Also, the amount of time people waste on their phones looking at "influencers"--including the political ones on Twitter and even here at The Bulwark--is absolutely insane. I'm here because work is boring and you guys are cooler than most, but what's the difference between a materialistic influencer promoting consumerism and an political influencer promoting policy? Not much at the end of the day.

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Late to this one, but let me just say that remember in April/May when I kindly reminded folks that even though Putin gave up on Kyiv and Kharkiv that he could stamp his feet, and whole armies would come out of the ground? I also reminded folks back then that Putin could create nuclear "accidents" at places like Chernobyl and Zaporizhia. Suddenly everyone is now very worried about these very old predictions.

Americans who are not combat veterans don't seem to understand what fighting against evil is like. Americans only ever think to themselves "oh they couldn't possibly do *that*" because they're always projecting their social norms and sense of decency onto others who 100% DO NOT share those social norms or senses of decency. Perhaps that was the worst part of ending the draft. That it cut off the exposure of Americans to evil factions around the world and left us complacent to the stark realities of foreign policy. It's a lot easier for Americans to ignore international cruelty when their asses aren't on the line. Just watch the latest Ken Burns doc on the European Jewish immigration waves in the 30's that FDR's state department sat on its hands for. They had the power to do something and save many lives. They didn't do it because it didn't affect Americans personally (yet) and America wanted the decadent choice of neutrality at all costs because they thought they could stay warm amongst the cold austerity of global authoritarianism by pissing their pants every year up until 1941. They let a lot of European refugees get slaughtered in concentration camps as a result.

I ask myself now how many Ukrainians it would take being exterminated by Russian artillery before America finally does something. Another year of this war? A nuclear "accident"? What would it take for our country to get off of its ass and put an end to this shit? I don't know the answer to that question.

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It is 4:30am EDT...I clicked the Loab thread.

I will probably not be going to bed until...*checks cheap $35 watch*...sometime Thursday.

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Re: the death of influencers as a phenomenon, we can only hope.

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JVL needs AI-generated candy hearts next Valentine's:


Featuring such sweet talk as:









and, of course


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Both the Tim Snyder an Noah Smith excerpts are excellent. From my own experience I can confirm he describes the current state of AI well, but I reserve the term magic for tricks of the mind we do not understand. AI does boil down to a bunch of code, and its method is no mystery.

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I think Tim Snyder is a great historian and writer. I read his book Bloodlands, Europe between Hitler and Stalin. I think it is recommended reading for those who want a better understanding of the dynamics f the Ukraine war. I also recommend folks read The Gates of Europe, A History of Ukraine by Serii Pickhi. It is a fairly “dry” read but the author brings the reader through the centuries of Ukrainian history. I think I have a better understanding of why the Ukrainians are so motivated to win this horrible conflict. No doubt there is no love lost between Ukraine and Russia.

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LOAB was fascinating. Fortunately the author threw in a sexy one near the end, like a recessive gene showing up after many generations. But should I infer that the original image was of an attractive young woman?

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Sep 25, 2022·edited Sep 25, 2022

The "original image" was "Brando".

That is, the prompt "Brando::-1" (meaning, the opposite of "Brando" in latent space) produced a skyline logo with the text "DIGITA PNTICS", and the prompt "DIGITA PNTICS skyline logo::-1" (the opposite of "DIGITA PNTICS skyline logo") produced the woman's face.

The opposite of the opposite of "Brando" in latent space should be "Brando" again, but of course "DIGITA PNTICS skyline logo" isn't the "Brando::-1" output, just a human description of the "Brando::-1" output, so it's not surprising it's not exactly "Brando" again -- whatever "Brando" was.

I'm a bit disappointed that the tale of Loab doesn't include what the original "Brando" looked like. Was it Marlon Brando -- and which one? Dude was photographed in many guises at many ages.

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I would really like to have seen "Brando" as well.

Part of me wonders if the persistance of "LOAB" is due to the how often "rando" is used in internet parlance as a casual abbreviation of "random". If the AI went looking for the opposite of "random", it might have used measure of central tendency to generate this woman, which would generate a similar image over and over and over again.

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Hmm... I wonder what happens when you randomly combine images of Marlon Brando and women named Brandy...

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Sep 24, 2022·edited Sep 24, 2022

The Russian Obscenity

How far will Carlson go?

When push to shove, he goes Rachist, i.e., full Nazi. You doubt? Read this seminal piece (1941) by Dorothy Thompson, "Who Goes Nazi?"


PS He is well along the trodden path.

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Sep 24, 2022·edited Sep 24, 2022

Might AI become a Lovecraftian nightmare? Possibly, but probably not in the sense the author of that article is thinking. There's an undercurrent of malevolence in his description that doesn't really get at what it means to be a Lovecraftian horror.

The truth is, we encounter a Lovecraftian horror every single day, even though it's 93 million miles away. Consider:

* The sun is impossibly old, yet neither ageless nor eternal.

* Though it is not alive, it will one day cease in a manner not unlike death.

* It is so impossibly powerful that in a real sense, it's easier to send a craft to Pluto than to overcome it's gravity to send one to Mercury, even though Mercury is something like 35 times closer

* Too much exposure to it will cause our vital organs to break down, and over a long period of time will degrade our very DNA

* At any moment, it could eject matter that would immediately destroy at least 150 years of civilizational development.

* Even for all the above, we owe our very existence to it.

The thing is, any hyper-intelligent AI would be more than capable of overcoming any threat from us before we were even able to offer it. Before I'd beloved it was malevolent, I'd need proof it was even interested.

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The Russians are bolstering their army with mercenaries, conscripts, dissidents, prisoners, mental patients, and ethnic minorities.

Seems like a novel way to build a cohesive fighting force.

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I still think Putin's long game strategy is to use Ukraine to destabilize and hurt the West while continuing to work for the rise of right wing governments around the world. The two are linked. Remember when the Trump campaign said that Hillary would start World War III?

Politico: "UK, the West mustn’t succumb to Ukraine war fatigue"


Daily Beast: "Ukraine Aid Could Be on the Chopping Block in a GOP-Controlled House"


The Hill: "Trump responds to Putin’s warning that nuclear threat ‘not a bluff’"


"Trump said on his social media platform Truth Social that the conflict would not have come to pass if he were still in the Oval Office.

'But as I have made very clear for quite some time, this could now end up being World War III,' he said."

Btw why does Hungary want Republicans to win?

RT: "Hungary reveals hopes for Trump re-election"


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Yep, he wants to be Vladimir the Great. But he knew we were arming and training the Ukrainians after Crimea (despite Trump's "no quid pro quo"). Why did he choose to invade in 2022? He's turning 70 in a couple of weeks, he's betting the farm, this is his Project for a New Russian Century. He's propagandizing it as The West's War Against Mother Russia. Here's the deal - a cold winter with energy shortages and economic hardships dampens the resolve of the West, especially Europe; a Republican majority in the House blocks funding for more aid to Ukraine; Putin overwhelms Ukraine and turns his sights on other "unfriendly" nations; Russia makes gains against Western elites in economic and geopolitical alliances; autocracy continues to make gains globally against liberal democracy. Win win win for Putin and his allies IF he has judged his opponents accurately and IF he can play out his moves successfully and maintain control of the game.

Cato Institute: "Ukraine Could Tear Europe Apart"


RT: "Vladimir Kornilov: Time to drop our illusions, the West is waging a war to destroy Russia"


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All computing is rapid button sorting, that we can instruct this button sorting to where it looks like magic to us says more about our intelligence then it does any mythical machine intelligence. Or put another way , a computer can count to 1, many times, very fast. It is amazing how much information can be stored by counting to 1.

I didn't find Noah's article to be very profound or interesting for that matter. Maybe because I've been reading and thinking about thinking machines since I was about 10. From the good doctor's law of robotics to Mycroft Holmes, to Hal, to Laumer's BOLO fighting machines. and others that are out there that I've forgotten.

All of those stories were more about us and who we are. We can;t talk about machine intelligence in a rational manner because we don't even understand human intelligence. or how it comes about or functions. I remember my Educational Psychology professor explaining IQ. What is IQ? It is what the IQ test measures, so what does the test really measure? IQ!

That was 40 years ago and we have made some progress but not much.

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I clicked on the Loab link. I know you forewarned us and everything, but can I still send the Bulwark my invoices for the therapy I will need for the next few months? Pure nightmare fuel.

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JVL alone is worth the subscription, but Bulwark adds so many more talents.

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Tucker Carlson is promoting the idea that Zelensky is asking for a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia. (Per Tucker, Zelensky is “demanding it.”) Just two days ago he had his military expert Colonel Douglas MacGregor on, who said, “They (Russia) have made it very clear that their use of nuclear weapons is limited to retaliatory strikes in the event that we or someone else strikes them.”

The American Conservative then tweeted out a two-minute clip of this interview, with a pull quote that indicates they are in agreement:


Neither Zelensky nor anyone in the Biden Adminstration is talking about a preemptive strike, or about winning a limited nuclear war. In fact, I’d be surprised if you could even find a journalist in the West who is saying this, but Tucker makes his accusation and millions hear it, and millions probably now believe it.

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