Category Archives: Science

What Makes AI Dangerous? The State, by Per Bylund

As with most new technologies that have both benefits and dangers, the dangers are most pronounced when the technology gets in the hands of governments. From Per Bylund at mises.org:

So I watched “Do you trust this computer?”, a film that “explores the promises and perils” of artificial intelligence. While it notes both the good and the bad, it has an obvious focus on how AI might bring about “the end of the world as we know it” (TEOTWAWKI.) That is, if it is left unregulated.

It’s strange, however, that the examples of TEOTWAWKI AI were “autonomous weapons” and “fake news,” the latter because of how it can provide a path for a minority-supported dictator to “take over.” While I understand (and fear) both, the examples have one thing in common – but it is not AI.

That one thing is the State. Only States’ militaries and groups looking to take over a State have any interest in “killer robots.” They’re also developed by/for those groups. The fake news and “undue influence” issue is also about the power over the State. Neither weapons nor fake news require AI. Yet, in some strange twist, the film makers make it an AI problem. Worse: they end the film indicating that the main problem is that AI is “unregulated.”

But this is completely illogical: with the State as the problem’s common denominator *and* the solution?

Instead, we’re led to believe that it is problematic that Google tracks our web searches and Facebook knows our friends and beliefs (“because autonomous weapons”?). While I agree that it is ugly, neither company is making a claim over life and death. In fact, they operate under the harshest regulation there is: the market. Because they are making investments to make money, and money can only be made in one of two ways: through offering something that people want and are willing to pay for (Oppenheimer’s “economic” means), or through simply taking it from people against their will (“political” means). Companies operate according to the former, which means they are subject to the mercy of consumers. The State operate according to the latter.

 

To continue reading: What Makes AI Dangerous? The State

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Estonia Expands Massive DNA Grab Of 100,000 Citizens, by Tyler Durden

New developments in surveillance technology and practices are coming in from all over the globe, and so fast they’re hard to keep up with. Estonia breaks new ground in DNA tagging. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Alarm bells are ringing in Northern Europe, over the Estonian government’s latest attempt to take a massive number of genetic samples from its citizens.

Science, technology, and a government have usually been the perfect trifecta in every dystopian sci-fi thriller, as elected/unelected officials tend to gravitate towards all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful — over the mindless masses who unknowingly surrender their freedoms for comfort.

This seems to already be the case in the tiny former Soviet nation of Estonia, as its leaders have pushed for all things digital. The government has made it a top priority to embrace blockchain technology, provide internet access to all, and embark on the complete digitization of its citizens on one large platform — all owned by the government. So, it comes as no surprise, when the Estonian government has been quick to move in the creation of a biological database that collects DNA sequences of its citizen. Through mass surveillance programs, Estonian government will not only know what their citizens are searching on the internet, but will also have the knowledge of personal genetic information: ancestry charts, genetic composition, health history, and anything else that can be extracted from an Estonian’s double helix. So much knowledge in one organization is absolutely terrifying.

Starting immediately, the Estonian government will publicly launch the program to recruit and genotype 100,000 residents of the country as part of its National Personalized Medicine campaign. In the first run, the government projects an eight percent DNA grab of its total population. If successful, all indications are pointing to more massive grabs, as government officials are racing to construct its national DNA database.

The genetic testing initiative is a joint development program of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Institute for Health Development and the Estonian Genome Center of the University of Tartu, which currently maintains the nation’s DNA database of around 50,000 citizens.

To continue reading: Estonia Expands Massive DNA Grab Of 100,000 Citizens

 

Delingpole: Finally ‘Climate Change’ Gets Its Scopes Monkey Trial–and the Bad Guys Are Gonna Lose

Many climate change proponents shun challenge and open debate, which may tell you all you need to know about their postion. From James Delingpole at breitbart.com:

Judge William Alsup has laughed off suggestions that he’s currently presiding over the “global warming” equivalent of the Scopes Monkey Trial.

But like it or not this is essentially what is being played out right now in a U.S. federal court in San Francisco.

The climate alarmists have finally got their day in court against those pesky free-thinking intelligent people they call “climate deniers.”

Big mistake. The overconfident alarmists appear to have bitten off more than they can chew. They imagined that they’d fool the world into thinking that this was a case about ordinary, wronged citizens – specifically the cities of San Francisco and neighboring Oakland – taking on the evil, sea-level-raising, planet-destroying might of Big Oil.

In reality, as is becoming clearer by the day, it’s the “science” of climate change which is really on trial here. And given that the “science” of climate change is so shaky that it might as well be called “witchcraft” this is not a discussion that’s likely to end well for the shysters who are promoting it…

Background

The origins of this case lie in #Exxonknew. Its purpose is to attack the fossil fuel industry using much the same methods once employed against the tobacco industry. The plan was dreamed up in 2012 by a small group of climate activists meeting in La Jolla, California.

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing five Big Oil firms – Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell – alleging that they have conspired, Big-Tobacco-style, to conceal the harm of their products. Apparently, these oil majors ought to be compelled to pay billions of dollars in compensation for the damage they have done, inter alia by causing sea levels to rise.

The Judge

Already, the plaintiffs have run into a major problem. Judge William Alsup – who by rights really ought to have been one of their guys, given that he’s a Clinton appointment who lives in California – turns out to be the real deal. As this excellent overview by Tony Thomas in Quadrant notes, he has a reputation for not just taking anybody’s word for it:

While presiding in Uber v. Waymo, for example, he asked for a tutorial on self-driving car technology. In Oracle v. Google, he taught himself some Java programming language, to help understand the case.

The very last thing the plaintiffs needed was a judge who does his homework. They needed one who would take their junk science at face value.

To continue reading: Delingpole: Finally ‘Climate Change’ Gets Its Scopes Monkey Trial–and the Bad Guys Are Gonna Lose

Lockheed Martin Patents Nuclear Fusion-Powered Fighter Jet, by Tyler Durden

If this pans out, the world may be on the cusp of an amazing source of new energy, the same energy source that powers the sun. It may be too good to be true. It was, after all, posted on April Fools’ Day. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Lockheed Martin has secretly been developing a game-changing compact nuclear fusion reactor that could potentially fit into a fighter jet. The Maryland-based defense contractor recently obtained a patent associated with its design for a fully compact fusion reactor, after filing for the patent in 2014.

If the latest patent from the defense company serves as a benchmark, nuclear fusion technology could revolutionize the aeronautic industry and eventually begin the quantum leap from fossil fuels to compact fusion reactors for the industry.

According to CBS Washington, the prototype system would be the size of a normal shipping container but capable of producing enough energy to power 80,000 residential homes or a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, sometime in the next year or so.

The patent, tilted “Encapsulating Magnetic Fields for Plasma Confinement,” is dated Feb. 15, 2018. CBS indicates that Skunk Works, also known as Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs or its advanced R&D group, has reportedly been developing the compact fusion reactor since about 2014, with latest reports suggesting the technology could be ready for production by 2019.

Nuclear fusion is the same process of what happens to hydrogen gas in the core of the Sun. Hydrogen gas gets squeezed into four hydrogen nuclei combine to form one helium atom; thus, nuclear fusion is created.

Lockheed said, “Our concept will mimic that process within a compact magnetic container and release energy in a controlled fashion to produce power we can use.” Here is how Lockheed describes nuclear fusion power:

Lockheed indicates that the compact size of the reactor has induced a technology revolution, which instead of taking “five years to design and build a concept, it takes only a few months.”

“The compact size is the reason that we believe we will be able to create fusion technology quickly. The smaller the size of the device, the easier it is to build up momentum and develop it faster. Instead of taking five years to design and build a concept, it takes only a few months. If we undergo a few of these testing and refinement cycles, we will be able to develop a prototype within the same five year timespan.”

To continue reading: Lockheed Martin Patents Nuclear Fusion-Powered Fighter Jet

The Science of a Vanishing Planet, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Insect populations are plunging, and while we may not like them, they’re essential for life on earth. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

There are numerous ways to define the Precautionary Principle. It’s something we can all intuitively understand, but which many parties seek ways to confuse since it has the potential to stand in the way of profits. Still, in the end it should all be about proof, not profits. That is exactly what the Principle addresses. Because if you first need to deliver scientific proof that some action or product can be harmful to mankind and/or the natural world, you run the risk of inflicting irreversible damage before that proof can be delivered.

In one of many definitions, the 1998 Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle says: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

Needless to say, that doesn’t easily fly in our age of science and money. Cigarette makers, car manufacturers and oil companies, just to name a few among a huge number of industries, are all literally making a killing while the Precautionary Principle is being ignored. Even as it is being cited in many international treaties. Lip service “R” us. Are these industries to blame when they sell us our products, or are we for buying them? That’s where governments must come in to educate us about risks. Which they obviously do not.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb -of Black Swan and Antifragile fame- has made the case, in his usual strong fashion, for applying the Precautionary Principle when it comes to GMOs. His argument is that allowing genetically modified organisms in our eco- and foodsystems carries unknown risks that we have no way of overseeing, and that these risks may cause irreversible damage to the very systems mankind relies on for survival.

Taleb is not popular among GMO producers. Who all insist there is no evidence that their products cause harm. But that is not the point. The Precautionary Principle, if it is to be applied, must turn the burden of proof on its head. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Monsanto et al must prove that their products do no harm. They can not. Which is why they have, and need, huge lobbying, PR and legal departments.

To continue reading: The Science of a Vanishing Planet

Climate Exit, by John Stossel

Somebody has something nice to say about Mike Pompeo…and SLL agrees with it! From John Stossel at theburningplatform.com:

Climate Exit

President Trump’s pick to be the new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is not a fan of the Paris climate agreement, the treaty that claims it will slow global warning by reducing the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Politicians from most of the world’s nations signed the deal, and President Obama said “we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”

That’s dubious.

Trump wisely said he will pull America out of the deal. He called it a “massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.”

Unfortunately, Trump often reverses himself.

The climate change lobby has been trying to change Trump’s mind. Al Gore called his stance “reckless and indefensible.” Most of the media agree. So do most of my neighbors in New York.

That’s why it’s good that Pompeo opposes the Paris deal. Such treaties are State Department responsibilities. Pompeo is more likely to hold Trump to his word than his soon-to-be predecessor Rex Tillerson, who liked the agreement.

The Paris accord is a bad deal because even if greenhouse gases really are a huge threat, this treaty wouldn’t do much about them.

I’ll bet Al Gore and most of the media don’t even know what’s in the accord. I didn’t until I researched it for this week’s YouTube video.

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Oren Cass is the rare person who actually read the Paris accord.

Cass tells me it’s “somewhere between a farce and a fraud.” I interviewed him for a video project I am doing with City Journal, a smart policy magazine that often makes the case for smaller government. “You don’t even have to mention greenhouse gases in your commitment if you don’t want to. You send in any piece of paper you want.”

The Paris accord was just political theater, he says. “They stapled it together and held it up and said, ‘This is amazing!’”

To continue reading: Climate Exit

The New Atomic Age: Nuclear Fusion And Beyond, by Gary Norman

Economical fusion power may be the energy of the future. From Gary Norman at oilprice.com:

The energy market is undoubtedly in a state of flux. The current power play between the U.S., OPEC and Russia is symptomatic of the changing geopolitical and economic dynamics of the entire market, U.S. tight oil seems set to completely upset the apple cart, and rapid technological advances are putting hitherto unattainable reserves within our reach. These are just a few of the factors that are currently calling to question everything we know about the market, but perhaps the biggest paradigm shift is still on the horizon – the shift from fossil fuels to clean energy.

When we think of clean energy we usually discuss wind, solar, hydro and geothermal. Hydro and geothermal are extremely good sources of reliable energy, but they are of course location specific, meaning you either have access to it or you don’t. Another type of clean energy that has enormous potential is wave, or ocean energy. However, as of writing, this potential is yet to be cost effectively harnessed. Although we are making great strides in this field, we can hardly include it as an energy game changer until we see much more substantial progress.

That leaves us with solar and wind energy. Solar can be split into several types, most notably photovoltaic solar energy and solar hot water. Aside from issues with efficiency, wind and solar share a common problem – availability. We can only generate power when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, and that means that we cannot rely on them as a primary power source. Efficiency is constantly being improved in both areas, and breakthroughs in energy storage mean that both systems are on their way to usurping the dominance of fossil fuels. That day is still a long way off, so for now at least, it seems fossil fuels are in complete control. But what about atomic power? What happened to the promise of clean, inexpensive and abundant energy that so many households in the 50s were seduced by?

While some may argue that nuclear fission is vastly cleaner than the burning of fossil fuels, incidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima are still very fresh in our minds. Indeed it is Fukushima that led to a dramatic shift in German energy policy which has set them on a path to completely phase out its nuclear reactors by 2022. Germany is certainly not alone in this decision, and with phasing out being the rule rather than the exception, we appearto be at the end of the era of atomic power.

To continue reading: The New Atomic Age: Nuclear Fusion And Beyond