Tag Archives: consciousness


“Rain” was written some 4 years ago and does not currently appear in any of my books. Below is a recording of me reading the poem,


Too Much Reading

Too much reading
My imagination feeding.
It’s a little after 1 am
I hear you hoot,
The night’s flute
So cold and so clear
Instilling a dull fear.

Somewhere a TV or radio burbles on,
Then owl and noise are gone.
I drink in the silence
Then sleep sets me free.

But no
It is not so
For I dream
A dream in early December,
Of what
I don’t remember,
For the individual man
And his dreams are soon forgot.

What Does That Blind Man Do

What does that blind man do
Gazing through
Empty space
As though he could trace
In thin air
Something you and me
Dare not see?

Walking back from the park,
His thoughts dark.
A sense of grief
At the lack of belief.
Then came the wind chimes,
Signifying nought but rhymes?

Life is but a dream

I spent the earlier portion of this evening with my old friend Jeff. As ever, our conversation ranged far and wide. One topic on which we dwelt at length revolved around what constitutes reality and how, at any given point we can be certain that what we are experiencing is real. When one dies, my friend remarked, the world ceases to exist. While I don’t wish to get into whether my dear friend is, in fact right, I had in the back of my mind during the entirety of our conversation a poem by A. E. Housman and, on returning home I felt compelled to look it up. The lines run thus:

“Good creatures, do you love your lives
And have you ears for sense?
Here is a knife like other knives,
That cost me eighteen pence.

I need but stick it in my heart
And down will come the sky,
And earth’s foundations will depart
And all you folk will die”.


Listen To The Birds

Standing at the station
reading the news of this nation
I became conscious of birds.
The words
I was reading
the thoughts they where feeding
seemed irrelevant.
This earth we are leant.
To much time is spent
lost in thought.
Additional hours can not be bought.
Oh listen to the birds
not the words
And learn to be

Being blind I have software on my mobile which enables the content of the screen to be spoken aloud (http://www.nuance.com/for-individuals/mobile-applications/talks-zooms/index.htm). Several days ago, I was reading the news at the station when I became aware of the birds singing. This prompted the above poem.

Teaching Computers How Not To Forget Is The Answer To Building Artificial Intelligence

An article in The Atlantic which argues the achievement of artificial intelligence is impossible until we can teach computers how not to forget. Humans learn new skills while retaining old ones. Computers in contrast tend to forget easily.

To me one of the major factors (perhaps the most significant factor of all) which separates human intelligence from that of computers is that we humans are conscious beings who understand the reasons for our actions. Of course there are those who behave in ways which demonstrate crass stupidity but this does not, in my view invalidate my contention that we are different from machines in that we possess the ability to comprehend. Computers and robots can learn and their ability to do so is increasing. However they can not, unlike humans comprehend the reason for such learning. They are not self-aware.

Even if we can teach a computer not to forget will this lead to true artificial intelligence? In my admittedly unscientific view (my degree is in history and politics, not science) the answer is no for to have true intelligence one requires consciousness and the ability to comprehend/analyse one’s own actions.


For the article please visit http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/teaching-a-computer-not-to-forget/389727/?utm_source=SFTwitter