“I say robot, you say no-bot!” The chant reverberated through the air near the entrance to the SXSW tech and entertainment festival here. About two dozen protesters, led by a computer engineer, echoed that sentiment in their movement against artificial intelligence…Phil Libin, CEO of software firm Evernote, frames the protest and movement as the latest iteration of the man vs. machine debate. “People worry about robots taking over the world, but I assure you there are much more dangerous things (income inequality and global warming) in front of the line,” he said.
Archive for the 'Science' Category
entire industries have emerged and seized the dominant positions in the Nasdaq index even as their predecessors faltered. Apple, now the world’s largest company by market capitalization, barely registered in 2000, and the first iPhone was not announced until 2007. Over a billion smartphones were shipped in 2014.
Google, which now ranks third and dominates the market for Internet search advertising, went public in 2004 at $85 a share, giving the company a market value then of $23 billion. Today, its market capitalization is over $360 billion, and its shares were trading this week above $570.
Facebook, now No. 5 in Nasdaq’s ranking, dominates social networking, another industry that did not exist in 2000. It went public less than three years ago, and is already valued at over $180 billion.
Had the Nasdaq index itself not been transformed by innovation and competition, it would be nowhere near its previous peak. The stocks of many of the surviving companies, like Microsoft and Intel, have not come close to the levels they reached before 2000. That means investors who bought and held the stocks of individual companies in 2000, as opposed to broad mutual funds tied to the Nasdaq or index funds like the QQQs, are still underwater
Some things are going really well and some are going really badly. Hard to know where we’ll be in another 15 years.
Research in recent years has encouraged those of us who question the popular alarm over allegedly man-made global warming. Actually, the move from “global warming” to “climate change” indicated the silliness of this issue. The climate has been changing since the Earth was formed. This normal course is now taken to be evidence of doom.
Individuals and organizations highly vested in disaster scenarios have relentlessly attacked scientists and others who do not share their beliefs. The attacks have taken a threatening turn.
As to the science itself, it’s worth noting that all predictions of warming since the onset of the last warming episode of 1978-98 — which is the only period that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempts to attribute to carbon-dioxide emissions — have greatly exceeded what has been observed. These observations support a much reduced and essentially harmless climate response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
In addition, there is experimental support for the increased importance of variations in solar radiation on climate and a renewed awareness of the importance of natural unforced climate variability that is largely absent in current climate models. There also is observational evidence from several independent studies that the so-called “water vapor feedback,” essential to amplifying the relatively weak impact of carbon dioxide alone on Earth temperatures, is canceled by cloud processes.
There are also claims that extreme weather — hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, you name it — may be due to global warming. The data show no increase in the number or intensity of such events. The IPCC itself acknowledges the lack of any evident relation between extreme weather and climate, though allowing that with sufficient effort some relation might be uncovered.
World leaders (insert examples of world-class fools here and here) proclaim that climate change is our greatest problem, demonizing carbon dioxide. Yet atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been vastly higher through most of Earth’s history. Climates both warmer and colder than the present have coexisted with these higher levels.
Currently elevated levels of carbon dioxide have contributed to increases in agricultural productivity. Indeed, climatologists before the recent global warming hysteria referred to warm periods as “climate optima.” Yet world leaders are embarking on costly policies that have no capacity to replace fossil fuels but enrich crony capitalists at public expense, increasing costs for all, and restricting access to energy to the world’s poorest populations that still lack access to electricity’s immense benefits.
Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy. So it is unsurprising that great efforts have been made to ramp up hysteria, even as the case for climate alarm is disintegrating.
The latest example began with an article published in the New York Times on Feb. 22 about Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Mr. Soon has, for over 25 years, argued for a primary role of solar variability on climate. But as Greenpeace noted in 2011, Mr. Soon was, in small measure, supported by fossil-fuel companies over a period of 10 years.
The Times reintroduced this old material as news, arguing that Mr. Soon had failed to list this support in a recent paper in Science Bulletin of which he was one of four authors. Two days later Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, used the Times article as the basis for a hunting expedition into anything said, written and communicated by seven individuals — David Legates, John Christy, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr., Steven Hayward and me — about testimony we gave to Congress or other governmental bodies. We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate.
In letters he sent to the presidents of the universities employing us (although I have been retired from MIT since 2013), Mr. Grijalva wanted all details of all of our outside funding, and communications about this funding, including “consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and any other monies.” Mr. Grijalva acknowledged the absence of any evidence but purportedly wanted to know if accusations made against Mr. Soon about alleged conflicts of interest or failure to disclose his funding sources in science journals might not also apply to us.
Perhaps the most bizarre letter concerned the University of Colorado’s Mr. Pielke. His specialty is science policy, not science per se, and he supports reductions in carbon emissions but finds no basis for associating extreme weather with climate. Mr. Grijalva’s complaint is that Mr. Pielke, in agreeing with the IPCC on extreme weather and climate, contradicts the assertions of John Holdren, President Obama ’s science czar.
Mr. Grijalva’s letters convey an unstated but perfectly clear threat: Research disputing alarm over the climate should cease lest universities that employ such individuals incur massive inconvenience and expense — and scientists holding such views should not offer testimony to Congress. After the Times article, Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) also sent letters to numerous energy companies, industrial organizations and, strangely, many right-of-center think tanks (including the Cato Institute, with which I have an association) to unearth their alleged influence peddling.
It would be comical if it weren’t so serious. Decades ago some guys noticed a correlation between a tiny increase in a gas and a tiny increase in a temperature and turned it into a trillion dollar industry. And the cover-up began when the correlation stopped.
As for the politicians cited or linked to above, they are either stupid or ignorant or lacking in common sense or too self-important or maybe con-men on the take — or maybe all of the above; hey, they’re politicians! You know our position on all of this: ban argon! HT: PL
Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”
Rajendra Pachauri’s hockey stick has a few problems, according to Mark Steyn. We noted some of the issues with this fine gentleman half a decade ago and more. Pull quote from 2007: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late, there is not time.” Evidently the “action” he was talking about then was seriously misunderstood.
By the end of the century, assuming current CO2 emissions trends continue until the end of the century, Helena, Mont, will see about 85 fewer freezing nights, which is comparable to Lubbock, Texas, today. Buffalo, NY, which currently experience about 124 freezing nights each year, will only see about 57 a year in 2100, making it more like Charlotte, NC. Ann Arbor, Mich, will see less than half its current number of nights below freezing (131), which is more like Huntsville, Ala(60). In fact, more than 80% of the cities we analyzed — 593 of the 697 — could see at least a 50% reduction in number of nights below freezing, and more than 20% — 145 of the 697 — could see at least a 75% reduction. There are even 28 cities, mostly those that currently experience between 10 and 20 nights below freezing, that may see at least a 90% reduction. For these cities, freezing nights will become a rare event that occurs about once a year, comparable to the current conditions in Brownsville at the southern tip of Texas.
Homewood has now turned his attention to the weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada (51 degrees W) and the heart of Siberia (87 degrees E). Again, in nearly every case, the same one-way adjustments have been made, to show warming up to 1 degree C or more higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded. This has surprised no one more than Traust Jonsson, who was long in charge of climate research for the Iceland met office (and with whom Homewood has been in touch). Jonsson was amazed to see how the new version completely “disappears” Iceland’s “sea ice years” around 1970, when a period of extreme cooling almost devastated his country’s economy.
Gunmen shot and killed four health workers carrying out a polio vaccination drive Wednesday in the capital of Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province, police officials said. The deadly shooting was the latest to target polio workers — whom Islamist militants accuse of conducting espionage in the guise of vaccination campaigns — in Pakistan, one of three countries where the disease has not been eradicated…Workers administering oral polio drops to the children are frequently attacked across Pakistan, particularly in Baluchistan, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the port city of Karachi and the northeastern tribal areas. Gunmen shot at a polio worker outside Peshawar on Monday when he was visiting houses to administer the vaccine. Jamaat ul Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group later released a “policy statement” on polio saying that the vaccine is “dangerous to health and against Islam.”
it is absolutely true that I reject a notion that somehow that creates a religious war because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject that interpretation of Islam. They don’t even recognize it as being Islam, and I think that for us to be successful in fighting this scourge, it’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for — order, peace, prosperity.
So vaccines are now controversial in the US as well as Pakistan? People are freaking out over 100 cases of measles? What a world! As a veteran of mumps, measles, chicken pox, German measles and similar things, our recollection is that they were no big deal, a few days off from school. We understand that there are rare acute problems, but those are the exception. Contrast that with polio, a devastating disease all of the time. The quality of a society can be measured by how well it deals with deadly or debilitating diseases. So far the US is not doing well.
Bonus fun: the cheap (and highly profitable) correlation between CO2 increases and a couple of degrees F is having significant problems. We need more witch doctors for more new things to frighten the great unwashed.
In our view, Microsoft hasn’t had a good idea since Office 97. Now we hear from Leo Laporte that tech reviewers whom he trusts say that HoloLens is great. Here’s some more info from Vox and Forbes and HBR. We don’t get it quite yet, but give us time. More interesting to think about than the low lifes stinking up the country.
forecasters have projected a record snowstorm for the Northeast in the coming hours, which isn’t exactly the sort of thing that makes people think about global warming. But in declaring a state of emergency on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) noted that this type of monster storm is “part of the changing climate.”
“I’ve only been governor four years. I believe I’ve gone through more emergency disasters in four years than any governor in history has gone through,” said Cuomo. “There is a pattern of extreme weather that we have never seen before.” Cuomo cited Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which hit New York and New Jersey particularly hard, as well as the 7 feet of snow that fell on Buffalo this past November. “It’s something we have to adjust to, it’s something that’s very costly, and it’s also something that’s very dangerous,” said the governor.
Climate change deniers are gonna deny, but there is increasing evidence that ties atmospheric warming trends to heavier snowfall events.
Eugene Robinson in WaPo:
scientists have had their debate. It’s over. Among climate scientists, there is consensus approaching unanimity that climate change is being driven by the rapidly increasing concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which, in turn, is being caused by the burning of fossil fuels. It is known through direct observation that carbon dioxide levels have risen an astounding 40 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The rise began after human society began burning coal and petroleum products on an unprecedented scale…”Hottest Year On Record” is a headline that encourages sanity on climate change.
Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him to Manila on Thursday, Francis said he believed that man was primarily responsible for climate change and that he hoped the U.N. climate meeting in Paris in November would take a courageous stand to protect the environment. “I don’t know if it is all but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps nature in the face,” he said.
VDH discusses multiculturalism:
there is a clear pathway to economic prosperity and a secure lifestyle; countries as diverse as South Korea, Japan, and Chile are proof of it. Within wide parameters, success only asks adherence to a mostly free market, some sort of freedom of expression, religious tolerance, a separation of science from orthodoxy, the rule of law, and consensual constitutional government — along with a cultural ethos of rough parity between the sexes, merit-based evaluation instead of tribal favors, and tolerance for ethnic and religious minorities. Fail that, and human misery follows of the now familiar Middle East sort, in turn followed by the tired blame that the Jews, the Americans, the Europeans, or the West caused these self-generated pathologies. If the Western establishment were truly moral, it would reject multiculturalism as a deductive, anti-empirical, and illiberal creed. It would demand that critics abroad first put their own house in order before blaming others for their own failures, and remind Western elites that their multicultural fantasies are cheap nostrums designed to deal with their own neuroses.
“Anti-empirical” — nice touch. As for us, we’re going to continue reading The Looming Tower on our very long flight today. Victimhood plus religion can be a deadly combination; we’re reminded of what Spengler wrote a decade ago.
“Carbon has been accumulating in permafrost for tens of thousands of years. The temperature is very cold, the soils are saturated, so that when plants and animals die, rather than decompose, the carbon has been slowly, slowly building up. “Right now the carbon storage is about 1,500 petagrams (1,500 billion tonnes). To put that in perspective, that’s about twice as much as is contained in the atmosphere.” The fear is that as the planet warms, the permafrost will thaw, releasing even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and causing temperatures to rise further still…
“If ground squirrels are adding nitrogen to an area – and that area doesn’t have plants because they dug them up – this may result in increased loss of carbon from the system.” She concluded that squirrels were playing “a far more important role in this permafrost carbon cycle than we thought”. The team now wants to return to the area to quantify how much carbon is being unlocked by the squirrels
Wretchard et al, with some minor edits:
No one knows if the administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of all time: an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the administration has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, it will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it. Sneak it in the back door and declare victory. Nothing warms the cockles of his heart more than “it is so ordered”. But that has been the pattern for the administration. It claimed al-Qaeda decimated, maintained the attack on the Benghazi consulate was caused by a video, swore that the mandates were not taxes, that you could keep your doctor or health plan; it celebrated the fresh wind of an Arab spring that blew through Libya, Egypt and Syria. It claimed the doorman Putin has been put in his place. Which of these is true? But there are many who still believe. Unfortunately they may be surprised one day when all the dreams of grand bargains, resets, pivots, springs and a World Without Nuclear Weapons don’t actually come true. The disappointment may be a bitter one.
That’s a nice country you’ve got there; be a pity if anything happened to it. Also, Roger Kimball is upset for some reason.
SacBee on Cal public pensions:
their “unfunded liabilities” – the gap between assets and liabilities for current and future pensions – exploded from $6.3 billion in 2003 to $198.2 billion in 2013. Moreover, that startling number assumes that pension systems will see asset earnings of about 7.5 percent a year – a number that some are beginning to see as unattainable.
Los Angeles’ city pension system dropped its assumed earnings, called the “discount rate,” last week. The board of California’s second largest pension system, covering teachers, was told last month by a panel of experts that its 7.5 percent assumption is likely to be under 7 percent for the next decade.
If a 7.5 percent discount rate, which is also used by the giant California Public Employees’ Retirement System and many local systems, is too high, the current $198.2 billion debt in Chiang’s report is, in reality, much higher.
If we only stick the people who think thoughts like this with the bill….
best argument against regulating carbon emissions from U.S. coal plants has always been this: If China won’t act, what use is it? Why risk harming the U.S. economy if the resulting drop in emissions isn’t enough to slow the worst effects of climate change? The U.S.-China climate agreement announced last night turns that argument on its head. Under the deal, China will aim to begin reducing its carbon emissions by 2030, and the U.S. will reduce its emissions by as much as 28 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels — “reductions achievable under existing law.” Translation: The U.S. can only honor its commitment if proposed regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, which aim to reduce power-plant emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, are allowed to proceed. So if some in Congress block those rules, they risk tanking the agreement with China, which in turn gives China a reason to back out of the deal. The EPA rules that previously looked senseless in the absence of Chinese emissions reductions are now, arguably, the single most important thing the U.S. can do
This is a parody, right? Possibly related.
Mia Love made history on Election Night 2014 as she beat out Democratic contender Doug Owens to become the first black (Haitian-American), female Republican to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. This is a stunning triumph in the predominately white and conservative state of Utah, where only 1.3 percent of the population is black. For many Americans unfamiliar with the significance of race, racism and inequality within our nation’s borders, Mia’s victory seemingly sends a clear message that America is truly “post-racial,” particularly if a black woman can get elected to office by a majority-white, conservative and religious constituency. Her white supporters likewise congratulate themselves, proclaiming that Love’s achievement is indicative of a more progressive and democratic society in general where tolerance and inclusion are on the rise, moving beyond the evils of individual bigotry. Starkly exposed since the election of President Obama in 2008, her GOP colleagues and supporters hope that her presence as a newly elected official will demonstrate how far the GOP has come, embracing difference that was so clearly lacking. Some believe her victory will do wonders for the GOP, which struggles to gain a significant share of the coveted “minority vote.” But will her election play a major factor in gaining greater access to black Americans, or is it merely a veil?
To many African Americans and other individuals engaged in politics who followed Mia Love’s House candidacy up to her historic victory, she is a paradox. As a black, female Mormon, her conservative ideals are deemed peculiar as she begins her office in the House of Representatives while balancing a triad of oppressive social constructs that are leveled against her. Not only have blacks historically and continually had to battle for their right to coexist as equals in U.S. society, but women have similarly pushed against a glass ceiling. Even today, women still struggle for equal pay, equal rights and equal protection under the law in the workplace. Mia, as a black female, represents one of the most discriminated-against racial groups in the country. To a degree, the same can be said for her Mormon identity, as the LDS faithful endured bitter hatred and state-sanctioned domestic terrorism in Missouri and Illinois in the 1800s. Mormons remains grossly misunderstood and often unfairly judged with respect to their religious views, while mainline evangelical traditions continue to wield Christian privilege at the expense of “fringe” religions like Mormonism. How does a black, female conservative and Latter-day Saint manage to negotiate so many foreboding white contexts?
Love’s political convictions show a strong support for values that do not necessarily represent her interests as a member in any of these oppressed groups.
We were somehow reminded of this from a decade ago:
Here is the signal fact of our progress in the last century. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy was in the forties, and GNP per capita was about $4000. If you are born today, your life expectancy in about eighty, and statistically, as an average American, you are ten times richer. In reality you are a hundred or a thousand times richer, if you factor in your ability to be in Paris tomorrow for $500, your ability to watch events from fifty years ago as they actually happened, etc. – not to mention that your toddler’s severe pneumonia can be reliably cured in 48 hours or so. Only a little of this has to do with government.
Mostly it is because far more than 50% of everything ever invented in the history of humanity was invented in the last 130 years, and perhaps 50% of that was invented by Americans. Milton Hershey invented the candy bar, Carrier invented the air conditioner for a tire plant, Sears invented catalogue distribution, Henry Ford invented cheap cars, some guys from Texas Instruments commercialized the transistor. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the invention and wide use of brand names, which communicate the quality and dependability of every product we buy. This alone deserves the Nobel Prize. And it was a large and growing market, the availability of risk capital, the development of standardized accounting principles, and protection of intellectual and personal property by the courts that made this possible
Moreover, in the years since we first wrote the paragraphs above, the following inventions and innovations have appeared on the scene: the iPhone, the iPad, YouTube, the World of Google, ubiquitous wireless, texting, twitter, tumblr, the cloud, and the entire universe of real-time, mostly inane interconnectedness
That HuffPo guy sure seems unhappy in 2014. Again we’re reminded that no one in America remembers what life was like without telephones, running water, indoor plumbing, cars, airplanes, central heating, or electric lights. A quote from Henry Adams is apt: “The American boy of 1854 stood closer to the year 1 than to the year 1900.” Vanishingly small numbers of Americans have a visceral understanding of what 1854 was like, and what the heck Adams was talking about.
The Nation has an agenda for 2014-2016:
immigration reform. Announce a serious executive action. Go to the South Valley of Texas and/or the Arizona border, and make appearances with some of the little girls and boys who are trying to come to the United States to avoid their dangerous, hard-scrabble lives in Honduras and Guatemala…
Cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. Then elevate climate change as an issue…Meet with China and India on climate issues, before the next round of global climate meetings. Set aside big chunks of public land and ocean, and hold photo ops in spectacular natural settings as you do so…Host a national teach-in with real climate scientists, on C-Span, and use it to drive a nail in the coffin of the fake, corporate-funded, “climate denial” science. Pull together a meeting of coastal mayors to talk about what “resilience” steps to take to prepare for the next Superstorm Sandy — this is not only necessary, it’s a good way to raise the issue of needed infrastructure spending. Take the climate disruption issue head-on, and make it part of the legacy. No previous leaders have met the challenge of global warming, a threat that affects both national and world security…
Go up to the edge of normalizing relations with Cuba. Send the Attorney General down to Havana to work out the details. I understand that current law prevents fully normalizing relations with Cuba, but there are a series of executive actions that would weaken the embargo, increase American prestige in this hemisphere, and help stabilize working relationships with Cuba on a series of bilateral issues. Even better, take these executive actions just before the entire hemisphere meets at the Summit of the Americas in Panama in May, actions that will enhance America’s reputation across Latin America.
Use changing national attitudes on marijuana to weaken the wasteful and ineffective war on drugs. Better yet, use executive power to weaken our harsh and racist criminal injustice system. Reclassify marijuana as a less-dangerous drug. Commute sentences of nonviolent pot prisoners (a disproportionate number of them young African-Americans!). Appoint a blue-ribbon presidential commission on drug reform and criminal justice reform, with a mandate to report back quickly on issues from marijuana legalization to curbing police brutality to eliminating three-strikes-and-you’re-out policies to reforming harsh sentencing to ending the militarization and weaponization of local and state police departments to stop and frisk to racial profiling.
Nominate Tom Harkin to the Federal Reserve Board…
issue a Good Jobs Executive Order that would reward companies that pay their workers a living wage, allow them a voice at the workplace without having to go on strike, adhere to federal workplace safety and fair labor standards and limit the pay of their chief executives to some reasonable ratio to that of their average workers.
Nominate a diverse set of progressives to fill every judicial vacancy at every level, and then make this a huge national throwdown fight when they are not approved. Given the poor public view of the runaway, activist, Citizens United–tainted Supreme Court, judges could become one of the big issues of the 2016 campaign. Be the change you want to see. Sí, se puede.
That’s a winning platform alright! Perhaps there’s a reason for all the drug talk. And this from Patterico. Hinge, hinge, unhinge.
advances in hydraulic fracturing have fueled what some call the Great American Shale Boom. Oil and natural gas extracted from shale basins have left the US flush with energy. It’s been a boon for US energy-related jobs and equipment suppliers. But it’s not cheap to tap these so-called unconventional plays. In other words, crashing oil prices will soon make many of these energy sources money-losing projects. Morgan Stanley estimates the average breakeven oil price for these US plays to be about $76 to $77 per barrel. Goldman Sachs puts that number at closer to $75. If the price of oil can’t cover production expenses and these companies are forced to idle their operations, then you could expect spending to drop, jobs to get cut, and delinquencies and defaults to rise. To make matters more complicated, many of these energy companies are financing their operations by borrowing in the junk-bond market
Oil closed at below $79 today. We certainly remember the bad old days when oil was twice that price. It’s hard to believe that the recent plunge in oil prices is an considered attack on US fracking, but these are strange times and the strangest things have become unsurprising.