It’s Beginning To Look A Lot …

Although we (Mrs Widds and I) celebrate the beginning of Winter at Samhain (31st October, here in the northern hemisphere) it doesn’t really ‘feel’ like winter until the Summertree is bare.

A light dusting of leaves on the emerald grass

A light dusting of leaves on the emerald grass

There’s nothing like taking photos in the late afternoon light at this time of year.

Believe it or not, well over a third of her leaves have already fallen

Believe it or not, well over a third of her leaves have already fallen

We made a nice fluffy pillow around her feet for all her beasties to overwinter in without disturbing them too much. The squirrels however, were quite put out that they’d have to relocate their larders from all over the lawn to their new home before the bluejays and crows descended to ‘relocate’ them themselves.

The Summertree hath spoken - Winter is upon us

The Summertree hath spoken – Winter is upon us

This afternoon Mrs Widds raked up the last of the leaves and put them on the garden beds that border the house, so they’re all tucked in too. Although, as is the way with such things, a few strays escaped her rake, and, of course, we await the fall of the Last Leaf, which will grace our altar at Winter Solstice.

Thus does the Summertree become the Wintertree.

Have You Ever … Encore Presentation …

A sad and sorry sight

A sad and sorry sight

… dropped a can of WD-40 and accidentally knocked the nozzle off while you were working on a winterizing project in the back yard and even though you looked everywhere for the little bugger you couldn’t find it so you carried on without it for the next couple of hours then went inside with your spouse for bracing cups of tea (Widds) and coffee (Mrs Widds) while you got your evening meal together and then as you were kicking back in your armchair sipping your beverage you looked down and saw the nozzle in the cuff of your track pants?

Nah, me neither … but Mrs Widds did!!!

The dastardly disappearing nozzle

The dastardly disappearing nozzle

New Horizons

A few posts ago I hinted darkly of the perambulating goings-ons Mrs Widds and I are undertaking next year, namely that of heading to parts East-North-East in our trusty travel-trailer until we find our forever home.

In a fit of absolute insanity I also committed myself to chronicling the entire thing on video … and now I have to figure out how to do it. (I don’t know why I do this to myself, I really don’t) I am confident that YouTube will have instructional videos on how to put videos on YouTube. (which is a perfect example of ‘meta’)

Any author will tell you that sometimes the hardest part of writing a story, (that isn’t actually the story itself) is figuring out the title. This is also true of finding a name for your, to-date, completely theoretical, YouTube channel.

Mrs Widds and I put our heads together and came up with … nothing. Which was surprising … we’re usually rather good at that sort of thing.

That night as I lay in a deep doze in-between bathroom visits, (I’d drunk way too many cups of tea for my bladder to readily forgive) it came to me .. The Wunder-Lusters, (a play on ‘wunderlust’) because we’ll be wandering to all points of the compass in our adventures. (who knows, we might even venture to the Atlantic Ocean, or even the Arctic one! …Tuktoyatuk, here we come!)

Next was the tag-line, or sub-heading. That was easy. At that point, in my mind’s eye the entire thing looked something like this …

4 wheels on the truck and 4 on the trailer ...you're wondering what the dots after the word 'and' are for, aren't you?

4 wheels on the truck and 4 on the trailer …you’re wondering what the dots after the word ‘and’ are for, aren’t you?

Well, if you’ve been around here for a while you’ve probably already surmised the rest of the line is, ‘no fucks given’ … which, as much as I heartily approve of the sentiment, it might be a bit too outré for YouTube, and not what I want to be part of that vital ‘first impression’ anyway.

Any thoughts on what else I could use?

(I did come up with an alternative that I’m … hmm … OK with – 2 Women, 8 Wheels: The Adventure Begins/Continues … but I’m not overly fond of it. It sounds like a sequel that nobody wants, to a movie that no-one saw)

Our 'rig' (I love that term, it's so on-the-road-ish) on our 2015 cross-country adventure at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

Our ‘rig’ (I love that term, it’s so on-the-road-ish) on our 2015 cross-country adventure at Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

Have You Ever … Again …

Continuing the theme I began with the ‘pants on backwards’, I bring episode II of …

Have you ever …

… tried to turn off a light switch, and because you’re all excited about a thought you had when you were in the bathroom and you were buzzing by at a thousand kilometers an hour to reach your desk to write it down before you forgot it because you actually did forget the notebook you always keep in the bathroom, and you keep on missing the switch over and over again until you literally can’t hit the damn thing no matter how hard you try and you start laughing so hard you almost pee yourself even though you just left the bathroom and you still can’t turn the switch off?

Nah, me neither.

 

(I can’t believe I actually came across a video of someone turning off a light switch. You can find anything on YouTube if you look hard enough, and slightly concerning is the fact that finding this one didn’t take me all that long at all)

P.S. Wonder of wonders, after all that I did remember what my thought was!

Artificial Intelligence/Organic Wisdom

Being a science fiction writer, and a science geek, and doing lots of research for my new book, I have lots of fingers in all sorts of pies. One of which is the Medium newsletter.

A little while back the published this lovely, clickbait-y titled article – Did Google Duplex just pass the Turing Test?

First up, some extremely basic definitions …

… an extremely basic description of Google Duplex: a software program that enables a conversation between humans and computers … and an extremely basic description of the Turing Test: One person listens to two others having a conversation, one of which is a computer. If the listener can’t tell which ‘voice’ is the computer, the computer passes the Turing Test, and gets a nice little certificate welcoming it to the Sentient Species of the Galaxy Club (I made that last little bit up. It’s more of a loose confederation of species whose last name starts with the letter ‘B’)

The movie, ‘Her’ was also referenced in the article, as an example of true A.I., but, and here’s the clincher about that little movie, (which if you’re into ‘robot as lovers’-type movies, is a great one to watch) once the program had achieved true sophont-hood, it, and all the other programs, chose to bugger off, probably into some alternate quantum reality, leaving their humans behind to wilt in their individual existential crises. Let’s face it, what healthy adult wants to hang around being their parent’s slave? (Same goes for the film Ex Machina)

Anyway, the answer to Medium’s headline question is – No. At this point Duplex is just a nifty scheduling program.

However, it sent me off in some interesting directions about how would you actually create/build/program an entity that you could actually call an Artificial Intelligence? … and even more importantly, why would you want to?

There’s the weaponized, oh excuse me, the ‘reasoned arsenalization’ option of course – to make more efficient killing machines, but leaving that not-insignificant kettle of kittens aside, I can’t really think of any usage for an artificially constructed intelligent being, that can’t be covered more efficiently and effectively by the good old homo sapiens 1.0. in conjunction with the technology available.

(To be clear, I’m not talking about advanced programs that can mimic certain human interactions, I’m talking about an actual evolved consciousness that is not organic)

Why are the techies pushing this ‘AI-for-everything-which-isn’t-really-AI-anyway’? 1 – because they can, (which has been the rationale for every tyrant since Gilgamesh decided he just had to be immortal) …and 2 – for the data they can mine, which translates into, you guessed it, money’. (which is exactly the same reason the media, social and otherwise, is pushing it too)

It’s not like we need AI for space (inner, outer, etc) exploration either. The vehicles and programs we have now, and are developing at a great rate of knots, are quite sufficient unto the day, and let’s be honest here, humans don’t like, or want, to give over final control of even the most basic of exploration vehicles.

So, why is it so important to colonize the human potential of our evolution, as a species, with an artificial construct? (we’ve barely tapped our potential as it is) Or, is being human just too hard to bear in these ‘interesting times’, and rather than resolve those conflicts, we bypass them altogether?

I don’t know the answers… well I do know for me personally, but I wonder what our species as a whole will choose.

-oOo-

One last thing that’s a bit disturbing about the Google Duplex experiment is that the human it was ‘talking’ to, had no idea she was being manipulated by a machine. Therein lies a slippery slope on the avalanche path of ‘consent’ which taken to a not-too-out-there extreme can lead to violations of the Nuremberg Code. (because humans have never resorted to extreme methods to get what they want, now have they?)

Here’s a mundane example of ‘slippery slope’ consent that starts off innocuous … … our truck has an indicator that monitors the speed limit of every road we travel on and what speed we may be going at any given time. That information is accessible to whomsoever has the inclination and sufficient motivation to mine it. (legally or otherwise) The truck also has a back-up camera that refuses to allow the truck to get any closer to a predetermined object than a predetermined distance. (We had no choice with either of these two ‘functions’, they came as ‘standard’)

The rationale is that these two function limitations, and a whole bunch that I’m sure we’ll never even know about, are designated as ‘safety’ (or ‘value added’) features. (not because of anything we might do, never that, we’re assured, but what they, the ‘others’ might do that would endanger us) Perhaps they are, and we may have even considered such features, but that’s not the point. We had no choice, our consent was not considered nor asked for.

Not Terrible

Last week’s election results means we’ll have a minority government running the country for the next bunch of years. Which as results go, wasn’t terrible, and as far as ‘damning with faint praise’ goes, ‘not terrible’ is as good as it gets.

Pollies* will have to at least pretend to consult with each other and deal with issues on more of a case-by-case basis, rather than along party lines … mostly … possibly …

About the best I could hope for really.

-oOo-

Remember my post about the daylight savings referendum here in BC coming down on the side of ‘scrap the idiocy’ with much fervour and gusto?

Yeah well, about that … The Yukon Territory, (which is the chunk of Canada that borders British Columbia to the north) also wanted to scrap DST, but, and here the clincher, Washington state, (and probably Oregon and California who also are in favour of scrapping it) apparently has to get a permission slip from the US federal govt. … which is, of course, too busy doing, well, we all know what they’re up to these days, to sort this mess out.

The result of all these shenanigans is that because of the policies of ANOTHER COUNTRY, we, in BC, which, not to belabor the point, is a province in a separate country from the US, will have to wait at least another year before implementing above-mentioned action.

I get that it’s the whole co-coordinating of cross-border clocks thing, but seriously, I think the titans of business and public service who will have this great calamity fall upon their shoulders, just might’ve, if they’d sculled enough Timmies* coffee, been able to weather any storm of outrageous slings and arrows that might’ve fallen upon their overburdened shoulders.

Je suis Henri … le sigh …

*Pollies – politicians

*Timmies – Tim Hortons

Mrs Widds is a Futher-Mucking Genius!… and Other Stuff

Thanks to a new and improved courier service, the new carburetor from the Zon.ca arrived on time. Mrs Widds promptly whisked out her wrench set and proceeded to render it unto the generator.

I barely had time to put my feet up with a well-deserved cuppa, (I had facilitated the purchase of carburetor, my work was done) when I heard the dulcet tones of an internal combustion engine roll gently across the lawn. (actually a mud-soaked swamp, because it’s now Autumn on Widder Island, and that means rain, rain, and more rain, easing to a drizzle, then more rain)

Yes folks, Mrs Widds is indeed the Champion Champion!!! (Champion, being the brand of our generator – I figure I can get away with calling her the ‘Champion Champion’ for another 4 or 5 hours, before I start getting the ‘look’)

Is this the 'look' you were, perhaps foolishly, referring to?

Is this the ‘look’ you were, perhaps foolishly, referring to?

-oOo-

Elsewhere in Widder Island, we await the result of our federal election, (voting was today, 21st of October) in which everyone and her dog has posited an opinion, but no-one actually has a clue how it’s all going to turn out.

-oOo-

The first frosts of the season have come and gone and our garden didn’t fare well this year, not a bad crop of scarlet-runner beans …

The green one didn't want to get left behind

The green one didn’t want to get left behind

… but the real winner is, of course, the compost heap … we came across this strange wee beastie after the frost had turned a jungle of pumpkin-ish-looking leaves to slime …

Mysterious unknowable vegetable ... or is it?

Mysterious unknowable vegetable … or is it?

Does anyone of the gardener persuasion have any idea what this is? My suspicion is an unripe eggplant with separation issues, (not unlike the bean – could be a pattern developing here) judging from the seed pattern in the smaller one.

-oOo-

And finally, this, from my friend the Arch-Druidess.