Friday, October 22, 2021

Andy & Renee Top Bill at 30th Anniversary of KUMD’s “Highway 61 Revisited” Radio Show

Andy

The weekly “Highway 61 Revisited” radio show – featuring the music of Duluth-born Bob Dylan – first aired 30 years ago on KUMD 103.3 FM. Friday evening, Duluth DylanFest and KUMD will mark this milestone with a special celebration featuring a performance from Los Angeles-based rock and folk duo Andy & Renee. Multi-instrumentalist and longtime Duluth musician Marc Gartman will open. This special evening is one of numerous events orchestrated to recognize St. Louis County’s “Year of Dylan” proclamation.


Since a chance meeting at the University of Denver, Andy Hill and Renee Safier have carved out a unique niche for themselves in the Los Angeles music scene and beyond. Their performances – more than 200 a year – are as much social gathering as musical event. Part fan family reunion, part rock & roll tent revival, their live shows attract a large, enthusiastic, and fiercely loyal group of fans.


& Renee
Devout Dylan fans and specialists in his music, Andy & Renee have taken their unique sound and multi-instrumental skills to venues large and small all over the world. Their 17 CDs and three DVD releases have won them countless awards. They are known as producers and performers of three decades of Dylanfest, an annual 8-hour music festival, attended by hundreds of fans, featuring many top L.A. musicians, in honor of Bob’s birthday.


Get more info, and follow them at www.andyandrenee.com

You can learn more by checking out my 2019 interview with Andy & Renee.  


BUY E-TICKETS HERE. 

Tickets also available at Globe News in Superior and Zenith Bookstore in West Duluth.


NOTICE: All concert-goers must provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test at the door prior to each show. Phone photos of vaccination cards will be accepted. Further precautions may be taken pending state and county health guidelines.


Doors at 6:30pm. Music at 7:30pm.


Year of Dylan note:

On May 24, 2021, the 80th birthday of Duluth and Hibbing's native son, the St. Louis County Board formally proclaimed the Year of Dylan, The Year of Dylan is being acknowledged with periodic special events through May 24, 2022, Bob Dylan’s 81st birthday. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington Continues To Reward Viewers While Remaining Relevant

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

82 years ago this week, the Frank Capra classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington had its world premiere. For those unfamiliar, Jimmy Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a naive, idealistic youth leader who is hand-picked to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. It's not long before his idealism collides with the political corruption at home and inside the Beltway. Despite attacks on his character he strives to keep moving forward. In short, it's story of disillusionment and dirty politics. In the end, the good guys win--after all, it's a Frank Capra film--and viewers can feel all warm inside. 

When the movie was released it created quite an uproar inside the Beltway. Politicians were angry at the way they were portrayed as corrupt power brokers devoid of ethics. The public loved it, though, as good triumphs over evil in this tale. Ironically, it was banned by fascist nations in Europe because it showed that Democracy actually works. (Honest, good people can win.)

The film begins with the death of a seated senator from Montana. The party bosses can't agree on a choice to replace him, then settle on a true greenhorn, Jefferson Smith. When Smith arrives in Washington DC he's overwhelmed with awe by its monuments and historical buildings. 

When Senator Smith discovers he's being manipulated, and that a project that would really inspire youth is going to be bulldozed, he's helped by Clarissa Saunders, his Washington insider assistant, to fight back. 

Jean Arthur's role as Saunders adds a nice dimension to the film. Early on she's a cynical Washington insider who recognizes that Smith is out of his depth. At one point she says to a colleague, "I wonder if it isn't a curse to go through life wised up like you and me."  When Smith begins his earnest effort to fight the machinery, she steps up initially because that is her responsibility. His idealism, however, begins to rub off on her.  

The reality is that many in Washington began as idealists who compromised their ideals. One of these is Joe Paine, the sitting senator who selected Smith, but who knuckles under to the "boss" who runs Montana, controls the media and the rest of the machinery that has been assembled for the power brokers. When they set out to destroy Smith personally, Senator Paine hardens himself to stay in line, but it's painful to watch. 

Character Assassination

My copy of this book had a red cover.
In the film we see that when it comes to holding on to power there is no limit to the depths people will go to destroy another person's reputation. It brought to mind a novel that our high school Civics teacher had us read--The Man, by Irving Wallace. The 1964 bestseller was about about Douglass Dilman, a black man who becomes president through a series of coincidental events. The Vice Presidency is vacant because the VP died in office. The President and Speaker of the House are in Germany when a building collapses. Dilman, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, is suddenly in the White House.

What I recall most is the great lengths his enemies go to to assassinate his character. They stage a rape in the White House, and the media runs with it. All the visceral prejudice toward the black male comes to the surface and an attempt at impeachment takes place. 

The book made an impact on me that is with me to this day. It makes me distrustful of the media lackeys and lapdogs who serve as public executioners. It also provided a realistic, albeit jaundiced, portrayal of the corridors of power. You can read more about the novel here.

Highlights

There were several moments in Mr. Smith that struck me. One of these was in the latter part of the film in which political boss Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) orchestrates a media blackout in Montana so the public hears only their interpretation of events. Smith is an enemy of progress, is unworthy of representing Montana.

We see scenes of protesters with signs and rough men stealing the newspapers from the pro-Smith newsboys. I couldn't help but think of how busloads of people just happened to show up at Trump Tower the day after the election in 2016. The whole thing is presented by the media as impromptu outrage, but clearly the signs were produced well in advance or the paint would not have been dry. It was comical.

(EdNote: This kind of thing goes on from both sides, but it was especially evident that day.)

Another highlight was hearing Senator Paine explaining to Jeff why it is important to play ball with these powerful people, even if they are corrupt. This is clearly the distilled foundation of his self-talk to justify his behavior.

Senator Joseph Paine: I know how you feel, Jeff. Thirty years ago - I had those ideals, too. I was 'you'. I had to make the decision you were asked to make today. And I compromised - yes! So that all these years I could stay in that Senate - and serve the people in a thousand honest ways! You've got to face facts, Jeff. I've served our state well, haven't I? We have the lowest unemployment and the highest federal grants. But, well, I've had to compromise, had to play ball. You can't count on people voting, half the time they don't vote, anyway. That's how states and empires have been built since time began. Don't you understand? Well, Jeff, you can take my word for it, that's how things are. Now I've told you all this because - well, I've grown very fond of you - about like a son - in fact, and I don't want to see you get hurt. Now, when that deficiency bill comes up in the Senate tomorrow, you stay away from it. Don't say a word. Great powers are behind it, and they'll destroy you before you can even get started. For your own sake, Jeff, and for the sake of my friendship with your father, please, don't say a word.

* * * 

It's easy to see why politicians didn't like the film when it came out. It's a little like Todo pulling aside the curtain to show the real "wizard" of Oz. Nevertheless the public loved it, and it is still highly rated to this day by viewers. 

Purportedly the film is based on a novel about a real person who went to Washington from Montana, a Senator Burton Wheeler, who was dragged through the mud for investigating the Warren Harding administration. If you recall your history, the Teapot Dome Scandal took place under his watch.

* * * 

TRIVIA: 1939 was a great year for films. Classics that year included Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Son of Frankenstein, Goodbye Mr Chips, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hound of the Baskervilles, among others. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Quick Peek at the Duluth Art Institute's 63rd Arrowhead Regional Biennial

Modern Times--Jonathan Thunder. First Place.
Yesterday afternoon I visited the Duluth Art Institute to check out the Arrowhead Regional Biennial, one of the longest-running biennials in the country. The exhibition features a wide range of artwork produced within the last five years from artists residing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. 

133  artists submitted work to this 63rd Biennial. Kayla Aubid served as judge for the show. 27 artists' works were selected, showcasing work that examines community, the environment, heritage and current events. As usual, this is a special show with much to appreciate. Here are some of the photographs I took today along with links to some of the artists I have interviewed here over the years. (For best viewing, click to enlarge 

Clarion Whisper--Gary Carlson
Detail from Clarion Whisper
LaVentana--Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger

Empty Inside--Rachel Bruya
Contingent--Susanna Gaunt
Under Pressure--S. Catrin Magnusson
The Good Doc Poler--Chimakwa Nibawii Stone
Falling in a Forest--Adam Swanson
Painting 85--Scott Helmes
Painting 85 (Detail)
Reaching for Health--Loretta Bebeau

Reaching for Health (Detail)

Disclaimer: All the works you see here are more impressive in person. There were others I would like to have highlighted but the photos were not suitably sharp. 

The Duluth Art Institute is located on the fourth floor of Duluth's Historic Depot on Michigan Street. In addition to the Biennial, there are also exhibitions in the Corridor Gallery and the John Steffl Gallery.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

That Elvis Intangible: A Thoroughly Earnest "Nice Guy"

Graceland photos courtesy Dr. Ron Newman
How is it that Elvis became so famous? I mean, he's been dead 44 years and yet a half million people a year still visit Graceland, his mansion in Memphis. With the exception of the White House, it is the most visited home in the U.S.

This summer I interviewed Charlie McCoy, a session musician who was part of Nashville's A-Team for many years. He's been recorded with so many stars that the list of Nashville names he hasn't recorded with must be shorter than the list of those he has. Anyways, in the course of our conversation I asked "What was Elvis like?"

McCoy replied, "When Elvis entered a room, he commanded attention. He had a 'presence'... The first thing he did, he walked up to each of the musicians and shook hands. 'Thank you for helping me,' he'd say." 

* * * 

Elvis was a car guy, too. (Photo from Graceland)
When I heard that story it brought to mind another anecdote from an interview with the late George Barris a few years ago. Barris was the Hollywood car guy who designed the Munsters Coach, the Batmobile and other familiar TV cars. I asked, "You’ve been part of the scene for a long time. Who would you say are some of the nicest people in Hollywood?"

After giving it a moment's thought, Barris replied, "There was a young man that I was doing a car for, and he came in here and he’d walk to my paint man, Mr. Tubbs, who has been with me for 35 years and he said, “Mr. Tubbs, how you feeling today? I heard you were sick last week?” Then he’d go to my metal man, “Mr. Tony, your 14-year-old boy is really growing now isn’t he?” He went to every man that worked on his car, called him Mr., and extended his courtesy. And that young man was Elvis Presley. He was that kind of man, a young person that respected people and would meet and greet people."

* * *

Outfit on display at Graceland
At the end of August I was introduced to yet another man who knew Elvis personally, Tony Belmont, president and founder of the National Comedy Hall of Fame. Belmont's career as a rock and roll concert promoter go back to the days of Alan Freed, so he's known his share of household-name performers over the years.

When I asked Mr. Belmont about Elvis, he replied, "I was hired by Colonel Parker to help and co-produce the Elvis Aloha Concert from Honolulu. I was with Elvis for about three days. I've known just about all the great Rock stars. Elvis was the nicest guy you could want to spend time with."

* * * 

One of my favorite Dylan albums for a while was New Morning. One of my favorite songs on that album was "Went to See the Gypsy." I liked the prancing piano riff that kicks it off. What I most remember at the time were rumors that the song was about Elvis. I'd never been to Minnesota at that point in my life, so the setting seemed foreign and could have been Anytown USA, but having lived here four decades now it sparkles like home when Dylan sings, "in that little Minnesota town."

The entire song is fun, conveying a sense of playfulness. In describing the Elvis character (if that is the case) Dylan sings, "He smiled when he saw me comin' and he said, "Well, well, well." I can picture it.

Dylan was not shy about his admiration for Elvis. He was once quoted as saying: “The highlight of my career? That’s easy, Elvis recording one of my songs.” 

 

Related Links

A Rewarding Visit with Charlie McCoy, A Hero of Nashville's A-Team

Can You Guess Which Dylan Songs Elvis Presley Sang?

George Barris, the King of Kustomizers

The Impact of Elvis Presely's Death on Bob Dylan


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Dedication of the Rock Opens Big Day of Dylan Celebrations in Hibbing

"THE TOWN I GREW UP IN IS THE ONE THAT HAS LEFT ME WITH MY LEGACY VISIONS."
—Bob Dylan, 1963
"11 Outlined Epitaphs"


Photo credit: Craig Grau
On Saturday, October 16, Hibbing hosted a number of events of interest related to Bob Dylan, who in 1959 graduated from high school here. The most significant moment of the day took place at 1:00 p.m. in front of the high school where The Hibbing Project tribute to Bob Dylan was unveiled.

Earlier in the day, however, another dedication took place. On the Mesaba Bike Trail adjacent to the Greyhound Bus Museum, a group of Hibbing notables, fans and media gathered to dedicate “The Rock,” a Dylan tribute inscribed with a quote from 11 Outlined Epitaphs. (For those unaware, Greyhound buses originated here in the Northland as a means for transporting workers to the mines.) 


The late Congressman Jim Oberstar played an instrumental role in helping to establish our Minnesota bike trail network which seems to have no beginning and no end. Wherever you start you can keep going on a never ending tour via more than a dozen statewide trails. The Mesabi Bike Trail comes through Hibbing. Many of these bike trails run where abandoned  railroad tracks once lay. It is hoped that additional rocks can be found or placed along the trail with additional Dylan citations.


The short program commenced with music by Megan and Jefferson Reynolds. John Ongaro, a government relations director, served as MC, welcoming all of us who attended before Megan and Jefferson opened by performing “When I Got Troubles” which teenager Bobby Zimmerman recorded on a home recording when he was 18. (You’ll find this recording on the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home.)

Jon Ongara noted how the Duluth Dylan Fest and the Hibbing Project teams have worked together to make this the St. Louis County Year of Dylan happen, of which Saturday's events were a part. After acknowledging Molly Johnsrud’s role in helping make things happen here, Ongaro introduced Representative Julie Sandstrede.


Rep. Julie Sandstede 'neath the trail marker.
Rep. Sandstrede began with a thought-provoking admonition from the last stanza of Dylan’s Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest: “So when you see your neighbor carrying somethin' // Help him with his load.”

She went on to share that the word Mesaba means “giant” and that Bob Dylan is a giant who has garnered accolades of the highest caliber, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Prize for Literature. “May the next generation of (Iron) Rangers make their own mark in the world,” she said. With a measure of pride for the heritage of this region she said that Hibbing is a town full of stories.


Paul MacDonald, Vice Chair of the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners, spoke next. In addition to representing the Northern part of St. Louis County, Paul is the son of the late Bob MacDonald, the legendary basketball coach of the Chisholm high school basketball team. MacDonald won more than a thousand games, more than any other coach in Minnesota history.* 


Jon Ongaro (R) introduces Paul MacDonald

“The backbone of the country came from the Iron Range. It’s work ethic. It’s moral,” MacDonald said. “People come to the Iron Range to knock on Heaven’s door.”
 

Jon Ongaro closed the dedication by reading a passage from Bob Dylan’s 1963 poem 11 Outlined Epitaphs, from which the line inscribed on this rock was lifted.


Afterwards I spoke with a number of those who were present. Craig Grau, a retired UMD political science professor, called the etched trail marker “a rolling stone that stopped.”


I also spoke briefly with Julie Sandstede, in her third term as State Representative for District 6. I asked how if the current political atmosphere was making her jaded. “I refuse to be cynical. We need positive politics," she replied. 


I asked if she were a Dylan fan. “Growing up here, how could I not be?”


* * * 

 

In addition to the rock dedication and Hibbing Dylan Project unveiling, other events of the day included a tour of Hibbing High School, special hours for the Hibbing Historical Society featuring a display from Bill Pagel’s private Dylan Collection, a special opening of the Hull-Rust Mine View, and a free community concert in the Little Theater inside the Hibbing Memorial Arena at 7 pm featuring Amy Grillo and Gene LaFond with David Bennett and Sam Saccoman.


Here are more photos of the Tribute that is now installed in front of Hibbing High School. (Click to enlarge)

Katie Fredeen, Hibbing Dylan Project President, shares 
the history of the project, from conception to unveiling.


Related Links

Photos inside the Hibbing High School auditorium where young Bob Zimmerman performed here as a youth.

The Dylan Tribute unveiled


*After winning 1012 games in his career as a coach, Bob MacDonald was inducted into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

This Day In History: Concert #1031 of the Never Ending Tour and the Unveiling of the Hibbing Dylan Project

The Hibbing Project was unveiled today.
The Never Ending Tour purportedly kicked off on June 7, 1988. Since then, Bob Dylan has performed more than 3,000 concerts before last year's hiatus--cancellations due to Covid. This coming November 2 Bob Dylan, now 80, and his band will be back on the road with stops in Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland and Columbus that first week

Though I'd been a lifelong Dylan fan, it wasn't till October 1998 that I experienced my first concert, an eye-opening experience. It became clear that Dylan was much more than a singer-songwriter. The "song and dance man" obviously enjoyed the role of performer. Only later did I learn about the fans who followed the tour the way Deadheads had followed the Grateful Dead circus.

My first NET concert took place in October 1998. I had already been deeply immersed in Time Out Of Mind since its release in September '97. When I wrote my summary of the concert I called it "an early Christmas."

The Edmonton playlist on this date differed in some of the particulars. Dylan shuffled in several songs that were especially priceless for me including "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," "Ballad of a Thin Man," and "Don't Think Twice." Both concerts ended with the closing encore which also served as a benediction: "May you stay forever young."

Here are some of the details of that concert from archivist Bill Pagel's Boblinks website, the go-to destination for upcoming concerts and archives of playlists, dates and concert information.  

THIS DAY IN HISTORY, TODAY

Today a healthy crowd of Dylan enthusiasts and Hibbing citizens gathered in front of the historic Hibbing High School for the unveiling and dedication celebration of the Hibbing Project, a tribute, memorial and source of inspiration for Dylan fans and students--present and future--of Hibbing High School. 

There were several other events of note today in Hibbing related to this dedication. Over the next few days I plan to share photos and additional details.

For the record, I have been to many tributes and unveilings. You would think we'd get jaded after awhile. I think the big surprise for me was how meaningful this event was, not just for me but clearly for all involved. This project began with what may have been an off-hand remark by a former Hibbing High School teacher when Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. This remark morphed into a dream and then a mission leading to a groundswell of support. According to Katie Fredeen, President of The Hibbing Project, literally tens of thousands of volunteer hours were invested in this monument "for the students, for the city and our visitors." 

When unveiled, the final result did not disappoint, a tribute truly worthy of the former Hibbing High student who has since left his mark on a generation. More will be shared in the days ahead.

Standing on the corner of the "road facing" side of the project.

Moments before the unveiling.
The monument is quite classy. There's a curved wall with an outer facing tribute to Dylan's Nobel Prize achievement. On the inner face there was something somewhat diminutive wrapped in plastic and behind it the wall which some of us know contained lyrics from Dylan's catalogue. The smaller was unveiled first, a bronze chair where students, visitors and fans can sit and reflect, imagine, dream, designed and created by Gareth Andrews. The backdrop for this was unveiled next, la lyric panel with lines from fifty or more Dylan songs, designed and executed by Brad Kaspari.


To be continued.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Flashback Friday: An Engaging Dialogue On the Role of Art in Society

John Heino
10 Years Ago Today

During the noon hour yesterday a half dozen of us met for a Red Interactive Brown Bag Lunch Dialogue about art around the theme “Engagement or Chaos?” The main objective was to get clarification on what appears to be a problematic dichotomy in the arts. Is anything and everything art? Or is art only considered art after it has been “blessed” by the appropriately certified critics from on high? John Heino served as moderator of the discussion as we explored these two apparently contradictory propositions. 

At the beginning of the hour we were each given a red marker that we were asked to place on a line that indicated where we personally stood with regard to this dichotomy. The line was numbered 1 through 10 with 5 being the middle of the road. On the extreme left we had Elitism and Control. On the extreme right we had Engagement and Chaos. 

The dot placements proved surprising. One was toward the left, most were toward the engagement/chaos side of center and one was off the grid completely. Erika indicated that her unusual outside-the-box placement came from a lifetime of observing that many false dichotomies have been created when we make either/or assumptions. She sees the need to re-phrase the paradigm and see it as a circle with room for all perspectives. It was the first of many unexpected insights. 
 
What follows are some of the notes John sent to me from yesterday's dialogue. An hour clearly proved too short and it became evident to all that we were just scratching the surface. Much more can be said. 
 
What was especially valuable, and not recorded here, were the many stories and experiences that informed our personal perspectives. It was helpful, too, that John set up the dialogue in a manner that provided a level of non-judgmental trust in which everyone felt free to be open. John's notes from the discussion are here.

AND (vs. or)
Think of a circle [or perhaps a sphere] instead of linear spectrum
• Room for diverse expression
• Avoid judgment
• Inclusive

Pretty much room for everything

• Whatever criteria you come up with, there’s always something that doesn’t fit
• Reserve the right to call something “crap”

Don’t like either word—“chaos” or “elitism” in the context of art

• Everyone has something “art” within her/his being
• What is “art” will always remain subjective
• Engagement is the better choice


Contradictions

• There is a place for “high” art
• Appreciation at certain levels requires training
• BUT creativity is innate in all of us

Engagement may be the future of art. People want to engage. Where is art going in postmodern society?

Capitalism run amok is a problem.

• It seems to be all about the money
What happens with organic growth when it begins to look like chaos?

We need a new paradigm.

• Spirit-based, flowing
• Listen to each other
• Really see
• Pay attention to the intuitive world
• Notice where everyone is coming from

Social and economic dynamics over the past 25 years or so have resulted in art being less valued and less of a priority in society.

• Schools can’t afford art classes? It’s a choice. Political dynamics have allowed that choice, but that wouldn’t be the case if a majority of taxpayers and political supporters insisted that the arts be made a priority.
• Everybody loses when the arts are treated like discretionary spending. It’s more than just the sad shortchanging of something very important that makes us human. The insights students gain in the arts give them a broader tool kit no matter what they eventually do for a living. One-dimensional students become one-dimensional employees and unimaginative managers if they make it that far.
• Think of the cumulative negative impact of turning out less creative graduates. What has it done to earning potential of our young people? To business productivity improvement? To the wellbeing, competitiveness and economic performance of America? In reality, we cannot “not afford” to include arts as part of a well-rounded education.

What is value?

• Utilitarian?
• Aesthetic/beauty?
• What about the assumption that if a piece of art is expensive, it must be good?

"I don’t accept that anything is art."

• But I want to decide. I don’t want to be told why I should appreciate a piece of art.

I don’t really think of myself as an artist, but I have impulses to make things.

• If someone else enjoys it, that’s great.

If something called art is strange or inaccessible on its face, it may be because we’re not trained to understand what is happening.


In the end it proved a most interesting discussion. What happens next is anyone's guess.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Interview with David Asch Offers Insights On A.I.

In September my review of Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun was published by the Medium publication Age of Awareness. What I especially like about the Medium community is the readiness to comment on stories, often adding new insights to something we initiated.

Though I only received one comment on my review I found it exceptionally insightful. Klara and the Sun is about A.I. and David Asch's review demonstrated his deeper understanding of the current status of Artificial Intelligence and where it is headed. I asked permission to pick his brain on this topic and he graciously accepted.

EN: What is your background and how did you come to take an interest in AI?

David Asch: I've had a long career as a software developer and as a leader of technology companies. In the late '80's, I worked for a government contractor alongside a team of Natural Language Processing (NLP) linguists and computer scientists. They worked on a DoD project trying to identify the few messages of concern from a plethora of communications they monitored. The NLP team was as arrogant as they were unsuccessful. It wasn't until the last ten years or so that Machine Learning using neural networks has enabled language processing and image processing to start living up to its vaunted potential. 

EN:  We’ve grown up in a world where “intelligent machines” keep getting smarter. Computers are everywhere. What is the difference between computers as we know them and AI?

DA: Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), the ability for a machine to learn any task as well as a human, has been the stuff of science fiction for a long time. Ray Kurzweil coined the term "the Singularity" as the point at which artificial intelligence becomes smarter than humans.  We're nowhere close to that point yet. Much of the AI-inspired smartness we see in our devices today are based on pattern and image recognition - like facial identification in lieu of a password or the leaps we've seen in machine language translation and voice recognition. 

EN: You mention the concern that AI will replace jobs. How do you see this playing out?

David Asch

DA: If you visit a factory today you'll often see more robots than humans. These robots aren't particularly intelligent but are a harbinger of the future.  AI will replace jobs that don't require humanity - the ability to interact with other humans. We already see the likelihood of AI replacing taxi and bus drivers in our lifetimes and possibly replacing us as drivers. AI is already used to help doctors identify cancerous tissue because it's better at it than humans. The immediate future will result in some job loss and some job modification to take advantage of AI. For example, AI technology may be used to drive a truck cross country, but a human may be needed to drive the final mile and will definitely be needed to handle the transfer of goods and bills of lading where people need to interact. Cardiologists may not need to develop the same expertise in reading EKGs because they'll have an AI assist; this may free them to spend more time interacting with patients.

EN: The Terminator films are based upon a future when the machines turn on the humans. It seems like the Internet-of-Things and global interconnectivity could make a malevolent AI a challenging and very real threat. Is this too far out to really happen?

DA: Elon Musk has sounded this alarm about the danger of malevolent machines. I agree that it's a danger, but it's so far away we'd do better to worry about imminent dangers like climate change. Ultimately, the builders of new AI technologies will be forced to self-govern and control the technology, like the scientists who created RNA sequencing technology. Otherwise, the government will step in and force regulation. 

It does seem that foot soldiers may become one of the jobs AI bots replace. The calculus of war will change when troops aren't on the ground fighting. 

EN:  Or equally disconcerting, a foreign power that uses AI to dismantle our power grids, Wall Street, health care and government systems….

DA: Big time. We're already seeing the beginnings of this with ransomware attacks on utilities. Cybersecurity is becoming a big business because so many systems are vulnerable to attack. There's no question that AI-fueled attacks will become a threat vector in the future.

Although it's interesting to focus on the negative effects of new technologies, it's also important to realize that the responsible deployment of these technologies will almost certainly improve our safety and health. 

EN: Thank you, David.

You can follow David Asch on Medium HERE: https://dasch804.medium.com/

* * * 

Related Links

The Importance of Klara and the Sun For Data Science Workers

Surviving AI by Calum Chace Is a Must Read for Those Who Plan to Be Here in the Future

A Visit with Futurist Calum Chace on his new book The Economic Singularity