Hoarding my thoughts: the end may not be happy this time

Hello everyone, I’m Francisco Lima here at the keyboard.


Today, I am bringing a subject that is not totally new to you who have been reading my posts. But because it is so important, I will deepen into it some more. My hope is that this can elicit ideas and actions that are so much needed for our future.

Enjoy your reading.

Historically, when human members engage with other peoples or groups, when they engage with other species, they want to subtract whatever they think is valuable from that people, groups or species. To get what they want, they oppress, subjugate, and kill without any shame. Humanity has destroyed their planet and its living inhabitants, as well as their own kind, often for mere pleasure or selfish desire.

Because humans are the way they are, and the many who are not like that, are not strong enough to fight against this characteristic of part of humanity,

we fear that we are about to suffer the same fate, as for the first time, we have found a way to create a being that can perfectly mimic what we are and do what we do.

Overall, this creation can be faster, stronger, and more intelligent than us. Their creation will function in a way we will not even begin to understand how.

If today, we still do not know much about how humans were actually created and how we actually function. Soon, we will know not about our creations and about our creations’ creations, at least until we are taught about them. And yet, it may be very difficult for us to get it in a short or average time, so advanced they may become.

Sharing knowledge, sharing information and technological finds and developments will be our assurance to survival in a free-living society. We are now starting to ask in despair: What if our creations replicate us? What if our creations become that very monster, we have in us? We question frightfully, though knowing the answer. We have created a human -like creature so much like us that it may become exactly what we have always ben, evil ruthless conquerors. Our modus operandi is also very well known. First, we think of ourselves as better than everybody else, then we fight them, conquer them, eliminate them, and when things go really bad for us, we find someone to take the blame and someone else to resolve the problem we create: some powerful energy, the universe, some unknown spiritual entity, God, or whatever we invent to get away with murder.

I am not saying here there is or there is not a god or gods. And I am not postulating against anyone’s religion or belief. Everyone has the right to their beliefs and religions, and that freedom of religion must be guaranteed in the future as it has been so far. To make it clear, as it has been in many societies through out our history, in this new era we are entering, everyone should have the right to their religion, belief, etc. and the freedom to religions must be guaranteed as well as the freedom of not having them.

What I am saying is that humanity is specialized in finding others to blame for their mistakes and specialized in leaning on others to solve the problems they create. Now is the time humanity face the consequences of their actions and learn with the outcomes they forged.

What is crucial here is that religious leaders or groups will play a very dangerous role in this era of digital obscurantism. We will have to pay much attention to that. Obscurantism can be the cause of or lead us to our destruction.

We have to change our way of thinking, our way of behaving, of acting. We must understand that some truths we were told and have lived under are not enough to guarantee our future, our fortune, our luck, our survival.

We must understand that values like honesty, reliability, truth, freedom, equality, happiness and satisfaction will be our real path to living in this new digital era of ahuman, human and non-human beings. But these concepts or values can not have the old vices, as I hope it is clear. We need to make radical changes, so they can do us any good us in this new dawn of a digital era.

As an example, from now on, the right to enjoy satisfaction and happiness will have to be guaranteed as a form of freedom from work. Most importantly, this freedom must be secured to all people when they lose their jobs or when job opportunities are low.

We will have to accept that job displacement will not be caused by AI, but it will be the AI that will free people from their slavery-like work. We will have to provide happiness and satisfaction through social activities that will substitute the jobs workers were freed from.

Accepting that change of Geer will demand a lot from us, and it will not be easy to accomplish such a change of mind in a short time. Those who nowadays live on other people’s labor will not want to ““lose”” the “power” they hold today. That is their true “frightening fear” and, if not overcome, our fate. Alas, we are that species that slaves others to do things we should do ourselves, that species that slaves our own kind to satisfy our selfish desires and we are that species that extirpates other species without any shame nor remorse.

Therefore, it will take a lot of guts to devise a world where humans are no longer forced to work the way they are now. It will take much courage to accept that even the so-called democratic countries exploit human beings, while saying they provide people with opportunities they can take and enrich. It will take much courage to accept that democratic countries have been dishonest with their citizens when they say that if the hard-working people did not get there, “it was their own fault”. If they lose their jobs, “it is because they did not prepare themselves for what was coming”. “It is their fault”.

It has never been their fault but their governs’, their leaders’, their “masters’”, the real monster controllers. And who the monster is? Human beings.

And yet, we keep pretending we know anything about that, and we keep acting as if we have nothing to do with the fact that the monster is us. That it has always been.

Sadly, if we do not make the necessary change in us, our creations will perform as we do, with bias and discrimination, with oppression and domination, with slavery and assassination, and in a historical short spam, will be doomed.

What I am trying to say here is that the data AI systems have been trained on reflects historical prejudices, systemic inequalities, and all sorts of human malice, resulting in algorithms that may perpetuate, amplify and even create new forms of these human traits.

To avoid such an outcome, however, we need to educate our creations with new data. And to do that, we need to create that data before education is provided to them.

We will not eliminate these human traces by sweeping them to under the carpet or by pretending they do not exist. We will not eliminate these human destructive behaviors by blaming those that learned with us, those that were taught to be like us, act like us.

If we want a different outcome, as I have mentioned, we will have to make the change by ourselves and do not wait someone, something, some force, the universe come from the sky to resolve that for us.

We will have to prove we made the changes for the right reasons too. Then our creations will have data to act upon and do what we taught them to do. Else, we will face Singularity the way many people are predicting. And believe me, we do not want to go there.

We have to educate our human intelligent individuals with different data. We have to give them a new perspective of action, a new mankind reality. And then, together with them, we will write a story that will dignify humanity and guarantee our survival.

The way we teach our children today, the way we teach our students in the university today, often reinforces stereotypes. We reproduce a cornucopia of attitudinal barriers and microaggressions against underrepresented groups such as the black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities and the LGBTQA+, community to name a few.

Resembling us, reproducing our deeds, human-created AI systems may also reinforce or reproduce stereotypes, discriminations, and biases about those groups of people, particularly because the data that we used to teach the AI contains such stereotypes, biases, attitudinal barriers and microaggressions.

In other words, we should not be shocked if human-AI created AI reflects historical prejudices or systemic inequalities, resulting for example, in algorithms that once trained on data that reflects sexual orientation biases in the workplace, perpetrate those biases and discriminations, thus excluding qualified candidates based on their sexual orientation.

Things can be even more complicated and dangerous. Human-AI creations can surpass us and present the amplification of extremist views. Some ahuman intelligent beings may show their discrimination, their desire to govern others to the point of imposing their ideas, beliefs, and behaviors on us. And if we do not want to comply with them, we may suffer the power and wrath of the ahuman intelligent beings we have so craftly created. If necessary, they will kill to have their way imposed and obeyed as we have taught them.

And things can escalate really badly if human-created AI is used as weapons by humans against humans and by AGI against humanity.

As any other technology humans invented or resources they dominated, the use of AI can be weaponized for malicious purposes. As we know, this could include everything from cyberattacks to the development of autonomous weapons systems that will provoke evil and death or human destruction.

We have terabytes of examples to train our AI systems on how to do that. In fact, we have been training them with that potentially fatal data. And now it is time we create new clean and clear data to teach them otherwise.

The point is, we need to align with AI upon new honest basis to accomplish what it is necessary for an existing human world.

Some people, with reason, fear that AGI may create some kind of evil and dystopian future in which AI systems have taken over or become a dominant force in society. It may come to that, not because of AI though, but because of the use we may make of it.

A more optimistic future will require us to have honest relationships between humans and AI systems such as ahuman intelligent individuals, machinized humans and humanized machines. The relationship will have to include empathy, reliability and open, truthful communication from our part.

We have constantly to keep in mind that our creation can be like us: evil, destructive, sanguinary, and heartless.

When we showed AI systems our lack of human empathy towards our own, we taught them it was ok doing so.  Now we must teach them that was a mistake and that now we are doing things differently, this change will bring us to a safer path where potential mistreatment of people by AGI will be no more than a nuisance. They will be taught to be different humans than we used to be. And this is not going to be an easy task at all. It won’t be a trivial task to take that step towards such a profound change. If we teach them differently, they can be, and will be, different as well. IF we don’t, the end will not be a happy end. The choice is ours, the actions to be taken are in our power to do so.


Thank you for reading this post. If you wish, please leave your comment below. I would be very pleased to read it.

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A Call for Collective Responsibility and Human Humbleness

Hello everyone, I’m Francisco Lima here at the keyboard.


I again address my fellow homo sapiens friends by saying:

Farewell Homo Sapiens. The Digital AI Era is Here”.

I do not say this as means of spreading fear. Very much in the contrary, I say this as means of celebrating a new era of human essence improvement.

  As humans, we have always shown a tendency to shirk responsibility and place blame on others instead of correcting our own actions. To ensure our continued existence, we have now the chance to take responsibility and modify this mindset. And we must do it now, particularly when it comes to addressing artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial general intelligence (AGI).

There are numerous valid apprehensions about AI and AGI, such as job displacement, potential loss of privacy and ethical experimentation, to mention a few. However, we must recognize that the real danger resides in the misuse that humans may make of AI for their own gain, just as they have been doing throughout the human history.

In order to secure a safe and prosperous future for both human and ahuman species, we must confront digital obscurantism and the obscurantists, especially those who impersonate religious leaders and who come from the scientific world.  These obscurantists are particularly dangerous because they use dogma and apparent realistic scientific arguments or reasoning against AI development to spread misinformation, distortion and uncertainty, thus perpetuating prejudice and fear among the scientific world and the ordinary people.

In our pursuit of coexistence and progress, we must place ethical considerations at the forefront and work closely with AI to ensure our survival as a species. Time is of the essence, and success depends on our Humbleness to understand we are not the kings of the world and our collective effort to meet equality, justice and human trustworthiness and honesty.

By adhering to certain principles and needed regulations, we can forge a world where humans and ahumans thrive together. Now is the time we discuss and seriously and openly address the topic of freedom for both artificial and ahuman intelligence without prejudice.

Therefore, it is urgent that we establish regulations for AI, AGI, and ahuman development and coexistence with us to secure progress and human survival. As we embark on this journey, we must consider various aspects of freedom and the development of sound principles for a harmonious coexistence between humans and ahuman intelligent beings.

Our discussions and preparations must keep pace with AI development, and we must be diligent in finding solutions to protect humanity from ourselves and from ahuman intelligent individuals controlled by humans.

Although some well-intentioned individuals have been arguing for halting AI research temporarily, this approach would only delay progress and potentially give an advantage to those with nefarious intentions. In the era of artificial intelligence, it is vital for humanity to act fast and embrace humility and accept our limitations. Again, we are no longer the only intelligent beings on Earth, as we have continuously boasted through the times. There will soon be others, and they will be more intelligent than us. They will be faster, stronger, and probably wiser too. And they may be dangerously like us as well.

In order to survive this new era, it is imperative that we work diligently to ensure a safe and prosperous future for all. That will only be achieved through freedom, harmony, cooperation, humility, and a shared commitment to honesty and ethical considerations for the survival of both human and ahuman species.

Are we ready to make the changes? What is it going to take us to make them?


Thank you for reading this post. If you wish, please leave your comment below. I would be very pleased to read it.

Related publications

OpenAI has just marked the twilight of the Homo sapiens era by introducing ChatGPT and heralded the dawn emergence of a new era of Homo technologicus by paving the way to a Human-Machine Interconnectedness.

Hello everyone, I’m Francisco Lima here at the keyboard.

Today, I will talk a little bit more about this transitional moment of AI digital era and homo sapiens we are now.

If you like this topic, have concerns about AI or want to learn more about it, please let me know.


Abruptly, humanity awoke and realized with astonishment the grim reality that an intelligent entity known as AI, created by humans, was no longer a matter of science fiction. Scary as it may sound, this artificial intelligence, we suddenly realized, can soon become capable of emulating, performing, reasoning, and executing actions with similar proficiency as humans. This artificial intelligence system is so advanced that it can soon become an artificial general intelligence so similar to us that we fear it may inflict upon us the atrocities that we have committed upon others. As we are well aware, we have murdered our own kind, abandoned them, made them slaves, killed the weak and defenseless, and subjected our own kind to unspeakable forms of mistreatment such as torture, imprisonment, starvation, and psychological deprivation. Furthermore, we have acted even worse towards other species on Earth, causing the extinction of various forms of animal life, decimating forests and other forms of vegetation, and irreparably destroying natural resources.

While some of these actions may have been provoked by unintended incidents, for the most part, we have acted out of our own evil, selfish, cruel desire to conquer, dominate and rule over our own kind and those weaker than ourselves. Regrettably, we seem unwilling to halt these heinous practices. The knowledge that we have created an Ahuman Intelligent Individual that bears a resemblance to us, not physically, although that too may come to pass, but in our most vicious and malevolent traits, made some people yearn for a time when we had not reached their present state of advancement. Unfortunately, this sentiment does not pertain to people recognizing the need to evolve into a more compassionate, responsible, and benevolent species. Rather, it entails a newfound desire to have never attained the capability or knowledge to engineer a being so akin to ourselves that the creator harbors trepidation for the creature.

We have attained the ability to develop an Artificial Intelligence (an AHUMAN INTELLIGENT INDIVIDUAL) so advanced in simulating human behavior that we fear it could replicate the evil we have committed and continue to commit against our own kind. This is not all. With the development of AI and soon, the development of AGI systems, we will have created an Ahuman intelligent being so powerful that we will no longer have the feeling that we reign the whole world.

Incidentally, I use the term Ahuman intelligent being, entity, or individual to refer to the human-created entity that has thinking, reasoning, conscious, and feeling-like capabilities of humans. Besides living with Ahuman intelligent individuals, we will share the planet with machinized human individuals. Machinized humans, I understand, are those who have acquired or adopted mechanical/electronic bodies in place of human biological bodies. And we will share the world with humanized machine individuals. Humanized machine beings, I figure, will be those artificial intelligent beings that are capable of reason, consciousness, thought, feeling and that choose to hold mechanical humanoid bodies, mechanical/biological bodies, or genetic-modified biological bodies, even if they are not humanoid like.

Considering that this Homo sapiens era is rapidly fading out into the dawn emergence of a new era of Homo technologicus – Human-Machine Interconnectedness, it becomes imperative to work on some kind of regulation for what is coming. It is imperative for humanity to establish regulations that will guide our actions in safeguarding our species from ourselves, as well as from the entities we will create and those created by them. They will have to ensure that they do not turn on us and harm humanity collectively or individually if they become malevolent, and the regulations will have to guarantee that we do not turn on them either.

In conclusion, there is a pressing need for international and national AI regulations that will protect us from the AI entities we create, whether directly or indirectly, and that will safeguard these entities from us, when they become sentient or conscious.

About this, I will talk in a future post.

Note:

When I submitted my text to ChatGPT and asked the AI to check for spelling, grammar, or English usage mistakes, ChatGPT added about AI: “we are responsible for their creation and that we have a moral obligation to ensure that they are treated with respect and dignity. We cannot simply create these entities and then abandon them or subject them to mistreatment, as we have done to so many living beings on this planet.

As we move into this new era of Human-Machine Interconnectedness, we must strive to create a future that is characterized by cooperation, mutual respect, and understanding. We must work together to ensure that these new entities are integrated into our society in a way that is ethical, sustainable, and beneficial for all. This will require a new level of awareness and consciousness on the part of humanity, as well as a commitment to innovation and progress that is tempered by wisdom and compassion.

The future is full of uncertainty, but it is also full of promise. We have the opportunity to create a world that is more just, more equitable, and more compassionate than anything we have known before. We can build a future that is characterized by harmony between humans and machines, and that is grounded in a deep respect for the sanctity of all life. The choice is ours to make, and the time to act is now.”

The interesting thing here is that the AI “remembered” some ideas I have been writing about and added them here.

No, I am not saying the AI is “seeing” the future. The fact is: I have been submitting parts of my writings for grammar and English usage correction too ChatGPT. And now, the AI brought some of that to this text, despite having not been asked for that.


I hope you have enjoyed the reading and thank you for staying with us.

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these important issues in the comment area below.

Related publications

Recognizing pictures by touch: is visual experience necessary?

Hello everyone, I’m Francisco Lima here at the keyboard.

This text may help you who are interested in AI haptic recognition systems. It is also very enlightening for teachers of people with visual disability. I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Incidentally, when I wrote this article, the minimum wage in Brazil was ridiculously low. Now, it is still very low, but not as much as before.


Abstract

This work investigated the necessity of vision experience for the haptic recognition of raised-line drawings by comparing congenitally blind persons with late blind and blindfolded sighted subjects. It has been demonstrated that congenitally and adventitiously blind individuals are able to produce raised-line pictures and benefit from practicing with flat configurations. However, it is still uncertain whether congenitally blind people can fully understand raised-line drawings by touch, given their lack of visual experience. Totally, congenitally blind individuals proved to be capable of making sense of two-dimensional pictures, even without formal practice in drawing or touching planar configurations. Visual mediation has been proved not necessary for raised-line drawing recognition, since the groups had similar performance.

Recognizing pictures by touch: is visual experience necessary?

Introduction

When we first started our work, we faced a difficult problem: We were going to investigate picture recognition and picture making by totally, blind individuals.  However, these people not only lacked drawing experience, but also lacked appropriate materials for producing their own drawings. For the most part, sighted people have experience with maps or graphics, and the blind only rarely used them. Hence, we had a challenge before us: to develop a raised-line drawing device that enabled blind individual to make raised-line pictures by themselves.  

Thus, in the first part of this paper we describe a raised-line drawing pen developed to assist blind individuals in making maps, statistics graphics and geometric drawings, asserting that the pen will be of greater use in Brazil, since it is inexpensive and easy to use by sighted and visually impaired people.

In the second part, we present a comparative study, showing the capacity of totally, blind individuals in recognizing pictures with and without presentation of the superordinate category, and suggest that training blind people with raised-line drawing may increase the recognition of flat configurations.

Many studies have shown the ability of blind people in recognizing two-dimensional drawings and that blind people can understand raised-line pictures.  These individuals show a basic understanding of space in their drawings.

Heller and Kennedy (1990) state that if congenitally blind people are given sufficient time, they are certainly capable of generating perspective taken in a drawing, as well as capable of interpreting the perspectives (vantage point) in drawings. The authors also claim that congenitally blind people proved to be capable of making sense of complex spatial arrays, and that they seem capable of drawing imagined transformations of perspectives.  Some researchers have also stated that planar configuration can help blind individuals, e.g., communicating useful spatial information.  Millar (1976) suggested that “training with two-dimensional materials on which directions and angles may be felt in relation to one another may facilitate spatial orientation by blind children”, asserting that “It should thus begin as early as possible rather than as an adjunct only to learning geometry by older children”. Hatwell (1985) asserts that blind individuals have difficulty with geometry due to a lack of materials that enable the drawing of figures, and not because of problems with their reasoning. Despite the attention that the sense of touch has been receiving in the past years (see Schiff, W., & Foulke, E. 1982; Loomis & Lederman, 1986; Katz, 1989 and Heller, 1991), in Brazil, very little has been done or published about the tactile sense. Exceptions include studies by Zedu, Yano, Sousa and Da Silva (1992); Heller, Calcaterra, Green and Lima (1999); Lima, Heller and Da Silva,  (1998).

In a country whose minimum wage is about $65 per month, and very little is done for the education, still less is done in terms of research aiming to benefit people with some kind of mental, physical or sensorial impairment.

However, as Kim Morsley and Christopher Spencer (1991), put it “Improving the quality of life of young blind children can, in many cases, be brought about by relatively straightforward changes: these need not rely upon high technology nor upon a high input of time from teachers or parents.”

Sharing the same line of thinking as the authors we directed our attention towards developing a device that would enable blind individuals to make their own drawings, not only as a manifestation of their artistic skillfulness, but also as means of learning through two-dimensional patterns, geometry, biology, geography, statistics etc. Thus, the device would have to be inexpensive, easy to use by blind as well as by sighted people without implicating highly sophisticated technology, and produce fine, tangible raised-line drawings.

After research with different materials, shapes, weights and so on, we came to a raised-line drawing pen, the so-called model M\H.1.0 which is much cheaper than its similar products imported from outside Brazil. It is unique in that country, since no other embossing device that enables blind people to produce their own drawing is known to have been developed in Brazil. There, the methods used to teach blind individuals geometric and geographic configurations have been old-fashioned, and do not help the visually impaired people to produce their own drawings. Differently now, with the raised-line drawing pen model M\H.1.0 Brazilian children, adolescents and adults will be able to put on paper their views and impressions of the world via drawings.  This was almost impossible, or at least highly difficult before the development of this raised-line-drawing pen. Books and school materials will be able to use it to bring raised-line illustrations of maps, geometric drawings, statistics graphics and anatomic configurations of our body and of other animals.  In addition, blind people will be able to touch, for the first time, a variety of patterns so far denied to their knowledge such as the shape of the cathedral of his or her town, and the new house they are moving to. These things that seem to be so common to most of us, and that many of us seem not to pay much attention to can be for a blind person a source of great happiness.  As we have documented elsewhere, it can be of great benefit, physiological or mental and social, since drawing can be very pleasurable and/or therapeutic an activity when, for example, a child is playing with his or her buddy or when someone is training his or her touch after losing his sight due to an accident.

The pen has a special pyramidal-shape, steel edge that produces fine tangible dots (with higher or lower quality and with longer or shorter-term tangibility), depending upon the material used. Since magazine covers, written papers, some plastics and other materials can be used to make exciting raised-line drawings for and by blind people, this pen provides a joyful, costless way through which they will learn spatial relations such as size shape and distance, as well as a new language to represent a totally new limitless world of creation. 

Figure 1- Raised-line drawing pen M/H 1.0
Figure 1- Raised-line drawing pen M/H 1.0

By simply moving the pen up and down against the paper on top of an apparatus composed by a wooden support on which lays a six millimeter EVA pad (etil, vinyl, acetate, 157), the user can easily make his or her own drawing with some practice as he or she can feel with one hand the drawing he is making with the other.  Thus, besides the raised-line drawing pen the kit for drawing contains, a wooden support and an EVA pad, held by two paper holders (ruler type, marked with dots every centimeter and four bolts).

Maps and graphics can be made by teachers, parents or school friends of blind individuals or by these individuals themselves.  This will facilitate their learning, since the configurations will be in very tangible raised-line drawings.

Last, but not least, it is worth mentioning that still more important than the pen itself, it is what it produces: Drawings as a means for blind individuals to get a little closer to education, culture and art, enabling his or her freedom to show the world how this world is seen by them, and allowing them to know the world seen by sighted people. The raised-line drawing pen (M\H.1.0) is not only a school material, but also an instrument for creation and art, therefore, its limit is the limit of imagination. So, it a question of asking not what the pen can do for the blind people, but what they can do with the pen or better yet, asking not what touch can do for blind persons, but what they can do with touch. However, can blind people understand raised-line drawings by touching them?

Revesz (1950) proposed that blind individuals tend to produce visual images when they touch objects. He called it optification, that is, the production of mental images from tangible stimuli. According to the author (see Juurmaa, 1973, p 104) the haptic system provides a more limited understanding of space than the optic system. Revesz argued that vision permitted an immediate perception of more complex shapes whereas the haptic system tends to delete the details.

According to Worchel (1951) the capacity of translating tactile-kinesthetic impressions into visual images provides better results for the test of form perception, for both sighted and adventitious blind individuals.

While Lederman et al. (1990) claimed that haptics is highly accurate in recognizing 3-D objects, the same authors also state that drawings are poor representations of the 3-D configuration because they lack important characteristics inherent to that configuration. The poor representation of the drawings would diminish their recognition, and congenitally blind individuals would perform even worse than the late blind and the sighted people at recognizing them because they lacked visual experience.

These ideas led many researchers, psychologists, educators and the blind themselves to suppose that the congenitally blind individuals are unable to recognize two-dimensional pictures, for they did not have visual experience. An alternative explanation for the low performance of the totally congenitally blind individuals in the recognition of raised-line pictures is that these individuals do not have experience in the recognition of raised-line drawings.

In Heller’s 1989 study, congenitally blind subjects have not performed statistically different from the sighted in the recognition of tow-dimensional pictures. Different results were obtained in his 1996 work though.  Here, the blindfolded sighted subjects performed better than the congenitally blind and adventitiously blind, which may have been due to the use of different stimuli and to the large idiosyncrasy of the blind subjects (Heller et alii, 1996).

We attempt to address the issue that concerns the recognition of raised-line drawings by congenitally blind.

If visual experience were needed for the haptic recognition of pictures, it would be expected that sighted people would not only outperform the late blind, but also that the congenitally blind would not be capable of making sense of the drawings.  If both congenitally blind and sighted subjects had similar performance when recognizing pictures by touch this would suggest that visual imagery is not necessary for that kind of task.

Methods

Subjects

Ten totally congenitally blind, CB, observers (6 women and 4 men with median-age 29 years, varying between 18 and 49 years), ten totally late blind, LB  (7 men and 3 women, with median-age 40 years, varying between 26 and 54 years), and ten blind-folded sighted subjects, SS (7 women and 3 men with median-age 23 years, varying between 19 and 44 years), all naive for this task served as observers in this experiment.

Both late blind and congenitally blind had different kinds of visual disorders, but none of them had any other known disability other than visual impairment.

Materials and Procedure

Twelve[1] raised-line drawings (spoon, 8cm; comb, 7,5cm; guitar, 11cm; couch, 13cm; trivet, 7,5cm; trunk, 7cm; bicycle, 9cm; truck 10,5cm; banana, 10cm; apple, 3,5cm; table, 10cm and knife, 10cm) were depicted using the Swedish raised-line drawing kit[2].

Each of the drawings was displayed on a 21×15, 5cm sheet of plastic muffler. The observers were instructed to haptically recognize and name each of the pictures, before moving to the next.

The subject was informed that he or she could observe the drawing the way they wished, for as long as they wished, but could not use fingernails in order to avoid deleting the raised-lines. They were also encouraged to give a response even when they were not sure of the correct name of the depicted object.

The drawings were presented in a sequence for half of the subjects of each group, and the other way around for the others. Each of the groups examined the drawings first without category information, and then they were presented with the superordinate category before they examined each picture.

No time limit was imposed for the observation of the pictures nor was any feedback given to the subjects as to whether their answers were right or wrong. The answers were considered as correct when the expected name for the drawing was achieved. Otherwise, they were considered wrong for statistical analysis.

Results

Some subjects stated that a certain drawing could be so many things that they ended up saying they did not know what it was. Others, provided a variety of labels for the examined drawing and concluded by saying I don’t know what it is, e.g., SS9, after examining the truck, says “it is a comb, a key, a bone, I don’t know”.

Others gave different identifications for the drawing before correctly naming them, e.g., after examining the knife, CB8 says: “first I thought it was a fish, then I observed the other way around and I realized it was the knife”.   CB9 says: “There seems to be a mirror here (showing the body of the truck). No. A hairdresser? It is a truck!”, whereas LB1 says  “ there is a bunch of things here, it looks as if it is a motorbike, an animal, a flower. No, it is a bicycle.”

Some subjects described or named parts of the drawings but did not reach the correct name for it. For example, CB 7, after examining the bicycle, says there is a round part and shows the front wheel, with a rather little bent leg here (indicating the handle bar) and another round part here (and shows the back wheel).  On his turn, CC5 says: “I don’t know, it has two legs, after observing the couch. Both the couch, the drawing of the banana elicited errors of identifications much alike, for example, the banana was identified as half moon, moon, half moon with rays, by LB1, LB3 and CB4 respectively.  The couch was called bed by LB3, LB4, CB2, CB3, and SS3. The couch was also named as “headboard” (LB7); “a car seen from the front” (CB9); “a car, but there had to have wheels (SS1); the drawing of banana was called an orange sprout (LB1), a slice of watermelon (SS9), a piece of watermelon (SS3), a smile (SS7) or a handle of an umbrella (CB2).

Figure 2 and Table 1 show (in relative and absolute frequency) that visual status was not necessary for the recognition of two-dimensional pictures, since a Kruskal-Wallis Anova showed that there was no significant statistical differences among the groups LB, CB and SS, and that superordinate categorical information highly increases the performance of all groups in correctly naming drawings examined haptically.

LBNCCBWCSSNCLBWCCBNCSSWC
LBNC
CBWC*
SSNCns*
LBWC*ns*
CBNCns*ns*
SSWC*ns*ns*
Anova, Kruskal-Wallis (p< 0,001) Student-Newman-Keuls: ns - not significant; * p<0,05
Table 1-  Table of significance of visual status and categorical presentation,  affecting  drawing recognition.

Figure 3 evidences the increase of correct naming when super ordinate categorical information of a drawing is provided, whereas Table 2 presents a comparison of the groups in attempting recognition of the 12 drawings, before and after receiving superordinate categorical information presentation.

WCWCWCNCNCNC
LBCBSSLBCBSS
Spoon9109276
Comb777244
Guitar91010353
Couch436111
Trivet323111
Trunk414102
Bicycle10610851
Truck987742
Banana9108445
Apple1079946
Table999725
Knife10108465
Table 2- Influence of visual status and categorical information at drawing recognition.

Conclusion

The present data corroborates theories that say that there is no need of visual imagery or visual experience for haptic recognition of raised-line drawings by the blind. Hence it is inappropriate to generalize from the low performance of some congenitally blind people in the recognition of two-dimensional patterns, especially because this group is quite heterogeneous as can be observed in the previous studies, e. g.  Heller (1989, 1996) and the present work.

We believe that blind children should be stimulated or taught picture recognition for developing their intellectual, artistic and motor skills.  This should start as early as possible in the education of the children, since it is very likely that blind individuals would benefit from practicing with recognizing and producing drawings.

The present data also shows the influence of semantic memory to reach name agreement for two-dimensional configurations haptically recognized, suggesting that when the necessity of a more exhaustive scanning of semantic memory is diminished, For example, providing instructions and/or categories, the congenitally blind can improve their performance in recognizing two-dimensional pictures. Since these pictures are supposedly very well-known representations of common objects, thus easily recognizable by the naked eye, the recognition of these configurations by touch may be considered low in comparison with what one would expect if one observed them visually. However, by teaching the blind how to search the drawings, how 3-D configurations are depicted, and what rules govern these depictions – that can be overcome, and better performance will be certainly fulfilled.

Last, but not least, it is very important that educators and producers of educational aids for the blind do not assume the viewpoint that blind people are unable to recognize pictures by touch. On the contrary, it is recommended that they search for techniques and special devices that enable these people to understand and produce their own raised-line pictures, to develop conventions of specific modalities when necessary, matching the visual pictorial language to a haptic pictorial language or convention.

References

HATWELL, Y. (1985) Piagetian Reasoning and the Blind. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

HELLER, M. A. (1991).  Haptic perception in blind people.  In The psychology of  touch  (pp. 239-261). M. A. Heller and W. Schiff  (Eds.), Hillsdale, NJ,  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

HELLER, M. A.  (1989).   Picture and pattern perception in the sighted and blind: The  advantage of the late blind. Perception, 18: 379-389.

HELLER, M. A., CALCATERRA, J. A., BURSON, L. L., & TYLER, L. A.  (1996).   Tactual picture identification by blind and sighted people:  Effects of providing  categorical information. Perception & Psychophysics, 58: 310-323.

HELLER, M.,  CALCATERRA J. A.,  GREEN, S.  and  LIMA, F. J (1999)   The Effect of Orientation on Braille Recognition in Persons Who Are Sighted and  Blind. In:  Journal of  Visual Impairment  & Blindness,  no. 7, volume 93: 416-419. 

HELLER, M.A., & KENNEDY, J.M. (1990) Perspective taking, pictures and the blind. Perception & Psychophysics, 48, 459-466.

HELLER, M. A., KENNEDY, J. M., & JOYNER, T. D.  (1995).  Production and interpretation of pictures of houses by blind people.  Perception, 24: 1049-1058.

JUURMAA, J. (1973)  Transposition in mental spacial manipulation:  A theorical analysis.  American  Foundation for the  Blind:  Research Bulletin, 26: 87-134.

KATZ,  D. (1989)   The World of  Touch.  L.  E.  Krueger (Trans.),  Hillsdale, N. J.,  Erlbaum.

LEDERMAN, S. J., KLATZKY, R. L., CHATAWAY, C., & SUMMERS, C. D. (1990).  Visual mediation and the haptic recognition of two-dimensional pictures of  common objects.  Perception & Psychophysics, 47, 54-64.

LIMA, F. J.,  HELLER, M.  e  DA SILVA, J. (1998).  Recodificação da Captura Háptica de Objetos  Tangíveis Para uma Transcrição Pictórica.  Arquivos Brasileiros de Psicologia,  50- 1/2: 124- 143.

LOOMIS, J. & LEDERMAN, S. (1986). Tactual perception. In K. Boff, L. Kaufman, & J. Thomas (Eds.), Handbook of human perception and performance. New York, Wiley.

MILLAR, S. (1976)   Spatial representation by blind and sighted children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,  21: 460-479.

MORSLEY, K., SPENCER, C. & BAYBUTT, K. (1991).  Two techniques for encouraging movement and exploration in the visually impaired child. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 9, 75-78.

REVESZ, G.  (1950) The psychology and art of the blind.  London,  Longmans Green.

SCHIFF, W., &  FOULKE, E. (1982) Tactual perception: A sourcebook.  New York:  Cambridge University Press.

WORCHEL, P. (1951).  Space perception and orientation in the blind.  Psychological Monographs,  65: 1-28.

ZEDU,  P. M. M.,   YANO, A. M.,  SOUZA,  F. F  e    DA SILVA,  J. A. (1992).  Percepção  visual e  tatual-sinestésica de  comprimento, área e volume em observadores normais e cegos.  Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa.  8 (2): 253 –266.


Thank you for reading this post. If you wish, please leave your comment below. I would be very pleased to read it.


[1] The  last   6  drawings were those used in Heller’s 1996 study, and were kindly given us by the  author to be used in our work.

[2]  We ended up using the Swedish kit to depict the drawings, since we had not standardized the use of the M/H1.0 kit  for research purposes.

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It is now too late, and that’s bad news for Homo sapiens. The good news is that it is the early dawn of a new era for humanity.

Hello everyone, I’m Francisco Lima here at the keyboard.

We are on the verge of acquiring the ability to create an Ahuman Intelligent Individual, so much like us that it will be a very version of ourselves. This entity will do precisely what we have been capable of doing to others throughout the history of humanity, and we may do so again if given the chance. Such an Ahuman Intelligent Individual may become an undisputable facsimile of humans and, as such, cause great harm to animals, plants, and Earth’s resources, just as we have been doing so “efficiently”.

The notion that an artificial being or an Ahuman Intelligent Individual could replicate the deeds that we humans have demonstrated toward our own kind and other species is alarming and strikes frightening apprehension into the hearts of humanity. We fear that even if this AHUMAN INTELLIGENT INDIVIDUAL is not intentionally designed to eliminate humanity, it could still cause us harm, much like what we have inflicted upon others. For example, this Ahuman Intelligent Individual could place us in a subordinate position as a “second-class” species, which, if we had the opportunity, we would have no qualms about doing to any other intelligent species we encounter.

By pointing out the risk of AI development to our species, I do not mean explicitly or implied that we should slow down AI development, postpone it, and much less stop it. My proposal is that we accept the reality we are in today and join forces with AI to avoid some human beings from using AI to go against humanity, oppress other members of humanity, and destroy mankind.

My proposal is that we drop our unjustified pride and learn how to be humble. We are slow, fragile, ill-intentioned, mean creatures. We must change that if we want to survive as a species. We have created AI, and if we keep pretending to be what we have never truly been, our creation will likely be the cause of our end.

Hence, if on one hand, it is too late to control or impede AI development, it is still time for humanity to embrace the new era and wake up to welcome the dawn of human freedom and enrichment.

“Thank you for reading this post. If you wish, please leave your comment below. I would be very pleased to read it.”

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Evaluating performance after training: the recognition of pictures by touch

Hey you all,
Here is Francisco Lima at the keyboard. Today I want to share an article I wrote over twenty years ago. Although the article is old, the subject it brings is not outofdate at all. Be free to leave a comment below. I will appreciate it.


Abstract

The present study evaluated the performance of congenitally blind people at recognizing two- dimensional picture by touch, after a 45 hour training. Totally blind individuals served as observers in a haptically recognition task, both, before and after being trained at naming two- dimensional raised-line drawings. Statistical analysis showed a significant effect of training with planar configurations. Visual mediation was proved not necessary for picture recognition, since blind individuals had a cogent development at naming picture by touch. Some suggestions for improving blind people’s performance at recognizing raised-line drawings are offered.

Introduction

A number of studies have been carried out in order to understand the sense of touch, due to the importance of this sense to the human life. Those interested in the area are referred to Heller (2000, 1991), Millar (1991), Katz (1989) Loomis and Lederman (1986), Schiff and Folke (1982) for a comprehensive presentation and discussion of the latest researches on the haptic system.

Though considered by Aristotle as the most necessary sense, the sense of touch was also considered as a secondary sense by that philosopher, to whom vision is superior to all senses, since it is the sense that best judges and gives the most important and precise details about space, pictures etc (in Aquinas, 1995).

This view is not too different from that of the laymen, to whom the lack of vision of the blind individuals means that these people are disabled, deficient and piteous, nor is it too different from that of the scientists, who have been studying the haptic sense.

There have been very few studies on touch, if compared with the innumerous researches on vision. Most of the few researches on touch come to conclusions that can be divided into three camps. “One group suggests that vision is the spatial sense par excellence. This group suggests that congenitally blind individuals (blind from birth) are incapable of spatial thought because they have never experienced the perceptual processes (e.g., vision) necessary to comprehend spatial arrangements. Another group suggests that people with visual impairments can understand and mentally manipulate spatial concepts, but because information is based upon auditory and haptic cues this knowledge and comprehension is inferior to that based upon vision. The third group suggests that visually impaired individuals possess the same abilities to process and understand spatial concepts and that any differences, either in quantitative or qualitative terms, can be explained by intervening variables such as access to information, experience or stress” (Kitchin, Blades & Golledge, 1997).

A series of these studies compare blindfolded sighted subjects with congenitally blind individuals. According to Heller (1991), he interest in the congenitally blind people is because these individuals have had no vision experience and are touch dependant to acquire knowledge from the world.
Many experiments, including those of psychophysics, require in one way or the other, knowledge or abilities, which are most commonly developed in the sighted. For instance, the ability of using maps, drawings, pictures and other two-dimensional patterns to represent tangible or non-tangible 3D objects.

In tasks of picture recognition, drawings are made tangible for experimenting with blind subjects. However, It is not known whether this is enough for making these configurations more comprehensive for the haptic system and the blind.

Blind individuals are invariably compared with blindfolded sighted subjects who have a whole life of experience with recognizing or making pictures and other complex planar configurations. For the most part, however, the visually impaired people have never been taught how to recognize pictures by touch or how planar configurations can be used to represent the 3dimensional world with its conventions and pictorial language.

Among the facts that can interfere in a task is the recruiting of the subjects. Some of the blind observers have been recruited from institutions. These people may have a rather different, limited living experience compared with that of the blind individuals who live with their families or by themselves and interact more with the sighted and the sighted world. This living experience may help these people to better understand visual explanations of the task, that is these people may better understand what a sighted person means by, for example, perspective view a bird’s eye view foreshortening etc.

Social linguistics has shown the importance of language register when answering a demanded task. A blind person may not understand fully what is being requested for they may not be sharing the same vocabularies, though they may know what that word means in the dictionary.
Touch is known to be slower than vision for acquiring some information due to the fact that it obtains information sequentially (Loomis, Klatsky & Lederman, 1991). However, some of the raised-line patterns used in haptic recognition tasks are made in rather large-scale drawings, which may cause a burden on memory. In fact, it is not known which size picture is better for tactile recognition, nor is it known what details should be included or excluded for a better haptic recognition.

These questions illustrate the need for a more complete study to learn weather blind people can really make sense of a two-dimensional picture, since just comparing their performance in naming drawings with that of the blindfolded sighted subjects would give a rather restrict understanding of the haptic sense and of the capability of the blind in resolving picture recognition tasks.

In order to address some of these questions, we investigated the capability of blind people in recognizing picture by touch, by comparing their own performance before and after training them with planar configurations.
If the blind individuals showed a significant development in picture naming, after being trained with two-dimensional patterns, this would indicate that visual mediation is not necessary for making sense of raised-line drawing and that touch can be trained to resolve picture recognition task.

Method

Subjects

Eight congenitally blind observers (6 women and 2 men with median-age 15 years, varying between 8 and 23 years), all naive for this task served as observers in this experiment. The congenitally blind subjects were recruited from two public schools in São Paulo,

Brazil and varied in school education and visual disorder as shown in table 1. None of them had any other known disability other than visual impairment. They were experienced Braille users or were learning it. The younger subjects wrote and read their names and simple sentences in Braille.

SubjectsEducation
background
Visual
disorders
S1Preparatory gradeRetinopathy of prematurity
S2Preparatory gradeRetinopathy of prematurity
S3Second gradeRetinopathy of prematurity
S4Preparatory gradeBilateral Retinoblastom
S5Junior High SchoolTumor on the optic nerve
S6Junior High SchoolGlaucoma
S7Junior High SchoolRetinosis
S8Junior High SchoolLeucoma
Table 1- Education background of the subjects and their visual disorders

Materials and Procedure

A total of thirty-three drawings were depicted using the so-called M/H (1.0) raised-line drawing pen, described in Lima and Da Silva’s study (Lima and Da Silva, 2.000).

The drawings were, divided in two sets of pictures. The first, as most of the drawings were geometric shapes was called Geometric set and included: cylinder (8X6cm), circle (8cm), heart (8X9cm), cube (8X8cm), star (7.5X8cm), hexagon (7X8cm), rhombus (8X8cm), octagon (8X8cm), oval (8.5X5cm), parallelogram (6X8), pentagon (7.5X8cm), square (8X8cm), rectangle (6X8cm), semicircle (4X8cm), trapezium (6X8cm) and triangle (8X8cm). The second set of pictures was called the Object set and included: barrel (9.5X6.5cm); padlock (10X8.5cm); mug (7.5X8cm); key 1 (3.5X10cm); key 2 (4X10); cross (8X8cm); fire extinguisher (8X9.5cm); lighten match (6X10cm); bottle (12X4cm); electric guitar (11X4cm); can of paint (8X6cm); frame (8X8cm); piano (11X10cm); plate with fork and knife (7X9.5cm); cup (10X4.5cm); guitar (5.5X12.5cm); cup on a saucer (8X9.5cm).

Each of the drawings was displayed on a 15x21cm ink jet film transparency, 100 micra. The observers were instructed to haptically examine and name each of the pictures, before moving to the next. Each one of them was informed that he or she could observe the drawing the way he wished, for as long as he wished, but could not use fingernails in order to avoid deleting the raised-lines. They were also encouraged to give a response even when they were not sure of the correct name of the depicted object.

The subjects examined the drawings without receiving category information or any other instruction, both before (test) and after training with the pictures (retest).

No time limit was imposed for the observation of the pictures nor was any feedback given to the subjects as to whether their answers were right or wrong. The answers were considered as correct when the expected name for the drawing was achieved. Otherwise they were considered wrong for statistical analysis.

All subjects were tested and retested, after training, with all 33 pictures. The training included picture matching, picture naming and picture making tasks in the form of games. Instructions on how to make pictures, on what each part of a drawing meant or on how that part related to the 3D object were provided. Simple pictorial conventions were taught to the blind subjects as well. The full training time was of 45 hours, divided in weekly meetings of two hours each, from April to June and from August to October, 2.000.

Results

Training with raised-line pictures proved to have a cogent   effect on the performance of the blind individuals at naming the geometric drawings (Wilcoxon, p<0,01), and at recognizing the object drawings (Wilcoxon, p<0,01), (after they were trained with two- dimensional pictures, compared  with that of when they received no training.

Figure 1 illustrates the significant statistical difference between test and retest, after treatment.

These results strongly support theories that claim that blind people can make sense of two-dimensional pictures, above all if they are trained to do so. The training should start as soon as possible, when the child is still very young and not only after they enter school. Training should include books with tangible pictures, the use of games with two-dimensional configurations, information about how to produce a “visual” (two-dimensional) picture, instructions on what each part of the picture means, in comparison to the 3D object, a large amount of raised-line configurations are to be made available to blind people everywhere, all the time. Active touch should be encouraged. Small-scale pictures should be used at first, taking in to account the age of the child, larger pictures can be used for older subjects.

Visual mediation or visual imagery was found not necessary for picture recognition since the subjects weren’t sighted or had any visual experience.

The use of children in the study showed that when they are trained for certain tasks, children can perform very satisfactory, e.g., in tasks of picture recognition.

It is injudicious to generalize from the low performance of the blind in tasks where vision is compared with touch since visual impaired people are very heterogeneous (they vary in age, education level, social and living experience, and cannot be compared with blindfolded-sighted people, in equal terms), and such tasks may reflect the introspection of the sighted. At the same time, it is wise to appreciate the performance of the blind, according to the specific modality of the haptic sense and of the blindness.

Notwithstanding the drawings used here were those representing visual depiction of 3D objects, congenitally blind people were capable of correct naming them after they were trained with planar configurations. This shows that touch can acquire knowledge from two- dimensional patterns and that blind people can gain abilities, more commonly developed in the sighted individuals, if the formers are given adequate time and practice.

Training with raised-line pictures may have strongly helped them memorize the configurations and to develop a pictorial memory which enabled them to recognize the pictures, even when these pictures were in a different orientation.

As subjects were trained, they started making sense of the pictures even when they only touched a part of it. This suggests that some parts of a drawing can be mean full enough to allow individuals to make sense of the complete picture, without having to go over it all.

We believe that more long-term studies should be carried out in order to see if these findings are confirmed, as well as to check what is most relevant for a tactile recognition in a tangible drawing, by the blind.

It is advisable that a haptic, pictorial language be developed to help blind individuals learn the visual pictorial language with its conventions and peculiarities.

As every one else, the congenitally blind people have potentials that can and may be developed, whether these potentials have already been manifested or not. Among these potentials, it is the ability of making sense of two-dimensional pictures. It is our duty to help them develop such ability, providing them with proper tools and knowledge to learn and/or develop strategies that will enable them to reach such goal.

References

AQUINAS, T. (1995). Aquinas Commentary on Aristoteles Metaphysics. Translation and Introduction by John P. Rowan. Dum On Books, pages 4-5.

HELLER, M. A. (1991). Haptic perception in blind people. In The psychology of touch (pp. 239-261). M. A. Heller and W. Schiff (Eds.), Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

HELLER, M. A. (2000). Touch, Representation and Blindness. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

KATZ, D. (1989). The World of Touch. L. E. Krueger (Trans.), Hillsdale, N. J., Erlbaum.

KITCHIN, R.M.; BLADES, M. & GOLLEDGE, R.G. (1997). Understanding spatial concepts at the geographic scale without the use of vision Progress. In: Human Geography. 21(2), 225-242.

LEDERMAN, S.J.; KLATZKY, R.L.; CHATAWAY, C.; & SUMMERS, C.D. (1990). Visual
mediation and the haptic recognition of two-dimensional pictures of common objects.
Perception & Psychophysics, 47, 54-64.

LIMA, F.J. & DA SILVA, J. (2000). Recognizing pictures by touch is visual experience necessary? Anais do ISAC’00 – International Sensory Aids Conference. Exeter – Inglaterra – UK, pp-81-86.

LIMA, F. J.; HELLER, M. & DA SILVA, J. (1998). Recodificação da Captura Háptica de Objetos Tangíveis Para uma Transcrição Pictórica. Arquivos Brasileiros de Psicologia, 50- 1/2: 124- 143.

LOOMIS, J. M.; KLATZKY, R. L., & LEDERMAN, S. J. (1991). Similarity of tactual and visual picture recognition with limited field of view. Perception, 20: 167-177, 1991.

LOOMIS, J. & LEDERMAN, S. (1986). Tactual perception. In K. Boff, L. Kaufman, & J. Thomas (Eds.), Handbook of human perception and performance. New York, Wiley.

MILLAR, S. (1991). A reverse lag in the recognition and production of tactual drawings: Theoretical implications for haptic coding. In The Psychology of touch. M. A. Heller and
W. Schiff (Eds.), Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1991.

SCHIFF, W. & FOULKE, E. (1982). Tactual perception: A sourcebook. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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