Author Archives: jos

UCF Golden Rule UCF

Posted: August 23, 2016 at 9:32 am

The University of Central Florida is a community brought together by the tenets of the UCF Creed: Integrity, Scholarship, Community, Creativity, and Excellence. These are the values that guide our conduct, performance, and decisions. To be successful at UCF, there is an expectation that you embrace and promote these core values in everything you do as a sign of your membership in the UCF community.

Whether you are a new or continuing undergraduate, graduate or professional student at UCF, there are certain responsibilities that you must uphold as a member of our community. The Golden Rule is a compilation of policies and procedures from different university areas intended to define your rights and responsibilities as a student and provide you with a better understanding of your role as a member of the UCF community.

The Golden Rule is published once a year but can be revised at any time to reflect new and modified information deemed critical by the university. Changes will be communicated through online resources and other means, at which time the revisions will supersede published information.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) within the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services (SDES) is delegated the responsibility for reviewing, assembling, and communicating information included in The Golden Rule. Students are given the opportunity to influence the rules that they are expected to adhere through the Golden Rule Review Committee.

UCF values diversity and inclusion of all in our community. Accordingly, discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, or veterans status is prohibited by federal and/or state law. It is our policy to treat all people with dignity and respect, without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, veteran status, or political opinions and affiliations.

For more information or further clarification, please contact OSRR at 407-823-4638, visit their website, http://osrr.sdes.ucf.edu for the most current version of The Golden Rule or email them at osrr@ucf.edu.

Go Knights! Charge ON!

Maribeth Ehasz, Ph.D.

For past years’ Golden Rule Student Handbook, please see our archives page.

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UCF Golden Rule UCF

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Island Offshore – HOME

Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:17 am

Island Offshore has been chosen to speak at the ONS Technical Sessions during ONS 2016 in Stavanger. Together with Centrica we will present the Butch pilot: The industrys first riser-less coiled tubing drilling. Dont miss out! In addition we will share our thoughts about: 10 years with RLWI- What about the future? To find out more, please follow the link: http://www.ons.no/2016/?event=session-2-new-concepts-for-drilling-operations Where: Hall 6 When: Tuesday 30th August 10:00 AM #ons2016

Island Offshore has been chosen to speak at the ONS Technical Sessions during ONS 2016 in Stavanger. Together with Centrica we will present the Butch pilot: The industrys first riser-less coiled tubing drilling. Dont miss out! In addition we will share our thoughts about: 10 years with RLWI- What about the future? To find out more, please follow the link: http://www.ons.no/2016/?event=session-2-new-concepts-for-drilling-operations Where: Hall 6 When: Tuesday 30th August 10:00 AM #ons2016

15.08.16 15:50

Island Offshore, together with Centrica, are appointed finalists for the ONS Innovation Award! The two companies are nominated for developing a Riser-less coil tubing drilling system utilized to check for shallow gas at the Butch field last year. This was the first time ever in the oil and gas industry that riser-less coiled tubing drilling operations were performed. There were 58 applicants for the award and the five finalists were carefully selected by a jury. The winner will be presented at the conference session Long Term Perspective for the NCS on the second day of the ONS conference in Stavanger; Tuesday 30 August 2016 10-12 AM at the Clarion Hotel Energy. The winner will present its technology at the Technical Session ONS Innovation Award at 15.00 the same day. This session is free and open to everyone. Read more about the nomination here: http://www.ons.no/2016/news/finalists-ons-innovation-awards-techinvent-and-island-offshorecentrica/ #ons2016

Island Offshore, together with Centrica, are appointed finalists for the ONS Innovation Award! The two companies are nominated for developing a Riser-less coil tubing drilling system utilized to check for shallow gas at the Butch field last year. This was the first time ever in the oil and gas industry that riser-less coiled tubing drilling operations were performed. There were 58 applicants for the award and the five finalists were carefully selected by a jury. The winner will be presented at the conference session Long Term Perspective for the NCS on the second day of the ONS conference in Stavanger; Tuesday 30 August 2016 10-12 AM at the Clarion Hotel Energy. The winner will present its technology at the Technical Session ONS Innovation Award at 15.00 the same day. This session is free and open to everyone. Read more about the nomination here: http://www.ons.no/2016/news/finalists-ons-innovation-awards-techinvent-and-island-offshorecentrica/ #ons2016

09.08.16 15:38

Island Offshore er kra til Oil man of the year 2016, av Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)! Island Offshore vart tildelt prisen for oppbygginga av lett brnnintervensjonsteknologi (LWI) samt gjennomfringa av kveilerrsoperasjonar fr farty, og i grunngjevinga str det mellom anna: – Dette er tankar fleire operatrar har jobba med i fleire r, men ikkje klart gjennomfre. Island Offshore har satsa og gjennomfrt dette med stor suksess, og med auka tilgjenge til subseabrnnar med auka ressursutnytting som resultat. – SPE Stavanger legg til grunn ei stor grad av nytenking og satsing over fleire r. Dette hadde ikkje vore mogleg utan ei leiing og ein eigar som ser verdien av langsiktig tenking, og som har mot til satse utradisjonelt. Ein stolt administrerande direktr Hvard Ulstein var i Stavanger og tok i mot prisen i gr: – Island Offshore blitt bygd opp av drivande dyktige ingenirar, bde i Stavanger og i Ulsteinvik. Desse folka har starta tidleg, og jobba til seint p kveld. Dei har blitt gitt vide fullmakter til utvikle tenester som har gitt auka utnytting av fartya vre, og dei har levert med glans. Uttallige suksessfulle prosjekt kan vitne om det. – Det er ei stor re motta denne prisen, og ein fantastisk motivasjon til halde fram med tye grensene. Island Offshore skal halde fram med nyskaping!

Island Offshore er kra til Oil man of the year 2016, av Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)! Island Offshore vart tildelt prisen for oppbygginga av lett brnnintervensjonsteknologi (LWI) samt gjennomfringa av kveilerrsoperasjonar fr farty, og i grunngjevinga str det mellom anna: – Dette er tankar fleire operatrar har jobba med i fleire r, men ikkje klart gjennomfre. Island Offshore har satsa og gjennomfrt dette med stor suksess, og med auka tilgjenge til subseabrnnar med auka ressursutnytting som resultat. – SPE Stavanger legg til grunn ei stor grad av nytenking og satsing over fleire r. Dette hadde ikkje vore mogleg utan ei leiing og ein eigar som ser verdien av langsiktig tenking, og som har mot til satse utradisjonelt. Ein stolt administrerande direktr Hvard Ulstein var i Stavanger og tok i mot prisen i gr: – Island Offshore blitt bygd opp av drivande dyktige ingenirar, bde i Stavanger og i Ulsteinvik. Desse folka har starta tidleg, og jobba til seint p kveld. Dei har blitt gitt vide fullmakter til utvikle tenester som har gitt auka utnytting av fartya vre, og dei har levert med glans. Uttallige suksessfulle prosjekt kan vitne om det. – Det er ei stor re motta denne prisen, og ein fantastisk motivasjon til halde fram med tye grensene. Island Offshore skal halde fram med nyskaping!

28.05.16 10:09

Denne veka kan vi glede oss over plattform forsyningsfartyet Island Champion som har sikra seg to-rs kontrakt for ASCO Marine Limited! Island Champion gikk p jobb for ASCO i gr, og skal operere ut fr Aberdeen.

Denne veka kan vi glede oss over plattform forsyningsfartyet Island Champion som har sikra seg to-rs kontrakt for ASCO Marine Limited! Island Champion gikk p jobb for ASCO i gr, og skal operere ut fr Aberdeen.

21.04.16 08:35

Island Valiant og Island Constructor har sikra seg jobb p Draugen utover vren og sommaren, og frst ut er Island Valiant som skal utfre IMR-arbeid p tre brnnar no i april. Dette for frebu jobben som Island Constructor skal gjere seinare p sommaren. Sistnevnte har sikra seg tre oppdrag p feltet, og skal utfre lett brnnintervensjon, scale squeeze og IMR-arbeid p fleire brnnar. Kontraktene er signerte med A/S Norske Shell, og samla har dei ein verdi p om lag NOK 100 millionar for Island Offshore. Med dette er alle tre brnnintervensjonsfartya ute av vinteropplag: Island Wellserver og Island Frontier tok til p kontraktene sine for Statoil 1. april.

Island Valiant og Island Constructor har sikra seg jobb p Draugen utover vren og sommaren, og frst ut er Island Valiant som skal utfre IMR-arbeid p tre brnnar no i april. Dette for frebu jobben som Island Constructor skal gjere seinare p sommaren. Sistnevnte har sikra seg tre oppdrag p feltet, og skal utfre lett brnnintervensjon, scale squeeze og IMR-arbeid p fleire brnnar. Kontraktene er signerte med A/S Norske Shell, og samla har dei ein verdi p om lag NOK 100 millionar for Island Offshore. Med dette er alle tre brnnintervensjonsfartya ute av vinteropplag: Island Wellserver og Island Frontier tok til p kontraktene sine for Statoil 1. april.

06.04.16 11:22

Island Condor brillierer med lave utslepp, og viste seg vere den mest miljvennlege bten som beskte hamna i Rotterdam i 2015. Du kan lese meir her: https://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/news-and-press-releases/island-condor-cleanest-sea-going-vessel-to-ever-call-on-rotterdam

Island Condor brillierer med lave utslepp, og viste seg vere den mest miljvennlege bten som beskte hamna i Rotterdam i 2015. Du kan lese meir her: https://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/news-and-press-releases/island-condor-cleanest-sea-going-vessel-to-ever-call-on-rotterdam

08.03.16 14:51

Ein liten stemningsrapport fr Nordsjen i gr ettermiddag: Island Crusader og Island Innovator nyt siste solstrlane for dagen. Fotograf: Tor Voldsund

Ein liten stemningsrapport fr Nordsjen i gr ettermiddag: Island Crusader og Island Innovator nyt siste solstrlane for dagen. Fotograf: Tor Voldsund

12.02.16 09:59

Ei fin og viktig sak om kadetten vr Espen Skjegstad: http://maritime.no/nyheter/jeg-har-alltid-dromt-om-a-bli-styrmann/

Ei fin og viktig sak om kadetten vr Espen Skjegstad: http://maritime.no/nyheter/jeg-har-alltid-dromt-om-a-bli-styrmann/

10.02.16 08:34

I dag vart Island Offshore tildelt prisen som “rets maritime lrebedrift” for 2015! Dette er ein pris som vert tildelt ei bedrift som har utmerka seg i srs positiv retning for rekruttering av norsk maritim kompetanse, og med 56 opplringsstillingar i flten str Island Offshore fram som ein klar kandidat. Dette er langt over det behovet rederiet sjlv har for pfyll av offiserar og matrosar. – Det betyr mykje for oss motta denne prisen, og spesielt no nr markedet er s krevjande. Folka vre er vr viktigaste ressurs, og denne utnemninga reflekterer nettopp det: Sjlv om det er drlege tider, s kan vi ikkje berre gi slepp p desse unge som faktisk er framtida vr. Det har hg prioritet for oss fortsatt kunne tilby opplringsplassar, seier Hvard Ulstein, administrerande direktr i Island Offshore. P biletet ser du Training Manager Svein Magne Tenfjord saman med Nringsminister Monica Mland som delte ut prisen.

I dag vart Island Offshore tildelt prisen som “rets maritime lrebedrift” for 2015! Dette er ein pris som vert tildelt ei bedrift som har utmerka seg i srs positiv retning for rekruttering av norsk maritim kompetanse, og med 56 opplringsstillingar i flten str Island Offshore fram som ein klar kandidat. Dette er langt over det behovet rederiet sjlv har for pfyll av offiserar og matrosar. – Det betyr mykje for oss motta denne prisen, og spesielt no nr markedet er s krevjande. Folka vre er vr viktigaste ressurs, og denne utnemninga reflekterer nettopp det: Sjlv om det er drlege tider, s kan vi ikkje berre gi slepp p desse unge som faktisk er framtida vr. Det har hg prioritet for oss fortsatt kunne tilby opplringsplassar, seier Hvard Ulstein, administrerande direktr i Island Offshore. P biletet ser du Training Manager Svein Magne Tenfjord saman med Nringsminister Monica Mland som delte ut prisen.

02.02.16 12:52

Dei siste ra har Island Offshore jobba med grensesprengande pionrarbeid innan toppholsboring og bruk av ny kveilerrsteknologi fr bt. Med fleire suksessfulle prosjekt bak oss, ynskjer vi no ta det heile eit steg vidare; gjere teknologien tilgjengeleg for levande brnnar. Til brnnkontrollpakken for nybyggingsprosjektet vrt Island Navigator, skjer difor Stavangerkontoret vrt etter disiplinleiarar i flgande kategoriar: Hydraulic Systems, Subsea Control Systems, Electro Instrumentation, Structural Engineering, Main Bore Valves Du kan skje her: http://www.islandoffshore.com/people/jobs-available

Dei siste ra har Island Offshore jobba med grensesprengande pionrarbeid innan toppholsboring og bruk av ny kveilerrsteknologi fr bt. Med fleire suksessfulle prosjekt bak oss, ynskjer vi no ta det heile eit steg vidare; gjere teknologien tilgjengeleg for levande brnnar. Til brnnkontrollpakken for nybyggingsprosjektet vrt Island Navigator, skjer difor Stavangerkontoret vrt etter disiplinleiarar i flgande kategoriar: Hydraulic Systems, Subsea Control Systems, Electro Instrumentation, Structural Engineering, Main Bore Valves Du kan skje her: http://www.islandoffshore.com/people/jobs-available

17.11.15 12:49

Island Offshore skapte store overskrifter forrige veke med nyhenda om den suksessfulle boringa av pilothol p Butchfeltet. Boringa vart gjort ved hjelp av kveilerr; ei metode som ikkje har blitt brukt i offshoreindustrien fr, men som viser seg vere bde eit sikrare og billegare alternativ til tradisjonell boring med rigg. I flge oppdragsgjevar Centrica Energy har dei faktisk hatt ein kostnadsbesparelse p heile 30-50% ved bruk av teknologien vr! Legg ved link til ein av dei mange artiklane som vart skrivne om saka: http://www.tu.no/petroleum/2015/10/22/-det-er-ikke-ofte-du-ser-vare-borefolk-sveve-pa-skyer.-men-det-gjor-de-na

Island Offshore skapte store overskrifter forrige veke med nyhenda om den suksessfulle boringa av pilothol p Butchfeltet. Boringa vart gjort ved hjelp av kveilerr; ei metode som ikkje har blitt brukt i offshoreindustrien fr, men som viser seg vere bde eit sikrare og billegare alternativ til tradisjonell boring med rigg. I flge oppdragsgjevar Centrica Energy har dei faktisk hatt ein kostnadsbesparelse p heile 30-50% ved bruk av teknologien vr! Legg ved link til ein av dei mange artiklane som vart skrivne om saka: http://www.tu.no/petroleum/2015/10/22/-det-er-ikke-ofte-du-ser-vare-borefolk-sveve-pa-skyer.-men-det-gjor-de-na

27.10.15 18:40

I gr vart Island Venture sjsett ved Ulstein Verft! Skipet som er eigd i felleskap av Island Offshore og Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), er det strste offshoreskipet som nokon sinne er bygd ved verftet. Med sine 159,9 lengdemeter og 30 meters breidde ruvar den godt ved kaia i Ulsteinvik! Etter ferdigstilling skal Island Venture g til USA, der den skal markedsfrast og driftast av ECO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXHDzPQsuYM&feature=youtu.be

I gr vart Island Venture sjsett ved Ulstein Verft! Skipet som er eigd i felleskap av Island Offshore og Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), er det strste offshoreskipet som nokon sinne er bygd ved verftet. Med sine 159,9 lengdemeter og 30 meters breidde ruvar den godt ved kaia i Ulsteinvik! Etter ferdigstilling skal Island Venture g til USA, der den skal markedsfrast og driftast av ECO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXHDzPQsuYM&feature=youtu.be

26.08.15 14:54

Vi har i dag heva alle forbehold i kontrakta om bygging av Island Navigator ved Kawasaki Heavy Industries i Japan. Det 169 meter lange skipet er eit kombinert brnnintervensjons- og toppholsboringsfarty med utstyr og kapasitet til utfre ei rekkje kompliserte subsea- og brnnoperasjonar. Fartyet vert fullfinansiert gjennom japanske finansinstitusjonar og forventa leveringstidspunkt er 2018/2019.

Vi har i dag heva alle forbehold i kontrakta om bygging av Island Navigator ved Kawasaki Heavy Industries i Japan. Det 169 meter lange skipet er eit kombinert brnnintervensjons- og toppholsboringsfarty med utstyr og kapasitet til utfre ei rekkje kompliserte subsea- og brnnoperasjonar. Fartyet vert fullfinansiert gjennom japanske finansinstitusjonar og forventa leveringstidspunkt er 2018/2019.

30.06.15 14:43

Delar eit stemningsbilde fr feltet i dag: Island Patriot nyt fine sommardagar p Valhall i nydeleg ver!

Delar eit stemningsbilde fr feltet i dag: Island Patriot nyt fine sommardagar p Valhall i nydeleg ver!

16.06.15 13:50

Island Endeavour og Island Earl har ftt forlenga kontraktene sine med Peterson ut januar 2017! Dei to PSV’ane jobbar ut fr Den Helder i Nederland, og har vore ein del av Southern North Sea Pool sidan august 2008 og januar 2009.

Island Endeavour og Island Earl har ftt forlenga kontraktene sine med Peterson ut januar 2017! Dei to PSV’ane jobbar ut fr Den Helder i Nederland, og har vore ein del av Southern North Sea Pool sidan august 2008 og januar 2009.

12.06.15 09:55

Island Discoverer fekk smake vatn p kjlen for frste gong i gr, og startar snart p turen til Noreg og Vard Brevik for ferdigstilling. Island Discoverer er det sjette ssterskipet i rekkja av UT 717 design i Island Offshore-flten.

Island Discoverer fekk smake vatn p kjlen for frste gong i gr, og startar snart p turen til Noreg og Vard Brevik for ferdigstilling. Island Discoverer er det sjette ssterskipet i rekkja av UT 717 design i Island Offshore-flten.

20.05.15 09:23

Island Clipper har ftt si frste kontrakt etter at vi tok levering tidlegare i mnaden, og er klar reise p jobb 10.mai! Island Clipper skal drive brnnstimulering p ein brnn i frste omgong, med opsjon p 3×1 brnnar til. Kvar brnn tilsvarar ei arbeidsperiode p omlag 3 mnader, og befinn seg p britisk sektor.

Island Clipper har ftt si frste kontrakt etter at vi tok levering tidlegare i mnaden, og er klar reise p jobb 10.mai! Island Clipper skal drive brnnstimulering p ein brnn i frste omgong, med opsjon p 3×1 brnnar til. Kvar brnn tilsvarar ei arbeidsperiode p omlag 3 mnader, og befinn seg p britisk sektor.

24.04.15 11:21

Kl 13.05 i dag tok vi levering av Island Clipper! Gudmor Laila Bjerke var med p overleveringa ved Vard Brevik, og fekk ra av utfre flaggskiftet. Ein kjempeflott bt med ei flott mannskap! Kaptein er Odd-Steven Wahlberg.

Kl 13.05 i dag tok vi levering av Island Clipper! Gudmor Laila Bjerke var med p overleveringa ved Vard Brevik, og fekk ra av utfre flaggskiftet. Ein kjempeflott bt med ei flott mannskap! Kaptein er Odd-Steven Wahlberg.

09.04.15 16:03

Island Offshore regjerar toppen av miljindeksen Environmental Ship Index: http://www.environmentalshipindex.org/Public/Ships med sju btar blant dei femten beste! ESI identifiserar skip som reduserer utslepp utover det som vert krevd av noverande utsleppsstandardar i IMO. Ved hjelp av eit poengsystem som gir rabattordningar p havneavgift og losberedskapsavgift oppfordrar dei reiarlaga til f ned utsleppa til luft s mykje som mogleg. Island Offshore tronar heilt i toppen med Island Chieftain og Island Condor, og dei fem neste registrerte kjem like bak.

Island Offshore regjerar toppen av miljindeksen Environmental Ship Index: http://www.environmentalshipindex.org/Public/Ships med sju btar blant dei femten beste! ESI identifiserar skip som reduserer utslepp utover det som vert krevd av noverande utsleppsstandardar i IMO. Ved hjelp av eit poengsystem som gir rabattordningar p havneavgift og losberedskapsavgift oppfordrar dei reiarlaga til f ned utsleppa til luft s mykje som mogleg. Island Offshore tronar heilt i toppen med Island Chieftain og Island Condor, og dei fem neste registrerte kjem like bak.

09.04.15 12:03

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Island Offshore – HOME

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Ayn Rand’s Ideas – An Overview | AynRand.org

Posted: August 16, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Ayn Rand wrote volumes urging people to be selfishThe Objectivist ethics proudly advocates and upholds rational selfishnesswhich means: the values required for mans survival qua manwhich means: the values required for human survivalnot the values produced by the desires, the emotions, the aspirations, the feelings, the whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifices, have never discovered an industrial society and can conceive of no self-interest but that of grabbing the loot of the moment… The Objectivist Ethics, 31View Full Lexicon Entry.

What? Arent people already too selfish? Just do whatever you feel like, be a thoughtless jerk, and exploit people to get ahead. Easy, right? Except that acting thoughtlessly and victimizing others, Rand claims, is not in your self-interest.

What Rand advocates is an approach to life thats unlike anything youve ever heard before. Selfishness, in her philosophy, means:

At the dawn of our lives, writes Rand, we seek a noble vision of mans nature and of lifes potential. Rands philosophy is that vision. Explore it for yourself.

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Posthuman Futures | KurzweilAI

Posted: August 14, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Welcome to the Second Edition of our Glocal Symposium Series on the topic of the Posthuman.This event has been generously supported byNYU -Liberal Studies, Office ofStudent Affairs.

It features more than 30 international speakers and performers.Our keynote this year is: Dr. Natasha Vita-More.

The specific focus of this Symposium is dedicated to the significance of the posthuman in relation to near and far futures. We will address current global issues in terms of possible posthuman futures, in ordertospark a deep and multilayered analysisofwhat the notion of posthuman futures implies.In the contemporary era, characterized by different political, economical, cultural, religious, social and environmental conflicts, the traditional approach based on the humanistic attempt to acknowledge our shared humanity has not been successful. What can posthumanism add to the conversation? Howcana post-humanistic,post-anthropocentric and post-dualistic approach be achieved in conflicts resolution, without repeating the failed resolution attempts of the past?More specifically,these are some of the global issues we would like to address: human and non human migration; racism, sexism, ethnocentrism and anthropocentrism; religious fundamentalism and Islamophobia; technological unemployment and economic disparities; environmental issues; non human animals and robot personhood. What perspective can posthumanism offer to these global issues?

Focusing on key notionssuch as transformation and hybridization, but also heritage conservation and cultural acknowledgment, we will delve into our posthuman futures. A reflection on space ethics (including space travel; space exploration; space commercialization), bio-technology and bio-conservation, human and non-human enhancement;emerging technology and economic equity,post-genders and post-humanities will merge with our rigorous analysis of posthuman futures. We welcome proposals on posthuman developments and religion, including the spiritual dimension of virtual reality and virtual communities, the religious-mythological nature of hyperreality, the enhancement of meditative techniques through technology, the religious life of humanoid robots and robotic communities, the theological response of religious communities to posthumanism, the effect of cyborgian immortality on religious doctrine, and the reconceptualization of transgressive behaviours.

Event Producer

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Posthuman Futures | KurzweilAI

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Offshore Companies | Offshore Banking – OffshoreSimple.com

Posted: August 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm

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Deconstructing the Second Amendment – cnn.com

Posted: at 2:34 pm

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

And yet, for years, those 27 brief words have been the source of contentious debate — seen by some as an inalienable protection against tyranny; by others as a dangerous anachronism.

Here’s a look at the Second Amendment, its phrases parsed and placed in legal and historical context.

Our guides will be Constitutional experts Jeffrey Rosen and Jack Rakove.

What is a militia?

At the time of the American Revolutionary War, militias were groups of able-bodied men who protected their towns, colonies, and eventually states. “[When the Constitution was drafted], the militia was a state-based institution,” says Rakove. “States were responsible for organizing this.”

What did it mean to be well regulated?

One of the biggest challenges in interpreting a centuries-old document is that the meanings of words change or diverge.

“Well-regulated in the 18th century tended to be something like well-organized, well-armed, well-disciplined,” says Rakove. “It didn’t mean ‘regulation’ in the sense that we use it now, in that it’s not about the regulatory state. There’s been nuance there. It means the militia was in an effective shape to fight.”

In other words, it didn’t mean the state was controlling the militia in a certain way, but rather that the militia was prepared to do its duty.

What type of security was referred to here?

To get to that, consider the climate of the United States at the time. The country had just fought a war, won its independence and was expanding west. There were plenty of reasons to feel unsafe, and so “security” had a very palpable meaning.

“You have an expanding country, and the principle defense use of the militia would be to protect local residents from attack and invasion,” Rakove says.

It also meant physical protection from government overreach.

“The idea of a state militia would also be attractive because it serves as a deterrent against national tyranny,” says Rakove. “At the time, if government forces tried to take over land or overstep their boundaries, you’d have an institution in place — the militia — that would outnumber any army.”

Of course, with the size and scope of the modern United States military, and the fact that militias as we know it no longer exist, that notion is hard to imagine today.

In the debate over the Second Amendment, this phrase, “a well regulated militia,” remains one of the most cited and argued parts of the sentence.

What did a free state mean?

It may seem obvious, but Rosen and Rakove agree the Constitution bore a lot of contemporary moralism and not every word is well-defined.

In this case, the meaning of “state” is what it appears to be.

“This is referring immediately to ‘state’ as in one of the states of the original colonies,” Rosen says. “James Madison had the 1777 Virginia Declaration of Rights by his side when he wrote the Bill of Rights and he essentially copied and pasted language from it.”

But it could also speak to a larger understanding of liberty.

“So here,” Rosen continues, “George Mason (the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights) is talking about not only the free state of Virginia.” He is also talking about a broader state of freedom.

What kind of rights?

This is another highly-contested area where it helps to know more about how the framers of the Constitution thought about complex ideas like “rights.”

“When we think about ‘rights,’ we think of them as regulations and exemptions,” Rakove says. “Back at the birth of our nation, they had a different quality. They were more moralistic.”

Rosen says this viewpoint is reflected in the Declaration of Independence:

“The framers definitely believed in natural rights — that they are endowed by a creator,” Rosen says. “They believed we are born into a state of nature before we form governments, and that we are endowed with certain fundamental rights.”

These natural rights included the right to religious expression, free speech, property and more. But they did not, Rosen says, specifically include the tenets of the Second Amendment.

“The framers did not talk about the right to bear arms as one of the set of natural rights,” he says. “But it is fair to say that the right to alter and abolish government — to the degree that modern people claim they have that right — the framers certainly believe it.”

“In that sense, it is historically accurate to say that the framers did recognize a natural right of self-defense.”

Who are the people?

Even the term “people” — the most basic catch-all — has limitations.

“You say people, you mean individual persons,” says Rakove. “But, if you go to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, it says the House of Representatives will be chosen by the people — who are the persons? Who are entitled to exercise that suffrage? You see, you can use the term ‘people’ to imply a collective mass, but there are some categories of people that can be excluded.”

After all, when the Constitution was written, slaves were considered property and women were not allowed to vote.

In addition, there is a more basic question of semantics: By “the people,” is the Second Amendment referring to people as private entities, or as participants in the militia?

The legal consensus is that the Second Amendment applies to individual rights, within reasonable regulations. More on that below.

What are Arms in this context, and what is the scope of bearing Arms?

The decision struck down the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which heavily regulated owning and keeping firearms in the District of Columbia.

In the above excerpt, we can see the Court considered the awkward phrasing of the Amendment. The Justices divided the Amendment into an operative clause: “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and a prefatory clause: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” The court determined the relationship between these phrases, as well as the historical context of the Constutition’s creation, clearly provided an individual right.

The term “arms” is also an ever-changing one, and there are ongoing debates about assault weapons and emerging firearm technologies.

“One thing people disagree about is whether assault weapons bans are constitutional,” says Rosen. “They also disagree about how we should interpret the constitution in terms of history or in light of new technologies.”

What does it all mean?

“It’s really striking that since these Supreme Court decisions… lower courts have upheld almost all of the gun regulations they have asked to review,” he says.

Rakove thinks the framers of the Constitution would be surprised at the conversations we are having today.

“While there is a common law right to self-defense, most historians think that it would be remarkable news to the framers of the Second Amendment that they were actually constitutionalizing a personal right to self-defense as opposed to trying to say something significant about the militia,” he says.

Words like “militia” and “rights” are loaded with historical context and nuance that can act as a Rorschach test, leading even the best-intentioned interpreters to different conclusions. If there were any clear answers, these 27 words wouldn’t be so incendiary.

Jack Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History at Stanford University. His book “Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution” won a Pulitzer Prize in History.

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Socio-Economic Collapse | Prometheism.net Designer …

Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm

In archaeology, the classic Maya collapse refers to the decline of Maya civilization and abandonment of Maya cities in the southern Maya lowlands of Mesoamerica between the 8th and 9thcenturies, at the end of the Classic Mayan Period. Preclassic Maya experienced a similar collapse in the 2nd century.

The Classic Period of Mesoamerican chronology is generally defined as the period from 250 to 900, the last century of which is referred to as the Terminal Classic.[1] The classic Maya collapse is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in archaeology. Urban centers of the southern lowlands, among them Palenque, Copn, Tikal, Calakmul, went into decline during the 8th and 9thcenturies and were abandoned shortly thereafter. Archaeologically, this decline is indicated by the cessation of monumental inscriptions and the reduction of large-scale architectural construction at the primary urban centers of the classic period.

Although termed a collapse, it did not mark the end of the Maya civilization; Northern Yucatn in particular prospered afterwards, although with very different artistic and architectural styles, and with much less use of monumental hieroglyphic writing. In the post-classic period following the collapse, the state of Chichn Itz built an empire that briefly united much of the Maya region,[citation needed] and centers such as Mayapn and Uxmal flourished, as did the Highland states of the Kiche and Kaqchikel Maya. Independent Maya civilization continued until 1697 when the Spanish conquered Nojpetn, the last independent city-state. Millions of Maya people still inhabit the Yucatn peninsula today.

Because parts of Maya civilization unambiguously continued, a number of scholars strongly dislike the term collapse.[2] Regarding the proposed collapse, E. W. Andrews IV went as far as to say, in my belief no such thing happened.[3]

The Maya often recorded dates on monuments they built. Few dated monuments were being built circa 500 around ten per year in 514, for example. The number steadily increased to make this number twenty per year by 672 and forty by around 750. After this, the number of dated monuments begins to falter relatively quickly, collapsing back to ten by 800 and to zero by 900. Likewise, recorded lists of kings complement this analysis. Altar Q shows a reign of kings from 426 to 763. One last king not recorded on Altar Q was Ukit Took, Patron of Flint, who was probably a usurper. The dynasty is believed to have collapsed entirely shortly thereafter. In Quirigua, twenty miles north of Copn, the last king Jade Sky began his rule between 895 and 900, and throughout the Maya area all kingdoms similarly fell around that time.[4]

A third piece of evidence of the progression of Maya decline, gathered by Ann Corinne Freter, Nancy Gonlin, and David Webster, uses a technique called obsidian hydration. The technique allowed them to map the spread and growth of settlements in the Copn Valley and estimate their populations. Between 400 and 450, the population was estimated at a peak of twenty-eight thousand between 750 and 800 larger than London at the time. Population then began to steadily decline. By 900 the population had fallen to fifteen thousand, and by 1200 the population was again less than 1000.

Some 88 different theories or variations of theories attempting to explain the Classic Maya Collapse have been identified.[5] From climate change to deforestation to lack of action by Mayan kings, there is no universally accepted collapse theory, although drought is gaining momentum as the leading explanation.[6]

The archaeological evidence of the Toltec intrusion into Seibal, Peten, suggests to some the theory of foreign invasion. The latest hypothesis states that the southern lowlands were invaded by a non-Maya group whose homelands were probably in the gulf coast lowlands. This invasion began in the 9thcentury and set off, within 100years, a group of events that destroyed the Classic Maya. It is believed that this invasion was somehow influenced by the Toltec people of central Mexico. However, most Mayanists do not believe that foreign invasion was the main cause of the Classic Maya Collapse; they postulate that no military defeat can explain or be the cause of the protracted and complex Classic Collapse process. Teotihuacan influence across the Maya region may have involved some form of military invasion; however, it is generally noted that significant Teotihuacan-Maya interactions date from at least the Early Classic period, well before the episodes of Late Classic collapse.[7]

The foreign invasion theory does not answer the question of where the inhabitants went. David Webster believed that the population should have increased because of the lack of elite power. Further, it is not understood why the governmental institutions were not remade following the revolts, which actually happened under similar circumstances in places like China. A study by anthropologist Elliot M. Abrams came to the conclusion that buildings, specifically in Copan, did not actually require an extensive amount of time and workers to construct.[8] However, this theory was developed during a time period when the archaeological evidence showed that there were fewer Maya people than there are now known to have been.[9] Revolutions, peasant revolts, and social turmoil change circumstances, and are often followed by foreign wars, but they run their course. There are no documented revolutions that caused wholesale abandonment of entire regions.

It has been hypothesized that the decline of the Maya is related to the collapse of their intricate trade systems, especially those connected to the central Mexican city of Teotihuacn. Preceding improved knowledge of the chronology of Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan was believed to have fallen during 700750, forcing the restructuring of economic relations throughout highland Mesoamerica and the Gulf Coast.[10] This remaking of relationships between civilizations would have then given the collapse of the Classic Maya a slightly later date. However, after knowing more about the events and the time periods that they occurred, it is now believed that the strongest Teotihuacan influence was during the 4th and 5thcenturies. In addition, the civilization of Teotihuacan started to lose its power, and maybe even abandoned the city, during 600650. This differs greatly from the previous belief that Teotihuacano power decreased during 700750.[11] But since the new decline date of 600650 has been accepted, the Maya civilizations are now thought to have lived on and prospered for another century and more[12] than what was previously believed. Rather than the decline of Teotihuacan directly preceding the collapse of the Maya, their decline is now seen as contributing to the 6thcentury hiatus.[12]

The disease theory is also a contender as a factor in the Classic Maya Collapse. Widespread disease could explain some rapid depopulation, both directly through the spread of infection itself and indirectly as an inhibition to recovery over the long run. According to Dunn (1968) and Shimkin (1973), infectious diseases spread by parasites are common in tropical rainforest regions, such as the Maya lowlands. Shimkin specifically suggests that the Maya may have encountered endemic infections related to American trypanosomiasis, Ascaris, and some enteropathogens that cause acute diarrheal illness. Furthermore, some experts believe that, through development of their civilization (that is, development of agriculture and settlements), the Maya could have created a disturbed environment, in which parasitic and pathogen-carrying insects often th rive.[13] Among the pathogens listed above, it is thought that those that cause the acute diarrheal illnesses would have been the most devastating to the Maya population. This is because such illness would have struck a victim at an early age, thereby hampering nutritional health and the natural growth and development of a child. This would have made them more susceptible to other diseases later in life. Such ideas as this could explain the role of disease as at least a possible partial reason for the Classic Maya Collapse.[14]

Mega-droughts hit the Yucatn Peninsula and Petn Basin areas with particular ferocity, as thin tropical soils decline in fertility and become unworkable when deprived of forest cover,[15] and due to regular seasonal drought drying up surface water.[16] Colonial Spanish officials accurately documented cycles of drought, famine, disease, and war, providing a reliable historical record of the basic drought pattern in the Maya region.[17]

Climatic factors were first implicated in the Collapse as early as 1931 by Mayanists Thomas Gann and J.E.S. Thompson.[18] In The Great Maya Droughts, Richardson Gill gathers and analyzes an array of climatic, historical, hydrologic, tree ring, volcanic, geologic, lake bed, and archeological research, and demonstrates that a prolonged series of droughts probably caused the Classic Maya Collapse.[19] The drought theory provides a comprehensive explanation, because non-environmental and cultural factors (excessive warfare, foreign invasion, peasant revolt, less trade, etc.) can all be explained by the effects of prolonged drought on Classic Maya civilization.[20]

Climatic changes are, with increasing frequency, found to be major drivers in the rise and fall of civilizations all over the world.[21] Professors Harvey Weiss of Yale University and Raymond S. Bradley of the University of Massachusetts have written, Many lines of evidence now point to climate forcing as the primary agent in repeated social collapse.[22] In a separate publication, Weiss illustrates an emerging understanding of scientists:

Within the past five years new tools and new data for archaeologists, climatologists, and historians have brought us to the edge of a new era in the study of global and hemispheric climate change and its cultural impacts. The climate of the Holocene, previously assumed static, now displays a surprising dynamism, which has affected the agricultural bases of pre-industrial societies. The list of Holocene climate alterations and their socio-economic effects has rapidly become too complex for brief summary.[23]

The drought theory holds that rapid climate change in the form of severe drought brought about the Classic Maya collapse. According to the particular version put forward by Gill in The Great Maya Droughts,

[Studies of] Yucatecan lake sediment cores provide unambiguous evidence for a severe 200-year drought from AD800 to 1000 the most severe in the last 7,000years precisely at the time of the Maya Collapse.[24]

Climatic modeling, tree ring data, and historical climate data show that cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere is associated with drought in Mesoamerica.[25] Northern Europe suffered extremely low temperatures around the same time as the Maya droughts. The same connection between drought in the Maya areas and extreme cold in northern Europe was found again at the beginning of the 20thcentury. Volcanic activity, within and outside Mesoamerica, is also correlated with colder weather and resulting drought, as the effects of the Tambora volcano eruption in 1815 indicate.[26]

Mesoamerican civilization provides a remarkable exception: civilization prospering in the tropical swampland. The Maya are often perceived as having lived in a rainforest, but technically, they lived in a seasonal desert without access to stable sources of drinking water.[27] The exceptional accomplishments of the Maya are even more remarkable because of their engineered response to the fundamental environmental difficulty of relying upon rainwater rather than permanent sources of water. The Maya succeeded in creating a civilization in a seasonal desert by creating a system of water storage and management which was totally dependent on consistent rainfall.[28] The constant need for water kept the Maya on the edge of survival. Given this precarious balance of wet and dry conditions, even a slight shift in the distribution of annual precipitation can have serious consequences.[16] Water and civilization were vitally connected in ancient Mesoamerica. Archaeologist and specialist in pre-industrial land and water usage practices, Vernon Scarborough, believes water management and access were critical to the development of Maya civilization.[29]

Critics of the drought theory wonder why the southern and central lowland cities were abandoned and the northern cities like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Coba continued to thrive.[30] One critic argued that Chichen Itza revamped its political, military, religious, and economic institutions away from powerful lords or kings.[31] Inhabitants of the northern Yucatn also had access to seafood, which might have explained the survival of Chichen Itza and Mayapan, cities away from the coast but within reach of coastal food supplies.[32] Critics of the drought theory also point to current weather patterns: much heavier rainfall in the southern lowlands compared to the lighter amount of rain in the northern Yucatn. Drought theory supporters state that the entire regional climate changed, including the amount of rainfall, so that modern rainfall patterns are not indicative of rainfall from 800 to 900. LSU archaeologist Heather McKillop found a significant rise in sea level along the coast nearest the southern Maya lowlands, coinciding with the end of the Classic period, and indicating climate change.[33]

David Webster, a critic of the megadrought theory says that much of the evidence provided by Gill comes from the northern Yucatn and not the Southern part of the peninsula, where Classic Maya civilization flourished. He also states that if water sources were to have dried up, then several city-states would have moved to other water sources. The fact that Gill suggests that all water in the region would have dried up and destroyed Maya civilization is a stretch, according to Webster.[34]

A study published in Science in 2012 found that modest rainfall reductions, amounting to only 25 to 40 percent of annual rainfall, may have been the tipping point to the Mayan collapse. Based on samples of lake and cave sediments in the areas surrounding major Mayan cities, the researchers were able to determine the amount of annual rainfall in the region. The mild droughts that took place between 800-950 would therefore be enough to rapidly deplete seasonal water supplies in the Yucatn lowlands, where there are no rivers.[35][36][37]

Some ecological theories of Maya decline focus on the worsening agricultural and resource conditions in the late Classic period. It was originally thought that the majority of Maya agriculture was dependent on a simple slash-and-burn system. Based on this method, the hypothesis of soil exhaustion was advanced by Orator F. Cook in 1921. Similar soil exhaustion assumptions are associated with erosion, intensive agricultural, and savanna grass competition.

More recent investigations have shown a complicated variety of intensive agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya, explaining the high population of the Classic Maya polities. Modern archaeologists now comprehend the sophisticated intensive and productive agricultural techniques of the ancient Maya, and several of t he Maya agricultural methods have not yet been reproduced. Intensive agricultural methods were developed and utilized by all the Mesoamerican cultures to boost their food production and give them a competitive advantage over less skillful peoples.[38] These intensive agricultural methods included canals, terracing, raised fields, ridged fields, chinampas, the use of human feces as fertilizer, seasonal swamps or bajos, using muck from the bajos to create fertile fields, dikes, dams, irrigation, water reservoirs, several types of water storage systems, hydraulic systems, swamp reclamation, swidden systems, and other agricultural techniques that have not yet been fully understood.[39] Systemic ecological collapse is said to be evidenced by deforestation, siltation, and the decline of biological diversity.

In addition to mountainous terrain, Mesoamericans successfully exploited the very problematic tropical rainforest for 1,500years.[40] The agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya were entirely dependent upon ample supplies of water. The Maya thrived in territory that would be uninhabitable to most peoples. Their success over two millennia in this environment was amazing.[41]

Anthropologist Joseph Tainter wrote extensively about the collapse of the Southern Lowland Maya in his 1988 study, The Collapse of Complex Societies. His theory about Mayan collapse encompasses some of the above explanations, but focuses specifically on the development of and the declining marginal returns from the increasing social complexity of the competing Mayan city-states.[42] Psychologist Julian Jaynes suggested that the collapse was due to a failure in the social control systems of religion and political authority, due to increasing socioeconomic complexity that overwhelmed the power of traditional rituals and the kings authority to compel obedience.[43]

Originally posted here:

Classic Maya collapse Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Future of AI 6. Discussion of ‘Superintelligence: Paths …

Posted: at 9:18 pm

Update: readers of the post have also pointed out this critique by Ernest Davis and this response to Davis by Rob Bensinger.

Update 2: Both Rob Bensinger and Michael Tetelman rightly pointed out that my intelligence definition was sloppily defined. Ive added a clarification that the defintion is for a given task.

Cover of Superintelligence

This post is a discussion of Nick Bostroms book Superintelligence. The book has had an effect on the thinking of many of the worlds thought leaders. Not just in artificial intelligence, but in a range of different domains (politicians, physicists, business leaders). In that light, and given this series of blog posts is about the Future of AI, it seemed important to read the book and discuss his ideas.

In an ideal world, this post would certainly have contained more summaries of the books arguments and perhaps a later update will improve on that aspect. For the moment the review focuses on counter-arguments and perceived omissions (the post already got too long with just covering those).

Bostrom considers various routes we have to forming intelligent machines and what the possible outcomes might be from developing such technologies. He is a professor of philosophy but has an impressive array of background degrees in areas such as mathematics, logic, philosophy and computational neuroscience.

So lets start at the beginning and put the book in context by trying to understand what is meant by the term superintelligence

In common with many contributions to the debate on artificial intelligence, Bostrom never defines what he means by intelligence. Obviously, this can be problematic. On the other hand, superintelligence is defined as outperforming humans in every intelligent capability that they express.

Personally, Ive developed the following definition of intelligence: Use of information to take decisions which save energy in pursuit of a given task. Here by information I might mean data or facts or rules, and by saving energy I mean saving free energy.

However, accepting Bostroms lack of definition of intelligence (and perhaps taking note of my own), we can still consider the routes to superintelligence Bostrom proposes. It is important to bear in mind that Bostrom is worried about the effect of intelligence on 30 year (and greater) timescales. These are timescales which are difficult to predict over. I think it is admirable that Nick is trying to address this, but Im also keen to ensure that particular ideas which are at best implausible, but at worst a misrepresentation of current research, dont become memes in the very important debate on the future of machine intelligence.

A technological singularity is when a technology becomes transhuman in its possibilities, moving beyond our own capabilities through self improvement. Its a simple idea, and often theres nothing to be afraid of. For example, in mechanical engineering, we long ago began to make tools that could manufacture other tools. And indeed, the precision of the manufactured tools outperformed those that we could make by hand. This led to a technological singularity of precision made tools. We developed transhuman milling machines and lathes. We developed superprecision, precision that is beyond the capabilities of any human. Of course there are physical limits on how far this particular technological singularity has taken us. We cannot achieve infinitely precise machining tolerances.

In machining, the concept of precision can be defined in terms of the tolerance that the resulting parts are made to. Unfortunately, the lack of a definition of intelligence in Bostroms book makes it harder to ground the argument. In practice this means that the book often exploits different facets of intelligence and combines them in worse case scenarios while simultaneously conflating conflicting principles.

The book gives little thought to the differing natures of machine and human intelligence. For example, there is no acknowledgment of the embodied nature of our intelligence. There are physical constraints on communication rates. For humans these constraints are much stronger than for machines. Machine intelligences communicate with one another in gigabits per second. Humans in bits per second. For our relative computational abilities the best estimates are that, in terms of underlying computation in the brain, we are computing much quicker than machines. This means humans have a very high compute/communicate ratio. We might think of that as an embodiment factor. We can compute far more than we can communicate, leading to a backlog of conclusions within our own minds. Much of our human intelligence seems doomed to remain within ourselves. This dominates the nature of human intelligence. In contrast, this phenomenon is only weakly observed in computers, if at all. Computers can distribute the results of their intelligence at approximately the same rate that they compute them.

Bostroms idea of superintelligence is an intelligence that outperforms us in all its facets. But if our emotional intelligence is a result of our limited communication ability, then it might be impossible to emulate it without also implementing the limited communication. Since communication also affects other facets of our intelligence we can see how it may, therefore, be impossible to dominate human abilities in the manner which the concept of superintelligence envisages. A better definition of intelligence would have helped resolve these arguments.

My own belief is that we became individually intelligent through a need to model each other (and ourselves) to perform better planning. So we evolved to undertake collaborative planning and developed complex social interactions. As a result our species, our collective intelligence, became increasingly complex (on evolutionary timescales) as we evolved greater intelligence within each of the individuals that made up our social group. Because of this process I find it difficult to fully separate our collective intelligence from our individual intelligences. I dont think Bostrom suffers with this dichotomy because my impression is that his book only views human intelligence as an individual characteristic. My feeling is that this is limiting because any algorithmics we create to emulate our intelligence will actually operate on societal scales and the interaction of the artificial intelligence with our own should be considered in that context.

As humans, we are a complex society of interacting intelligences. Any predictions we make within that society would seem particularly fraught. Intelligent decision making relies on such predictions to quantify the value of a particular decision (in terms of the energy it might save). But when we want to consider future plausible scenarios we are faced with exponential growth of complexity in an already extremely complex system.

In practice we can make progress with our predictions by compressing the complex world into abstractions: simplifications of the world around that are sufficiently predictive for our purposes, but retain tractability. However, using such abstractions involves introducing model uncertainty. Model uncertainty reflects the unknown way in which the actual world will differ from our simplifications.

Practitioners who have performed sensitivity analysis on time series prediction will know how quickly uncertainty accumulates as you try to look forward in time. There is normally a time frame ahead of which things become too misty to compute any more. Further computational power doesnt help you in this instance, because uncertainty dominates. Reducing model uncertainty requires exponentially greater computation. We might try to handle this uncertainty by quantifying it, but even this can prove intractable.

So just like the elusive concept of infinite precision in mechanical machining, there is likely a limit on the degree to which an entity can be intelligent. We cannot predict with infinite precision and this will render our predictions useless on some particular time horizon.

The limit on predictive precision is imposed by the exponential growth in complexity of exact simulation, coupled with the accumulation of error associated with the necessary abstraction of our predictive models. As we predict forward these uncertainties can saturate dominating our predictions. As a result we often only have a very vague notion of what is to come. This limit on our predictive ability places a fundamental limit on our ability to make intelligent decisions.

There was a time when people believed in perpetual motion machines (and quite a lot of effort was put into building them). Physical limitations of such machines were only understood in the late 19th century (for example the limit on efficiency of heat engines was theoretically formulated by Carnot). We dont yet know the theoretical limits of intelligence, but the intellectual gymnastics of some of the entities described in Superintelligence will likely be curtailed by the underlying mathematics. In practice the singularity will saturate, its just a question of where that saturation will occur relative to our current intelligence. Bostrom thinks it will be a long way ahead, I tend to agree but I dont think that the results will be as unimaginable as is made out. Machines are already a long way ahead of us in many areas (weather prediction for example) but I dont find that unimaginable either.

Unfortunately, in his own analysis, Bostrom hardly makes any use of uncertainty when envisaging future intelligences. In practice correct handling of uncertainty is critical in intelligent systems. By ignoring it Bostrom can give the impression that a superintelligence would act with unerving confidence. Indeed the only point where I recollect the mention of uncertainty is when it is used to unnerve us further. Bostrom refers to how he thinks a sensible Bayesian agent would respond to being given a particular goal. Bostrom suggests that due to uncertainty it would believe it might not have achieved its goal and continue to consume world resource in an effort to do so. In this respect the agent appears to be taking the inverse action of that suggested by the Greek skeptic Aenesidemus, who advocated suspension of judgment, or epoch, in the presence of uncertainty. Suspension of judgment (delay of decision making) meaning specifically refrain from action. That is indeed the intelligent reaction to uncertainty. Dont needlessly expend energy when the outcome is uncertain (to do so would contradict my definition of intelligent behavior). This idea emerges as optimal behavior from a mathematical treatment of such systems when uncertainty is incorporated.

This meme occurs through out the book. The savant idiot, a gifted intelligence that does a particular thing really stupidly. As such it contradicts the concept of superintelligence. The superintelligence is better in all ways than us, but then somehow must also be taught values and morals. Values and morals are part of our complex emergent human behaviour. Part of both our innate and our developed intelligence, both individually and collectively as a species. They are part of our natural conservatism that constrains extreme behavior. Constraints on extreme behaviour are necessary because of the general futility of absolute prediction. Just as in machining, we cannot achieve infinitely precise prediction.

Another way the savant idiot expresses itself in the book is through extreme confidence about its predictions in the future. The premise is that it will agressively follow a strategy (potentially to the severe detriment of humankind) in an effort to fulfill a defined final goal. Well address the mistaken idea of a simplistic final goal below.

With a shallow reading Bostroms ideas seem to provide an interesting narrative. In the manner of an Ian Fleming novel, the narrative is littered with technical detail to increase the plausibility for the reader. However, in the same way that so many of Blofelds schemes are quite fragile when exposed to deeper analysis, many of Bostroms ideas are as well.

In reality, challenges associated with abstracting the world render the future inherently unpredictable, both to humans and to our computers. Even when many aspects of a system are broadly understood (such as our weather) prediction far into the future is untenable due to propagation of uncertainty through the system. Uncertainty tends to inflate as time passes rendering only near term prediction plausible. Inherent to any intelligent behavior is an understanding of the limits of prediction. Intelligent behaviour withdraws, when appropriate, to the suspension of judgement, inactivity, the epoch. This simple idea finesses many of the challenges of artificial intelligence that Bostrom identifies.

Large sections of the book are dedicated to whole brain emulation, under the premise that this might be achievable before we have understood intelligence (superintelligence could then achieved by hitting the turbo button and running those brains faster). Simultaneously, hybrid brain-machine systems are rejected as a route forward due to the perceived difficulty of developing such interfaces.

Such unevenhanded treatment of future possible paths to AI makes the book a very frustrating read. If we had the level of understanding we need to fully emulate the brain, then we would know what is important to emulate in the brain to recreate intelligence. The path to that achievement would also involve improvements of our ability to directly interface with the brain. Given that there are immediate applications with patients, e.g. with spinal problems or suffering from ALS, I think we will have developed hybrid systems that interface directly with the brain a long time before we have managed a full emulation of the human brain. Indeed, such applications may prove to be critical to developing our understanding of how the brain implements intelligence.

Perhaps Bostroms naive premise about the ease of brain emulation comes form a lack of understanding of what it would involve. It could not involve an exact simulation of each neuron in the brain down to the quantum level (and if it did, it would be many orders of magnitude more computationally demanding than is suggested in the text). Instead it would involve some level of abstraction. Abstraction as to those aspects of the biochemistry and physics of the brain that are important in generating our intelligence. Modelling and simulation of the brain would require that our simulations replace actual mechanism with those salient parts of those mechanisms that the brain makes use of for intelligence.

As weve mentioned in the context of uncertainty, an understanding of this sort of abstraction is missing from Superintelligence, but it is vital in modelling, and, I believe, it is vital in intelligence. Such abstractions require a deep understanding of how the brain is working, and such understandings are exactly what Bostrom says are impossible to determine for developing hybrid systems.

Over the 30 year time horizons that Bostrom is interested in, hybrid human-machine systems could become very important. They are highly likely to arise before a full understanding of the brain is developed, and if they did then they would change the way society would evolve. Thats not to say that we wont experience societal challenges, but they are likely to be very different from the threats that Bostrom perceives. Importantly, when considering humans and computers, the line of separation between the two may not be as distinctly drawn as Bostrom suggests. It wouldnt be human vs computer, but augmented human vs computer.

One aspect that, it seems, must be hard to understand if youre not an active researcher is nature of technological advance at the cutting edge. The impression Bostrom gives is that research in AI is all a set of journeys with predefined goals. Its therefore merely a matter of assigning resources, planning, and navigating your way there. In his strategies for reacting to the potential dangers of AI, Bostrom suggests different areas in which we should focus our advances (which of these expeditions should we fund, and which should we impede). In reality, we cannot switch on and off research directions in such a simplistic manner. Most research in AI is less of an organized journey, but more of an exploration of uncharted terrain. You set sail from Spain with government backing and a vague notion of a shortcut to the spice trade of Asia, but instead you stumble on an unknown continent of gold-ridden cities. Even then you dont realize the truth of what you discovered within your own lifetime.

Even for the technologies that are within our reach, when we look to the past, we see that people were normally overly optimistic about how rapidly new advances could be deployed and assimilated by society. In the 1970s Xerox PARC focused on the idea that the office of the future would be paperless. It was a sensible projection, but before it came about (indeed its not quite here yet) there was an enormous proliferation of the use of paper, so the demand for paper increased.

Rather than the sudden arrival of the singleton, I suspect well experience something very similar to our journey to the paperless office with artificial intelligence technologies. As we develop AI further, we will likely require more sophistication from humans. For example, we wont be able to replace doctors immediately, first we will need doctors who have a more sophisticated understanding of data. Theyll need to interpret the results of, e.g., high resolution genetic testing. Theyll need to assimilate that understanding with their other knowledge. The hybrid human-machine nature of the emergence of artificial intelligence is given only sparse treatment by Bostrom. Perhaps because the narrative of such co-evolution is much more difficult to describe than an independent evolution.

The explorative nature of research adds to the uncertainties about where well be at any given time. Bostrom talks about how to control and guide our research in AI, but the inherent uncertainties require much more sophisticated thinking about control than Bostrom offers. In a stochastic system, a controller needs to be more intelligent and more reactive. The right action depends crucially on the time horizon. These horizons are unknown. Of course, that does not mean the research should be totally unregulated, but it means that those that suggest regulation need to be much closer to the nature of research and its capabilities. They need to work in collaboration with the community.

Arguments for large amounts of preparatory work for regulation are also undermined by the imprecision with which we can predict the nature of what will arrive and when it will come. In 1865 Jules Verne correctly envisaged that one day humans would reach the moon. However, the manner in which they reached the moon in his book proved very different from how we arrived in reality. Vernes idea was that wed do it using a very big gun. A good idea, but not correct. Verne was, however, correct that the Americans would get there first. One hundred and four years after he wrote the goal was achieved through rocket power (and without any chickens inside the capsule).

This is not to say that we shouldnt be concerned about the paths we are taking. There are many issues that the increasing use of algorithmic decision making raises and they need to be addressed. It is to say that the nature of the concerns that Bostrom raises are implausible because of the imprecision of our predictions over such time frames.

Some of Bostroms perspectives may also come from a lack of experience in deploying systems in practice. The book focuses a great deal on the programmed final goal of our artificial intelligences. It is true that most machine learning systems have objective functions, but an objective function doesnt really map very nicely to the idea of a final goal for an intelligent system. The objective functions we normally develop are really only effective for simplistic tasks, such as classification or regression. Perhaps the more complex notion of a reward in reinforcement learning is closer, but even then the reward tends to be task specific.

Arguably, if the system does have a simplistic final goal, then it is already failing its test of superintelligence, even the simplest human is a robust combination of, sometimes conflicting, goals that reflect the uncertainties around us. So if we are goal driven in our intelligence, then it is by sophisticated goals (akin to multi-objective optimisation) and each of us weights those goals according to sets of values that we each evolve, both across generations and within generations. We are sophisticated about our goals, rather than simplistic, because our environment itself is evolving, implying that our ways of behaviour need to evolve as well. Any AI with a simplistic final goal would fail the test of being a dominant intelligence. It would not be a superintelligence because it would under-perform humans in one or more critical aspects.

One of the routes explored by Bostrom to superintelligence involves speeding up implementations of our own intelligence. Such speed would not necessarily bring about significant advances in all domains of intelligence, due to fundamental limits on predictability. Linear improvements in speed cannot deal with exponential increases in computational tractability. But Bostrom also seems to assume that speeding up intelligences will necessarily take them beyond our comprehension or control. Of course in practice there are many examples where this is not the case. IBM Watsons won Jeopardy. But it did it by storing a lot more knowledge than we every could, then it used some simplistic techniques from language processing to recover those facts: it was a fancy search engine. These systems outperform us, but they are by no means beyond our comprehension. Still, that does not mean we shouldnt fear this phenomenon.

Given the quantity of data we are making available about our own behaviors and the rapid ability of computers to assimilate and intercommunicate, it is already conceivable that machines can predict our behavior better than we can. Not by superintelligence but by scaling up of simple systems. Theyve finessed the uncertainty by access to large quantities of data. These are the advances we should be wary of, yet they are not beyond our understanding. Such speeding up of compute and acquisition of large data is exactly what has led to the recent revolution in convolutional neural networks and recurrent neural networks. All our recent successes are just more compute and more data.

This brings me to another major omission of the book, and this one is ironic, because it is the fuel for the current breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. Those breakthroughs are driven by machine learning. And machine learning is driven by data. Very often our personal data. Machines do not need to exceed our capabilities in intelligence to have a highly significant social effect. They outperform us so greatly in their ability to process large volumes of data that they are able to second guess us without expressing any form of higher intelligence. This is not the future of AI, this is here today.

Deep neural networks of today are not performant because someone did something new and clever. Those methods did not work with the amount of data we had available in the 1990s. They work with the quantity of data we have now. They require a lot more data than any human uses to perform similar tasks. So already, the nature of the intelligence around us is data dominated. Any future advances will capitalise further on this phenomenon.

The data we have comes about because of rapid interconnectivity and high storage (this is connected to the low embodiment factor of the computer). It is the consequence of the successes of the past and it will feed the successes of the future. Because current AI breakthroughs are based on accumulation of personal data, there is opportunity to control its development by reformation of our rules on data.

Unfortunately, this most obvious route to our AI futures is not addressed at all in the book.

Debates about the future of AI and machine learning are very important for society. People need to be well informed so that they continue to retain their individual agency when making decisions about their lives.

I welcome the entry of philosophers to this debate, but I dont think Superintelligence is contributing as positively as it could have done to the challenges we face. In its current form many of its arguments are distractingly irrelevant.

I am not an apologist for machine learning, or a promoter of an unthinking march to algorithmic dominance. I have my own fears about how these methods will effect our society, and those fears are immediate. Bostroms book has the feel of an argument for doomsday prepping. But a challenge for all doomsday preppers is the quandary of exactly which doomsday they are preparing for. Problematically, if we become distracted with those images of Armageddon, we are in danger of ignoring existent challenges that urgently need to be addressed.

This is post 6 in a series. Previous post here

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Cyberpunk – Walkthrough, Tips, Review – Jay is games

Posted: at 9:16 pm

From Argentina, Rey Gazu’s Cyberpunk is a simple Flash puzzle game disguised as an arresting and involving hacking simulation. Armed with four programs and some intuition, you’ll have to sneak into a remote computer guarded by obscure (and not-so-obscure) passwords, as well as by some nasty puzzles.

The game begins when a mysterious message instructs you to “access the overlord terminal and retrieve the datacore”. You are faced with what appears to be a window on a computer desktop containing two icons, one for your local computer and one for a remote host, atlantis. Four other icons, your toolbox, are at the bottom of the screen. Begin by clicking the shell icon and connecting to atlantis. Figuring out how to log in is the first of many puzzles ahead.

Analysis: Compared to some of the other entries in the contest, Cyberpunk is actually a fairly inviting and forgiving game… at first. The interface should be intuitive for anyone at all familiar with DOS or UNIX and the goals are usually clear, with plenty of hints. Several amusing easter eggs invite exploration while demonstrating that, despite Cyberpunk’s sterile exterior, Gazu is not without a sense of humor. I wonder if he was laughing when he designed the incredibly punishing Hex puzzle near the end of the game?

I found it interesting that, while very different, both runners up dealt with puzzles in the form of simulated computer interfaces. Cyberpunk eschews Thief’s exotic and colorful machines for a more familiar, and more believable, command line that does a fine job of tying the game’s two larger puzzles together. It’s a shame that Cyberpunk ends so abruptly, and I hope that Gazu decides to continue adding more puzzles to his already excellent work.

Jay: What I love best about Cyberpunk is that it seems a whole lot larger than it is. When dropped into the game at the very beginning with nothing but a command line at your disposal, the game gives the impression of being expansive and virtually limitless in possibilities. Closer examination, however, reveals that the commands available are few and quite logical to invoke. Yes, the game does favor anyone with even slight familiarity to DOS or Unix (cat being the Unix command to concatenate the contents of a file, in this case to standard output&#8212the screen), and therefore it may be frustrating, or downright intimidating, to those with command line phobia. That being said, Cyberpunk can be completed with just a few well-placed commands and the solving of two (2) excellent puzzles, both of which require you to dig beneath the surface of what is happening on-screen relative to your actions. The presentation is gorgeous and the technical implementation exceptional. Cyberpunk is clearly one of the best puzzle games of this competition, even though it stretches the “simple puzzle game” idea virtually in all directions. 😉

John: Cyberpunk makes me feel cool. When I’m staring at the opening screen an entire world of possibilities lurks around the corner. With a few simple keystrokes I make things happen. Good things. Hacker-like things. Scanning for networks, cracking passwords, shuffling through file directories and causing computer crashes are only the beginning. The illusion of infinite possibilities is present, yet Cyberpunk follows a remarkably logical formula. So logical, in fact, the answer can sit right in front of you and you won’t even realize it. Beyond the raw thrill of solving puzzles through a command line interface, Cyberpunk also features two visual puzzles that are forces to be reckoned with. With the excitement of discovery, the undeniably cool feeling of being a hacker, and lots of little surprises along the way, Cyberpunk is undoubtedly the most unique of our finalists. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put on some really black sunglasses and get back to hacking…

Play Cyberpunk

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Cyberpunk – Walkthrough, Tips, Review – Jay is games

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Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: Whats …

Posted: at 9:12 pm

Weve all seen the words complementary, alternative, and integrative, but what do they reallymean?

This fact sheet looks into these terms to help you understand them better and gives you a brief picture of NCCIHs mission and role in this areaofresearch.

Many Americansmore than 30 percent of adults and about 12 percent of childrenuse health care approaches developed outside of mainstream Western, or conventional, medicine. When describing these approaches, people often use alternative and complementary interchangeably, but the two terms refer to differentconcepts:

True alternative medicine is uncommon. Most people who use non-mainstream approaches use them along with conventionaltreatments.

There are many definitions of integrative health care, but all involve bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthybehaviors.

Chronic pain is a common problem among active-duty military personnel and veterans. NCCIH, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other agencies are sponsoring research to see whether integrative approaches can help. For example, NCCIH-funded studies are testing the effects of adding mindfulness meditation, self-hypnosis, or other complementary approaches to pain management programs for veterans. The goal is to help patients feel and function better and reduce their need for pain medicines that can have serious sideeffects.

More information on pain management for military personnel andveterans

Cancer treatment centers with integrative health care programs may offer services such as acupuncture and meditation to help manage symptoms and side effects for patients who are receiving conventional cancer treatment. Although research on the potential value of these integrative programs is in its early stages, some studies have had promising results. For example, NCCIH-funded research has suggestedthat:

More information oncancer

Healthy behaviors, such as eating right, getting enough physical activity, and not smoking, can reduce peoples risks of developing serious diseases. Can integrative approaches promote these types of behaviors? Researchers are working to answer this question. Preliminary research suggests that yoga and meditation-based therapies may help smokers quit, and NCCIH-funded studies are testing whether adding mindfulness-based approaches to weight control programs will help people lose weight moresuccessfully.

More information on quittingsmoking

More information on weightcontrol

NCCIH generally uses the term complementary health approaches when we discuss practices and products of non-mainstream origin. We use integrative health when we talk about incorporating complementary approaches into mainstream healthcare.

Most complementary health approaches fall into one of two subgroupsnatural products or mind and bodypractices.

This group includes a variety of products, such as herbs (also known as botanicals), vitamins and minerals, and probiotics. They are widely marketed, readily available to consumers, and often sold as dietary supplements.

According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, 17.7 percent of American adults had used a dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals in the past year. These products were the most popular complementary health approach in the survey. (See chart.) The most commonly used natural product was fishoil.

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Researchers have done large, rigorous studies on a few natural products, but the results often showed that the products didnt work. Research on others is in progress. While there are indications that some may be helpful, more needs to be learned about the effects of these products in the human body and about their safety and potential interactions with medicines and other naturalproducts.

Mind and body practices include a large and diverse group of procedures or techniques administered or taught by a trained practitioner or teacher. The 2012 NHIS showed that yoga, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, meditation, and massage therapy are among the most popular mind and body practices used by adults. The popularity of yoga has grown dramatically in recent years, with almost twice as many U.S. adults practicing yoga in 2012 as in2002.

Other mind and body practices include acupuncture, relaxation techniques (such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation), tai chi, qi gong, healing touch, hypnotherapy, and movement therapies (such as Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, Pilates, Rolfing Structural Integration, and Trager psychophysicalintegration).

The amount of research on mind and body approaches varies widely depending on the practice. For example, researchers have done many studies on acupuncture, yoga, spinal manipulation, and meditation, but there have been fewer studies on some otherpractices.

The two broad areas discussed abovenatural products and mind and body practicescapture most complementary health approaches. However, some approaches may not neatly fit into either of these groupsfor example, the practices of traditional healers, Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy.

NCCIH is the Federal Governments lead agency for scientific research on complementary and integrative healthapproaches.

The mission ofNCCIHis to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and healthcare.

NCCIHs vision is that scientific evidence will inform decisionmaking by the public, by health care professionals, and by health policymakers regarding the use and integration of complementary and integrative healthapproaches.

To learn more, visit the NCCIH Facts-at-a-Glance and Mission page.

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Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: Whats …

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