WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD? LINKS 11/01/17


Artificial Intelligence

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski has reportedly founded a church whose aim is to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society”:

“Not much is known about the organization, other than that it appears to espouse a worldview embraced by many science-minded dreamers in Silicon Valley. These are acolytes of the so-called singularity—the theoretical point at which machines surpass humans in intelligence.”

Will there eventually be Artificial Intelligence so advanced that it is worshiped as a god?

“Will people actually worship the AI god? The answer is obvious — they will. We tend to trust and obey things that seem more powerful and worthy than ourselves. The GPS in your car is just the most obvious example. But we also trust Alexa and Cortana; we trust Google. When an AI becomes much more powerful, in 25 to 50 years, there is a great possibility that it will be deified in some way. (Apple and Google loyalists already have a religious fervor.)

“If an AI god does emerge, and people do start worshiping it, there will be many implications about how this AI will need to be regulated … or even subdued. Hang on for the ride.”


Decentralization, Autonomy and Independence

Justin Raimondo on Catalonia:

“…here is a relatively prosperous region of Spain that is being systematically milked of its wealth by the central authorities in Madrid. Catalonia is subsidizing the rest of the country to the tune of some $11.8 billion annually. And so secession is justified on economic grounds alone, but the case for independence doesn’t end there.

“Catalonia is a unique national-ethnic-historical entity: it has its own language, a long and distinguished history as a nation, and a record of repression by the Spanish government that dates back to the Spanish civil war and the depredations of the Francoist corporate state. In short, the independence cause is a nearly perfect case of the libertarian principle of the devolution of power, away from a centralized authority and closer to where people actually live.


Loneliness

Haruki Murakami, the “poet of loneliness”:

“His surrealism is perhaps the most elusive element of his work. Readers search in vain for literal meaning to his powerful sheep, talking cats and spectral hotel rooms. Nor, though, are they merely gimmicks. An excellent essay by Scott Esposito in The Quarterly Conversation explored Murakami’s use of the surreal as, in his words, “a kind of magical baptism to link the world on this side with the world on the other side.” Esposito understands this as the connection between the story and the reader but I also think it represents the world meeting the self; that vague boundary between observation and interpretation, out of which our myths and legends and rituals have risen. The past and the present, and desire and contentment, and neuroses and normality, take strange, convincing forms.”


Motivated Reasoning

Justin Murphy:

“It is a well-documented fact of psychology that if we are emotionally drawn to a certain conclusion, our mind tends to trust whatever looks like supporting evidence, and distrust whatever looks like contradictory evidence. A nice rule of thumb is given by the psychologist Thomas Gilovich. If we emotionally like the implication of something, our brain automatically asks “Can I believe it?” But if we don’t, our brain asks, “Must I believe it?” The difference might seem slight, but this asymmetry in how we process information leads to profound social confusion when it plays out iteratively over time. If you think you are above such pedestrian irrationality, you probably are not; this process operates through a system that is not conscious—in fact, it happens before conscious thought even begins.


Revolution

Michael Krieger on how we live in revolutionary times, and it’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle:

“Most of us continue to live in high-population, dangerously centralized nation-states that are extremely corrupt and refuse to reform. Burgeoning frustration with centralized, unaccountable, bureaucratic forces has manifested most clearly within Europe, first with Brexit and now within Catalonia. Politicians in Madrid and EU mandarins think they can just stuff this thing back in the bag and carry on, but they don’t see the bigger picture. This is much larger than the U.K. or Catalonia. Both these movements are just early manifestations of the overall spirit of our times. They’re mere symptoms of the revolutionary era we’re living in.”

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