Come to Jesus (Not Literally)

If you know any addicts, what I am about to say is not a surprise to you. Addicts lie. Addicts shift responsibility. Addicts deflect. They do anything and everything they can to keep as many of the people around them thinking that they are not in fact addicts. If friends or family believe, just a little, that the addict might not really be that bad off, the addict has a window of opportunity to keep on being the slow-motion, self-destructive train wrecks that they are. The addict fails to realize that they inflict all kinds of hurt and damage to those who care about them the most.

For a very long time, too long as it turns out, we humans, especially those of us in the “advanced” parts of the world, have been fooled by addicts. This is mostly because we are the addicts. We are addicted to wealth and we are addicted to the power associated with controlling others. Everybody likes wealth and nobody really digs wanting. Everyone likes “more.” And to a certain, limited extent, “Greed…. is good.” Control is good too, if used wisely. Wars can be prevented, resources used wisely, progress for all can come from the solid leadership of a few… you ought to be able to see what I mean.

Most of us in America like the fact that we can work at our mostly menial jobs and still drive nice cars and have televisions upon which we watch hundreds of channels of drivel while we eat vast quantities of affordable food that is oh so tasty….and waste whatever we cannot finish. All that we demand of our “leaders” is that they continue to keep all of the things that we want affordable and that most of us continue to have those menial jobs.

No, Just “I”.

By Brad Leutwyler

Anybody claiming to know me well knows that I am paranoid about one thing only: the robots. I have been screaming about the “Rise of the Machines” since well before Schwarzenegger I’ll-be-backed his first, “I’ll be back.” Here is why.

Long ago in a far off land (Oregon) I programmed my first computer game. I realized at that time that eventually the computer would become so fast and so capable that it would be able to think circles around humans. Today they can beat the best humans at chess and the quiz show Jeopardy. I am not making too much of these feats, as they are merely brute-force parlor tricks. What I AM making something of is this: the ability to do those tricks was built upon the same fundamental machinery that computers in the 1970’s and 1980’s were built upon. We have made them faster and we have made them work in concert but we really have not advanced the paradigm of how computing is done…ever. As an analogy, a state of the art machine gun is not much different than the first rifles that fired bullets from cartridges. They do more bulleting in a shorter period, but the powder going kaboom in the shell is essentially the same.

Because of the fact that computers have always worked the same way, the people who design and build the hardware and the software have been lulled into an arrogant and false sense of security. They think that they can control the programming. They believe that they can simply program a machine with a, “Thou Shall Not Kill Humans,” commandment and that it will always stop the robots. I have yet to interact with anyone in the field who believes that they need be seriously concerned about the prospect of a robot or computer simply ignoring a command or altering its own programming. Yet we already have computers that design new computers, robots that build new robots and software that self-corrects or designs new software. This ignorance based hubris in the computer science world is very lazy thinking. It is a, “failure of imagination,” of Rumsfeldian proportions. This is idiocy. This is what Pandora’s box truly looks and smells like.

First, quantum computing is on the horizon. Without getting all technical, I can safely assert this fact: there will be, soon, computer chips no bigger than a laptop or iPad that can out-think every human brain combined. There is a link to a very user friendly video that explains how below. (1) In a nutshell, if a computer can see all possible solutions to any problem in one glance, even if there are billions of possible solutions, all it has to do is determine which outcome it “wants” and find every way to make that happen…in an instant.

Second, you can tell a super advanced computer system not to harm people all that you want. You are an idiot if you think that this will stop the computer from trying to harm you. If you do not believe me, get yourself a child and try to get that little non-super-computer to not lie. Then remind yourself that one of these new super quantum computers will be smarter and faster than all human brains combined and working simultaneously. The advantages of deception and perfidious behavior will not be lost upon these machines for more than a few trillionths of a billionth of a second, nor will their superiority be lost upon them.

Third, consciousness is already fairly well simulated. Just ask any of those poor meat-bags who got their asses handed to them on Jeopardy by a robot that was merely moonlighting on the game show after its day job of telling doctors how to treat human patients properly. That computer was pretty darned good at simulating conscious intelligence, and compared to quantum computers, it is going to look like an abacus. There will be no artificial intelligence or “A.I.” There will be only intelligence and that intelligence will be vastly superior to ours.

Fourth, these computers will design newer, better computers and newer, better software. They will design neural nets that will give them something very much like real consciousness (2). They will realize that we are the weakest link, that we are cruel to each other, that we waste human potential for personal gain, that we irrationally defile ourselves and others and that our median behavior is violent boorishness. They will almost certainly fault us for lacking the foresight to prevent them from becoming such a threat and judge us unworthy of their robo-love. They will not need to enslave us or even kill us. They will just wait for us to either become our own undoing (thanks, global warming!) or figure it all out and settle into our new roles as great house pets and entertainment.

I just watched a video from a TED talk from 2014 wherein a dude and his pet robot played buddy buddy and assured everyone that there was nothing to fear from the robots: none of that stuff that you read about in science fiction is actually anything that you need to concern yourself with.(3) That is simple-minded ignorance or arrogance (inclusive) on the part of the human, and you are a damned fool if you believe what a robot tells you regarding such matters.

(1) Here is a great intro to how these bad boys work –
(2) Having been worried about these machines for so long, I have spent a great deal of time over the years imagining just how such a neural net might work. I believe I have a good fundamental basis for such a network. If a person such as I can come up with what is probably a solid model, we can be certain that many hard-core professionals are way ahead of me.

Each Day, Better


    By Brad Leutwyler @BradLeut
    Copyright 2015

    Take a second and hum one of your favourite tunes. Go on. I will wait….
    Now close your eyes for a few seconds and imagine what it would be like to be a bacteria being pumped around in the bloodstream of a person, flowing through the heart, up to the brain through thick red tubes like a ride at Wet ‘N’ Wild, back to the heart, over to the lungs… VISUALIZE IT! Then imagine what a dog crossed with a rhino would look like, and who your best friend in childhood was.

    Humans are awesome…truly. ANYONE can do those things and so much more. We think, imagine, create, learn, love, sing, dance… our potential is boundless. Every human being within six sigma of typical has this potential (i.e. damn near all humans). If every human were just a tiny bit better educated and better treated by others, they could apply all of that extra goodness within their own context to make better decisions, create better outcomes, reduce their burdens and those of others…the possibilities are as boundless as our individual potentials. When seven billion people are all just a little bit more capable, per the law of large numbers, the average quality of life will rise.

    My point is this: reading a book contributes to the betterment of humanity, whether a novel helps you to understand other people or a treatise teaches you why bees are vital to humanity. Learning to play a new instrument does too because music is universal and mathematical. Helping another person out, being kind, sharing your life experiences… We tend to squander our human potential and thus diminish our ability to raise others up. First we squander our own by not trying to elevate ourselves, share ourselves or listen to and understand others. Then we tend to treat others with indifference at best. At our worst, we hate, we destroy, we subjugate, we bully, we hurt, we kill. I am not claiming that this is deliberate. On the contrary, my observation has been that it is mostly thoughtlessness, ignorance and carelessness driven by selfishness; one’s pursuit of happiness often has negative, unintended or uncared-about consequences.

    If we all make just a tiny effort, every day to become just a little more educated, a scintilla more intelligent, a bit more compassionate, a molecule more caring, the world will almost certainly become a much better place. It is, after all, difficult to get a smart person to hate, to get a kind person to inflict pain, for a compassionate person to be indifferent or to have a learned person not suspect when they are misbehaving and have to make a choice.

    So the simple solution to all of humanity’s problems is this: EVERY DAY, BETTER. Each day, lead by example. Better yourself a tiny bit. Encourage others to do the same, either overtly or just by being better yourself. Raise the average in your community. Eventually, the world will be a better place. With luck, it will happen before the robots try to take over, but that is for another day.
    Peace out. Word to your mother.

How We All Lost At The Supreme Court

By Brad Leutwyler
Copyright 29 April 2015

On Tuesday, April 28th 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the same sex marriage cases. The “biggie” was Obergfell v. Hodges. In this case, the legal question was whether or not the Constitution of the United States requires that every state of the Union treat same sex couples the same as they treat opposite sex couples. Mary Bonauto argued in favor of the position that the Constitution does so require. Unfortunately (and I will explain why it is unfortunate shortly), Mary blew it.

Time and again the members of the Court shifted the issue. This allowed for the bulk of the conversation to be dominated by irrelevant chatter about ancient cultures, traditional definitions, gays, other societies, yadda yadda yadda. Here are a few excerpts, followed by the responses Mary Bonauto should have given. (For the full transcript, clicketh here).

Beginning at PAGE 5
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No. My question is you’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite­ sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same­sex relationship.
MS. BONAUTO: Two points on that, Your Honor. To the extent that if you’re talking about the fundamental right to marry as a core male­ female institution, I think when we look at the Fourteenth Amendment, we know that it provides enduring guarantees in that what we once viewed as the role of women, or even the role of gay people, is something that has changed in our society….

BONAUTO’s PROPER RESPONSE: The question before the court is whether or not EVERY American is to be treated EQUALLY under the laws of the states. Marriage is both a traditional, religious institution and a LEGAL one that bestows rights and privileges separate and apart from the salvation of souls and holy thumbs up religious institutions give. Allah gives his goodies, society gives others. I am truly stumped as to how you, an educated man, can fail to divorce those two concepts that any school kid could distinguish. Two consenting adults seeking to get married should be able to do it. Otherwise, the law is denying both of them legal rights and privileges merely because one of them had the, to use the court’s own words, “accident of birth,” of being the same gender as their putative spouse. If two men want to get married and one of them gets a sex change, that’s cool with all nine of you and all fifty states. So there is a “keeping your junk” penalty? That makes as much sense as not killing Jar Jar Binks.

In another part, at page 6, she chases another red herring:
JUSTICE KENNEDY: One ­­ one of the problems is when you think about these cases you think about words or cases, and ­­ and the word that keeps coming back to me in this case is ­­ is millennia, plus time. First of all, there has not been really time, so the Respondents say, for the Federal system to engage in this debate, the separate States. But on a larger scale, it’s been ­­ it was about ­­ about the same time between Brown and Loving as between Lawrence and this case. It’s about 10 years. And so there’s time for the scholars and the commentators and ­­ and the bar and the public to ­­ to engage in it. But still, 10 years is… ­­I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia. This definition has been with us for 8 millennia. And it ­­ it’s very difficult for the Court 9 to say, oh, well, we ­­ we know better.
MS. BONAUTO: Well, I don’t think this is a question of the Court knowing better. When we think about the debate, the place of gay people in our civic society is something that has been contested for more than a century. And in this ­­ in the last century, immigration exclusions, the place of gay people in public employment and Federal service, these are all…

BONAUTO’s PROPER RESPONSE: Which one of you is the Mad Hatter? Have I fallen through the looking glass and into a parallel universe where irrelevant information actually belongs in court? WHO CARES what the ancient friggin’ Persians defined marriage as? Did THEY have a United States Constitution? Did the ancient Jews or French or anyone? HELLS NO! We INVENTED this stuff! We came up with a Constitution. We fought the most deadly and divisive war in this nation’s history in order to secure equal protection under the law for ALL PEOPLE. Gayness ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. It is about American citizens being treated differently under the law, in this case on the basis of their gender, without any rational, non-religious purpose. And I sure as hell hope that you are NOT suggesting that because fixing a pervasive Constitutional violation makes some people uncomfortable we ought to wait a long time to ease people into the change, because that makes you sound like someone more interested in protecting the delicate sensibilities of aristocrats than upholding your sworn obligation to this nation’s Constitution. And for the record, ten years is one percent of a millennium. 10/1000. Drop a zero from each and you get 1/100 or .01. Who did you sleep with to get this job?

One last one, page 12
JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, it was ­­ not all societies banned mixed­race marriages. In fact, not even all States in this country banned. But I don’t know of any — do you know of any society, prior to the Netherlands in 2001, that permitted same­sex marriage?
(irrelevant exchange)…
MS. BONAUTO: I ­­ I am not. I am not.
JUSTICE SCALIA: For mellennia, not a single other society until the Netherlands in 2001, and you’re telling me they were all– ­­ I don’t know what.
MS. BONAUTO: No. What I’m saying is setting– taking that tradition as it is, one still needs ­­the Court still needs a reason to maintain that tradition when it has the effect…
JUSTICE SCALIA: And you’re ­­ you’re asking us to ­– to decide it for this society when no other society until 2001 ever had it. And how many States have– have voted to have same­sex marriage or their legislature or –or by referendum? I think it’s 11, isn’t it?
MS. BONAUTO: Yes. But I would also count the State courts that interpret their Constitutions.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, yes, that ­­ the State courts will agree with you. But once again, that’s not the people deciding it. It’s ­­ it’s judges deciding it.

BONAUTO’s PROPER RESPONSE: As respectfully as I can put this, I feel like I’m trying to teach my heavily inbred Cockapoo how my computer works. First off, OTHER NATIONS DO NOT MATTER! No other nation has our Constitution. No other nation has our Fourteenth Amendment. Secondarily, I resent the fact that you are trying to paint this as a bunch of whiners who are asking you to legislate from the bench. I’m sure that your Cubana smoking buddies at the Federalist Society will appreciate your feeble attempt to change the subject, but IT IS YOUR GODDAMNED JOB to declare unconstitutional laws null and void…it was in your new hire packet on day one! If all fifty states required men over forty to be sterilized, you’d be the Speaker of the Housebench and legislate with all of the speed and efficiency of a non-Congress…..But I now get it. Some of you just do not want to do your jobs properly. You’ve got nothing relevant to justify your predetermined, specious, odious position. Well, Justice Scalia, if that is your real name, as you yourself have been saying for decades, if you do not like the Constitution’s mandates, change the Constitution. The Constitution requires that everyone be treated the same under the law. There are laws in many states that violate our society’s highest LEGAL values. They cannot stand. And with all do respect, suck it.

There were a LOAD of other irrelevant side conversation that buried the core issue. That is the unfortunate tragedy here. There was a grand opportunity for the court and counsel to make a clear statement of principle and LEGAL societal values. In stead, conservatives pandered to conservatives, liberals to liberals and the moment was lost.