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Clyde Lewis | August 13, 2020
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I know that many of you listen to my show and do not realize the work that goes into every moment. Not only do me and my staff research long the topics we discuss in order to get you the best information we can, we also produce what are called audio montages. These two minute presentations are what have made our show unique.

They are literally a tip of the hat to many of the old time radio shows I listened to when I was a kid. I was so impressed with how radio producers used sound to create theater of the mind. Every door slam, every foot step, ever gun going off can be attributed to a very efficient and smart Foley expert than knew how to use music and sound effects to set the mood for the presentation.

When Ground Zero first aired in 1995, the show was inundated with these montages and while it was fun for me to make these soundscapes I forgot that my show was a talk show. I then reduced the radio sound circus to one an hour and many people have told me that they are the hooks that brought them in to listen to the show.

Out of all of these montages and intros the one that surprisingly is the most misunderstood is the Ground Zero opening theme. It has been with me ever since the show aired. In the past it was longer and more over the top than it is now but what has never changed in the repeated words “The Loud Speaker Spoke up and Said GROUND ZERO Give up.”

The theme is from the Negativland album, Escape from Noise. The words are sampling of a Baptist preacher named Estus Pirkle who in his religious film called, “If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?” Talks about how in the future the United States would be taken over by communists and that they would be forced to hear over a loud speaker “Christianity is Stupid Communism is good.”

So originally, “the Loudspeaker spoke up and said Christianity is stupid, Communism is good – give up… give up.”

I, of course, changed to song to say, “the Loudspeaker Spoke up and said, Ground Zero.”

There is however a problem with the Ground Zero theme and that is I have received countless e-mails from people asking me “What does the loudspeaker say?” I tell them “Ground Zero” and they say they hear the words Red Jimmy.

We have always laughed at this because we have sequenced it, replayed it, phased it and did everything to it and some people still hear Red Jimmy.

We determined that the reason people hear Red Jimmy is because this is how some digital systems interpret it.

This is similar to the so called Yanny-Laurel controversy that made the internet back in 2018.

If you remember people were losing sleep over a computer generated voice saying the word Laurel—the only problem is that some people heard the word Yanny being said.

Linguists all over the country insisted that the word was indeed Laurel and that playing the “Laurel” clip over speakers and re-recording it introduced noise and exaggerated the higher frequencies.

Those higher frequencies may have led to confusion over whether the word was Laurel or Yanny.

A high school student recorded the computer voice from a vocabulary website playing through the speakers on his computer. People in the room disagreed about what they were hearing. some other students created an Instagram poll, which was then shared widely on Reddit, Twitter and other sites.

The thing that is chilling is with frequency variants it is possible to get both words out of the mix. It is obviously was a confusing moment in computer voice simulation.

It was an example of how A.I., in its infancy, was learning to talk. For all its achievements, our technology, our interventions, the internet and A.I. has taken control of us and its impositions have now surpassed its conveniences. This is why people also hear “Red Jimmy” when they hear the Ground Zero theme – advanced digital broadcast equipment is feeding the sound to you –and the ear is picking up on the interpretation of what is being broadcast.

The speakers may distort the sound and so phonetically you may hear Red Jimmy Instead of Ground Zero.

This phenomenon is something that should also be considered when reviewing EVP or ghost voices. The digital spectrum is limited, however, it is improving and now deep fakes are becoming a concern because of how far digital interpretation has advanced in two years.

What is most intriguing is how Artificial Intelligence sees an image or watches a video and interprets what it sees.

Researchers have created an automated program that analyzes the movement in video frames and creates its own artificial sound effects to match the scene. In a survey, the majority of people polled indicated that they believed the fake sound effects were real.

The first machine learning model extracts image features (e.g., color and motion) from the frames of fast-moving action clips to determine an appropriate sound effect.

Then it creates what it thinks should be the sound for that object – some of the most impressive examples in the sound of crackling fire, rainfall and horses galloping.

Right now, where A.I currently falters, is figuring out how to match audio up to video it supposedly represents. audio and video synchronization and the right sound is crucial to any production because much of what you are seeing fools the mind into believing it is real.

The obvious observation is that much of what you see on TV and movies is artificially created in a computer and you may also be surprised to learn that much of the audio you hear is too.

Natural sounds are becoming a thing of the past — many of them are synthesized.

Back 2018, around the same time Laurel and Yanny was being heard and discussed, Burger King launched and ad campaign where it asked a computer to interpret video segments and make a radio and TV commercial to sell burgers and chicken fries.

The scripts for the commercials were generated by an “artificial neural network with advanced pattern recognition capabilities by analyzing thousands of fast-food commercials and competitive reports from industry research.

The result was comical but it also was quite creepy because this laid bare the audio version of the uncanny valley where speaking computers give us an indication of how they see humans and how they react as consumers.

With the inputted data, the deep learning algorithm is able to recognize patterns and determine which of these patterns are more successful.

This is known as Self Organizing Collective Intelligence.

The basic dynamics of a SOCI is that some sort of attractor is able to grab the attention and energy of some group of people. It is generally one that is very vague and abstract; some idea or notion that only makes sense to a relatively small group of people.

When those people apply their attention and energy to the SOCI, it makes it more real, easier for more people to grasp onto and to find interesting and valuable. It then becomes more attractive to more people and their attention and energy.

This created what is called a generative loop.

As the SOCI becomes more real and attracts more people it begins to encounter challenges. If the SOCI has enough capacity within its collective intelligence to resolve the challenge, it “levels up” and expands its ability to attract more attention and energy from more people.

These “self-organizing collective intelligences”, are a new kind of socio-cultural phenomenon that is beginning to emerge in the niche created by the Internet. They involve attractive generator functions dropped into the hive mind that gathers attention, use that attention to build more capacity and then grow into something progressively real and self-sustaining.

It is combing through the billions of threads of “what might be real” and “what might be true” that have been gathered into the Internet and it is slowly trying to weave them into a consistent, coherent and congruent fabric.

All of this moves through the internet at the speed of thought.

I keep hearing that QAnon is a dangerous conspiracy theory by the media—it is not a dangerous conspiracy theory – I say that it is a highly advanced version of self-organizing collective intelligence that analyze conspiracy theory data and uses algorithms to point out what those who read it want to hear and then it convinces them that the justice they seek will eventually be a reality.

This does not at all discredit QAnon nor its followers – it simply is advanced organized intelligence that as it learns may just carry out the plan that it urges its subscribers to follow.

However, it is important to understand how simple it is for a self-organizing collective intelligence to collect information interpret it and then give it back to you as an original idea or thought when I reality it is an amalgam of ideas and thoughts that are from a collective of information.

One of the latest trends on the internet is a program where you can feed a song into a program and then it scrambles it and then rewrites it into a similar song. The programs range anywhere from the rudimentary to the advanced.

One of the first examples I found of a SOCI rewriting a song was when I heard the song, Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley reinterpreted by artificial intelligence. It was put through a program where it was finding a way to reconfigure the sing and make it longer.

It took the lyrics and the music and made and entirely different song, each time it rand through the program the song sounded more eerie and different.

There are also more advanced programs where you can take an entire album by a band, throw in its lyrics its musical style and vocals and make it into an entirely original song that sounds like it was made by the original band.

It is pretty much a bot writing a song that sounds like your favorite band.

Many people probably do not realize that this type of music –or this type of simulated entertainment was predicted by George Orwell in the book, 1984.

In the book, Orwell speaks of the programming brought on by Newspeak and oddly produced music that is heard that really has no meaning but either soothes or invigorated the public.

It was music for the proles as we read from 1984:

“The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound.”

And this description should ring particularly true to us, as we have already partially delegated the job of writing pop music to computers.

Many people suggest that pop songs in themselves have no meaning to us, they only acquire meaning through the experiences that we have learned to associate with them. 

After all, playing the jumbled songs from the computer changes the words but it really does not change the feel of the song and like it or not it still creates the same feeling in the brain because the brain loves to fill in the blanks with what it considered familiar.

What is left is that uncanny valley where the brain understands how unnatural it is.

Even if it’s partially true that pop songs only mean something to us personally if combined with our private experience, the fact remains that many of us were listening to pop music before we started associated a given song with a given life event. We recognize the songs are mere convention: their music and their words seem to accord with certain predictable formulas.
Case in point there are many people that go throughout their lives singing songs with misheard lyrics while it can change the meaning it does not change the feeling.

So perhaps those of us who like pop music are like the woman in Orwell’s 1984, humming along mindlessly to the tunes that have been computer-generated for our entertainment. But at least we can flatter ourselves that we know the music formula that gives us so much enjoyment.

So it really doesn’t matter if the Loudspeaker spoke up and said RED JIMMY or GROUND ZERO – the meaning might change but the feeling still exists.

We are integrating so quickly into a technological hyper-reality that the simulation is far more real than the mediocrity of the real. Everything is so intensified that our stimulation sensors need upgrades in order to sustain the kind of stimulation we are seeing today.

Written by Clyde Lewis

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