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Ether Mind

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm qualified to comment

on this:

Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists and may one day unleash a robot arms race, a top expert on artificial intelligence told AFP. -breitbart.com

They have various foolish objections to killer robot armies.

1) Terrorist could steal themz!
Yeah, they can steal nukes. Anyway, terrorists are cheaper than robots, no terrorist group has the logistics to support robots, robots are about as effective as a time bomb for the terrorist side of asymmetric warfare, safeguards can be built in (ineffectively), and the problem as a whole would be statistically insignificant.

2) Robot arms race zomg!
Yeah, we could spend our budget on robot guns instead of guns. The only difference is fewer casualties.

3) "But nowhere is there any consideration of the ethical implications of the weaponisation of these systems," he said.
Yeah, actually, we considered them, but it only took about five seconds to realize that killing robots is preferable to killing people. As a side note, robots don't rape, pillage, or care when hippies spit on them.

4) "I have worked in artificial intelligence for decades, and the idea of a robot making decisions about human termination terrifies me," Sharkey said.
Well, better get crackin' on the algorithms then. What do you think the decision heuristic is for a land mine? A daisy cutter?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


"So let's show the Obama campaign that they can't win this race just by throwing more money at it," the email said, seeking to raise $1.9 million in the next 24 hours. - CNN

No one sees any.. irony in this?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Love The Queers

In honor of the arbitrary establishmentarians that cavort about me like Sumomo-tan

I've decided to make this post about The Queers. Yes, they're one of the original Pop Punk groups, and, despite their generally inane lyrics, their talents impress and the hit Debra Jean has earned a coveted 5 Stars in my media player. Pirate away.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk 16


A thousand meters from streetlevel, a bridge connected two great towers. It was delicate, a mere wisp, fourteen lanes wide. Of course it only carried pedestrians.

Depending from the peak of its slight arch was a blue black droplet of windows and corridors, designed by machine in the era when space constraints had birthed the towers themselves.

Falling slowly from a window at the bottom of the drip was a speck blacker than the night sky. Seen from the terrace level, just above the streetlights, it would seem to float, motionless against the vast scale of the architecture.

The viewing angle wasn't great either.

The speck began to drift down faster, like a mote of pollen in a gentle breeze, until after a few seconds it was hurtling toward the concrete at ferocious speed. It was close enough to the pavement to have a vague shape, and that shape was cartwheeling helplessly.

At five hundred meters, it blossomed into an inky black flower. The bloom spun slowly in the breeze, descending, drifting between tower walls almost as if of its own volition.

It slipped into a tiny crack between skyscrapers and settled gracefully to the ground.

"SHIT!" he screamed as he tumbled across the street, feet wrapped in aramid cabling. He rolled five times before he finally scraped to a halt on his face. "SHIT!" A service van swerved around him and honked. "Asshole!"

Shilo struggled to unwrap his legs from the collapsing pinwheel. His head jerked around, staring wild-eyed at the empty street. He looked down to find his own hand pushing a beacon button on the box strapped to his waist. He slapped it with the other hand. "NO!"

He pawed at his knife, but it wouldn't cut the fabric. He kicked and pulled, leaving a boot worth 300 Kb inside. "Gah you rrrgh!"

An unmarked white cargo van lurched around the next corner and thumped to a stop beside him. He launched himself at the side door, knocking his shoulder on the half-open door and landing with legs trailing outside. Strong, steely, delicate hands pulled him in and recovered the chute. The interior was filled with silky darkness, the van sped off before the door was closed.

Shilo and Betty wallowed around in the material, searching for each other. She packed it down beneath a shelf until they could see. The driver glanced into his mirror. Shilo stumbled toward Betty and fell to his knees in the mound of cloth. "Betty!"

"You ate a magic pill, didn't you."

He looked down, wide-eyed, at his scuffed and ruined, incredibly expensive KTX-A33 camouflage. It was a bit hard to see, so he wiped the blood from his eyes. "Maybe."

Friday, February 22, 2008

West Indian Trading Company Headquarters

The company would be chartered by the US government to build and operate nuclear power plants in foreign countries.

These would be protected by US military personnel. This would provide the natives with power, the USGOV with outposts, and the WITC with semireliable profits. It would give the US technological dominance and jobs. This seems implausible, but Iraq could be a good testbed for the model. We're planning to be there for 100 years anyway. It would enhance stability because there would be reliable power and US guns around the world. Depending on how Burma shakes out, they might want one. How about NoKo in 15 years?

Why is an anarchist in favor of global empire? Because American Empire is more free than 3rd world squallor. In a perfect world, the empire would be the last government function to be dismantled.

Tales of the Cypherpunk 15


Shilo finished copying, powered off his equipment and stepped into tho invisible hallway. He was off balance for a step, after the brief period of vision, but his senses came back quickly. He felt the dry air currents leading back to the exit. He felt the throb of generators coming online, almost loud enough to break the silence.

His lips tightened. Someone was coming. The lights were still off, which meant hunters. Normally this sort of office would only merit plebs with flashlights and handguns, but RDI could hardly afford the image of lax security; RDI needed to train its elite personnel, in the absence of civil strife; RDI clearly had a fortune in sensors to notice Shilo.

Before, his footsteps had been agony, slow, silent. Now they were swift and silent. His boots were "true black," stealthy, dissipating recoil through a semifluid reservoir that also acted as a thermal dump. They produced no noise or observable heat. They flexed and formed to his feet like socks.

His clothes were soft, like lint, but "true black" and static free. The only stiff objects he carried were a knife, a box, and a headlamp. He hoped not to use the knife. It was strapped to his inner thigh, razor sharp and serrated, meant to open flesh but not meant as an offensive weapon.

He ran through the darkness, following his mental map.
A hand touched a wall and recoiled in disgust. His position was off. He tried not to think too hard and lose his bearings completely. He turned left, brushed a door frame, clenched his jaw. Besides the ill omen, the hunters might track him that way.

They might be following him with the motion sensors that normally controlled the lights.

He felt footsteps nearby. They were close, they had the advantage of active sensors. He tingled as he felt them sweep, but his clothing should scatter signals well enough. Only line of sight was dangerous. He ran through the maze faster, knowing the ghosts would follow an optimal search pattern. He took a detour that should avoid the search pattern-

He didn't know the pattern. He didn't know how many there were. He had no way to calculate pattern and distance without power. He just looked at the map- the 2 kilometers of hallway memorized that morning- and saw the path that would evade searchers. Left. Curve. Left. Right into a wall.

Shy felt frantically to each side. Was he lost? Was the map wrong? It spun around him and wiggled like a ball of wiggling things. Here was a corner- wrong. Here was no doorway, here was an elevator.

He had gotten to the central shaft of the building.

The elevator buzzed. The car approached. He knew where he was now. He spun to the left and entered the emergency shaft as the car stopped on his level and opened. Shilo dove down the stairs- quietly- heading for the bottom floor. The door at the next landing down opened. Shilo stopped, crouched, hoping the stairs would hide him. They did, but the hunter climbed up.

Shy stood halfway down a flight of stairs and as the ghost passed below him, he jumped.

Over the banister, he fell toward the next one- there was barely room. He couldn't drop straight down the shaft. He snapped at the end of a soft, thin line and swung back, a few feet behind the ghost. The ghost turned and Shilo kicked over the rail, down to the next flight.

Pursued through a black maze by ghosts, Shilo bit into a magic pill and released a minty refreshing flood of methamphetamines and psychodelics. The ghost fell behind, following the twisting stairs while Shilo dropped awkwardly down.

Nearly there, the ghost cut the line. Shilo fell, turned in midair like a cat, landed on the stairs, fell and rolled, got up and started running. Now he heard more than two feet, the soft murmur of radios earsplitting in the quiet.

Shilo made it to the ground floor, ran down the hallway and kicked a window. The glass stretched. The casement swung open. The bottom floor of the building, of course, hung a kilometer above the streets, even above the smog. Pursuers burst into the annex to see Shilo leap out.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Obama insults women, emotional women cry about it

Gotta love this. Flashbacks, huh. Yeah, you're stable.

Of course, the problem is not that they're women, it's that they're Democrats. If anything the men on that thread are LESS rational.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Revolutionary Business Plans

I'm going to start a series of business plans. Just outlines, more like executive summaries than full business plans.

The basic idea is that we can reduce government power by pushing it out of niches with free enterprise.

There are cons to this, but it can work. Take power generation: it is highly regulated everywhere because the utilities benefit from being monopolies and the government benefits from arbitrarily controlling things. Many economists say that it's because of the nature of monopolies' pricing powers and the economies of scale in utility industries, but that's bull. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and bottled water are profitable industries that cut into this government-controlled niche.

Pre-nuptial agreements are an interesting case. If they were more popular, government-sanctioned marriage and the beloathed family courts would wither and die. Gays, Christians, and men would benefit. The reasons they aren't popular are mostly related to economics and the social flux that's taken place in the last few decades. Superficially, they have image problems, but I believe that those are mostly rooted in the fact that the government marriage contract is skewed toward women, who used to have the advantage in negotiations. Anyway, with the correct marketing, I think pre-nups could become much more common.

So I'll be posting some business ideas on this scheme, and anyone in the Phoenix area with requisite skills or capital can contact me if interested.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Right Wing Critique of the Week

Here's the story.

It's an idea piece. Not much plot. The premise is that humans can live well past a hundred with organ transplants, so young people are drafted to supply kidneys and so forth to "important" recipients: politicians etc.

Of course the main character gives in.

It's easy to read the story and think "I'd go out shooting. I'd bomb clinics under cover of darkness. I'd assassinate leaders in broad daylight."

In reality, most people are content to suffer a little rather than die for principle.

The larger problem is that the organ system is the same as social security, and I'm not killing people over that. In fact, not only can I prove that social security is morally equivalent to the "organ draft," but social security is *worse*. If they took a kidney, well, I'd live. But instead they take ~11% of your pay, forever. That's 11% of your life. That's 50 minutes a day that you go to work to support other people, people that had their whole lives to plan.

That's 11% less money to spend on groceries and Netflix. And children's birthday parties. And health care for the young and productive. Instead, that money goes to people that got us into the geopolitical monetary fiscal cultural mess that we're in.

It can't elicit the same disgust and outrage as an organ draft because it's only money. But it's not money, it's karma. It's blood, sweat and tears.

I'm not going out in a bloody spree.

It goes to show that truth and right are pretty much useless against societal inertia.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Report on SS Group 12 Feb 2008

Executive Summary

The 12 Feb focus group (2hr/25$/8F-3M/25-35) was carried out with the "parents" group demographic. This group is instrumental in introducing new viewers to Sesame street, but targeting and measurement of response rates is difficult. Following are take-aways from the focus group:

*Oscar is too grouchy.
*Big Bird is slightly too big.
*Parents noticed child actors are cuter than actual children. No judgments rendered.
*Male respondents indicated need for "more lolis."
*The Count is irritating to 4 of 11 respondents, all female.
*Bert and Ernie are still perceived to be homosexual. However, this is now seen as a positive. "When are they getting married?"
*No more arts and crafts segments that use glue or parental effort.
*One respondent asked where Mr. Rogers was.
*Sesame Street is good to watch when the respondents are "high."
*Song rated well, but major key consonances too predictable.
*"Tickle my Elmo" jokes increased by 14% over 2006 group.

Tales of the Cypherpunk 14


Shilo crawled into an air vent.

Shilo crawled out of an air vent.

He found himself in a rat's nest of tunnels. He found himself in pitch blackness, enclosed by round walls that faded into ceiling and floors that tilted at odd angles. The building slept away the night in a thick black sky which neither moon nor stars could penetrate.

The building was silent as it was dark. Even the radio signals from the outside were muted and scattered, barely perceptible to Shilo's unpowered antenna. To him, long accustomed to the hum of EM in the implants in his Superior Colliculus, it was the sound of the grave.

Still, convection moved the air. Facial vision began to take over. Shilo held his hands loosely, just barely in front of his waist, fingers extended and relaxed. He stepped forward slowly on the balls of his feet, never changing pace or becoming unbalanced. He could stop if he sensed a wall, even with a toe mils from the floor, but there was never a need. The texture and slope of the foam floor guided him.

Shilo had memorized the building's map; it formed in front of him now, like a floating, luminous ball of spaghetti. The RDI Admin building had been designed by computer in the days when space efficiency was in vogue. It seemed alien to human occupants, but in terms of space and weight and power consumption it was impressive. Still, it was a critique of science that all it produced was this flying spaghetti monster.

According to the mental image, a door should be to the right. He strained but could not detect any electric current. It was no sure thing- his own sensors were in silent running mode- but risk was part and parcel of the job.

He entered the office.

It felt small. Shilo unzipped the pouch strapped to his waist and reached in to turn on the white noise machine. It could shield him and his activities from distant EM sensors; it could also set off every alarm in the building. In this one small office, he would take the chance.

A Cypher's job was a calculated risk that took advantage of the systems that others established. Would anyone go to the expense of installing an alarm system in an individual office, behind another one, inside a darkened maze, suspended a kilometer above the ground?

He turned on a head lamp and blinked at the few lumens it produced.

The work station? The tablet? Sensitive data could never be kept on a server, no matter how secure, because it could be intercepted in transmission. Shy unwound a wire from within his pouch and began dumping every storage device in the room.

Far away, an acoustic filter recognized human activity.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who Won World War One?

A lot of people are complaining about the "One World Government" that's on the drawing boards. They think there's some sort of conspiracy. Hah. People just love giant, centralized governments with the ability to crush human freedom. There's no secret about it.

I'm not worried, for several reasons.

1) The anarchist utopia has open borders. So why be concerned about a little amnesty for illiterate disease-ridden Mexican jihadis? In a perfect world, they'd be coming here on conveyor belts.

2) The Amero, the unified North American currency, will not come to pass. The reason is that Mexico and likely Canada are too incompetent to entrust with any control over our money supply. Anyway, the dollar is a reserve currency. We practically share our economy with China already.

3) It's true that a United Nation with an Asian Union, EU, NAU etc. would be 1984 come to pass. However, at current rates the EU and United States are both going to collapse before we make it that far. My only hope is to delay the collapse as long as possible, preferably until long after I'm dead and my genes are circulating around the globe. The longer we hold out, the better the next society will be. That's according to my economic theory of government.

4) China and Islam will want to come out on top, no matter how soft and corrupt the West becomes. They'll fight it out and prevent One World Government.

5) I'm hoping to have my own space colony some day. Not that I'd want to go, but maybe some of my progeny could escape and populate the solar system. It's unlikely, but less so than One World Government.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk 13


Shilo clung to a slick glass facade nearly a thousand meters above the abyss.

Moe left the coffee shop with intel that money, apparently, could not buy.

Betty dusted a lamp.

The city was fairly free of dirt, but the chemicals in the air had a tendency to condense and congeal any time the weather changed. True, the city never rained; a constant updraft of warm, dry air from two hundred kilometers of sprawl deflected and absorbed precipitation. Even the humidity was somewhat regulated. The only real changes came twice a year when the outside temperature was pleasant; it was as if a thousand air conditioners cried out in fear and were suddenly silenced.

Air pressure could change, and temperature could change, and in the toxic soup of the Eternal Now, any change meant chemical reaction.

The practical result was a greasy film on most surfaces.
Dust was obsolete, deprecated in the most current version.

Betty dusted a plant.

The street outside was busy. Capacity in the city center was too valuable to be left fallow at night. Here, behind the giant window that marked Tom's Travel Agency, an unnamed dispute resolution firm carried on its business. What, exactly, were they doing? Were they administrative staff for an army of hackers, bodyguards and assassins? Were they virtual arbitrators? Did they arrange vacation packages for innocent travelers?

T-Rex finished his inventory of the cyphers' equipment. It was divided, not by item, but by cypher. Shilo had by far the largest lot, as per his mission and status. T-Rex tapped his pad and the full report was generated. By the time he returned to his desk, inventory charges were entered into the financial statements.

William sat slumped, drooling, twitching, wearing a pair of opaque goggles. Suction cups decorated his bare arms and chest. He gave orders to a group of uniforms, somewhere under a blazing sun. They suffered no casualties.

Betty dusted. She was on call.