“Once it has learned to dream the double, the self arrives at this weird crossroad and a moment comes when one realizes that it is the double who dreams the self.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Damien Rice – Look at Me

n

… moved not only by the song itself but by the impeccable timing the universe delivered it to me:

the story behind it … and the full album:

 

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Why Aaron Died

n

“I believe Aaron’s death was caused by exhaustion, by fear, and by uncertainty. I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a persecution and a prosecution that had already wound on for 2 years (what happened to our right to a speedy trial?) and had already drained all of his financial resources. I believe that Aaron’s death was caused by a criminal justice system that prioritizes power over mercy, vengeance over justice; a system that punishes innocent people for trying to prove their innocence instead of accepting plea deals that mark them as criminals in perpetuity; a system where incentives and power structures align for prosecutors to destroy the life of an innovator like Aaron in the pursuit of their own ambitions.

Ask yourself this: If on January 10, Steve Heymann and Carmen Ortiz at the Massachusetts US Attorney’s office had called Aaron’s lawyer and said they’d realized their mistake and that they were dropping all charges – or even for that matter that they were ready to offer a reasonable plea deal that wouldn’t have marked Aaron as a felon for the rest of his life – would Aaron have killed himself on January 11?”

source

Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Portugal National Participatory Budget

n

“Portugal has announced the world’s first participatory budget on a national scale. The project will let people submit ideas for what the government should spend its money on, and then vote on which ideas are adopted.

… Proposals can be made in the areas of science, culture, agriculture and lifelong learning, and there will be more than forty events in the new year for people to present and discuss their ideas.

… The model began in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989, and has become popular around the world in recent years, with more than 1,500 places estimated to have adopted some variation. The largest by funding is in Paris. In 2016, only its third year, the scheme disbursed €100million (some $110million) and it plans to have spent €500million ($550million) by 2020.

… Portugal has allocated only €3million for this first year …”

source

Posted in AltEco, Community, Intake, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Targu Mures City Council

n

Due to efforts by local political activists there is, on the Targu Mures city council at least one councellor (if not three) who believes in transparency. He live streams the city council meetings with a mobile device and then makes the recording available online. The transcriptions of the meetings are also available in PDF files published on the municipality website. I don’t know what kind of engagement, if any, this creates with the populace. Do people watch these videos? Do they comment on them?

The live streaming is not welcomed by the other council members, they view is as threatening and would prefer it wasn’t there. Though I agree with the idea of trasparency, I felt that the way this “transparency” has been introduced is defiant and has a protesting quality to it.

I was wondering if there was a way to make the ripples of his efforts reach further. To reach further into the community of Targu Mures and to become an interesting experience for the other council members. This is what came to me. What if:

  1. Good Publishing: te council meeting was published in a more meaningful and accessible way. Instead of just dumping it online (in a video or transciption PDF) what if it was transformed into a list of Agenda Items. Each agenda item would be described briefly so tha citizens could review the list without having to wade through all the information. It could then be possible to go deeper into each agenda item:
    • Read a longer description about it.
    • Read the part of the transcription which relates to the agenda item.
    • View the part of the video which relates to theagenda item.
    • See the positions of each of the counselloers relating to it in the meeting.
    • Find links to other documents and resources which relate to the subject matter.
    • Link to other council meetings during which the agenda item was discussed.
  2. Agenda Rank Voting: every citizen could partake in a simple online voting interaction in relation to the agenda items that were discussed during a meeting – such as: rank the three most important agenda items for you and possible object to one agenda item.
  3. Councellor Voting: every citizen could partake in a simple online interaction  in relation to the contribution of councellor members during – such as: who was the most well spoken councellor? who was the most intellectually coherent councellor? who was the most compassionate councellor? who was the most ill-behaved / least contributing / disruptive councellor.
  4. Point Ranking: the voting would be integrated into a kind of ranking system. The more citizens vote, the more points there a on the table. Points would be distributed between councellors based on their own positions (as presented during the council meeting) on the agenda items. The result would be a ranking of councellors in each council meeting that reflected the degree to which they are in tune with and represents the positions of the citizens.
  5. Integrity Validation: voting would be cross-checked for internal integrity. If a citizen tried (for example for political reasons) to give a councellor a vote for intellectual integrity, but her top 3 ranked agenda items do not align with the position of the councellor … then her vote would be flagged for integrity and that would be included in the point score algorithm.

Such a participatory environment could be further enhanced in different directions:

  1. Accumulated and publicly available councellor rankings may become some kind of reerence for councellor performance and social status. If it offers substantial content (such as a thorough record of public discourse) it may be adopted and refernced in mainstream media.
  2. Such public exposure may incentivize councellors to seek better ranking, to become more attentive to public opinion and to relate to it differently.
  3. Councellors, who are less political and more passionate about actual good governance,  may want to have a platform where they can better express their independent positions.
  4. Expanding the “agenda items” into a public platform where citizens could continue to discuss, together with experts and politicians, agenda items.
  5. A question might arise about how agenda items are set in the first place? What if the citizens could not only respond and comment on a predetermined council agenda, but there could be a social process during which the agenda is continuously discussed and created through social participation.
  6. Citizens may become better informed. about the workings of the city council.
  7. Citizen groups may form to discuss and develop agreed positions on agenda items.
  8. Activist may become better informed and able to interact with the populace.
  9. Alternate opinion leaders may emerge through a participatory process. A citizen who consistently votes and comments and contributed to an agenda item may gain actual political capital in the community. Citizens may gain some of ranking … not unlike repeat reviewers on Amazon.
  10. Councellors may discover that trasparency is not there enemy. That knowing the populace better may be helpful in governing. Ultimately, they may come to recognize that governing on behalf of their community is better then trying to manipulate and control their community behind hidden doors.

The foot in the door that was created into the Targu Mures city council can be an opening to a more meaningful and constructive public discourse in which representative may learn to better represent and citizens may learn to better participate in shaping governance and their society.

 

Posted in AltEco, Oameni, Open Source, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

On Intelligence – Human and Artificial

n

In some ways I feel that we have barely tapped into human intelligence (an experience that can go way beyond the narrow field of intellectual comprehension), yet it seems that the progress we have made, as expressed in AI, may undermine the possibility for many people to continue to evolve their human intelligence.

“… artificial intelligence opens a new world of image, audio, and video fakery …

… Another obvious beneficiary would be hoaxes. Consider the video below — a demonstration of a program called Face2Face, which essentially turns people into puppets, letting you map their facial expression to your own. The researchers demonstrate it using footage of Trump and Obama. Now combine that with prototype software recently unveiled by Adobe that lets you edit human speech (the company says it could be used for fixing voiceovers and dialog in films). Then you can create video footage of politicians, celebrities, saying, well, whatever you want them, too. Post your clip on any moderately popular Facebook page, and watch it spread around the internet.

… we can’t deny that digital tools will allow more people to create these sorts of fakes … AI-powered fakes and manipulations aren’t hard to spot now … but researchers say they’re just going to get better and better.”

The proliferation of realistic fakes would be a boon to conspiracy theorists, and would contribute to the current climate of deteriorating confidence in journalism.”

source

This article I read a couple of weeks ago makes this even more poignant … the software engineers who create and train deep neural networks do not know how they actually work and make decisions. The neural networks, it seems, can only be indirectly affected and tweaked … by intuition …  are scientists pushing themselves off the edge of reason? Even at this early stage we do not have “control” over these creations:

“Yesterday, the 46-year-old Google veteran who oversees the company’s search engine, Amit Singhal, announced his retirement. And in short order, Google revealed that Singhal’s rather enormous shoes would be filled by a man named John Giannandrea.

Giannandrea, you see, oversees Google’s work in artificial intelligence … Early in 2015 … Google began rolling out a deep learning system called RankBrain that helps generate responses to search queries.

… Singhal carried a philosophical bias against machine learning. With machine learning, he wrote, the trouble was that “it’s hard to explain and ascertain why a particular search result ranks more highly than another result for a given query.” And, he added: “It’s difficult to directly tweak a machine learning-based system to boost the importance of certain signals over others.”

… in order to tweak the behavior of these neural nets, you must adjust the math through intuition, trial, and error. You must retrain them on new data, with still more trial and error.”

and if you got this far and would like to go a bit deeper … this up-to-date primer on artificial intelligence.

Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours