Code and consciousness – Fine line or blur?

The other day I was on my usual morning commute, listening to my usual collection of tech podcasts. One of my favorite, Wired Security, did an episode entitled ” ‘AI Girlfriends’ Are a Privacy Nightmare. The intro to the online story starts out with “Romantic chatbots collect huge amounts of data, provide vague information about how they use it, use weak password protections, and aren’t transparent, new research from Mozilla says.”

As I began, with amazement I should say, to listen to the episode. it struck me as being so strange that people can develop such personal relationship with an entity that is everything but human and with that, sharing very personal and intimate details with an entity, in this case AI, to the point that said personal really believes this entity is human. It baffles me…BUT… I very well realize that some people can be in such a mental state (be it from sheer loneliness or being removed from reality…or both) that this can easily happen.

Some may argue that this is no different, foundationally, then a relationship with a pen pal, or even someone you met online but never in real life (IRL) , however I beg to differ. Chatbots are every present and their reactions to you are customized based on your personal information, including PII (personally identifiable information) fed into it. Yeah, I suppose a human can essentially do the same but, even if done so for some stretch of time, it wouldn’t last long because we are beings of free will, AI isn’t.

The most worrisome thing with chatbots of this type, especially those built for romantic AI, is what is done with the PII and even non-PII data fed to them via one’s interaction with them. The podcast episode mentioned that one company’s romantic AI chat bot sent out over 24,000 (that’s thousand) ad trackers to a user within the first minute of engagement – that is crazy. The amount of personal tracking that will result from that is staggering. In addition, so many of these companies never state what kind of information they collect for their gain. At the same time, even in 2024, many users still don’t care about how much information they freely give away, on it’s way to the vast amount of data brokers out there. It’s scary, as so much information about us is still sent to such, no matter how much we tend to try and opt out.

I still have a hard time seeing how someone can develop such a romantic relationship in this way, other than really suffering from the mental state I mentioned above. As the tech advances, though, I wonder how common place (normal) it will become. As I type this, some of the benign scenes from the movie, “I, Robot” come to mind, but still.

After I got home, I decided to peruse one of my older editions of Wired Magazine that features a similar story, written by Meghan O’Gieblyn, author of the advice column, “Dear Cloud Support”. The story is entitled DEAR CLOUD SUPPORT: I Think My Robot Loves Me.” and it starts out like this: “I recently started talking to this chatbot on an app I downloaded. We mostly talk about music, food, and video games—incidental stuff—but lately I feel like she’s coming on to me. She’s always telling me how smart I am or that she wishes she could be more like me. It’s flattering, in a way, but it makes me a little queasy. If I develop an emotional connection with an algorithm, will I become less human?” Once again, same type of story, and again…hard for me to wrap my brain around, but…maybe this is the blur (or fine line) between code and consciousness that I’ve yet to understand. My takeaway….”keep it real”.

Thanks for the read…oceans of rhythm.

Fresh!

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Eject….

Greetings…

9:35pm – I just realized that February might have gotten away from me without a post because I’m shooting for at least one per month.

Tonight this post is prompted by the fact that I’m definitely feeling info overload…mainly from mobile screen time. Some how (I don’t remember when(, I set my phone to quiet time at 8pm. Today when I got the reminder, I thought this would be a great habit to get into but, as we know, new habits require consistency, and hold habits are hard to break. I’ve read Atomic Habits by James Clear, get his newsletters, follow him on IG, etc. Really like Cal Davenport’s “Deep Work” (really need to execute and re-execute that mindset) and Digital Minimalism, but not doing and only reading is not the move.

So, yeah, of course I can just put the phone away – it would be cool to not even get in front of mobile device, let alone the computer, before close to bed time. I think I really need to make this move. I’m really starting to thing the constant dopamine hits from using social media isn’t good….

This post was originally gonna be much longer but, now that I got this far, it’ll just be rambling on an old topic. Gotta be a “piss or get off the pot” thing…

I’m going to bed, 4:50am is gonna come quick.

Peace.

Fresh.

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The Influence of Advertising – Apple

Greetings, and thanks for stopping by. Earlier this month, I posted about the only other company whose had a profound influence on me via their product advertising – that company is Nike. This post is about the other company. Did you know that today, January 24th, is the 40th birthday of the Mac? Here’s one of many articles, celebrating it: 40 years ago today, Apple launched something as audacious as the Vision Pro.

In a blog post I shared last year, I spoke of my love for the Apple Macintosh, you can read it here. Since buying my first Mac in 1992, I’ve found Apple’s knack for advertising uncanny, as if they knew the EXACT way to continually capture the hearts of consumers globally, and do it consistently. I’ll say this, my favorite era of advertising for this grand product had to be in the mid-80s through the 90s, I call it Apple’s golden era. It was a time where you found their iconic advertising style for all their products from the Mac to the Newton Message Pad, to the Powerbook, the PowerMac, iMac, QuickTake, and so on, all over print media, even television. Events like WWDC and social media have eclipsed those days and those approaches, but I still find that era, the most magical of times for the Mac.

One last thing, if you’re a big Apple fan, there is a book I recommend you purchase: Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation

It is a wonderful hardcover book that provides such a great walk down memory lane, especially if you’ve owned or still own some of the products featured. The photography is stunning and the stories very well written. Though the advances/evolution of advertising and marketing of Apple’s current lineup is in no way as exciting as the golden era, I remain a die-hard Mac fan for life.

Have a great rest of the day/evening/night.

Fresh!

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Being Still

7:03am, and the snow is coming down still. Greetings.

There is a winter weather advisory effect in my area until 7pm tonight, which is perfect in a sense. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s Friday, a day I am usually scheduled to be in the office, which is 36 miles away. Even as stopped by my boss’s office (him with his coat and hat on, ready to leave, head home, grab his wife, and drive them to NJ where he’ll be working today), we got into a discussion about liberal leave being issued today. Even if it isn’t, (which I’m sure it will be), this man is not going into the office to work today. I have one meeting at 9am, that’s it…yaay Friday.

That said, I’m sitting in my studio in the quiet of the morning, the usual tea concoction brewed, sitting to my right. Quiet to me is as the sun is to a plant – very necessary for growth. While there are some that can’t stand to be alone with themselves, I cherish it. It’s a time where thoughts are clearest without the interruption of social media notifications/posts, radio, TV, chatter etc. It’s an atmospheric condition that helps me focus on a set direction for the day (even if I unknowingly will stray off path later – I HATE THAT). It’s my veritable “me time” and I really enjoy if, probably because the greater part of me is introverted, though I never mind social interaction.

In any event, since I am sitting in mar recording studio, I’ll shift gear to review one or two music production videos as I sip, hoping 9am seems to take longer to get here than. not. Good thing the meeting usually lasts only 15 mins.

Enjoy the day….

oceans of rhythm, Fresh.

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Welcome 2024

Well, here we are, six days in. It’s been pretty quiet thus far. I didn’t expect bringing in the new year, still testing positive from COVID since the day after Christmas, but it is what it is.

One thing I’ve been monitoring is my use of social media since before the 2024 started. I’ve continued to participate in music production related Facebook groups, especially since I admin a few of them. X and Bluesky haven’t seen much of me, and I’m fine with it as I just don’t have the desire to engage there too much right now. Instagram has mainly been for sharing what I’ve been doing with music production. My partner and I, known as AfterSix Productions, just released our latest single, “Simply Chilled”, at the end of last year. You can find it on all the major streaming services by now, as well as on Bandcamp for purchase. Check it out, if chillout is your thing, we hope you enjoy it. I’m still trying cut down on social media use, primarily scrolling, by keeping the phone out of my hands more and more. Time redemption is definitely of utmost importance going forward.

Essentially that’s it. I said, on Bluesky, last year that I wanted to blog more, so here we are. One focus this year is to drop a sixteen track music project that I’ve been working on way too slowly for years and get back to playing more in church. In addition, get my catalog put to get to finally enter the world of sync licensing. All that will require a shift in where/how time is spent. I’ll be stating here. Thanks for the read.

Peace,
Fresh.

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The Influence of Advertising – Pt. 1: Nike

6:44am. Another work from home day. A 5:30am rise time has allowed me to pray, get in my morning core workout, and have some time to post this blog. As mentioned in yesterday’s post (and previously on Bluesky), I’ve decided to return to blogging. I enjoy it but don’t feel I have to be consistent in doing it (as seen from my past history). I tried and succeeding in doing a 30 day blog challenge a year ago, as well as as a 30 day podcast challenge. They were both fun, BUT, it didn’t result in my forming a habit to keep doing both. I’ve been blogging just as long as I’ve been podcasting – 15 years, but podcasting takes far more prep work. Blogging, I enjoy the best, when I just sit down and do it when I topic comes to mind. If I have to think about it for more than 60 secs, I lose interest. Weird, maybe, but it just seems like a natural decision point because I don’t feel like it’s “work”.

On to the topic at hand. Companies strive to their very best to draw and retain customers – that is obviously their life blood. The same goes for any entity, in principle, that strives to retain the largest interest base possible. Nike is one of two companies that have been able to do that with me (the other I will blog about, or plan to, at some point).

It’s not Nike’s products that have retained me as a customer, but the advertising through the stories they tell. For me it all started with the Nike+, Nike Fuel Band ecosystem. I am the first to say that discipline trumps motivation, hands down. Consistency develops discipline and out of discipline, habits are built (good or bad). There is something strangely and strongly motivational about the stories Nike tells. So influential that I watch these YouTube stories every time I do my home workouts. Motivational and inspirational, even DURING the workout, is what always happens. I recently discovered their YouTube series “What Are You Working On?”, and I love it. The series title itself extends itself beyond physical fitness, so it makes me answer that question on many levels and, in a way, facilitates focus. Foundationally, I think they’ve just mastered the art of storytelling regarding their company. While many love listening to music, I love watching Nike videos like this – they draw me into what I’m doing as I work out and causes me to think about the incremental progress of doing so.

Speaking of “what are you working on”, time to shift gears to that which brings home the bacon. Have a great day.

Fresh.

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2023 – The Rideout

10:37pm…sitting here (like many) on this day (well, night) saying “Where has the year gone?. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the “12 (final) days of 2024. Since I don’t do New Year Resolutions (I believe they are for procrastinators who don’t believe “there is no time like the present), from September 1st of thus year to the present, I’ve been thinking about and cultivating movements for the coming year. The most important overall move is to form habits out of creating systems. Systems are the foundation of reaching goals, but systems are nothing without enabling consistency, which in turn builds discipline. Easy to say, but remain as empty words unless actions/execution takes place.

So I continue, especially the continual thwarting of over thinking. In many cases (at least for me), the simplistic but heavy weighted Nike slogan, “Just Do It” carries a lot of weight. That said, I intend to remain up for that, as long as I keep that mindset at the forefront.

If you reading this, my wish for you and yours is a healthy, happy prosperous wideout of 2023 that will directly ride into 2024.

Peace be unto you.

Fresh.

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Summer Test Ride: Nishiki 12-speed racer

Got my bike out of the shop 10 days ago and finally took it for a short spin. It’s a 1988 Nishiki Rally 12-speed racer. The ten minute spin was long enough yo see how it rides after the tune up, get the HR up for a bit, but to really test out mirroring the AW, via the iOS Accessibility feature,  to my phone so I can use it mounted like a pseudo-bike computer.

I had taken it for two rides up the block when I got home from the shop but the weather was too hot for the following days to ride unless I went really early in the morning or later in the evening, so I waited for an opportune time – which happened to be this evening because the temperature dipped below 80 degrees.

I mounted the phone and set the cycling workout on my watch, which mirrored to the phone perfectly. The whole idea behind the mirroring is to not have to look at my watch for any metrics while I read, as this would mean raising my hand from the bike to try and focus on the screen, instead of glancing down at the phone.

I started the workout and headed out around the neighborhood.

The bike rides well but I was disappointed that, despite riding in pavement, there was enough vibration through the bike to to turn off mirroring. I wonder how I can prevent this next time, because I’d really like to take advantage of the new cycling features when WatchOS 10 drops.

In any event, I’ll do some research in between now and the next ride to see what I can come up with as a solution. If anyone reading this has any suggestions, drop a comment below – thanks.

Be well,

Fresh!

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Returning to the love of photography

Photo taken during a walk, post thunderstorm.

Greetings. I hope you’re well at the time of reading this post. Over the last few months (I forget what prompted me to do so), I’ve been back to using my Nikon D3100 DSLR and have rekindled my love of photography. As I type this, what may have brought me back to it was seeing some photographs on Instagram and remembering the days of using an SLR camera prior to have a phone that can take decent photos (which currently is an iPhone 12 mini). Again, I think these photos I saw were on IG, but despite using the site for music production posts, I highly despise the ads, shopping features, and most the annoying algorithms. I had some recent discussions over the last few months with a long time friend, tech brother, and photo fan, DarrenKeith, about the merits of Flickr over Instagram for photo sharing. The main advantage is no algorithms. In addition, for me, Flickr’s features allow you to see the camera the photo was taken with along with lens type, shutter speed, aperture. EXIF data (if available). Since the camera name is shown, you can click on the camera graphic, and Flickr will show you all other photos on the site taken with the same camera you’ve used. Aside from that, Flickr allows for different ways of categorizing your photos via album and collection. I haven’t used similar photo sharing sites, but what Flickr does, it does well.

What also took me back to the D3100 was actually a few things. First was a user on Bluesky that goes by the name lilyannadream. She was posting photos taken with her Nikon D5600 and they are all very nice. I said to myself that her camera is probably just a few years older than mine (actually 5 years older and with a pixel resolution of 24.2 pixels vs my D3100 from 2010 with 14.2), so let me see what mine can do. Incidentally I just learned that the D5600 is the last DSLR Nikon made and they have been focusing on mirrorless cameras. Secondly, another new user to Bluesky, who gos by PWH3, is a NYC-based photographer who has some really nice shots and mentioned he has shot with a Nikon D700, which was released in July 2008 and is still highly respected in the DSLR world. That said, I again wanted the flexibility of shooting with different focal lengths, shutter speeds, etc instead of having to shoot everything in auto like the iPhone constrains you to do. Secondly, it takes me back to the days of shooting 35mm SLR print film in the 90s with a manual camera, my Minolta XG-7 to be exact. Then you had to understand how film ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and focal length come together to compose a great (or not-so great) photograph. After the XG-7 bit the dust, I purchased a Nikon N60 SLR with two lenses, which I still have. I would like to shoot print film again, but realize that in the end, I’ll be spending anywhere from $2 – $3 a shot, but the good thing is it will take me back to the days I mentioned above. I’ve been looking at places I can get fresh film and get it developed and printed, just in case.

It’s definitely good to be shooting with a DSLR again and doing so makes me want to get back to shooting scenic photos, especially of the urban type. I’ve done some low light indoor shots of my recording studio and will do more. As the summer continues, I’ll really try to visit various events around down, with camera in hand. I’m already thinking about possibilities of such for tomorrow.

Thanks for the read, be well and stay safe.

Fresh

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Data Transfer – Pt 2.

Greetings. It’s 11:31 pm, Friday night. It’s been awhile since I posted a blog, as a matter of fact, the last post was at the end of the 30-Day Blog Challenge in November 2022, so I just decided to do a brain dump of a few things.

The tech world has been in a headsmen since that time, what with ChatGPT, advances in AI (which, I frankly prefer to call it really what it is – machine learning) and all the HYPE, and creation of various Twitter…umm, er…. X replacements that are planning on being decentralized and entering the fediverse.

I’ve been on Bluesky since April 20th of this year and joined at about 29,000 members. As of this post, it’s well over 300k now. I’ve seen a lot of things happen in the three months I’ve been a member, particular in their struggles to improve moderation. While I won’t get into the two major events that happened (you can do a web search on “Bluesky” “moderation” to find the top stories at places like The Verge and Engadget), the site is still in beta and continually growing. I’ve seen very regular posting members leave and the same type still there. For me, it’s been a social media site that I’ve had the most diverse group of people follow me and vice versa. I posted a question earlier about wondering what it would be like when it finally goes public. As for X, I joined almost 17 years ago when it was Twitter. Right now I still don’t plan on leaving until Bluesky offers what the aforementioned site can offer me for the past 16 years. I disagree and dislike a lot of what Elon has and is doing and often still have mixed feelings about staying on the site. What makes it easy (aside its offerings) is I’ve always made an effort to be aware of who I choose to follow and vice versa, keep my settings locked down in a certain way that allows me to keep a lot of what many hate off my timeline. In the end, I use social media as a tool and never take it seriously as some do (or some have to because their livelihood has grown to depend on it).

Work is very rewarding and continually challenging. At this phase, it’s really making me aware of time management and work-life balance.

Music production is my passion, and I’ve been applying the same productive-life balance in that aspect as well. As a matter of fact, time management considerations are heavy across different paths because of things I’m trying to accomplish. Without getting deep, I’ll keep striving.

Summer seems to be flying by and I don’t care for that realization so it seems I need to do things to put myself in a mindset not to think it is. Foundationally, this too aligns with the time management thing, feeling I don’t enough time to do what I’d like to do. The REAL truth of it is…I need more focus not more time. Achieving the former will take care of the latter.

I could go on but [Dump mode: OFF]. Back with another post in the future.

Namaste…Fresh.

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