Busy busy, busy; polygraphs; will our cell phones be smarter that we are?

Chaos Manor View Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Niven and Barnes were over for a story conference, and we went to lunch at Ahi Sushi. Excellent lunch. Our Avalon novel is coming along nicely, and it’s time for me to do some of the work.

Thursday, April 23, 2015 : did a lot of reading and catching up, neglecting this place. I don’t much feel inspired by the news. There is an inevitability to what’s happening in the Middle East. And the European Union has filed a lawsuit against Gazprom for trade discrimination or some such.

Meanwhile, the first two volumes of There Will Be War, my anthology series, is about to be released. The essays are dated, being written in the days when the Cold War was a serious threat. The first two volumes will be available as an eBook in a week or so – final proofing is being done now – and a hardbound print edition of the first two volumes in a short time.


I’m one of the proof readers. I have been amazed at how well most of the stories – it is more fiction than essays, after all – have held up. And the essays on principles of strategy are after all, only dated in their examples, not truth. They are as valid as they ever were.

And I’m working on 2020 Visions.  We’ll have that available in a couple of weeks.



Lie Detectors?

Iran’s intentions could be clarified if the Supreme Leader and/or other prominent government officials had to take lie detector tests

Seriously?   I mean, isn’t the fact that “lie detectors” are as useful as ‘e-meters’, and a voodoo priest has better accuracy common knowledge?

Isn’t this why a fundamental rule of intelligence analysis is “Capabilities, not Intent”?

But considering that Iran has been less than 2 years from breakout for the past 30 years, there clearly *hasn’t* been any intent.

Best regards,

Mike Lieman

Well. that’s not strictly true.  Polygraphs – true polygraph, not the trick kits – with face and hand temperature and accurate measurements of breath and heart rate can give very good evidence of stress no matter how good the subject is concealing it. Inducing stress, and interpreting what it means.  My first job at the University of Washington was as a tech assistant to Dr. Albert Ax, who pretty well founded modern polygraphs. We did extensive studies on veterans at the VA hospital, and Al’s paper on the physiological differentiation of fear and anger was a classic.

Our equipment was primitive – vacuum tubes, 6L6’s not transistors, noise filters, very primitive – but we got results.  Again, interpreting those results is a skill, and takes experience to learn.  Things have got much better since the days of Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) using Wheatstone bridge circuits.

The same is true of Voice Stress Analysis equipment, which I not has gone off the radar, but still exists and I would assume makes use of modern computing power. Whether anyone at State knows of them or pays any attention to them is another story. I wouldn’t know.

Obviously diplomats will develop considerable self control if they stay in service – just as poker players had better if they are to stay in the game  — but very few can conceal all signs of stress from well designed equipment.  I would presume the Agency if no one else is aware of this.



The Internet of things doesn’t — and shouldn’t — exist


An open, fully connected environment is impossible and dangerous, which is why IoT is really a collection of separate networks

InfoWorld | Apr 21, 2015

A highly connected world where devices of all sorts intelligently use sensor data to be more efficient, adjust to changing conditions, prevent or at least flag problems, and optimize performance of themselves, workflows, and even personal health — that is the vision of the Internet of things.

Mobile security: iOS vs. Android vs. BlackBerry vs. Windows Phone

Google’s Android for Work promises serious security, but how does it stack up against Apple’s iOS and

Read Now

It’s a great vision, but despite all the hype in the last year, it does not — and may never — exist.

An intriguing subject of thought.  Yet I can imagine my car calling to warn me that I’m spending too much and will get him repossessed…


EU investigation of Google

the article you quoted talks about Google ‘seizing control of the opensource ecosystem’ from the manufacturers.
It conveniently ignores how those same manufacturers have been leaving customers in a lurch by locking down phones so they can’t be upgraded without the manufacturers assistance (and then not releasing any updates), loading down the phones with unremovable bloatware, etc.
I’m not saying that Google is entirely in the right, but the article was rather biased

David Lang

I posted it because it was interesting, not because I agreed with it. I often do that when I have not thought through a news article. It gets me comments from people like you who have given it some thought.


Intel Compute Stick now available: $149 for Windows version, $110 for Linux (ZD)

Summary:After debuting its PC-on-a-HDMI-adapter at CES, the chip giant is readying it for shipment — and has already delivered the first wave of units to tech reviewers.

By Sean Portnoy for Laptops & Desktops | April 23, 2015 — 05:10 GMT (22:10 PDT)

The concept of a “PC stick” — a processor and RAM embedded into a gum-pack-sized device that can connect to your HDTV via an HDMI connection — is nothing new, but when a company like Intel embraces the concept, a lot more people start paying attention.



A Blueprint for Your Digital Afterlife


We all know that we’re going to die someday. But what happens to our digital life after we’re gone?

A few months ago, a friend’s mother suddenly passed away. Her iPhone 5s was password protected, but no one knew the code. She had recently visited my friend and his family and used the iPhone to take several pictures with family members. Sadly, these are some of the last photos my friend has of his mother, but they’re all stuck on her iPhone.

Since then, my friend has been working with Apple to try to gain access to the photos. As the representative of his mother’s estate, he thought the process would be straightforward, but it is proving to be anything but.



The coming problem of our iPhones being more intelligent than us (WP)

By Vivek Wadhwa April 23 at 8:05 AM

Ray Kurzweil made a startling prediction in 1999 that appears to be coming true: that by 2023 a $1,000 laptop would have the computing power and storage capacity of a human brain.  He also predicted that Moore’s Law, which postulates that the processing capability of a computer doubles every 18 months, would apply for 60 years — until 2025 — giving way then to new paradigms of technological change.

Kurzweil, a renowned futurist and the director of engineering at Google, now says that the hardware needed to emulate the human brain may be ready even sooner than he predicted — in around 2020 — using technologies such as graphics processing units (GPUs), which are ideal for brain-software algorithms. He predicts that the complete brain software will take a little longer: until about 2029.

The implications of all this are mind-boggling.  Within seven years — about when the iPhone 11 is likely to be released — the smartphones in our pockets will be as computationally intelligent as we are. It doesn’t stop there, though.  These devices will continue to advance, exponentially, until they exceed the combined intelligence of the human race. Already, our computers have a big advantage over us: they are connected via the Internet and share information with each other billions of times faster than we can. It is hard to even imagine what becomes possible with these advances and what the implications are.

Doubts are understandable about the longevity of Moore’s Law and the practicability of these advances. There are limits, after all, to how much transistors can be shrunk: nothing can be smaller than an atom.  Even short of this physical limit, there will be many other technological hurdles. Intel acknowledges these limits but suggests that Moore’s Law can keep going for another five to 10 years.  So the silicon-based computer chips in our laptops will likely sputter their way to match the power of a human brain.

Kurzweil says Moore’s Law isn’t the be-all and end-all of computing and that the advances will continue regardless of what Intel can do with silicon. Moore’s Law itself was just one of five paradigms in computing: electromechanical, relay, vacuum tube, discrete transistor, and integrated circuits. In his (1999) “Law of Accelerating Returns,” Kurzweil explains that technology has been advancing exponentially since the advent of evolution on Earth and that computing power has been rising exponentially: from the mechanical calculating devices used in the 1890 U.S. Census, via the machines that cracked the Nazi enigma code, the CBS vacuum-tube computer, the transistor-based machines used in the first space launches, and more recently the integrated-circuit-based personal computer.

He goes on to describe S-curves, which Possony and I described in some detail in Strategy of Technology in 1969. Of course computing technology increases, but you can only compute what you have some understanding of; although data mining may be a counter example.  We have discovered some laws by accident. Statistical dragnets can be useful.  They can also be deceiving.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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