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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: Today I take on Stephen Hawking -- don mikulecky

Salon's Joanna Rothkopf  wrote this about Stephen Hawking:  Stephen Hawking is still terrified of artificial intelligence

"Computers will overtake humans with AI at some point within the next 100 years"
Having been involved with the comparison between  "machine intelligence"  (wrongly dubbed "Artificial Intelligence") and human intelligence for most of my career, I find this both disappointing and amusing.

Hawking has a great mind.  That may be why he gets away with making statements that have little or nothing to do with his field of cosmology and getting away with it.  I would not challenge him on subjects like cosmology for he knows far more.  He is also a lot smarter than I am.  Nevertheless, when it comes to comparing machine intelligence to human intelligence he is no better than so many of the advocates of AI that I have debated over the years.  Read on below if you are interested in my take on this as a complexity scientist evolved from neuroscience.

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: are we committing "ecocide"? -- don mikulecky

My co-author, Jim Coffman,  sent me this on facebook .Ecocide: The Psychology of Environmental Destruction  Here's what he said:

"It's good to know that other scholars have independently come to the same conclusion that Don and I came to in our book  Global Insanity, which is that the wicked problem faced by humanity is largely psychological (which makes it far more difficult to solve than if it were merely technological--think of how hard it is to change an individual's psychology, then try to imagine how to do the same for billions of individuals)."
 The report is by Steve Taylor, Ph.D.  who is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. He is the author of Back to Sanity (link is external). www.stevenmtaylor.com
Recent scientific reports about climate change make grim reading. A paper published in The Economic Journal by the respected UK economist Lord Stern states that the models previously used to calculate the economic effects of climate change have been ‘woefully inadequate.’ They have severely underestimated the scale of the threat, which will "cost the world far more than estimated."

What makes the situation even more serious is that climate change is just one of the environment-related problems we face. Others include the destruction and pollution of ecosystems, the disappearance of other species (both animal and plant), water shortage, over-population, and the rapacious consumption of resources.

 Read on below for more.
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The roots of all our problems

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: say goodbye to the well being of future generations -- don mikulecky

The clown show in Washington makes Nero look sane.  You have probably seen some version of this:  The World's Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit a Staggering New Milestone

The milestone, reached last month, was announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday.

"It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally," said NOAA scientist Pieter Tans in a press release. "We first reported 400 ppm when all of our Arctic sites reached that value in the spring of 2012. In 2013 the record at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory first crossed the 400 ppm threshold. Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone."

Crossing the 400 ppm threshold is equal parts disheartening and alarming. Less than a decade ago scientists and environmental activists, including Bill McKibben, launched a campaign to convince policy makers that global CO2 concentrations needed to be reduced to 350 ppm in order to avoid massive impacts from global warming. McKibben, who co-founded the group 350.org, explained the significance of that figure in a 2008 Mother Jones article entitled "The Most Important Number on Earth"

 Yes the number is alarming.  What is so much more alarming is that the system that produced the number grinds on  almost unchecked.  Read on below for an explanation.
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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: some thoughts from a systems perspective -- don mikulecky

I have said many times that we will never change the system through the electoral process.  Now Bernie sanders seems to be contradicting me.  But is he?  

Let's pretend that Bernie wins the Presidency.  Now the oligarchy will admit defeat and back down, right? If you believe that I have bridge to sell you.

The contradiction here seems total.  The only reason the oligarchy tolerates elections is because they believe they can get most of what they want with the least uncovering of the man behind the curtain.  If it were to become possible for the electoral process to give them a serious challenge I'm sure they would destroy it.  In fact they are covering that option as well as they can without it becoming their stated goal right now.

If this seems puzzling to you please read on below.

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: soil as part of the larger system -- don mikulecky

The complexity of our global situation is not easily understood when we approach it piecemeal.  It is a system and all of its "parts" are interacting.  Carbon is a common thread but we look at it piecemeal too.

In the course of this incomplete way of trying to comprehend our situation we neglect some facets and emphasize others.  Latetly it has been the atmosphere , the oceans and ice.

One central factor has been, In my opinion, neglected and that neglect can be harmful.  Our existence centers around food and food comes from the soil.  

The soil is starting to be put into perspective.  This article,Is 2015 The Year Soil Becomes Climate Change’s Hottest Topic?,  in Climate Progress tries to bring it to our attention.  read on below for more.

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: systems analysis at work -- don mikulecky

Systems are stable and remain so if they can successfully absorb or destroy any movement that threatens them.   When they can no longer do that they become unstable.  System instability is a variation on chaos.  I say that because unstable and chaotic systems are unpredictable.

Systems based on oppression are very sensitive to these conditions.  They appear stable for long periods of time.  Yet that stability is fragile in that it requires those being oppressed by the system to believe they have a stake in the system.  Otherwise

There is no one more dangerous than someone who has become convinced that they have nothing more to lose.
 There are no formulas or dynamic laws to use to assess the condition of any given system.  There is the dynamic instability we call a "tipping point".  It is a cusp on a state surface that models the dynamics of a dynamic system.  The topology of such system dynamics is related to Thom's catastrophe theory.

Human social systems are far to complex to be modeled with this elegant pictorial theory, yet it can serve as a metaphor very well.  Read on below if you are interested.  I'll be brief.

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The recent uprising

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: another systematic problem being dealt with piecemeal -- don mikulecky

I grew up in Chicago and was exposed to racism from the beginning of my life.  My family was racist but would claim otherwise.  Mom and Dad were FDR democrats after all.  I have lived in the South since 1973 and did a few stints before that.  Racism in the South is different than that in the Northern cities.  Take my hometown, Chicago, for example:

Chicago developed a reputation as a cauldron of specifically “racial” conflict and violence largely in the twentieth century. The determination of many whites to deny African Americans equal opportunities in employment, housing, and political representation has frequently resulted in sustained violent clashes, particularly during periods of economic crisis or postwar tension.
My first experience witnessing a "riot" was in Cicero:
The aftermath of World War II saw a revival of white attacks on black mobility, mostly on the city's South and Southwest Sides, but also in the western industrial suburb of Cicero. Aspiring African American professionals seeking to obtain improved housing beyond the increasingly overcrowded South Side ghetto, whether in private residences or in the new public housing developments constructed by the Chicago Housing Authority, were frequently greeted by attempted arsons, bombings, and angry white mobs often numbering into the thousands. The 1951 Cicero riot, in particular, lasting several nights and involving roughly two to five thousand white protesters, attracted worldwide condemnation. By the end of the 1950s, with black residential presence somewhat more firmly established, the battleground in many South Side neighborhoods shifted to clashes over black attempts to gain unimpeded access to neighborhood parks and beaches.
 I hope you noticed the difference.  It was the whites who were rioting in Cicero.  

My first faculty job was at SUNY at Buffalo NY.  That was in the period from 1965 to 1968 and a lot happened there during that time.  Read on below if you are interested.

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the social injustice behind riots

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: spring thoughts -- don mikulecky

I decided that since I can not stand without aid that I will not plant a garden this year.  I fell once in the garden last year and I guess I really decided then.  The decision becomes real as I let the time pass for ordering my organic plants from The natural Gardening Company.  I am in my 80th year and my peripheral neuropathy makes gardening harder each year.

We have an alternative that is better in some ways.   A local organic farm sells shares in its crop.  We joined last fall and had wonderful produce all fall and some to freeze.  

Monday we will shop at  Ellwood Thompson's while we are in Richmond.  We don't get there often so we will stock up and freeze some stuff. This is a store that takes me back a long way.  Read on below and I'll explain.

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The food we eat

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: comments about a farce -- don mikulecky

Tokenism is part of our culture.   The religious among us have "days" or "seasons" to do theirs.  The suicidal path we are on is really something that mocks anyone who would celebrate an "Earth Day".  Yet this is the 45th?

I have been struggling with what it is about our species that directs our intelligence towards destruction.   It is hard to understand.   We can do so many clever things yet we engage in bad theater when it comes to politics or other activities that have to do with our well being.

Read on below.  I'll make this short.  You can read my many other diaries if you want to know where I am coming from.  It should not be necessary.

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This Earth Day

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Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 06:45 PM PDT

Climate is a world wide system

by don mikulecky

Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: what we are up against -- don mikulecky

Recent articles about the climate have been disturbing not only for their predictions but because they demonstrate the problem that dealing with pieces of the system can create.  For example: West coast 'blob' may be to blame for drought and cold.

This is but one of many "explanations" for last winter's weather that may or may not be accurate and may or may not be tied to climate change as the author says very clearly.

Then there is this one talking about the "Tipping Point".  It lists a lot of things to be concerned about but makes the notion of tipping point a bit confusing because it is used in so many different ways.

Then there is a bit of waffling here:  Permafrost may not be the ticking “carbon bomb” scientists once thought  There are plenty more but we need no more to ask some serious questions about the effect of all this on the public.  Read on below and I will once again make my case for using systems science rather than a piecemeal approach.

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Climate Change

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: this is really bad -- don mikulecky

Once again the ability to predict and anticipate depends upon models created by the same species that is at the root of causing the problem.  No one seems to seriously question the fallibility of our minds as long as we have our "science".  Yet that very reductionist science turned nature into a machine to be manipulated by anyone capable of using the limited knowledge the scientists generated.

Now we are confronted daily, it seems, with hard evidence of how little we really know.  Once again as scientists look deeper into what is happening their eyes become opened a little more.  

I say this as a scientist who spent his life learning about how little we really know.  Today I read this:Why This New Study On Arctic Permafrost Is So Scary  

Scientists might have to change their projected timelines for when Greenland’s permafrost will completely melt due to man-made climate change, now that new research from Denmark has shown it could be thawing faster than expected.
 Read on beyond the break for more.
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The aceleration of permafrost melting

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Reposted from don mikulecky by don mikulecky Editor's Note: the system has to be changed -- don mikulecky

I am referring to people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  I am into my 80th year and have not seen people like these in government.  The idea that Bernie might run for president excites me.

I have been a political activist and leader since the 1960s.  I have never recovered from the deep disappointment with the democratic party during the Vietnam War.  John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were no better than John McCain in their use of war as a political tool.

I became a charter member of the Democratic Socialists of America    (DSA) after being more and more disenchanted with the democratic party.  

Before you leap to tear at my throat you first have to deal with the fact that I have participated in the party all along and you will find few party members who have worked as hard as I have.  I invest myself because I want to use whatever means I can to stop the growth of fascism both outside and inside the party.

Read on below and I'll say more about this.

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our present situation

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