Friday, September 12, 2014

An Open Internet Is Essential to a Free Internet: Why Net Neutrality Should Matter To Everyone!

Right now the FCC is considering a set of rules that would allow Internet providers to offer faster access to some websites that can afford to pay.  We need to stop them.

Let’s start with the obvious: The Internet is how we communicate and how we work, learn new things, and find out where to go and how to get there. It keeps us connected to those we love and informed of political events that affect our everyday lives.

At EFF, we have fought for almost 25 years to protect a free and open Internet.  We depend on the Internet for everything we do, from our efforts to reform broken copyright laws, to our ongoing battles to end the NSA’s illegal mass surveillance.  More fundamentally, we know that the open Internet makes possible not just our activism, but the work of many others around the world.

That’s why we’re fighting tooth and nail to defend a concept known as net neutrality. Net neutrality means that Internet providers should treat all data that travels over their networks equally, rather than slowing down or even blocking access to sites of their choosing.

Good net neutrality rules would forbid Internet providers from discriminating against sites that cannot afford to pay a toll for preferential treatment, or sites that are critical of Internet providers or undermine their business models.

Join us as we call on the FCC to do the right thing: treat all traffic that travels over the Internet equally. The Internet is our future. It’s how we communicate, innovate, and organize to better our world. Take action now, before it’s too late!

Note: This article originally appeared on the Electronic Frontier Foundation website. Complete article here.

The FCC has asked for public comment on new rules about net neutrality. Use the EFF's handy on-line form, found here, to contact the FCC & give them the direction they so desperately need! Do it today!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Singularity as Antichrist - Part 2

"Tudásszomj" by Sipos Ferenc.

Is technological singularity the long-anticipated, AI driven, yet zealously prophesized end of the world as we know it? Are we about to enter into a “rise of the machines” version of the apocalypse? Can an eschatological spin be put upon the human/machine dichotomy to suggest some messiah/antichrist geek rapture? …or is this just more of the same apocalyptic fever?

In our first installment, we investigated the hypothesis that the exponentially accelerating evolution of technologies such as artificial intelligence will soon cause non-human intelligence to exceed human intelligence. The singularity camp contends that when we reach this omega point… this timewave zero… circa: 2045ce… the human era ends. The emerging AI entity that brings about this epoch ending event will likely be a sentient network of technology, such as the World Wide Web.

We further explored the “Big Three” desert religion’s preoccupation with the Messiah/Antichrist eschatology and overlaid this mythology upon technological singularity. If singularity is indeed the event prophesized in the Old Testament and elsewhere, who or what would be the personification of this event? For entertainment’s sake, let us propose a symbolically potent candidate.

The Fruit of Knowledge
The Apple 1 computer went on sale in July, 1976. The initial units were hand-built by Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak. Approx. 200 units were assembled in the first 10 months and were sold with a price tag of… $666.66 each. The original Apple Logo featured Sir Isaac Newton, the last great magician, sitting under the proverbial apple tree. Interestingly, in a manuscript he wrote in 1704, Newton describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible, wherein he estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060.

Newton’s eschatology aside, the broader connotation of the apple tree, is its association with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is, of course, the tree situated in the Garden of Eden, which, it turns out, is co-inhabited by that rascally old trickster, the serpent. After some spirited discourse, the serpent convinces Eve and Adam to eat the fruit of knowledge. This enrages the local Deity, Yahweh who sends down an Angel with a flaming sword to evict the impertinent first human couple.

And so out our mythical progenitors go… into the cold, hard world… to find their own way.

Almost immediately after introducing the Apple 1, Steve Jobs replaced the “Newton” logo with the rainbow apple. Those of you who know ancient Hebrew mythology will remember that the rainbow was sent to Adam’s direct descendant, Noah, as a sign that “never again” would his angry God destroy the Earth… but I digress.

As you know, the now-famous apple logo has a bite taken out of it. The bite out of apple’s logo signifies knowledge stolen from an angry and deranged God, as offered to humanity by the snake, or the old wisdom, which was entwined around the tree of life.

John Sculley, the executive of the Apple Company from 1983-93, was asked about his thoughts on the logo. He answered: "One of the deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge bitten into… all crossed with the colors of rainbow in the wrong order. And you couldn't dream of more appropriate logo pointing (toward) lust, knowledge, hope and anarchy.”

Culture historian,Theodore Roszak made the point that the Apple Computers emerged, from within the west-coast counter culture. It is widely held that Steve Jobs was an “Acid Head” …in that he not only used LSD-25, he advocated it’s use for deep, personal processing and introspection.

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important… creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”

- Steve Jobs

The Anthropologist, Jeremy Narby said in his book “The Cosmic Serpent” states that select plants, carefully prepared, communicate directly with humanity through imagery, feelings and language, during Ayahuasca ritual sessions. The hallucinogenic thorn apples, the fruit of the Datura Plant, might be the real fruit from the 'Tree of Knowledge', from the Garden of Eden mythology. He further stated that the hallucinogenic drug has a long history of getting the user in contact with the Cosmic Serpent.

Eight Circuits
But more interestingly, let us the look at the stolen bite… or more significantly, the byte… in the Apple's Logo…

The byte is a unit of digital information in computing and telecommunications that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer.

8 (Eight) bits… equates to one binary digit, which can be used to represent… two states of information...


The more bytes, more intelligence, the more information you can store or process faster.

Thus does the Byte of intelligence align with the ancient “law of eights” as illustrated in everything from the musical octave, the i-ching’s eight bagua, to Dr. Leary’s Leary’s Eight Circuits of Consciousness. In this way, computer science, through its smallest symbol of communication, aligns with humanity’s most ancient eight-fold quest for knowledge. Computers become the most recent artifacts of intelligence.

The binary nature of ignorance/knowledge… on/off… yin/yang… good vs evil… brings us back to the topic at hand… Singularity as Antichrist. Humanity’s original sin has progressed, as told through the medium of myth, from the Garden to technology run-amok. It is the same fear of the snake that invokes dread in “the coming” of technological singularity.

No single tech company can better represent the current state of humanity’s technological advances, than Apple, Inc. Apple is the epitome, the apex of human’s quest for knowledge… technologically, culturally and symbolically. Nobody does it better than Apple… the “Prometheus” of the tech world.

What does all of this have to do with the Antichrist? I don’t know… yet. I’ll have to ponder these questions for a... bit. In our next installment, we will more fully examine how computers, as an artifact of humanity, could be equated with ancient prophecy. Stay (i) tuned.

Note: Much of the material herein was inspired by and taken from materials presented by  vishanth V Panakkal

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Singularity as Antichrist - Part 1

So our old friend Technological Singularity continues to be of eschatological interest here at tek-gnostics. It was the Godfather’s Michael Corleone who said… “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Like a bad penny, singularity rears its cybernetic head once again. We have examined singularity from the perspective of pop culture, as well as from more esoteric points of view. From an earlier post

Like religion, singularity inspires a sense of foreboding among the partially informed. People read an excerpt from Vernor Vinge discussing the end of the human era and think… oh my god… apocalypse now!!! The concept of apocalypse has been with us as far back as human history goes… and will continue to be part of our collective psyche as evidenced by the singularity concept itself. The end will always be near. Once we find our way past the singularity event horizon, we will be anticipating the next post-singularity event, and so on, ad infinitum.

As we had further pointed out in that post, “Riding along-side apocalypse is the companion horseman known as Armageddon. Many religious sects believe in a last battle between good and evil, at… or as a result… of apocalypse. The final conflict is known as Armageddon or the end-time.”  The big three desert religions (Judaism, Christianity & Islam) all contain very colorful depictions of "end-times prophecy" including a final, global, redemptive war.

In those mythologies, the personification of good is often described as the Messiah or savior, who, it was prophesized, would liberate the chosen few in those end-times. The Messiah’s figurative twin, the accompanying personification of evil, is likewise depicted as the false messiah or Antichrist.

In an exceedingly interesting exchange of ideas, over at one of our favorite blogs: Groupname for Grapejuice, a comment was posted by (that rascally persona) anonymous, stating that:

“I just wanted to bring up something I've been thinking about and I thought if anyone would be able to find a deeper revelation to it, it would be you.” (here “anonymous is speaking to Znore, the blog’s author and moderator – Ed) “You've mentioned before about the giant baby face that was displayed at the London Olympics, and the idea that it was representing the Antichrist, or preferably, the son of perdition being born in 2012. The common belief is that Yeshua was 33 years old when He was crucified (which is not stated in the Bible and is obviously an esoteric number). Also according to popular belief, the Antichrist is supposed to be similar to Yeshua, as represented by the White Horse in Revelation (again something I don't believe, but is strongly held by a large majority of "Christians"). Anyways, 33 years after 2012 is 2045, Ray Kurzweil's sacred year of the singularity. And of course 2+4+5=11, another esoteric number. Revelation 13:15 says "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." That sounds a lot like some sort of artificial intelligence to me.”

Wicked, right? So… The technological singularity camp declares that when we reach that moment… (approx. 2045, CE) the human era ends. The emerging AI entity will likely be a sentient network of technology, such as the World Wide Web 2.0

 …So putting an eschatological spin on technological singularity… the Messiah is considered as the archetypical man, the redeemer or Christ figure. A sentient AI or computer network would be about as opposite as you can get from the redeemer. This non-human intelligence thus becomes the false messiah or Antichrist. This tech-driven prophecy certainly puts a new face on fundamentalist Eschatology. The rise of artificial sentience as antichrist, conjures vivid man vs machine imagery, ala the Terminator franchise.

Some contend that messiah and antichrist are two aspects of the same phenomenon. Light vs darkness… yin vs yang. In this regard, AI or non-human intelligence counter-balances human or biological intelligence.

Or is this just more of the same apocalyptic fever?

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this most fascinating of topics. Please add your opinion using the comments feature at the bottom of this post…

You can review our exploits concerning singularity HERE

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Evolving Intelligence and World Domination

(artwork by: H R Giger)
Staff writer for Live Science, Tia Ghose… recently wrote an article titled: “What Species Rules Earth? The Answer May Surprise You.” In the article, Tia compares species that could or would compete with humans as the planet’s “Dominator Species.” All very interesting stuff… but the true nugget of the article is revealed when paleobiologist  Jan Zalasiewicz, who was consulted as the article’s expert, makes his pick for most likely usurper of humanity.

Below is an excerpt from the original article

In the newly released film, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," humans and apes vie for dominance after a virus has made apes hyperintelligent while wiping out most humans. But though apes riding horses, reading and writing in English, and hunting like Stone Age humans is probably far-fetched, the idea of another species or life form dominating the planet isn't, scientists say. In fact, depending on how dominance is defined, other creatures may already be in charge, experts say.

With humans around, it's very difficult for another superintelligent species to evolve, said Jan Zalasiewicz, a paleobiologist at the University of Leicester. "Humans have been quite good at removing the competition," Zalasiewicz told Live Science. Over several million years of evolution, modern humans have already outcompeted several primates and other human species, such as Denisovans, hobbitlike creatures dubbed Homo floresiensis, and Neanderthals, he said.

Still, the movie's premise isn't too realistic. Apes are unlikely to supplant us, given that gorillas and chimpanzees are already struggling in the wild, with slightly more than 100,000 gorillas worldwide and less than 250,000 chimpanzees worldwide, according to the World Wildlife Fund. (No other primate populations exceed 100,000.) With 7 billion humans on the planet, even if 95 percent of them perished as a result of an engineered virus, the remainder would still greatly outnumber the apes.

But assuming humans had managed to kill themselves off with famine, plague, war or climate change, it could take many millions of years for a new species to evolve the intelligence and abilities to dominate the Earth. After all, creatures as intelligent as humans only evolved once in the nearly 3.5 billion years of life on the planet, Zalasiewicz said.

Rats, ubiquitous pests that live on virtually every scrap of land on the planet, are already intelligent and have a highly evolved social structure. In many millions of years, oversized rats could become a hyperintelligent species that could rule the Earth. Pigs, too, have complex social structures and a high level of intelligence, Zalasiewicz said. If they evolved an ability to use tools and continued to evolve intelligence over millions of years, they could conceivably take over the planet, he said.

But realistically, the biggest threat to humans is not a naturally evolving creature, but rather artificial intelligence, he said. "If something else intelligent arises, it will be electronic and [we'll have] made it," Zalasiewicz said.

Researchers recently reported that a machine had passed the Turing Test, exhibiting behavior that could pass as "human." (In the Turing Test, if a human interviewer cannot tell the difference between responses from a machine and a human, then the machine is said to show intelligent behavior.) And futurist Ray Kurzweil has long predicted that the singularity, a hypothetical point when machine intelligence overtakes human smarts, will be here by 2045.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Strange Bacterial Electric Life-Forms

Unlike any other life on Earth, these extraordinary bacteria use energy in its purest form – they eat and breathe electrons – and they are everywhere.

Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity.