Derbyshire on Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s The Second Machine Age:
It’s all happening very fast. The field of Artificial Intelligence was dominated for decades by Moravec’s Paradox: Tasks that are very difficult for human beings, such as playing grandmaster-level chess, are fairly easy to get computers to do, while tasks any two-year-old can accomplish, such as distinguishing between a cat and a dog, are ferociously difficult to computerize.
That’s beginning to look quaint. The authors tell us about some robotics researchers working on SLAM — simultaneous location and mapping. That’s the mental work of knowing where you are in an environment and where other things are in relation to you. It’s the kind of thing the human brain does well, with very little conscious thought, but which is hard to get machines to do.
A politically-incorrect short history of the Wild West. (Jim at his rough realist best.)
… on this question, at least. The sole real puzzle is the precise quantity of dysgenic deterioration that has taken place in Western societies over the last 150 years, or more. Charlton estimates a one SD decline over this period in the UK, which seems entirely credible. Due to the small sample size, his argument from mathematical excellence has an inevitable anecdotal quality, but it would be hard to contest its general direction.
A fascinating paper by Michael A. Woodley (via @intelligenceres) is able to be more comprehensively persuasive. Its second table describes the innovation rate per capita across a sample of European countries falling by almost three-quarters over the period 1845-2005, and roughly halving from 1945-2005. (Great Stagnation anyone?)
It shouldn’t need adding that it’s impossible to read this often enough (it’s always there in my ‘Resources’ roll).
Two more, somewhat more distantly related links.
(We’re so screwed.)
Having received a request for a new Chaos Patch (“because ferrets”) I will immediately comply.
Try not to go too insane. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law (roughly speaking).
I’ve got nothing right now, except to say that I greatly enjoyed Dallas Buyers Club, which might (hopefully) outrage some people.
… and one more thing, anyone looking for a hit of something seriously alien could take a look at this, from Planet Communism, recommended to me (by Javier) over at the nice place. I’m already hooked. A taste:
How can we justify the destruction of the capitalist mode of production by the proletariat? This cannot be done in a narrowly economic context. Marx never faced this problem because he was absolutely certain that the proletarians would rise against capital. But we have to confront this problem if we are going to emerge from the impasse created by our acceptance of the theory according to which the production relations come into conflict with the development of the productive forces (forces which were postulated to exist for the human being, since if this were not the case, why would human beings rebel?) If the productive forces do not exist for human beings but for capital, and if they conflict with production relations, then this means that these relations do not provide the proper structure to the capitalist mode of production, and therefore there can be revolution which is not for human beings (for example, the general phenomenon which is called fascism). Consequently capital escapes.
ADDED: Getting fangy with #Accelerate (just in case anybody here cares about communism today).
March 6, 2014admin
FILED UNDER :Admin
TAGGED WITH :Chaos
Dark Matter joins the stable of scarily professional NRx online journals.
This is still my candidate for the most important thing happening right now. (Unless you count this (or of course this))
John Derbyshire: “When I read news from the country of my birth, the emotions I experience (with rare exceptions) are disgust, horror, and despair.” + Sailer on Handle at VDare. ++ Singapore and HBD.
… and speaking of Handle: “… what do you call it when you have plenty of clever, motivated people who are pretty good at coming up with creative and novel ways of attacking the same impossible problem, and who can make fame and fortune for themselves regardless of actual results, yet are unable or unwilling to ever acknowledge that the problem itself is insoluble by its very nature because such acknowledgement is taboo? [...] You call it, ‘America’.”
This is a little too long to put on a T-shirt, but it’s too perfect to leave off. (I’m going to be flogging it so hard.)
I will not hold valid what has been done because of fear
(via (via @waynecolvin))
A ‘scrap note’ is what you end up with after dropping below the level of articulacy required for a raw quote (or T-shirt slogan). It’s a format dragged out of Cambodia for informal meanderings.
This one is here because I’m in the sand-pit, playing the German Army of the Great War. First hurl everything at the French (communist Accelerationism) and try to take them out of the game within a few months, then wheel around for a plunge into Russia, dismantling the Czarists (with a hurricane of Neocameralism). Sequenced two-front war. It’s a strategy that’s already driven me into narcoleptic disintegration, but I’m committed.
Out here in the Dark East, waiting for news about the titanic Western clashes, it’s a time to patch things together with meager resources. That’s economy, which is always worth exploring. The specific topic of micro-cognition has been nagging at me with unusual ferocity ever since crossing over into Twitter. It seems like something close to a compulsory adaptation, as the near future chews human psychology into hot techno-splinters. If we don’t accept miniaturization as an urgent and intimate problem, we’ll eventually collide ruinously with nano-hostiles we can’t even perceive. (So, as always, I think any traditionalism without a ‘neo-’ is already laid out on the sacrificial slab.)
March 5, 2014admin
FILED UNDER :Stuff
Kevin D Williamson writes one of the best pieces yet on Bitcoin:
To argue that bitcoins are not “real money” because they have no central-bank regulation or central issuer is like arguing that a prepaid disposable cell phone is not a “real phone” because its number doesn’t appear in the directory and you don’t get a bill. That’s the point, or at least part of the point.
I am skeptical of the Bitcoin model, but it has in no small part been a victim of its own popularity, with speculative investments in bitcoins overwhelming their use in commercial transactions. But this phenomenon is not unknown among traditional currencies. Consider the lengths to which the Swiss have had to go in recent years to stabilize the value of the franc as euros (and, to a lesser extent, dollars) bounced about.
But that misses the broader point in a couple of ways. The first is that bitcoins and other private currencies are intended as replacements for greenbacks in approximately the same way that the Internet was intended to be a replacement for the printing press: They may do that, sure, but they will have other uses as well. Wresting control of currencies away from politicians is the only way to let money evolve. Twenty years ago, you didn’t know that you’d want to take photos with your telephone or use it as a boarding pass at the airport. Now you do. Nobody planned that. Nobody knows what “real money” is going to mean in twenty years.
The SPLC honors Richard Lynn with a place in the stocks. (He’s a “white supremacist” apparently, despite thinking the future of human civilization lies in the Far East. (*yawn*))
ADDED: The dike is creaking.
Sickness advances an invaluable philosophical lesson by making it conspicuously difficult to think. Teetering unsteadily at the edge of consciousness, it becomes almost impossible to avoid the observation: “I’m too freaking stupid to think about this right now.” One is thus coaxed into the single most significant realization open to human intelligence. Being stupid is the primary problem, because it retards problem-solving in general.
Are we stupid? Oh yes, of that we can be fully confident. The Old Law of Gnon ensures to a very high level of probability that any creature considering itself part of an intelligent species will be roughly as cognitively deprived as is consistent with the existence of technological civilization. Downward variation is restrained by a floor, and upward variation caught in a trap, so only a relatively narrow band of intellectual capability is realistically available. Anything further requires a break out.
Criticism, whose value is not in any way to be denigrated, is nevertheless a secondary matter. As in Darwinian evolution, or the economics of creative destruction, selection mechanisms presuppose significantly varied material, without themselves explaining how such material is originally generated. Random walks through spaces of possibility, already unsatisfactory in the context of biological explanation, are patently inadequate to economic innovation, and still more so in the philosophical domain. To refer intellectual action to a simple conception of chance is to avoid the problem, which is to say — the task.