cybernetics   2073

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Christian lay understandings of preimplantation genetic diagnosis
Could the proliferation of techniques that increasingly enable us not just to have children, but to choose characteristics unrelated to their health, exacerbate our tendency to think of children as objects of our making? Could these techniques lead us to think of ourselves as mechanisms that are valued for our individual parts or traits rather than as individuals who are valued for being unique wholes? ... Put positively, what can we do to increase the chances that these techniques are used in ways that further the happiness of children, families—and ultimately the well-being of our society as a whole?
- Parens & Knowles, ‘Reprogenetics and public policy’, S4
I learn from my friend the Chief Rabbi that Jewish Orthodoxy would support what he would call 'repair' genetics, to eliminate when possible the expression of deleterious genes in human bodies. What Jewish Orthodoxy dreads is the spectre of the superman or super race, genetically fashioned. If that is, as I believe, beyond possibility as well as intent, let it be said.
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23 hours ago by nhaliday
Surveil things, not people – The sideways view
Technology may reach a point where free use of one person’s share of humanity’s resources is enough to easily destroy the world. I think society needs to make significant changes to cope with that scenario.

Mass surveillance is a natural response, and sometimes people think of it as the only response. I find mass surveillance pretty unappealing, but I think we can capture almost all of the value by surveilling things rather than surveilling people. This approach avoids some of the worst problems of mass surveillance; while it still has unattractive features it’s my favorite option so far.


The idea
We’ll choose a set of artifacts to surveil and restrict. I’ll call these heavy technology and everything else light technology. Our goal is to restrict as few things as possible, but we want to make sure that someone can’t cause unacceptable destruction with only light technology. By default something is light technology if it can be easily acquired by an individual or small group in 2017, and heavy technology otherwise (though we may need to make some exceptions, e.g. certain biological materials or equipment).

Heavy technology is subject to two rules:

1. You can’t use heavy technology in a way that is unacceptably destructive.
2. You can’t use heavy technology to undermine the machinery that enforces these two rules.

To enforce these rules, all heavy technology is under surveillance, and is situated such that it cannot be unilaterally used by any individual or small group. That is, individuals can own heavy technology, but they cannot have unmonitored physical access to that technology.


This proposal does give states a de facto monopoly on heavy technology, and would eventually make armed resistance totally impossible. But it’s already the case that states have a massive advantage in armed conflict, and it seems almost inevitable that progress in AI will make this advantage larger (and enable states to do much more with it). Realistically I’m not convinced this proposal makes things much worse than the default.

This proposal definitely expands regulators’ nominal authority and seems prone to abuses. But amongst candidates for handling a future with cheap and destructive dual-use technology, I feel this is the best of many bad options with respect to the potential for abuse.
ratty  acmtariat  clever-rats  risk  existence  futurism  technology  policy  alt-inst  proposal  government  intel  authoritarianism  orwellian  tricks  leviathan  security  civilization  ai  ai-control  arms  defense  cybernetics  institutions  law  unintended-consequences  civil-liberty  volo-avolo  power  constraint-satisfaction  alignment 
3 days ago by nhaliday
The Curse of Xanadu | WIRED
Among people who consider themselves insiders, Nelson's Xanadu is sometimes treated as a joke, but this is superficial. Nelson's writing and presentations inspired some of the most visionary computer programmers, managers, and executives - including Autodesk Inc. founder John Walker - to pour millions of dollars and years of effort into the project. Xanadu was meant to be a universal library, a worldwide hypertext publishing tool, a system to resolve copyright disputes, and a meritocratic forum for discussion and debate. By putting all information within reach of all people, Xanadu was meant to eliminate scientific ignorance and cure political misunderstandings. And, on the very hackerish assumption that global catastrophes are caused by ignorance, stupidity, and communication failures, Xanadu was supposed to save the world.
In Geneva, Tim Berners-Lee, completely ignorant of the Xanadu propaganda, wrote a simple standard for hypertext publishing, which he named the World Wide Web. In Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, Marc Andreessen wrote an attractive front end for the Web, which he called Mosaic. Powered by anarchy and a passion for self-improvement, the Internet lurched toward hypertext.
cybernetics  article  history  usability  innovation  opensource 
5 days ago by janpeuker
Computer Lib/Dream Machines - Wikipedia
Whole Earth Catalog Stevy Levy Steward Brand

Nelson introduced terms such as hypertext, intertwingled and cybercrud:

cybercrud is "the author's own term for the practice of putting things over on people using computers (especially, forcing them to adapt to a rigid, inflexible, poorly thought out system)"[4]
cybernetics  history  book 
5 days ago by janpeuker
How To Be a Systems Thinker |
f you use the word "cyber" in our society now, people think that it means a device. It does not evoke the whole mystery of what maintains balance, or how a system is kept from going off kilter, which was the kind of thing that motivated the question in the first place. It’s probably not the first time that’s happened, that a technology with a very wide spectrum of uses has been so effective for certain problems that it’s obscured the other possible uses.

People are not using cybernetic models as much as they should be. In thinking about medicine, for instance, we are thinking more than we used to about what happens when fifty years ago you had chicken pox and now you have shingles. What happened? How did the virus survive? It went into hiding. It took a different form. We’re finding examples of problems that we thought we’d solved but may have made worse.
cybernetics  philosophy 
6 days ago by janpeuker
A few of my favorite things: TOC from a Russian encyclopedia of by Victor Pekelis, 1974, printed by Mi…
cybernetics  from twitter_favs
12 days ago by briantrice
Alfred Russel Wallace - Wikipedia
Others have noted that another difference was that Wallace appeared to have envisioned natural selection as a kind of feedback mechanism keeping species and varieties adapted to their environment.[93] They point to a largely overlooked passage of Wallace's famous 1858 paper:

The action of this principle is exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident; and in like manner no unbalanced deficiency in the animal kingdom can ever reach any conspicuous magnitude, because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure soon to follow.[2]

The cybernetician and anthropologist Gregory Bateson would observe in the 1970s that, though writing it only as an example, Wallace had "probably said the most powerful thing that'd been said in the 19th Century".[94] Bateson revisited the topic in his 1979 book Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, and other scholars have continued to explore the connection between natural selection and systems theory.[93]
cybernetics  feedback 
15 days ago by zryb
Ultimate fate of the universe - Wikipedia
The fate of the universe is determined by its density. The preponderance of evidence to date, based on measurements of the rate of expansion and the mass density, favors a universe that will continue to expand indefinitely, resulting in the "Big Freeze" scenario below.[8] However, observations are not conclusive, and alternative models are still possible.[9]

Big Freeze or heat death
Main articles: Future of an expanding universe and Heat death of the universe
The Big Freeze is a scenario under which continued expansion results in a universe that asymptotically approaches absolute zero temperature.[10] This scenario, in combination with the Big Rip scenario, is currently gaining ground as the most important hypothesis.[11] It could, in the absence of dark energy, occur only under a flat or hyperbolic geometry. With a positive cosmological constant, it could also occur in a closed universe. In this scenario, stars are expected to form normally for 1012 to 1014 (1–100 trillion) years, but eventually the supply of gas needed for star formation will be exhausted. As existing stars run out of fuel and cease to shine, the universe will slowly and inexorably grow darker. Eventually black holes will dominate the universe, which themselves will disappear over time as they emit Hawking radiation.[12] Over infinite time, there would be a spontaneous entropy decrease by the Poincaré recurrence theorem, thermal fluctuations,[13][14] and the fluctuation theorem.[15][16]

A related scenario is heat death, which states that the universe goes to a state of maximum entropy in which everything is evenly distributed and there are no gradients—which are needed to sustain information processing, one form of which is life. The heat death scenario is compatible with any of the three spatial models, but requires that the universe reach an eventual temperature minimum.[17]
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16 days ago by nhaliday

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