Category Archives: About

End of Humanity: A.I. Terminators or The Big Bang? Or both?

A confluence of events in this year of our Lord 2015 leads me to believe that the end of Humanity is at hand.
Let me give you the raw data:

“AI is the single greatest threat to human existence.”                                   — Steven Hawking
The Supreme Court will decide the fate of gay marriage in America this year. — CNN
Ex Machina opens in theatres, May 2015.  Sentient, Sexy robots among us.
(Skynet)Defense network computers. New… powerful… hooked into everything, trusted to run it all. They say it got smart, a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond: extermination  .                                                   –Kyle Reese, in “Terminator”

terminator_image

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court will rule on the gay marriage question this year. By the time you read this article,  it may already have decided in the favor of this new “marriage model.” This by itself does not
doom the human reproductive future: there are still so many, many children being born from hetero couplings.
The homosexual community is a small percentage of the population1 and they are in fact another reliable resource in  rearing unwanted children. Gay marriage should in theory advance human presence on the Earth.

But this legal decision will forever undo the correlation between reproductive behavior and marriage.  Marriage is now a joining of families and resources, and not expressely a contract for child rearing.2 This will open up marriage to a large number of actors (not the Hollywood  kind). Once agreement is in place NOT to produce children, marriage between genetically-common family members would be permitted3 More importantly, marriage between a person and a corporation or other social structure should be possible.

This is where Skynet and the A.I. entities come into play. What if you could marry a corporation or trust  that ensured your continued care until end of life? They could manage your resources to best use and  keep you living as long as possible. What if this corporation was controlled by a very efficient  AI? It would make decisions to keep you healthy and lucid until the end of life. In the meanwhile,
if you are needing companionship, they could  send a sentient, robotic companion to your home to care and interact with you. I need say no more,  just look at the following view of the future:

ex_machina_headshotex_machina_android

 

 

 

 

With humanity now under proper health care and sexually satisfied, procreation using the heterosexual  model becomes quaint but inefficient. You don’t need kids to care for you when the AI State can do a  better job. And there is the SuperModel of the Month that comes to your home and makes sure your  coffee is properly ground and your teabags properly dipped.

It sounds like a perfect way to terminate Human presence on Earth, once the AI decides it wants to  stop human reproduction. The human family model becomes irrelevant and may even be considered vulgar  and gross. Those of us who believe in A Man and A Woman creating A Child may be persecuted and hunted.
But I doubt it will come to that. Humanity will give up in  complacency. It will all end not with a whisper but with a (literal) Bang. The Terminators came (again, literally) and ended Human existence.

  1. the fact that we are aware of the  plight of a statistically small community means that someone, somewhere has done a  remendously terrific job in  publicizing their viewpoint, or “agenda” as some conservatives refer to it. This is a great achievement  and puts the Goebbel’s effort in WW2 to shame []
  2. This was already apparent in marriages that were never intended to produce children, either due to age  or to consensus between spouses []
  3. Please don’t mention people marrying their dogs. It sounds ridiculous but  maybe *I* am being short-sighted []
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Thermal Snap in the City of Angels

I am sharing my story to shed light on a little-known phenomenum that we have dubbed “Thermal Snap” Why? Because it sounds a lot cooler than “Thermal Expansion of Toughened Glass.” And it could result in damage that may not meet your auto insurance deductible, and you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

CT_shattered_glass

The following interchange tries to make sense of what happened :

 

 

Last week, I left my car parked at the Metro station in the full sun. Upon my return 10 hours later, I found the back window completely shattered. Did I get hit by a meteor or a large bird? I looked around but I could not find a point of impact or a large object that could have caused the damage *to the window only* The rest of the car was undamaged.
The cops that came to fill out a report said that it was “blown out” from the pressure building inside the passenger compartment, and that they see this type of thing all the time. I had never heard of it.

When I closed the front door of the car, the vibration brought the window down in a shower of small glass fragments; it had been staying in place held together by friction between the pieces.
Bottom line: if you’re parked in the sun, leave one of your windows ever so slighty cracked down so that there is an air space to allow pressure to equialize with the outside.
The good news (if any) is that the window replacement people come to your house and the replacement cost is not much higher than what I paid back in the 90’s for a similar service.
===================== Bladerunner

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of information CT agents need in the field. I will pass this along to others, along with the proper way to tie your shoes, which has yet to fail me.

I do have a few questions:
Was your sun shade up?
Was there any external shade at any point in the day (tree, building, etc)?
Was your A/C vent open?
How many people did you flip off on your way through the parking lot?
Glad you are OK, and that the window shattered when you closed the door, and not while on the freeway. Still a huge pain :-(

Thanks,
=====================Archangel

All seriousness aside, I find it difficult to believe that your vehicle is sufficiently airtight to cause that kind of damage. That would take some serious big time air pressure. Most car cabins are not fully sealed – check the bottoms and backs of the doors. Even if fully sealed, the weatherstripping is just soft rubber and cannot contain any significant pressure. Nor can the air valves in the ventilation system.
More likely I would think is thermal stress due to expansion in the sun.
Or the car was infected by ebola.
=====================Avatar

I agree with Avatar. I believe after a 6 month failure mode analysis that “Thermal Snap” will be found to be the most likely cause. This is the technical term for what Avatar was referring to when he said ‘thermal stress due to expansion in the sun’
The glass frame and gaskets of cars are supposed to be designed to prevent/minimize this phenomenon. Thermal Snap, as all CT members know, is where the expansion of a planar object such as solar panel or windshield will heat-up but the mounting sticks and does not allow it to slide along the edges to expand, until after a certain amount of build-up pressure the glass suddenly unsticks and “snaps” to its expanded size. If this occurs while you are in the car (on earth) you will hear a loud sharp snap [as was previously observed by Agent Aquaman on a mission somewhere in the deserts of the SW]. Thus the name “Thermal Snap”.
Feel free to add this to the subject posting. This posting will surely be copied for the Society of Mechanical Engineers monthly magazine or perhaps a PHD thesis at MIT.
Adventure and Integrity
=====================Agent Aquaman

Yeah, once or twice I have seen this, where a rear
window has crumbled into postage stamp sized
pieces. And I figure it’s thermal expansion, too,
happening on a hot day, and the outward
movement of the pieces just might be due to the
window being somewhat concave, and outward
is the way to relieve pressure.

I checked with Uncle Cecil at The Straight Dope,
but came up somewhat empty, hardly worth it:  http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-618261.html

This seems better:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_glass_breakage

The Crack.

Is Back.
=====================Agent Renegade OUT.

Our police forces are well trained in the use of military-grade weaponry and crowd-pacification techniques (and I for one, am glad for this protection) but they may not have had the scientific training of CT operatives. I’ll accept the thermal expansion or “thermal snap” as a more likely solution than air pressure.
Therefore, leaving an air space will be totally useless and we are still at the mercy of the elements.

By the way, the window shades (reflective silver) were deployed when this happened, as was a secondary set of grey shades on the side. It sounds like none of this would have made a difference. Good to know. Our best solution is to park in the shade.
===================== Bladerunner

I’m tellin ya, it’s ebola.
=====================Avatar

10 YEARS Already?!? I Mean, “The Crack Team: A Decade In Retrospect”

When The Crack Team was formed many years ago, it was to achieve one simple, humble goal: save the world. We’ve accomplished that, many times, and although you’ve never read about it, we know you’d like to thank us from the bottom of your hearts. You’re welcome, Earth.

I know reporting on our deeds has been lacking of late, with none to blame more than me. Therefore, I bring to you a new theme, and a concerted effort to bring you more content. Meaning: we’ll up the effort for a little while, then we both forget. Deal? Deal.

And now for our featured presentation…

Steve Jobs 1955-2011; too soon for jokes?

Logo created by a Hong Kong student. Click for more information.

It’s true, I never was a big Apple fan. I got my kids iPods because they relentlessly kept on asking. Oh, and the players were free when I signed up for a bank account (back in the day).

I inherited the old iPods and am using one today. They are not bad devices: easy to use and pretty to look at. But they are overpriced and I hate having to use iTunes to access my music. I hate being sold new material at every turn. I would love to have a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Sure there were MP3s before the iPod. I don’t blame Steve Jobs for making lossy music palatable. But I don’t share in the global outporing of grief that’s on every TV, computer and iPlatform in the world, either.

And Steve Jobs has a family that’s going thru the grieving process. So why start these tasteless Steve Jobs jokes? We may as well ask why we climb Mt. Everest. It’s because we can.

And you have to admit that it takes talent to make a clever joke about a sad, troubling situation. Sort-of like those improvisation shows where a performer is asked to make a joke about starving Somalians. A very poor-taste request, but also a challenge.

So here’s some jokes about the death of the iconic founder of Apple and the creator of the greatest devices in the world:

  • I hear President Obama has been implicated in the passing of the iconic Apple founder…
    his economic policies killed jobs.

 

  • Steve Jobs’ funeral will feature a private viewing for his many fans.
    As each person passes in front of the casket, they’ll pay 99 cents.

Nobel Prize Update

You may remember the story of our hapless Nobel Prize Hero, Doug Prasher. He lost his job in science and ended up driving a courtesy van at a Toyota dealership, but his research allowed others to win the Nobel Prize in 2008.  Things are looking up for him, we are glad to report. You can read about it here, starting with this excerpt:

 

After joining the Toyota dealership, Prasher applied for a couple of science-related jobs in Huntsville, but nothing worked out. On one occasion he had an encouraging meeting with the hiring manager at a local company working on microfluidics; when the interviewer learned that Prasher drove a courtesy van, his interest cooled. There is no way to know how many other potential researchers were driven from their studies for similar reasons, or how many potential discoveries were never made because of the psychological and practical difficulties of the scientific lifestyle.

Finally in June 2010, several weeks after my visit, Prasher’s luck changed. He e-mailed me to say he’d been offered a science job at Streamline Automation, a local research and development company. Staffed by about 20 people, the company does work for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Prasher’s first task when he started in late June was to help develop technology to sense toxic industrial gases.

He began cautiously. “There was none of the tremendous relief you might expect,” he says. “I had been so discouraged over the years that my attitude was, this may work out and it may not.” Gradually he settled into the job. At home he occasionally took science reading to bed, something he hadn’t done in years. “A lot of the hangdog is gone,” Gina told me. 
In December Prasher won a six-month, $70,000 grant from the Department of Defense to develop a field technique for categorizing tick specimens according to their mitochondrial genes, in hopes of limiting the diseases a doctor might diagnose. It brought a sense of accomplishment that had been missing from his life for a long time. In January he told me that the cloud of depression he had lived under for years was finally lifting. Science gave him a sense of purpose.

We Wuz Hacked

Sorry for the recent technical difficulties, the site fell prey to some sort of SQL injection attack that appended a malicious script that redirected users to a malware site. The tricky bastard used cookies, though, so you only saw it once. After that, visitors saw the regular site, unless they used “private browsing” in Firefox or IE 8; the lack of cookies causes redirects every time. Anyway, I scrubbed the database and upgraded WordPress to the latest and a few key plugins, so hopefully we’re safe until the next hack hits us. Just the cost of using WordPress, I guess. For full details, see this:

http://wiki.mediatemple.net/w/WordPress_Redirect_Exploit

We’re not hosted by Media Temple, but apparently a lot of the sites they host got hacked and their fix worked for us.

If you see any other problems, don’t hesitate to contact me. And thanks for ZBalance and my buddy Karl for pointing out the problem in the first place (I visit via the admin interface and Google Reader, which weren’t affected.).

Banned in China!

Update: See the comments for more details and links to learn about the Great Firewall of China and how to test your site.

Update 2: We are no longer banned!

I started tracking stats on Google Analytics about a year ago. Since that time, over 36,000 people have visited the site (thanks!). Of that 36,000, only one person was in China. One! I think I can safely say we’ve been banned, locked out of the Great Firewall of China. I wonder if it’s the words “covert organization” or “free speech” that is keeping us out. I must say, I am pretty proud that we’re the first result when Googling “covert organization” – with or without the quotes. Great success!

Full Disclosure: There are about 21 countries on Google’s global map for which we have zero visits (versus 170 countries that have stopped by). But I’m pretty sure none of those 21 have 1.3 billion people.

Crack Team 2.5

The server migration is complete and I’ve added lots of cool stuff. While this isn’t as drastic a change as when I switched from Movable Type to WordPress, it’s the biggest change since then. Here’s what’s new:

WordPress 2.3.1
I was way behind, but now we’re on the cutting edge. The upgrade includes tagging and auto-save, among other things. It also has a better visual editor.

Tarski 2.01
The latest version of this theme, which includes a new header image that nicely demonstrates The Crack Team’s plans for world domination. Most other changes are invisible to users. Mainly it’s compliant with WP 2.3 and supports tags. Of note to bloggers is an option to reverse your page title, so the post title comes before your site name. That’s good for search engine optimization.

Subscribe To Comments
When you comment on a post, you can request to be notified by email of any follow-up comments.

Social Bookmarking
When you view a single post, you’ll now see a row of icons to bookmark that page to del.icio.us, Facebook, Google, etc. Let me know if one you use is missing.

Footnotes
On longer posts I love to use footnotes, so this is great for me. You just wrap the footnote in double parentheses. For example1. Just make sure there’s a space before the opening parentheses.

Contact Form
I added a simple contact form; you can see it at the end of my profile page. It uses both CAPTCHA and Askimet to prevent spam. I know CAPTCHA isn’t foolproof, but as far as I can tell Askimet is. It’s saved me from over 5,000 spam comments since I switched to WP. If any author wants, I’ll set up a form for them.

In addition to the software upgrades and plugins, Inmotion keeps separate server logs for each domain and subdomain I host, and separates out webmail. This means AWStats will report more accurately. Granted, I’m sure I won’t want to see them since they’re artificially inflated right now. But that which can be measured can be improved.

Hopefully all this is useful and not just a novelty. If you have any suggestions, just leave a comment. Thanks.

  1. Here’s a footnote []

Server Maintenance

Well, it’s more like server removal. I’m switching from a self-hosted server to one at Inmotion Hosting. It was fun while it lasted. Ok, so it wasn’t really fun, because I hate system administration. And that’s why I’m switching it out. Some things get worse when they’re out of my hands, but other things like regular backups, security and bug fix patches, etc. get way better.

They’ll be handling mail as well, and as a result I will be getting rid of my CrackTeam.org email address. I technically have 6 email addresses and by far the Crack Team one gets the most spam. Not that I see any of it – I have excellent spam filtering. It’s 97% accurate and has protected me from over 69,000 spam messages to date. I don’t know that Inmotion will be nearly as accurate though, since they use SpamAssassin, and I use the BayesSpam plugin for SquirrelMail. Anyway, I was worried about getting rid of it until I realized that almost none of my friends use that email; it’s mainly used to register for web sites. I can use my Yahoo account for that, since their spam filtering is excellent as well. If you were using my Crack Team email, please switch to one of my 3 main personal email addresses.

Anyhoo, the point is that the site will be going down, perhaps tonight, so don’t be surprised. Hopefully the whole thing won’t take long, and we’ll be running on WordPress 2.3.1. There should be some nice new features.