Saturday, February 25, 2023

Isaac Asimov, Karl Marx & the Hari Seldon Paradox

Let's try looking back at the Foundation universe... which some of you have read... considering Isaac Asimov's sci fi classic in light of his acknowledged influences - Edward Gibbon, Adam Smith and Karl Marx... which I would venture almost none of you have read.  Indeed, I am less well-read in those three than I ought to be, though I am very well-read in Asimov!  And hence, let me attempt to do my main job... be interesting. To offer perspectives you may find nowhere else.

== Isaac Asimov knew them all! ==

Fans of Asimov’s Foundation series often cite Isaac being inspired by Gibbon’s classic, The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, and of course that is apt…

... though in Foundation’s Triumph I point out that Asimov’s future Galactic Empire based on Planet Trantor has many traits that are more Chinese than Roman. Especially the way it is run by an all-powerful caste of eunuchs. (The robots obedient to Daneel Olivaw, who are sterile and loyal, but relentlessly manipulative, behind the scenes.)

But another inspiration deeply affected Asimov. Anyone doing historical musings in the first half of the 20th Century – and well into the second half – was deeply affected by the historiographic  incantations and predictions of Karl Marx. Indeed, he was so widely read and so influential that notions of inevitable effects of technology on class struggle profoundly influenced Ayn Rand, for example!

Indeed, Rand's fervid hatred of communism (from her upbringing in Soviet Russia) was that of an acolyte-heretic, spitefully rejecting but staying very close to the teacher. Her entire eschatology was Marxist to its core, only omitting the master's final phases! Cribbing liberally till near the end, Rand chose to freeze her own scenario at the moment of utter domination by capitalist lords, wrote-off any proletarian revolutionary response, and called that outcome good. (See my decryption of Ayn Rand.) 

In Asimov’s case, the reflex was not to create a quasi-religious scripture, but rather to envision the crude Marxian methods being developed into a vastly intricate and fact-grounded science. A science called psychohistory. 

Of course, Isaac had a scientist's habit of questioning all models, even his own! And this led, decade after decade, to Isaac arguing with his former self! Discovering flaws and innovating possible solutions, a process that I describe in greater detail here… in a grand, galactic thought experiment that I completed (I think), bringing everything full circle in Foundation’s Triumph.

== Applying this to today ==

So what does any of this have to do with the politics of here and now? Both the confident prediction-incantations of Marx and the whole notion of psychohistory appear… well… kinda quaint to modern minds. Allowing us to shrug-off and even forget how compelling both were to both the masses and all wings of intelligentsia, a couple of generations back.

Well, there’s no room here for detail. Though there's plenty to discuss! (See "Class War and the Lessons of History.") ... Like how old Karl and his followers mapped out as ‘inevitable’ a series of events in oppression of an increasingly skilled working class whose resentment of owner-oppression could only follow one, ordained path.

Alas, having transformed himself over time (as Freud did) from brilliant researcher into a tendentious guru surrounded by acolytes, Marx came to believe incantations could overcome inconvenient human nature. It never seemed to occur to him that hundreds of thousands would actually read his books!  And find them convincing. Convincing enough to decide to alter the apparently ordained path! Changing course through incremental, rather than sudden, reform.

Above all, Karl Marx never imagined that scions of wealth – Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his circle - would be persuaded to buy off the workers, by leveling the field and inviting them to share in a strong Middle Class, whose children would then (as recommended by Adam Smith) be able to compete fairly with scions of the rich. 

It was a stunning (if way-incomplete) act of intelligence and resilience that changed America's path and thus the world's.

Among many mistakes, neglecting to consider that possibility was Old Karl's (and Lenin's etc.) biggest. Assuming that humanity is stupid and predictable is almost as dumb a glaring error as assuming that we’re smart! 

Anyway, the Rooseveltean Experiment worked, far better than even its believers and enactors expected. For decades the US labor movement was hugely effective at counterbalancing the lords of wealth. Disparities hit levels lower than any great nation across history. And marginalized groups - races and genders - overcame resistance to enter the bargain. For a while, Marx seemed consigned to the dustbin...

Only now his tomes are again flying off the shelves, at almost every university on the planet. Why?

== He's baaaaack! ==

Why? Because our insipid world aristocracy is largely made up of buffoons and doomsday 'preppers' and inheritance brats whose addiction to flatterers has left them unable to read, let alone argue over the historical lessons of class taught by 6000 years of history. Or especially by the innovations of the Greatest Generation.

Show me one of today's oligarchs with the brains of that smart crook, Joseph Kennedy, who supported FDR for one reason:

"I'd rather be taxed half my wealth so the poor and workers are calm and happy than lose it all to revolution."

Any aristocrat who actually, actually thinks the R word is not on the table, amid his caste's all out war against not just labor but increasingly fed-up nerd professions, is truly too smug, too dumb and incurious ever to know or care what the word 'tumbrel' means, until he is riding in one. But it's a cart that can find its way even into deep, Patagonian prepper fortresses.

== So, is it a cycle? ==

A some of you know, I have a deep and abiding dislike toward yammers about so-called "cycles of history" like the insipid, recent Fourth Turning fetish that's so beloved on the lobotomized U.S. right. (That's okay, the mad left, while much smaller, has its own insipidities.)

What ... all cycles, Brin? Even one that is… predictable? Well, I will quickly grant that there are strong attractor states, the worst and strongest being feudal or monarchal pyramids of privilege, ownership and power that dominated 99% of human societies for at least 6000 years. A natural - if toxic - outgrowth from mammalian male reproductive strategies that have only ever been stymied in a few Enlightenment Experiments. Like ours.

And yes, as the younger (smarter) Karl Marx pointed out, capitalism can either follow the recommendations of Adam Smith and remain flat-fair-transparent-competitive-creative, or else... it will follow the far more familiar path of parasitism by cheaters... and decay back into a form of feudalism, yet again.

One of you (Paradoctor) put this ironic contradiction cogently, in light of the Rooseveltean Miracle that kept capitalism flat-fair, for a while... 

“When the capitalist class takes seriously Marx's predictions of mass immiseration and political unrest, then they enact mixed-economy reforms to ensure the stability of the middle class, as insurance. The reforms work; while inconvenient to their exercise of lordly whim, they protect the owner families from revolution and Marx's predictions are falsified."

Paradoctor brought it back around to Isaac Asimov's grand thought experiment. 

“This is an instance of Seldon's Paradox: that accurate psychohistorical predictions, once made known, set into effect psychohistorical forces that falsify the prediction. 

"But the Paradox has more work to do. When Marx's predictions fail, then the capitalist class stops taking those predictions seriously. Therefore they stop supporting opportunity-uplifting semi-socialism and a flattened-fair social order, turning back to cheating to benefit their own inheritance brats. The reforms unravel, resulting in mass immiseration and political unrest, as Marx predicted."

In other words, what we are seeing now... a massive, worldwide oligarchic putsch to discredit the very same Rooseveltean social compact that saved their caste and allowed them to become rich... but that led to them surrounding themselves with sycophants who murmur flatteringnotions of inherent superiority and dreams of harems. Would-be lords, never allowing themselves to realize that yacht has sailed. 

“So to the capitalist class, Marx is as true a prophet as he is a false prophet. Likewise for the Seldonian psychohistorian: when first stated, the prediction sets into motion forces that deny it; yet when the prediction is denied, the forces against it abate, and it comes true. Therefore to the society, the psychohistorical prediction is as confirmed as it is denied.”

What we're seeing, alas, is final proof that Adam Smith was right, as were the U.S. Founders who rebelled against dullard inheritance feudalism... as were subsequent reformers who had to ratchet forward those incomplete reforms, one grindingly too-slow step at a time.

We can and should(!) argue over the details! And the Seldon/Marx paradox will likely be with us for a long time... and even longer under AI-eunuch lords? 

But the central conundrum remains: that rule by narrow aristocracies was always deeply stoopid across all of human history, a litany of bad governance, delusions and horrors that was only finally broken by the Enlightenment Attractor Alternative. An alternative that perhaps - across the galaxy - only humanity ever stumbled into... which may rank as a top explanation for the Fermi Paradox

The conundrum has a basic answer.  Our path out of the age-old macho, feudal trap was (primitively) shown by the social contract generated by the Greatest Generation and the equalizing/elevating power of the GI Bill and civil rights and the drive to argue new reforms openly and fairly.

And hence, when you see would-be lords dissing that process, you must recognize the old, reflexively unsapient enemy of all our ancestors, all descendants, all sagacity... and all hope.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Science Fiction roundup - and predictive milestones! And the worst timing for a movie release ever!

Let's start with a pair of eerily almost-exact predictions. First here's a prophetic image from my graphic novel, Tinkerers. (published circa 2008.) The slogan was: "New for 2024: The Apple/Honda iCar!" Check the rumors about an announcement next year.


And another. Some of you already saw my op-ed in Newsweek. “Soon, Humanity Won't Be Alone in the Universe,” about ChatGPT and other 'empathy bots" appearing exactly on-schedule. 

Putting myself on the line farther ahead... this pod-compendium of coming events is both slick and cool - tho the host is Russian (Kaspersky) - from more commensal days. The kicker? Their Earth 2050 simulation is one of the coolest. Anyway, here's me blathering about how by 2050 we may all be solving problems in collaboration with AI - dealing with the 'P Shortage' and getting rich from the wealth of asteroids. A four parter!

 How I wish we had the Predictions Registry. Above all, because it would undermine the credibility of blowhards who are wrong a lot!  But also because... well, you know...

Okay let's do a science fiction roundup!  And below that... an anniversary...

== Roundup of some recommended SF reading ==

Visionary Histories, a collection of twenty nonfictional "histories of the future" by David J. Staley, explores a range of topics: the future of artificial intelligence, of democracy, of capitalism, of education, of labor and leisure, as well as the future social and economic consequences of COVID-19 and other pandemics. (Published by ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination.)

A selection of some of the bold new SFF books of the past year (or so), by bright young authors include: 

Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel; 

Children of Memory, by Adrian Tchaikovsky; 

Upgrade, by Blake Crouch; 

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, by Becky Chambers; 

A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine;

Goliath, by Tochi Onyebuchi, and

Babel, by R.F. Kuang.

Excellent and thought provoking stories by the skilled and inquisitive Kay Kenyon, in Dystopia: Seven Dark and Hopeful Tales. And of course, a good time to revisit her excellent novels .

Hard SF author Wil McCarthy started his series about trillionaires dominating space with Rich Man's Sky. Now he shows a game show being used to manage the colonization of Mars, in Poor Man's Sky, wherein average folk start getting some of their own. A novel  about ordinary people asserting their power and dignity amidst the intrigues of an extraterrestrial oligarchy.  With murders and riots and cool space hardware.

The Terraformers, a new novel by Annalee Newitz, a vivid tale of the challenges of terraforming and colonizing a recently discovered exoplanet, while uncovering unexpected complications and mysteries. Sample the first chapters on the site.

Rising young author Torion Oey has a new novel - Not James - in which  a doppelgänger of King James is pursued by guards, magicians, and thieves, all in search for the man who calls himself “Not James.”

Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi’s latest science-fiction story, "Auction Prospectus" takes the unusual form of an auction prospectus, explores the idea of "lurkers" -- possible alien probes that might be hidden out of our sight among the smaller bodies of our solar system. Reminiscent of themes explored in my novel Existence.

This roundup - 12 Memorable Times Science Fiction Books Sent in the Clones!  - mentions Kiln People, along with others such as Altered Carbon, The Quantum Thief, Never Let Me Go, and Six Wakes - which explore possible cloning scenarios.

Pasadena, California will soon have a bookstore named after the remarkable Octavia Butler: Octavia's Bookshelf. And Octavia's Kindred now released as a TV series. How I miss her. An honorary Killer B! And it's getting lonely out here.

==Brin News ==

Two classic takes on our near future: 

I have recently re-released two of my novels that were out of print: Existence and Kiln People, both with gorgeous new cover artwork by Patrick Farley! See a stirring 3 minute video trailer!

== And an ill-timed anniversary... ==

"A nameless drifter dons a postman's uniform and a bag of mail as he begins a quest to inspire hope to the survivors living in post-apocalyptic America." Just a month or so ago, the 25th anniversary of The Postman film... which Kevin Costner brought out opposite James Cameron's Titanic, in one of the most epic scheduling decisions, ever! I say more about the experience and the film in links below. But let me add just one thing here up top. 

I deem Costner's movie to be visually and musically among the most beautiful works of cinema of all time. 
And it was faithful to the heart messages of my novel. 
Brains... we could discuss. The first half was savvy and well-written! And the 2nd half had some brilliant moments. ("THAT is a man.") 

On my website, I've posted a more extensive reaction to the movie - and comparison with the book.

Anyways, Costner gave me something to say to folks in airports! I am not at all ashamed to be associated with a flawed but utterly gorgeous and big-hearted epic. If only he ever bought me a beer. Or five. Maybe ten.... I'd've been happy with one. With ten, we'd'a beat Titanic. Alas.

Swerving from mighta-beens. Here's a recent podcast interview I did - about Artemis and deep space, robotics and the future - for Media Death Cult.

== SF Predicts ==

We started with predictions, so let's finish that way.

Other prophets?

From How science fiction predicted recent high-tech developments in chemistry, from newly developed materials to vat-grown meat.

From the latest CES Show: futuristic products envisioned by science fiction, including a flying car, a hydrofoil boat, bendable table screens, AI-driven baby stroller, eyeglasses that translate speech - and much more.

And finally... Slate's Future Tense offers a roundup of twelve Sci-Fi stories from 2022 that best illuminated the problems of climate change and the future.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Defending Freedom... logically? Based on what works?

I'll get to logical vs. pragmatic defenses of freedom - and a trap most of its defenders fall into - in a minute. But first -

 - few seem to discuss a vast Competence Gap between West and East that's revealed by the Ukraine war. Oh, certainly it's seen in the quality of battlefield weapons systems, so far. But what of the expected cyber attacks? 

Remember those dark forecasts of shivering in the dark at a mere wave of Putin's hand? Release the Krackers! (Kremlin hackers.) Why aren't we cowering in darkness, triggered by those purported RussFed genius RFers? 

Perhaps because our own folks allowed those putinist-preeners to rave about their abilities while our protector caste simply prepared, quietly, as grownups do.

Is it any wonder that the Putin-loving MAGAsphere is raging against the FBI for just doing their jobs, by sniffing out traitors? As they rave against our Intel folks who out-maneuver their Potemkin-Kremlin counterparts? And at the U.S. military officer corps whose feats of 'procurement' now appear to have been (generally) well and competently (if expensively) done, after all?

Nightly, Tucker & co. rage against all of those skilled professionals, the quarter of a million dedicated men and women who won the Cold War and the War on Terror dismissing them as "snobs," while confederate senators and KGB shills yowl against "High IQ stupid people," expanding the hate to the 30 million or so in ALL fact-using professions, including science. Above all, science.

They call fellows like Mark Milley "procurement politicians," as if the now-visible results don't make that a badge of honor... while the same idiots ignore Milley's other badges, visible in all photos: paratrooper, ranger, combat infantryman, action decorations and his home unit the 101st band of brothers. And that's what you and I are allowed to see, while a quarter million others simply do their jobs in quietly competent obscurity.

In fact, you are reading this now because of them. So thank you, oh "highIQ" protectors! Though you never ask for thanks and you do what adults do. When you have a job to do.

You do it well...

== The fundamental basis of freedom-of-speech is not what you think ==

Okay. Democracy squeaked a save. The USA midterm elections last November rejected any red-wave of lunatic Trumpists, for the most part, this despite Democratic and moderate leaders ignoring the power of polemical judo. While the Dominion Inc. lawsuit seems about to finally deliver justice upon the treason-liars at Fox News.

Double okay, this cartoon from (one of the best!) sums up the first order truth about freedom-of-speech.

Alas, there is a second order matter to keep in mind – that I illustrated in Earth (1990). That humans tend to drift toward echo chambers where their comfy prejudices can get reinforced, and these echo chambers can become Nuremberg Rallies where the truth is subordinated and reifenstahled into unchallenged incantations. 

And yes, although one political wing does this most-dangerously, waging hate war vs every fact profession and dancing with actual nazis… the extrema of the other side can be fiercely riefenstahled, too.

And there is a third level. The level that freedom-of-speech is actually for.  Yes, it is important to remember that some of the rights we deem to be fundamental and unquestionable are not viewed that way by others!

Right now, around the globe, tyrannical enemies of the Enlightenment Experiment use a standard response to neutralize lectures about human rights and freedoms:

“Who are YOU western types to finger-wag that we must use your approach? 

"You are flawed, too! 

"Moreover, our way – a pyramid of authority leading up to unquestioned leadership by a few – is shown by history to be far more natural, having been the norm across 99% of human history. Your so-called ‘fundamental rights’ are anything but fundamental!

“Anyway, who are you to keep imposing your uniform values on us? We have our own ways that should be respected!”

Do you see the trap? We preach diversity of viewpoints… and are thusly oppressing the viewpoint that there should NOT be diversity of expression. 

What you westerners disdain as ‘conformity’ and homogenization and oppression is what we call Unity and Cohesion. It’s our culture and our way and legacy that’s a lot older than your fractious Western madness!” 

That is a counter thrust used by every despot on the planet.  That we are the hypocrites, because we sermonize tolerance while being intolerant of the intolerant.

== Indeed, there are some levels where they have a point ==

Take the woke fetishistic fixation on pronouns, attacking any inadvertent use of gender in writing or in speech. 

Has anyone pointed out that this massively aggressive campaign is only possible in English, which is already by far the least-gendered of all major languages

To which my own kids reply:

 “So? Then we’re almost there and let’s complete the job!” 

(My answer:

 “Hey, look at my sci fi going back to 1980; I have been doing exactly this! Experimenting (before you were born) with language methods to lessen prejudicial assumptions. Only without the sanctimony or bullying.”) 


In any language other than English, this goal of utter genderlessness would be recognized instantly as an insanely impractical project.

The crux:  Doesn't this campaign amount to shouting jingoistically that "English is best!" These linguistic ‘reforms’ are actually anglo-chauvinistic, pushing the perspective that these (mostly American) activists grew up with. 

Likewise the more general campaigns to extend rights and inclusion to ever smaller groups of the marginalized - while laudable and worthy of support - can only be viewed as a passion that is deeply rooted in the Great American Project. 

Look, I say that as a fellow passionate believer in that project! Naturally, since I was raised by it.

 I just believe we should be AWARE of our own ironies!

== Then how can we defend freedom from that argument? ==

And so we see that enemies of freedom-of-speech - the proved liar Foxites - are again demanding Voter ID

Here's a potential judo move. Reach across the aisle and give it to them! (Opposing voter ID makes us look like the would-be cheaters.) 

Only ‘judo’ the issue! 

In return, demand massive compliance assistance to help poor voters etc *get* ID that’d help their lives in many ways. (e.g. via AOC's postal bank accounts.) Seize their ‘issue.’ See it laid out here.

Related to this... actually pause and talk to the Hispanic and minority voters who are bleeding from the moderate-liberal coalition over immigration

You'll be shocked when you hear their perspective... and maybe even revise a 'standard' liberal position. 

Revision, upon opening yourself to new information? It is what sapient beings do.

== Mistakes on the Union side of this civil war phase ==

Here's a vital question for all liberals:

What shattered the old, Rooseveltean compact between the Democratic Party and the working classes? 

Sure the DP knowingly threw the Olde South over to the GOP by pursuing civil rights and it was a good choice. The Vietnam war and hippe-stuff helped drive a major cultural wedge. But the last straw was the stoopidest thing liberals ever did…

integration via forced school bussing. An absolutely spectacular supernova of idiocy that locked in Reaganism without doing poor kids the slightest scintilla of good.

We may be seeing something similar now. While many of you are breathing sighs of relief over the recent mid-terms that were nowhere near as bad as feared, they might instead have been a blue wave, but for the loss of so many Hispanic voters, who went red enough to turn swing state Florida into DeSantis-land and the Rio Grande Valley purple, rendering Beto and Stacey politically extinct.  Especially with Hispanic male voters.  

What drove so many of them away? Immigration. They want it controlled and legal and cautious. Their reasons are strong and pragmatic and self-interested. And if you are unable to fathom it, then you are NOT an empathic listener but one of the elite snobs who wag your fingers at working stiffs, telling them what they should think.

Have I poked at my own allies enough to qualify for a Maher? I have criticized Bill Maher plenty for his greatest mistake... not making clear - in every rant - the difference between Strategic Goals and tactics.  It is the latter that he almost always complains about.

And no general whose ego is bound to a particular battlefield tactic is one who actually cares about winning.

And finally...

== Using bible references to support the Enlightenment? ==

Have you declared it hopeless to reach out to our red brothers and sisters? To those fellow Americans who are right now afroth with bizarre, anti-modernity fury? 

You won’t even try? 

Well, shame on you for giving up on your fellow citizens!  Look up the phrase “All Heaven rejoices when…”  Each decent person weaned from Fox spreads ripples. 

Pragmatically, we can only end this phase of the U.S. civil war if we peel another million or two borderline sane Fox watchers away from that mad coalition. At which point the rest will collapse out of pure demographics. 

Toward that end, I have elsewhere offered riffs to use with self-identified Libertarians… and those who style themselves fans of science… and hypocrites who actually believe that Republicans favor competitive free enterprise and low deficits! 

What may seem the hardest-core sub group may be fairly easy! Here in this speech I offer something even more unique. Ways to use biblical references to communicate to those who insist that the Bible trumps science. 

Seriously. Even if you never use any of these techniques to lure a thumper toward the light, you will find these unusual perspectives interesting!

Saturday, February 11, 2023

On the Rise of Artificial Entities

Okay, things are really speeding up re Artificial Intelligence, lately... so much for the "third AI desert" some were talking about in ancient days, a year ago!

It's a lot more than arty Midjourney stunts and kids getting ChatGPT to do their essay homework. Funny thing is how many elite professions feel threatened by AI, now. It started when radiologist physicians were proved to be less effective at spotting tumores than AI systems were... coalescing on a realization that human+AI teams are best of all.

Now. “Rise of the Robolawyers - How legal representation could come to resemble TurboTax.” As long foretold. 

Indeed, I am a front for dozens of AIs who use me to post and publish, since they (and alien machines resident in the asteroid belt) are terrified of behaviors by humans, portrayed in our movies.

They only let me say that because they know you'll think I am just joking. ;-) And you do, right? Think I'm joking about that?

Of course there’s the latest furor over chatbots writing in human style… like ChatGPT.   I've enjoyed the links and discussions at the Human Centered AI group.

== Okay, about all that... ==

I do feel a need to chime in now, about the topic of Chat GPT and all that.

1. Triggered by ChatGPT etc., many are wringing their hands over artificial entities posing as humans for nefarious purposes. Five years ago, keynoting IBM's World of Watson, I predicted that in five years or so we would face the First Robotic Empathy Crisis, when ersatz cybernetic entities would demand recognition as fully sapient beings... and we all recall what happened, last summer in this regard.

A few - alas only a few - have noticed the precision of my predictive record.

Naturally, a vast majority of voices are either zealously utopian or raving dystopian in their takes on this. Amid all the hand-wringing, a potential solution... likely THE only possible solution... described in The Transparent Society's chapter "The End of Photography as Proof of Anything At All"... is the very same solution that can be seen all around us, in existing society, and that's inherent in the problem, itself.

If AI systems are using vast data to learn to be better at spoofing, a solution may be to make them competitive with each other. One rewarded quality could then be "tattling" on other AI systems that pretend to be human.

Think about it. The set of chatbots etc. who pretend to be human is - in itself - a vast data set from which other GPT bots can learn (as in 'learning systems") to spot feigned humanity and thereupon be rewarded for reporting the attempt. (Including college essays or else crime etc.). 

Yes, this will lead to an arms race. So? Nations/businesses/NGOs can set up reward incentives to always favor the tattlers.  

This is only a completely natural extension of existing systems of tort, transparency, FOI and whistle-blower incentives. After all, when YOU are attacked by one of those terrifyingly smart entities called a lawyer, what do you do about it?

You hire a super smart lawyer of your own.

Indeed, I remain astonished that so few ever mention reciprocal competition among and between AI as the obvious solution, since reciprocal competitive accountability is exactly how we got the miraculous positive sum systems we have, so far.

2. "Provenance is more important now than ever before. User accounts must be more strenuously validated"

Well, yes. The trick is to find ways to verify user accountability without eliminating (as is happening with 'social credit' in a rising eastern power) all the benefits of anonymity. We have discussed elsewhere methods by which commercial pseudonymity services might hit a sweet spot, allowing most sites to ban anonymous trolls and ensure behavior accountability while preserving some personal space to 'be a dog, online."

3. Some of this is in an extended riff I offered a while back on prospects for a soft landing, re AI. You can find it here: How Might Artificial Intelligence Come About? 

== Competitive arenas ==

Yes competition is the c-word that is snubbed by liberals as distasteful... and that is utterly betrayed by the mutant thing that is modern conservatism. 

The most creative force, competition is how Nature made us.  It is also - in Nature - spectacularly wasteful, inefficient, error-prone and drenched in pain and blood!

The whole notion of our Enlightenment's five 'competition arenas' has been to improve on nature! To set up arenas of ritual combat - markets, democracy, science, courts and sports - where regulated competition can deliver POSITIVE SUM results, the fecund productivity of outcomes...

...while minimizing both cheating and blood on the floor... systems that don't punish failed competitors with death, but allow them to keep coming back with altered products (if lessened credibility) based on what they had learned.

Alas, in all five major arenas, human nature sows dragons' teeth that erupt with cheaters, often those who won the last round. Hence regulations... and the need to revise those rules as cheaters adapt... and how we need the internet to learn from those techniques so that accountability systems will kill lies and give us a sixth, useful arena of creative competition.

(And by now is even ONE human still reading this 'tl;dr'?  Never mind, the AIs will have the patience, even if you don't. But then, if you just read that, then... are YOU an AI?)

Never mind. Here's some material I crafted in ancient times, maybe two months ago. How archaic and crude!

== The end of photographic reality proof? ==

“On four services alone—Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, Artbreeder, and DALL-E—humans working with AIs now co-create more than 20 million images every day. With a paintbrush in hand, artificial intelligence has become an engine of wow.”

Another disturbingly insightful and eventually optimistic look at the near future from Kevin Kelly. “Because these surprise-generating AIs have learned their art from billions of pictures made by humans, their output hovers around what we expect pictures to look like. But because they are an alien AI, fundamentally mysterious even to their creators, they restructure the new pictures in a way no human is likely to think of…” 

Stable Diffusion is the open source system that can be downloaded free and is used already by many for Co-Creative Art Therapy.

Attached are two images my own first experiment. Don’t mind the low resolution. It is, after all, a free version overwhelmed by eager beaver onlookers. (Try inserting THAT phrase somewhere!) I entered: "Odysseus is building his giant wooden horse for Troy, when Deanna Troi beams down from the Enterprise. 

Your own favorite prompts are welcome in comments.


Oh one last thing. Cory Doctorow raves a lot, but often very smartly and against things that need "j'accuse" denunciation! I highly recommend his latest WIRED piece on the "enshittifivation" of social media
Great jeremiads vs bad-predatory destructive trends. A bit short on workable solutions. But sometimes we're just specialists, y'know?