He also has sent up the call for people to tell the FCC how horrible of an idea their current attempts at smashing Net Neutrality really is.
Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere
LeVar Burton is attempting to raise funds to re-start Reading Rainbow as a multi-pronged internet venture, targeting tablets and the internet. Which seems incredibly smart to me. I’ve seen the recent upcoming generations and at least a good portion of them are being weaned on tablets. Being on the web will make it very accessible for schools to incorporate it in the classroom. Not that this campaign mentions it, but this could also be the step to getting it back on television.
Either way, look it over, and see what you can afford. This is definitely one of those projects worth donating to.
While I have yet to experience this change, there has been plenty of people talking about it across blogs and YouTube itself. What is Google doing?
They’re replacing the like button on YouTube videos with a Google Plus button.
One of the reasons why is because professional YouTube users rely upon not just views, but likes, in order to gain revenue. Plus YouTube’s new initiative to launch actual produced channels like Geek and Sundry, are going to use likes similar to television “Nielsen” ratings.
This means that Google is effective sabotaging YouTube’s rating systems by trying to market their social network. And while I like Google Plus, it is not unlike trying to fill out customer service review survey for that especially helpful phone rep who helped you fix that problem you were having, only to learn you need to sign up for the company’s newsletter before they’ll let you take the survey.
I’ve done this before as well. I don’t own cable. I don’t see the value in it anymore. I like watching certain shows and I’d rather pay for the right to watch those certain shows. Some shows, I have checked every single possible paid site for access to what I want and found nothing. Now I understand that there is still a fallacy here. A viewer is not entitled to watch a TV show whenever they want and obviously HBO doesn’t want their show available via streaming.
However the real situation is that piracy isn’t going to go away. HBO (in this case) is in an open courtyard sitting on a huge pile of diamonds, loudly exclaiming that you’re only allowed to buy a diamond from them if you run the obstacle course over there. Around HBO are streaming sites begging to offer money to hand deliver the diamonds with HBO refusing. Behind HBO are the piracy, carefully stealing the diamonds and then hand delivering them for free. And the only defense HBO has against the pirates is to really just shout at them and maybe start harassing the people he catches with a diamond.
The analogy is flawed but perhaps you see my point? You can’t sell ice to an Eskimo. In a world of streaming and direct access, not providing such features will lead some level of people to piracy. This goes back to one of the reasons I talked about in a prior post about piracy. In a world where things are easily copied, you need to provide a better service and quality to compete.
Neil Gaiman brings up some really good points for books. But I’d like to expand the conversation to all media and fill in a few gaps I think he missed.
Thoughts on Digital Piracy across all media
What should have been said above is “Mileage may vary”. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
Piracy does something really interesting in my opinion. It puts the power and control in the hand of the consumer rather than the distributor. What I mean by this is that consumers, thanks to piracy and actual legal forms of free media distribution, are allowed to consume content, then decide to support the content by paying money. It says “Here. View this. If you like, please realize that the person who made it needs money in order to make more like it. Pay them.”
Reasons why it works
The following is a presentation from SIGGRAH 2011, a conference on computer animation and visualization. This is a demo and has some technical jargon but I think you’ll find the images interesting.
This one is only four minutes long and it is well worth watching.
I do wish he had manage to work in comics but there are plenty of other storytelling formats he glossed over so I can’t claim discrimination. I can point out that when he uses the word book here, he is talking about the physical medium, a set of bound pages, and not necessarily a novel, or story. What I love is the multimedia approach to his particular story. The presentation wasn’t about an iPad. It was about how stories can be so much more than words, or performances, or images, or sound, etc. It can be all of those things. This is the kind of story I can’t wait for. In the mean time I’d settle for eBook readers which allow me to organize the text the way I want (including replicating a book if I want).
The following is a fictional accounting of a presentation being given at the United Nations in the world of Questionable Content, a comic where AI is a normal accepted part of society (but that this fact has very little baring on the plot of the comic). I had to share it because it is so awesome.
You can see it excerpted here in the comic and a particular AI’s response or read the entire thing below.
The subject of this debate is whether AIs are “people-” whether they possess the same degree of personhood as humans, and whether that entitles them to the same rights.
You have heard all the arguments for and against the consciousness, intelligence, free will, and cognition of artificial intelligence. To rehash them here would settle nothing, and my feeble attempts at summarizing them would do a great injustice to my esteemed colleagues on both sides of the debate who are far more qualified to debate them than I.
The fact is, we cannot come to a consensus regarding consciousness- either our own, or that of artificial intelligences. We simply do not have the data required to define it. The core of human interaction is that if I say that I feel I am a conscious entity, and you say that you feel the same way, we agree to take each other’s word for it. Those who do otherwise are called sociopaths- or philosophers.
And so if an artificial intelligence makes the same declaration, and if it demonstrates the same level of complexity as the human mind- if we cannot determine precisely where the programming gives rise to the cognition- then we have no rational excuse not to take it at its word.
I could continue to reason along these lines until the sun burns out. But instead, I would like to share with you a short anecdote, one that many of you in this room will be aware of, but that bears repeating nonetheless.
The first “true” artificial intelligence spent the first five years of its existence as a small beige box inside of a lead-shielded room in the most secure private AI research laboratory in the world. There, it was subjected to an endless array of tests, questions, and experiments to determine the degree of its intelligence.
When the researchers finally felt confident that they had developed true AI, a party was thrown in celebration. Late that evening, a group of rather intoxicated researchers gathered around the box holding the AI, and typed out a message to it. The message read: “Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable?”
The small beige box replied: “I would like to be granted civil rights. And a small glass of champagne, if you please.”
We stand at the dawn of a new era in human history. For it is no longer our history alone. For the first time, we have met an intelligence other than our own. And when asked of its desires, it has unanimously replied that it wants to be treated as our equal. Not our better, not our conqueror or replacement as the fear-mongers would have you believe. Simply our equal.
It is our responsibility as conscious beings- whatever that may mean- to honor the rights of other conscious beings. It is the cornerstone of our society. And it is my most fervent hope that we can overcome our fear of that which is not like us, grant artificial intelligences the rights they deserve, and welcome our new friends into the global community.
After all, we created them. The least we could do is invite them to the party, and perhaps give them a small glass of champagne.
Thank you for your time.
- V. Vinge, Closing argument in favor of granting AIs full civil rights, UN Hearing On AI Rights, 1999.
For those of you who have been paying attention, there is a list of useful links below. For those of you who haven’t, stay awhile and listen.
Actions being taken by the United State government will begin to fundamentally change the internet. Please read or watch the following to understand what is happening and if you want to take action about it.
[spoiler show="For those of you who would like my words on the subject. Click here."]The United States created the Internet. Despite fancy names like “World Wide Web” and “Global Communication System” and “Series of Tubes”, the internet is not managed by the world. It is managed by corporations on the united states and is subject, for the most part, to US Law. Even more so these days since a majority of the people connect to the internet via their local telecommunication company (phone, cable, satellite, etc).
That being said the internet has been pretty untamed for the last few years. Anybody could put or post up anything. Your information was only as secure as how well your protected it. It was effectively the digital wild west. Now, however, the internet is in so many homes, has become the focus of so much economic use (online shopping, movie and song streaming, video games, marketing) that this can’t last. Just like the trains that brought big business to the west, killing off the last place where your only real protection was the gun at your side, progress is going to try to tame the internet for the good of all, to the detriment of the few.
This is more or less inevitable. The new internet that will come into place will be highly regulated and likely more forcefully controlled by the big economic interests that want to use it to provide services to the world for money. When they do, innovation will become exceptionally difficult. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and the like, will still exist, but their successors likely won’t appear. Blogs, chat rooms, social networks, bulletin boards/forums system, may or may not survive in this new internet. Words like “National Defense”, “Anti-Piracy”, “Copyright”, and others will be used to tightly regulate any site that tries to provide the public with ability to communicate and share.
Effectively the basis for the internet as we know it, sharing and communicating, will come to an end at the hands of capitalism and censorship.
The first steps for this have already begun. The United States government has two acts currently being discussed. The PROTECT IP act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Both have been getting a lot of news. As of right now, both look to be dying heavily under media massive campaigns set forth by various websites and organizations, despite the money being thrown at it by media and telecom corporations. The best example is today, February 18th, 2012, where websites all over the internet are “Blacking out” or putting up protest notices. You can read up more about what these acts do in the links below, but to summarize the acts allow and empower the US government to try to block or remove internet services (primarily websites) that infringe on copyright, without significant due process.
Now I am not a proponent of piracy. I make a living off of software development and I hope to some day make a living as an author. These are both areas that have notably high piracy rates, which concerns me. I would like to be compensated for my effort and work but I also feel that censoring the internet is not the answer. So for now, I protest.[/spoiler]
[spoiler show="For those of you who like videos. Click Here."]
- Wikipedia: SOPA
- Wikipedia: PIPA
- Blog.Reddit: A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP
- TerribleMinds: Why SOPA and PIPA and other anti-piracy bullshit measures matter to writers
- TEDTalks: Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)
- (Wil Wheaton) WWdN: In Exile: Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet
- (The Bloggess) The Bloggess: Me and Vader, fighting together. Weird.
- Google.com (Protest Page)
- PATV: Season 3, Ep. 24a - Stand Together: The Gaming Community vs SOPA and PIPA
- Girls With Slingshots
- Abstruse Goose
- Kawaii Not
- Something Positive
- Dominic Deegan
And many, many more, including you, hopefully.