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King Cnut rebukes N Carolina legislators, & Trump by extension

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a meditation on sea-level rise ]
.

A thousand years later, the lesson King Cnut sought to teach his nobles still hasn’t altogether sunk in.

The North Carolina story is from 2012, and I haven’t been tracking to see if there have been any changes since then — but the attitude behind the gutting of the EPA under President Trump is simply “more of the same”..

Humility is the key word in the article on King Cnut.

**

Sources:

  • ABC News, New Law in North Carolina Bans Latest Scientific Predictions of Sea-Level Rise
  • Wikipedia, King Canute and the waves
  • Sunday surprise, from dogs & muffins to Stop! & 45mph limit

    Sunday, August 6th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — better eat a muffin than a dog, stop at a stop sign than blow through it at 45, oh well ]
    .

    **

    It’s cute, sorta, that AIs can’t easily distinguish dogs from muffins:

    But STOP!

    **

    What’s not so funny is that the AI in many autonomous vehicles misreads a treated STOP sign —

    — as a sign for a 45 mph speed limit. As Ivan Evtimov and colleagues indicate in Robust Physical-World Attacks on Machine Learning Models, “Physically realizing such an attack for road signs can raise concern in human observers.”

    I’ll say.

    Grab the wheel, conscious entity!

    **

    Readings:

  • Becoming Human: AI, Why are Marketers All Talking about AI Now?
  • Wired, Simple Pictures that State-of-the-Art AI Still Can’t Recognize
  • Car & Driver, Researchers Find a Malicious Way to Meddle with Autonomous Cars
  • Arxiv, Robust Physical-World Attacks on Machine Learning Models
  • On humility: Clinton, Bush — and Trump

    Sunday, July 16th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — another “life imitates art” and a Trumpian ouroboros ]
    .

    In my view, humility shaves ckoser than Occam’s Razor — Occam tends not to shave our assumptions, while humility invites us to consider even our thoughts, even our certainties, as uncertain, as open to question.

    Did I mention I’m the proud owner of the domain name, Church of the Open Question?

    **

    Life imitates art:

    Upper panel: George W Bush and Bill Clinton on humility:

    Lower panel: from Madam Secretary, season 3..

    Trumpian Ouroboros:

    That’s actually brilliant, IMO. And Trump relishes and repeats it:

    Hey, Pope Francis is a close second..

    And then there’s this — delicious — from a WaPo piece titled Donald Trump’s Secret Service code name is less humble, more mogul:

    During a lightning round of a debate, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump picked a potential Secret Service code name that was truly coded: HUMBLE. When the braggadocious billionaire starts to receive actual Secret Service protection Wednesday morning, agents plan to call him something a bit more fitting: MOGUL.

    Okay. Mebbe that’s a bit more modest.

    Hm. MOGUL as in magnate, tycoon? Or MOGUL as in speed-bump on the ski slopes?

    Trump Comey — utterly devastating, no match

    Sunday, June 11th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — trump triumphing, trump trumped — which is it, obvs? ]
    .

    Both op-eds, both from Washington Post, yesterday, June 10 2017:

    My point being that we tend to write as though what seems obvious to us is obvious period, when it obviously isn’t always. A pity.

    **

    Sources:

  • Why Comey’s testimony was utterly devastating to Trump
  • Boy Scout James Comey is no match for Donald Trump
  • Oh I mean, everyone does it — I no doubt do it too. But according to Dorothy Lee, Linguistic Reflection of Winto Thought, among the Wintu there is an “attitude of humility and respect toward reality, toward nature and society”:

    I cannot find an adequate English term to apply to a habit of thought that is so alien to our culture. We are aggressive toward reality. We say, This is bread; we do not say, as the Wintu, I call this bread or I feel or taste or see it to be bread. The Wintu never say starkly this is; if he speaks of reality that is not within his own restricting experience, he does not affirm it, he only implies it. If he speaks of his experience he does not express it as categorically true.

    The trouble with moral high ground

    Thursday, March 31st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — fitness landscapes and the Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond ]
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    With the rise and fall of sea levels, sky levels, land emerges or submerges, mountain ranges with scattered lakes in their valleys transform into archipelagos, island clusters surge up to become continents — rise and fall, ebb and flow, wave upon wave..

    I mean, really, what of the moral high ground?

    **

    Consider these:

    Figure 13: Schematic “adaptive” or “fitness” landscape. 

    Adaptive Basins and Strange Peaks

    Biologists talk about adaptive landscapes. In these metaphorical places, species climb uphill towards optimal fitness. Going up is a struggle. Climbing takes energy. Optimal peaks can be hard to attain. Many species are distracted by getting stuck on sub-optimal false peaks, or waylaid by the intervening rugged landscape.

    Sources:

  • ResearchGate, Schematic “adaptive” or “fitness” landscape
  • The Technium, Adaptive Basins and Strange Peaks
  • **

    Nemesis and the Prophets are agreed:

    Every valley shall be exalted, every mountain and hill made low

    — or as Mary said of her son’s father:

    He buffets proud folk about like leaves in a gale.
    He upsets those that hold themselves high and mighty
    and rescues the least one of us.

    Ursula le Guin voiced Lao Tzu for us in English:

    True goodness
    is like water.
    Water’s good
    for everything.
    It doesn’t compete.

    It goes right
    to the low loathsome places,
    and so finds the way.

    Furthermore:

    What’s softest in the world
    rushes and runs
    over what’s hardest in the world.

    The immaterial
    enters
    the impenetrable.

    **

    O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road, And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye


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