Thursday, October 19, 2017

News From The Front

Victory over ISIS, what a load of crap. The US government, along with the cooperation of both the Saudis and the Israelis, created ISIS in the first place, then armed them and even directed them where to cause trouble. It's a CIA thing and you don't have to be a genius to figure it out.

George Orwell had it right -- create perpetual war by faking it. Put some guys in the desert with cameras and have them act like they're beheading American captives. Nothing like a good beheading to stir up the rednecks in Texas.

After all the mileage we got out of Al Qaeada and ISIS after 9/11, Donald Trump has decided to shut down that particular fake war. After all, who needs fake war when you've got fake shootings from Santa Barbara to Sandy Hook. Oh, the Syrian civil war will continue because it's really all about oil and banking and not immigration or religion or even human rights as the globalist power brokers would have you believe.

What Mosul looks like after a fake war.
Well, for what it's worth, it sounds as if the fake war against ISIS may be winding down or perhaps just going into hiatus until that particular scapegoat is needed again. It wasn't a real war anyway but we can declare ourselves the victors and keep on searching for the real perpetrators of 9/11. I think they're likely hiding out in Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyahd.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Freedom is not a gift from the government
although they would like you to believe it is.

-- Arai the Bedoran

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

AI Consciousness

Can all our human-based problems be offset by a mere net gain in intelligence? In other words, is smarter always better?

Make no mistake about it, sophisticated AI is under development. For all we know, it may already be here, based on arrays of computers in some well-funded, well-protected lab somewhere. Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and others have warned of the rise of “superintelligent” machines: AIs that can out-think the smartest humans in every domain, including common sense reasoning and social skills. Superintelligence could destroy us, they caution. In contrast, Ray Kurzweil, a Google director of engineering, predicts a technological utopia that will bring about the end of disease, poverty, and resource scarcity. I hope Ray is right.

Whether sophisticated AI turns out to be friend or foe, eventually we must come to grips with the possibility that as we move further into the 21st century, the greatest intelligence on the planet may be silicon-based.

And so we have to ask ourselves: could these vastly smarter beings have conscious experiences — does it feel a certain way to be them? When we experience the warm hues of a sunrise, or hear the scream of an espresso machine, there is a felt quality to our mental lives. We are conscious.

A superintelligent AI could solve problems that even the brightest humans are unable to solve, but being made of a different substrate (silicon), would it have conscious experience? Could it feel the burning of curiosity, or the pangs of grief?

If silicon cannot be the basis for consciousness, then superintelligent machines — machines that may outmode us or even supplant us — may exhibit superior intelligence, but they will lack inner experience. Further, just as the breathtaking android in Ex Machina convinced Caleb that she was in love with him, so too, a clever AI may behave as if it is conscious. Yet, is it merely pretending to be conscious?

In an extreme, horrifying case, humans upload their brains, or slowly replace the parts of their brains underlying consciousness with silicon chips, and in the end, only non-human animals remain to experience the world. This would be an unfathomable loss. Even the slightest chance that this could happen should give us reason to think carefully about AI consciousness.

Philosopher David Chalmers has posed “the hard problem of consciousness,” asking: why does all this information processing need to feel a certain way to us, from the inside? The problem of AI consciousness is not just Chalmers’ hard problem applied to the case of AI, though. For the hard problem of consciousness assumes that we are conscious. After all, each of us can tell from introspection that we are now conscious. It asks: why we are we conscious? Why does all our information processing feel a certain way from the inside?

In contrast, the problem of AI consciousness asks whether AI, being silicon-based, is even capable of consciousness. It does not presuppose that AI is conscious — that is the question. These are different problems, but they are both problems that science alone cannot answer.

I used to view the problem of AI consciousness as having an easy solution. Cognitive science holds that the brain is an information-processing system and that all mental functions are computations. Given this, it would seem that AIs can be conscious, for AIs have the same kind of minds as we do: computational ones. Just as a text message and a voice message can convey the same information, so too, both brains and sophisticated AIs can be conscious.

I suspect the issue is more complex, however. It is an open question whether consciousness simply goes hand-in-hand with sophisticated computation for two reasons.

First, a superintelligent AI may bypass consciousness altogether. In humans, consciousness is correlated with novel learning tasks that require concentration, and when a thought is under the spotlight of our attention, it is processed in a slow, sequential manner. Only a very small percentage of our mental processing is conscious at any given time. A superintelligence would surpass expert-level knowledge in every domain, with rapid-fire computations ranging over vast databases that could encompass the entire internet. It may not need the very mental faculties that are associated with conscious experience in humans. Consciousness could be outmoded.

Second, consciousness may be limited to carbon substrates only. Carbon molecules form stronger, more stable chemical bonds than silicon, which allows carbon to form an extraordinary number of compounds, and unlike silicon, carbon has the capacity to more easily form double bonds. This difference has important implications in the field of astrobiology, because it is for this reason that carbon, and not silicon, is said to be well-suited for the development of life throughout the universe.

If the chemical differences between carbon and silicon impact life itself, we should not rule out the possibility that these chemical differences also impact whether silicon gives rise to consciousness, even if they do not hinder silicon’s ability to process information in a superior manner.

These two considerations suggest that we should regard the problem of AI consciousness as an open question. Of course, from an ethical standpoint, it is best to assume that a sophisticated AI may be conscious. For any mistake could wrongly influence the debate over whether they might be worthy of special ethical consideration as sentient beings. As the films Ex Machina and I, Robot illustrate, any failure to be charitable to AI may come back to haunt us, as they may treat us as we treated them.

Indeed, future AIs, should they ever wax philosophical, may pose a “problem of carbon-based consciousness” about us, asking if biological, carbon-based beings have the right substrate for experience. After all, how could AI ever be certain that we are conscious?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Es Fantastico, No?

Take any natural number, reverse its digits to form a new number, and add the two:

 + 178

In most cases, repeating this procedure eventually yields a palindrome:

 + 9401

+ 05401
Es fantastico, no? With 196, perversely, it does not — or, at least, it hasn’t in computer trials, which have repeated the process until producing numbers 300 million digits long.

What is it about 196?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

All-Inclusive Scouts Of America

Life can come at ya pretty fast.
The Boy Scouts of America have decided to admit girls into their organization. The BSA has gone co-ed. I suppose now they'll have to change the name. Maybe call it simply the Scouts (the Young Scouts?)? Or perhaps go for a whole new feel and go for something today! Something now! Like, The Equality Corps, or, American Pioneers. How about Comrades in Khakis? How about the American Rainbow Coalition (ARC)?

About a hundred years ago when I was in Scouts, we met at a local Baptist church on Thursday evenings. At the start of the meeting we said the Pledge of Allegiance, the Scouts' Pledge, and the Lord's Prayer. There were more than a few nerds among us but nobody bragged about being gay or how awful it was we didn't include girls. Nobody pointed out we were reciting a Christian prayer either.

We went camping once in a while and I think we picked up trash alongside the highway as a community project. We went on snipe hunts and hiked for merit badges. I only made it to Second-Class Scout because the TV networks moved The Twilight Zone to Thursday evenings and it was either miss the BSA meeting or miss The Twilight Zone. Thus ended my career in the Scouts.

But we didn't have girls in the Scouts back then. If we had, I might still be a Scout.

I have not seen any official uniforms for female Scouts but here are a few examples of what we may have in store. Of course, she may be old news but Madonna set the pace a few years back with a snappy Cub Scout look. Madonna still does concerts in Europe but I don't know who goes to them. They're probably free concerts. Do her musicians dress in matching BSA uniforms as well?

Here is another suggestion about new uniforms and what can be done without a needle and thread. That bare midriff is hot and sure to drive the boys wild! I foresee a whole new volume of behavior rules for the BSA as well as new uniforms.

We must view these changes to American culture as progress. These are great days, ladies and gentlemen, when we can look over the American landscape and see neither men nor women, but rather equal, non-sexual biological entities training to do their part in a glorious new chapter of American history. Exciting, isn't it?