Tag: arnhem land

Dear robot Santa…

David Fagan, Queensland University of Technology

In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to the editor of New York’s The Sun newspaper to ask whether her friends were right to say there was no Santa Claus.

Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Her letter prompted one of the most famous newspaper editorials in history, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

A modern-day Virginia’s smartphone is probably more capable than Santa of knowing what she wants for Christmas.


Read more: Ten tips to make your holidays less fraught and more festive


So, how long before Siri and a network of artificially intelligent successors (programmed to anticipate human needs and communicate with each other) usurp Santa and start asking the alternative question: is Virginia real?

In the spirit of the New York’s The Sun (which no longer exists, sadly) this reply from a newspaper editor (if they still exist in the future) to a robotic Santa is set in 2047, 150 years after Virginia asked the question that is part of Christmas folklore.


December 2047

Dear Santa,

Your friends are wrong, affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age where they believe their “intelligence” can anticipate every thought and match it with an action.

It’s true that you machines, invisible but ubiquitous, have trumped our natural intelligence through your endless, silent buzz with each other. It began in the 2010s with Siri, and ultimately reached your level of apparent omnipotence.

But don’t forget. Somewhere (often remotely) at the end of every action, you are serving a human. In your case, it’s a little girl who wants to keep believing in the mystery and magic of Christmas.

So in answer to your question: Yes Santa, there really is a Virginia.

Don’t forget. The Santa whom children believed in has always seen all and known all – just like you.

He has always had helpers to create the gifts and magic of his story. Now, the workshops are run by bots, and the elves have become marketing assistants who no longer know how to wrap a gift, let alone guess what a little girl might want.

And the reindeer, freed from training for their annual epic flight thanks to your army of drones, have gone to fat. Even Rudolph with his nose so bright can no longer guide himself to the food trough, let alone a sleigh tonight.

Santa, you’ve asked what this is all about, what is your purpose? And precisely, is there really a Virginia or is she, as your robotic friends say, the toy of a personal bot she has had since birth?

The personal bot boom of the 2020s, then the development of belief and philosophy by your robotic predecessors in the 2030s, was always going to lead to you asking this question.

Fair enough. In earlier times, we humans would have asked ourselves why we were helping a machine think about its purpose in life. In fear, our instinct would have been to instantly cut off its power. Now we’re flattered you asked.

Thankfully, we accepted how machines like you could do the heavy physical and mental lifting that for centuries has been the burden of humans.

We regulated your limits but gave you rights. Now our minds and bodies have been freed from the strains of earlier times, sparing us to concentrate on living good lives, rather than productive lives.

But, Santa, the good human life well lived starts with fantasy, as one of our predecessors, New York’s The Sun, explained to children 150 years ago.

The power of fantasy describes where the work you do every year comes from.

But the fantasy does not belong to the other bots you talk to. The fantasy belongs to the child they serve. Such fantasy allows something unexplainable to create universal joy, an emotion you can understand but never experience.

And those fantasies are what will create new ways of meeting human needs. Such fantasies led people to dream of, then create, the first robots with only a fraction of your capabilities. Such fantasies found ways to power the planet without damaging it.

Your question about your purpose reminds us that such fantasies continue to matter – even to machines like you that learn effortlessly from us and each other.

But Santa, there is one fantasy you should not have. And that is that the little girl who craves a doll or a toy car like they used to drive in the good old days doesn’t matter. Or that the little boy who craves a toy kitchen or inflatable ball is subservient to the personal bot your “elves” listen to.

No Virginia, Santa? She is real – even if not to you. And you are real to her, not as a machine but as a magical figure that sees all and knows all – just as you always have, long before Siri.

She and you live forever. A thousand years from now – nay, 10,000 years from now – you and what you stand for will continue to make glad the heart of childhood and children like Virginia.

Yours, Ed


The ConversationThanks to veteran journalist Francis Pharcellus Church, who penned the original editorial in New York’s The Sun all those years ago.

David Fagan, Adjunct Professor, QUT Business School, and Director of Corporate Transition, Queensland University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Critical time ahead for NT tourism industry

THE Territory’s tourism economy will be forced into an overhaul once major projects like Inpex reduce, the Tourism NT chairman Michael Bridge said.

Mr Bridge, who is also a director of Airnorth — Australia’s second oldest airline — said high airfares were just one part of the challenge ahead.

The cost of flying to and from the Territory has again surfaced with independent MLA Terry Mills pressing for the lifting of restrictions allowing international carriers to move passengers to domestic destinations.

Petition for Affordable & Reliable Air Service for Gove

Introduction

Living in a remote Australian community, residents put up with a great deal of inconvenience and expense. In Gove, we generally agree that this is the price of living in paradise. To say that traveling by air to visit family members is costly is an understatement, to say the least. The prohibitive cost of using Airnorth’s service is having an impact on separated families. One shudders to think how this could be affecting the long-term economic prosperity of the East Arnhem region.

A reliable and affordable air service for Gove is essential for the development and sustainability of the entire region.

Where Is Gove?

Gove (also known as Nhulunbuy), is located in the Top End of the Northern Territory and is remote by any standards. The only road out of town is the 663 km, Central Arnhem Road which is unsealed and impassable, even with a four-wheel drive, for months at a time each year during the wet season.

Therefore, we are reliant upon affordable and reliable air transport!

Job Losses

On 29 November 2013 Rio Tinto announced the closure of the alumina refinery (but not the bauxite mine) by July 2014 with the loss of 1,100 jobs, or almost 25% of the town’s population. The refinery ceased production in May 2014. The closure led Qantas to suspend flights on the route in August 2014, thus giving Airnorth a monopoly on the route.

Gove is fighting for survival!

Insult to Injury

Airnorth tickets between Gove and Darwin can be in excess of $800 for a one-hour flight! If you had booked a one-way flight on Air North’s website on 14 December 2017 to travel from Cairns to Gove on the 27 Jan 2018, you would pay $319.00, however the person sitting next to you, travelling all the way to Darwin would only have paid $236.40 for the entire trip.

We pay 35% more than the person sitting next to us to fly a shorter distance.

Blacklisting

Former Airnorth CEO Michael Bridge said he was aware of passengers who simply got off at the flight’s stopover in Gove, to save money and threatened to ban them from flying Airnorth.

That’s a potent threat to a Gove Local!

Quality of Service

Lines of communication to Airnorth ‘customer service’ remain largely unanswered. A litany of delayed and cancelled and flights with little or no warning has made Airnorth the local in-joke and byword for unreliability.

However, we all know that the joke’s on us!

Senate Inquiry

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee will report by 30 March 2018 on their inquiry on operation, regulation and funding of air route service delivery to rural, regional and remote communities. Submissions should be received by 5 February 2018. Please read more about the inquiry on Gove Online community news:

http://www.goveonline.com.au/funding-air-route-service-delivery-rural-regional-remote-communities/

What We Need From the Senate

We the undersigned, being current and former, Gove residents, request Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator for the Northern Territory, present this petition to the inquiry and tell them that:

“GOVE RESIDENTS EXPECT A FAIR DEAL. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SEE OUR FAMILIES, NOT ONLY FOR CHRISTMAS BUT ALL YEAR ROUND!”

Please sign our petition and leave comments below.

 

Airfares to Darwin, Alice Springs to get Senate scrutiny as airlines ‘take advantage of monopoly’

Top Enders forking out for sky-high airfares will get the chance to air their frustration when a Senate inquiry visits Darwin next year.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee is calling for first-hand experiences of flight prices in regional, rural and remote locations and will scrutinise the factors that determine pricing.

“It’s looking at regional routes and seeing what can be done from a federal perspective, from a regulatory perspective, to try and improve our connectivity,” Member for Solomon Luke Gosling said.

What is a Makarrata?

Australia is one of few Commonwealth nations not to currently have a treaty or treaties with its Indigenous people, despite ongoing calls for a settlement.

The term Makarrata has long been proposed as an alternative name for the treaty process in this country. However, many people have only become familiar with it since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was released in May.

That statement, and a final report to the government, came after the Referendum Council held 13 regional forums to discuss constitutional change and try to reach a consensus.

These two documents rejected the idea of minimalist or symbolic changes to the constitution.

Instead, they called for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice to parliament, along with a Makarrata Commission “to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history”.

Makarrata was also the theme for this year’s Garma Festival, and part of its tagline, “Go! Bukuluŋdhun Makarrata wu,” which translates to: “Come! Let’s gather together for Makarrata.”

Chicken Fettuccine with Wild Mushrooms

To give this scrumptious Italian number it’s full name….Peppered Chicken Fettuccine Tossed with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Wild Mushrooms & Spinach. It may very well be known by another name but I’m afraid I have no idea what it might be. The original recipe was passed to me by a talented young chef in Bendigo named Adam and so the credit, and thanks, go to him. (more…)

Gobbledegeek’s Ossobuco Alternativa

Yes, I know that that some will complain that I used one word instead of two (osso buco) and others will question the absence of an additional c in buco (bucco) but let’s be honest, how many of you speak Italian and can cook or even know the origins of this classic dish (let alone all three!!!!!)?

For those who didn’t understand the title, this recipe contains a number of obvious deviations from what is considered the ‘classic’ Milanese recipe. (more…)

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin & Red Lentil Soup

One of the first things I do every morning is think about what I might prepare for dinner that evening. Today I have been offered a suggestion in the form of a ready disected and roasted pumpkin and a packet of red lentils, strategically displayed where I wouldn’t miss them.

In a scene reminiscent of Ready, Steady, Cook I lean on the counter staring at the two ingredients in an effort to draw inspiration. It wasn’t too difficult to come up with a few ideas but given the frosty morning and the hope of little improvement for the remainder of the day, I opted for an Indian themed soup. (more…)

Super Simple Pizza Dough Recipe

Several people have asked for my pizza recipe and while I often jot it onto a piece of paper for them, posting the ‘official’ version here might reassure them that ‘it really is that simple’. It certainly can be simple if you want it to be but there is a whole Interwebthingy strewn with debate, research, long versions, short versions, hints, tips and recipes from the pure and simple to the cluttered, chaotic and downright unnecessary.  If you’re looking for a tomato sauce recipe, you won’t find it in this post but I will certainly cover it soon…

This is my version of a simple dough (more…)