Politics

The struggle is real.

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And their vision of our future

The soft brutality of crappy algorithms, and how this model delivers blunt reflections of prejudice.

Corporations don’t want our opinions with the nuances and compassion still attached. They capture a causally harsh picture of us and that picture is reflected in the development of the only tools we have to communicate with each other…which reinforces its impact on society.

  • Virtually all internet hubs traffic in this lowest-common-denominator model, embracing and broadcasting our worst and weakest traits as norms. How do we fight this?
  • Whatever systems we have for societal healing and repair (do we have any?) are drowned in a flood of unanticipated impacts.
  • How will these results affect the assumptions built into business and social planning?
  • How will those plans reinforce our tacit assumptions about each other?

Emil Protalinski, writing for VentureBeat: At the Movethedial Global Summit in Toronto yesterday, I listened intently to a talk titled “No polite fictions: What AI reveals about humanity.” Kathryn Hume, Borealis AI’s director of product, listed a bunch of AI and algorithmic failures — we’ve seen plenty of that. But it was how Hume described algorithms that really stood out to me. “Algorithms are like convex mirrors that refract human biases, but do it in a pretty blunt way,” Hume said. “They don’t permit polite fictions like those that we often sustain our society with.” I really like this analogy. It’s probably the best one I’ve heard so far, because it doesn’t end there. Later in her talk, Hume took it further, after discussing an algorithm biased against black people used to predict future criminals in the U.S.

“These systems don’t permit polite fictions,” Hume said. “They’re actually a mirror that can enable us to directly observe what might be wrong in society so that we can fix it. But we need to be careful, because if we don’t design these systems well, all that they’re going to do is encode what’s in the data and potentially amplify the prejudices that exist in society today.” If an algorithm is designed poorly or — as almost anyone in AI will tell you nowadays — if your data is inherently biased, the result will be too. Chances are you’ve heard this so often it’s been hammered into your brain.

 

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Trump and his wholly compromised attorney general and secretary of state have been seeking international help in discrediting our intelligence services, the Mueller report, etc. This behavior is all about relieving economic sanctions on Russia. Our government is parasitized by an enemy power for their benefit.

Moscow Mitch knows this, of course, and WE know that his goal is for Republicans to retain power. He has an end game he’s been anticipating for months. At a certain point in the multiplying scandals, Donald Trump becomes the thing on fire inside the Republican “car” and Mitch must either boot him or burn too. The timing is essential, neither too near nor too far from the Prez.race.  There will also be a slowly dawning “shocked and saddened” atmosphere generated in the Senate on the downbeat. As support for Trump hollows and thins, there will be a critical point of collapse. Republican strategy is always about loyalty and following orders. When Trump authority vanishes Republicans will follow orders from the highest surviving level of Republican authority…

Without Trump as a candidate, most Republican voters will “eat what they’re given”.  Perhaps it will be a surviving Pence but I suspect he’s filthy with complicity and won’t escape.  A guy like Mitt Romney actually COULD get elected in the resulting chaos and he would look like a knight in armor coming to rescue the party. Nikki Haley apparently beats all the dem candidates in a current survey (not confirmed by me). The only real difference in governing would be coherent international policies and ending self-destructive tariff nonsense. This is how the Republicans can win so it is what they will do. 

Democrats need to stop imagining only best-case scenarios for themselves when picturing the 2020 election. We aren’t going to get them. 

 

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– William Stafford

 

A piccolo played, then a drum.
Feet began to come – a part of the music. Here comes a horse,
clippety clop, away.

My mother said, “Don’t run –
the army is after someone
other than us. If you stay
you’ll learn our enemy.”

Then he came, the speaker. He stood
in the square. He told us who
to hate. I watched my mother’s face,
its quiet. “That’s him,” she said.

 

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in European countries per 100.000 inhabitants (2016). (Phone users the info-graphic is at the bottom, in case it’s hard to see on your phone, the male numbers are to the left and females on the right.) I knew male suicide rates were higher but I had no idea the difference was this stark. The male suicide rate is at least double and often triple the female rate. In Russia, it’s 6X higher! We live in an absurd time where every opinion that could POSSIBLY have a political ax to grind is assumed to have one.

I want to turn that assumption around and ask questions:

  1. Why do I feel vaguely self-conscious and a need to clarify my motives when posting this? Is showing concern specifically for men seen as rejecting concerns about women? Has a discussion of male-female issues grow to resemble the charged atmosphere surrounding discussion of Israel? I refer to the fear of being called anti-semitic that comes with any criticism of Israeli policy or show of concern for Palestinians. If so, how have relations between the sexes sunk low enough to mirror the most vicious and entrenched argument in the world?
  2. In general, why isn’t the cause of this situation (male suicide numbers) a bigger, more pressing public health question? If the numbers were reversed do you think would there be a higher level of concern and more discussion about what is happening to girls and women?

But outside of politics or any kind of moralizing, just pondering the composition of the human race, I think one of the most revealing questions we could ask  to understand our species is simply:

Why is this so? 

 

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(with inspiration from the brilliant Robert Anton Wilson)

Add the next term to the series:

  1. walk
  2. ride horseback
  3. fly by jet
  4. ______________

A certain job can be performed either by a human or a machine. We should

  1. Employ the human because “the devil makes work for idle hands.”
  2. Employ the human because otherwise he or she might be bored
  3. Employ the human because there is no way to organize society except by having most people work for wages
  4. Employ the machine because technology has no function other than to free people from toil.

Add the next term to the series:

  1. hunt and gather
  2. farm
  3. industry-commerce
  4. ___________________

There is a magic machine with two buttons, each of which will create equality among humans. You will push

  1. the button that makes everybody equally poor
  2. the button that makes everybody equally rich

Working for wages

  1. Has always existed and always will exist
  2. Is ordained by God
  3. Did not appear on large scale until the Enclosure Acts drove the serfs off the land in the past 300 years
  4. Will become obsolete in the next 100 years
  5. Will become obsolete in the next 10 years

The best way to search for Higher Intelligence is to

  1. Find the right religion
  2. Support the search for radio signals from advanced civilizations in the galaxy;
  3. Investigate UFO’s
  4. Research our own nervous system
  5. Build a starship and go looking.
  6. Other

Add the next term to the series:

  1. Black Pride
  2. Women’s Liberation
  3. Gay Pride
  4. _______________

 

 

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“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation.
And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”

–Gus Speth, a US advisor on climate change

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Though he is constantly battling in public over the specific issue of truth, Donald Trump lives a truth-free life.

Truth as something objectively real no longer exists for him except in nightmares. More accurately, truth exists for him as kryptonite exists for Superman: It’s out there and it could kill him. He knows that truth is the natural enemy of the Trump, and swells up in his threat display at the sound of it. Much like empathy and compassion, Trump as an anti-social personality doesn’t care about objective truth at all, and it isn’t real and pressing to him except as an obsessive concern voiced by the unruly ocean of “Not-Trump” surrounding him. The human community relies on truth for health and safety but also for justice and sanity; deprived of the truth, our mental compass needle spins uselessly. In this state, we are helpless toward the con man or the invading army.

The concept of truth can’t be avoided but it can be diverted onto a different track. In Trump’s case, this track is naked self-interest, flitting, pixie-like to whatever make-believe high ground momentarily fits the bill. Trump’s anti-relationship to truth and to the social duty owed to others is a kind of genius of irresponsibility made complete by including himself among the population he lies to. He is like some animal that adapted to an environment and can no longer live outside of it. Lies are his breathable atmosphere, his means of locomotion and his opposable thumbs. He has fully abandoned the premise of truth and never performs that mental pocket check for facts before speaking. Lies are the slime trail-smoothing his passage.

He isn’t so much a man as a conglomerate of whirlygigs slaved to shouting nonsensical PR, excuses, and complaints. Literally, everything is compartmentalized, and every one of those compartments has a self-indulgent narrative. Every part of the man is a fucking Horcrux of his former soul engineered by “killing” something. The thing killed is generally a relationship to someone who isn’t Donald Trump. Long ago, the child that he still is refused the burden of honoring the social contract with some person for the first time. That “murder” was exhilarating and liberating. He became instantly lighter and more powerful when he owed somebody NOTHING. The sticking point was his vestigial conscience and need for external approval. He solved the conscience problem by making his conscience into one more person he owed nothing, especially the truth. He became part of his own audience and the most gullible and superficial of the bunch. No one applauds Donald Trump louder or faster than he does. Henceforth, no action carried a moral burden any longer, only legal ones. He embraced amorality to enjoy immorality. He happily sought opportunities for evil little and big. Often it was for the simple pleasure of torturing small helpless things (people) to hear them squeak for payment, justice or mercy. Violating people’s autonomy, dignity and sovereignty is his signature activity. It’s why he rapes, it’s even why he shakes hands the way he does. It’s as if he’s ticking humanity one by one, off a list of people he defeated. The less any man is, the greater Trump is.

Trump’s admiration for the worst men on earth stems from them outshining him by being more nakedly vicious and selfish than he has managed yet, tethered as he is to crowd approval in the tumbled remains of a democracy. You can practically hear him muttering about how he “never gets to do anything fun” compared to those guys.

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“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

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From Merriam Webster

balkanize

verb, often capitalized

bal·​kan·​ize | \ ˈbȯl-kə-ˌnīz  \
balkanized; balkanizing

Definition of balkanize

transitive verb

1: to break up (a region, a group, etc.) into smaller and often hostile units.
2: DIVIDE, COMPARTMENTALIZE, now pop culture has been balkanized; it is full of niches, with different groups watching and playing their own things— Richard Corliss

 

To relate it to the core subjects of this site, it is the opposite of emergence, and it breaks tension force like a leg; it is political reductionism, reducing powerful wholes, first to parts, then to ineffectual warring wholes too small to fight the real enemy.
Whether you call them the 1% or Oligarchs, they weary of our organized resistance and infuriating self-interest. Divide and conquer.

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