Skip to main content


The Rolling Regency– Update

The Rolling Regency– update
The monarchical aspects of the American Presidency have been a source of worry and menace since the founding generation of the United States. Enlightened theorist-warriors who wrote the Constitution were keenly aware of the frailties of monarchs.  They tried to manage the risks of arbitrary and irrational despotism through clever but untested devices like the Electoral College, the emoluments clauses, and more generally the “Separation of Powers”. The entire Constitution was informed by the recent unsatisfactory experience of the colonies under the reign of George III of England. King George was neither the first nor the last of an impressive roll of mad monarchs who required careful management in the days when sovereignty attached to actual, living sovereigns. We need to re-examine the epoch when modern nation states were emerging from feudalism into the fragile enjoyment of popular sovereignty.
It is now time for us to debate what’s next:  proposals for ima…
Recent posts

Be wary of Golems

In recent posts, P7 derided the prophetic posture assumed by alarmists crying doom over Deep Learning. He apologizes if he offended the serious thinkers on the frontiers of captology and AI. Framing machine-enhanced intellectual leverage as an urgent existential predicament seemed inescapably ridiculous to P7. 

Centuries of cultural effort birthed a desktop mouse, whose redoubled efforts produced impressive feats of brute learning, much like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. P7 wasn’t frightened by them since remarkable as it was for its scale, AI technology escaped his intuitive understanding of clever. How could algorithms show more ingenuity or originality than their creators?

Exponential Sagacity

The Lord Buddha said: The world is on fire and every solution short of Nirvana is like trying to whitewash a burning house.  –Dalrymple, Nine Lives p. 150
A Pilgrim who chanced upon P7’s recent theology posts objects to his calling expectant Singularity-uploaded souls aspiring “angels”. The Pilgrim rightly detected a scoffing note in P7’s speculations.  A wider context should have been established.  
P7 did not claim to have the credentials of a proper theologian. He is merely an observer, and a somewhat haphazard reader.  The Death of God was recorded by Nietzche over a century ago, but the revival of miracles was acknowledged as recently as last week, in a broadcast by NPR’s Tom Ashbrook.  This shows that the religious impulse is robust, and probably innate. Whatever its basis may be, it survived deicide. Moreover, credulity took up residence in the innermost sanctums of Science. The Department of Defense itself has invested big money with grants to speculators exploring a putative re…

If You're so Rich, Why Ain't You Smart?

A Rolling Regency
The question of Trump's leadership was debated in our local barber shop,while the predominantlyTrumpist clientele waited for Barber Bill Occam to strop his razor. The waiting long-beards welcomed Trump’s emotional limitations during the campaign. His egotism and his short fuse attracted voters who were furious with the complacent elite typified by Hilary Clinton.Now that political reality has begun to dispel the fantasies Trump instilled among his faithful, they notice that they were not only misled in the traditional manner of parsing pols, but they were manipulated and distracted by his (possibly Russian) enablers.
The problem is that Trump’s administration is not merely incompetent: it is patently  stupid. Trump as  President is a bundle of lies and contradictions, evasions and scapegoating. He so clearly behaves like a spoiled child that Bill and his customers are willing to concede, okay, so he’s a spoiled brat. (Duck hunters are good at distinguishing a duck…

More Crossover Theology

The last post to this blog noted some problems with Futurology’s promise of personal salvation through mental upload to a (nearly) eternal post-crossover afterlife, safely cocooned inside a cyber cloud. This update probes further implications of sci-fi eschatology. Disembodiment as a practical option presents us with timeless topics beyond the ambit of Ray Kurzweil’s projections. We cannot reckon costs and benefits, nor recruit a mighty posthumous chorus, before we ponder the richness of sensory inputs that will distinguish silicon experience from the limited sensorium available to carbon-based mortals, for example. 
The Moofalo’s sire makes his stand: Proof that flesh can quicken sand! Soon your soul may etch your ass On a tiny chip of silicate glass!
After Upload, the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from X-Rays to deep infra-red will be accessible to us (our unmediated virtual noumena) as raw data. From our privileged immortal standpoint, perched on a swarm of chips, we will apprehend …

Theology of the Crossover

Speculations abound these days about the curse or promise of uploading our “selves” into a state of relative permanence, where we will reside (post-fleshly-mortem) in a silicon-based neural network located in a bit-cloud powered by renewable electric supplies generated somewhere like Utah.  Aside from being closer to credible science fiction than the 20th Century ravings of L. Ron Hubbard, these fantasies provide fuel for more than an incipient religion. They also generate thought experiments and suggest avenues for further solid scientific investigation of the organ in our skull that so often decays and dies before the ones below the neck, especially in old age.
Now that we can map some of our most rational faculties (as well as our perceptive ones) to pathways and regions of cerebral anatomy, this mortal wonders whether his descendants–who may include his living grandchildren– may be allowed by Hal’s grandchild to specify inclusions and omissions to the conductor of their upload on T…

Plus ça Change

At a recent seance, the Charles Street astrologer channeled Shelley, adding two centuries and subtracting two years. This is what she uttered in her trance:

America in 2017
A hacking liar, by hackers from afar controlled; Masks, façades, charades, effrontery– a cruel smile; Lackeys lick his ass, pan his drivel for fools’ gold. Scorned and scornful; dispensable, despised, and vile– Feckless, frivolous, vain; obscene above the fold, He contradicts himself, and boasts it proves his guile. Democracy is finished by a mountebank’s tongue,– Her soldiers felled; her Constitution warped and creased; Thugs come to plunder innocents they move among; (Lambs to arctic cyclones shorn, their treasure fleeced); His victims cannot yet complain that they were stung,– Trust betrayed– Believe me!– is Trust thereby increased, Just as belligerence brings revenues of rest for the deceased Whose graves inglorious phantoms haunt, in mud and dung: Tempestuous days, demanding dirges only to be sung.