November 22, 2016 § 13 Comments
Apparently top media executives and media personalities were invited to an off the record meeting with the President Elect. In this off the record meeting the President Elect accused them of being unethical liars. They proceeded to prove his point by publishing stories about the off the record meeting.
October 27, 2016 § 9 Comments
October 24, 2016 § 72 Comments
Critics of democracy sometimes point to Arrow’s Theorem as demonstration that it is rationally impossible in principle for any kind of democratic process to produce good political results. That isn’t precisely correct: what Arrow’s theorem demonstrates isn’t that democracy cannot produce good results. What it demonstrates is that democracy cannot produce results that anybody wants: Arrow’s theorem pertains to the achievement and ranking of preferences, not the achievement and ranking of objective goods.
One of the superficial objections that comes up from time to time is that in our elections we do not rank and choose policies: we rank and choose representatives. But it does not follow that therefore Arrow’s theorem does not apply. What follows is that no democratic process can successfully select representatives that we prefer from the available choices.
Reality seems to agree with Arrow’s theorem, if you observe the representatives we actually get. Whether or not some technical objections to the application of Arrow’s theorem obtain here and there, the overwhelming empirical confirmation is difficult to deny.
October 11, 2016 § 10 Comments
April 24, 2016 § 13 Comments
I’ve expressed before why I am not concerned that some artificial intelligence is going to take over the world and turn humans into slaves any time soon. Computer scientists have been yammering on about how AI was just around the corner since before I was typing rudimentary game programs into Hewlett-Packard calculators in the 1970’s. The pinnacle of what all of this massive human effort has produced is smart phone autocorrect.
Computers don’t have intelligence and they will never have intelligence. They do just exactly what they are told to do, nothing more, nothing less. Because they can do so very, very quickly, and because human beings are telling them what to do, they can be used to do some astonishing things. But they are just mindless tools, and that is all they will ever be.
However, computer-infected objects have managed to become quite narcissistic, at the instruction of their programmers. It is astonishing how many inanimate objects are constantly nagging me for attention, not because of something they can do for me but because they need me to attend to their own special needs.
Of course if humans continue on our current trends Alan Turing may turn out to have been prescient after all. As human society approaches the Narcissism Singularity it may ultimately become impossible for a third party observer to distinguish between the nagging narcissism of circuits and the nagging narcissism of meat.
February 5, 2016 § 11 Comments
This is just a theoretical exercise, so the specific numbers aren’t all that important: I’m just spitballing here. Basically what I am proposing is (say) a $1000 tax per voter, paid by the voter, to cover the carbon footprint of that person voting.
Suppose 100 million voters average 2 miles to get to the polls each at 20 miles per gallon. That is 10 million gallons of gas.
Polling places consume another 5 million gallons of gas or equivalent keeping facilities open, setting up and tearing down, running computer equipment, and the like.
The politicians these voters elect consume about 1 billion gallons of gas or equivalent in the process of providing for their own facilities, transportation, perks, interns, hookers, bribes, kickbacks, drugs, and alcohol.
Elected politicians also consume the equivalent of about 1 trillion gallons of gas in the process of providing goodies back to the voters, who elected them in order to receive those goodies.
Again I am just spitballing here, but I think is it pretty easy to see how a $1000+ carbon tax on everyone who votes could be straightforwardly justified.
February 2, 2016 § 15 Comments
Laurie Woodward, the director of the Student Union, said that when she approached the union with the question of if they wanted to keep the current MLK quote or supplement a new one, one of the students asked, “Does the MLK quote represent us today?”
“Diversity is so much more than race. Obviously race still plays a big role. But there are people who identify differently in gender and all sorts of things like that,” sophomore architecture major Mia Ashley said.
Here is the result of my muse:
Black is the new white
niggardly niggardly niggardly noobs,
militantly tolerant of men with boobs,
heckle and snark administrative rubes,
until MLK day goes down the tubes