Prolific author Cliff Pickover Ph.D. holds over 600 U.S. patents. In the first half, he discussed the applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in such fields as computing, medicine, and culture, and considered the threat to humanity should AI grow out of control. AI refers to intelligent characteristics or abilities within machines, such as self-driving cars, and systems that can diagnose medical X-rays, and overall Pickover is enthusiastic about the possibilities for the technology. Exploring the line between the living and non-living isn't wholly a recent phenomenon, he pointed out, as ancient legends describe "big bronze robots circling the island of Crete," and in the Middle Ages, "they were making all sorts of clockwork automata" that resembled animals and humans.
One concern over the growth of AI is a possible "super-intelligent explosion" in which the technology becomes so capable and intelligent that the AIs begin to make better versions of themselves, to the point where humans will no longer even be able to comprehend what they're doing. Interestingly, some AI devices have been able to predict patients' deaths accurately within 3-12 months, he reported. As far as the future of jobs in an expanded world of robotics, Pickover sees opportunities for humans to work with AI in many fields. He also pondered the development of empathy in AI machines, which could play an important role in elder care, as the line between real and simulated emotions becomes blurred.
In the latter half, the founder of Dearly Departed Tours, Scott Michaels, and award-winning filmmaker Mike Dorsey shared their fascination with the deaths of Hollywood celebrities, particularly those associated with crimes, murders, and accidents. The two made a chilling documentary about the Manson murders, "The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter," which focused on the locations of the murder victims, rather than looking into the killers' lives. The 1969 murders of Sharon Tate and her friends have been a particular obsession with Michaels. "Abigail Folger was literally in bed reading a book wearing a nightgown...and within 30 minutes she was on the front lawn with 28 stab wounds," he recounted. "And it was unsolved for four months...It changed everyone's comfort level. You were no longer safe in your own house."
Dorsey explained that he lives near where the Manson murders took place, which creates a natural interest for him in the events, but rather than glamorize or celebrate the deaths, he and Michaels seek to acknowledge and remember the victims. An offshoot of his tours, Michaels has developed an Artifact Museum that includes such objects as a pool tile from the swimming pool that Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones drowned in, a piece of the floor that Bobby Kennedy landed on when he was shot at the Ambassador Hotel, and the Jayne Mansfield 'death car' which serves as the museum's centerpiece. The two also detailed various Los Angeles area crimes including the murder of silent film theater owner Lawrence Austin, and the gruesome decapitation of screenwriter Robert Lees.