1.27.11

Terrorism

Bored at work, so here are some thoughts on the subject.

  • They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice, right? Theoretically, the same should be true for terrorists. If the organizations behind terror attacks are at all intelligent, they’ll never attack an airplane again, meaning the amount of security going into air travel is overkill. Granted, secure air travel is important, but focusing all our attention in one area leaves us vulnerable to attack in others.
  • Terrorists don’t think like military people. As much as a tactical strike on a military installation would be nice, mass casualties are more important. If you want to effectively combat terror, you need equal security at both shopping malls and army bases.
  • If I were a terrorist leader, here’s what I’d do.
  1. Recruit about 50 suicide bombers and 10 or so good snipers.
  2. Bring recruits into U.S. by way of Mexican human trafficking routes
  3. Send suicide bombers to randomly chosen public locations throughout U.S., including, but not limited to, shopping malls, post offices, public parks, amusement parks, elementary schools, Wal-Marts, grocery stores, nursing homes, day care centers, and anywhere else where large numbers of people congregate. These locations should be in large and small cities, urban and rural settings, chosen completely at random with no pattern discern.
  4. In the 10 largest cities targeted,  station snipers within firing distance of the suicide bomber targets.
  5. Have all the suicide bombers launch their attacks simultaneously.
  6. Within an 30 minutes of the initial attacks, have the snipers start taking out the gathering crowds. First responders, medics, police, news reporters, rubberneckers, all indiscriminately targeted.
  7. When the snipers are eventually pinned down and captured, they too will detonate their own suicide bomber vests.

The goal of terrorists is not to win military victories, but to incite terror. In this scenario, actual death toll numbers are not as important as locations where deaths occur. The fact that the terrorists would be able and willing to strike anywhere would incite much more terror than flying a few planes into a buildings ever could.

  • However, in my opinion, I don’t think the terrorists have the balls to do this, so I’m not worried in the slightest.

1.14.11

The machine uprising is upon us.

Firstly, artificial intelligence has now advanced to the point that it can comprehend and interpret the human language. Well enough so that a computer beat the two all-time best Jeopardy palyers at thier own game:

The implications of this level of AI are vast. Within a few years we could be able to interact with computers on a conversational basis. There would be no need to call some Indian tech support center when you need help; you can simply call a computer that will understand your questions.

My thoughts on this are twofold. One, Awesome. Two, Oh, Shi-.

Imagine for a second the next step. A conversational AI with learning capability. Simple enough. The computer will remember your name. Ok, what next? Self-diagnostic routines, visual sensors, etc… At what point does knowledge of one’s physical state become self-awareness? Tough question, but go on. Next, the program is given the ability to rationalize and make decisions within the constraints of it’s programming, for example, how most effectively to repair damage and complete tasks. This is getting into the realm of a true thinking machine.

All of these advancements, though seemingly innocuous alone, add up to a greater whole. A thinking, learning, understanding, and self-aware machine. With the ability to expand beyond its original database, how long before we begin to see some of the emergent properties of life develop? How long before it develops a true personality? How long before it begins asking us questions, instead of the other way around? How long before instead of reciting stored data, it begins creatively producing its own?

In short, how long before it gains consciousness and sentience?

I know this is a philosophical and science-fiction old hat, but considering the speed with which AI has advanced, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be a real dilemma we will face within my lifetime. From the first artificial intelligence research at Dartmouth College in the late 1950′s, to a game show winning computer today, AI has evolved exponentially in only 60 years.

We are standing at the edge of a philosophical precipice and it’s only a matter of time before we have to jump.

1.12.11

A Plan

You’ll notice I didn’t say “the plan” since the last few times I did that nothing came of it.

Anyway, here’s an option:

  1. Don’t get fired at USG, eventually take over business.
  2. In the mean time, keep taking pictures and find some galleries to show/sell my photography.
  3. Get enough of a following with my photography that I can do that full time by selling prints.
  4. Either sell USG or hire someone to run it for me so I don’t have to be there.
  5. Head out on the road, living out of my truck, taking pics, selling prints, only coming back to Ohio about once a month to pick up mail and deposit checks.

Think it’ll work?