April 29, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI)—Do We Need A Bigger Brain or More Soul?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), programs that can replicate human thinking, have arrived with readily accessible programs like OpenAI’s Chat GPT4, Microsoft’s Bing, Google’s Bard and in the visual realm DALL-E, Midjourney and Adobe Firefly. With AI, like genetic engineering, we have unleashed another genie from the bottle that could alter the course of human evolution.

I could have written this blog using Chat GPT4 and included artwork designed with DALL-E 2 or Midjourney but after doing some research I decided that what AI programs lack at this point in time is “soul.” 

Joe from the Pixar film,“Soul” defined soul as, 

“the space between the spiritual and the physical.”  

Where does soul come from? Is it rooted in a deep recess of our brain’s limbic system or does it reside in our belly seasoned by the ups and downs of life—love, loss, empathy, compassion, connections to people and nature? How can an algorithm detect the subtleties of a tear, a blush, a wink, a nod, or the flick of a wrist? 

(r) "Vessel #73—Counter, Wood & Flax, 24" x 13" x 33"
(l) "Vessel #72—Gualala-II, Wood & Flax, 17" x 15" x15"

Scientists say that AI programs are approaching a sentient, self-aware, human-level state of being. The question remains—who is programing these algorithms and what is their purpose. How we use these new information technology tools, either in a benevolent manner or for power and profit, will be played out as the future evolves. It’s going to be another test of our ability to coexist and survive.

• While pondering how Artificial Intelligence will impact your life, consider the words of wisdom from Arthur Weasley, Ministry of Magic Wizard from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (by J. K. Rowling)..... 

”Never trust anything that can think for itself 

if you can't see where it keeps its brain."  

To see more of Jeff Key's artwork:

Additional Work:                                                                                                     http://www.artnet.com/artists/jeff-key/                                                                               https://www.artmajeur.com/jeffmkey

February 16, 2023

Asteroids, Solar Storms and UFO's


Just when you thought it was safe to venture out again, scientists are fueling our collective anxiety with talk of the Earth being hit by an asteroid, solar flares, or being consumed by a black hole. And that’s before mentioning that the Air Force recently shot down three UFO’s that might have been looking for a place to land.

Like the deadly virus mutations circulating the globe the threats from outer space are being examined in equal detail by the fine-tuned eye of the James Webb telescope that can peer back 13.6 billion light years to the formation of the first stars and galaxies.

Except for the recent slipping of tectonic plates the Earth has calmed down after a hot, fire-scorched summer filled with drought, rampaging floods and intense hurricanes.

But what if we were suddenly confronted by life forces from another galaxy? Would the nations of the world be able to hammer out a strategy to save humankind or would they fall back on their countries’ military might and maneuver to make a deal with the aliens to control the planet?

Don’t spit out your coffee yet……there is about a 1-in-400,000,000 chance of any of these celestial bodies hitting the Earth…..and the last sighting of a lumbering, orange-haired alien was at the White House where it was seen dazed and confused while tweeting “It’s all a big lie.”

As we continue to probe outer space in search of answers to these questions it might be time to contemplate just how small and insignificant we are in the grand scale of the cosmos.

As Arthur Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, said, “Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

To see more of Jeff Key's artwork:

                                                    Additional Work:                                                                                                       http://www.artnet.com/artists/jeff-key/                                                                                          https://www.artmajeur.com/jeffmkey

December 16, 2022

What Gets You Up in the Morning?—A Reprise

I am updating this year-end blog post on "well-being" from 2017 because the last six years have been a difficult time for people throughout the world.

In 2022 we have encountered the war in Ukraine, the threat of nuclear confrontation, shootings in schools and public venues, the continuing threat of Covid-19, natural disasters caused by climate change, the global rise of authoritarianism along with attacks on human rights, inflation, food and housing insecurity, and an increase in stress and mental health issues. 

Berlin—The Wall

Because it’s the holiday season it might be time to take a break, consider the little things in life that give us contentment and think about Piglet’s conundrum, “What gets you up in the morning?”

In Denmark its Hygge, a concept originating in the 18th Century that revers the small things in life, emphasizes experiences over possessions, and encourages a sense of community. 

Similar forms of this philosophy can also be found in many cultures throughout the world:  it’s Lagom in Swedish, Gemütlichkeit in German, Fargin in Yiddish, Jugaad in Hindi, Ikigai in Japanese, Mbuki-Mvuki in Bantu, and Xìngfú in Chinese.


So on to 2023 with a hot cup of tea, a warm blanket
and thoughts of a few positive things that happened in 2022: 

•The Covid-19 vaccine reached 1-billion worldwide doses. 
•At the UN Climate Conference more than 25 countries pledged to 
end deforestation and 82% pledged to decarbonize by 2030.
• The Inflation Reduction Act lowered health care premiums and will reduce 
carbon emissions by 40% in the US by 2030. 
• A bipartisan vote of Congress passed gun legislation that includes 
some restrictions on who can buy guns.

To See More of Jeff Key's Artwork:

Website: www.jeffmkey.com


November 11, 2022

Tough Turkey and Other Zoonotics

First it was the Bubonic Plague and the Spanish Flu, then Ebola, Covid-19, Monkeypox, and now it’s H5N1—better known as Avian Influenza Virus. 

Just when we thought it was somewhat safe to resume our pre-Covid Thanksgiving rituals along comes another highly pathogenic virus. The primary risk factor for human infection from Avian Flu appears to be exposure to infected live or dead poultry or contaminated environments. 

Although transmission from birds to humans is rare, Avian Flu has decimated the bird population and made Thanksgiving Turkey a scarce commodity.

Isabela Island, The Galapagos, Ecuador

Climate change and habitat infringement are increasing the spread of disease as animals are forced out of their natural habitat and coming in closer contact with other species including humans. Changing water temperature and altered migratory wild bird patterns have led to increased contact with domestic poultry and humans.

The spread of Avian Flu along with inflation and supply shortages have also affected the price of this year’s turke􏰘ys. Farmers and processors are pay􏰘ing more for feed, fuel and labor and these costs are being passed on to consumers.

So, if you haven’t ordered your Thanksgiving turkey yet, you might be out of luck. 

You could always throw together some wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, miso paste 

and vegetable broth, and call it a “Vegan Turkey.” A plant-based holiday might help save the planet and a few turkeys along the way.

To See More of Jeff Key's Artwork:

Website: www.jeffmkey.com

July 09, 2022

Guns, Wombs and the SS Sanity

Having just celebrated the 4th of July it’s an appropriate time to reconsider liberty and justice in America. Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) fought for freedom from oppression. The last 200+ years have been a constant struggle to ensure equal rights for everyone.

Throughout history the gatekeeper of these rights has been the Supreme Court. They have made many positive decisions to advance justice, but the pendulum has now swung back as recent cases decided by the Court have reversed or altered laws that have granted these rights.

“45” told us he was going to “Drain the Swamp.” Like most things he told us—his version of the truth was illusory. Instead, the swamp under his direction became filled with a host of new vermin. 

His four years of adding muck to the Swamp is headlined by the lingering presence of “Twitch McConaSlug”, and his back-up group of pests.....

"Stop! In the Name of Love"
(With apologies to the "Motown Supremes")
And Thankfully…
We still have the last remaining “Vessel of Sanity”
—Elena, Ketanji and Sonia trying their best  to uphold 
“Truth, Justice and the American way.”

April 15, 2022

Living and Dying in the Name of the Lord

In the month of April Muslims celebrate Ramadan, Christians commemorate Easter and Jews observe Passover. During this holy period it’s time to take stock and consider the tenets of the predominant world religions—reflection, prayer, redemption, gratitude and compassion.

As tribalism, war and persecution increases worldwide we are once again faced with an existential dilemma. What are the root causes of these ongoing animosities—intolerance, fear, greed, revenge or just human nature?

• There are many reasons for the Russian invasion of Ukraine—Ukraine forging closer ties with the EU and NATO; control of Eastern Ukraine’s energy assets; Putin’s nationalistic claim that Russians and Ukrainians are one people; and the ongoing religious feud involving the split between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Church which resulted in Ukraine receiving religious autonomy from Russia in 2019.

• In 1947 the Middle East was carved up by the British setting in motion an ongoing dispute about who gets to inhabit “the holy land.” This hostility is prevalent today as authority over Jerusalem is highly contested due to the presence of holy sites for Christians, Jews and Muslims in the city. The Jewish State of Israel and Muslim Palestinians are still trying to resolve this territorial conflict.

􏰚􏰢􏰰􏰚􏰡􏰭 􏰨􏰟􏰢􏰰􏰢􏰦􏰠􏰡

• The discord between Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia)—each with its own version of Islam—has intensified over the last forty years with proxy wars currently being engaged in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, North Africa and Central Asia. 

• Both Sunnis and Shiites read the Quran and believe that the Prophet Muhammad was the messenger of Allah. The primary differences between the sects is their belief over who shall succeed the Prophet Muhammad. Their prayer rituals are similar but Shiites stand with their hands at their sides and Sunnis put their hands on their stomachs. 􏰧􏰨􏰦􏰥􏰛􏰞􏰥􏰛􏰪

• Mob violence involving targeted attacks on person and property against Christian communities is also prevalent in some areas of the Middle East particularly in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. 

􏱂􏰢• Hindus and Muslims in Southern Asia have had cultural and religious differences since the end of the Mughal Empire.This conflict continued throughout British Rule and culminated with the 1947 Partition that split the two factions into Hindu majority India and Muslim majority Pakistan. The Himalayan region of Kashmir continues this ongoing struggle for control between these two combatants.

• In China the ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs are persecuted by the government and sent to “re-education camps,” made to do forced labor, tortured, and in some cases women are being sterilized, forced to have abortions, and sexually abused.

•In North Korea Christians are deported to labor camps as political criminals or in some cases like possessing a bible they are executed on the spot.

• In Myanmar the military and Buddhist nationalists have perpetrated ethnic and religious persecution against the Sunni Muslim Rohingya people. In order to escape wide-scale human rights violations over a million Rohingya have fled to other countries.

•Africa has become a front line in the jihadist war waged by rival factions of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) whose mission is to defend Islam. Al-Qaeda and IS share a common loathing for secular, Western-supported rulers who they call “apostates.” (BBC News)

•The religious right in the United States questions science, wants to control womens' bodies and opposes critical race theory in schools, LGBTQ rights, and the Black Lives Matter movement. They believe that the 2020 election was stolen, the January 6th arrested rioters are political prisoners and that Christian morality is the necessary foundation for governance in a free republic.

To See More of Jeff Key's Artwork:

Website: www.jeffmkey.com

February 18, 2022

Let Them Eat Seaweed—Dinner or Disaster?

All dripping in tangles green, Cast up by a lonely sea; If purer for that, O Weed,  Bitterer, too, are ye?Herman Melville, The Tuft of Kelp (1888)

Soy sauce and seaweed go really well with potato chips. —Jose Andres, Chef, founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.

Taking a stroll on the beach these days one is confronted with a 21st Century conundrum—the environmental impact of seaweed?

If your glass is half-full—seaweed is an environmental miracle and a new “superfood.”

If your glass is half-empty—seaweed is a noxious, insect-infected weed piling up on our beaches.

• Seaweed—The Plus Side:

• It has a negative carbon footprint—absorbing 20% more CO2 than it produces.

• It produces oxygen—phytoplankton, kelp and algae account for 50-80% of the total oxygen on Earth. (national geographic.org )

• It’s used as livestock feed cutting methane emissions from cows.

• It’s a new superfood—providing high levels of vitamin A, B12, K, folate, iodine, fibre, and high protein. It reduces blood pressure and improves digestive health.

• It binds ice-cream, wraps sushi, and moisturizes skin.

                                                  • Seaweed—The Negative Side:

• It’s proliferating in unprecedented volume—caused by the rise in ocean temperature, coastal deforestation, and agricultural/sewage runoff.

• It rots on beaches, contains high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals, creates a sulfurous odor, and attracts insects. 

• It’s smothering dolphins and sea turtles, creating toxic algae bloom (“red tides”) and killing fish by depleting oxygen from the water.

• So head for the beach. Try to step over the rotting clumps of kelp and if you’re hungry grab a bite of nutritious seaweed to fortify your immune system.

To See More of Jeff Key's Artwork: