'Love Story': NPR

‘Love Story’: NPR

Cartoonist Amy Kurzweil’s new graphic memoir, Synthetic: A Love Storyspecializing in how she and her father, Ray, harness the facility of synthetic intelligence to attach with the grandfather she by no means knew.

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


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Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


Cartoonist Amy Kurzweil’s new graphic memoir, Synthetic: A Love Storyspecializing in how she and her father, Ray, harness the facility of synthetic intelligence to attach with the grandfather she by no means knew.

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR

In relation to the dwelling’s makes an attempt to speak with the useless, psychic mediums and Ouija boards will probably by no means exit of favor. However now, there’s additionally synthetic intelligence.

In her new graphic memoir, Synthetic: A Love Story, The New Yorker Cartoonist Amy Kurzweil She describes how she and her father—famend futurist, technologist, and inventor Ray Kurzweil—harnessed the facility of synthetic intelligence to attach with the grandfather she by no means knew.

Cover of Amy Kurzweil's book Artificial: A Love Story.
Cover of Amy Kurzweil's book Artificial: A Love Story.

Friedrich Kurzweil He died in 1970Greater than a decade earlier than his granddaughter, Amy, was born. However Amy mentioned Fred all the time had this epic presence in her household.

“The story I heard about my grandfather was mainly that music saved his life,” Amy instructed NPR in an interview in San Francisco.

Fred’s journey is at coronary heart Synthetic: A Love Story.

The author mentioned that in 1937, when her grandfather – a well-known Austrian conductor, pianist and music trainer – was in his twenties, the American philanthropist Gertrude Sumner Ely heard him carry out a live performance in Vienna.

“She was so impressed by his expertise that she mentioned, ‘When you want something, let me know,’” Amy mentioned.

The next yr, the Nazis annexed Austria. Amy mentioned her grandfather, who was Jewish, wanted to flee.

So Fred wrote to Ellie. The philanthropist then sponsored his visa to the USA.

“That is the story I grew up with about him, that it was his artistry and his expertise that received him out of Vienna,” Amy mentioned.

Create Freedbot

Amy’s father Ray Kurzweil He mentioned he was 22 when his father died.

Ray is named the inventor of an early studying machine for the blind and a revolutionary line of digital keyboards.

He’s additionally a futurist, who has predicted the merging of people and machines for many years in his books, e.g The singularity is close to From 2005 and his subsequent title, The distinctiveness is nearer.

Ray Kurzweil poses for a photograph with a portray of his father, Friedrich Kurzweil.

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


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Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


Ray Kurzweil poses for a photograph with a portray of his father, Friedrich Kurzweil.

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR

“The emergence of huge language fashions this yr is on monitor,” Kurzweil mentioned, referring to the algorithms used to coach AI instruments similar to GPT and DALL-E which have not too long ago made headlines. “Will probably be nice progress within the subsequent few years.”

In 2016, as Amy talked about in her guide, her father launched into a undertaking utilizing synthetic intelligence to carry his father, Fred, again to life. considerably.

“I missed him,” Ray mentioned. “So I created a expertise that appears prefer it’s speaking to him. You possibly can ask him something, and he’ll really reply one thing much like what I keep in mind him saying.”

Creating the chatbot model of his father (often known as Fredbot) concerned digitizing hundreds of Fred Kurzweil’s paperwork, together with lecture notes, love letters, musical writings, and job search letters.

Amy mentioned the household storage unit was collapsing underneath the burden of her grandfather’s papers.

“We simply have packing containers and packing containers and packing containers of paperwork,” she mentioned.

Amy Kurzweil reveals a web page in her sketchbook containing drawings from the non-public paperwork of her grandfather, Fred Kurzweil. (He was often called Fritz in his native Austria.)

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


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Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


Amy Kurzweil reveals a web page in her sketchbook containing drawings from the non-public paperwork of her grandfather, Fred Kurzweil. (He was often called Fritz in his native Austria.)

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR

So I provided her assist. Amy mentioned that researching Fred’s huge archives, transcribing the findings, after which documenting a lot of this materials in her guide, helped her higher perceive her grandfather.

“Within the case of Viennese and different forms of Jews, documentation was the way you saved your life,” Amy mentioned. “By ready in line to indicate a bit of paper proving that they did not have a canine, or that they’d these items of their checking account and had been about to confiscate them, that was your ticket out of this fascist bureaucratic regime.”

Benefits and limitations

Freedbot is textual content– Program primarily based on . Amy and Ray had been unable to trace down Fred Kurzweil’s recordings voice, Though recordings of a few of his performances by the likes of Chopin, Beethoven and his favourite composer Brahms can be found on-line.

On this web page in industrialAmy reacts to the music her grandfather used to take heed to.

Amy Kurzweil / Catapult


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Amy Kurzweil / Catapult


On this web page in industrialAmy reacts to the music her grandfather used to take heed to.

Amy Kurzweil / Catapult

So, to work together with the bot (which isn’t out there to the general public, by the best way), you sort questions right into a web-based interface, and the system responds with related strains culled from the archives. In different phrases, Fredbot’s responses are issues that Fred Kurzel really wrote. Amy contains a few of these interactions in her guide, for instance:

Amy: What do you’re keen on most about music?
Fredbot: The melody, the ingredient that has fast enchantment, is what is usually remembered – the whistle and the hum.

Amy mentioned her grandfather was very shy. Via his music, he expressed himself totally.

Ray Kurzweil factors to a photograph of himself along with his father, Fred.

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


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Marissa Leshnoff for NPR


Ray Kurzweil factors to a photograph of himself along with his father, Fred.

Marissa Leshnoff for NPR

“When he was performing, his extroverted self got here out,” she mentioned.

However Fredbot would not function any of Fred’s music. Acknowledging the constraints of the robotic, Amy mentioned this could be potential sooner or later.

“After I began this guide seven years in the past, the idea of a chatbot constructed from archival paperwork appeared very science fiction,” she mentioned. “Now the expertise is outdated.”

However she mentioned she nonetheless will get quite a bit out of interacting with Freedbot.

“It is not fairly like having a dialog with him in particular person, however it’s a mirrored image of him,” she mentioned.

Expertise and humanity

Newer developments in chatbots that revive the useless function the voices of the deceased, as is the case with the presentation by Here’s the AI.

“Simply within the final yr or so, with generative fashions, we instantly have the flexibility to have chatbots which might be smoother and extra human-like,” mentioned James Vlahos, founding father of HereAfter AI and a specialist in conversational AI in social robots. Embodied firm. “Now we are able to have smarter conversations than ever earlier than.”

Web page from industrial. Amy wrote that she thought she might acknowledge her grandfather via his art work.

Amy Kurzweil / Catapult


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Amy Kurzweil / Catapult


Web page from industrial. Amy wrote that she thought she might acknowledge her grandfather via his art work.

Amy Kurzweil / Catapult

Amy Kurzweil mentioned the chatbot undertaking and the guide that got here out of it confirmed her considerably optimistic emotions about synthetic intelligence.

“I really feel like you could think about the robotic you need to see on the planet,” she mentioned. “We won’t cease progress. However we are able to take into consideration purposes of synthetic intelligence that facilitate human communication.”

peer The New Yorker Cartoonist Christine Radtke Given Kurzweil’s lineage, he mentioned, it is not shocking that Amy is usually optimistic about the way forward for synthetic intelligence.

“It is humorous to see AI instantly turn into like the recent difficulty that everybody is speaking about,” Radtke mentioned. “Amy has been coping with these concepts all through her artistic life.”

However within the coronary heart, Radtke mentioned, is the best energy Synthetic: A Love Story It’s her understanding of what it means to be human, amidst all these technological advances.

“Amy approaches every part in a philosophical, emotional and type of religious manner,” Radtke mentioned.

Web page from Amy Kurzweil Synthetic: A Love Story Slight variations seem within the writer’s repeated drawings of her grandfather’s portrait.

Amy Kurzweil / Catapult


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Amy Kurzweil / Catapult

One of many methods through which these qualities seem within the guide It lies within the writer’s makes an attempt, many times, to copy materials from her grandfather’s archive via her meticulous drawings.

At first look, the repeated photos seem equivalent. However look carefully, you may discover that all of them have these small variations. Like reminiscences, drawings can’t be recreated precisely the identical manner each time.

With this strategy, the writer means that irrespective of how laborious the artists attempt, they may all the time lack the precision of the robotic: “Exhibiting the very fact that there’s a human hand behind these drawings,” Radtke mentioned.

Audio and digital tales edited by Megan Collins Sullivan. Audio produced by Isabella Gomez Sarmiento.

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