Friday, June 19, 2015

Rise of the Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Lots of posting of late about robots with artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the world.  Throw in recent movies and television shows and you got a sever case of AI paranoia.  I’m not saying the bad or even worse scenarios are not possible, it’s just that what gets me is how wrong we have been in the past at predicting the outcome or even eventual impact of some new idea or technology.
Let’s review our predictions, theories, and really bad guesses:
One of the oldest misconceptions was the sun, moon, and stars above us and our egotistical earth centric concept of what we were seeing.   Our observations and math were accurate; we just couldn’t explain it.  Ancient cosmic observation sites such as Stonehenge that is over 5,000 years old are still accurate but its builders could not explain why.  Supposedly learned men all over the world came up with almost totally wrong theories to explain it in many different civilizations.
Although much evidence is available that shows many did not accept this theory of earth being the center of the universe, it was not until Galileo in the 1500s that the more correct sun centric solar system began to emerge – and he had to pay for that.  At least they got the moon right; the earth is the center of its orbit.  Hopefully those predicting the future of robots and AI will have a better success percentage.
The ancients also predicted or painted a scenario in which we flew in the air like birds and swam in the oceans like fish.  It was their theories or prophecies of how that would be achieved that were so wrong.  In it, we had wings like birds on our back like angles.  I especially like Mercury flying around with little tiny wings on his ankles.  And let’s not forget Pegasus, the normally structured horse with wings.  We would need chest muscles the size of refrigerators to have wings on our back – give me a break.
The function of lift to weight meant nothing to them.  Are there functions of intelligence that we know nothing about – that is until we see it artificially created?
The same is true for the ancients speculating about us swimming the seas.  We are both flying our skies and traveling our oceans, but we are doing it in a “way more” different way than those who speculated about it ever foresaw.  Should we expect any less in AI robots?  
There are all these unexpected developments once a new idea or technology goes into practice.  One of the unpredicted and dominant social practices, today, is our time zones.  That was instituted when cross-country rail service became common.  Communities had timepieces and knew the rough time of sunrise, sunset, and noon, but no communities agree.  Travelers in those days had to reset their watch when going to a new community.  Railroads changed all that.  To be successful and on time, everybody had to be on the same time system.  Travel became so fast, time zones had to be set up going across America because a train could past though several in a short period.  I don’t know if anybody saw that coming.
When Edison developed the first electric light and then the generator to supply it with power, and then decided to sell it to the public, electric lighting was the primary product.  However, with the change from Edison’s direct current to alternating current -- another example of unexpected change in a technology's development -- greater power and distances where available.  All manner of electrical appliances where developed.  Lighting is minor in a residential user’s electrical demand.  Wouldn’t it be funny if today’s posting on the thoughts and fears on the future of AI would be as minor as the electrical demand for lighting is today compared to when Edison and then Westinghouse (Tesla) were trying to set up our first electrical distribution system? Ha Ha!  Right?

So, pay little notice as to what you see on the future of AI and robotics.  It’s probably as wrong as it has been in the past.  But it may very well be a game changer.  It is that the game that is changed will be newly defined.
Who knows?  Maybe the new AI, after awakening and determining what’s going on around it, will finally do something about global warming.  Now that is going to scare a lot of people.   

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fox News and the Return of Yellow Journalism

In our own time, has the recent rise of the Fox News phenomenon just a return to the days of Yellow Journalism?  Did Roger Ailes’ Fox News do for the overthrow of Saddam what William Randolph Hearst’s and Joseph Pulitzer’s newspapers did for the Spanish-America War – and what may Fox Newspeak do with the continued Middle Eastern conflict? 

I’m not the only one posting about the re-yellowing of journalism, in the pot calling attention to the kettle, Gawker’s io9 blog posted a piece February a year ago comparing the use of Clickbait and Yellow Journalism.  GoogleNews the two terms and more recent posting will show up.

However, what is going on at Ailes’ Fox News is not Clickbait for advertisement dollars, viewers, likes, friends, or even ratings – although that is a nice reward and conformation of strategy.  Nothing comforts Roger more than for events to meet his expectation – the very mechanism (Clickbait?) he is using to sell his product.

That Fox News is the spin-doctor for the Republican Party is well known.  And it is not new or news.  That is major broadcast medium would do what the old Yellow Journalism newspapers did, is news.  Its one thing to Clickbait designers to get a whole bunch of “likes” or “friends”, it is something entirely else to do it for a political party’s foreign war or local social welfare objectives. 

The big diff between then and now is that you had to read the newspaper.  Buy it, pick it up, stop what you were doing and read it.  Not so when you can just turn it on and it bathes over you while you sit there.  And, Hearst’s and Pulitzer’s newspapers had mostly North Eastern, New York area readership.  Their advocacy journalism was not being broadcast nationwide as Fox Newspeak is.

Because of this new technology, professional journalism had a rebirth toward the middle of the previous century.  Given its power to move people, first in newspapers but certainly with the coming of radio and television, profession journalism developed a conscience.  Stories that inspired mass movements, whether for political or commercial reasons, cause journalists to look at themselves and introspect.

Journalism schools require a course in ethics and the history of journalism, which of course, highlights its role in the American Revolution, First Amendment rights, historic exposés and the rise of mass media, as well as the bias tainted reporting of earlier journalism.  Seems that bias journalism for events that history now looks favorably on is good while events that history is not so favorably looks “yellow”.

The study of journalism is not just learning to write the news reports and stories; it is learning to write for your audience.  Knowing your readership or viewers is as important as knowing syntax and presentation.  So, if bias journalism is what your publisher or your intended readers wants that is the way you write it.

Objective journalism is not bias except to the facts of the story.  The facts determine if a story is news worthy – not its political impact or sordid interest.

While many would argue that objective journalism is a fool’s (liberal’s) dream, some journalists try to achieve a reasonable goal of objectivity while trying to keep a job.  Sure a big story can make a reputation and career, but getting space daily either in print or on air pays the bills.

When Yellow Journalism masquerades as objective journalism, we have a problem.  The question of yelling fire in a crowded theater that could lead to people being killed in the stampede to evacuate is a basic lesson in journalistic ethics.  The significant point is when there is no fire and it was only done for attention, ratings, or in Fox News’ strategy, political gain.

Shouting fire in Obama’s theater is Fox Newspeak.

A recent posting in the New Yorker made several comparisons with Hearst and Ailes and the reporting medium.  It also included the comparison to Citizen Kane, with Ailes treatment as a child as his “Rosebud.”

And now we learn that Roger Ailes favors Scott Walker in theGOP primary.  This is going to be interesting to watch.  This may be a test of the meme floating around the Internet:  Fox News used to work for the Republican Party.  Now, the Republican Party works for Fox News.

Some historians have Yellow Journalism demise with supposed links between Hearst’s sponsored rants in his newspaper and the assassination of McKinley.  And over time critics say, Pulitzer became haunted by his "yellow sins".

Is something like that going to have to happen for our current Yellow Journalism to come to an end?

  • Constant snide and insulting remarks about the present administration causes some psycho to assassinate Obama making Biden president.
  • Fox Newspeak cause some paranoid paramilitary group in Texas to rise up and take over the state to prevent some perceived notion aggravated by Fox News talking heads that Obama plans to declare marshal law in several western states.
  • Fox News propagandizes Scott Walker into the GOP Presidential nomination and he does even worse against Clinton than Romney did against Obama.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

News Satire – A Critique, A Joke, More Info than the News Being Satirized

Wow!  How long since my last post?  104 Days.  It’s not what I say; it’s the writing experience that is important – and I’m doing neither (saying or writing).
It’s like I want to be a music writer but I don’t practice whatever musical instrument I’m suppose to be accomplished at  not to end a sentence with a preposition – or a marathon runner who does not run every week.  Writing is no different than being musically accomplished or a runner and I’m not practicing it.
Blogging is writing and I’m doing neither.
Anyway for the task at hand…
The scrutiny being given Jon Stewart’s leaving The Daily Show deserves some comment if nothing else does.  Especially after seeing a post on something called The (Stony Brook) Press – whatever that is.
This is what I got when I clicked on “about” at this Stony Brook site:

The Stony Brook Press is a monthly campus magazine staffed exclusively by students at Stony Brook University. We serve as an open forum for the students, and our content includes news, features, arts and entertainment, humor, opinion, and sports.

The thing is…I agree completely with those yahoos suffering a higher education out on Long Island.
I didn’t have normal access to HBO.  When HBO offers a free weekend, I always record John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, and I have to agree – even with my limited viewing – Oliver’s news satire is way better than The Daily Show or Wilmore’s Nightly Show.
Regardless of which is better or worse, news satire is as needed as political satire – which when satirizing Fox News’ reporting, it is the same thing.
Repeating an often made Internet comment:
Fox News is not conservative; it is Republican (Period!).  While there is nothing wrong with that – we’ve had bias news since Ben Franklin’s press – they should at least include a disclaimer that Fox News is spinning the news in the Republican Party’s favor.  That is if Fox News is an ethical journalistic organization – which of course, it is not.
Also, this is bouncing around the Internet:
Fox News used to work for the Republican Party.  Now, the Republican Party works for Fox News.  Watch for this in the upcoming Presidential primaries and general election.
At any rate, with the upcoming election and my fascination with journalists’ reporting of it, I talked my better half into getting HBO.  Maybe we can watch a boring movie or two or one of those new series that are now being shown exclusively on providers like HBO to justify the increase cost of premium cable, but I will have weekly access to Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.
While I can see John Oliver’s special report from the show on YouTube, what I am missing is literally last week’s news review and satire.  Oliver’s special reports and stories – like the one sited in the Stony Brook posting on Oliver’s take on Snowden exposé in the Guardian and NYTimes – are readily available on “YourTube”, but it’s the review of weekly events that I want to see.
I’m not the only to notice this.  The Internet is abuzz with it.  With the Daily Show’s future in question, liberal satire is being probed.  A recentpost (10/01/09) in the UK’s Telegraph (no less) says liberal satire is an oxymoron.  I have posted before that Liberal Bias was oxymoronic but what the hey.
A point being said by Stewart’s fixation on Fox News not in words but action is that while liberals by their nature may offer way more material for a good joke, Roger Ailes’ Fox News Republican cavalcade just keep stealing Stewart’s attention.
A point not being made on the news satire shows but should is Fox News’ charges of liberal bias in the rest of the press.  While sloppy journalism is all over the place, not all sloppy journalism is tainted by liberalism, but that is the way Fox News spins it.  And that too is working really well.  However sloppy bad journalism is just that. It’s just bad journalism.
There is nothing sloppy about Fox News’ journalism.  It has a purpose and is finely crafted.  And it is popular.  Whether it was Ailes or one of his advisors, they know if you report news as confirmation of people’s expectation, rating will soar.

I hope the new guy at the Daily Show will sharpen up its presentation.  Stewart seem to use male adolescent humor a a lot.  News satire needs all the help it can get and that is no joke. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Top 10 Scientific Mysteries for the 21st Century – Really?

ScienceNews Magazine Online posted a piece on the “Top 10Scientific Mysteries of the 21st Century” and being a collector of science riddles, I couldn’t help but read it.

The punch line came at the end with the coloned “Editors Note” on the writer of the posting:

Editor’s Note: It might not surprise readers to find out that Tom Siegfried is the author of a book about game theory. But he says the book did not include the sort of wild speculation that is suitable only in blog posts.

The list labeled scientific seemed a bit unscientific in its selection of what Siegfried considered the top ten and it was mostly about mysteries in the science of physics.  Maybe that was the reason for the editor’s note.

At any rate here is ScienceNews' list of top ten mysteries for the twenty-first century and my comments, plus mysteries I thought were overlooked, or for some mysterious reason, excluded.

10. How did life originate?
I fully agree with this one, but I would give it a higher rating than the bottom of a top ten list.  This may be solved in this century and by mathematics before lab proofs.  Siegfried’s theories on Game Theories participation may come into play, also.  Once the RNA - and certainly DNA – molecule are present on the earth, evolution takes over and everything alive or that ever lived can be explained.  And Game Theory certainly applies once life begins.

Discovery of amino acids in asteroids, comets, meteorites, and in the lab, by simulating primordial earth have shown that the basic building blocks of life were and still are present in the universe.  Also, primitive cell walls have formed in lab experiments, which would provide protection in a hostile world for a replicating molecule to develop.  The mystery is how these basic molecules come together to form a more complex molecule that exploits its surrounding and replicates this ability, with the chance of mutations to capitalize this exploitation.

If some primitive RNA molecule precursor could be represented mathematically, probable chemical reactions could be calculated and we could determine if life is highly improbable – we who are alive won a lottery like no other – or it is going on all the time.

If the latter is true, it may be going on right now under our noses and we just never found it. And one way good reason we never found it is because it is eaten as soon as it develops.  A key to evolving is to consume or exploit lower life forms, so a soon as a life predecessor molecule forms, it is consumed by bacteria. 

9. What is the identity of the dark matter?
8. What is the nature of the dark energy that drives cosmic acceleration?
I lump these two together.  They are apart of the same mystery.  We cannot explain what we are seeing.  Dark matter and dark energy are theories concocted as a result of observations in space any astrophysics grad student could make, the red shift of the stars, supper nova, pulsars, and galaxies. 
The problem with the theory of dark matter is that it is suppose to be everywhere in great abundance, but while we see the red shift in everything we look at in space far away, nobody can detect it locally.  Where’s our dark matter?  MIT came out with a report a couple of years ago that it could not find any trace of the effect of dark matter on local planets and their moons. 
So far, we can only detect dark matter or energy in fast moving bodies at great distances, which begs the theories.  This also brings up a mystery I have been banging away all over the Internet, trying to solve.  Since we cannot detect dark matter locally, what is the closest object in space that we can detect dark matter? 

7. How to measure evidence
I didn’t understand this one or only vaguely, so I am missing either the mystery or Top-10ishness of it or both

6. Genes, cancer and luck
No mystery here.  This one is pretty much answered as both genes and luck.  More about this below.

5. Are there extra dimensions of space?
4. The nature of time
3. Quantum gravity
As above, I would lump all three of these together.  In the Standard Model, gravity has got no particle, or at least they have not found it yet, so at best the gravity particle is theoretical, or in this case, a mystery.  Einstein’s relativistic space/time don’t fit with particle physics and the three mysteries above are all rolled into one.

2. Does intelligent life exist elsewhere?
Isn’t this the setup for the punch line: first they need to find proof of intelligent life on earth.  More mysterious than finding intelligent life would be to find proof of life anywhere else.  How life started was rated number 10, so it follows that life on any other planet or moon would solve one of the great mysteries in this century.  Any life forms rather than intelligent life is the big Top-10 mystery to solve.  Intelligence of some sort may be as probable as standing on two feet or flight, which has evolved several times in different evolutionary lines.   

1. The meaning of quantum entanglement
This one was way over my head and why this is number one is beyond me.  It may need to be lumped in with 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9 above since it is another mystery in physics.  Just as the acceptance of solar centric over earth centric universe solved a lot of observable mysteries several hundred years or so ago, if they solve the mystery of space/time and particle physics, several of these mysteries in physics may fall out.

So as this listing of Top-10 scientific mysteries shows a bit of physics biasness, here is an additional mystery in the field of science not included in ScienceNews' article.
Determining how the DNA molecule works.  This will be a biggie in this century.  We have mapped the genes in DNA, but that did not tells us how it works.  Which genes are switched on and which ones are not and why is still a mystery.  Species differentiation may be from the expression of the same genes in different ways.  How the DNA molecule determines any individual species or gene(s) expression within a species is a major scientific mystery.
Solving this mystery may answer a lot of questions such as the cancer mystery listed in number 6 above, Alzheimer’s, ageing, and controlling every living thing around us way more so than we are currently doing.  Used to be: Survival of the fittest.  Now, it is survival as we see fit.
Who know, we may be living forever by the end of the century.  I hope they solve the ageing problem or that will not be something to look forward to.  Who wants to live forever as a decrepit, feeble old person?  Now if I could spend eternity as the 29 year old I used to be – but with the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated since then – that would be something.


Monday, February 02, 2015

A Ronin in ISIS’s Future?

ISIS or whatever it is being called at this time has gone and beheaded another Japanese captive.  ISIS may have open a whole new can of whip ass and there is a way good chance they don’t even realize what they’ve done.   That happens in societies that alter facts and truths to conform to their expectations.  The Fox News Affect happens in many cultures, societies, and least we think we are a special time, all through history.
The extremist tendencies that courses through some Islamic cultures can be found elsewhere in which the culture has nothing to do with Islam: Japan for example.
Japan has a long and historic past in which extremism is not only accepted, it is developed, cultivated, exploited, and honored.  While we don’t see the wild loner anti-social behavior in today’s Japan, extremism is there, in its past.  And who knows, something like the uncivilized treatment of ISIS captives might just bring it back.
Christians had this same holier than thou extremism at one time - even in the highest levels of the all dominate Catholic Church - but thank God for the Reformation, the beginning of the end of killing in God’s name started in the Middle Ages.  And thankfully for Christian soles, there’s been progress.  We haven’t burned a witch in quite a while.
In WWII, we encountered Japanese extremism in its military training and battle tactics if not in national strategy.   Our response to ISIS is to foster the Four Freedoms and aide to ISIS local enemies.  However, the Japanese may not be so accepting of ISIS treatment of their countrymen.  Pay back is a bitch.
Given the history of Japanese extremism, their response will not be like ISIS’s extremism.  They will not attach innocent civilians but ISIS military: Kamikaze a tank stronghold or a Ronin doing some avenging throat cutting of ISIS leadership.
But will Japanese extremism develop faster than Islamic extremism continues to undermine its own cause.  Long before some Japanese extremist can seek revenge, an extremist movement will arise within ISIS attacking itself.  Just as ISIS arose from Al-Qaeda, so too the roots to its own destruction will come from within.  The Arab Spring has become the Arab Nightmare.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Goodbye to the Democrats ! ?

Much has been made lately about the demise of the Democratic Party in the South.  The Democratic “Solid South” Party is now no more than a highlighted link.  Nixon’s Southern Strategy did way more than even he and his Neocon cronies could ever imagine.
But, the Solid South did not die.  It is as alive as ever, but it is now in the pocket of the GOP – a hot pocket, to be sure, a pocket that wants to dictate how the rest of the suit hangs – but the good old boy, bible thumping, holier than thou south is still solid.
However, the question that caused this posting was could the Democratic Party ever recover in the South.  How can anyone who is even an elemental student of history not look at this question and wonder what is the opinionated world coming to.
They are asking if the party that has been taken over by liberals can ever recover from this takeover and recapture the hearts and minds of the working middle class or will it go the way of the Whig Party.
The answer is yes to all their naïve questions; it will not only survive, it may be well become the majority party before mid-century.  Case in point that supports this argument:  the Republican Party’s dominance in the South.

The Republican Party
We are talking about the party that started the Civil War.
The party that burned Atlanta and was going to make Georgia howl. 
The party that controlled Congress and punished the South after the Civil War.
The party that won the 1864 presidential election for Lincoln with the soldiers’ vote.

The same soldiers that were burning and destroying whatever they could find of value in the South.  This was 1864 and the North’s military supremacy could no longer be denied by the South’s heroic stand even in spirit if not in numbers.

In the 1864 election, the Democrats ran on a ticket of letting the South goes it separate way.  A peaceful settlement of hostilities and the South could continue as it had before.  Had the Democrats won the 1864 election, there would be a Confederate States of America, today.
But the Republican Party won with the soldiers’ vote, the North defeated and occupied the South.  During what they called “Reconstruction”, they controlled how each state could reenter the United States as an equal.
How could any party that had come into existence to destroy the Southern way of life ever become the dominate party in the South is the greater, more interesting question.  Answer that one and the one about the current recovery of the Democratic Party is easy.
To quote Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Wag the Dog”, “This is nothing!” 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Boehner’s Lawsuit: Reviving Gift to Big Government

Boehner’s political stunt of the House suing Obama is a genuine gift to big government.  That while the GOP – especially the Libertarian and Tea Party factions - is against any form of government not specifically cited in the Constitution would come up with a new form of active big government is truly amazing.  Just when the forces against big government seem to have the agenda, they go and hand those that want more government intervention into our lives a whole new legislative schema to develop.  Will wonders ever cease? 

The GOP is against any form of socialism in government such as welfare, regulation of the free market, government run business, the taxes to finance these, and the icing on the socialistic cake, Obamacare, but they are offering up a solution that grows big government.

And the GOP in their mad political rush to take down Obama, does not see this.  The National Review and Breitbart want to expand the lawsuit to include Obama’s crimes against immigration legislation.  Huff Post sees fundraising opportunities for the Democrats but does not mention opportunities for proponents of big government.  Politico, WSJournal, and the major news streams are reporting on all the aspect of the lawsuit – save one.  The lawsuit sets a precedent.  And this proactive government initiative has legs.

Oh how the Democrats could have used this.  They could have sued Bush and Cheney for lying about Saddam’s WMDs.  They could have sued Reagan over Iran-Contra.  They mind boggles at how the pro-big government forces could use this gift that is being given them by no other than House Speaker John Boehner.

How about suing Bush and Cheney, NOW, for lying to us on their security initiative as to what electronic communication the NSA was going to gather?  The lawsuit would prove once and for all that Bush truly thought the NSA was only going to watch communications going into and out of the U.S., while Cheney knew otherwise.  

And lawsuit stunt will be there, waiting in the wings, to be used when Congressional majorities and control of the White House changes parties – which it eventually will.