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Dysfunctional US Politics

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[Admin Note: Gordo originally posted this as a response to one of my posts on the Self Driving Cars thread, but I figured we might has well have a thread in Chitchat to vent our frustrations over the current political climate in the US and globally. I presume Gordo won't mind - DP]

 

Look at the anger we're seeing now during Trump rallies, and imagine it directed towards "job-stealing driverless cars and trucks."

 

--Dean

 

The anger at Trump rallies was as fake as those driverless car drivers will be:

https://youtu.be/5IuJGHuIkzY

Funny how this video had millions of views and the guy exposed in it resigned, and Hillary shut it all down, then the Trump rally violence completely stopped.  No idea why google reset the view count... haha this election is such a joke.  A buffoon vs. a serial criminal who will only avoid prosecution if she has enough friends in high places.  Great choices we have!

Edited by Dean Pomerleau
Moved to new thread

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Gordo,

 

By posting the video above it appears you are suggesting that it was the Democrats (perhaps Hillary herself) that was instigating the violence and frustration at Trump rallies via some sort of 'baiting' - at least if I understand the gist of the video correctly.

 

I'm skeptical of this explanation, but who knows, that may have had something to do with it. Here is CNN's coverage over the controversy you and the video are referring to. Clearly the democrats are far from saints, and it wouldn't surprise me all that much if there was a coordinated effort to make Trump and his supporters look hateful, as if additional efforts are required in that regard.

 

Whether or not the DNC has been responsible for inciting some of the most blatant acts of violence and malice at Trump rallies, I think the effort to pin it on the Democrats risks selling short the genuine frustration many people feel about the current socio-political climate in the US. People are disgruntled and angry. The current election (and Trump in particular) have given these downtrodden, dispossessed and disenfranchised (at least in their own eyes) US citizens a license to vent their frustrations at being left behind by a system that they feel is rigged against them.

 

Great choices we have!

 

Indeed. 

 

I hesitate to write this, for fear of instilling a sense of hopelessness in people that discourages them from voting for the candidate who is clearly more qualified and the lesser of two evils (regardless of what you think about her as a person), but what the heck...

 

We appear to be spiralling towards exactly the kind of dystopian future I predicted a few months ago in the footnote of this post. Tragically, what I know now but didn't realize then, is that both choices open to us (Clinton or Trump) lead to a dysfunctional world of increasing rancor and suffering. If Trump wins, I truly think all hell is likely to break loose in our world, as a result of his poor choices coupled with his power as President. If Hillary wins, Trump supporters and Republicans more generally have vowed to fight her to a standstill, perhaps beginning impeachment proceedings even before she takes office. Either way, the dysfunction in Washington is almost certain to continue for the foreseeable future, even as Rome burns. And to think, we seemed so hopeful a nation in 2008, despite the economic crisis...

 
The surreal nightmare we are experiencing now convinces me all-the-more that we are living in a simulation created by folks a few years down the road on a timeline similar to ours. As I described quite explicitly months ago in the footnote of this post, my guess is these future humans are desperately trying to find a way out of their MadMax-like hell-world by simulating alternative realities, including ours and many like it with slightly different parameters, to see what they might have done, or might do even now on their own timeline, to avoid the societal death spiral they (and we) appear to be stuck in. Ironically, but not surprisingly, this is exactly analogous to the AI-directed parallel search over alternative neural network models that Google researchers are starting to do now, as I described yesterday in this post.
 
Saddest of all, it seems pretty clear at least to me that our branch of the simulate multiverse they've created is a dead end. As a result, our last best hope may be that they'll pull the plug on our dysfunctional simulated world out of compassion for us, before the sh*t really hits the fan, and our suffering becomes overwhelming...
 
Have a nice day.
 
--Dean

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Um, sorry, the video is stupid. However!

 

 

The surreal nightmare we are experiencing now convinces me all-the-more that we are living in a simulation created by folks a few years down the road on a timeline similar to ours. As I described quite explicitly months ago in the footnote of this post, my guess is these future humans are desperately trying to find a way out of their MadMax-like hell-world by simulating alternative realities, including ours and many like it with slightly different parameters, to see what they might have done, or might do even now on their own timeline, to avoid the societal death spiral they (and we) appear to be stuck in. Ironically, but not surprisingly, this is exactly analogous to the AI-directed parallel search over alternative neural network models that Google researchers are starting to do now, as I described yesterday in this post.[/size][/font]

Saddest of all, it seems pretty clear at least to me that our branch of the simulate multiverse they've created is a dead end. As a result, our last best hope may be that they'll pull the plug on our dysfunctional simulated world out of compassion for us, before the sh*t really hits the fan, and our suffering becomes overwhelming...

Have a nice day.

--Dean

Have a nice day?! What?

 

But I must say, Dean, that your interpretation here is one of the most fascinating and imaginative I've read. On the in-breath I'd love to hear more; but on the out-breath I also want to quietly raise possibilities of skirting the edges of schizophrenic thinking. Breathe especially in awareness if you plan on experimenting with a powerful substance like ayahuasca: this combined with that: I don't know.

 

Peace and love, dear crowded world.

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Sthira,

 

On the in-breath I'd love to hear more; but on the out-breath I also want to quietly raise possibilities of skirting the edges of schizophrenic thinking.

 

"Schizophrenic thinking" - tell me about it. I wrote several hundred pages elaborating on the theory over the past several months, sharing it privately with friends and colleagues in influential positions in the machine learning community. Unfortunately, while they think the ideas have merit, so far I've had very little success convincing them to take the ideas to heart and move forward along the lines I've suggested, at least not in any externally obvious (to me) way.

 

In short, it looks like the sh*t is probably going to have to hit the fan before anyone in the ML / AI community takes seriously the idea that ML, AI and realistics models/simulations could be used, and will need to be used, to turn the Titanic-like trajectory our world is on around. The longer we wait to start exploring alternatives through increasingly realistic simulations, the less likely we'll be to succeed, at least along this timeline.

 

Fortunately, many of the technological pieces that will be necessary are falling into place simply as a result of the rapid pace of developments in machine learning. It's a race between the world falling apart on the one hand, and on the other hand the developing of technology needed to turn it around, without ruining things through the creation of AIs with goals that aren't precisely aligned with human well-being. It's a fine line between proceeding fast enough with AI development to make a difference in averting our downward spiral, and going too fast, which means cutting corners on AI safety, which could result in an entirely different set of dystopian outcomes. The pessimist would say we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

 

--Dean

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I hope you don't get all "Beautiful Mind" on me here, Dean, that film scared the crap out of me because, well, it seemed very familiar.

 

Sthira,

 

On the in-breath I'd love to hear more; but on the out-breath I also want to quietly raise possibilities of skirting the edges of schizophrenic thinking.

"Schizophrenic thinking" - tell me about it. I wrote several hundred pages elaborating on the theory over the past several months, sharing it privately with friends and colleagues in influential positions in the machine learning community. Unfortunately, while they think the ideas have merit, so far I've had very little success convincing them to take the ideas to heart and move forward along the lines I've suggested, at least not in any externally obvious (to me) way.

I'm lost on the idea why AGI creators would only need to be a few decades ahead of us. It seems to me once the things begin self-learning, self-repairing, self-improving, then people become irrelevant.

 

In short, it looks like the sh*t is probably going to have to hit the fan before anyone in the ML / AI community takes seriously the idea that ML, AI and realistics models/simulations could be used, and will need to be used, to turn the Titanic-like trajectory our world is on around.

Also I'm confused why the world is on a Titanic-like trajectory? Could it be that we just have more world information today while simultaneously the media has been decentralized, scattered, and so it's just harder to winnow out the truth?

 

Regarding the election, it could be that hackers won't fiddle with polling results and rig it, as Trump shouts. Rather the disruption may come from creating fake news stories, false propaganda, confusion, hysteria. We already don't know what to believe -- even nutrition studies, we're now informed may be lying to us -- blah blah blah I hate politics

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Sthira,

 

I hope you don't get all "Beautiful Mind" on me here, Dean, that film scared the crap out of me because, well, it seemed very familiar.

 

Funny. I just (re)watched A Beautiful Mind last week, for exactly that purpose - to check on my personal sanity. Apparently the movie wasn't very accurate. After a little research I learned John Nash heard voices rather than experiencing visual hallucinations as depicted in the movie.

 

I too heard a persistent voice while in the midst of my most "inspired" period a month or two ago, as has happened to me during several extended stretches of "inspiration" in my life. But fortunately (at least for my sanity self-assessment), the voice has always been my own, albeit suggesting things that seem very unlikely to have come (solely) from my own mind and imagination. Only time will tell whether my insights during that period were a sign of (semi-)madness/psychosis or genius - throughout history there has often been a fine line between the two...

 

I'm lost on the idea why AGI creators would only need to be a few decades ahead of us. It seems to me once the things begin self-learning, self-repairing, self-improving, then people become irrelevant.

 

It's certainly possible that an entity (or entities) much further advanced than just a few decades from us could have created our (simulated) world. I suggest that it/they are likely not too far ahead of us for several reasons. First, in only a few decades it seems likely that baring catastrophe, we will have the computational resources to make such simulation computationally conceivable. Second, the further into the future an entity is, the less inclined they'd be to care about simulating our particular point in the timeline - since we'd be less interesting and relevant to beings who are thousands or millions of years more advanced than we are.

 

Of course, there are a couple possibilities that could make our point in their timeline particularly interesting, and therefore worthy of simulation by beings much more advanced than we are. First, the pessimistic scenario. If we (i.e. America circa 2000-2016) are the peak of subjective human flourishing, and it's downhill from here, meat humans or digital entities of the future might be interested in understanding, and perhaps even vicariously experiencing what it was like during the heydays of humanity, and so would be inclined to simulate us, and do it repeatedly, even long into the (dystopian) future. So here we are.

 

The second, more optimistic scenario, is what I've called the "Founder's Day Argument" (FDA). It can be thought of as the "Anti-doomsday" argument, for anyone familiar with the Doomsday Argument. I've included it at the bottom for your amusement, and to get it out in a publicly accessible forum (previously I'd shared it with just a few others in private). 

 

Also I'm confused why the world is on a Titanic-like trajectory? Could it be that we just have more world information today while simultaneously the media has been decentralized, scattered, and so it's just harder to winnow out the truth?

 

It's certainly possible that I'm being overly pessimistic, and that humanity could get it's act together and avoid all the dystopian possible futures and existential risks that we appear to be facing today. Our future might in fact be quite rosy, and that possibility is what the FDA is meant to capture and explain. See below.

 

Regarding the election, it could be that hackers won't fiddle with polling results and rig it, as Trump shouts. Rather the disruption may come from creating fake news stories, false propaganda, confusion, hysteria. We already don't know what to believe -- even nutrition studies, we're now informed may be lying to us -- blah blah blah I hate politics 

 

I'm extremely skeptical of Trump's claim that the election is or will be rigged in the ways he and the other conspiracy theorists are suggesting. And you are right, we are in the predicament we find ourselves in because of the echo chambers of dis/misinformation that have sprung up as a result of our dysfunctional media. In fact, here are two tweets I sent out today expressing (succinctly) just this point, in response to a tweet by a techno-optimist friend of mine in the machine learning community who tweeted

 

Hypothesis: absent technological progress, the evolution of society is cyclical, and there can be no social progress. True or false?

 

My rather pessimistic but heartfelt and necessarily terse response (give Twitter's 140 char limit) was:

 

False: Techology → ↑ Google/Facebook → ↑ click-bait journalism → ↓ objective news → ↑ echo chambers → ↑ social polarization → Dystopia

 

and then I sent this follow-up to elaborate and explain:

 

Thanks to technology, we no longer share a single common reality. Truth is now just what you believe & it's tearing our country apart.

 

This NYTimes article: How the Internet Is Loosening Our Grip on the Truth echoes a similar sentiment and this essay explains why people believe crazy things & resist changing mind, namely because dubious beliefs very frequently offer social rewards with our peers, whether or not they are true.

 

So yes, in short, it may be the media-created echo chambers we inhabit and our own cognitive biases that are leading to widespread pessimism. If so, things might not really be as bad as the media portrays, and will settle back down into the only minor, business-as-usual dysfunctional state of society we've been living in for years now after the election is over.

 

The danger is that the imagined "realities" promulgated inside these echo chambers are threatening to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Belief that we are (or may be) going to "hell in a handbasket" may embolden angry people to bring about a dystopian future, e.g. by electing a leader who pours gasoline on the smoldering resentment of certain factions of our society, and who engages in ill-advised actions like building a wall, destroying international agreements and cooperation, instigating racial violence, curtailing freedoms and human rights, etc. that actually do tear down the fabric of civil society. Hence the downward spiral of self-fulfilling pessimism I speak of and worry about.

 

The ancient Chinese curse comes to mind:

 

May you live in interesting times.

 

We sure seem to be. All my life said, as long as it's painless, I'd much rather live in the waning moments of human existence (as compared to boring times like the stone age or middle ages), as it would be interesting and exciting to see how things end. It goes along with my motto of seeking to "go out on a limb (even a risky one) for a worthy cause."

 

Hopefully it won't come to that, but it is a consolation of sorts...

 

--Dean

 

 

Founder's Day Argument

 

The "Founder's Day Argument" (FDA) is almost the exact opposite of the well-known Doomsday Argument (DA). In case you haven't heard of it, the DA is quite depressing. It talks about your "birth number" - how many conscious humans have their been between "Adam #1 and Eve #2" and you. Estimates suggest that each of us is around the 100 billionth humans who have ever lived. If you assume you're a typical person selected at random from every human who will ever live, that suggests you'd be around the 50th percentile - give our take. You'd be very unlikely to have just happen by chance to be within the first 1% or 0.1% of humans who will ever live, which is the kind of birth number all of us would have if humanity is on a trajectory to expand to the stars, in which case there could literally be quadrillion (or more) people. The same sort of astronomical number of future people would result if we never make it to the stars, but instead devote much of the energy of the sun to simulating digital minds after we figure out how to upload and duplicate minds in digital form - a possibility that seems almost inevitable if we survive another 100 years or so.
 
If there are eventually going to be quadrillions of people, it would be infinitesimally unlikely a random observer would find themselves in the first 0.001% of people who have or will ever live. If you crunch the numbers, and assume we'd fall somewhere within the middle 50-60%, the calculations suggest there will only be fewer than 1 trillion people who will ever live. At our current rate of churning out new people (even supposing we don't expand our population much from where it is) we'll have burned through 1 trillion people in 400-500 more years. In which case, in what is only a blink of an eye in evolutionary timescales, we're likely to be extinct, with no more observes. Bummer...
 
What seems like even more of a coincidence if we're eventually going to explode into the quadrillions in population is that we are among the few billion or 10s of billion of folks who lived within a 100 or so years of the really big population explosion - especially if/when mind uploads become possible and it's easy to make a "gazillion" copies of conscious entities -  either many identical copies or with slight (or not-so-slight) variations. It would seem crazy unlikely we'd be that close to population "lift off" unless as the DA suggests, humanity will go extinct before reaching the sort of massive population explosion. 
 
But what the Founder's Day Argument (FDA) does is turn the DA on its head. People and events shortly before the population explosion, and especially those people and events that were in some way responsible for the population explosion would, or at least could become venerated for their service and/or for the cool backstory they created and lived through, which far into the future might have gotten somewhat exaggerated, even to the point of being apocryphal.
 
For their part in bring about the tremendous expansion in the number of conscious observers who now (in the future) exist - they would be venerated and remembered often - i.e. commemorated for their noble deeds. And if denizens of that far future have discovered the technology to re-create past events in hyper-realistic detail, including the consciousnesses of the individuals who originally experienced the event, these gestures of remembrance and thanks (perhaps bordering on prayers) would result in re-enactments of the original event, complete with the conscious experiencing of those events by the entity doing the remembering.
 
In other words, the rememberer (i.e. our distant descendant) would become the original person in the re-enactment for a time, perhaps for the duration of the entire life of the original person if the remembered individual's life is running a million times faster than the subjective clock speed of the original. Think of their future "prayers" of veneration/homage to their distant ancestors as hyper-realistic VR recreations of the events of the lives of their ancestors, complete with conscious (re)experiencing of the ancestor's entire life. Just like Christians think of Jesus, and Muslims praise Allah when they pray, these ancestors would think fondly of their own ancestors in a similar, prayer-like, but hyper-realistic and detailed way.
 
Because there are so many conscious entities in this future (i.e. quadrillions or more), and many if not most at least occasionally commemorate their origin story by re-enacting the people and events involved, the original people would find themselves popping back into existence and re-experiencing the observer-moments of their lives.
 
In short, the observer moments of the Founders of the future realm where all these gazillion people now reside would be reproduced ad nauseum by the grateful descendents of the Founders, making the lives of the Founders the most common observer-moments in the entire universe. So that is why we are experiencing our observer moments now - we are recollections (i.e. simulations) of the lives of people who lived during the revered "launch period" of a mega-civilization of human descendents that will flourish in the future of our timeline.
 
As I said, it is the Anti-Doomsday Argument. It leverages the fact that our birth number is very low, and we are living freakishly close to the "launch point" of an exponential growth in population (at which point we expand into the universe through colonizing the galaxy, and/or alternatively expand into virtual space by digitizing and copying our minds), to argue that we're going to succeed in seeding a huge civilization in the future, and our period in history will be venerated for our service in bringing that civilization into existence. How's that for an optimistic spin on the weird coincidence that we happen to be living through tumultuous times?
 
Of course this optimistic FDA interpretation of a bright future that might await us is counterbalanced by the at least as likely (in my estimation) explanation for the freakish coincidence that we happen to be living close to momentous events in human history - namely the explanation I've outlined previously that our descents are living in a hell-world ruined by any number of doomsday scenarios (runaway climate change, bio or nano disaster, rogue AGIs, etc) and are trying to run ancestor simulations to figure out what went wrong in their timeline, and what they might have done (or do now) to fix it. So there are ample reasons to be either optimistic or pessimistic, based on the idea we are living in a simulation.

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Gordo wrote:

 

Funny how this video had millions of views and the guy exposed in it resigned, and Hillary shut it all down, then the Trump rally violence completely stopped. 

 

So much for no more violence at Trump rallies, or DNC-sponsored "instigators" responsible for egging on the crowd and inciting violence. Listen carefully to the interview of this republican. He seems like a very calm, rational, normal guy (who even happens to be white, which f*ckin' shouldn't matter but sadly does when you are at a Trump rally) who was tackled by the crowd at Trump's late-night rally last night for silently holding up a sign.

 

Then watch the way Trump mischaracterizes protestors at his own rallies ("they are paid by the democrats to incite violence" - which clearly wasn't the case for the man above), and how he lies about how Obama handled protesters at his own rally earlier in the day. Yes, it is yet another clear lie by Mr. Orange Julius, since you can watch how Obama actual handled his own hecker in the video at the bottom of that story. In short, Obama was incredibly gracious towards the heckler, quieting the crowd (literally yelling to his crowd to "sit down and be quiet for a second") and showing the heckler incredible respect. Yes, it's the Huffington Post, but thankfully, the videos and audio don't lie, at least not yet.

 

I can't believe what an a**hole Trump is. Sorry, I'm just so shocked by how much of a wanton liar and fascist, self-serving man-baby he is. To think he has even the remotest chance of being elected the leader of our country greatly saddens me.

 

As Obama says to the crowd who was booing his heckler: “We live in a country that respects free speech. Don't boo, vote."

 

--Dean

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Trump won't win the election, but this:

 

...but thankfully, the videos and audio don't lie, at least not yet.

 

This is terrible. If you can run a program to make anyone say anything in the world of online communication and broadcast media, then I see myself in the beginning stages of unplugging from the entire mess.

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...but thankfully, the videos and audio don't lie, at least not yet.

This is terrible. If you can run a program to make anyone say anything in the world of online communication and broadcast media, then I see myself in the beginning stages of unplugging from the entire mess.

 

 

Pretty scary huh?! From the same people who brought you Photoshop, making it so we could never trust photographic evidence again, we get Adobe Audio Audition, that allows you to create audio of someone saying anything you like. I can just imagine Trump supporters already claiming that 2005 "grab them by the p*ssy" tape was faked.

 

One more nail in the coffin of objective truth.

 

BTW, here is the joint paper by folks at Adobe and Princeton on how they do it, so anyone can replicate it...

 

--Dean

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All,

 

Speaking of the death of objective truth, check this out.

 

Regardless of whether you think Russians are hacking our election, it appears teenagers in Macedonia are trolling it, big-time. This Buzzfeed story details how a couple high school kids from that tiny country are making thousands of dollars per month posting made up pro-Trump stories with fake headlines like this one currently on their website (worldpoliticus . com):

 

BREAKING: New Polls Indicate END Of Hillary’s Run…Trump RUNNING AWAY With Key BLUE States!

 

and this one:

 

Hillary Clinton In 2013: ‘I Would Like To See People Like Donald Trump Run For Office; They’re Honest And Can’t Be Bought.’

 

The kid who runs the website and over a hundred others like it, admits it's all made up, saying:

 

“Yes, the info in the blogs is bad, false, and misleading but the rationale is that ‘if it gets the people to click on it and engage, then use it,’” said a university student in Veles who started a US politics site, and who agreed to speak on the condition that BuzzFeed News not use his name.

 

"I started the site for a easy way to make money,” said a 17-year-old who runs a site with four other people. “In Macedonia the economy is very weak and teenagers are not allowed to work, so we need to find creative ways to make some money."

 

It certainly works. According to the Buzzfeed article, that second headline racked up an astounding 480,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook, earning the kids a few thousand dollars, which needless to say, goes a long way in Macedonia. To put that number in perspective, that headline received almost three times the number of Facebook engagements that the New York Times received for the story that revealed Trump's $916M tax dodge. 

 

If you question the veracity of Buzzfeed, I independently confirmed the effectiveness of these bogus headlines, by doing a search on FaceBook for the first one, which was just posted yesterday. Here is a screenshot of the first one being re-shared on Facebook by a website called "PatriotJournal . com", which already has over 6K likes, shares and comments:

 

aIBoCAB.png

 

and that is just one of many such posts based on the same headline.

 

This illustrates three things:

  1. Trump supporters are willing to believe just anything positive about their candidate, or negative about Hillary.
  2. It's becoming increasingly difficult to figure out what to believe when you read it online. 
  3. It's no wonder traditional investigative journalism is going down the tubes - if four kids posting fake news to a bogus website can earn more money than the New York Times in our "pay-per-view" digital economy.

--Dean

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Very interesting. Well, at least we are learning about new scams, hoaxes, and lies, and hopefully these revelations will make us smarter (if not more jaded) online information consumers.

 

This illustrates three things:

  • Trump supporters are willing to believe just anything positive about their candidate, or negative about Hillary.
  • It's becoming increasingly difficult to figure out what to believe when you read it online.
  • It's no wonder traditional investigative journalism is going down the tubes - if four kids posting fake news to a bogus website can earn more money than the New York Times in our "pay-per-view" digital economy.
--Dean

(1) Can this observation can be leveled in the opposite direction? Meaning, are Hillary supporters also willing to believe what's positive about her, and negative about Trump?

 

(2) True that it's becoming more difficult to know what to believe (about anything -- including that idea that it's becoming more difficult... sending us away into absurdity)

 

(3) True again, but remember that it may have been the result of someone using the tools of "traditional investigative journalism" that gave us the very story you cite.

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Sthira,

 

(1) Can this observation can be leveled in the opposite direction? Meaning, are Hillary supporters also willing to believe what's positive about her, and negative about Trump? 

 

I'm certainly sure it can, although I found it interesting that the Buzzfeed article quoted the pro-Trump scammers as saying:

 

Earlier in the year, some in [Macedonian group] experimented with left-leaning or pro–Bernie Sanders content, but nothing performed as well on Facebook as Trump content.

 

You can judge for yourself what that means about Trump vs. Sander's supporters...

 

(3) True again, but remember that it may have been the result of someone using the tools of "traditional investigative journalism" that gave us the very story you cite. 

 

I didn't say investigative journalism was entirely dead nor did I deny how extremely valuable it is. I just said it is hard to sustain when it provides so little financial benefit to those doing it, like the New York Times.

 

--Dean

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Some random thoughts:

 

I think there are reasons to be optimistic about the long term future of our world/country.  I think we are tracking toward a "Star Trek" like future where all basic human needs are met for "free" and people without any ambition in life will be able to essentially "do nothing" or pursue shallow pleasure if that's what they want, while others will pursue whatever it is they feel like doing, without money being an obstacle like it is today.  Sure there are plenty of potential pitfalls, but I think the rise of machines will be the greatest thing to ever happen to us.

 

Regarding recent American politics - when the mainstream media are all heavily favoring one outcome, the process is for all intents and purposes "rigged", which is especially problematic when this bias doesn't match that of Americans themselves.  This is not some grand conspiracy.  Trump is clearly a terrible candidate, but this doesn't mean the media should give Hillary a free pass, which they largely have done (the Clinton Foundation for example would likely have torpedoed any Republican candidate if the situation had been reversed, even Hillary's own daughter was questioning the ethics of what they were doing as seen in the email leaks).  The media coverage has been a joke.  They were even caught sending Hillary questions in advance of interviews & debates. The debates themselves were ridiculous, with the moderators acting as debate partners with Hillary.

 

For what it's worth I consider myself an independent leaning libertarian. I voted for Gary Johnson in the last election  ;)

 

"If Trump wins, I truly think all hell is likely to break loose in our world, as a result of his poor choices coupled with his power as President."

 

When either Trump or Hillary win, there is zero chance of all hell breaking loose.  I don't know how this sentiment can become so popular, but it comes out every election cycle.  The president barely even has any real power, they can't declare war, change tax policy, create laws, set the budget, allocate spending, or do almost any of the things they say they will do in their campaigns - these are all the exclusive purview of Congress.  They are little more than glorified cheerleaders with veto power.

 

My biggest concern is the debt, which doubled in the Obama years to $20 trillion (more debt than was accumulated by all previous administrations COMBINED!).  This is clearly on an unsustainable trajectory that is going to lead to poor allocation of future resources, which incidentally means little to no funding going toward ending aging.  The younger generations are being sucked dry without even realizing what is going on, and if there is any reason to be pessimistic, I think this is the big one.  Sadly, politicians must promote policies that increase the debt if they are to get elected, so the system is essentially setup to fail long term. The issue is that people do not think in terms of "long term", to an average person, if there hasn't been a problem in the last 50 years, there probably won't be a problem in the next 50.  Unfortunately exponential curves don't work that way.  So once again, technology may be the only long term "hope" in that it may one day essentially make debt & money irrelevant (but this is no where close on the horizon).

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Some random thoughts:

 

I think there are reasons to be optimistic about the long term future of our world/country. I think we are tracking toward a "Star Trek" like future where all basic human needs are met for "free" and people without any ambition in life will be able to essentially "do nothing" or pursue shallow pleasure if that's what they want, while others will pursue whatever it is they feel like doing, without money being an obstacle like it is today. Sure there are plenty of potential pitfalls, but I think the rise of machines will be the greatest thing to ever happen to us.

Thanks for your optimism, Gordo, it's refreshing. I would much rather hear about life proceeding pleasantly for all -- who wouldn't --rather than the many dark and dramatic predictions we hear daily. I wish more people focused what's the positive and what's good; but in the same breath, we have so many problems: species extinction, ecosystem loss, and global climate change are our most pressing. Environmental problems are solvable, but so many species have already disappeared, we should be grieving their losses and focused on how to protect habitats from further damage.

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I too appreciate Gordo's long-term optimism. I agree if we can get through the next couple/few decades this have the potential to turn out golden for humanity. Big IF, but there is hope nonetheless.

 

 

Trump won't win the election, but this:
 

...but thankfully, the videos and audio don't lie, at least not yet.


This is terrible. If you can run a program to make anyone say anything in the world of online communication and broadcast media, then I see myself in the beginning stages of unplugging from the entire mess.

 

 

 

BTW, in case you thought it was just audio that can no longer be trusted - nope, videos can be faked amazingly well too, as the video below demonstrates.

 

Note - both the Adobe audio guys and the Stanford researchers who did the video research below used machine learning to create incredibly amazing fake audio and video.

 

--Dean

 

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I'm not really a passionate believer in the inherent goodness of any party, which I guess is why I'm registered Independent. I have an abiding distrust of mob mentality and authoritarianism. I try - try - to think for myself to the extent I'm capable of. And while neither candidate is ideal (understatement of the century), I think it's also pretty clear that one of them (Trump) is infinitely worse.

 

I don't actually believe that "the media" is somehow conspiring to collectively lie on behalf of Clinton, and against Trump. To me it's simple plausibility. Clinton was endorsed, either explicitly or by default by a shockingly overwhelming margins. Margins that are simply unprecedented in the history of this country. Literally, no single major newspaper and magazine of over 500,000 circulation has endorsed Trump. And conversely, pretty much any newspaper and magazine of note has endorsed Clinton or endorsed "anyone but Trump". This lopsided result is unique in the history of our republic. One could say "most journalists are D", and that's true - but this is different, because newspapers that have endorsed the R candidate for 150 years and never come even close to endorsing a D have come out against Trump. Magazines that have never in their history endorsed any candidate, came out for Hillary or against Trump. So we are not talking about D journalists, but hard core conservative and right wing journalists writing for publications like National Review. How do we account for that? It's never happened before with such overwhelming numbers?

 

And that's where I simply look at what's more believable. Is it really believable that such overwhelming numbers of journalists and editorial boards across the ideological spectrum, including conservatives, are all naive fools bamboozled by Crooked Hillary? Not believable. So are they all craven cowards and bought off yellow dogs? Again, not plausible. The simplest explanation - Occam's Razor - is that they all believe sincerely (rightly or wrongly) that Trump is a uniquely horrific candidate. Does that make it all somehow rigged though - rigged? Just because the media is overwhelmingly critical of Trump does it mean by itself that this sole fact proves a bias against Trump? Can't it be - simplest explanation - because he really is uniquely horrible? After all, if 99% of scientists today maintain that the earth is not flat, it would be OK for 99% of the media to propagate that point of view, rather than take a "truth must be in the neutral middle" attitude. If the Nazis of the 30's and 40's had terrible policies, would we be shocked if it was found that 99% of the media expressed horror at Hitler? Would we then say "media rigged against Hitler!"? Um, no, the earth is round, and Hitler is terrible.

 

I have no illusions as to who Hillary Clinton is - she's hardly a saint. But the narrative, especially on the right, for the past few decades has been that she's some kind of criminal. There's been a concerted effort for decades to demonize her and to destroy her politically, using whatever means at hand, however mendacious. She - or Bill - were investigated by congressional republicans on a veritable ocean of trumped up (heh!) crimes, whether Whitewater, or Troopergate, or Travelgate or any number of cooky right wing nightmare conspiracies - heck, they even investigated their Christmas Card list, LOL! For a full 10 days and 140 hours of testimony! And what were the results of all this activity? They got Bill on exactly one thing: lying about getting a bj in office. Talk about high crimes in office! That's literally it, after untold millions of dollars spent, and insane amount of energy. Hillary has been accused of murdering Vince Foster, there's been an insanely prolonged investigation into Benghazi that has yielded exactly nothing, and then the email thing which doesn't even - at its worst - rise to the level of a criminal investigation, despite multiple hearings. 

 

And this is again, where Occam's Razor enters. No political pair has been more investigated than Bill and Hillary - not even completely corrupt presidents like Nixon. There is a whole cottage industry of Clinton hate and millions who suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome. And after all this, you can't nail Hillary FOR A SINGLE CRIME? How freakin' plausible is that? That thousands upon thousands of raving bloodhounds who would give their eye teeth to nail Hillary all came to nothing. That special prosecutors and the FBI are all somehow unable to find a single thing to nail her with. IT DOESN'T PASS THE SMELL TEST! What about the Clinton Foundation? Apart from the fact that Hillary and Bill have actually released oodles and oodles of their tax returns showing genuine charitable giving in vast sums (unlike Mr. Trump, who has practically none, and released no tax returns), and apart from the fact that the Clinton Foundation has disbursed - documented - vast sums it raises (in contrast to the joke of self-dealing Trump Foundation), we have to ask: what concrete crime has Hillary (or Bill) committed? Maybe they should have been more careful about appearances (per Chelsea) - but that's about optics, and not crime. You can't prosecute optics - that's the realm of PR, and maybe the Clintons should have been more careful about creating appearances given the rabid hordes of eager republicans who would claim fire where there is none. But crime? If there is crime, why has there been no prosecution?

 

Is the idea that Clintons are "protected"? By whom? It beggars belief. The Republican party has enough judges and prosecutors and investigators, and senators and powerful people to demolish any such "protection" if there was any. You would simply not be able to keep it secret. And the FBI - who have been relentless in investigating the Clintons would not be dissuaded from bringing out every single spec of wrongdoing - eagerly bringing it to the congressional hearing circuses run by the Republicans who put tremendous pressure on the FBI. So what, the FBI is in the pocket of the Clintons? LOL! Comey, who couldn't wait with any piece of evidence whether it existed - or not! - to bring forward like he did in his letter that was like a bomb in the Clinton campaign... yeah, don't see that guy as in the Clinton pocket. Think about it. The FBI is 80-90% white males, overwhelmingly conservative (tons of them Mormons) - the natural enemies of all things Democrat. This is the living child of J. Edgar Hoover. They are protecting the pinko/gay friendly/supposedly lefty Clintons?? Oh yeah. I've got a bridge to sell. 

 

Occam's Razor - the emailgate, like Benghazi, Phlegmgate (Hillary's pneumonia) and all the other "gates" all failed for one very simple reason: there is nothing there. No crime. Or are you telling us that all those legions of white-hot-hatred filled enemies of Clintons were not able to bring a single charge forward, because the Clintons are "protected" by some mysterious force (never specified)? DOESN'T PASS THE SMELL TEST.

 

I think it's pretty clear what's going on. Yes, there's been a decades long campaign of political war against the Clintons, that created an air of criminal wrong-doing around them - fake scandals repeated endlessly like a big lie, on the Goebbels principle that if you repeat it often enough, eventually enough people believe the big lie. What they lack, is evidence, because it doesn't exist, and the entire enterprise lacks basic plausibility - doesn't pass the smell test. No criminal, no matter how clever and how protected can sustain that level of scrutiny over decades as the Clintons have, and not be nailed for something. Even Al Capone was nailed for taxes. This is not a matter of supercriminals with superhuman abilities and supernatural protection - it is a matter of math... at some point, things are going to go wrong purely accidentally, just because of odds - no lucky streak lasts forever. And yet - Hillary is free and not nailed for a single crime. The conclusion is inescapable - she is simply not a criminal. Period. She's human - has Hillary (and Bill) made mistakes? Of course, they're human after all. Hillary should never have set up that private server. But crimes? Please. The evidence is simply not there.

 

That said, I'm not jumping for joy that she'll be president. I depart from the Left strongly with regard to Clinton. I don't believe she is "uniquely qualified" and "smart". I think she's actually quite a poor analyst, her instincts are wrong, and she's disastrously mistaken in many of her policy prescriptions. I think she'll be a very, very poor president - although Trump would be worse. While people point to her Secretary of State experience as qualification - I take that as the opposite; when I look at her record in guiding U.S. foreign policy, it has been extremely bad whatever she touched, particularly in the ME - her advice and positions on Syria are a disaster, her guidance on Libya was catastrophic (even though I don't think she committed crimes wrt. Benghazi) - she's one long disaster in that area. And that's supposed to be her strength. Oh boy. She's illiterate when it comes to computer science and the technological world we live in (see her positions on encryption - illiterate - lacking even basic understanding). I have an extremely poor opinion of her as a politician. She's fake, and she's incompetent. But is she better than Trump? Well, she's like arsenic. If you had a choice of being burned alive in a building (Trump), or taking arsenic (Clinton) to open the door and escape the burning building, I guess I'll take the arsenic.

 

The Republic will survive Clinton. We'll run out the burning building and have our stomachs pumped. Nothing saves you if you stay inside in the flames of Trump. My 2 cents.

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Oh, and btw. those videos from Project Veritas are a perfect illustration of the deranged propaganda war against Clinton and the Democrats. It's another O'Keefe special... I happen to make my living in the film industry, and editing specifically, and this video is some straight up nonsense given the way it's been edited. O'Keefe, whose credibility is zero - for pulling exactly these kinds of "creative" out of context mid-sentence editing to imply the exact opposite of what actually happened. Where is the raw footage? O'Keefe has previously released raw footage, because having distorted editing in the past put his credibility at a huge negative, but this time he has not even bothered to release raw footage. No raw footage, and a video edited by a known liar who has pulled this exact thing in the past... I think we're done here.

 

This is what kills me about all these "crimes"- where is the prosecution? Outside of the Neo-Nazis, the Alt-right, Breitbart, and Confederate-flag wavers who buy into an alternate reality, nobody can identify a single honest prosecutable piece of evidence. There are plenty - PLENTY - of powerful and rich interests who would like nothing better than to prosecute Hillary. There are scads of conservative organizations and lawyers whose entire living is made of the Clinton-hate industry suing Hillary relentlessly, with Koch billions funding them. And yet, crickets. 

 

C'mon folks, you gotta do better than that. 

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TomB,

 

And that's where I simply look at what's more believable. Is it really believable that such overwhelming numbers of journalists and editorial boards across the ideological spectrum, including conservatives, are all naive fools bamboozled by Crooked Hillary? Not believable. So are they all craven cowards and bought off yellow dogs? Again, not plausible. The simplest explanation - Occam's Razor - is that they all believe sincerely (rightly or wrongly) that Trump is a uniquely horrific candidate.

If you had a choice of being burned alive in a building (Trump), or taking arsenic (Clinton) to open the door and escape the burning building, I guess I'll take the arsenic.

 

It is great to see that despite our difference of opinion on the potential threat of AI, and my more optimistic views regarding Clinton, we come together with the experts on both sides of the political spectrum and agree that in the annals of American political history, Donald Trump is a uniquely horrible presidential candidate. Hopefully this sentiment will be shared and demonstrated today by the citizens of this great country. Yes, our country is already great, as a result of the strength and compassion of its people. 

 

Trump is the last thing we need in order to Make America Great Again. Let's prove it today by voting for candidates (yes plural, we're voting for more than just President) with the courage to stick up for the values we share in common with decent people all around the world. Let's send a message to the world, and especially to countries like Russia and China who would love to see democracy flounder. Let's show them that democracy can work, by voting for candidates who have the courage to actively oppose the scare-mongering bully, rather than endorse him, either explicitly or tacitly by remaining silent out of political expediency.

 

So get to the polls today and Vote

 

--Dean

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I happen to make my living in the film industry, and editing specifically, and this video is some straight up nonsense given the way it's been edited. O'Keefe

 

Since you're a professional editor, I'm wondering what your take might be concerning Dean's pull out of this upcoming consumer editing tool

 

BTW, in case you thought it was just audio that can no longer be trusted - nope, videos can be faked amazingly well too, as the video below demonstrates.

Note - both the Adobe audio guys and the Stanford researchers who did the video research below used machine learning to create incredibly amazing fake audio and video.

--Dean

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmajJTcpNk

Does this concern anyone? I'm curious because we already look at online information with one eyebrow cocked jaded. With the other eyebrow I see more bullying ahead and more problems with this type of idiotic tech development. Why would anyone create such garbage if not to embarrass others and tell more believable lies? Redeeming values of this? See any?

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Sthira,

 

Why would anyone create such garbage if not to embarrass others and tell more believable lies? Redeeming values of this? See any? 

 

There are definitely harmless and even beneficial uses of this technology. Imagine you are an audio engineer trying to clean up the raw audiobook recording as read by the author herself. If she flubs a word or two here or there, or pauses or stutters, you can clean it up in post-processing, rather than having to have her do a million takes on challenging sentences. That is how Adobe is selling it, just like Photoshop - it makes editing out small glitches trivial. The same goes for editing video, for commercials or entertainment TV. Did the actor blink at the wrong time in a critical scene? Edit it out. Poof and it's gone. Want the actor to have a wider smile in that scene? No problem.

 

But obviously, like most technology, it is a double-edged sword, namely we can never again know for certain whether video or audio is real or faked by some kid in Macedonia to make a few bucks. Technology marches on, whether we like it or not. There is just too much commercial incentive to push stuff like this forward to put brakes on it like you are hinting at. Sad but true.

 

Plus, if commercial companies like Adobe didn't create it, the NSA or foreign governments would, without our knowledge, then we'd really be screwed, since we wouldn't even be informed enough to know we ought to doubt everything we see and hear from here on out...

 

--Dean

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Yes, Dean has it. This technology has many uses, including in feature films, where you need to fix flubbed lines and adr is not practical. Btw. O'Keefe certainly didn't use any such technology in those Project Veritas videos, he's much too primitive for that - he used much clumsier and transparent techniques of selective editing, juxtaposition and out of sequence transpositions - again, this guy was caught dead to his rights in doing exactly this, and furthermore had to pay court ordered fines and issue apologies to people he has thus depicted.

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Yes, Dean has it. This technology has many uses, including in feature films, where you need to fix flubbed lines and adr is not practical.

Did the actor blink at the wrong time in a critical scene? Edit it out. Poof and it's gone. Want the actor to have a wider smile in that scene? No problem.

These sound like a great reasons to support your local performance art communities -- live silk, live dance, live cirque, small theater, live local bands, fledgling comics, passionate poets -- we are perfectly imperfect, we are fragile, we are nervous, we make mistakes, we fall, we missteps, we agonize.

 

And some say -- that's the beauty, that's the charm. When performance art is made perfect and homogenized, what's essential is sometimes lost. Not always lost -- but sometimes -- earnest live performers demand perfection out of themselves, and perfection never arrives. Many people love the imprecision that reaching higher, never quite realizing.

 

I mean, sure, robotics engineers will have no problem programming into future machine dancers the imperfections we all like, so yeah we're all screwed...

 

And when Gordo writes:

 

I think there are reasons to be optimistic about the long term future of our world/country. I think we are tracking toward a "Star Trek" like future where all basic human needs are met for "free" and people without any ambition in life will be able to essentially "do nothing" or pursue shallow pleasure if that's what they want, while others will pursue whatever it is they feel like doing, without money being an obstacle like it is today. Sure there are plenty of potential pitfalls, but I think the rise of machines will be the greatest thing to ever happen to us.

All around me are amazing and talented artists who are stopped in their careers because few of us can make MONEY by doing what we love. Take money out of the equation, let artists pursue their crafts, we will see the local arts scene blossom like never before. We inherently seek beauty -- performers and audience alike.

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I agree 100% with Gordo's optimistic take on the long term future and technological progress. But that's in the long run. And as John Maynard Keynes put it "in the long run we're all dead". So yes, I believe in that, but I also know I'll never live to see it with my own eyes. Yet another thing I'll miss having been born too early, including escape velocity from aging/death, massive progress in genetically augmented capabilities etc.

 

Edit: hey congrats Dean and your lovely daughter!

Edited by TomBAvoider

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TomB wrote:

I agree 100% with Gordo's optimistic take on the long term future and technological progress. 

 

Or we might be wiped out by cheap, autonomous, NN-controlled, face-recognizing drones toting guns or explosives. ☺

 

But today we can (hopefully) celebrate a small step towards a brighter future, by electing a new president with a message of compassion and optimism, rather than a fascist troll. 

 

--Dean

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