Tags: artificial intelligence

Verity Harding

If AI scares you, or even just puzzles you, you’ll want to hear from Verity Harding at the RamsayTalk on April 10th.

Verity will discuss why AI needs us, then talk in depth with net-zero expert Diana Fox Carney.

Join us to hear how we can ensure AI’s future isn’t left only to those building it.

Allons enfants de la Patrie.

Do you think Jews should pay twice what non-Jews pay to attend the University of Toronto? Or Blacks twice as much as whites to go to Western? Or women, twice as much as men to go to Queen’s? Non bien sûr que non!

But this month, Quebec announced it would double university tuition for students from outside the province. Double it at the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec, or Université Laval? Non. Fees are only doubling at English-speaking universities like McGill and Concordia.

Said Quebec’s Minister of Higher Education Pascale Déry: “Quebeckers will no longer pay for the training of English-speaking Canadian students, most of whom return to their province after graduation.”

Read on…

On fire.

One of life’s enduring myths is that a book can change your life. But looking back on your own life, can you point to a single volume that set your life off in a new direction? Neither can I. But books shape our lives all the time, and I’ve just started one that’s already changing how I view our extreme weather, and Canada, and Alberta, and the petroleum industry, fire, risk, travel, and of course mass death.

I first came across John Vaillant in 2011 when a friend urged me to read The Tiger, his true story of the hunt for a Siberian Tiger in Siberia. This tiger not only attacked people without warning or mercy, he went after the hunter who first wounded him. The tiger targeted him. It was mesmerizing stuff. As The New York Times said: “Few writers have taken such pains to understand their monsters, and few depict them in such arresting prose.”

Meanwhile…

When the train runs you over, it’s not the caboose that kills you.

The caboose here is the submersible Titan which imploded with all five souls aboard on its way to visit the RMS Titanic, resting 12,500 feet below the sea.

We’ve since learned that the CEO of OceanGate Inc. which owned the Titan, viewed safety not as a costly, time-consuming necessity, but as a trivial pursuit, the enemy of innovation, a complete waste of time.

In this way, Stockton Rush is much like the anti-vaxxers who not only don’t believe the laws of physics, but dismiss them because they interfere with their political and financial agendas.

Two Canadians have led the way in calling out Rush for what he was: an aging tech-bro driven by fame and fortune, with all the moral ballast of Elizabeth Holmes.

Meanwhile…

Jesus had two dads, and He turned out okay.

The Pride Parade is on Sunday, June 25. Toronto’s parade is one of the world’s largest, and oldest, founded in 1972, nine years before the infamous bath-house raids.

It wasn’t always a party. In 2001, the Rev. Brent Hawkes, then the senior pastor at Toronto’s Metropolitan Community Church, performed the first legal same-sex marriage in the world. He wore a bullet-proof vest. When he retired in 2017, he created Rainbow Faith and Freedom to combat the rising tide of anti-gay rhetoric and regimes around the world. Sadly, he was ahead of his time. Today, it’s illegal to be gay in 66 countries, and in 12 of them you can be executed for being gay.

This reminded me that Canada’s population crossed the 40 million mark last week. That was a bit like seeing all the new skyscrapers in downtown Toronto. Were they there last week? Really? We’re growing by leaps and bounds because Canada has opened the gates to immigrants. In 2021, we took in 1.1 million people from elsewhere (compare this to 1.5 million for America which has 10 times our population).

What does immigration have to do with being gay?

Hard to say, but if I were gay and deciding to start a new life far away, I’d likely choose a place where tolerance reigns. Maybe not excellence, or productivity, or chutzpah where America beats us cold. But as Wade Davis noted: “Canadians are the nice couple living above the meth lab.” And more and more, we’re the nice gay couple living above that same lab.

Meanwhile…

Mass-producing intimacy

All of us need to open a new folder on our desktops called “AI”.

Or “Eh-eye?” if we’re still not sure that artificial intelligence will overwhelm our 2,500-year-old ideas of reading and writing and creativity.

Into this folder, we should drop any article or video that catches our interest about the future of AI. We should fill it up once a week at least, no matter how despairing the prediction about AI is. Ever since ChatGTP made us aware that climate change is not our only existential crisis, I’ve been avoiding those who say we will soon be enslaved by our technology, and avidly reading those who say AI will be our salvation.

But at what other time in history have humans (at least those of us who can read and write) been able to not only be bystanders at the revolution, but players in it. Indeed, our participation is compulsory. We’ve all been drafted. So best that we at least learn what the rules will be, and how they’ll change because they’ll change faster than any other revolution in history. And for those of us who crave a ring-side seat to history, here’s your chance.

Meanwhile…

What happened then?

It seems that Whites will become a minority of Americans by 2045. This demographic reality is fueling the Great Replacement Theory that’s behind rising racial violence in the US.

I also learned that 32,000 Americans are imprisoned because of cannabis offences.

These two unrelated facts are connected in an odd and vital way to Canada and Toronto.

First, Whites became a minority of Toronto’s population in 2015.

What happened then?

Nothing. Even today, when 58% of Torontonians are not White, and when one in two Torontonians is born outside Canada, “nothing” is “happening”.

On October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized across our country. What happened on that day and beyond?

Nothing. Young men, whacked up on grass, didn’t roam the streets terrorizing the population. Stoned-driving cases didn’t uptick. Even now, nearly five years later, the wisdom of decriminalizing cannabis isn’t polarizing our society. Frankly, not many of us give it a second thought.

I, for one, am happy to live in a place where nothing happens.

Meanwhile…

How many existential crises can one world take?

Last year, global warming shifted from a distant thunder to a run-for-your-lives house fire. Alberta readers take note. This year, AI shifted from a semi-literate teen to the predator next door, coming for our jobs, our kids and our brains.

But there is an upside to the end of the world. It will take some time for oblivion to arrive, and before it does, we can bliss out on a third existential event: the coming together of robotic technology and artificial intelligence.

I’d like you to meet my new friend Ameca. She’s…well, see for yourself. She may sound a little fey today. But give her and her fellow humanoid robots a few months and they’ll have advanced the way global warming and AI did, with us barely paying attention and then suddenly they’re moving in to the spare bedroom.

Meanwhile…

Slightly-cynical singles seek later-life love.

When my wife Jean was doing family medicine, many of her patients were smart, accomplished, kind and financially-secure women over 50 who had given up finding a mate because none existed.

“Have you tried dating online?” Jean would ask. Their eyes would roll and they would practically spit: “I would never do that. It’s so demeaning.”

Many of these women have turned out the lights on this issue. There are no men out there, so why waste your time looking? Just create a rich life where you don’t need them. Didn’t Gloria Steinem say a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle? Or you can select men for different uses, the way you would a spice from the kitchen cupboard.

Meanwhile…

Whither the weather?

A friend of mine who spent a year in Leavenworth said: “You can get used to anything.” But getting used to summer sunshine in March one day, followed by a brutal snowstorm the next, will take some getting used to. I get that our punishment for overwarming the earth is extreme weather. But I can see a huge uptick in the sale of suitcases, for example, so that we can put our summer duds in one and our winter ones in another when we go to Montreal for the weekend. Or when we pack our bathing suit in the trunk, to think: “Where’s my toque?” No wonder North Americans consume well over two-thirds of the world’s production of antidepressant drugs. It’s the weather.

Meanwhile…

Turn every page.

You’ll get much more from the original sources of a story than even the deepest in-depth article. From this month…

A landmark privacy ruling: The Supreme Court of Great Britain ruled that a group of luxury condo owners in London could close the Tate Modern’s viewing platform that’s let “hundreds of thousands” of people gaze into their homes and lives.

Billionaire blow-up. Gautam Adani used to be worth $120 billion. Today, he’s worth $61 billion. The difference is from a scathing report by Wall Street’s Hindenburg Research whose title says it all: “Adani Group: How the world’s 3rd richest man is pulling the largest con in corporate history.”

Meanwhile…

I have seen the enemy and it is…

Words. An odd thought from someone who lives for them and earns a livelihood from them.

But while we’re all still fighting over fake news and free speech and truth and consequences, less than two months ago on November 22nd the San Francisco company Open AI released its latest generation writing bot called Chat GPT. It is to the revolution of thought what wheels were to roads.

Given the initial media response, ChatGPT will either shutter universities, vaporize teachers and homework, and eliminate rational debate, or usher in a new age of enlightenment. But as with many new technologies and bad drugs, the early days ChatGPT is fun and often magic. You ask it a question; it gives you a lengthy, thoughtful, nuanced, and often chummy reply. From 50 words to 5,000. Kul!

Meanwhile…

RamsayWrites

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