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link roundup 19



The internet was an easy sell. After all, what can be wrong with connecting likeminded people?

The problem, of course, is that we are the evolutionary product of small, highly interdependent, hunter-gatherer communities. Historically, those disposed to be permissive had no choice but to continually negotiate with those disposed to be authoritarian. Each party disliked the criticism of the other, but the daily rigors of survival forced them to get along. No longer. Only now, a mere two decades later, are we discovering the consequences of creating a society that systematically segregates permissives and authoritarians. The election of Donald Trump has, if nothing else, demonstrated the degree to which technology has transformed human social ecology in novel, potentially disastrous ways.

AI has also been an easy sell—at least so far. After all, what can be wrong with humanizing our technological environments? Imagine a world where everything is ‘user friendly,’ compliant to our most petulant wishes. What could be wrong with that?

Well, potentially everything, insofar as ‘humanizing our environments’ amounts to dehumanizing our social ecology, replacing the systems we are adapted to solve, our fellow humans, with systems possessing no evolutionary precedent whatsoever, machines designed to push our buttons in ways that optimize hidden commercial interests. Social pollution, in effect.

Pastoral/confessional power is also extended to the micro-managerial class, the bureaucratic bodies that govern modern post-industrial cosmopolitan liberalism. The need for confession becomes greater as the control apparatus (especially in the online world) encounters heretical resistance and dissent. For Moldbug, a clear example is in the rhetoric of modern progressive activists and campus student groups who demand confession of their staff and fellow students, to find the hidden roots of dangerous contrarian thought and confess to a series of intellectual and emotive crimes against their fellow colleagues and students.

To demand confession is a way of false-liberation, to construct whole apparatuses of power that deal with newer forms of transgression and categorization of pathological heresy. Such is the case of medical discourses and the various bodies created in the 19th century to govern sexuality. As Foucault notes, creating “a new verbosity of concepts and institutions” around deviant sexual impulses that require confession.14 So too does action become required in dealing with the ideological crimes that the Cathedral identifies as going against its orthodoxy. Of course this is not a conscious effort, but gradually develops out of the evolution of the system itself. Social bodies and corporations offer whole regimes to deal with transgressive heresy in thinking, from human resources departments, censorship and administration faculties, sensitivity counseling, various punishments and procedural discourses for dealing with outbursts of heresy. The multiplication of regimes and discourses for dealing with heterodox beliefs within the meta-apparatus of the Cathedral grows, and surveillance and discipline within the Cathedral produces new haecceities of open transgression and covert transgression.

Paglen, who has lived in Berlin since 2015, travels frequently to give talks about the many ways in which secrecy ‘‘nourishes the worst excesses of power,’’ as he wrote in one of his six books. He is one of art’s more unusual figures, a kind of adventurer-philosopher whose work is often conceptual and highly technical, but can also be delightfully gonzo: He learned to scuba dive in order to photograph fiber-optic internet cables snaking across the ocean floor. After being questioned in Germany for shooting classified sites, he held a contest for the best photos of ‘‘landscapes of surveillance’’ in that country. He made a cube-shaped sculpture from irradiated glass sourced from Fukushima. He sent a time capsule into deep space of images etched on a silicon disc chronicling human history — from the Lascaux cave paintings to political protests. For a series he’s including in his show opening this month at Metro Pictures gallery in New York, Paglen is examining the automation of vision itself, and the way in which the kinds of technologies used in facial recognition software, self-driving cars and social media are creating an entirely new landscape of pictures we never see, whose judgments we can’t challenge. ‘‘I don’t have fantasy projects,’’ he tells me, ‘‘because I’m stupid enough to think that you can actually do this stuff.’’

i’ve been a fan of trevor paglen for a few years now, since i first saw his 30c3 panel about photographing the hidden infrastructure of the surveillance state (highly recommended). he has a kickstarter going for his latest project.

The primary function that drove the evolution of coalitions is the amplification of the power of its members in conflicts with non-members. This function explains a number of otherwise puzzling phenomena. For example, ancestrally, if you had no coalition you were nakedly at the mercy of everyone else, so the instinct to belong to a coalition has urgency, preexisting and superseding any policy-driven basis for membership. This is why group beliefs are free to be so weird. Since coalitional programs evolved to promote the self-interest of the coalition’s membership (in dominance, status, legitimacy, resources, moral force, etc.), even coalitions whose organizing ideology originates (ostensibly) to promote human welfare often slide into the most extreme forms of oppression, in complete contradiction to the putative values of the group. Indeed, morally wrong-footing rivals is one point of ideology, and once everyone agrees on something (slavery is wrong) it ceases to be a significant moral issue because it no longer shows local rivals in a bad light. Many argue that there are more slaves in the world today than in the 19th century. Yet because one’s political rivals cannot be delegitimized by being on the wrong side of slavery, few care to be active abolitionists anymore, compared to being, say, speech police.

Moreover, to earn membership in a group you must send signals that clearly indicate that you differentially support it, compared to rival groups. Hence, optimal weighting of beliefs and communications in the individual mind will make it feel good to think and express content conforming to and flattering to one’s group’s shared beliefs and to attack and misrepresent rival groups. The more biased away from neutral truth, the better the communication functions to affirm coalitional identity, generating polarization in excess of actual policy disagreements. Communications of practical and functional truths are generally useless as differential signals, because any honest person might say them regardless of coalitional loyalty. In contrast, unusual, exaggerated beliefs—such as supernatural beliefs (e.g., god is three persons but also one person), alarmism, conspiracies, or hyperbolic comparisons—are unlikely to be said except as expressive of identity, because there is no external reality to motivate nonmembers to speak absurdities.

North and west of a line running from Trieste to St. Petersburg, social relations have long conformed to the Western European Marriage Pattern, i.e., men and women marry relatively late; many people never marry; children usually leave the nuclear family to form new households, and households of-ten have non-kin members. This pattern goes back at least to the thirteenth century and perhaps to prehistoric times. I argue that this environment of weaker kinship caused northwest Europeans to create communities based on shared moral rules, rather than shared kinship. Community members en-forced these rules by monitoring not only the behavior of other members but also their own behavior and even their own thoughts.Initially, this new mindset did not have a genetic basis. Individuals acquired it within the bounds of phenotypic plasticity. Over time, however, a genetic basis would have developed through the survival and reproduction of individuals who were better at being socially independent, at obeying universal rules, at monitoring other community members, and at self-monitoring, self-judging, and self-punishing. These psychological adaptations —- independent social orientation, universal rule adherence, affective empathy, guilt proneness -— are moderately to highly heritable. Although they are complex, they required only minor evolutionary changes to evolve out of mechanisms that were already present but limited to specific behavioral contexts. Affective empathy, for instance, is a species-wide trait but usually confined to relations with close kin, particularly between a mother and her young children. An evolutionary scenario is proposed, and two questions discussed. Are these mental traits too complex to have evolved over a span of 30 to 300 generations? Are they too altruistic to be sustainable?

no mention of hbdchick :(

This august group, this all-star team, came together in part to address the controversy that erupted after Lawrence Summers offered his thoughts, in 2005, on the causes of women’s underrepresentation on the faculty in STEM departments at top universities.

The monograph they produced is magnificent. It is an example of psychology at its best, guiding readers through multiple massive literatures, showing no trace of partisan bias or commitment to any pre-ordained conclusion. The authors find, over and over again, that the sex differences we observe often have a biological basis yet are not direct readouts of biological processes; they emerge in the course of development in interaction with social processes, norms, and stereotypes in ways that can vary across cultures and decades.

We think this paper is the most complete and authoritative statement currently available. We therefore want to bring it to the attention of all those who are interested in the Damore memo, or who are interested in improving diversity policies and the status of women in the tech industry. The full paper is available online here. But to make it even more accessible, we paste below the full text of its abstract, followed by an outline of its contents, followed by the full text of its conclusion.

Using stylometry one is able to compare texts to determine authorship of a particular work. Throughout the years Satoshi wrote thousands of posts and emails and most of which are publicly available. According to my source, the NSA was able to the use the ‘writer invariant’ method of stylometry to compare Satoshi’s ‘known’ writings with trillions of writing samples from people across the globe. By taking Satoshi’s texts and finding the 50 most common words, the NSA was able to break down his text into 5,000 word chunks and analyse each to find the frequency of those 50 words. This would result in a unique 50-number identifier for each chunk. The NSA then placed each of these numbers into a 50-dimensional space and flatten them into a plane using principal components analysis. The result is a ‘fingerprint’ for anything written by Satoshi that could easily be compared to any other writing.

in principle there’s no reason to expect that this kind of analysis hasn’t been or won’t be carried out by a non-spook entity.

Imagine a world in which every time you tied your shoes, you contributed to a process that resulted in the unintended death of thousands of people around the world. In this world, like ours, shoelaces are useful: they save time, are a little cheaper than using Velcro ties, and more convenient than wearing slip-on shoes. But when everyone ties their shoes, lots of people die, and many more suffer.

This is a strange world to imagine, but it is a lot like the world we live in. The culprit isn’t tying shoelaces, of course, but consuming factory farmed meat. Factory farms are wicked places – one of the last bastions of legally sanctioned cruelty toward animals. But more than this, they are bad for human health.

i’m mostly interested to see this coming from the right, or center, or whatever quillette calls itself. i expect this to be a major cultural campaign in the next decade.

“I feel for those guys,” said Mr. Elleman, who visited the factory repeatedly a decade ago while working on federal projects to curb weapon threats. “They don’t want to do bad things.”

Dnipro has been called the world’s fastest-shrinking city. The sprawling factory, southeast of Kiev and once a dynamo of the Cold War, is having a hard time finding customers.

American intelligence officials note that North Korea has exploited the black market in missile technology for decades, and built an infrastructure of universities, design centers and factories of its own.

It has also recruited help: In 1992, officials at a Moscow airport stopped a team of missile experts from traveling to Pyongyang.

That was only a temporary setback for North Korea. It obtained the design for the R-27, a compact missile made for Soviet submarines, created by the Makeyev Design Bureau, an industrial complex in the Ural Mountains that employed the rogue experts apprehended at the Moscow airport.

But the R-27 was complicated, and the design was difficult for the North to copy and fly successfully.

“Islamists on Islamism Today” is a new series within Brookings’s Rethinking Political Islam project. In this series, we hear directly from Islamist activists and leaders themselves, as they engage in debate with project authors and offer their own perspectives on the future of their movements. Islamists will have the opportunity to disagree (or agree) and challenge the assumptions and arguments of some of the leading scholars of political Islam, in the spirit of constructive dialogue.

there’s a ton of juicy stuff in here, particularly if you’re interested in political history of islamism across different countries; i’ve been working my way through it erratically for a few weeks.

This is how I saw things at the euphoric peak of my recent optimism. Like the transition between expansion and contraction in a universe with Ω greater than 1, evidence that the Big Bang was turning the corner toward a Big Crunch was slow to develop, but increasingly compelling as events played out. Earlier I believed there was no way to put the Internet genie back into the bottle. In this document I will provide a road map of precisely how I believe that could be done, potentially setting the stage for an authoritarian political and intellectual dark age global in scope and self-perpetuating, a disempowerment of the individual which extinguishes the very innovation and diversity of thought which have brought down so many tyrannies in the past.

One note as to the style of this document: as in my earlier Unicard paper, I will present many of the arguments using the same catch phrases, facile reasoning, and short-circuits to considered judgment which proponents of these schemes will undoubtedly use to peddle them to policy makers and the public. I use this language solely to demonstrate how compelling the arguments can be made for each individual piece of the puzzle as it is put in place, without ever revealing the ultimate picture. As with Unicard, I will doubtless be attacked by prognathous pithecanthropoid knuckle-typers who snatch sentences out of context. So be it.

This is the subtle violence of “deterrence, pacification, neutralization, control — a violence of quiet extermination,” in the words of my master Baudrillard. This is the business of politics after the passing of the political. This is a “communicational violence — the violence of the consensus and conviviality which tends to abolish” the roots of radicality itself. Transhumanism? The Singularity? The tech industry is everywhere a contractor of the state in the prevention of such gothic hypotheses.

And did Damore buck The Consensus? Recall that he was not questioning his company’s motivations or desired ends in his critique of diversity training. His memo was meant as a constructive contribution toward Google’s industrial-psychological protocols for building a better IQ shredder. Yes, I mean this in the Landian sense.

this is cody wilson, the ghost gunner guy, lol


a round-up/summary of different security tokens and keys. i have a classic yubikey, but i think i’d like to get a neo when i have some money to burn.

This course walks through the creation of a 64-bit system based on the Linux kernel. Our goal is to produce a small, sleek system well-suited for hosting containers or being employed as a virtual machine.

Because we don’t need every piece of functionality under the sun, we’re not going to include every piece of software you might find in a typical distro. This distribution is intended to be minimal.