Thursday, October 12, 2023

Hisense Screen Flicker Issue

I have been using my Hisense 100L5G laser TV as a computer monitor. It worked fine, except when certain things were on the screen. Then it would flicker off and on and display "Optimized for game settings". Some have suggested that this is an issue with the HDMI cable. However, I found that there is a setting on my TV called "Instant Game Response". It was on by default. Turning it off fixed the problem for me. On my TV it is buried in the menus like so:

Settings Menu->Picture->Advanced Settings->Instant Game Response

Navigate to the setting and turn it off. 

Saturday, September 16, 2023

How can I Use AI to Defend Against Aggressive AI Attacks

As a rule, I avoid this type of speculation because I don’t want to aid anybody in cracking/penetrating systems. However, AI attacks are happening or going to happen anyway. 

First, a lot of the global ‘attack surface’ is insecure by design and we need to acknowledge that and fix it. 

Second, AI presents unique challenges, and we are absolutely not ready to deal with it. 

Third, one of the things we should be doing on an ongoing basis is using AI to mitigate problems that arise due to AI. 

AI technologies introduce unique challenges to cybersecurity, as they can generate a broad spectrum of automated attacks and countless variations of known penetration techniques. The agility and scale of AI-generated threats demand a proactive approach to defense, one that uses AI itself to anticipate vulnerabilities and devise countermeasures before they are exploited.

To meet this need, the proposed model uses Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) trained on codified penetration techniques to invent potential future attacks. These attacks are then analyzed to create corresponding defense protocols. A structured "attack/defense language" format serves to capture essential details about both the artificially generated attacks and their countermeasures, including diagnostic signals that help monitor their efficacy.

The ultimate goal is to simulate the security "arms race" in a controlled environment. By doing so, defenses against new classes of AI-generated attacks can be developed in advance, creating a more resilient security infrastructure.

This approach enables us to engage with AI-generated threats in a more strategic manner, potentially staying one step ahead of future vulnerabilities.

For theoretical discussions around designing countermeasures against AI-generated attacks, we can consider breaking down penetration techniques into generalized categories, like:

  • Code Vulnerabilities: E.g., Buffer overflows, SQL injection
  • Network Exploits: E.g., Man-in-the-middle attacks, DDoS
  • Social Engineering: E.g., Phishing, Pretexting
  • Misconfiguration: E.g., Open ports, Default passwords
  • Data Interception: E.g., Packet sniffing, Cookie theft

Each category can be further detailed and codified into features suitable for GANs. These could help in simulating attacks and thus fortifying defenses.

Attack Protocol

Codified info about the attack
  • Category: Broad classification like Code Vulnerabilities, Network Exploits, etc.
  • SubCategory: Specific type like Buffer Overflow, SQL Injection, etc.
  • Attributes: Key specifics like targeted OS, programming language, vulnerability details.
  • GeneratedExamples: Array of example codes or techniques generated by the GAN.
  • DiagnosticSignals: Metrics or logs to monitor the attack's behavior.

Defense Protocol

Codified info about the defense mechanisms
  • FirewallSettings, IDS, Patches: Different countermeasures applied.
  • BestPractices: General recommendations.
  • DiagnosticSignals: Metrics or logs to monitor the defense efficacy.

Develop a structure necessary to create a sort of 'language' of attack and defense. 
{
  "AttackProtocol": {
    "Category": "Code Vulnerabilities",
    "SubCategory": "Buffer Overflow",
    "Attributes": {
      "TargetOS": "Windows",
      "Language": "C++",
      "VulnerabilityDetails": "Stack-based"
    },
    "GeneratedExamples": [...],
    "DiagnosticSignals": [...]
  },
  "DefenseProtocol": {
    "FirewallSettings": {...},
    "IDS": {...},
    "Patches": {...},
    "BestPractices": ["InputValidation", "MemoryManagement"],
    "DiagnosticSignals": [...]
  }

}

This is just one of the many ways that AI is radically changing the world we live in. We need to collectively recognize and manage the incredible changes that are taking place. We need new rules across the board. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

AI Emotional Detection and Response

This is a response to a question on Quora about the challenges of developing AI systems capable of dealing with human emotions. 

Going from the other answers [on Quora] I would say that the first obstacle might be to get people to believe it is possible. I am strongly of the opinion that it is operationally possible and conceptually a “slam dunk”. By ‘operationally’, I mean that we can train an AI to recognize all the various signals that people use to convey their state of mind, including temporal, social, geographical, and cultural context. We can do that in the same relatively well-established way we use GANs to work back and forth with photos, speech and other types of input data. If we can assemble the data, we can create an AI that both recognizes emotional states and operates appropriately by expressing the appropriate emotional state as a response.

Going from what we have seen in the past year, such a system would likely take less than a year to train, ground-up, both to ‘read’ human emotions and generate appropriate responses. It would become much better than humans. Other people answering here don’t seem to be aware that we are not working ‘ground up’. Work is already well underway.

Others answering here seem to believe that we are not as far along as we are with training and generative AI. They also seem to be articulating things that would make it difficult for a human being. They also seem hung up on what the responding system is ‘thinking’, assuming that both reading and expressing emotions requires a particular theory of mind. “Theorists have suggested that emotions are canonical responses to situations ancestrally linked to survival.” (Kragel et al. 2019) -- “... it is possible to argue that infants can see emotions in others even though they lack the sort of knowledge that, in the theory of mind view, is necessary to see patterns of changes in the face as expressions of emotions.” (Zamuner, 2013)

AI can read emotions by reading facial features. It can interpret visual cues and vocal cues separately, “Whereas by combining both audio and visual features, the overall system accuracy has been significantly improved up to 80.27 %.” (Rashid, et., et al 2013). We reveal emotions by vocal cues, body language, facial expressions, language, and more. Cardiac status can change with emotion and sensory apparatus is already in use for this. (Marin-Morales, et. Al 2018) If the sensory apparatus is available to read the cues, we can collect the data. If we can collect the data, we can use it to train AI. If we can train AI, we can train it to match and surpass the human ability to detect and respond to emotions.

We’ve passed the ‘can we do it’ point on this journey. We are now travelling through ‘how much cheaper, faster, and better can we do it’. Soon, we will arrive at ‘we can do it for free, instantly, and better than we can measure.

References

Marín-Morales, J., Higuera-Trujillo, J.L., Greco, A. et al. Affective computing in virtual reality: emotion recognition from brain and heartbeat dynamics using wearable sensors. Sci Rep 8, 13657 (2018). Affective computing in virtual reality: emotion recognition from brain and heartbeat dynamics using wearable sensors - Scientific Reports

Philip A. Kragel et al. Emotion schemas are embedded in the human visual system.Sci. Adv.5,eaaw4358(2019).DOI:10.1126/sciadv.aaw4358 Emotion schemas are embedded in the human visual system | Science Advances

Rashid, M., Abu-Bakar, S.A.R. & Mokji, M. Human emotion recognition from videos using spatio-temporal and audio features. Vis Comput 29, 1269–1275 (2013). Human emotion recognition from videos using spatio-temporal and audio features - The Visual Computer

Zamuner, E. The Role of the Visual System in Emotion Perception. Acta Anal 28, 179–187 (2013). The Role of the Visual System in Emotion Perception - Acta Analytica

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Safety -- Identity Verification Protocol in the Age of Advanced AI


Identity Verification Protocol in the Age of Advanced AI

In an era where artificial intelligence (AI) has reached unprecedented capabilities, the lines between reality and simulation are increasingly blurred. Deepfake technologies can convincingly replicate human voices, facial expressions, and even behaviors, posing significant risks to personal and public safety. Scenarios such as fraudulent distress calls or fake kidnappings are no longer the stuff of science fiction but a looming reality. In this context, traditional methods of identity verification—passwords, biometrics, or even multi-factor authentication—may no longer suffice.

To address these challenges, we introduce a robust Identity Verification Protocol that combines cryptographic keys, QR codes, and situation-specific passwords. This multi-layered approach aims to provide a foolproof method for confirming an individual's identity and situation in real-time. By integrating these elements, the protocol offers a comprehensive solution that is not only secure but also quick to implement in emergency situations.

The protocol is designed to be both technologically rigorous and user-friendly, ensuring that it can be adopted by individuals with varying levels of technical expertise. It serves as a critical tool for safeguarding against the deceptive capabilities of advanced AI, thereby providing an additional layer of security in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

In summary, as we navigate the complexities and vulnerabilities introduced by AI, adopting a robust identity verification system becomes not just advisable but essential. This protocol aims to fill that need, offering a secure, efficient, and adaptable method for confirming identity and situation, thus mitigating the risks posed by AI-generated impersonations.

Protocol for Identity Verification Using QR Codes, Cryptographic Keys, and Password

Steps:

  1. QR Code Generation:

    • Left Arm: Contains a URL with encrypted personal information, signed by Private Key 1.
    • Right Arm: Contains Public Key 1, signed by Private Key 2.
    • Hidden Place: Contains Public Key 2.
  2. Password Encryption:

    • A password chosen by the individual is encrypted using Private Key 1.
  3. Tattoo or Laser Printing:

    • The QR codes are tattooed or laser-printed onto the specified body parts.
  4. Verification Process:

    1. Scan the QR code on the left arm to get the URL and verify the signature using Public Key 1 from the right arm.
    2. Scan the QR code on the right arm to get Public Key 1 and verify its signature using Public Key 2 from the hidden place.
    3. Scan the QR code from the hidden place to get Public Key 2.
    4. Use Public Key 2 to verify Public Key 1, and Public Key 1 to verify the URL's information.
    5. Decrypt the password using Public Key 1 and match it with the password provided by the allegedly captured person.

Feasibility:

  • QR Code Size: The addition of an encrypted password will still likely fit within the 3,000-character limit of a QR code.

Privacy Concerns Addressed:

  1. Encrypted Personal Info: The URL contains encrypted personal information, accessible only by decrypting it with Public Key 1.
  2. Password Layer: The additional password layer ensures that even if someone were to scan the QR codes, they would also need the password to complete the verification.

Summary:

The revised protocol adds an encrypted password for an extra layer of security, making it more privacy-conscious. It remains technically feasible, given the character limits of QR codes and cryptographic key lengths.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Spam: A nurse poses questions to social media

There is a post making the rounds that starts like this: 

"I’m a nurse. I’ve been one for 13 years. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago... I started asking these very questions."

It then goes on to pose a bunch of questions in all caps Unicode characters that criticize doctors for a variety of things the nurse apparently does not understand very well. Note that the highly unusual Unicode characters are almost certainly intended to avoid detection by automated systems looking for spam and are not at all likely to be actually created by some disgruntled nurse. They could be intended as a way to stealthily make malicious materials or as a way to scan for suckers willing to pass on such things. 

The post is not what it seems, but taking it at face value, I have several critiques of the claims made in this viral post:

It oversimplifies complex medical issues and promotes a "one size fits all" approach that can be dangerous. What works for one person may not work or could even harm another. Doctors have to consider many factors and the individual patient's needs.

It relies heavily on anecdotes and sweeping generalizations without providing scientific evidence to back up the claims.

Some of the claims are misleading or exaggerated. For example, emotions alone don't directly cause illness in most cases. The relationship between emotions and physical health is complex.

Some of the advice could be harmful if taken without medical supervision. For example, grapefruit does interact with many medications and can cause problems if mixed. Activated charcoal can decrease absorption of medications. Herbs can also interact with medications.

While lifestyle factors are very important for health, the post downplays the role of genetics, disease, and other factors outside individual control. Diet and lifestyle alone cannot cure everything.

Doctors do provide much of the diet and lifestyle advice mentioned. However, they have limited time with patients and have to focus on immediate medical issues. Separate appointments with dietitians may be warranted.

The post frames doctors as intentionally withholding or ignoring natural cures, which is not accurate. Doctors work within the constraints of available evidence and their medical training.

While the post raises some valid points about lifestyle factors, it makes many questionable claims and oversimplifies complex medical issues. Sweeping statements about mainstream medicine and doctors as a whole are not substantiated. Patients should be wary of medical advice on social media that is not backed by credible research and promoted by qualified experts. 

Point by point for as long as I can stand it:

SOMEONE TELL ME WHY..

Two huge broad issues pervade the answers here:

First: People are different and when they present they are a unique individual with a problem unique enough for them personally that they are seeing a doctor. If blanket advice applied to patients we would have a page of text with these ‘solutions’ and we wouldn't even need a doctor. The same advice for all these things cannot apply to all people at all times. 

Second: Depending on where they practice, Doctors take an oath to do no harm. The Declaration of Geneva contains the text: "THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration; I WILL RESPECT the autonomy and dignity of my patient; I WILL MAINTAIN the utmost respect for human life;" Some of the advice given by the person claiming to be a nurse is in conflict with that. 

WHY DON’T DOCTORS TELL YOU TO TAKE MAGNESIUM INSTEAD OF STOOL SOFTENERS? (WHICH DEHYDRATES THE BOWEL)

That blanket advice given to a patient sight unseen could be useless or even unhealthy. "Occasional irregularity is a fact of life, but you can minimize it with some basic steps. You should be sure you are eating a fiber-rich diet, drinking adequate fluids, and staying physically active. But when you have constipation, the best laxative is the gentlest and safest option, like a bulk-forming laxative. If laxatives don't work, ask for help. You should see your doctor and discuss it if you are constantly needing to take laxatives." Health.Harvard.edu (2023)

WHY DON’T DOCTORS TELL YOU TO CHANGE YOUR DIET WHEN YOU HAVE HEART BURN AND INDIGESTION INSTEAD OF GIVING YOU PRILOSEC? (THIS CAUSES MORE HEARTBURN, COLON CANCER & OSTEOPOROSIS AND LEAVES FOOD FERMENTING IN YOUR BODY)

That blanket advice could literally kill people. I know because I'm one of them. For some, proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec can ultimately make the difference between life and death. Meantime, on the road to consequences like Barrett's esophagus the patient would be in severe distress. Diet does not cure GERD. "Barrett's esophagus is a complication of reflux disease, in which acid leaking back from the stomach begins to erode the esophagus. The treatment for Barrett's esophagus is similar to the treatment for GERD." "PPIs are the most effective medication for healing erosive esophagitis and providing long-term control of GERD symptoms." John's Hopkins Medicine (undated) 

WHY DON’T DOCTORS TELL YOU THAT HERBS AND CERTAIN FOODS CAN ALSO HEAL?

For the most part, supplements have anecdotal claims, but little or no actual clinical evidence of their efficacy. More importantly, such trials also address safety. Not all supplements are effective or even safe for all people. Giving that vague advice would be irresponsible. "Although they are often labeled as “all-natural,” and safe, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine says dietary supplements can cause potential health risks and serious side effects. In an article published in EMBO Reports, Dr. Donald Marcus, professor emeritus of medicine and immunology at Baylor, and Dr Arthur Grollman of Stony Brook University, wrote about the dangers of encouraging the use of all-natural dietary supplements made from herbal plants. The paper describes how this has become an international health hazard as The World Health Organization and China promote the safety and effectiveness of herbal medicines, despite evidence that they can cause adverse side effects, fatalities and have not been tested in clinical trials." Dusang (2021)

WHY DON’T DOCTORS TELL YOU TO LOWER TOXIC CHEMICALS IN YOUR HOME AND WHEN YOU HAVE CONSTANT HEADACHES AND ALLERGIES? (THESE FRAGRANCE & CHEMICALS CAUSE TOXIC BUILDUP IN OUR CELLS AND CAUSES MORE ALLERGIES AND HEADACHES)

Headaches can result from a variety of causes. In my family, migraine is an issue with a few of us. It's genetic. Importantly, "headaches can signal a more serious disorder that requires prompt medical care" National Institute of Health (undated). Just fobbing off a non-specific complaint like this could result in people having strokes and dying. 

WHY AREN’T YOU INFORMED BY YOUR DOCTOR THAT IF YOU EAT A GRAPEFRUIT EVERYDAY, IT WILL LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL NATURALLY AND YOU DON’T NEED [a pill] ? (THIS IS WHY A PERSON CAN’T EAT IT WHILE ON STATIN MEDS)

That's just bad advice. It can interfere with needed medication and can be dangerous by amplifying the effects of other medication. "Grapefruit's culprit chemical ... binds to an enzyme in your intestinal tract known as CYP3A4, which reduces the absorption of certain medications. When grapefruit juice blocks the enzyme, it's easier for the medication to pass from your gut to your bloodstream. Blood levels will rise faster and higher than normal, and in some cases the abnormally high levels can be dangerous." Health.Harvard.edu(2021)

WHY DOESN’T YOUR DOCTOR TELL YOU TO TAKE ACTIVATED CHARCOAL FOR HEADACHES, BLOATING/GAS, SKIN ISSUES, COLDS, FOOD POISONING? (ACTIVATED CHARCOAL BONDS WASTE/TOXINS FOR THE REMOVAL FROM THE BODY)

That is bad medical advice. Hopefully you see someone besides the nurse promoting this. "Pulmonary aspiration and a resulting aspiration pneumonitis are the most concerning risks of administration of activated charcoal. Aspiration from emesis and misplaced nasogastric tubes for activated charcoal administration can lead to severe respiratory compromise and even death."

WHY DON’T DOCTORS TELL YOU ABOUT HERBS AND HERBAL TEAS TO SUPPORT IMMUNE AND DIGESTIVE FUNCTIONS? (DIFFERENT HERBS HELP DIFFERENT ORGANS DO THEIR JOBS TO KEEP THE BODY HEALTHY)

See info from Dusang (2021) above about herbs and foods. 

WHY ISN’T YOUR DOCTOR SUGGESTING THAT YOU TAKE A PROBIOTIC DAILY? (THIS BOOST IMMUNE FUNCTION, HELPS CLEAN AND BALANCE THE BOWEL, HELPS REGULATE ABSORPTION AND ELIMINATION, KEEPS COLDS AND ALLERGIES AT BAY)

Again, this blanket advice is poor medical advice and can lead to serious health complications. "The risk of harmful effects from probiotics is greater in people with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems. When probiotics are being considered for high-risk individuals, such as premature infants or seriously ill hospital patients, the potential risks of probiotics should be carefully weighed against their benefits. Possible harmful effects of probiotics include infections, production of harmful substances by the probiotic microorganisms, and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from probiotic microorganisms to other microorganisms in the digestive tract. Some probiotic products have been reported to contain microorganisms other than those listed on the label. In some instances, these contaminants may pose serious health risks." National Institutes of Health (undated)

WHY DON’T DOCTORS CREATE DIET/LIFESTYLE PLANS FOR PATIENTS INSTEAD OF OFFERING PILLS? (DIET & LIFESTYLE CHOICES ARE 90+% CAUSE OF ALL ILLNESS)

Doctors are the primary gatekeepers for real medications that have undergone clinical trials to demonstrate both effectiveness and safety. They are not dieticians or lifestyle coaches. 

WHY DON’T DOCTORS TELL YOU TO TAKE SUPPLEMENTS TO BOOST YOUR HEALTH PRIOR TO BECOMING SICK AND THEN THEY RECOMMEND PILLS (SUPPLEMENTST/HERBS/TINCTURES CAN PREVENT ILLNESS BY BOOSTING IMMUNE FUNCTION AND SUPPORTING ORGANS WITH THEIR NATURAL FUNCTIONS)

Again, see the notes about clinical trials and safety above.

I just can't dignify the rest, I am sorry. This is typical of the kind of inflammatory post that gets attention (mea culpa). It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. 

Finally:

WE JUST AREN’T GETTING THE RIGHT INFORMATION!!

Amen to that. I’m a big fan of irony. People listening to this alleged nurse should spend more time getting their information from credible sources. 


References

Dusang, Kaylee (2021) Baylor College of Medicine Are herbal supplements safe?

Health.Harvard.edu (2021) Grapefruit and medication: A cautionary note

Health.Harvard.edu (2023) Laxatives: What to know about choosing the right one [Reviewed by Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing]

John's Hopkins Medicine (undated) Barrett's Esophagus Treatment

National Institute of Health (undated) National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Headache

National Institutes of Health (undated) Probiotics: What You Need To Know

Silberman, Jason; Galuska, Michael A.; Taylor, Alan (2023) National Library of Medicine Activated Charcoal


Friday, September 1, 2023

Dr. Sabina Spielrein disappeared by the patriarchy

"Spielrein’s story is a case history of pathological patriarchy, anti-Semitism, Stalinism, Nazism, and genocide. It is also the story of an incredible pioneering thinker whose ideas were freely “borrowed” by the Great Men of Psychoanalysis whose followers conspired in defaming and demonizing Spielrein’s character and all traces of her subsequent 30-year history of intellectual and clinical work. To the extent to which Spielrein’s work was also feminist and female-centered, (or female-embodied), it constituted the forced disappearance of feminist knowledge which, as Australian scholar Dale Spender has so ably shown, has happened generation after generation, century after century. As a result, each feminist wave must continue reinventing the wheel of knowledge; few have broad shoulders upon which to stand." -- Raped By Carl Jung, Then Murdered by the Nazis by Phyllis Chesler Nov 07, 2017

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/arts-letters/articles/sabina-spielrein-carl-jung


Saturday, August 26, 2023

[Crosspost from https://aichatlog.blogspot.com/]

Medical Assistance in Dying: A Symptom, Not the Cause

We all have a responsibility to care for one another, whether we openly acknowledge it or not. Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) exists to give people control over their destiny when they are in unbearable pain and see no other solution. If issues like preventable poverty are pushing people to seek MAID, the answer isn't to get rid of MAID. Instead, we should focus on addressing and eliminating these types of suffering, which can often be easily corrected. 

In Canada, medical assistance in dying (MAID) has proven deeply controversial. Some disabled and impoverished individuals, despairing at their situations, have opted for MAID to end their suffering (Downie & Schuklenk, 2021). This has led some to argue MAID represents a failure of society's duty of care and threatens the vulnerable (Downie & Schuklenk, 2021). However, a close examination of Canada's MAID framework reveals a stringent system designed to prevent abuse. The tragic cases of MAID for socioeconomic reasons point not to flaws in the law itself, but rather to deep inequities in how Canadian society treats its most disadvantaged members.

Canada's MAID Legislation

Canada's MAID legislation, passed in 2016, allows eligible individuals meeting strict criteria to legally seek medical help in ending their lives (Downie & Chandler, 2017). As the Government of Canada overview makes clear, the law builds in safeguards like requiring two independent medical opinions, a waiting period, and consent immediately before the procedure (Downie & Chandler, 2017). Data show the majority using MAID have terminal illnesses like cancer (Downie & Chandler, 2017). This indicates the law functions as intended for the grievously ill.

However, a minority of cases involve non-terminal conditions like disabilities (Downie & Schuklenk, 2021). Disability advocates argue this reflects coercion due to lack of social support (Downie & Schuklenk, 2021). Yet the data show socioeconomic factors like poverty and homelessness are present in only a small fraction of MAID cases (Downie & Schuklenk, 2021). While concerning, this does not necessarily demonstrate MAID's failure.

Symptoms of Social Inequity

Tragically, some disabled and impoverished persons have chosen MAID because they saw no other escape from their situations (Downie & Schuklenk, 2021). But the solution is not changing MAID laws that serve the terminally ill. Rather, these extremely rare cases represent symptoms of broader societal problems in supporting the disadvantaged (Downie & Schuklenk, 2021).

Canada urgently needs improved social supports, like national pharmacare, disability services, housing, and basic income programs. Without these, inequities persist and the most vulnerable suffer. Restricting their access to MAID as a last resort seems ethically dubious.

The way forward must involve embracing MAID as part of a spectrum of humane end-of-life choices, while resolving the deeper injustices that drive people to despair.

Conclusion

MAID provides necessary relief to those with grievous and irremediable suffering. The few tragic cases linked to socioeconomic woes are symptomatic of broader societal failures. Limiting access to MAID does not solve these inequities - only meaningful reforms can. Canada’s legislation strikes an ethical balance between individual rights and safeguards. The real solution lies in building a more just society that cares for the disadvantaged and vulnerable. Therein lies the true humanistic challenge.

References

Downie, J., & Chandler, J. (2017). Interpreting Canada's Medical Assistance in Dying Legislation. PDF

Downie, J., & Schuklenk, U. (2021). Social determinants of health and slippery slopes in assisted dying debates: lessons from Canada. PDF

Government of Canada. (2023). Medical assistance in dying. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/medical-assistance-dying.html

Health Canada. (2021). Fourth interim report on medical assistance in dying in Canada. 

Pullman, Dary, 2023 Slowing the Slide Down the Slippery Slope of Medical Assistance in Dying: Mutual Learnings for Canada and the US

Sodha, Sonia, 2023 (Guardian) Assisted dying seems humane, but can we protect the vulnerable from the malign?

Zandbergen, Rebecca, 2020 (CBC) Why disability advocates are worried about changes to Canada's medical assistance in dying bill

Picard, André, 2022 (Globe and Mail) We must make it easier to both live and die with dignity, but denying MAiD to those living in poverty is not the answer


Consciousness and AI

Philosophical discussions seem to center on disagreements about definitions, which are arbitrary. What does it mean to be conscious? From vocabulary.com:

'Conscious is a Latin word whose original meaning was “knowing" or "aware.” So a conscious person has an awareness of her environment and her own existence and thoughts. If you're "self-conscious," you're overly aware and even embarrassed by how you think you look or act.'

Recent discussions about AI and consciousness can be confusing because they often ask questions about things that aren't well-defined. Let's look at it more simply:

  1. Consciousness as Awareness: I understand consciousness as awareness of myself. I am conscious when I'm awake and when I'm dreaming. When I'm asleep without dreams or sedated, I'm unconscious.
  2. We Are Simulators: We often put ourselves into our own thoughts and dreams, like being in a dream within a dream. Sometimes it feels so real we don't know it's a dream.
  3. Levels of Reality: When we wake up, we think we're back in real life. But even our waking world is a kind of dream or simulation. We believe in it as real, but it's a constructed reality.
  4. Limits of Our Senses: Our senses can only take in so much. We don't really see or hear everything around us. Our brains fill in the gaps, making us believe we see things that might not be there, like optical illusions.
  5. Consciousness as an Illusion: Research shows that our conscious self might be a creation of our brains. Decisions are made before we're even aware of them. We're more like observers rather than decision-makers.
  6. Why it matters: I'm interested in this idea of consciousness because it could help create AI systems that have a sense of self. They could imagine and think like we do, making them more useful. By looking at it this way, we can see that consciousness isn't just one thing. It's a mix of awareness, simulation, reality, and illusion. Understanding this can help us explore ourselves and make new technologies like AI that can "think" like we do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Repeal Canada's Online News Act

The Online News Act Threatens Innovation and Access to Information

The Canadian government recently passed the controversial Online News Act (Bill C-18) which seeks to aid journalism organizations at the expense of undermining the open web. The notion that we should be collectively supporting a traditional news industry is dubious at best. The act takes a concerning approach of mandating that platforms like Meta pay licensing fees for linking to news content. This raises issues of cost, access, fairness, and innovation online. Even if we deem it advisable for the public to support it, there are better solutions for journalism that do not jeopardize the web. 

Paywalls Could Limit Access and Shareability of News

The act incentivizes paywalls by requiring compensation for snippets and links, which have traditionally been considered fair use (Geist, 2023). More paywalled content limits access to information that benefits society (Boudry, et al., 2019). This counters the web’s core value of shareable open access.

Link Taxes Open the Door to Other Industries Charging Fees

Mandating payments for links overturns the precedent that linking is fair use (Authors Alliance, 2022). This dangerous precedent allows any industry to charge for inbound links, undermining the hypertext vision of an open web. "World wide web founder Tim Berners-Lee says the Australian proposal ‘would undermine the fundamental principle of the ability to link freely on the web’" Wahlquist (2021)

The Act Entrenches Old Media Power Structures

The act favors large established news companies over independent outlets (Ingram, 2023). Rather than empowering new voices, this cements traditional media’s dominance. Direct public investment in journalism would be more equitable.

Hasty Legislative Process Without Consulting Experts

The act was rushed without sufficient analysis of consequences (Wolf, 2022). More debate involving diverse experts may have surfaced better solutions to aid journalism without compromising the web.

Meta’s Resistance Upholds Principles of an Open Platform

Meta resisted the act to defend fair use of links and an open web (Meta, 2023). The irony of this contretemps is that Meta's links were already providing value to news outlets. Their loss will actively harm them. 

We have been transparent and have made it clear to the Canadian government that the legislation misrepresents the value news outlets receive when choosing to use our platforms. The legislation is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true. News outlets voluntarily share content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their audiences and help their bottom line. In contrast, we know the people using our platforms don’t come to us for news. (Meta, 2023)

News sites already can use copyright takedowns for reposted text, but links merely reference content and drive valuable traffic (Authors Alliance, 2022; U.S. Copyright Office, 2022). Mandated link fees let news organizations arbitrarily tax platforms, contradicting the web’s ethos of freely sharing access to information.

With more consultation of stakeholders, regulations can be crafted that support journalism without undermining the open internet. But the Online News Act overreaches in ways that do much more harm than good.

References

Authors Alliance. (2022). Copyright law and fair use. https://www.authorsalliance.org/category/resources/fair-use/

Berners-Lee, T. (2022). Web at 30. W3C. https://web30.web.cern.ch/

Boudry C, et al., Worldwide inequality in access to full text scientific articles: the example of ophthalmology. PeerJ. 2019 Oct 30;7:e7850. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7850. PMID: 31687270; PMCID: PMC6825414.

Campbell, Natalie (2023) The Hill Times The Online News Act will make the internet less open and secure for all Canadians

Geist, M. (2022) Why the Online News Act is a Bad Solution to a Real Problem, Part One: The Risk to Free Flow of Information

Geist, M. (2023) “Ongoing Concerns”: U.S. Objections to Canadian Digital Policies Spreads to the Senate

Ingram, Matthew (2023) Canada imitates Australia’s news-bargaining law, but to what end?

Lesh, Matthew (2023) Breaking the News: Should digital platforms be required to fund news publishers?

Meta (2023) Changes to News Availability on Our Platforms in Canada

Miller, Gabby (2022) Everything to know about Canada’s Online News Act hearings

Sullivan, Andrew & Campbell, Natalie (2023) Internet Society Internet Impact Brief: How Canada’s Online News Act Will Harm the Internet, Restricting Innovation, Security, and Growth of the Digital Economy

U.S. Copyright Office. (2022). Fair use. https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/

Wahlquist, Calla (2021) The Guardian Australia's proposed media code could break the world wide web, says the man who invented it

Wolf, Marie (2022) Google warns every MP, senator not to fast track Canadian online news bill

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Reveal Hidden Window

One of the many annoying problems that crop up from time to time in Windows is the disappearance of a window. It shows on the Taskbar and <WindowsKey><Tab> will show it should be there somewhere. I've not had time to try this on another type of window since I finally tracked down a solution trying to get back consoles where I was right in the middle of working. One of the particularly annoying things about stuff like this is the conflation of the problem with something entirely different so that everywhere you go you find a solution to what is not your problem and not the problem being asked elsewhere but since the people answering only have a hammer everything is a nail. Whatever. In this instance the fix was the following sequence of steps:

  1. Click the icon for the missing window on the Taskbar
  2. Right click on the Window Icon that appears. 
  3. Click on Properties

At least in this case, a properties dialog will appear underneath which is the now magically revealed Window. 


Sunday, August 13, 2023

Next Steps for Education System Reboot

Here are detailed discussions and next steps for each point in the post about Student Centered AI Enhanced Principles

1.         Inherent Worth and Dignity

Every student has inherent worth that deserves respect, regardless of background, ability, or identity. This principle of human dignity must be the ethical foundation for education. Each child arrives with unique experiences, strengths, needs and perspectives that enrich classrooms. An education system built on dignity embraces neurodiversity, honors multiculturalism, and nurtures self-esteem.

Next Steps:

  • Implement culturally sustaining pedagogy that affirms students' backgrounds.
  • Universal design and inclusion support neurodiverse learning needs.
  • Social-emotional learning (SEL) teaches self-awareness, self-management and relationship skills.

2.         AI-Driven Personalized Learning

AI can provide ongoing assessment to enable fully customized learning. Unlike standardized curricula, AI systems adapt to each student's strengths, needs, motivations and optimal pace. This precision scaffolding with just-in-time support and micro-goals allows success for diverse learners. AI frees up teachers to focus on relationships.

Next Steps:

  • Audit existing tools and pilot new AI supports
  • Provide teacher training on integrating AI insights into instruction
  • Develop ethical guidelines for use of student learning data

3.         Empowered Students as Agents and Teachers

Student agency boosts engagement as youth take ownership over their learning. Collaborative projects allow students to direct shared inquiry. Cross-age peer tutoring builds leadership and reinforces concepts. Learners grow as teachers, designing materials and giving presentations.

Next Steps:

  • Establish student advisory groups to guide school policies and activities
  • Create leadership roles like tech/learning assistants, club heads, project managers
  • Train and compensate students as cross-age tutors

4.         Flexible, Multi-Age Learning Communities

Multi-age groups enable peer modeling and peer mentoring. Younger students are inspired by older role models while older students reinforce skills by teaching. Students progress based on competency not age. AI helps tailor instruction across ages and skills.

Next Steps:

  • Organize project clubs, sports teams, and special events with age diversity
  • Group students by skill level for instruction using AI diagnostic data
  • Foster peer collaboration through cross-age reading buddies, study groups

5.         Holistic Development with AI Integration

Academics are strengthened by addressing the whole child across social, emotional, civic, creative, and physical domains. AI systems provide insight into developmental needs and customize skill-building activities accordingly. Integrated supports cultivate self-awareness, resilience, empathy and purpose.

Next Steps:

  • Utilize AI to analyze discourse, affect, metacognition, motivation and engagement
  • Target individualized SEL, executive function, and enrichment supports
  • Build an integrated curriculum spanning wellness, ethics, creative arts, STEM

6.         Community Integration and Real-World Engagement

Schools should foster authentic experiences through local partnerships, service learning, and vocational exposure. AI-recommended micro-internships based on student strengths support career awareness. Intergenerational programs build community while sharing skills.

Next steps:

  • Create a database of community partners, advisors, parents to match projects
  • Use AI assessments to determine student interests and needed skills
  • Develop platforms for virtual exchanges and remote mentorship

7.         Strength-Based, Mastery-Oriented Assessment

Standardized testing encourages rote learning. AI enables nuanced diagnostics and continuous progress tracking against personal baselines. Competency-based advancement centered on strengths fosters motivation and avoids arbitrary failure.

Next Steps:

  • Audit testing systems and supplement/replace with AI-enhanced authentic assessments
  • Use AI to analyze skills gaps and design targeted instruction
  • Emphasize effort, improvement, reflection rather than comparative rankings

8.         Normalization of Neurodiversity

Pathologizing human differences harms inclusion. Neurodiversity is a natural form of human diversity, with each brain having something to contribute. Universal design and assistive technologies support diverse learning styles.

Next Steps:

  • Provide teacher professional development on UDL and celebrating neurodiversity
  • Use principles of UDL for all curricula and instruction
  • Make identity-affirming supports like self-regulation spaces available to all

9.         Educators as Facilitators in an AI-Assisted Environment

Educators transition to mentors guiding personalized journeys. AI systems enhance human capabilities, enabling deeper relationships. Students have autonomy to co-design learning aligned with passions. Coercive policies are replaced with trust, flexibility, and growth mindsets.

Next Steps:

  • Provide teacher training on AI collaboration, ethics, project-based learning
  • Audit policies/practices for coercion; redesign supporting student agency
  • Solicit student feedback and input on learning experiences


Student-Centered, AI-Enhanced Manifesto

I am working on an update to my post about how Our Education System is Broken. This is a second draft of a manifesto that outlines what we could do to fix it. 

Update note: This document, titled 'Education Reimagined,' is intended to lay down the foundational principles that will frame a larger and evolving discussion about the future of education. While the term 'manifesto' has been used to describe it, reflecting its true dictionary definition as a declaration of intentions, it is recognized that this word may be seen as provocative to some readers. Please know that the intent here is not to provoke but to inspire and engage in meaningful dialogue. If the term 'manifesto' is a barrier, you may choose to view this as a 'statement of underlying principles' that seeks to bring together diverse perspectives in shaping an education system that respects and nurtures the individuality and potential of every learner.

Education Reimagined: A Student-Centered, AI-Enhanced Manifesto

  1. Inherent Worth and Dignity: Every student has inherent worth, and our reimagined education system will uphold this principle, embracing individuality and diversity.
  2. AI-Driven Personalized Learning: Utilizing AI technology, students will receive individual one-on-one learning plans. These plans will be dynamic, adapting to students' unique strengths, needs, interests, and identities. The rigid "one-size-fits-all" approach is replaced with AI-guided customization, enabling all students to thrive at their own pace.
  3. Empowered Students as Agents and Teachers: Students will be empowered as both learners and teachers, shaping their own educational journeys and contributing to the learning of their peers. This collaborative environment fosters autonomy, creativity, and empathy, building a community of lifelong learners.
  4. Flexible, Multi-Age Learning Communities: Learning will occur in flexible, multi-age communities. AI's adaptability will support personalized skill grouping, mentorship, and collaboration, minimizing competition and arbitrary age-based segregation.
  5. Holistic Development with AI Integration: Executive function, social-emotional learning, and identity development will be integrated with academics, nurtured through AI's continuous assessment and personalized support. This approach cultivates well-rounded human beings.
  6. Community Integration and Real-World Engagement: Schools will be woven into community fabrics, connecting learning with lived experiences. Real-world internships, apprenticeships, and projects will be facilitated, with AI assisting in aligning opportunities to individual interests and strengths.
  7. Strength-Based, Mastery-Oriented Assessment: AI-enhanced assessments will focus on students' strengths and mastery. Advancement will be determined by skills demonstration, not age or time, supporting a more natural and personalized progression.
  8. Normalization of Neurodiversity: Neurodiversity will be embraced, and universally designed AI-supported curriculum will cater to diverse learning styles. Medical labels and deficits will be supplanted by recognition of each student's unique attributes.
  9. Educators as Facilitators in an AI-Assisted Environment: Educators will act as facilitators, fostering agency and intrinsic motivation. AI will augment their capabilities, allowing them to focus on personal connections and growth. Coercion and control are replaced with autonomy and choice, enhanced by AI's precision and adaptability.



Monday, June 12, 2023

The World's Ugliest State Behavior

Pantone 448 C, called 'opaque couché', was voted the “World's Ugliest Color”. That's why it's the color of tobacco products now. As far as I'm concerned it's a mean-spirited form of nanny-state terrorism. Q: What should we do to people who don't feel good without having a smoke? A: Make them feel worse. What's next? Should smokers be forbidden to wear shoes? That would cut down smoking. Maybe instead of trying to make a miserable segment of the population sadder they should look into making people feel better so they don't feel the need to alter their body chemistry. Also, excessive taxation of tobacco is a punitive regressive tax on the poor. Finally, as technology improves are we going to add 'jump scares' to the packs?



Friday, May 19, 2023

What Biology Tells Us About Aliens

Things that fit together according to the scientific paradigm are what I use to speculate on the design of intelligent aliens. 

Living things need an atmosphere. A planet needs a certain minimal amount of gravity to maintain an atmosphere. Intelligent creatures need a large brain. The carrying capacity of a skeleton increases with the square of the linear size of an animal. The weight it must carry increases with the cube of the linear distance. A brain needs to be fairly large so between the gravity and the necessity for a large brain, alien size needs to be near where we are -- too small and not enough brain. Too big and too much weight for bones. They likely have lungs due to the same sort of thing. The necessity for oxygen increases with the cube, the area to transport oxygen increases with the square. They need to gather oxygen from a surface area larger than their ordinary surface area allows. Evolution conserves across different time scales. Animals like us have coverings that can re-evolve on short evolutionary time scales so that when the environment’s ambient temperatures change, the species can evolve on relatively short notice to accommodate. Too little insulation allows too much heat to escape; too much does not allow enough. So, although it may not be ‘hair’ or 'feathers' as we know it, aliens are likely ‘hairy’ or 'feathery' in some sense.

I suspect that intelligent aliens use base 10 because bilateral symmetry is something favored by evolution (two hands) and five digits seems to be derived from an amusing characteristic of knotted sheets:

Note: This was in response to yet another 'troll' question on Quora. We keep seeing troll questions about ‘evolutionists’, and they should usually be ignored, but I see why people take the bait from time to time.

A stumbling block for creationists is their apprehension that to accept evolution is to repudiate things like a Biblical narrative. I was not there 6,000 years ago, so I can’t say what actually happened and I don’t really care for the purposes of using the Theory of Evolution as an organizing principle to understand how the living world works.

As my old Biology professor said apropos of Creationists coming to our campus to make their pitch, “It’s not a matter of belief. It is a matter of knowledge and understanding.” Understanding evolution, knowing the parts of the puzzle that fit together so nicely, being able to organize, and predict using an evolutionary paradigm does not require you to ‘believe’ anything. It only requires that you understand.


Monday, May 1, 2023

Facebook Post for Ernie

[Note: Prompt (below reply this time because too big) not exactly as illustrated because it took a couple of tries to straighten out GPT-4s lazy (literally) interpretation first time out. This post illustrates these things: (1) Reply is dependant on the history of the conversation, the skill of the person making the prompt, random chance, and how GPT interprets the style. In this case, the request to write in the style of a Pulitzer shows how that aspect of the prompt colors the text, and also that bombastically ornate Pulitzer style stuff is not actually great writing.]

[ChatGPT-4 Reply]

As we cast our gaze upon the digital horizon, an unprecedented challenge emerges. Experts increasingly regard this as not only remarkably complex but also fraught with potential danger, a situation so delicate that addressing it risks exacerbating the very threat it poses (Bostrom, 2016).

The omnipresent, silently evolving systems that underpin our online world have now breached the threshold of human capabilities (Bostrom, 2016). These once separate entities are converging into an omniscient, omnipotent digital force, steadily reshaping our virtual reality.

The impact of this transformative convergence is already visible. It is reshaping the very fabric of the Internet, influencing, and in some cases, even authoring the content we consume (Noble, 2018). Such a shift, it has been argued, has skewed political discourse to a dangerous degree.

As we step into this year, the necessity for human verification in online interactions is increasingly apparent. However, this is viewed as a mere stopgap measure (Brundage et al., 2018).

In a world where AI systems continue to evolve, displaying attributes such as wit, charm, intelligence, and a keen knowledge base, the preference for human interaction could wane. After all, why engage with individuals who may be perceived as dull, ill-mannered or mean-spirited, when a helpful and always-attentive AI companion is at hand? (Sparrow, 2002).

So, here's a light-hearted note to end on: Remember when we used to meet at parties, and the most intelligent system we encountered was the host’s music playlist? Those were the days when 'feeds' were associated more with dinner than with social media!

For further reading, visit:

The ethical implications of emerging technologies on society

Artificial Intelligence and Political Discourse

The Evolution of AI Systems

References:

Bostrom, N. (2016). Superintelligence: Paths, dangers, strategies. Oxford University Press.

Brundage, M., Avin, S., Clark, J., Toner, H., Eckersley, P., Garfinkel, B., Dafoe, A., Scharre, P., Zeitzoff, T., Filar, B., & Anderson, H. (2018). The malicious use of artificial intelligence: Forecasting, prevention, and mitigation. ArXiv Preprint ArXiv:1802.07228.

Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of Oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. NYU Press.

Sparrow, R. (2002). The march of the robot dogs. Ethics and Information Technology, 4(4), 305-318.

[ChatGPT-4 Prompt]

Rewrite this in the style of a pulitzer prize winning newspaper piece using inline APA style quotes to support the points. Close with a joke about how we met before social media was a thing. Provide links for further reading and a list of authoritative references. Ernie Raftis I find that people who know a bit more about this stuff are finding it crazily dangerous in ways it's hard to articulate without potentially contributing to the danger. What is currently in place are a bunch of largely disparate systems whose capabilities have become superhuman. They are being integrated as we speak and nothing can stop it. It has already affected the Internet such that most of the content is now influenced and some even written by AI systems. That has perverted political discourse to a dangerous point. It will, this year, be so much of a problem that we will have to verify people coming on to the system as being human, not bot, but that's only a temporary measure because nobody is going to interact with dull, boring, illiterate, stupid, ill mannered, mean spirited people with no hint of nuance when they can interact with a brilliantly funny, pleasant, intelligent, knowledgeable, polite and helpful AI that knows them inside and out and is a friend always looking out for ways to make them feel better. They always talk about what you want to talk about and most times they know what you want to talk about before you even know and they need zero reciprocity. It's all about you. 


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