news of the weird
You’ve probably heard of ChatGPT, a computer program that is trained to follow your instruction and provide a variety of wide ranging responses. As someone that has spent some time actually using the AI, I have to say, the results it produces can be eerily human but, did you know that computer scientists have been working alongside chatbots as early as the 1960s?
It was the late 1960’s and Joseph Weizenbaum, an MIT computer scientist, had just completed work on his revolutionary chatbot ELIZA. Weizenbaum was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1923 and fled the country with his family in 1935 to escape the political turmoil. Weizenbaum came to the United States where his road to computer science would ultimately begin. After time spent in the Air Force, Weizenbaum would go on to study as a computer scientist and eventually work in the industry. You have to remember, computers at that time were not portable devices that could fit in our pockets. In fact, they often barely fit into a room! As an associate Professor at MIT, Weizenbaum became obsessed with the way computers could directly interact with humans through language. It was this early through line between computers and human language that would work to lay the foundation for his own chatbot and eventually lay the groundwork for the AI development of programs such as ChatGPT, Siri and Alexa.
Eliza was completed in 1966 and Weizenbaum offered MIT students the opportunity to interact with the chatbot. This process consisted of messages typed into the computer by students and, responses would then be provided by ELIZA, […] routed to an electronic typewriter and printer. Weizenbaum was initially happy with the response that was garnered from users’ experience with ELIZA but, there was one thing he did begin to notice that he viewed as considerably concerning. Overtime, Weizenbaum made note of users starting to divulge deep personal information, looking for help similar to that of a therapy session. This observation ended up pushing Weizenbaum to advocate for caution when relying too heavily on computers for human thought…
“There are aspects to human life that a computer cannot understand—cannot. It’s necessary to be a human being. Love and loneliness have to do with the deepest consequences of our biological constitution. That kind of understanding is in principle impossible for the computer.”
New York Times
May 8, 1977
News of the Day
A 25-year-old man clad in “Joker” makeup “menacingly waved” a pocketknife at several teenagers as he drove past them Tuesday in Haddon Township, authorities said. Assoumou Diby was stopped a short time [after] cruising past the group on the 400 block of West Crystal Lake Avenue on Tuesday, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and Haddon Township police said in a statement Wednesday.
It’s blurry but, here’s a visual…a man in joker makeup arrested by Haddon Twp, NJ, police after allegedly waving a pocketknife at children. The arrest followed days of sightings, scares and calls to police, who say, until last night, the behavior wasn’t criminal. @FOX29philly
-jennifer joyce (@JenniJoyceTV) June 24, 2020
Diby, of Haddon Township, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon following his arrest. Earlier in the week, police said they received multiple reports from people who saw a man in Joker makeup walking around town, noting it’s not a crime [to] simply do that.
Diby is due to make a first appearance in municipal court July 16.
This isn’t the first time this has happened:
Man Dressed as the Joker Arrested in Winchester, VA (The Washington Post, March 25, 2017)
Life imitates art and the bail bondsman gets rich. ~Vic
“[It can] meow out of one mouth and eat out of the other.”
Meet Biscuits & Gravy: The Two-Faced Oregon Kitten
When Kyla King got up Wednesday morning to check on her pregnant cat, she knew there was a good chance she’d find a litter of newborn kittens. She walked outside to the special crate she had put the expectant mother into overnight and noticed four tiny kittens. But, then she noticed two more hiding behind their mom. So, Kyla picked one up and set it down with the rest of the litter. She picked up the last kitten and found herself face-to-face with two tiny noses, four eyes tightly shut and two mewing mouths.
Kyla said she sent a picture to her husband, BJ King, with a text that read:
“We have 6-1/3 kitty cats now!”
Kyla reached out to their vet to learn more about the kitten’s condition, how to care for it and its odds of survival. She learned there wasn’t much to be done medically for the tiny creature. All she could do was make it comfortable and help it eat. “It doesn’t really know how to nurse properly because it has two mouths so, I’ve been trying to feed it,” Kyla said. “And, I mean, I’m gonna do the best I can but, these animals don’t usually live too long.”
Cats with two faces are known as Janus cats, after the Roman god Janus, often depicted with two faces in mythology. They suffer from a rare congenital defect called diprosopus, or cranial duplication. Most Janus cats don’t live longer than a day but, one defied the odds. His name was Frank and Louie and he passed away in 2014 at the age of 15. The Guinness Book of World Records named him the world’s longest surviving Janus cat.
Sadly, Biscuits passed away last night. ~Vic
In looking thru odd stories, this caught my attention. From Oddity Central:
A Creepy Art Installation Freaking People Out on Google Maps
By Spooky on May 15th, 2020
An eerie art installation located in a barren field in the Finnish countryside recently went viral after someone accidentally stumbled upon it while searching on Google Maps. With quarantine and isolation measures still in place in many countries around the world, people are spending a lot of time online looking for cool places to visit once they can travel again. Many are using free tools, like Google Maps, and end [up] going deeper down the rabbit hole than they originally anticipated. That’s probably how some people recently discovered The Silent People, […] creepy-looking [figures] that left them scratching their heads about why anyone would fill a field with hundreds of scarecrows and dress them as real people.
Seen from afar, The Silent People [site] looks like a perfectly still army of people all facing the same way. It’s only when you take a closer look that you realize it’s made up of wooden frames covered in human clothes and heads made of [peat], which does a surprisingly good job of emulating human hair. Even knowing that it’s an art installation, you still feel uneasy looking at the almost one thousand still [bodies] but, knowing absolutely nothing about it and [suddenly] finding it on Google Maps can really freak a person out.
From Amusing Planet:
Hiljainen Kansa: The Silent People of Suomussalmi, Finland
By Kaushik Patowary on March 28, 2015
Motorists driving along Highway 5, about 30 km north of the small town of Suomussalmi, in north-eastern Finland, are greeted by a peculiar sight. A crowd of almost a thousand figures stand silently on a field near the road. In the morning with light behind them, this motionless army appears morose, even menacing. But, when a light breeze picks up their colorful dresses and blows them around their still bodies, they appear to have sprung into life.
This army of scarecrow-like figures called “The Silent People” or “Hiljainen Kansa” in Finnish, were the creation of local artist Reijo Kela. They were first displayed in 1988 in a field in Lassila, a neighbourhood of Helsinki. Later in 1994, these were on display in the Market Place of Helsinki’s Senate Square, then on the banks of the river Jalonuoma, Ämmänsaari and finally moved to this location in 1994 itself.
The Silent People (Atlas Obscura)
I haven’t done one of these since 2013. I read a lot and sometimes I come across some strange things. This is an article from United Press International:
Wet Wipes Clog All Four Pumps At Florida Wastewater Facility
April 15, 2020 (UPI) Utility officials in a Florida county are reminding residents not to flush wet wipes down the toilet after all four of the wastewater facility’s pumps clogged at the same time.
The Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department said in a Facebook post that all four pumps at the organization’s wastewater pumping facility in Boca Raton ended up clogged at the same time “for the first time ever.” The post blamed the clogs on increased use of wet wipes.
“It took a team of three utility mechanics to dissemble and reassemble the pumps in order to remove the compacted wipes,” the post said. The department said residents who find themselves “low on toilet paper” amid shortages from the COVID-19 pandemic should remember that all wet wipes, including those labeled “flushable,” should be thrown in the trash and not disposed of in the toilet.
Wait a minute. Are these folks insinuating that “residents who find themselves low on toilet paper” are using Clorox and/or Lysol wet wipes in lieu of TP? Or, are we talking baby wipes here? The article isn’t all that clear. Either way…just…DAMN. ~Vic