Category Archives: Politics

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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Movie night with a dictator.

Our group used to meet regularly at members’ homes to view Classic Movies and then discuss them at the coffee klatch that followed; this was part of our on-going adult education and a great way to see some amazing films.  We used to call it “Classic Movie Night at X’s”  or CMNAX  for short.   Over the years, we met at CMNAL, CMNAP, CMNAMOC (Orange County edition) and now I’d like to talk about CMNAHAS.   Classic Movie Night at Hitler and Stalin’s.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Let me recommend this wonderful Hitler article at the Roger Ebert website,  which started me thinking about how all the world’s dictators are such great film buffs.   I already knew about Stalin’s Movie Night  but here was another story that suggested a pattern to my mind.   Wasn’t Kim Jong Il a big Hollywood fan?  I believe he was.  Before his demise (he definitely left us too early I fear) he courted Hollywood producers and directors to come visit him in that wonderful showcase for film, North Korea.
Are there others in this list?  We never got to see what videocassettes Bin Laden was watching in his compound, but he was a mere terrorist.  We need to focus on heads of state.  Saddam Hussein did not have much room in his spider hole to fit a portable DVD player, so that legacy is also lost.  And there’s been nothing on Kaddafi; he may have been a TV series fan.
We’ll have to wait to see what streaming video does to the tastes of the next Evil Head of State1
  1. On the other side of the scale, we have the Good Guy Festival: G.W. Bush was fond of Armageddon  –yuk– and Bill Clinton was a big fan of High Noon —thanks to Gene Siskel’s interview with Clinton, we know all about these White House preferences.  []

A Letter To My Congressman

I’ve never written to a Congressman before, but these new airport security measures have inspired me to do so. Here is my letter:

Congressman,

I’m writing to say that I oppose the new invasive airport security procedures (backscatter imaging and aggressive pat-downs). You’re probably hearing this a lot, but perhaps not from people with my background.

First, I’m not a frequent flyer. I fly on average once per year to visit my family during Christmas. And it appears that the airports I’m scheduled to fly out of do not have the full body scanners. Even though this may not affect me for a while, I want to voice my opinion while there is still time to do something about it (and save taxpayer’s money).

Second, I am a registered Republican and while I don’t always vote straight Republican, you’ve had my vote whenever you’ve appeared on my ballot.

Third, I consider myself something of a patriot. I have over a decade in the defense industry. I watched with horror as the towers fell, and I understand the need for security. However, regarding these procedures, I think the cost to our liberty is too high.

I also object to the supporters of this initiative who frame this issue in black and white: we either give up all our rights as travelers and fly with complete safety, or we let anyone and anything on board our aircraft and watch them fall from the sky. Clearly, nobody has to make this choice.

I know you are busy, but please take the time to read this fascinating article about how Israel, who faces terror threats far more often than we do, has secured their airports without engaging in security tactics that are demeaning and demoralizing. Yes, it will take personnel with more training and intelligence than your average TSA employee, but I believe this is exactly what travelers would like to see and would be happy to pay the price.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/744199

Thank you.

Ending The Two Party System

As we approach elections, I hear more grumbling about the two party system. In general, you get two politicians and neither look good. Intelligent alternative voices are silenced by being excluded from televised debates. That really stings because it keeps us further in the dark about important issues that neither candidate wants to touch.

But when you look overseas at countries that don’t have a two party system, you start to see one of its big advantages: more moderate candidates. I’ve read about elections abroad where there were 5 or more candidates and someone wins with 18% of the vote. How do the other 82% of voters feel? Or, as a friend informed me, the parties coalesce to capture more votes, and after the elections it can take weeks before you know who your president is because you voted in a hastily made party, not an individual.

In a two party system, candidates need to sway the majority of the population, which means more balanced policies that benefit more of the population. Yes, technically with the electoral college you don’t need to win the popular vote, but in general (and lately) you’ll still get about 50% of the country supporting you. This also explains why when the president does poorly after being elected, his approval rating can quickly drop into the 30’s.

So here is my solution. I remind you that I am biased by logic and common sense, so extremes don’t appeal to me. Also that this idea came to me at 4AM, so there may be a fly in the ointment that I haven’t seen yet.

Give citizens more votes. Specifically, allow them to rank the candidates (not vote multiple times for one candidate). This will result in electing politicians that more people agree on instead of polarizing figures that half the country is unhappy with.

If this sounds familiar, you may be a member of the Academy since that’s how their voting works. Here’s the process step by step:

  1. Everyone votes by ranking the candidates starting with their first choice.
  2. Looking at the first choices, if one candidate has more than 50% of the votes, he or she wins.
  3. If not, the person with the fewest votes is removed from all ballots, and the other candidates ranked lower on the ballot are moved up one.
  4. Go to step 2.

This is how a popular but polarizing film like Avatar loses to a widely praised film like The Hurt Locker. While more complex, ranking is something we all understand, and a computer could tally results in seconds. Yes, I’m suggesting we do all computer voting.

In my proposed system, you still have to get on the ballot by getting the support of a reasonable number of voters across the country, so you’re not ranking 100 candidates. However, I think you’ll get more people breaking party lines to run. In particular, I think Ron Paul could have run and possibly won if he went as an independent since politicians with a Libertarian philosophy tend to pull votes from conservatives and liberals alike. Likewise, I think Bob Barr (and certainly Ralph Nader) would have done better as well. And most importantly, all would have been invited to the debates, resulting in more educated choices by voters.

Getting To Know China

chinaSMACK1 is a very interesting website that gives English speakers insight into the minds of the Chinese. They do this by translating the hottest, most popular news and blog articles into English – along with their comments. Granted, they don’t translate all comments (which would be tiring and frustrating for the translators), so they try to choose those that are representative of the whole. Fascinating stuff.

One piece that caught my eye: “Jewish girls with guns.” Essentially, it’s a photo album of attractive female Israeli soldiers (with a few hot civilian pics thrown in for good measure). But the comments (which are similar to another story about guns for sale in American Walmarts) display a belief that Chinese society would suffer greatly through crime and civil unrest (including possible revolution) if their citizens could own guns. They also touch upon the differences in political systems between our countries. Seems like a must read for anyone trying to get into the Chinese market or has an anthropological bent.

In a related note, I am happy to report that The Crack Team is no longer banned in China.

  1. tip o’ the hat to Masterchief []

Conservative Time-For-Tea

Time for a little break.  So much going on at work, you tend to stay away from TV, movies and popular culture.  But those who are blessed with a job1, however tenuously, should take a break and thank the Power-That-Be for the people responsible for these humorous asides:

 

Sarah Palin does a pretty credible job getting back at our old friend William Shatner.  If Bill’s reaction is genuine surprise at her sudden appearance, then I am even more impressed with Bill’s acting abilities !!  Someone really, really needs to get him in the Star Trek sequel quickly, before he joins Scotty and Bones in the big Starship in the Sky. 

Oh, and by the way.  Bill is a Canadian actor taking valuable Hollywood jobs away from US citizens.  Can someone get the immigration problem in this country corrected?  Too many Canadians are coming down to take our high-paying white-collar jobs in this country.   Forget the Mexican border; folks down there are coming to take the lesser-paying jobs and will not affect your six-figure, professional position.   It’s the Canadians that are the problem.  And they look just like you and me so that they are harder to find and deport.

However, good going Conan.   You are so good at this that I may start watching the Tonight Show again.  I stayed away for the last 15 or so years, but I think the Show is in good, capable hands again.   Can anyone tell me what happened to Triumph, the Insult Dog?2

Finally,  I just have to mention this item that I read in the news about poor Tiger Woods.  No more jokes, this is serious.   Here’s the excerpt in the news from one of his supporters:

“One thing people don’t understand is that we’re human,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said in Miami. “You’re not born with a menu on how not to do things wrong. You’re going to make mistakes like every human being.”

Actually Dwyane, there is a menu that you were given when you were small.   It’s called The Bible.   Sure it’s old and seemingly out-of-date or out-of-touch.  It’s as old as Humanity, and it does seem to be in touch with the foibles and peccadillos that affect all of us, all of the time, since the beginning of time.    I don’t think Mr. Woods is the first person that has ever cheated on his wife; plenty of those stories in the Bible.  You may want to crack it open one of these days.

  1. I’m not implying that most bloggers are out-of-work, left-of-center hipsters with too much time on their hands.  But it is an effective stereotype. []
  2. As I said earlier,  I’ve been away from TV for awhile. []

Hitler was amazing

ly evil.
Lately it seems every reference to wrongdoing is now compared to Hitler or at least one of his actions. It’s especially seen on the news. People believe that their point won’t be realized unless the reader/viewer comes to terms with the following:
If you disagree with me, you are pretty much a Nazi.
and it works. “I don’t want to be like Hitler! So I agree with you!”
Hitler. The go-to bad guy, king of the unholy.
Did he set the bar or what?
Osama Bin Ladin is like “helloooo, I’m blowing things up here! Compare something to me!”
Even Satan’s sighing “You know… once everyone blamed ME for all the evil in the world.”
Dude. Hitler gased and cooked millions of innocents, wanted to take over as much of the world as possible, and got much of his country to agree with his actions. Wow!
When it came to charisma, this dude rolled an 18 for sure.
Sorry Satan, but anything short of armageddon ain’t going to outshine Hitler’s life. Stop dancing around in that lame red ensemble, drop the pitchfork and get to work.
And Osama, look at you! at least Hilter knew the importance of grooming. Hitler was married to Eva Braun. She was hot!
Come on Osama. Hanging out in caves plotting with other men day after day, does nothing for your image.
All I’m saying is, when it came to evil, Hitler turned it up to eleven.
Hitler is to bad
like
golf balls are to hail.
Without him, there’d be no decent reference.
You gotta respect a guy for giving it his all.
Like it or not. He’s immortal.

President Obama and Hitler’s coloring book

There’s been opposition to the President’s plan to broadcast  a “do well in school” message to the American student body.  In and of itself,  the message is probably harmless and probably a good idea;  who is better able to motivate our students than a good-looking, young President Obama?   Why are people making a fuss and opposing the president at every turn?  The problem lies in that it is being encouraged (some would say pushed) onto the American school system.

Officially, it is a voluntary program.  But we remember other “voluntary” programs like prayer in schools.  In that instance, any kids that refused to pray with all of the others were either ostracized or branded as atheists.   So I’m sure that any kids that opt out of the President’s inspirational message will be similarly affected.  I personally do not mind being branded a discontent at age 10, but it does affect your chances to get hired at the local hardware store for the summer when you turn 14.   That’s a heavy burden to bear.

The President should bear in mind other efforts to inspire young people without a chance for other voices to be heard.  This one-party messaging could eventually morph into something akin to Hitler’s propaganda machine.  One of their weirder efforts was this coloring book exhorting the Young German to do something that was probably decent and helpful.  But when a commendable exhortation turns into “obey my orders”  and “kill Jewish people”  then we have a little problem.1

Hitler's Coloring Book
Hitler's Coloring Book
  1. Just to make sure my message doesn’t get lost: Hitler was a bad man and killed a lot of innocent people.  We don’t want to be like him []