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Thursday, January 31, 2013

OTP - Feb 2013: Baseball team flunks history with Taft mascot pick

The Washington Nationals might have bitten off more than they can chew by naming William Howard Taft as their next racing mascot. If you aren’t familiar with the controversy, the baseball team features four mascots dressed as U.S. presidents that race around the Nationals’ stadium during home games to entertain fans.

“Teddy has handpicked the next president for the Presidents’ Race,” Nationals COO Andy Feffer told the newspaper on Friday, a day before the Taft mascot was rolled out. “There was a great amount of banter and discussion back and forth, but Teddy won out with his recommendation.”

On Saturday, the sanitized Taft mascot made its debut at a fan event, looking at least 100 pounds lighter than its real-life counterpart.

The reaction in the media, so far, is that even sportswriters who aren’t historians know the two men hated each other.

The Post’s Dan Steinberg asked a local historian how bad the blood was between TR and Taft.

Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University, told Steinberg that each man considered the other a backstabber, and they had no qualms taking down each other in a presidential election.

“The rivalry was as bitter as it gets in politics,” said Lichtman. “There’s nothing like the feeling of betrayal, and both men felt betrayed by the other.”

Tripon Posted: January 31, 2013 at 07:41 PM | 582 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, ot, politics, washington, washington nationals

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   501. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:27 AM (#4378189)
FLip
   502. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4378197)
Wow; that's a dishonest description of the link. He's upset about the law, sure. But as per the link, he actually called for Cantor to step down because Cantor was threatening Republicans who wouldn't support it.


That's exactly what the summary said.
   503. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4378200)
Wow; that's a dishonest description of the link. He's upset about the law, sure. But as per the link, he actually called for Cantor to step down because Cantor was threatening Republicans who wouldn't support it.


And that's why it's so awesome. The Teabaggers eating their own. What could be better?
   504. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4378231)
And that's why it's so awesome. The Teabaggers eating their own. What could be better?

Absolutely nothing. The last time I ever saw a bunch of wingnuts fighting among themselves like this was in the bad old days of the New Left, when SDS split into the PL, RYM2 and Weathermen factions, each one trying to leapfrog over the others in ratcheting up their pidgin revolutionary rhetoric.

The similarities between those "revolutionary" factions of the New Left and the Mark Levin wing of the wingnut Right are far more noticeable than their differences. They both saw "the government" as the oppressor, they were both always hunting down RINOs**, and they both were infatuated with guns as a means of resistance.

**either the Revolutionary or Republican versions of the beast
   505. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4378282)
Echoing Lewis, Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson said during an appearance on Fox News that the full emails suggest Woodward "hyped" the claim that he had been threatened.


How could an entity like the Daily Caller prevent such wanton abuse by dirty liberal leaders-on like Bob Woodward, telling them lies? They're duty bound to publish anything they're told, after all. I mean, just ask Ben Shapiro. If someone tells you something, you publish it. It's not like there's a profession where people go out and ask questions about things they've been told, investigate the veracity of those claims and frame disparate claims in relation to some sort of factual reality, right? That's crazy. You can't expect the Daily Caller to go to those lengths. For god's sake, they're *journalists.*
   506. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4378307)
Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson


I'll take "Useless Pieces of Crap I Worked With in Little Rock" for $100, Alex.
   507. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4378313)
The last time I ever saw a bunch of wingnuts fighting among themselves like this was in the bad old days of the New Left, when SDS split into the PL, RYM2 and Weathermen factions, each one trying to leapfrog over the others in ratcheting up their pidgin revolutionary rhetoric.


Is Sarah Palin going to become her generation's Bob Avakian?
   508. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4378314)
He's not useless, he can tie a bow tie! That's f'n hard, and I do microsuturing.
   509. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4378371)
On the other hand, back then at least he couldn't keep his shirt tail tucked in for love nor money.
   510. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4378385)
They're duty bound to publish anything they're told, after all. I mean, just ask Ben Shapiro. If someone tells you something, you publish it. It's not like there's a profession where people go out and ask questions about things they've been told, investigate the veracity of those claims and frame disparate claims in relation to some sort of factual reality, right? That's crazy. You can't expect the Daily Caller to go to those lengths. For god's sake, they're *journalists.*

Now, now. They're not duty-bound to publish ANYTHING they're told. Only those things that, as "explained" by Matt Lewis, fit their frantic narrative:

conservatives had seized on Woodward's initial story because it "confirmed our suspicion about the Obama Administration's 'Chicago-style' of politics."


Journalism is all about confirming suspicions, ya know. Factual reality is for the lamestream.
   511. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4378403)
The last time I ever saw a bunch of wingnuts fighting among themselves like this was in the bad old days of the New Left, when SDS split into the PL, RYM2 and Weathermen factions, each one trying to leapfrog over the others in ratcheting up their pidgin revolutionary rhetoric.

Is Sarah Palin going to become her generation's Bob Avakian?


Kathleen Cleaver, maybe, or better yet, the hippie woman you used to see on the cover of a hundred underground newspapers, with a baby in one arm and a rifle slung over her other shoulder, just daring the government to try to take either of them away.
   512. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4378418)
Speaking of the Weather Underground, I just got through reading a pretty decent book about 1914ish NYC, More Powerful Than Dynamite, by Jeff Jones' & Eleanor Raskin's kid, Thai Jones. The usual suspects gets thanked -- his parents, of course, plus Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Kathy Boudin, David Gilbert, probably a few others.
   513. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4378419)
David Frum continues to deserve credit for calling out the GOP on their BS:

Doesn't this kind of talk contradict the story line that the sequester was all President Obama's idea (and therefore his fault?)
   514. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4378434)
Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Kathy Boudin, David Gilbert, probably a few others.

One of the funniest moments of that entire era was the time Bernardine Dohrn decked herself out in a tight miniskirt up to her thong line and started to deliver a speech on women's liberation to a group of mostly Republican men at the then 100% male Georgetown University. Of course the second she started shimmying onto the stage, the wolf whistles started coming right and left. And naturally her response was to start denouncing all those male chauvinist pigs who were brazenly objectifying her.

The part about objectifying her was clearly true, but back then she was like about a 9.5 on a 10 scale, and you had to wonder what the hell she was expecting. I guess it may have been something that she knew was going to happen, and that she was cleverly planning to use as a horror story to bring more women to the cause, but if that was the case, she did a hell of a good job at faking all that indignation.
   515. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4378443)
From various readings of mine (as I've mentioned before, my primary focus as a history grad student was the New Left), I think it's pretty safe to say that Bernardine was well aware of her effect on males.
   516. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4378489)
Doesn't this kind of talk contradict the story line that the sequester was all President Obama's idea (and therefore his fault?)
Not sure what Frum's talking about here. The sequester is a good thing¹; not clear why he thinks anyone would want to give Obama credit for it.




¹ Well, a good start, I mean.
   517. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4378498)
You should read the review. It isn't about Kurzweil's work on pattern recognition but instead Kurzweil's claims that pattern recognition is the key to writing a new theory of the mind.
When the review is available, I'll be happy too. Btw, you haven't said anything specific enough to begin a debate, but by all means throw something out there and I'll be glad to engage. In any case, I've never claimed anything like 'whatever Kurzweil says is genius', only that his (and millions of other peoples') expectation of a technological Singularity is eminently reasonable, and I think his timeline regarding the technological developments necessary to high fidelity downloadable brain emulators is also reasonable, albeit optimistic.

but it's best to respond to that thoughtfully instead of pronouncing the people who know their #### as haters.

Sure. I was responding to the claim by sdeb that Kurzweil was a 'kook'. You also posted no specifics. I then wrote,

edit: the link I posted to "Accelerating Change" has some useful criticisms of that [Kurzweil's and others'] idea, but none of those criticisms involve charges of 'kookery'.


I don't know how to get you to read what I actually wrote.

Darwinism is obsoleted by tehnology the same way that airplanes make gravity obsolete.
Try troubling yourself to understand the argument. Once we control evolution, then the principle of natural selection is obsolete. I can't put it any more clearly than that, and the context in which I wrote it was natural selection.

Darwin is obsolete

In general this is a silly thing to say.
Right--which is why I was writing within a specific context: Natural selection.

I am not willing to say he is a kook,...


Include one or more facts, or at least do some of the basic reading, and earn yourself an opinion.

For one, he really doesn't understand what he is talking about.
Well, clearly you don't. The first article you link to is on the order of criticizing someone for not doing something they're clearly not interested in doing, and which has no genuinely meaningful relationship to their work. I'll assume the second link was to the second thing you googled.

   518. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4378501)
From various readings of mine (as I've mentioned before, my primary focus as a history grad student was the New Left), I think it's pretty safe to say that Bernardine was well aware of her effect on males.
Yeah, I can see why.
   519. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:17 PM (#4378502)
From various readings of mine (as I've mentioned before, my primary focus as a history grad student was the New Left), I think it's pretty safe to say that Bernardine was well aware of her effect on males.

Gee, ya reckon? A friend of mine who was interviewed on that PBS special on the women's movement the other night wrote an entire book on the effect that male chauvinism within the civil rights and anti-war movement had on spurring the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's.
   520. zonk Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4378505)
ot sure what Frum's talking about here. The sequester is a good thing¹; not clear why he thinks anyone would want to give Obama credit for it.




¹ Well, a good start, I mean.


For the Hayekian Galtiliers, I suppose... but it's proven to be a surprisingly unpopular thing for the other 85% of society.

It's a deliciously amusing thing though, because that 'good thing'?

Well, David, your party is going full tilt (the "Obamaquester") putting it in Obama's hands.... so... will you be needing the WH mailing address to send Obama a thank you card for "his" sequester?
   521. Morty Causa Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4378511)
514:

Yes, blatantly inviting being made into an object, and then when it comes to pass, as the day the night, going into a righteous harangue--that's almost as funny as those whiny guys having to pay child support for a child they were shanghaied into being the father of.
   522. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4378512)
Andy, you know Sara Evans? Cool. That book was one I definitely dived into way back when.
   523. The Good Face Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4378523)
It's a deliciously amusing thing though, because that 'good thing'?

Well, David, your party is going full tilt (the "Obamaquester") putting it in Obama's hands.... so... will you be needing the WH mailing address to send Obama a thank you card for "his" sequester?


Well, if you can get an outcome that you like, that infuriates 85% of the population AND blame it on your enemy, why wouldn't you?
   524. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4378526)
"Say Darwinism is obsolete is loopy."

Right, which is why no one said it, unless we're taking remarks completely out of context just for sh!ts and giggles.

It's not difficult: Once natural selection ceases to operate--once we control our evolution--Darwin's theory of natural selection as it applies to us and dictates the course of our evolution, is obsolete.

Reposting from 422:

@419: Morty, Darwin is obsolete:

The wiki has a very good summary in its well-written page on Accelerating [Evolutionary] Change.

According to Kurzweil, since the beginning of evolution, more complex life forms have been evolving exponentially faster, with shorter and shorter intervals between the emergence of radically new life forms, such as human beings, who have the capacity to engineer (intentionally to design with efficiency) a new trait which replaces relatively blind evolutionary mechanisms of selection for efficiency. By extension, the rate of technical progress amongst humans has also been exponentially increasing, as we discover more effective ways to do things, we also discover more effective ways to learn, i.e. language, numbers, written language, philosophy, scientific method, instruments of observation, tallying devices, mechanical calculators, computers, each of these major advances in our ability to account for information occur increasingly close together. Already within the past sixty years, life in the industrialized world has changed almost beyond recognition except for living memories from the first half of the 20th century. This pattern will culminate in unimaginable technological progress in the 21st century, leading to a singularity. Kurzweil elaborates on his views in his books The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity Is Near.


One of the interesting things about the discussion is that there ARE relevant criticisms of Kurzweil's work in what I linked to on the last page, and I mentioned those criticisms of his work in post 425, but through post 460 no one else has made a specific criticism of Kurzweil's work, or of the concept of a technological singularity, or of high-fidelity downloadable brain emulators, the likeliest form near-term immortality will take, or....

Guys like Kurzweil - and other physicists, philosophers, and computer scientists postulating about biology generally make fools of themselves because they don't do any cursory background reading in the field, let alone strive to understand it's chalenges (e.g., parameter estimation)


And as soon as you offer a legitimate criticism, we might actually be able to discuss your objections to his work. So far, throug 460, though, there are a half dozen claims of nuttery, and not a single specific, or a single fact. You guys should be able to do better.

What is something specific that Kurzweil has said pertinent to the discussion of immortality, or emulators, or the singularity that you disagree with?

   525. zonk Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:50 PM (#4378534)
Well, if you can get an outcome that you like, that infuriates 85% of the population AND blame it on your enemy, why wouldn't you?


Sure - I'm just saying send a thank you card -- unsigned, of course -- afterwards.

Whether Darwin is obsolete, humanity is doomed, or whatever -- come now, we are not barbarians!
   526. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4378537)
Warden spoke during the debate on a bill introduced by Derry Republican Rep. Frank Sapareto that would reduce simple assault from a misdemeanor crime to a violation-level offense in any case of “unprivileged physical contact” that “does not result in harm or injury.” -Ben Leubsdorf, The Concord Monitor


Does anyone know what 'unprivileged physical contact' is, or why, when it does not result in harm or injury, it should be a 'misdemeanor crime'?

Darwin is obsolete

Post 460 pretty much gave the proper response to this.
This is fucking awesome.

----------------

edit:
Where's Morty get the money to pay for all this? It's not like his consciousness is particularly valuable, I'm assuming, so with any scarcity he's going to have to pay for it. Until we get to a world where replicating everything is cheap and easy, this isn't really a viable goal.


Jay, I'm not sure what your point is (though, ouch, re Morty's consciousness. Poor guy--he can process 10 to the 21st floating point operations per second and people still trash talk him. That is one cold universe). Processing power that costs 70 cents in 2013 cost $33,000,000 in 1984. If there's one thing we know, the cost of computing power plummets. If Morty can't afford 12 versions of him Self in 2045, he will in 2075. In any case, the issues of dealing with multiple identities and matters of charity remain, whether there are 20 or 20 million people dealing with it.
   527. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4378544)
double post
   528. zenbitz Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:05 PM (#4378547)
We know you mean re: Darwinism, JC. It's still an asinine thing to say.

Humans already control natural selection in themselves and various plant and animal cultivars, and have for 10,000 years. Although of course the ability and will to control natural selection was, in fact, selected for -- so it's turtles all the way down.

I still say my airplane analogy is apt. APT!.
   529. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4378556)
The sequester is a good thing¹; not clear why he thinks anyone would want to give Obama credit for it.

¹ Well, a good start, I mean.


Well, if you can get an outcome that you like, that infuriates 85% of the population AND blame it on your enemy, why wouldn't you?


If DMN is "good" for one thing, it's not just an utter inability to see things the way most people see things, it's how he writes as if the concept that perhaps people see things differently never occurs to him.

Post 516 is a great example, it's what Artie Ziff would have written if Ziff wrote on political blogs.

not sure what Frum's talking about here... not clear why he thinks anyone would want to give Obama credit for it.

this is like a sentence from some alternative universe- Frum is talking about how some members of his own party are trying to "blame" (or credit") Obama for the sequester- it is pretty much a fact that some are doing that.

DMN then thinks it's odd that Frum would even think that some people want to give Obama "credit" but it's DMN's query that is truly odd- people are trying to give Obama "credit" (and Obama is strenuously trying to give others the same "credit")- so people are doing that-
as to being not clear, DMN writes as if he is truly oblivious to the fact that the sequester is [currently] unpopular-
and playing it as a straight man- is he oblivious, or is he merely attempting to be dryly humorous?
   530. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4378564)
The sequester is a good thing¹; not clear why he thinks anyone would want to give Obama credit for it.

¹ Well, a good start, I mean.


Well, if you can get an outcome that you like, that infuriates 85% of the population AND blame it on your enemy, why wouldn't you?


If DMN is "good" for one thing, it's not just an utter inability to see things the way most people see things, it's how he writes as if the concept that perhaps people see things differently never occurs to him.

Post 516 is a great example, it's what Artie Ziff would have written if Ziff wrote on political blogs.

not sure what Frum's talking about here... not clear why he thinks anyone would want to give Obama credit for it.

this is like a sentence from some alternative universe- Frum is talking about how some members of his own party are trying to "blame" (or credit") Obama for the sequester- it is pretty much a fact that some are doing that.

DMN then thinks it's odd that Frum would even think that some people want to give Obama "credit" but it's DMN's query that is truly odd- people are trying to give Obama "credit" (and Obama is strenuously trying to give others the same "credit")- so people are doing that-
as to being not clear, DMN writes as if he is truly oblivious to the fact that the sequester is [currently] unpopular-
and playing it as a straight man- is he oblivious, or is he merely attempting to be dryly humorous?
   531. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:23 PM (#4378573)
We know you mean re: Darwinism, JC. It's still an asinine thing to say.
Lazy, lazy, lazy. You of all people, too.

Humans already control natural selection in themselves and various plant and animal cultivars, and have for 10,000 years.
You did manage to say something interesting here, though. Inapt, but revealing. There is a fundamental change, once we began to understand and play directly with DNA, in how evolution happens. That discovery and intervention is literally unprecedented, and your comparison to the past 10,000 years as though at most what we're doing is upping the ante a little is simply a failure of imagination.

The apt comparison of the last 10,000 years to the era begun with Crick and Watson et al and including petaflop computers along with sequencing the genome is of the bicycle to manned, supraorbital spacecraft.

It's fascinating to see people even on a site like this stuck in the same old thinking. It's called exponential growth for a reason, and the failure to grasp that it's nothing like the linear growth that is a fair description of much of human progress accounts for a lot of the inability to see where we're headed.

edit: here and there
   532. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4378583)
as to being not clear, DMN writes as if he is truly oblivious to the fact that the sequester is [currently] unpopular-
and playing it as a straight man- is he oblivious, or is he merely attempting to be dryly humorous?


Since I put DMN on ignore, I don't have to wonder any more. The signal-to-noise ratio in these threads has noticeably improved for me.
   533. Tippecanoe Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4378629)
It's called exponential growth for a reason,

I'm skeptical that computing speed's exponential growth can continue indefinitely. As with most examples of exponential growth, there are physical limits -- Planck's constant, atomic scales, the speed of light, etc. -- that will take effect at some point. Quantum computing looks to be only a piece of the answer.

   534. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4378641)
   535. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4378643)
The signal-to-noise ratio in these threads has noticeably improved for me.

Yet you trash that ratio for others. What's your record for consecutive posts in this threads without referring to people you don't like as stupid? 4?
   536. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:47 PM (#4378644)
<dupe>
   537. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:51 PM (#4378646)
Yet you trash that ratio for others.


hmm someone no longer has someone on ignore....
   538. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4378650)
Yeah, I can see why.


GS, when I click on your link, I get a "forbidden" window come up.
   539. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4378653)
It's not difficult: Once natural selection ceases to operate--once we control our evolution--Darwin's theory of natural selection as it applies to us and dictates the course of our evolution, is obsolete.


But natural selection will always be with us, even if germline manipulation is permitted. All that will happen is the genetic drift will have more external factors impacting on it.

And humans will never, and I mean NEVER, have absolute control of every factor that can impact natural selection. NEVER.

To say otherwise means you don't really understand what evolution by natural selection really means, and how it happens.
   540. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:01 PM (#4378654)
Since I put DMN on ignore, I don't have to wonder any more. The signal-to-noise ratio in these threads has noticeably improved for me.


I don't have him on ignore but you are right about the signal to noise ratio. Now that he's a father, it seems he can't post as much and the quality of the threads has noticeably improved.
   541. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4378656)
Whoops - wrong link.
   542. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4378658)
Andy, you know Sara Evans? Cool. That book was one I definitely dived into way back when.

Sara Evans and Charlotte Bunch (who was also interviewed for that same PBS show) were the co-chairs of the Duke YWCA when I was there. She met her first husband (Harry Boyte, my best friend at Duke) on the Selma-Montgomery march, and I used to stay with them when I was book scouting in Minneapolis. She's now re-married and living in South Carolina. One of the truly fine people I've ever known and a great influence to several generations of her students at UM (meaning Minnesota, not Michigan) and elsewhere.

Personal Politics, which Sara wrote in her early 30's, is one of the underrated first hand sources on the origins of the modern women's movement. For anyone with eyes and ears, it didn't take a genius to figure out that there was bound to be a big backlash against the subordinate roles that most women were consigned to in the civil rights** and anti-war movements, and Sara was there taking it all down when those memories were still fresh.

**Though a significant percentage of the local leaders in the civil rights movement were women: Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Gray, Gloria Richardson, etc.
   543. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:07 PM (#4378659)
I'll take "Useless Pieces of Crap I Worked With in Little Rock" for $100, Alex.


goose, you can't just stop there. Delight us with anecdotes.

And I think you will find this article interesting, as it appears to validate your impression re:the bowtied fratboy.

Tucker Carlson’s downward spiral

   544. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:08 PM (#4378662)
PP, try this.
   545. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:15 PM (#4378666)
That's a little grainy but I see what you mean. You can't find one with the miniskirt, can you (please, please)????
   546. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:24 PM (#4378668)
Best I could find.
   547. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:26 PM (#4378669)
I betcha she had Castro literally eating out her miniskirted communist hand.
   548. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:52 PM (#4378677)
as to being not clear, DMN writes as if he is truly oblivious to the fact that the sequester is [currently] unpopular-and playing it as a straight man- is he oblivious, or is he merely attempting to be dryly humorous?
Yes.

Also, the sequester can't be unpopular since it hasn't had any effect yet; what's unpopular is the scare tactics being announced by Obama and reported uncritically by the liberal media, in which cutting an infinitesimal portion of the federal budget, will somehow cut every popular program but nothing unpopular. It's the standard politician trick of closing parks and firehouses in a budget 'crisis,' rather than, say, ATF agents and inspectors.
   549. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 02, 2013 at 04:20 AM (#4378996)
If we become immortal, that would be a radical, cataclysmic change. We wouldn't then be driven by the drive for survival. That could result in a change in basic character, it can be mooted, but I doubt it would be instantaneous, or even fast. But if that is so, moralistic terms would become anachronistic also, wouldn't it?

Funny that you should speak of this speed of change outstripping of Darwin (whatever's happening it's still organisms responding to environmental pressure, though) on our way careening towards a Singularity. It's reminiscent to me of the way Dawkins writes of "replicators" and "vehicles" in The Selfish Gene (and how they, too, can be in conflict), and the way natural selection created and engineered "survival machines."


Morty--I'm sure I don't know Dawkins as well as you do--is The Selfish Gene the best place to start getting better acquainted?

Speaking of 'basic character' and 'moralistic terms,' there are a variety of possible ways morality might develop. One of the better papers on the subject is a recent one "The Superintelligent Will: motivation and instrumental rationality in advanced artificial agents" by Nick Bostrom, from the Future of Humanity Institute Faculty of Philosophy & Oxford Martin School, at Oxford University.

I've been thinking about both the path to and substrate of our eventual immortality and how our immortality might develop in tandem with the advanced agents that help generate it. Those agents might provide a template for how we can anticipate our morality might evolve. We might very quickly have to deal with the issues an independently developed superintelligence would (while, I hope, integrating the best of our current, embedded selves). Those superintelligent agents are useful points of conjecture because in short order, once we develop high fidelity brain emulators that allow for downloading, we'll have means in common with them, if not yet the abilities.

Anyway, Bostrom is a good, straightforward read. He makes the useful point that the different sources of our advanced agents yield different outcomes.

[There is, for example] predictability through inheritance. If a digital intelligence is created directly from a human template (as would be the case in a high-fidelity whole brain emulation), then the digital intelligence might inherit the motivations of the human template.

The agent might retain some of these motivations even if its cognitive capacities are subsequently enhanced to make it superintelligent. This kind of inference requires caution. The agent’s goals and values could easily become corrupted in the uploading process or during its subsequent operation and enhancement, depending on how the procedure is implemented.


Btw, Bostrom's Abstract is interesting in and of itself.



ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the relation between intelligence and motivation in artificial agents, developing and briefly arguing for two theses. The first, the orthogonality thesis, holds (with some caveats) that intelligence and final goals (purposes) are orthogonal axes along which possible artificial intellects can freely vary—more or less any level of intelligence could be combined with more or less any final goal.

The second, the instrumental convergence thesis, holds that as long as they possess a sufficient level of intelligence, agents having any of a wide range of final goals will pursue similar intermediary goals because they have instrumental reasons to do so. In combination, the two theses help us understand the possible range of behavior of superintelligent agents, and they point to some potential dangers in building such an agent.




   550. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 02, 2013 at 04:27 AM (#4378997)
.

A nice-sized step towards the above is getting significant investment:

"KOOKS GET FUNDING." Oh, wait, maybe it's "QUEST TO MODEL THE HUMAN BRAIN NETS A BILLION EUROS"

Is a billion euros enough to understand the human brain? The Human Brain Project thinks it’s a good start, and evidently the European Commission agrees. On January 28, the Human Brain Project was one of two projects to be awarded a billion in backing from the European Commission’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Initiative.

Henry Markram, the project’s founder and co-director, hopes that over the next decade the project’s consortium of 80+ institutions will use up to an annual $100 million in funding to build a complete digital model of the human brain.

The better we know the brain, the better we can diagnose and treat neurological disease, and maybe—in the greatest feat of natural reverse engineering to date—the better we can build computers and software as flexible, powerful, and efficient as the brain itself. At least, that’s the goal.

Markram says, “It’s an infrastructure to be able to build and simulate the human brain, objectively classify brain diseases, and build radically new computing devices.” See the following HBP video for more:


Further down TFA says,

IBM and DARPA’s SyNAPSE recently completed a 100 trillion synapse simulation based on the connections in a macaque brain. Spaun is a working (albeit very simple) cognitive computer. Meanwhile, Ray Kurzweil’s latest book, How to Create a Mind, outlines his ideas on how to reverse engineer the brain—his new post at Google as Director of Engineering could result in some interesting brain-related projects. And not to be outdone by the EU, the Obama administration is expected to announce the details of a ten year, multi-billion dollar project to map the human brain in the coming weeks.

Governments and academic institutions seem comitted to throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the problem of the brain. It’s reminiscent of Apollo or the Human Genome Project. And arguably, giant lump sum public investments (and the inevitable international competition that goes with them) are needed to jumpstart such massive scientific endeavors.

But politics and public funding are fickle beasts. Equally important are the new neural networks—80+ institutional collaborators in the Human Brain Project alone—forming in the global brain. Whether or not we reach the lofty goal of fully modeling the brain in a decade, we’ll certainly have learned and begun to apply much from the process.


There have been a number of breakthroughs in the last few years that guarantee we'll reach exascale computing (essential to the brain project) by the end of the decade (and possibly as early as 2017). From Electrical Engineering:

Abstract: Exascale high-performance computing systems are projected to become a reality by the end of the decade. Supercomputers of this size are anticipated to have considerable societal impact, by transforming scientific understanding of complex systems including global climate, brain neurophysiology, and fusion energy. Escalating computational performance and interconnection bandwidth significantly beyond today's Petaflop systems will require deployment of hundreds of millions of optical links across all length scales within the system architecture, for interconnection of racks, modules, and individual chips. This talk will describe the device-level research behind IBM CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonic technology, which realizes monolithic integration of deeply-scaled high-speed optical circuits within the front-end of a standard CMOS process. This platform can provide a cost-effective path toward the low-power, massively parallel optical transceivers required for Exascale systems.


One example of what exascale computing can do is read high definition MRIs in real time, which would give us unprecedented views of dynamic processes in the brain. Another example is the vastly improved modeling of global warming. The problem of the speed of light mentioned upthread as a limitation in computing is in part overcome by using light to transmit information. The recently developed nanophotonic chips are keys to a number of versions of exascale computing.
   551. Morty Causa Posted: March 02, 2013 at 07:32 AM (#4379022)
Morty--I'm sure I don't know Dawkins as well as you do--is The Selfish Gene the best place to start getting better acquainted?


Yes, that book or, depending on your state of scientific knowledge, The Blind Watchmaker. Both are excellent reads. No one is better at summing up evidence and explaining biology and its implications. He's a vivid stylist. His mode of argument is usually framed by using extended comparison. The Selfish Gene, in an appendix essay, was where he first mooted his speculations on the meme.
   552. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 02, 2013 at 08:51 AM (#4379060)
Thanks bro. It's on my order list. Btw, which is which, insofar as the state of my scientific knowledge is concerned?
   553. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: March 02, 2013 at 09:53 AM (#4379097)
Also, the sequester can't be unpopular since it hasn't had any effect yet


Pretty sure that's not true. Things yet to happen can be popular or unpopular. Logically, you might argue that the popularity or otherwise of those things might be misleading, since the 'true' effects are yet to be known, but that's hardly the same thing.
   554. Publius Publicola Posted: March 02, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4379114)
Anybody else a little concerned that Dennis Rodman seems to be acting as a self-appointed US ambassador to N. Korea? Isn't that a little like Mr. T as a hostage crisis negotiator?
   555. Publius Publicola Posted: March 02, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4379117)
Once people are hit with a higher bill because of the Medicare and Medicaid benefit cuts, holy hell is going to be raised.
   556. Morty Causa Posted: March 02, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4379159)
552:

The Selfish Gene is more technical; The Blind Watchmaker more accessible if like me you hadn't swotted up on science in a few decades. TBW has probably served as a basic starting text for some philosophers of science (like Dennett), so it's more thrilling for people like us who like to opinionate at will. You sound like you're more advanced than I was at the beginning stage when I decided to do some catching up, so I'd start with the first one, The Selfish Gene. It's also a true literary feat, a brilliant exercise in argument by extended conceit (no, he doesn't just rely on that--he uses it to make his points clear to the reasonably educated and informed reader.

EDIT: And if you are interested in evolution and Darwin's theories and views on evolution, DAwkins's The Greatest Show on Earth has been called the best popular presentation, although Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True (he keeps it as simple as his title) is very good and very quick (it's about 130 pages long).
   557. cardsfanboy Posted: March 02, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4379167)
And if you are interested in evolution and Darwin's theories and views on evolution, DAwkins's The Greatest Show on Earth has been called the best popular presentation, although Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True (he keeps it as simple as his title) is very good and very quick (it's about 130 pages long).


Haven't read the latter, but Greatest Show on Earth is what I would recommend for people who are borderline under the sway of the religious dogma, but still have a moderately open mind(I know mostly an oxymoron there) It's a great introduction to evolution book.
   558. Morty Causa Posted: March 02, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4379171)
That's true. His first two that were mentioned are really applying his theories to Darwinian implications. They are massively wonderful intellectual exercises, though it is true they demand of you more commitment than a more conventional study on just what evolution is and all about. Had The Greatest Show existed when I started reading Dawkins almost 20 years ago now, I'd probably have started there. Indeed, I think I read his slim volume, River Out of Eden, that has just come out as a bullpen warmup, just to see if I was up to the game.

And Dawkins can be read for his science, isolating his religious opinions to one side (except for something like The God Delusion of course).
   559. BDC Posted: March 02, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4379177)
The apt comparison of the last 10,000 years to the era begun with Crick and Watson et al and including petaflop computers along with sequencing the genome is of the bicycle to manned, supraorbital spacecraft

Or would be, if manned supraorbital spacecraft were still with us and not an abandoned venture from 40 years ago :)

If I learned anything from watching Jurassic Park about 100 times when my son was eight years old, it's that humans can indeed exert artificial selection on organisms (indeed Darwin and Wallace were led to conceptualize natural selection by observing artificial selection), and yes, even to design genomes – but as Publicola notes, these designer organisms are still going to have to live in a system with almost infinite numbers and permutations of variables way beyond human control. It's not flat-earth thinking to point that out; it seems to me just an acknowledgment of reality. Feral animals, weeds, and invasive species of all kinds seem to be the way of human interventions in evolution, once vigilance is dropped for a moment (and it inevitably is).
   560. Steve Treder Posted: March 02, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4379181)
If I learned anything from watching Jurassic Park about 100 times when my son was eight years old

On a beach vacation when my kids were about that age -- probably about six and eight -- I read much of the book aloud to them. They were completely into it. Good times.
   561. Lassus Posted: March 02, 2013 at 01:42 PM (#4379182)
Anybody else a little concerned that Dennis Rodman seems to be acting as a self-appointed US ambassador to N. Korea? Isn't that a little like Mr. T as a hostage crisis negotiator?

When Dennis Rodman replacing your current leader would be met with massive worldwide relief and support, you know there's a problem with your country.
   562. Morty Causa Posted: March 02, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4379187)
559:

That's a good point. I guess I could research it, to go into it more intelligently, but for right now, let me just comment that I think Darwinists like Dawkins would say that our culture not only represents the culmination of what began as biology but becomes part of that changing environment the organism is selected for in the long run. What makes prognostications along these lines chancey is that we don't have a very long run here, so it's hard to discern. But, I don't see why Singularity (or whatever) wouldn't be incorporated in natural selection. Surely some of those downloads will be more adatable than others? Maybe, as Dawkins rankly speculated in that appendix in The Selfish Gene, that's when memes, or something like that, becomes Darwinian. Dawkins and others have speculated that Darwin's theory (and other attributes of evolution) are not dependent on the particular life that we have here and now. If there's a different based life somewhere in the universe, chances are, they say, it evolved, or is evolving along Darwinian lines.
   563. zenbitz Posted: March 02, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4379252)
I *suspect* and it's just a gut feeling, nothing more -- that the electronics/computer exponential expansion is cresting or near to cresting. It is rapidly outstripping power efficiency, and until we have exponential growth in solar energy capture efficiency, this will get stymied. You can make small devices more power efficient, but I think we are getting near the entropy cost to store a bit. And "Ye canna fight the second lawr of thermodyamics, Captain".

Biology, Biochemistry & Genetics on the other hand is just beginning it's exponential explosion (e.g, cost of DNA sequencing is currently Supra-moore's law).
   564. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 03, 2013 at 08:23 AM (#4379653)
It's called exponential growth for a reason,

I'm skeptical that computing speed's exponential growth can continue indefinitely. As with most examples of exponential growth, there are physical limits -- Planck's constant, atomic scales, the speed of light, etc. -- that will take effect at some point. Quantum computing looks to be only a piece of the answer.


And skeptical you/we should be. It seems extraordinarily unlikely it can continue indefinitely, for the reasons you mention, and more.** What I look at, though, are what appear to be the likeliest constraints, when those constraints are likely to kick in, and at what point those constraints interfere with significant progress, or with the particular topic under discussion.

Supercomputers currently run easily in the petaflop (10^15/second) range. The Cray Titan peaks at around 25 petaflops, or 25 quadrillion floating point operations per second. The Chinese have committed to a 100 petaflop computer by 2015. The tech for the next jump, to exascale (10^18/second) computing, is already well-understood. The chips necessary have already been built and tested. The process by which those chips will be assembled to work at that speed has no impediments, and the Chinese plan to reach the one exascale (one quintillion FLOPS) benchmark by 2018. The Indian government recently announced it will beat that by one year. That's another plus, that multiple nations and companies are working on supercomputers. The short term and therefore most reliable projections also mean that speed is projected to increase by a factor of 40 in five years.

No one is talking about a limit on the current architectures as less than 64 exaflops, so even the most conservative views don't picture things slowing down prior to getting within a few steps of the zettaflop computer (10^21/second, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second), which can more than handle most projected simulations of the human brain in real-time.

The occasional pessmistic view on how current supercomputer architectures might run dry around 64 exaflops doesn't take into account even small conceptual leaps, such as shrinking the length and width of current processors while using photolitho techniques to more than compensate by increasing the number of layers (thereby shortening the distance information needs to travel) on a chip to 32. It doesn't account for integrating memristors into supercomputers, or memristors as components of neuromorphic computer architecture, which could substantially reduce speeds required for strong AI or brain emulation.

Worst case, development can certainly slow below the trajectory described by Moore's law without significantly impeding the development of AI or brain emulators. If the doubling slowed significantly, occurring every four years, it's not really a big deal except for those of us likely to be among the last generation of humans suffering terminally from the currently irreversible disease of aging.

In short, I think the chances are fairly good that before Moore's law ceases to apply, we'll be matching or beating it for awhile. There's also a real wild card, in that some forms of (not necessarily strong) AI under development may well aid us in beating Moore's law.

------------------

Btw, fans of the xkcd comic strip who aren't familiar with its forums might get a kick out of the free floating discussions there. The second post at http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?t=22535&p=671338 gives some solid links to some of what are currently thought to be limiting values.

As for the ultimate "limits to computation", I'd like to be around for this:

It may be possible to use a black hole as a data storage and/or computing device, if a practical mechanism for extraction of contained information can be found. Such extraction may in principle be possible (Stephen Hawking's proposed resolution to the black hole information paradox). This would achieve storage density exactly equal to the Bekenstein Bound. Professor Seth Lloyd calculated the computational abilities of an "ultimate laptop" formed by compressing a kilogram of matter into a black hole of radius 1.485 × 10?27 meters, concluding that it would only last about 10?19 seconds before evaporating due to Hawking radiation, but that during this brief time it could compute at a rate of about 5 × 1050 operations per second, ultimately performing about 10 to the 32nd operations on 10 to the 16th bits. Lloyd notes that "Interestingly, although this hypothetical computation is performed at ultra-high densities and speeds, the total number of bits available to be processed is not far from the number available to current computers operating in more familiar surroundings.


As with most examples of exponential growth, there are physical limits -- Planck's constant, atomic scales, the speed of light, etc. -- that will take effect at some point. Quantum computing looks to be only a piece of the answer.


Again, it's all relevant to what you want to accomplish. IF zettaflop computing is adequate to creating strong AI and is powerful enough to allow brain emulation, there don't seem to be any obvious constraints in the way of supercomputing continuing along the lines of Moore's law (well, House's corollary to Moore's law is more what we're talking about) and reaching zettaflop speeds.

A couple of years ago Eric Williams posted on foresight.org a nice summary of how we'll push past 64 exaflops (and on to zettaflops):

Well, first, i think some more operational definitions are in order. Let’s assume “human-level AI” means “capable of non-emotional reasoning and problem solving at the level of the average human in realtime”. Basically, what we currently understand as the functionality of the neocortex (Strong AI). I think the “in realtime” is important, because if we can run an AGI at 1/1000th the speed of a human brain (still quite a feat), we’re quite a few years from being able to interact with it.

Quite a few people picked 2030 [as the year of human level, Strong AI being developed], but i didn’t see any real reasoning behind the number other than increasing computing speeds. L Zoel touched on simulation, this seems like a good baseline for a pessimistic projection. Let’s use the Blue Brain project as our benchmark, since it’s the farthest along in true neuronal simulation (with interconnects and not simple point neurons).

Blue Brain can simulate a rat-level neocortical column (~10,000 neurons) in realtime on IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer (36 TFLOPS). These are advanced neuronal simulations at the cellular level, including interconnects between neurons. A human neocortical column has ~50,000 neurons (varies of course). Assuming the complexity squares with increasing NCC’s (due to interconnects), 25x more computational power is required to simulate 1 neocortical column, roughly 1 petaflop, in the range of the fastest supercomputers today.

The human neocortex has between 2-5 million neocortical columns. This means that a zettaflop computer (1 million times more powerful than today’s fastest supercomputers) is required to run the blue brain simulation, in its current state, on the scale of a human neocortex.

Now, this is incredibly inefficient. We aren’t actually writing intelligence algorithms, just simulating the brain down the cellular level. A fellow from Sandia labs predicts that with a zettaflop computer, we could model the entire world’s weather patterns at a resolution of under 100m for 2 weeks. Clearly this is far beyond the scope of what 1 human brain is capable of, yet the hardware required to do both is identical. I think it speaks to the inefficiency of the simulation, and the potential for simplification of an AI model.

But even with this pessimistic outcome of AI, if the colloquial version of Moore’s Law holds, by 2030 we have the processing power to do this. Any other advances in actual AI algorithms (Jeff Hawkins’ Nupic software excels at the pattern recognition many here have mentioned, i think his HTM theory holds much promise) could speed things along. I think 2030-2050 is a sure thing if computers keep pace, and it looks like they will, to me.

Shrinking MOSFETs down to 16nm by 2016, 3d chip stacking, optical chip interconnects, self-assembling CNTFETS, graphene clock multipliers, these are all things being experimented with and tested now that don’t require any wildcard technologies (like quantum computing, single photon transistors, molecular computing, etc).

2030-2050 has my vote… [for the development of Strong AI at the level of the human brain].


Once you have Strong AI functioning at the level of a single human brain, you're almost certainly within a decade of Strong AI functioning at a level one thousand times the smartest human brain (by gaining speed, if nothing else. Add improvements in software, and the contributions the AI is making towards its own development, and we're really taking off). It does cross my mind occasionally that this kind of radical, extrahuman development explains Fermi's Paradox. On the other hand, though, nonbiological intelligence would probably construct Dyson spheres and other energy sources necessary to megascaled supercomputing; we're already capable of detecting some Dyson spheres at some distances, so their absence suggests however slightly that the evolution of consciousness doesn't take a path of nonbiologic supercession with commensurate, unintelligible aims.

-----------------------

**I'm tabling for the moment things like Dyson spheres running megascale supercomputers, and the computation possible with evaporating black holes.
   565. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4379700)
Biology, Biochemistry & Genetics on the other hand is just beginning it's exponential explosion (e.g, cost of DNA sequencing is currently Supra-moore's law).


Remember that device that Dr. McCoy would wave over his patients to make a diagnosis of what was ailing them? That's no longer in the realm of inconceivable science fiction, except the device isn't waved. It's held for 20 minutes or so after a slide containing a drop or two of the patients blood is inserted into it.
   566. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 03, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4379714)
@556: Thanks Morty. I'm looking forward to reading.

@565: check out the "MIT Computer Program" thread. It'll be child's play to adapt the program as software for a handheld device that through a tiny video camera reads heart rate without touching the patient.

Btw, I've assumed the device McCoy is waving is a portable MRI (among other things), with real-time, high definition reading and diagnosis, natch. That means he's packing zettaflop power at least into a salt shaker.

Maybe yottaflop power (10^24) is more like it, since HD MRIs in real time are going to have to coexist in the device with a century or three of medical literature and expert diagnostic systems also accessible in real-time.
   567. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2013 at 01:09 PM (#4379721)
Btw, I've assumed the device McCoy is waving is a portable MRI (among other things), with real-time, high definition reading and diagnosis, natch. That means he's packing zettaflop power at least into a salt shaker.


It has a miniature di-lithium crystal-powered battery in it :)
   568. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4379724)
So what devices from the original Star Trek actually came to pass?

-Hand-held cell phones for sure.
-MRI and PET and other non-invasive imaging, though the machines are much larger.
-widescreen video
-extra-solar system space probes

Still waiting for the opportunity to travel back and forth in time and to shtup extra-terrestrial hotties though.
   569. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 03, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4379758)
Clearly that last is the real point of warp drive.

I assume you could regrow organs quickly in TOS (massive repairs were done from time to time), though I don't remember specific examples, and apparently there's now a push to be able to 3D-print organs from ones DNA. Aren't we close to some form of spray-on skin in order to make repairs? I remember something like that in the series. Though in 2013 what we have is presumably generic skin or more probably a skin-like substance, and not one that tailors itself to mimic your own skin's DNA the way it surely would in 2450ish.
   570. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 03, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4379905)
I assume you could regrow organs quickly in TOS

In TNG they still couldn't fix poor Geordi's eyes though...
   571. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2013 at 09:46 PM (#4379921)
Though in 2013 what we have is presumably generic skin or more probably a skin-like substance, and not one that tailors itself to mimic your own skin's DNA the way it surely would in 2450ish.


There's a skin patch in development that's made of the epidermal extracellular matrix that directs repopulation and repair through intrinsic cellular signals. Not quite the same thing.
   572. cardsfanboy Posted: March 04, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4380092)
-MRI and PET and other non-invasive imaging, though the machines are much larger.


That is on the list of X prizes.

If you have seen minority report, the Kinnect is making it possible for operating systems like the one used in that movie. Which dwarves the operating systems on The Next Generation.

I assume you could regrow organs quickly in TOS (massive repairs were done from time to time), though I don't remember specific examples,


In Star Trek IV they were on present day earth and McCoy gave someone a pill that regrew their kidney(?).

   573. Tripon Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4380098)

In Star Trek IV they were on present day earth and McCoy gave someone a pill that regrew their kidney(?).


I thought it was cancer, which is why he's all aghast about somebody doing Chemo.
   574. GregD Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4380101)
Jack, The NYRB essay on Kurzweil is posted. To be clear it's about his efforts in philosophy of mind, not about some of his other claims, so one could consistently agree with McGinn and also be impressed with Kurzweil. I don't know enough about Kurzweil to have strong opinions, but it does strike me as definitionally true of genius that it manifests at times in extreme stupidity. The confidence that propels people to new discoveries also leads them to make catastrophically simple errors in other fields. That's been the experience I've had with the 3-4 people I've known whom I thought of as geniuses by contrast with the many people if hundreds of exceptionally bright but more cautious people I know. So it wouldn't shock me if Kurzweil is both embarrassing himself here and breaking startling new ground elsewhere. NYRB review
   575. BrianBrianson Posted: March 04, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4380118)
He was agast at both Chemo and Trepanning, but the woman who took a pill was merely on dialysis - she was fairly old, and here kidney failure could've been for any number of reasons.
   576. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 04, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4380559)
@574: Thanks for the link Greg.

Yeah--I like Kurzweil precisely because he's willing to extend himself into areas he's not entirely expert in. We have to do that if we're going to aim at comprehensive theories of Being, but it also means we'll occasionally look like fools. The alternative is to theorize only narrowly, from subjects we've mastered.

I'm willing to cut real thinkers slack. In his Historium Animalum and Generatione Animalum Aristotle was variously of the opinion that "the female is, as it were, a mutilated male" and that "the female is more dispirited and more despondent than the male, more shameless and more lying, readier to deceive and possessing a better memory for grudges" and most famously that men had more teeth than women, but those don't mean I'm going to chuck the entirety of the Metaphysics. Where I'd diagnose kookery is in cases where someone is confronted with superior facts and persists in erroneous belief.

@571: are we going to carry around like the current medic alert bracelets small, locket-sized containers of our own stem cells that can be applied to any wound or used to repair any organ? That might be an intermediate step before medkits carry universal stem cells.

Btw, transporters seem kinda old hat. Instead you'd probably digitize your Self and send it at the speed of light (experiencing no time passing even if you send yourself 10,000 light years away) anywhere there was a receiver. You'd then have the option of downloading yourself into a handy android body*** more sensitive and durable than a human body (which, in 200 years, surely won't be much like the bodies we're in now), and take it from there. Whatever SETI looks for, I imagine one of the first things a civilization only slightly more advanced than ours will send out will be the consciousness of some of its members, and the instructions for the kit required to house those consciousnesses. Why send the ambassador's message when you can send the ambassador?

------------------------

Upthread there was reference to figuring how neurons work as essential to building brains. Developments in the field over the last few years have been extraordinary. In the wiki (tech guys have done a great job keeping wikipedia up to date on these things), under "Neuromophic", itself a good read:

In November 2011, a group of MIT researchers created the first computer chip that mimics the analog, ion-based communication in a synapse between two neurons using 400 transistors and standard CMOS manufacturing techniques.

In June 2012, Spintronic Researchers at Purdue presented a paper on design for a neuromorphic chip using lateral spin valves and memristors. They argue that the architecture they have designed works in a similar way to neurons and can therefore be used to test various ways of reproducing the brain’s processing ability. In addition, they are significantly more energy efficient than conventional chips.


Then, check out "singing neurons" and their individual voices at
www.frontiersin.org:

Within the brain, neurons all have electrical voices, each singing out in harmony with millions of others, a complex choir of information processing from which emerges the crown jewel of the human being – the conscious mind.

As described in The Blue Brain Way: Creating ‘singing’ neurons, it’s necessary to first create the voices of neurons – i.e. create electrical models that are representative of the full diversity of electrical behaviors exhibited by neurons. These are the e-types. Secondly, it is necessary to transplant these voices into the correct ‘voice boxes’ or neuron morphologies to create me-types (morpho-electrical types).


That's at: http://www.frontiersin.org/blog/The_Blue_Brain_Way_Creating_‘singing’_neurons_part_two_/191#sthash.PYXoau2J.dpuf



***If there's a civilization (including your own) capable of building receivers, surely a mobile android capable of serving as a repository for consciousness isn't too tough a task for it.
   577. Publius Publicola Posted: March 04, 2013 at 07:58 PM (#4380564)
We have to do that if we're going to aim at comprehensive theories of Being, but it also means we'll occasionally look like fools. The alternative is to theorize only narrowly, from subjects we've mastered.


Why are we limited to only theorizing? We have at our disposal the scientific method, right? If Kurzweil wants to be taken seriously, he can construct a model and experiment to validate his theories. Then his critics can review and duplicate, if possible, his findings. Short of that, its all just mental masturbation.
   578. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 04, 2013 at 08:34 PM (#4380581)
Also, the sequester can't be unpopular since it hasn't had any effect yet; what's unpopular is the scare tactics being announced by Obama and reported uncritically by the liberal media, in which cutting an infinitesimal portion of the federal budget, will somehow cut every popular program but nothing unpopular.


If you break out the budget into general categories, there isn't a single area where cuts enjoy majority support, and there's only one area ("aid to world's needy" - a tiny item within the budget) where the cuts have even a plurality on their side.
   579. zenbitz Posted: March 04, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4380603)
March thread?
   580. spike Posted: March 04, 2013 at 09:50 PM (#4380608)
   581. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 05, 2013 at 10:20 AM (#4380948)
Why are we limited to only theorizing? We have at our disposal the scientific method, right? If Kurzweil wants to be taken seriously, he can construct a model and experiment to validate his theories. Then his critics can review and duplicate, if possible, his findings. Short of that, its all just mental masturbation.


What on earth are you talking about?.

First, theorizing about the future inherently means theorizing about untestable hypotheses. You're therefore asserting no one should theorize about anything that can't be currently tested, which is obviously absurd. Second, even if you only theorized about what was currently on the shelf, you'd move at the pace of ants if you yourself tested every single hypothesis you were offering. That's what people developing slightly better mosquito sprays do. It's never the way any thinker in any field theorizes. The people developing cpu's as short as five years out have to theorize an enormous number of currently untestable hypotheses. If you go ten and twenty and thirty years out, which there's obviously a great need to do, the number of hypotheses you make necessarily increases, and the number of untestable hypotheses correspondingly increases.

Third, stating what the fellow with numerous patents, inventions, and successful companies to his credit, and who has just been named Director of Engineering at Google should do if he "wants to be taken seriously" tells us either that you've stooped trolling or have literally no grasp of anything that's been done in AI and computing in the last twenty years. Please: just stop.


   582. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 05, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4381241)
The opening of the NYRB's review of Kurzweil's latest book is... uninspiring. Thinking that it's meaningful that someone is not a "professional" philosopher tells us about Colin McGinn, not his subject.

It's a strange review. The language is bizarre. "One this" and "one that" abounds. The anger and resentment is evident from the early going. That Kurzweil believes he's found the fundamental basis of intelligence is suspect because it's in a field where Kurzweil can 'manufacture something for a price'. But, don't "professional" philosophers offer theories "for a price", namely, their salaries? In their case, though, that's presumably a good thing. Here it garners the reviewer's suspicion.

The writer's main objection makes little sense. Kurzweil has not proposed that pattern recognition is the only function of mind, but the writer insists he has, and invents the following peculiar and irrelevant complaint.

In what way does thinking involve processing a stimulus and categorizing it? When I am thinking about London while in Miami I am not recognizing any presented stimulus as London—since I am not perceiving London with my senses. There is no perceptual recognition going on at all in thinking about an absent object. So pattern recognition cannot be the essential nature of thought. This point seems totally obvious and quite devastating, yet Kurzweil has nothing to say about it, not even acknowledging the problem.


A later objection, an extension of the above complaint, is simply a failure of reasoning:

"...there is no pattern recognition involved when I dream."

Sure there is. It's in part how you recognize faces and buildings within your dream. Pattern recognition is part of how the images (and emotions associated with them) arose and were retained in memory in the first place. It's likely that how you possess or carry or see the image involves one function of the brain, while another aspect of the brain recognizes that image. Alzeheimer's is quite obviously a disease wherein you routinely retain and carry the first part, the image, but fail to mantain the ability to recognize that image. Part of that failure involves a distintegration of the capacity for pattern recognition.

Kurzweil has to be correct in theorizing that pattern recognition is an essential component of intelligence. Additional issues are a) is pattern recognition not just essential but fundamental? b) is pursuing it as fundamental if it is not a costly diversion from a better path?

As for b), it needs to be explored, and even if it turns out to be a bit of a false lead, figuring out how it is and why it is could easily be a key step towards Strong AI.

In order to fabricate a criticism, though, McGinn takes the obvious hyperbole of the title and not only pushes it to an absurdity that has no relevance, but also pretends that perversion of the title's meaning should displace everything else Kurzweil writes. It's a pretty silly piece, and obviously so. And especially so when you get to around the fifth graf from the end of the first page where the best the writer can do is take metaphorical language literally. It's like criticizing Impressionist painting for "failing" to be realistic.

There's also an odd and unscucessful attempt at deconstructing the language of neuroscience and AI on the second page. What a mess. As the remarks on Wittgenstein demonstrate so clearly, Kurzweil's biggest sin is not talking about what the writer wants him to talk about. The last three paragraphs, rattling on about "law" as though Kurweil isn't using "law" colloquially, is a particular embarrassment.

Much more interesting is how Kurzweil might use his and Google's convergence of interests to develop intelligent algorithms based in part on what I call "deep" pattern recognition. (Structural linguists will know what I'm describing).

"Watson", IBM's Jeopardy-playing software, was successful at the narrow task its enormous resources were aimed at, but it evinced no intelligence. It did nudge information seeking programs ahead, and increased our ability to draw meaning out of certain, strictly defined phrases, but otherwise it wasn't meaningful towards creating Strong AI, any more than every chess-playing software ever developed was.

I do wonder, though, if in a decade you tie together the hundred most advanced expert systems in a hundred different fields, how much difference will there be between that combination of systems, and talking with a highly intelligent person? A great deal of effort will be made to make these expert systems user friendly. The expert system IBM developed out of the Watson program designed to help doctors make diagnoses is a billion-dollar market. The ease with which its output can be read will go a long way towards making it acceptable.

Still, none of that makes for Strong Artificial Intelligence, on the order of the way a human being with a minimal background in it might take an interest in astronomy and over several years (a few hours for a powerful computer) become expert in it.

Kurweil believes in the broadest sense that understanding and applying pattern recognition within language is the route towards creating machines that think; specifically, that we draw meaning out of the evidence we look at, and that meaning is found, in part, by both discerning patterns within evidence, and creating patterns in order to convey meaning. He's almost certainly partly right. He may not be quite as right as he thinks he is, but that's very different from being wrong.

To push much beyond where it is now, Google's search algorithms are going to have to develop the ability to draw meaning out of language by identifying patterns in advance, then applying those patterns to a given phrasing, and I don't doubt Kurzweil will be aiming at creating the kinds of algorithms that don't require software to be taught every possible, specific expression in order to draw out meaning and then respond to that meaning; then, to create meaning. .

In advance of high fidelity brain emulators allowing for downloading, I wonder how much information a human being would have to leave behind to have a shot at resurrection? Would, say, an hour of real time MRI, which might be possible by 2029, do it? Will you leave a copy of that along with instructions and enough cash to pay for the process's completion?.

One of the most interesting questions is, how will we even know when we develop Strong AI? What is the form of a Turing Test where we verify we have created a consciousness, as opposed to an entity merely asserting consciousness? That's a problem we may never completely solve.
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