something like, Please let it not be a Black guy! Until then I thought that only my (very assimilated) Jewish family indulged in this sort of "ruin it for all of us" thinking ... My friend and I have talked about it a lot over the years, this feeling of being a visitor in our own country, with our status so fragile that we're just one bad act away from being expelled. We joke about it - he texted me thank God Madoff wasn't Black, etc - but it's a bittersweet sort of humor, born of the realization that you can make it to the top and still fear you are just being tolerated ..... I would imagine many ethnic, religious and non-mainstream groups have their own versions of this feeling.
Excellent as always. Thank you.
BTW, I highly recommend The Last of Us on HBO. I don’t like zombie or post apocalyptic fiction. But this is so much more. The actors are fantastic! Give it a gander.
i was dying to learn which you picked as AI recreated art. you described your esthetic preference but could you pick the AI picture correctly ? I was stunned to pick the wrong picture !
Something I will never understand is the hatred & racism that exists in people towards those they do not know. It's so damn ugly - and stupid too. There. I said it.
In the local paper, after more revelations about the seeming rampant racism among celebs (Ye would be a great example) one man wrote these words in a tweet to the editor:
"There's like one Jew for every million non-Jew. If we run the world, it's obviously because the rest of you are kind of dumb." Well I'm certain that will rile up some folks. And it was tongue in cheek. My parents taught me better.
Gas stoves. They are way more efficient than electric. But it's not like our lives would suddenly be over if there were no more of them. Education is so extremely important. That's why the wannabe future dictators in our country (like tx & fla govs) want to limit learning as much as possible to keep the citizenry ignorant & in the dark. They can be more easily led that way. Those two so-called men are caricatures of real humans & are unworthy of leadership.
And Lena Horne. What a beautiful woman & great talent. I saw her one woman show in San Francisco several years ago. Great show. And a very strong brave woman.
And about rejection of science. Wyoming is planning to ban all electric vehicles after 2035 (I believe that is the correct year) because these vehicles will harm the oil & gas industry. Liz Cheney. Where are you now? 😁
They all drank the Kool Aid. And it's brown, not green.
I have been told that politics are like a huge pendulum that swings left and right, but always settles in the middle. However, it seems that the part that holds the contraption together has rusted and is stuck to the right. The rust is brown, like the Kool-aid.
Thank you Kareem. Your sense of humor is priceless. And your word smithery is to be envied. Keep on.
A belated comment (from only just having gone over unread mail): in this extraordinarily rich issue, you've hit on something I have to say: yours is the only discussion I've seen that gets to the essence of distinguishing art, essays, or whatever that was created honestly from similar-appearing endeavors that are only apparently human: "The problem with the AI art is that it reflects what already exists. It can recreate what’s been done, but can’t really innovate something new." People who let technology intimidate them are exercised over how ChatGPT could help students cheat, when term-paper services have existed for at least half a century (in my own direct experience) and most likely much longer than that; look for them in any university town. Members of organizations have had the ability for decades to create appropriate letters of resignation (or whatever) by simply using their word-processing software to create a copy of a an appropriate letter and do a little trivial editing (like substituting one name for another); plagiarism as such has been around since time immemorial. Kareem, you so often boil things down to their essence as few can; by identifying creativity as the heart of the matter, your AI discussion cuts new ground by cutting right through the this new area of hysteria-induced nonsense.
1. AI. I am in favor of in-class written essay. Another reason to teach and use cursive writing.
2. To Nelsen: brings to mind the other forms of dehumanizing terms for women and POC. "Women are not Chicks". Nor are we 'girls' any more. Nor are you a 'boy' if you are over 18. Geez. get a clue.
3. As to Lena refusing to sing to segregated audiences, the Beatles did the same (Jacksonville) and maybe took their cue from her.
Kareem, what is your take on Ye and anti-semitism? I am baffled in general but specific denigration of a religion and culture by someone who surely should know better is just wrong on so many levels. The porno at work is another matter entirely...
Hi Kareem, I'm a long-time fan and have really enjoyed reading your thoughts on different topics in the news.
I was pleased to see you share a story about AI because I'm extremely passionate about the subject. I studied AI in graduate school and currently work to implement machine learning solutions in the manufacturing industry. I wanted to comment on a take you shared, specifically: "The problem with the AI art is that it reflects what already exists. It can recreate what’s been done, but can’t really innovate something new."
While your claim is true in many machine learning techniques (note--machine learning is the subset of AI that utilizes data to train a model that produces a mathematical output given some input), there is a lot of excitement around generative machine learning models. These generative models have the ability to create completely novel outputs, including text, audio, and images, among many other things. One area in particular that excites me as an AI practitioner in the field of manufacturing is the ability to generate completely new hardware designs using machine learning. In the research paper linked in  below, the authors generated innovative airfoil designs with high quality. With this paper as just one example, I think we're headed towards a future where AI can truly innovate hardware design where humans might otherwise be limited. Of course, a learning dataset is required to get started, but even humans are not born with an innate ability to design hardware or create beautiful paintings--these are skillsets learned from years of study and bolstered by inspiring designs or paintings from masters of their respective crafts.
I don't think this is problematic to human creativity; in fact, I find it extremely encouraging. AI is not good at everything (at least not now), but it is showing promise in generating novel ideas--some bad, some good, and some just outright bizarre. Nonetheless, like a specific paintbrush carefully chosen to manifest an artist's vision, AI will be a tool to create new and beautiful works of art, hardware designs, and beyond.
PS: I'm a diehard Lakers fan living just steps away from TD Garden. The Lakers play the Celtics next weekend and I'm more than excited to go. I hope these Boston fans don't heckle me too much when I walk in there rocking my purple and gold!