Stephen Hawking's Fear Is Coming True

Do you remember when Stephen Hawking, who passed away in 2018, was asked what he thought was the biggest threat facing mankind? His answer, “Artificial Intelligence.”

In the last two weeks, I’ve been in on several email discussions about the effect of Artificial Intelligence on the Creative Arts like writing, graphic design, photography, and audio book narration just to name a few of the areas impacted by AI.

What do you think about the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the world? Is it a boon to mankind or the first step toward Skynet destroying the world?

As an author, I know that AI has already become a problem. When AI came online and people started uploading dozens of books each day—obviously created by AI because it’s impossible for a human to write that many books and be ready to upload them—it took Amazon months before they set a limit on how many books could be uploaded in a day. 

Then it took more months before they enacted a “filter” on the Kindle Digital Publishing upload page. Now you have to check a box if any part of the upload was created using AI. However, there’s no way to verify the answer is truthful.

That may be in the process of being changed because I’ve heard that some publishers are running uploaded content through software that will assess whether it was human-created or machine-created. That has created fear among authors that their human-created content may be labeled AI-produced, and they will end up banned by the publisher.

NOTHING EASY FOR CREATIVE ARTISTS

Nothing is ever easy in the writing and publishing world. It seems there are always new problems facing us. Graphic artists, photographers, and actors are having the same AI issues.

Companies like Apple are urging authors to create audio books for Findaway Voices with the author paying for narration by an actor. When you upload the completed audio book, they'll distribute the audio books through Spotify.

Sounds good until  you read their Terms of Service. They plan to take the file you upload and use it for machine learning, i.e., Artificial Intelligence. Eventually, they won't need humans to read audio books. That unemployment line of creative artists will continue to grow.

EVERY COMPANY JUMPING ON AI

Amazon is now testing the waters of AI narration of audio books. I guess there’s no end to the threats facing creative artists. We may become as extinct as the Passenger Pigeon. 

What’s the answer? I don’t know. I’m just a working writer. Maybe we should all engage in a massive letter/email writing campaign telling Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all the other publishers that we don’t want machines writing our movies, books, and music. 

We don’t want “fake” people cast in movies. Yes, that’s out there too. I’ve seen videos of people interacting with other people, and it looks real. But it was all AI created. Actor Keanu Reeves has taken a stand with his contracts and has a clause that says basically AI-generated “actors” won’t be allowed.

With AI generated people in videos so realistic, how can you trust what you may see on YouTube? You could see a video of someone famous assaulting another person, or a politician taking a bribe, and it might be an AI fake. It's scary.

TAKEAWAY TRUTH  

What are we going to do when we can’t trust what you see?



Review - True Detective - Night Country on Max

True Detective: Night Country is season 4 of the critcally-acclaimed Max series and stars Jodie Foster and Kali Reis.

Other cast members and guest stars are: Finn Bennett, Fiona Shaw, Christopher Eccleston, Isabella Star LaBlanc, John Hawkes, Anna Lambe, Aka Niviâna, June Thiele, Diane Benson, and Joel D. Montgrand.

If moving, dramatic, and an oppressive atmosphere make up the kind of viewing experience you favor, you'll love this dark, gloomy mystery thriller.

Written and directed by showrunner Issa López, (spoiler alert) Night Country makes one believe something supernatural is at play. Or, at least it implies that ethnic people are more in touch with unseen energies or forces.

I suppose in the end, it's up to the viewer to decide if that is what happens in this story, or perhaps what happens is the result of human villainy.

With Foster as the police chief and Reis as an Alaskan state trooper attempting to solve the mystery of what happened to 8 research scientists at a remote Arctic station, the story is enhanced by the film noir effect of the "days of night" that are listed during each episode.

I'm pretty sure Night Country wouldn't be recommended by the Alaska Tourism bureau. In fact, after watching it, I definitely wouldn't want to visit a place that dark, cold, gloomy, and depressing.

Most lead characters in a story have secrets and emotional baggage to overcome and "grow" as people. These 6 episodes boast every single character as deeply flawed, haunted by the past, unable to communicate civilly, and in tense, strained relationships with everyone in their lives. It's hard to find a character to "like" or root for when they all appear to need serious mental and emotional help.

WHY DID I KEEP WATCHING?

To find out what had actually happened to the scientists and another mystery that was even more compelling. Not for the characters who were their own worst enemies. 

The inconsistencies exhibited by the characters were irritating. Supposedly they were both smart law enforcement officers, but they did a lot of stupid things. 

The kind of things that makes the viewer do an eyeroll and ask aloud, "Why did they go into an ice cave without a rope or a way of rescue if they fell?"

Just one example. The answer of course was that the plot called for them to find a hidden means of escape. Like Darling Hubby said, "I'm just glad that's over!"

The last few minutes of the story seemed out of place considering the content of the 6 episodes. It was as if the director, producer, or the showrunner/writer—whoever had the power to make decisions—decided that there had to be something upbeat that showed Foster's character had changed.

So there were 2 scenes of her being affable—smiling and answering questions without blowing up and a scene of her smiling and laughing with her stepdaughter. I suppose that symbolized character growth. Oh, and the sun was also shining so the "days of night" had obviously ended.

TAKEAWAY TRUTH

Make no mistake, Foster and Reis gave stellar performances, but I would not watch this again. I know my review disagrees with the critics so maybe this is something you'd like? Like the old song goes, "Different strokes for different folks."




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Monday Magic - Make Music With Soundation

If you're struggling to find free music for videos, consider making your own.

Yes, in today's world there are many websites that offer the ability for you to put together your own sound: beats, instrumentals, loops, sounds, and special effects.

Soundation is one of those websites. They offer tutorials, samples, and even have a free plan so you can try it. If you like what you create, you can export it to your computer.

Besides the free plan, there are 3 tiers of subscriptions with the least expensive $4.99/month billed annually.

Take a look at Make Music on the menu bar. It's awesome what you can do.

TAKEAWAY TRUTH

If music is your thing, try making your own. You may be in for a delightful surprise. Like always, please read the Terms of Service so you'll know exactly what you can and cannot do and what it will cost you.



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Be the Best You

I have my morning cup of coffee in my hand, and I'm ready to give y'all some Love.

What do you do when you watch a video, read a blog, or hear someone say, "Go out there and be the best (whatever) possible"?

I roll my eyes because it's a meaningless platitude.

Wouldn't it be better advice to say, "If you can't be THE best, be YOUR best." I think that's true because being YOUR best is within the realm of possibilitiy.

Striving to be YOUR best allows for the reality that only one can be THE best, but anyone can learn, work, and try to improve to be YOUR best. Think about that. Don't waste time in attain the unattainable.

Wouldn’t your energy and time be better spent in trying to be the best you? You with your voice, your style, your personality, your skills, your experiences? You are the one and only original YOU. That's a great thing.

TAKEAWAY TRUTH

Forget about being the best. Work on being YOUR best. Be the best you.

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Cooking Conversion Chart-Imperial to Metric Formula

This is my last post about converting Imperial, or English, measurements to Metric.

Here are the 3 other Cooking Conversion Charts in case you missed those posts.

Conversion Chart: Liquid Spoon Measure to Milliliters

Conversion Chart: Liquid Cup Measures to Liters.

Today's chart gives the math formulas that should work if you didn't print the other posts and place in your cookbook.

Imperial or English Measurement to Metric Measurement

When a recipe calls for ( )       Multiply By               To Find ( )

teaspoons (tsp.)                           5.0                            milliliters (ml)

tablespoons (tbsp.)                    15.0                            milliliters (ml)

fluid ounces (fl. oz.)                 30.0                            milliliters (ml)

cups (c.)                                      0.24                          liters (l)

pints (pt.)                                    0.47                          liters (l)

quarts (qt.)                                  0.95                          liters (l) 

ounces (oz.)                              28.0                            grams (g) 

pounds (lb.)                                 0.45                          kilograms (kg)

Fahrenheit (F.)            first, subtract 32                      Celsius (C)                                                                                                   then multiply by 5/9

TAKEAWAY TRUTH

Next Saturday, I have a recipe to share. I hope these conversion charts help you with your cooking and baking. See you next weekend!

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If the winner is outside the USA, the prize is a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Several options to enter. Winner selected by Random draw. Giveaway closes Feb. 27, 2024.

Review - Appaloosa on Max

If you like traditional westerns, or at least western movies with a traditional feel to them, then you need to watch Appaloosa, a 2008 film based on the novel of the same name by Robert B. Parker.

Starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, the screenplay was co-written by Harris and Robert Knott and won 4 awards including the Western Heritage Award in 2009.

Also starring Renee Zellweger as the woman who comes between them and Jeremy Irons as the villain, the story is set in the 1880s in the mining town of Appaloosa.

Virgil Cole (Harris) and his partner and friend Everett Hitch (Mortensen) are in the business of bring justice to the lawless towns of the Southwest—for a price.

The town's citizens are tired of rancher Randall Bragg (Irons) and his men bringing chaos and terror when they come to town. When a young and pretty widow (Zellweger) arrives by stage, she creates a complication for the two friends.

 Yes, the story has been told before, but the acting, the atmosphere, and the cinematography elevate the common story. Harris and Mortensen are perfect in the role. Even though you think you know what the outcome will be, you may be surprised.

This movie is showing on Mas and also Prime Video. It's even available on Amazon in BluRay at a low price.

TAKEAWAY TRUTH

We really enjoyed the movie. It was compelling with such honest and believable portrayals of the characters. If you like westerns of any type, you'll probably like it too.

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5 Random Nonessential Facts

I just found these kind of weird and kind of funny so of course I wanted to share them with you.

1. If you write the word stressed backwards, it spells desserts. How about that? The cure for being stressed is in the word!

2. The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.

3. Jane Barbie was the woman who did the voice recordings for the Bell System. Maybe it really is a Barbie World?

4. 7.5 million toothpicks can be created from a cord of wood. Anyone actually know how much wood is a cord of wood? Leave a comment if you do.

5. Minus 40 degrees Celsius is exactly the same as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Is that really true? (Personal Note: It seems weird, but I'm too lazy to take the math formula to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius to find out.)

TAKEAWAY TRUTH

There you go. Some useless trivia to stump your friends with at the next party.



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