World view – Monday

Sunday GMT


For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.


    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  10th December 2018

      I read that article and it should give Trump cause for thought certainly. It doesn’t cover who is paying the penalty tariffs – if it is the Chinese sellers rather than the American buyers there will be a different conclusion as to who is under more pressure.

  1. The Consultant

     /  10th December 2018

    I suppose I should not be scared – yet somehow I am.
    DeepMind’s AlphaZero now showing human-like intuition in historical ‘turning point’ for AI:

    The computer system amazed the world last year when it mastered the game of chess from scratch within just four hours, despite not being programmed how to win.

    Unlike the world’s best chess machine – Stockfish – which calculates millions of possible outcomes as it plays, AlphaZero learns from its past successes and failures, making its moves based on, a ‘nebulous sense that it is all going to work out in the long run,’ according to experts at DeepMind.

    When AlphaZero was pitted against Stockfish in 1,000 games, it lost just six, winning convincingly 155 times, and drawing the remaining bouts.

    Faaarrrrrkkkkkkkk. And it did that while examining only 60 thousand positions per second, vs Stockfish using the standard chess program approach of examining 60 million per second.

    My personal belief is that we’ve seen something of turning point where we’re starting to understand that many abilities, like intuition and creativity, that we previously thought were in the domain only of the human mind, are actually accessible to machine intelligence as well. And I think that’s a really exciting moment in history.”

    Yeah. Like when Otto Hahn found he could split atoms by firing neutrons at them. That was a really exciting moment in history too!

    • Gezza

       /  10th December 2018

      Wait till AI works out how to self-replicate and construct things and realises humanity is dangerous to it and every other life form on the planet. 😮

      Not long now. Get off world, before it throws us off.

    • Gezza

       /  10th December 2018

      In April 1945, Hahn and nine leading German physicists (including Max von Laue, Werner Heisenberg, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker) were taken into custody by the Alsos Mission (see Operation Epsilon) and interned at Farm Hall, Godmanchester, near Cambridge, England, from 3 July 1945 to 3 January 1946. Their every conversation, indoors and out, was recorded from hidden microphones. The chief officer, Major Terence H. Rittner, informed the authorities about his prisoners. He described Hahn as follows:

      A man of the world. He has been the most helpful of the professors and his sense of humour and common sense has saved the day on many occasions. He is definitely friendly disposed to England and America.

      At Farm Hall, the German scientists learned of the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the American airforce on 6 and 9 August 1945. Hahn was on the brink of despair.

      The historian Lawrence Badash (from the University of California at Santa Barbara) wrote:

      Hahn had been the first informed about Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, by the British officer in charge at Farm Hall. The news completely shattered him, for he felt that his discovery of fission had made construction of the atomic bomb possible, and that he was thus personally responsible for the thousands of deaths in Japan. Long before, he had contemplated suicide, when he first recognized the possible military use of fission; now, with the blame of its realization drawn squarely upon his shoulders, suicide again seemed a way to escape his desolation. Fearing this, Max von Laue remained with him until he passed this personal crisis. Never has social responsibility hit a scientist with such impact.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  10th December 2018

      I linked that article days ago. I don’t agree with Gezza’s pessimism. I think AI will remain a tool for the foreseeable future.

      • Gezza

         /  10th December 2018

        I’m not being pessimistic. If’m optimistic that it’ll probably be a good thing for the planet, all things considered. Your problem is you’re just too selfish to put AI and all other lifeforms first. >:D

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  10th December 2018

    Hate-filled Lefty academic fuckwits hate free debate and those who support it:

  3. The Consultant

     /  10th December 2018

    Aside from AI there are things that increasing computer power can do that are both funny and scary.
    Deep Video Portraits – or “how to show Barack Obama saying what Ronald Reagan said”.

    The video is 7 minutes long and goes into a bit of detail on picture/video analysis and parameter control, but nothing a lay person could not understand. Regrettably it does not show any final results of playing around with Obama and Reagan speeches.

  4. The Consultant

     /  10th December 2018

    The following probably belongs in that thread The way forward to The Future – the big picture or other enviro threads on this blog, but they’re all old now so even though this article is seven years old, I’ll put it in here for shits and giggles…,

    George Monbiot: Let’s face it: none of our environmental fixes break the planet-wrecking project

    All of us in the environment movement, in other words – whether we propose accommodation, radical downsizing or collapse – are lost. None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess. None of our chosen solutions break the atomising, planet-wrecking project. I hope that by laying out the problem I can encourage us to address it more logically, to abandon magical thinking and to recognise the contradictions we confront. But even that could be a tall order.

    Awwwwwww. Wah!

    Of course, being a 2011 article it’s also a good incidental source of screamingly funny stuff like the following, which is not even a doom-prediction but the confident announcement that the doom has happened:

    Last week something astonishing happened: Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, revealed that peak oil has already happened. “We think that the crude oil production has already peaked, in 2006.”

    If this is true, we should be extremely angry with the IEA. In 2005 its executive director mocked those who predicted peak oil as “doomsayers”. Until 2008 (two years after the IEA now says it happened) the agency continued to dismiss the possibility that peak oil would occur.

    And yet despite this “fact”, Monbiot bemoans the following:

    But this also raises an awkward question for us greens: why hasn’t the global economy collapsed as we predicted? Yes, it wobbled, though largely for other reasons. Now global growth is back with a vengeance: it reached 4.6% last year, and the IMF predicts roughly the same for 2011 and 2012.

    Awwwwwww. Wah! He points out that a number of Greens have figured out that economic growth is the real problem and that all this stuff about alternative or renewable energy won’t work. Zero growth is what’s required and we’d better be honest about it. The next quote is perfect for the likes of Guyton:

    Simon Fairlie responds furiously to my suggestion that we should take industry into account when choosing our energy sources. His article exposes a remarkable but seldom noticed problem: that most of those who advocate an off-grid, land-based economy have made no provision for manufactures.

    I’m not talking about the pointless rubbish in the FT’s How To Spend It supplement. I’m talking about the energy required to make bricks, glass, metal tools and utensils, textiles (except the hand-loomed tweed Fairlie suggests we wear), ceramics and soap: commodities that almost everyone sees as the barest possible requirements.

    Hand-loomed tweed? Underwear too? I guess it’ll be one way of achieving the long sought goal of Zero Population Growth.