Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bewarable Technology Never Quite Fits.

Been a while since I pitched a futurological brickbat through your windoze.


jimf said...

> Bewarable Technology. . .

There was a guest "rant" about the Human Brain Project on
"mathbabe"'s (Cathy O'Neil's) blog at the end of last year,
last mentioned around here in the comment thread of
("Relevant Expertise in the Critique of Robocultism",
Friday, November 20, 2015 -- that was the exchange with
brain-simulation-optimist Gareth Nelson, transplanted from
a Twitter exchange with Dale).

Every once in a while I go looking for news about the Human Brain
Project, and so I hit on the "mathbabe" blog post
("a guest post by a neuroscientist who may or may not be
a graduate student somewhere in Massachusetts") once again
( ).

There was an amusing item in the comment thread:

November 3, 2015

The other thing that this brain simulation stuff is selling
is nouveau AI by riding on those coattails.

What bothers me is that there are hopeful, quite serious people
like Kurzweil and various transhumanists who are setting people
up to be victimized by scammers. This idea of a consciousness
download by “destructive scanning” of the brain’s connectome,
(perhaps after death) has taken hold and is on the verge of
being marketed.

Like the cryonics, it is total nonsense. It is a con to suggest to
people that they can be “saved” this way, and the usual suspects
are lining up to suck money out of hopeful rubes by suggesting
they might live forever.

You know, it hadn't actually occurred to me before that at some point in
the possibly near future, there might well be some kind of
(dead-and-sliced) "brain scanning" technique that might be cheap
enough to provide a marketable alternative to to a "head job"
or "neuro" cryonics option (though with about as much likelihood
of ever allowing the client to be "reanimated"). And some
quick-off-the-mark startup (possibly funded with venture capital
from one of the Usual Suspects ;-> ) might materialize to
take advantage of this business opportunity. Serious competition
for Alcor and the Cryonics Institute! At any rate, it would
certainly be easier to guarantee the long-term preservation of
the resulting (unlimitedly replicable) digital data set than it is to
guarantee the long-term stability of a head in a tank of liquid
nitrogen. And almost certainly cheaper too! Best of all worlds! ;->

I'm reminded of that J. G. Ballard story "The Time-Tombs" (1963):
"There were no corpses in the time-tombs, no dusty skeletons.
The cyber-architectonic ghosts which haunted them were embalmed
in the metallic codes of memory tapes, three-dimensional
molecular transcriptions of their living originals, stored
among the dunes as a stupendous act of faith, in the hope that
one day the physical recreation of the coded personalities
would be possible. After five thousand years the attempt had
been reluctantly abandoned, but out of respect for the tomb-
builders their pavilions were left to take their own hazard
with time in the Sea of Vergil..."


Dale Carrico said...

I keep hoping and praying the Randian Atlases really will just go ahead and Go Galt already leaving us moochers to fend for ourselves without them and the tranhumanoidal sooperman will just go ahead and poshumanize themselves by thin-slicing and photocopying their brains for uploading onto facebook as immortal cyberangels leaving us deathist luddite mehum scum to fend for ourselves without them... nobody is stopping them and nobody will miss them when they go. Oy, Superman!

jimf said...

Joe Rogan, futurologist.
Joe Rogan on Gaddafi Death, Hillary Clinton, Information, Artificial Intelligence & Sentient Tech
King Joe Rogan
Aug 1, 2016


Joe Rogan: I've always wondered if one day they'll be able to create
a computer that's so powerful that it will be able to somehow, through
some unseen technology, take account of everything that's in place
as it is right now in the world. Then, monitor for a certain amount
of time and then go backwards, and try to figure out "Well, all
these things got into place because of these events and these
motions" and then be able to recreate it digitally. It sounds
ridiculous. . .

Dave Smith: But hey, who knows?

Rogan: . . . right now, but if we can get to a place where
they can literally do an account of everything that's happened,
every pebble that's on this earth, and go "You know what?
We can extrapolate. We can take all this data, follow it for
a short amount of time, and then, within a 99% accuracy,
go back in time and reacreate events. That sounds so stupid
and ridiculous, but that might be, almost, a method of a
virtual time travel, just super-calculation. Just take into
account all the things that we do know, all the pieces
that are in place right now, everthing that's there, all
the people that are there, and then figure out how they
got there.

Smith: Account for all factors.

Rogan: Yeah, account for everything. A mass of super
calculations impossible for the human mind to even conceive
of, and then -- boom, they have a digital recreation of. . .
George Washington fuckin' his sister, and lyin' about the
cherry tree. . .

Smith: He was full of shit the whole time! . . .

Rogan: Wouldn't it be incredible? I mean, if they could
literally get to a position where they could do a calculation
that's so complete that they could feed it into some sort
of a someday-created virtual reality machine that will
give you, like, a version of that -- you can go back and
watch the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

Smith: If humans can manage to not, like, destroy ourselves
or we don't have some asteroid reset, or something like that,
we're gonna **do** magical shit like that, I'm sure.
We're already doing magic compared to what we could do a
hundred years ago. . .

Rogan: Well Sam Harris was talking about it, and it was
fuh-reakin' me out, because he was talking about the power
that computer are going to have once they. . . once
artificial intelligence becomes sentient, the power that
they're gonna have to improve upon themselves, and how
quickly that's gonna take place, where thousands of years
of progress is gonna take place in a week. And you're like
wait! wait! wait! wait! what? And then, it's just, from
there, each time they improve, it improves exponentially.
Thousands more years, maybe in an hour. Thousands more
years, in a couple of seconds. . .

Smith: Oof!

Rogan: It's just gonna get to some insane place where
you're saying. . . They're reasonably certain that one
day you're gonna have a machine that's like an atom machine,
that you shoot out into the universe, and given an amount
of time extracting all the building materials it needs
from the sky, it'll make a planet. . .

Smith: Hmm.

Rogan: It'll make a planet and inhabit that planet with
intelligent life. And then we can go there. And then it'll
be like Miami in the sky. . . Literally, you could create
anything. . .

Smith: You might already be livin' in it. Maybe that's
how we all got here.

Rogan: Even in one of Elon Musk's more recent talks, he
talked about that. . . And if Harris is right the real
problem with that -- and this is not even his idea, this
is all these people that are really at the forefront of all
this technology. . . we're not gonna be, but **something** is
gonna be a god. It literally is gonna be able to create

Smith: Yeah. . .

Dale Carrico said...

Makes you think.

jimf said...

> Rogan: Well Sam Harris was talking about it, and it was
> fuh-reakin' me out, because he was talking about the power
> that computers are going to have once they. . . once
> artificial intelligence becomes sentient. . .
> And if Harris is right the real problem with that --
> and this is not even his idea, this is all these people
> that are really at the forefront of all this technology. . .
> we're not gonna be, but **something** is
> gonna be a god.

I wonder if anybody is going to try to put a bag over
Sam Harris' head to try to rein in his hyperventilation
before he makes a complete ass of himself in public
(if that hasn't already happened ;-> ).

I suspect not -- I suspect he may already be surrounded
by a plasma of enablers and yes-bots insulating him from
cold hard reality. He's also probably getting high from
breathing the same air in the hype-o-sphere with the likes
of Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk. "They're all friends of mine"
dontcha know!

And I can just imagine having a conversation with Joe Rogan
(not that I'd ever be in a position to have a conversation
with Joe Rogan!), with him saying "Sam Harris says X.
Elon Musk says Y. Who the hell are **you**?".

Ah, celebrity "culture"! ;->
Singularitarianism Must be Challenged by Skeptics
by Myron Getman
27th August 2010

Lately, there has been a fair amount of credulous coverage of the
concept of transhumanism and the singularity on Skeptical podcasts
and otherwise skeptical media. To my recollection, Massimo Pigliucci
and Steven Novella are the only high-profile folks providing any
appropriate counterpoint. After listening to the second episode
on the topic on Skeptically Speaking, I decided I could hold
my tongue no longer. It seems to me the Skeptic community,
as a whole, is doing a piss-poor job being skeptical on this

As a Geologist and Microscopist looking in, transhumanism,
futurism and sigularitarianism all look to be nothing more
than science fiction-based wishful thinking. That is not
to say that there are great strides being made in computer
science and technology or that the idea of augmenting oneself
is appealing. As a Skeptic and an Atheist, I have observed
a number of parallels between this
futurist-whatever-you-want-to-call-it and woo-woo, cults,
and – yes – religion. . .

If someone was to go on a Skeptic show and say similar things
about crystals and New Age woo, they would almost certainly
be challenged. Why did this not happen? Is it because robots
are “good” and crystals are “bad”? Stop playing favorites.
Someone needs to stand up and start shouting
“show me the evidence”! . . .

Dale Carrico said...

Has any futurist predicted what might happen if Joe Rogan becomes sentient?

jimf said...

> Has any futurist predicted what might happen if Joe Rogan becomes sentient?

Apparently that moment has already come and gone.
Chad Lott said...

As a fan of cage fighting, conspiracy theory and psychedelia,
I of course enjoy listening to the Joe Rogan Experience.

From that show, and a few other podcasts there's been a
kind of quasi-men's movement developing. It has a macho Libertarian
heart, but seems to be doing its best to be inclusive and thoughtful.

It's been interesting to see futurological discourse play
out in this kind of psychedelic meathead bro-space (I'm going
to have to admit to having sympathies to the culture) there's
definitely a technology fandom, but it seems to be kept in check
with a certain amount of juvenile silliness.

Sort of Jackass meets the Singularity.

There's been quite a bit of criticism on the forums and
podcasts of this scene on the futurological stuff over the
last few week where it never existed.

People still talk about how cool it would be to have a
robot handjob and then a 3D printed pizza, but
"don't hold your breath" and "hey, you know you can just
like that stuff now without joining a cult" are gaining steam.

Weird times, for sure.

By the way, I misspoke earlier. I said "I can just imagine
having a conversation with Joe Rogan. . ., with him saying
"Sam Harris says X. Elon Musk says Y. Who the hell are **you**?".

Rogan wouldn't say that. He'd say "Who the **fuck** are you?"


Dale Carrico said...

I haven't been able to sustain even minimal interest in cage fighting since it stopped providing crotch shots of Roger Huerta in his boxer briefs, although I will admit I was long fascinated with Ultimate Fighter as a show in a twisted conversation with America's Next Top Model about patriarchy's toll on fame whores.

jimf said...

> . . .crotch shots of Roger Huerta. . .

There was actually an article about male crotches at the Olympics
in today's _New York Times_.
At the Olympics, Everyone’s Looking. Especially at the Men.
AUG. 10, 2016

Call them the “Magic Mike” Olympics. . .

Another cohort following the Olympics. . . does so without much
knowledge or even interest in the rules and arcana. They are
the armchair voyeurs, excited by the sight of bodies at the peak
of perfection. That those bodies are often clad in uniforms
leaving little to the imagination is part of the appeal.

It’s hard to imagine in earlier and more puritanical times a
feature like “36 of the Greatest Summer Olympic Bulges”
appearing in a mainstream American magazine, even one as
prurient as Cosmopolitan. Yet fashions shift in all things.
And a Cosmo slide show that captures and rates the genital
endowments of various male athletes almost immediately went
viral across social media. Unprintable here, the subheadline
even suggests awarding gold medals for exceptional, uh,

Bulges are as inevitable a part of the Summer Games as Bob Costas. . .
There is a decided change, however, in the way performance fabrics
have increased the visibility of virtually any body part they
purport to cover and equally in the frankness of a contemporary
viewer’s gaze.

“People make fun of us for wearing tights,” Mr. [Sam] Mikulak
[a US gymnast] told The Journal. “But if they saw how yoked we
are maybe that would make a difference.”

Consider “yoked” (Urban Dictionary: “well muscled, powerfully built”)
a keyword for an Olympics whose stark objectification of the
male body is in line with. . . the billions of images proliferating
across social media of hot dudes doing practically anything.

Women and gay men are assumed to be the audience for these
displays. The truth is, everybody’s looking. . .

jimf said...

Maybe not Rogan, but Rogen.
Seth Rogen Is Making a Comedy Series About Ray Kurzweil's Singularity Theory
Cheryl Eddy
47 minutes ago

. . .

Rogen said that he and producing/writing partner Evan Goldberg. . .
were hard at work on the script and were planning to film the
pilot next year. . . “It’s about artificial intelligence.
It’s a half-hour comedy about the singularity basically,”
before adding that the singularity theory is “super scary
and we’re trying to make a comedy about it.”

No, not super scary. Just super silly.

And under "Recommended Stories":
Ray Kurzweil Is Talking Bullshit Again
Matt Novak

. . .

Kurzweil does have a gajillion degrees, a gajillion and a half companies,
and he certainly contributed greatly to the field of AI research
before he went off the futurist deep end.

Perhaps Douglas Hofstadter said it best when describing Kurzweil.
Hofstadter explained to American Scientist in 2007, “what I find
is that it’s a very bizarre mixture of ideas that are solid and
good with ideas that are crazy. It’s as if you took a lot of
very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up
so that you can’t possibly figure out what’s good or bad.”

I think in this case we found the dog excrement.

( )

Esebian said...

"Kurzweil [...] certainly contributed greatly to the field of AI research"

Really? Youtube still recommends Sargon and Thunferf00t videos without Videoblocker, I'm not seeing any advances in "AI."

Dale Carrico said...

Kurzweil is twirling, twirling towards the singularity.