Chaos Manor View, Friday, July 17, 2015
“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
“This is known as ‘bad luck’.”
– Robert A. Heinlein
After this great glaciation, a succession of smaller glaciations has followed, each separated by about 100,000 years from its predecessor, according to changes in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit (a fact first discovered by the astronomer Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630). These periods of time when large areas of the Earth are covered by ice sheets are called “ice ages.” The last of the ice ages in human experience (often referred to as the Ice Age) reached its maximum roughly 20,000 years ago, and then gave way to warming. Sea level rose in two major steps, one centered near 14,000 years and the other near 11,500 years. However, between these two periods of rapid melting there was a pause in melting and sea level rise, known as the “Younger Dryas” period. During the Younger Dryas the climate system went back into almost fully glacial conditions, after having offered balmy conditions for more than 1000 years. The reasons for these large swings in climate change are not yet well understood.
Chaos Manor Reviews returns. http://chaosmanorreviews.com/ There will be regular posts and limited comments. We’re back…
This continues to be my daybook, and will have more general topics; Chaos Manor Reviews will be pretty well to confined to technology, including experiments where I do silly things so that you don’t have to.
It’s 1610 and Time Warner has slowed the Internet for me; it took three attempts to post this, and other things take forever.
Yet another update to be installed on the Surface Pro 3; not sure I understand that but I’ll do it. Since I never see a build number anymore, I am presuming that this is a release copy.
The installation went smoothly; had to enter user names and passwords for some of the upstairs machines. but they seem to be available just fine. Internet works fine now, so the Time Warner daily lag time is over; given the years when I had to resort to all kinds of tricks including a satellite link to get high speed Internet in this Studio City dead zone, I really shouldn’t complain about a half hour of delays and washouts each day. The rest of the time it just works, without problems.
Preliminary examination shows the Surface Pro 3 is working nicely, Internet connections solid, internal network implemented OK. I’ll start taking it to the breakfast table next week, so I won’t need the big magnifying glass to read the newspapers; I can find what I want in the printed copy and get it on the computer where I can adjust the type size. It’s still hard to browse the paper on line; I far prefer to do that on the printed copy. But individual articles are in too small a print for me to read comfortably; and with OneNote it’s easy to make my notes on the articles and get them into the daybook. I wish I could type, and I wonder how long it will take to train Precious, but she has larger keys. My problem is that I hit two keys at a time and must correct each sentence, and that takes a while. Autocorrect can be trained to do much of that, and I’ve got this machine pretty well trained, but of course two key pressed words can be ambiguous. But for unambiguous words auto correct works fine – except that it’s harder to do in Word 365 which is on the Pro. It’s much easier in Word 7. Maybe one day Microsoft will figure that out.
Checking the MacBook Pro: splat-k (command-k) revealed most of the machines on the internal net, but failed to see Alien Artifact, which is really my main machine. I had just turned off the wireless on the MacBook Pro and let it automatically go to Ethernet, which it did just fine; splat-k showed the Pro could see all the other machines except Alien Artifact. Thought about it a bit and typed in smb://Alien Artifact, which after searching it told me it could not find, and neither did the trouble shooter; tried smb://AlienArtifact and all was well. As usual, with Macs things are very simple, or impossible; actually you can add tedious to that list, and it helps to have access to a Unix guru. I would never have believed you could make an operating system understood by the people out of UNIX, but Apple has done so.
The name Alien Artifact comes from Eric: we built him in an elegant but complex Thermaltake case, which is handsome, big, cool, very quiet, and very easily inspires the name. I like it, but I suppose I am going to have to come up with a shorter name, except this seems so appropriate.
Now that we have reliable Wi-Fi and Ethernet in the back room where the TV resides, it’s time to get an X Box. Microsoft sent me one of the early ones but I seldom used it, and I never did enough with consoles to justify getting another; but they are now doing a lot to make your TV more useful, so I suppose I can investigate. We’ll see. Recall that this is the day book; full reports in Chaos Manor Reviews.
Intel says that the doubling time in Moore’s Law is now closer to two and a half years than two; this is trivial, of course, unless you are a stock trader. The important thing is that the doubling time for computer power remains an exponential, and if the doubling time changes, so does what is doubled. As shown in our Strategy of Technology showed back in 1970, technology progress generally follows a logistics curve – an ogive or S curve – and eventually will end, whereupon a new S curve generally begins, with slow progress at first; think of the top speed of aircraft as an example. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/07/16/intel-rechisels-the-tablet-on-moores-law/
Global warming and volcanoes
Subject : Global warming and volcanoes
Regarding the connection between volcanoes and temporary climate change; I think it’s worth noting that an eruption large enough to cause major disruption to the climate (even for a year or two, a la Tambora) is likely also to disrupt efforts to ameliorate the bad effects on people, such as famine and disease.
The reason is very simple. Volcanic eruptions and air transport don’t mix very well. The relatively minor eruption in Iceland a few years ago, that massively disrupted air travel across the whole of Europe, is a good example of that. A supervolcano eruption, quite apart from its catastrophic effects on climate, would probably ground virtually all aircraft for years.
A decent systems analysis of what threatens civilization and mankind would have us spending taxes on a far different schedule of preferences, but that’s not how government – at least this kind of government – works.
The next frontier for artificial intelligence? Learning humans’ common sense (ZD)
Spain’s artificial intelligence research institute is looking at teaching robots to know their limits, but think human-level AI is a way away just yet.
Nearly half a century has passed between the release of the films 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Transcendence (2014), in which a quirky scientist’s consciousness is uploaded into a computer. Despite being 50 years apart, their plots, however, are broadly similar. Science fiction stories continue to imagine the arrival of human-like machines that rebel against their creators and gain the upper hand in battle.
In the field of artificial intelligence (AI) research, over the last 30 years, progress has been similarly slower than expected.
While AI is increasingly part of our everyday lives – in our phones or cars – and computers process large amounts of data, they still lack human-level capacity to make deductions from the information they’re given. People can read different sections of a newspaper and understand them, grasp the consequences and implications of a story. Just by interacting with their environment, humans acquire experience that gives them tacit knowledge. Today’s machines simply don’t have that kind of ability. Yet.
There is considerable more, and it is not a bad summary
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.