The Zen of Technology & Scientific Discovery! (& Robots)

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39221

    The Zen of Technology & Scientific Discovery! (& Robots)

    This story today about a temple here in Japan ...


    Incense smoke wafts through the cold air of the centuries-old Buddhist temple as a priest chants a sutra, praying for the peaceful transition of the souls of the departed.

    It is a funeral like any other in Japan. Except that those being honored are robot dogs, lined up on the altar, each wearing a tag to show where they came from and which family they belonged to.

    The devices are AIBOs, the world’s first home-use entertainment robot equipped with artificial intelligence and capable of developing its own personality.

    ...

    Bungen Oi, a priest at the 450-year-old Kofukuji Temple in Isumi, Chiba Prefecture, said the AIBO service last month was an occasion on which the robots’ souls could pass from their bodies.

    “I was thrilled over the interesting mismatch of giving cutting-edge technology a memorial service in a very conventional manner,” he said.

    It is a mismatch that humans will probably become more used to over the coming years and decades as robots with “personalities” become ever more part of our lives.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/201.../#.VO182fmUd8E
    ...(and before someone asks, Buddhism generally holds that robots do not have "souls", although also holding that neither do people! The question remains open, however, about whether machines will ever be sentient beings. I happen to think they would, and we are ourselves just biological machines become aware).

    I just happened to watch this week a Korean SF film (otherwise not so great, but not so bad either) called "Doomsday Book" ...



    ... including a story about a robot who attains Buddhahood (and his makers want to destroy him for it as a "defective product"). The film is available on Netflix and elsewhere. The following scenes are well worth watching ...


    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    tsuku.jpgtsuku.jpg
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-22-2023, 05:02 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Kokuu
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Nov 2012
    • 6750

    #2
    Hi all

    Very interesting looking film. One thing I would say is that any artificial intelligence, even if sentient, would not be like a human being because cyerbnetic 'organisms' lack our 'wetware', our body, including our mortality and emotions that come with hope and fear. Without emotions, intelligence is rather less human in my opinion. Most religions (including Buddhism) arose out of asking questions about birth, aging, sickness and death. Would an AI have a similar curiousity or even fear of change if that did not have an emotional component? A large part of human motivation also comes from being sufficiently attractive to mate and then properous enough to survive and raise offspring. Not an issue for an AI.

    During my PhD I spent some time modelling biological systems and touched on ideas of AL (Artificial Life) and AI. One theory is that all biological organisms have a mental model of their environment and self-consciousness arises when that model (and the neural system that generates it) becomes sufficiently complex that the next step is to include oneself in the model. By this definition self-awareness could definitely arise in an AI but I would repeat that without the emotional wetware to go with that, what arises would not be anything close to human and I would not want to hazard a guess at whether ethics could self-arise which would seem to be equally as important as awareness.

    Anyway, just some thoughts on an interesting topic.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39221

      #3
      Originally posted by Kokuu
      Hi all

      Very interesting looking film. One thing I would say is that any artificial intelligence, even if sentient, would not be like a human being because cyerbnetic 'organisms' lack our 'wetware', our body, including our mortality and emotions that come with hope and fear. Without emotions, intelligence is rather less human in my opinion. Most religions (including Buddhism) arose out of asking questions about birth, aging, sickness and death. Would an AI have a similar curiousity or even fear of change if that did not have an emotional component? A large part of human motivation also comes from being sufficiently attractive to mate and then properous enough to survive and raise offspring. Not an issue for an AI.
      I happen to live in "Science City" Tsukuba, home to the M.I.T. of Japan, the Japanese "NASA", 3 or 4 Super-Computers, one Particle Collider, and several robot factories. At least one fellow here believes that we are already designing our "replacements" as homo sapiens, the next species to take over from us in this world: It will be a combination of human body, genetic engineering (to improve the biological portion), seamlessly combined with artificial and bionic parts, and computers wired directly into our brains, all connected to a "super-internet" of all other computers and minds worldwide. Yes, sounds like Robo-Cop meets the "6 Million Man" mixed with the Borg!

      The fellow has a sense of humor, and calls his company "Cyberdyne" and his robot suit "H.A.L." (Ya gotta be an SF movie fan to get the references, but "Cyberdyne" is the company that built the Terminator, and H.A.L. is the paranoid computer from 2001). So far, "H.A.L." is just one of these bionic exo-skeletons (although thought controlled), but he hopes in a few years it will let the paralyzed walk, and (by the time I am old) give me super strength to lift up cars with my thoughts!

      HAL 5 or Hybrid Assistive Limb 5 is a robot suit (aka artificial powered exoskeleton) developed by Professor Yoshiyuki Sankai, Tsukuba University of Japan.


      Anyway, the hybrid of human and machine will resolve the question about whether there will be sentience and emotion ... because it will come from us.

      Gassho, j
      Last edited by Jundo; 02-25-2015, 05:16 PM.
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Kyonin
        Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
        • Oct 2010
        • 6739

        #4
        Hi guys,

        As a sci-fi junkie, what can I say. I'm all for our robot friends to become a reality.

        I see technology as a series of instruments designed to help us in work we do, whatever the kind. In that sense, to me tools don't have a soul of their own, but they reflect the work and intelligence of the people who created them.

        So when I use a tool like a computer, phone or spoon, I try to always think and thank the people behind it and the effort.

        I'm not sure there will ever be an AI capable of replacing human interaction, like in the movie HER, but it can get pretty darn close. It all depends on how deep we connect with technology and the human attributes we give to it.

        I once tried to have an AIBO. I though it was so nice and a cool pet to have. But then I realized a robot would never replace the feeling of sharing life with a cat.

        And about that Korean movie... I'm watching it over the weekend.

        Thanks, Jundo!

        Gassho,

        Kyonin
        #SatToday
        Hondō Kyōnin
        奔道 協忍

        Comment

        • Risho
          Member
          • May 2010
          • 3179

          #5
          That is very interesting and it is why I'm on the lookout for skynet. lol

          I wonder how one would prove consciousness. We can't even define it yet, but we seem to be able to observe when things are conscious. Perhaps it means that something can observe the environment and make decisions or do things based on that observation. I don't know.

          But it would be interesting if we could create beings that were conscious (aside from birth which we really don't create).

          Gassho,

          Risho
          -sattoday
          Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39221

            #6
            By the way, I have a confession to make before the entire Sangha. I kinda have a "thing" for a robot. I get a little "turned on" when she gets "turned on", and part of me wants to "hook up" ... my data transfer cables. Yes, I am a digital dirty old man stalking an appliance much too young for me. I am in love with HRP-4C, and have been since she first came out of the factory a few years ago (right here in Tsukuba, although she actually is a little out of date now, her warranty having expired. She is showing the scratches and dents of a hard life now). Here is me looking like a rather creepy overaged schoolboy with a crush on a new video game at a recent Robot Show here in Tsukuba ...



            The HRP-4C is a female humanoid robot, created by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology - a Japanese research facility. An in-public demonstration was put on March 16, 2009. It measures 158 centimetres (5 feet, 2 inches) tall, and weighs 43 kilos (95 pounds) - including a battery pack. The robot's shape and joints are based on the 1997–1998 Japanese body dimension database. The HRP-4C has a realistic head, and the average figure of a young Japanese female. It can move like a human and responds based on speech recognition. It is capable of recognizing ambient sounds and, by using the vocal synthesizer Vocaloid, can sing. The software that operates the robot is developed on the basis of Open Robotics Platform (OpenRTP), including OpenRTM-aist and OpenHRP3. Recent upgrades have allowed HRP-4C to mimic human facial and head movements, as well as execute dance steps, resulting in the most realistic performance yet at Tokyo's Digital Content Expo in 2010.
            I was not alone. At the Robot Show, a hoard of mostly male "Otaku" Nerdy types stood around ... well, you get the picture.



            Here she is in motion ... a real "doll" ...

            © Jo l'Indienhttp://flesh-world.bandcamp.com/album/uncanny-valley


            I know this violates the Precepts ... not to mention that I think she would be very "high maintenance". Anyone remember the Stepford Wives? I could keep her plugged in in the garage. Anyway, I'll stick with my current wife, though sometimes a bit "high maintenance" too. (Maybe Mina is the one who would like to replace me with a machine sometimes).



            Gassho, J
            Last edited by Jundo; 02-27-2015, 03:23 AM.
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • Byrne
              Member
              • Dec 2014
              • 371

              #7
              Having worked for several months editing custom porn (15 years ago. I don't do that anymore) that isn't even close to the weirdest stuff I've heard or seen. When it comes to that stuff rationality and judgement go out the window. Very Zen. Rock on
              Jundo.

              Gassho

              Sat Today

              Comment

              • Kyonin
                Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                • Oct 2010
                • 6739

                #8
                Oh man!!

                Do androids dream with electric Zen priests?

                Okay, have to go back to the zagu...

                Gassho,

                Kyonin
                #SatToday
                Hondō Kyōnin
                奔道 協忍

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39221

                  #9
                  Here is a bit more ...

                  Physicist Michio Kaku has a couple of pretty good books on the future of highly likely technological discovery and invention in the coming decades and centuries.





                  It seems that Avatar, Total Recall and such may not be merely electric dreams. Among his predictions, some merely within decades, he says this ...

                  Of particular interest is the ability to implant memories.
                  ‘First of all, someone goes on vacation before you, and pleasant memories such as walking on the seashore and picking up rocks are put on a disc,’ Dr Kaku told MailOnline.
                  ‘Then they're uploaded into your own mind; relax, and there you are at the beach.
                  ‘Feel the wind at your face, hear the sound of the waves, all the sensations – you’ll have a memory of a very nice walk on the beach in some exotic location, that’s what this person before you felt.
                  ‘These things are within the realms of possibility – it’s only a matter of time.’

                  ...

                  ‘We’ll be able to perform primitive forms of telepathy, we’ll eventually record memories, and then Alzheimer's patients will be able to push a button and memories will flood in.
                  ‘Beyond that, the Internet will be replaced by the “Brain-net”, where you can convey emotions and memories rather than just text.’
                  Further into the future, probably the 22nd century, we could control surrogate robots on alien worlds with our minds, so we can explore space without physically having to go anywhere, according to Dr Kaku.

                  ...

                  On telepathy, Dr Kaku says we can already take someone who’s totally paralysed, hook them up to a computer, and allow them to send messages on the internet.
                  In the future, you could ‘walk into a room, mentally turn on the lights, internet, answer emails, call up for a movie. Indeed the computer mouse will gradually be phased out.
                  This will be made possible thanks to programmable matter – the dream of creating tiny little dust particles with the power of a PC, known as catoms, that can change their electric charge and be rearranged – all by our minds.
                  At the moment we are ‘nowhere near getting down to a grain of sand,’ but Dr Kaku insists this can be addressed in the future.
                  ‘In principle, in the future – mid-century – when you walk into a room, you’ll mentally control all computers which are invisible – like Harry Potter.

                  EXCLUSIVE: The US physicist explained to MailOnline that scientists have learned more about the brain in the last 15 years than we have in the rest of human history.
                  Yes, this is all part of our future planning for Treeleaf ... lighting the Incense with just our thoughts ... the beginners mind of Shikantaza helped along by plugging into the visions and emotions of experienced sitters. The following is my little vision for the near future of Treeleaf ...

                  THE WORLD IS VIRTUAL, THIS SANGHA IS REAL

                  With Gassho before a body scanner, sitters will enter the 3-D Holographic Zen Hall from wherever they are. Instantly, a high roofed room, Manjusri Bodhisattva at its center, fills the senses and the 10 directions encircling them. Lifelike images of a hundred others who have sat that day (some hours earlier in distant time zones) occupy projected Zafus all around, and the scent of incense perfumes the air. A young priest walks through the room straightening slippers (all made of photons), guiding newcomers to their places. Biosensors in the sitter’s clothing adjust posture with a touch lightly felt at the small of the back. A teacher in far Japan, as if a few feet away, offers a talk and responds immediately to questions. Rising from Zazen, all recite as one the Bodhisattva Vows, prostrating toward Manjusri now seen hovering midair as vast as a mountain. The identical scene appears in Holospaces in every sitter’s home or private place, including for one fellow sitting zero gravity on the long voyage to Mars.

                  Though sounding like Isaac Asimov meets the Lotus Sutra, researchers at the holographics lab of one of Japan’s best science universities tell me it is just a matter of time now. The ‘HoloZendo’ is not a figment of the imagination, and may be available to carry in one’s pocket.

                  http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...sangha-is-real
                  Gassho, J

                  SatToday ... but would implanted memories of having sat be the same as sitting?
                  Last edited by Jundo; 02-27-2015, 03:21 AM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39221

                    #10
                    Stephen Hawking said this recently, part of his list of three things that he believes most likely to destroy human civilization (the other two are human aggression and alien life! Personally, I would have added some super-virus from nature, but no problem with stopping at three! ).

                    Artificial intelligence

                    Hawking is part of a small but growing group of scientists who have expressed concerns about "strong" artificial intelligence (AI) -- intelligence that could equal or exceed that of a human.

                    "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," Hawking told the BBC in December 2014. The statement was in response to a question about a new AI voice-synthesizing system that Hawking has been using.

                    Hawking's warnings echo those of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who has called AI humanity's "biggest existential threat." Last month, Hawking, Musk and dozens of other scientific bigwigs signed an open letterdescribing the risks, as well as the benefits, of AI.

                    "Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls," the scientists wrote in the letter, which was published online Jan. 11 by the Future of Life Institute, a volunteer organization that aims to mitigate existential threats to humanity.

                    But many AI researchers say humanity is nowhere near being able to develop strong AI.

                    "We are decades away from any technology we need to worry about," Demis Hassabis, an artificial intelligence researcher at Google DeepMind, told reporters this week at a news conference about a new AI program he developed that can teach itself to play computer games. Still, "It's good to start the conversation now," he added.

                    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stephen-...troy-humanity/
                    So, maybe we need to teach these robots the Precepts ... combined with Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" ...

                    The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround" [and in the series "I Robot". The Three Laws are to be built into the programming of every form of high artificial intelligence]:

                    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

                    A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

                    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

                    ... In later fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations, Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others:

                    0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

                    Gassho, J

                    PS - Koan Update ...

                    A monk asked, "Does a robot have a Buddha-nature or not?"
                    The master said, "Not [Mu]!"
                    The monk said, "Above to all the Buddhas, below to the crawling bugs, all have Buddha-nature. Why is it that the robot has not?"
                    The master said, "Because he has flaws in his programming"

                    A monk asked Master Joshu, "Does a robot have Buddha Nature?"
                    The master replied, "Yes."
                    And then the monk said, "Since it has, how did it get into that skin of metal?"
                    Joshu said, "Because knowingly, he purposefully violates Asimov's Laws."
                    original here ...

                    The Book of Equanimity contains the first-ever complete English language commentary on one of the most beloved classic collections of Zen teaching stories (koans), making them vividly relevant to spiritual seekers and Zen students in the twenty-first century. Continually emphasizing koans as effective tools to discover and experience the deepest truths of our being, Wick brings the art of the koan to life for those who want to practice wisdom in their daily lives. The koan collection Wick explores here is highly esteemed as both literature and training material in the Zen tradition, in which koan-study is one of two paths a practitioner might take. This collection is used for training in many Zen centers in the Americas and in Europe but has never before been available with commentary from a contemporary Zen master. Wick's Book of Equanimity includes new translations of the preface, main case and verse for each koan, and modern commentaries on the koans by Wick himself.
                    Last edited by Jundo; 02-28-2015, 03:18 AM.
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39221

                      #11
                      Here is the Open Letter that is referred to ... you can sign too ...

                      Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence: an Open Letter

                      Artificial intelligence (AI) research has explored a variety of problems and approaches since its inception, but for the last 20 years or so has been focused on the problems surrounding the construction of intelligent agents - systems that perceive and act in some environment. In this context, "intelligence" is related to statistical and economic notions of rationality - colloquially, the ability to make good decisions, plans, or inferences. The adoption of probabilistic and decision-theoretic representations and statistical learning methods has led to a large degree of integration and cross-fertilization among AI, machine learning, statistics, control theory, neuroscience, and other fields. The establishment of shared theoretical frameworks, combined with the availability of data and processing power, has yielded remarkable successes in various component tasks such as speech recognition, image classification, autonomous vehicles, machine translation, legged locomotion, and question-answering systems.

                      As capabilities in these areas and others cross the threshold from laboratory research to economically valuable technologies, a virtuous cycle takes hold whereby even small improvements in performance are worth large sums of money, prompting greater investments in research. There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.

                      The progress in AI research makes it timely to focus research not only on making AI more capable, but also on maximizing the societal benefit of AI. Such considerations motivated the AAAI 2008-09 Presidential Panel on Long-Term AI Futures and other projects on AI impacts, and constitute a significant expansion of the field of AI itself, which up to now has focused largely on techniques that are neutral with respect to purpose. We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do. The attached research priorities document gives many examples of such research directions that can help maximize the societal benefit of AI. This research is by necessity interdisciplinary, because it involves both society and AI. It ranges from economics, law and philosophy to computer security, formal methods and, of course, various branches of AI itself.

                      In summary, we believe that research on how to make AI systems robust and beneficial is both important and timely, and that there are concrete research directions that can be pursued today.
                      There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.


                      Gassho, J

                      Last edited by Jundo; 03-02-2015, 03:29 AM.
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • Sekishi
                        Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                        • Apr 2013
                        • 5670

                        #12
                        Well, my son and I watched "Doomsday Book" tonight. We giggled. We were grossed out. We furrowed our brows and scratched our chins. We went back to giggling. Thank you for the recommendation Jundo, it was quite something!

                        "Has a robot Buddhanature?"

                        RU-4.
                        For those interested in how cognition and thinking might emerge from neurological mechanisms (or about math, symmetry, formalisms and symbolic logic) I believe you cannot beat "Godel, Escher, and Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter. One of my favorite books of all time. No Dharma angle though.

                        But I would also quote computer science rockstar Edsger W. Dijkstra, who once wrote: "The question of whether machines can think... is about as relevant as the question of whether submarines can swim."

                        We call the human mental process "thinking", so we tend to think sentience must look something like our own mental processes, when it simply does not need to be thus. The universe produced trees and logs, dogs and humans, Buddhas and viruses. Perhaps everything is sentient.

                        Gassho,
                        Sekishi
                        #sattoday
                        Sekishi | 石志 | He/him | Better with a grain of salt, but best ignored entirely.

                        Comment

                        • Sekishi
                          Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                          • Apr 2013
                          • 5670

                          #13
                          Related to the original post about services for beloved AIBOs, I thought I would share a story, and ask a question.

                          When I was a child, my mother made teddy bears. Big ones, tiny ones, ones with fun outfits, you name it. She and I went to craft fairs selling bears, entering them into contests, meeting other people into bears, etc. I have many fond memories of such events. Sometime in the 80's, we worked together on a nearly human-sized bear. To a child's eyes, he was huge: to stuff a body so large we used vermiculite (it would have been expensive and difficult to use cotton). We entered him in a contest at a bear festival at the Philadelphia Zoo. My mother drove a Pinto at the time, and between a woman, her 8 or 9 year old son, display tables, and a few dozen bears, there was no room for Growler, the fully articulated giant teddy bear. We wrapped him in a tarp, tied him to the roof, and drove from Nowheresville West Virginia to Philly that way. I'm sure many people wondered what was with the hairy overweight cadaver on our roof. Growler did not win any prizes, but was well loved and never sold. Just a few years later my mother passed away.

                          A quarter century later, all of her crafts have been scattered to the winds, given away, donated to goodwill, etc. But Growler has gone everywhere with me. A 5 foot tall, 30+lb friendly monster that still growls when you move him around (we stuffed a "growling tube" in him when he was made). His stitches are starting to give way, and he now leaves clouds of white dust everywhere as the vermiculite breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Aggregates.

                          My own son has mostly outgrown such things, and seeing Growler sitting in his chair in my studio mostly fills me with sadness at this point. A reminder of my own dear one lost, of the years ticking away, of the ultimate dissolution of all things.

                          My wife and I have been discussing giving him a funeral this spring. We've lived in our current house for 14 years now, longer than I had with my own mother. In this backyard we've buried pets, strays, and wildlife killed on the road. I've been thinking it is time to let go of Growler and my own mother: to bury him with full ceremony, incense, the inkin, and the heart sutra.

                          What do you think dear Sangha?

                          Gassho,
                          Sekishi
                          Sekishi | 石志 | He/him | Better with a grain of salt, but best ignored entirely.

                          Comment

                          • glow
                            Member
                            • Apr 2012
                            • 69

                            #14
                            Sekishi -

                            I think a Buddhist funeral for "Growler" would be a wonderful idea. Sounds as if it is time for him to be put to rest. Let us know if you do, and maybe we can be present virtually.

                            Thank you Jundo, and everyone for such an interesting thread.

                            Gassho,

                            Glo

                            Sat2Day

                            Comment

                            • Byokan
                              Treeleaf Unsui
                              • Apr 2014
                              • 4279

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Sekishi
                              I've been thinking it is time to let go of Growler and my own mother: to bury him with full ceremony, incense, the inkin, and the heart sutra.

                              What do you think dear Sangha?

                              Gassho,
                              Sekishi
                              Hi Sekishi,

                              Your story touched me deeply; thank you for sharing it. It seems like maybe Growler is telling you that he’s ready to rest, now. I think that if you feel a calling to have this funeral, you should follow that instinct and do what feels right. It sounds like a very beautiful and sincere way to honor your memories and move forward. May you do so with a peaceful heart.

                              I didn't know your mother, but something tells me she'd love the idea.

                              Gassho
                              Lisa
                              sat today

                              p.s. please give Growler a hug from me
                              展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
                              Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

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