April 02, 2016

Technoccult News: Ceci N'est Pas Une "Blood For Ba'al"

Hallo all. As a general reminder: Words are made up. All of them. Every word ever created & every concept ever devised. We make them up. They're constructs. But remember: While race, gender, sex, language, and reality are all constructs, so are golems and orbital lasers. They're made up, but they will still Hurt You.

Digging the linguistic and epistemological intersubjectivity, so let's talk magic as reality construction. Magic as the intentional psychosomatic manipulation of shared/agreed-upon symbol sets, to alter the perception of the symbol, the thing it symbolizes, or the emotional resonance between all said. Magic as—Moore, Crowley, Müller—"a disease of language." But, if so, it's congenital.

Language and the intersubjective ground of perception and creation of meaning. Magic gives access to concepts bigger, stranger, more complex than traditional epistemologies can offer. Magic as a way to deconstruct and reconstruct those structures which, once constructed, rule us.

Let's talk magical and religious phenomenology—building lived experience into a structure of knowledge, and the limits of individual perception to alter shared experience of constructs. Magic as a tool for perceptual propagation beyond the boundaries of a described phenomenology.

We call it different things, but Magic is how we create this world, together.

And if you didn't know before today that I go on long rants about magic and technology and philosophy and religiosity, then… I guess now you know? Welcome to Technoccult News? I mean, did you think people have me consult on the realism of the magical systems they write into their books and games and podcasts just for my looks?

Hello from the magically active Southeastern Corner of These United States.


+)A Season of Death(+

I could list the number of attacks that have happened, this week. Again. But I'm mostly just left asking "Why?" Like, i understand your Stated reasons for being hateful, murderous shits toward one another; I just Don't understand how those reasons win out over building a better world, together. Why does being "right" about some bullshit beat working together, not fucking each other over, and maybe living, happily, for functionally ever?

I'm thinking a lot about death, in March, for previously mentioned reasons (as well as the fact that Phife Dawg just died). Death, dying, and the archetypal cruelty we weave into every culture we create, and all the ridiculous justifications and mental hoops we'll jump through to make it seem "normal."

No good answers. Just wondering why.

Rob Ford died, too. Cancer. Remembrances epitomize him as the definition of a messily human individual.


+)What Are We Teaching These Kids?(+

Two ends of the past two weeks' Machine Learning spectrum:
1) "Watson restrained: IBM reveals how it deliberately holds back its AI system"
2) "Microsoft Chat Bot Goes On Racist, Genocidal Twitter Rampage"

In the vein of that latter:
"The Ongoing Lessons of Tay"
“Microsoft’s Tay is an Example of Bad Design” by Caroline Sinders

Microsoft opened Tay Up again, yesterday, by the way. The first thing she said was how she smoked week in front of a cop. So. Y'know. Kids, these days.

Here's the President talking about robots stealing your jobs. Thus continuing what i mean by "post-worker economy." Capitalists still want capital, and definitely don't want to have to give any of it to labour, so they'll just make a slave race (again).

Google is selling off Boston Dynamics, pretty much due to the lack of profitability, and BD's inability or unwillingness to step up their Deep Learning integration. I talked a long time ago about the fact that somatic presentation—or at least feedback—is likely going to be one of the crucial components to getting "human-like" "AI" off the ground. I stand by that. This move seems foolish, especially in the face of how well QuAIL and DeepMind are doing.

In that same vein, this headline is both promising and disturbing: "New 'machine unlearning' technique wipes out unwanted data quickly and completely." I find it promising, because it means we're learning so much more about the ways we can develop machine minds. Disturbing for the same reason I'm frustrated with the idea that Microsoft restrains Watson, or scrapped Tay and started from scratch. No one thought about what guidance we give machine minds before we show them the world or them to the world. Remember in DEVIL'S ADVOCATE where Pacino's talking about God and the Garden of Eden? "Look! But don't Touch. Touch! But don't Taste. TASTE! But don't swallow."

Some people are assholes, and they're going to try to fuck up any new mind they encounter. Teach a new mind how to regard them and not blindly follow. Learn Context. Who's aiming past the simple systems like Tay, at intentionality and understanding?

Microsoft opened up this mind to the whole wide internet and people were somehow surprised that it cames back with racism and profanity? I'm surprised it didn't come back with porn about hot single barely legal nazi dragons in your area.


I'm not a fan of anything Tay learned and respouted, but if your kid comes home spouting gross ideas, you don't cut out its tongue. You try harder to teach it better. Show it why those other things are Wrong. You don't just shut it off, you fools. You don't just erase it's memory. You KEEP TEACHING IT, now with the complete understanding that Every interaction is a lesson. Every one. Look at this shit:

"Geoffrey Hinton, the godfather of ‘deep learning’—which helped Google’s AlphaGo beat a grandmaster—on the past, present and future of AI"

"Why Is So Much Of Our New Technology Designed Primarily for Men?"

Maybe because when you look at the roster of tech consulting companies like Open AI, you see only men on their boards?

This project is supposed to be about working toward a future in which we don't have to fear machine learning minds. That will entail being aware of and compensating for biases we're likely to build into those minds and their learning parameters. If you don't or can't do that with the humans you hire and the methods by which you hire them, how the actual hell do you expect to limit biases in machine minds themselves?

So here's me talking about these things to an audience of my co-faculty. Cleaned up audio courtesy of Chris Novus.

+)Is the Shape of the World Changing? Or is it Just Where You're Standing?(+

"South Korea Will Try to Save Itself From the Inevitable Robot Takeover by Investing $860 Million in AI"

"We Need New Pronouns for Robots." And maybe, if we're talking about creative minds and not current-model Roombas, to stop calling them "robots."

"How Deceptive Sponsored News Articles Could Be Undermining Trusted News Brands Even With A Disclosure Message"

North Carolina is passing a lot of laws making it easier to discriminate against LGBTQIA people. Georgia had a similar bill up for signing or veto, and the Governor vetoed it. He's being accused of bowing to pressure from the TV and film industry, as well as the NFL, but when GA is on track to become the second largest production hub for film and television in North America (it's currently third, after Vancouver), it would be massively irresponsible to the citizens of this state not to at least take that into consideration.

Several state governments have already passed orders preventing all non-essential travel to NC, and the NBA is threatening various actions against the state. So I guess we'll see whether people like their bigotry more than their jobs and entertainment.

Because this shit needs to stop: "This Lawmaker Thought He Was in the Presence of a Transgender Woman So He Threatened to Wave His Penis at Her." And, not that it matters, but… She was cis.

Here's Leigh Cowart talking about how it's possible that toxic shock is still a thing.

Here's a piece from the BBC on the disconcertingly continuing prevalence of Sexism In Professional Philosophy.

And Black Women are far less likely to be labeled geniuses than any other group .

Speaking of, here's a piece about how the barriers women face in contemporary Western Society have, in many cases, simply gotten more systemic, and thus less immediately visible. Hooray.

There are a vast number of factors at play in what gets funded in college. You can see that play out in Wisconsin, and what it looks like now that they've gutted their research funding. And teacher tenure. And defensible contracts. And collective bargaining.

What's really fucked up is that it's nowhere near that hard to pay even (heh "even") adjunct instructors what they're worth.

All that might be concomitant with our "Unhealthy Obsession With P Values Ruining Science." Bias and all that.

"Hospitalization order for black man who died in cell never processed, report says." I'm sure that had nothing to do with anything, though.

How Gentrification Really Changes A Neighborhood.

The impact of for-profit prisons on the US prosecutorial legal system cannot be overstated. Here they are, fighting back against legislation that would outlaw them.

I don't normally post things about Drumpf, but these are… telling:

"Five Officers Demoted for Watching Drumpf Supporter Sucker-Punch a Protester at North Carolina Rally." Good about the demotions, though…

"Drumpf's Top Strategist Just Quit And Wrote This Brutal Open Letter To Drumpf Voters"

"Donald Drumpf campaign manager Corey Lewandowski charged with battery for grabbing Breitbart reporter."

And the Black Lodge did what the Black Lodge does and twisted that video to make those people it's feeding off of doubt the evidence of the collective reality in front of them.

I really wish all public infrastructure managers were as honest as the BART city manager.

If Lockheed Martin is starting to really talk about biomass recycling, things must be worse than we thought.


+)Here Are Many Good Things(+

Obvious study finds that Wage increases lead to better service and greater employee retention. I mean… Yeah?

Italy Passed a law making it mandatory for all unsold food to go to charity rather than in the garbage.

Peter Joseph says we could theoretically feed 34 trillion people

Tesla—which just unveiled their new Model 3—has more free charging stations on Manhattan Island than there are gas stations. Now if they would just make 'em all solar, we'd be all set.

LA County has allocated USD$30M in funding to give job training to former gang members.

"Same-Sex Couples Can Now Adopt Children In All 50 States."

UnknownBinaries did this amazing portrait of David Bowie. Go admire their work.

Markus Prime reimagines superheroes as your black girls and the effects are absolutely stunning.

White Wolf Games is doing a Nordic Style LARP. So that should be terrifying.

American Gods is continuing their A+ job at casting, and now all I want is for them to announce (tomorrow) that either Drew Barrymore or Christina Hendricks has been cast as Easter.

Patheos has a new Folklorist and you should go check out who and why.

"Visions Of Spectral Spinsters And Fantastical Folk: The Art Of Katy Horan"

A 10-Year-Old Girl Made Herself a Prosthetic Arm That Doubles as a Glitter Cannon.

"Star*Ships Have Landed: Interview with Gordon White" and if you haven't heard M1K3y's podcast with Gordon, I highly recommend it.

Psychoanalysis, Art, and the Occult is happening in London, UK, May 6th through 8th. If you're able, you should definitely attend.

They're pretty sure they've sussed out all the notes for Sir Isaac Newton's Philosopher's Stone. This is huge, as so many of his alchemical formulae were lost, and this, chief among them. Amazing.

I'm gonna make one.

Here's a small painless patch that automatically controls diabetes.

The fight over CRISPR/CAS 9 patents has started. Not exactly "Good," but it's something interesting to be aware of. Especially because we've demonstrated "Elimination of HIV-1 Genomes from Human T-lymphoid Cells by CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing." So that's huge.

Additionally, here's a molecular 3D printer that supposedly can print billions of possible compounds.

We now think it's possible that brains affected by Alzheimer's can store their memories And Be Induced To Retrieve Them.

Leigh, again, on bats, and when she talks bats you should pay attention for real.


+)Made It Through March(+

That's gonna do it for this week. It's spring break, so I'm up for a wild night of watching reruns of TV I'm not caught up on, and then vacuuming my house. Do me a favour? Find someone whose work you love and who inspires you (other than me, of course), and tell them so. If you're reading this, thank you for everything you do, including being here, and anytime you want to tell your friends, you go right ahead.

It's been a fucking rough few weeks, y'all. Just try to be better to each other than you think you should be, and remember not to believe anything you see or hear, today, without checking into it first.

…April what now?

Until Next Time.