Closing Thought–20Sep17

For 40 years I have been bad mouthing so-called think tanks….these institutions are there tom help formulate policy….there a conserv ones as well as liberal ones and even some that claim to be independent.

MY dislike for them comes from when I was working for one after college…..we were given the conclusion they want and we were to analyze and come up with policy the fit the conclusion.

I think they are worthless waste of time…..any way I recently read a good piece that asked if “think tanks were doomed?”

In 2015, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the president and CEO of the New America Foundation co-authored an ambitious manifesto about the future of the D.C. think tank that emphasized the need for civic action. “The Progressive Era model of think tanks as extensions of technocratic governance is no longer sufficient to make meaningful, large-scale progress in resolving public problems,” Slaughter argued. Instead, she suggested, “pre-partisan” efforts at civic enterprise were necessary for ideas to get traction “in the hyper-partisan, pay-for-play environment of Washington policy development.” She acknowledged that her undertaking was “an ambitious project—nothing short of rethinking the relationship between the people who make public policy and the people for whom they make it,” but New America was poised for the challenge.

Source: Are Think Tanks Doomed? – POLITICO Magazine

Too much cash involved for them to disappear…but they could be better run.

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Aging Sucks!

Another weekend begins and I have been dealing with lots of issues so a couple of days away from the “news crawler” would be nothing but a good deal.

There is an ad on TV these days about sending in your spit so they can analyze your ‘telemeres”…it is an aging thing…..and now some research has been done along those lines…..

To err is human—our own cells do it all the time. But new research suggests that when it comes to aging, there may be a workaround. Scientists report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that they triggered cells to produce the protein telomerase, which lengthens the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes. (Telomeres shorten as we age.) The scientists used cells taken from 17 children with the rare genetic condition progeria, which causes them to age fast and typically die in their teens. Before the therapy, the kids’ cells would “multiply very poorly and then die,” Cooke tells Vice. After delivering RNA right into the cells to spur the production of telomerase, they saw a “dramatic improvement” as cells “proliferated normally.”

The study is small and the research is young, and many experts are highly skeptical. One professor of medical genetics at the University of British Columbia goes so far as to call attempts at telomere lengthening “snake oil,” and says that while telomeres shorten as we age, the correlation isn’t perfect and doesn’t necessarily signal good health or longevity. Plus, there may be at least one evolutionary benefit to telomeres shrinking over time; when cells become too short, they stop dividing and die. At least in the case of cancerous cells, that’s a defense mechanism. Meanwhile, a study out of New King’s College London published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology finds that bipolar disorder may shorten telomeres faster, while patients treated with lithium appear to reverse that effect.

They say another sign of old age is when we start talking to ourselves……my grandfather once said…”when you talk to yourself you talk to a better class of people”…..

Believe it or not….but there has been some research done in this field…..

Talking to yourself doesn’t mean you’re crazy. In fact, the habit might be downright smart. That’s the takeaway from a new study in Scientific Reports, which involved two separate experiments. In the first, researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan monitored the brain activity of 29 students who were asked to review neutral and disturbing images and talk about how they felt while referring to themselves in the first and third persons, reports Today. In the second, researchers asked 50 participants to internally reflect on painful experiences in the same way. In both cases, “third person self-talk” allowed participants to better regulate their emotions to relieve stress, researchers say. “It kind of switches you to a different mode of experiencing negative emotions when you use your name rather than the word, ‘I,'” says the lead researcher.

Indeed, when students were met with disturbing images, activity in the regions of the brain involving emotions decreased within one second of third person self-talk, reports Newsweek. Both experiments also showed referring to oneself in the third person required no more effort than referring to oneself in the first person and much less effort than other forms of emotion regulation, like positive thinking. With third person self-talk, “it’s like you’re viewing [a situation] from an outsider perspective” and gaining “a tiny bit of psychological distance,” researcher Jason Moser explains, per a release. “It really does help.” An example, he says, would be to tell yourself, “Jason is really scared” and explain why during a stress-inducing situation. Moser even says psychologists should recommend it for those struggling with anxiety and stress. (Hearing voices might not be bad, either.)

This old fart is going to have some snacks and wine…..see you guys tomorrow….chuq

MKUltra

40 years ago the CIA project named MKUltra was exposed to the world…experiments in mind control…..

“Project MKUltra” was the name given to an illegal program of human experimentation conducted by the US Central Intelligence Agency, which investigated mind control. The 1975 Church Committee hearings exposed the operation – and on July 20, 1977 a Freedom of Information Act request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to it.

Below is an article in Sputnik International a Russian government publication….that aside it is a pretty good write on the program in question….I am sure that it is not printed as an FYI piece but rather as an embarrassment to the US government……keep that in mind as you read the piece…..

The origins of MKUltra lie in 1945, and Operation Paperclip — the secret transfer of top Nazi scientists to the US. Armed with extensive documentation on unethical Nazi human experimentation, including research into mind control, a clutch of military programs related to mental manipulation and behavioral modification were launched — including Projects CHATTER, BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE.

Headed by former chemist Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, MKUltra began in April 1953 on the orders of then-CIA Director Allen Welsh Dulles

Source: July 20, 1977: CIA Mind Control Project MKUltra Docs Released for First Time – Sputnik International

Closing Thought–21Jun17

I, Robot!

Before I begin I would like to report that TS Cindy is dumping lots of rain and a bit of wind but nothing too bad…..the local rivers will flood in the next day or so but they leave their banks if some one flushes a toilet upstream….the garden is taking a beating it may not return……oh well…..such is the life in the tropics.

Onto more important things…….

Remember the 3 Laws of Robotics?

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

There has been many leaps forward in AI research……some thought it was about time for some “laws”…….so at a recent meeting of the minds some goals and values and principles were set forth……

1) Research Goal: The goal of AI research should be to create not undirected intelligence, but beneficial intelligence.

2) Research Funding: Investments in AI should be accompanied by funding for research on ensuring its beneficial use, including thorny questions in computer science, economics, law, ethics, and social studies, such as:

  • How can we make future AI systems highly robust, so that they do what we want without malfunctioning or getting hacked?
  • How can we grow our prosperity through automation while maintaining people’s resources and purpose?
  • How can we update our legal systems to be more fair and efficient, to keep pace with AI, and to manage the risks associated with AI?
  • What set of values should AI be aligned with, and what legal and ethical status should it have?

3) Science-Policy Link: There should be constructive and healthy exchange between AI researchers and policy-makers.

4) Research Culture: A culture of cooperation, trust, and transparency should be fostered among researchers and developers of AI.

5) Race Avoidance: Teams developing AI systems should actively cooperate to avoid corner-cutting on safety standards

Source: AI Principles – Future of Life Institute

Will this make the science better or just a way to shut critics up?

Maybe a special session should be called to discuss the ethics of AI….I am sure somewhere the subject of morality will rear its head.

BTW….any tech types that have a plan or an idea about this subject please share……

That is it from me for the day…..time for a snack and a beer….and watch it rain…..be well, be safe….chuq

Closing Thought–19Jun17

A magical day in the garden…..serene and soothing……and one f*cking weed that is a bitch……..

Disclaimer:  I am NO way suggesting that anyone should attempt to partake in illegal drug use…..this is solely an FYI post.

I admit it….back in the 60’s I was a bit of a Hippie and yes I tried a wide array of illegal drugs…..weed, uppers, downers and acid but the best of the lot was the tea made from those mushrooms that grow in cow crap.

Now that weed is slowly becoming legal there is a turn to more “daring” drugs….the Magic ‘Shrooms…..and guess what?  They are safer than you think….or so says some research……

A massive drug survey has labeled hallucinogenic mushrooms as the safest recreational drug in the world—though ensuring you’re consuming a psychedelic variety of fungi, rather than some poisonous version, is rather important. This year’s Global Drug Survey, with 120,000 participants in 50 countries, found that 0.2% of more than 12,000 people who reported taking magic mushrooms in 2016 ended up in the emergency room, per the Guardian. That’s compared to 0.6% of cannabis users, 1% of LSD and cocaine users, 1.2% of people who took MDMA or ecstasy, 1.3% of alcohol consumers, 3% of people who took synthetic marijuana or “spice,” and nearly 5% of people who took methamphetamine, labeled the most dangerous recreational drug.

Drugs like LSD are more potent than magic mushrooms, so “it’s easy to take too much and have an experience beyond the one you were expecting,” says survey founder Adam Winstock. That’s why users should “always take a tiny dose to start.” But in the case of magic mushrooms, “death from toxicity is almost unheard of, with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms,” Winstock says. Magic mushrooms, with the active ingredient psilocybin, do carry risks, though. Users may experience accidental injury, confusion, disorientation, panic attacks, and negative flashbacks, reports Inverse. Winstock adds that risk of harm increases when the drug is taken with alcohol or in “risky or unfamiliar settings.” (Here’s what happened when cancer patients took mushrooms.)

Please I am not suggesting that you run out and start doing illegal drugs….only that if for some reason you do…..try the safer of the bunch…..NEVER do as I have done!

So ends another day……ENJOY…….TTFN….chuq

This Is Your Brain Off Sleep

Another Saturday and another couple of days to enjoy the company of my better half and my daughter and granddaughter.

My internet finally returned yesterday afternoon…..posting from a cell is a pain in the ass….thank god for the stash of saved drafts it had made the day a bit easier….thanks everyone for your patience while I dealt with this minor setback.  Hopefully I will not have to deal with this again for awhile…it screwed up my schedule…I do not like that!

Summer is here (well almost) I say that because our temps are up around 100 with 98% humidity….makes outside a bit uncomfortable….this year the tomato bugs are attacking in force and constant battle to see who gets to enjoy the lovely fruit.

You are now caught up with my challenging life….LOL

How much sleep do you get?

I am an insomniac….not by choice but rather dealing with pain makes sleep elusive most of the time.

The reason I ask that question is because of a study I read about recently.

I seems that the lack of sleep will force your brain to eat itself…..huh?

Brain food isn’t always a good thing.

Sleep deprivation actually causes the brain to feed off of neurons and synaptic connections, a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience says.

In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain starts to eat itself. Yum.

Neuroscientist Michele Bellesi, from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, led a study examining the brain’s response to poor sleep habits using well-rested and overtired mice, Science Alert reported.

Source: Your brain may eat itself when you’re overtired: study | New York Post

This could explain the thinking, or the lack there of, some people that write blogs or go into politics…..their brains have been eaten away.

Please join IST tomorrow when I will update you on the latest meeting of the Psi Phi Society…..

‘Til then…have a great day and be well and safe….chuq

Closing Thought–08May17

Brain Games!

I for one think that learning is essential to life……one should continue long after leaving school….and anything that would help me learn faster and better could be a good thing.

DARPA, that super secret R&D outfit that researches weapons and other such necessities for our continuous wars,  is looking into a way to hack a human brain….that’s right…I said hack the human brain!

If the brain is just a bunch of wires and circuits, it stands to reason that those components can simply be re-wired in order to create a better, smarter us. At least, that’s the theory behind a new project from the military’s secretive DARPA research branch announced on Wednesday, which aims to enhance human cognitive ability by activating what’s known as “synaptic plasticity.”

Recent research has suggested that stimulating certain peripheral nerves—those that relay signals between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body—can enhance a person’s ability to learn, by triggering the release of neurochemicals that reorganize connections in the brain. Through its new Targeted Neuroplasticity Training program, DARPA is is funding eight different research efforts that seek to enhance learning by targeting those nerves with electrical stimulation. The end goal is to translate those findings into real-world applications that boost military training regimens—allowing a soldier, to say, soak up a new language in months instead of years. Should DARPA figure out a way to do that, its efforts will likely go on to impact all of us.

Source: DARPA Wants to Hack Your Brain to Make You Learn Faster

Plus these people are using the human brain to make robots more deadly…..

Without even realizing it, soldiers could soon be training robot sharpshooters to take their jobs.

Modern sensors can see farther than humans. Electronic circuits can shoot faster than nerves and muscles can pull a trigger. Humans still outperform armed robots in knowing what to shoot at — but new research funded in part by the Army may soon narrow that gap.

Researchers from DCS Corp and the Army Research Lab fed datasets of human brain waves into a neural network — a type of artificial intelligence — which learned to recognize when a human is making a targeting decision. They presented their paper on it at the annual Intelligent User Interface conference in Cyprus in March.

Source: The Military is Using Human Brain Waves to Teach Robots How to Shoot – Defense One

While I like these ideas….I also see it as something that can and will be abused in the name of profit…..it is only a matter of time.

Any thoughts?

Today has been a bit slow on IST…I do hope it is not because I had to cut back….this is my last of the day….I have too much research to fool around……see you guys tomorrow….chuq  out.