the fact that fellow stumblers can actually ask “What exactly is the point of this?” demonstrates how badly this kind of reminder is needed…

Just absorb the mindset of this author and you will appreciate the scale of the American Problem.

hEyOkA mAgAzInE

and at what point are the authors of this fantasy going to admit that it aint gonna happen. At least not this side of the new presidency. Now, if one of the candidates is assassinated in the next few days, well that would be a different ball game and all bets would be off. But, short of that, you can expect a peaceful transition to the next dictatorship…

– The International Center for Bathroom Etiquette

how have we managed thus far without this utterly essential guidance? Beats me…

and it won’t be too long before this stops being a joke…

Top 10 Countries Censoring the Web

if you check this list in 10 years time and don’t find your own country on it, I suspect you’ll be one of the few who can still find the list…

Schneier sticks it to surveillance • The Register

Not before time. Schneier has correctly identified the real battle as being between Liberty And Control

Academic avoids extradition over Holocaust denial • The Register

I find this kind of prosecution deeply disturbing. MUCH More disturbing than the distorted views the victim is apparently guilty of holding. Do I care that people still deny the Nazi guilt for the holocaust? Of course (my own family lost over 60 members to the Nazis) but these baseless beliefs do no more harm (on their own) than, for example, the conviction held by Creationists that the Theory of Evolution is a conspiracy to destroy religion. Are we going to start locking them up too? If so it’s a shame we didn’t make that decision before the Americans elected one…

New Scientist goes innumerate in save the planet special • The Register

Some partially fair criticism of the New Scientist piece. I don’t have it to hand, but I seem to remember them talking about EITHER greater use of resources OR better use of them…

Also, consider the example this author gives of how a Singer raises GDP by doing his thing without any resources. This is an illusion typical of the whole field of Economics. The fact that debt tickets (money) change hands as the result of the singer’s performance has zero effect on gDp (with deliberate emphasis on the D) If it did, then I and my neighbour could swap pound coins every few minutes and have an amazing effect on GDP with almost zero use of resources…

Of course, if the singer gets paid for a performance in a foreign country then that really does boost GDP but only at the expense of a loss to the foreign country, so globally, there is still no “growth”.

(the comments on this piece are worth reading as well)

“Skinheads” Reveal All On Web – CBS News

Seriously. Can we take anything like this seriously? Can you imagine real terrorists so publicly advertising their intent? It would save us all a lot of trouble if they did!

BBC – Radio 4 – Science – Money on the Brain

This’ll give you some idea of how close we are to reading the mind – as opposed to just watching the brain.

Put this technology in the hands of the People and we can free ourselves from the Tyrants. Put it in the hands of the Tyrants and we’ll never be free again…

Sue Blackmore: Hang-gliders of the mind | Comment is free |

Dr Susan Blackmore has the guts to appear on the BBC arguing for the legalisation and regulation of all the currently illegal drugs. If you haven’t heard the prog and can’t get it from the BBC Listen Again link, I’ve uploaded the mp3 here (18mb).

Sue is an occasional participant in our Bristol Cafe Sci, so I know her from there. I just emailed her as follows:

“Well done. Good effort to remold the meme.

As usual, the responses of the authoritarian followers (emailers) and authoritarian leaders (in the studio) reveal a blinkered mindset beyond the reach of reason. We have as much chance of getting them to open their minds as of persuading creationists that Evolution is demonstrably valid.

I genuinely couldn’t decide whether to laugh or scream when, towards the end, Checinski dared to argue for continued PROHIBITION on the grounds that drugs sap our free will!

Speaking as a psychologist, doesn’t that kind of irrational contradiction actually constitute a form of psychosis? It’s extremely common amongst Authoritarians.

Speaking of which, have you read Bob Altemeyer’s (free) online book – “The Authoritarians“.

Well worth it.

In my view, the problem he has researched there for the past 40 years lies right at the heart and is the primary cause of about 90% of human conflict. And about 90% of humanity’s problems are caused by human conflict. Unless we can figure out a way to deal with Authoritarians and their ism, the human race may well self destruct. And I fear that may happen sooner rather than later…

Anyway, be that as it may, why don’t you consider presenting this argument at the Cafe Sci?”

Big Blue to build DARPA cat-brain machine • The Register

I’ve been waiting for this kind of development for a few years. Once they reach a credible (peer reviewed) cat level brain, they are probably less than 10 years from human level.

How so? Moore’s Law. Double a cat’s brain, waddya get? (very approximately) Let’s say you get a dog brain. Double that, we get a gibbon or baboon. Double that and you’re roughly at Chimpanzee level (or, if you prefer, slightly above George Bush). Double that and we get an 8 year old human. Double that and we have adult human level.

So from Cat to Human, we’re looking at 5 doublings. If we say each doubling takes 18 months, that’s less than 8 years from Cat to Human. I’m actually being slightly conservative in allowing 10 years.

However, the clock doesn’t start ticking until they achieve credible cat level and it wouldn’t surprise me if that alone takes at least another 10 years. (We haven’t even convincingly reached “Bee” level yet and that’s about 5 doublings below the Cat) But we’re still, in my view, comfortably on course for human level AI by 2030.