Human as a toaster
The best part about last week's cover article on robots was that it was not written by an Indy reporter. Until there is some fusion between biology and robotics, robots will be no more "human" than a toaster.
The last line of the article that I found particularly ludicrous was: "If we can mechanize what makes us human ... ." A person lying inert in a coma is human, is perhaps dreaming, is engaging in the experience of "I." No amount of fancy programming or mechanized, anthropomorphic imitation will create more than the illusion of an "I."
Other lines I objected to in the article:
"... How she gave Kismet emotions" -- she did not give Kismet "emotions," she gave it the appearance of emotions.
"Learns just like a baby would, by watching and copying" -- humans do far more than watch and copy, otherwise nothing new would ever be invented.
"It frowns, sneers, knits its brows anxiously" -- again, it knits its brows in the appearance of anxiety. It no more feels "anxiety" than a toaster feels anxiety.
"Turning a sculpture into a smart sentient being" -- turning a sculpture into the appearance of a smart sentient being.
You get the idea.
-- Paul Weeks
I enjoy the Independent and look forward to getting it each week. I like to think I'm open minded to many things and I'm real sure I have a sense of humor but I want to go on record by saying I don't find the Consumer Correspondent remotely funny, interesting or worthy of a column in the Independent. I've read it many times, and to me, it's just a waste of space.
-- Steve Gould
I wanted to respond to Thomas McCullock's recent letter to the editor stating that "this year I'm giving thanks I'm not a Christian. "
I was raised in the Christian belief, taught both the Old and New Testaments by one of the most fundamental Christian religious organizations -- the Pentecostalists.
I can assure you, Mr. McCullock, that the "Christianity" that the Christian Right and most of the Christian leaders are supporting, is a total abomination to Jesus and his teachings!
The Old Testament, which many "Christians" follow, is only the Jewish history and rules made before Jesus was born. As Christians, we are to be lead by Jesus Christ and the New Testament.
No longer are we supposed to live by "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." No longer are we supposed to live by the intolerant idea that God is sickened by the homosexual.
When Jesus became the Christian prophet, He taught tolerance and love. "I come to save you, not to judge you. ... Only God can judge."
Yet, Christians use the Old Testament to "judge" what is offensive to them -- Jesus never condemned the homosexual.
Jesus never fought with Pilot to force him to add the Ten Commandments to government houses. Those "Christians" who do this are only trying to benefit themselves -- they are not representing Jesus.
Jesus was not political. There is no Christian Right in God's eyes, only Christians who are supposed to live as Jesus did, with tolerance and love for all mankind.
Jesus warned that after him there would be many "false" prophets -- "you will be able to know them by their works."
Open your eyes, people, especially you, Christians. Watch carefully on those who claim to be Christian, but their actions speak otherwise.
The Bible warns of the "Anti-Christ." As I see it, the so-called "Christians" and their leaders today are the Anti-Christ of which the Bible warns!
-- Charmaine Williams
State of confusion
In response to the "Love thy brother" letter by Thomas McCullock:
Like most people (Christians included), you have confused being " Christlike " with being puritan. Christ was the ultimate healthcare provider. He healed anyone who asked.
Christians are human beings just like everyone else and will never be truly Christlike. This does not excuse their actions or yours. You are no better than those puritans when you condemn all of Christianity and Christ himself for their mistakes.
-- Tom Hanna
Regarding The Last Samurai: I highly recommend everyone taking the time to go see this amazing film starring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe. It warrants critic's praise and the Independent's positive review [Film, Dec. 4-10]. It is a brilliant clash of cultures and a genuine demonstration of the ever-changing face of war.
Only one complaint about the movie: For anyone unfortunate enough to watch the film on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Tinseltown, I wonder how they felt about the profound demonstration of machismo and disrespect offered by several young men in the back of the theater. During this powerful and moving film, this group of idiotic morons shouted out such lines as, "We want to see titties" and "Get naked."
The Last Samurai didn't plunge into the typical sex-for-dollars mentality of Hollywood and these male spectators were noticeably disappointed. As I marveled at how this movie portrayed the arrogant and destructive ways of American military dominance juxtaposed against a very Zen portrayal of Japanese samurai life, the typical American men behind us proved to be perfect background noise.
At first I was irritated when they laughed as key characters died, or how they expressed their pathetic lust for more pornographic scenery. But then I realized they were actually increasing my understanding of the film and inculcating a more profound disgust for what America is. I walked away with a nasty taste in my mouth. I felt ashamed to be an American male, responsible for so much ugliness in the world.
All of this disdain at last fomented and gave birth to inspiration. I stayed up that night and did yoga. I counted my blessings and told my lover of all the things for which I was grateful. I slept well and awoke with the optimistic feeling that, just maybe, some likeminded people might just save this failing nation. Thank you to the shit-heads in the back of the theater that ignited my fire.
-- Jeremy Koselak
State of emergency
Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq, has warned that another massive terrorist attack on the West or the United States could lead to the scrapping of the Constitution and a military government.
After another attack, all that need be done is for Bush to declare a state of emergency and we are in very deep trouble. Elections will be cancelled and we will all be under the heavy hand of FEMA and the Bush thugs for the rest of our lives. Sound far-fetched? Not in the least.
Once in a state of emergency, Congress has no recourse and the only way for power to be restored to the people is for the emergency to be declared over. But, that is the nut of it -- it never will be. The "War on Terror" is a tremendous boondoggle. We can never win this war.
Why? you ask. Well, terror is a tactic, not an enemy. We might as well declare a war on "The Pincer Movement" or "The Hasty Ambush." Folks, there could be some dark days coming and your RNC membership card isn't going to be worth the butane to burn it.
-- Brent Koleno
Manifest Destiny, part II
Bush's recently articulated vision of the Arab world, the Middle East and the world in general sounds a lot like Manifest Destiny part II. Bush is going to do for the Arabs what Andrew Jackson did for the American Indians. After all, white, male Christians (e.g., William Boykin) have all the answers, know more, care more, and alone carry the burden of mankind's future. It is Bush and his well-connected clique's manifest destiny as pure true believers. For those who disagree, a final solution can be arranged.
-- Nick Schroeder
It's time for us to be concerned about nuclear weapons at home -- as well as in Iraq.
Congress is about to pass a bill approving construction of mini nuclear weapons, designed for use in the battlefield.
I, for one, think this is a mistake.
America should be taking the international lead in calling for nuclear disarmament. We shouldn't be building new nuclear weapons at home and denouncing them abroad.
It's time for our country to insist on a world free of nuclear bombs.
-- Deke Swallen
Bush and trees
President Bush has signed into law the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to help prevent catastrophic wildfires and strengthen America's long-term forest health.
This legislation is required to help save endangered species and to make the forests more safe for firefighters. In the recent past, many firefighters have been required to combat forest fires here in Colorado.
As a nation, we have watched helplessly as parts of America were devastated by wildfires that displaced families, ruined communities and took lives.
In the past two years alone, 147,049 fires burned nearly 11 million acres. The president understands the necessity to manage forest and rangelands to protect the land and prevent further destruction caused not only by fires, but also disease and infestation of insects.
The president deserves credit when credit is due.
-- Michael E. Terry
Once again the self-serving, myopic, conceited, ignorant Bush government is planning another move to help other ignorant people with ego-based motives. This "administration" is proposing radical changes in conservation policies that would allow hunters, circuses and the "pet" industry to kill, capture and import nonhuman animals on the brink of extinction in other countries.
Their "reasoning" for this is that it would give Americans access to endangered beings and feed the demand for live beings, for their skins and parts, and for trophies, generating profits that would allow poor nations to pay for conservation of the remaining individuals and their habitats.
Aside from the practical side, which would promote profiteering, exploiting these beings by officials in financially poorer countries and allowing poaching to flourish, such an unenlightened action conveys to people that it is acceptable to treat other beings with whom we share this planet, and on whom we depend ecologically, with contempt. This not only lacks compassion, it is the height of arrogance and ignorance.
If "W" honestly wanted to help the financially poor people of these countries, he could establish or allow fair trade with these nations, most of which are in tropical regions and from which we get the majority of our resources, (rubber, cocoa, Brazil nuts, rattan, etc.) which are used in innumerable products.
We are only one species in the web of being on this planet. We have no right to exploit or manipulate others.
-- Perry Beliz
I received my $400 child tax credit in the mail this year. Question: What should I do with this money? According to your president, I should spend it to help him revive retail sales, help create jobs (having lost 3 million) and help us bounce right out of this recession.
But no, I do not believe anything your president has to say. His time was up even before the inauguration began. Yes, that's my way of saying he was not elected by the people of the United States.
So anyway, I took that money and wrote a check to a woman I work with. She's a single mom who works full-time and has a son. She doesn't make enough income to be worthy of your president's tax credit although she needs the money more than I do. This president could not summon enough "compassion" to help all of those parents who make under $26,000 a year. Amazing ...
The largest portion of my $400 check I sent as a contribution to Howard Dean. Now here's a real man! He's a doctor, an ex-governor of Vermont who I would trust to do the right thing for my child. His record shows courage and integrity. He's the only candidate in either party who will make a better world for our children and grandchildren.
Now you know what happened to my $400 check from the federal government. Feel free to follow suit. Then vote Dean for America in 2004!
-- Natalie Schmidt