7. Artificial intelligence no match for a human

“When we are gone, they won’t remember what you said or what you did. They will remember how you made them feel”.
Maya Angelou

1. This scribe felt a little guilty visiting Speakers’ Corner today, knowing that while she would be enjoying a leisurely afternoon, elsewhere, a big chunk of South Eastern Australia was being ravaged by bushfires. This scribe feels for the firefighters, and the gentle country folk midst the fires.

2. We missed legend Steve Maxwell today, who is out of the team with a dodgy eye. He will be out next week, too. Let’s hope we soon see him doing cartwheels and backflips.

Here is something to lighten your spirits, Steve:


3. Mr B, too cheap to go to a doctor, began his meeting by asking his grasshoppers for medical advice. I would have thought that to ask his grasshoppers for medical advice would be like asking bedouin nomads for an ice-cream recipe. Nevertheless, he was given advice and if we see him next week, we will know that he took it. Or didn’t.

4. Gary the Christian returned! Today he grabbed a platform and a few chairs, and across the way bellowed about God. He was slow to get going, but showed guts and persistence, and soon he drew a small crowd. He kept them from then on, and finished the day with a croaky voice. Good on him!

5. In what way are women different to men? And why? This topic kept the crowd contributing for some time. Mark the Grinner took the Ladder of Knowledge to explain why men keep women subjugated. His reasoning: men know that given half a chance, women would quickly outshine them.
Mark said that half his speech was a ramble and might be rubbish. Be that as it may, he kept the crowd entertained.

6. A merry joke was told:
A man is in the court’s dock charged with murder. The prosecutor says him, ‘You were caught red handed killing your wife with a spanner.”

A man in the gallery stands up and yells at the man charged, ‘You bastard. You utter, utter bastard!’

The judge bangs her gavel and orders, “Quite, please! Quiet in the gallery!”
The prosecutor continues: “And only ten minutes before you murdered her, you murdered her lover with that same spanner.”
The man in the gallery flies to his feet again and cries, “You bastard! Rot in hell!’
The judge bangs her gavel again and barks, ‘Sir, what is the meaning of this? Do not keep interjecting! If you have something to say, say it now, and then be quiet.”

Seething, the guy says to the judge, “Your Honour, I’ve been that man’s neighbour for fifteen years, and every time I asked him if I could borrow a spanner, he said he didn’t have one.”

7. The poetry recitation went well. Uncle Pete read a beautiful and sad poem, but you’ll just have to trust this scribe because he can’t remember the title.

Peter the Younger also read a beauty: The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe. He even introduced the poem with some eerie organ music. It’s a great poem, but was it too long for an outdoor recitation? This scribe doesn’t know.

Mr B read a poem so simple it completely discombobulated Mark the Grinner, and that was a treat to watch.

Another poetry reading next week!

8. This week’s assertiveness tip? When you’re having an argument with someone, don’t follow Hollywood’s example and hang up on them, or state your case and then slam the door behind you. That’s not winning the argument, it’s just childish.

Instead, talk it through, and if you still can’t come to a resolution, at least leave respectfully, with the other person’s grace.

Click here for a slightly longer explanation.

9. Mr B used a print-out of a smiley face and an imaginary teddy bear to explain why androids will never rise against the human race. He also used a thought experiment devised by John Searle:

Imagine yourself in a room with a pile of cards, and each card has printed on it a different Chinese character.
From outside the room, someone pushes a card through a slot in the door. On the card is a question, written in Chinese. Your job is to find from your pile of cards the card which will answer the question. Then you push that card through the slot to the person outside.

You can’t read Chinese, but fortunately you have a guidebook that indicates which card to respond with. But you don’t have a clue what’s going on.

An outside observer might mistakenly conclude that within the room is an intelligence. But they’d be wrong. It’s just you.

An advanced android would act in the same way: the processor in its room has no idea what’s going on, but it would give the impression it has intelligence and emotions. No matter how human-like it might appear to be, that android can only ever be a mindless processor with nothing inside.

At the rate we are going, one day we will have an android indistinguishable from a human being. It might cry, rage, sulk, laugh and show fear, like we do. It might even be programmed to convince us that it feels all those things. Yet inside it will be a room of processing chips and nothing more. It will have no more humanity than a fold-up chair.

For an android to become like us, or rise against us, it would have to develop consciousness and emotions, and we aren’t even close to beginning that side of it. We are not yet even at the starting line.


10. Other subjects talked about:
– Weasel expressions, like when the church claimed that it had “failed to protect the children in its care”. They didn’t fail, because they didn’t even try to protect them. As one alert grasshopper pointed out, “They succeeded in protecting the priests.”

– What’s a good way to sell a vanilla slice? (Answer: display the price!) But it works for other cakes too, you dill!

– C.P. Snow’s observation that people who study the Arts often have little understanding of science, whereas people who study science also immerse themselves in the Arts.

– Tonight is a television program based on the life of entertainer, Paul Hogan. Yes, that’s the same guy who chose to use his persona to make money by advertising cigarettes, and the same guy who suggested to troubled youths that having a bigger knife will make you a bigger man.
Someone wondered if his bitter fight with the Taxation Office has been resolved.
A lovely chap, that Paul Hogan.
(When he painted the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I bet he missed bits.)

11. There has been concern lately about fake news on Facebook. This page goes to Facebook. Enough said.