Artificial Intelligence and Human Stupidity

There is no question that the continuing development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology will help humanity solve some difficult problems, with its ability to see patterns in complex data and arrive at novel solutions that any human mind would easily miss. But there is also no question that AI will be weaponized by those with ill intent to spread misinformation, destroy our privacy, and cleverly manipulate people to do their bidding. And it will enable a lot of us to do even less deep thinking and reflection then we do already.

Furthermore, if a significant fraction of the population won’t trust or believe humans who are experts in their field, why would they trust or believe AI insights guided by those same experts? Opportunists of questionable integrity and moral character always have been able to manipulate and distract the willfully or wantonly ignorant, and AI will make their job that much easier.

If we humans are to survive and thrive, we must address and solve fundamental human problems. I am not at all convinced that AI is going to help with that.

Population

How is AI going to reduce, over several generations, human population from its current 8 billion to a more sustainable 1 billion by lowering the birth rate uniformly world wide? Those of us alive today are currently burning through the Earth’s physical and natural resources at an unprecedented rate and degrading the Earth’s climate and ecology, all because there are about 7 billion too many people alive today.

Warfare

How is AI going to rid the world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction? How is AI going to transform the world’s armies into agencies that provide humanitarian assistance, keep the peace, and enforce sensible international laws? How is AI going to transform the endless trillions the nations of the world spend on defense and warfare and redirect that vast sum of money to the betterment of humankind?

Fear and Hopelessness

How is AI going to rid the world of firearms and other weapons of self destruction?

Governance

How is AI going to ensure that the wisest, most knowledgeable, thoughtful, adaptable, intelligent, and compassionate people are our chosen leaders?

Pathological Behaviors

Will AI help us to understand why some people are hateful, or narcissistic, or violent, while most of us tend to be loving, altruistic, and peaceful—no matter what life throws at us? Will AI help us to truly and humanely rehabilitate those who begin exhibiting dangerous and antisocial behaviors?

Knowledge and Faith

Will AI help us to find a way for all religious believers to peacefully coexist with nonbelievers?


Or, will AI be just another technological distraction?

Classical Music Timeline: 1860s

This is one of a series of postings of important classical music dates, from the 17th century to the present. Included are the date and location of the birth and death of composers, and the premiere date and location of the first public performance of works. When the premiere date and location is unknown, the date or year of completion of the work is given. Though reasonably comprehensive, this is a subjective list, so the choice of composers and works is mine. If you find any errors, or if you can offer a premiere date and location for a work where only the completion date or year is listed, please post a comment here.

1860
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) and Franz Doppler (1821-1883) completed the orchestral version of Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3 in D♭ major (S. 359, No. 3)

February 10 – Serenade No. 2 in A major, op. 16 (original version), by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hamburg, Germany

March 3 – Serenade No. 1 in D major, op. 11, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hanover, Germany

March 13 – Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) was born in Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia

May 4 – Emil von Reznicek (1860-1945) was born in Vienna, Austria

May 29 – Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) was born in Camprodon, Catelonia, Spain

July 7 – Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was born in Kaliště, Czech Republic

October 20 – String Sextet No. 1 in B♭ major, op. 18, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hanover, Germany

December 18 – Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) was born in New York, New York

1861
January 15 – The Harp Rings Out, in C major, op. 17, no. 1 (SSA women’s chorus, horn, and harp), by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hamburg, Germany

The Death of Trenar, in C minor, op. 17, no. 4 (SSA women’s chorus, two horns, and harp), by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hamburg, Germany

Love Song, in E major, op. 44, no. 1 (SSAA women’s chorus & piano), by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hamburg, Germany

November 16 – Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, op. 25, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hamburg, Germany

1862
January 29 – Frederick Delius (1862-1934) was born in Bradford, England

February 17 – Edward German (1862-1936) was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire, England

August 22 – Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France

September 25 – Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897) was born in Ensisheim, France

1863
December 24 – Enrique Fernández Arbós (1863-1939) was born in Madrid, Spain

1864
March 15 – Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935) was born in Drammen, Norway

June 11 – Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was born in Munich, Germany

1865
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) completed In Autumn, concert overture for orchestra, op. 11

June 9 – Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) was born in Sortelung, Denmark

June 10Tristan and Isolde, opera by Richard Wagner (1813-1883), was first performed in Munich, Germany

August 10 – Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia

October 1 – Paul Dukas (1865-1935) was born in Paris, France

October 13 – Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, op. 38, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Gdańsk, Poland

November 28 – Horn Trio in E♭ major, op. 40, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Zürich, Switzerland

December 8 – Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was born in Hämeenlinna, Finland

December 17 – Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 “Unfinished” by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

1866
April 1 – Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) was born in Empoli, Italy

June 22 – Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Leipzig, Germany

October 11 – String Sextet No. 2 in G major, op. 36, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Boston, Massachusetts

1867
February 15 – The Blue Danube, op. 314, by Johann Strauss II (1825-1899) was first performed in Vienna, Austria

September 5 – Amy Beach (1867-1944) was born in Henniker, New Hampshire

1868
Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) completed Péchés de vieillesse (“Sins of Old Age”)

January 5 – Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26, by Max Bruch (1838-1920) was first performed (in its present form) in Bremen, Germany

August 7 – Granville Bantock (1868-1946) was born in London, England

November 13 – Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) died in Passy, France

November 15 – Waltz in A♭ major, op. 39, no. 15, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Hamburg, Germany

1869
January 16 – Symphony No. 1 in E♭ major by Alexander Borodin (1833-1887) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

February 18 – A German Requiem, op. 45, by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was first performed in Leipzig, Germany

March – Symphony No. 2, Antar (1st version) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) was first performed in Saint Petersburg, Russia

March 8 – Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) died in Paris, France

April 3 – Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 16, by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) was first performed in Copenhagen, Denmark

1850s

1870s

Most Distant Human-Made Object

In 1895, Italian inventor and electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) produced the first human-made radio waves capable of traveling beyond the Earth, so radio evidence of the existence of human civilization has now traveled 128 light years from Earth. Assuming a stellar number density in the solar neighborhood of (7.99 ± 0.11) × 10−2 stars per cubic parsec1, Earth’s radio emissions have already reached about 20,000 star systems.

The most distant physical human-made object, however, is the Voyager 1 spacecraft, now over 160 AU from the solar system barycenter (SSB), a distance of almost 15 billion miles. That certainly sounds impressive by human standards, but that is only 0.0025 light years. As the distance of Voyager 1 from the solar system barycenter is constantly increasing, you’ll want to visit JPL Horizons to get up-to-date information using the settings below for your date range of interest. Delta gives the distance from the SSB to the Voyager 1 spacecraft in astronomical units (AU).

This still-functioning spacecraft that was launched on September 5, 1977, flew by Jupiter on March 5, 1979, and flew by Saturn on November 12, 1980, is now heading into interstellar space in the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, near the Ophiuchus/Hercules border.

Given Voyager 1’s current distance (from Earth), a radio signal from Earth traveling at the speed of light would take 22 hours and 8 minutes to reach Voyager 1, and the response from Voyager 1 back to Earth another 22 hours and 8 minutes. So, when engineers send a command to Voyager 1, they won’t know for another 44 hours and 16 minutes (almost 2 days) whether Voyager 1 successfully executed the command. Patience is indeed a virtue!

Thanks to three onboard radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs)2, Voyager 1 should be able to continue to operate in the bone-chilling cold of deep space until at least 2025.

In about 50,000 years, Voyager 1 will be at a distance comparable to the nearest stars.

1The Fifth Catalogue of Nearby Stars (CNS5)
Alex Golovin, Sabine Reffert, Andreas Just, Stefan Jordan, Akash Vani, Hartmut Jahreiß, A&A 670 A19 (2023), DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202244250

2At launch, the Voyager 1 RTGs contained a total of about 4.5 kg of plutonium-238, generating 390W of electricity.