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Comment Re:I hate these stories (Score 1) 96

We all benefit from 80s-style expert systems every day. Even your GPS is a form of expert system.

The idea we'll soon be of replacing humans, which is causing a sort of mini moral panic amongst some engaged and intelligent but non-expert part of the population is totally off course.

Just focusing in on driving applications, lane awareness and accident avoidance are two great uses of AI but the thing is, they serve only to take minor, stereo-typical (get back in your lane! Break right now as hard as you can!) actions in response to common re-accident scenarios in which there is only one-best-thing-to-do (so do it now!) It is assumed that the driver will take over to address the possibly more complex real-time situation.

AI is not going to parse out every possible set of real world events which a driver may encounter. Google is finding that out now. The situations are too varied, too unpredictable (the technical term for this is "fucked up") and engage too many independent actors whose reactions are unknowable but critical.

Sure , it can be used on highways with a human driver, and warehouses (maybe) and golf courses and it can , you know replace the guy who drivers the smoother over your local ice skating rink, OK now HE'S got a job to defend against AI, but when you mix in the liability issues there is about zero chance Google cars are going to be how people get around.

When Palm finally quit trying to recognize all possible handwriting from everyone and started instead to make people write using their stylized alphabet, then they became successful. So also here. We'll all drvie Google cars when and if Google convinces the legislature to re-engineer the roads, the rules of the road, and the liability laws to support their technology or, to be more precise, the limitations of their technology.

Society moves forward and changes so don't say THAT won't happen. It might. It might not. It's a lot of money, but then it would save a lot of lives, save a lot of money and reduce crime a lot also. Maybe THIS is their REAL end game.

At any rate, something like the above changes is going to happen sooner than a Google car is going to replace your car, with everything otherwise staying the same.

Comment Re:I hate these stories (Score 1) 96

OK that's the conceit of NN in a nutshell- just like a biological brain, so you said it. To me that's like saying a camera is like an eye. The brain is more than just neurons firing over synapses and reinforcing the ability to communicate across synpases. For example, nitrous oxide diffuses through the brain and is used in signalling. There are other things like that going on.

I am not saying that I think NN are worthless. I probably came across like that; a delay reaction from years of overexposure to NN cheerleaders. It may be the start of a good way to model the actual working of the brain. I am all about Rodney Brooks' bottom up approach. The thing is, so far, it's NOT a good way to gain insight into the brain. It's all going the other way- NN models built on Hebbian learning and all that.

I get sick of people pushing AI as "on the verge of an incredible breakthrough" or worse , doing what IBM did with Deep Jeopardy or whatever they called it, Deep Thought . That whole thing was a total dog and pony show that potentially misled the general public, potential investors and government funding authorities about what they had achieved (virtually nothing significant) and where it might lead (nowhere).

AI has a very very long and ignoble history of overhawking its wares, dating back to the 60s then the 80s then the 90s.. oh fuck it, every 10 or 15 years..

In '68 HAL9000 was completely plausible by 2001 in the eyes of the AI establishment.

Great things have come out of basic AI research. Expert systems. Defense systems. But the idea that we're anywhere close to "the Singularity" which a lot of naive people believe, anywhere close at all is just not true.

So Google is big on AI. I give you 100 to 1 that their self driving cars FAIL as a general mode of transportation by the year 2050.

Comment Re:I hate these stories (Score 1) 96

You're point is valid. WRT to neural networks, I am not impressed really. In a nutshell, I think it's a disguised way of doing statistics. An iterative, on-analytical way. With neural nets, after it's trained, no one can tell why the neural net functions as it does and no one can tell you when the neural net will do something completely insane.

There is no analytical framework which decomposes a neural network which has arrived at THESE weights on THESE node with THIS many layers using THIS algorithm to update itself. It's just a standalone thing that works OK ... until it doesn't.

My uni was so huge on neural nets especially my dept. If you wanted to irritate the profs,who had been made famous by their research in NN, ask them a few of these questions. If you wanted to really destroy your career whilst still an undergrad, press the point.

Not impressed then, not impressed now. OK not impressed is not quite right; more like "underwhelmed".

What WOULD be interesting is if there were analytical rapprochement between neural nets and statistics or at least an analytical framework whereby number of layers number of nodes connections weights, update algorithms and reward algorithms were understood well enough to support a predictive framework such that given a goal, you could write a NN without having to "train" it or given an arbitrary NN, you could analytically decompose it and understand what it was capable of.

OK now THAT would be interesting.

Comment Re:No doubt about it Tor is broken (Score 3, Interesting) 122

>> Do you never think there will be a time in which our government overreach will land us in another McCarthy era and use this kind of monitoring to have witch hunts?

Yes absolutely. In my mind, there's no doubt that if Cheney at. al. had had the powers we have today when they first started their governmental careers we'd have disappeared political opposition, people framed and ruined, entire departments of government at the end of a short blackmail chain. All in the name of "national security", because their opponents' policies would have endangered us all. Even today, Cheney actually makes this claim in the media against Obama. What do you think he would have done to candidate Obama if he had had the chance? After all, national security.

One source of hope ()and that's all it is really) that this won't materialize is that the people who come of age with this technology won't abuse it just because they've grown up in a time in which fear of it's abuse was discussed in the larger culture, and they don't want to be The Bad Guy. that is, they've absorbed society's norms and values and won't contradict them.

If that sounds too optimistic to you, sociopaths like Gonzales, Cheney and Oliver North have a preternatural ability to rise to the top of organizations, then you like me are more interested in structural solutions to the McCarthy problem.

What are those solutions? We don't know, but they must be brought into existence.

Comment Re:No doubt about it Tor is broken (Score 1) 122

OK there's a difference between ability to do something and the actual doing of it. No government organization can contemplate the exchanges between all people, much less all people all the time. But they have the ability to zero in people if they believe it's warranted. That's how it's always worked. That's how it is now. The ability to tap a phone was always there, but not all phones were tapped.

Now, in a sense, all phones ARE tapped, but they don't have the ability to listen to all that, so they're NOT tapped in the sense of they're listening in. Looked at in this way, the concept of "tapped" has been deconstructed into its constituent parts- recording the fact of the call, and human awareness of what was said , followed by action. "Tap" used to imply both of those things.

You have the right to not incriminate yourself, as ever. The right to remain silent (in the US, but not really in the UK, which is shocking to Americans). But the police had always had the power to subpoena witnesses, material, phone records etc.

I am not suggesting anyone take the expansion, ease and ubiquity of these police powers without trepidation. I would like to see more worry about them. In response to that worry I would like to see structural, inspectable safeguards, unassailable and possibly anonymous (to the police) overseers, and severe, crippling life-ruining punishment for anyone, at any position of government who abuses them to any degree or anyone who covers up the same, lies about the same to Congress ever for any reason (Clapper) without exception and anyone who knows about the same, but does not report it to a disconnected, legally unassailable watchdog.

But as time goes on, we will trend towards wanting greater and greater transparency of all individuals, at will, anywhere and everywhere and at any and all times, both in and out of government.

That's just where we're being forced by both constructive and destructive advances in technology.

Comment Re:No doubt about it Tor is broken (Score 1) 122

Yes exactly. Basically this holds true:

Civil Liberties = number of people it takes to do it / (degree of harm * number of people effected)

All kinds of violence can be categorized using this


normal person on person crime:
Large number of people to do small harm to small number of people (aka , normal life) Civil Liberties not effected (stays around 1)

large number of people to do large harm to large number of people (aka war) civil liberties might go down (as they do at war time)

humdrum terrorism
small number of people to do large harm to small (1000s at most) number of people. Civil liberties start to be noticeably effected. It starts to become structural.

supercharged terrorism
small number of people, tending towards one, render high degree of damage (death) to large numbers of people (tens of thousands, millions, everyone...). Civil Liberties severely curtailed , eliminated or redefined by public demand. It's structural and it's permanent.

We want to do everything we can to never reach the last one. This may involve redefining notions which in the face of scientific progress prove themselves to be outdated and archaic.

Comment I hate these stories (Score 4, Interesting) 96

I hate these stories. Games were designed (albeit evolutionarily, through generations of culture) to exploit specific human cognitive limitations in exhaustive search and look ahead, and thereby force us to fall back on things like heuristics and strategies. This makes games unpredictable and interesting.

But computers don't have those limitations. Of course they can out play us at games. They also add faster than we do.

This is all IBM's DeepBlue was, a massive, massive lookahead machine which used a little human-discovered / human programmed rules of thumb to reduce the search space and then human-discovered, human programmed rules of thumb for judging the relative goodness of each move.

The fact that computers are good at beating humans at something specifically designed to make humans perform badly is not an advancement in A.I.

Well, OK it is, but that's not saying much.

Comment No doubt about it Tor is broken (Score 5, Interesting) 122

For a long time in my mind there's been no doubt that Tor is broken, at least with respect to the powers available to the United States and its allies. Think about it. There are no where near a million Tor nodes and even fewer exit nodes, and a million servers is a rounding error in the DoD black budget for a year.

Sure, non DoD Tor nodes exist, but what % of them are p0wned? I'll hazard a guess; just that % required to make it statistically implausible that, combined with traffic analysis, context gleaned from exit nodes a handful of zero-days etc. etc. no one can use Tor and expect sustained anonymity from the government.

I actually think that's a good thing. Hear me out. For the general Tor user who just wants their ISP , nosy Shark Wire aware neighbor, political opponents, large corporations, website owners land various databrokers to fuck off, they have what they want For dissidents in oppressive nations, those nations probably can't muster the resources to de-anonymize Tor users. For very bad people who want to do very bad things, we can get them, with some effort.

I know this is a minority opinion, but I think that the opposing opinion is regressive. Once, it wasn't possible for a small group of non-nation-state individuals to wreak mayhem on millions of people at once.

Once, the amount badness that could be achieved by Bad Guys was a trade-off between the number of people the Bad Guys wanted to effect, the number of people the Bad Guys could enlist to help them and the degree of severity of the Badness itself. Not any more. This changes everything.

We are living more and more in a world in which a few or even one really fucked up person can reach out and kill. This is nothing but the advancement of technology, and it's not going to stop. That means the power of small groups gets larger and broader even as the size of that group spiral down to one.

How are we going to counter this general phenomena? I agree, that giving any government unchecked, unobservable, unlimited powers is always a bad idea. (Ironcially, I believe this because of the actions members of administrations who profess to want to "get government off our backs" and told us "government isn't the solution, it's the problem"- Oliver North, James Secord, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales etc etc. )

But in the face of this hypothetical and not-always hypothetical threat we still have the facts on the ground with respect to advancing technologies and the leverage it gives just anyone.

I don't think the answer is to limit the power of government. We need that power to exist. I think the answer lies in the people being able to hold the government accountable and their actions rendered transparent to a degree that would shock most people today, both in and out of government. We need to radically re-think the national security 3rd-rail issues like national security classifications, clearances, Presidential directives, etc. etc.

It will tear this country apart if the government continues to do what it knows it needs to do in order to avert terrorism and societal chaos and the people continue to feel like they have no faith in the integrity of the processes and powers of the government- that it could at any moment turn the death ray on them, and probably will. That whole dynamic, the whole world view needs to be addressed and not just addressed but actually resolved by some radical out of the box thinking no one had done yet.

We can have both security and freedom, but it's not going to just arise naturally by continuing on with the status quo conceptual categories we are using now.

Comment This is bad for us if it's true (Score 1) 262

We need a better way to detect lying if polygraphs can be beaten.

Actually, on a personal note, I had an interest in this at school; it was one of the things I was zeroing in on as a career path. Unfortunately, universities being the places they are now, a liar made it difficult for me to pursue this research interest. It's not as ironic as it seems, since people who are willing to lie about another person's actions and easy to come by. Our university was rife with people undermining each other through whatever means they could think of. Lying was the least of it. But that's another story, and besides, you probably have your own.

The reason I had that interest at all was because my life has been strongly effected again and again by people who think it's OK to just fabricate things to hurt people they don't like for one reason or another. It's basically a pandemic attitude, at least here in the states. I think I missed out on the part of growing up that said absolutely anything goes if you don't like person X. Certainly everyone around me got that message. I mean, WTF?

People in positions of security who try to beat lie detectors are Bad People. The ability to detect when someone is lying is essential to stopping Very Bad People from doing Very Bad Things to us.

I still think there's got to be a way to detect lying using information coming from the brain. A lie is volitional by definition; that's gotta lead to something usable in this context. Perhaps with DIY EEGs and such like coming onto the marketplace, amateurs tinkerers will make a breakthrough. I would love to have the time to pursue this myself.

Comment Re:1st Amendment? (Score 2) 737

Dead wrong. Prosecuting deniers will proceed under the same legal theory that makes shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater illegal. You can't shout "FIRE" in a theater and you can't shout "NO FIRE" in a burning theater. Both are speech acts which cost people their lives

Deniers are shouting "NO FIRE" when they :

1) know it's a lie or could reasonably be expected to know it was a lie
2) are shown to be unable to defend their junk science theories to duly qualified scientists, either through sheer incompetence (they are not duly qualified in any meaningful sense) or their theories are shown to be made-to-order junk science as determined by a combination of facts on the ground and the larger judgement of actually duly qualified scientists.

And yes, I am saying we're going to put junk science of trial. As we should have done for tobacco and the tobacco executives and scientists and PR firms that advised them.

And yes, I am saying that every citizen does bear and has always borne an inalienable and unshirkable duty to use rational good judgement in matters where human life is at stake.

And yes I am saying that that is at the foundation of civilization, the foundation of the Enlightenment specifically and the foundation of Constitution implicitly and shirking that duty negates all defenses including the ones based on enumerated Rights found in the Constitution.

We don't need to spell out that your rights are voided if you behave in such a depraved way that you put the continuation of human civilization at risk through your actions. No one needs to express that idea explicitly to anyone, and anyways there never was a reason to since it wasn't formerly possible for humans to realize such depravity It's is now and always have been "self evident", as the Founding Fathers were fond of saying.

It's amazing to me how people so preoccupied with 1st. Amendment rights are unable to parse even the most basic application of same to the real world.

Comment We've been saying this for a decade (Score 1) 737

Some of us have been calling for the RICO prosecution of deniers for over a decade now.

People who like to pretend that they're arm chair theories about how climate works are somehow a match for the decades of research by scientists may be shocked at this notion, but RICO is the appropriate law to bring to bear.

The deliberate, bad faith denial of human caused climate change will be the worst crime in terms of numbers of deaths, political upheaval, cost and irreversibility of damages ever perpetrated by any group of criminals ever, including the internet's own favorite, The Third Reich.

Denier are terrorists. In the case of the Koch brothers, I believe they are systematically promoting and funding denialism as a way of creating a disaster so large, centralized governments won't be able to deal with it and will therefore collapse.

They KNOW it's true, their own studies which they commissioned to investigate human caused climate change TOLD them it was true. But these are people who tried in the 80s to run for President on a platform of abolishing the FBI, the CIA and all the rest of government. They are sworn enemies of the United States government, our government, my government, and they seek to destroy it *through any means necessary, including genocide via climate change*.

That's terrorism and they're terrorists as are the rest of the denial machinery.

What they think is we're going to stand around with our collective dick in our hands while they inch us closer to a disaster so big, it destroys the United States. What the reality is is the government has a duty to protect its citizens against all enemies foreign AND domestic and that's all the "go" justification they need. We don't need to vote on whether they're terrorists, we need to decide that they are and act. That's how this works.

The architects of climate denial need to be dealt with by any means necessary to stop them, no matter what. The question is not IF it should be done, the question is how can it best be done with the least disruption to the fabric of civil society.

Towards that goal absolutely everything is on the table without exception; techniques and exploits usually reserved for foreign nationals are completely within bounds given the nature of the threat and the proven intractibility of the enemy terrorists, who reside within this country and worse, are citizens and worse are well known, well funded, well organized and worse have assumed the camoflage of civil liberties organizations.

Get this, deniers. The United States government is not going to sit idly by while you destroy human civilization as we know it because you think you've found some Constitutional loophole - "you're citizens and you have the right to your free speech rights!" - big enough to drive the explosive laden truck called "climate change" through.

No, they're going to treat you like they treat all terrorists who seek to destroy our way of life. In this case it may mean "no fingerprints" but that's a purely technical matter.

Not only do RICO laws apply, but they extend to all the "civic organizations" and individuals without exception. The government has a right and a duty to neutralize and defund all terrorists. In this case I propose in addition to RICO "financial decimation" whereby all assets owned by these terrorists including those transferred at any point in time, past, present or future to any co-conspirator, associate, cohort, group, organization, family member or individual be confiscated along with those normally accessible by RICO. Seizing funds and assets this broadly them sends a clear signal: there is no way to benefit from attacking the United States and by doing so, everything you've ever done is voided without exception. That's the signal we need to send. Your business associates, your buddies, your familiy- none of them can safely accept your money. Terrorist money is not fungible- it is forever tainted. The cost to offset climate change is astronomical and the individuals, organizations and companies which historically worked to thwart dealing with climate change must be forced to differentially bear that cost.

Destroying human civilization for your own greed and ideology is more than a crime against (our) humanity. It's a crime against existence, against all life. It's more than mass murder, it's even more than genocide. In fact, it's a crime so vast and evil we don't even have the concepts or language to express it. But we'll rise to the occasion, just as we did after the Nazi atrocities.

Back then Crimes Against Humanity was just an idea kicking around academic circles. What the Nazis THOUGHT was they can't be tried for obeying the laws of their own country. What they found out was, well, yes civilization WILL try you for exactly that, even if it has to create a new class of crime, then retoractively charge you with it.

That's what happens when this level of criminals think they've got some legal loophole through which they can commit their crimes. Society turns that loophole into a noose.

Because guess what, criminals. the world order through which you draw your power will change. And your power base will crumble in your lifetimes. And in its stead will be the outraged, the aggrieved- your vicitms. And they will have their justice because they will define what justice is. And because you're the head of ExxonMobile or Shell or BP or on they're boards TODAY and TODAY you're rich and well protected by money and connections doesn't mean you won't swing tomorrow. And because you have absolute immunity for whatever acts you take in an official capacity as a lawmaker TODAY doesn't mean a future Congress and courts won't find the actions you did take today to be, prima-facia, depraved and indifferent to humanity.

There are few absolutes, save these- that the law will go where ever criminals make it go and take whatever shape criminals make it take. That the Constitution is not a suicide pact. That the United States will take whatever action it needs to take to stop against whatever enemy seeks to harm it in whatever form that harm may take.

Once again, for the thousandth time, as a U.S Citizen speaking for the benefit of myself and of all U.S. citizens both alive and yet to be born I publicly petition my government to treat climate change deniers as the terrorists they are. I petition it to disrupt, de-fund, deny and destroy the financial, social, media, and political networks by which they sustain themselves. To treat them as the terrorist they are, without respect to their social positions, offices held, wealth or public notoriety. To explicitly go onto the field of battle, the battle they have been waging for decades, and fight this like the literal war for the survival of our nation that it is.

Comment You don't know what really happened. (Score 1) 113

You don't know what really happened because you weren't privy to whatever negotiations went on behind closed doors. Maybe story we are reading this is what happened. And it may not be. Maybe the feds swung a deal with the Dr. and he is going to or did do something for them and this is a cover story. "gosh we didn't even test the white powder to see if it was drugs your Honor". a form of that is what is being claimed. Sure the run of the mill citizen , fed or otherwise employed, can't sort the technicalities out but I am pretty sure the feds have specialists who can. Were they really not engaged in this take down?

It may all be as reported. All I am suggesting is you have to keep in the back of your mind that the real story may not be what the headlines are telling you.

Comment I fought the law and the law won (Score 1) 70

Look, copyright means nothing unless it means that authors or copyright holders generally get to control what happens with their work product. Most of them want to get paid, just like you.

Sure patents in software are a national shrine to special interest, deep pockets lobbying against the public good. But copyright? Really? Libraries are the way we've worked this very issue out. Libraries work. Get a card.

Google thought it could just strong arm aside all those vibrant, diverse geniuses who wrote all those interesting books because why, they're Google? They're bigger, hipper and more important that the little people whose ideas and writing this project would be nothing without?

But then we're talking about a company that has nothing but contempt, finally, for workers which is why they and their CEO Eric Schmidt knowingly and deliberately engaged in an illegal conspiracy with Apple and Adobe and oh a few hundred other companies to create a do-not-hire blacklist and limit people's wages, costing those people hundreds of millions of dollars . Where i come from that's called stealing but since no one is going to go to jail for stealing a few hundred million, I guess it's not stealing after all because if it were stealing, people would be going to jail instead of being appointed ambassador by Obama.

Anyway, that's what Google thinks of people who work for a living, and that contempt extends from Nobel prize winning authors to cookbook authors and everyone in between and is, in fact, is so vast it essentially expands to fill all space in the known universe.

Very poor people bootlegging copies of copyrighted works is a look the other way affair for society. It's just better than the alternative which is poor people don't even get access to the significant parts of the larger cultural context they're embedded in. But making a defacto copy machine then turning that loose on absolutely everyone's work ? What were they thinking?

They were thinking "We're Google".

Brain off-line, please wait.