Category Archives: intellect

on the next …

lou suSi, stand-up comedian and comedic performer

so, here i am

much of my life remains the same in so many ways — and yet recently i feel like i’ve made fantastic strides in life that open up new areas for discovery, new opportunities to grow and contribute in an entirely refreshing way

i’m starting up a new chapter in life

this is a chapter that i’ve actually been working on for most of my life

i’m such a fucking late bloomer, though

a complete clod

always fumbling for the pull chain to click-click the closet light on and finally shed some light into the darkened room

i say this not to beat myself up here on my very own blog or anything, but i guess in retrospect its all so refreshing obvious to me now

my new direction feels so incredible simple, too — almost too entirely natural for me to feel like i just suddenly discovered it over the course of the last few months

i’ve finally decided to start taking humor and comedy seriously

it sounds so hilariously strange to me when i write it out like that, too, but its one of the few times in my lifetime that just make sense and feel right { other similar times from my life include: coming back into Art and Creativity as my core career focus; falling in love and marrying the woman of my dreams and making a family and life together; digging deeper into my creative energies and talents to focus on experience design and research-driven, user-centered processes as my lifelong avocation }

i’ve done a lot of self-reflecting,
soul searching and analysis
these last few years

and its been wonderful looking back at my life to see the long list of crazy, humor-based projects, performances and installations i’ve either curated or directly created — running through my CV, i get this sense now that i’ve been tap-dancing like a madman in a field of pollock paint splotches, perhaps so busy making — happily making — to even see from a higher perspective if there might be any patterns lurking in the mix

part of me doesn’t want any of it to make sense at all

as an artist, that’s not my job at the end of the day anyways, right?

but another part of me knows that you can create from a far stronger place with a deeper sense of self-awareness around what you do { or even around what you did } and i think that’s what i’ve been finally looking into as a way to build a new place from which to make my work

you would think that all of this self-reflection, too, would lead me to a far mature foundation from which to make and curate and perform

but it looks like i still needs to be silly

perhaps even sillier than i’ve ever been before,
at least within the context of my past work

i recently took on the amazing role of the official Comedy Catalyst for this year’s TEDxBeaconStreet in the Fall and i am committed to making the comic relief i bring to the weekend and all of its surrounding events so completely knee-slapping nuttyFun hilarious that i’m almost skipping rope with glee like a naughty child from right my office desk at the moment

i am committed to bringin’ the funny in such a big, big way

just remember — i couldn’t possibly make fun of TEDxBeaconStreet by my lonesome — its only via my carefully hand-selected Comedy Catalyst Team that the right kind of laughter can flow between the cracks of over-glorified bleeding-edge ideas from the most upper ups of our oh so humble Boston-Area intelligensia

let me know if you’re interested in joining our wisecrack ninja team of humorists, stand-ups and other olympic comedic adventurers out at TEDxBeaconStreet — ‘sGonna be too much fun { TMF that is }

 

 

Sell by

20140817_americanCheese

on Turing

 

turing

and now … getting back to The Turing Test

lately my thoughts return, once again, to Alan Turing and the infamous Turing Test he conducted pertaining to machine intelligence, or better stated, pertaining to our human perceptions, beliefs and gullibility surrounding the technologies we create

the original goal of The Turing Test was to test ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’

however, based on this goal in relation to the actual methodologies and approach used by Turing, we can see a certain strange perversion didn’t necessarily shed any direct light on or prove anything at all remotely about a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior but instead used a trick in the form of a hidden human agent cleverly disguised as the computing machine to simulate varying degrees of intelligence along the machine to human intelligence spectrum 

at this time in history we may want to re-examine how we measure for intelligence — both machine and human intelligence

our standards of human language — especially machine-mediated, near-human language of social communication through the screen — have sufficiently changed over the course of several decades

and we need to keep in mind that the standards of human language vary significantly as we examine our communications as delivered through different mediums — for instance, human language in classic literature varies tremendously from the way we text each other via SMS; email communications — in regards to content, purpose and language structure — differ from the way we converse through social media as well as the way we communicate face-to-face IRL { the TLA for ‘In Real Life’ }; and so on

what if we considered testing ‘a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human’ by utilizing different forms of human communication exchange?

for instance, what if we looked at machine intelligence through the lens of humor and laughter?

Funny-robot

could a computing machine perform a successful set of stand up comedy in front of a live, human audience? can a computing robotic device actually make us laugh through comedy? not just by delivering jokes and schtick as written and honed through a human comedy author, mind you, but by cleverly crafting its own comedic material through whatever embedded intelligence-derived writing algorithms its programmed with, and then by delivering that material live, onstage?

and — from the other perspective — can our computing technologies in 2014 detect and respond to a human-delivered set of stand-up comedy through genuine laughter?

my questions here — just to clarify — challenge our current notions of machine intelligence by proposing we conduct the testing using actual machines, not just simulations of machine intelligence

let’s not fake it to make it here when it comes to our measure of intelligence — let’s avoid any sense of a mere simulation of intelligence by leveraging the state of our technologies as they exist today, ‘as is’

unfortunately i’m not the person to actually design, develop and build the actual technological objects needed to conduct these experiments — i’m just not technically proficient enough to produce an intelligent-enough robotic stand-up / humor / laughing machine to properly conduct the testing as i imagine it would need to be

but my hypothesis goes something like this:

the technologies we create will never be smart enough to deliver a successful set of stand-up comedy to a live, human audience — the content of the material would miss the mark and the delivery would be too awkward and off to get people to feel any amount of the sense of mirth needed to provoke genuine, human laughter

not only would a robotic stand-up act not produce laughter — in an even worse way such an act would most likely, instead, create an atmosphere of strangeness, this uncanny valley effect as defined and described by Masahiro Mori — the performance would feel downright creepy to people and would actually start to effect our human perceptions and our overall experience of the space and place of The Comedy Club as a familiar and funny scenario

i also do not believe our current technologies could be successfully programmed to behave in a smart enough manner onstage to improvise in the way a stand-up does on a nightly, performance-by-performance basis — a robot, for instance, might not be able to read the audience to gauge how they’re receiving the material, to see if they’re being funny enough to proceed with further material ‘as previously planned’ or to, perhaps, switch up to a different branch of jokes and storytelling based upon both an audience’s laughter and the general human feel of the room 

and then — when going in the other direction — when asking whether or not a robot or other computing machine could identify something as funny and then laugh in a natural, human way at the comedy or humor that typical inspires our human laughter — this, to me, is a no brainer

there’s just no way

in fact, we would be tripping into the same uncanny valley every step of the way — it might, perhaps, even be a far deeper fall into an unfathomable abyss of uncanniness

we can look to the dinner scene from Kubrick and Spielberg’s film A.I. Artificial Intelligence as the speculative example of what might actually happen when a robotic being encounters a humorous situation

sam_robards_haley_joel_osment_frances_o_connor_a.i._artificial_intelligence_001

as a robotic boy, David sits at the dinner table with his new adoptive parents — as his parents Monica and Henry Swinton eat and drink their meal, David imitates the act of eating and drinking since he himself does not actually need food-based sustenance to live — after some silent tension at the dinner table, David breaks out into a crazy fit of laughter that quite literally scares the shit out of the Swintons — and then, following the initial scary outburst of laughter, the entire family exchanges more laughter around the dinner table

the entire scene makes no sense at all from a purely human perspective, but we see how a robot might misinterpret the tension in the room as potential humor to laugh about — here, for some strange reason, the laughter of the robotic boy, succeeds in making his human parents laugh — his laughter somehow becomes contagious for them, infectious, and they join in — but even then, the shared social sense of human laughter still contains a sour uncanniness, there is still some tense pressure residing in the room

 

so, on that note:

is there anyone that might be up to the challenge? who here on the interwebz can build a robot or other technology that could potentially make a human audience genuinely laugh?

and, could you also build out its amazing technologically-based counterpart as well? a robot that can detect and actually laugh in a human, natural way to human-delivered stand-up comedy?

do you submit to my challenge?

do you even dare?

on the importance of directionality

what's inside ( our machines )?

i sometimes get annoyed by the hype surrounding innovation

the word innovation has become assumedly synonymous with the concept of new technological advancements — which i know can be really exciting for business and the economy and anyone else that might have a special fervor for bright and shiny toys that go ‘beep’ in the night

introducing new technologies, new information and new devices into our ever-evolving technoHumanic ecoSystem shifts our perspective and sometimes opens up new economic opportunities for us — and discovering these new opportunities is exciting, exhiliarating really, even potentially producing the same internal chemical high we get from laughter and sex and other extreme sports activities

but i think we sometimes forget that we confound our technological progress with these biopharmaceutically-induced feelings as well as the opportunities they always seem to open up for us

we over-focus — we hyper-focus — on these new technologies, and specifically on whatever new thing might be coming next

we forget sometimes that developing new technologies is really just one side of the coin — just one aspect of what we should be working on as a social species

these technologies are external advancements — our efforts, too, to develop newer and newer technologies are activities and work expended upon improving something external to who we are as people in the world

its what i like to refer to as outer innovation

and outer innovation can be very helpful to humanity, of course — we can do truly miraculous things with our inventions, with these computing technologies, so we definitely have cause to celebrate how smart and wonderful we are to have facilitated series upon series of advanced tools and toys that hopefully promote new comfort, deeper meaning and increased quality for our human experience of life

sometimes, just sometimes though, i wish that at least some small faction of people would refer to innovation outside of our technologies — i know that our current semantic affiliations do not allow for a more inclusive stance for our use of the word innovation — but i would like to also read about our advancements through inner innovation

what's inside ( human beings )?

what do i mean by inner innovation?

well, i think we have a lot to work on as human beings regarding that side of Science Fiction we dreamt up so, so long ago where we encounter an advanced society of people — the people we meet in this sort of future-forward-looking speculative literature not only have strange, new devices and interesting, unusual ways to travel and speak, but they also seem more at peace within themselves and can even somehow magically communicate through subtle, silent gesture, telepathy and other unexplainable means — i’m almost certain an evolution to this imagined, advanced and intelligent state didn’t just automagically come about through ultra-modern pharmaceutical prescriptions from CVS or by downloading the new Cartwheel app for those hidden extra savings at Target, there had to be some hard work put in by at least a small group of inner innovators

don’tchya think?

 

how do we start to work on inner innovation more? how do we promote this concept of inner innovation in a way that might at least start to establish a better balance with our outer innovations? how are we really going to advance as a society, as a humanity?

a reflection on reason

reason

Does everything happen for a reason?

We created the concept of Reason. Reason does not exist outside of the human mind. In Nature there is cause and effect, but that is definitely not the verySame thing as the human concept of Reason.

We make up the Reason that we’re here. We imagine, develop and cultivate a purpose in our life — or we simply live. And we can interpret the things that happen in our lives in a retrospective fashion as having a Reason — but life as we know it is far beyond anything we can dream up. Its a bigger dream than we can imagine. And everything happens in an unfathomable and entirely meaningless way. If you tune into the pulse of it all in a way that goes beyond research and words — well — you can just feel it, this chaotic tendency of Nature, of the Universe.

We invent Reason. Reason — like laughter and science and language and porn and technology and religion — is a delicate belief system that human beings leverage to make sense of the Universe and its rather wildly unpredictable events. Reason helps us cope and move beyond the horror of our ultimate destination in life { which is, of course, death }. Reason is a beautiful thing, actually. Reason brings a subtle poetry to life. Reason is the search for meaning. Meaning doesn’t exist.

Originally posted as my reply to the Quora question Does everything happen for a reason?

laugh more often

stolen / borrowed photo of Danny DeVito laughing

maybe i just need to laugh a little more often

ya know?

 

Me and Marco as Beware the HaberdashMarco came out to Boston this week from Seattle and i have to say — i don’t think i’ve laughed so hard for a long, long time

and i think for the amount of time he was out this way we actually laughed more often than i normally do on your average daily or weekly basis

 

i feel a little better because of it, too

and it was all about completely silly shit, too

we didn’t need to go to a comedy club or listen to CDs of stand-up comedy in the car or anything

i think we’re just both imbued with this kind of comedic outlook on life

certain perfectly inane sequences of events can set off huge bombing guffaws of hilarity at times — and i know a lot of it is kind of just in our minds, if you know what i mean — its a particular sensibility that you collectively cultivate with a friend or a small group of colleagues or acquaintances that quite naturally develops and grows within the space and experience of the relationships we build in life — and its something unique to just certain friends, just certain groups of people in your life, based on the time you’ve spent and the amount of discussions you’ve shared over the years

sometimes just a look can set it all off, ya know?

a knowing nod

you know the deal, right? 

as a friendship builds — as any relationship builds, crumbles, ebbs and flows — the mutually-shared experiences and the things you talk about build up a sort of pre-verbal vocabulary that is very much based on a private language that each of us develops without a need for words

and its a phenomena that can really only occur with live presence

at least that’s my feeling about this concept

here’s Marco — a photo i took of Marco — when we lived out at The Church Street Apartment in Watertown back in the mid-90s

marcoChurch_desat

the photograph could be called A Portrait of Marco with a Shovel, Plastic Watering Can and a Guillotine — that’s the title i would probably give it if i were including it in an exhibition in some local café, full-well knowing that nobody would purchase the photo or anything, but that coffeeshop-going viewers might spend a few minutes looking and fabricating their own interpretation of the private language Marco and i were using on that rather mild, Autumn day

you can just see it in the photograph, too, right?

the expression on his face isn’t due to a conversation we were engaged in, i wasn’t holding up and squeezing a rubber duck or anything like that, in the way they would at a Sears Portrait Studio back in the 70s

there’s a familiarity between us — between me, as the photographer, and Marco, my subject here — that you can feel if you really tune in to the warm details of the end image — i don’t know if you’d consider the photograph to feel casual or friendly, but you can see a certain kindness being expressed by Marco

i believe you can’t develop that depth of emotional connection and feeling without actual, live, human presence

when Marco and i wrote, recorded and performed as Beware the Haberdash back at about that time — in the early to mid-90s — i know that our connection through the music-makingour connection: through vibration and rhythm; through composition and improvisational, collaborative interplay; through talking about the music or planning for a show — our connection dove into a far deeper subconscious zone where speech, instruction, conversation — all of these things — were no longer necessary for us to actually communicate with each other through our shared live and present space 

its a rather fascinating phenomena

and its a phenomena that i am currently trying to better understand through my research into another very closely-related, uniquely human phenomena — the phenomena of laughter

my own personal beliefs — as informed by both my currently-collected, active research and from my gut — indicate that laughter, like poetry, is both immediately mutually-understood by a group of people at the higher, signal level within a given social context and is also involved in such a complex intersection of intellectual, cultural and physiological systems that simultaneously shatter that understanding due to all of the actual environmental and behavioral life experience we bring into the live and present social moment

to back up just a little bit here, let me first establish a background concept, a simple definition, if you will, that helps set the stage in a better light

humor and laughter exist as a living, breathing,
organic and found cybernetic, social system

its a system that learns and grows and develops and ebbs and flows just like any relationship that gets established between any 2 or more organisms in the world

at one point in human history — one could guess from the research done to-date — laughter evolved

we developed a way to laugh

we most likely started laughing as a human beings for the verySame reasons that any species begins to mutate or discover a new special skill or feature — we started laughing as a means for survival — as a way to endure certain psychological tensions that come embedded in our earthen, natural environment or that pulse within our sociological and cultural ecosystems

laughter came before humor

there’s no chicken and the egg that i can fathom from what we know about the theories and vast, eclectic academic areas that touch upon the phenomenas of humor and laughter, which include:

  • humor theory;
  • laughter theory;
  • tickle theory;
  • comedy;
  • psychology;
  • philosophy;
  • sociology;
  • neurobiology;
  • phenomenology;
  • language and linguistics;
  • natural selection and the theory of evolution;
  • cybernetics;
  • conversion, translation and interpretation;
  • and energy;

 

unfortunately this blog veryMuch reflects the rather powerful subconscious manner in which i produce and pursue my work as an artist, designer and performer — bits and pieces come to me in a rather random and sometimes chaotic fashion — i believe in chasing my inspiration in the actual moments when she whispers to me, so this means many pieces will feel undone, messy, but hopefully vital and real { or at least as real as you can get on the internetz }

so i leave you here with my thoughts from today to reflect upon

much of my previous thoughts on these subjects can be found on a myriad of other websites i publish to — for more on this thread of research and thought on laughter, humor and the areas in-between, check out Laugh Institute up on the webz — or you can always check back here to poke around some more and read up on my progress on the laughterLife, my continued experiments, writings, design and research into laughter as a human phenomena

Check out Beware the Haberdash online

a note about Science

science

Science builds toward a knowledge-based belief system to understand the universe and our human experience through research, experimentation, observation, skepticism and constant challenge of the beliefs and understandings it builds.

Just to note: Science is not as mired in ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ as many believe it to be.

And I feel — through my own psuedo-scientific experimentation, observation and online conversations about the nature of science as a system and a methodology — that its closer affiliation to ‘belief’ ( as opposed to ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ ) is what sometimes heats up certain dialogs ( wink, wink ).

a theory about comedy strategy from Joan Rivers

joan-portrait

as most people by now — Joan Rivers passed away yesterday
on August 4th, 2014

i truly enjoyed her comedic style and especially loved watching her latest project Fashion Police many an evening with my wife — the level of social commentary on the rather insane world of celebrity and fashion actually seemed to be the perfect target for her brand of ribald, insult-based humor, and even though she sometimes projected harsh criticisms in a supremely public delivery forum, she also intentionally added a level of humility and humanity to every conversation she engaged in on the show { and throughout the span of her entire career, too } by making Fashion Police a conversation instead of a ranty dialog

i actually found her to be quite endearing, regardless of the harsh and vitriolic persona she portrayed as part of her little critique panel for the Hollywood Junior High School culture covered so endearingly in the mainstream media — she also very cleverly hand-picked her more gentle colleagues on her panel to offset her mean transgressions against these almost holy figures the American public seems to so readily worship — her nightly posse, Kelly Osbourne, Giuliana Rancic and George Kotsiopoulos, nicely accompanied and balanced out the Rivers’ material in a really beautiful and thoughtful way, which I’m sure was the natural, genius orchestration behind Joan Rivers and her larger than life personality and comic approach to life

fp-joan

i think i particularly loved her blunt and ofttimes vicious injections knowing full well that Rivers was consciously targeting her own culture, the culture of stars and fashion and appearances — the surface culture that covers all of America — as much as she was part of it, she constantly thumbed her nose to it in the most deliciously self-deprecating and hilarious way imaginable — and, Rivers also seems to have left a legacy of philosophical insight into the strange dynamics of comedy and funniness that can be rather easily exhumed from various sources around the web

i find this quote particularly fascinating — it seems to confirm the theories that Portland State University communications professor David Ritchie, PhD discusses as his Truth in humor theory in Metaphor and Symbol as most likely derived from Freud’s Relief Theory of laughter and humor 

I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.

— Joan Rivers, 1933-2014
we love you, we live on through your life devoted
to humor, social commentary and laughter

dolphins

Dolphins-talk-language

we’re not all that different from dolphins

some definitions to consider

ocean

i look back lately — at my previous research and active design work at Dynamic Media Institute

i am re-opening my book — my design thesis book, that is — to once again take a look inside my veryOwn openContainer, and my intention to continue my investigative research into laughter, cyberSurrealism and the human experience swells and motivates me with a newfound retrospective clarity that i just frankly wasn’t ready to tackle back then

as i delve deeper into the investigation — an investigation that brings me to new areas of dangerous confrontation and heightened, intense self-awareness — i ready myself and my future audience of readers and participants with these 3 crucial definitions stolen from — or, uhm — cited from the Wikipdedia as core concepts for your consideration — important terms of reference regarding the underlying purpose and nature of my work

 

awareness
Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception andcognitive reaction to a condition or event.
Read more about Awareness on the Wikipedia

consciousness
Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined as: sentience,awarenesssubjectivity, the ability to experience or to feelwakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.[3] Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.[4] As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”[5]
Read more about Consciousness on the Wikipedia

mindfulness
Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”,[1]which can be trained by meditational practices[1] derived from Buddhist anapanasati.[2]

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali-term sati,[3] “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassanasatipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati.

Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorderanxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.[4] It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.
Read more about Mindfulness on the Wikipedia

 

All preceding definitions from this blogPost came from the infamous Wikipedia out there on the webz. Go check it out { as if you’ve never heard of it, right? } and don’t forget to occasionally donate a bit to keep the project funded and smoothly movin’ along — we all learn soOOoOoo much from our little Wikipedia that could now, don’t we?

 

wikipedia1