Deep Mind wins at Go; Possible Republican Strategies; Thinking About AI an humans; Feminine Glaciers; and more

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, March 10, 2016

“This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Barrack Obama

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.

Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.


Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo beat a word class – some would sat world champion – professional Go master two games in a row; the first win was surprising, the second astonishing. South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol was certainly astonished. It had been assumed previously that it would take years for a computer program to win at Go, since Go requires a far more subtle strategic sense than chess. The algorithm for the AlphaGo program is essentially self-teaching: the program plays against good players, using random strategies and moves until it is fairly good at the game, after which two copies of the program play against each other, learning from each game. It is anthromorphising to say the program begins to understand the game, but that is what it seems like.

The implications for Artificial Intelligence are profound. Go has long been considered a far more difficult game to master than chess; some thought that a computer would never beat a Go Master.


We move to the next phase of the Republican nomination process; Trump tries to be more Presidential, Cruz moderates his vicious attacks on Trump, and leaves the negative campaigning to the main stream media, possibly supplemented by PACs; but the MSM can be relied on to be sure the attacks on Trump are unremitting.

The country club Republicans are faced with a problem; how to nominate one of their own, when Trump gathers more delegates than they can, given that 2/3 of the party does not want to go where they have been leading. The Republicans cannot win if Mr. Trumps 1/3 of the party simply stays home; but then Trump cannot beat Hillary if the country club third sits it out – or for that matter, if Cruz’s quarter to a third doesn’t play.

Romney’s strange appearance with his anti-Trump blast was a declaration of war, and indicates that some of the establishment thinks that if they can get the nomination for Mr. Romney – this time for sure! — by attracting all the “I’m not Trump” votes they are still in the game. And a number of them would rather be in opposition in a Hillary/Democrat regime than see Trump win.

I would think they – and all of us – would be better with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress and Trump in the White House. There would be much negotiation – deals – but the result is likely to be as successful as when Speaker Newt Gingrich negotiated with President Bill Clinton to yield cuts in entitlements, and a balanced budget. That certainly beats what happened after Newt gave to speakership to someone else and it was Republican Speakers negotiating with a Republican President, and we slid into an ever more massive debt.

Interesting times. Republican leaders probably win if they can work together, and lose otherwise. Meanwhile the rest of us don’t have much choice but to keep taking it as matters are decided in smoke filled rooms…


Google AI leaves world Go champion ‘grim and ashen’ after second game (MN)

By Ethan Baron / March 10, 2016 at 11:32 AM

After his second straight loss to a computer, world Go champion Lee Sedol would do well to ignore comments made by the last guy to get whupped by Google’s AlphaGo program in the ancient Chinese board game. “In China, Go is not just a game. It is also a mirror on life,” Fan Hui, Go champion in Europe, told the journal Nature after losing to AlphaGo in October.  “We say if you have a problem with your game, maybe you also have a problem in life.”

Lee, as a Korean, and a winner of 18 world Go championships, may be immune to such thinking — but if he loses the next game in the best-of-five series, he loses out on the $1 million prize, and that’s bound to hurt.

AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence program developed in Google’s DeepMind unit, vanquished Lee in games on Wednesday and Thursday in Seoul, South Korea.

“Yesterday I was surprised but today it’s more than that — I am speechless,” Lee said in a press conference after his second beat-down. “I admit that it was a very clear loss on my part. From the very beginning of the game I did not feel like there was a point that I was leading.”

The New York Times described Lee as “grim and ashen” following Thursday’s defeat.

AlphaGo’s conquests demonstrate the astounding advance of AI technology — it had been widely believed in computer science communities that AI was a decade away from beating a top Go player.

Lee and AlphaGo now have a one-day break, with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday.

“The third game is not going to be easy for me,” Lee said.

Google has said that if its software wins the match, the $1 million prize will go to UNICEF, Go associations and charities.


A picture of one possible future:

The Skills of Human Interaction Will Become Most Valuable in the Future    (nyt)

Geoff Colvin, a senior editor at large for Fortune Magazine, is the author of “Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will.”

March 9, 2016

AlphaGo’s victory over Go champion Lee Se-dol reportedly shocked artificial intelligence experts, who thought such an event was 10 to 15 years away. But if the timing was a surprise, the outcome was not. On the contrary, it was inevitable and entirely foreseeable. 

Playing complex games, even the most complex game ever invented, is precisely what computers do supremely well. Just as they beat the world champions at checkers and then chess, they were destined to beat the champion at Go. It’s a game of clear rules, and while winning required new forms of computing that rely on a computer that can learn from experience, a machine will eventually best all humans at tasks of this kind.

Yet I don’t believe, as some do, that human defeats like this one presage an era of mass unemployment in which awesomely able computers leave most of us with nothing to do. Advancing technology will profoundly change the nature of high-value human skills and that is threatening, but we aren’t doomed. 

The skills of deep human interaction, the abilities to manage the exchanges that occur only between people, will only become more valuable. Three of these skills stand out: The first, the foundation of the rest, is empathy, which is more than just feeling someone else’s pain. It’s the ability to discern what another person is thinking or feeling, whatever it may be, and to respond in an appropriate way. 

The second is creative problem solving in groups. Research on group effectiveness shows that the key isn’t team cohesion or motivation or even the smartest member’s IQ; rather, it’s the social sensitivity of the members, their ability to read one another and keep anyone from dominating. 

The third critical ability, somewhat surprisingly, is storytelling, which has not traditionally been valued by organizations. Charts, graphs and data analysis will continue to be important, but that’s exactly what technology does so well. To change people’s minds or inspire them to act, tell them a story.

These skills, though basic to our humanity, are fundamentally different from the skills that have been the basis of economic progress for most of human history: Logic, knowledge and analysis, which we learned from textbooks and in classrooms, are now skills being commoditized by advancing technology. By contrast, the skills of deep human interaction address the often irrational reality of how human beings behave, and we find them not in textbooks but inside ourselves. As computers master ever more complexity, that’s where we’ll find the source of our continued value.


American Workers Rank Last in Problem Solving with Technology     (journal)

  • By 
  • Steve Rosenbush
    •   Good morning. Much has been written about the trouble that American companies have finding and retaining tech workers. It seems that this skills gap, which is at the top of the agenda for many CIOs, reflects a much deeper problem in the U.S., where workers rank last among 18 industrialized countries when it comes to using technology to solve problems.

The consequences of that emerging competitive disadvantage are energizing the volatile undercurrent of this year’s presidential race, the WSJ reports.

Stephen Provasnik, the U.S. technical adviser for the International Assessment for Adult Competency said the results of a global survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reflect flagging literacy and numeracy skills, which are the fundamental tools needed to score well on the survey. “This is the only country in the world where it’s OK to say ‘I’m not good at math,’ ” he said. “That’s just not acceptable in a place like Japan.” CIOs, how is the skills gap affecting your organization?


Good news for geeks?

Dear Jerry:

I laughed out loud on reading your post about the Florida Senate treating computer coding as a foreign language. A Senator is quoted as saying “It’s ahead of its time….”

Such subterfuge to avoid learning to speak and read a foreign language has been in place for more than half a century.

In September 1964, Brown university changed its language requirements for the Ph. D. in physics. We were allowed to substitute a knowledge of Fortran for one of the two foreign languages previously required of Ph. D. candidates. Thanks to my undergraduate German classes, I managed to test out of one language by translating a scientific paper from German to English. For my second language I took Applied Math 101 (Digital Computer Programming) and Applied Math 102 (Theory of Advanced Programming). The first was mostly a course in Fortran using the IBM mainframe. I never saw a computer, just green coding sheets that someone else keypunched. The 2nd course was mostly in SNOBOL using a teletype terminal connected to a mainframe some fifty miles away in Cambridge, Mass. Thus, I satisfied the requirement for two foreign languages in my first year of graduate studies.

I remain largely illiterate in foreign languages. Fortunately my son did not inherit my aversion to languages as he works overseas and is fluent in the language of the countries he works in thanks to intensive courses provided by the American government.

In this case, the federal government knows far better than the schools (or at least far better than the Florida Senate) why real foreign languages are important and why computer coding is not a valid substitute.

No doubt there will be squabbling in Florida about what constitutes computer coding. I’m helping my granddaughter program her Lego robots using the Lego Labview system. It’s a purely visual programming environment without a single line of traditional code.

Best regards,

–Harry M.

making learning a software program equal to learning a foreign language

Very Very Very important.

By the time kids leave high school they should know at least one 4th generation language such as python, enough electronics to understand and use an embedded microprocessor system, how to layout a printed circuit board, and how to design and 3D print physical objects.

There is more opportunity to design new things than ever before, but you much speak the language!

Phil Tharp


Hack Brief: ISIS Data Breach Identifies 22,000 Mem
May they all soon serve a useful purpose as fertilizer…

Robert Glaub



: FBI Problems

Well this is amusing. Funny how corruption is openly discussed in the news like it is in every third world nation I’ve lived in.


The aggressive posture of the FBI under Director James Comey is becoming a political problem for the White House.

The FBI’s demand that Apple help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers has outraged Silicon Valley, a significant source of political support for President Obama and Democrats.

Comey, meanwhile, has stirred tensions by linking rising violent crime rates to the Black Lives Matter movement’s focus on police violence and by warning about “gaps” in the screening process for Syrian refugees.

Then there’s the biggest issue of all: the FBI’s investigation into the private email server used by Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former secretary of State and the leading contender to win the Democratic presidential nomination.


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo


Feminine glaciers & global climate warming change

Glacier ice examined as a double-X chromosome entity adversely influenced by masculine-induced-colonialism climate change… or something.
From the actual abstract:
“Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.”
PJ Media has more
Link to the press release from the university
Jim Nations


Why Jeff Bezos is finally ready to talk about taking people to space (WP)

By Christian Davenport March 8 at 6:58 PM

KENT, Washington—The company has been secretive so long that even the spokesperson who greeted the media for a tour here Tuesday said, “You’re not dreaming… you are really at the Blue Origin headquarters.”

On a tour of the facility, Jeff Bezos, who founded the company in 2000, and who talks about the day “when millions of people are living and working in space,” showed off the expansive manufacturing site—and the space collection he has amassed over the years.

The lobby has a model of the Star Trek Enterprise that was used in the original motion picture. There is a Russian space suit on display and a proposed space station that was never built. Quotes, including one by Leonardo da Vinci, line the walls.

But the entrance is not the main attraction. As he approached the factory floor, where the company builds its New Shepard vehicle and rocket engines, Bezos said, “here’s where the magic happens.” (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

After some recent test flights that successfully flew to the edge of space, and then landed, Bezos said the company may be ready to fly passengers in 2018 if everything goes according to plan. It is aiming to begin test flights with humans next year.

Since the vehicle would fly autonomously, the test pilots would really be more like test passengers, there to pay attention to the customer experience, he said. Is the flight too noisy? Is it comfortable? Then, once the company is confident in the safety and reliability of the pilotless vehicle, paying passengers—Bezos did not reveal a price— could climb aboard to fly just past the boundary of space, see the curvature of the Earth through large windows, and then unbuckle from their seats to experience a few minutes of weightlessness.

Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s company, also plans to take tourists to the edge of space. Virgin has said its goal is to become the world’s first space line. Asked if Blue Origin wanted to be first, Bezos said: “I want us to be safe. If we end up being first that would be fine. But that’s not the goal.”

But before those flights happen, he said, “We’ll test the every living day lights out of this thing.”

Last April, the company completed the first successful test flight of New Shepard, when it reached Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, and soared 58 miles high, very nearly to what’s considered the edge of space. Then, in November, it launched again. This time it passed the boundary of space, and it also was able to land the first stage of its rocket back on land. Then last month, it launched and landed the same first stage—showing that it could be flown more than once.

Bezos has called reusable rockets the “Holy Grail” of space flight. For decades the first stages of rockets, used to generate the massive thrust needed to escape Earth’s gravity, were ditched into the ocean after powering the spacecraft toward space, never to be used again. But Bezos and others, including SpaceX’s Elon Musk, have been working to develop rockets that would fly, and land, so that they could be reused. Only about 550 people have been to space, and if Bezos and others can successfully perfect the art of rocket recycling, it could lead to a dramatic reduction in the cost of space flight—and potentially open up the cosmos to the masses.

Asked why the company was finally opening up after all these years, Bezos said his motto was “we’ll talk about Blue Origin when we have something to talk about.”

“Space is really easy to overhype,” he continued. “There are very few things in the world where the ratio of attention you get to what you’ve actually done, can be extreme.”

Nobody paid much attention to Amazon in its first years, either.


GE wants to use CO2 pollution to make huge solar batteries

Two big problems have been vexing environmental scientists for decades: How to store solar energy for later use, and what to do with CO2 that’s been captured and sequestered from coal plants? Scientists from General Electric (GE) could solve both those problems at once by using CO2 as a giant “battery” to hold excess energy. The idea is to use solar power from mirrors to heat salt with a concentrated mirror array like the one at the Ivanpah solar plant in California. Meanwhile, CO2 stored underground from, say, a coal plant is cooled to a solid dry ice state using excess grid power.

When extra electricity is needed at peak times, especially after the sun goes down, the heated salt can be tapped to warm up the solid CO2 to a “supercritical” state between a gas and solid. It’s then funneled into purpose built turbines (from GE, naturally) which can rapidly generate power. The final “sunrotor” design (a prototype is shown below) would be able to generate enough energy to power 100,000 homes, according to GE.

The design could also tap wasted heat from gas-fired power plants, making them more efficient. GE senior engineer Stephen Sanborn thinks such a scheme would more than double the output of those systems, reducing the cost from $250 per megawatt-hour to $100. “It is so cheap because you are not making the energy, you are taking the energy from the sun or the turbine exhaust, storing it and transferring it,” he says. In addition, the system would return up to 68 percent of the stored energy back to the grid, much more than the 61 percent of current gas-fired systems.

While the system is complex and requires expertise in refrigeration, heat-transfer, energy storage and chemical engineering, GE has in-house researchers in all those fields. In the short term, the technology could make gas plants 25 to 50 percent more efficient by tapping exhaust waste, significantly reducing CO2 output. Looking ahead, Sanborn thinks that the energy storage system could be put into commercial use in as little as five to 10 years. “We’re not talking about three car batteries here,” he says. “The result is a high-efficiency, high-performance renewable energy system that will reduce the use of fossil fuels for power generation.”


‘How did the Vikings turn wool into functional sailcloth?’



Roland Dobbins



This thing makes the Aardvark look like a masterpiece of aeronautical engineering.



Roland Dobbins


As a long time advocate of nuclear fission power, I find this interesting; as cost/benefit analysis date it is priceless.  Three Mile Island was an unintended test to destruction; expensive, but bearable.  This was another.

Failed Risk Analysis that Felled Fukushima (EE Times)

Junko Yoshida

3/8/2016 00:01 AM EST 

It’s been five years since a massive 2011 earthquake hit Japan, including a devastating tsunami that led to the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

So, where stands the aftermath of the power plant disaster? Has the crisis subsided? Or has official Japan — as so often happens — papered over lingering problems with news reports that insist, “No one was killed by radiation, because levels outside the plant itself were too low”?

More important, what lessons, if any, have we learned?

EE Times, five years ago, published a special digital edition, entitled “The Day the Lights Went Out in Japan.”

Failed Risk Analysis that Felled Fukushima (EE Times)

No argument in the least. In fact it pretty much emphasizes my point. If the danger is unpredictable and can go long periods of time in between cropping up, humans will ignore it in favor of the benefits found in the site. Never mind the destruction that can be wreaked when the danger turns back up again.

IIRC, there were ancient monuments near one of the populated areas destroyed by the tsunami, commemorating the dead of a prior tsunami. Said monuments were ignored by the locals, because “they’d always been there.”
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”

Failed Risk Analysis that Felled Fukushima (EE Times)

The problem I have with both people like Prof. Ewing and government reactions in the western world is I don’t trust them. They all have agendas. Nuclear power is the devil incarnate to these folks. No mention of the comparative damage of say, fluorine plant leaks and how many people they kill.  I suspect, but have no proof, that cleaning up and containing the mess is much easier than they are making it sound. I also don’t like the idea that it happened, we think, 1000 years ago, therefore build to that spec. By those standards, we should all have private Arks to protect against the next global flood. I think Fukushima was very well designed and next time they will put the backup generators on higher ground or even go to some other form of power that is not susceptible to flooding.  






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




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