Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Another Republican debate, Buddhism, UN deep learning, just daily stuff

Another Republican debate, Buddhism, UN deep learning, just daily stuff

My post yesterday on dreams was an organized presentation of basic material, linking science and experience and larger issues. Today is basically just a personal diary kind of thing, on events of the day. (In parallel with this, I have a scientific journal which I do not post, for multiple reasons).

Themes of the past day or two – another Republican debate, a discussion of deep learning and political prediction on the listserv of the Millennium Project, some notes about Buddhism and the watch, a couple of mundane dreams, a doctor’s visit later today.

Republican debate ---------------------

Maybe the new Republican debate was a notable step up from the previous ones – even though we almost couldn’t get to see it! We do not subscribe to Fox business channel, and have no intention of doing so – and Verizon FiOS welched on its promise to make it available on a one-time basis for seeing the debates. So we saw it on streaming – learning how to really use internet to see a TV program, which I haven’t done so much before.

I now think: “only 5 to 3 against sanity, not so bad.” But the 5 were still deeply disturbing. Some sounded god in a way, and you could feel the sincerity and resonance, just as one can feel great sincerity in some asylum inmates. So far out of touch with reality that it is deeply scary. For example – I did notice some interesting stuff in the earlier TV interview of “W” about the new book based on his father’s diaries, but Jeb sounded as if HE didn’t learn any of the lessons the others did. The book mentioned Cheney building his own “empire” (not something to underestimate even now!), but Jeb and his sycophants all stressed the importance of “making it clear that we are the leader” and “pleasing those wonderful imams who just want to be our friends.” Jeb did so in argument against Trump, who was one of the three who showed glimmers of sanity. In effect, those three gave a feeling they had actually set foot on planet earth, and MIGHT not just blow up the world as soon as their hand would be in the right place. (Aren’t Jeb and Marco at least stable and reliable?) Not when they are ready to accommodate folks who want to create a war between US and Israel versus Russia and Iran.

Side note: I am hoping Obama and Netanyahu had some interesting side conversations about the Grand Mufti and the realities of the Third Caliphate movement. Who knows?

The three.

After the debate, I still feel that I would not be able to be truly open-minded, even if I tried, if the Republicans nominate anyone but Kasich or Trump. Both had moments of really being in touch. That doesn’t mean all moments, but enough to engage as Quakers normally try to. In retrospect, Rand Paul also had a good night. In fact... Rand Paul gave a great example of how people can learn at times to rise to a higher plane, and that is what we need most in the world. I still wouldn’t consider voting for him as President, since I know from previous discussions of other subjects that he too could blow it all, but if all I knew of was last night I might have real hope for him (as I did when he stood up for personal freedom that day on the floor of the Senate).

A grim smile came to my face when they debated who should get credit for stopping Hilary Clinton’s earlier health care bill. I know the answer to that more than they did! I know because I worked for a year in the office of Senator Specter, the guy who did that. His main conference room displayed the gigantic flow chart which turned him against Hilary’s proposal, and which he used to get the rest of the Senate against it as well, and many of the folks there told me about those days. In the end, it was the Club for Growth (which Huckabee calls “The Club for Greed”) which purged him, using hardball questionable tactics (like sending violent provocateurs to his town meetings) to do so. Some folks accused him of being a “rhino,” which means he thought for himself, and was not a mindless puppet for psychotic outside forces. He was not the only one purged, nor was I. The empire marches on. I remember what Icahn said about Trump as his best hope for a “new Teddy Roosevelt” to get the special interests and evil empires under control. Kasich was the only one who sounded as if he might have ever paid attention to things that Yeshua ben Josef (aka Jesus Christ) actually said about some important things we all should pay attention to. (I don’t go so far as all of the things... but there are some really important basics.)


Millennium project and deep learning:

For everyday life, maybe that would be the subject next most interesting to some of you. : The Millennium project, formerly part of the United Nations University but now a more truly international NGO kind of organization, is best known for putting out an integrated report every year, which consistently tops the lists of futurist publications, on what we know now about the future of humanity – drawing on analysis from “nodes” all over the earth. They recently posted to the planning committee:
During the last meeting of The Millennium Project in San Francisco this past July, there was some discussion about integrating AI into MP’s work. I will go to a session on using IBM’s Watson tomorrow. Today Google announce it is giving access to its deep learning engine for free... This AI software is called TensorFlow...Google believes it can accelerate the evolution of AI this way

“What we’re hoping is that the community adopts this as a good way of expressing machine learning algorithms of lots of different types, and also contributes to building and improving [TensorFlow] in lots of different and interesting ways,” says Jeff Dean, one of Google’s most important engineers and a key player in the rise of its deep learning tech.

Google built the underlying TensorFlow with C++ , but coders can also Python. You can get started using it at:

I replied:

This is too close to home to ignore. Just FYI --

-- My younger daughter is part of that group at google

-- Watson is more like old AI (expert systems) than neural nets or even 
    the usual machine learning. When so many futurists lauded Watson, IBM   restructured around Watson, and, ironically, reassigned its more modern and also its more neural people to that project, losing much of its advantage. The new IBM game plan included a couple of physically hard special servers supposed to run the US government, and some special contacts with NSA,  but as issues emerged... the stock dropped.

-- The "new deep learning" can certainly be traced back to papers I wrote in 1988 and earlier. "Deep learning" is often defined "more than one or two layers in the neural network"; my 1988 paper was the first to show the general N-layered structure, discussed its advantages  and exactly how to adapt it. ("Generalized MLP.") It also gave the main additional features needed to get the first wave of new capabilities. 

-- Deep learning basically languished until 2007 -- well documented but used only in specialized projects -- because of deeply rooted ideologies and vested interests opposed to neural networks, vested interests still powerful in important places in DC. But in 2007 I sold NSF on a new one-year funding initiative, which I led:

As part of that I funded LeCun and Ng to do the larger-scale demonstration which LeCun and I certainly already knew would work, which broke world records in image recognition, speech recognition in natural language -- which led directly to the new tide of interests. The NSF abstract is at:

However, it is a lot of unformed hype or used car selling when people talk about building systems as intelligent, say, as a mouse brain within the next 20 years. For the latest ground-floor reality, see: It is an old story that a lot of people oversell in hopes of getting maximum money for minimum real adaptation. (The current White House Brain Initiative, and the EU big brain project, contain lots of examples.)

Perhaps it is just as well that people are far from building true AI, or systems more intelligent and conscious than human brains, even though we now know the pathway to do so. Well-crafted lookup systems like google search, Watson, with pieces upgraded by a proper use of simple neural networks, can still be very useful, so long as we do not give them too much power or believe them too much.  A nice slide show on the actual history of new products and the huge risks of real AI and neurotechnology  is posted near the top at

-- I am very sorry I have yet to update to link to three new papers this year which take some aspects of this to new levels, one in the book by Freeman and Kozma on the brain, one in Automatica, and one in press in Quantum Information Processing.

A further reply:

Hi, ... !

I am always happy to hear from you...

I know of two complementary technologies which could revolutionize predetection, but lately I feel almost paralyzed by the issue of trust.
In a way, that is a kind of extension of the time when I saw Terminator II back in 1991, and realized just how close I personally was to causing that kind of outcome. (Shadows of that possible future still show up in our area, much weaker but quite real, from time to time.) But more and more possibilities for adverse effects and misuse present themselves to me, quite graphically.

What would it be like to work for NSA, for example, and one day discover that the guy who was supposed to be your channel to the President was actually a channel to the guys behind ISIL? What would you want to send on that channel?

The safer technology is the less powerful, and probably too futuristic and limited  to be of anything but amusement value to you. Still, since you have enjoyed a bit of time stuff in the past, I attach the proofs of a paper in press, which cites the work on "ghost imaging." I would really enjoy it if people go ahead and try out triphoton ghost imaging on a telescope looking at the sun... and discover after the fact that they are seeing an image of the sun eight minutes AFTER the time when the image is recorded.  (Flares and sunspots move fast enough that this might well be possible.) In principle, with slow light and curved paths, it could be used to image places on earth in the future..
like maybe NORAD's early warning board.  

For nuclear terrorism... I led the joint NSF-DHS joint initiative on research to better cope with that threat. It was quite an eye-opener. I knew things were bad, but actually they were worse. Still, the availability of nuclear material and technology is a powerful limiter, the most important limiter. Thus improvement of the nonnuclear, non-CO2 base for generating electricity
ALL OVER THE WORLD really should get a higher priority than it does now. There is a whole lot more that we could be doing, that we aren't doing, anywhere on earth. In some ways, China has actually been the most responsible nation on earth in that area... but the world needs more than that, and their capabilities are not what ours could be if only we could rise to the challenge.

Deep cultural issues are also a crucial driver... but this email is probably too long already.

*************** Buddhism, Dreams and the Watch

The term “the watch” moved quickly to prominence in my thinking a week or two ago, when a deeply intuitive person in the local Meeting and Yeshua both drew my attention to it, and what it means. Can I live up that mandate? Who knows. It’s pretty scary and overwhelming, as I may have mentioned above. I don’t have quite the level of strength to just naturally glide into such a role, and I have a whole lot of skepticism about absolutely everything – even about my own new thinking about “the law of everything,” which only sounds conservative if you don’t understand about emergent phenomena.

And so... Buddhism is BOTH a subject of the watch, AND a natural reaction to feeling overwhelmed and beset by “damned if you do, damned if you don’t, how real is ANYTHING?” A few years ago, I started to notice how respect BOTH for Jesus AND for Buddha had grown naturally in my mind... not for crazy formal organizations, which sometimes see as bad as the temple of the green goat in Chengdu which claims to represent Taoism... but the real people and the real thoughts.

Just a few weeks ago, I was musing... for almost any subject I think serious about, it’s strange how human representatives of the subject pop up in my life... not avatars exactly, but a little like that... Yeshua being an obvious and fascinating example, but there was a kid who did pretty good Einstein imitation (not so easy to fake higher dimensional geometry, folks!), and many others... so why no one even remotely like a real Buddha? (Yes, lots of Zen enthusiasts, and a House reception for the Dalai Lama, but...).  But then I remember an “assumption” not-dream I had years ago, when a misguided guy was trying to reach me on the astral plane with bad intent, and was ever so frustrated he could not find me anywhere... when I was laughing to myself since I was in fact right inside him at the time, looking through his eyes and seeing his mind. (Yes, I remember names and the tactics of the conflict and so on.) So: did I look in the wrong place? Maybe. But I firmly commit myself to caring about “light, life and love”, and the deeper utility signal which that characterizes, and Not to any philosophy which gives up. But sometimes it is really hard to resist thinking and even behaving like a true, core Buddhist. (No, not unto vegetarianism... but I have resolved that on any day where my weight exceeds 170 pounds, even fully clothed, I will behave like a Jain, more or less. No fatty meat, but if Luda offers me salmon roe, green cheese and porto... I won’t turn her down.)

One day... somewhat overwhelmed by the watch and by the scary trends of our world... we walked a couple of miles to the Arlington central library, and I followed my usual routine for that... first check new books, then up to the magazine section, where first priority is to Scientific American, Science News (despite my caveats about what to believe there), and Tricycle, the magazine of the American Buddhist community.

More later. Off to doctor.

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