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A huge pile of corpses

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | April 26th, 2017

Are we nearing the end of the human race?

Moore’s Law is a rather simple observation made by Gordon Moore back in 1965 when he founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, two very important computer chip makers. He remarked that he thought the number of transistors in a circuit would double about every two years—and would continue to double every two years for at least another ten years. The art of doubling computer chip capacity every two years has now continued to 2017.

With the great interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and robots—and the operation of IBM’s super-computer Watson (the Jeopardy winner!)—a few leading scientists have suggested that we will have AI creations that will outthink humans quite soon. Watson probably does it already in several areas.

An expert in logarithms (remember exponents and fixed numbers from math class?) has answered the question how long it will take to equal the information capacity of the human brain if the capacity of a modern computer chip is equivalent to one million bits. If the human brain has ten trillion bits of capacity, the math expert has computed a robot could equal the intelligence capability of a human in 99 years, 240 days, two hours, 40 minutes and 12.0096 seconds from now.

That kind of math blows my mind even if I have a math minor. Scientist Stephen Hawking, computer whiz Bill Gates, and a few other AI nerds are afraid the robots are going to take us over quite soon.

The human being is certainly an astonishing mix of good and evil. We are pretty good at fulfilling rights and responsibilities, some personal obligations, have occasionally a sense of justice, and forgive really nasty transgressions.

But as writer Roger Scruton wrote: “Under all the millions of flower beds humans have planted are the corpses piled in a thousand layers we have killed committing evil.” Oh, well….

“Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so”

Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari has written “A Brief History of Humankind,” a book about the present human condition which has attracted AI believers. His thesis is that three great revolutions, the agricultural, scientific, and intellectual, have brought us to the point where AI will overcome humans.

We will be replaced by a new bionic or semi-computerized form of human. “Maybe it is by gaining more power over the world, over the environment, we will be able to make ourselves happier and more satisfied with life. Looking again from a perspective of thousands of years, we have gained enormous power over the world, and it doesn’t seem to make people significantly more satisfied than in the Stone Age.”

He claims that we can’t stop technological progress. Many countries are working on AI. The Japanese are very good at creating robots that serve humans in several capacities. Several countries are developing different types of supercomputers. We have companies developing responsive robots for the sex trade that will be delivered to your door by a self-driving car with a chip credit card reader.

We are the most powerful animal in the world—but we can be replaced by “creatures” we create. There is a reason for our replacement by a “semi-computerized” form of human.

Perhaps we need a more rational robot to replace us

In a 2008 study of our brain, researchers discovered a hate circuit of neurons that dominate regions of the brain. These regions generate aggressive action. However, most suicide bombers do not act out of blind rage or desperation. They act from religious conviction. We are a complicated bunch.

In the country of Trumpistan we now have humans who will do almost anything to look like Ivanka Trump. Jenny Stewart spent six hours in surgery remodeling her breasts, buttocks, belly, and face. It only cost her $30,000 because she promised to do some ads for her plastic surgeon in Houston. It had to be a painful transformation.

Another Texan spent over $60,000 becoming another Ivanka double. I wonder which one has a White House office.

This surgery reminds me of a great story about dictator Joseph Stalin of Soviet Russia. When Joe did not want to attend some affair he sent his double as his stand-in. One night he and his double were in the back of a limo cruising down a Moscow street. They saw a drunk on the sidewalk so Joe had the driver pull over. Joe and his double stuck their faces out the window and Joe said: “This will teach you not to drink so much!” Seeing two Joe Stalins, the drunk passed out on the spot.

Being tall in India is a very important physical attribute in getting a good job and succeeding in life--as it is in many countries. Height also dramatically improves marriage possibilities.

Hundreds of Indians go through a lengthening operation. It is a painful six-month procedure because the leg bones have to be broken and braces worn until an additional three inches can be added to the body. Doctors indicate this procedure is one of the most difficult to perform and sometimes results in crippling a patient for life.

An Indian doctor who started to do the surgery five years ago has operated on 300 patients—with only a third of them from India. India has a very good medical tourism industry—often getting many thrifty patients from Europe and the United States.

King Donald’s “incredible” and “fantastic” twisting of the facts

There is no doubt our leader Donald Trump is a pathological liar and has a very limited vocabulary based on “bad,” “incredible,” and “fantastic.” We could use a smart robot right now. He has already become a legend because his brain does not really snap, crackle, and pop.

When he went to North Charleston, South Carolina, to give a pep talk to Boeing employees who assemble the new 787 Dreamliner passenger jet, his talk about “Made in USA” never got off the ground. Actually most of the plane’s parts and one-third of the costs associated come from many countries.

1. Italy builds the center fuselage and horizontal stabilizers.

2. France builds the landing gears, doors, electrical power conversion system.

3. Germany builds the main cabin lighting.

4. Sweden builds the cargo access doors.

5. Japan supplies the lavatories, flight deck interiors, and food galleys.

6. England manufactures most of the engines.

7. Canada builds the movable trailing edge of the wings.

8. The United States furnishes the rest of the parts, manufactures some of the engines, and actually assembles it.

We currently hear lots of talk from NASA about a human mission to Mars, but I think we should wait for the super-computing robot to take over from us so we can avoid the “Space Poop Challenge” projected by NASA. It wants a system that can collect up to 75 grams of fecal matter and one liter of urine a day, for six days. NASA is putting up a $30,000 reward for answers. You have until December 20 to submit your plans.

Currently astronauts wear diapers, but diapers will never get astronauts to Mars. The current bathroom practice on the International Space Station involves fans, waste bags, and suction devices. NASA wants to change that system, too. If robots will be able to think and work like humans, why not wait a 100 years for a Mars trip?

Are we preparing the planet for computerized leadership?

Our “civilized” countries dispose of eight million tons of plastic trash every year in the oceans of the world. The plastic drinking straw is one of the most harmful pieces to be tossed because fish eat them and turtles often breathe them into their nostrils. Americans use 500 million straws a day!

Environmentalists, in particular those in the University of Georgia’s Engineering Department, have estimated that by 2050 the plastic discarded into the ocean will actually outweigh the fish. Humans are beginning to recognize the damage done to the oceans, but are sometimes slow in dealing with this major problem. Our replacement robots might act much faster.

California is the leading state in curbing pollution of land, sea, and air. In 2016 it was the first state to ban plastic grocery bags, joining many nations around the world, including Kenya, China, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Macedonia. France has banned plastic bags, plates, cups, and utensils, starting in 2020. The city of San Francisco has banned almost all things made of polystyrene. The sanitation workers of Rhode Island got tired of picking up celebratory balloons on beaches, over 2,200 over the last four years, so they are urging the local governments to ban them.

However, the plastic bag industry has rented enough legislators in the following states to pass laws banning bag bans: Florida, Missouri, Idaho, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Would all-knowing computerized robots succumb to the lobbyists?

Finally, the truth about the room next door

In a $35 million restoration project at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the truth will finally surface about the relationship of the black slave Sally Hemmings and her owner Thomas Jefferson.

When Monticello was prepared to receive more visitors in 1941 the room next door to Jefferson’s bedroom was turned into a restroom to be used by thousands of visitors who came to see the home of the man who wrote the famous lines “all men are created equal.” At the time he owned 5,000 acres of prime land which were worked by some of the 607 slaves he owned during his lifetime.

The slave girl-woman who eventually had six children fathered by Jefferson was inherited by him from his father-in-law when she was a baby. At age 14 Sally served as a servant to Jefferson’s daughter Maria and accompanied them to Paris where he was negotiating a number of trade agreements.

According to Sally’s brother Madison, Paris is where this long physical relationship started. At the time Jefferson was 43 years old. When they returned to Monticello she was called a seamstress and served Jefferson as a chambermaid. Her room was conveniently next door to his bedroom.

The man who basically wrote our Declaration of Independence kept extensive records of transactions, slaves, and of household matters--but never writes of Hemmings.

Four of the six children born to Sally and Thomas lived to adulthood, and DNA tests conducted in 1998 proved the genetic links between the Jeffersons and the Hemmings.

When Jefferson died, a slave auction was held on the lawn of Monticello and 130 slaves were sold to pay his debts. In the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, a statue of Jefferson is surrounded by towers of bricks—each inscribed with the name of one of his 607 slaves.

I wonder if our super-robot leaders in the future will be so complicated—and hypocritical.

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