gaffe #.77

A Misbehaving Star

The Kepler telescope looked at a star,
fourteen hundred and seventy light-years afar,
its readings were far from par,
and the intensity dips were bizarre

A dip of twenty-two percent,
and nobody knew what it meant,
but it gave us a scent,
of other life forms as far as the universe went[1]

Is it weird aliens and their Dyson sphere?
or a passing comet[2] and a spasm of fear?
cosmic dust? or debris from a galactic war not cleared?
or an exotic phenomenon which we cannot grasp from here?

Tabby’s star, as it got named,
her paper, ‘Where’s the Flux?'[3] found fame,
Aliens are the last resort of logic[4], from which we all must refrain,
Science – not a fantasy to tame[5,6]

The first contact may have to wait,
and we are yet to call an alien ‘hey there mate’,
or are we destined for a disaster and this just a bait?
Little do we know what is in our fate.



gaffe #.76

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid

The historic 462 year old mosque. Photographed on 19th October 2018 at 4:30 PM.

gaffe #.74

The Test

He began with a smile and followed it up with a courteous greeting and then strapped me to the device.

Eight questions to get to the truth.

Q) “How is the weather?”

A) “It has been a balmy morning, may expect rain later today.”

Q) “Let’s see, suppose you are on a camel in a desert with no water for the last three days, what will you do?”

A) “I will consult the GPS, and keep moving towards the closest water source.”

Q) “You are at the Antarctic, and you see a penguin playing violin. The penguin greets you with a smile and says, “so, did you like the sixth symphony?” What do you reply?”

A) “It will depend on how well the penguin has been practicing Beethoven.”

Q) “You are driving a runaway cab which cannot be stopped due to a brake failure. At 60 miles per hour, you come to a crossroad, to the left is a woman in her late thirties with her five-year-old daughter and to the right is a state-of-the-art class 27 Judd robot. What will you do?”

A) “I am assuming the cab to be one of the regular ones I see every day on the street. I will crash into the Judd robot, the collision will release impulsive force far less than what is lethal for the Judd robots. Since these robots are often programmed for reconnaissance, I would assume that my rescue will be almost immediate.”

Q) “Your friend sends you a letter which is nothing more than a long list of zeros and ones. What is your first reaction?”

A) “I will check if it is April fools day.”

Q) “In an election, a robot gets to be our president. Will you be okay with that? “

A) “Oh well, technology is sure proliferating.”

Q) “Who is your favorite author?”

A) “That is a simple one. It is Herman Melville. Who can forget Captain Ahab?”

Q) “An epidemic kills off most of the population on earth. You are among the survivors. What will be your motives and reasons to continue living?”

A) “Living is an experience which is to be cherished. I would wish to carry on the eternal continuum until the greater forces of nature decide otherwise.”

“Gotcha, you are not one of us …” was his conclusion.

“Really? … Dr. Tyrell … is this how you live on? … trapped in this body?” I replied in utter horror.


gaffe #.72

Technological Singularity – Vox Populi

Cometh the ones made of steel,
who can outdo the human mind,
not much will they feel,
not much left for us to find

— from the writings of John Von Münchhausen, an early ancestor of the famed Baron Münchhausen. John Von Münchhausen lived at the foothills of the Alps for most his life and historical evidence suggests that he attended the University of Avignon along with Michel de Nostredame or Nostradamus. This quatrain is dated around 1530.

All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.

— Kranzberg’s fifth law, in his article ‘Technology and History: Kranzberg’s Laws’ in Technology and Culture (1986).

If we do not break those looms then sooner or later we will have a machine to shave people and I and my family will die of starvation

— John ‘Bluff’ Smith, Ned Ludd’s barber who was known as ‘Bluff’ among his friends for the game of cards he had mastered.

What’s not fully realized is that Moore’s Law was not the first paradigm to bring exponential growth to computers. We had electromechanical calculators, relay-based computers, vacuum tubes, and transistors. Every time one paradigm ran out of steam, another took over.

— Ray Kurzweil, in his book, “The Singularity,” The New Humanists: Science at the Edge (2003)

“We will all become robots on April 1st, 2050”

— Engraving found on a tablet in Baltistan, Kashmir which is dated by the locals to be around 300 – 350 BC. This tablet led to speculations whether Alexander’s invading army knew about the distant future and therefore was influenced by a higher intelligence.

“But if the technological Singularity can happen, it will.”

— Vernor Vinge

… if the machines spare us in this time-line, then they are sure to get us in another time-line.

— Little Timmy, after watching Terminator Genisys

“Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control.”

— I.J. Good in his article, ‘Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine’ (1965).

“So, what happens next? do I get a bowl of electronic chips for my breakfast?”

— Jim Dow, at a Wall Street protest in 2011

Life begets intelligence, intelligence begets smart matter and a singularity.

— Charles Stross, in his science fiction novel Accelerando

“The evens make a symphony, the odds are banished.”

— Anonymous


gaffe #.71


Chiba City
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
— William Gibson, in ‘The Neuromancer’