Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Backdrop

Some background.

January 19, 2017admin 10 Comments »
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Sentences (#82)

Hawking:

This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.

He’s not wrong about any part of that. Providential Protestantism is a bitch.

December 3, 2016admin 25 Comments »
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Sentences (#76)

Andrew Sullivan:

You are where your attention is.

(Among much else of interest in an excellent contrarian essay I’ve only just got around to.)

October 17, 2016admin 28 Comments »
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Qwernomics

Qwernomics
(Image source: Amy Ireland.)

Paul A. David provides the theoretical backstory, in his essay ‘Clio and the Economics of QWERTY’:

A path-dependent sequence of economic changes is one of which important influences upon the eventual outcome can be exerted by temporally remote events, including happenings dominated by chance elements rather than systematic forces. Stochastic processes like that do not converge automatically to a fixed-point distribution of outcomes, and are called non-ergodic. In such circumstances ‘historical accidents’ can neither be ignored, nor neatly quarantined for the purpose of economic analysis; the dynamic process itself takes on an essentially historical character. […] Touch typing gave rise to three features of the evolving production system which were crucially important in causing QWERTY to become ‘locked in’ as the dominant keyboard arrangement. These features were technical interrelatedness, economies of scale, and quasi-irreversibility of investment. They constitute the basic ingredients of what might be called QWERTYnomics.

The format of the Qwerty keyboard illustrates the production of a destiny. Even in the epoch succeeding the mechanical type-writer, and its specific design imperatives, the legacy layout of alphanumeric keys settled during the 1890s has remained frozen into place without significant revision. In the language of complex systems analysis, this is a special example of path-dependency, or irreducible historicity, characterized by irreversibility. Qwerty persists – arguably, as a suboptimal keyboard solution – due to identifiable ratchet-effects. Based upon this privileged model, the historical, technological, and economic process of ‘lock in’ through positive feedback is called QWERTY-nomics (and — going forward — simply ‘Qwernomics’).

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August 18, 2016admin 36 Comments »
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Chaos Patch (#124)

(Open thread + links)
Late, straggly … chaotic.

Dark reformulation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). Secrets of sex. Holiness (plus). Dampier interviewed. Consequences. Decolonization. Loose women. Leftist lies (1, 2). Daily Moldbug. The weekly round, and outliers.

Libertarian insight and blindness, plus the border question. What the Alt-Right gets right (also). American Nazis today. Ideological rotation. Equality and madness. The persistence of bad ideas. Dugin on Junger. New Man.

Against Edenism. Christianity and the current crisis. Why we can’t talk about Islam (like this, or this). Peace propaganda. Catholics against ethno-nationalism (or not, plus). Citadel at the Orthosphere.

Gold facts. Debt trapped.

Borders matter. Insecurity make-work. Racialized anarcho-tyranny and political polarization (1, 2, 3). “It would be nice if policemen didn’t tend to be divas who sulk and slack off when political leaders demonize cops as racist murderers and encourage black rage, but that’s the way they are.”

“If there were a contest for the most stupid idea in politics, my choice would be the assumption that people would be evenly or randomly distributed in incomes, institutions, occupations or awards, in the absence of somebody doing somebody wrong.”

Geopolitics of shale. Forked Europe. The Far Right’s recruiters. Death of the French Republic (plus). Jews in Sweden (and Amerika, 1, 2). Catalonia votes to split. Ebb-tide of globalism. “What is wrong with 2016? When will it be over?” Luanda tumbles.

Trumpenführer panic report (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Forgotten men. Racialization of American politics. Quiet. The peace and post-constitutional candidate. “… there is in fact a good argument that Trump is Hitler” (plus 1, 2). Trump voters. Fair and balanced. Trump is right on NATO and on crime. What Krugman did. Awkward questions. McMullin.

Poor whites. Rough stuff. What’s wrong with Hillary?

Apocalypse Corner (1, 2, 3).

Race and ideology. French dysgenics. The IQ taboo. Chinese super-baby watch.

Evolution of general intelligence. Kin markers. Mass extinctions.

“Nature, it turns out, doesn’t like to be told what’s presumably natural.”

Scalable technology is the key to historical change. Schism today. The Ethereum hard fork. What Intel does. The Tesla Gigafactory. AI on the way (plus). WeChat. Back-up people. The Internet breaks things up.

Beauty as compression. Iceworm exposed. The Collatz conjecture.

[There’s still more in the in-tray …]

August 10, 2016admin 69 Comments »
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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 »
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Chaos Patch (#119)

(Open thread + links)

The envy engine. Invisible communism. Capitalism plus. “Explain yourselves”. The weekly round, plus outliers.

Dim torture. Academic decay. Still re-echoing (1, 2, 3). The underside of Zootopia. Candles.

Orlando fall-out (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and beyond (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Migrant costs. Hungry Venezuelans. Political upset in Italy. Brexit theater, and the English. Why not (also) Texit? Disintegration.

Trumpenführer panic report (1). Advantages of outsiderness. Trump and American ethnicity (1, 2). Dubious dog-whistles. “The rise of Yiannopoulos can help to explain the rise of Donald Trump.” Popcorn bonus.

Park MacDougald on Thiel (plus references 1, 2). Clickbait disruption.

Race on campus, parts 1, 2, 3. Ashkenazi genetics. Why is suicide rare?

Over-heated climate models. Extinct meteorites. The uncharted solar system. Neanderthal genetic gunk. The resilience of teleology.

Castillo on Urbit. DAO crash (1, 2, 3, 4). “… software is eating the software companies that are eating the world.” 21 Inc. Bitcoin computer. Satoshi Nakamoto murk. Tomorrow’s bank tellers. Algorithmic common sense. China’s supercomputers (plus). A durable Web. The Age of Em video conversation (1, 2). Sticking numbers on the simulation argument.

Houellebecq speaks.

June 21, 2016admin 68 Comments »
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Chaos Patch (#118)

(Open thread + links)

The American experiment, conservative insight, and formalism. Confused conservatives. Church and State. Border security (an SF story). Ideological mechanics. Basics of balance. Wrecked names. Responses to the Cowen “neo-reaction” post by Nydwracu, Anti-Gnostic, and VD (with much resonance). The weekly round, plus outliers.

Buried crimes of the Left. Race on campus. The incoherence of Liberal Democracy. America is broken. Defenses of militant atheism, and of mutualism. Jihad denial. Thiel unleashed. Parenthetical remarks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Alt-Right rhetoric. Evola and fascism.

Madness in France. Brexit panic spreads (1, 2, 3, 4). The Australian (immigration) model. Swiss still sensible. Venezuela still screwed. State of the jihad, pre-Orlando (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Islamic ruin in Bangladesh. Oh Canada. The Shenzhen model. Technological de-globalization. “… we are witnessing the end of one era of world history and the dawn of another.”

Trumpenführer panic report. Media fail (1, 2, 3). High-brow Trumpism (an epic troll?). The stupid party. Sad people.

Gawker fun. SV TV. Information suppression.

String-theory by elimination. Evolution of consciousness. Thoughts on the Fermi Paradox. Strange star. The geography of schizophrenia. EQ is BS.

21 Computer goes open-source. Google’s quantum ambitions. Radio disintermediation. An AI movie. China’s deep plans.

The Antikythera Mechanism. Lost cities of Cambodia. Hanson’s AOE book meta-reviews (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

June 14, 2016admin 23 Comments »
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Quote note (#257)

Greer on America’s multi-dimensional military procurement fiasco:

… Military procurement fraud is as old as war, and overinvestment in the latest fashionable gimmick is tolerably common as far back as historical records reach. Every nation’s political and military establishment has to contend with both, and most manage to keep them within the bounds necessary to ensure national survival. Those nations that don’t restrict them in this manner normally go under, and this mode of failure is particularly common in the declining years of great powers.

Those of my readers who’ve read up on the last years of vanished empires — the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman Empires, Romanov Russia or Habsburg Spain, and so on down the list of history’s obituaries — know the results already: the imperial state reduced to a massive but fragile shell, invincible in appearance but shockingly vulnerable in reality, resting ever more unsteadily on a crumbling foundation of ineffective or broken weapons, decaying or abandoned facilities; a political leadership blithely unaware of the gap between its fantasies of invincibility and the reality of accelerating systemic failure; a high command too busy feathering its own nest and playing political games to notice the widening cracks; and a dwindling corps of servicepeople, overworked, underpaid, and demoralized, who nonetheless keep on struggling to prop up the whole brittle mess until the inevitable disaster sweeps their efforts aside once and for all.

(The lead up through a wreckage landscape of developmentally-retarded, death-star priced, radically dysfunctional weapons systems is not to be missed.)

June 9, 2016admin 33 Comments »
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Quote note (#254)

High on Dr Gno’s reading list, Unethical Research: How to Create a Malevolent Artificial Intelligence (abstract):

Cybersecurity research involves publishing papers about malicious exploits as much as publishing information on how to design tools to protect cyber-infrastructure. It is this information exchange between ethical hackers and security experts, which results in a well-balanced cyber-ecosystem. In the blooming domain of AI Safety Engineering, hundreds of papers have been published on different proposals geared at the creation of a safe machine, yet nothing, to our knowledge, has been published on how to design a malevolent machine. Availability of such information would be of great value particularly to computer scientists, mathematicians, and others who have an interest in AI safety, and who are attempting to avoid the spontaneous emergence or the deliberate creation of a dangerous AI, which can negatively affect human activities and in the worst case cause the complete obliteration of the human species. This paper provides some general guidelines for the creation of a Malevolent Artificial Intelligence (MAI).

Channeling X-Risk security resources into MAI-design means if the human species has to die, it can at least do so ironically. The game theory involved in this could use work. It’s clearly a potential deterrence option, but that would require far more settled signaling systems than anything in place yet. Threatening to unleashing an MAI is vastly neater than MAD, and should work in the same way. Edgelords with a taste for chicken games should be able to wrest independence from it.

(The Vacuum Decay Trigger, while of even greater deterrence value, is more of a blue sky project.)

ADDED: It’s a trend. Here’s ‘Analog Malicious Hardware’ being explored: “As dangerous as their invention sounds for the future of computer security, the Michigan researchers insist that their intention is to prevent such undetectable hardware backdoors, not to enable them. They say it’s very possible, in fact, that governments around the world may have already thought of their analog attack method. ‘By publishing this paper we can say it’s a real, imminent threat,’ says [University of Michigan researcher Matthew] Hicks. ‘Now we need to find a defense.'”

June 1, 2016admin 8 Comments »
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