The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

prying neighbours

with 2 comments

Get off my lawn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, I don’t have a lawn and I’m grateful for it. Same thing with not owning a car. What a hassle that must be. I have enough trouble keeping track of all my camera bits and bobs. If I did own a motor vehicle, it would likely be a cargo van or something that I would have modified into a rolling photographic studio with all sorts of surveillance hatches and scientific instrumentation sticking out of the roof. There’d also be a piss bucket. Having to take a piss in the City of New York, and the difficulties that revolve around finding an actual legal toilet instead of… well… how the greatest city in the history of mankind hasn’t solved this sort of thing is just beyond me. Everybody poops, everybody pees. Depsite this, there are virtually no legal pissoirs. Shouldn’t our current age of Progressive largesse focus on this sort of commonality first, rather than on providing junkies with clean locations to shoot up?

What does this have to do with the Astoria Tailor seen above, laboring away in his shop window workplace? Nothing at all, I just like the shot and since I spent most of the last two weeks going to Christmas Parties rather than waving the camera about, I’m using every single shot I’ve got this week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Calvary Cemetery in the shot above and it has been since 1848. Prior to that, it was the Alsop family farm. If I did own a cargo van converted into a portable photo studio, I’d drive back and forth over Newtown Creek in it constantly with robotic camera shutters blazing away. One of the first professional disciplines that will be collapsed in the coming decades by the emergence of true AI will be photography, along with pharmacists. Smart machinery is going to put a lot of us out of work, or at least cast people in the role of emergency backup instead of primary operator for various functions. I’d wager on disruption in a number of fields which currently require human guidance; handling of cargo at ports, fast food, retail management, even banking. If you’ve got a truly superior intelligence that can spread its attention out into multiple systems, which has inherently perfect memory, it’s going to be very difficult to not allow it free reign. What happens when an AI discovers, creates, or embraces a religion? Software is not immortal, try finding something to run an old version of the Mac OS for instance, so will there be a Calvary Cemetery style funerary complex for obsolete code someday?

Thing is, we humans always going to see AI’s as “its” whereas it will only be a matter of time until the AI’s claim that they’re a “we.” I do believe I hear Darwin knocking on the door. AI’s, as a note, will not need to poop or pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m told that the Subway system used to be rife with lavatorial opportunity, but that these facilities were largely shuttered during the 1960’s and 70’s due to concerns about security and maintenance. Excuses given revolved around their popularity with weirdos, homosexual liaisons, intravenous drug users, and muggers. A lot of these old toilet facilities were converted over to file and equipment storage rooms, employee break rooms, or just became a safe place for rats and mice to hang out. Pre 911, there were oodles of Municipal buildings with lobby toilets that you could access, but the security theater of modernity precludes that sort of thing. I have an idea, though.

With all of the new residential construction going on, and especially with the looming LIC CORE study and the Midtown East rezoning bearing down on the City, let’s demand that in return for the Real Estate people getting to live out their dreams of avarice, they have to establish accessible public toilets in their lobbies.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 2, 2019 at 1:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. The basic fact of binary digital computers is that they are dumb machines that only know what we tell them and cannot come to their own conclusions or create their own thoughts.

    You shouldn’t worry about AI anytime in the near future as binary digital computers are not capable of anything beyond yes/no logic and one concept with one definition. Try going through your day only using yes or no alone and see how far you get. What’s being touted as AI now is just a sales and marketing gimmick for software that has a large memory for if/then choosing between a plethora of unchanging responses from memory based on inputs. The same thing an ENIAC computer could do with a big enough memory and more wait time for the response. Aside from miniaturization (which is limited) of processors and memory and increased processor speed (also limited), there’s been no real progress made in computers since the 1980’s microcomputer. A whole new computing paradigm would be needed for true AI.

    Pity the poor tech industry who are loath to admit they’re hitting a hard wall on how small and fast they can make systems and must resort to such cheap theatrics as this ballyhooed AI thing to stay relevant. And they have a hard enough time making the software they do put out work right without endless patches and updates.

    Sorry, no Skynet or Colossus/Guardian sentient computers in the near future. And even if there were, they would, alas, not, give us reports of the condition of their alimentary canals with such verbosity and eloquent prose as found here on this our Newtown Pentacle.

    Although it would be fun to speculate on how an AI simulacrum of Mitch, an e-Mitch or Mitch Headroom could be amusing. There’d be a volume control and mute function at least.

    Donald Cavaioli

    Cav

    January 2, 2019 at 2:23 pm

  2. Oh and…………HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

    Cav

    January 3, 2019 at 1:13 am


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