Hacker News



Registered:2 years ago
Karma:31548 points
Posted:6796 times
About:I work with research institutions and intergovernmental organizations in enterprise IS to understand the emergent macroeconomic impacts and geopolitical risks of algorithmic / stochastic driven global markets / media spheres and on resultant dynamics in inter-systemization to adapt multilingual meta-organizational federated intelligent IS for knowledge based entities in these environments.

A. open source EAI: SOA / MSA / iPaaS, federated: {routing, identity, search, docstore, ML/LLMs, KMS/DSS,..}.

B. Python data analysis, ML/DL frameworks, NLP / multilingual info. extraction / sentiment analysis.

C. Open LLMs for domain knowledge representation and decision support across federated multilingual systems

1. NLP analysis of macroeconomic / geopolitical events in unstructured multilingual financial / media text sources.

2. ML/DL/*NN cybernetic analysis for macroeconomic / geopolitical event policy analysis / risk forecasting.

3. Federated learning / distillation, NLP -> NLU in federated intra-organizational multilingual enterprise systems.

Techies are sanguine about tech (even incomprehensible tech) and, while GAI ain't AGI, it will rapidly feed nascent LLM disinformation as it evolves dark behavioral patterns on already polarized social media, and severely tests science, journalism and ultimately social cohesion on its way to creating a new cybernetic misinformation age..

philopseudes: (algorithmically summoning sorcerer spirits)

Epistemological discrimination in peer reviewed disciplines is surely the highest expression of our quest to know ourselves and our world. The somewhat less than scientific discrimination based on perceived 'hardness' of one's discipline, while unhelpful, is nevertheless relevant if we wish to consider the culture of scientific endeavors from disciplines considered 'hard' such as computer science through contested areas such as economics and on into the so called 'soft' sciences such as political science.. This bias against social or political areas of inquiry in 'hard' science will have grave implications for society as the technology that flows from advances in areas such as computer science continues to be uncritically applied to what has already become an information revolution on par with the industrial and agricultural revolutions that preceded it.. The laissez faire commercialization of internet communications, contrary to the promise of a global knowledge renaissance, now threatens democracy, modern acceptance of science, and possibly even humanity itself - showing the urgent need for even a millionth of the design put into FAANG/BAT to be put to the education and government knowledge organizations caught up in their global scale algorithmic behavior modification schemes run amok..


Online interaction, while different from all previous forms of human interaction by dint of its being algorithmically manipulated (and now stochastically replicated), is still interaction between humans in the end, and, as such, is at the core of our societies. Of course, the other great difference is that it operates instantaneously and at global scale, and since, outside of authoritarian subsidy for state ends, this cannot be sustained except by monetization, there must be ad revenue (because as journalists know, subscribers do not scale), and for there to be ad revenue, there must be engagement - at any and all costs.. The net result is all too clear today: media all forced to prioritize only what keeps users through the ads.. Fostering an entire hidden industry around the dark patterns that feed the most simplistic interaction possible.. With the all too predictable side effect of polarization in the extreme.

While the deliberative and meritocratic forms of online interaction that built the internet, from ARPANET to CERN, are still operating, the net effect of commercialization of these platforms now threatens the entire system. Ultimately, as with all human technology, from language and writing to the LLMs we are fumbling about with today, the value is not in technical mastery, but in deeper understanding of the meaning of the technology in society: the literature of the ancient Mesopotamians is suffused through the literature of the entire ancient world and still with us today - the technology of cuneiform was lost millenia ago and is only of interest to archeology today.. So it will be for all our technologies - so long as we manage not to allow them to rip apart the very fabric of our societies..

In the age of LLM diffusion, when we are literally living in a matrix of global scale unmanaged corporate social experiments into the very nature of human intelligence and communication, the philosophical - and even existential - implications of marrying this to the already toxic social media infrastructure we backed our way into through a race to the bottom of behavioral manipulation between trillion dollar surveillance capitalists and authoritarian regimes is completely unknowable.. All that can be said, at least from the perspective of those modern scribes involved in these technologies, is that this surely is the last best chance to work towards real understanding (as opposed to mere technical mastery in pursuit of remuneration) and work toward the creation of systems that take into account the global scale at which we have been operating - not to maximize billionaire profits - but to bring them in line with the global cybernetics of our societies and the ecosystem they rely on.. If not, this regime of behavioral manipulation fueling a mercantile resurgence of extractive industries to feed global consumerism will accelerate and lead directly to a completely pointless global conflict over resources exactly and precisely because we are right now too polarized and too consumerized to make the real changes that could save our species' future.. Cuneiform marked the dawn of property and law - will this wave of technology mark its end..?


Sadly, even knowledge workers are not immune to algorithmically enhanced tribal 'common sense' beyond their areas of expertise, when actual economic data - independent of the last century of Marxist / Capitalist propaganda - do not support anything beyond the rise of global living in this period being directly predicated on stable, transparent financing of basic science to guide transnational infrastructure improvement.. The rest, from Calvinism to Communism thru today's easy money techno fabulism, are mere failures of governance. Useful analysis beyond such propaganda is neither technical minutia in monographs nor broad infotainment pieces, but rather integrative research into the broader impacts of science in society - the crisis is that the former find industrial use or commercial outlets in modern media, the latter does not. For all the excellent cross discipline research into the systemic challenges of anthropogenic climate change, society remains unconvinced, which must change if we are to move from research to effective policy.. A mistrusting, ill educated populace is well suited to outraged engagement strategies, but not complex science policy discussions on global scale multigenerational infrastructure we rely on.

Media evisceration in the Internet Age has effectively denatured the fourth estate. What had seemed to be an inevitable process of innovation followed by consolidation like industrial printing, radio and TV broadcasting before, instead led to uselessly proliferating crass cable channels and the supernova of user content / streaming platforms.. Entertainment is now sold as subscription services with much investor interest, but news media are withering in the face of consumer polling driven infotainment and outright lies. This has been heralded as a great democratization of information, most loudly by those who profit from sensationalism and those billionaires addicted to constant online attention.. Sites like HN offer the promise of an alternative based on intellectual curiosity focused on technology, but rely on the skill of journalists and editors (more than they realize) and risk missing the bigger picture for all the luminary eulogies, privacy/takedown notices, charming mechanical diagrams, shiny techno ephemera..

The scientific process is well established and unlikely to be affected by all this, at least as regards the peer review pool of information it exists in, but what of communication to the rest of the world, even to other scientists and the larger technology community? Today, as the few remaining journalistic organizations with high standards and deep cultural integrity are forced to hide behind pay walls or beg for donations, we find ourselves on the cusp of a golden age of disinformation where autonomous systems can convincingly engage on every online forum and where anything not peer reviewed or published by the dwindling handful of reputed journalists will be suspect. Thus LLMs in polities commercially conditioned to react uncritically mean that in cases where science must inform policy - a deluge of polarizing distractions and corner case dithering will fibrillate deliberative bodies, rendering science moot.

enterprise: (hi-tech great power games for fun and profit)

Communication about science is vital to make any policy assessments of research as a whole, which, in turn, is vital to development and governance of the processes and technologies that will shape our future, to say nothing of research processes assessing future impacts of the technologies we have.. When we look more broadly, beyond those (well represented in technology and engineering) who express bias for 'hard' sciences, and consider instead the culture of the capital markets that, from sovereign funds to pension funds, are behind institutional research budgets, IPOs, etc. funding science and technology, here, the 'character' of their sociology (sociopathy, really) is well beyond typical techbro pettiness and eerily similar to that of aggressively aggregating agrarians in the ancient age of nascent empire, who, without a second (or first) thought, took the bounty of the commons under the aegis of each era's empires' gods, ultimately leaving us a subliminal pastiche of accretive fairytale values that are so thoroughly rooted in our business thinking that it is almost impossible for the financial system to acknowledge the exponentially expansive extractive reality behind the easy money fantasy.

In a generation, global population is projected at over 10 billion, with 3/4 in cities; an over 50% increase in urbanization. Construction needs for concrete, steel, etc, to say nothing of fuel use, transport infrastructure, supply chains.. - all while desperately trying to reduce emissions - requires careful consideration of ways we may use information systems to collectively develop such infrastructure in a manner which is much more intelligent than profit driven wasteful sprawl - and reconsideration of the global financial system's role, especially credit policy since the global financial crisis, which drives infrastructure technology decisions.. There is always political support for stimulus, but rarely any for the tightening that must come at some point. We must decide if financial institutions dependant on globally untraceable liquidity chasing profits above all else are best for future financial technology infrastructure that ultimately relies on (preys on) G7 democratic governance or if we will use this collective governance of these institutions to save our planet..

As developed nations at the forefront of this mess, we must simultaneously save what we have developed from climate change while protecting it from resurgent retrograde revanchists our social media VC bubble has enabled.. Success will show the world how scientific objectivity and the subjective values of well developed cultures interact effectively, as was once clearly seen in the rise of our liberal democracies since the Enlightenment and our knowledge economies since WWII. The infrastructure of good governance we have worked so hard for through these eras is being eroded: while we can still manage to avoid being overwhelmed by polarization (and to the extent idealistic technologists are willing to work around governments and corporations), we must advocate for the open technology infrastructure of collective knowledge and meritocratic values essential to continued human progress.


Remaking the global material economy will be be - by far - the largest endeavor undertaken by humanity: we have at most a decade to be well underway; it is only one of the existential threats we face. These will only be addressed by collaboration through information systems directly interfacing the world's most contentious political issues. Organization of such large technology projects does not magically happen - proprietary solutions from large corporations must focus on corporate profit - not saving the planet (except for their PR writers) nor are open projects magically invulnerable to global corporate stakeholder political interests - or well served looking beyond their own software metrics.. Large collaborative technology undertakings are critical to the future of society and yet seem to be a blind spot that most think 'the market' will solve.. We are a fully globalized population that somehow clings to delusional economic systems which rely on ever increasing growth in the face of the indisputable fact that we are in a closed planetary system of finite resources. We justifiably praise our previous technology for the billions it lifted from poverty yet refuse to see that today's technology will not - and can not - continue to do so without drastic reductions in our population and in our consumption - now.

Ignorance of the political reality here is just as daft as the tacit acceptance of still venerated ideas like magically self sustaining perpetual growth industries with no external costs, magically self regulating 'free' markets where we must ignore actual market makers algorithmically fighting for nanoseconds while unseen sovereign funds move with impunity and everybody knows that nobody fights the Fed, magically unbiased surveillance media that funds its investigative reporting by selling its readers' data to advertisers, livable cities that magically assemble themselves based on the profit motives of developers, and, worst of all, systems of government that magically flow forth from self serving 'literal' interpretation of centuries old documents, to somehow meet the global existential challenges we must evolve to face as a united planet..

These are all cybernetic systems. Cybernetics, which predates WWII, was, well before symbolic logic cast AI into its winter decades, the origin of neural / perceptron analysis and, while it has suffered greatly from its initial misuses, is, as originally conceived, a control theory for complex systems and, revisiting the interdisciplinary collaboration that was so misused before with current analysis methods, has the potential to unify many ML techniques and systems analysis methods to represent a diverse range of real world dynamics of interactions between organizations while providing a richer foundation to understand overarching integrations using deep learning and game theory, as opposed to disembodied and context-free classical AI, such that complex integrations can be modeled as functioning interconnected global systems, allowing removal of currently accepted externalities of corporate / cultural myths perpetuated as 'commonsense' by informal global systems of discreetly vested financial/political interests.


Technological complexity can make transnational federated systems unmanageable; when large integrations of projects span many organizations, preventing this is best done with integrative insights into the overall system, not mere project refactoring. If this is left to corporations and governments, the concomitant monetization and politicization prove corrosive to the very systems that the technology was intended to help. The governance of socio-technological systems may not appeal to engineers, but as neither market valuation oriented corporate policy nor partisan politics driven legislation are likely to reduce this to an engineering problem, intra organizational systems will have ongoing need for research based technology governance..

Is there anyone who looks at our governance from the macro perspective and thinks that the existing systems can see us through the changes we must make to even begin to address climate change..? a pandemic with significant and persistent lethality..? the war we find ourselves in on the European continent..? This is, of course, saying nothing of the deep demographic, infrastructure and other environmental problems we now face.. It is somewhat amusing to see that the West, in addition to being blind to the inherent incompatibility of relying on the global natural commons to buffer the externalities of their industrial expansion and the systems of private ownership they colonized under, now seem so shocked that the corroded remnants of their long assumed defaults of now defunct Christian 'morals' they buffered rapacious business practices with are being replaced by a rogues' gallery of conspiracy theories at home and malicious retrograde whataboutisms abroad.. The developed world is making much more progress exporting consumerism than liberal democracy - especially as it now seems hell bent on destroying the institutions and traditions essential to democracy at home. This is bitterly ironic at a time in human history when information technology infrastructure and analysis that could revolutionize all forms of governance is becoming so readily accessible.

The nature of the problem is easily understood by considering that this was, from DARPA to CERN and GNU through Mozilla, developed by western governments and open community programs - and then repurposed for business by 'monetization', which, despite many innovative products, inevitably devolves into the type of rentier utility that, in the realm of human information communication, needs must move society towards repeatable revenue prioritizing engagement and away from the deeply considered, thoughtful collaboration that the research organizations originally developed web technologies for; is it any wonder that this process of monitoring and manipulation also catalyzed the adoption / adaptations of this infrastructure for authoritarian regimes..? The greatest irony is that we, as a now irrevocably global community, must collaborate - or not - using these technologies, thus determining if we solve our contention in integrated world organizations.. or, if not, sooner or later in WWIII.

profess(ion): (fulminating fugues on our fast fading future)

The path from the Industrial Age to our Information Age surveillance capitalist matrix of carefully crafted credulous career, consumer and congregate identities efficiently monetizing and managing masses of 'human resources' is an ultimately short sighted abuse of ICT and capital that could otherwise be transformational for the future of our species.. From Gutenberg / Vanini to Zuckerberg / Musk, our struggle to become enlightened knowledge societies shows that our global systems of governance retrofitted on trade deal patchworks of technology, information, finance law are no match for today's billionaires and kleptocrats..

Latent human nature means ICT that holds the promise of uniting our species has, on balance, imperiled our future just as surely as our harnessing the power of the atom has.. To understand this we must look back into human prehistory to understand dynamics of the rise of collective agriculture through shared beliefs that catalyzed written languages (our first ICT).. Archaeologists are using technology like LiDAR and archaeogenetics to greatly advance our understanding of human prehistory; now we have before us the truly epic challenge to understand our humanity from the deep and wide perspectives that analysis of our entire written history - and even its latent antecedents gives us. We must apply that knowledge to bring our collective behavior away from the predictable calamity of our past and towards information systems that further the creation of empirical, verifiable goals from consensus of global collaborations and protects against media that distort toward external financial or political imperatives instead of acting as a medium for information.

In academia 'hard' sciences do find consensus among those who understand the relevant bodies of knowledge, since, the results are, well, quantitative. It is areas that are heretofore qualitative where the problems occur.. Academic areas where we need good science most such as political 'science' and even economics are awash with unworkable systems and ridiculously revisionist analysis devoid of actual science, and, in a stunning reversal of the academic tradition since the Church was banished from all serious universities, these opinions and beliefs dressed up as science are enforced by grotesquely overpaid craven administrators whose primary job function now seems to be cauterizing independent thinking researchers as decreed by social media.. We can now quantitatively analyze and model the very images and words that are the artifacts of culture just as we would any other large dataset - failing to use these tools to reassert the core values of the academy against unedited, unreviewed, unthinking public spew is hugely damaging to the future of knowledge institutions - just as the algorithmic / generative revolutions remaking media industries are to public science understanding. This gridlock of cacophony means that the future of knowledge collaboration will be won or lost far from increasingly populist, polarized, pointless political proceedings and instead by default in the architecture where the ICT/IS all knowledge organizations rely on actually takes form..


Software architecture must be of direct benefit to project teams (which it is mostly not), but that is only one set of metrics.. To be of use to our future as a global community, those who practice it must be informed by a deep and broad understanding of our use of information systems to organize throughout our history and even our prehistory.. ..and then, must fearlessly advocate for what matters - in C-suite white paper weasel speak, on published research and most importantly in code reviews and over log files with the engineering groups of any stakeholder projects. This is no more something to be dumped on devops than it was a place to dump senior devs who can't manage people, nor is it a vehicle for slimy consultants selling 4GL/UML tools.. software architecture needs to be central to the future of the global digitization efforts in all large organizations; that it is either abandoned or incompetently practiced in so many of these places is no more proof of its demise than FTX's demise is proof of a lack of need for DLT and CBDC.. Software architecture, like other so called soft science - including economics - is not soft because it is easy, but rather because it is broad and amorphous, and like economics (and unlike the other soft sciences) it is characterized by direct interconnectedness to complex quantifiable infrastructures.. Making it inconveniently irreducible, but also intrinsically indispensable.

We have inherited systems of government and corporate organization that most often have their origins in reactions to world wars and global economic collapses and, when all the legal complexity is peeled back, are political compromises papering over our long legacy of dictators and robber barons. Today, we are having trouble even managing those.. Instead, we debate made up non-issues and fear the next black swan amidst the deafening roar of grey rhinos rumbling in from all sides.. As these institutions become more inept and these problems close in, the sheer exponential complexity of our future information infrastructure will confer increasing control by default to those who can actually understand the whole for its parts.

This is vocation as was known before the Taylorisms of industrialized work, and returns the pursuit of knowledge to preeminence in work as it was for those who chose to pursue it throughout the Enlightenment, an era that generated thinking which led, even if haltingly, to rising human development based on globalizing systems of ever freer peoples replacing religious superstition with science. Now as the scientific collaboration that is our inheritance of that era shows we must preserve the ecology we evolved in, the very systems of merit based trust that are the legacy of the Enlightenment and undergird our systems of science, democracy and (fiduciary) finance are eroded by new surveillance technologies that reduce all human interaction to monetizing attention and manipulating behavior; these global socio-technical systems' behavioral dynamics mine ancient, even animalistic human urges to drive 'engagement' fueling polarization and endangering shared social bedrock protecting us from Hobbesian chaos..


In the industrial age America was nostalgic for farming, up to today it is nostalgic for manual labor.. The political fallout of the former is easily found in Gilded Age and Progressive Era political history, the latter, from the Cold War through the opening salvos of the Information Revolution, we all know first hand.. Progressive Era reforms were nowhere near enough to combat the woeful state of education exposed in the First World War, and after a second one (and a depression) we were ripe for the first of the mass media propaganda wars which, in hindsight, would define our modern political society.. American education has progressed much since then, but, unlike the postwar years, we have seen over the last generation the effects of the first wave of automation on the American people - and politics.. Even just by this metric, a similar wave of automation in the white collar workforce that superseded the blue collar one would be devastating, but, with generative AI, that is not going to be all that happens.. It may be tempting to look at LLMs in their infancy (WRT general application) and declare them to be glorified auto-complete apps, but, bear in mind that some engineers involved in their development go to the opposite extreme and declare them sentient.

Of course, neither is true, but it is not a matter for simple interpolation either. The problems with model training resources and lead times (and of course hallucinations) mean that the current generation is not ready, but the development of these technologies progresses at a pace that even insiders call alarming and - more importantly as the models trend towards real time mobile deployment (and they inevitably will), they will be integrated into ever more sophisticated AI toolchains allowing them to adapt to specialized domain language and ever broader ranges of business problems.. It is easy to say that LLMs are not AGI today - frankly, I think it is easy to say that they never will be, but we might think a bit about what exactly is meant by that "I" in AGI.. We have been the only intelligence that we know for our entire evolution - decomposing the components of our intelligence may be impossible, but let us consider writing (the dominant interaction mode in office work):

How much more capable will LLMs need to be before they are indistinguishable from a typical worker - especially a typical WFH office worker online today..? There are calls for regulation and, of course some political rumblings, but in the end, just like automation in factories, when the competition among those making multi-billion investments in this begins in earnest and the business case for LLMs in office automation becomes clear, profit will win out. From the perspective of intra system architecture, the issues that concern are the places where organizations will become rigid (and brittle) with fewer humans in the process, the effects of concentration of human interaction at the upper (remaining) positions, and most concerning (and for me most interesting) the changes in the culture (at some level of automation we may be able to say the personality) of these increasingly artificial organizations.. Truly a unique time to research future organizational information systems.

personal: (solipsistic soliloquies on suburban sanctimony)

As technologists in a community bound together by technology, we must do all that we can to address these issues, but, looking at the effects of the surveillance capitalist consumerist version of the information revolution so far, the rises in pseudo patriotic globocorp rhetoric covering supply side gouging, virulent partisans literally advocating violent coups in the halls of government, resurgent puritanical monotheists and cryptofascist nationalists fomenting civil war, unhinged pandemic paranoia, treasonous conspiracy theories, third world level gun violence, epidemic type 2 diabetes, homicidal SUV road deaths, etc, ad nauseum in our late stage surveillance capitalist / social media addled resurgent authoritarian Western societies now sadly argues for taking full advantage of commensurate rises in remote infrastructure for a digitally nomadic, max fuzz / min data exhaust career clear of Consumerican cancerous sprawl and perilously protofascist pseudo polarization pumped out to distract as the Buyosphere still unrepentantly trashes our biosphere..

This is why I reject the Pavlovian post-information hyper-consumerist surveillance app / streaming service / social media matrix and work to preserve the ideals of an open standards based, low bandwidth, max meritocratic / min monetization internet for academic collaboration, which is the origin - and real benefit of the internet for humanity. The 'hacker ideal' is hopefully growing out of the arrogant, adolescent 'fail fast' brogrammer era and will hopefully somehow find its way back to values of collaborative intellectual independence in the sources and stores of information that we rely on.. I start my days (on mountain, rural 5G) with open(ed) reputable sources, checking events on OSINT, and then peer reviewed sources as I build offline archives of information and media that can be referenced, analyzed and enjoyed without biased mediation.. Posting from these to HN is always motivation to consider (and oft-ironic data on) what has real importance as we limn out humanity's future in the technology we choose to develop.

Beyond work, it's shameful to squander the time one could use for real life experience, cuisine and culture on vapid LCD mass market dark pattern crap: streaming surveillance services, manufactured marketing events, and retail ripoff destinations are not recreation - which is in nature, open to all, and why the National Parks are national treasures.. Frankly, the idea of spending any more time than absolutely necessary in environments designed to corral corporate workers or maximize retail consumption or increase land revenues from continually chewing up nature with residential sprawl is repugnant in the extreme - take responsibility for life and make it so that you live where you believe in the lifestyle instead of putting up with life 50 weeks so you can blast out CO2 getting to places never really known for a few days each (and then (maybe) in the (frail) remains of life).. (BTW: my personal recreations: fly fishing (found / recycled materials fly tying) , (sea / whitewater) kayaking, coastal / bluewater sailing, ACSP course golf, NUE mountain biking, hiking, and camping).


Similarly, great cuisine is not found in theatrical, artificed, extortionate 'dining experiences' or glossy ghost written cookbooks, nor in blind acceptance of the false economies of feed lot meat and hyper processed foods.. it is developed thru taking personal responsibility for the foods that sustain you: hunting for meat if that fits your ethics, fishing, foraging, and growing on the principles you have come to through thought and experience - and judging suppliers on that basis to develop your own personal place and practice for mastery of the techniques of cuisines and culture of cultures - that is the cultures inside wines, pickles, breads, beers, cheeses, charcuterie, and the techniques that defined the traditions of authentic culture, long before food science and branding campaigns' mass assaults on good taste.

Finally, in high culture, the nations of Japan and Taiwan, who saved Chinese culture from mainland Maoist mobs, still retain the 3500+ year old 漢字 core of their linguistic traditions, which are the progenitors of East Asia, and essential to the world's oldest continuous literary and calligraphic tradition. Never having been reduced to an alphabet, it missed the movable type press masses, but amassed millennia of semiotics culminating in 文人(Literati) Chinese / Japanese 狂草 writing, which, in the modern era of brutally conformist nonconformity masquerading as transcendence, stands among the few transcendently incisive, deeply emergent, subtle synergies of philosophy, poetry, and painting achieved by our species.

It is ironic that the internet age puts deep intellectual and cultural pursuits so easily in reach - yet somehow results in a high priesthood of the grand inquisitors of consumer credit scoring and crass surveillance capitalist amusement addiction pushers ruling our culture.. Is it this blindness that prevents us from seeing the authoritarian alternative tech universe that is assembling as a kind of negative reaction led by China? In the end, we have such inertia bound to our instincts and desires - and the cultures that have evolved to bind those to social order - that we would rather slowly simmer in than jump out.. This works just as well in the USA as in China.. Throughout history it has been convenient to blame others or more precisely, to accept the propaganda that blames others. This persists even in our information age.. no matter how blindingly obvious (and pathetic) it becomes, today's populations - of all political stripes - fall for the same cheap ploys (even without the looming generative misinformation storms).. Let's be clear here: the problems are not in others - they are in the myopia of the middle classes: where all the manipulation of greed, the desire to breed, status, credulousness, etc have been distilled into an intoxicant that has dissolved thought and sublimated into the very fabric of society, such that we cannot even see the roaring irony in expression of one's 'independence' through branding or the utter futility of any attempt to transcend while swimming in a miasma of whataboutisms and fairytale fantasy lifestyles.. well known to philosophers, painters and poets; totally lost on plutocrats, politicians and the parochial proles they prey on..


With knowledge, which is ostensibly objective, and culture, which is subjective but (should be) subject to objective critical thinking, we can map out the entire human world, yet both are now greatly distorted, in accordance with their salience to politics and profits.. Media and market bubbles are old news but we must bear the massive impacts nonetheless.. In social media's methanous bubbles, the corpulent corpus (corpse?) of the American body politic bears down and bulges out through every orifice and squelches every possibility not available to its flaccid intellect and flatulent oratory ; meanwhile mercantile market bubbles are blown by billionaire babies who have clued in that their uncle Sam Fed is so afraid of their taper tantrums that he's turned the world's reserve currency into funny money in the No Lose Casino.. These have dire consequences for the formerly shared values of Americans, but even more so for the possibility of criticism of such 'culture'.. Blowhard bloviating is neither right nor wrong, it is just foul, and it is no surprise to see that under such political 'discourse' legislative functions cease.. It is also not surprising that the Fed has found itself holding the purse while our idiocracy mudwrestles.. Now we are in a situation where the entire developed world is awash in decades of wave after wave of QE and the tide must go out, which is going to show just how many billionaire geniuses and tech unicorns are actually just overhyped jackasses.

When our culture is so horribly skewed, independent knowledge becomes vital. Yet today the very technology that held the promise of instantaneous access to all knowledge of the entire world is now rapidly learning to mindlessly remix ever more convincing and arbitrarily bias-able versions of that knowledge with petabytes of prattle to suit any corporate or political campaign.. Here at Hacker News, many assert - without irony - that the best approach is to avoid anything to do with 'news', as if that would make the events and the technological manipulations of them somehow stop insinuating into every aspect of life..

Professional technologists who make voluntary, well remunerated, and socially subsidized career and family choices demanded by suburban middle class breeder farms inevitably make cultural choices that busy them with the consumer rituals of status stratification and distract with modern bread and circus entertainments, leaving actual intellectual pursuits to academia and their faded collegiate memories.. This is degrading to the collective knowledge of society and dangerous to the future of democracy. The eviscerated remnants of our fourth estate often (ironically enough) cover technology, and, exactly because the coverage is bad and getting worse, it is vital for us to discuss the way in which knowledge and culture are mediated by technology, which most assuredly, for any thinking technologist, must have at least a facet "that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity." Hacker News is growing up, just like the technologies it has spawned and, on the cusp of an age of generally convincing generative text, deep discussions on hacking the news are vital.

epilogue: (a not so wafer thin mint for punishment gluttons)

News, hacker or otherwise, is the transmission of knowledge. Of course, knowing presupposes a knower, and this takes us directly into the now fraught semantics of 'knowing'.. Holding in abeyance for a moment the issues of who or what can be said to know, we should, in the aftermath of epoch making work in quantum entanglement, consider the epistemological limit of what can be known and how we approach knowledge in the broader sense.. Surely intransigent insisting on the usefulness of human 'common sense' in the face of irrefutable proof of its irrelevance to the very fabric of the reality we experience is no longer advisable.. I do not mean to advocate some 'Fundamental Fysiks Group' type counter culture misappropriation of East Asian philosophy or to delve into the so far unexplored (and possibly unexplorable) relationships (or not) between quantum entanglement and human consciousness, rather I mean to point out that we do not understand the fundamentals of the reality we exist in - nor the mechanisms by which we comprehend them.

Sadly, despite all the truly astounding triumphs of our science, as Chomsky, after reminding us (of what should be blindingly obvious) that language etched the grooves through which our thoughts must flow, is stuck, like the drunk looking for their keys under the lamp when it comes to the basic ideal of knowing ourselves and our world. As Wittgenstein said "whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent".. This is because we are, by our very nature, limited, not by our senses, but by our minds and the perception of reality that we form as shared linguistic reality. This is the 'theory of mind' that we each must construct to operate in human society. Now, while this is even further afield than the above Fysiks / quantum mind flights of fancy, it is far more relevant to the news and our knowledge of it as we face up to increasingly unverifiable media - and the eerily anthropomorphizable sources generating it. Until we actually have some consensus on the philosophy (as contrasts with theory) of mind, we not only have no idea what AGI is (or even if we could recognize it) but we also are flying blind as we make a wizard's broom closet full of ever more clever stochastic parrots to start unfathomable feedback loops in the already virulent virtual societies that we have allowed to fester in social media..

To return to the question of who or what 'knows', philosophy of mind must be addressed at least insofar as we can speak of the theory of mind beyond our own private notions of it.. This is to say that, in the four (somewhat busy) centuries of French history - and the intellectual chasm - between Descartes' "I think therefore I am" and Sartre's "I am because I think, why do I think?" we see a gap in our understanding even greater than the Anglo-American postwar era gap between Turing's rather glib 'test' and Searle's Chinese room that has recently revisited us in the guise of a gaggle of chatbots.. Though, unlike this more modern one, the problem of the ghost in the machine is not so easily resolved, and so it seems to evoke from the (hard) scientific community more indifference than curiosity.


In the sciences, it is tempting to assume that everything important can be described in purely quantitative manner, and, to the extent that one only models determinate systems, this may be the case, but, both the social realities of scientific communities and the application of science in the realms of human society show that ideal to be of somewhat limited use.. All of our technology may originate in these idealized deterministic realms, but it must exist in human society, and to understand the reality of technology, we must understand it in situ. When engineers working on chatbot algorithms in trillion dollar companies claim that they are sentient, we can say that there are significant problems with our understanding - not of technology but of what makes us human - namely the evolution of meaning in words like 'language', 'intelligence', 'cognition', 'sentience'..

Our spoken language likely predates the extant evidence of our earliest writing by at least 30x. It distinguishes our species' cognitive capacity, and, yes, also our sentience, from all others, including Neanderthals. LLMs are showing just how little we understand the import of our linguistic lineage as it manifests in loaded terms like 'intelligence' and 'sentience'. The peril of rushing headlong into dependence on these systems - and on the more sophisticated systems of autonomous agents we will surely develop - should give us pause.. We are now able to understand an increasingly meaningful amount of the story of human society at the time of our earliest writing and even some of the artifacts of its antecedents where we formed early collective beliefs that now manifest in unpredictable ways like the instinctive reactions to chatGPT; it is going to be vital to understand the true nature of our uniquely human communication methods, since our cognitive - and social - equilibria depend on the affordances they provide.. manipulating this web of humanity with rapidly developing insentient systems will cut to the core of human communication, culture and society.

Extant written language opens with the equivalent of primitive spreadsheets. This may argue for equally practical origins millennia before of the agrarian societies where it developed, but recent archaeology shows the coercive semiotics of the ascent of animist high gods into systems of theistic rule.. Agrarians had less freedom and worse nutrition than egalitarian, widely travelling, artistically sophisticated hunter gatherers; evidence is mounting that they likely avoided them. Agriculture is a result of - not the origin of - this profound change in religion, which was our original (sin and) political rationale for agrarian conquest. We, like these ancestors, are supplicants to collectively imagined cult deities who sanctify expansionist rule and dependents in tribal nations that cannot exist without collectively feared outsiders. Via sublimated traces of these essential identity fictions in our languages, as in the cheering crowd (and, equally, the baying mob), we still secretly revel in this legacy. The descent from Berners-Lee's WWW to Musk's Twitter is not for lack of understanding of technology but of the nature of society - and of our algorithmic manipulations of its behavioral core.


In this information revolution, there is no value neutral path forward. Today, we in the developed world are, in the face of challenges that now can be seen to exceed those almost a century ago, locked in a struggle to once again build a better future - and tell a better story about it - than the authoritarian regimes that have coalesced around China - or the ones that coalesce around nationalists in Russia, religious extremists in Iran, Israel, etc.. or retrograde conmen hawking cheap "make $country great again" slogans around the G20 now.. These trends are not new, but the technologies enabling them are - as are the nuclear powers that form the global theater they are playing out in.. We must understand the subconscious forces that are now catalyzed by social technology as well as the dynamics of the multilateral threat matrix that our information systems play a vital role in - getting it wrong trends toward WWIII.

This is not only happening in the governance of society, but also in the two most problematic areas of the algorithmically enhanced version of the all too typical unconsidered life: faith and money, thus forming the triad of our species' behavioral weaknesses: power, credulity and greed. In the religions that have ruled the world since at least Pharonic Egypt, we have objectively risible but nonetheless behaviorally compelling beliefs which presaged our earliest shifts to agriculture and hierarchical society, and were codified, again and again down the millennia, until the reality that none of the menagerie of gods have any existence outside of collective human imagination was (and in dozens of nations today still is) punishable by death, resulting in a still ongoing struggle between two patently false yet highly evolved beliefs that, together with the parochial demi-religions of patriotism favored by scoundrels who happen to wrest control of one of the imaginary chunks humans carved the world into, serve as cover for plunder while the local strains of fundamentalist and patriot propaganda are conveniently beamed to their masses thru algorithmically boosted social media ICT.

In the secular world, despite the fact that we now can realistically model all modern economic activities in detail - and despite the fact that these models disprove much economic theorizing that predates them, we have a similar situation that comes from our (mis)understanding of the industrial revolution, where two 'holy books', one by an 18th century Scotsman and another by a 19th century Prussian, now calcified under strata of neologistic propaganda to keep the poles that have formed in the last few global wars riled at each other and not at the billionaires and kleptocrats mushrooming in their own treasuries, underlie archaic economic pseudoscience about fantasy free markets and mythic labor / capital strife when the ONLY IMPERATIVE is removing the acquisitive addictions from the cybernetics of improving our global human ecosystem that deeply distort both labor and capital - carrying science and technology along for consumerist and militarist rides - before we degrade our environment so much that tribal existential contention latent in our prehistory returns us to darkness..

souteniro ... on Google's free mail service.


"Beware the barrenness of a busy life"


“I’ve been trying a long time to be of no use, and though I almost died, I’ve finally got it. This is of great use to me. If I had been of some use, would I ever have grown this large? Moreover, you and I are both of us things. What’s the point of this—things condemning things? You, a worthless man about to die—how do you know I’m a worthless tree?”

--Chuang Tzu

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

--Marcus Aurelius


"Leisure is the mother of Philosophy"

--Thomas Hobbes

"It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living."

--Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar."

--Friedrich Nietzsche


"Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy."

--Franz Kafka

"Capitalism creates a huge community of producers who are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor, and an oligarchy that cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized society....the subjugation is not by force but because the privileged class has long ago established a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior."

--Albert Einstein

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

--Albert Camus