What Are Dreams For?

2023-08-31 Amanda Gefter

In a series of papers, Blumberg articulated his theory that the brain uses REM sleep to “learn” the body. You wouldn’t think that the body is something a brain needs to learn, but we aren’t born with maps of our bodies

In 2013, Blumberg published a paper in Current Biology titled “Twitching in Sensorimotor Development from Sleeping Rats to Robots.” In it, he asked, “Can twitching, as a special form of self-generated movement, contribute to a robot’s knowledge about its body and how it works?”

https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/what-are-dreams-for

Password advice

There have been news stories about how the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior found weak passwords in the Department of Interior’s Active Directory accounts:

The OIG report:
P@s$w0rds at the U.S. Department of the Interior: Easily Cracked Passwords, Lack of Multifactor Authentication, and Other Failures Put Critical DOI Systems at Risk
It has password advice on page 8:

NIST SP 800–63 recommends using passphrases instead of passwords …

Password vs. Passphrase Examples
Password = 5pr1ng*Ish3re
Passphrase = DinosaurLetterTrailChance

I believe the passphase words have to be chosen randomly from a large word list to be effective, but it is easier to remember than a complex password.

Ryan Reynolds reveals the No. 1 skill that’s helped him succeed: ‘It really changed my life’

2022-10-13 Morgan Smith

“We live in a world that’s increasingly gamified, and I think we have an instinct to win, crush and kill,” he said. “But if you can disengage or disarm that instinct for a second and replace it with seeking to learn about somebody instead, that, as a leadership quality, for me, has quite literally changed every aspect of my life.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/13/ryan-reynolds-credits-his-success-to-one-skill-it-changed-my-life.html

A Thought on the Lovelace Test

The Lovelace test demands of a computing machine that it not only produce an artifact that is by conventional standards amazing, but it leaves everyone looking at it
stupefied as to how it does what it does: including in this stupefaction the creators and designers of the machine.
– Selmer Bingsjord [1]

 

An artificial agent, designed by a human, passes the [Lovelace] test only if it originates a “program” that it was not engineered to produce. The outputting of the new program—it could be an idea, a novel, a piece of music, anything—can’t be a hardware fluke, and it must be the result of processes the artificial agent can reproduce. Now here’s the kicker: The agent’s designers must not be able to explain how their original code led to this new program. [2]

 

My thought is if God made humans, can a human use creativity to make an artifact, so that God can’t explain how it was made?

 

[1]
Artificial Intelligence: Will Machines Take Over? (Science Uprising, Ep. 10)
2022-09-21 YouTube channel: “Discovery Science”
https://youtu.be/suuxAZbDCYE?t=362

[2]
Forget Turing, the Lovelace Test Has a Better Shot at Spotting AI
2014-07-08 Jordan Pearson
https://www.vice.com/en/article/pgaany/forget-turing-the-lovelace-test-has-a-better-shot-at-spotting-ai

Vladimir Putin Has Fallen Into the Dictator Trap

2022-03-16 Brian Klaas

For those of us living in liberal democracies, criticizing the boss is risky, but we’re not going to be shipped off to a gulag or watch our family get tortured. In authoritarian regimes, those all-too-real risks have a way of focusing the mind. Is it ever worthwhile for authoritarian advisers to speak truth to power?

As a result, despots rarely get told that their stupid ideas are stupid, or that their ill-conceived wars are likely to be catastrophic. Offering honest criticism is a deadly game and most advisers avoid doing so. Those who dare to gamble eventually lose and are purged. So over time, the advisers who remain are usually yes-men who act like bobbleheads, nodding along when the despot outlines some crackpot scheme.

When despots screw up, they need to watch their own back. Yet again, they can become victims of the dictator trap. To crush prospective enemies, they must demand loyalty and crack down on criticism. But the more they do so, the lower the quality of information they receive, and the less they can trust the people who purport to serve them. As a result, even when government officials learn about plots to overthrow an autocrat, they may not share that knowledge. This is known as the “vacuum effect”—and it means that authoritarian presidents might learn of coup attempts and putsches only when it’s too late. This raises a question that should keep Putin awake at night: If the oligarchs were to eventually make a move against him, would anyone warn him?

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/03/putin-dictator-trap-russia-ukraine/627064/

The Painfully Shy Developer’s Guide to Networking for a Better Job (Without Being Creepy)

2017-07-07 Sam Julien

People are honestly not that complicated. When you go to an event or a meetup, do you find yourself awkwardly standing around, compulsively looking at your phone? Do you feel alone or uncomfortable? The truth is, nearly everyone else is feeling the same way. When it comes down to it, people want to feel welcomed and accepted. Why else do people gravitate towards the people they already know at these events? Few people really relish being awkward at these things.

Here’s the fun part: you can change that for someone else. Shift your thinking from how you are feeling to how others are feeling. How nice would it be if someone came up to you and just gave you a warm smile, said hello, and asked you a genuine question about yourself? You can be that person for someone!

https://www.samjulien.com/shy-dev-networking

Mike Pence: Biden Broke Our Deal With the Taliban

2021-08-17 Mike Pence

In February 2020, the Trump administration reached an agreement that required the Taliban to end all attacks on U.S. military personnel, to refuse terrorists safe harbor, and to negotiate with Afghan leaders on creating a new government. As long as these conditions were met, the U.S. would conduct a gradual and orderly withdrawal of military forces.

Unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, the agreement immediately brought to Afghanistan a stability unseen in decades. In the past 18 months, the U.S. has not suffered a single combat casualty there.

But when Mr. Biden became president, he quickly announced that U.S. forces would remain in Afghanistan for an additional four months without a clear reason for doing so. There was no plan to transport the billions of dollars worth of American equipment recently captured by the Taliban, or evacuate the thousands of Americans now scrambling to escape Kabul, or facilitate the regional resettlement of the thousands of Afghan refugees who will now be seeking asylum in the U.S. with little or no vetting.

Once Mr. Biden broke the deal, the Taliban launched a major offensive against the Afghan government and seized Kabul. They knew there was no credible threat of force under this president. They’ve seen him kowtow to anti-Semitic terrorist groups like Hamas, restore millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority, and sit by earlier this year while thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli civilians.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mike-pence-biden-broke-our-deal-with-the-taliban-11629238764