Friday, September 27, 2019

Nationalism and the World

Everybody on this planet agrees that they should be proud of their Country. This kind of pride, to everyone, would seem like, 'Motherhood'.

However, History has shown, often, otherwise. Humans are, by their nature, competitive animals. What we want, we want to get, and keep.

We have seen many situations where Countries/States have united for a perceived benefit. The Prussian states did it under Bismark. The Italian states did under Victor Emanual in 1848. Europe has tried it with the EU including the UK. The UK is still a 'Union'...for now.

Canada is a Confederation but Quebec is still straining at the leash. Nationists argue for freedom as their marching call...they want autonomy within their boundaries. But today is all this, always, advisable?

We are faced with trade wars which affect individual economies. We have worldwide conflicts as usual and now we have the threat of devastating Climate Change.

 I say we cannot afford to propagate Nationalism much further. We are increasingly seeing a trend toward the breakdown of Unity in great blocks of our world. This is only increasing conflict. There would seem no way out of this. We abhor the idea of one Country taking over the whole world and imposing world Government benign or likely otherwise. But we cannot keep repeating this competitive drive toward conflict.

We have copious amounts of technologies to help us solve Climate Change. But with our present world political structure, the use of it is very inefficient. There are even some Countries who do not believe in Climate Change because their incumbent misguided leaders do not. Indeed, some might say we are 'screwed'.

In short, I think we should start to turn our backs on the concept of Nationalism and move toward a positive Global approach for all the good reasons! 'Pride' is one thing, ' Fall' is another!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Influence of the Media on World affairs

I read the news and opinions every day on my various devices....alas, now very rarely on hard copy.

Media has our 'ears' or rather our 'eyes'. We have our favourites...whether it be the Guardian of the UK, the New York times, etc. Yes, it includes television stations too. Nevertheless, we are led by the trends, agendas, and policies of each.

Many have 'Opinion' sections which we read and decide our individual stances for the day. We go to work or the equivalent, and, as eloquently as we can, try to voice our opinions...often followed by arguments raging from polite and benign to vicious and vitriolic. 

Election time comes along and we decide how we might have a chance at changing the course of world affairs. Some of us will have thought it out in the light of our experience which may be wide or narrow. Hey, this is how our Democracy works...right!?

However, I do not think this that this serves Democracy particularly well..but what does? We are truly led by the sophistication of the media, the slick graphics, and the anchor team's personalities. 

The journalistic training of the writers results in the heaping of 'snow' on everyone. We can all read and watch; watch, but we are still doe in their hands.

We must all be aware of this and beware. Do as much research on every issue that comes up before action. 

Politicians are a special breed and the Media has become their faithful servant.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Some brief questions about Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In our world today we have systems called Governments. We say that there are Democratic Governments and there are Dictatorships.
We all know that Democracy in its purest form is a Utopia. A benevolent Dictatorship is also a Utopia.  All governments boast 'controls' which supposedly are designed for the efficient running of each respective system. Invariably there are flaws involving efficiency, civil rights, and ethical management generally. And the old adage: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" comes to mind.

So what can we do? Well, there is a concept called "Artificial Intelligence" or a.k.a. "AI". This has arisen from Cyber-Science which now forms an integral, indispensable part of life on this planet for most of its inhabitants.

This branch of science very much depends on 'algorithms'. In everyday terms, these are mathematical rules/formulae which lead to desired outcomes or should do. AI depends on algorithms which are embedded in such a way as to ensure a degree of learning and also creativity of the specific system.

In short, an AI unit is a Computer Plus; one which is capable of learning and performing creative actions based on its learning. Such would be like a 'brain' in a box but made of inanimate materials. Of course, to physically act, such a box would need appendages and tools to manipulate its environment in any effective way.

A line of progressive technological complexity could be seen as the following: abacus- calculator-computer-AI unit. This could stop here but if we give the unit tools, sufficient processing powers and the ability to replicate its parts (given that it is provided with the materials) we have something quite awesome!

The learning ability and the end capabilities merely depend on the algorithms built in the design. So it would seem that we would still have control over the progression. The key to all of this is: Who feeds in the algorithms and other design parameters?

It is my opinion that the dangers of AI are inherent in who is producing and setting the limitations on the degree of autonomy, learning capability, and creativity of the product. Will such units be run by Governments for advice? Will they be part of weaponry in conflicts? Will they be used as adjuncts to human brains or other body parts? How complex will they be allowed to exist?

The human race is messing up its own planet right now. Could AI be our salvation? Will we allow ourselves to trust in the potential learning and resulting advice from these AI units to save us from our own self-destructive actions?

Who actually will ever decide a workable course of action here?

Now there is another aspect to all this...Consciousness. Protoplasmic life on this planet includes many life forms which have varying degrees of consciousness. Humans, other primates and cetaceans are right at the top of the tree in this regard. Our sense of Ethics lends respect to such beings as these; even further down the tree of life.

We are now considering the ethics which might be applied to AI now and in the future. Are such units conscious?... I think so. Personally, I would go a step further and say that consciousness is something shared with all things which can accumulate and act upon memory as a reference.

We are our memory anyway. You could scroll down and read an article I wrote on this several years ago ("We are a Dream of the Past" Nov. 2011...See side menu). AI is, as are, computers, based upon a binary switching system of zeros and ones. Protoplasmic neurotransmission relies upon sodium/potassium shifts combined with protein and steroid dynamic synaptic connections. So, similar but with different chemicals.

If we choose to use AI in a positive controlled manner it could be very useful and might lead to our ultimate salvation.  There are pros and cons but here is the rub... there is great diversity in the agendas of world Governments. How can we be ever sure that some will not grossly misuse this technology?

Yes, we should walk very carefully, and slowly, in front of this new 'vehicle' waving our proverbial red flag. Control of the potential for rogue autonomy is essential here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"Greta Thunberg’s speech on generational injustice shone a spotlight on an emerging political faultline" This refers to the ongoing dangerous progression of Climate Change today.

We have seen student protests on different 'burning' issues before...Perhaps not quite as poignant as this but it deserves a balanced comment: 

The key issue is the sustaining of momentum. All too often things fizzle out. Kids grow up, some change their outlook and some descend into complacency. Once these protesters reach voting age they MUST vote to further their aims...sadly this often does not optimally happen. We all know the scenario. Kids leave school or college and get jobs. The goal is to achieve some degree of financial stability and independence. Some soon marry and start raising a family. Because of this, the original idealism may start to fade. Voting habits may start to be tied to the policies of the employer. Sometimes the employer does not have much of a green conscience.

Yes, it is their future but they must be keenly aware of the importance of the momentum referred to above. Every generation goes through something like this. Let us all hope that this time things will unfold in a more productive fashion. The stimulation will happen to them and I do think it will spur them on. I am 73 but I care for all of them. They deserve better! 

Unfortunately, wealth and power are too top-heavy in most Countries...the slope will be very steep. And we do not have time on our hands!

Well done Greta! Very brave...very impressive.

Prime Minister Trudeau's Recent "Blackface Issue"

I am not in any way a Racist and neither is he. Indeed, he is the very least racist of all world leaders today and he demonstrated this in his recent actions regarding minorities, the visibly ethnic and refugee policies.

I found his apologies for his PAST "blackface" actions, excessive and many agreed that they were superfluous. Notwithstanding, I firmly agree that such activities are inappropriate in today's context. Even a few years ago there was not the same social conscience surrounding such behaviour. In my early youth, I have dressed up in 'the garb of the visibly ethnic' but never with conscious malign intent. Playing Cowboys and 'Indians' just doesn't cut in at the age of ten in the 1950s!

I am appalled at the 'Witch-Hunt' kind of response and coverage by the media and opposition parties on this and consider this whole thing..."Dirty Politics" to say the least.

We should be aware that it was the Conservative Party which 'unearthed' the photos very recently and timely, for them. It is interesting that the Conservative leader has referred to 'same-sex relationships' as being enacted by "dogs" or words to that effect.

In conclusion: We might also be reminded that Sir Lawrence Olivier played Othello in an epic performance during the 1960s. He was also accompanied by some of the world's greatest stage actors. Alas (to the chagrin of the 'PC' community) he was a 'white man'! In, my, and many, many, opinions, this was one of the greatest performances in the twentieth century of a great play. Should his performance now be hailed as "Racist"?