Machine Learning Finds a Higher Purpose

I have ranted at length in previous posts on the fact that “predictive” patterns discovered by machine learning cannot add up to, cannot imitate and cannot constitute good taste, but the beer barons at KU Leuven (Louvain) may have arrived at the first counterargument by correlating the chemical signatures of good taste with potentially representative assessments of the same beers by people ostensibly possessed with good taste in matters of beer. Thus, this is the first attempt at correlating the chemistry of the taste of beer with the perceived taste and quality of beer. Sadly, even this attempt seems to have fallen short because the machine learning algorithms failed to identify unique chemical signatures that identified each beer type’s flavor and quality profile.

For now, one should continue to trust human experts more than “expert” algorithms.

Algorithm correlates online reviews with chemical profiles of hundreds of beers, providing a roadmap to enhance taste

Source: Machine learning improves beer flavor

Netanyahu’s Political Parachute is not a War

The gross insult in the entire affair in Gaza is that most media buy into the Netanyahu propaganda point that this is a war. Wars are fought between nations, between governments or between armies organized by one of the former entities. Hamas is neither a government nor a representative body of any Palestinian constituency. Hamas is not an organized military by any stretch of the definition, and the only task of which it is capable is the wholesale slaughter of unarmed civilians: a hallmark of imbeciles, not of trained soldiers. Hamas’s ineptitude at conducting warfare is manifested repeatedly when they have to be ferreted out by force from hospitals and schools and by the ease with which Israel has reduced the region to rubble.

The military incursion into Gaza is just that: a military incursion. It is not a war. In the absence of any military resistance, the Israeli military is not conducting war. It is just as gross an insult to the Israeli military to pretend that Hamas’s imbeciles are worthy adversaries. Those who accept the “war” ascription are deprecating the vaunted Israeli military to the level of Hamas’s imbecile terrorists. It will be a point of shame and utter humiliation for the Israeli army to assert that it is fighting a worthy adversary.

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By Embracing Cynicism, ADL Risks Its Authority

The Antidefamation League fulfills an important, essential function in exposing, explaining and countering hate in the world, but it’s difficult to paint its high profile “Campus Antisemitism Report Card” as anything other than a cynical concession to pressures it is getting as a member of the Israeli media PR juggernaut. Uncharacteristic of the ADL, the document completely lacks context for the activities that it claims to use in rendering the grades. No explanation is offered of what CCI means, of what “active Jewish life” means, of what “recent anti-zionist student government activity” means. There is nuance in what students express, and none of these measures offers any insight into or indication of whether antisemitism has gained converts on campuses, or whether The ADL’s grading criteria can measure the acceptance of antisemitism on campuses. Critically, ADL makes no attempt to disprove the notion that the same minority of biased students are simply more vocal now. Even worse, the ADL makes no attempt to distinguish between activities that are protected by the first amendment and activities that do not violate campus rules.

Antisemitism on campuses is not news. Antisemitism has been equally pervasive on campuses as it has been in the society at large. The ADL has gone against its mission to bring clarity to issues of hate by muddying the waters. What makes this “report card” so pernicious is that it is so cynical: the ADL is propagating many stereotypes that it is committed to fight as a part of its mission. The US may have lost one more feeble speed bump against madness.

Source: Campus Antisemitism Report Card | ADL

New York Papers Eat It on Disparaging San Francisco

The two top New York newspapers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, have been conducting two seemingly coordinated campaigns of disparagement against San Francisco’s cultural and economic preeminences over the past decade. The two papers amplify the most irrelevant stories of misery in San Francisco and quash stories of San Francisco’s economic resilience and its irreplaceable and unrivaled creative and generative DNA. The paradigmatic stories revolved about the massive coverage they gave the departure of Tesla and Oracle headquarters to Austin, TX, and the total lack of coverage they gave to the fact that the most critical Tesla and Oracle HQ staff ultimately returned to the Bay Area. Even the meatiest portion of this story in the Journal carefully avoids providing scale to San Francisco’s economic prowess:

San Francisco has largely weathered the broader crunch in startup funding. Investment in Bay Area startups dropped 12% to $63.4 billion last year. By contrast, funding volumes for Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles, two smaller tech hubs, dropped 27% and 42%, respectively. In Miami, venture investment plunged 70% to just $2 billion last year.

Source: Tech Leaders Fled San Francisco During the Pandemic. Now, They’re Coming Back. – WSJ

It is particularly telling that the story cites the $2 billion mark for Miami in order to disparage Miami in relation to SF’s $63 billion startup capital availability, but the Journal deliberately avoids citing the same numbers for Austin, Los Angeles and New York. In fact, New York is not even mentioned because it would draw attention to the fact that New York’s economy revolves around the motion of money rather than its application to creating businesses. Thus, the story exists solely to disparage all cities except New York, whose most prominent citizen is an ex president who was bolstered by these two papers for decades and who is now a convicted fraudster and slanderer and will soon be a multiply convicted felon.

The “culture wars” propagated in the media is a fiction carefully crafted by New York media to detract from the real culture war: New York’s desperation to be more relevant than San Francisco after it lost its leadership to San Francisco under the weight of its own conservativeness (read sloth) and unrivaled corruption (need anyone say anything more than the presumptive GOP nominee?). New York’s economic might comes from the deals that its revered names like Goldman Sachs broker for the Bay Area companies that are building the future. New York’s wealth is coming from the puny commissions it earns from SF companies, and clearly this irks publications like the Journal, who will likely confirm their own irrelevance by endorsing the criminal candidate for presidency in September.

The greatest American intellect, Mark Twain, became a legend as a writer in San Francisco, and ultimately elected to die in New York. Much more so than the rumors of Twain’s demise, the rumors of San Francisco’s demise are and forever will be exaggerated and totally bogus.

Founders and investors who ditched the Bay Area for Miami and elsewhere are returning to a boom in artificial intelligence and an abundance of tech talent. Source: Tech Leaders Fled San Francisco During the Pandemic. Now, They’re Coming Back. – WSJ

Good Taste Cannot Be Coded

On the Media is a superb program, one of very few programs whose analysis is always constructive, pithy and correct, to the extent that the correct conclusion is drawn based on all available facts. The superb interview linked below is one of very few instances where OTM gets so close to the heart of the matter but fails to state it or examine it:

Algorithms do not have taste. Algorithms cannot mimic taste. No guise of algorithm–AI, machine learning, etc.–will ever serve as the purveyor of good taste.

Let’s take, for example, KCRW.com. KCRW’s rise to the most powerful radio station in the world was founded on good taste. Since its founding in the 70s, its mission has been the opposite of that of commercial radio stations. As commercial radio consolidated and converged on a seemingly singular playlist of “hits”, legendary KCRW djs like Tom Schnabel and Chris Douridas scoured the planet to find music that was as rich in cultural expression as it was pleasant to hear. (This was not limited to highly refined acts. During Spaceland’s hayday in the mid 1990s, Douridas obtained rough cuts of Beck’s first album and played them on the air.) In the same manner that the purveyor of good taste provides the chef with ingredients that represent the best of the cumulative science and art of agriculture, the calling of a true dj is to find and to promote music that captures the best of the craft, culture and art of musical composition and performance. This essence of good taste can not be encoded by algorithms, especially by what is termed Artificial Intelligence, AI.

The widespread lamentation that Chris Chayka documents in Filterworld (link below) is captured wholly in this single word: taste. The only thing that algorithms can capture is the shared ignorance of the masses and impose them upon the individual. This is the complete opposite of what Schnabel and Douridas do in countering the ignorance of the masses by exposing individuals to new and foreign expressions that place the listener’s life in a different context by creating momentary awareness of the different ways people exist and think in the world.

AI can only guess the user’s taste by comparing its analysis of the user’s music to that of the cohort in which it places the user. Thus, the cohort never really grows because AI merely amplifies and imposes the cohort’s predispositions on the cohort ad infinitum. AI has no awareness of what the music conveys and whether the user wants to have his or her boundaries expanded. AI seeks only to keep the user “engaged”, glued to the device in order to take in more of what the algorithm can serve up to keep the user engaged. Schnabel and Douridas had fixed two-hour sets. They had a limited time every day within which to present an argument to their listeners that there are more expressions of beauty outside the listeners’ limited sphere of cultural awareness. Algorithms work 24 hours a day to keep the user confined to the cohort in which the algorithm has placed the user.

Thus, fundamentally, KCRW fulfills a value proposition and AI does not. KCRW’s value proposition is grow rich in awareness and knowledge through new music. The AI model offers no value proposition to the user because it only promises stagnation in exchange for the user’s time. AI’s value proposition is only to the corporation that uses it in the corpus of a captive audience.

Clearly, taste is not a simple matter. It is the fulcrum on which the value proposition in a bargain hinges. It is not limited to the music domain. In every financial transaction, there is no bargain if one is not aware of the value of the purchase. AI cocoons users in ignorance and thus convinces them that the dross it presents to them has value. AI mediated transactions go far beyond a bad bargain. They represent no bargain at all. Amazon users are ripped off because they think that an Amazon search presents them with a realistic account of the choices they have. In truth, the Amazon search is just as much of a sham as the Spotify playlist: both of them are payola, perfected and shrouded by AI.

Caveat emptor must be heeded more now than ever before.

Algorithms cannot mimic human taste. They trap the user for the sake of payola.

Recommendation algorithms don’t know you.

Source: Micah Speaks To Kyle Chayka About The Filter World | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Brain-Computer Interface is Arriving

With every email or text message I type on the soft keyboard of my smart phone (which happens to be an iPhone), I desire more and more to have an interface that instantly transcribes my thoughts into the message that I want to send. Dictating the message to Siri is welcomed relief, but the myriad and random errors that this Apple speech-to-text algorithm makes only partially eliminate the need to correct bizarre typing errors.

Advances toward such a brain-computer-interface, or BCI, are not coming from the company touted by the pasty South African solar reflector, but from Synchron, an Australian company that reports remarkable success in enabling severely disabled subjects to perform basic tasks on a smartphone or tablet, two devices that will confer substantial ability and independence to people who can not move any limbs. The IEEE Fixing the Future podcast features an incisive and insightful interview with the founder of the company. This episode is a very worthwhile listen because of the clarity with which the problem and the neurological reasoning behind the solution are presented. These insights enable one to navigate the space and to separate the hype from real progress. Furthermore, there is a beautiful delineation of the ethical ways in which one must approach an admirable and inspiring path that is loaded with innumerable ethical and moral landmines. These are the subtleties that are assuredly omitted by the hype machine.

No Accountability = No Currency

The fact that cryptocurrencies are the vehicles of choice for predators, white supremacists and terrorists (article below) has now garnered jail time for the CEO of Binance, the largest exchange in the world. Cryptocurrency is as perniciously persistent as “social media”: with so many people invested, governments are hesitant to intervene, especially while it generates tax revenue. Cryptocurrency is the oxycontin of the financial world, but there will not be one manufacturer to hold to account once the carnage accumulates.

A new front has emerged in Israel’s fight against the funding of Iran-backed militant groups from Hamas to Hezbollah: A fast-growing crypto network called Tron.

Source: Focus: New crypto front emerges in Israel’s militant financing fight

Generating Subjects for Neuralink

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is soliciting volunteers for its inaugural human trials. Is Musk’s SpaceX generating these volunteers through poor workplace safety?

www.reuters.com/world/spacex-worker-injuries-soar-elon-musks-rush-mars-2023-11-10/

First Eunuch Sighting in the US Perhaps Ever

The expression on the face of the man in the picture below screams emasculation. He has lost not just control but any and all possession of whatever remnants of masculinity–physical or otherwise–he may have possessed yesterday. Dispossessed of his own gonads, he succumbed to the mob threatening to burn them and announced the start of the most useless inquiry in the history of political witch hunts. This man is proof enough–indeed, the embodiment thereof–that it takes balls to do the right thing.

The White House plans to send a letter to top US news executives on Wednesday, urging them to intensify their scrutiny of House Republicans after Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, despite having found no evidence of a crime.

Source: White House to send letter to news execs urging outlets to ‘ramp up’ scrutiny of GOP’s Biden impeachment inquiry ‘based on lies’ | CNN Business

David Frum Redefines then Embodies the Self-Hating Jew

“Self-hating Jew” has been the epithet of choice for self-identifying “conservative” American Jews to hurl at any Jew who dares to mention or to defend human rights in Israeli occupied territories because, the perverse argument goes, these Jews care more about the minorities in these territories than the Israeli populace. This is, of course, the classic ad hominem attack instigated by those who have lost the argument based on principles, and the devoted support that the same “conservative” Jews throw behind some of the most racist politicians in the US is not, therefore, surprising. The pride with which David Frum displays it on the radio and the pages of The Atlantic is, however, novel. In his pathetic attempt to debunk the validity of the 14th Amendment clause that prohibits an insurrectionist from pursuing public office, Frum states:

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