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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Your crappy product isn't "New" and "Improved" because you slapped those words on it.

Your AI theory is stupid and slapping the word "super" in front of the word AI doesn't help.

Your anarchism is facile and slapping the word "deep" in front of the word "state" doesn't help.


jimf said...

> Your AI theory is stupid
A.I. Expert at Baidu, Andrew Ng, Resigns From Chinese Search Giant
MARCH 22, 2017

HONG KONG — In 2014, Baidu announced a hiring coup in the world
of artificial intelligence: It had brought in the Stanford and
Google alumnus Andrew Ng to lead a new research lab in Silicon Valley.

Just under three years later, Mr. Ng said in a blog post on Tuesday
that he was leaving the Chinese search engine company. . .

In his post on Tuesday, Mr. Ng struck a positive note:
“Baidu’s A.I. is incredibly strong, and the team is stacked up
and down with talent; I am confident A.I. at Baidu will
continue to flourish.”

Mr. Ng wrote that he would continue working to ensure A.I.
made “life better for everyone.” He wrote that he saw the
technology’s impact going far beyond large tech companies
like Google and Baidu.

“In addition to transforming large companies to use A.I., there
are also rich opportunities for entrepreneurship as well as
further A.I. research.”

Mr. Ng is part of a still-small coterie of researchers who
are experts in deep learning, a branch of artificial intelligence
that seeks to use computers to emulate the functions of the
human brain. . .

Mr. Ng wrote that the lab he helped start and is now leaving is
working on many. . . technologies, “such as face-recognition
(used in turnstiles that open automatically when an authorized
person approaches), Melody (an A.I.-powered conversational bot
for health care) and several more.”. . .

That reminds me of that Star Trek (original series) outtake reel
that has Shatner walking face-first into one of those "automatic
doors" on the Enterprise interior set, actually operated manually
by out-of-sight stage hands, who in at least one case weren't
paying close-enough attention or weren't quick enough on the draw.
If I were an actor, it would only take one such incident to make
me shy of charging through those doors, no doubt much
to the director's annoyance. "Cut! What's the matter, Captain --
scared of those turbolift doors?"

I've also more than once been painfully bent double by a turnstile
in the New York City subway system, when I was overconfident
that my Metrocard had registered properly, but instead was
unexpectedly locked out by "Insufficient fare" or "Please swipe again
at this turnstile." (I usually manage better than Hillary Clinton,


jimf said...

> Your crappy product isn't "New" and "Improved"

Also in today's paper:
Trump Says Regulations Impede. Perhaps Not in the Electric Car Business.
Farhad Manjoo
MARCH 22, 2017

. . .

You might wonder why electric cars need help. If more efficient
cars are so clearly better than their predecessors, shouldn’t
the market ensure their success?

But that’s not how technological progress typically works.
New technologies — even ones that, on paper, look much better
than old ones — usually start out at a severe disadvantage to the
stuff they’re up against. ***The first personal computers were
costlier and less powerful than early mainframes***, for instance,
and early digital cameras were not as good as film cameras. . .

Say ***what***? I went to an IBM PC dealer in 1983,
but walked away with a mainframe after being convinced that a
slightly-used System/370 was a better deal?

(I suppose I could reformulate that weird-seeming remark
in a way that might make sense -- not on a single-unit individual-consumer
level, but on an organization-wide level: a single mainframe might have
been, or still be, a cost-effective alternative to a distributed
system based on many smaller machines. That's a pendulum that
swings back and forth -- there are **still** mainframes being
sold, after all.

'Course, if you're a consumer still hankering after a mainframe
lo these 35 years later, a modern PC'll run a mainframe emulator
like Hercules faster and more reliably than 35-year-old mainframe hardware.
Don't ever try running one of **those** in a business environment,
though! They're strictly for play-time.)

jimf said...
Rational Spirituality with Michael Ferguson
Zelph On the Shelf
Published on Jan 11, 2017
Tanner [Gilliland] discusses rational spirituality
with Cornell neuroscientist, Michael Ferguson.


Ferguson: . . . First let's go with Plato, then let's go with neuroscience.
Plato has this really wonderful thought experiment that he refers to as
the Euthyphro dilemma. . . Plato asks a question about the nature of the
gods. . . whether the gods have their divine power because it's intrinsically
part of their nature, or whether the gods derive their divine power by
complying with and obeying sets of principles and laws that are greater
than themselves. . .

[Assuming the latter entails] the question, why can't **we** embody those
elements of divine nature. . . and in non-trivial ways start to incarnate
and embody the divine nature ourselves?

Gilliland: And I think that that's completely possible, and it's just
how it will be, moving on from this post-atheistic society [the question is]
how do we harness those things? All the things that you're saying I
see as reality. Earlier I mentioned post-scarcity -- to me, that's Zion;
and transhumanism -- that's becoming gods, that what we as Mormons
always believed we would be doing. It's a little different language
that we're using, but it's. . . using the same sort of cerebral processes.

[Indeed. ;-> ]

Ferguson: I think that a huge difference as well is that we're not deferring
to external authorities; we're saying this is something that's coming
from our own capacity to recognize and discern truth, virtue, and to
have the locus of authority be within the individual. That's a radical
shift from institutional or organized religion. . .

Tanner Gilliand is an ex-Mormon blogger, and Michael Ferguson is one-half
of the first gay (and also ex-Mormon) couple to get married in Utah.

I left a comment on the video:

Michael Ferguson said: "Even for me, [from] a humanist point of view,
those types of very profound, transcendent visions and aspirations for what
my nature can become, and for what communities can create and,
really ambitiously, what global societies could crystallize and become,
still speak to me very very profoundly."

Must-read recommendation: Olaf Stapledon's _Star Maker_. (Also his
_Last and First Men_ and his two "lighter" novels, _Odd John_ and _Sirius_.
All available via Amazon, of course.)


Tanner Gilliland talks about "post-scarcity". I wonder if he's read
any Iain M. Banks "Culture" novels.

jimf said...

Speaking of (ex-)Mormons:
Mormonism vs Scientology - A Talk with Jonathan Streeter
Published on Mar 2, 2017

1:00:35/1:21:31 [Shelton]: I believe, or I have this idea right now, that
almost every religion, every major religion on the planet, every religious
organization that has lasted -- I believe that they **started** as
what we would call a destructive cult. You know, they start with a leader
or leaders who demand obedience, demand that they are the only authority
who can be listened to, no one else can be listened to, they inculcate
an us-versus-them attitude; it's usually about power, aggrandizement
and money for the leader or leaders, sexual favors as well, all kinds
of whatever it is that that leader is trying to get he's going to get from
his followers, and that's the reward he gets or the service he gets or
whatever from his followers. Now, this sort of thing dies more often
than it lives once the leader or leaders of the initial group and the
first generation of its followers die off, because you need a powerful
leader to step up and take the thing over. The JW's had Rutherford,
the Mormons had Brigham Young, the Scientologists have David Miscavige.
They tend to be ruthless people, much more visibly authoritarian maybe
than even the initial leader was who tends to be more charismatic -- a
bit more, maybe not soft-spoken but the kind of person that people are willing to
follow, they put everything, their whole lives into it. . .

[1:03:55] I would be very curious to see what early, early,
early Christianity looked like, 'cause I'll bet you it looked a lot like Scientology. . .

[1:11:34] I'm pretty sure that I'm right about my idea about religions starting
as destructive cults.

[Streeter]: When you start to study different groups like [Jehovah's Witnesses],
like Christian Scientists, all these other things, you start to realize that
there are these themes that just show up again and again, these psychological
levers that all these groups have figured out how to pull to get people
bound to the group itself. . .

[1:16:40] Have there been any destructive cults or high-demand religions that
have actually changed and survived?

[Shelton]: Well, I think every modern religion we have, has. . .

I think Shelton's hypothesis is very likely.

I left a comment on this video, which I lifted from
Somebody's always selling, and somebody's always buying.

"Jesus Christ, narcissist":

(There is, of course, no historical evidence that any
such person ever existed. Christopher Hitchens,
while acknowledging this, concluded that the apparent
fabrications in the New Testament -- moving the place
of birth from Nazareth to Bethlehem to accord with
prophecy, and then concocting a Roman census that never
actually took place to explain the relocation, for example --
are **themselves** circumstantial evidence that **somebody**
may well have existed upon whom the stories were based.
In any case, that there might have been a "deluded
rabbi" at the time is no more surprising than
that there are such guru wannabes today.)