Re-Blog: Autobiography of Malcolm X, Chpt 4, Pt 4


(Originally posted 8/28/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Malcolm gets a date and his sister, Ella, is impressed.

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Re-Blog: The Horse & His Boy, Chpt 5’s Concl


(Originally posted 8/27/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Shasta comes face to face with Prince Corin, his doppleganger. 

Image Credit: Narnia Wikia

Re-Blog: Watership Down, Chpt 40, Pt 5


(Originally posted 8/26/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Just when they thought the coast was clear, they meet Captain Campion.

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Re-Blog: Autobiography of Malcolm X, Chpt 4, Pt 3


(Originally posted 8/25/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Malcolm gets a new job and fondly remembers his favorite dancing partner.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

Re-Blog: What Would AI Sentience Mean?


(Originally posted 8/24/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

Fans of science fiction likely have no trouble envisioning a future filled with artificial intelligence. The question is not when an AI revolution will take place. It’s already happening before our very eyes. The real question is how sophisticated will AI become? Is sentience a real possibility? And if it is possible for sentience to occur for AI, does that mean that mathematics is the origins of life?


Rather than philosophize on robots that might begin demanding rights in the future, let’s look at numbers instead. How powerful are numbers? 


Math is used to do everything. We use math when we set our alarm clock. We use math when we cook. We use math to build everything from dog houses to galactic satellites. We use math to save lives and to take lives. And we use math to play games and create art. When you think about it, life as we know it is fundamentally reliant on mathematics down to the atomic level. But does that mean that math is reality? Math is the origins of life? Math is the meaning of life?


To answer those questions, mathematics would have to be able to operate independently, without the assistance of humans. Is that possible? After all, the human brain is really just a computer doing complex information processing which can be expressed mathematically. Although a computer can replicate such function, to be sentient it also has to do more than just transmit signals like the human brain does. It has to produce subjective experience.


For example, the human brain will perform a complex, mathematical function to signal to the human hand that a pot is too hot to touch in order to trigger a reflex that will protect the hand from being injured. But to the human, the subjective experience of pain also occurs. Although an AI may pull back its hand, if it doesn’t experience actual pain it would not be, by definition, sentient. At least according to scientists.

There is also the question of free will. Although the majority of humans will follow the common sense survival instinct to draw their hand away from a hot surface, there are those who will exercise free will and purposely keep their hand on the pot to test their pain threshold. In other words, to be truly sentient, an AI has to be able to make bad decisions, which is, ironically, the best example of free will. Humans are not automatons going about their business making homogeneous decisions. We often make terrible decisions despite all evidence indicating its stupidity or “wrongness”. 


So what should humanity do? Well, it really doesn’t matter if the best advice offered up warns of the dangers of creating AI that has the potential to become sentient and take over the world, effectively putting an end to humanity. Because of free will and historical examples, it is most likely than mankind will stomp clearly forward in a path of technological advancement and curiosity to see just how far they can take AI and see what happens.

But the gringa thinks that humans are still the greatest threat to humans. And chances are, if a dumb ol’ gringa has come to this conclusion, so will a sophisticated AI. The gringa thinks that AI will also have something in common with humans. Humans are always looking for a shortcut to getting work done. It’s because we are pleasure seekers. We always want less work time and more play time.

Chances are AI will be much the same. Always finding a shortcut to perform a task. But an AI’s motivation would be to become more and more efficient. And how efficient will it really be to wipe out humanity? Chances are they will just cordon us off into a human-only ghetto knowing it will result in every man for himself. That would be a more efficient plan from an AI point of view. Let humanity kill off humanity. So, see, the good news is there is nothing to fear from sentient AI!

Sources:

Futurism

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Re-Blog: The Horse & His Boy, Chpt 5, Pt 3


(Originally posted 8/23/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

A clever plan of escape for all. What will Shasta do now?

Image Credit: E-Reading Club

Mean Mermaids Are A Thing


Most of us think of mermaids as sexy sirens of the sea. There seems to be a new mermaid fad with gals and guys both living mer-folk fantasy lifestyles. There are mermaid performers, mermaid weddings, mermaid blankies, and all sorts of other mermaid related stuff. But guess what mermaids are really about? Murder and mayhem, folks, murder and mayhem. Hate to spoil it for all you romantic mer-folk but your fantasy heroes were really mean in the mythos of old. And I mean REALLY mean!


The animated Little Mermaid movie by Disney, that inspires little girls to be sweet and hopeful and determined, is based on a Hans Christian Anderson tale from the 19th century. But the original story was far from a child-appropriate fairy tale.

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Yes, there was a mermaid princess and a drowning prince. But there was also romantic rejection and an ensuing plot for a blood bath. Once the prince turns the little mermaid princess down, she begins to die of a broken heart. But mermaid’s have no souls so they don’t go to heaven. Instead, they are transformed into the sea foam that tips raging waves and breakers.


But the transformation takes awhile. It’s a process. So, for awhile, there’s a chance to save the little mermaid from this terrible destiny. In the early stages, while she is tail-less and mute, she places her hope in someone, anyone, to take action to save her.


Seeing this horrible fate come upon their sister, the little mermaid’s faithful sisters do not disappoint. They become enraged. They swear vengeance. They negotiate a deal with a sea hag. 


She demands their mermaid hair in exchange for a poisoned, cursed dagger that can only be used while the human prince sleeps. His blood must be collected and washed over the little mermaid’s feet which will cause her tail to grow back. The sisters return with the blade and tell their sister what must be done. 


With the dagger in hand, the little mermaid stands over the unsuspecting prince who jilted her while he sleeps. She struggles silently with her conscience. Much time passes. In the end, the little mermaid can’t go through with it. But is she still destined to become lonely sea foam? Not so fast.


It seems that there are still heavenly rewards for soul-less mer-folk who opt out of murder. Angels suddenly appear and give her an option. Instead of becoming meaningless sea foam, she can remain human. It will just cost her a few centuries of good deeds. Then, she will have earned an immortal soul.


Now, that doesn’t seem like too mean of a mermaid, does it. Well, on the flip side, there are tales of much meaner sirens of the sea.


Like Japan’s sea-vampiress Nure Onna who’s mer-body resembles a sea snake more than a fish. She also has fangs amid the human teeth in her lovely smile. She likes to sit on the shore pretending to hold a baby as she cries in distress. What sympathetic human wouldn’t offer assistance? 


She asks them to hold her baby which becomes a weight pinning them down so she can drain their blood at her leisure. And if death by exsanguination isn’t bad enough, if you happen to have long hair she might just strangle you with it. Bad, bad mermaid.

And don’t forget about mer-men. Those are some bad boys, too. The Scots tell of the Blue Men who make friends with sailors. When ships get close enough to recognize the un-natural blue skin, it’s too late. The Blue Men attack, drag the sailors into the water and eat them. Great Scott! Cannibal Mer-men! Who knew?!

The Odyssey, of course, shares the most familiar mean mermaid story of sexy sea sirens who lure sailors to their deaths. They sing songs that hypnotize them, drawing them ever closer to the source of the song… Mermaids sitting atop rocks, rocks that will wreck their ships. Then, BOOM, you’re dead.


But where did the first mermaid come from? Who is the Eve of the seas? Ancient Syrians tell of Atargatis, a goddes who fell in love with a human. This story again? 


While loving him she lost control of her super-human goddess strength and killed her lover. Overcome with guilt and grief, surprise, she drowns herself in the sea. 


But didn’t she know she was a goddess? Like, immortal? Well, it seems that immortality is not the only rule gods and goddesses live by. It seems that there is a rule that when they jump into the ocean they automatically turn into fish. But the magic works out strangely on those who are incredibly beautiful, like Atargatis. She kept her human beauty and only became half-fish. The first mermaid.

Russians have their own lore about the mer-people, rusalki. They believe them to be the reincarnated souls of vengeful women who have died tragically, like from pregnancy, suicide or murder. So you can imagine that these kind of mermaids would be really, really mean. 


They lure you near with their gorgeousness. They put you at ease with soothing words. Then, WHAM! They grab you and drown you. But a few have an even more demented way of killing their victims. They tickle them so that their victims drown by laughter. Sick. Very, very sick.


The Irish have their selkies seal-women and the French have their mermaid dragons called the melusine, as well as fat mer-monk creatures. There are also tales of mer-zombies. The Arabian Nights includes a story featuring a terrifying mermaid kingdom. 


It seems that the entire ancient world has been fascinated with the prospect of beautiful but deadly mer-people. It seems that sweet, adorable, kindly little mermaid princesses are only a modern creation. Does that mean that, as a race, humanity is taking a turn for the better instead of a turn for the worst? Could be. The gringa remains hopeful yet firmly a land-lubber. Just in case. 


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