Musings from Southern New Mexico

Month: June 2023

The World is Slightly Less Evil Today

A wicked fraud – preying primarily upon the gullible and the stupid – and a perpetrator of great evil upon outgroups ranging from the poor to women to LGBT people to the “lesser” races has finally died. The length of his life is an argument against the existence of a just and loving god.

I hope there is an afterlife, though. There, he can spend an eternity reaping the fruits of an unnaturally long lifetime of aggressively harming all those who are not straight, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant males.

Hopefully, he will be sharing a pit with his fellow sack of rancid ungulate leavings Jerry Falwell.

Neighborhood Standards

John Oliver recently ran a story on homeowner associations (HOAs). The story was centered on the worst aspects of that particular – and almost universally despised – facet of suburban life.

I generally agree, and a selling point of the house in which I currently live was that it is not associated with an HOA.

But …

I just wanted to present a bit of a counterpoint. On the one hand, a house with a staid, conservative façade will hardly be noticed in an outlandish Miami neighborhood. But on the other, a garish and colorful house among a sea of bland and stately houses.

There is a reason for aesthetic standards.

But …

When I lived on a rural backroad (and prior to the advent of civilian-use GPS), my home was very hard to find. We eventually figured out an easy-to-follow set of instructions. These directions were basically as follows:

  1. [blah]
  2. [blah]
  3. [blah]
  4. Then, when you get to this *god-awful* green house, take a right.
  5. [blah]

No one ever failed to find my house.

The Step AI Skips

Since the recent popularization of large language model artificial intelligence applications, voices have sprung up stating one answer or the other to the question, “Is AI dangerous?”

The answer is an obvious, “Yes.”

The variety of answers helps muddle this in a way that almost seems by design.

Propaganda has a long history. The overarching goal is to inform (sometimes disinform) selectively in a manner intended to induce an emotional response. It may be spread for good, for evil, or anywhere in between.

Propaganda has historically been spread by two sorts of people: activists and shills. Shilling – the informational equivalent of prostitution – has a downside. The sort of person who knowingly spreads disinformation for personal profit is not generally trustworthy. As we move along the continuum from “neutral” towards “evil,” the ethical requirement moves from “morally questionable” towards “amoral.”

Propaganda in support of evil has always had a boundary. The number of amoral people (both activists and shills) capable of presenting propaganda in a believable manner is limited. As well, the extent to which an individual is willing to go is typically limited by an instinct for self-preservation. Criminal activities – such as actively calling for the murder of a particular out group – may bring consequences. For a bot, even the potential for consequences does not exist. Without the step of finding a reasonably charismatic amoral who presents a veneer of intelligence, a bottleneck is removed.

The skids have been greased, and we should expect a rapid descent. first deeper into kleptocracy, thence into an increasingly concentrated plutocracy, and – perhaps – ultimately culminating in a pure dictatorship.

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