An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language

A buried line in a new Facebook report about chatbots’ conversations with one another offers a remarkable glimpse at the future of language. In the report , researchers at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab describe using machine learning to train their “dialog agents” to negotiate. (And it turns out bots are actually quite good at dealmaking.) At one point, the researchers write, they had to tweak one of their models because otherwise the bot-to-bot conversation “led to divergence from human language as the agents developed their own language for negotiating.” They had to use what’s called a fixed supervised model instead.

Source: An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language

A Tiny Tweak to Gut Bacteria Can Extend an Animal’s Life

Most of the worms in Meng Wang ’s lab die on schedule. They live their brief lives on Petri dishes, and after two to three weeks, they die of old age. But some individuals beat the odds, surviving for several days longer than usual.These wormy Methuselahs were all genetically identical, so it wasn’t their genes that explained their decelerated aging.

Source: A Tiny Tweak to Gut Bacteria Can Extend an Animal’s Life

That Cancer, Humankind!

On May 27, 2017, I spent some time with my copy of the late (1927-2015) Eli Sagan ’s At the Dawn of Tyranny: The Origins of Individualism, Political Oppression, and the State (1985), and this morning (perhaps because of having done so) felt a need to spend some time with my copy of the late (1929-2007) David Maybury-Lewis ’s Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World (1992)—and did so.

Source: That Cancer, Humankind!

Donald Trump’s War on Journalism Has Begun. But Journalists Are Not His Main Target.

Wars are rarely announced in advance, but President Trump provided an abundance of warning about his intention to wage an assault on journalism. During the election campaign, he called journalists an “enemy of the people” and described media organizations he didn’t like as “fake news.” You can pretty much draw a direct line between his words and the actions we’ve seen lately — which include journalists physically prevented from asking questions of officials, arrested when trying to do so, and in a now-famous example from Montana, body-slammed to the ground by a Republican candidate who didn’t want to discuss his party’s position on healthcare.

Source: Donald Trump’s War on Journalism Has Begun. But Journalists Are Not His Main Target.

Was Comey Fired Because the FBI’s Sights Were Turning Toward Trump’s Russian Mobster-Connected Business Ties?

Investigating campaign collusion with the Russians is not exactly the FBI’s expertise, but organized crime, money-laundering and racketeering are. What is President Donald Trump trying to hide? That’s the question on everyone’s mind since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

Source: Was Comey Fired Because the FBI’s Sights Were Turning Toward Trump’s Russian Mobster-Connected Business Ties?

Killing flu viruses with help from a frog

Frog mucus is loaded with molecules that kill bacteria and viruses, and researchers are beginning to investigate it as a potential source for new anti-microbial drugs. One of these “host defense peptides,” courtesy of a colorful tennis-ball-sized frog species (Hydrophylax bahuvistara) from southern India, can destroy many strains of human flu and protect mice against flu infection, researchers report April 18 in the journal Immunity.

Source: Killing flu viruses with help from a frog

Ghost Funeral in Liverpool

This is an unusually well written ghost account from Liverpool. It does not appear to come up in any of Tom Slemen’s work on Liverpool (though Beach waits to be contradicted!). This appeared in the Liverpool Post in 1891. Note that in Ireland (with which Liverpool has strong migrant links) this could almost be a […]

Source: Ghost Funeral in Liverpool

Welcome to the Kali Yuga?

“As the Kaliyuga progresses towards the final conflagration and the life expectancy of man decreases to fifty years, the Doctrine of Shakyamuni will be subject to degeneration, and these conditions will prevail, portending ruin: Householders fill the monasteries and there is fighting before the altar; the temples are used as slaughterhouses; the ascetics of the caves return to the cultivated valleys, and the yogins become traders; thieves own the wealth and cattle; monks become householders while priests and spiritual leaders turn to robbery, brigandage, and thievery. Disorder becomes chaos, turning to panic that rages like wildfire. Corrupt and selfish men become leaders, while abbots turned army officers lead their monks as soldiers, and nuns put their own bastards to death. Sons see their estates and inheritances stolen from them. Mean and vulgar demagogues become local leaders while young girls instruct the young in schools. The belch of the Bon magician resounds in the yogin’s hermitage, and the wealth of the sanctuaries is looted; the scriptures of the Tathagatas, the images of the Buddhas, the sacred icons, the scroll paintings, and the stupas will be desecrated, stolen, and bartered at the market price, their true worth forgotten. The temples will become dungcovered cowsheds and stables.

“When religious duties are forgotten, spirits of darkness that had been controlled by ritual power become unloosed and frenzied and govern the mind of whatever being they possess. Spirits of vindictive power possess the rulers; spirits of egoistic wickedness possess the Mantradharas or magicians; spirits of disease possess the Bon priests; enchanting spirits causing disease possess men; spirits of rebellion and malice possess the children; grasping, quarreling spirits possess the wives; wanton spirits possess the maidens; spirits of depravity possess the nuns; every man, woman, and child in the country becomes possessed by uncontrollable forces of darkness. The signs of these times are new and fantastic modes of dressing. Traditional styles are forgotten; the monks wear fancy robes, and the nuns dress up before a mirror. Every man must carry a sword to protect himself and guard his food from poison. Abbots and teachers poison their pupils’ minds and hearts; the executive and legislature disagree; men become lewd and licentious, unable to restrain themselves; women become unchaste; monks ignore their discipline and moral code; the Mantradharas break their covenant. As the frenzy of malicious, selfish, vindictive, and ruthless spirits grows, paranoid rumor increases, and ornament and clothing fashions change continually.

“Drunkards preach the path to salvation; the advice of sycophants is followed; fraudulent teachers give false initiations; guileful imposters claim psychic powers; loquacity and eloquence pass as wisdom. The arrogant elevate profanity; the proletariat rules the kingdom; kings become paupers; butchers and murderers become leaders of men; unscrupulous self-seekers rise to high position. The masters of the high Tantras stray like dogs in the streets, and their faithless, errant students roam like lions in the jungle. Embodiments of malice and selfishness become revered teachers, while the achievements of tantric adepts become reviled, the guidance of the secret guru execrated, the precepts of the Buddha ignored, and the advice of yogis and sages unsought. Robes become worn by fools and villains while monks wear foreign dress; even murderers wear the sacred robe. Men resort to malicious enchantment, learning mantra for selfish ends; monks prepare poisonous potions for blackmail, extortion, and profit. False doctrines are devised from the Buddha’s word, and the teachers’ interpretations become self-vindications. The valid teachings of Tantra are despised as nonsense. Many treacherous paths, previously uncharted, are followed; many iniquitous practices spread; behavior that was previously anathema is tolerated; ideals are established contrary to tradition; all good customs and habits are rejected, and many despicable innovations corrupt. The wealth of the monasteries is plundered and spent upon gluttony by those under vow. Following errant paths, men become trapped by their own mean actions; the avaricious and spurious protectors of the pure teaching no longer fulfill their functions.

“The celestial order, disrupted, loosens plague, famine, and war to terrorize terrestrial life. The planets run wild, and the stars fall out of their constellations; great burning stars arise, bringing unprecedented disaster. No rain falls in season, but out of season the valleys are flooded. Famine, frost, and hail govern many unproductive years. The rapacious female demons and fierce tanma, unpropitiated and enraged, release diseases, horrible epidemics, and plagues that spread like wildfire, striking men and cattle. Earthquakes bring sudden floods while fire, storms, and tornadoes destroy temples, stupas, and cities in an instant. At this time the Great Stupa itself falls into ruin. During this pall of darkness the Wheel of Dharma at Vajrasana [Bodh Gaya} declines; the storm of war rages in Nepal for many years; India is stricken with famine; the Kathmandu Valley is afflicted with plague; earthquakes decimate the people of Upper Ngari in western Tibet; plague destroys the people of central Tibet; the Kyi Valley district of Lhasa subsides; the peaks of the high Himalayas in the borderland of Mon fall into the valleys. Three strong forts are built on the Five-Peaked Mountain; a retreat is built in the deep gorge of the Bear’s Lair of Mon; two suns rise in Kham to the east; the Chinese emperor dies suddenly; four armies descend on central Tibet from the borders; the Muslim Turks conquer Ngari; the Jang army enters Kham; the Turukha demon army conquers India; the Garlok army shatters the teachings; the Protectors’ Temple, Rasa Trulnang in Lhasa, is threatened; the famous temple of Samye is desecrated; the stupas of Bhutan tilt, and the Wheel of Dharma malfunctions.

“The great monasteries of the country become deserted and the belch of the Bon priest resounds in the quiet hermitages; the wise and simple leaders of the monasteries are poisoned and die off so that the lineal explanations and practices are fragmented or lost; the holders of the lineal traditions meet sudden death. Imposters and frauds confuse the people; the jackal’s howl haunts the land, and emanations of Mara roam throughout Tibet. The silken knot restraining demonic forces in divine bondage is untied, and the cord of faith keeping the human mind harmonious is severed. The golden yoke of the king’s law is broken, and the strength of communal unity is lost; the peoples’ traditions are rejected, and the sea of contentment dries up. Personal morality is forgotten, and the cloak of modesty is thrown away. Virtue is powerless and humiliated, dominated by coarse, immodest, and fearful rulers. Abbots, teachers, and professors become army officers while the ignorant guide religious aspirants, explain the doctrine, and give initiation. Aspirants speak with self-defensive abuse while butchers and maddened elephants lead men. The passes, valleys, and narrow paths are terrorized by shameless brigands. Fearful, lawless, and leaderless, the people fight amongst themselves, each man working selfishly. Tibet becomes corrupt and defiled. These are the conditions prevailing during the Kaliyuga. These are the portents of the destruction of the Great Stupa.”

– from Chapter 4 of The Legend Of The Great Stupa.

 

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

Great article!

Violent metaphors

Update (8/30/14): I’ve written a shorter version of this guide for teachers to hand out to their classes. If you’d like a PDF, shoot me an email: jenniferraff (at) utexas (dot) edu.

Last week’s post (The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google) sparked a very lively discussion, with comments from several people trying to persuade me (and the other readers) that their paper disproved everything that I’d been saying. While I encourage you to go read the comments and contribute your own, here I want to focus on the much larger issue that this debate raised: what constitutes scientific authority?

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June 2013: Second Hottest June on Record

Earth First! Newswire

By Bob Petz / Ecology

Last month was the second warmest June on record, according to global surface temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

This year’s global average of 14.67 °C for June falls just short of the 14.74 °C record set in June 1998 — a record aided by a strong, warming El Niño event.

In contrast, this year’s June temperature occurred during a mild La Niña, which tends to have a cooling effect.

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James Hansen and the Three Categories of the Runaway Greenhouse: Earth Uninhabitable for Humans at ~5,000 Gigatons Fossil Fuel Burned

robertscribbler

( Image source: Arctic News)

Forget for a moment that we can still emit about 530 gigatons of CO2 and still keep human warming in the ‘safe range’ of less than 2 degrees (Celsius) temperature increases this century. Forget for a moment how important to the sustenance of human civilization and the prevention of ever-worsening conditions this strict limit on carbon emissions is. Now think for a moment what will happen if Republicans in Congress and fellow conservatives aligned with fossil fuel companies across the country and around the world get their way.

In the past month, Republicans in the House of Representatives have pushed to increase US coal burning, approve the Tar Sands Keyston XL Pipeline, remove energy efficiency standards, and to slash US government (ARPA -E) R&D funding for new renewable energy technology by 80 percent. Fully 55% of all Republicans in the…

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National Post | Life

The world is facing outbreaks of “totally drug-resistant” tuberculosis if explosions of the bacteria in South Africa and other poorer nations are not addressed, according to a new papers published in Emerging Infectious Diseases. At this point, researchers are working to determine how the bacteria gains its invincibility, and how to isolate it.

Fears are mounting in medical communities worldwide that conventional treatments would be useless against the new diseaseThe Daily Mail‘s health site reports. They say doctors are warning “the world is on the brink of an outbreak of a deadly and ‘virtually untreatable’ strain of drug resistant tuberculosis unless immediate action is taken.” Fears of a repeat of the 1980s outbreak in New York City that killed 90% of the people who contracted the TB strain are being cited by those urging action in poorer countries where the disease is spiralling out of control.

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capitoilette

On December 2, 1942, a small group of physicists under the direction of Enrico Fermi gathered on an old squash court beneath Alonzo Stagg Stadium on the Campus of the University of Chicago to make and witness history. Uranium pellets and graphite blocks had been stacked around cadmium-coated rods as part of an experiment crucial to the Manhattan Project–the program tasked with building an atom bomb for the allied forces in WWII. The experiment was successful, and for 28 minutes, the scientists and dignitaries present observed the world’s first manmade, self-sustaining nuclear fission reaction. They called it an atomic pile–Chicago Pile 1 (CP-1), to be exact–but what Fermi and his team had actually done was build the world’s first nuclear reactor.

The Manhattan Project’s goal was a bomb, but soon after the end of the war, scientists, politicians, the military and private industry looked for ways to harness the power…

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Goldbely Launches To Bring Gourmet Cuisine To Food Explorers All Over The Country

crab cakes…pralines…bacon ice-cream

TechCrunch

Foodies are always looking for something new and unique to try, but so much of what we eat is dictated by the local flavor of the areas we live in. Well one startup seeking to provide new experiences to those folks is Goldbely, which aims to make interesting foods available to anyone who might want to try them. The startup, which is part of the current crop of Y Combinator companies, recently launched with a food delivery business that helps customers find unique foods from different areas of the country.

Goldbely is trying to connect its customers — which it refers to as “Food Explorers” — with interesting food such as Chicago deep-dish pizza, Philadelphia cheesesteaks, Texas barbecue, New York bagels, and Maryland crab cakes, among other treats. The idea is to ship food so that it can be enjoyed almost as if you were eating it in its…

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“…a bell like that can’t be unrung…” priceless.

This Just In

A court hearing in Philadelphia took an unforeseen turn when a witness, testifying about the consequences of losing his left eye in an alleged assault, began crying and his prosthetic eyeball popped out of its socket and into his hand, unsettling the jury and resulting in a mistrial, according to attorneys involved.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 26 years and I’ve never seen anything like that happen. It was unusual; it was shocking,” said Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson, who is prosecuting Mathew Brunelli, 23, charged with aggravated assault, for allegedly stabbing John Huttick in the eye during a bar fight in August 2011.

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Hey, hey, we’re the monks…

Buddhist Art News

Korean Hearlad
Park Sui, Intern reporter
2013-02-07

“Udumbara Band” surprises many with its unique title as the first Korean Buddhist music band.

Seven monks with musical talent passed an audition held last July and became members of Udumbara Band. They have been practicing for their debut since August 2012.

Udumbara is a plant that flowers, according to Buddhist legend, once every 3,000 years. The band was named after this plant to celebrate the first Buddhist music band to be formed in Korean Buddhism’s long history.

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If it goes off while I’m brushing, there could be a problem.

TechCrunch

More hardware startups are looking at everyday tools that have been relatively unchanged for a long time, like the HAPIFork we saw at CES this year. Today, a new startup called Wayki is adding its innovative toothbrush design to the list of gadgets hoping to improve the lifestyle of users by adding a modern tech spin to an age-old tool.

The Wayki is a toothbrush that doubles as an alarm clock, but rather than just being a roughshod combination of the two, it uses the alarm function to reinforce toothbrushing action and hopefully ingrain some good health habits for users. The alarm can’t be snoozed, and it can only be deactivated by inserting the Wayki brush head into the base, which in turn triggers the two-minute brush timer (I always thought you were supposed to go for five minutes per session, but that might be overkill, according to Wayki).

Wayki advertises its lack…

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Grist

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2r8cHXP8P4A]

Last week, a much discussed new paper in the journal Nature seemed to suggest to some that we needn’t worry too much about the melting of Greenland, the mile-thick mass of ice at the top of the globe. The research found that the Greenland ice sheet seems to have survived a previous warm period in Earth’s history — the Eemian period, some 126,000 years ago — without vanishing (although it did melt considerably).

But Ohio State glaciologist Jason Box isn’t buying it.

At Monday’s Climate Desk Live briefing in Washington, D.C., Box, who has visited Greenland 23 times to track its changing climate, explained that we’ve already pushed atmospheric carbon dioxide 40 percent beyond Eemian levels. What’s more, levels of atmospheric methane are a dramatic 240 percent higher — both with no signs of stopping. “There is no analogue for that in the ice record,” said Box.

And that’s not…

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The Extinction Protocol

 
December 24, 2012GEOLOGYIt has long been known that volcanic activity can cause short-term variations in climate. Now, researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), together with colleagues from Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) have found evidence that the reverse process also occurs: Climate affects volcanic activity. Their study is now online in the international journal Geology. In 1991, it was a disaster for the villages nearby the erupting Philippine volcano Pinatubo. But the effects were felt even as far away as Europe. The volcano threw up many tons of ash and other particles into the atmosphere causing less sunlight than usual to reach the Earth’s surface. For the first few years after the eruption, global temperatures dropped by half a degree. In general, volcanic eruptions can have a strong short-term impact on climate. Conversely, the idea that climate may also…

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Jon Rappoport's Blog

The mind-control qualities of Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, and Scott Pelley

by Jon Rappoport

December 20, 2012

www.nomorefakenews.com

In the wake of the Sandy Hook murders, I’ve been describing how the television coverage is a form of mind control.

Of course, it’s wall-to-wall mind control every day, no matter what stories the networks are focused on.

The best of the best mind control is applied by the three major network anchors: Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, and Diane Sawyer.

They don’t do it as well as Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Edward R Murrow once worked their magic, but they’re fairly good practitioners of the art. Brian Williams is the current champion.

Here are the qualities you need to rise to the top of the charts.

You believe and don’t believe in what you’re doing at the same time.

You know it’s all an act, but yet you have firm…

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Quantum Consciousness

Quantum Consciousness.

 

Only read this twice, so far.  If these microtubules have their own agenda that we can probably never understand, then, our idea of consciousness’ relation to this energy will always be a mystery.  At least we can start working on putting our “selves” into digital format for storage and eventual re-animation. I think we are stepping beyond PKD territory.

The Meaning of Life in 30 seconds or less

“The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism – and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong – and lucky – he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

Stanley Kubrick – 1968

 

Just what I needed after reading the latest post by Guy McPherson at Nature Bat’s Last.

Precognitive Dissonance

I welcome the atomization of society and I look forward to a socialism based on it, to the day when the disintegration of tradition will be as final and universal for the masses as it is already for the artist, because it will be only when they fully realize their “aloneness” and accept it, that men will be able to achieve a real unity through a common recognition of their diversity, and only when they are conscious that all symbols are symbols and not life, that they will be able to use them properly to live and communicate with each other, and the river will have at least reached the ocean: but, on the other hand, though I believe that we are on the last lap of this particular race, I fear that the last lap is going to be the worst.

 

                                                                                                                                            W. H. Auden – 1940

Learning to use Live Writer

I’ve been learning about Word Press over the past few weeks.  Trying to master the mechanics is a lot of fun, but, I’ve been limited by my learning curve up til now. 

renee

Thanks to an accidental freeze and crash of my latest Windows 7 setup, I decided to jump into the fire and replace it with the new Windows 8 evaluation.  In the process of familiarizing myself with the glories of Windows 8, I ran across Live Writer 2012 and discovered that it plays nice with Word press.  This post is my first effort at ascending the stairway to weblog fluency.  More testing to follow, lucky reader.

Psychiatry’s Legitimacy Crisis

 Los Angeles Review of Books – Psychiatry’s Legitimacy Crisis.

I remember having the same sinking feeling of pointlessness about the field of psychiatry after reading Physical Control of the Mind by Jose Delgado back in college.  I had invested so much time and energy becoming familiar with the psychoanalytic approach, seeing it as a career path, and then, POOF!

I talked about this with Jack Downing in early ’73 at his place on the coast and he reminded me of Huxley’s predictions in Brave New World Revisited.  I also had a shorter version of the same conversation with Al Frances in Durham, over lunch in ’93.  Even then, Al was a bit touchy about DSMIV.

Technical Problems keep Online offline for 26 hours.

In my ongoing (at glacial pace) efforts to reduce clutter, I organized the Home Theater/Computer setup into a smaller footprint.  I also unplugged the cable modem.  No one told me the newfangled thing had a battery.  After the computer stopped working, an hour later or so, I had no reason to assume my earlier activities were to blame.  I spent the rest of the day recycling the modem and network boxes, unplugging and replugging wires and finally gave up. Somewhere late Sunday afternoon, I tried again and discovered the modem plug dangling behind the cabinet.  One good thing, I actually read my kindle for a few hours.  In some cases, age does not guarantee wisdom.