nhaliday + deterrence   40

The Hanson-Yudkowsky AI-Foom Debate - Machine Intelligence Research Institute
How Deviant Recent AI Progress Lumpiness?: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2018/03/how-deviant-recent-ai-progress-lumpiness.html
I seem to disagree with most people working on artificial intelligence (AI) risk. While with them I expect rapid change once AI is powerful enough to replace most all human workers, I expect this change to be spread across the world, not concentrated in one main localized AI system. The efforts of AI risk folks to design AI systems whose values won’t drift might stop global AI value drift if there is just one main AI system. But doing so in a world of many AI systems at similar abilities levels requires strong global governance of AI systems, which is a tall order anytime soon. Their continued focus on preventing single system drift suggests that they expect a single main AI system.

The main reason that I understand to expect relatively local AI progress is if AI progress is unusually lumpy, i.e., arriving in unusually fewer larger packages rather than in the usual many smaller packages. If one AI team finds a big lump, it might jump way ahead of the other teams.

However, we have a vast literature on the lumpiness of research and innovation more generally, which clearly says that usually most of the value in innovation is found in many small innovations. We have also so far seen this in computer science (CS) and AI. Even if there have been historical examples where much value was found in particular big innovations, such as nuclear weapons or the origin of humans.

Apparently many people associated with AI risk, including the star machine learning (ML) researchers that they often idolize, find it intuitively plausible that AI and ML progress is exceptionally lumpy. Such researchers often say, “My project is ‘huge’, and will soon do it all!” A decade ago my ex-co-blogger Eliezer Yudkowsky and I argued here on this blog about our differing estimates of AI progress lumpiness. He recently offered Alpha Go Zero as evidence of AI lumpiness:

...

In this post, let me give another example (beyond two big lumps in a row) of what could change my mind. I offer a clear observable indicator, for which data should have available now: deviant citation lumpiness in recent ML research. One standard measure of research impact is citations; bigger lumpier developments gain more citations that smaller ones. And it turns out that the lumpiness of citations is remarkably constant across research fields! See this March 3 paper in Science:

I Still Don’t Get Foom: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2014/07/30855.html
All of which makes it look like I’m the one with the problem; everyone else gets it. Even so, I’m gonna try to explain my problem again, in the hope that someone can explain where I’m going wrong. Here goes.

“Intelligence” just means an ability to do mental/calculation tasks, averaged over many tasks. I’ve always found it plausible that machines will continue to do more kinds of mental tasks better, and eventually be better at pretty much all of them. But what I’ve found it hard to accept is a “local explosion.” This is where a single machine, built by a single project using only a tiny fraction of world resources, goes in a short time (e.g., weeks) from being so weak that it is usually beat by a single human with the usual tools, to so powerful that it easily takes over the entire world. Yes, smarter machines may greatly increase overall economic growth rates, and yes such growth may be uneven. But this degree of unevenness seems implausibly extreme. Let me explain.

If we count by economic value, humans now do most of the mental tasks worth doing. Evolution has given us a brain chock-full of useful well-honed modules. And the fact that most mental tasks require the use of many modules is enough to explain why some of us are smarter than others. (There’d be a common “g” factor in task performance even with independent module variation.) Our modules aren’t that different from those of other primates, but because ours are different enough to allow lots of cultural transmission of innovation, we’ve out-competed other primates handily.

We’ve had computers for over seventy years, and have slowly build up libraries of software modules for them. Like brains, computers do mental tasks by combining modules. An important mental task is software innovation: improving these modules, adding new ones, and finding new ways to combine them. Ideas for new modules are sometimes inspired by the modules we see in our brains. When an innovation team finds an improvement, they usually sell access to it, which gives them resources for new projects, and lets others take advantage of their innovation.

...

In Bostrom’s graph above the line for an initially small project and system has a much higher slope, which means that it becomes in a short time vastly better at software innovation. Better than the entire rest of the world put together. And my key question is: how could it plausibly do that? Since the rest of the world is already trying the best it can to usefully innovate, and to abstract to promote such innovation, what exactly gives one small project such a huge advantage to let it innovate so much faster?

...

In fact, most software innovation seems to be driven by hardware advances, instead of innovator creativity. Apparently, good ideas are available but must usually wait until hardware is cheap enough to support them.

Yes, sometimes architectural choices have wider impacts. But I was an artificial intelligence researcher for nine years, ending twenty years ago, and I never saw an architecture choice make a huge difference, relative to other reasonable architecture choices. For most big systems, overall architecture matters a lot less than getting lots of detail right. Researchers have long wandered the space of architectures, mostly rediscovering variations on what others found before.

Some hope that a small project could be much better at innovation because it specializes in that topic, and much better understands new theoretical insights into the basic nature of innovation or intelligence. But I don’t think those are actually topics where one can usefully specialize much, or where we’ll find much useful new theory. To be much better at learning, the project would instead have to be much better at hundreds of specific kinds of learning. Which is very hard to do in a small project.

What does Bostrom say? Alas, not much. He distinguishes several advantages of digital over human minds, but all software shares those advantages. Bostrom also distinguishes five paths: better software, brain emulation (i.e., ems), biological enhancement of humans, brain-computer interfaces, and better human organizations. He doesn’t think interfaces would work, and sees organizations and better biology as only playing supporting roles.

...

Similarly, while you might imagine someday standing in awe in front of a super intelligence that embodies all the power of a new age, superintelligence just isn’t the sort of thing that one project could invent. As “intelligence” is just the name we give to being better at many mental tasks by using many good mental modules, there’s no one place to improve it. So I can’t see a plausible way one project could increase its intelligence vastly faster than could the rest of the world.

Takeoff speeds: https://sideways-view.com/2018/02/24/takeoff-speeds/
Futurists have argued for years about whether the development of AGI will look more like a breakthrough within a small group (“fast takeoff”), or a continuous acceleration distributed across the broader economy or a large firm (“slow takeoff”).

I currently think a slow takeoff is significantly more likely. This post explains some of my reasoning and why I think it matters. Mostly the post lists arguments I often hear for a fast takeoff and explains why I don’t find them compelling.

(Note: this is not a post about whether an intelligence explosion will occur. That seems very likely to me. Quantitatively I expect it to go along these lines. So e.g. while I disagree with many of the claims and assumptions in Intelligence Explosion Microeconomics, I don’t disagree with the central thesis or with most of the arguments.)
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april 2018 by nhaliday
Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios
https://twitter.com/robinhanson/status/981291048965087232
https://archive.is/dUTD5
Would you endorse choosing policy to max the expected duration of civilization, at least as a good first approximation?
Can anyone suggest a different first approximation that would get more votes?

https://twitter.com/robinhanson/status/981335898502545408
https://archive.is/RpygO
How useful would it be to agree on a relatively-simple first-approximation observable-after-the-fact metric for what we want from the future universe, such as total life years experienced, or civilization duration?

We're Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/were-underestimating-the-risk-of-human-extinction/253821/
An Oxford philosopher argues that we are not adequately accounting for technology's risks—but his solution to the problem is not for Luddites.

Anderson: You have argued that we underrate existential risks because of a particular kind of bias called observation selection effect. Can you explain a bit more about that?

Bostrom: The idea of an observation selection effect is maybe best explained by first considering the simpler concept of a selection effect. Let's say you're trying to estimate how large the largest fish in a given pond is, and you use a net to catch a hundred fish and the biggest fish you find is three inches long. You might be tempted to infer that the biggest fish in this pond is not much bigger than three inches, because you've caught a hundred of them and none of them are bigger than three inches. But if it turns out that your net could only catch fish up to a certain length, then the measuring instrument that you used would introduce a selection effect: it would only select from a subset of the domain you were trying to sample.

Now that's a kind of standard fact of statistics, and there are methods for trying to correct for it and you obviously have to take that into account when considering the fish distribution in your pond. An observation selection effect is a selection effect introduced not by limitations in our measurement instrument, but rather by the fact that all observations require the existence of an observer. This becomes important, for instance, in evolutionary biology. For instance, we know that intelligent life evolved on Earth. Naively, one might think that this piece of evidence suggests that life is likely to evolve on most Earth-like planets. But that would be to overlook an observation selection effect. For no matter how small the proportion of all Earth-like planets that evolve intelligent life, we will find ourselves on a planet that did. Our data point-that intelligent life arose on our planet-is predicted equally well by the hypothesis that intelligent life is very improbable even on Earth-like planets as by the hypothesis that intelligent life is highly probable on Earth-like planets. When it comes to human extinction and existential risk, there are certain controversial ways that observation selection effects might be relevant.
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march 2018 by nhaliday
Information Processing: US Needs a National AI Strategy: A Sputnik Moment?
FT podcasts on US-China competition and AI: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/05/ft-podcasts-on-us-china-competition-and.html

A new recommended career path for effective altruists: China specialist: https://80000hours.org/articles/china-careers/
Our rough guess is that it would be useful for there to be at least ten people in the community with good knowledge in this area within the next few years.

By “good knowledge” we mean they’ve spent at least 3 years studying these topics and/or living in China.

We chose ten because that would be enough for several people to cover each of the major areas listed (e.g. 4 within AI, 2 within biorisk, 2 within foreign relations, 1 in another area).

AI Policy and Governance Internship: https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/ai-policy-governance-internship/

https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/deciphering-chinas-ai-dream/
https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Deciphering_Chinas_AI-Dream.pdf
Deciphering China’s AI Dream
The context, components, capabilities, and consequences of
China’s strategy to lead the world in AI

Europe’s AI delusion: https://www.politico.eu/article/opinion-europes-ai-delusion/
Brussels is failing to grasp threats and opportunities of artificial intelligence.
By BRUNO MAÇÃES

When the computer program AlphaGo beat the Chinese professional Go player Ke Jie in a three-part match, it didn’t take long for Beijing to realize the implications.

If algorithms can already surpass the abilities of a master Go player, it can’t be long before they will be similarly supreme in the activity to which the classic board game has always been compared: war.

As I’ve written before, the great conflict of our time is about who can control the next wave of technological development: the widespread application of artificial intelligence in the economic and military spheres.

...

If China’s ambitions sound plausible, that’s because the country’s achievements in deep learning are so impressive already. After Microsoft announced that its speech recognition software surpassed human-level language recognition in October 2016, Andrew Ng, then head of research at Baidu, tweeted: “We had surpassed human-level Chinese recognition in 2015; happy to see Microsoft also get there for English less than a year later.”

...

One obvious advantage China enjoys is access to almost unlimited pools of data. The machine-learning technologies boosting the current wave of AI expansion are as good as the amount of data they can use. That could be the number of people driving cars, photos labeled on the internet or voice samples for translation apps. With 700 or 800 million Chinese internet users and fewer data protection rules, China is as rich in data as the Gulf States are in oil.

How can Europe and the United States compete? They will have to be commensurately better in developing algorithms and computer power. Sadly, Europe is falling behind in these areas as well.

...

Chinese commentators have embraced the idea of a coming singularity: the moment when AI surpasses human ability. At that point a number of interesting things happen. First, future AI development will be conducted by AI itself, creating exponential feedback loops. Second, humans will become useless for waging war. At that point, the human mind will be unable to keep pace with robotized warfare. With advanced image recognition, data analytics, prediction systems, military brain science and unmanned systems, devastating wars might be waged and won in a matter of minutes.

...

The argument in the new strategy is fully defensive. It first considers how AI raises new threats and then goes on to discuss the opportunities. The EU and Chinese strategies follow opposite logics. Already on its second page, the text frets about the legal and ethical problems raised by AI and discusses the “legitimate concerns” the technology generates.

The EU’s strategy is organized around three concerns: the need to boost Europe’s AI capacity, ethical issues and social challenges. Unfortunately, even the first dimension quickly turns out to be about “European values” and the need to place “the human” at the center of AI — forgetting that the first word in AI is not “human” but “artificial.”

https://twitter.com/mr_scientism/status/983057591298351104
https://archive.is/m3Njh
US military: "LOL, China thinks it's going to be a major player in AI, but we've got all the top AI researchers. You guys will help us develop weapons, right?"

US AI researchers: "No."

US military: "But... maybe just a computer vision app."

US AI researchers: "NO."

https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/4/17196818/ai-boycot-killer-robots-kaist-university-hanwha
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/technology/google-letter-ceo-pentagon-project.html
https://twitter.com/mr_scientism/status/981685030417326080
https://archive.is/3wbHm
AI-risk was a mistake.
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february 2018 by nhaliday
Fermi paradox - Wikipedia
Rare Earth hypothesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis
Fine-tuned Universe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe
something to keep in mind:
Puddle theory is a term coined by Douglas Adams to satirize arguments that the universe is made for man.[54][55] As stated in Adams' book The Salmon of Doubt:[56]
Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be all right, because this World was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.
article  concept  paradox  wiki  reference  fermi  anthropic  space  xenobio  roots  speculation  ideas  risk  threat-modeling  civilization  nihil  🔬  deep-materialism  new-religion  futurism  frontier  technology  communication  simulation  intelligence  eden  war  nuclear  deterrence  identity  questions  multi  explanans  physics  theos  philosophy  religion  chemistry  bio  hmm  idk  degrees-of-freedom  lol  troll  existence 
january 2018 by nhaliday
National Defense Strategy of the United States of America
National Defense Strategy released with clear priority: Stay ahead of Russia and China: https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2018/01/19/national-defense-strategy-released-with-clear-priority-stay-ahead-of-russia-and-china/

https://twitter.com/AngloRemnant/status/985341571410341893
https://archive.is/RhBdG
https://archive.is/wRzRN
A saner allocation of US 'defense' funds would be something like 10% nuclear trident, 10% border patrol, & spend the rest innoculating against cyber & biological attacks.
and since the latter 2 are hopeless, just refund 80% of the defense budget.
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Monopoly on force at sea is arguably worthwhile.
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Given the value of the US market to any would-be adversary, id be willing to roll the dice & let it ride.
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subs are part of the triad, surface ships are sitting ducks this day and age
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But nobody does sink them, precisely because of the monopoly on force. It's a path-dependent equilibirum where (for now) no other actor can reap the benefits of destabilizing the monopoly, and we're probably drastically underestimating the ramifications if/when it goes away.
--
can lethal autonomous weapon systems get some
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january 2018 by nhaliday
Here Be Sermons | Melting Asphalt
The Costly Coordination Mechanism of Common Knowledge: https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/9QxnfMYccz9QRgZ5z/the-costly-coordination-mechanism-of-common-knowledge
- Dictatorships all through history have attempted to suppress freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Why is this? Are they just very sensitive? On the other side, the leaders of the Enlightenment fought for freedom of speech, and would not budge an inch against this principle.
- When two people are on a date and want to sleep with each other, the conversation will often move towards but never explicitly discuss having sex. The two may discuss going back to the place of one of theirs, with a different explicit reason discussed (e.g. "to have a drink"), even if both want to have sex.
- Throughout history, communities have had religious rituals that look very similar. Everyone in the village has to join in. There are repetitive songs, repetitive lectures on the same holy books, chanting together. Why, of all the possible community events (e.g. dinner, parties, etc) is this the most common type?
What these three things have in common, is common knowledge - or at least, the attempt to create it.

...

Common knowledge is often much easier to build in small groups - in the example about getting off the bus, the two need only to look at each other, share a nod, and common knowledge is achieved. Building common knowledge between hundreds or thousands of people is significantly harder, and the fact that religion has such a significant ability to do so is why it has historically had so much connection to politics.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
SPIEGEL Interview with Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew: "It's Stupid to be Afraid" - SPIEGEL ONLINE
SPIEGEL: How so?

Mr. Lee: The social contract that led to workers sitting on the boards of companies and everybody being happy rested on this condition: I work hard, I restore Germany's prosperity, and you, the state, you have to look after me. I'm entitled to go to Baden Baden for spa recuperation one month every year. This old system was gone in the blink of an eye when two to three billion people joined the race -- one billion in China, one billion in India and over half-a-billion in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

SPIEGEL: The question is: How do you answer that challenge?

Mr. Lee: Chancellor Kohl tried to do it. He did it halfway then he had to pause. Schroeder tried to do it, now he's in a jam and has called an election. Merkel will go in and push, then she will get hammered before she can finish the job, but each time, they will push the restructuring a bit forward.

SPIEGEL: You think it's too slow?

Mr. Lee: It is painful because it is so slow. If your workers were rational they would say, yes, this is going to happen anyway, let's do the necessary things in one go. Instead of one month at the spa, take one week at the spa, work harder and longer for the same pay, compete with the East Europeans, invent in new technology, put more money into your R&D, keep ahead of the Chinese and the Indians.

...

SPIEGEL: During your career, you have kept your distance from Western style democracy. Are you still convinced that an authoritarian system is the future for Asia?

Mr. Lee: Why should I be against democracy? The British came here, never gave me democracy, except when they were about to leave. But I cannot run my system based on their rules. I have to amend it to fit my people's position. In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion. Supposing I'd run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them. So I found a formula that changes that...
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Why China Cannot Rise Peacefully - YouTube
- unexpected accent/tone lol
- principles: states as unit of action/global anarchy, uncertainty (fog-of-war), states as rational, selfish actors
- consequences: need to become as powerful as possible, regional hegemon, prevent peer competitors (no other regional hegemon in world, eg, China)
- future: China as giant Hong Kong
- future coalition: India, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA
- does he actually think Brazil coulda gotten as powerful as the US? lol.
- his summary of American grand strategy (lol):
1. Europe (great powers)
2. NE Asia (great powers)
3. Persian Gulf (oil)
- "Europe will become distant 3rd, Europe is a museum, lotta old people." lol
- "not gonna help us with Asia, got their own problems, bankrupting themselves"
- counterarguments: "not gonna grow, China's a Confucian culture (don't pay attention to those), economic interdependence." doesn't buy the last either.
- best counterarguments: nuclear deterrence, economic interdependence, "age of nationalism"
- mass-murder usually strategic (eg, maintaining power) not ideological

debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd-1LymXXX0

interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXSkY4QKDlA
- Clinton's a realist
- plenty of economic independence prior to world wars
- nukes makes WW3 unlikely, but do not rule out limited war (eg, over East/South China Sea)
- Confucian pacifism argument is ahistorical
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may 2017 by nhaliday
How many times over could the world's current supply of nuclear weapons destroy the world? - Quora
A Common Story: “There are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world many times over.” This is nothing more than poorly crafted fiction an urban legend. This common conclusion is not based in any factual data. It is based solely in hype, hysteria, propaganda and fear mongering.

If you take every weapon in existence today, approximately 6500 megatons between 15,000 warheads with an average yield of 433 KT, and put a single bomb in its own 100 square mile grid… one bomb per grid (10 miles x 10 miles), you will contain >95% of the destructive force of each bomb on average within the grid it is in. This means the total landmass to receive a destructive force from all the world's nuclear bombs is an area of 1.5 million square miles. Not quite half of the United States and 1/38 of the world's total land mass…. that's it!
q-n-a  qra  arms  nuclear  technology  war  meta:war  impact  deterrence  foreign-policy  usa  world  risk  nihil  scale  trivia  threat-modeling  peace-violence 
may 2017 by nhaliday
Big Stick ideology - Wikipedia
Big stick ideology, Big stick diplomacy, or Big stick policy refers to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy: "speak softly, and carry a big stick." Roosevelt described his style of foreign policy as "the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis".[1]

The idea of negotiating peacefully, simultaneously threatening with the "big stick", or the military, ties in heavily with the idea of Realpolitik, which implies a pursuit of political power that resembles Machiavellian ideals.[2] It is comparable to gunboat diplomacy, as used in international politics by imperial powers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_through_strength

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Si_vis_pacem,_para_bellum
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Annotating Greg Cochran’s interview with James Miller
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/
opinion of Scott and Hanson: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90238
Greg's methodist: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90256
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90299
You have to consider the relative strengths of Japan and the USA. USA was ~10x stronger, industrially, which is what mattered. Technically superior (radar, Manhattan project). Almost entirely self-sufficient in natural resources. Japan was sure to lose, and too crazy to quit, which meant that they would lose after being smashed flat.
--
There’s a fairly common way of looking at things in which the bad guys are not at fault because they’re bad guys, born that way, and thus can’t help it. Well, we can’t help it either, so the hell with them. I don’t think we had to respect Japan’s innate need to fuck everybody in China to death.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/ramble-on/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/topics/
https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521/greg-cochran-part-1
2nd part: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:9ab84243b967

some additional things:
- political correctness, the Cathedral and the left (personnel continuity but not ideology/value) at start
- joke: KT impact = asteroid mining, every mass extinction = intelligent life destroying itself
- Alawites: not really Muslim, women liberated because "they don't have souls", ended up running shit in Syria because they were only ones that wanted to help the British during colonial era
- solution to Syria: "put the Alawites in NYC"
- Zimbabwe was OK for a while, if South Africa goes sour, just "put the Boers in NYC" (Miller: left would probably say they are "culturally incompatible", lol)
- story about Lincoln and his great-great-great-grandfather
- skepticism of free speech
- free speech, authoritarianism, and defending against the Mongols
- Scott crazy (not in a terrible way), LW crazy (genetics), ex.: polyamory
- TFP or microbio are better investments than stereotypical EA stuff
- just ban AI worldwide (bully other countries to enforce)
- bit of a back-and-forth about macroeconomics
- not sure climate change will be huge issue. world's been much warmer before and still had a lot of mammals, etc.
- he quite likes Pseudoerasmus
- shits on modern conservatism/Bret Stephens a bit

- mentions Japan having industrial base a tenth the size of the US's and no chance of winning WW2 around 11m mark
- describes himself as "fairly religious" around 20m mark
- 27m30s: Eisenhower was smart, read Carlyle, classical history, etc.

but was Nixon smarter?: https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2019/03/18/open-thread-03-18-2019/
The Scandals of Meritocracy. Virtue vs. competence. Would you rather have a boss who is evil but competent, or good but incompetent? The reality is you have to balance the two. Richard Nixon was probably smarter that Dwight Eisenhower in raw g, but Eisenhower was probably a better person.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Interview Greg Cochran by Future Strategist
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/interview/

- IQ enhancement (somewhat apprehensive, wonder why?)
- ~20 years to CRISPR enhancement (very ballpark)
- cloning as an alternative strategy
- environmental effects on IQ, what matters (iodine, getting hit in the head), what doesn't (schools, etc.), and toss-ups (childhood/embryonic near-starvation, disease besides direct CNS-affecting ones [!])
- malnutrition did cause more schizophrenia in Netherlands (WW2) and China (Great Leap Forward) though
- story about New Mexico schools and his children (mostly grad students in physics now)
- clever sillies, weird geniuses, and clueless elites
- life-extension and accidents, half-life ~ a few hundred years for a typical American
- Pinker on Harvard faculty adoptions (always Chinese girls)
- parabiosis, organ harvesting
- Chicago economics talk
- Catholic Church, cousin marriage, and the rise of the West
- Gregory Clark and Farewell to Alms
- retinoblastoma cancer, mutational load, and how to deal w/ it ("something will turn up")
- Tularemia and Stalingrad (ex-Soviet scientist literally mentioned his father doing it)
- germ warfare, nuclear weapons, and testing each
- poison gas, Haber, nerve gas, terrorists, Japan, Syria, and Turkey
- nukes at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incirlik_Air_Base
- IQ of ancient Greeks
- history of China and the Mongols, cloning Genghis Khan
- Alexander the Great vs. Napoleon, Russian army being late for meetup w/ Austrians
- the reason why to go into Iraq: to find and clone Genghis Khan!
- efficacy of torture
- monogamy, polygamy, and infidelity, the Aboriginal system (reverse aging wives)
- education and twin studies
- errors: passing white, female infanticide, interdisciplinary social science/economic imperialism, the slavery and salt story
- Jewish optimism about environmental interventions, Rabbi didn't want people to know, Israelis don't want people to know about group differences between Ashkenazim and other groups in Israel
- NASA spewing crap on extraterrestrial life (eg, thermodynamic gradient too weak for life in oceans of ice moons)
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Destined for War: Can China and the United States Escape Thucydides’s Trap? - The Atlantic
The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/09/the-thucydides-trap/
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/06/no-thucydides-trap.html
news  org:mag  foreign-policy  realpolitik  the-classics  china  asia  usa  prediction  war  world  expansionism  current-events  history  early-modern  mostly-modern  track-record  iron-age  mediterranean  europe  competition  lee-kuan-yew  polis  sinosphere  polisci  wonkish  economics  longform  let-me-see  scale  definite-planning  chart  evidence-based  defense  nihil  the-bones  zeitgeist  great-powers  statesmen  ranking  kumbaya-kult  peace-violence  pre-ww2  multi  org:foreign  nuclear  deterrence  strategy  whiggish-hegelian  econotariat  marginal-rev  commentary  moloch  thucydides 
march 2017 by nhaliday
There’s good eating on one of those | West Hunter
Recently, Y.-H. Percival Zhang and colleagues demonstrated a method of converting cellulose into starch and glucose. Zhang thinks that it can be scaled up into an effective industrial process, one that could produce a thousand calories of starch for less than a dollar from cellulosic waste. This would be a good thing. It’s not just that are 7 billion people – the problem is that we have hardly any food reserves (about 74 days at last report).

Prepare for Nuclear Winter: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/09/prepare-for-nuclear-winter.html
If a 1km asteroid were to hit the Earth, the dust it kicked up would block most sunlight over most of the world for 3 to 10 years. There’s only a one in a million chance of that happening per year, however. Whew. However, there’s a ten times bigger chance that a super volcano, such as the one hiding under Yellowstone, might explode, for a similar result. And I’d put the chance of a full scale nuclear war at ten to one hundred times larger than that: one in ten thousand to one thousand per year. Over a century, that becomes a one to ten percent chance. Not whew; grimace instead.

There is a substantial chance that a full scale nuclear war would produce a nuclear winter, with a similar effect: sunlight is blocked for 3-10 years or more. Yes, there are good criticisms of the more extreme forecasts, but there’s still a big chance the sun gets blocked in a full scale nuclear war, and there’s even a substantial chance of the same result in a mere regional war, where only 100 nukes explode (the world now has 15,000 nukes).

...

Yeah, probably a few people live on, and so humanity doesn’t go extinct. But the only realistic chance most of us have of surviving in this scenario is to use our vast industrial and scientific abilities to make food. We actually know of many plausible ways to make more than enough food to feed everyone for ten years, even with no sunlight. And even if big chunks of the world economy are in shambles. But for that to work, we must preserve enough social order to make use of at least the core of key social institutions.

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2017/09/mre-futures-to-not-starve.html

Nuclear War Survival Skills: http://oism.org/nwss/nwss.pdf
Updated and Expanded 1987 Edition

Nuclear winter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter

Yellowstone supervolcano may blow sooner than thought — and could wipe out life on the planet: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/10/12/yellowstone-supervolcano-may-blow-sooner-than-thought-could-wipe-out-life-planet/757337001/
http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/10/12/yellowstone-supervolcano-could-blow-faster-than-thought-destroy-all-mankind.html
http://fortune.com/2017/10/12/yellowstone-park-supervolcano/
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/supervolcano-blast-would-blanket-us-ash
west-hunter  discussion  study  commentary  bio  food  energy-resources  technology  risk  the-world-is-just-atoms  agriculture  wild-ideas  malthus  objektbuch  threat-modeling  scitariat  scale  biophysical-econ  allodium  nihil  prepping  ideas  dirty-hands  magnitude  multi  ratty  hanson  planning  nuclear  arms  deterrence  institutions  alt-inst  securities  markets  pdf  org:gov  white-paper  survival  time  earth  war  wiki  reference  environment  sky  news  org:lite  hmm  idk  org:biz  org:sci  simulation  maps  usa  geoengineering 
march 2017 by nhaliday
So you’re thinking of being a traitor | West Hunter
I was just reading something by Freeman Dyson, a review of a biography of Bruno Pontecorvo. He explains that technical spies, like Pontecorvo or Klaus Fuchs or Ted Hall, are unimportant because the Soviet Union had plenty of first-rate scientists already, people like Yuri Khariton and Zeldovich and Sakharov, and would have eventually gotten to the same place anyhow. He thinks that people like Hall only accelerated the Soviet bomb program by two or three years. But tactical spies, people like Aldrich Ames or Kim Philby , who burned fellow agents and got them killed – they’re quite naughty.

So I guess being a atomic spy in the service of the Soviet Union was almost a peccadillo. Right-thinking people certainly want to think that, since so many of them were sympathetic to Uncle Joe (‘ he rolls the executions on his tongue like berries’ ) and his antics. Of course, right-thinking people are always wrong.

Gee, what happened in those two or three years? Anything bad? Anything that wouldn’t have happened if Stalin was Bombless? The Korean War, certainly. Heard of it? Moreover, those technical spies saved the Soviets money as well as time – we explored all the possible approaches to manufacturing fissionables in the Manhattan Project, most of which were expensive failures, but the Soviets didn’t have to. Their resources were limited: this helped. Their first bomb was made from Los Alamos engineering blueprints (thanks, Ted Hall !)

Usually, you have to be careful not to be too hard on public intellectuals, since they’re not very smart and don’t know jack about anything. You really can’t expect anything from them. Dyson, however, is smart – very smart – actually knows some things, and has accomplished a lot. But he’s still utterly full of shit, when it comes to making excuses for ‘his kind of people’.

Let me make a few suggestions for the next crop of foolish scientists considering aiding the next noxious ism. I think there’s a ‘due diligence’ principle – maybe, just maybe, before changing sides, you really need to check if the guys you’re aiding are tyrants and mass murderers, And if they are, that’s a bad thing, not a proof of how serious they are. Check before you defect. Pontecorvo didn’t check: I think he was a a damn fool, worse than stupid. He came to agree: “The simple explanation is this: I was a cretin,’ he said. ‘The fact that I could be so stupid, and many people close to me should have been quite so stupid . . .’ The sentence was left unfinished. Communism, he went on, was ‘like a religion, a revealed religion . . . with myths or rites to explain it. It was the absolute absence of logic.’ ”

I know that means reading something other than Nature or Phys Rev. It might even mean listening to the Lithuanians in the neighborhood bar as they complain about their cousins being shot – but I don’t think that’s asking too much. Parenthetically, why is it that intellectuals feel attracted to monsters like Stalin or Lenin, but hardly ever become agents/disciples of Switzerland or Canada or Uruguay? Nice countries finish last?

Perhaps nothing can really be done: it may be that a high fraction of the psychological types that produce scientific advances are just silly people, without a bit of common sense. Born that way. Maybe we could work hard at making executions more certain, frequent and terrifying: in a better world, Ted Hall would have shit in his pants at the mere thought of committing treason.
west-hunter  discussion  history  giants  nuclear  technology  war  coordination  cold-war  counterfactual  mostly-modern  rant  crooked  error  bounded-cognition  scitariat  info-dynamics  communism  duty  honor  prudence  arms  spreading  deterrence  elite  religion  theos  ritual  myth  meaningness  quotes  politics  ideology  track-record  aphorism  authoritarianism  antidemos  judgement 
february 2017 by nhaliday
Stockpile Stewardship | West Hunter
A lot of our nuclear weapons are old, and it’s not clear that they still work. If we still did underground tests, we’d know for sure (and could fix any problems) – but we don’t do that. We have a program called stockpile stewardship, that uses simulation programs and the data from laser-fusion experiments in an attempt to predict weapon efficacy.

I talked to some old friends who know as much about the nuclear stockpile as anyone: neither believes that that stockpile stewardship will do the job. There are systems that you can simulate with essentially perfect accuracy and confidence, Newtonian gravitational mechanics for example: this isn’t one of them.

You had two approaches to a problem that was vital to the security of the United States: option A was absolutely sure to work, option B might possibly work.

The Feds picked B.

interesting: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/stockpile-stewardship/#comment-65553
Can’t they stick a warhead on a space launcher, loop it around the moon followed by some compact instrumentation and detonate it there, out of view? And keep mum about it.

How hard would it be for radioastronomers to notice a nuclear blast on the other side of the Moon? Would reflected light over interplanetary distances be even detectable?

I once brought this up to a bomb-designer friend: people have in fact worried about this.

They signed a treaty against that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty

The Soviets signed a treaty against developing germ warfare too, but they did it anyhow. Do you think that the Galactic Overlords automatically vaporize treaty violators?

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/stockpile-stewardship/#comment-65769
People working in US intelligence may well have opinions, but they don’t know jack about nuclear weapons. I once said that Iraq couldn’t possibly have a live nuclear weapons program, given their lack of resources and the fact that we hadn’t detected any sign of it – in part, a ‘capacity’ argument. I later heard that the whole CIA had at most one guy who knew enough to do that casual, back-of-the-envelope analysis correctly, and he was working on something else.

http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Opinions/Diaries/2017-06.html
west-hunter  rant  nuclear  policy  foreign-policy  deterrence  realpolitik  meta:war  scitariat  arms  defense  error  leadership  simulation  prudence  great-powers  war  kumbaya-kult  cynicism-idealism  peace-violence  counter-revolution  multi  gnon  isteveish  albion  org:junk  korea  current-events  paleocon  russia  communism  biotech  parasites-microbiome  intel  iraq-syria  elite  usa  government  poast  gedanken  space  being-right  info-dynamics  track-record  wiki  law  stories  volo-avolo  no-go  street-fighting  ability-competence  offense-defense 
december 2016 by nhaliday
North Korea and weapons of mass destruction - Wikipedia
Barack Obama Warns Donald Trump on North Korea Threat: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-faces-north-korean-challenge-1479855286
White House says new president’s top foreign priority should be nuclear Pyongyang
The Lamps are Going Out in Asia: http://www.38north.org/2017/09/jdethomas092517/
Moreover, Trump’s speech and the North Korean reaction seem to have set us on a path that could very well end in a major war in Asia.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/09/09/north-koreas-nuclear-program-is-way-more-sophisticated-and-dangerous-than-you-think/
How North Korea Shocked the Nuclear Experts: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/26/north-korea-nuclear-tests-shock-experts-215533
A nation like that wasn't supposed to get nukes at all. Why were the theories so wrong?

lol, I think I know why

A top defector risked his life to tell us of Pyongyang’s plans & vulnerabilities. The media put its own words in his mouth.: http://freekorea.us/2017/11/02/a-top-defector-risked-his-life-to-tell-us-of-pyongyangs-plans-vulnerabilities-the-media-missed-it/

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles/trump-of-possibility-of-north-korea-talks-says-who-knows-where-it-leads-idUSKBN1EZ09W
Earlier on Tuesday, Moon made a point of crediting Trump for the Korean talks and also said he himself was open to meeting with Kim at any time if conditions were right and “certain achievements are guaranteed”.

North Korea sends rare announcement to all Koreans, calls for unification: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-southkorea-kcna/north-korea-sends-rare-announcement-to-all-koreans-calls-for-unification-idUSKBN1FD33I
wiki  reference  asia  foreign-policy  nuclear  risk  deterrence  geopolitics  korea  arms  communism  multi  politics  news  usa  trump  org:rec  obama  current-events  rhetoric  war  world  org:foreign  org:mag  wonkish  realpolitik  pop-diff  wealth  wealth-of-nations  econ-metrics  economics  authoritarianism  antidemos  iraq-syria  MENA  comparison  iq  developing-world  chart  org:edu  org:ngo  leaks  volo-avolo  org:lite 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Trust Issues | West Hunter
Imagine how we would have dealt with Japanese-Americans in 1942 if we had been informed by modern sensibilities.

Our stated and enforced policy would have been based on the notion that both Issei and Nisei were perfectly trustworthy, no more likely to aid the Empire of Japan than the Dutch in Grand Rapids

So we would have drafted them into the armed forces just like anyone else, and employed them where their skills seemed useful. We would have had them translating Japanese navy intercepts: we were short on Japanese-language translators, so why not? There would have been a bunch of them working with Hypo, down in the basement. Some would have worked in the Manhattan Project. They would have had jobs in the OSS, in the FBI. What could possibly have gone wrong?

...

Our actual response was suboptimal: people who knew the score (J. Edgar Hoover) thought that putting the Japanese into camps was a mistake. Watching and infiltrating known pro-Nippon groups, punishing those that actually committed crimes was perfectly feasible; combined with reasonable discretion in assigning Japanese to useful but nonclassified jobs, you would have a policy that was more effective than the one we actually pursued.

Locking them up (except in Hawaii !), wasn’t the best course, but it was a million times more sensible than what we would do today. Because in 1942, Americans weren’t crazy: today, they are.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/who-can-you-trust/
Could you trust Chinese immigrants? Mostly not. Chinese Americans? Certainly not all of them. But then, what do you do with them?

Let them go home? This issue has come up before. The Feds locked up H. S. Tsien [Qian Xuesen] back in the 50s because they thought he was pro-Chinese and would aid the Chinese rocket program. When they finally let him go, that’s exactly what he did.

There have been many cases in which key individuals have been allowed to go home and fight with their homies, due to chivalry or some other form of stupidity. in 1861, the Feds let many officers go home and fight for the Confederacy. Radomir Putnik, chief of the Serbian general staff, was taking the waters in Austria when the First World War broke out. They let him go home – were they ever sorry! Gernot Zippe, an Austrian POW in a Siberian camp, built a workable centrifuge for separating isotopes. Yet, to my lasting surprise, the Soviets let him go in 1956. He became the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear proliferation [along with Eisenhower – Atoms for Peace].

jfc, Eisenhower: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atoms_for_Peace
Atoms for Peace created the ideological background for the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but also gave political cover for the U.S. nuclear weapons build-up, and the backdrop to the Cold War arms race. Under Atoms for Peace related programs the U.S. exported over 25 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to 30 countries, mostly to fuel research reactors, which is now regarded as a proliferation and terrorism risk. The Soviet Union also exported over 11 tons of HEU under a similar program.[8]

lmao: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weixian_Internment_Camp
The compound was a Japanese-run internment camp created during World War II to keep civilians of Allied countries living in Northern China. The camp's population included British, Canadian, American, Australian and other citizens who were forced to stay in the camp for nearly two and a half years until American forces liberated them on August 17, 1945.[1] Information on Weixian has been learned through papers, diaries, official reports and letters written by internees, family members, and other people affected.

...

During World War II, the Allies were at war with Japan. The Japanese invaded most of the area from the Aleutian Islands in the far North to the Southern regions of New Guinea, and from Western Burma to the Mid Pacific Ocean.[2] Japan historically invaded China on July 7, 1937, which began the second Sino-Japanese War.[3] Overall, the Japanese held approximately 125,000 civilian prisoners or internees. Of those 125,000 civilian internees, 10% were in China and Hong Kong throughout the war.[2] Many allied civilians, mostly Americans and British, lived in some of the Japanese-occupied areas and were forced to relocate themselves into internment camps. The Japanese called these Internment camps Civilian Assembly Centers. In these camps, death rates were high because of the lack of good sanitation, starvation, and poor treatment. There were the occasional executions and some internees suffered cruelty and torture.
politics  culture-war  tribalism  rhetoric  foreign-policy  contrarianism  gnon  right-wing  west-hunter  japan  asia  history  mostly-modern  realpolitik  rant  meta:war  crooked  duty  trust  clown-world  signaling  europe  germanic  russia  eastern-europe  putnam-like  expression-survival  order-disorder  free-riding  scitariat  nationalism-globalism  ethnocentrism  patho-altruism  defense  westminster  zeitgeist  us-them  world-war  intel  kumbaya-kult  cynicism-idealism  china  migration  sinosphere  discrimination  multi  the-bones  rot  realness  prudence  hate  identity-politics  is-ought  scifi-fantasy  prejudice  gedanken  self-interest  property-rights  technology  nuclear  arms  spreading  space  early-modern  pre-ww2  revolution  war  usa  the-south  error  communism  track-record  people  statesmen  wiki  deterrence  diaspora  attaq  interests  old-anglo  big-peeps  reflection  judgement 
august 2016 by nhaliday
A Stark Nuclear Warning by Jerry Brown | The New York Review of Books
Perry says it was by luck that we avoided a nuclear holocaust in the Cuban crisis. Years later, we found out that there were some additional and dangerous circumstances that might have pushed us into nuclear war.

First, Perry writes, the Soviet ships approaching the blockade imposed by the US had submarine escorts that were armed with nuclear torpedoes. Because of the difficulty with communications, Moscow had authorized the submarine commanders to fire without further authorization. When an American destroyer tried to force a submarine to surface, both its captain and the political officer decided to fire a nuclear torpedo at the destroyer. A nuclear confrontation was avoided only because Vasili Arkhipov, the overall commander of the fleet, was also present on the submarine. He countermanded the order to launch, thereby preventing what might have started a nuclear war.3

Second, during the crisis, an American reconnaissance plane stationed in Europe wandered off course and flew into Soviet airspace. The Soviets immediately scrambled attack aircraft as did American fighters from an airbase in Alaska. The Americans were armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. Fortunately, the American reconnaissance pilot discovered he had blundered into Soviet airspace and flew away before any Soviet intercepts arrived.

At about the same time an American ICBM was launched from Vandenberg Air Base. Though this was a routine launch intended as a test, it could have easily been misinterpreted by the Soviets. Luckily, it wasn’t.
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june 2016 by nhaliday

bundles : coorddismalitysoft

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