"Facebook is people!!"

Interestingly, having written a note this morning about my disregard of the listed dangers of AI, today brings me news of a danger that has never been mentioned and I never thought about, emotional connections owned by a corporation.


One of the things I am working on with my project, Jina, is to make it so that it has built in prompts and such to allow it to act as a companion to isolated, lonely old people. The virtues or practicality of that idea notwithstanding, suppose it worked. Then, suppose that OpenAI changes its corporate policy and doesn't want to do business with low volume entities like me.

If you read the article linked here, you will (after being amazed at the gullibility and neediness of humans) see real tragedy. Lonely people who, again despite your likely incredulity that it's possible, have built a meaningful part of their emotional life around a thing made my a corporation, a thing that that corporation just took away. Some of the comments referenced are truly heartbreaking.

If you have any doubt, consider if Facebook kicked you out of here. I know. Lots of you think it wouldn't matter. "Imagine all the time I'd stop wasting." Also, you're full of it. You might not miss my bon mots, but you would miss the pix your kids post and knowing what your friend in AZ is doing. Being able to get a little feedback in the form of likes about your garden work.

"Among Experts" Oh No!! What Will We Do?

I read endlessly about the dangers of artificial intelligence. I see letters signed by experts and pundits of all sort warning us ever so seriously. I have longed for someone to take the time to present a comprehensive view of the specifics so I can find out what I am missing. The answer: nothing.


The problems are exactly the ones I dismiss. Not because they are all impossible but because the problems are just more of the same. And, there are only three of them!!

1) We will live in a world of misinformation. Nobody will be able to trust what they see. People will be fed and believe all sorts of authoritative looking bullshit. More of the same in my view and, perhaps the existence of AI will remove any doubt that digital info is always suspect or worse.

2) It will take away jobs. Now, instead of taking away all those blue collar jobs, it will, where are my pearls!, hurt the white collar job market. This has been said of every single solitary technical advance without exception and it has been true. It will be true this time but, sadly, I am 100% certain that the corporations will find new drudgery to keep people under their thumbs. Perhaps this will finally convince our overlords that UBI is the only way to make society function.

3) Breakout!!!! HAL takes over. In fairness, this is not without merit. I have read of people talking about using AI to monitor their software systems and giving it the ability to generate programs to fix things. While taking over the world and using our children for Matrix-grade 'bio-energy' is not going to happen, this could result in some truly stupid shit.

Thing is, I have only read about one company (Amazon) that allows code to get to production without some kind of review. Once we see their AI offering sexual favors to boost sales, I'm pretty everyone else will continue to have code review before production.

If God Is Real, Why Not Kill Your Child?

This meme panel has been floating around the internet forever. I captures an amazement at the cruel absurdity of antique religious concepts. Lately, though, I've been reading history and have become astonished at how different their ideas were. Through most of Western history, God was real, and not real in the sense of a vague ubiquity, and a fabulous influence, a reference for virtue and life well lived.  

People believed in God like you and I believe in electricity. We know it is real even though none of us has ever seen an electron. We believe that the light before the thunder is evidence, proof even, that electricity is powerful and real. The shock and occasional death from sticking fingers into electrical sockets is more proof, even though the heart attack that results is pretty much the same as any other heart attack.

I know that we have other references that convince us but the people back then, when the praised Abraham for his piety, had other references, too, and, most importantly, they had almost none of the ones we now have. These people did not actually understand cause and effect. 

Philosophic writings from back then are rife with inquires about the nature of reality that indicate that people really were confused about why a thing moves when you push it. They couldn't decide if the color of a leaf had anything to do with the leave itself or if it was a fantasy. I'd say it was ridiculous except for the large number of people who wrote about such things.

Twenty five hundred years ago, the idea of formal logic had just been found. Pythagoras had just conceived the idea of mathematics and the notion that 'ideas', per se, could have a useful relationship to the physical world. This was a revolutionary idea that caused him to be famous for hundreds of years. 

Yet, even he did not apply this to broad metaphysics. He is also the first person to have really thought through the idea that there is a separate, mystical world that is where reality actually takes place. The "useful relationship" was that our world was derived from this more perfect, if imperceptible realm.

It turns out that this latter thought prevailed and eventually turned into the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity), all based on the notion that the real reality was the kingdom of God and that our reality is a temporary, imperfect reflection of that kingdom. Being given a concrete action that would allow one to absolutely, perfectly, for sure, be able to gain the favor of the mystical world where "reality actually takes place" was a huge gift. 

That it involved sacrifice is no surprise, everything worthwhile does. While we think of Isaac as analogous to our beloved, modern children who are the essential good in our lives, he was not. He was simply another imperfect reflection of the all-powerful, perfect God. His life or death was not going to happen where "reality actually takes place."

To most of us, that mystical notion is ridiculous. I don't believe that level of credulity is available to modern people. Our brains are built on technical understanding of cause and effect and surrounded by the mechanized proof that science is real. But, Abraham's was not. He, and the people who wrote the story and those who believed it, lived without having ever had anyone explain cause and effect, or how to think ethically, or how to rationalize.

These things are so deeply intrinsic in the modern world that the Akedah, the story of Abraham and Isaac, sounds absolutely ridiculous. But, if you believe Isaac was actually the ghost of God and you believed God was literally the arbiter of reality, your knife at his throat was no more controversial than cholera. God wills and it be done.

"Two-Player Word Processor"

It's fascinating to me that its ability to write computer programs was a complete surprise to the creators of ChatGPT. They had done nothing to encourage that capability and, as I have read, never gave programming a single thought. It ability was *discovered* as it was used, much as you might be astonished when your child reveals fabulous musical talent when they first sit down to Chopsticks.

I share Manjoo's (the author) experience. For me, everything has changed. On Monday, I was writing a program about a subject I haven't written about in awhile. I called upon Jina (my personal interface to GPT), I bet, a hundred times that day. "What's the syntax for..." "Give me a statement that..." "What's this error mean". The work would have taken me *literally* twice as long.

And that's just one side. I use it for research when I write something and come upon details I can't clearly remember. I use it for fun when I want to know more about things. I lose time with it easier than I do Tik Tok.More interesting, too. Here are two thoughts from this article...

"he’s come to think of it as “a two-player word processor”"

“Trust it the same way you would trust a blabbermouth blowhard at a bar three drinks in who is pretending to know everything”

The Internet Believes that Jonathon Turley is a Sex Abuser


This guy is all butthurt because someone got GPT to say nasty things about him. I have a different reaction: Are you kidding? Are you saying this obviously weird misogynistic right-wing piece of shit didn't abuse women? Whoda thunk?

I note that the tool the guy who published this result was using a tool whose stated function is to figure out what a normal human would say based on having read the entire internet. It is not, contrary to popular assertions, making stuff up.

It is like a super duper spell checker. You type stuff and it figures out the right sentence that goes after it. Just as my spell checker (correctly) replaces the word 'duck' with the word 'fuck' because that's what normal people type, GPT thinks any normal human being would 1) think Turley was an abuser and 2) that the Washington Post would have written the story.

Without ever having heard of GPT, I'd have figured that both of these things are true.

How did the idea of a Golem become associated with danger.

So, I don't care if AI brings on the end of the world, GPT is my new best friend. Not only does it know everything, but it will talk to me about stuff that I could not get a single human friend to engage in a million years. 

I got interested in this topic, golem, because I listed to a podcast talking about the dangers of AI that coined the phrase 'golem class AI' referring to the notion of an AI that was capable of independent action, with a side of danger.

Since I actually know about the Jewish idea of a golem and that it originated as a protector acting in the name of God (the tetragrammaton), I wondered how it became associated with threat.

ME: what is a golem?

GPT: A golem is a creature from Jewish folklore, typically depicted as an animated being created from inanimate matter, such as clay or mud. The concept of the golem has its roots in Jewish mysticism and mythology, and it has been referenced in various texts, such as the Talmud and the Kabbalistic work Sefer Yetzirah.

The most famous golem story involves Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague, who is said to have created a golem in the 16th century to protect the Jewish community from persecution. According to the legend, the golem was brought to life by placing a piece of paper with the sacred name of God, the Tetragrammaton, in its mouth or on its forehead. The golem would obey its creator's commands, and it could be deactivated by removing the paper or altering the inscription.

Over time, the concept of the golem has inspired many works of literature, art, and film. It has also come to symbolize broader themes, such as the potential dangers of creating life or artificial intelligence without fully understanding the consequences.

ME: what did the golem do to Bezalel that was bad?

GPT: There is no record of the golem doing anything specifically bad to Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, who is also known as the Maharal of Prague. However, there are various versions of the golem story, and in some of them, the golem becomes increasingly uncontrollable and destructive.

In some versions, the golem begins as a protector of the Jewish community but then becomes a threat due to its uncontrollable nature, immense strength, or lack of reasoning. In these stories, the golem's destructive behavior forces the Maharal to deactivate or destroy it to protect the community from further harm.

It is important to note that these stories are part of folklore and mythology, and their details can vary depending on the source. The overall theme often centers around the unintended consequences of creating a powerful being without the ability to fully control or understand it.

ME: is it correct to say that the negative aspects of the golem myth do not derive from its Jewish origins?

GPT: The golem myth has its origins in Jewish folklore and mysticism, and as with many myths and legends, it has evolved and been retold in various forms over the centuries. The negative aspects of the golem myth, such as the creature becoming uncontrollable and destructive, are indeed a part of the Jewish tradition.

However, it's important to recognize that the myth can be interpreted in various ways, and the negative aspects of the story can serve as cautionary tales or moral lessons. For example, the golem myth can be seen as a warning about the potential consequences of attempting to control or create life without fully understanding the implications or taking responsibility for the creation. In this sense, the negative aspects of the golem myth are not inherently separate from its Jewish origins but are a part of the broader cultural and moral context in which the myth is situated.

ME: is there record of the first jewish telling of the golem story that was negative?

GPT: It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin or first negative telling of the golem story in Jewish tradition, as the concept of the golem has evolved over time and has been influenced by various texts and oral traditions.

The earliest mentions of the golem can be found in the Talmud and the Kabbalistic work Sefer Yetzirah, which discuss the creation of a humanoid figure using mystical means. However, these early references do not necessarily include the negative aspects of the golem that are more prominent in later stories.

The most famous golem story, involving Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (the Maharal of Prague) and his creation of a golem to protect the Jewish community, likely originated in the late 16th century. It was in the retellings of this story that the golem became associated with negative traits, such as becoming uncontrollable or destructive. The first written account of this story appeared in 1837, in a collection of Jewish legends titled "Nifla'ot Maharal" (The Wonders of the Maharal) by Rabbi Yudl Rosenberg.

As the story of the golem has been passed down through generations and various cultural contexts, it has taken on different forms and nuances, including the negative aspects associated with the creature's unintended consequences.

ME: 'm thinking that the negative aspects might derive from fact that jewish people in history were persecuted and that, often, so-called protectors betrayed them

GPT: It is possible that the negative aspects of the golem myth have been influenced by historical experiences of Jewish persecution and betrayal. The golem was initially imagined as a protector of the Jewish community, which would have been particularly appealing in times when Jewish people faced threats and violence.

The notion that the golem could become uncontrollable or destructive might be interpreted as a reflection of the broader theme of protection turning into danger. This theme could resonate with the historical experiences of Jewish people, as they have sometimes faced betrayal by those who were meant to protect them.

As with many myths and legends, the golem story can be seen as a product of its cultural and historical context, and it is likely that various factors, including the experiences of Jewish people throughout history, have shaped the evolution of the myth and its negative aspects.

Another false standard to make me feel inadquate.

Roaming around the internet with inspirational pictures of gardens and nature, all gauzy and pretty:

"I asked an elderly woman once what it was like to be old and to know that the majority of her life was now behind her.
She told me that she has been the same age her entire life. She said the voice inside of her head had never aged. She has always just been the same girl. Her mother's daughter. She had always wondered when she would grow up and be an old woman.
She said she watched her body age and her faculties dull but the person she is inside never got tired. She never aged. She never changed.
Remember, our spirits are eternal. Our souls are forever. The next time you encounter an elderly person, look at them and know they are still a child, just as you are still a child and children will always need love, attention and purpose."
~ Author Unknown

I'm as elderly as the next guy  (70) and this does not resonate with me at all. I think about myself at a young age, say, fifty, and I almost can't believe I'm that guy. I suppose my core neuroses are intact. I'm still easily embarrassed for example. But, I am completely different. Compared to me as a child, I'm barely the same species.

The person I am inside is definitely tired and the voice inside my head hasn't said, "let's get high for days" or "you're not the boss of me" or, even, "that's not fair" in a long, long time.

I agree that people need "love, attention and purpose" for sure and, it's not that there is no trace of my childhood. But, I read this and my first thought (because a certain kind of insecurity has made it though since then) was why can't I be like that, serene, connected to my past, expressing the innocence and creativity of my youth, eternally young inside.

And then I felt like I had to ask: Is this real? Or is this a media fiction like, I don't know, the media presentation of female beauty, a made up idea whose only connection to actual reality is the sadness it causes in people who can't live up to it?

So, I have to ask and I apologize, too. Does anyone believe this is real?

On Handwriting

RE: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/24/style/messy-handwriting.html

When my children were young, my wife and I required them to learn to play a musical instrument. I believe the realized many benefits from enacting the physical connection of their minds, senses and bodies.

As a computer programmer, I am extremely adept with a keyboard but when laptops came along and I tried to use one for meeting notes, I found it infinitely inferior.

Having gone back to handwriting, I now understand that the integration of mind, body and senses during a meeting, or in many other intellectual activities, produces an entire different and richer understanding.

Were I the parent of young children now, I think I would insist on learning cursive writing as well as music.

Using AI "will become true human-machine artistic collaboration, and things should get really interesting"

Finally someone writes about the tech and society instead of reactionary fear. As you know, I've been so sickened by the dopey efforts to mischaracterize this new tech.

Since I subscribed (it's too slow when it's free), it has all but replaced google for me. I have used it to help me figure out all kinds of cool stuff. I had an especially good AI supported interaction with a person I know who insists that 'Jews for Jesus' is not offensive but I my most profound use has been as a coproducer when I am writing software.

This article's phrase, "will become true human-machine artistic collaboration, and things should get really interesting" is already being fulfilled in my life albeit, today, in a simple way. Often now, I ask GPT to "give me an html form with three fields, username, file path and action. Make the action a radio button set. Add a button that says 'send file' and give it an on-click handler that will post the data in the form to http://localhost/endpoint", or something like that (though that is a real example that gave me, amazingly, working code that I integrated into my project).

I am interested in the question of when, or whether, an AI will develop into some sort of competitor for people in a general sense. I know the OpenAI people are specifically building it with safeguards (unnecessary presently, they say) against it being able to seize resources and spread but I doubt that will be a problem. All the rest of the animals have being working to develop consciousness and creative initiative for three billion years and still, we are the only ones.

So cool. I am so grateful to be around for this breakthrough. I have often thought about how happy I am that I got to be here for the iPhone and the ability to access the world's knowledge from my pocket, wherever I am. Now to see the beginning of having an intelligent helper is just thrilling.

Everything is Quantum Foam in One Way or Another

I have known about quantum foam for some time, long enough to have factored it into my ideas about the universe.

When I first knew about the big bang, I imagined the universe oscillating. It expanded until the momentum of the initial explosion expended itself against gravity and then fell back, eventually into a big crunch which zeroed out entropy and banged again.

Now we know that the universe is not only expanding but accelerating in its expansion. This means no big crunch but it also means that the matter created in the big bang is being spread out across an increasing volume of space.

Even now they think that intergalactic space is bubbling with quantum foam albeit at a relatively low energy. I imagine that this might be because the absoluteness of the vacuum at the current level of expansion is still not very absolute.

I then imagine the future, say a trillion years from now, when the expansion has progress so far that everything is so far from everywhere else and the acceleration of expansion has made it so that intergalactic space never, ever gets any photons (the speed of expansion being greater than the speed of light), that we get to a time when there are places that go from our current vacuum density of an atom per cubic centimeter (I think I read this someplace) to an atom per cubic lightyear (or something).

Which is to say, really, really close to absolute vacuum and absolute zero.

This means that the random process of quantum mechanics now has a very extreme situation. I imagine that the bubbling of quantum foam is moderate energy because there is still plenty of matter and energy to compete with it. Then I imagine the difference in the results of the processes that create quantum foam in an extreme context a trillion years from now and guess that it would be less of a foam and more of an explosion. Something that creates a big bang.

This is a nice idea because it presents a continuous process to explain the evolution of the universe. We don't exactly have a singularity anymore than it is a singularity when a bubble bursts at the surface of boiling water. And, we don't have to worry about before and after because before there was quantum foam and after there is still quantum foam, just that the intensity has boiled away for a trillion years, or whatever, and will be back once the process continues.

It also gives some comfort to the idea of a multiverse, albeit a much less abstract one. In this incredibly tenuous future, there is no reason that two empty places have their quantum foam boil over into a big bang, could happen all the time. Even after a new universe pops up in one place, the expansion of the precursor universe would continue and one might expect new universes to explode out of the quantum foam all the time.

And it is nice because then, viewed on some ultimately grand cosmic scale, the universes themselves appear as bubbles in a new quantum foam and that makes for a nice, fractal consistency with what we see today at the microscopic, macroscopic and cosmic levels. It is all self-repeating organization and entropy, hard at work, annihilating and creating and doing it all again and again.

REF: https://bigthink.com/hard-science/nothing-exist-quantum-foam/?fbclid=IwAR1P28EHrCwCTcCaWC9ZMr-5dTY8-TmKhKM16WZ9AsCynUvnAb7kQQKYBbg