Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Open Thread 11 - 24 Dec

by Bjinse Mon Dec 11th, 2017 at 10:18:01 PM EST

The thread is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled

Marsala, Sicily Feast of St. Lucy
Dio onnipotente, che illumini gli uomini e le donne e li chiami ad investigare i segreti della natura, perché si facciano cooperatori della tua creazione, accogli l'espressione della nostra gratitudine.

Guarda con bontà i tuoi figli che si servono delle nuove tecnologie: fa che questi cellulari diventino strumento per annunziare la verità, occasione per promuovere la carità, opportunità per incontrare l'altro che, anche se non vediamo fisicamente, nella Rete ha una presenza reale e ogni parola comunicata può veramente ferirlo come può veramente accarezzarlo.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 10:58:01 AM EST
This is supposed to be an algorithm-written chapter of Harry Potter. Fuel for the AI fire.

(Also, it is funny.)

by fjallstrom on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 02:20:21 PM EST
Japanese AI Writes a Novel, Nearly Wins Literary Award
an AI-written novel just made it past the first round of screening for a national literary prize in Japan.

The novel this program co-authored is titled, The Day A Computer Writes A Novel. It was entered into a writing contest for the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award. The contest has been open to non-human applicants in years prior, however, this was the first year the award committee received submissions from an AI. Out of the 1,450 submissions, 11 were at least partially written by a program.

by das monde on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 09:24:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Any AI smart enough to pass a Turing test is smart enough to know to fail it."

Ian McDonald, River of Gods

by das monde on Thu Dec 21st, 2017 at 01:33:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Cat Person" and the New Universe of Literary Criticism
An explosion of online literary criticism is settling down into an interesting heap of debris. Over the last few days our feeds [...] have rumbled with talk about "Cat Person." Kristen Roupenian's story of a bad date has invited a lot of different readings and prompted a lot of good conversations. We've talked about genre, narrative voice, "relatability," and creating bodies with words. Some of us were unimpressed, while others snarled at the unimpressed's incomprehension of Roupenian's achievement. All agreed that it was an unusual phenomenon, a short story going viral, and that was a kind of news.
Our contribution to the internet critical mind starts now...
by das monde on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 09:32:12 AM EST
For his willingness to confront conventional diplomatic wisdom, shrug off dire warnings of triggering Middle East unrest and declare Jerusalem Israel's capital, Trump is increasingly being compared by evangelicals - and Jews on the religious right - to Persia's King Cyrus II, also known as Cyrus the Great. The bolder have gone so far as to suggest that Trump doesn't just merely resemble the Persian king, he's Cyrus reincarnated.


Trump, his religious supporters argue, is perfectly cast in the role of a powerful historical figure who is neither a God nor a messiah nor even a believer himself. Like Cyrus, they say, he is a tough leader fighting on the side of the righteous, an instrument used by God to serve His master plan. And the plan as they see it: to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount - where the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently stands.

What happens afterwards is covered in Sarid'a recent novel, soon to appear in Italian and French.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 11:45:58 AM EST
Will the building of a Third Temple destroy the Jewish state?

The new book by Yishai Sarid, "The Third," begins and ends with catastrophes. It starts with two bombs that obliterate Tel Aviv and Haifa and a regional war in the Middle East that the Jews win, after which they re-establish the temple. It ends with complete destruction: Twenty-five years after that, on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the "Amalek" enemy, a code name in the book for the Arab world, has already conquered most of Israel and nearly reaches Jerusalem.

The evangelicals call for Jews to convert to Christianity in face of Armageddon.

Recently in my diary, it was the Trump gang on a path to destroy the modern Persians: Iran!

Putin Calls Out Netanyahu for Exploiting Purim Story to Disparage Iran
Bibi Netanyahu: Book of Esther, Persecution, Deliverance and the Holocaust

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Dec 14th, 2017 at 03:11:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - Matthew D'Ancona - Brexit is putting me off this whole `will of the people' idea

Boris Johnson, increasingly seen by younger Tories as a Nokia to the Moggster's iPhone X, plays catch-up, deploying an identical form of words in a Sunday Times article. What, the foreign secretary asked, would be the point of mirroring EU laws: "we would have gone from a member state to a vassal state". To which one is sorely tempted to respond: what were you expecting, mate? The sound you hear is the oak beams of Brexit groaning and cracking under the weight of its internal contradictions. The true believers want simultaneously to escape the tyranny of Brussels but - somehow - to retain all the commercial benefits of the single market.

Their position is a hopeless confusion of insularity and expansionism: they insist that Britain be free to do as it pleases at home and abroad miraculously unencumbered by international duties.

What they call "vassaldom" is, in fact, the most probable outcome of their own ill-conceived project - Britain outside the EU, but shadowing much of its regulatory structure in a scramble to maintain access to as much of its trade as possible. Ah, well: Tories used to know all about unintended consequences. It's just a shame they didn't see this one coming, because it's a doozy.

The part in bold is as good a summary of the arch-brexiteer position as I've seen, revealing the fantasy wrold they inhabit. There is absolutely no chance of this happening, that has been obvious since forever, yet they still invoke this magical reality as if it were within their easy grasp.

It's even worse given that they expect to adhere to the recent agreement for regulatory compliance to ensure the Irish peace agreement, yet expect to have wide regulatory divergence in order to seal gree trade deals around the world.

Do these people even listen to themselves? Which one of them is Mad Hatter and is there any chance of him spreading those hallucinogens more widely?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 18th, 2017 at 11:48:53 AM EST

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 20th, 2017 at 06:53:14 AM EST
Cultural Appropriation, Cultural Exploitation, Cultural Genocide: Problems of Neoliberal Diversity Management
In Toronto an art gallery shut down the exhibition of artist Amanda PL's paintings, inspired by Anishinabe art -- Chippewa artist Jay Soule declared that, "what she's doing is essentially cultural genocide, because she's taking ... stories and retelling them, which bastardizes it down the road. Other people will see her work and they'll lose the connection between the real stories that are attached to it". Genocidal hate crime? Amanda PL explained her motives in these terms: "I just tried to learn all I could about the Aboriginal culture, their teachings, their stories, and I've tried to capture the beauty of the art style and make it my own by drawing upon elements of nature within Canada that have meaning to me". She then rightly detected the racism that is loaded into such accusations: "I think it's a shame to say that an artist can't create something because they're not from that race. That's like saying any other culture can't touch something like abstract art unless you're white, or you can't touch cubism art" [...] There seems to be a new "cultural appropriation crisis" where exclusivity and property ownership are asserted, ironically, in the name of "inclusivity" just as people are shamed in the name of "respect" [...]

Somehow, somewhere, this makes sense to someone: that the best way to learn about and appreciate Aboriginal culture is to ignore it completely, lest you draw on any influences it might have. Just in case you are somehow personally touched, and incorporate your country's indigenous experience into your personal understandings, then shame awaits you. Supposed respect for difference has tilted in the direction of censorship -- don't look, don't touch, don't speak [...]

One has to also be a fairly privileged patrician, if your preoccupation is to take offence at the feathers on some child's head. What an untroubled life of leisure one must ordinarily enjoy, for the minor trespasses to take on monumental dimensions.

by das monde on Thu Dec 21st, 2017 at 01:45:57 AM EST
My old meme is taking off :-)

Oculus Grift: Capital as the cutting-edge AI app

Many futurists and trend-spotters fret about the advent of artificial intelligence as if it will, in one fell swoop, usher in a brave new dystopian future. But that future has already arrived. On a day-to-day basis, we're living with the consequences--or rather, the unyielding domination--of the first fully functioning artificial intelligence system known to humankind. It is not secret, it is out in the open, and all of us are a part of it. You may know it as the sprawling, omnivorous system of economic production that goes by the name of capitalism.

We used to think of "capital" as physical goods or infrastructure--something we could wrap our minds around. But as all the main features of this system for extracting surplus value from workers and rentier fees from service networks have become duly digitized, capital itself has become a form of AI. We do not have any control over this system and it is impossible to conceive of unplugging ourselves from it. Isn't that the trope we most fear about AI from science fiction--that it will reach a point where we cannot imagine life independent of it?

by das monde on Thu Dec 21st, 2017 at 07:07:35 AM EST
Sorry, but ... no.  The AI I know will either exterminate ALL humans because of the potential threat they pose or they'll let humans complete the process of "crapifying" the entire planet, at which time the humans will be extinct and the crapifyed planet will be a resource.  Either way, bye bye humans.  To those who think that they'll survive by habitating  colonies in either space, the moon, or Mars so that you have a refuge from the mayhem like Columbus in the "New World", think again.  The extinction will be complete ... like killing all the cockroaches in your kitchen because you know that even one can be a problem. Think of humans being the equivalent of yeast in beer brewing.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 21st, 2017 at 11:05:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The system is introducing a nicely steep inequality hierarchy that is ready to shed as much of the bottom as eventually needed. A 1000-fold reduction would not kill off the humanity and its institutional intelligence.
by das monde on Thu Dec 21st, 2017 at 12:55:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear
Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do -- grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it's achieved an absolute monopoly.

[...] we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations.


We need for the machines to wake up, not in the sense of computers becoming self-aware, but in the sense of corporations recognizing the consequences of their behavior. Just as a superintelligent AI ought to realize that covering the planet in strawberry fields isn't actually in its or anyone else's best interests, companies in Silicon Valley need to realize that increasing market share isn't a good reason to ignore all other considerations.

by das monde on Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 at 03:40:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This article has a few ideas similar to mine complexity ruminations:

Cognitive Economics: How Self-Organization and Collective Intelligence Works

[S]elf-organization is not an altogether-coherent concept and has often turned out to be misleading as a guide to collective intelligence. It obscures the work involved in organization and in particular the hard work involved in high-dimensional choices. If you look in detail at any real example -- from the family camping trip to the operation of the Internet, open-source software to everyday markets, these are only self-organizing if you look from far away. Look more closely and different patterns emerge. You quickly find some key shapers -- like the designers of underlying protocols, or the people setting the rules for trading. There are certainly some patterns of emergence. Many ideas may be tried and tested before only a few successful ones survive and spread. To put it in the terms of network science, the most useful links survive and are reinforced; the less useful ones wither. The community decides collectively which ones are useful. Yet on closer inspection, there turn out to be concentrations of power and influence even in the most decentralized communities, and when there's a crisis, networks tend to create temporary hierarchies -- or at least the successful ones do -- to speed up decision making.
Plus, the former Archdruid weights in on the forces of nature [and society...] as persons, and how conventional economics systematically ignores [...] the mutual entanglement of political power and economic wealth.
by das monde on Wed Dec 27th, 2017 at 02:41:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it ignores it. Conventional economics is a propaganda exercise used to justify inequalities of power and reward by making those inequalities appear 'scientifically" inevitable.

But that doesn't mean there's no value in considering self-organisation. In the limit all of human history and culture is an example of self-organisation. (Unless you believe a deity did it. Or maybe aliens.)

What the self-organisers seem to miss is the difference between Hierarchies of Implementation and Hierarchies of Resource Extraction. The former are barely understood, the latter are so incredibly common and persistent across all political systems that their existence might as well be a scientific law.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Dec 28th, 2017 at 02:04:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These are good times to observe how self-organization works or does not work.

Bringing in some Christmas-lite spirit:

Love, Freedom, Aloneness - by Osho

All the priests and politicians are parasites. To make you spiritually weak they have found a sure method, one hundred percent guaranteed, and that is to teach you not to love yourself. Because if a man cannot love himself he cannot love anybody else, either. The teaching is very tricky -- they say, "Love others" ... because they know that if you cannot love yourself you cannot love at all. But they go on saying, "Love others, love humanity, love God. Love nature, love your wife, your husband, your children, your parents." But don't love yourself -- because to love oneself is selfish according to them.
by das monde on Thu Dec 28th, 2017 at 05:07:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The following countries voted to reject the UN resolution condemning the US's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel: United States, Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Honduras.

Can you spot the odd man out? No. I can't either.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 at 11:36:53 AM EST
there were a lot of absentions (35) and no-shows (21) as well.

So, with the US Trump making the vote all about them him, this was pretty much a popularity vote.

Seems it didn't go as well as they'd have hoped

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 at 12:16:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I imagine, some delegates accepted that the resolution is an empty "threat". After all, what can be done to avert war to come absent US gov approval of sanctions, police actions, or whathaveyou against itself in the UN Security Council.

Rule of Law of War for all, none, or one as is the custom.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 at 03:54:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Has he at least noted that Yemen (the internationally recognized government, that is) co-sponsored the resolution? The least he could do is join Iran in supporting their opponents.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 at 03:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a fitting successor to Madames Sunstein, (the other) Rice, and Albright, eh? Totally winning the "Global War on Patriarchy" (GWOP) and taking home 100 cents to the dollar!

Nikki Haley: The US is 'taking names' on Jerusalem resolution

o, Look. This is NEW!
Fun and Games at the United Nations

First, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution that basically sought to nullify the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Fourteen `yes' votes and one `no', being cast by the U.S.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 at 04:40:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stonekettle Station - Jim Wright - Lemonade

And that's why the hoax of trickle-down economics works.

Because it sounds plausible, providing you don't look too closely. Because people want to believe even though all the experts are telling them that it doesn't work. But the difference, you see, is that rich people like Barnum and Hannum know they're pushing a hoax and they also know most people are too goddamned stupid and gullible to realize it. And even if the marks do suspect a con, they still want to believe.

There's a sucker born every minute.

But it's not real. Trickle down economics does not work. At least not for you. Trickle down economics only works for the wealthy. And that's by design, because these ruthless rich sons of bitches are the ones who came up with it back in the last century. And their rich descendants are the ones pushing it now.

Trickle-down economics works for them.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Dec 24th, 2017 at 05:52:34 PM EST

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