From Pine View Farm

Clone Wars category archive

One Coin, Two Sides? 0

In a thoughtful article which I saw at The Roanoke Times, Richard Kyte muses on the implications of ChatGPT and its clones. Suffice to say, he has a few questions.

A snippet:

Consider the stated aim of the company that developed ChatGPT: “OpenAI’s mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence (AGI)–by when we mean highly autonomous systems that outperform human at most economically valuable work–benefits all of humanity.”

Imagine all the things that implies, all the ways in which human beings put words and images together. And then imagine that much of that is done by some kind of entity that has no self-awareness, no personhood, but is capable of precisely imitating the full range of expressive activites that, up to this point in world’s existence, have been the exclusvie province of human being.

While on the topic, methinks this article from Psychology Today Blogs on deepfakes (in this case, deepfake porn) is also relevant. AI and deepfakes seems to me two sides of the same coin.


Artificial, Yes. Intelligent, No. 0

Rebecca Watson cautions us not to believe the hype about “artificial intelligence.” An excerpt:

. . . it’s unfortunate that “AI” caught on years ago to describe these chatbots because at this point we just have to use it so people know what we’re talking about, but this kind of “AI” has absolutely nothing to do with anything that could be called “intelligence.”

Or you can read the transcript.


Normalizing Nastiness 0

Methinks Steven M. has a valid question.


A Notion of Immigrants 0

The Supreme Supremacist court has spoken.

Here’s a shortened version of their ruling:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(I found the poem here.)


The Crypto Con 0

Musical Notes
Another one bites the dust.


A Notion of Immigrants 0

At Psychology Today Blogs, University of Miami Professor Seth Schwartz explores why many white Americans, particularly Baby Boomers, seem so hostile to immigrants, despite having been raised in a country which once proudly billed itself as “a nation of immigrants.”

It is a perceptive, thoughtful, and timely piece worth the three or four minutes it will take you to read it.


It’s All about the Algorithm 0

But algorithms don’t just happen. They are created, and it appears that those who create them do so in their own image:

As part of a recent experiment, scientists asked specially programmed robots to scan blocks with peoples’ faces on them, then put the “criminal” in a box. The robots repeatedly chose a block with a Black man’s face.

Those virtual robots, which were programmed with a popular artificial intelligence algorithm, were sorting through billions of images and associated captions to respond to that question and others, and may represent the first empirical evidence that robots can be sexist and racist, according to researchers. Over and over, the robots responded to words like “homemaker” and “janitor” by choosing blocks with women and people of color.

Follow the link for much, much more.


Misdirection Play, the Transphobia Tactic 0

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Scott Wiener, a California state senator who recently received bomb threats about his sexual orientation, susses the strategy. Here’s a bit (emphasis added); follow the link for the rest.

This is a classic diversion tactic. Right-wing leaders are basically saying: See, it’s the queer people who are ruining everything. Not the wage stagnation we’ve created by gutting unions and keeping the minimum wage absurdly low. Not the pandemic, which we’ve all but ignored and told you was fake. Not the increasing temperatures and frequent natural disasters that we pretend aren’t related to climate change. This culture war is designed to avert attention away from the men behind the curtain who can’t govern.


The Gaming Is Afoot! 0

Caption:  In the tree house H. Q. of Conservative Jones, Internet Detective . . . .  Images:  Conservative Jones, holding a magnifying glass and wearing a deerstalker hat, says to his friend,

Click for the original image.


“Air Tag, You’re It!” Silent Stalkers Dept. 0

Bruce Schneier reports:

A Berlin-based company has developed an AirTag clone that bypasses Apple’s anti-stalker security systems. Source code for these AirTag clones is available online.

He goes on to opine that Apple doesn’t seem to have thought this whole Air Tag through.

Follow the link for more.


Devolution 0

Rex Huppke is less than optimistic about the fate of the polity; he fears that glorification of stupid which has taken root in some quarters does not bode well. Here’s just a tiny a bit from his article (emphasis added):

A portion of the populace has slid from “it’s good to be smart” to “being smart is elitist, so I’m going to follow the medical advice of this podcaster,” a painfully common epitaph throughout the pandemic.

You can draw a straight line from the glorification of numbskullery and the rejection of facts to the Jan. 6 attack.

Yet somehow, since Jan. 6, the stupidity being peddled has only gotten worse. Trump and an astonishing array of Republicans and right-wing media types continue to insist the 2020 election was stolen. There is zero evidence to support that and, in fact, even the former president’s most loyal flunkies who have ham-handedly “audited” election results in various states have come up with zilch.


Facebook Frolics 0

Agitprop frolics.


The Lies of the Land, True Believers Dept. 0

Psychology professor Cortney Warren parses Aaron Rodgers the Dodger’s vaccination doublespeak (as you will recall, he said he was “immunized,” but avoided the word “vaccinated”) and probes the question of whether or not he believed his verbal dance would be seen as the lie that many others see it as. Here’s a bit (emphasis added):

Although you can lie with or without intending to deceive your listener, your relationship’s psychological experience and consequences are very different. If you actually believe a lie and spread it, you’re not aware that you’re doing anything wrong! You don’t see yourself harming others or ethically crossing any boundaries that would damage people who hear your lies.


Methinks the sentence I emphasized sheds a spotlight on lots of what goes on in “social” media.


Tilting at Windy Mills 0

At Above the Law, Joe Patrice explains why Florida’s new law forbidding private entities, particularly “social” media such as Google and Facebook, from banning political candidates and “journalistic enterprises” from their platforms in empty kabuki theater, and like pricey theater at that. Here’s a bit of his post (emphasis added):

Is there anything constitutional about this law? Nope! But since conservatives have achieved stunning success in convincing people that Twitter bans are a First Amendment issue — they are not — it was only a matter of time until a state passed legislation like this to capitalize on the Free Speech fantasy they’ve spun for months.

Because while private entities like Twitter and Facebook banning users is entirely constitutional, forcing those private actors to broadcast particular users over their platforms is absolutely not constitutional. And yet here we are in up-is-now-down-land.

Follow the link for the rest.


The Peril Awokes 0


Click for the original image.


Maskless Marauders 0

Uber marauders.


“But It’s the Only Possible Explanation” 0

At the Hartford Courant, Edna Friedberg explores the attraction and power of conspiracy theories, pointing out that they can seduce persons desiring easy answers to hard questions. Here’s how she opens it:

Our nation is getting a crash course in conspiracy theories. QAnon has been in the spotlight as the latest iteration. With the rise of social media, the messenger may be new, but the message is not. Conspiracy theories have been around for centuries, well before mass communications amplified their potency. The human desire to explain complicated events in simplistic ways often leads to blaming minorities for them . . . .

The entire article is worth the four or five minutes of your time reading it will take.


Hacks at the NSA 0

No doubt you heard the December headlines about a massive cyberbreach of the U. S. government. An article in the Sunday New York Times (yeah, it takes me all week to work my way through it) explores the failure of the United States shore up its cyberdefenses, despite being a target rich environment. Here’s a tiny little bit; follow the link for the rest.

The hubris of American exceptionalism — a myth of global superiority laid bare in America’s pandemic death toll — is what got us here. We thought we could outsmart our enemies. More hacking, more offense, not better defense, was our answer to an increasingly virtual world order, even as we made ourselves more vulnerable, hooking up water treatment facilities, railways, thermostats and insulin pumps to the web, at a rate of 127 new devices per second.

At the N.S.A., whose dual mission is gathering intelligence around the world and defending American secrets, offense eclipsed defense long ago. For every hundred cyberwarriors working offense — searching and stockpiling holes in technology to exploit for espionage or battlefield preparations — there was often only one lonely analyst playing defense to close them shut.


Republican Family Values 0

Little girl to Georgia GOP, who is holding a copy of the

Image via Juanita Jean.

Read more »


Droning On 0

Of course this happened in Florida.