This Week: Mozart outsells every CD this year?… How artificial intelligence is changing thinking… Why should artists be entrepreneurs?… How the West dominated global culture… Zadie Smith speaks out about multiculturalism.
- Was Mozart The Best-Selling CD Of The Year? That’s the claim. Universal Classics says that a major Mozart release this fall has sold 1.25 million CDs so far, more than Beyonce sold. And if you use Universal’s measure this might be true. It’s a silly point, maybe, but it perhaps inadvertently shows how silly our measurements of the legitimacy or popularity or quality of art has become…
- Artificial Intelligence Is Changing The Way Computers Work (And How We Use Information: Since neural networks have started powering computers, the processing power gains have been impressive. “A rarefied department within the company, Google Brain, was founded five years ago on this very principle: that artificial “neural networks” that acquaint themselves with the world via trial and error, as toddlers do, might in turn develop something like human flexibility. This notion is not new — a version of it dates to the earliest stages of modern computing, in the 1940s — but for much of its history most computer scientists saw it as vaguely disreputable, even mystical. Since 2011, though, Google Brain has demonstrated that this approach to artificial intelligence could solve many problems that confounded decades of conventional efforts.”
- Why Would We Want Artists To Act Like Entrepreneurs? As traditional business models supporting artists has eroded, many advisors have been saying artists need to act more like entrepreneurs. “In the wake of this deprofessionalization, we find ourselves without professional careers, and so observe with common sense that we must go into business for ourselves, we must be entrepreneurs. Common sense, of course, as an expression of dominant cultural ideas, is the most ideological of the senses. We’ve become hybrids, hyphenates—just like actor-managers were. While we can think of this positively, that yes, we have diverse interests and opportunities as artists, we should remember the economic conditions that force us to be hybrids: single professional career tracks that would pay for our bills and our retirements are closed off.”
- How The West Came To Dominate Global Culture: The ideas and culture of western European nations have dominated internationally now for centuries. So why European culture? And how did it happen? David Wootton suggests that it was the European thirst for discovery, its drive to explore the rest of the world. The first is a belief in “discovery”, in the very possibility of intellectual progress. There was no such belief, there were not even words meaning “discovery” and “progress”, before the discovery of America which shattered the long-established conviction that there was no important new knowledge to be had. Moreover the discovery of the New World was the achievement of semi-educated sailors — it brought about a new cooperation between intellectuals and practical men, a cooperation particularly fostered by the mathematicians who taught the skills of navigation and cartography and who had long believed in the importance of useful knowledge.
- Zadie Smith Rails About “Multiculturalism”: Her work has been used as a marker for multicultural issues, and she questions the need. “I did not realize that the life I was living was considered in any way provisional or experimental by others: I thought it was just life. And when I wrote a novel about the London I grew up in, I further did not realize that by describing an environment in which people from different places lived relatively peaceably side by side, I was ‘championing’ a situation that was in fact on trial and whose conditions could suddenly be revoked.”