Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

Quote note (#358)

David French at NRO (wait, it’s good):

Our national political polarization is by now so well established that the only real debate is over the nature of our cultural, political, and religious conflict. Are we in the midst of a more or less conventional culture war? Are we, as Dennis Prager and others argue, fighting a kind of “cold” civil war? Or are we facing something else entirely? […] I’d argue that we face “something else,” and that something else is more akin to the beginning stages of a national divorce than it is to a civil war.

Also this:

The Internet brings all of human knowledge to our smartphones, but rather than using it as a tool for outreach and understanding, we’re using it to find and live with people just like us. In other words, we’re sorting.


A civil war results when the desire for unification and domination overrides the desire for separation and self-determination. …] … I don’t believe a civil-war mentality will save America. There are simply too many differences and too many profound disagreements for one side or the other to exercise true political dominance. Red won’t beat blue in the same way that blue beat gray. Adopt the civil-war mentality and you’ll only hasten a potential divorce.

We’re getting there.

June 8, 2017admin 35 Comments »

Quote note (#356)

XS makes more of this than the article itself does:

Last summer, the AutoML challenge saw teams go head-to-head to build machine learning “black boxes” that can select models and tune parameters without any human intervention. Even game designers are in on the act—the team behind the hit game Space Engineers has used some of their profits to set up a team of experts to design AI able to optimize its own hardware and software. […] While this kind of automation could make it easier for non-experts to design and deploy AI systems, it also seems to be laying the foundation for machines that can take control of their own destiny. […] The concept of “recursive self-improvement” is at the heart of most theories on how we could rapidly go from moderately smart machines to AI superintelligence. The idea is that as AI gets more powerful, it can start modifying itself to boost its capabilities. As it makes itself smarter it gets better at making itself smarter, so this quickly leads to exponential growth in its intelligence. …

June 1, 2017admin 20 Comments »
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Sentences (#97)

Post-smug politics:

One of the most arresting aspects of the start of the Trump era is that nearly everyone, regardless of their political persuasion, seems convinced that their side is losing.

Perhaps because the thing that’s winning is unrecognizable? Partly its the rise of China, partly its Capital phase-transition, and partly its the messy stage of collapse. In any case, it looks like the signature of the Outside.

April 27, 2017admin 23 Comments »

Quote note (#349)

I’d call it the Xenosystems Scenario, but it’s apparently already taken:

The architect of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee today talked about some of his concerns for the internet over the coming years, including a nightmarish scenario where artificial intelligence (AI) could become the new ‘masters of the universe’ by creating and running their own companies. …

Hard for me to imagine how this could possibly not happen.

April 12, 2017admin 18 Comments »

Twitter cuts (#123)

This is not — of course — conclusive. It would be a stretch to say that it isn’t suggestive. As far as practical politics are concerned, current leftist priorities look strikingly self-contradicting. Islamization or popular sovereignty — choose one (or less).

The essay at the attached link recommends re-education as a remedy, in an age when the dominant organs of opinion formation have collapsed into culture war and unprecedented illegitmacy. Good luck with that.

ADDED: On point.

March 16, 2017admin 25 Comments »


Simply, yes:

Don’t organize. Pack. […] Not literally, of course. Not even the good people of Canada should have to stomach a mass migration of moping American liberals mumbling, “Live locally … make art.” What I mean is that it’s time for blue states and cities to effectively abandon the American national enterprise, as it is currently constituted. Call it the New Federalism. Or Virtual Secession. Or Conscious Uncoupling — though that’s already been used. Or maybe Bluexit.

March 9, 2017admin 56 Comments »

Quote note (#333)


There must have been some selection for IQ – without it, our brains would have disintegrated. But that selection can’t have been very strong, or intelligence would have gone up like a rocket. Today it’s going down at a rate of something like three points a century – think what would have happened if it had changed that rapidly, either up or down, over the last couple of millennia.

If humans aren’t already too stupid to live, they will be soon.

February 19, 2017admin 40 Comments »

Civil War II

… is looking like the one thing everyone can agree on (1, 2, 3, linked in order of escalation).

Prompt via.

January 20, 2017admin 67 Comments »

Quote note (#320)

The dark tide:

Ultimately, democracy itself will be called into question. A remarkably small number of people will be contributing anything in terms of technological progress or economic growth. In the post-work world, the vast majority of people will simply be consumers, passively absorbing increasingly degraded cultural products which cater to their worst instincts. But because of universal suffrage, these masses will still have the political power to direct more public goods their way, even as the entire System becomes financially unsustainable. A major crisis is all but inevitable. …

January 5, 2017admin 27 Comments »
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Quote note (#319)

Greer’s analysis has its questionable idiosyncrasies, but at its level of maximum abstraction it’s hard to contest:

As 2017 dawns, in a great many ways, modern industrial civilization has flung itself forward into a darkness where no stars offer guidance and no echoes tell what lies ahead. I suspect that when we look back at the end of this year, the predictable unfolding of ongoing trends will have to be weighed against sudden discontinuities that nobody anywhere saw coming. We’re not discussing the end of the world, of course; we’re talking events like those that can be found repeated many times in the histories of other failing civilizations.

He systematically underestimates the contribution of unprecedented positive-feedbacks, in the opinion of this blog, but — perhaps ironically — factoring those in only strengthens the broad prognosis. It’s mostly night now.

January 2, 2017admin 12 Comments »