Why so automatic, AI?

I’ve had the pleasure of writing two essays for Traffic, a new magazine about the media. The first, entitled AI Blues, is about an experiment I conducted after my favorite DJ, jazz savant Bob Parlocha, died and I tried to create an algorithmic simulacrum of his musical sensibility.

An outgrowth of conversations I had with colleagues at the MIT Media Lab, the piece questions the widespread assumption that the more automatic a technology is — and the less human input it requires — the better. I touch on the work of J. C. R. Licklider, a computer science pioneer of the mid-20th century who envisioned a future in which machines and humans collaborate through a “productive and thriving partnership” that draws on the respective, very different strengths of each.

It’s a dream that we have yet to realize. Given current concerns about the future of AI, it seems due for a revival.

You can read the piece here.

Hat tip to Traffic editors Patrick Appel and Rob Levine, collaborators in the best sense of the word.

Hamlet’s BB Arrives in London

Hamlet's BlackBerry just came out in the UK, from Scribe Publications. I never expected this book would have such a long life, or be published in so many countries and languages. The list now includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German and Russian, and other foreign editions are in the works.

Young & Mischievous

William Powers on young people questioning the assumptions of digital life.

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