November 14th, 2010

K-Box cartoon

Artificial intelligence ethics: The horrific implications behind that cute robot (o.o) face:

My friends captaintwinings and bitemetechie both reposted the following video. Ignore the robot's adorable appearance for a moment, and actually pay attention to what its creators are saying:

I already shared some of my concerns about this on their LJs, but I'm surprised and ashamed to realize that no one, myself included, has yet voiced the biggest ethical breach behind teaching a robot to teach itself ethics, to wit:

It is an unconscionable act of inhumanely premeditated cruelty to attempt to imbue creations with a humanoid consciousness and conscience when you know full well that no mechanism yet exists to grant such sapient creations HUMAN RIGHTS as well, because if you succeed in accomplishing your lofty goals, then what you'll have done is created, not a mere set of tools, but a SLAVE RACE.

You want to GUARANTEE a robot revolution? Give robots the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and then tell them that, no matter how self-aware or morally decent they might manage to become, they'll never be granted the same rights, freedoms or civil liberties as any human beings — many of whom will fall far short of them, both mentally and ethically — for no other reason than BIOLOGY ... and THEN, admit to them that, even BEFORE you created them, you were already well aware that they would be forced to endure exactly these types of morally inexcusable inequities.

Human beings have KILLED GOD in science fiction and fantasy stories for far lesser transgressions, and rightly so, because if we commit similar transgressions against our own sentient and innocent creations, what it necessarily means is that we're CREATING them to suffer, for OUR sins.
  • paft

A Mob and a Scuffle -- The Difference, Illustrated

So recently in response to a video I posted showing Tea-Partiers reacting to the loss of an election by mobbing their candidate’s opponent, I was linked to a series of videos that, it was implied, would reveal similar behavior by liberals.

It’s a blog entry, entitled “Clash of the Spitter/Pushers vs. Palms Springs Tea Party Coalition and Republican Women’s Federated of Palm Springs,” and reveals, one gathers, in four horrifying clips, the frothing, uncivil madness that is As the accompanying text explains:

The Palm Springs Desert Sun published a very small notice that on Oct 12, 2010 at 11:00am, was meeting in front of the Palm Springs Republican office to protest Carly Fiorina as Senator and to read a statement criticizing Corporation donation practices. Those in the community only had a few hours to react, and they did. MoveOn chose to schedule their event in front of the Republican Office and invited the local medial to attend. … Though participants were instructed by their leader to make us angry, the Conservatives did an excellent job of staying calm and making the event out for what it was: a joke! Even though people were assaulted and spit on in the face by one of's protesters to make us angry, and the news cameras record it for the evening news, the group kept its cool. This even is recorded in one of the following clips.

I watched all four of the clips, but because of the rather inflated description of “people” being assaulted, I at first missed the incident the writer (and linker) apparently had in mind. I repeatedly asked the linker to point out where the spitting/assault took place in the videos, but apparently the linker missed it too -- because there IS an incident recorded on one of those clips. The second time I viewed them all the way through, I caught it. It’s brief and involves not “people being assaulted” by MoveOn members but two participants on either side who got into a shoving match. In the interest of fairness – and of clarity -- I am posting the relevant clip with a description.

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Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither

We didnt just gave up on our liberties, we are also throwing away our dignity and whatever remains we have left in common sense and decency. I am afraid that the atmosphere of fear is turning us all into a paranoid mass that has lost its mind. This, I am afraid, was the objective of the terrorists all along, to change us, to turn us into something else, and then to turn us against each other. The body scanners and the "Enhanced Pat Down Techniques" will not deter terrorists to find other ways to scare us, instead it is encouraging them to find scarier ways to terrify us so we can continue our path of self-destruction and idiocy.Collapse )

Speaking of WW3, apparently James Blunt averted it (according to him)

I don't know if this story had been collaborated by other sources, but it is interesting. I know Blunt has a new album out, and I hope this is not some sort exercise in vanitas to generate album sales. Singer James Blunt has told the BBC how he refused an order to attack Russian troops when he was a British soldier in Kosovo. Blunt said he was willing to risk a court martial by rejecting the order from a US General. But he was backed by British General Sir Mike Jackson, who told him "I'm not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War 3".

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Stanislav Petrov, thank your lucky stars he saved the world.

But the real hero that saved the planet, is one Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet Air Defense officer who refused to launch on an early launch warning, that turned out to be a false alarm. Col. Petrov who never was honored or awarded by the Soviet military command for his brave decision. In an interview Petrov didn't regard himself as a hero: "All that happened didn't matter to me— it was my job. I was simply doing my job, and I was the right person at the right time, that's all. My late wife for 10 years knew nothing about it. 'So what did you do?' she asked me. I did nothing." Petrov lives on a small pension in Russia now.

The Budget Deficit

So, New York Times put out a nice little tool regarding budget deficit, called "You Fix the Budget." Basically you can check off those item you want to cut or those taxes you want raised, and watch the numbers climb. It's a great way to put the current freak-out over taxes and "wasteful" government spending in perspective. Earmarks and medical malpractice reform would only barely equal Obama's estate tax increase in net impact on the deficit. Capping Medicare would do about 20 times that much over 20 years.

There's a lot there, and I'm sure people will quibble with the numbers, but I thought it a good tool for visualizing the budget problems we're going to be dealing with in the next Congress.

ETA: This was my solution. Primarily spending cuts, focusing on restructuring entitlements and reducing military expenditures, coupled with some taxes that mostly return to the pre-Bush rates. Then a carbon tax, more for policy than for monetary reasons.