Huckabee On Election Audit & Handmaids

I found this discussion by Mike Huckabee refreshing. Calm, rational, centered discussion. Not a lot of yelling and name calling. Soothing in a way. A refreshing change of pace from the screaming and cursing of The Left that accompanies all their riots, er, “peaceful protests”…

In it, he simply points out that a full audit of the election will let everyone have faith in our electoral system. So what do The Democrats have to hide that makes them so against such a simple practice, eh?

About 2/3 of the way through, he does one of those “it’s everywhere” bits where you see the same “Talking Point” or thread showing up all over the place. In this case, it is “The Handmaid’s Tale” (or perhaps that ought to be The Handmaid’s Tail given the theme of the “work”…). Being entirely unfamiliar with this fiction, I had to look it up to find out just what The Left were so fired up about and why were they so fixated on it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid’s_Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a strongly patriarchal, quasi-Christian, totalitarian state, known as Gilead, that has overthrown the United States government. The central character and narrator is a woman named Offred, one of the group known as “handmaids”, who are forcibly assigned to produce children for the “commanders” – the ruling class of men.

The novel explores themes of subjugated women in a patriarchal society and the various means by which they resist and attempt to gain individuality and independence.

Ah, I get it now. Another self loathing story where a woman wallows in self pity for her fate at the hands of Evil Men. The Left will just love anything that pillories the Evil Patriarchy, even if it is a dystopian fiction. Then it also uses Christianity as a foil for evil. Yeah, right, like the Catholics who venerate Mary will go along with the story line…

No wonder I never paid any attention to it. And never will.

I’m not all that fond of dystopian anything, really. Sure, some make it. Like Blade Runner. But it is more a “cops & robbers” with some Sci-Fi robot / android stuff mixed in. Set in a somewhat dystopian future, but with people doing normal people things and fairly happy with life. IMHO, barely dystopian (after all, the “off planet” areas are supposedly better). But in large part I like my “dystopia” small and as a jumping off point for hope. Like in The Sound Of Music. The invasion of Austria by Germany and the whole W.W.II dystopia is there, but just as a foil for the joy of music and folks escaping to freedom.

Indulge your hatred of Religion by using it as a foil to promote evil, and I’m not interested in your “work”. Throw stones at Christianity (or Judaism) and I’m out the door. No, I’m not very religious. Just a little bit really (in the edge cases where we can have no proof or understanding, what is left but faith and hope?) BUT I do understand the huge benefit the Judaeo Christian heritage has brought to the world. In large part it created the success of the world today and the promotion of liberty and peace. Yeah, lots of religious wars along the way too. Nobody starts out at their best.

I also prefer that any fiction I read have a decent connection to reality. Even Science Fiction, when it wanders off into Fantasy, loses me. So Star Trek, yes, Lord Of The Rings not so much. The notion of the USA turning into some kind of dystopian hell hole in one turn is a bit much. The notion that all the women I’ve taught to shoot would just go along is also a bit daft. Then there’s all those women in the Armed Services who know how to conduct combat. Finally, there’s that unfortunate large percentage of the male population that can’t cook and would die without a woman giving them motivation get up and go to work. Does The Left really think Ted Bundy would survive in a world without family support? So the fantasy world pretext leaves me in the “nope” land.

I mean, really, even in the worst of the Male Dominated History of the West we had Queens ruling countries. Leading armies against Rome. Being Pirates in the Caribbean. Setting up their own businesses in the Wild West. It just isn’t a tenable thesis that their daughters would not have the same strength and grit.

Then there’s the Political Advocacy Style. I don’t care for having any political ideology shoved at me in fiction. Especially when horribly distorted and on steroids. Like painting BLM on the football field or basketball court, it just drives away the audience. So knowing it is there, you can also know that those Just Loving It, are the partisan hacks who were not driven away.

Now, after all that, there’s one minor final point: I don’t loath myself.

So I don’t bother with “stories” that try to set me into a category to be loathed. Painting whole swaths of humanity as something horrible is just “flush” signal to me. Lacking in nuance and ignoring the richness of actual reality. Have an Evil King with a few dozen “handmaids” and a village of strong women getting their men to join them in deposing the Evil King? Now that could be a rich story to explore. The Sociopath vs The Families. But “All men evil” just doesn’t cut it.

OK, enough of that. It was just background I had to soak up to follow what The Left was all hot and bothered about and why they were trying to use Handmaid’s Tale as a touchstone for some evil idea of theirs.

With that background, here’s the Huckabee bit:

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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51 Responses to Huckabee On Election Audit & Handmaids

  1. Pouncer says:

    In my uninformed opinion ( I haven’t read the Handmaid’s Tale, either) the work attempts to portray a fictional dystopia of religious zealotry — without provoking murderous backlash from the real world’s religious zealots. If the fictional society detailed had been, just for example, Islamic, there are a (no doubt very few) believers who would regard the fictional work as real blasphemy. And some few of those few would be moved to murderous rage, perhaps egged on by fatwas declared by zealous religious leaders. And the author or publisher or editor or agent or travel arranger or radio show hosts involved in selling the book might have a ‘splody sort of day.

    If the religion portrayed as zealously oppressing women were more reliably peaceful, then the fiction would be safely discussed and debated and marketed and sold as fiction rather than incitement to violence. Of two major alternative choices, only one originated the term “zealot”.

    So, I conclude basically the author is somewhat cowardly, at least compared to Salman Rushdie.

  2. philjourdan says:

    I grew up with the forefathers (ok, 4 fathers) of SciFi. I saw the possibilities! The euphoria of exploding out into the galaxy! (Asimov, Clark, Heinlein, Sturgeon).

    I stumbled upon the dystopian authors later in life and they are as boring as they are wrong. I read the Handmaids tale, and hated it. I read Ursuila LeGuin and hated it. I read all the new trash and hated it.

    It is not real SciFi. It is SyFy,

    SciFi deals with the potential of mankind!! Reaching for the stars and attaining them! Syfy is about hating mankind and forever trashing them.

    Gene Rodenberry was the former. When he passed his successors were and are the latter.

  3. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    I managed a small bookstore for several years and had to read a lot, especially when I didn’t have a fellow clerk interested in some subjects.
    I have never completely made the transition “to a suspension of disbelief” required of fantasy reading.
    However, I think Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders) and C. J. Cherryh’s
    early Chanur novels were interesting and well written. Well crafted is a key issue.

  4. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Asimov, Heinlein, Clark for sure. Read all of their stuff I could find. Fair amount of Ray Bradbury too. Sturgeon sounds familiar, but I don’t remember if I read much or not. Looking him up:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Sturgeon#Novels
    Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea is the only one I know I’ve read (and wasn’t all that impressed with it, but maybe the TV Series had colored my opinion…)

    Lots of others too. Had a trilogy hard back of A.E. Van Vogt:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._E._van_Vogt
    with Voyage Of The Space Beagle, Slan (I think), and one other… Really liked it. One story had a skyscraper sized computer with vacuum tubes ;-)

    I think The World Of Null-A might have been that third one.

    Philip K. Dick too…

    Ah, the good old days ;-)

    @N&J H:

    Yeah, when they just do “magic hand waving” and weird stuff happens, I just have trouble going there. But spin a good yarn as to why the “magic” is reasonable and have the stuff happening a reasonable consequence, I can make that work.

    Like in Avatar. Pandora is very fantasy, but they set it up so that you can make the leap to big blue Avatar bodies (though the mystical tree and “POOF” he’s alive!! was over the edge for me… but I grudgingly accepted it as an end game for the movie.)

    @Pouncer:

    Yeah, kind of irksome that Talking Dirt about Christ is just fine, but say maybe Big Mo parted his hair a bit off and you get slammed. BTW, weren’t Zealots a Jewish clan / movement?

  5. A C Osborn says:

    I started my Sci Fi reading when I was 13, along with the westerns Larry & Stretch.
    I began with the E E Doc Smith Skylark series, then the Lensmen series.
    Then ran through all the usual ones, Asimov, Dick, Clarke, Robeson (Doc Savage), Van Vogt, Bradbury, Niven & Pournelle, Harry Harrison (stainless steel rat), Anderson, Anne McCaffrey.

    Later I went on with Alan Dean Foster, Timothy Zhan, Peter F Hamilton, Neal Asher, Ian Douglas, Alistair Reynolds, John Scalzi, James S Corey, Elizebeth Moon, Christopher Nuttal, Mike Shepherd.
    Currently Jack Cambell’s brilliant Lost Fleet series, Joshua Dalzelle & Torri L Harris.
    All worth reading, I love series of story, following characters for many years, some I have read 3 or 4 times over the years.
    Also a big shout at for the Louis L’mour westerns, I read all 108 of them at least twice.

    Thank god for libraries, but even then I have spent thousands of pounds over the last 60 years.

  6. Brent Buckner says:

    I’ve always had the feeling that in _Blade Runner_ the “off planet” areas are worse than Earth, and what we see on the screen is propaganda….

  7. rhoda klapp says:

    Eric Frank Russell and H. Beam Piper should never be forgotten. I like the old stuff and don’t get on with the new. Oh, did anyone mention Kornbluth or Simak?

    It’s not really fantasy, except it is, but Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is brilliant. Give it a try.

  8. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    OMG, what a Leader! NOT!

    Biden says if he ends up with irreconcilable differences with Harris he will “Develop some disease and resign”?!

    That’s what an UNDERLING says about a difference with their boss…

  9. Pouncer says:

    Biden says if he ends up with irreconcilable differences with Harris he will “Develop some disease and resign”?! That’s what an UNDERLING says about a difference with their boss…

    Biden is losing his train of thought, and it was never very long to begin with. It seems to me the context is what he, as VP, felt obliged to do if he had ever had an irreconcilable dispute with Mr Obama. VP Biden now reports he thought lying about the issue and resigning, to allow the mistaken action to go forward uncontested, would be — somehow — a more honorable thing to do than take the dispute public and make the case that the President was mistaken. Okay, I think that’s a cowardly approach to his oath of office, but okay.

    IF that’s what he was discussing AND if that’s what he expects from Senator Harris, then he imperfectly communicated his expectation. It’s also unfair that he didn’t get the Senator’s confirmation to that approach. Perhaps Senator Harris would prefer to take the more courageous course and go public. If that is her approach, then perhaps it might be that the President would be the one to back down, or even back out entirely. Maybe.

    From this particular discussion, the public has no way to be sure. Not the sort of sermon anyone deserves from the man walking toward the bully pulpit.

  10. Pouncer says:

    Lois McMaster Bujold is a still-working, certified Grand Master, of the SF genre. Her fandom is coincidentally compiling a recommendations list for a city libraries’ collection. See the thread starting with “subject line” “Recomendations” for a LONG well curated collection of authors and works.

    (SF and SyFy , for those who draw that distinction. )

    http://lists.herald.co.uk/pipermail/lois-bujold/2020-December/thread.html#start

  11. The True Nolan says:

    I was weaned on old school Sci Fi as well. When I was in the fifth grade, Heinlein was the very first author who ever inspired me to go back to the library and search out any other books of his available. (I actually met him briefly in 1976.) My favorite many-people-never-heard-of scifi author? Cordwainer Smith, the secret nom de plume of respected professor and Presidential advisor Paul Linebarger. Wonderfully imaginative, and arguably one of the influences toward Herbert’s creation of Dune.

  12. cdquarles says:

    In my opinion, anyone who thinks Lord of the Rings is fantasy, is mistaken; for they have not researched the author. LotR is legendary mythology; that is, story telling of a legendary (fictional historic Earth in this case) world. NOT FANTASY!!!!! ;p; though that is the ‘modern’ conception. Tolkien’s stories grew around his love of languages, especially old Finnish, Norse and Anglo-Saxon, so he wrote stories that would or could have been told had the old Germanic legends survived in England, inspired by the Finnish and Norse Eddas.

  13. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @CDQuarles:

    So it’s a fantasy myth of a fictional world with fantasy beings in it, and that makes it not a fantasy, but a legendary mythology because it has a mythical legend in it about fantasy beings? Hmmm…..

  14. M Simon says:

    Pieces of audits are coming out. Liz Warren was right.
    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/12/breaking-huge-trump-team-dominion-machine-small-georgia-county-shows-votes-flipped-trump-biden/

    And this for some limited corroboration.
    Ware County, Ga has forensically broken the Dominion algorithm:

  15. President Elect H.R. says:

    That’s BIG NEWS, M. Simon!

    Thank you very much.

    I was afraid the Forces of Darkness were able to back out any incriminating hacks before anyone could check under the hood. Looks like they weren’t able to scrub at least some of the machines.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    When you look at the enthusiasm factor – Trump’s 3 or 4 per day rallies drawing tens of thousands and Biden’s rallies – all 8 of them – drawing… well… tens, and those who showed up were Trump supporters, it does seem that the only path to a Biden win is through election fraud and cheating.**

    **And water is wet, the sun rises in the East, bears really do poop in the woods, and Popes wear funny hats. Biden didn’t win.

  16. M Simon says:

    “The Handmaid’s Tale” – a fictional exaggerated understanding of female psychology. The desire for a dominant male. The PUA community develops and exploits this. Feminists don’t want to know about it (although some will admit to being tripped up by it – “I fell for a bad boy.” – such a common tale.).

  17. M Simon says:

    Elect – I believe Michigan will be doing a similar test on 22 machines. Results in 48 hours (Monday? Tuesday? Wednesday at the latest. ).
    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-legal-team-michigan-antrim-county-judge-order-dominion-machines

  18. President Elect H.R. says:

    @M Simon – PUA community? I’m not familiar with the acronym or maybe it’s just too late at night for my brain to decipher. What’s a PCA when it is at home?

  19. President Elect H.R. says:

    Ooops! Not PCA. What’s “PUA”?

    (CoVid on the brain, I suppose)

  20. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Pick Up Artist…

    (Took me a while to get it too… first search on just “PUA” gave Pandemic Unemployment Insurance… had to add “community gender” as terms until if flipped…)

  21. David A says:

    Perhaps Biden’s jokes are just dementia truth telling. He admits to massive organised voter fraud. He admits to not needing his supporters votes. He admits that he is just a puppet to the radical Obama left, including his V.P.

  22. llanfar says:

    My favorite book is by SciFi author Vernon Vinge: Across Realtime (which merges the trilogy The Peace War, The Ungoverned, and Marooned in Realtime). Fantastic!. He also gave a speech back in ‘93 (and coined the phrase technological singularity): The Coming Technological Singularity.

  23. llanfar says:

    A follow up on Vinge: I believe he will be close in his prediction that we will hit the technological singularity by 2023. I fully believe (like Scott Adams) that multiple AIs were/are competing in this year’s election.

  24. M Simon says:

    The Secret of Bad Boys and Pick Up Artists is Self Confidence. The Bad Boys come by it naturally.

  25. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Ilanfar:

    Per “singularity”: As someone who has spent most of his working life trying to keep computers functioning, and finding ways for them to do the simplest of tasks, I have little faith in the idea of technological singularity.

    Tesla cars have bleeding edge vision systems. They still followed a dotted line on the road into a grey concrete construction barrier and decided a big white semi-truck-trailer wasn’t there (removing the top of the car and driver as it shot under the trailer).

    Facial Recognition can now fairly reliably recognize who you are. But it can’t deal with makeup or bandages or other things that people do easily.

    Voice recognition is getting better to the point where, if you have a relatively normal voice and take time / speak clearly, you can navigate a fixed piece menu. BUT, ask it if you ought to buy a cat and it is clueless how to respond. Mimic of listening is mediocre, mimic of response is near zero if off page of the script.

    Show me the autonomous robot that that can vacuum the house while not vacuuming the cat sleeping in the corner, fix dinner AND shop for the stuff it will need in 2 days, and know what to do when ants show up…

    Any given very small specific field of action can be programmed reasonably OK, and with very expensive specialized kit, you can make things like a robot cook that flips burgers fine. (But don’t ask it for a rare steak..) You can’t get lots of things in one package and going “off script” puts you in befuddled and useless land. Real cognition is just absent.

    Now you CAN make a special purpose machine that can do one thing almost as well as a person (and occasionally better than a lot of people). So that Tesla can drive itself over most roads for years without the common human errors and better than many drivers (especially those who’ve had a few, or on Saturday night in States with lax M.J. laws). You can make specific knowledge domain engines that can search TB of data a heck of a lot faster and more accurately than any human can remember (just don’t ask it if your socks match… and don’t ask that Tesla to drive down the dirt road to your cabin…)

    That will have a great many implications for humans in specific jobs and doing specific tasks. But it isn’t what I’d call “singularity”.

    I’m also quite certain that not much improvement will be made in 3 more years.

    Mostly there’s a big move into using “video processors” (and related) to do high compute tasks like computer vision. The whole “CUDA cores” thing from NVidia. But there’s not that many folks who can program Cuda and it’s an arcane art at that. That bit ‘O tech is great for some things (ray tracing, computer vision, wave form analysis, speech decoding) but useless for others. So huge areas are just not happening there.

    Now ask it to program itself…

    THE big one is “cognition”. You can get the computer eyes to see, and you can program responses to most of the stuff that’s likely to show up. You can’t just turn it on and ask it what it sees, or what to do about it. Humans are needed to specify the entire problem domain and responses (and the computer does not understand the responses it is giving…)

    A.I. ain’t there (yet).

    It isn’t going to be there in 3 more years.

    Maybe in 30… but don’t hold your breath. Brains have a way higher connection density than silicon. Silicon is faster. It takes a whole lot of faster to make up for lack of depth.

    So I’d say that right now we can easily make something about as smart and capable as an ant (though faster). We can get close to a lizard, though vision may not quite be there yet, and some complex hunting behaviours would be a challenge. We can’t even get close to a dog (who knows your mood and reacts accordingly, can tell if you are sick and get help, and recognizes your face and scent among millions even after years and age changes).

    Birds are an interesting one. Computerized airplanes can self fly just like birds self fly (fixed known problem domain) so having people do an alien thing (fly) vs a computer, well, the computer is now as good for all the normal things. BUT, lose a sensor or control surface, the computer doesn’t know how to “think outside the box” and still get you down alive. (See 737 Max…) It isn’t a Sully. Then birds can do nice cognitive tricks, like learning to speak (at about a 3 year old kid level for cockatiels) and plan out novel complex tasks (like using stick tools to retrieve food from novel problem places.) So we’re about 1/2 way for birds. Mostly missing the cognition and problem solving parts. Plus their vision is superb so not anywhere near that.

    So I’m not worried that some A.I. is going to take over the world in my lifetime.

    HOWEVER, I am worried that GEBs using A.I.s will have a big tool to use in their effort to take over the world and track everyone, prevent “resistance”.

  26. gallopingcamel says:

    Somehow y’all failed to recognize Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Even after Pournelle’s death his website is well worth a visit:
    https://www.jerrypournelle.com/
    They picked up on an idea by a NASA engineer named Robert Bussard that may have the potential to support inter-stellar travel:
    https://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/bussard-revisited/

  27. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @G.C.:

    I read just about anything labeled Science Fiction in my little farm town library for about 15 years. No way I could list them all… But yeah, lots of cognates in the lists above, along with Niven and Pournelle.

    Per Bussard ram jets:

    The problem is making a very very strong light weight 10 km scoop. Then travel at some significant fraction of C and any spec of nothing you hit has a nuclear bomb level of energy.

    Essentially, IF you ever get going fast enough to “get to nearby stars” in just a few years, ANYTHING you hit along the way, even a spec of dust, and you are toast.

    Even just at 10s of K of speed in the Earth Orbit a paint flake can take out your walls and windows.

  28. gallopingcamel says:

    @V.P. Elect Smith,
    Collision with even tiny particles is a serious hazard for space vehicles. As you go faster the “Swept Volume” per unit time increases which means the probability of hitting something increases. Then there is the severity of the consequences of hitting something that also increases.

    While I agree with everything you said about the limitations of Artificial Intelligence remember that it is like a rising tide. In 1997 “Deep Blue” beat Gary Kasparov at chess. In 2016 AlphaGo beat Fan Hui 5-0 at Go.

    In “Life 3.0” Max Tegmark explores AI that overtakes humans in other areas including designing machines and computer programming. At a certain point such machines could “Evolve” at a much higher rate than humans and thereby rapidly achieve superiority over us.

    Tegmark discusses what happens when adults try to control pets that are smarter than they are. Will the pets (Artificial Intelligence) take control of the adults as pets or will they see them as a waste of resources…………..

  29. Steve C says:

    Delightful to see Rhoda Klapp proposing Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ series above – I have to second that. The situations his characters find themselves in are inventive, and the characters are deliciously normal humans who mess things up just as we do – even some of the Anthropomorphic Personifications, particularly Death, develop engaging weaknesses. Magic works, humour prevails. Absolutely recommended.

    For big book reads, apart from LotR, I can highly recommend Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ (3 books if the shop hasn’t got the omnibus, and a BBC radio drama performance from about 2003 is excellent – 3x two-and-a-half hour plays). On a similar scale is Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy, which I recall turned up here as a mention of Sting appearing in another BBC play of it. Peake also wrote a lovely little book called ‘Mr. Pye’, about a gentleman who turns up on the Isle of Sark only to experience an embarrassingly personal battle between Good and Evil, which is a hidden gem.

    For a touch of Celtic heritage, I can recommend Neil Munro’s ‘Para Handy’ books (‘The Vital Spark’, ‘In Highland Harbours with Para Handy’ and ‘Hurricane Jack of the Vital Spark’, also available bound into a single volume). Gently hilarious stuff, the main potential barrier being that it’s written in Glasgow dialect. (I’ll post a sample passage if anyone’s interested.)

    Ireland, meanwhile, produced the wonderful Brian O’Nolan, who wrote several books under the pseudonym ‘Flann O’Brien’ (the darkest, deepest and most wonderful being ‘The Third Policeman’) and, during WWII, had a column in the Irish Times called ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ (‘Full Jug’) which he wrote under the name Myles na Gopaleen. ‘The Best of Myles’, a Picador book, collects a hilarious selection of these columns. Pieces turn up in Latin, or Irish; we meet Keats and Chapman, ‘two absurdly erudite poets who will stoop to any old adventure so long as it ends in an epigram’; there is a whole chapter ‘For Steam Men’ which reads almost exactly as though he really had a long background in steam engines informing him; there is the Myles na Gopaleen Catechism of Cliché highlighting the idiocy of so many common expressions; there is more. I’ve re-read both these books recently, and they still reduce me to helpless laughter. (Sample passages also available, if E.M. doesn’t mind.)

    FWIW, I read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ ages ago. Decent writing, I seem to recall, but I found it rather depressing reading, despite being male.

  30. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @G.C.:

    My point wasn’t that it will never happen, but that it isn’t happening in 3 years and is unlikely for several years after that.

    Having computers beat people at games is interesting, but not earth shaking. It is, again, a well defined domain with few and definite rules. No complex sensory inputs. No cognition required. Just model out potential paths through the rules at speeds no human can match, and pattern match to a database larger than what we do. The problem is not hard, it just takes a lot of computes. What’s slow and hard to advance is hard problems in messy domains that require novel cognition (or any combination of those things.)

    Mix in that computers are hitting the end of Moore’s Law growth (“have hit” on things like clock speed and approaching it on nm line width / feature size). That forces us into parallel programming that is still a fairly primitive art. That is a very hard barrier to cross and progress is very slow. Look at computer vision. We’re into it at least a couple of decades that I know of, and with highly parallel codes running on “video processors”, and still Tesla can’t see a truck in front of it reliably…

    Is there a potential for some kind of A.I. driven breakout of machine advancement? Ah, yeah, sure, sort of… I’d not rule it out, but “facts not in evidence” comes to mind. We still have teams of programmers working on getting cars to see well enough to drive down well marked streets and not run into things. Something a dog or horse can do… (and don’t get me started on rats and their complex behaviours and skills at problem solving…)

    So machines “have a very long ways to go” to reach even dog and horse level of abilities and cognition. IIRC Boston Dynamics has finally gotten robots that can navigate uneven terrain (after decades of work…) IF you throw enough money at them. So OK, up to maybe squirrel level? Oh, wait, can’t climb trees or evade predators… so perhaps baby deer level…

    Yes, I think we will in the not TOO distant future see some commercial autonomous robots of merit. (We already have special purpose robots of merit – welding robots, fruit sorting robots, etc. Essentially industrial machines with a particular skill). The Roomba is a good example, though primitive and stupid. We have “mail delivery robots” that cruise corridors with mail buckets. That’s about the state of the art in production. Basically ant level of skills.

    So wake me when we get a robot at dog level of intelligence and then I’ll worry… Or maybe not… only when the robots can build more robots will it really be a worry. That’s a very hard problem to solve. IIRC Turing looked at it and finally decided to “let it go”…

  31. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    Don’t mind at all. Sample paragraphs save a lot of time hunting up a book to see for myself ;-)

  32. YMMV says:

    gallopingcamel: “While I agree with everything you said about the limitations of Artificial Intelligence remember that it is like a rising tide. In 1997 “Deep Blue” beat Gary Kasparov at chess. In 2016 AlphaGo beat Fan Hui 5-0 at Go.”

    I would have said that computers and humans play chess differently. Computers, being fast, can look at every move far into the future and choose the best one. Pretty easy. Humans don’t do that, but they don’t know how they do do it. The first is mechanical, not anything we would call intelligent. The second we do call intelligent. We call it thinking. Computers don’t think. Maybe when they gain self-consciousness, they will think, à la Descartes, “I think, therefore I am”.

    V.P. Elect Smith: “Having computers beat people at games is interesting, but not earth shaking. It is, again, a well defined domain with few and definite rules. No complex sensory inputs. No cognition required. Just model out potential paths through the rules at speeds no human can match, and pattern match to a database larger than what we do. The problem is not hard, it just takes a lot of computes. What’s slow and hard to advance is hard problems in messy domains that require novel cognition (or any combination of those things.)”

    Exactly. Messy domains. Like predicting climate. Humans make the models, computers run them. Like you would use a tracker dog. They can smell things better, but they need to be directed.

  33. Steve C says:

    @E.M. – You may need to start a separate ‘sample library’ …
    @Rhoda Klapp – A toast to you in scumble (or maybe green ginger wine) as Hogswatch draws nigh, for first mention of our sadly missed friend ;-)

    This is a vignette from ‘Going Postal’, the 33rd Discworld book. The main story is that the clacks (a splendid semaphore system which had been invented a few books earlier, revolutionising Discworld communications) has become very unreliable, having been bought from its engineer inventors by money men who were more interested in taking the profits than planning maintenance.

    The central character, Moist von Lipwig, is a conman who has narrowly escaped hanging. He is tasked instead, as a punishment, with using his undoubted skills to return the Post Office to usability, to restore some kind of communications … the stories of Post Office and clacks intertwwine throughout. The characters here only appear in this scene and when matters are resolved at the end of the story, but for an almost casual introduction he puts a lot in. This excerpt also explains the mythology underlying the creation of the ‘GNU Terry Pratchett’ browser add-on.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Terry Pratchett:

    * * * * * * *

    She was known as Princess to the men on Tower 181, although she was really Alice. She was thirteen, could run a line for hours on end without needing help, and later on would have an interesting career which … but anyway, she remembered this one conversation, on this day, because it was strange. Not all the signals were messages. Some were instructions to towers. Some, as you operated your levers to follow the distant signal, made things happen in your own tower. Princess knew all about this. A lot of what travelled on the Grand Trunk was called the Overhead. It was instructions to towers, reports, messages about messages, even chatter between operators, although this was strictly forbidden these days. It was all in code. It was very rare you got Plain in the Overhead. But now …

    ‘There it goes again,’ she said. ‘It must be wrong. It’s got no origin code and no address. It’s Overhead, but it’s in Plain.’

    On the other side of the tower, sitting in a seat facing the opposite direction because he was operating the up-line, was Roger, who was seventeen and already working for his tower-master certificate.

    His hand didn’t stop moving as he said: ‘What did it say?’

    ‘There was GNU, and I know that’s a code, and then just a name. It was John Dearheart. Was it a …’

    ‘You sent it on?’ said Grandad. Grandad had been hunched in the corner, repairing a shutter box in this cramped shed halfway up the tower. Grandad was the tower-master and had been everywhere and knew everything. Everyone called him Grandad. He was twenty-six. He was always doing something in the tower when she was working the line, even though there was always a boy in the other chair. She didn’t work out why until later.

    ‘Yes, because it was a G code,’ said Princess.

    ‘Then you did right. Don’t worry about it.’

    ‘Yes, but I’ve sent that name before. Several times. Upline and downline. Just a name, no message or anything!’

    She had a sense that something was wrong, but she went on: ‘I know a U at the end means it has to be turned round at the end of the line, and an N means Not Logged.’ This was showing off, but she’d spent hours reading the cypher book. ‘So it’s just a name, going up and down all the time! Where’s the sense in that?’

    Something was really wrong. Roger was still working his line, but he was staring ahead with a thunderous expression.

    Then Grandad said: ‘Very clever, Princess. You’re dead right.’

    ‘Hah!’ said Roger.

    ‘I’m sorry if I did something wrong,’ said the girl meekly. ‘I just thought it was strange. Who’s John Dearheart?’

    ‘He … fell off a tower,’ said Grandad.

    ‘Hah!’ said Roger, working his shutters as if he suddenly hated them.

    ‘He’s dead?’ said Princess.

    ‘Well, some people say …’ Roger began.

    ‘Roger!’ snapped Grandad. It sounded like a warning.

    ‘I know about Sending Home,’ said Princess. ‘And I know the souls of dead linesmen stay on the Trunk.’

    ‘Who told you that?’ said Grandad.

    Princess was bright enough to know that someone would get into trouble if she was too specific.

    ‘Oh, I just heard it,’ she said airily. ‘Somewhere.’

    ‘Someone was trying to scare you,’ said Grandad, looking at Roger’s reddening ears.

    It hadn’t sounded scary to Princess. If you had to be dead, it seemed a lot better to spend your time flying between the towers than lying underground. But she was bright enough, too, to know when to drop a subject.

    It was Grandad who spoke next, after a long pause broken only by the squeaking of the new shutter bars. When he did speak, it was as if something was on his mind. ‘We keep that name moving in the Overhead,’ he said, and it seemed to Princess that the wind in the shutter arrays above her blew more forlornly, and the everlasting clicking of the shutters grew more urgent. ‘He’d never have wanted to go home. He was a real linesman. His name is in the code, in the wind in the rigging and the shutters. Haven’t you ever heard the saying “A man’s not dead while his name is still spoken”?’

  34. David A says:

    “Computers don’t think”

    Indeed, as far as I know they have zero volition or will. There was a recent Tesla crash where the program failed to detect what a child would see as fatally destructive. So the car is destroyed, and any occupants dead.

    Yet the program was 100 percent indifferent to the result. Does the chess playing program desire to win?
    No. If in the beginning of the game you remove three power pieces and two pawns from the computers side, it will accept that with zero compunction to protest, unless it is programmed to not start with anything other then a full set of pieces. And it will not protest continuesely for every game in the future, as it has no real desire to win, no sorrow if it loses.

    It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. Computers have zero necessities. You could program two computers to play each other in chess, to even learn from their losses I suppose. Yet if both machines are coded to self destruct at such a time, on such a date, that is what they will do, regardless of any program to mimic joy at winning, and sorrow at loss.

    They aspect of counciousness that involves the interaction of feelings, desire, and thoughts, is curious, and fascinating. As far as I know, Robots don’t really huddle together when left alone in a confined space.

    I suppose experiments could be designed to test these limitations.

    Yet certainly there is room for a poorly written program to have unintended consequences. And certainly there is room for evil men to create programs that enable their evil desires.

  35. philjourdan says:

    @EM – I strongly recommend “Microcosmic God”. It is by far his best work. He is mostly known for short stories, not novels. I recommend reading them instead.

  36. philjourdan says:

    @AC Osborn – I noticed 2 absences in your list – Fred Saberhagen and Frank Herbert. If you have not read them, I highly recommend both. With Herbert, it is the Dune series. I suggest continue reading after his death when his son and Kevin Anderson took over to bring the series around to completion.

  37. philjourdan says:

    @EM & YMMV – I think you both touched on the difference between games and life. I guess the easiest way to define the difference is “Closed system” versus “open system”. Games are closed systems. Rooks can never move diagonally. People can and do. The weather can and does.

    Computers excel where all possibilities, no matter the number, are known. But not where irrational or unexpected behavior enters the equation. In time perhaps. But not in my life time.

  38. YMMV says:

    Echoing philjourdan’s comment, WUWT has a post about Google silently cancelling an AI project.
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/12/17/google-deepmind-ai-project-to-improve-renewable-energy-reliability-quietly-disappeared/

    “Their primary technique, deep reinforcement learning, works best in well-controlled environments, such as board games, and may struggle with the complexity and unpredictability of the real world,” Marcus told CNBC.

    Sheikh added: “The technology might not have worked because it’s not really that mature.”

    AI, the search for artificial intelligence, would be a great career choice. Interesting, big bucks, promising future, especially since it won’t be “solved” soon. And you won’t be replaced by a computer or a robot. In recent history, that is a common thread. Picking cotton by hand? Welding a new car? Taking orders for Big Macs? Boring, repetitive, non-thinking jobs are potential jobs for robots. Not because robots are smarter, but because smarts are not required. Actually, smart friendly people in the service industry are a plus, but tell that to management.

    But don’t trust Google. You might be fired if your research results does not agree with the woke expectations.
    https://motls.blogspot.com/2020/12/on-departure-of-ai-ethics-researcher.html

  39. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @YMMV:

    Interesting link. I had no idea there were standardized skin color gradients. Makes sense though (especially for the cosmetics industry).

    Turns out my daughter is a Fitz 1 redhead and I’m a Fitz 2 skin but with Fitz 3 “dark ash blond” hair. I guess that’s good to know ;-)

    Per the A.I. researcher:

    Companies do things to make a profit. Her papers say “not likely to make a profit here”. Companies do things to Virtue Signal. Her papers say “what you are doing does not virtue signal, and perhaps the opposite”. Company sees no upside to continued funding.

    That’s what I see.

  40. philjourdan says:

    @YMMV – Thank you for the affirmation. I wrote based upon what I know about computers (less than EM, but more than most). Computers have not mastered Go yet. Not because it is impossible, but because the possibilities are more, and it is a less popular game (so not garnering the support).

    I am a disciple of Isaac Asimov. There will be cases of malfunctions that allow a computer to go beyond. But like Daneel and Herbie, that is due to an error in circuitry.

    As long as computers still think in rook v. bishop fashion, they will not beat man. Except in bracketed games;

  41. YMMV says:

    More news on Google and AI and what you cannot say …
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-alphabet-google-research-focus/google-told-its-scientists-to-strike-a-positive-tone-in-ai-research-documents-idUKKBN28X1AL
    “Google told its scientists to ‘strike a positive tone’ in AI research – documents”

    Studying Google services for biases is among the “sensitive topics” under the company’s new policy, according to an internal webpage. Among dozens of other “sensitive topics” listed were the oil industry, China, Iran, Israel, COVID-19, home security, insurance, location data, religion, self-driving vehicles, telecoms and systems that recommend or personalize web content.

  42. M Simon says:

    I have some yelling and cursing about the election. Right wing style. Trump has (will) won.

    Baseless Rumors
    http://classicalvalues.com/2020/12/baseless-rumors/
    Yep it is over and Trump has won. After his speech and members of Congress not voting for Trump will be hung on the Capital Grounds.

  43. philjourdan says:

    @M Simon. Yes Trump won. But the cheat was in. He will not be president next year. But he wlll be back, So until his return, the presidency is vacated.. I do not recognize cheaters.

  44. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    Trump needs to appoint a Special Council to investigate the Big Steal focused on Biden, Harris AND the heads of the DNC (Nancy, Little Chucky Shumer, Nadler, etc) Get them all removed from the board on Cheating and Ethics Charges.

  45. philjourdan says:

    Biden will kill it. It is all going to be covered up.

  46. p.g.sharrow says:

    The Republican Elite think think that they will have a better chance without Trump, Fools, if they abandon Trump, 25 million Americans will Abandon them and the Democrats will solidify their strangle hold of the voting process in all states. .

  47. V.P. Elect Smith says:

    @P.G.:

    I think it might be well over 25 million. Especially if Trump forms the America First Party, mascot a golden lion… and runs a full slate of candidates in 2024… (or even just a congressional slate in 2022…)

    I know I’d vote “straight party ticket” for them, regardless of who else was on the ballot. (Slogan “Anyone but Swamp Creatures” ;-)

    Then again, unless Dominion is rooted out and proper ballots in use, it won’t matter who runs, the Democrats will always “win”…

  48. p.g.sharrow says:

    Link:(*https://scontent-dfw5-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/117037967_424898891804254_4249588393341924163_n.jpg?_nc_cat=101&ccb=2&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=4ds2l_D7420AX83FugB&_nc_ht=scontent-dfw5-1.xx&oh=78e9092c08a552d47e11ca78543cba39&oe=600E3CB9)

    [Reply: Since that link is one of those PITA ones that has an embedded time stamp and bitches at you if you cut it off after the .jpg so as to eliminate the tracking crap: I’ve saved and uploaded a copy not so encumbered. -E.M.S.:]

  49. The True Nolan says:

    “Then again, unless Dominion is rooted out and proper ballots in use, it won’t matter who runs, the Democrats will always “win”…”

    Yes, because they aren’t stealing an election. They are stealing a country.

  50. philjourdan says:

    @P.G. – I agree with EM. We are talking closer to 50m Half from the republican party, and half that Trump brought to them. It will mean a permanent democrat majority, but with their cheating, what difference does it make?

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