July 30th, 2007


Michigan Theater Losing significant portions of its funding this year

The Michigan Theater writes:

The State of Michigan’s economic distress has ushered in a new era at the Michigan Theater - one that moves us away from government funding to focus on broader support from the community. In April of this year we were informed that our Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) funding was frozen until September 30, 2007. A few months later we were told we would receive the funds promised, however it would only be part of the amount originally awarded.

This news was shocking for us. We immediately went into action by reducing costs, trimming staffing, and changing our newsletter so it is published only six times a year rather than monthly. We turned to the community for help and we were greeted with a warm response and much needed funds. This is encouraging news but we still need ongoing support from ALL our supporters. It is particularly critical now because the funding we receive from Pfizer in the form of sponsorship and matching gifts from their employees will end next year as they leave the Ann Arbor area.

Their membership rates are about to increase- join now before they do! I feel like pointing out that for someone who likes to go to a lot of movies, the gold membership is not a bad deal - includes free entrance to all the Michigan theater sponsored movies, plus free popcorn, and $50 of the membership fee is tax-deductable.

The Michigan theater, for those not familiar with it, is a 1920s movie palace that still presents live concerts and theater as well as many indie and art films, cult classics, and a short film festival each year. I graduated from Community High School on the stage there in 1992, and I used to volunteer there quite regularly. Located in downtown Ann Arbor, the Michigan Theater is a centerpiece of the city's cultural identity.
Brian and Anne

More links

Peter Morville Discusses User Experience Strategy
Peter presents a "T-shaped" consulting process: intersecting Information Architecture with User Experience Strategy. More, he discusses the concept of user experience, how to avoid prejudicing your study with the framework of your expectations, why a strategy can have impact, and how to think about the strategy paradox and strategizing as part of the process of making disruptive technologies -- see his column here.

Robin Marantz Henig Discusses Sociable Robots
The Real transformers on the NY Times. Among other things, it asks if robots will ever have self-consciousness. What do you think? And how would you go about proving to someone that you yourself are conscious?

Do you think animals are conscious?

When I was younger, I theorized that a difference between conscious people and other animals is that with consciousness, people are aware of being aware of themselves. Other animals may be self-aware, as in they know they exist and can reason about their own health and comfort and environment, etc, but the question for me would be whether or not they can examine and reason that quality of being self-aware: to be aware of being aware of being aware of themselves. That is abstract thought of a special nature that I find integral to the concept of consciousness.

We have robots that can reason about the situation they are in and match environmental inputs to reasoning about how they should change their own situation. Even if you have that robot refer to itself in its planning and calculations, I would argue that does not make it conscious. Among other things, it ought to have a sense of "embodied intelligence" - knowing what in the world constituted its self.

What do you think constitutes consciousness? And how would you tell in a robot or AI?