Monthly Archives: March 2017

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Slowing Down AI with a Kg/Processing power Requirement

Nvidia is on the forefront of AI processing hardware. The come from making graphics processors which have pushed the computational power of computers for specific types of calculations (vector transformations). AI when realized through deep learning networks also has a specific computational requirement, and for this purpose build processors have a market.

Nvidia now comes out with a miniature deep learning accelerator (the learning takes place on another platform) called the Jetson TX2. It puts things like face recognition and other advanced recognition tasks in the drone realm, which is kind of scary, because as long as a drone flies it doesn’t have much to think about, what would an AI smart drone be able to do?

Jetson TX2

Nvidia already came out with a titan of AI modules, the other part of this Jetson TX2,the DGX-1 and its processing workhose the Tesla P100. This means it is easier (starting with possible) to generate the data to run on the TX2 for applications in the field.

The danger of AI is threefold : 1. It can start to compete with humans for the same resources and win. 2. It can start fighting itself and destroy the environment humans depend on. 3. It can setup humans against each other and make it impossible to know what is real anymore. The third threat is also created by virtual reality, which can have AI, but mainly gives people the illusion they are in a reality which is 100% fake (ok you knew that, but what if people really get confused? They already do so with actors). AI, even simple AI which is unattended or worse still unknown to be operating, can drive changes and affect people in ways we don’t want or should even fear.

AI the way it is often conceptualized, as a ghost in the machine, does not have certain qualities it needs for humans to be able to relate to it. Weaknesses are that it is immortal, never gets tired and has no body to maintain or  protect. It probably can’t and if so that makes it a very weak AI. To make a threatening AI self protection is a large part of the mix. Today we think cruise missles are still the best example of true AI.

As a result the biggest consolance right now is that most AI is kept in the box, it has no actuators, no arms and legs. Even so an AI hacking hospitals and setting insulin doses for political opponents of its owner can alter the course of human history. The trick with AI is to keep close track of what actual real world mechanisms are operated by an AI. This is made harder with tiny powerfull platforms that can move and proliferate and operate undetected.

If we had to give an advise we would make a requirement that any hardware of considerable computing power should have a weight that reflects that power. This is similar to what we said about money, money should have weight to make global transfer and movement of it way more difficult. AI capability should also have weight. Humans are extreme lightweight AI, any AI that approaches the level where it can be a threat should weigh at least 80 kg. This way it will be hard to have it move around on a tiny drone.

Imagine your mortal enemy being able to take the guise of a poisonous wasp. We are blessed there are no animals with true intelligence on that scale, or we’d be toast. Apparently, because of the energy requirement of intelligence, all species kind of minimize it and prioritize agility over smarts. Being agile, moving away from theats, saves more lives than understanding the threats or analyzing.

Just like a criminal with ball and chain a great way to reduce the risk of many threats is to weigh it down. Weigh down AI platforms, and all the dangerous things will still happen, but at least we have more time to develop our respons to it as the most intelligent species on Earth to date..


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Australia Reinvents Solar Thermal

Its typical for universities to redo things that have already been done to death. Sure the efficiency is a bit higher, but that’s not the point, Australia had solar thermal with storage 20 years ago, the world had it 40 to 100 years ago.

To say this stuff is new is an insult to public knowledge, but this is exactly the point. “The future” will be solar thermal with molten salt storage, only this type of installation was build and ran in Spain already 30 years ago or so. Several perfectly performing solar thermal installations have been demolished because why? Because you need to keep making fossil fuel sellers rich. The future is a great place to store great ideas, until someone like Elon Musk comes along and does it with his own cash (banks will not help you).

We look for links to an australian solar thermal project published about in 2012 that used NH3 to store heat, splitting it and recombining it, a great way to store energy. It used a similar or the same mirror concentrator as shown in the video. Molten salt storage is nothing new, in 2013 a big plant using it came on line in Spain. Watch out with news from universities, they may just be seeking attention..

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Energy Nationalism

The energy lanscape is changing rapidly. Driven by a desire to protect our planet the development of renewable sources is adding lareg quantities of energy generating capacity to the global economy. The potential is still underestimated enormously because it is compared to the current fossil supply, of which it is a small percentage. In reality thought our fossil resources represent only a fraction of the energy we could have available for production of wealth, about 1/2500th would be a reasonable estimate. This means that with renewables our global wealth can not double but become hundreds of times bigger.

Energy is power. Wars have been decided by the supply of energy whether it was food or fossil fuels. The governments of Iraq and Iran and others have been keenly aware of this, as was that of the USA, which basically sucked the oil out of Saudi Arabia and Egypt for decades. As happened with Ahmadinejad and Saddam Hussein, as is happening now with Putin, the control over energy translates to power which is wielded for the sake of the people of (in Putins case) Russia. To be more precise, Putin maintains a protective power structure around himself based on his control of the fossil resources of Russia, and russians are by the same (persuasive corrupting) power of the fossil resources recruited as his protectors. Its like the first guy that picks up the only sword : He will be the boss.

Putin has been inspired by quite a nationalist philosopher but he really didn’t need to be. Power is local because it requires communication and trust, and trust between humans (still) depends on their ability to come together. We will find that there are three scenarios to follow as we see more renewable energy sources come operational : 1. A global supressive regime will regulate and sell energy production around the globe (if we get to a phase where there are two or more that threaten to anihilate each other). 2. The globe will become a patchwork of small nations, small power realms, that agreed together to never let any of them become to powerfull. Those nations may be part of a larger entity for some purposes, but as all see that it is an eternal struggle to avoide the concentration of power (always justified by some wrong somewhere or a common enemy) this overaching entity will be very specific in its task. 3. AI becomes dominant and we become irrelevant 😉

For now it is not yet clear what will happen. The fact remains that there is a cost to domination, either you have to drive people crazy or pay them a lot to go out to some place and subdue other people. Its unnatural and an exceptional thing for humans to do. At the same time communities know they can increasingly take care of themselves with renewable energy, the skills and knowledge proliferate, filtering water with ionic membranes brings low cost (zero cost ultimatly) fresh water within reach, understanding of the relationship between vegetation and rain will make more land fertile. The people of every territory will come to understand they can control themselves, they don’t need to be controlled by anyone if they can produce their own food, warmth and products (through automation). Even at a lower leven of civilisation people can exist happily and without war, the important factors are food and shelter.

So we will likely see more nationalism, regionalism, isolationism relative to the current model. The current world economy floats very precariously on the open trade of oil, coal and gas, at least in the dominant countries. Its cooperation is for the good of the people, but ultimatly arbitrated by banks and credit institutions, the BIS and the fossil fuel companies. We see an alignment, earlier of bankers and government, now of fossil interest, military power and government (Rex Tillerson was Exxon CEO). We guess the US wants to be the dominater of option 1. above. It can become that because the powers to thwart opposing activity are now so well developed, nobody can escape death or destruction or even distraction or seduction from a force as powerfull as the US. Of course anyone that sees his region could be independent of such meddling by applying renewables will start working towards that goal.

As the cost of renewables and batteries drop and as manufacturing becomes more and more automated we may see a sudden fragmentation of the current governments, a Big Bang so to say where every region declares itself master of all its energy resources, fossil or renewable. You can be a guest, add your skills there, but you can not come in and take the energy to use it for your own purposes and trade somewhere else. Why would you? Generate your own! Renewables driving local energy will also create and enable local currencies (to allow them to apply the benefits of economic principles without outside influence on the value of the currency or ownership of assets) and together this will be the reason to split off, seceed, choose isolation.

On top of the above we have no incling of how the now unused territories will be invaded and populated through the use of renewables. That will be a true revolution in its own right. You don’t have to be waterless in the desert, landless at sea, all these things depend on power, energy which we are now finally getting under our control for good. This is why we think a patchwork will be the end result, there is room for everyone once you think beyond the restrictions of fossil fuel supply lines and markets..