Robert Heinlein Quote

This Heinlein quote should be repeated often. We hope that it is not a prediction.

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Artificial Intelligence, Really, Is Pseudo-Intelligence

In an article at NPR Alva Noë, a philosopher at the University of California at Berkeley, discusses AI.

Artificial intelligence isn’t synthetic intelligence: It’s pseudo-intelligence.

This really ought to be obvious. Clocks may keep time, but they don’t know what time it is. And strictly speaking, it is we who use them to tell time.

And later:

But it’s striking that even the simplest forms of life — the amoeba, for example — exhibit an intelligence, an autonomy, an originality, that far outstrips even the most powerful computers.

Lawyer grasping for straws

Actual line of questioning during a trial:

Q: Doctor, before the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
A: No.
Q: How can you be sure, doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive, nonetheless?
A: It is possible, I suppose, that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

Broad-minded intellectuals

I am reading Fall of a Titan by Igor Gouzenko. I’m enjoying it very much even though it depressingly depicts life in the totalitarian Soviet Union. The author has done an excellent job creating moods and describing people. Below is one example I liked.

Rouen, without noticing it, had become infected with a disease very common among so-called broad-minded intellectuals—the disease of subconscious egoism. It expresses itself in a desire to stand apart from society, to contradict. As a rule it turns “broad-minded intellectuals” into narrow Philistines; into the exact opposite of what they imagine themselves to be.