A Labor of Love: Review of “Sadequain: Artist and Poet – A Memoir” by Saiyid Ali Naqvi

by Ali Minai “Sadequain!” The very name is like a magic word that triggers a tumult of images in the mind. Arguably, no Pakistani artist has elicited more admiration, evoked more passion, and received more adulation than Saiyid Sadquain Ahmad Naqvi, the subject – and really, the hero – of the book “Sadequain: Artist and…

Emancipation in Precarious Times: Review of “Capitalism on Edge” by Albena Azmanova

by Ali Minai I must admit that when I first flipped through Capitalism on Edge: How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia by Albena Azmanova, it did not look too inviting. The blurbs on the jacket did nothing to reassure me, suggesting that this was yet another post-Marxist critique of greedy…

A Review of “Moon and Sun: Rumi’s Rubaiyat” by Zara Houshmand

by Ali Minai Your love stirs the ocean into reckless storms. At your feet, the clouds drop their pearls. Dark smoke rises in the sky, a fire burns Where your love’s lightning strikes the earth. These energetic lines open Moon and Sun: Rumi’s Rubaiyat, Zara Houshmand’s brilliant translation of selected ruba’iyat – quatrains – by…

What AI Fails to Understand – For Now

by Ali Minai Most people see understanding as a fundamental characteristic of intelligence. One of the main critiques directed at AI is that, well, computers may be able to “calculate” and “compute”, but they don’t really “understand”. What, then, is understanding? And is this critique of AI justified? Broadly speaking, there are two overlapping approaches…

The Season of Savagery and Hope

by Ali Minai April 2018: ‘Tis the Season of Giddiness in Democratlandia. Republicans are saddled with a widely despised President and riven by internal dissension. The Republican leadership in Congress is lurching from fiasco to fiasco – interrupted briefly by one great “success” on tax cuts. The zombie candidates of the Tea Party are still…

Artificial Stupidity

by Ali Minai "My colleagues, they study artificial intelligence; me, I study natural stupidity." —Amos Tversky, (quoted in “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis). Not only is this quote by Tversky amusing, it also offers profound insight into the nature of intelligence – real and artificial. Most of us working on artificial intelligence (AI) take…