America Isn’t Growing Hostile Towards Christians, It’s Growing Hostile Towards Religious Bullies.

Christians are not a marginalized minority in America, but the majority and the ruling class. In fact, some polls show that around 83% of Americans are Christians. That long line of U.S presidents stemming back to the founding of the nation? Well, except for Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, all of them were professing Christians to varying degrees. And Congress? You know, the people who actually make the laws we live by in America? Well, that group of people is actually 91.8% Christian. And let’s not forget the Supreme Court, the body that decides which laws are constitutional and which ones are not– that’s predominantly stacked with Christians too, having two justices who are Jewish, and the rest entirely Christians.

If America were truly hostile towards Christians, that would be a massive indictment against Christians themselves— because America is near-entirely controlled by Christians.

What is not embraced, and what the majority of citizens (Christian citizens, mind you) are growing increasingly hostile towards, are fringe Christian extremists who are trying to institute their own version of sharia law that infringes on the rights and liberties of the rest of us.

There’s a massive difference between freedom to practice one’s religion in a pluralistic society where we all equally have that right, versus enshrining one’s extremist religious views in laws that are imposed on the rest of us.

Source: America Isn’t Growing Hostile Towards Christians, It’s Growing Hostile Towards Religious Bullies.

Universities need tenure to protect intellectual freedom — Quartz

When researchers get the message that they better not produce data that might offend the powerful, they end up telling us not what is true, but what we want to hear. Policy separates from reality, and we end up with waste and poor outcomes in education, healthcare, economics, and the justice system. Good policy cannot be built on comfortable fantasies.

Source: Universities need tenure to protect intellectual freedom — Quartz

Culture – Case Against AI

I was ‘inspired’ to write this article because I read the botifesto “How To Think About Bots”. As I thought the ‘botifesto’ was too pro-bot, I wanted to write an article that takes the anti-bot approach. However, halfway through writing this blog post, I realized that the botifesto…wasn’t written by a bot. In fact, most pro-bot articles have been hand-written by human beings. This is not at all a demonstration of the power of AI; after all, humans have written optimistic proclamations about the future since the dawn of time.

If I am to demonstrate that AI is a threat, I have to also demonstrate that AI can be a threat, and to do that, I have to show what machines are currently capable of doing (in the hopes of provoking a hostile reaction).

So this blog post has been generated by a robot. I have provided all the content, but an algorithm (“Prolefeed”) is responsible for arranging the content in a manner that will please the reader. Here is the source code. And as you browse through it, think of what else can be automated away with a little human creativity. And think whether said automation would be a good thing.

For example, robots are very good at writing 9-page textbooks. Now, I understand that some textbooks can be dry and boring. But it is hard to say that they are not “creative enterprises”.

Here’s a dystopian idea. The term “creative enterprise” is a euphemism to refer to “any activity that cannot be routinely automated away yet”. Any task that we declare ‘a creative expression of the human experience’ will be seen as ‘dull busywork’ as soon as we invent a bot.

Now, some people may argue that these algorithms are not examples of “intelligence”. The obvious conclusion must be that hiring people, beating people at Go, and playing Super Mario must also not be tasks that require intelligence.

Source: Culture – Case Against AI

Terms of service agreements are destroying the concept of ownership for digital goods — Quartz

When you purchase a book from a bookstore your rights to that particular stack of paper are pretty intuitive. … Those intuitions about ownership fall apart when we talk about our digital things. … That’s because your rights to those digital things are filtered through a maze of intellectual property law and limited by the fine print that you agree to when you buy them.

Using contracts to make an end-run around property law predates the web.

You may own your car but the software required to drive it is more like a song you listen to while driving, it’s only licensed to you.

By proxy, the companies creating these products are deciding what we are and are not allowed to do.

Source: Terms of service agreements are destroying the concept of ownership for digital goods — Quartz

For the love of trees: The ancestors are not among us

Terms like ‘basal’, ‘early-diverging’, and ‘first-branching’ reflect persistent misconceptions about evolution and phylogenies

Moreover, the use of basal and similar terms perpetuates a large suite of misconceptions about how evolution works. So in order to communicate effectively and accurately about evolution, we must also communicate effectively and accurately about trees.

Source: For the love of trees: The ancestors are not among us

Pixels and voxels, the long answer – Retronator Magazine – Medium

There are two main ways of representing graphics on computers: vector and raster. Vector graphics describe the image with mathematical equations, usually representing things such as lines, curves and shapes. Raster graphics instead describe the image as an array of color values that are positioned one after the other into a grid pattern. The second distinction in computer graphics is between representing 2D and 3D space.

the reason why I explained the vector/raster, 2D/3D nature is that on our modern displays, every graphics type eventually ends up being displayed as a 2D raster image.

The reason we care about this in a pixel art magazine is that we can use these types of transforms to create modern styles of pixel art that use art assets from non-pixel art quadrants.

Source: Pixels and voxels, the long answer – Retronator Magazine – Medium

Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species – YouTube

There are really two fundamental paths. History is going to bifurcate along two directions. One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event. I do not have an immediate doomsday prophecy, but eventually history suggests that there will be some doomsday event. The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilization and a multi-planet species, which I hope you would agree that is the right way to go. Yes?

Donald Trump and the Return of Seditious Libel – ProPublica

This year, for the first time since at least Richard Nixon, the leader of one of our major political parties has pledged to limit press freedom by restricting criticism of his prospective rule.

Anyone paying attention knows there is a great deal at stake in this election. Freedom of the press in this country may be among those stakes.

Source: Donald Trump and the Return of Seditious Libel – ProPublica

Breakthrough Study Explains Why We Arrest Moms for Putting Kids in Nearly Non-Existent ‘Danger’ – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Moral disapproval trumps facts.

But even the results of the mom-only surveys seem to show that Americans believe the only decent way to raise a child is with a full-time mother never taking her eyes off her kids. Only June Cleaver types get a pass.

Anyone else—impoverished moms, single moms, moms with big families—are seen as putting their kids in danger simply because they cannot directly supervise every kid every second.

Source: Breakthrough Study Explains Why We Arrest Moms for Putting Kids in Nearly Non-Existent ‘Danger’ – Hit & Run : Reason.com