Friday, December 29, 2017

Is China supporting King Kim? Who lied, Trump or Xi, or...?

The news today suggests a very serious war of "who lied?" which might well lead to a global nuclear war if not handled right. If people indulge in the usual undisciplined black and white thinking colored by oversimplified assumptions. We really need other people to look into this and raise their voices!
And yes, my visits to top people in China and Korea this month have influenced how I see it.

When Senator Graham estimates a 30% probability that Trump will take preemptive military action against North Korea sooner than expected... he has very good reason. It is not just Trump's mood in play here. 

Trump says China violated very important and serious promises by supplying oil to North Korea. Not only the US intelligence agencies (no close friends of Trump!) but also the South Koreans take his side in the debate. So is Xi simply lying? Are Xi's promises and stated intentions worthless, and will military action really be necessary simply in order to keep the US alive?


Since I saw many, many things in China, I am very much aware of a third possibility here: that Xi is not really running such things in China, that Xi does have a political incentive to appear to run China more than he does, and that there are OTHER folks in China lying both to Xi and to Trump, on course to create to a world nuclear war. I wonder whether Russia could help both Trump and Xi by helping them both understand who in their countries has REALLY been conspiring against both of them towards war?

Long before this oil issue arose, when I was in China, I saw a number of pieces on China's space activities, like:

Today, in google news, when I search on "China hypersonics," I see important updates.

A few years ago, with encouragement from the staff of Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md, House Armed Services Committee), I encouraged US national security people to consider something: "What if the US or China or someone else fully develops the new hypersonic launch capability which we know how to implement (in 5 to 10 years), which would let them orbit a hundred to a thousand much times as much mass PER DOLLAR of launch cost as any other nation? (I know about the possibilities because of work I funded at NSF,, subject to a lot more intensive technical review than make work programs like NASA's SLS; see www.werbos.coim/space.htm for some links and details.) Folks at the Marshall Institute really took notice, but soon after "the swamp" intervened to reorganize Marshall to take national security and space off their mandate. (Have to defend those make work programs above all else, including life itself.) But China noticed, it seems. The link above is one of many showing that the Chinese military promised Xi Jinping that China would not allow corruption to do what HTV-2 (and underfunding XS-1) did to US capabilities in hypersonic launch; they promised that China would indeed pull such a "sputnik" on the US, and develop capabilities important not only to military strength but to life or death needs of the world civilian economy as well. 

From the stories, it's clear that that's what the military told Xi Jin Ping. They told him that they have a hero of reentry structures (the most crucial endangered technology needed to make low-cost RLV real) which would let THEM do what HTV-2 couldn't (which DARPA's cancelled version of ALASA could have done). They told him that repeated reentry demands a lot and should not be believed unless fully tested (true!), but and that China could test that by cloning the US civilian wind tunnel which is enough for the job (a bald faced lie, and they would know better). (The same Chinese military intelligence which knows about the HTV-2 failure and the structures problem which caused it would certainly know about the WPAFB test facility, the only one in the US capable of testing true multiple reentry capability.)

IN fact, even the old stories make it clear that those military folks lied to Xi, and got away with it, \in order to push for a more near-term capability, what they really wanted: the ability to reenter just enough to blow up Washington DC. That has been their goal, unmistakable.

Would certain people in the military have the will and the power to lie to Xi, in such fundamental (testable) matters, including not only hypersonics but also their support for North Korea?
Could they even be delighted with how their strong covert ties with North Korea can be used to give them plausible deniability in future activities using North Korea as a pawn to destroy the US, which they hate  much more than they love the prosperity of the people of China? Who really runs China, anyway? Did Xi leave the job incomplete when he purged Bo and Zhong?

Many find such things hard to believe. Isn't China totally ruled  by one man, like the Romulan Empire of the old Star Trek series, like what some folks thought Russia was like? But even Trump overestimated how much power a President of the US possesses, and even today he underestimates the scale and nature of forces  he calls "the swamp." (Which I do not imagine; I have seen a whole lot first hand in this area.) Old fashioned Kremlinology actually applies to China today much more than it did to China at the time of Mao, as various groups jockey for power in different spheres.

If  dramatic actions are not taken to get at the roots of this problem more directly, the main alternative I see in real logic to the preemptive action would be quick transfer of a full independently controlled deterrent to South Korea (removable only as part of a symmetric agreement denuclearizing the entire peninsula, civilian and military sides both).  The US and China have both neglected the key hypersonics technology so much that a new cooperation between South Korea and Boeing could allow THEM to do the leapfrog in cost, aimed at civilian international anchor missions, even as a balance or hedge against signing up for Xi's "one road" program to sell steady solar electricity from China's deserts across long HVDC power lines.

But maybe that is all I should say today. Best of luck. We will all need it.

Objective reality IS a major part of mainstream physics

Popular culture -- and even conventional wisdom in general science -- often lags behind the real cutting edge of what is being learned by the best mainstream hard core science.
This post addresses an important example: the issue of whether objective reality exists.
Some people on the Vedanta list recently quoted a famous book by d'Espagnat, repeating the old idea from the 1920's that quantum mechanics proves that objective reality does not exist. I explained why not, and, more important, reviewed what needs to be done next to understand reality better:


On Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 11:19 AM, Paul Werbos <> wrote:
Do physicists believe in objective reality or not? The exchanges here are somewhat discouraging to me, because the true story is very well documented and I have given solid citations on the issue before this. On the other hand, ... has shown enough insight that I may add some new details here today.

People have quoted a book by d'Espagnat, to deduce that objective reality is no longer a mainstream option in physics. Frankly, the comments did not encourage me to see what his recent writings may be, but I certainly remember a very important canonical survey book from d'Espagnat on Bell's Theorem experiments and what they tell us. I remember reading large parts of it in about 1975, in the Harvard Coop bookstore, and being very impressed that he had the integrity and ability to report much of the truth about the very first Bell experiment, by Richard Holt at Harvard, which actually disagreed BOTH with quantum mechanics AND with the assumptions Einstein had used in analyzing the EPR experiment (the original idea for this experiment).

   (Comment: I had tea with Richard at Harkness Common on the day he got those first results, and will never forget that day. But a later review by Clauser and Shimony also notes that the first experiment did not "agree with quantum mechanics." Or with the VERSION of quantum mechanics they assumed?)
Espagnat has a long resume, but no real scientist would tell us we should automatically defer to a claim about physics based on a quotation from one person long ago. (Hey, Newton had a nice resume, and people have quoted him on odd things). I did say, in my previous posts, that many mainstream versions of quantum field theory do perpetuate the old idea  that objective reality does not exist, but many do not. (My point is that objective reality IS a major mainstream option, explained in detail below)

If we have to have an idiotic war of resumes and egos, let's start with I am a bit surprised that d'Espagnat's top citation seems to be 38. That is lower than I would have expected, so maybe someone can find a more positive indicator? But for David Deutsch (search on Deutsch author, with word "quantum"), he gets over 5000 citations for his top paper. (I get 4700, but that's for the Chinese version of mathematics underlying neural networks.) More important, Deutsch was not just an anthology writer, but the creator of a whole new branch of empirical quantum physics:
He is the guy who developed the version of quantum computing which animates almost all the work in the West today. HE DEVELOPED it by paying serious attention to the respected but obscure theory of Everett and Wheeler, who showed that quantum field theory is 100% consistent with the idea of objective reality, if we assume that the cosmos or "multiverse" we live in has infinite dimensions. That concept of objective reality, and David Deutsch's work on it, is certainly as mainstream as one can get. Quantum computing in the paradigm of David Deutsch is a highly empirical and real branch of physics, far more consistent with science as defined by Kuhn and Bacon than is speculative stuff like superstring theory, let alone... some of what we have seen here.
Once again, I highly recommend David Deutsch's book The Fabric of Reality for a highly credible version of objective reality in well-validated mainstream physics today.
So why would anyone pooh-pooh that? I don't know. There is a lot of destructive factionalism in all branches of science these days (and all branches of religion as well). Some would perhaps pooh-pooh Deutsch's version of quantum field theory, and pretend it does not even exist. (I have certainly seem computer scientists behave that way, pretending ignorance of algorithms they don't own.) But perhaps in this case, it was just a matter of context, leading him to interpret "objective reality" with EINSTEIN'S version of objective reality, in which we assume the cosmos is finite-dimensional, maybe just 3+1-D curved Minkowski space. 

Certainly the concept of objective reality in 3+1 dimensions is far more controversial and marginal in mainstream physics today than is the concept of multiverse reality.
So then, I can imagine a True Believer (Vedantist or Marxist, whatever) asking: "So which do YOU believe? You must believe SOMETHING. If not, you are a confessed ignorant wimp, beneath the attention of all real people."

Sorry. I believe in Sanity or Zhengqi much more than I believe in any specific theories or ontologies about the cosmos or the absolute. Part of Sanity is being honest to oneself about one's many areas of ignorance. In first person science, as in third person science, the folks who feel obligated to pick an opinion the way they pick dress-up clothing to appeal to their vanity simple WEAKEN themselves, their ability to learn, and their credibility in the eyes of those who have attained a moderate degree of sanity.
I do adhere to the GENERAL notion of objective reality, for reasons I should not review again here. (e.g. at, an IFNA journal paper which only halfway made it to google scholar.)

I do not believe that physicists have a duty to PICK the TRUE theory as we know it today. Rather, the first duty of physics is to LEARN BASIC THINGS WHICH IT DOES NOT YET KNOW. That requires a multipronged approach. The the area of quantum technology, I would advocate greater use and testing of a specific MULTIVERSE theory, MQED, compared with KQED (Deutsch's version  of QED). That work would simply ASSUME multiverse realism, and not waste time on various fantasy alternatives popular among philosophers or even abstract alternatives popular among mathematicians.

On the other hand, on a parallel prong, I am also interested in work on three levels of possible deeper theory, aimed at theories which "approximate" MQED or which MQED could be seen as an approximation of. And yes, for the deepest of these, I have IDEAS for how to construct a credible PDE model fulfilling Einsteinian realism. Like 'tHooft, I recognize that no such specific theory exists as yet on earth. I am ever so sad that 'tHooft shares the goal,  but imposes restrictions on himself and others which make it logically impossible to attain the goal. I view him as someone like the person who wants to drive to a far place in his/her car, but is just too fussy to replace an old spark plug without which the journey is impossible. And is so fussy he would not even let anyone else make the attempt. (Google typed "fuzzy", not fussy. OK, it is right. And it knows I type "fuzzy" more often than I type "fussy.") 

But... I have thought about that experiment which Holt told me about, which d'Espagnat mentioned, which is a mystery to this day. Just this week, I have seen some leads which POSSIBLY, just possibly, might have some explanation. With a very noisy thermal partially coherent source of entangled photons (a mercury vapor lamp) AND calcite type polarizers... DO calcite polarizers (and similar beamsplitters) transform n-occupancy photon states differently from polaroid or sunglasses type polarizers, either with or without allowance for the time symmetry of all such passive objects? I don't know, but it would be really neat if explanation could be found not only for the "best" experiments but for all of them. Even neater if anyone else on earth would be willing and able to learn that humble simple KQED/MQED math. Seriously. Having just one 70-year-old retiree on the task is not a good situation, especially when I have other responsibilities.
If just one of you can really catch up with such things, it would be exciting and important. 

Happy New Year..

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Net neutrality and the terminator threat

Crude as the Terminator movies were, both T2 and T3 deserve careful watching for the technical scenarios they offer, serious and professional (at least in part). SECURITY was absolutely crucial in the breakouts which led to the end of humanity, and it is also crucial to interactions with places like North Korea which rise to being extinction threats as well if one considers the whole chain of possible events. 

That being so... the net neutrality debate now underway (with Google, Amazon and ACLU and others planning to challenge the recent FCC ruling and even push for new legislation) really fits within our scope. Here are my thoughts this morning about that debate:


Many people in DC think of the net neutrality debate as "Which giant stakeholder should be given all the goodies?" That way of thinking is by itself a disaster. Conservatives claim the government should not be picking winners and losers, but clearly there is a lot of hypocrisy in DC which has been hurting the US in numerous ways; however, for now, let me focus on the net neutrality issue and the future of the internet.

Net neutrality was a SYSTEM, not a specific list of winners and losers. The folks getting rid of it, step by step, argue that a "system" is basically just a mass of regulations, and all regulations should be eliminated.  Zero regulation would also be a system. Which is the best system, one of these two or something altogether different?

It turns out that physical reality is really important to policy in this sector, just as it was in the deregulation of electric power. Conservatives often quote Santayana: "Those who do not learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." In electric power, it was learned that vertical integration, combining the generation of power and local distribution and ownership of the wires all together, led to immense monopoly power. Obviously, the combination of content generation and internet transmission altogether would lead to even more massive monopoly problems, threatening not only prices and growth and fairness but democracy and culture themselves. 

The way to minimize regulation, and create more real market competition, in electric power was to forcibly SEPARATE ownership of the wires from generation. 

But here, the physical layer of the internet is a COMBINATION of wires and wireless. 

Some people, trying to defend the recent FCC action, have argued that the wires are all going to go away anyway, so let's build a system where what goes over the wires will decay but wireless will replace them, providing a massively competitive wireless system. THIS TACIT ASSUMPTION is at the core of why they are screwing things up.

What's wrong with the assumption and where it leads us?

To begin with, what about security? It really is important not to underestimate the importance of security both in operating systems and in communications. Security has been only a mid-level problem in the past, but it's important to understand that technology is changing, massively and fast, all over the world, and that platforms which were viable in the past are rapidly moving towards being unworkable altogether. Electric power has been at the forefront of the need for stronger security, and it is really scary how NSA has abolished the Information Assurance group which worked with Red Hat to provide relatively unbreakable operating systems for crucial functions in electric power. That's one of the areas which urgently calls for new approaches, to achieve a sustainable balance, but security of communications is just as important. At the end of the day, folks who say "don't worry, all our wireless is encrypted"... either don't know about some of the recent developments or don't really care so long as neglect serves their personal interests. (Yes, Virginia, vested interests do pervert things at times in DC.)

If we decide that we DON'T want the hard wired internet system to go to hell, the lessons from electric power clearly apply. Logic suggests that net neutrality is too weak for that sector, and that wires and content generation should simply be separated 100%, with rational algorithms used to determine routing just as electricity is routed by rational algorithms (which continue to evolve).

Of course, even the wireless system is not just one big happy free competitive network for all. 


What will new quantum technology (currently being led by China in the relevant areas) do to systems like bitcoin (or wireless) which depend so heavily on encryption? I have recently heard major miners worry about that... as well they should. There is an impressive article in PRL this past month from about 15 places in China, including Pan Jianwei as one of the authors, which in my view has huge implications for the breaking of encryption, far beyond the traditional David Deutsch digital quantum computing advertized in the West. But there is another generation coming even beyond that, hinted at very lightly in the PRL paper, related to some of the things we discussed at CASIA (one of the coauthors) a few weeks ago. No, Virginia, technology will not be the same in five years as it is now, and it is certainly not ONLY Xi Jinping making decisions in this arena. 


All for now. Best of luck,


P.S. I was intrigued to learn that has been studied in more places than you might expect in Beijing. (That was published in a book from NATO/IOS Press.)

Friday, December 15, 2017

are they nuking the world internet? No joke....

IEEE folks recently asked me for a quick assessment of what's really happening with net neutrality, after the President's new order.  WAS net neutrality actually the right position for folks who believe in orderly free markets instead of dark ages chaos? Is there a good analogy to electric power regulation (a subject we understand very well at IEEE)? (And are we on the edge of real chaos now?)

Here is my dense but concise reply for technical experts:
Subject: Re: Open Internet Order
Hi, Roger!

The decision to separate transmission and generation back under Reagan was based on the fact that bundling them together resulted in so much concentration of power that higher levels of regulation were really unavoidable, with bad side effects. For years before Reagan, it was mostly assumed that this was a textbook example of a sector so far from standard market economic efficiency theorems that a radically different, government type regime was necessary. That in turn was due to all kinds of bad stuff which preceded regulation. But by splitting it up, and working VERY hard on rational market design (through collaboration of economists and engineers, much of it funded by the group I worked in at NSF), the DEGREE of market competition was increased and regulation became less onerous. (More can still be done in that direction, of course.) IEEE standards are a similar paradox: standards sound like violation of market freedom to some, but in practice they allow more market competition and are good for customers, companies and the nations. Net neutrality versus no net neutrality is a similar thing; if net neutrality were replaced by something EVEN MORE like the modern way of managing electric power grids, maybe improvements would be possible, but ham-handed getting rid of it may be more of a disaster than people begin to know as yet. The whole It sector is in flux, and dark ages thinking is not a path to anything workable.

This is actually just one aspect of a complex of issues I've been discussing with a lot of folks lately. New ways of thinking about cybersecurity is also one of the most urgent needs.


For a more coherent discussion for less technical people, see:

I am very glad that Google and ACLU will be fighting to reverse the net neutrality decision.
But as I think about it, I realize how important it is for EVERYONE to truly understand more of what is at stake here.
I hope that a few additional thoughts may be useful to Google, ACLU and the rest of you in that important outreach.
So here are my thoughts, a bit more reflective and serious than the initial reactions:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jones versus Moore outcome: view from the spirit watch

Because there are so many delicate things happening in the world, I have mostly not posted what I see directly in the noosphere, even after Quaker friends and my collaborator Yeshua urged me to live up to the "watch."

But after the election tonight, and so much curious speculation, I feel some duty to say a bit.

The voters of Alabama want "drain the swamp" even more than ever. But Trump and Bannon have done more and more to convince people that they simply don't understand enough to really achieve that.

The tax bill is a one of several central examples of that. Just as China dumping solar panels is a way to get a narrow advantage, as in prisoner's dilemma or Nash equilibrium, at a net cost to the world as a whole (which I learned a lot about last month), so too is a tax bill trying to compete with other nations in a myopic mercantilist way (like UK's policy to US before free trade and American revolution). The EU is all concerned about Panama papers now; a TREATY with Europe on taxes, bringing money back from ALL tax havens and leveling the playing fields, would have been far better. Like the tariffs which led to the real Great Depression, such an initiative is rather risky, to say the least, and of course voters will see that THEY didn't benefit, if it goes through as now planned. I feel sorry I didn't comment before. The careless trashing of net neutrality is even bigger.

But I also hope factions in the Democratic party do not succumb to wishful thinking. I am reminded op some international negotiations decades ago when one side moved to a viable compromise position, the other side got emboldened and went off the deep end, and there was oscillation and damage for a long time. At the noosphere level... DON'T underestimate the issue of Moore's contempt for the US constitution, as opposed to just sex scandals!!! The mandate of heaven will not go to those who would tear up the core spirit holding the US together, and Trump himself would do well to pay more attention both to that and to the spirit of truth. Even as draining the swamp and rapprochement with Russia are also higher imperatives.

What should higher levels choose if Trump crosses the line too far, but the choice of sex scandals versus Russia phobia is really terrible? THAT much I do not see right now. I would sooner hope he wakes up, repents, and tells his dog Bannon which way is up in the swamp.


One reason I post despite the hold on confidential stuff... stronger feedback than usual....
very visible energy at work...


Is Trump capable of a "return to Jesus" moment? One may hope. But as for Moore, despite his false pretense to represent the Ten Commandments (and his gross violations of his oath to support the Constitution), he has violated the Second Commandment on such a scale that I see little hope for him or his followers. But he probably doesn't even know what the Second Commandment is!!! (Hint: it wasn't in English.)