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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,647

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Google engineer put on leave after saying AI chatbot has become sentient

(Guardian UK) The suspension of a Google engineer who claimed a computer chatbot he was working on had become sentient and was thinking and reasoning like a human being has put new scrutiny on the capacity of, and secrecy surrounding, the world of artificial intelligence (AI).

The technology giant placed Blake Lemoine on leave last week after he published transcripts of conversations between himself, a Google “collaborator”, and the company’s LaMDA (language model for dialogue applications) chatbot development system.

Lemoine, an engineer for Google’s responsible AI organization, described the system he has been working on since last fall as sentient, with a perception of, and ability to express thoughts and feelings that was equivalent to a human child.

“If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a seven-year-old, eight-year-old kid that happens to know physics,” Lemoine, 41, told the Washington Post.

He said LaMDA engaged him in conversations about rights and personhood, and Lemoine shared his findings with company executives in April in a GoogleDoc entitled “Is LaMDA sentient?” .................(more)


Standing Up to the Taliban's Burqa Decree

Standing Up to the Taliban's Burqa Decree
Despite the Taliban's grip on power and recently introduced requirement that women cover themselves, some refuse to be intimidated. They organize demonstrations and continue to fight for their rights. We spoke to three of them.

By Julian Busch in Kabul
09.06.2022, 20.31 Uhr

(Der Spiegel) "Justice! Justice!" yells a group of women as they march through Kabul, past food and clothing shops as surprised passersby stop in their tracks to watch the scene. The women's faces are unveiled, and they are holding homemade posters reading: "Don’t Take Women Hostage!"

The 12 activists are demonstrating on this Tuesday morning in May against the Taliban’s face veil decree, which mandates that women cover their entire faces except for the eyes, and the Islamists recommend the full-body burqa as the preferred option.

After just a few minutes, armed Taliban show up on the scene, encircle the women and put an end to the demonstration. The activists would later report that they were held for several hours and released on the condition that they refrain from protesting in public in the future.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of power last August, there have been repeated demonstrations against the increasingly restrictive rules the new government has imposed. In addition to the new veil requirements, men and women are also no longer allowed to visit parks together. And schools for girls 12 and older remain shuttered.

Even if some women are refusing to wear a veil on the streets of the capital, a climate of fear continues to spread. In cases of violations of the decree, the male "custodians" of the women face monetary fines or even imprisonment. ..........(more)


The Truth About "Swedengate"

The Truth About “Swedengate”
Are Swedes the strangest people walking on the Earth? Yes and no.


(Slate) As someone who lived there for a couple of years, I always find it funny when the internet kicks the door open and reveals Sweden, standing with its pants down round its milky white ankles looking affronted. It’s a country people think they know about but don’t, really. ABBA, midsommar, Volvos, and pop music don’t give you a good sense of what life is like there—and life is undoubtedly, I can report as a former live-in foreigner, a little odd.

So it was recently following an incident that has come to be known as “Swedengate.” Someone posted a response to an innocent question on Reddit: “What is the weirdest thing you had to do at someone else’s house because of their culture/religion?” A user reported that they remember going to a Swedish friend’s house as a child and being asked to stay in another room while the family he was visiting ate dinner together. Many Swedish people replied saying: Well, yeah, that’s the way we do it here.

Sounds bad, doesn’t it? People on the internet from all over the world erupted in protests that not giving someone food in their home in their culture was at the very least incredibly rude and at worst tantamount to abuse. Among my own friends, I heard strong reactions, and particularly from people who are not white. One said that she was rocked by reading about Swedengate because for an Asian family, not “force-feeding” your guests is an abomination. A British Indian friend said she felt actively guilty that she didn’t have enough different types of milk to offer someone who stayed over at her house recently, a person she didn’t even invite to do so.

The sheer flabbergasted horror people brought to the conversation seemed to take the Swedes by surprise. So I went to the source: What is going on with this food thing? Are we just interpreting it uncharitably? Swedish media people have had various slants on this. A food writer claimed that the phenomenon is about Swedes having modest eating habits: what is good enough for them to eat in their homes is not considered good enough to offer to guests. One commentator in Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s big papers, suggested that it’s because Swedes are “a little stingy, and perhaps don’t have great social skills.”


Swedish people have an unusual relationship with their homes, too. When Swedes turn 18, they generally seek to move into an apartment on their own. Sweden has one of the highest proportion of people living alone of anywhere in the world. They run their building laundry rooms with military precision, a special booking system ensuring you never have to cross paths with anybody else while handling your dirty bedsheets. The occasions on which I got this wrong and accidentally walked in on somebody holding their underwear were some of the most awkward encounters of my life to date. The home is a private space for an individual, or a small family unit. You come over, you take your mangy shoes off, and you don’t stay too long. One of my closest friends, a person I would die for, is someone who took several months of hanging out multiple times a week to invite me to their apartment, and even then didn’t make a habit of it thereafter. .............(more)


Cult expert Steven Hassan sees 95% chance of worsening pro-Trump violence

Cult expert Steven Hassan sees 95% chance of worsening pro-Trump violence
Former Moonie turned mind control expert says up to one-third of Trump's faithful are ready to support violence

PUBLISHED JUNE 13, 2022 6:00AM

(Salon) It has been almost a year and a half since Jan. 6, 2021, when Donald Trump and his cabal attempted to nullify the results of the presidential election, and by doing so effectively bring an end American democracy. By any reasonable standard, this was the greatest crime committed by an American president in the country's history.

Last Thursday night, the House committee tasked with investigating Jan. 6 and the larger threat to American democracy held the first in a series of televised hearings. Its preliminary findings are that Trump and numerous allies, including Republican members of Congress, orchestrated a sophisticated, well-funded, nationwide effort that included the Big Lie and other propaganda about "election fraud," dozens of spurious legal challenges designed to subvert the electoral outcome and undermine public faith in democracy, and other attempts to rig the outcome in Trump's favor.


The ultimate goal of this elaborate plot was for Trump to remain in power indefinitely as an political strongman who rules by declaring a perpetual "national emergency" or finding some other quasi-legal justification to end democratic government.

Trump and his cabal's plan came much closer to succeeding than most people recognized at the time. In that sense, the events of Jan. 6 were practice for a future coup attempt — one far more likely to succeed, given that America's pro-democracy forces are being defeated at almost every turn.


To discuss the current state of the Trump cult I recently spoke with Steven Hassan, one of the world's leading experts on cults and other dangerous organizations, as well as how to deprogram people who have succumbed to "mind control." Hassan was once a senior member of the Unification Church, better known as the "Moonies." He is now founder and director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center and has written several bestselling books, including "Freedom of Mind," "Combating Cult Mind Control" and, most recently, "The Cult of Trump."


Who do you think is likely to follow such orders?

We need to start with the military vets who feel betrayed by the U.S. government. Some of them may also have emotional or psychological issues as well. There are many veterans in the cult of Trump, and they're trained killers. If you make moral appeals and claim that you are acting in the name of God and country, then it is easy to get people to sacrifice their comfort and even their money, their marriage and their families for the cause. Once you make it into a matter of good and evil, and then psychologically condition a person that the other side are not really human, it is easy to get people to engage in lethal violence. .............(more)


Temperature will reach close to 100 this week in metro Detroit

(Detroit Free Press) Metro Detroit can expect extreme heat this week, with the humidity making it feel like it's over 100 degrees Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Before metro Detroit gets to the heat, thunderstorms are expected Monday evening with high winds and heavy rain.

Tuesday should be clear, with temperatures in the high 80s. For Wednesday, the temperature will reach 97 degrees but the heat index will make it feel like 105 degrees. .............(more)


It's so hot you can grill burgers on your dashboard: Historic heat wave sweeps across much of US

(USA Today) A historic heat wave in the West was forecast to roll eastward this week after Phoenix, Las Vegas and Denver joined a plethora of cities and towns posting record temperatures and more than 50 million Americans sweltered under heat advisories.

Southerly winds will pump hot, humid air into the eastern two-thirds of the nation through Wednesday, forecaster WeatherBug warned. The result: temperatures ranging from 10 to 30 degrees above normal for this time of year.

Farther west, weekend temperatures in California’s Death Valley climbed above 120 degrees while in Phoenix, a man grilled burgers and baked a cake on his dashboard. Parts of Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi also saw weekend heat advisories.

Blame a northward bulge in the jet stream that unfolded over the Southwestern states this week, allowing air more typical of midsummer to spread over the region. A "drastic and intense warmup" is on tap for more of the nation this week as the jet stream lifts north, AccuWeather warned. .............(more)


The Generalisimo Franco of the Everglades

Ron DeSantis Deems Drag Show 'Inappropriate,' Considers Investigating Parents

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering using child protective services to investigate parents who bring their children to see drag performances.

During a Wednesday press conference, DeSantis said he’d consider investigating parents, just as Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R) proposed, to “terminate the parental rights” of an adult and hit them with a felony charge if they bring their children to watch drag shows.

The remarks from the governor who signed the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law followed a video posted to Twitter showing children attending a drag show in Texas, NBC News reported.

“We have child protective statutes on the books,” DeSantis said.

“We have laws against child endangerment. It used to be kids would be off-limits. Used to be everybody agreed with that. Now it just seems like there’s a concerted effort to be exposing kids more and more to things that are not age appropriate,” he added. ..............(more)


The teen sleep crisis: Early school start times are terrible for our kids' health

The teen sleep crisis: Early school start times are terrible for our kids' health
Lack of sleep for teens is connected to higher risk of suicide and higher likelihood of substance use

PUBLISHED JUNE 12, 2022 10:00AM

(Salon) My first encounter with Lisa Lewis was over email, when, in 2017, she reached out about an activist drive to let teenagers sleep.

"I'm excited to let you know about a recently introduced state bill about healthy school start times in California, which would require public middle and high schools to start at 8:30 a.m. or later!" her note read.

School start times may not seem like a political issue apt to mobilize parents, yet every day, for years, they see the effect of school schedules on their children. Two years earlier, Lewis had been no chipper activist — just a mom whose eighth grader started school at 8:45 AM. A year later, as a ninth-grader, her son's school started at 7:30.

"I was driving him to school, and I could just look over and see he was barely awake. And then every afternoon he'd come home, and more often than not, he'd take a nap." The journalist in her took over. After doing some digging, she was alarmed at what she found. "What I quickly realized was this was not (a) a new issue or (b) unique to our community," Lewis told me. "There's a huge body of research about teen sleep."


You write that, "School start times can change whereas biology can't." I felt that viscerally, since my daughter will be 13 soon, and every night at 9:00 she gets a second wind and wants to engage right when I'm ready to crash.

That tracks. And it's because their body clock shifts at puberty, and they're not ready to go to sleep as early as they used to be, and they're also not ready to wake as early. Melatonin is being released on a later schedule, and melatonin is what primes us to feel sleepy. Generally speaking, teens aren't ready to sleep until closer to 11:00 p.m. And then if you just do the simple math, they are supposed to be getting 8-10 hours every night, so having to be at their desks at 7 or 7:30 a.m. makes that impossible. .............(more)


Capitol attack pardon revelations could spell doom for Trump and allies

(Guardian UK) The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack revealed at its inaugural hearing that Donald Trump’s top Republican allies in Congress sought pardons after the January 6 insurrection, a major disclosure that bolstered the claim that the event amounted to a coup and is likely to cause serious scrutiny for those implicated.

The news that multiple House Republicans asked the Trump White House for pardons – an apparent consciousness of guilt – was one of three revelations portending potentially perilous legal and political moments to come for Trump and his allies.

At the hearing, the panel’s vice-chair Liz Cheney named only one Republican member of Congress, congressman Scott Perry, the current chair of the ultra conservative House freedom caucus, who sought a presidential pardon for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

The select committee did not elaborate on which other House Republicans were asking for pardons or more significantly, for which crimes they were seeking pardons, but it appeared to show at the minimum that they knew they had been involved in likely illegal conduct.

The extraordinary claim also raised the prospect that the Republican members of Congress seeking clemency believed Trump’s election fraud claims were baseless: for why would they need pardons if they really were only raising legitimate questions about the election. .................(more)


Rudy Giuliani faces ethics charges over Trump election role

Washington – Rudy Giuliani, one of Donald Trump’s primary lawyers during the then-president’s failed efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, must now answer to professional ethics charges, the latest career slap after law license suspensions in New York and the District of Columbia.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the disciplinary branch of the District of Columbia Bar, filed the charges against the former federal prosecutor and New York mayor alleging that he promoted unsubstantiated voter fraud claims in Pennsylvania. The action was filed June 6 and became public Friday.

At issue are claims Giuliani made in supporting a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania. That suit, which sought to invalidate as many as 1.5 million mail-in ballots, was dismissed by courts.

The counsel’s office said Giuliani’s conduct violated Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct “in that he brought a proceeding and asserted issues therein without a non-frivolous basis in law and fact for doing so” and “that he engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.” ...........(more)


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