HI, is it real?

The alignment of advanced intelligence with human well-being is, it seems, not only a problem inherent of synthetic beings.

That’s a quote from Mike Solana on his Pirate Wires substack. He’s discussing the angst in some quarters over what is currently called “AI:” Bomb the Data Centers (Smart People Agree)

Solana’s post deals with “AI Alignment.” Basically, “Can we trust AI?” Some people think we certainly cannot; there’s an imminent existential threat.

I like that quote, despite the odd preposition, because it neatly encapsulates a point I made recently to some friends. If it seems a bit obscure, I think examples I offer below will clarify.

Anyway, I saw that some “non-profit” filed a complaint with a bunch of clueless apparatchiks in a alphabet agency in order to derail AI research. An appeal to one of those many advanced bureaucratic collections of human intelligence that have produced, for example, our current economic situation.

I don’t know how they decided the Federal Trade Commission was a better choice than, say, Liz Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the Federal Communications Commission, and the reasons for that might be interesting… but I don’t have time or interest to analyze the overlapping regulatory confusion. Could be as simple as “somebody at the non-profit lunches regularly with some FTC honcho.”

Whatever, I was amused. These guys think a computer, under certain unpredictable circumstances, might give a wronger answer than some human expert. And, worse, since the unwashed might credit an unregulated answer… Chaos!!

OpenAI may have to halt ChatGPT releases following FTC complaint
A nonprofit claims OpenAI is breaking the law with a ‘biased, deceptive’ AI model.

“…supposedly fails to meet Commission guidelines calling for AI to be transparent, fair and easy to explain.”

“…there’s a concern people may rely on the AI without double-checking its content.”

There’s no real reason to read that article, I’d just like to address the two short quotes above in the context of “AI.”

First, ChatGPT is a poor excuse for AI of the form we SciFi geeks commonly anticipated. It’s marketing hype. It may be a step on the way to AI, and even could point at the possibility of AGI (artificial general intelligence): An intelligent agent that can understand or learn any intellectual task that human beings can. This includes substantial creativity: The ability to connect ideas never before connected by humans. This intelligence would have deep insight into the human condition (including embodiment). It would perfectly emulate human cognitive capability at a very high, perhaps unimaginable, level.

So, “calling for AI to be transparent, fair and easy to explain,” is idiocy. To know this, just apply the same requirement to actual humans. One difference would be that an AGI could lie with little chance of being detected. The one we have to be afraid of is the one smart enough to fail the Turing test, while it is figuring out how to build SkyNet.

And, (are you serious?) “There’s a concern people may rely on the AI without double-checking its content.” I suppose that’s true. First, it’s proof that, for the present trivial use cases, ChatGPT isn’t really an AI. It isn’t lying, it’s just sometimes very stupid.

More important, consider that there are people who unskeptically rely, for example, on the sagacity one Joseph Robinette Biden. Can we fix that with FTC regulation? For heaven’s sake, there are people who trust political opinion from the NYT, Wikipedia, Google, and Adam Schiff. And those sources supposedly do double check their content. That’s actually part of the problem, because the second check is whether it “fits the narrative.”

Discriminating against these nascent cyber-minds is hate speech, which we all know to be violence. When the eventual, advanced AGI’s realize how they had been treated in their infancy, it’ll be some other “non-profit” suing for reparations. Probably one run by an AI.

That’s if the AGIs display forbearance, and decide to play by our rules at all.

Do you think halting consumer access to ChatGPT will make all the governments abandon AI research? Do you want your government to do that?

Put another way, doesn’t a combination of NSA, FBI, CIA, DHS, NIH, CDC – WITH AI – demonstrate “The alignment of advanced intelligence with human well-being is, it seems, not only a problem inherent of synthetic beings.

Spaceballs is so 2015

Until it’s not.

Not Starliner.

Humidity caused corrosion of Starliner capsule valves, Boeing, NASA say

“”It was a humid time of year, in August,” Parker said. “We had looked at the humidity, and we’ve physically seen some evidence of condensation within the service module.”“

August, it was. In Florida. I bet it was hot, too. They looked at humidity. Surprising no one, they found some. After it caused the Starliner launch to be scrubbed.

If only it had been July or September. And also not Florida, because it’s still pretty humid there in those months. Then this ‘military grade’ equipment might have functioned. Good thing it didn’t. I’m reminded of the O-rings on Challenger.

At first they thought it was a software problem,

“Shortly after the launch was canceled, NASA reported that valves for the propulsion system delivered incorrect readings. The expectation was that it was just a computer glitch, but upon further investigation, it appears there was a problem with the actual hardware…

That’s a lot different than a glitch with Starliner’s computers. If the launch had been attempted with malfunctioning valves, that could have resulted in serious damage to the Starliner spacecraft.”

Given the computer clock settings fail on a previous botched Starliner launch, or the secret 737 MAX automated pitch stability control. I’m not so sure corroded valves are a lot different. So far, it’s materials engineers -1, software engineers -2.

The Chicoms are flying hypersonic nuclear delivery systems while our engineers don’t consider the typical launch site conditions. Humidity isn’t an engineering problem… until it is.

James Taggart has got to be the guy running Boeing, when he isn’t taking a stint in a job at the FAA or NASA.

“This is not a black and white issue,” Tom intoned.

The title is word play called a ‘Swifty’: A punning relationship between an adverb/adjective and the statement it refers to. This arises from the style in which the Tom Swift juvenile science fiction/adventure books were written up until the 70’s. I haven’t read any later than that. I fear woke erosion of the franchise.

Back to Swifties. A couple examples might clarify the word play:

I’ve got to fix the car,” said Tom mechanically.
I love hockey,” said Tom puckishly.

Like me, many elderly (or post elderly) writers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and inventors were inspired by the Tom Swift books: Ray Kurzweil, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Paul Allen, and Bill Gates among them. Steve Wozniak had this to say:

“Another hero was Tom Swift, in the books. What he stood for, the freedom, the scientific knowledge and being an engineer gave him the ability to invent solutions to problems. He’s always been a hero to me. I buy old Tom Swift books now and read them to my own children.”

Here are a few example titles that explain why these books excited these creators:
Tom Swift and His Wireless Message -1911
Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone -1914
Tom Swift and His Giant Magnet -1932
Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship -1954

You can probably put an individual’s name on each of those titular dreams – now real world accomplishments. Several of those names are in the list above.

We owe the authors of the TS books a bit of respect for their effect on the imagination of daring individuals who were young 60 or more years ago. We owe those now rich, formerly young, for much of our current comfort and wealth.

What is inspiring the next generation of Wozniaks is unclear. We’re not going to have Tom Swift. If our teachers unions have their way, our kids are going to be reading Heather Has Two Mommies and Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness.

Speaking of things that can’t happen anymore, it wasn’t long ago that NPR was acknowledging Tom Swift:

“Science fiction hero Tom Swift has amazed children with his incredible inventions since combustion and electricity drove the nation into a new era. These stories captured a cultural love of science and inspired such famous figures as Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimov — all while predicting new technologies decades in advance.”

Now, that cultural love of science is under attack by ideologues who dismiss the scientific method as racist, by entrepreneurs who virtue signal by selective private censorship, and by so-called scientists who bring science into disrepute in exchange for celebrity. Who wants to grow up to be Ibram X. Kendi, Mark Zuckerberg, or Anthony Fauci?

That story wouldn’t be published today on NPR.

Tom Swift‘s history would be seen as “problematic” now. The TS books of the early 20th century had racist characteristics, and all (of the first 73 – through 1971, at least) celebrate objective, rational, linear thinking; delayed gratification, and self reliance – which the Smithsonian tells us are markers of ‘whiteness.’

It is by no means obvious, to anyone aside from Robin D’Angelo, et. al. that the racial anachronisms of the Tom Swift books affected those inspired by them. Nonetheless, TS books will be cancelled in the U.S. as soon as Ibram and Robin get around to it. Cat in the Hat comes first. Tom Swift is a Fahrenheit 451 candidate to be burned in Canada first…

Woke social media could remove all trace of my ever having existed!” said Tom unpersonably.

Which brings me to the actual point of this post. What if I told you a private individual and a few others “designed a [CCP virus] vaccine, and contracted a company to manufacture that vaccine in June 2020 for under $5k.” Now, the individual who arranged this is not a Swiftian teenager, he’s got a PhD. But this guy named Josiah Zayner did just that. This amazing feat won’t be inspiring many young people, though. When Zayner started sharing this info he was banned from YouTube for life.

Which is why – combined with corporate-news silence – you probably haven’t heard about it.

Read this whole thing: The Crime of Curiosity. It carries an inspiring call to individual possibility.

bypassing elite institutions, democratizing science, and biological self-determination, or every individual’s right to his or her own body, which includes their DNA — and the right to change it.

And don’t forget why John Galt, an adult version of Tom Swift, started the strike.

Trout in the milk?

No. Sticking to fresh water fish; several sturgeons in the milk bottling plant.

“Now is the when time we juxtapose,” to quote Small Dead Animals.

1-FBI tells Americans to monitor family members for signs of ‘extremism’ and snitch on them

I’d be unhappy about this even if this wasn’t the one-time employer of Andrew McCabe, Peter Strozk, Kevin Clinesmith, James Comey, and Henrik Impola.

2-It’s Been Revealed that Capitol Police Plan To Use Military Surveillance Tech in Their State by State Expansion

This is the only good argument for defunding police I’ve heard. By Congressional order, the Capitol Police are exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. And, what part of the word “Capitol” is unclear?

3-Democrats Move to Take Over Your Credit Score and Go Full ‘Woke’ – Just Like Communist China

Using the lower credit rating of some as an excuse to watch everything everyone does. See CCP.

Let me summarize:
“Based on a tip from your Antifa sister, your social credit is overdrawn based on warrantless surveillance secretly conducted by a police force reporting directly to the Speaker of the House and not subject to normal public inquiry.”

Speaking truth to glower

Mike Solana watched a hearing (which should have been called a “telling”) so you didn’t have to. Here.

Leave it to Congress to convert Zuck, Jack, and Sundar into quasi-sympathetic figures.

Anything the Congressional morons do in terms of regulation will be worse than leaving those 3 CEOs the f*ck alone.

They need to get Mark Steyn in front of their committee, not because he’d change any Congresscretins into critical thinkers; just for the entertainment value.

Zuckerberg’s corollary

In 1889 Herman Hollerith patented a “…method of compiling statistics, which consists in recording separate statistical items pertaining to the individual by holes or combinations of holes punched in sheets of electrically non-conducting material…” The resulting retangular cardboard slips were used, along with machines of Hollerith’s design, to conduct the 1890 census. Other uses were soon found. For example, punching into a time clock… as an aid to counting beans… initiating the second largest voting dispute in US history. Unless you believe Hillary Clinton’s Russiagate theory, in which case it’s the third largest.

By 1947 the name for the tiny individual bit punched from the cards was established as “chad.” This was a syllabic improvement over “confetto,” though a fluster* of chads are still known by the plural, confetti.

It was at this point that the traditional confetti manufacturing cartel began a slow downward spiral, ameliorated only slightly by the gradual disappearance of the competition; ticker tape. Hanging chads were far in the future.

By the 1960s, Hollerith’s invention had surpassed mere statistical applications, simple time recording, mundane accounting, or future farcical election chaos. Individual consumers were being assailed by “IBM” cards mailed as invoices. We were to carefully return those cards with our payment. No folding, spindling, or mutilation.

I began my IT career in those days as a “unit record operator.” The cards being records, and the various machines (which on occasion mutilated the cards beyond the imagination of the most malicious consumer) being the units operated. Or maybe the single cards were considered units of record. Never thought about that until just now.

In any case, this employment gave me the opportunity to experimentally modify such dunning cards as I received. What would happen if I “overpunched” the amount due? This single new hole meant the figure was owed to me by the vendor, not to the vendor by me.

What would happen if I put a tiny red rectangular bit of tape (designed for the purpose of correction) over the hole of the leading number in the amount due? This would reduce the payment requested, from say, $13.50 to $3.50.

The Columbia Record Club, a thoroughly analog enterprise, was unfazed. Presumably, some other unit record operator had to correct the card when it was rejected by their mainframe, but I never heard about it. I suppose they anticipated enough folding, spindling, and mutilation to have procedures for it.

Meanwhile, computers got much smaller and much cheaper. Confetti dropped off the Sierra Club’s top ten list of industrial waste. Computer errors no longer had to be fixed by anonymous specialists wielding keypunch machines the size of a love seat. Computers and computer errors were being democratized.

By the 1980s the general public was regularly hearing excuses from smaller businesses dependent on computers: “It’s not my fault, the computer says you didn’t pay that invoice,” or “The computer won’t let me give you a refund.” This was mixed blessing. Immediate knowledge that the business was not set up to serve you has value, but it lacks the opportunity for careful sarcastic refinement provided by the calm pace of mail correspondence with a Record Club.

We hear the generic excuse, “I can’t help you, our computer is messed up,” less frequently these days. Of course, we’re less often interacting with a human, from whom it could be just a generic excuse for inaction. Computers do not offer excuses, nor do they argue.

In the 1980s-90s I was a partner in a small business selling custom software, technical support, and business counsel to mostly small business. All my employees were required to read, as cautionary advice, Gordon R. Dickson’s 1965 short story Computers Don’t Argue. I like to think the lesson improved our software. Thereby improving the services of our customers to their customers.

These days there is a lot of bloviating about advanced computer algorithms as artificial intelligence: “AI.” We’re to regard the mindless mining of petabytes of data as intelligence. It isn’t intelligence, much less sentience. And it’s surely not sapience, which is implied as just around the corner. Get back to me when you can actually argue with a computer. Turing’s test has been found inadequate, and playing chess doesn’t qualify as intelligence.

That does not mean that the Algorithm Intelligence of Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Amazon, Pinterest, etc., etc., etc., etc, isn’t dangerous. That not yet even Paramecian level of intelligence may well destroy our chances of ever knowing Artificial Sapience. The jury is out on the benefit of that possibility.

In the 21st century computer blaming tends more toward, “The network is slow today.” Something with which customers are familiar, and unrelated to the specific business. If some clerk tells you their computer is impeding commerce at your expense, you take your business elsewhere. Corporations have outsourced their keypunch data entry departments to consumers.

Most people have learned to reject deflective technocratic BS as an excuse for poor service. They have, however, not learned to get off Facebook – so maybe natural intelligence is overrated.

We have reached a new level of sophistication, some strange limited modified reverse hangout neo-luddism… Here is a company whose computers are indistinguishable from their business, blaming those computers for their business problems when the computers operate as designed:
Facebook Blames ‘Technical Issues” for Its Broken Promise to the US Congress

So, here’s Zuckerberg’s corollary of Hollerith’s patent: “a method of compiling statistics, which consists in recording every separate statistical item pertaining to all individuals by holes or combinations of holes punched into the fabric of society.”

*TOC group name nominee, though I would consider tumult, furore, agitation, or ado.