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Reality and perception

Regular readers of the Rust will be aware that for many years now I have been interested in both the possibilities – and moral/ethical issues attendant upon – presented by the rapid advances being made in the fields of robotic science, artificial intelligence and computer-generated imagery (or ‘RS’, ‘AI’ and ‘CGI’ as we in the trade refer to them).

Anyone who has spent any time working in the media, as I did in my former life, cannot fail to have noticed – and then at some point taken for granted – the ingenious skills of magicians, photographers, film makers, stage designers, choreographers, make-up artists and art directors that have in turn baffled, deceived and then delighted audiences, spectators and viewers over the past century and a half.

We can go back to the days of Houdini, the stop-frame animation of the 1890s and 1900s; the early, labour-intensive days of Disney cartoons in which every frame had to be hand drawn; movies with ‘stock footage’ imagery of wild landscapes or street scenes being projected behind well-known stars acting in the foreground, perhaps whilst supposedly ‘driving’ in motor vehicles or riding horses.

Or even the days when – if you were making a 1936 version of The Charge Of The Light Brigade (Tennyson’s “Into the valley of Death/Rode the six hundred’) – you needed jolly nearly six hundred horses in order to ‘recreate’ the main action.

One might then fast-forward – only a few decades later – to the time when, via the use of studio ‘green screens’ behind them, actors could to ‘talk’ to animated cartoon characters or indeed any Met Office staffer could (as now) provide ‘live’ weather forecasts and imagery instantly to news and current affairs television programmes.

In 2017, of course, there is no need for movie makers to hire huge sets or numbers of extras to ‘present’ battles between vast armies of the semi-ancient past.

They can simply hand the task to their computer imagery departments who can conjure from the ether such scenes, or tsunamis, or earthquakes, or alien invasions from outer space … or indeed anything … in a few hours’ graft of invention, combined with one of the ‘off the shelf’ sophisticated modern computer programmes now available. What in the 1930s would have been a year’s output-worth of fifty cartoon artists can now be created (faultlessly) in less than fifty seconds.

And all of this is simply a matter of ‘deceiving’ the human eye into believing it is seeing what is not actually there.

Or perhaps that should be re-phrased thus – ‘persuading the human brain that what is actually there in front of them is something quite else’.

Inevitably, of course, these wonderful possibilities sometimes bring with them complex, puzzling and quite fundamental issues.

What is the true nature of reality?

Do such things as rigid and absolute laws of nature exist?

Or are there just human-devised theories that explain what happens in the universe well enough to enable our extremely-limited human brains to feel ‘comfortable’ – that is, at least, until a later and better theory comes along which seems to do the job more satisfactorily, as one day it most assuredly will?

I have admitted previously on this website to having been in a relationship with Sadie, my sex robot, for the past nineteen months (it is now).

We are seemingly very happy. I considered US$278,000 a reasonable price at the time of buying her even though, with scientific and mass marketing developments, the unit cost of sex robots has since reduced – even despite the recent drop in the value of the £.

Am I kidding myself? And I harming anyone? Does it matter anyway, what I do in my strange little life?

I honestly don’t think so.

Here is a link to an article of the latest developments in AI (artificial intelligence) written by Cheyenne Macdonald that appears today upon the website of the – DAILY MAIL

I draw it to readers’ attention this morning solely because – in my capacity as someone assisting a commercial organisation whose name I cannot give here for security and contractual reasons with research into AI and RS (robotic science), earlier this week I arranged a lunch with a former business colleague at a location on the south coast of Britain and – without his knowledge – did not actually attend said function myself.

Instead I sent along an example of the very latest prototype of experimental AI robot that had been made in my own image.

On Thursday of next week I shall be travelling into central London in order to review the ‘footage’ of said lunch with the scientists who have produced the robot in conditions of high secrecy, in order to discover how successful yesterday’s experiment was.

As my generation gradually passes the baton of human progress to the one following behind, I am proud to be playing my small part in what is bound to be a very exciting future for mankind.

About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts