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Go googled, GBG still to go: 1

Friday, March 18th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — games, games, games — & prepping a challenge for AI, the analytic community & CNA ]
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playing go
Playing go, Hasegawa, Settei, 1819-1882, Library of Congress

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In the past, computers have won such games as Pong and Space Invaders:

Google’s AI system, known as AlphaGo, was developed at DeepMind, the AI research house that Google acquired for $400 million in early 2014. DeepMind specializes in both deep learning and reinforcement learning, technologies that allow machines to learn largely on their own. Previously, founder Demis Hassabis and his team had used these techniques in building systems that could play classic Atari videos games like Pong, Breakout, and Space Invaders. In some cases, these system not only outperformed professional game players. They rendered the games ridiculous by playing them in ways no human ever would or could. Apparently, this is what prompted Google’s Larry Page to buy the company.

Wired, Google’s Go Victory Is Just a Glimpse of How Powerful AI Will Be

I can’t corral all the games they’ve played into a single, simple timeline here, because the most interesting discussion I’ve seen is this clip, which moves rapidly from Backgammon via Draughts and Chess to this last few days’ Go matches:

Jeopardy should dfinitely be included somewhere in there, though:

Facing certain defeat at the hands of a room-size I.B.M. computer on Wednesday evening, Ken Jennings, famous for winning 74 games in a row on the TV quiz show, acknowledged the obvious. “I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords,” he wrote on his video screen, borrowing a line from a “Simpsons” episode.

NYT, Computer Wins on ‘Jeopardy!’: Trivial, It’s Not

What’s up next? It seems that suggestions included Texas Hold’em Poker and the SAT:

Artificial intelligence experts believe computers are now ready to take on more than board games. Some are putting AI through the ringer with two-player no-limit Texas Hold’ Em poker to see how a computer fairs when it plays against an opponent whose cards it can’t see. Others, like Oren Etzioni at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, are putting AI through standardized testing like the SATs to see if the computers can understand and answer less predictable questions.

LA Times, AlphaGo beats human Go champ for the third straight time, wins best-of-5 contest

And of course, there’s Rock, Paper, Scissors, which you can still play on the New York Times:

Rock Paper Scissors

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Now therefore:

In a follow-up post I want to present what in my view is a much tougher game-challenge to AI than any of the above, namely Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game, which is a major though not entirely defined feature of his Nobel-winning novel, Das Glasperlenspiel, also known in English as The Glass Bead Game or Magister Ludi.

I believe a game such as my own HipBone variant on Hesse’s would not only make a fine challenge for AI, but also be of use in broadening the skillset of the analytic community, and a suitable response also to the question recently raised on PaxSIMS: Which games would you suggest to the US Navy?

As I say, though, this needs to be written up in detail as it applies to each of those three projects — work is in progress, see you soon.

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Edited to add:

And FWIW, this took my breath away. From The Sadness and Beauty of Watching Google’s AI Play Go:

At first, Fan Hui thought the move was rather odd. But then he saw its beauty.

“It’s not a human move. I’ve never seen a human play this move,” he says. “So beautiful.” It’s a word he keeps repeating. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

The move in question was the 37th in the second game of the historic Go match between Lee Sedol, one of the world’s top players, and AlphaGo, an artificially intelligent computing system built by researchers at Google.

Now that’s remarkable, that gives me pause.

Two serpent-eats-tail views of the Brennan email hack

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — spy vs spy as delicate moral balance ]
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spy vs spy

There are two sentences in When The Hackers Become The Hacked: Why Reading John Brennan’s Emails Feels Wrong, Ali Watkins‘ HuffPo piece a couple of days ago, that feature a neat sense of paradox, and what’s most interesting about them is that they show us two different sides of the coin.

The first [upper panel, below] has a bit of an “ooh, look” feel to it, finding its turning point in the fact that the keeper of secrets has had his own secrets exposed:

SPEC Brennan

while the second [lower panel, above] centers on how it feels “from the inside“.

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All of which reminds me of the Talmudic distinction between the Israelites’ view, watching as their enemies the Egyptians perish in the Red Sea, and God’s view, seeing the Egyptian plight from the inside as it were, encapsulated in R Johanan‘s phrase:

My creatures are drowning in the sea, and you want to sing songs!

Kudos to Ali Watkins.

Armageddon: if you can’t hasten it, maybe you can dodge it?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — plus a date-setting video, awaiting The End in 2031! ]
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Armageddon. Even if you can’t hotwire it..

SPEC Paz Schindler

you may still be able to dodge it..

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From the late Israeli analyst, Reuven Paz:

Jihadi apocalyptic discourse, either by Jihadi-Salafi scholars, clerics, or supporters of global Jihad is one of the main innovations of the Jihadi-Salafi discourse that followed the September 11 attacks. Waves of what may be termed apocalyptic discourse are not new in the modern Arab Islamic world. They accompanied almost every major war or disaster that occurred in the Arab World in modern times. Such major events were the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the last Muslim Caliphate in 1922-24; The 1948 war with Israel — the “catastrophe” (Nakbah) in Arab and Palestinian eyes — which resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel; The 1967 war — the calamity (Naksah) in Arab and Muslim eyes — which resulted in Israeli occupation all over Palestine, Jerusalem, and Al-Aqsa mosque, and marked a humiliating Arab defeat; and the first Gulf war in 1991, following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, which marked the first round of America’s massive military involvement in the Middle East. These wars, and some additional minor events such as the “Triple aggression” in the Suez canal in October 1956; “Black September” and the sudden death of the most admired Egyptian President Gamal Abd al-Nasser in September 1970, The Islamic revolution in Iran in February 1979; The Israeli-Egyptian peace// agreement the same time; The Iran-Iraq war between 1980-88, or the Soviet collapse in 1990-91, created waves of apocalyptic discourse.

From John Schindler:

Fifteen years ago I authored a piece for Cryptologic Quarterly, the National Security Agency’s in-house classified journal, about how close the world actually came to World War III in the early 1950s. Although this was little understood at the time, the North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950 was a dry-run for the Kremlin, which was obsessed with silencing Tito’s renegade Communist regime in Yugoslavia. Had the United States not strongly resisted Pyongyang’s aggression, a Soviet bloc invasion of Yugoslavia would have followed soon after.

Of course, President Harry Truman did send U.S. forces to defend South Korea in the summer 1950, resulting in a conflict that has never formally ended. More importantly, he saved the world from nuclear Armageddon, as my CQ piece laid out in detail. Lacking much Western conventional defenses in Europe, any Soviet move on Yugoslavia would have resulted in rapid nuclear release by a hard-pressed NATO. I cited numerous still-secret files and as a result my article was classified TOPSECRET//SCI.

However, NSA has seen fit to declassify and release my article, minus some redactions, and even post it on the Agency’s open website. They have omitted my name, perhaps out of fear UDBA assassins will track me down decades after Tito’s death, but I’ll take my chances.

You can read the article here — enjoy!

Sources:

  • Reuven Paz, Hotwiring the Apocalypse: Jihadi Salafi Attitude towards Hizballah and Iran
  • John Schindler, Dodging Armageddon: The Third World War That Almost Was, 1950
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    None of which precludes date-setting — something that both Christian and Islamic scriptures suggest is futile.

    I can’t embed MI7 Agency‘s Passage Through the Veil of Time, but it’s an intriguing entry into the prediction stakes, and the first I’ve seen that confirms Richard Landes‘ contention that Christian millennial movements will be with us at least until the second millennial anniversary of the death and resurrection of Christ in the 2030s — and no doubt through the start of the next Islamic century in 2076 AD since, as Tim Furnish has also reminded us, “Mahdist expectations increase at the turn of every Islamic century.”

    How shall “in the box” people think “outside the box”?

    Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — a gadfly question ]
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    We have seen various conversations online in which its is plausibly suggested that YESness leads to upward mobility across an array of silos and disciplines, specifically including the intelligence community and the military — the end result being risk-averse group-think that is pretty much “inside the box” by definition.

    Similarly, we have noted that serious and nuanced issues are frequently debated in the media by those who are known for their general-purpose punditry or seniority, rather than by those with specific knowledge of and insight into the particular issues of concern.

    Question: How shall we get outside the box thinking from inside the box thinkers?

    Language, language, please!

    Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron – unclear language gives an out-of-focus snapshot of reality, estimative language hopes to facilitate precision ]
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    Take a quick look, then skip to the rest of this post & come back later. Unless you already know this thing by heart, and perhaps nurse an inordinate hatred for it. In which case you can skip the whole post — we may even see eye to eye already..

    NIE what we mean when we say estimative language

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    In light of the above, I was a tad surprised to read these words in Time this morning:

    “Documents were also found and they prove, without any ambiguity, that the individual was preparing an imminent attack, in all probability, against one or two churches,” Cazeneuve said.

    Somehow the combination of “without any ambiguity” and “in all probability” didn’t quite mesh. But the original speaker was French, so I did whatever diligence I could muster, and found this, selon Minister Cazeneuve:

    Les perquisitions menées à son domicile ont permis de retrouver, outre de l’armement et du matériel de vidéo, des écrits « établissant sans ambiguïté que l’individu projetait de commettre un attentat, vraisemblablement contre une ou deux églises », a précisé Bernard Cazeneuve.

    Apparently Le Monde viewed Cazeneuve as having “clarified” the matter, bringing it to precision.. And I suppose that means we should read the Minister’s words as indicating that the intention to attack was proven “without ambiguity” while the targeting of “one or two” churches was — my French is rusty, so I asked Larousselikely, convincing, or plausible.

    All of which is by way of remarking on the necessity for — and inherent problems arising regarding — what’s called “estimative language”. Problems which may be doubly obscure in translation.

    Unless someone suggests a “plausible” reference from Walsingham, Marlowe or Shakespeare, a decent starting point for consideration is to be found in Sherman Kent’s 1964 Words of Estimative Probability:

    It should not come as a surprise that the fact is far from the ideal, that considerable difficulty attends both the fitting of a phrase to the estimators’ meaning and the extracting of that meaning by the consumer. Indeed, from the vantage point of almost fourteen years of experience, the difficulties seem practically insurmountable.

    For a more recent take on the matter, and to see whether we’re surmounting the insurmountable yet, there’s always the chart at the head of this post, taken from the 2007 NIE on Prospects for Iraq’s Stability — something we should still be worrying about eight years later, no?

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    No sense in beating about the bush: poets can handle this sort of thing better than layfolk, but then – what’s the use? Who can read poetry any more?


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