Science

Doomsday AI machines could lead to nuclear war, think tank paper warns

Could the future of artificial intelligence bring about a robot doomsday? In a scenario straight out of apocalyptic science fiction, a leading security think tank is warning that as soon as 2040, AI machines could encourage nations to take apocalyptic risks with their nuclear stashes. A paper commissioned by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit in Santa Monica, Calif., that offers research and analysis to the armed forces on global policy issues, says it’s conceivable that AI — as well as the proliferation of drones, satellites, and other sensors — could lead to nuclear war with overwhelmingly grave consequences for humanity. “Autonomous systems don’t need to kill people to undermine stability and make catastrophic war more likely,” said Edward Geist, an associate policy researcher at RAND, a specialist in nuclear security and co-author of the paper. “New AI capabilities might make people think they’re going to lose if they hesitate. That could give them itchier trigger fingers. At that point, AI will be making war more likely, even though the humans are still, quote-unquote, in control.” The study was based on data collected from experts in nuclear issues, government branches, AI research and policy, and national security. These experts are attempting to envision what the future of security looks like, molded by the effects of political, technological, social, and demographic trends. The report looked at scenarios from the best (the future of AI leads to increased security stability) to the worst (hackers as third-party actors). “Some experts fear that an increased reliance on artificial intelligence can lead to new types of catastrophic mistakes,” added Andrew Lohn, co-author of the paper and associate engineer at RAND. “There may be pressure to use AI before it is technologically mature, or it may be susceptible to adversarial subversion. Therefore, maintaining strategic stability in coming decades may prove extremely difficult, and all nuclear powers must participate in the cultivation of institutions to help limit nuclear risk.”

Analysis: Scott Pruitt Is #Winning, Bans Junk Science from Environmental Protection Agency

Junk science is no longer welcome at the Environmental Protection Agency. Administrator Scott Pruitt has declared war on what he calls “secret science” – the process whereby EPA regulators have been able to craft rules using non-publicly-available science data. Pruitt told Daily Caller: “We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record. Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.” This decision will correct a longstanding injustice at the EPA, perpetrated against the U.S. taxpayer. For years the EPA has been able to behave as a law unto itself, cavalierly passing regulations which restrict freedoms, hamper business and hold back the U.S. economy for reasons which have much more to do with left-leaning environmentalist politics than with objective science. The problem dates back to the early 1990s when the EPA decided it wanted to regulate fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 but couldn’t find any hard scientific evidence proving it was harmful. Steve Milloy takes up the story in the Wall Street Journal: “PM2.5 was not known to cause death, but by 1994 EPA-supported scientists had developed two lines of research purporting to show that it did. When the studies were run past the EPA’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, it balked. It believed the studies relied on dubious statistical analysis and asked for the underlying data. The EPA ignored the request. As the EPA prepared to issue its proposal for PM2.5 regulation in 1996, Congress stepped in. Rep. Thomas Bliley, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, sent a sharply written letter to Administrator Carol Browner asking for the data underlying studies. Ms. Browner delegated the response to a subordinate, who told Mr. Bliley the EPA saw “no useful purpose” in obtaining the data. Congress responded by inserting a provision in a 1998 bill requiring that data used to support federal regulation must be made available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act. But it was hastily written, and a federal appellate court held the law unenforceable in 2003. The controversy went dormant until 2011, when a newly Republican Congress took exception to the Obama EPA’s anticoal rules, which relied on the same PM2.5 studies. Again the EPA was defiant. Administrator Gina McCarthy refused requests for the data sets and defied a congressional subpoena.” The EPA has form here. Its first administrator, William Ruckelshaus banned the use of DDT in the U.S. despite copious evidence that it was not harmful to human life. A seven month EPA hearing, presided over by Judge Edmund Sweeney, concluded in a 9,000 page document: “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man…DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man…The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife.” Ruckelshaus simply ignored it because it did not suit the result he wanted. Needless to say, the environmentalists are furious that the EPA now has to stick to science rather than political activism. The New York Times has billed it as “an attack on science” – as if, somehow, scientific experiments conducted in secret for political ends are somehow more representative of “science” than experiments which are both open and independently reproducible.

Agreed!!  And well said, James.  James Delingpole is responsible for that outstanding op/ed.  For more, click on the text above.   Excellent!!     🙂

Stunning space diamonds discovery: Mysterious meteorite came from ‘lost planet’

New analysis of a meteorite fragment from Sudan has found space diamonds, which scientists say came from a “lost planet” destroyed billions of years ago. Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have discovered that the meteorite contains diamonds formed at high pressure in a “planetary embryo,” of a size between Mercury and Mars. The meteorite is part of a 13-foot-wide asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere on Oct. 7, 2008 and exploded 23 miles above the Nubian desert in Sudan. The asteroid, dubbed “2008 TC3,” scattered multiple fragments across the desert, 50 of which were later found. Analysis revealed that the fragments are largely “ureilites,” a rare form of stony meteorite that often contains clusters of tiny diamonds. “Current thinking is that these tiny diamonds can form in three ways: enormous pressure shockwaves from high-energy collisions between the meteorite ‘parent body’ and other space objects; deposition by chemical vapor; or, finally, the ‘normal’ static pressure inside the parent body, like most diamonds on Earth,” explained EPFL scientists, in a statement. Mystery, however, has surrounded the origins of 2008 TC3. Scientists at EPFL, working with researchers in France and Germany, used electron microscope technology to show that chromite, phosphate and iron-nickel sulfides are embedded in the diamonds. “These have been known for a long time to exist inside Earth’s diamonds, but are now described for the first time in an extraterrestrial body,” the scientists explained. The pressure needed to create the diamonds indicates that the “planetary embryo” was sized somewhere between Mercury and Mars, according to researchers. “Many planetary formation models have predicted that these planetary embryos existed in the first million years of our solar system, and the study offers compelling evidence for their existence,” they explained. “Many planetary embryos were Mars-sized bodies, such as the one that collided with Earth to give rise to the Moon. Other of these went on to form larger planets, or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the solar system altogether.” In research published in the journal Nature Communications, the experts write that the lost planet was likely destroyed by collisions about 4.5 billion years ago. In a separate project, scientists from the U.K. are set to scour the frozen wastes of Antarctica in an audacious attempt to uncover lost meteorites. In January, a meteor made headlines when it flashed across the sky in Michigan. The blazing fireball sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find fragments of the rare space rock. NASA notes that large rocky objects in orbit around the Sun are known as asteroids or minor planets, whereas smaller particles are known as meteoroids. When a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere it is known as a meteor. Earlier this week an asteroid the size of a football field made a “surprise” flyby of Earth.

Very cool!!     🙂

John Stossel: The left’s war on science

We’ve been told conservatives don’t believe in science and that there’s a “Republican war on science.” But John Tierney, who’s written about science for The New York Times for 25 years and now writes for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, told me in my latest online video, “The real war on science is the one from the left.” Really? Conservatives are more likely to be creationists — denying evolution. “Right,” says Tierney. “But creationism doesn’t affect the way science is done.” What about President George W. Bush banning government funding of stem cell research? “He didn’t stop stem cell research,” Tierney reminds me. “The government wouldn’t fund it. It turned out that it really didn’t matter much.” Private funding continued and, so far, has not discovered much. “People talk about this Republican war on science, but if you look around, my question is, where are the casualties? What scientists lost their jobs?” asks Tierney. “I can’t find examples where the right wing stopped the progress of science, whereas you can look on the left and you see so many areas that are taboo to research.” Some research on genetically modified foods became taboo because of protests from the left. That may have prevented a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Scientists can’t even talk about whether genes affect intelligence without being threatened by the left. Political scientists who continued to investigate the topic are screamed at on college campuses, the way Charles Murray, author of “The Bell Curve,” has been. Tierney adds, “The federal government stopped funding IQ research decades ago.” Likewise, researching gender differences is dangerous to your career. “You can’t talk about sexual differences between men and women, (although) it’s OK if they favor women,” laughs Tierney. “You can say men are more likely to commit crimes, but you can’t suggest that there might be some sexual difference that might predispose men to be more interested in a topic.” Google fired engineer James Damore merely for suggesting that sex differences might explain why more men choose to work in tech. “Damore just pointed out very basic scientific research about differences between the sexes,” argues Tierney. “The experts in this, as soon as he published that memo, said, yes, he basically got the science right.” It’s not as if women aren’t doing well in life, says Tierney. In universities, “women dominate virtually every extracurricular activity, but all the focus has been: ‘Why aren’t there more women physicists and mathematicians, and of course in the sports area, too?'” says Tierney. “There’s this idea that they’re being discriminated against, (but) there have been enormous studies of who gets grants, who gets tenure, who gets interviews for jobs, and women get preference.” However, one group does get discriminated against in colleges: conservatives. “In the social sciences, Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least eight to one. In fields like sociology it’s 44 to one. Students are more likely to be taught in sociology by a Marxist than by a Republican,” says Tierney. “It’s gotten worse and worse.” Why does this happen at colleges that claim they “treasure diversity”? Because people on the left believe diversity just means race and gender, not thought. And even schools that want some diverse thought reach a sort of political tipping point. “Once an academic department gets a majority of people who are on the left, they start hiring people like themselves, and soon the whole department is that way,” says Tierney. “They start to think that their opinions and that their interests are not only the norm, but the truth.” That’s how we get “scientific” studies that “prove” conservatives are stupid. One such study asked people if they agree with the statement “Earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them.” The researcher called a “yes” answer an “irrational denial of science.” But anyone who’s studied economics knows the statement has repeatedly been proven true. Finally, millions of people die of malaria today partly because many countries believed leftist junk science and needlessly banned DDT. Many were influenced by Rachel Carson’s scientifically challenged book “Silent Spring.” There is a war on science. But most of it doesn’t come from the right.

Agreed!  And well said, John.  Libertarian journalist John Stossel is responsible for that spot-on op/ed.  Excellent!!    🙂

Analysis: Scott Pruitt Is #Winning, Bans Junk Science from Environmental Protection Agency

Junk science is no longer welcome at the Environmental Protection Agency. Administrator Scott Pruitt has declared war on what he calls “secret science” – the process whereby EPA regulators have been able to craft rules using non-publicly-available science data. Pruitt told Daily Caller: “We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record. Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.” This decision will correct a longstanding injustice at the EPA, perpetrated against the U.S. taxpayer. For years the EPA has been able to behave as a law unto itself, cavalierly passing regulations which restrict freedoms, hamper business and hold back the U.S. economy for reasons which have much more to do with left-leaning environmentalist politics than with objective science. The problem dates back to the early 1990s when the EPA decided it wanted to regulate fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 but couldn’t find any hard scientific evidence proving it was harmful.

Kudos to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for trying to bring some sanity to the EPA.  For more on this excellent op/ed from James Delingpole, just click on the text above.    🙂

Two pilots report seeing UFO in southern Arizona skies

Pilots flying on two separate aircraft reported seeing an unidentified flying object over Arizona last month. The incident took place over southern Arizona around 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 between the New Mexico border and the Sonoran Desert National Monument, which is about 40 miles from Phoenix. The Drive reported that one witness, a commercial pilot flying a jet for American Airlines, said the object was above 40,000 feet and had a big reflection. “I don’t know what it was,” the pilot told Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center. “It wasn’t an airplane but it was … the path was going in the opposite direction.” Air traffic control told an aircraft on a similar flight path to let him know if anything passes over him in the next few miles. A few minutes later, the pilot confirmed that something passed over his aircraft. “Don’t know what it was, but it was at least two, three thousand feet above us,” he said. “It passed right over the top of us.” “Can you tell if it was in motion or just hovering?” traffic control asked. “Negative, I don’t know if it was a weather balloon or what not,” the pilot said. “It had a big reflection, several thousand feet above us going the opposite direction.” After questions about whether it was a Google balloon, another voice responded and said it was a UFO. Arizona had more than 4,500 reported UFO sightings from 2001 to 2015. It was also home to one of the most infamous UFO cases of all time, the Phoenix Lights.

Things that make ya go, “hmmmm.”     🙂

Pentagon’s mysterious project breathes new life into UFO research

“This is not a laughing matter.” That’s what investigative journalist and author Leslie Kean says of UFOs. “It’s completely rational to be interested and to try to figure out what’s going on with this,” she told WTOP. Kean co-authored a stunning article in The New York Times late last year that revealed the existence of the Pentagon’s secret project to investigate unidentified flying objects — the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Months later, this is still earth-shaking news to those eager for the truth. That’s because the last known government program to investigate UFO encounters — the Air Force’s Project Blue Book — officially ended almost 50 years ago in 1969. “The researchers in this area have always speculated and wondered what is going on behind the scenes. Is there a government investigation into this? And now we know that the answer is yes,” Kean said. “It just establishes a credibility for the topic for people to know that our government takes it seriously enough to have put financial resources into it and to have studied it for all these years.” According to the Times, $22 million was spent on AATIP from 2007 through the end of 2011. And although the funding stopped, Kean says the project did not. “We know that this program existed, it still exists, and it investigated military cases and very significant cases of pilot encounters with these objects,” said Kean, who authored the 2010 New York Times best-selling book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on The Record.” Kean wants to make something clear: Unidentified flying objects are not necessarily spacecraft piloted by extraterrestrials. “You can’t take the leap of looking at something that’s unexplained and then assuming that it’s alien,” she said. But one of the encounters AATIP investigated involved UFOs that appeared to do incredible things no known aircraft is capable of. About 13 years ago, numerous members of the military spotted mystery objects off the coast of San Diego. “These objects in this one incident in 2004 were actually observed coming in from outer space. They came in and then they went out, up into the sky. So whatever that means, that’s what happened. They were also seen able to move very, very, very fast from one space to another. Way faster than any airplane could do,” said Kean. The Pentagon program’s conclusions, if any, are not known, and Kean says more people should be studying UFOs without fear of ridicule. “Professional people feel like they’re going to be laughed at, and it’s the same problem for scientists and academic institutions and universities and research facilities who want to work on this topic, but they feel that it would be detrimental to their careers. So it continues to be a problem, unfortunately,” Kean said. “But I really hope it’s changing, and I think it is.” Editor’s note: This is the first story in a three-part series about UFOs, studies into them and local sightings.

🙂