Monday, February 20, 2017

Quote of the Day

Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things like them.

- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Quote of the Day

Honest people are a refuge: You know they mean what they say; you know they will not say one thing to your face and another behind your back; you know they will tell you when they think you have failed—and for this reason their praise cannot be mistaken for mere flattery.

- Sam Harris, Lying

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Wisdom Of The Week

Nix likes to boast that Analytica’s personality model has allowed it to create a personality profile for every adult in the U.S. -- 220 million of them, each with up to 5,000 data points. And those profiles are being continually updated and improved the more data you spew out online.

Albright also believes that your Facebook and Twitter posts are being collected and integrated back into Cambridge Analytica’s personality profiles. “Twitter and also Facebook are being used to collect a lot of responsive data because people are impassioned, they reply, they retweet, but they also include basically their entire argument and their entire background on this topic,” Albright explains.

Collecting massive quantities of data about voters’ personalities might seem unsettling, but it’s actually not what sets Cambridge Analytica apart. For Analytica and other companies like them, it’s what they do with that data that really matters.

“Your behavior is driven by your personality and actually the more you can understand about people’s personality as psychological drivers, the more you can actually start to really tap in to why and how they make their decisions,” Nix explained to Bloomberg’s Sasha Issenburg. “We call this behavioral microtargeting and this is really our secret sauce, if you like. This is what we’re bringing to America.”


The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine

Quote of the Day

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

- Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, February 17, 2017

Shepard Smith, Thank You For Bringing Some Morality Back To Journalism

It's crazy what we're watching every day, It's absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating ridiculous, throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we're some kind of fools for asking the question. Really? Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening and we're fools for asking the questions? No sir.

We have a right to know. You call us fake news and put us down like children for asking questions on behalf of the American people.

- More Here

Quote of the Day

It’s just the most amazing thing to love a dog, isn’t it? It makes our relationships with people seem as boring as a bowl of oatmeal.

- John Grogan, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quote of the Day

Voltaire said about God that ‘there is no God, but don’t tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night’. Hammurabi would have said the same about his principle of hierarchy, and Thomas Jefferson about human rights. Homo sapiens has no natural rights, just as spiders, hyenas and chimpanzees have no natural rights. But don’t tell that to our servants, lest they murder us at night.

- Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Quote of the Day

I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that dogs think humans are nuts.

- John Steinbeck

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Quote of the Day

The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.

- Edsger W. Dijkstra

Monday, February 13, 2017

How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder

There’s a thermodynamic cost to storing information about the past that has no predictive value for the future, Still and colleagues show. To be maximally efficient, a system has to be selective. If it indiscriminately remembers everything that happened, it incurs a large energy cost. On the other hand, if it doesn’t bother storing any information about its environment at all, it will be constantly struggling to cope with the unexpected. “A thermodynamically optimal machine must balance memory against prediction by minimizing its nostalgia — the useless information about the past,’’ said a co-author, David Sivak, now at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. In short, it must become good at harvesting meaningful information — that which is likely to be useful for future survival.

You’d expect natural selection to favor organisms that use energy efficiently. But even individual biomolecular devices like the pumps and motors in our cells should, in some important way, learn from the past to anticipate the future. To acquire their remarkable efficiency, Still said, these devices must “implicitly construct concise representations of the world they have encountered so far, enabling them to anticipate what’s to come.”

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Entropy maximization has long been thought to be a trait of nonequilibrium systems. But the system in this model obeys a rule that lets it maximize entropy over a fixed time window that stretches into the future. In other words, it has foresight. In effect, the model looks at all the paths the particles could take and compels them to adopt the path that produces the greatest entropy. Crudely speaking, this tends to be the path that keeps open the largest number of options for how the particles might move subsequently.

You might say that the system of particles experiences a kind of urge to preserve freedom of future action, and that this urge guides its behavior at any moment. The researchers who developed the model — Alexander Wissner-Gross at Harvard University and Cameron Freer, a mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — call this a “causal entropic force.” In computer simulations of configurations of disk-shaped particles moving around in particular settings, this force creates outcomes that are eerily suggestive of intelligence.


In one case, a large disk was able to “use” a small disk to extract a second small disk from a narrow tube — a process that looked like tool use. Freeing the disk increased the entropy of the system. In another example, two disks in separate compartments synchronized their behavior to pull a larger disk down so that they could interact with it, giving the appearance of social cooperation.

Of course, these simple interacting agents get the benefit of a glimpse into the future. Life, as a general rule, does not. So how relevant is this for biology? That’s not clear, although Wissner-Gross said that he is now working to establish “a practical, biologically plausible, mechanism for causal entropic forces.” In the meantime, he thinks that the approach could have practical spinoffs, offering a shortcut to artificial intelligence. “I predict that a faster way to achieve it will be to discover such behavior first and then work backward from the physical principles and constraints, rather than working forward from particular calculation or prediction techniques,” he said. In other words, first find a system that does what you want it to do and then figure out how it does it.

Aging, too, has conventionally been seen as a trait dictated by evolution. Organisms have a lifespan that creates opportunities to reproduce, the story goes, without inhibiting the survival prospects of offspring by the parents sticking around too long and competing for resources. That seems surely to be part of the story, but Hildegard Meyer-Ortmanns, a physicist at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, thinks that ultimately aging is a physical process, not a biological one, governed by the thermodynamics of information.


- More Here