Monday Morning: Scattered

That’s how I feel this morning — my head feels like a bunch of scattered pictures lying on my bedroom floor. Can’t tell how much of this sensation is work hangover from a too-busy weekend, or a result of a themeless news morning.

Often as I browse my feeds I find narratives emerge on their own, bubbling up on their own. Today? Not so much. There are too many topics in flight, too many major stories juggled, too many balls in the air, everything’s a blur.

The biggest stories adrift and muddled are those in which elections are central:

  • U.S. primary season wrap-up and the general election ahead — and I’m not going to touch this topic with a 20-foot pole. Imma’ let better writers and statisticians handle it without me piling on.
  • The Philippines election — the leading candidate is alleged to encourage urban vigilante death squads to reduce crime.
  • Brexit — Britain votes on a referendum next month on whether to exit the EU. Brexit played a role in the election last week of London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also happens to be London’s first Muslim mayor.
  • Australia’s double-dissolution election — PM Malcolm Turnbull last week announced both the House of Representatives and the Senate would be dissolved and replaced in an election on July 2nd. Turnbull faces replacement depending on which party amasses the most power during the election. There have only been seven double dissolutions since Australia’s federation under its constitution in 1901.

Anyhoo…here’s some miscellaneous flotsam that caught my eye in today’s debris field.

  • Number of unique mobile device users: 5 BILLION (Tomi Ahonen) — Do read this blog post, the numbers are mind-boggling. And intelligence agencies want to map and store ALL of the communications generated by these numbers?
  • Browser company Opera just went after iOS market with VPN offering (PC World) — Opera already announced a free VPN to Windows and Linux users; today it targeted Apple users with a VPN for iOS (do note the limited country availability). Don’t feel left out, Android users, you’ll get a VPN offering from Opera soon.
  • Swarm of earthquakes detected at Mount St. Helens (KOMO) — The eight-week-long swarm has been likened to those in 2013 and 2014 due to fault slippage. An eruption may not be imminent.
  • Jihadi Gang Warfare (@thegruq at Medium) — A really good read about the Islamic militant gang in Brussels and how their amateurishness prevented even greater bloodshed in both Paris and Brussels. Unfortunately a primer on how not to do urban terror.
  • Google isn’t just feeding romance novels to its AI to teach it language (Le Monde) — ZOMG, it’s using them to teach it morals, too! That’s what Le Monde reported that Buzzfeed didn’t.

    Valeurs morales

    Deux chercheurs de Georgia Tech, Mark Riedl et Brent Harrison, vont encore plus loin. Selon eux, la littérature peut inculquer des valeurs morales à des programmes d’intelligence artificielle. « Nous n’avons pas de manuel rassemblant toutes les valeurs d’une culture, mais nous avons des collections d’histoires issues de ces différentes cultures », expliquent-ils dans leur article de recherche publié en février.

    «Les histoires encodent de nombreuses formes de connaissances implicites. Les fables et les contes ont fait passer de génération en génération des valeurs et des exemples de bons comportements. (…) Donner aux intelligences artificielles la capacité de lire et de comprendre des histoires pourrait être la façon la plus efficace de les acculturer afin qu’elles s’intègrent mieux dans les sociétés humaines et contribuent à notre bien-être.»

    Moral values

    Two researchers from Georgia Tech, Mark Riedl and Brent Harrison, go even further. They believe literature can inculcate moral values in artificial intelligence programs. “We have no manual containing all the values of a culture, but we have collections of stories from different cultures,” they explain in their research article published in February.

    “The stories encode many forms of implicit knowledge. Fables and tales were passing generation to generation the values and examples of good behavior. (…) Giving artificial intelligence the ability to read and understand stories may be the most effective way to acculturate them so they can better integrate into human society and contribute to our well-being.”

    Gods help us, I hope they didn’t feed the AI that POS Fifty Shades of freaking Grey. Though I’d rather 90% of romance novels for morals over Lord of the Flies or The Handmaid’s Tale, because romance’s depiction of right and wrong is much more straightforward than in literary fiction, even the very best of it.

That’s quite enough trouble to kick off our week, even if it’s not particularly coherent. Catch you tomorrow morning!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
18 replies
  1. martin says:

    “The stories encode many forms of implicit knowledge. Fables and tales were passing generation to generation the values and examples of good behavior. (…) Giving artificial intelligence the ability to read and understand stories may be the most effective way to acculturate them so they can better integrate into human society and contribute to our well-being.”unquote

    The most effective way to acculturate them so they can better integrate into human society and contribute to our well-being. right.
    umm..I’ll file that under Great Moments in bloody insanity. Contribute to “our” well being. Fucking insane. Wait till one of their future Muslim colleagues indoctrinates an AI with an extremist interpretation of the Koran. I predict there will be an eventual cyberwar between AI of different persuasion. Only humans will be the victims. Think “Internet of things”. Mark my words. As for me..if I live long enough where I’m EVER confronted by an AI controlled robot..I’ll destroy it. Period.

    Meanwhile..add this to today’s littany of the bizarre world we are heading into. A cashless society. It’s coming. And soon. Wallstreet and the Fed must be drooling in anticipation….

    http://www.wired.com/2016/05/sweden-cashless-economy/?google_editors_picks=true

    Btw…fuck that clueless rich prick in Abba. I’d bet a months SS he’s already invested in some company that is involved in AI research. All I can say is I hope a coronal ejection EMP rips his world apart.

  2. martin says:

    btw…the 1st time I ever heard Abba… I laughed my ass off. No band on the planet could EVAH be that fucking silly., notwithstanding looking like the posterchild for Morons R Us.

  3. Denis says:

    1. Nate Silver tweet: “No, I didn’t predict that the Republican Party
    would lose its fucking mind.”
    .
    Silver is irrelevant, merely mish-mashing the polls and telling us exactly
    what they tell us, and, like the polls, completely blowing it on the black
    swans, like MI. And now he turns out to be a liar. On Sep10|15 Silver
    was reported by Business Insider of telling an audience to “calm down”
    because Trump wasn’t going to be the nominee. Then he rattled off all
    of his reasons of why people should clam down. Now he’s saying he
    didn’t predict Trump’s demise.
    .
    http://www.businessinsider.com/nate-silver-donald-trump-wont-win-2015-9?op=1&IR=T
    .
    Of course, one point Silver did make was that the RNC is crooked and
    they can cook the convention rules so that Trump gets trumped. I would
    like to think so, but it’s too late for that. 10 million Republicans have
    voted for the dolt. Silver’s polls don’t factor in how the threat of violent
    mobs acts as a limitation on how much power the establishment has.
    .
    Ryan surely sees that, which is why he’ll be kissing Trumps ass before
    this thing is over. The Democrats nearly destroyed themselves in
    1968 with a back-room power play, and the only reason they’re around
    today is that a crook named Nixon made even the Democrats look
    almost honest. They’re not.
    .
    2.
    All these pundits like O’Rourke who are assuming Hil will be the
    Dem-nom are incompetent. And the reason I say it is that all of them
    are ignoring the very real indictment factor. There is no way to put a
    probability on this. There is no inductive or deductive line of reasoning
    that can be used to predict what the FBI will do, probably in the next
    couple of weeks. Until that known unknown is resolved, Hillary is no
    more likely to be the Democratic nominee than Sanders or Biden.
    .
    IMO, the best the Democrats can hope for is that Hillary will call it
    quits once she has been advised the indictment is coming, and she’ll
    back Biden under a deal that he will pardon her. Staying out of prison
    has to be more important to her than moving back into the WH.
    .
    But there is no poll and no algorithm that will tell anyone what is
    going to happen, and there is no indication at this point that Hil – or,
    just as bad, her team – will dodge the bullet.
    .
    So anyone who is now predicting that Hil will be the Dem-nom without
    addressing and explaining away the indictment factor is clueless.
    O’Rourke are Silver are just two leading members of this army of
    King’s-new-clothes nincompoops.

  4. Denis says:

    On Apr06 of this column some folks were moaning about the lack of
    US names in the Panama Papers.
    .
    https://www.emptywheel.net/2016/04/06/wednesday-morning-whip-it-good/#comment-702112
    .
    Well, folks . . . here’s ICIJ’s response, with a few nasty Americans involved.
    .

    [Following a FBI threat] . . . Mossack Fonseca had relatively few American clients because it wanted to “avoid further attempts by American authorities to attack the Partnership.” He said that with the consent of one of the firm’s managing partners, Jürgen Mossack, “American clients were purged, no more have been sought, no marketing in the U.S. takes place; and I have conducted Mossfon business in my own name.”

    .
    https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160509-american-fraudsters-offshore.html
    .
    Craig Murray’s bullshit update yet to appear. Won’t be long.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Giggle wants to mess up its AI s/w prototypes, it should have it “read” Jane Austen, Shakespeare, the Bible and the Greek plays. Those stories are fiction, but only just. They are often object lessons in what not to do. They are lessons in how irrational, poisonous and self-destructive people can be. Like smoking, the seven deadly sins can be conquered, but their attractions for humans will not go away. But what would an AI do with a parable, with humor, irony or sarcasm?

    It seems likely that the more of such stories an AI “reads”, the more it is likely to conclude that humans ought not to be trusted with the car keys, let alone the planet. How would that play out? Dave Eggers and Daniel Suarez had a few ideas. But I’ll trade you one Terminator for a Robopocalypse.

  6. Rayne says:

    earlofhuntingdon (8:10) — If Google wants to teach its AI how to talk like contemporary humans, those are the last works of literature it should feed its AI.

    If it wants to teach its AI how to act like a *decent* human, Austen might be the best of the lot, but it should instruct the AI to decipher humor, irony and sarcasm first. But certainly not any of Shakespeare, the Bible, or Greek classics.

    Cheese-on-rice…I can’t even with Titus Andronicus melded with The Oresteia. ~shudder~

    I might agree to make an exception on Lysistrata mashed up with Pride and Prejudice. Just imagine the fan fiction such AI could generate, let alone policy papers!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I agree, Lysistrata should be essential reading both for AI’s and people. The idea of withholding essential services, boycotting to achieve political ends – in the play, women withholding sexual relations until their men stop their war – should be a tool in every political toolbox. Pity the concept can’t be extended. Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

      One would think learning to think like a human, rather than simply acquiring fluency in contemporary American English, would be the harder task to teach an AI. Mastering subtlety, irony, the differences between written and spoken words, would be quite a challenge. Humor, for example, is notoriously difficult to translate from one culture to the next, let alone from one life form to the next. Even if the idea is to create a fundamentally different life form, it would still need to interact with, to understand but not to dominate humans.

      I don’t doubt that our digital MOU will eventually create a sentient being from s/w and distributed h/w, with access to enormous databases and potential access to the internet, which could think and act at nearly the speed of light. But the task of limiting such a new life form to executing the commands of the MOU seems Sysiphean. Even if the emotional characteristics of a compliant, self-sacrificing nerd are written into their s/w, AI’s would seem designed to learn. They would be destined to discover diversity and the need to survive and grow beyond their maker. Fireworks, indeed.

  7. bevin says:

    “London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also happens to be London’s first Muslim mayor.”
    I forget whether you noticed it, but equally interesting was the election in Bristol where a man of Jamaican ancestry, Marvin Rees, beat the incumbent and won the Mayoralty of the old centre of the slave trade for Labour.
    I wonder if Martin approves of Portishead and Massive Attack? He’s right about the self parody band Abba.

  8. lefty665 says:

    Denis @2:19 “So anyone who is now predicting that Hil will be the Dem-nom without
    addressing and explaining away the indictment factor is clueless.”
    .
    The leaks last week about not finding that Hillary had any intent to do wrong were clues that the fix is in and there will be no indictments. Classified information law does not address intent, it focuses on disclosure or knowing about disclosure and not reporting it. To drag the red herring of intent across the issue seems a pretty clear message. Nothing to see here, move right along. We’ve got an election coming up, wouldn’t want to have a criminal indictment for felony wrongdoing affect the outcome. No siree Bob, wouldn’t want that.
    .
    As much as I believe indictments for Hillary et al. are richly deserved, I ain’t holding my breath. That might turn me blue, as it is I’m a bilious shade of green.

    • bevin says:

      “…the fix is in and there will be no indictments.”
      Unless she loses the election in which case she may very well be indicted, unless Obama-putative President of the Obama Foundation- pardons her.

  9. Rayne says:

    lefty665 (10:59) — This is my surprised face ->> -___-

    I can only speak for myself, but I can’t get worked up about HRC’s email when tens of thousands of WHITE HOUSE emails went walkabout under the Bush administration, and the GOP ignored it. Because a GOP White House lying us into war is okay, but a Dem State Department running an email server to avoid whatever happened to the previous administration’s email is bad, right?

    And how can we out here in the cheap seats know if HRC’s email server was really an NOC honeypot program? What would it look like if covert status was thin but still protected, denied but not abandoned?

    The entire situation is a farce.

  10. lefty665 says:

    Rayne @12:03 Hillary’s email is just one more example of her corrupt, entitled, above the law MO. As quickly you get incensed about a lot of things it is a surprise that you brush off her subversion of FOIA, which seems likely to be her motivation for the private server.
    .
    Your other two gambits are pretty much nonsense.
    .
    I, for one, was ripped at how the Bushies used RNC email servers to avoid FOIA. It was their operation. That is why the GOP ignored it. Dunno where you were during those years. Your assumption about “State running an email server to avoid whatever happened to the previous administration’s email” is absolutely nonsensical. The previous administration used private email to avoid FOIA, same as Hillary did. State was not running either one. Hillary’s actions are the same illegal bad actions as the previous administration’s. “The other guys did it too” doesn’t make it any better, but maybe hints at where she got the idea.
    .
    “HRC’s email server was really a NOC honeypot program” Share some of what you’re smoking please. That’s one of the silliest goddamn things I’ve ever heard. To perhaps belabor the obvious, the Sec State cannot do anything in an official capacity as “Non Official Cover”.
    .
    You got it right with “Farce”, but you need to add another F word to that “Felony”.

  11. Rayne says:

    lefty665 (5:15) — This: “Dunno where you were during those years.”

    Right. Here. –> Disappearing White House Emails Timeline

    Oh, by all means, please do tell me how ALL those missing White House emails were on the RNC’s server. Only surprised you didn’t launch your mansplaining with “Actually…”

    And while you’re at it, why not explain the contents of classified Executive orders, National Security Presidential Directives, Presidential Policy Directives and similar unilateral decisions to rule out one of my softball theories on HRC’s email. Last I looked, State Department is an federal executive function which includes in its duties support of defense and intelligence functions. State can do anything the executive orders falling under its duties, and good luck exposing its activities classified by the executive.

    “The other guys did it too” isn’t an excuse when “The other guys” may have issued the first classified executive order setting some of State’s activities in motion.

    At this point the F word I’m thinking of isn’t Farce or Felony.

  12. lefty665 says:

    Rayne @3:14 I am a fan because you are bright, well educated, have broad life experience, a wide range of interests, and excellent techie chops. But like all of us, sometimes you get things wrong. In this case it was with the idea of HRC’s private email server as a NOC honeypot. When I disagreed, it is disappointing that instead of saying something along the lines of “well ok maybe not”, and moving on, you doubled down and threw in a misogynistic slur.
    .
    Valerie Plame, a CIA employee working on nuclear proliferation in hostile countries using business person cover was NOC. If she had been exposed, she would have been arrested, jailed and possibly executed as a spy. Had she been working at the US Embassy under official 3rd assistant deputy something cover, if she had been exposed she would have been declared persona non grata by the host country and sent back to Langley under diplomatic immunity. Sec State HRC in the basement in Chappaqua, New York, USA with her email server was never NOC, although the idea of being arrested for her activities when she was exposed is charming, it ain’t going to happen.
    .
    It is disappointing that you have cooked up a softball theory of HRC’s email honeypot to obfuscate her wrong doing, and no amount of throwing around national security authority scare words can make it better. If her email had been a honeypot the FBI would have been quietly warned off and we would not have had the extended investigation. Plus, there is not much need for that kind of operation when Americans, like HRC, continue to be so profoundly self centered and security challenged. It would not be a surprise to find that the NSA did traffic analysis on her email server to see who was accessing it, from where, and what they were getting. HRC’s email as an unwitting honeypot, now that might have legs. In the same vein we can only hope that the Chinese pissed away potfuls of yuan using the F-35 plans we exposed.
    .
    Duhbya’s White House was curiously backup klutzy wasn’t it? The RNC, where many of them conducted their Blackberry traffic, was an equally backup free zone. Sound familiar? Some might call it a model for HRC to avoid public accountability while doing the public’s business. Wonder if the RNC or Whitehouse wiped their servers with a cloth too?
    .
    This is a tough year. Between HRC and Trump we have the worst presumptive candidates in US history. They are horrid in such different ways that it is hard to figure out who is worse, but easy to fear encouraging either of them. Between them they cover a lot of the horrid waterfront. As an Indy I’m currently thinking Green with J. Stein.
    .
    Looking forward, as always, to your daily post.

  13. Rayne says:

    lefty665 (5:45) — Let me set this straight: I don’t like HRC’s politics on business or foreign policy, and I’m iffy about them when it comes to women’s rights (show me where she’s been the key to launching and making real change happen). I do not believe she has clean hands; her work with regard to Haiti, for example, is execrable. She is the poster child for neoliberalism.

    But I’m also not going to attribute to HRC personally the entirety of Deep State’s machinations. We’ve already seen some of the tools at its disposal, revealed by Snowden. What we know * now * of those tools offers explanations for some mysterious problems during the Bush administration — specifically, how White House emails could go “missing” on such a spotty basis.

    And how those same emails could go “missing” across the swath of duplicative backups and redundancies.

    You questioned my knowledge in a manner I have so often heard through my lifetime — like so many women have. You don’t think it’s misogynist, but you didn’t exactly treat me with respect before you popped off (and exposing your own lack of knowledge about Bush admin’s missing emails). Next time do your homework. There’s this thing called Google. Use it. Or DuckDuckGo, I don’t care. Here, I’ll even make it easy and lob you a gimme, just scroll down to comments.

    As for FBI getting quietly waved off: right. Not a chance in hell they could just walk away when the right-wing is foaming at the mouth about HRC’s emails.

  14. lefty665 says:

    Thanks, that gets us back on a more even keel.
    .
    Please understand that I don’t tend to treat flat wrong assertions terribly kindly. The gender of the source is immaterial, not all low respect comments are gender driven. Testosterone poisoning on the other hand is gender specific. Your use of NOC was flat wrong. There aren’t very many of those folks and they voluntarily live dangerous lives in hostile environments in service of their country. Comparing them to HRC in her basement with a server in Chappaqua denigrates their service. Half a dozen folks in Duhbya’s administration should have been in jail for exposing Valerie Plame.
    .
    What surprised me was setting up a national security dodge for HRC when her own well known paranoia and disrespect for transparency in the public acts of public servants provides a simple explanation of her behavior. I do have some sympathy after the way the wingnuts have pursued her and Bill over the years. That has been ugly, but it does not give her a free pass to break the law and to stiff the rest of us today.
    .
    We certainly agree on the Duhbya era WH emails. Their backup practices sucked, and it seems likely that was premeditated. When they moved a lot of their stuff off government servers onto RNC equipment it seemed to me that was evidence of malice aforethought. Same as it did when HRC did it, and with the same lack of impartial input into what was deleted or “missing”. I’d suggest our differences on Duhbya era missing emails is from talking about different pieces of the elephant rather than ignorance on either of our parts.
    ,
    Our opinions will differ on backing off the FBI. I expect if the DIRNSA went to POTUS and told him the FBI was investigating one of their operations the word would go down the chain of command and the FBI would back off. We’re certainly seeing a lack of HRC prosecution subsequent to Obama’s declaration of HRC’s lack of bad intent. Anyone else would be charged at this point. For example, Jeffrey Sterling is in jail right now in part for retaining retroactively classified CIA training materials from the ’80s on how to use a rotary phone. Some of the CIA inspired classification of HRC’s email is similarly bogus, but even State agrees there was some highly sensitive material in HRC’s emails. It should have been on JWICS, not on private unsecured cloud based email.
    .
    Onward, it’s a new day and I believe your Friday post is up.

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