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The Erosion of Reality

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juni 2018

Date: 18-06-2018
Source: Scientific American By Caleb A. Scharf

The most immediate AI threat may be the distortion of truth; something we, and other species, have been doing for a long time

Let me say this upfront: I’m not convinced that ’superintelligent‘ AI are the most pressing threat from coming generations of deep learning machines. Indeed, the entire notion of superintelligence may be nothing more than a philosophical ‚what if‘ hypothesis. We simply do not know whether such a thing can in fact be made, developed, or evolved into existence – here on Earth or elsewhere in the cosmos.

Right now we don’t even have a convincing quantitative theory of intelligence. One that both tells us what we really mean by intelligence (‚oh look, it can open a can of beans‘) and tells us how intelligence actually scales with complexity, and whether or not there is a theoretical maximum.

It could be that intelligence follows an S-like curve-of-growth (a logistic function), like so many natural (and unnatural) phenomena. A logistic function or curve can start out with exponential growth, but then flattens or plateaus out as things saturate. A simple example is idealized population growth, where a rapid increase in the number of organisms plays off against the availability of food or resources, ultimately leveling off. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Banken wollen 57 Milliarden Euro sparen

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juni 2018

Das Geschäftsmodell der Banken wird durch das Eindringen branchenfremder Unternehmen auf die Probe gestellt. Die Finanzinstitute müssen sich daher etwas überlegen.

Banken und andere Finanzdienstleister zücken den Rotstift: Die Branche plant im deutschsprachigen Raum demnach Einsparungen von insgesamt 57 Milliarden Euro. Davon entfallen allein 47 Milliarden Euro auf die kommenden 18 Monate. Das geht aus einer Studie der Managementberatung Horváth & Partners hervor. Befragt wurden knapp 150 Unternehmen, wobei der größte Teil auf Privat-und Geschäftsbanken sowie Volks-und Raiffeisenbanken entfiel.

Die Finanzbranche steht laut Horváth & Partners unter anderem deshalb unter Druck, weil immer mehr branchenfremde Unternehmen klassische Bankdienste übernehmen würden. Banken müssen daher deutlich effizienter werden, wenn sie am Markt bestehen bleiben wollen, lautet das Urteil. Ein Beispiel für neue Marktteilnehmer dürfte die Solarisbank AG sein.  Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A Twenty-First-Century History of Greed

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juni 2018

Date: 15-06-2018
Source: TomDispatch By Tom Engelhardt

How the Last Superpower Was Unchained
American Wars and Self-Decline

Think of it as the all-American version of the human comedy: a great power that eternally knows what the world needs and offers copious advice with a tone deafness that would be humorous, if it weren’t so grim. If you look, you can find examples of this just about anywhere. Here, for instance, is a passage in the New York Times from a piece on the topsy-turvy Trumpian negotiations that preceded the Singapore summit. „The Americans and South Koreans,“ wrote reporter Motoko Rich, „want to persuade the North that continuing to funnel most of the country’s resources into its military and nuclear programs shortchanges its citizens‘ economic well-being. But the North does not see the two as mutually exclusive.“

Think about that for a moment. The U.S. has, of course, embarked on a trillion-dollar-plus upgrade of its already massive nuclear arsenal (and that’s before the cost overruns even begin). Its Congress and president have for years proven eager to sink at least a trillion dollars annually into the budget of the national security state (a figure that’s still rising and outpaces by far that of any other power on the planet), while its own infrastructure sags and crumbles. And yet it finds the impoverished North Koreans puzzling when they, too, follow such an extreme path.

Clueless is not a word Americans ordinarily apply to themselves as a country, a people, or a government. Yet how applicable it is.

And when it comes to cluelessness, there’s another, far stranger path the United States has been following since at least the George W. Bush moment that couldn’t be more consequential and yet somehow remains the least noticed of all. On this subject, Americans don’t have a clue. In fact, if you could put the United States on a psychiatrist’s couch, this might be the place to start. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Energy for the Common Good

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juni 2018

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, is Director of Columbia’s Center for Sustainable Development and of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. His books include The End of Poverty, Common Wealth, The Age of Sustainable Development, and, most recently, Building the New American Economy.

Aristotle famously contrasted two types of knowledge: “techne” (technical know-how) and “phronesis” (practical wisdom). Scientists and engineers have offered the techne to move rapidly from fossil fuels to zero-carbon energy; now we need the phronesis to redirect our politics and economies accordingly.

NEW YORK – The climate crisis we now face is a reflection of a broader crisis: a global confusion of means and ends. We continue to use fossil fuels because we can (means), not because they are good for us (ends).

This confusion is why Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew are spurring us to think deeply about what is truly good for humanity, and how to attain it. Earlier this month, the pope and patriarch each convened business, scientific, and academic leaders, in Rome and Athens, respectively, to hasten the transition from fossil fuels to safe renewable energy. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Pension Train Has No Seat Belts

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juni 2018

June 15, 2018

Unlike actual trains, we as individuals don’t have the option of choosing a different economy. We’re stuck with the one we have, and it’s barreling forward in a decidedly unsafe manner, on tracks designed and built a century ago. Today, we’ll review yet another way this train will probably veer off the tracks as we discuss the numerous public pension defaults I think are coming.

Last week, I described the massive global debt problem. As you read on, remember promises are a kind of debt, too. Public worker pension plans are massive promises. They don’t always show up on the state and local balance sheets correctly (or directly!), but they have a similar effect. Governments worldwide promised to pay certain workers certain benefits at certain times. That is debt, for all practical purposes. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Germany’s Merkel Reaches Out to EU Members Over Immigration Dispute

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juni 2018

Date: 18-06-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

The German chancellor sounds out other countries’ willingness to readmit migrants

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been reaching out to her European neighbors this weekend ahead of a Monday deadline to defuse an immigration dispute.

BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned to her European neighbors this weekend for help with a fierce domestic dispute over immigration that is threatening to topple her three-party coalition.

Aides to the chancellor reached out to the governments of several European Union members on the front line of the Continent’s immigration crisis to sound out their willingness to readmit migrants that try to cross from their territory into Germany, European officials said on Sunday.

Among those approached were the governments of Austria, Greece, Italy and Bulgaria, the officials said. Berlin also liaised with the European Commission, the EU’s executive body.

Ms. Merkel’s move came after her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer, handed the chancellor an ultimatum last week, warning that he could close the country’s borders to certain categories of illegal migrants as early as Monday. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Avoiding the Sino-American Technology Trap

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juni 2018

Laura Tyson, a former chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers, is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior adviser at the Rock Creek Group.

The Trump administration is right to push back against China’s violations of world trade rules, particularly with regard to advanced technologies. But US high-tech industries‘ ability to weather the challenge posed by China will depend less on curbing China’s progress, and more on supporting innovation at home.

BERKELEY – With its ambitious Made in China 2025 strategy, China has made clear its objective to secure global economic leadership in advanced technology industries. This places it in direct competition with the United States – which currently leads in those industries – in what is emerging as an undeclared but intensifying cold war over technologies with both commercial and military applications.

With its investments in such dual-use technologies, China is seeking more than to compete commercially with the US; it is also seeking greater military and geopolitical power. And it has deployed a variety of methods – including weak intellectual property (IP) protections, technology transfers as a condition for joint ventures with Chinese partners, evasion of export controls, and regulatory harassment – to acquire such technologies from the US and other trading partners. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Euroreform: Deutsch-französische Hörfehler

Posted by hkarner - 18. Juni 2018

Grundlegende weltanschauliche Unterschiede erschweren Berlin und Paris das Ringen um Einigkeit in der Frage, wie die Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion umgebaut werden soll.

Brüssel. Seit der Euro aus dem Ei schlüpfte und die nun 19 Mitglieder der Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion in Wohl und Wehe geldpolitisch aneinanderschmiedete, scheinen französische und deutsche Politiker ungeachtet ihrer Parteizugehörigkeit an zwei komplementären Hörfehlern zu laborieren: Die Deutschen vernehmen nur das Wort „Währungsunion“, wenn es um den Euro geht. Sprich: Budgetdisziplin, Haushaltsregeln, strikte Trennung nationaler Haftungen. Die Franzosen wiederum reden beharrlich von der „Wirtschaftsunion“, welche der Euro begründet habe. Das ziehe die Notwendigkeit von Konvergenz, Ausgleich der ökonomischen Imbalancen und gemeinsamer Umverteilungsmechanismen nach sich. So herzlich Angela Merkel und Emmanuel Macron auch miteinander umgehen: Diese Kluft trennt auch ihre Sichtweisen auf das gemeinsame Geld.

Somit ist die eintägige gemeinsame Klausur der Regierungskabinette Deutschlands und Frankreichs auf dem brandenburgischen Barockschloss Meseberg am Dienstag ein erneuter Versuch, endlich wirklich über dieselbe Sache zu reden, wenn es um die Reform der Eurozone geht. Eine gemeinsame Position für den Europäischen Rat am 28. und 29. Juni in Brüssel soll diesem Treffen entspringen. Monatelang war Berlin angesichts der verfahrenen Koalitionsverhandlungen europapolitisch gelähmt. Nun müsse es umso schneller vorangehen, hörte „Die Presse“ vorige Woche in Paris während mehrerer Gespräche mit Beratern aus den Schaltstellen des französischen Regierungsapparates fast wortgleich. „Ich hoffe, dass niemand mit einem reinen Scheinabkommen zufrieden wäre“, hieß es stellvertretend für diese französischen Erwartungen aus der Präsidentschaftskanzlei. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control?

Posted by hkarner - 18. Juni 2018

Date: 17-06-2018
Source: The Guardian by James Bridle

Technology is starting to behave in intelligent and unpredictable ways that even its creators don’t understand. As machines increasingly shape global events, how can we regain control?

Something strange has happened to our way of thinking – and as a result, even stranger things are happening to the world. We have come to believe that everything is computable and can be resolved by the application of new technologies. But these technologies are not neutral facilitators: they embody our politics and biases, they extend beyond the boundaries of nations and legal jurisdictions and increasingly exceed the understanding of even their creators. As a result, we understand less and less about the world as these powerful technologies assume more control over our everyday lives.

Across the sciences and society, in politics and education, in warfare and commerce, new technologies are not merely augmenting our abilities, they are actively shaping and directing them, for better and for worse. If we do not understand how complex technologies function then their potential is more easily captured by selfish elites and corporations. The results of this can be seen all around us. There is a causal relationship between the complex opacity of the systems we encounter every day and global issues of inequality, violence, populism and fundamentalism. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Our Infant Information Revolution

Posted by hkarner - 18. Juni 2018

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former US assistant secretary of defense and chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, is University Professor at Harvard University. He is the author of Is the American Century Over?

In the middle of the twentieth century, people feared that advances in computers and communications would lead to the type of centralized control depicted in George Orwell’s 1984. Today, billions of people have eagerly put Big Brother in their pockets.

CAMBRIDGE – It is frequently said that we are experiencing an information revolution. But what does that mean, and where is the revolution taking us?

Information revolutions are not new. In 1439, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press launched the era of mass communication. Our current revolution, which began in Silicon Valley in the 1960s, is bound up with Moore’s Law: the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles every couple of years.

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, computing power cost one-thousandth of what it did in the early 1970s. Now the Internet connects almost everything. In mid-1993, there were about 130 websites in the world; by 2000, that number had surpassed 15 million. Today, more than 3.5 billion people are online; experts project that, by 2020, the “Internet of Things” will connect 20 billion devices. Our information revolution is still in its infancy.

The key characteristic of the current revolution is not the speed of communications; instantaneous communication by telegraph dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. The crucial change is the enormous reduction in the cost of transmitting and storing information. If the price of an automobile had declined as rapidly as the price of computing power, one could buy a car today for the same price as a cheap lunch. When a technology’s price declines so rapidly, it becomes widely accessible, and barriers to entry fall. For all practical purposes, the amount of information that can be transmitted worldwide is virtually infinite.

The cost of information storage has also declined dramatically, enabling our current era of big data. Information that once would fill a warehouse now fits in your shirt pocket. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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