I am not suggesting that you perform a Google search for “responsible development.” I just want to call attention to the demise of the “Responsible Development of AI Advisory Council” at Google. It was just last week that Google announced the formation of the Advisory Council, intended to debate potential policy related to Artificial Intelligence. They started announcing persons who were going to serve on the Advisory Council. One of the persons named was Kay Coles James.
The histrionics from Google staffers were immediate and intense. Tantrums were thrown and a clamor of angry rhetoric consumed much energy and attention for a couple of days. Google promptly caved, and today they announced the dissolution of the Advisory Council. Evidently placating the SJW staffers at Google was much more important than any effort to get ahead of the plethora of ethical pitfalls that beset the development of artificial intelligence.
What prompted the outrage? Well, Ms. Kay Coles James is an African-American grandmother who held a variety of jobs in government and education. She is currently on the Advisory Council for NASA. And, by the way, she is also the current President of Heritage Foundation.
A petition with more than 2,000 signatories from within the company was published on Medium on Monday, with the title “Googlers Against Transphobia and Hate.”
…Meredith Whittaker, who leads Google’s Open Research Group, posted on a private Google listserv that, “I would disagree that their views are important to consider, when those views include erasing trans people, targeting immigrants, and denying climate change.”
Other ringleader employees at Google vociferously trashed Heritage Foundation on a variety of charges, such as “anti-LGBTQ,” “anti-immigrant” and climate denial, etc. When some employees said that the hoo-rah sounded intolerant, they were attacked with messages saying that there is no need to listen to such haters.
Both Daily Caller and Breitbart have the story. Links are in the comments.
Tele-Monsters, or those dammed scam/spam/nuisance/marketing calls.
I’m sure a few Ratburgers remember my posts about them and my successes and failures to turn the tide of them.
Yep “NoMoRoBo” is still the premier answer. But with drawbacks. The drawbacks are when every tele-monster calls and NoMoRoBo intercepts the call, we get one ring. Sort of like on “The Hunt for Red October“, but ring instead of ping.
Donald Trump Jr. has an editorial at The Hill, about censorship on the internet. He runs through a bill of particulars, which concern matters that we have talked about at Ratburger.org. The following is the middle third of his editorial, which amounts to good old-fashioned journalism about something he saw while at CPAC.
Silicon Valley lobbyists have splashed millions of dollars all over the Washington swamp to play on conservatives’ innate faith in the free-market system and respect for private property. Even as Big Tech companies work to exclude us from the town square of the 21st century, they’ve been able to rely on misguided conservatives to carry water for them with irrelevant pedantry about whether the First Amendment applies in cases of social media censorship.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has been making a name for himself as a Republican prepared to stand up to Big Tech malfeasance since his time as Missouri’s attorney general. He delivered a tour de force interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel in front of the CPAC crowd, one that provided a clear-eyed assessment of the ongoing affront to the freedoms of conservative speech and expression.
Hawley demolished the absurd notion that “conservative principles” preclude taking action to ensure free debate online simply because Big Tech firms — the most powerful corporations in the world — are private companies.
Hawley pointed out that Big Tech companies already enjoy “sweetheart deals” under current regulations that make their malfeasance a matter of public concern. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, for instance, allows them to avoid liability for the content that users post to their platforms. To address this problem, Hawley proposed adding a viewpoint neutrality requirement for platforms that benefit from Section 230’s protections, which were originally enacted to protect the internet as “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”
“Google and Facebook should not be a law unto themselves,” Hawley declared. “They should not be able to discriminate against conservatives. They should not be able to tell us we need to sit down and shut up!”
It’s high time other conservative politicians started heeding Hawley’s warnings….
I looked at Senator Hawley’s website, but did not see anything there on this topic. I hope he will bring forward some good initiative.
Turns out that some Nest products have built-in microphones, which fact was only recently disclosed to users. The possibilities for abuse are endless. Looks like Bruce Schneier’s predictions, expressed in his book Click Here to Kill Everybody, are coming true. From the book’s blurb:
From driverless cars to smart thermostats, from autonomous stock-trading systems to drones equipped with their own behavioral algorithms, the internet now has direct effects on the physical world. [emphasis added]
Don’t worry, though. Google admits that not disclosing the microphone “…was an error on our part.” Rest assured they are very sorry. You’ve had a hidden microphone in your house but don’t worry; nobody was listening. Move along; nothing to see (or hear).
Shortly after the Ratburger.org site was created on 2017-12-09, we signed up for and implemented a text chat system called CometChat on 2017-12-12. This was nothing but bother, with update after update failing to install and the last straw being when, at the end of the first year’s trial period, they wanted us to pay US$ 50/month for a shoddy service which we’d never actually used. I deleted the hunk of junk on 2018-09-30.
Still, it would be nice to be able to host real-time events, perhaps with more interaction than is possible on our existing Audio Meet-Ups. For this, I have been exploring using a platform many consider passé, but technologically perfectly positioned to burgeon in the Roaring Twenties, Second Life.
Second Life is a virtual world which, as of the end of 2017, had between 800,000 and 900,000 active users. When you visit it, you’ll typically find on the order of 40,000 people logged on. In Second Life you can visit a multitude of interesting destinations built by denizens, buy or rent land, build your own Bond villain redoubt, and create new objects which you can sell to others within the virtual world.
My ambition for Second Life and Ratburger is very modest at present: I’m thinking about using it as a chat room and place for meet-ups which don’t run up phone charges for participants. Assuming you’ve set up your computer properly, you can chat in text or converse in voice after meeting at a location in Second Life.
Some time in the next month, I’d like to schedule an experimental Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU) at some time chosen to accommodate the crazy quilt of time zones of our members (probably the same time as the Tuesday RAMU, but on another day). If you’d like to participate, here’s what you’ll have to do.
Create a new account on Second Life. Click the “Join Free” button and fill out the form. Note that your Username cannot be changed after you join, so in the interest of privacy, do not chose a Username which discloses personal information. Choose an avatar of your preference; you can be anybody you like—use your imagination!
Download and install a viewer on your computer. I prefer the Firestorm Viewer, which is available for Linux, Macintosh, and legacy Windows systems. You will need a relatively recent computer with lots of RAM and a graphical processing unit (GPU) to run this software. The official Second Life Viewer is an alternative, but is generally behind Firestorm in features and device compatibility.
Log in to Second Life from your viewer application. You will generally be taken to a starting point for new users such as London City, which will let you explore things you can do in the virtual world. It will take some time to become familiar with moving around, interacting with objects, etc. From there, you can go to myriad other places.
If you want to use voice communication, visit the Voice Echo Canyon:
(This is a Second Life URL which will not work in your browser, but works in the Second Life destination bar.) Try speaking (use the middle mouse button to toggle speaking off and on, or the microphone button at the bottom in Firestorm) and see if you can hear the echo. If you don’t see a white dot above your head, audio is not enabled on your computer. If this happens and you’re on a Linux system, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you a fix which worked for me.
Visit some interesting places, such as the amazing International Spaceflight Museum:
Google+ was launched in June 2011. It was Google’s response to the rapid growth of Facebook and other social networks. Just two weeks after its launch, 10 million users had joined. By October 2013, 540 million users accessed one or more Google+ features. People created text, images, uploaded images and media, and interacted on the network. All of these data were stored on Google’s servers.
On October 8, 2018, Google announced that Google+ would be terminated in August 2019. Subsequently, the shut-down date was moved up to April 2019. This was due in part to a massive data breach discovered in the spring of 2018 which disclosed the personal data of 52.5 million users. This was covered up by Google “due to fears of increased regulatory scrutiny”. According to the October 2018 announcement, 90% of user sessions on Google+ lasted less than five seconds.
Here is the announcement of the shutdown sent to Google’s G Suite customers (which include mail for ratburger.org). This will not affect ratburger.org’s mail, as we are a paying enterprise customer, not a user of the “consumer” product which is being terminated.
All data uploaded by users of Google+ will be deleted starting as early as April 2, 2019. Users who do not export their data prior this deletion will permanently lose anything they’ve uploaded there.
There is no “cloud”. When you hear “cloud”, think “somebody else’s computer”. When “somebody else” decides storing your data is no longer worth doing, it’s gone. It’s only your data if it’s in your own personal physical possession, ideally with multiple backup copies on archival media with long-term retention.
This caught my eye during my daily procrastination. I figured it would make a nice topic for discussion. The company provides servers and desktops which use the POWER9 architecture. My only experience with POWER was with the embedded variant. I like the idea of a platform that is free of any hardware black box, though I have more research to do about that.
For some reason, the less popular architectures scratch an itch for me (I get bored very easily, if you can’t tell). Any commentary from the similarly afflicted?
Apple CEO Tim Cook suggests it's "a sin" to not ban certain people from social media and technology platforms: "We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division, and violence: You have no place on our platforms. You have no home here." pic.twitter.com/gO5qB6bBuO
NPR has a feature worth reading. It is an obituary of a plumber. He started his own company. He worked hard and his business grew. He ended up owning some property, which is how he became the landlord for the Nintendo office in Tukwila, Washington.
Another friend of Segale’s commented on that story: “My direct understanding and perception is that Mario Segale doesn’t mind at all the fact that his name inspired such an iconic character, and that he shows humble pride in that fact in front of his grandchildren and close-knit adult circles.”
“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy” – Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) TRON
(Since I can’t link any original TRON content, here is a fan-made trailer)
Greetings, Programs! Last week, I mentioned my favorite line from the movie TRON. This week I figured I would do one of the more famous quotes from the movie – from three different angles!
The Philosophical Angle: Flynn goes from being a programmer designing video games into a virtual world where programs have personalities, and there is an entire society within the confines of the computer system. How do you look at the computer system that you work with in the same way after you have been inside of it? Is deleting a file actually killing someone sentient?
It’s interesting how a change in perspective makes a difference. I can tell you that I had no idea how far off I was on how moderation works around here. There are a lot more Dilbert moments than X-Files scenes with the Cigarette-Smoking Man. I’ll say that my opinion of academia has certainly changed after I got inside. It is even more ruthless than the average corporate office, and much more hierarchical. Older PIs often seem like ancient wizards or medieval nobles. Have you had moments that completely shifted your perspective?
The Theological Angle: Flynn creates a world, then goes into it, becoming all but indistinguishable from the beings that inhabit it. He is reduced to the lowest level, but his power is still evident. He sacrifices his life to save the world, but in the process is restored to his proper place. Sound familiar? The Christian narrative is so powerful that Hollywood can’t resist incorporating into stories, even if it is in a distorted way. Are there any other stories where the Christian imagery was present almost in spite of itself?
The Political Angle: There is no way this movie could be made today. Flynn is a relic from another era – the renegade programmer turned hacker, acting immature and flirtatious, brash and boastful. He’s from an era of tech that wouldn’t be recognizable in this modern era of digital safe spaces and walled garden run by social justice scolds. Even the age of the open Internet, where a techno-libertarian future seemed to open before us, is all but gone. Tech companies seem to have gone from geeks to the villains of a cyberpunk novel, with a bizarre unreal twist where people identifying as buildings and animals are welcome, but people identifying as with beliefs similar to half of America are not. Ironically, the sequel’s villain is not the supposed wickedly greedy CEO, but the system administration program out to create the perfect system. Any who deviate are destroyed or “rectified” into identical drones. It’s unintentionally a description of the modern vision of Big Tech. What do your think happened to the technology industry such that it