Sunday, December 29, 2013

Start Point for the Terminator

AI is starting to ramp up, as most techies know, but what has not been discussed regarding bots that would house AI in the real world, was the significant issue of being able to develop inexpensive, lightweight muscles able to do real work with low energy requirements akin to The Terminator, a concept considered not feasible until now.

It get rather interesting when combining this tech to AI using neural net configured chips able to learn in similar fashion to how we learn using trial & error as prime driver to enable us to navigate the world in relatively proper fashion.

The new processors consist of electronic components that can be connected by wires that mimic biological synapses. Because they are based on large groups of neuron-like elements, they are known as neuromorphic processors, a term credited to the California Institute of Technology physicist Carver Mead, who pioneered the concept in the late 1980s.

They are not “programmed.” Rather the connections between the circuits are “weighted” according to correlations in data that the processor has already “learned.” Those weights are then altered as data flows in to the chip, causing them to change their values and to “spike.” That generates a signal that travels to other components and, in reaction, changes the neural network, in essence programming the next actions much the same way that information alters human thoughts and actions.

“Instead of bringing data to computation as we do today, we can now bring computation to data,” said Dharmendra Modha, an I.B.M. computer scientist who leads the company’s cognitive computing research effort. “Sensors become the computer, and it opens up a new way to use computer chips that can be everywhere.”

When taken to logical extremes, an alien intelligence, of our own makig, will emerge, a construct forever unknowable to us as systems such as these will program themselves in order to become more intelligent, a process that will happen millions of times faster than evolution, a notion brilliantly articulated in a new book titled Our Final Invention, James Barrat's wake up call to the profound implications of AI and what it could mean to mankind's continued existence on planet earth.

The Busy Child

artificial intelligence (abbreviation: AI) noun
the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
—The New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition

On a supercomputer operating at a speed of 36.8 petaflops, or about twice the speed of a human brain, an AI is improving its intelligence. It is rewriting its own program, specifically the part of its operating instructions that increases its aptitude in learning, problem solving, and decision making. At the same time, it debugs its code, finding and fixing errors, and measures its IQ against a catalogue of IQ tests. Each rewrite takes just minutes. Its intelligence grows exponentially on a steep upward curve. That’s because with each iteration it’s improving its intelligence by 3 percent. Each iteration’s improvement contains the improvements that came before.

During its development, the Busy Child, as the scientists have named the AI, had been connected to the Internet, and accumulated exabytes of data (one exabyte is one billion billion characters) representing mankind’s knowledge in world affairs, mathematics, the arts, and sciences. Then, anticipating the intelligence explosion now underway, the AI makers disconnected the supercomputer from the Internet and other networks. It has no cable or wireless connection to any other computer or the outside world.

Soon, to the scientists’ delight, the terminal displaying the AI’s progress shows the artificial intelligence has surpassed the intelligence level of a human, known as AGI, or artificial general intelligence. Before long, it becomes smarter by a factor of ten, then a hundred. In just two days, it is one thousand times more intelligent than any human, and still improving.

The scientists have passed a historic milestone! For the first time humankind is in the presence of an intelligence greater than its own. Artificial superintelligence, or ASI.

Now what happens?

Any questions?

Addendum: read Why the Future Doesn't Need Us by Bill Joy, a brilliant and chilling analysis of Robotics (W/AI), Genetic Engineering and Nanotech, by one of the true software geniuses of the connected age. If nothing else, it gives pause to the meaning of AI and what it portends to us as we move further into the 21st century.

This is not Photoshopped :)

When it rains at Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni (the world’s largest salt flat), the landscape transforms into a giant and shallow reflection pool. And if you happen to capture the phenomenon at sunset, you get a beautiful photograph like this.

At 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi) and 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above mean sea level, Salar de Uyuni is unlike any other place in the world. Equally extraordinary is the salt flat’s ‘flatness’. Over the entire 10,582 square kilometers, there is only an average altitude variation of one meter. [Source]

The area is covered in a several-meter thick salt crust which also covers a pool of lithium-rich brine. In fact, the area is so rich in lithium, 50-70% of the world’s reserves can be found here. One final tidbit: the large area, clear skies and exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. How cool is that! [Source]

Break on thru to the other side - Jim Morrison/The Doors

Intense Tech

Yours truly loves intense tech designed to deal with intense environments, in this case, Antarctica, the coldest place on earth where Maria Leijerstam became the first person to get to the South Pole using a recumbent bike designed by Inspired Cycle Engineering to do the deed. 

Until now, no one reached the South Pole through cycling. Last winter, polar explorer Eric Larsen attempted to become the first person to cycle to the South Pole, but due to extreme adverse weather, he was forced to abandon the attempt.

However, this year many people also attempted to become the first person to cycle to the South Pole, and finally, 35-year-old British adventurer Maria Leijerstam has become the very first person, cycling to the South Pole.

However, to become the world’s first person reaching to the South Pole through cycling, Leijerstam used a recumbent fat-tired tricycle, nicknamed the White ICE Cycle, which is manufacturer by the UK’s Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE).

Pretty cool I must say. :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Public Service Announcement.

Land of Hope

Land of Hope, the extraordinary Mosaicultures Internationales exhibit at Jardin Botanique Montreal, conveys a message of hope in terms of how we should deal with planet earth. With luck, this tribute to nature, using plants, combined with sculpture and creativity, will inspire man to become a better steward of the world in which we live.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Day for Night

Day for Night, a delightful film done by Francois Truffaut back in 1973, showed, in great detail, how directors, back then, turned day into night using neutral density filters to accomplish the task at hand as the tech, back in 1973, obviously could not film scenes in near darkness in any way, shape or fashion, something all together different when compared to today's rapidly evolvng video technology.

As proof, the short clip seen above, shows stills and video using nothing but moonlight, in conjunction with the whiteness of snow, to illuminate the work in the piece, something Truffaut would have used to great effect, if this tech had been around for him to use back in the day. :)

If you get a chance, watch this film as it's a gem. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Great Dying

Back in November of 2011, BRT's post, Something to Consider, addressed the present day great dying we are generating today due to global warming, environment degradation and resource depletion, conditions man made, conditions rectifiable, conditions ongoing, thanks to governmental and corporate collusion performed at planetary scale, something changing life on this planet in ways not seen since the  Great Dying of 250 million years ago.

We are already @ 400ppm. How high it goes, nobody knows.

As stated before, phase transitions are exponential events, not linear, which give credence to the fact GW is happening faster then previously thought possible, something also being seen in species extinction due to the aforementioned troika of global warming, environment degradation and resource depletion, conditions eerily similar to the Permian era when the great dying occurred save that the changes happening today are thousands of times faster then when the Siberian Traps blew their tops way back when. 

Seen below is the excellent Wikipedia graphic detailing the phase transition from plasma to solid.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Last Taboo

Being an atheist is still difficult as some people of faith have this amazing concept that us heathens have fewer scruples then they, something totally ludicrous to say the least. In politics, being an atheist is tantamount to election death as all the yahoos in congress must and do pledge allegiance to god in order to get elected as this has become the litmus test for electability, not competence, something we see in action by congress, a body of ineptness that truly knows no bounds of just how useless they are except that of pledging allegeance to god 24/7. Just see the never ending senatorial campaign in Arkansas to see why. 

In looking at this issue more closely, one finds that politics and religion are the only two professions not requiring a skill set in anything save the ability to be liked and talk a good line at a moment's notice. 

Regarding electability, check out the Politico chart seen above, showing that any atheist running for president stands little or no chance of winning though there were (gasp) closet atheists in the White House (Taft, Jefferson, Adams et al) and…god forbid, in the Founding Fathers, something the Sara Palins of the world seem to miss when ranting about god and this country being founded as a christian nation.

Things are changing for the better, particularly among the young, the most liberal and non religious group in society.  As they increase in number, the tolerance for atheists, like yours truly, will increase as it has for gays, something that bodes well for the reestablishment of women's rights and the eventual move to Single Payer as we move further into the 21st century.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Last Remaining Place

Last month, BRT posted an article titled, Agent Smith was right, a piece discssing how man goes from place to place, taking all the resources of said place before moving on to plunder some other place even though we have now basically run out of places to pillage save for the Arctic, a region that was relatively safe from the predation of man until global warming reared it's ugly head, thus opening up a pristine frontier harboring, perhaps, the last significant deposits of oil and natural gas on the planet. 

It gets better.

Bad tech being introduced into a hostile area, driven by greed and stupidity, is a recipe for disaster but we already know that, right?

NSA - The Daily Show

The intro ad is a drag but Jon is not regarding the government's and NSA's serial lying. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Feature Creep 2

BRT recently posted a blurb titled Feature Creep, whereby the NSA uses the network switch hack to not only scarf up our banking, social and email data but also to gather smartphone locations as needs dictate. Now it's leveraging Google's PREFID cookies to extend its reach into our buying and surfing habits to the nth degree as seen in a Washington Post article titled NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking.  

Click on the Washington Post graphic to see how the NSA uses Google's cookies to do the deed.

Seymour Hersh is right, Edward Snowden's the real deal without question.

A Small First Step

25% of the Georges Bank is totally protected from deep-sea trawling, the vacuum cleaner approach that nearly wiped out the cod industry back in the 1980's, something Europe should do but did not when they could not institute a similar ban though their seas are suffering as did the banks back in the day.

PARIS — The European Parliament on Tuesday sided with the fishing industry by voting against an overall ban on deep-sea trawling, but it agreed to restrict some of the worst excesses of the practice.

In a narrow vote of 342 to 326, with 19 abstentions, lawmakers rejected a proposal to phase out deep-sea trawling in which heavy nets are dragged on the ocean floor at depths of more than 600 meters, or about 2,000 feet.

The Parliament, which meets in Strasbourg in eastern France, did vote to end trawling in areas with ecosystems most at risk, like those rich in slow-growing corals and sponges.

And they inserted a requirement calling for a review of the equipment used in deep-sea fishing — including gill nets, which are either anchored to the ocean bottom or allowed to drift in the current, entrapping fish by their gills. In theory, the review could lead to a ban on all deep-sea fishing with gear found to be especially destructive.

It's a start. For reasons why this tech is wrong, click the whimsical and very informative graphic, courtesy,  to learn about the deep sea and it's denizens before signing the petition to ban this really harmful process because, it's the right thing to do. :)

Another Stunner

Another stunner. A no brainer on how tech, when placed in the hands of an artist, creates magic.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Awestruck & Then Some

Hippo Teahupoo from Chris Bryan on Vimeo.

Awestruck is the operative term here as seen by this amazing video. 
For a concise description of how this masterpiece was shot, go to,

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Feature Creep

The NSA's reach keeps expanding as seen by the Washington Post blurb titled 

As a techie, I view this news as a perfect example of feature creep where an enterprise like the NSA just extends their ability to spy on us by breaking into the switches of the Verizon's of the world to, in this case, track our cellphone locations, with little extra effort as this mirrors the same approach of ISP network switch hacking the NSA uses to ingest email, banking and social networks data as needs warrant.

Seen below is a network diagram showing a typical connectivity diagram courtesy Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Within Our Reach - Stand By Me

The late, great George Carlin's favorite song was Stand By Me, the Ben E. King composition, part gospel, part soul, all good, something one sees in the rousing and heart felt rendition of this timeless classic by Vaneese Thomas, The Newtown Youth Voices & The Old Town Hall Band done this past summer in Newtown, CT. In this writer's humble opinion, George would have approved of this cover without question. Enjoy.  :)

Raison d'ete

The best explanation of the raison d'ete for religion, ever. :)

Sunday, December 01, 2013

On Further Consideration

A few weeks ago, in a post titled Design 101 or Why Adding People to a Late Project Makes It Later, BRT discussed, in depth, why was a disaster from the get go but that it would be fixed ($630 million & counting) while the fools who built the system in the first place, would continue to get paid by us rubes rather then be fired and fined for gross incompetence, something that would have gone down in the private sector without question but won't because it's government and incompetence is a virtue as long as one has the right connections to the agency footing the bill, something all too sad to see as per the NYTimes article titled Inside the Race to Rescue a Health Care Site, and Obama.

Best of all...

Simply unreal. Gee, what an innovative approach, something Fred Brooks discussed, in great length, in Mythical Man Month, as to why a visionary system architect is ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED if any complex project is to succeed and... said visionary must be in place, prior to doing anything of significance, or said project will fail, a prerequisite totally ignored in the disastrous HC.Gov roll out in Oct, 2013. 

Note that even when becomes capable, the much larger problem of HC itself has not been addressed as this slow motion catastrophe continues to run amuck, something only Single Payer can solve but you already knew that, right?

Factoid: Click on the graphic to find out what states actually allow insurance renewals pre & post Obama.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

6 Seconds in Dallas

Josiah Thompson's thought process is incredibly impressive. A true forensic scientist, he looks at cause and effect with persistence, intellect and objectivity, essential traits every real scientist exhibits when trying to discern how reality works at deep level, something the Warren Commission totally ignored when coming up with their take on what actually happened on November 22, 1963. This is a must see video to learn that Kennedy was killed via a conspiracy involving two shooters and possibly three. At the same time, click here to see the Errol Norris documentary of Thompson further explaining why the film and photos taken at the event "self authenticates" what happened in Dallas separate from any commentary that has issued forth from that dark and tragic day. 

Hopefully, his 1967 book will be republished as the analysis done in this work should be read by every American who needs to know what really happened in Dallas. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Two riffs on religion, one on scheduling, the other on women's rights, both dependent on priorities, right? :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Phase Transition Writ Large

Back in November, 2011, BRT wrote a post titled Something to Consider, a riff on the Permian Extinction AKA the Great Dying whereby 90 - 95% of all life went the way of the Dodo due to a massive "injection of CO2 into the atmosphere", probably due to "the eruptions that formed the Siberian Traps, the stairlike hilly region in northern Russia." which resulted in the "long-term ocean acidification, ocean warming and vast areas of oxygen-poor ocean water." that extinguished nearly  all life on the planet, something we are starting to see today thanks to the continued and unfettered use of fossil fuels, today's answer to the Siberian Traps, when it comes to producing CO2, the start point for all of the mass extinctions life has faced over that past 3.8 billions years.

With this in mind, Last Hours is most apt don't you think?

Maher on Kennedy

Maher gets it right on Kennedy, a president with style and wit, a president yours truly admired as someone who had a clear vision of what the world could be if one had the intellect and courage to make it so, a vision sadly not shared by any of Kennedy's successors following the unspeakable tragedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

To this writer, one sensed Kennedy was different, especially when listening to his electrifying Inaugural speech that will live forever in the hearts of Americans who were alive at that time (including me) when he uttered the words Ask Not on a bitter cold day in Washington, January 20th, 1961. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Van Damme Rules :)

An Unexpected Gem

New Dan on Flickr shot this gem, another reason why the net rocks. Enjoy.

Agent Smith was right

In The Matrix, Agent Smith describes man as a virus, a species moving from place to place, consuming all resources of said place before moving on but now, there is no other place, a reality being played out as we speak, regarding the Monarch Butterfly, wild bees and other insects crucial to our survival. 

What's interesting is the fact Monsanto is a primary player in this sad scenario as the maker of Roundup, along with Bayer and Shell (Neonicotinoids), as GMO foods (corn/soy etc, etc.) require extensive use of Roundup and insecticides in order to survive, something that's beginning to change as nature always finds a way to subvert artificiality via, in the case of GMO corn, the corn borer beetle, as seen in a BRT post titled Monarchs & GMO Corn.

For Agent Smith fans, here is the virus quote courtesy YouTube.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Where Credit is Due

Click the graphic to go to a wonderful NYTimes graphic depicting the byzantine world of credit and how it has changed finance forever. When finished, scroll down to Addicted to Growth to learn why the loan is the prime driver to all the manifestations of Where Credit is Due. :)

Addicted to Growth

Scott Erickson's a terrific writer and environmentalist who cuts to the chase when it comes to explaining why growth is no longer sustainable using the clever alias of a 14 year old girl named Amy, who explains, in wonderfully clear language, where growth comes from and why it has to stop. 

Read the rest of this wonderful excerpt from the book, you won't be disappointed. :)

I like his splash image as well.

Friday, November 08, 2013


Like a moth drawn to a flame, one is drawn to the slow motion disaster known as Fukushima,  an ongoing catastrophe that could end our short term residency on planet earth.

What's even more terrifying is the fact a magnitude 7 earthquake (all that's needed to bring down the fuel pools @ Fukushima) hitting Japan within the next 3 years is estimated to be 95%, which could be the closest thing to a done deal regarding the most serious threat mankind has ever faced during his tenure on a tiny planet we call home.

Pick-up-Sticks, a game requiring mental dexterity and physical skill under pressure, is basically what has to be done at Fukushima but with the added fun of having to pick up thousands of damaged rods loaded into damaged racks, which reside in a deteriorating, water filled environment in danger of collapsing at any moment. Adding to this rosy scenario are the absolute requirements that said rods must remain in water at all times (or they will explode) and cannot touch one another in any way, shape or fashion (or they will explode) because if they do either, uncontrolled fission will ensue, thus making Chernobyl a walk in the park.

Addendum: This is a picture showing the impact the earthquake and tsnuami had on Reactor 4's spent fuel rod pool building. Reassuring, right?

Needless to say, the rods in the pool no longer look like this.

But rather like this.

Any question as to why Fukushima is a fubar beyond description?