Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Lonetown Boys

The Lonetown Boys, country blues at its finest kicked off Redding Rock'n Roots 2023, Charley's gift to Redding, big time. The 7th edition ruled while avoiding rain. Stellar says it all. :)

The boys. :)

Saturday, September 16, 2023

You're either on the bus or off the bus.

I remember reading this many years ago, just after dropping acid in Bean Town back in the day. Totally in the present, Tom Wolfe captures the insane 60's by covering the Merry Pranksters and their bus, Further, complete with tales of the Grateful Dead as the bus band along with the exploits of Ken Kesey and driver supreme, Neal Cassidy, a cosmically talented pilot able to navigate the most complex traffic patterns ever with Zen like calm while tripping 24/7.

A read for the ages applies.

Why channeling Wolfe now? Well, it seems a documentary about the esteemed writer has emerged, a flick yours truly intends to watch as his writing blows me away without question. :)

Interestingly enough, Leary was right as LSD's now being used therapeutically. 
Right on applies ... :)

I read this too, back in the day while mescaline ruled ... :)

And so it goes. K. Vonnegut


Computers are getting faster as we all know but the bottleneck of systems becoming even faster centers on the fact systems, at this point in time, don't use photons to do analog when it comes to running AI at truly high level, something not considered doable until now.

Tech never sleeps ...


Friday, September 08, 2023

A political time bomb ...

A political time bomb looms for China and Xi as their economy's tanking and the young can't find jobs. Factoid ... The Communist Party started with the young back in the day, a most disquieting fact for Xi to contemplate as people world-wide are slowing down on buying stuff, something proving to be financially toxic to a country totally dependent on society's continued buying of stuff in order to maintain the status quo.

In August, the Chinese government released a shocking piece of data: A record 21.3 percent of Chinese citizens between the ages of 16 and 24 in cities were unemployed. It promptly decided to suspend future publication of its urban youth unemployment rate. The current data is bad enough; it’s about the same youth unemployment rate across the Middle East on the eve of the Arab Spring.

The Chinese Communist Party knows very well that young, educated and unemployed people concentrated in big cities have the capacity to challenge authority. After all, that is how their own party started. For decades, the party-state’s legitimacy depended on economic growth and improving living standards that are now in jeopardy. Instead of meeting the needs of frustrated youth by generating new jobs and opportunities, the aging leadership has doubled down on authoritarian repression as its primary policy response to a worsening economic crisis.

This isn’t the first time the C.C.P. has had to contend with urban unemployment. For more than 70 years now, the problem has bubbled up only to be contained by either a political crackdown or relieved by favorable economic developments.

This time may be different due to climate change, a rather large aspect of reality promising to become an existential event of truly biblical proportions.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

I Spy

I Spy, the clever tv show running in the mid 60's, starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, was stylish and very cool, channelling James Bond but with less polish, was a standby for yours truly to watch as action and Sci Fi flicks are and were staples for this rube to view for as long as I can remember. When thinking about I Spy and similar content to peruse, one finds cars always play a huge part as going mobile was, and is, a fact of life of modern civilization as we move further into the 21st century. Be as it may, the car, the perceived refuge of privacy and anonymity, is no longer as they are now rolling computer platforms, equipped with the newest tech, able to snoop on us whenever we get into said vehicle.

To whit ...

Bad news: your car is a spy. If your vehicle was made in the last few years, you’re probably driving around in a data-harvesting machine that may collect personal information as sensitive as your race, weight, and sexual activity. Volkswagen’s cars reportedly know if you’re fastening your seatbelt and how hard you hit the brakes.

That’s according to new findings from Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included project. The nonprofit found that every major car brand fails to adhere to the most basic privacy and security standards in new internet-connected models, and all 25 of the brands Mozilla examined flunked the organization’s test. Mozilla found brands including BMW, Ford, Toyota, Tesla, and Subaru collect data about drivers including race, facial expressions, weight, health information, and where you drive. Some of the cars tested collected data you wouldn’t expect your car to know about, including details about sexual activity, race, and immigration status, according to Mozilla.

Dirty laundry applies.

Combine this with the fact Google now has the "right" to take all data published on the net and feed it to Bard and company in order to make their AI variants able to "serve us better" sounds like Black Mirror to me.


Remember, it's all about the money.

PS, Yours truly tools around in a 2005 Ford 150, a vehicle promising privacy as long as I don't carry a cell phone to keep in contact with a most uncertain world. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Frank ...

Photo by Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

Back in 2010, yours truly wrote a blurb titled The Future of the Internet, a commentary about the pernicious abuse of copyright vis a vis the net, something brought to fruition thanks to a mediocrity named Sonny Bono whereby copyright was extended from the reasonable 14 year limit with one extension as voiced by the Founders to, and I quote  ...

BRT has talked often about the TPP with emphasis on intellectual property rights vis a vis copyright, the disaster first perpetrated on the US thanks to the late Sonny Bono (The Mickey Mouse Act) who extended the length of copyright from the Founders 14 years plus one allowed extension of 14 years (if the cr holder was still alive) to life plus 70, which means Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, written in 1905, could theoretically remain outside of public domain until 2025 as Einstein died in 1955. Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, debuted in 1928. Disney died in 1966, ergo, Steamboat would not enter the PD until 2036. Now, with the TPP, this intellectual rights nonsense goes worldwide, along with extensive expanded CR rights to hollywood and big pharma with us paroles and political representatives not having any say as to why the TPP is a fubar of the most onerous kind.

Seque to 2023: AI, copyright as to how it applies to music and our data ...

As per BRT, The Idea Dynamo ...

There’s only one name that springs to mind when you think of the cutting edge in copyright law online: Frank Sinatra. 

There’s nothing more important than making sure his estate — and his label, Universal Music Group — gets paid when people do AI versions of Ol’ Blue Eyes singing “Get Low” on YouTube, right? Even if that means creating an entirely new class of extralegal contractual royalties for big music labels just to protect the online dominance of your video platform while simultaneously insisting that training AI search results on books and news websites without paying anyone is permissible fair use? Right? Right?

This, broadly, is the position that Google is taking after announcing a deal with Universal Music Group yesterday “to develop an AI framework to help us work toward our common goals.” Google is signaling that it will pay off the music industry with special deals that create brand-new — and potentially devastating! — private intellectual property rights, while basically telling the rest of the web that the price of being indexed in Search is complete capitulation to allowing Google to scrape data for AI training.

A Faustian Bargain yet again or ... your content is no longer yours ...

At this moment in web history, Google is the last remaining source of traffic at scale on the web, which is why so many websites are turning into AI-written SEO honeypots. The situation is bad and getting worse.

This means Google has absolutely tremendous leverage over publishers of websites, who are still mostly paying human beings to make content in the hopes that Google ranks their pages highly and sends them traffic, all while Google itself is training its AI models on that expensive content.

In the meantime, Google is also rolling out the Search Generative Experience (SGE) so that it might answer search queries directly using AI — particularly, lucrative queries about buying things. In fact, almost every SGE demo Google has ever given has ended in a transaction of some kind.

“Over time, this will just be how search works.”

This is a great deal for Google but a horrible deal for publishers, who are staring down the barrel of ever-diminishing Google referrals and decreasing affiliate revenue but lack any ability to say no to search traffic. I like to call the end of Google traffic “Google Zero,” and Google Zero is on its way: on Google’s last earnings call, Sundar Pichai bluntly said of SGE, “Over time, this will just be how search works.” 

There is fundamentally no difference between training an AI to sing like Frank Sinatra by feeding it Sinatra songs and training SGE to answer questions about what bikes to buy by training it on articles about bikes. But yet! There is no AI Music Incubator for the web and no set of friendly blog posts about working together with web publishers. Google’s position when it comes to the web is explicit: if its search crawlers can see content on the open web, it can use that content to train AI. The company’s privacy policy was just updated to say it may “use publicly available information to help train Google’s AI models and build products and features like Google Translate, Bard, and Cloud AI capabilities.” 

Read Nilay Patel's piece in it's entirety, you will learn a lot, I know I have.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The mystery deepens ...

AI, the open ended tech, keeps its mystery to itself as we don't know how it works, something often said by many parties, including yours truly, thanks to the linking of analog to digital to enable these systems to interact with the world in real time.

No one yet knows how ChatGPT and its artificial-intelligence cousins will transform the world, and one reason is that no one really knows what goes on inside them. Some of these systems' abilities go far beyond what they were trained to do—and even their inventors are baffled as to why. A growing number of tests suggest these AI systems develop internal models of the real world, much as our own brain does, although the machines' technique is different.

“Everything we want to do with them in order to make them better or safer or anything like that seems to me like a ridiculous thing to ask ourselves to do if we don't understand how they work,” says Ellie Pavlick of Brown University, one of the researchers working to fill that explanatory void.

At one level, she and her colleagues understand GPT (short for “generative pre-trained transformer”) and other large language models, or LLMs, perfectly well. The models rely on a machine-learning system called a neural network. Such networks have a structure modeled loosely after the connected neurons of the human brain. The code for these programs is relatively simple and fills just a few screens. It sets up an autocorrection algorithm, which chooses the most likely word to complete a passage based on laborious statistical analysis of hundreds of gigabytes of Internet text. Additional training ensures the system will present its results in the form of dialogue. In this sense, all it does is regurgitate what it learned—it is a “stochastic parrot,” in the words of Emily Bender, a linguist at the University of Washington. (Not to dishonor the late Alex, an African Grey Parrot who understood concepts such as color, shape and “bread” and used corresponding words intentionally.) But LLMs have also managed to ace the bar exam, write a sonnet about the Higgs boson and make an attempt to break up their users' marriage. Few had expected a fairly straightforward autocorrection algorithm to acquire such broad abilities.

That GPT and other AI systems perform tasks they were not trained to do, giving them “emergent abilities,” has surprised even researchers who have been generally skeptical about the hype over LLMs. “I don't know how they're doing it or if they could do it more generally the way humans do—but they've challenged my views,” says Melanie Mitchell, an AI researcher at the Santa Fe Institute.

Glad to see yours truly's take on AI is valid after all. :)

Zen 101

Monday, August 21, 2023

The real estate equation ...

People are finally slowing down on buying stuff. You know, as per the great George Carlin so famously said, Buying stuff you don't need with money you don't have. As per GC, one has to buy a bigger house in order to house said stuff, right? Well, when you don't buy stuff, China takes the hit as their economy depends on people buying stuff, when the lust to buy stuff lessens, the impact on China's economy becomes rather large, especially when it comes to real estate as back in the good times, people migrated to the cities in order to work for companies to create ever more stuff and because of that, building apartments for the influx of people boomed but no longer, not only due to the reduced need for people to buy stuff but also due to the slow motion disaster of depopulation as China has one of the lowest reproduction rates in the world.

Putting a lid on it, for now ...

Behind curtain no. 3 ...

Let's think about this. Question, does one really need this tech to take a shower?, not to mention the environmental impact of fabbing such a product in the first place. Yours truly loves tech as my loyal readers know but this???? The raison d'ete to buy this thing says it all. 

Complexification 101 applies ...

The Peripheral ... RIP

Chloe Grace-Moretz in a promotional poster for Prime Video's The Peripheral.

Image: Prime Video

The Peripheral, a SF series on Netflix, axed, due to in large part, the WGA and AMPTP strike, was pretty damn good with a charismatic cast and an interesting take on quantum mechanics, time travel and the transfer of consciousness into bots as needs warrant. The cancellation put the kibosh on a renewal, thus denying us the pleasure of seeing how the second season of the series plays out. With this said, the move toward AI driven video looms as it matters not the star if the flick in question has a good script, sophisticated graphics and synthetic actors able to convey charisma and acting skills to the video in question. To this writer, it's inevitable as it's all about the money yet again.

A man and a woman sit on ornate chairs in an opulant room.

Wilf (Gary Carr) and Flynne (Chloƫ Grace Moretz) meet in future London.

Prime Video’s new William Gibson adaptation, The Peripheral, is produced by Westworld’s Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan and follows the high-stakes, high-tech tale of a young woman (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) who realizes the virtual world she’s been visiting in a video game is actually the future—a very bleak future, with a murder mystery entwined within it.

It does suck as this series and 1899 were pretty decent forays into SF at high level.