Benjamin Franklin — The Founding Father of Artificial Intelligence

The thing that hath been.

Included thereunder are the latest and greatest histrionics as commented on by breathless Corporate Newsreaders and befuddled Corrupt Politicians concerning the matter of Artificial Intelligence.

Evidence the recent saga…Er, that is…Saga of Princess Kate from Photo-Shropshire…or thereabouts…

The poor woman edited a few pixels and suddenly AI became the Apocalyptic Intimidation du Jour.

"How can we trust anything digital again!?!” screamed the Talking Heads over hysterical headlines.

(While your humble Correspondent can not quite be certain, it seems to him there were once-upon-a-time mature adults in media who behaved as something other than pubescent Sophomores.)

In any event, the reality remains — in spite of the faux pas of Her Highness — Artificial Intelligence has been around a very long time.

What is AI…Really?

Oh yes, we live in the Techno Age and the laptop is all the rage, so how could Artificial Intelligence have existed previously, much less deceived us poor beings en masse?

After all, this is Current Year; when everything is the best and everyone is the bestest.

Be that as it may, what AI is — really — is a new-fangled way to fool you into an improper perception of reality…and that has been going on as long as far back as we ever got going out of the swamps.

Today, the articles written by computer are intended to convince you they were made by Man.

The intricate photos assembled from random words are to make you drool over (usually) Women.

The videos compiled from a million bits of bytes have as their purpose to mislead by misdirection of The System.

"Oh come on, Somerset, crediting a False Paradigm? That, has never — EVER — happened before…right?”

The Stratford Man

We're beginning an American essay with an Englishman and a bonus tidbit of intellectualism.

Have you ever been curious the reason many letters from the Civil War are florid? (You should…then again, most of you don't read…which you also should…)

The explanation is nearly every literate soldier of the era was taught using either of two books, one of which invariably being some version of The Immortal Works of William Shakespeare.

Now on to the Main Event…

If you believe Shakespeare as popularly known existed…well…better click back to The Guardian.

Fact is, little can be credibly ascertained about the Shakespeare who lived in Stratford-upon-Avon. (To which, the modern train is ALWAYS late…no, that isn't a metaphor…it's seriously always late!)

We have a few incidents of his scrawl — first clue, for a man alleged to have written hundreds of thousands of words — those minor entries in the historical record suggest he was barely literate.

Given the playwright Shakespeare was such a notable figure there ought to be reams of anecdotes regarding him but there is virtually nothing as compared to his contemporary Christopher Marlowe.

Agog if all there be are the texts surely there must be evidence therein?

Except, the Stratford Man was hardly a world wanderer and lived in England all his life…which is seemingly belied of Shakespeare the Artist with intricate descriptions of courtly encounters, local flora (as well as fauna) of exotic locales, amid multitudinous other suggestions of a noble birth.

On the contrary, many believe the Stratford Man was essentially a Straw Man for the real author.

Far be it from your humble Correspondent to suggest who that may have been — dignitaries as high as Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, Prince Philip, Charlie Chaplin and a panacea of cultural popularities have made their own speculations.

The operative fact (between you and me, Dear Pravdaite) is the mythos of Shakespeare as impressed upon the culture is a form of Artificial Intelligence — a given set of appearances to elude alternatives.

For, if — as many assume — the true identity of "Shakespeare” was an elevated personage, criticizing the government in the manner done by his plays at that time would have been a capital offense.

Knickerbockers, Anyone?

Quick question, Sportsfans — Where did the New York Knicks get their name?

Most of you will say from "knickers”, the antiquated phrase of undergarment.

Some will reply it is from Knickerbocker, after the luxury hostelry in Manhattan.

Unsurprisingly, both would be incorrect.

As a matter of fact, the signifier comes from a pseudonym used by non-other than New York native and celebrated scribe Washington Irving. (Yes, he of Sleepy Hollow fame, among others.)

Only, the real story is even better…Irving was a struggling writer. As such, he crafted a book on the scandalous history of New York by a fictitious historian of the name of Knickerbocker; which in fact was adroit satire of then (1809) contemporary politics.

Afterward, Irving contacted consequential newspapers in Manhattan surreptitiously claiming to be Manager of a hotel from which the venerable (and veritable) Professor had vanished — leaving behind non save the manuscript.

Soon the establishment "Owner” was seeking redress for expenses or, in lieu thereof, was threatening to publish the abandoned literary work…thereby generating a public excitement for the new book.

Irving triumphed with his wholesale stunt in such epic proportion that it became part of the history of the city itself and remains so centuries later.

By the time all was finished Irving would never again be in need of money or a publisher.

Yet almost each of you reading this article have heard of the New York Knicks and almost none of you have ever paused to consider what it is you "know” about the team for which you cheer.

The Wright Brothers: American Heroism, American Heresy

Orville and Wilbur Wright are credited as "First in Flight” across America and may well this be so.

To make things crystal — the Wright Brothers were and remain heroes.

They worked hard, followed their passions and after initial success they succeeded in furtherance of the field of aeronautics. As late as the 1930s if you were in the American Dirigible Division none other than Orville himself signed your accreditation card.

To celebrate their monumental achievement, one can wander The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and view The Kitty Hawk plane itself which hangs (or hung) in the atrium.

Be that as it may…

Ample evidence is extant to suggest the Wright Brothers may not, indeed, have been preeminent.

Far from laboring alone in vacancy of possibility, during that interval numerous other individuals were making the same fledgling launches.

Of the most credible of the contenders for the crown was Gustave Whitehead of Connecticut.

Whitehead was reported in local news to have flown in 1901, TWO YEARS before the 1903 Wright Brothers achievement. It was even noted at that time there was a photograph of the event. For decades no such document could be located…until 2013 when a dubious image surfaced.

One can debate the veracity of what is shown, but it is worth considering that three decades later intrepid Depression Era newsmen went in search of witnesses to the earlier claimed aloftment and found…17 spectators who asserted to be there with 14 of whom that notarized their statements.

Lastly is the fully verifiable factoid The Smithsonian made an agreement with the Wright family that all the ephemera, diagrams and even the plane itself were "loaned” on condition the institution never credit any others as being the first to take flight.

Frankly speaking, the balance of proof continues to favor the Wright Brothers as originators, but that most Citizens have never even heard of other candidates is verification of imitation information.

Donny Osmond — Yes, THAT Donny Osmond

Fast forward many generations and we reach Donny Osmond of Osmond Family fame, whose wholesome image was a winning combination during the turbulent 1970s for a segment of society.

Only, by the 1980s that decent persona would become a burden for the young man intent on continuing his career.

For good or ill, the moniker "Osmond” had a distinct connotation — which did not include "danger” much less "sex-appeal”.

What to do?

Enter: the Masked Singer! (No, not the popular performance program of today. Yes, they have it in Russia…and fortunately The Cat was saved recently.)

Donny donned a literal mask, released a hit record, and went town to town in studio as the crazed fans tried to ascertain who could be this mysterious hunk of masculinity.

Before the ruse was revealed Mssr. Mormon had revived his career with an entirely new base of acolytes who never would have been caught dead with one of his 45s before.

Again, a series of inputs prompting assumptions was made which had a predictable result.

Banksy, Banksy, Banksy

Then there is the artist known as Banksy who entered the London scene (approximately) 1997 or so.

His reputation, or persona, is as much a work of art itself — some would go so far as to say that is the art.

Broadly speaking, the image is as a street-wise tough who eschews the profit motive while ridiculing the shibboleths of society as a whole.

Given his work involves murals and often large-scale installations one might suppose his identity would be known by this time.

On those few instances in which there have been verifiable identifiers these sometimes indicate "Banksy” may be more than a single person — or at least a ringleader acting within a collective.

Here again…

We are faced with the dilemma of the artifice of the popular figure as opposed to what we actually know.

For, what if Banksy were…a former Banker? *swoon* Or, heaven forfend, a current Banker? *scream*

The art would remain the same, but at least half the art is the experience.

A bon vivant poking his disparaging finger in the eye of the status quo would lose a large amount of cache if revealed that finger were attached to someone who actually was the status quo.

At that juncture — once the concept dissipates — what is left but a few stencils?

Finally…You Are Presented…Benjamin Franklin

Of all the above (save, perhaps, Shakespeare…and maybe Charlie Chaplin…) there is no individual who had so much influence on global events as Benjamin Franklin.

Far from being the frizzy-haired rotundity flying his kite in a thunderstorm, Franklin published Poor Richard's Almanac from 1732 until 1758 under guise of being an astrologer who made folksy sayings.

Meanwhile, the actual Franklin was a politician, College President, as well as Postmaster during the time of its printing…some, if not all, being the last places a farmer might go for planting advice.

During that epoch the edition size of publication was around 10,000 a year, which made him wealthy.

How much of the American Character as we understand it today was shaped by his inspirational tales and piquant witticisms?

The answer may be found in that many of them are proverbs still in use at present.

Even so, the exact same wisdom coming from Poor Richard would not have influenced those yeoman homesteaders nearly as much had it come from Franklin the Political Operator.

The True Threat of AI is Closer Than You Believe

Fake Photos…Fake Speeches…Fake Pornography…Fake Outrage…

Allow yourself to ponder…How much does a false Taylor Swift nude affect your life? Or a clumsily retouched photo of Princess Kate? Or even a doctored image of some politician?

Consider wisely prior your response — particularly in regard to what you have learned above.

Because even with a wealth of proof a popular mythos is unproven or even unfounded, most ordinary individuals not only refuse to believe it — they are largely unaware the alternative exists.

Confronted by their own ignorance most people will not be curious — but offended.

After all, they went to school. They are educated. They "know” better.

Humans will believe anything if presented to them properly, by way of mechanism…or word of mouth.

There is nothing new under the sun — much ado Artificial Intelligence.

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Author`s name Guy Somerset
Editor Dmitry Sudakov