Archive for July, 2016

Quote note (#267)

Back to basics:

Are there countries with low average scores that tear up the technological track? Mostly not – generally, fairly high average IQ seems to be a prerequisite for creativity in science and mathematics. Necessary, although not sufficient: bad choices (Communism), having the world kick you in the crotch (Mongols), or toxic intellectual fads can all make smart peoples unproductive. […] The exceptions, such as they are, seem to be a result of strong population substructure. India has a low average IQ, but there are distinct subpopulations (castes) that apparently have much higher IQ – although I’d love to see some decent studies on this. With numbers. …

(Via (via))

July 11, 2016admin 14 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations
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Quote note (#266)

It is surely a crucial (and inadequately acknowledged) feature of Darwin’s The Origin of Species that its point of departure is artificial selection, which might also be described as primordial technology, or the foundation of material civilization. Natural selection acquires definition through comparison with the (predominantly unconscious) process of domestication, or cultivation. This is the transitional paragraph (from Chapter IV):

As man can produce, and certainly has produced, a great result by his methodical and unconscious means of selection, what may not natural selection effect? Man can act only on external and visible characters: Nature, if I many be allowed to personify the natural preservation or survival of the fittest, cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as they are useful to any being. She can act on every internal organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on the whole machinery of life. Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her, as is implied by the fact of their selection. Man keeps the natives of many climates in the same country; he seldom exercises each selected character in some peculiar and fitting manner; he feeds a long- and short-beaked pigeon on the same food; he does not exercise a long-backed or long-legged quadruped in any peculiar manner; he exposes sheep with long and short wool to the same climate. He does not allow the most vigorous males to struggle for the females. He does not rigidly destroy all inferior animals, but protects during each varying season, as far as lies in his power, all his productions. He often begins his selection from some half-monstrous form; or at least by some modification prominent enough to catch the eye or to be plainly useful to him. Under Nature, the slightest difference of structure or constitution may well turn the nicely balanced scale in the struggle for life, and so be preserved. How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will be his results, compared with those accumulated by Nature during whole geological periods! Can we wonder, then, that Natures productions should be far “truer” in character than man’s productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship?

July 10, 2016admin 22 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Events
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Countdown

XS wishes all its readers a productive Bitcoin Halving Day. (It’s only the second ever — with the first falling on November 28, 2012, when Block 210000 was solved.)

Bitcoin likes Countdown numbers (only 21000000 will ever be produced).

(Countdown = 210.)

July 9, 2016admin 8 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Events
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Sentences (#64)

We are in over our heads in racism here.

So many fronts, so little time.

Some context:

“The Amazing Atheist” … is a disease, and if left untreated, he and his fans may kill any hope that atheism can make the world a better place.

(Kek.)

July 8, 2016admin 37 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Pass the popcorn
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Twitter cuts (#72)

Inevitable quibbles aside, it’s quite shocking how well this works.

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July 7, 2016admin 10 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Images
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Fish People

Since the opportunities for XS to agree (in advance) with PZ Myers don’t come along too regularly, it’s worth seizing upon those that do. For anyone who thinks cladistics are important, this point is worth strongly defending:

There are multiple meanings of “fish”. We can use it to refer to specific species or an extant category of animals: salmon are fish, halibut are fish, herring are fish. No one objects to that, and they all understand that if I said “humans are still salmon”, that would be wrong. […] But another way the term is used is as a descriptor for a clade. A taxonomic clade is a “grouping that includes a common ancestor and all the descendants (living and extinct) of that ancestor”. […] So, for instance, humans belong to the mammalian clade, which includes mice and cats and cows. If we have transhuman, part-cyborg descendants, they will still be mammals, because, note, by definition a clade must include all the descendants of an ancestor. We’re trapped! There’s no way our progeny can exit the clade!

In fact, it’s such a sound point, it’s worth generalizing.

July 6, 2016admin 17 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Realism
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Chaos Patch (#121)

(Open thread + links)
Scrappy out-of-Shanghai-HQ edition.

Neocameral meditations. “Why I am not a Neocameralist.” “When men vote you get the free market, when women vote you get socialism.” The weekly round, plus outliers.

Faux cosmopolitanism. Reactionary royalism reaches the center-left. The democratic agony (1, 2, 3, 4). “I think when many Leftists realize that we as nationalists are the true socialists, the true anti-globalists and the true anti-capitalists I believe they will come to our side.” Repatriation without tears (plus, baby steps).

Brexit reflections (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and background. The coming cascade (1, 2, 3, 4). “I love the EU.”

The unmentionable war. Crisis in an age of (political) dimness. Round two in Austria (1, 2). Keystone sailors.

Diversity training doesn’t work. The next Gawker will be darker. Tarzan cannot be redeemed.

The days of human combat pilots are numbered. Digital vandalism. Hybrid VR.

Parasite pressure. The search for alien refrigeration.

Gödel’s legacy. Unending ‘iron harvest’ on the Somme. War on drugs.

[More later.]

July 5, 2016admin 58 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Chaos
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Cybergothic

The latest dark gem from Fernandez opens:

When Richard Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, described his experiences treating patients with demonic possession in the Washington Post claiming such incidents are on the rise, it was met with derision by many newspapers’ commenters. Typical was “this man is as nutty as his patients. His license should be revoked.” […] Less likely to have his intellectual credentials questioned by the sophisticates of the Washington Post is Elon Musk who warned an audience that building artificial intelligence was like “summoning the demon”. …

The point, of course, is that you don’t get the second eventuality without conceding to the virtual reality of the first. The things ‘Gothic superstition’ have long spoken about are, in themselves, exactly the same as those extreme technological potentials are excavating from the crypt of the unimaginable. ‘Progress’ is a tacit formula for dispelling demons — from consciousness, if not existence — yet it is itself ever more credibly exposed as the most complacent superstition in human history, one that is still scarcely reckoned as a belief in need of defending at all.

How does the press warn the public about demons arising from a “master algorithm” without making it sound like a magic spell? With great difficulty because the actual bedrock of reality may not only be stranger than the Narrative supposes, but stranger than it can suppose.

The faith in progress has an affinity with interiority, because it consolidates itself as the subject of its own narrative. (There’s an off-ramp into Hegel at this point, for anyone who wants to get into Byzantine story-telling about it.) As our improvement becomes the tale, the Outside seems to haze out even beyond the bounds of its intrinsic obscurity — until it crashes back in.

… where there are networks there is malware. Sue Blackmore a writer in the Guardian*, argues that memes travel not just across similar systems, but through hierarchies of systems to kill rival processes all the time. She writes, “AI rests on the principle of universal Darwinism – the idea that whenever information (a replicator) is copied, with variation and selection, a new evolutionary process begins. The first successful replicator on earth was genes.” […] In such a Darwinian context the advent of an AI demon is equivalent to the arrival of a superior extraterrestrial civilization on Earth.

Between an incursion from the Outside, and a process of emergence, there is no real difference. If two quite distinct interpretative frames are invoked, that results from the inadequacies of our apprehension, rather than any qualitative characteristics of the thing. (Capitalism is — beyond all serious question — an alien invasion, but then you knew I was going to say that.)

… we ought to be careful about being certain what forms information can, and cannot take.

If we had the competence to be careful, none of this would be happening.

(Thanks to VXXC2014 for the prompt.)

* That description is perhaps a little cruel, she’s a serious, pioneering meme theorist.

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July 3, 2016admin 43 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Realism
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Quote note (#265)

Goldman on the Liberal Inquisition:

The fragility of medieval society required the elimination of heretics. […] Today’s Inquisition is energized by a similar sense of fragility. The liberal establishment lives in terror that the people will rise in revolt. Its program has failed. After eight years of the most liberal administration in American history, most Americans believe the economy still is in recession. Labor force participation is at the lowest level since the early 1930s, and real household median income remains almost a tenth below its peak. […] … Even the liberal elite has suffered from liberal hegemony. What has liberal intellectual life accomplished in the past fifty years? The universities train legions of students in deconstructionist literary criticism, ethnic studies, gender studies, postcolonial studies, and similar ideology-driven claptrap. It has created an incomprehensible language in which it can talk to itself but to no one else. And it cannot find jobs for its most committed cadre. […] Liberal intellectual life is a scam, a goof, a fraud, a hoax. There are no reasonable liberals to whom Christians might appeal in the name of fairness and free speech. There are only terrified, beleaguered, fanatical, and embittered liberals, painfully aware of the spreading discontent among the untutored masses. If they were not sure of it before 2016, Donald Trump has made it clear to them. …

July 2, 2016admin 15 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Religion
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Sentences (#63)

Quoted in Jared Taylor’s review of Guillaume Faye’s The Colonization of Europe:

“Allah is great. He brings madness on the enemy.”

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July 2, 2016admin 29 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Lunatics
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