Chaos Manor View, Tuesday, June 02, 2015

I have an appointment with the podiatrist in a few minutes, and tomorrow Niven and Barnes and I will Skype with Dr. Jack Cohen about or new interstellar colony novel. (Sequel to the best-selling Legacy of Heorot Which means this will have to be short


Back from me Kaiser visit, looking forward to Skype with Dr. Jack tomorrow.  My Kindle was dead at Kaiser, and when I came home and charged it, it was still dead. Fussed for about an hour with no success, went on line and Amazon basically told me to do what I had already done, to wit hold the power button down a long time and then try to start. Nope. Dead. Got on line with Raj at Amazon HELP (find contact us and choose chat – at least I did since I don’t hear well on the phone. Raj told me to hold the power button down for a long time. I’d already done that but I did it again.  Told him it was still dead.  He sent for help and I got Rahib, who told me to hold the power button down for a long time.  Did that and told him.

He decided the Kindle was dead, and outside the one year warranty – but he could offer me a discount on a new one.  One of the offers was foe a larger newer model at some discount. Also had larger memory. It will come Friday with a box prepaid to ship the old one back.

So my old Kindle Fire lasted about 2 years. Worked just fine, died suddenly – was working perfectly and then just wouldn’t turn on.  The button seemed sluggish so after I did all the other attempts I sprayed in zero-residue contact cleaner. Seemed the button was looser but that may have been me, but it still wouldn’t turn on. And I was horrified at the thought of not having a Kindle. Well, it won’t be more than a couple of days.

Went by the UPS Store box and was horrified to learn that I hadn’t paid the bill or visited the place in a while. I’ve paid and I am recording some subscriptions that lay there far too long: apologies. While there I practiced putting the walker in the car, and when we got home I got it out again and came in by myself.  Triumph.  Next thing is to drive my own car.

Tomorrow I Skype and conference.  I have much mail asking for advice on what the heck is going on in the country and I’m trying to work on that, but the situation is complex.  The trigger happy crowd uses proof by repeated assassination as their debate tactic; say anything disturbing to them and they scream and leap.  Rational debate becomes impossible, which is why I no longer appear in many places I used to visit; just to many scream and leap young people who learned it from their teachers.  It’s depressing.

And the crime rate goes up as “Broken window” policing is abandoned by cops who just want to retire;  places that respect police get policed, while Baltimore murder rates, generally of blacks killed by blacks, soars. It was all predicted, but it’s depressing all the same.


Isis and Iraq 

Dear Dr. Pournelle, 
There are a couple of articles on the subject I believe you will find of interest. 
The first is an article on the role of western intelligence — especially, Turkey — in fostering ISIS
The second is a discussion of the failures of the Iraqi army
So, from these things I draw a few conclusions:
1) No one in Iraq is willing to fight for the central government; that is how 150 fighters can route 5000 men armed and supplied by the US. The Peshmerga will fight for Kurdistan, the Shiites will fight for their neighborhoods, the Sunnis will fight for themselves. They’re all fighting each other, but no one’s interested in the central government. 
2) Our own ability to pick and choose winners in these struggles is extremely limited; many of the “moderates” we pick turn out to be extremists, and the real moderates are badly handicapped by US policies.  
Unfortunately, we can’t simply leave this mess alone; leaving them alone won’t stop them from, say, hijacking airplanes and flying in the buildings. That’s the problem with peace — the other side has to be willing to let you surrender and leave the field. That can’t happen. Like it or not, Saudi Arabia et al are part of the world economy, all that oil makes that part of the world important, and Israel is still there just waiting to eat a hydrogen bomb from the first non-Jewish people able to develop one and crazy enough to use it. 
So we can’t simply walk away from this.  
Nor do we, as a country, have the will to send in the troops and occupy Iraq and Syria long-term.  It’s what the Romans would have done, but we won’t.
So what’s left? The only thing I can think of is hope from some Bonapartish military dictator who wants to rule the whole mess , and allow him to conquer the territory, imposing his rule on the restive minorities by brute force.  Saddam II, in other words.  And then HE will be a security threat as well. 
Another alternative: Instead of trying to construct a healthy Iraq, deliberately destabilize the situation further, so that the entire region tears itself apart. If they’re busy killing each other they won’t have time to plot terrorist actions against Israel or the US.   The downside of that is , eventually, all civil wars end, often with the most extreme and virulent group triumphant.  
I’m leaning towards a Saddam II, if we can find one.  Seems a pity we killed the last one.
Creating a western democracy in Iraq, a la West Germany or Japan, would have been ideal. However, for roughly the same time we occupied Japan and Germany, we failed utterly to recreate those conditions. Why?  Do we have the will to try again?
Somehow I doubt it.
So in the absence of full-scale invasion and occupation, we are reduced to a hunt for proxies who won’t do what we want but will be marginally less bad than the alternatives.
What do you think?

Brian P.

I tried to warn them before Bush I invaded. And we have neither the will nor the means to govern Iraq; never did. We could have created a puppet regime, but we could not use the US Army to govern it; governing by Marines might have worked, but we didn’t try it. Nor did we learn, to Kaddafi’s sorrow.

As to what to do now, give as much ISIS territory as possible to the Kurds so we have at least one friend there – and stop involvement in territorial affairs of Middle East,  Have to go




“Thought vectors” as the Door Into Summer:


‘Thought vectors’ could revolutionize artificial intelligence

Despite all the recent hullabaloo concerning artificial intelligence, in part fueled by dire predictions made by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, there have been few breakthroughs in the field to warrant such fanfare. The artificial neural networks that have caused so much controversy are a product of the 1950s and 60s, and remain relatively unchanged since then. The strides forward made in areas like speech recognition owe as much to improved datasets (think big data) and faster hardware than to actual changes in AI methodology. The thornier problems, like teaching computers to do natural language processing and leaps of logic remain nearly as  intractable now as they were a decade ago.

This may all be about to change. Last week, the British high priest of artificial intelligence Professor Geoffrey Hinton, who was snapped up by Google two years back during its massive acquisition of AI experts, revealed that his employer may have found a means of breaking the AI deadlock that has persisted in areas like natural language processing.

The hope comes in the form of a concept called “thought vectors.”  If you have never heard of a thought vector, you’re in good company.  The concept is both new and controversial. The underlying idea is that by ascribing every word a set of numbers (or vector), a computer can be trained to understand the actual meaning of these words.

The rest of the article is worth summoning to red, but it isn’t as enlightening as it might be. Neither is but it makes the attempt. I would guess that “thought vectors” might be “lists” in LISP, lists of word and concepts that a word brings to mind, but that is not much like a vector in mathematics. What would be the “curl” of a thought vector?

I ask out of ignorance; there has been so much use of mathematical concepts in the Voodoo Sciences that I am preternaturally suspicious that this is more of same, wanting to sound scientific; but of course I am most probably wrong. Each word carries with it a whole host of concepts which could conveniently be placed in a list. I would have thought a matrix would be more likely. The trick would be to find an algorithm for placing the concept: higher or lower, closer or farther away? I know that in my novel Starswarm (audio )(Kindle for some strange reason put in with children’s books) I had the AL program tell her ward that she was governed by a “table” of preferences she was not allowed to change; I thought of having her say matrix which in my concept of AI would be more appropriate, but Gwen is talking to an 11 year old boy who would not yet understand matrices; but as I explain in The Voodoo Sciences ( novelists only have to be plausible; I didn’t really have much of a theory of AI technology in the sense that I had done much work on it.

I can cheer thought vectors on, but from the little I have seen of them, it is mostly hope, not science.


















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




Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.