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SPOTLIGHT: WORLD IN PIECES, A LONG WEEKEND

The long and awful weekend began late Thursday night, local time here in France. At the end of the Bastille Day national celebrations, the southern coastal city of Nice turned into yet another scene of unspeakable horror. It is the same sad plot, different script for a country targeted three times in 18 months with major terrorist strikes: this time, a man with a truck targeted families on a day of historically symbolic importance for France. Looking at the toll, it seems all those 20-something victims of the Parisian attacks at bars and the Bataclan concert hall weren't young enough for those who boast their love expand=1] of death.

It was just 24 hours later when a news alert came in from another country that has also been making headlines lately. The coup d'etat attempt in Turkey was bound to fail, though the reported death toll is high there as well, up to 290 dead in Istanbul and Ankara. For those watching from afar, the instability is particularly troubling in a country that itself has been both a target and a staging ground for ISIS Islamic terrorist group.

Then Sunday, the lead story on our screens had shifted to the southern U.S. city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Again, it was an ugly sequel. Two weeks ago, five police officers had been killed in Dallas by an African-American military veteran angry about police violence aimed at African-Americans back at home. Now, it was three officers dead in Baton Rouge, including (inevitably) one African-American patrolman, killed by another well-armed Marine veteran set on vengeance.

It was a long summer weekend in the darkest kind of way, with Monday looking no brighter.

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Future

Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da at work

Leah Henrickson and Simone Natale

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

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