Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Face-Recog is loose. Adapt to this new world (You can!)

For years - ever since The Transparent Society (1997) - I've urged awareness of how new vision technologies will expose our lives, as never before. On the very first page, I compare two cities where citizens are under equal amounts of light and observation… only in one city they are free and safe from oppression or harm, while City #2 has descended into Orwellian hell, without adding any extra surveillance. We are seeing these two cities take shape now, before our very eyes. What makes the difference?

In China, Russia and other state monoliths, light flows upward to those in power, as control then stretches its talons downward. That condition - normal in almost every society for 6000 years - could be our fate, if we make mistakes. But not yet. So far, the opposite trend is in the lead. Why?

I relentlessly urge folks to join NGOs like the ACLU and EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) - our paladins in opposing Big Brother. Alas, though, they waste fully half of their efforts in a futile belief they can safeguard freedom by blinding elites, something that has never been accomplished on any major scale across those 60 centuries. It is the other half of their efforts that actually accomplishes good things — stripping elites naked, so that we can look back at power. Answering surveillance with sousveillance.

Here’s the recent NPR podcast of "To the Point" featuring me and a brilliant, heroic and (in this one case) misguided ACLU attorney, in a debate over privacy matters and whether we should deal with a tsunami of new technologies by shouting “stop!”… or else by learning to surf.

== The counter-intuitive secret of our success ==

Now comes the latest example, in the news, from The New York Times:
“Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.”

Oh, there are dangers and reasons for hand-wringing: “The weaponization possibilities of this are endless,” said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. “Imagine a rogue law enforcement officer who wants to stalk potential romantic partners, or a foreign government using this to dig up secrets about people to blackmail them or throw them in jail.”

Very real dangers! But the answer is not to scream for the technological tide to stay back. This new app only does what I predicted three years ago, when well-meaning privacy mavens strove to ban governments and Facebook from using face recognition. The genie - out of the bottle - would only go elsewhere.

The answer to Eric Goldman and others should be obvious. You prevent abuses - like those he describes - by ensuring stalkers and 'rogue' abusers will get caught! Is that so hard to imagine? Or what must be done, in order to catch the mighty - of government, wealth, criminality or tech-elites - if they abuse these new and inevitable powers? Is it truly, truly so hard?

Yes. Apparently it is. After 25 years talking till I am blue in the face, I will testify, it’s very hard. Nothing seems more counter intuitive than the exact tool - reciprocal accountability - that gave us the enlightenment and every tool and joy of freedom.

== From the ridiculous to the obstinate... ==

Now selling: bizarre-looking masks that are printed to resemble the face of the wearer underneath it. “The idea is to protect users from infection, while still allowing them to unlock their iPhones using FaceID — or be recognized by Big Brother facial recognition systems in public.” Oh, but what if you swap masks?

Alas, the wave of myopic foolishness continues. This one in the New York Times also misses the point, top to bottom. Read it. Then ask what all the whining and hand-wringing accomplished? Not addressed at all:


1. The writer only knows about the flaws in Face Recognition (FR) precisely because it is being done in the open and subject to rapid critical discovery of those flaws, which - by the way - are being addressed with stunning speed, because of that transparent discovery process.

2. Of course laws against such tech are utterly futile, since they only drive the tech underground, where flaws will not be discovered and where elites can use those techs, but we can't. As Heinlein said, "Privacy laws mostly make the spy bugs smaller." Whereas we can safeguard some privacy - an essential human want - by empowering folks to catch the voyeurs and peeping toms and even elites, in the act.

3. Banning FR "systems" is like banning buggy whips, because it won't be resident in isolated "systems" at all. The rate of tech advancement means we'll all have FR in apps and these well-meaning folks will have wasted their anti-Orwell energies screaming at the wrong targets.

4. Again, in all of human history, no restrictions on elite access to any type of information has ever been successfully blocked for more than a short time. Especially by a "law."  Show me one example. These guys are worried about important things! Big Brother. Asymetires of power. And their prescriptions of obscurity and hiding are always insane.

== Well meant plans need careful followup ==

An Obama program to create and sell cheap android phones for the poor has done a lot of good. But always be alert for predators and parasites who lurk near any good deed, eager for a chance to bite and suck. Over the years, preinstalled malware has been found on a raft of these low-cost Android phones from a variety of providers and manufacturers. 

In fact, subsidizing the development of super-cheap and reliable phones can be of tremendous strategic importance, beyond just helping the poor. Way back in 1991, before the modern cell era, I spoke at a couple of security agencies proposing a cheaper, better way to deal with brutal tyrants like Saddam Hussein. A “volks-radio” might be mass produced capable of basic peer-to-peer messaging or voice, and dropped en-masse into (say) Saddam’s Iraq. An act of war? What? Giving away free stuff is an act of war? Oh, there’d be a button that folks could use (or not) that would send messages to overhead satellites, if any Iraqi wanted to – say – tell the CIA something – say – about movements to Baathist officials. Only if they want to, of course…  Now squint and imagine the same principle applied to the new Starlink System….

In a more general sense, this is just one more way to apply the great advantage of the West… that we generally do well with increases in light flow and transparency around the world and nearly all of our deadly foes are lethally allergic to light.

Alas, I never imagined that paramount among those light-allergic enemies of the American Enlightenment Experiment would turn out to be the Republican Party.

67 comments:

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I’m not negative on Klobuchar. Quite the opposite. If y’all put her on the November ballot I’ll happily vote for her.


Glad to hear that. I must have misinterpreted a previous post where you warned of the downside to her charm.

Me, I'm already sucked in. I'd vote for her just to be able to see and hear her on tv every day for the next four years. But then, without disrespect to my beloved wife, I'm also in love with three women I work with. So what's one more? :)

(Did I say that or think it?)

Daniel Duffy said...

"Alas, I never imagined that paramount among those light-allergic enemies of the American Enlightenment Experiment would turn out to be the Republican Party."

They are now the party of fascism, corruption, oligarchy, - enemies of freedom like those we have faced before. But how to defeat them?

By historical analogy:

During WWII the Allies incinerated entire populations of German and Japanese civilians, women and children via fire bombing (far more than were killed with the atomic bombs).

That is something not even Hitler attempted (he lacked the resources to carry out such a bombing campaign).

We beat the axis by becoming more deadly and viscous than they were.

And we were still the good guys.

So yes - to defeat evil you have to become evil, there is no escaping it.

Another example: to end slavery we had to kill 100s of thousands of Southerners and lay waste half the confederacy.

To defeat Trump we have to be more dirty and viscous than he is. We should not flinch from this.

And after we win - no acceptance or forgiveness for his rabid, dimwitted followers.

Daniel Duffy said...

This is a base election, don't waste your time and money trying to win over Trump voters.

Time for you all to take a bite of a harsh reality sandwich.

No Democrat is going to win over any Trump voters. Period.

Trump voters are not motivated by economics. They are motivated by cultural fears (gay marriage especially) and racial resentments/hatreds.

There is no reaching out to them. They will not meet you half way, embrace you and sing Kumbaya no matter how nice you are to them.

They hate you and everything you believe in.

Fortunately there are more of us than there are of them. Trump's supporters are old, Fox News audience old - the median age of a Fox and Friends viewer is 68.

And there are fewer of them every day as nature takes its course.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/19/more-voters-are-registering-than-dying-but-differences-by-state-could-shape/

"But when you’re a political party that sneaked into the White House on the strength of 78,000 votes in three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — having a significant portion of your voter base in that 65-and-older group has to be somewhat worrisome. Younger voters are overwhelmingly Democratic but also tend to be lackadaisical about casting ballots. That foundation of older, conservative voters is essential to the GOP."

"We wondered, then, how much death had reshaped the electorate since the 2016 election. Was it the case, for example, that the Grim Reaper is conducting the Final Get-Out-The-Vote in red states more than blue ones? What does that mean for 2020?"

"Red states, in fact, have seen a lot more deaths of registered voters than blue ones since the 2016 election. Blue states have lost a little over 2 million voters since the 2016 election, compared with 3.9 million in red states. (For the purpose of this article, we’re considering D.C. to be a state, though it still will not receive any senators.) Of course, there are more red states than blue ones. On average, red states saw 30,000 more voters cross the River Styx than blue states."

"The category of 2016 states that had the heaviest average loss? Those three states that flipped from blue to red. They lost an average of 207,000 voters, slightly more than the other states Trump won more narrowly. Those states (which exclude the three that flipped) lost an average of 197,000."

The GOP fills more graves than voting booths with each passing day.

So focus on getting the vote out in WI, MI and PA. Especially the Black vote in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia. If there had been a slightly higher turn out of Black votes in these cities in 2016, Hillary would have won.

Nothing else matters but firing up your base.

Anonymous said...

your comments are always interesting, but as in The Transparent Society, I think you put too much faith in a very unequal playing field.

that comes up in your recommendations, when you urge us to join two industry lobbies, EFF and CDT, that mostly tell us not to curtail these technologies and thus we'll get freedom, while criticizing Eric Goldman, who is basically on the exact same page as EFF/CDT and often works with them.

Your arguments in The Transparent Society are rich and among the most detailed anyone has made on these topics, but at times they strike me as anti-democratic: democracies simply can't do much about this technology, so they need to get out of the way. I think that's wrong, and if it's right, it means the democratic project--much like the Enlightenment you champion here by name--is kaput. As long as something can be termed "technology" by someone--and these days, what can't?--democracy just needs to get out of the way. This is the EFF/CDT position, and they are pretty much openly antidemocratic.

Democracies can and should regulate technology. The idea that they can't is contrary to the observable history, and contrary to the idea of democracy. And contrary to core goals of the Enlightenment political philosophers.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I can see how my comment on Klobuchar was ambiguous. I was just pointing out what class of politician she is. There are charmers, snake oil salesmen, preachers, and bureaucrats. Real politicians can be a mix, but each skill set comes with a flaw.

Think how it works with well done superheroes. Strength matched with flaw. Charmers cast a glamour... that might burst big or fizzle and pop small. They can be fun to be around... until they aren’t and then they can be as bad as a serious toothache.

I’ve known a few charmers up close. They can get things done, but they can also be dangerous. Charmer preachers are damn dangerous, but I don’t think Klobuchar goes that far.

David Brin said...

Daniel D, your apocalyptic depiction of it TAKES evil to defeat evil is only about 35% right. You really need to balance your cynicism. Did the US do terrible things in fighting the far worse evils of Nazis and Japanese imperialism? Yes it is essential to note.

But also to note:
1. Everywhere our armies went, they were greeted ecstatically. EVERYwhere local resistance rose up, even where Britain had been colonial masters.

2. Every generation of US military since 1945 has striven to lower the definition of ‘acceptable collateral” by an order of magnitude. It was still horrific in Vietnam. It is still horrific today. But an evil empire does not keep ramping standards.

3. it is proper to guilt trip America for sins like Manzanar! But watch this film newsreel that showed in every US theater while it was happening. The counter propaganda against error was in play. Evil doesn’t do that.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jItf431GWes

Here’s a movie coming soon.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/new-film-explores-formation-u-s-military-s-most-decorated-n721986

I could go on. But I am also being “contrary.”

And you are 100% wrong about the value of winning converts from the confederacy. In NUMBERS of votes, such converts will not tip the presidential election, turnout will, as in 92 & 2008. But in TAKING TERRITORY from Red Treason, 2018 proved it is worth shaving off enough RASRs to weaken their axis. And 94 & 2010 prove we’d be fools to rely on turnout by flaky-lazy lefties, all by itself.

“Democracies can and should regulate technology. The idea that they can't is contrary to the observable history, and contrary to the idea of democracy. And contrary to core goals of the Enlightenment political philosophers.”

Anonymous please give yourself a monicker and use it while signing in. Alas, you show an utter incomprehension of the issues at play. The ONLY tool that has ever limited elite power of hierarchs has been transparency and reciprocal accountability and breaking up blocks of power into competing units. Show me ONE example of your prescribed method ever having worked, across 6000 years.

You are the beneficiary of exactly the process I describe. While using all the fruits of open technology, you demand something that has never happened and never will.

David Brin said...

oops here is that newsreel. Picture that it was released into every theater in America WHILE the parents of many of these soldiers were in camps. (Albeit camps with lower death rates than the civilian population.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jItf431GWes

Jon S. said...

Dr. Brin, I can't afford to purchase your book, so quick-n-dirty - how would you prevent someone from using the face tech to stalk someone else? Wouldn't even have to be a rogue cop; that tech exists already. Just someone who's downloaded the app, and is using the pictures scraped off the net to track someone relentlessly.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Bloomberg isn't going anywhere. Warren has just utterly destroyed him in tonight's debate.
Interesting poll from Marist today: 1 in 5 Democrats say they won't vote if their candidate doesn't win. Yes, Brin's worst nightmare. But for those who think the problem lies with "Bernie Bros", the percentage of disaffected not-to-vote types drops to 15%, lower than the average rate of the other candidates.

David Brin said...

Jon S I remain stunned that a vast majority of smart people cannot wrap their heads around the obvious.
Let;s go very slowly.
What deters bad behavior?
The existence of a "law" against it?
The magnitude of the punishments threatened?
No. It is the likelihood of getting caught. If the odds are very high, even small punishments suffice.

Now please, re-read your sentences above. Can you dissect them and see how loony they are?
Let me ask: "How would YOU prevent someone from using the face tech to stalk someone else?"

By passing laws against it? By driving underground a tech that elites WILL have anyway?

How about via light instead of faux-pretense at obscurity? Shining light UPON voyeurs, stalkers and abusers? WHY did that nevr occur to you? Because deterrence truly is what works. The only thing that works.

Instead of futilely trying to stop a tech tsunami, how about pushing for tech that reports when you are being looked-at? THAT, in contrast to banning tech, can actually happen. In fact all of the freedom you have is based upon that principle.

Alfred Differ said...

Interesting poll from Marist today

They still have Obama in reserve, so I’m not concerned yet about Democrats saying they’ll stay home.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, there will be a 'rally round the flag' shift after the convention, assuming the Dems don't self-immolate. Dems need to be wary of how many voters end up disaffected, though.

David Brin said...

The way to rally all is to issue a "Contract with America" - ideally based on my 31 shared goals - an ALL swear to fight for it. I'd rather it happened before Super Tuesday but it could be at the convention.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I would back that, Doctor.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Charmers cast a glamour... that might burst big or fizzle and pop small. They can be fun to be around... until they aren’t and then they can be as bad as a serious toothache.


I certainly understand that. Charm involves some amount of willing participation by the recipient--he can know he's falling for a carefully crafted image, but find the image to be so alluring that he lets it happen. By "he", I mean "I", of course.

In that sense, the charmer has much in common with the con man. She's not going to be a bully, though. Almost the opposite thing. So in that sense, she's not mimicking Donald Trump.

Going back 20 years now, there was a neighborhood outdoor cat who was very good at acting as if he belonged anywhere he wanted to be. He'd brazenly walk into our house, eat some of our cats' food, and settle in for an afternoon nap. Our cats just went along with him because he was so good at seeming to belong. I'd say that cat had some element of the charmer about him. Maybe somewhat of a con artist, but then he wasn't harming anyone, so certainly not a bully. He got what he wanted and made others feel ok with the whole situation. That cat would make a good president.*

* If only he could become Speaker of the House and then both the President and VP are removed, which is a non-person's only Constitutional path to the presidency. :)

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Bloomberg isn't going anywhere. Warren has just utterly destroyed him in tonight's debate.


Funny how the English language works sometimes. When I read your first sentence, I took it as the complete opposite of what your second sentence makes clear. "Isn't going away" vs "Isn't going to be the nominee."


Interesting poll from Marist today: 1 in 5 Democrats say they won't vote if their candidate doesn't win. Yes, Brin's worst nightmare. But for those who think the problem lies with "Bernie Bros", the percentage of disaffected not-to-vote types drops to 15%, lower than the average rate of the other candidates.


That's my nightmare too. And I wasn't particularly blaming the Bernie supporters. My complaint was, if everybody's supporters will only vote for their own candidate in November, then there is no path for defeating Trump.

Tim Wolter said...

I've mostly stayed out of discussion of Dem primary politics. As a conservative leaning Indie (and in one of those Swing States) I don't see it as my job to figure out how one of the major parties picks their nominee. It will probably be Done by WI primary anyway.

But I did watch a bit of the debate last night. It was....kinetic. My observations are from the above political perspective.

Bloomberg did not have a good night. So much money spent. So little in the way of effective defence when assailed on all sides. Money can't buy everything. Honestly, is nominating a former Republican a reasonable play?

Sanders is consistent. He might be able to shrug off questions on his age and health better than he did last night. Probably not the path to 1600 Pennsylvania but he is genuine and if he is the nominee and carries the day it says something profound about America in 2020.

Klobuchar (by the way, my policy is always to use last names and or titles. First names are for personal friends. That is not what they are auditioning for). I think well of her. She always comes to FIRST robotics tournaments and I recall her stopping by our pit area once. She's the only one up there who would have a shot at carrying WI in my view. Her ability to do so as VP pick is less clear. Veep selection seldom parallels conventional wisdom.

Buttegieg. Articulate. Realistically does not have the experience to be President. Yet. Another VP option?

Biden. Old, tired. A few more mental gear slips from irrelevance although he was better in attack mode than he has of late been in retail politics interactive mode.

Warren. Had a good night. Won't carry the midwest. Poor showing in NH which is her back yard.

Dark Horse at brokered Con? Looking more likely. Off the map and into the margainalia where it says Terra Incognito.

Sanders/Klobuchar might make a race of it but unless the economy glitches badly I don't see them having good prospects.

Of course all political prognostications in recent times have been krep. Mine are too most likely. Just the observations of a conserv leaning indy in a swing state.

T.Wolter

Larry Hart said...

The Roger Stone sentencing/pardon thing brings this to mind.

Early in Season Two of Game of Thrones, the manipulative Peter Baylish (sp?) attempts to show the queen that he has power over her because he knows that her son the king is not the former King's offspring, but a product of incest. "Knowledge is power," he smirks. She immediately orders her guards to slit his throat, only at the last minute going, "Wait, I changed my mind" and letting him go. "Power is power," she retorts, making her point clear.

With that in mind, knowing that Benedict Donald is going to pardon Roger Stone no matter what his sentence is, I have a "Mike Doonesbury's Summer Daydream" of what I would do to send a similar message if I were Judge Amy Berman Jackson. At the sentencing hearing, I would sentence Stone to death, to be carried out immediately. Of course, something would happen to prevent the sentence from being carried out, but it would be gratifying to watch them have to scramble without the luxury of time.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

I never imagined that paramount among those light-allergic enemies of the American Enlightenment Experiment would turn out to be the Republican Party.


Really? I always did. At least since Nixon, and I was too young to know what a Republican was before that.

Howard Brazee said...

While I am concerned about citizens having our privacy, I have a much higher desire in our "public servants" *not* having their privacy. As long as they don't they will continue to be our rulers.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

As a conservative leaning Indie (and in one of those Swing States) I don't see it as my job to figure out how one of the major parties picks their nominee.


Well, as a liberal who very much wants the Republican to lose in November, I also don't see it as my job to figure out how to select the Democratic nominee. Because I'm so bad at it. I don't want to be responsible for pushing the party toward the wrong candidate. "Wrong" meaning "losing".

I'll vote for whichever Democrat is nominated, but I want someone with more political savvy to choose who that candidate should be. And again, by "should", I don't mean one who agrees with me on all of the issues. I mean someone who can win electoral votes in November.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Obsessive stalker wrote (some 80 times) "Would you ever disclose to your laceys that all your pre-moderation IS TO PROTECT yourself from criticism?"

I remember Lacey. She was a sweet old congresswoman in the Doonesbury strip who would hand-write thank you notes to all her supporters. Based on a real life person from a more genteel era.

Doctor, you need to adjust your settings. This nut is showing up in the mail feed.

A.F. Rey said...

I have a "Mike Doonesbury's Summer Daydream" of what I would do to send a similar message if I were Judge Amy Berman Jackson. At the sentencing hearing, I would sentence Stone to death, to be carried out immediately. Of course, something would happen to prevent the sentence from being carried out, but it would be gratifying to watch them have to scramble without the luxury of time.

That only works if the other person can't threaten to slit your throat. Because if he can, then he'll do exactly the same to you, with the exception that he won't pull back at the last second. ;)

That said, I expect Judge Jackson will do whatever she intended to do anyway. She certainly didn't seem influenced with her presiding over the Manafort and Gates trials.

David Brin said...

Apologies to Zepp and those of you who got slammed by the obsessive stalker. We made a mistake this morning and did a global accept in moderation. It won't happen again. And I pray the fellow finds the help he clearly needs. This time I did glance at one sentence, accusing me of hypocrisy by not allowing CITOKATE cleansing light. An "anonymous" who hides his real world identity from all repercussions should lecture us about accountability?

I get plenty of give and take from rambunctiously diverse brainiacs here. And while this particular troll once showed us promising brains and insight, they are so drenched in nastiness and fecal spew that it's just not worth my time to sift for pearls. I was down to 1-second per flush. But now I know how to flush them en masse.

Again apologies. I have been so lazy about moving from blogger. Eventually we will.

A.F. Rey said...

Nothing else matters but firing up your base.

Maybe, but the GOP has been dying off for years now.

Here's an article from 2015 talking estimating how many fewer voters the Republicans would have for the 2016 election because of die off and predicting it could be a watershed moment. And we know how that worked out... ;)

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/05/the-gop-is-dying-off-literally-118035

David Brin said...

But you guys did get to see what the stalker does. So let's put it to a vote. Do we... and I... badly need his creatively insightful input?

Darrell E said...

No, we don't need his input. Though you are quick to anger (or at least scorn) you are just about the most tolerant blog host I've ever come across. I agree with your reasons for that but I think it is perfectly OK to have some limits regarding signal/noise.

David Brin said...

While I am glad to see Warren's spunk lifted her back into the running, she bought into the harsh tone of the evening and this was not a great night. Bloomberg was fated to fade anyway, no matter how much money he throws at this, but now he may sulk instead of spending the promised half billion$ on defeating Two Scoops. WHichever Dem starts talking about shared goals and getting colleagues to agree to them - STIPULATING - will be the one uniting the Union Army.

This ancient (2008) essay of mine explains how that works. (It was updated for Polemical Judo.) And yes, it's about an era when one might imagine the DP and GOP nominees doing it... e.g. Obama and McCain back in better days. It can't happen now.
https://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/candidatestipulation.html

But AMONG DEMOCRATS it is absolutely vital. And here again is a list of wants every one on that stage... even Bloomberg... shares.
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/07/debate-special-shall-we-let-them-divide.html

Finally, I could help Liz explain her "I'm a capitalist" meme in ways that persuade Bernie Bros. Alas, none of them (except maybe Pete) is getting good advice, and that includes Bernie.

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey:

Maybe, but the GOP has been dying off for years now.


You're singing my song.


Here's an article from 2015 talking estimating how many fewer voters the Republicans would have for the 2016 election because of die off and predicting it could be a watershed moment. And we know how that worked out... ;)


They failed to notice that no matter how marginalized the Republican Party becomes, they're still a solid majority in a majority of states. For awhile, it looked as if they might control enough state governments (38) to call for a Constitutional Convention. They've thankfully lost a few, but still, control of the Senate looks to be in their hands for a long time. I saw a NY Times article which projected that by 2040, 70% of the population will live in a total of 15 states, which means that that 70% is represented by 30 Senators, where the other 30% are represented by 70 Senators. Guess which party that 30% tends to favor.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Bloomberg was fated to fade anyway, no matter how much money he throws at this, but now he may sulk instead of spending the promised half billion$ on defeating Two Scoops.


That was my big fear last night as well--that he'd take his ball and go home in a huff. A big donation to the Trump campaign would get him lots of good publicity and the inside track toward running as a Republican in 2024. Or maybe Trump's VP spot in 2020.


Do we... and I... badly need his [trollbot's] creatively insightful input?


No, there is too much noise for any signal to shine through. And it takes a lot for me to be moved to the pro-banning position--I haven't even suggested I'd be in favor of banning locumranch--but in this case, even I have to sit up and take notice.

If someone sits outside your house at 3AM with a bullhorn and wakes you up with his screeching, you are well within your rights to have him removed, and the issue is not one of free speech. The removal would not be on account of content. The dynamic is the same here.

Tim Wolter said...

LarryHart

There was once a quaint concept in politics of the Honorable Loss. Barry Goldwater is usually held up as an example at least by Conservatives. He held to his principles....and got clobbered. But perhaps was the predecessor for Ronald Reagan and a new conservatism. Of course I don't expect you to agree or approve, that's not the point.

You could argue that Obama going all in for the Affordable Care Act was something similar. Was he so convinced of its merits that he was willing to lose Congress to get it? He may also have been naive and or blinded by hubris. Long time citizens here might recall my posting at the time comparing it to Pickett's Charge.

Oh well, this is probably just maundering about a simpler time. I take care not to read too much into what people post.....not so much that I am saying things like "you clearly believe". But Victory at all costs, Power for Power's sake (and of course to do Good with the Ring), Winning is Right no matter who or what it takes to do so.

Dangerous concepts, and ones I would not presume to ascribe to you personally nor be so naiive as to assume are not prevalent in the modern body politic.

T. Wolter

Tim Wolter said...

And regarding the demographic extinction of the Republican party...

I think much of the anxiety radiating from the DNC these days must come from internal polling data. Imagine what a 20% drop in Black/Hispanic support for their party would do? A record low black unemployment rate must make them nervous.

It's part of the dilemma mentioned variously. If the stands you MUST take to be considered for the nomination are things that will cost you slices of key demographics...you are in trouble. Anti fracking, the more extreme aspects of gender/transgender issues, etc. They won't win you Pennsylvania. And Hispanic culture has fairly conservative family values. If people become accustomed to voting R or I....they may not come back to D. Until the D party reforms itself.

But as always, punditry is a mug's game of late.

T.Wolter

Zepp Jamieson said...

No harm here. His posts were all contiguous, so I just needed three clicks to trash them. I did random-sample a few and determined, yes, they were all identical. Back in the BBS days, we used to get people who would post hundreds of messages, usually all the same, in one room, causing the existing messages to scroll out (this is back when Ram was measured in Ks and HDs rare, so the boards were confined to 512K or less). We called that "biffing the board" and nobody saw it as a legitimate exercise of free speech then, either.

locumranch said...


Which of the following deters bad behavior?

(a) The existence of a "law" against it.
(b) The magnitude of the punishments threatened.
(c) The likelihood of getting caught.


As answers (a) through (c) are an insufficient deterrent against 'bad behavior' in & of themselves, the correct answer is more complex than David is willing to admit and, assuming that one desires to facilitate the Rule-of-Law as much as David does, then at least two other conditions must be met:

(d) The 'bad behavior' must be rare or aberrant by definition (and)
(e) 'All-of-the-above' because (a) through (d) must occur in a simultaneous fashion in order to deter crime.

Of course, 'Transparency' is in itself a necessary component of the Rule-of-Law but, most emphatically, it is NOT the panacea for the Rule-of-Law that David claims it is BECAUSE (a) 'laws against bad behavior' are meaningless assuming (b) 'an absence of punishment' and (d) 'a high prevalence of said bad behavior', irregardless of (c) 'the likelihood of being caught'.

The 'Rule-of-Law' collapses now in the West because of the progressive attempt to (a) legislate away human biology, (b) meter out punishments in accordance with a 'social justice' (and/or identity group) based 'sliding scale', and (d) redefine (by fiat) common majority-based behaviors as 'rare or aberrant'.

Transparency will NOT forestall the West's collapsing 'Rule-of-Law' but, on the bright side, it will allow you to watch, bear witness to & enjoy said societal collapse on the high-def televisions conveniently located in your various homes.


Best

jim said...

Bloomberg did poorly last night but he is going to need to loose the primaries pretty badly for him to be out of the game. Don't discount the ability of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to attract votes.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
OT- Last night on Charie Stross's blog, they talked about your "gravity laser"(?) from “Earth”.


Sousveillance, reporting stalkers, etc.- ISTM that even with today's technology it would be relatively easy to hide/confuse one's stalking/searching presence, particularly so for the wealthy/powerful. "The Panopticon looks down and around, but rarely up."

Also, would it be stalking if I accessed a digital dossier compiled purely of publicly-accessible information, used a variety of AI tools to: extrapolate further information on the subject, determine their responses to a variety of documented communications, create a probability-ranked set of optimum ones, and send out an effective drip campaign (which would continuously improve) and THE SUBJECT WOULD LIKE?

I remember an old Poul Anderson story ("A Man for My Wounding") where a "state of assassination" exists between the US and China, and it starts escalating downward, as potential leaders (including gifted children) become targeted. Imagine if something like a near-future version of this were to occur: one of our adversaries (or perhaps one of our current allies) decides to do this in a much more subtle way- a la the USSR @ the UK in the '30s. (This is the LONG GAME.) All Americans are dossiered from the time they start leaving a digital presence. Potential assets are gradually cultivated (usually in ways they are completely unaware) and potential liabilities are gradually (or quickly, if necessary) discouraged. (I just realized this is psychohistory at a granular level). Over time, the initiating country improves its position vis-a-vis- the target country, unless of course the target countries do the same thing to them (which is likely, unless these are available only to the wealthiest, most powerful nations)...Let's further suppose and say these powerful influencing techniques were very available and affordable- what would society be like then?

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
OT- Last night on Charie Stross's blog, they talked about your "gravity laser"(?) from “Earth”.


Sousveillance, reporting stalkers, etc.- ISTM that even with today's technology it would be relatively easy to hide/confuse one's stalking/searching presence, particularly so for the wealthy/powerful. "The Panopticon looks down and around, but rarely up."

Also, would it be stalking if I accessed a digital dossier compiled purely of publicly-accessible information, used a variety of AI tools to: extrapolate further information on the subject, determine their responses to a variety of documented communications, create a probability-ranked set of optimum ones, and send out an effective drip campaign (which would continuously improve) and THE SUBJECT WOULD LIKE?

I remember an old Poul Anderson story ("A Man for My Wounding") where a "state of assassination" exists between the US and China, and it starts escalating downward, as potential leaders (including gifted children) become targeted. Imagine if something like a near-future version of this were to occur: one of our adversaries (or perhaps one of our current allies) decides to do this in a much more subtle way- a la the USSR @ the UK in the '30s. (This is the LONG GAME.) All Americans are dossiered from the time they start leaving a digital presence. Potential assets are gradually cultivated (usually in ways they are completely unaware) and potential liabilities are gradually (or quickly, if necessary) discouraged. (I just realized this is psychohistory at a granular level). Over time, the initiating country improves its position vis-a-vis- the target country, unless of course the target countries do the same thing to them (which is likely, unless these are available only to the wealthiest, most powerful nations)...Let's further suppose and say these powerful influencing techniques were very available and affordable- what would society be like then?

David Brin said...

Tim Goldwater was an honorable man, given. Indeed, late in live he rebuked almost every direction he saw conservatism heading.

Obamacare is more complex. Obama offered *The Republicans’ own damn plan!* He must have thought it a clever negotiating move to lure lots of Goppers out of the Hastert Rule. He was shocked to witness how disciplined the GOP had become.

Your point about Blacks and Hispanics is an important one. OTOH Stacy Abrams’s project is scaring the Masters of Gerrymander.

jim when your dire gloom-forecasts fail, do you change your mind at all?

Locum started out (before returning to jibber-jabber about legislating human nature) making a strong point that the certainty of being caught at a crime won’t automatically deter if you feel strongly - along with millions - that it is unjust. But that’s what democracy is for, changing unjust laws. Some have retired swiftly. Others too slowly… though it is blue states who are easing us out of the damned drug war. And the new dem VA legislature is ending laws against consensual sex etc… talk about WHO legislating human behavior?

“OT- Last night on Charie Stross's blog, they talked about your "gravity laser"(?) from “Earth”.” Keith say hi for me and tell them I am available for questions. And yes, nobel winners have said it is fundamentally a valid concept… assuming you could make those micro signularities…

“ISTM that even with today's technology it would be relatively easy to hide/confuse one's stalking/searching presence, particularly so for the wealthy/powerful.”

Just because accountability is the only answer, that doesn’t mean it’s easy! YOU as a person may not have the super tech to tack or detect an elite or rich voyeur. And that is why we invented the NGO and whistleblower rewards (that must be augmented with rich prizes.) You do NOT have to catch every instance of elite voyeurism. If your NGO can catch and shame/prosecute ONE elite voyeur ONCE it will put fear into most of the rest.

Is this prescription guaranteed? Of course not. But is is the only thing that has a remote chance of working.

Finally, the assassination version of COOL WAR (see the F Pohl novel) is plausible. But we did it far better in the Cold War… by encouraging the brightest ‘over there’ to DEFECT to here. I have discussed with intel folks how Putin has systematically demolished our ability to attract defectors. Above all by having his assets deny us the moral high ground.

Jon S. said...

You misunderstand me, Doctor. I'm not really worrying that much about surveillance from above - as you aptly point out, that can't be stopped anyway. (I can't remember which classic SF author coined the phrase, but you can't stuff the mushroom cloud back into the shiny uranium sphere.) The technology exists, for good or ill, and I agree that it's better to release it into the wild than to preserve it for the upper echelons of power - if nothing else, the ability to follow back can reveal someone misusing it.

What concerns me is how to prevent someone, not a person of particular power or privilege but just a crazy stalker, from using the sousveillance system described in the article to more effectively stalk a victim. Is there a way, or, like automobiles, is it just a level of risk we have to accept and work to minimize? And if the latter, what methods could we plausibly use, akin to noticing repeating cars in traffic?

A.F. Rey said...

A record low black unemployment rate must make them nervous.

I would suggest the GOP should carefully consider the pay rate for those jobs before they rest on their laurels about employment.

Just being employed doesn't do that much for you if the wages just keep you from starving.

But then I trust the black community to figure this out themselves without anyone else's help. :)

duncan cairncross said...

Above all by having his assets deny us the moral high ground.

From the "Outside" it appears to me that the USA ceded the "moral high ground" for the "whatever it takes" a long long time ago

AND

The fact that a lot of Americans still claim the "Moral High Ground" while behaving nearly as badly as the villains just makes them look like hypocrites

Better than the worst is not the "Moral High Ground"

But you are right the Orange One has broken new ground in that competition

locumranch said...


Since David invoked Pohl's "Cool War" yet again: Can anyone say Coronavirus??

And, for the record, I chalked up "The 'Rule-of-Law' collapse (to) the progressive attempt to (a) legislate away human BIOLOGY" -- which an act of hubristic insanity -- as opposed to the fairly reasonable approach of attempting to legislate human behavior (as typical of 'governance).

Feel free to 'govern away' -- as is your wont -- but never forget that (1) common majority-based behaviors are always NORMAL, by definition, even if certain progs believe those behaviors to be 'bad' or 'undesirable', and (2) the law must apply equally to all identity groups WITHOUT EXCEPTION or it applies to no one'...

Hence the ongoing collapse of the western 'Rule-of-Law', as a direct result of the recent mass proliferation of identity group specific exemptions & exceptions, that specifically exclude the dominant majority.


Best

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

I take care not to read too much into what people post.....not so much that I am saying things like "you clearly believe". But Victory at all costs, Power for Power's sake (and of course to do Good with the Ring), Winning is Right no matter who or what it takes to do so.


Tim, I'm willing to listen if I'm wrong, but this sounds like one of those things that the Republicans have amped up to 11, but you're woefully concerned that that Democrats might try it.

I want to win at all costs because the opposition party is actively destroying the norms which hold our democracy together. It's a defensive fight. If the other side would cease attacking, I wouldn't have to defend. In WWII, we had to win at all costs because otherwise the Nazis would win at all costs and destroy everything we hold dear. That doesn't make the two sides equivalent. They're fighting to make themselves kings. We're fighting to prevent that from happening. Recall Captain Kirk, and "They offered me the lives of my crew."

Anonymous said...

Interested Observer:

... Which is why the GOP has been purging voter rolls like mad to disenfranchise as many voters as possible. They don’t even have to target demographics (although of course they do).

Second point: Dr. Brin, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but the Republican Party you were a part of is gone and isn’t coming back. You talk a lot about residually sane uncles and aunts, but the ones I know (even with the vaunted STEM degrees) are all in with Trump and authoritarianism. I don’t even exaggerate, they tell me often that Trump is completely innocent and offer final solutions to the conflicts in the Middle East. And I do mean those kinds of final solutions.

Keith Halperin said...

Thanks, Dr. Brin.

Re:OT-
Will do. Also, you might want to reach out to him personally- he's been having a hard time for various reasons and a friendly word or two from a fellow master writer might make him feel a bit better...

Re: Sousveillance, reporting stalkers, etc.-
I agree that this is what SHOULD be done, and don't see much evidence that it HAS- or WILL- be done. e.g., we don't see any 2008 Financial Crisis "banksters" with their wealth confiscated and doing serious hard time. Also, being a "Gloomy Gus", I can imagine watchdog groups being marginalized, discredited, corrupted, co-opted, or destroyed by the organizations/groups they're supposed to watch, analogous to the capture of regulatory agencies by the industries they're supposed to regulate.
Here's me being more insidious/subtle again:
Imagine an outfit with the powerful prediction and persuasion techniques/tools I mentioned earlier-
The outfit sees a potential problem in a watchdog organization, so it works to INCREASE the watchdog's membership, either by people who are
1) more open to the outfit's perspective (very old technique) or
2) currently in line with the organization’s goals BUT (as many people are) more concerned with maintaining and following the organization’s procedures than accomplishing its goals ("Death by Bureaucracy") or
3) just incompetent, lazy, or unpleasant to work with ("Death by Peter Principle" and not too different than Russia encouraging "splitters").
(And if you need to deal with them more quickly: "SLAP" and other kinds of expensive, resource-consuming lawsuits, preferably done through a *front organization, so the outfit doesn't come off as"Goliath vs. David"...)
Nothing violent, illegal, or very expensive (for your outfit): but mission accomplished.

Still, let's not give up the good fight!

-Keith

*Would your organizational transparency law also apply to non-profits and/or religious organizations?

David Brin said...

Jon S. “What concerns me is how to prevent someone, not a person of particular power or privilege but just a crazy stalker, from using the sousveillance system described in the article to more effectively stalk a victim. Is there a way, or, like automobiles, is it just a level of risk we have to accept and work to minimize?”

Again and again, its is the likelihood of getting caught that deters, above all other factors. Being able to clearly identify your stalker and nail them in the act will deal with most of them. With two exceptions:

1. In a society where these techs have been harnessed to state enforced conformity, as in China’s nascent social credit system. Communist states have always harnessed the power of local, neighborhood busybodies by making them block commissars.

My prescription of reciprocal accountability only works in an American-style value system in which being a bully is considered worse than being an eccentric. In fact, I believe that is one reason Hollywood had pushed eccentricity as admirable and conformity bullying as vile.

2. Some stalkers don’t care. Have you seen the wonderful Julia Roberts flick SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY? The obsessed husband says “Go ahead and get a restraining order. Even put me in jail. You think that will keep me away?”

Shudder.

AFR “Just being employed doesn't do that much for you if the wages just keep you from starving.”
Good slogan.

David Brin said...

Duncan: “From the "Outside" it appears to me that the USA ceded the "moral high ground" for the "whatever it takes" a long long time ago”

Yes, it seems that way to you. It takes courage to admit bizarre perception. No nation ever so-little abused great power when it had a grip on some. The crimes you’d rightfully cite are nevertheless small by imperial standards, especially considering the RATIO of good to bad deeds. And the fact that Pax Americana was the best time for humanity ever is proof enough.

But want more proof? Just watch when we depose Trump, how ecstsy pours through the cities of the world. It will be the joy of seeing your strong and indispensable older brother recovering from a raving, destructive fever.

“AND The fact that a lot of Americans still claim the "Moral High Ground" while behaving nearly as badly as the villains just makes them look like hypocrites”

And fuck you, too. Compare Manzanar to Auschwitz. Hypocrites, yes. But there’s worse.

Interested Observer: All you’ve demonstrated is that you have NOT bought and read POLEMICAL JUDO. You would make traction with those aunts and uncles. And it is worthwhile. Without them - relying only on “turnout” - we will NOT render today’s GOP extinct and at best turnout will betray the new Democratic president in 2022, as happened in 94 and 2010.

We need your aunts! Read the book and fight for their souls.

locum is back to value-free jibber-jabber. Wheeee!

David Brin said...

Keith I don’t have all the answers. I even know of situations demanding lessened transparency (secret ballots in elections and even inside congress… and intel agencies need tactical secrecy.)

But I do know this. The West has one victory condition in 20 years. A supremely transparent world filled with equalizing light. If we don’t have that, all of our enemies will win. If we get that, we simply win. Period.



duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin
I accept that the American Empire NOW is better than the old British Empire 100 years ago (although the American Empire back then was worse)

But the biggest issue I have is that Americans don't appear to NOTICE all of the ways they fall short - in fact they simply don't appear to think that any of the rules apply to THEM

Manzanar was not in the same league as Auschwitz - not even on the same planet

And both were 70 years ago

The USA has much more recent problems than Manzanar - and much much worse - from the atrocities in Vietnam to Abu Ghraib

And the ongoing - assassination of government figures - especially when said figures were invited to a peace conference

The USA IS BETTER than it was 100 years ago - but the goalposts have moved

locumranch said...


Our fine host is an idealist, an intelligent man, but one infatuated with the analogical purifying capabilities of light who mistakes the analogical for the literal.

He imagines that illumination can magically rectify injustice, as if evil doers must always be consumed by shame, goodness always triumphs over badness and laws enforce themselves.

It is too bad, so sad, that both villainy AND heroism are Vaudevillian performance art wherein mostly narcissists seek the limelight & prefer an attentive audience.

Whether 'good' or 'bad', attention is attention is attention when demanded by attention seekers.


Best

Larry Hart said...

The more things change...
This is a description of partisan politics in the Jim Crow South, but reverse the party names and it could be torn from today's headlines:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/21/opinion/trump-authoritarian-jim-crow.html

...
This basic pattern repeated itself throughout the South for decades. Working through the Democratic Party, conservative elites “repressed Populists, seized control of the state apparatus, and effectively ended credible partisan competition.” They rewrote state constitutions to end the vote for blacks as well as substantially restrict it for most whites. They gerrymandered states to secure the political power of large landowners, converted local elective offices into appointed positions[ controlled at the state level, “and further insulated state judiciaries from popular input.” This could have been stopped, but the North was tired of sectional conflict, and the courts had no interest in the rights of blacks or anyone else under the boot of the Democracy.

The southern Democratic Party didn’t just control all offices and effectively staff the state bureaucracy. It was gatekeeper to all political participation. An aspiring politician could not run for office, much less win and participate in government, without having it behind him. “What is the state?” asked one prominent lawyer during Louisiana’s 1898 Jim Crow constitutional convention, aptly capturing the dynamic at work, “It is the Democratic Party.” Statehood was conflated with party, writes Mickey, “and party disloyalty with state treason.”

Southern conservatives beat back Populism and biracial democracy to build a one-party state and ensure cheap labor, low taxes, white supremacy and a starkly unequal distribution of wealth. It took two decades of disruption — the Great Depression, the Great Migration and the Second World War — to even make change possible, and then another decade of fierce struggle to bring democracy back to the South.
...

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

But the biggest issue I have is that Americans don't appear to NOTICE all of the ways they fall short - in fact they simply don't appear to think that any of the rules apply to THEM


I would have agreed more before the 2016 election. I think many non-deplorable Americans understand very well that we're throwing away the moral high ground. I notice that no one refers to Donald Trump as the "Leader of the Free World", an unofficial title which until very recently was presumed to belong to the president of the United States.


The USA IS BETTER than it was 100 years ago - but the goalposts have moved


And much has changed in just the last three years. Not for the better.

David Brin said...

“Americans don't appear to NOTICE all of the ways they fall short”

A bizarre statement, given all the guilt trip[s in our movies and al l the “imperialism” and identity classes consumed by University students.

“but the goalposts have moved”

And why did they move? What was the principal agency doing that moving?

--
BACK on vitamins, locum veered from jibber-jabber to a cogently well-expressed assertion that is TRUE, all by itself.

“It is too bad, so sad, that both villainy AND heroism are Vaudevillian performance art wherein mostly narcissists seek the limelight & prefer an attentive audience.”

Ah, yes, this holds, while they can either avoid attribution (trolls and KGB provocateurs), or evade accountability/consequences (Trumpites either desperately avoiding wagers or desperate for pardons).

Let’s test it! Make common cause for a law giving a five year sunset on all NDAs.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/us/politics/russian-interference-trump-democrats.html


WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.
...


Oh, the outrage of using "He's a foreign asset" against him. How UNFAIR! (tm)

Geez, can you imagine the repercussions that would have followed the revelation that Russia was actively engaged in the election of any past president? Certainly any past Democratic president, but then when else would Russia have tried to help elect a Republican?

Can it be any clearer that the entire Republican Party is engaged in open treason?

Howard Brazee said...

As far as interfering in foreign elections—what goes around, comes around.

Zepp Jamieson said...

He didn't just whine about it. He fired the DIA and proposes to replace him with one of Devin Nunes' flaks, a Trump loyalist who stoutly denies Russian involvement.

If you are a Republican, you are supporting treason.

Larry Hart said...

Heh. This NY Times article describes exactly the solution to nosiness that Dr Brin is always touting--looking back.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/19/magazine/salary-sharing.html

About a decade ago, a naturally occurring social experiment took place in Norway that revealed how people react when they are given the opportunity to learn not just a co-worker’s income but the salary of every citizen in the country. Key information from tax returns in Norway has been public since the 19th century, available to anyone willing to wait in line at City Hall and scour tax records. But that understandable interest in other people’s finances became something of a national obsession in 2001, when newspapers first started making the information searchable online. By 2009, one newspaper offered an app — instantly one of the country’s most downloaded — that allowed Facebook users to see leader boards that ranked friends’ salaries from highest to lowest. The app also created maps that allowed users to see the pay of all their neighbors. In 2010, during the first week that the most recent year’s information became available, Norwegians were Googling “skattelister” — tax lists — more than “YouTube,” according to data analyzed by Ricardo Perez-Truglia, now an assistant professor of economics at the U.C.L.A. Anderson School of Management; during that same period, Norwegians were scanning other people’s income more often than they were checking the weather. There were anecdotal reports of students’ being bullied for their families’ poverty, and increasingly, officials became uncomfortable with what the head of the Norwegian Tax Administration called the “peeping Tom” phenomenon (the media called it “tax porn”). In 2014, the law changed so that individuals could still access this public information — but the person whose information they were seeking would know who sought it. Salary searches plummeted, suggesting that Norwegian taboos around discussing pay are not, in the end, all that different from those in America.

Cormac Williams said...

"Geez, can you imagine the repercussions that would have followed the revelation that Russia was actively engaged in the election of any past president? Certainly any past Democratic president, "

Khrushchev Kennedy, depending how you define "active" :-)

Regards,
Cormac.

Deuxglass said...

Bloomberg was not happy at all being attacked by the other candidates but he knew that would happen. Bloomberg knows that he doesn't need to win any debate at all. All he has to do is show up. No candidate will get to 50.1% so it will be a brokered convention. His organization and his money will guarantee that he will have enough to be in there with the others. He doesn't have to convince most of the convention's delegates. All he has to do is convince the super delegates which is easy to do because they know that Bloomberg can reward them beyond their dreams if they vote the right way. Nothing has to be said or promised but they all know the score.

For me there is line I just won't cross. Bloomberg, a Republican as a Republican can be, being on the ticket either as president or vice-president is crossing that line. Any of the others will do. It's a test for me. For a long time now me and others have noticed that the Democrat Party has become stranger and stranger. This is no longer the Democrat party I grew up with which before promoted policies that strengthened the middle and lower classes as FDR did. Now the leadership consists of openly corrupt money-grabbers who will do anything for a buck all the while claiming that everything they did was "legal". They make me sick. Dr. Brin, you said that I see things in black and white. No I don't with most things but when I see corruption wrapped up in a legal envelope I am revolted. If the Democrat Part continues along this path then I say Fuck It. Let it die. Something better will come up from its ashes. There will always be those who find reasons and excuses for supporting these type of behaviors. In the end they don't matter.

Keith Halperin said...

@Dr. Brin 19:17:
In a society where these techs have been harnessed to state enforced conformity, as in China’s nascent social credit system. Communist states have always harnessed the power of local, neighborhood busybodies by making them block commissars.
Dr. Brin, I think this would be pretty-easy to do here. Have you been on NextDoor lately?... I keep thinking of those “octies” (octogenarians) in their “spy glasses” recording all they see in “Earth”… I’d expect those folks in 2020 Bloomington, IN (IMSM) would likely be Trump supporters (unless they were retired Indiana University faculty). Who do you think THEY’LL be watching? I bet it wouldn’t have been former Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Have you or can you propose methods to encourage/incentivize “the Panopticon of Crowds” to look “up” and not just occasionally “sideways” and usually “down”? Are we likely to get (even with a Democratic President and Congress) a series of strongly strengthened whistle-blower laws to reward and protect “looking up”? What would the best ways to avoid the constant pressure to repeal, neutralize, subvert, or co-opt such practices like:

“Hey kid! You’re a GOOD kid, we know that. You follow the rules and think everybody should, too. But not everybody does, and we’d like your help to keep people good and make sure they all follow the rules, too. Here’s a cool free game for you to play- it shows you how to help us find the bad people who don’t play by the rules and make them good again. In the game, you let us know about as many of the people you know as you want to, and we give you money and fun gifts- the more people you send to us and the more we find out about them, the more money and fun gifts you get! How about that! (Don’t forget to tell us about your parents and teachers, too!)

You might think: “Most of the people I know are good- they follow the rules, and my parents and teachers, do too!” Well, these good people you know don’t need to be afraid. We’ll tell them about our game and maybe they’ll want to play too! That way, they’ll get money and fun gifts, JUST LIKE YOU!

Wouldn’t you like to start playing the game now?

Your GOOD Friends,

TenCen/Facebook

……………………...

@Dr. Brin 19:18:
“The West has one victory condition in 20 years.”
I’m afraid I don’t understand that sentence.
Do you mean we have one condition which will permit victory (over all our enemies) within 20 years?

………….

A thought:
I wonder if various societal states (feudalism, democracy, etc.) are analogous to Lagrange points:
It may be (and I hope it isn’t true) that the Feudal Attractor is like L4/L5 in being quite stable, but the Democracy Attractor State is meta-stable (requiring frequent nudging to avoid drifting away)…

………….

You stated (2019.05.15) that you believe “Mormons (are) giving serious thought to dropping their loyalty to a party of mafiosi, sexual perverts and traitors.”
Do you think that Utah
1) will go “blue” in 2020,
2) voter turnout will be down substantially, or
3) Trump will receive a substantially lower percentage of the vote than in 2016?

Cheers,

Keith

David Brin said...

"Geez, can you imagine the repercussions that would have followed the revelation that Russia was actively engaged in the election of any past president? Certainly any past Democratic president, but then when else would Russia have tried to help elect a Republican?"

In fact, I give 25% odds that Putin joined the Saudis in their blatant efforts to help George W. Bush to defeat Al Gore and John Kerrey. At times it was blatant. I'll grant that the Bush-Cheney families were far more suborned factotums of the Saudi Royal House thanagents of the remodeled KGB. That predominance has reversed in the Trump era GOP. Together though, that axis has striven to lure (e.g. via Epstein and sheik yacht parties) Americans into blackmail traps. And blatantly far more Republicans.

Keith by Victory Condition I mean by US/Hollywood moral standards, which does NOT mean conquest. But it means a world in which individualism and eccentricity are admired far above conformity.

I believe that Utah folk are APPROACHABLE with a reasoned argument that they should go their own way and lead in the founding of a new US conservative movement.

Your thought about the meta-stable attractor state is absolutely spot on.

locumranch said...


Deuxglass is spot on:

Within his suggestion to 'sunset' all NDAs, David appears to (1) acknowledge the theatrical absurdity inherent in the manufacture of the modern political consensus and (2) confirm that Bloomberg is a DNC-sponsored spoiler who exists solely to steal the US Democrat Party nomination from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders AGAIN in a slightly more plausible fashion than last time.

This is yet another example of what I punningly refer to as Vaudevillainy, aka 'the deliberate reduction ad absurdum of complex sociopolitical issues into a farcical moral play, replete with over-the-top mustachioed villains (boo!) and enlightened heroic underdogs (yay!), in the service of a tyrannical & inflexible establishment'.

Like the TV Wrestling of yesteryear, this is a staged theatrical programme with a predetermined outcome, the problem being that the greater US & EU polity is catching on, losing interest & tuning out, leading to falling bipartisan ratings and, if we're lucky, the imminent cancellation of the fraudulent Deep State Establishmentarianism Show.

There's a reason why they call your television an 'idiot box' and -- it's you -- assuming you watch.

I mean, really now, how can you all just sit there so passively & absorb this crap?


Best

David Brin said...

Deucglass, I will happily take all of your assertions as money bets. Anyone care to hold the stakes? Alfred? Tim? Everyone trusts you guys.

locum's non-jibber-jabber lasted one whoe comment. Still, we keep him around.

onward

onward

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

I noticed that you come up with the monetary angle whenever you don't have a good argument. You believe that somehow that way validates your position when it is just a trick to get someone to shut up. It's up to you to come up with counter-arguments if you can and offering to bet is not an argument. It is just you looking for an out.

Keith Halperin said...

Thanks, Dr. Brin. Re: "US/Hollywood moral standards"-
Do you mean 1960's-today's "US/Hollywood moral standards"? If you go back to the '50's (our shared birth-decade), I would say those standards weren't the same as they are now. Who's to say they won't won't revert to a more conformist era, particularly in a time of fear, both natural (climate change, automation/AI-related job loss) and cultivated (our Oligarch "friends")?

"I believe that Utah folk are APPROACHABLE with a reasoned argument that they should go their own way and lead in the founding of a new US conservative movement."
IMHO, if any individual/group votes for/supports Trump in 2020, they are not reasonable and have lost both political AND moral legitimacy. Also, if Utah's electoral votes go to Trump (as I believe they will), it's moot what may/not happen there in the longer term...
We are running out of time (to save American Democracy, to avoid/minimize the "Slowpocalyspse"),if we haven't already run out...

Cheers,

Keith "Mr. Sunshine" Halperin

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