Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Random Walks/Winter's End

Random walks, you know, doing a meander enables one to see things. In this short clip, streams, telephone pole hardware, shorelines and a Worm Moon set the foreground to the background of early spring with bird song, insects and crocuses. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

It's about time ...

Alan Turing finally gets his due, this time, not only his picture but also several easter eggs, commemorating a visionary years ahead of his time, on England's upcoming 50 Pound note. Said note will be issued June 23rd on Alan Turing's B' Day. Awesome.

Getting Stuck & then some :)

A disparity of size comes to mind here as a tiny bulldozer goes out to try to unstick the Ever Given, a huge cargo ship wedged in in the Suez Canal, thus holding up 12% of the world's trade 24/7. The Guardian and Austin Powers memes rule in trying to free up this monster to get the canal up and running again.

Online, the slow-moving crisis was quickly turned into a learning experience: memes 101. The overarching theme was futility: of work in the face of a never-ending number of things to do; of $1,400 stimulus checks in response to the coronavirus pandemic; of drinking in the face of “the incessant, crushing weight of existence”.

But it does get better, way better. :)

Quoting Snopes ... 

And here's the video showing how the Ever Given diagram came to be. :)

Austin Powers strikes yet again. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

To assume is to err ...

Moore's Law has held up for 50 years regarding the effective doubling of compute speeds based on the doubling of chip density every two years, a prediction truly remarkable without question. With this being said, the number of variables involving said advancements is minuscule in comparison to predicting the vagaries of the stock market or trying to predict what society will be like in 5 years unless one is humble enough to hazard guesses as reality, as stated before, is quantum, where certitude is but a mirage yet people resist and assume, aka the ass of you and me, in spite of these hard truths. 

Acceleration is a given but some of the prognostications made by leading researchers give one pause as unlimited acceleration states the obvious, its unlimited but nature doesn't work that way.

This articulates acceleration beautifully but one should question this ...

What's not being said is the fact Kursweil's take is a model, a guesstimate baed on a limited amount of data, not reality. Climatologists modify their models endlessly whenever more data comes in as one cannot capture the entirety of the reality in which a given event exists. Chaos has proven this to be true as the law of initial conditions rule. 

Love the optimism but if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

The Medium piece about accelerating change is worth reading without question but at the same time, assumptions are being made at grand scale and we all know what that means, right? 

3 Modalities

Alignment 1



Monday, March 22, 2021

The Camel's nose ...

Years ago, when Lyndon Johnson was president, the problem of dealing with the continued presence of J. Edgar Hoover, the detested head of the FBI back in the day, had to be dealt with. Knowing Hoover kept dossiers on just about every pol in Washington, Johnson decided to keep Hoover in charge using this classic quote as to the reason why Hoover was kept on. "It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." Prudence won the day regarding that miserable human being but the question to ask here is not about Hoover but rather ... is the Camel's nose in the tent the start point for having the entire animal coming inside vis a vis AI and it's increasingly influential relationship regarding the future of dogfights as the military goes further into the 21st century?



The Camel's nose indeed.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Jovian light show rules

New results from the Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument on NASA’s Juno mission reveal for the first time the birth of auroral dawn storms – the early morning brightening unique to Jupiter’s spectacular aurorae. These immense, transient displays of light occur at both Jovian poles and had previously been observed only by ground-based and Earth-orbiting observatories, notably NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Results of this study were published March 16 in the journal AGU Advances.

Seen below is the aurora happening in real time.

As per the title, the Jovian light show rules. :)

Saturday, March 20, 2021

No apology needed

No apology, no groveling, just shameless bastards trying to hold unto their position of power no matter what their transgression may be whether it involves corruption, theft of public monies or inappropriate behavior with women, it matters not to our so called leaders of 2021.

To whit.

Susan Wise Bauer’s editor reached out to her last year about updating her 2008 book The Art of the Public Grovel, about how politicians apologize when accused of sexual misdeeds. Given the #MeToo movement and claims against Donald Trump, her editor said, a new edition might sell well.

This time, it was Bauer’s turn to say sorry. “I just don’t know what I would write,” Bauer, a historian, recalls saying. “No one really apologizes anymore.”

Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—facing allegations from several women of sexual harassment—gave only a semi-apology for making some female aides “uncomfortable.” He denied he did anything wrong and argued the public should “wait for the facts.” He’s continued to maintain his innocence, ignoring growing calls from fellow Democrats to resign.

Cuomo is just the latest in a recent string of male political figures, from state lawmakers to members of Congress to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who have hotly denied allegations of sexual harassment, attacked their accusers, or claimed to be the victims of smear campaigns. Even when forced to retire or resign, these men have often declined to make a public apology or any kind of comments on their decision to end their political careers.

As a personal  aside, I wish I had questioned Brett as I know about alcoholism big time and this guy, IMHO, is a dry drunk without question. As for Ted, yours truly will reserve comment regarding that self serving shameless troll for now.

Smart move to the max

What a smart move, cover canals with solar panels, thus killing two birds with one stone ...

  1. Reducing evaporation and 
  2. Generating water cooled power as solar panels lose power the hotter it gets. 
Brilliant without question.

PEANUT BUTTER AND jelly. Hall & Oates. Now there’s a duo that could literally and figuratively be even more powerful: solar panels and canals. What if instead of leaving canals open, letting the sun evaporate the water away, we covered them with panels that would both shade the precious liquid and hoover up solar energy? Maybe humanity can go for that.

Scientists in California just ran the numbers on what would happen if their state slapped solar panels on 4,000 miles of its canals, including the major California Aqueduct, and the results point to a potentially beautiful partnership. Their feasibility study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, finds that if applied statewide, the panels would save 63 billion gallons of water from evaporating each year. At the same time, solar panels across California’s exposed canals would provide 13 gigawatts of renewable power annually, about half of the new capacity the state needs to meet its decarbonization goals by the year 2030.

It gets better.

California’s water conveyance system is the world’s largest, serving 35 million people and 5.7 million acres of farmland. Seventy-five percent of available water is in the northern third of the state, while the bottom two-thirds of the state accounts for 80 percent of urban and agricultural demand. Shuttling all that water around requires pumps to make it flow uphill; accordingly, the water system is the state’s largest single consumer of electricity.

Solar-paneling canals would not only produce renewable energy for use across the state, it would run the water system itself. “By covering canals with solar panels, we can reduce evaporation and avoid disturbing natural and working lands, while providing renewable energy and other co-benefits,” says environmental engineer Brandi McKuin of the University of California, Merced, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, lead author on the paper.

Do it for god's sake. Makes so much sense to do this without question.

Friday, March 19, 2021

By 2045 ...

Children of Men, a film about a dark future where fertility is but a dream and civilization is on the brink of chaos, takes place in 2027, but ... by 2045, this dire prediction of the lack of fertility could happen for real if Shanna Swan's take on the fate of reproduction proves to be correct. 

Eye Candy of the scientific kind

Eye candy of the scientific kind ... rules. Check out AstroAnarchy to see why this rings true. 

Losing to China

Bill Maher's take on China struck a nerve with yours truly because it's the truth. While we bloviate about personal slights, culture wars and religion, China's building stuff like we use to do prior to Ronnie Reagan using deregulation to gut US manufacturing in order to gin profits to stockholders while, in effect, creating modern China. Ross Perot was right, give countries the tools to build stuff and ... for a while, America makes out until said tools are used to compete, something that's happening to us as we speak. Can the US come back, yes, but it will take guts to make it happen. Let's hope it will. before it's too late. 

End of rant for now.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Oblivious to a fault

Have you ever had the experience of a walking texter, you know, the kind who's oblivious to their surroundings until they look up and you, and they, have to do a walk around because of this doofus imposing their will in a public space, an action akin to people not leashing their dogs, especially jumpers able to soil your clothes and piss you off to no end. Seems there's a scientific basis as to why this act is a total pain in the ass to us non-texting rubes.

SAVE FOR THE Macarena, the most aggravating dance a human can perform is that thing where you’re walking down the street and have to out-maneuver a pedestrian who’s texting. At first, it seems like they’re going to crash into you. Then they finally look up from their phone, at which point you have to figure out who’s going to swerve left or right. You both swerve left and realize that won’t work, so you both swerve right, and that goes on and on until you finally get mad enough to yell at them.

Call it the Smartphone Six-Step. Grab your partner, do-si-do, and toss them into the street.

We’ve all danced that infuriating dance, but now scientists have shown just how big of a mess a phone-distracted pedestrian can make not just for you but for a crowd at large. Researchers at the University of Tokyo and Nagaoka University of Technology set up “bidirectional flow experiments” in which two groups of 27 people (one team wearing yellow beanies, the other wearing red) walked head-on. In each experiment, one of the groups included three people looking at smartphones. The researchers placed these distracted walkers either at the front, middle, or back of the pack, while cameras above tracked everyone’s routes and speeds.

Each crowd has some leaders in front, and each of these is scanning the movements of their counterparts headed in the other direction to avoid collision. This interaction between leaders is known as mutual anticipation. “If it is me and you, at the same time I try to predict where you will be in the future, and you try to predict where I will be in the future,” says University of Tokyo computer scientist Claudio Feliciani, coauthor of a new paper describing the experiments in the journal Science Advances. Basically, you’re making split-second assumptions about how that person will behave and how you should respond appropriately. “And that's the mechanism that makes it possible to have this kind of collective pattern formation,” Feliciani adds.

If you’re lost in your phone, though, this interpersonal relationship—however fleeting—breaks down. The person who’s approaching you is monitoring your movements and anticipating your behavior, but you’re not reciprocating. You’re adrift, and that means the people following behind you are as well. When you finally make contact with a person in the approaching crowd, you fall into the Smartphone Six-Step, and the effects of that hesitation ripple back through your followers like a multicar pileup.

A total PITA without question.

Evolution yet again

 Artificial life evolution, can this happen? Interesting question is it not? Seems people have talked about this notion beginning in the 1950's when computing was but a dream save for visionaries like Alan Turing and John VonNewman, among significant others.

I could stridently insist that natural selection is the only way that complex life can evolve, but that’s not strictly true. We can already design computers that can learn and reason and—almost—convince an observer that their behavior might be human. It’s not unreasonable that in 100 or 200 years, our computer systems will be effectively sentient: human-like robots, similar to Star Trek’s Commander Data. Alien civilizations that are considerably more advanced than us are likely already capable of such creations. The possibility—likelihood, even—of such robotic life has implications for our predictions about life on alien planets.

But what if it were all different? What would life look like if it did know where it was going?

The 1950s physicist Anatoly Dneprov wrote quirky and characteristically Soviet science fiction. His novel Crabs on the Island tells the story of two engineers conducting an experiment in cybernetics on a deserted island. A single self-replicating robot (a “crab”) is released, and forages for the raw materials to build other robots. Soon the island is overrun with baby robot crabs. But the crabs begin to mutate. Some are larger than others, and ruthlessly cannibalize the smaller robots for spare parts to build even larger robots. How would such an experiment end? Catastrophically, of course, as is consistent with the genre, with robot crabs spreading exponentially across the entire island.

But there is no certitude. Quantum and the only constant being that of change rules, even over super AI.

How likely is it that this universe of interconnected computers would be doing nothing but communicating, reproducing, and carrying out their singular goal? Possibly not very. If such an alien world of artificially intelligent organisms really exists, there are some things it cannot avoid—no matter how intelligent or how well designed. On the one hand, artificial intelligence cannot improve without change, and change brings the risk of mutation. On the other hand, even the cleverest strategy is potentially open to exploitation—game theory cannot be discounted, even by a computer of sci-fi-level superintelligence.

The Tao rules ...

Percolation test

Connections, relationships, or the ability to see how deep connections among said relationships occur  describes genius to yours truly without question. Seems the connection meme is a big deal with SA as well.

A branch of mathematics called percolation theory offers a surprising answer: just a few people can make all the difference. As users join a new network, isolated pockets of connected phones slowly emerge. But full east-to-west or north-to-south communication appears all of a sudden as the density of users passes a critical and sharp threshold. Scientists describe such a rapid change in a network's connectivity as a phase transition—the same concept used to explain abrupt changes in the state of a material such as the melting of ice or the boiling of water.

AKA phase transitions from water to ice is percolation theory writ large from this writer's perspective.

It gets better.

Awesome article to the max. Read SA's detailed piece The Mathematics of How Connections Become Global in its entiredty to learn why chaos and phase transitions rule. 

Had to add another :)

Credit: Jen Christiansen (graphic); Wee People font, ProPublica and Alberto Cairo (figure drawings)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Rational Discourse ...

 Implausible indeed. :)

2012 ...

AI became real in 2012 when a tiny group of coders finally succeeded in building a neural net that actually worked. For years, this tech remained illusive but no longer. In the wonderful Wired article titled The Secret Auction That Set Off the Race for AI Supremacy, the high level stakes auction as to what entity would gain access to this transformative technology would change computing and society forever.

TWO MONTHS EARLIER, Hinton and his students had changed the way machines saw the world. They built what was called a neural network, a mathematical system modeled on the web of neurons in the brain, and it could identify common objects—like flowers, dogs, and cars—with an accuracy that had previously seemed impossible. As Hinton and his students showed, a neural network could learn this very human skill by analyzing vast amounts of data. He called this “deep learning,” and its potential was enormous. It promised to transform not just computer vision but everything from talking digital assistants to driverless cars to drug discovery.

The idea of a neural network dated back to the 1950s, but the early pioneers had never gotten it working as well as they’d hoped. By the new millennium, most researchers had given up on the idea, convinced it was a technological dead end and bewildered by the 50-​year-​old conceit that these mathematical systems somehow mimicked the human brain. When submitting research papers to academic journals, those who still explored the technology would often disguise it as something else, replacing the words “neural network” with language less likely to offend their fellow scientists.

Hinton, however, never quit pursuing his dream.

Hinton remained one of the few who believed it would one day fulfill its promise, delivering machines that could not only recognize objects but identify spoken words, understand natural language, carry on a conversation, and maybe even solve problems humans couldn’t solve on their own, providing new and more incisive ways of exploring the mysteries of biology, medicine, geology, and other sciences. It was an eccentric stance even inside his own university, which spent years denying his standing request to hire another professor who could work alongside him in this long and winding struggle to build machines that learned on their own. “One crazy person working on this was enough,” he imagined their thinking went. But with a nine-​page paper that Hinton and his students unveiled in the fall of 2012, detailing their breakthrough, they announced to the world that neural networks were indeed as powerful as Hinton had long claimed they would be.

Read Wired's long & detailed piece on the start of AI, a story reminding one of the intensity of a high stakes poker game finally resulting as to what entity got the gold ring, thus cementing their stake as the major player in an open ended tech fraught with potential and danger of the third kind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Threading the needle & then some

A traversable wormhole would be a shortcut through space. (ESO/L. Calçada

Seems traversable wormholes are possible but how traversable remains the question of the day.

Wormholes are an old idea in general relativity. It's based on work by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen, who tried to figure out how elementary particles might behave in curved spacetime. Their idea treated particle-antiparticle pairs as two ends of a spacetime tube.

This Einstein-Rosen Bridge would look like a black hole on one end, and an anti-black hole, or white hole, on the other end.

But all is not lost. We know that Einstein's theory must break down at quantum scales because it is a classical theory. Presumably, there is some quantum theory of gravity that supplants general relativity.

We don't yet have a complete quantum gravity model, but we do have several approximate models that will point us in the right direction.

One of these models is known as the Einstein-Dirac-Maxwell theory. It is so named because it includes aspects of Einstein's theory of gravity, Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, and Dirac's theory of quantum particles. Recently a team found a wormhole solution to the Einstein-Dirac-Maxwell equations.

The team found that their wormhole solution was fully traversable. What's more, the solution doesn't require any negative-energy states. In principle, that would allow you to travel through the wormhole without needing negative mass. The only catch is that you would need to be in a quantum state. So microscopic clumps of atoms could travel through this wormhole, but not people.

End result ...

It's still worth a shot, right? :)