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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old November 24 2012, 04:26 AM   #421
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Ancient Aliens

TIN_MAN, what sort of reply do you honestly expect to get from a post like that? Or were you even thinking that far ahead? I reserve judgement so far on what your intentions are in even continuing this discussion...

But then you post things like this:

TIN_MAN wrote: View Post
in any case, it’s not my job to spoon-feed you information, go do your own research!
...
And yet you accuse me of not understanding your position! Heck. You don’t even understand your own position from one post to the next!
... and the entire rest of your incredibly long post comes into focus.

You have spent at least four posts now pushing the position that Egyptology is an intellectually bankrupt field, that a narrow (or broad?) majority of Egyptologists are self-interested charlatans who are so dogmatic and elitist that they cannot accept contradictory evidence even when it's staring them straight in the face. You have every right to believe this, and you have ever right to state this opinion publicly.

That does not mean that this opinion is worthy of anyone's respect. In my case, you have all but guaranteed that it isn't. Apart from the fact I find your blanket denouncement of an entire class of professional scientists vaguely insulting, you have missed no opportunity to question MY intelligence or to dismiss my questions out of hand, simply because I either had the audacity to disagree with you or to assume a position that doesn't easily reduce to your strawman of the moment.

Are you under the delusion that you're progressing towards any particular goal? I cannot now imagine what that might be. You haven't accomplished much except to present yourself and your beliefs on the nature of mainstream science in the worst possible light. And if you -- who spent two pages denouncing archeologists everywhere as narrow-minded hacks -- are the kind of person who finds Schochs to be such a credible source, then you have not merely painted YOURSELF as a pompous ass, you've also seriously damaged Schoch's credibility as well.

And you wonder why scientists of all fields are so dismissive of outsiders? The fact is they're not. They're dismissive of intellectually lazy, self-important amrchair scientists who have convinced themselves that they know better than archeologists how to do archeology. IOW, they're not averse to collaborating with outsiders, they are averse to collaborating with people like you.
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Old November 24 2012, 10:18 PM   #422
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Re: Ancient Aliens

BillJ wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
In which case, you concede the point: Stephen Hawking could make a patently absurd claim and have people believe him because He's Stephen Hawking, He Would Know. The basis of his prediction is almost immaterial; a complete nobody, making the same prediction, would be met with due skepticism even if his prediction had scientific merit. I'm actually surprised you have a problem with this, because this is EXACTLY what the Ancient Aliens/Paranomalist people are complaining about: nobody takes them seriously and calls them "crackpots" and "fringe theorists," and their ideas get panned automatically even when they're RIGHT about things. In the public eye, and even among some scientists, labels are often more important than data.
What exactly have they been "right" about?
The almost infinitesimal degree to which ancient alien believers may be right (and this isn't really a case of them being right, but some advanced tech, like batteries, or some vague artwork on a wall, or some other advancements in tech that disappeared and reappeared, or even Nazca lines--in which ancients likely had balloon technology, and possibly used that to survey them) compared to what Hawking and others have claimed with careful research based on sound extrapolation is not comparable. This is one of Alpha's silliest claims.

It's useful to see why Hawking thinks what he does in his lecture:

In the past decade, we’ve examined our Solar System’s orbit through the Milky Way to ask whether there may be clues to periodic mass extinctions on our planet. We've launched missions seeking out habitable Alien Earths and the existence of dark energy and have migrated from wondering if there's life on Mars to searching out and studying myriads of exo planets in the Milky Way and infinite galaxies beyond.


Physicist Stephen Hawking believes that we have entered a new phase of evolution. "At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection, from random mutations. This Darwinian phase, lasted about three and a half billion years, and produced us, beings who developed language, to exchange information."

But what distinguishes us from our cave man ancestors is the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last ten thousand years, and particularly, Hawking points out, over the last three hundred.

"I think it is legitimate to take a broader view, and include externally transmitted information, as well as DNA, in the evolution of the human race," Hawking said.

In the last ten thousand years the human species has been in what Hawking calls, "an external transmission phase," where the internal record of information, handed down to succeeding generations in DNA, has not changed significantly. "But the external record, in books, and other long lasting forms of storage," Hawking says, "has grown enormously. Some people would use the term, evolution, only for the internally transmitted genetic material, and would object to it being applied to information handed down externally. But I think that is too narrow a view. We are more than just our genes."

There are about 50,000 new books published in the English language each year, containing of the order of a hundred billion bits of information. Of course, the great majority of this information is garbage, and no use to any form of life. But, even so, the rate at which useful information can be added is millions, if not billions, higher than with DNA.”
The time scale for evolution, in the external transmission period, has collapsed to about 50 years, or less.

Meanwhile, Hawking observes, our human brains "with which we process this information have evolved only on the Darwinian time scale, of hundreds of thousands of years. This is beginning to cause problems. In the 18th century, there was said to be a man who had read every book written. But nowadays, if you read one book a day, it would take you about 15,000 years to read through the books in a national Library. By which time, many more books would have been written."

But we are now entering a new phase, of what Hawking calls "self designed evolution," in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA. "At first," he continues "these changes will be confined to the repair of genetic defects, like cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. These are controlled by single genes, and so are fairly easy to identify, and correct. Other qualities, such as intelligence, are probably controlled by a large number of genes. It will be much more difficult to find them, and work out the relations between them. Nevertheless, I am sure that during the next century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence, and instincts like aggression."

If the human race manages to redesign itself, to reduce or eliminate the risk of self-destruction, we will probably reach out to the stars and colonize other planets. But this will be done, Hawking believes, with intelligent machines based on mechanical and electronic components, rather than macromolecules, which could eventually replace DNA based life, just as DNA may have replaced an earlier form of life.
http://www.hawking.org.uk/life-in-the-universe.html

Titled life in the universe
RAMA
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Old November 25 2012, 02:21 AM   #423
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Re: Ancient Aliens

RAMA wrote: View Post
The almost infinitesimal degree to which ancient alien believers may be right (and this isn't really a case of them being right, but some advanced tech, like batteries, or some vague artwork on a wall, or some other advancements in tech that disappeared and reappeared, or even Nazca lines--in which ancients likely had balloon technology, and possibly used that to survey them) compared to what Hawking and others have claimed with careful research based on sound extrapolation is not comparable. This is one of Alpha's silliest claims.
That's not even my claim though. Much more to the point: if Stephen Hawking came out in support of the Ancient Aliens theory, would that lend more credibility to the theory, or would it damage his own?

Some people would use the term, evolution, only for the internally transmitted genetic material, and would object to it being applied to information handed down externally. But I think that is too narrow a view. We are more than just our genes.
This is Stephen Hawking apparently not knowing or caring that biological evolution -- e.g. speciation and phenotypical change over time -- and social/cultural/political evolution are entirely different subjects operating on entirely different timescales and aren't actually related to each other at all.

Try replacing the word "evolution" in that sentence with "sex" or "procreation" to get the gist of that concept. Hawking is oversimplifying the concept tremendously and then assuming that everyone else does too. He is, in other words, coming at it from the position of a layperson. Michio Kaku is another who does this on a fairly regular basis, apparently unaware that evolutionary biology is entirely different field from sociology or history.

But we are now entering a new phase, of what Hawking calls "self designed evolution," in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA.
I missed the part where Hawking explains how the entire human species will have unrestricted access to this technology, how natural selection will be universally and permanently mitigated, or how humanity manages to make this technical innovation permanent even in the event of natural disasters, wars or other unpredictable upheavals.

Remember earlier how I mentioned you were clinging only to the most optimistic projections of the best case scenario? This is a pristine example of that behavior.
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Old November 25 2012, 04:18 AM   #424
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Re: Ancient Aliens

In fact, RAMA, here's a teaching example for future reference.

New York Times: Exciting breakthroughs in Deep Learning.

Read the article if you haven't already. Exciting stuff. Key takeaways there could be:
- Improvements in patten recognition and speech recognition
- Improvements in computer cognition
- Considerable improvement in machine grasping of complex behaviors (natural conversation, learning from mistakes/trial and error, etc).

If you get really excited about this article, there are two things in it that are easy to miss.
Firstly:
Artificial intelligence researchers are acutely aware of the dangers of being overly optimistic. Their field has long been plagued by outbursts of misplaced enthusiasm followed by equally striking declines.

In the 1960s, some computer scientists believed that a workable artificial intelligence system was just 10 years away. In the 1980s, a wave of commercial start-ups collapsed, leading to what some people called the “A.I. winter.”
Second is even more important to what we were just discussing:
One of the most striking aspects of the research led by Dr. Hinton is that it has taken place largely without the patent restrictions and bitter infighting over intellectual property that characterize high-technology fields.

“We decided early on not to make money out of this, but just to sort of spread it to infect everybody,” he said. “These companies are terribly pleased with this.”
I do not mean to dampen your optimism, RAMA. Only to point out that optimism alone is not evidence and that realism has to be accounted for. The painful reality is that the development of technology is often hindered by other things, mostly involving money. I happen to know that even the speech recognition algorithms that eventually went into developing Siri and similar apps were originally developed in the early 1990s; they took so long to develop into a working application, not because of limitations in technology, but because the original developers got swindled into a bad merger by Goldman Sachs and they lost the rights to their own technology, unable to do any meaningful work on it for over fifteen years; the technology wound up getting picked up by Apple and its development partners only after successive mergers and acquisitions steered the original patents into the hands of someone capable of using them.

Point is, it doesn't take a big disaster or a nuclear war to forestall the singularity. All it really takes is one poor business decision or one greedy hedge fund manager to sign the wrong contract at the wrong time to screw it up for everyone. The putative sentient AI could end up strangled in its crib just because Cisco Systems decides it isn't marketable and pulls its funding at the critical threshhold of self-awareness; the team disbands, work stops, and Cisco holds onto the rights to the research data, unwilling to fund further research but equally unwilling to sell it to someone who IS.

That happens ALOT in this business, and it's not something Singularity theorists even BEGIN to take seriously when they make these sorts of predictions (which is exactly why Kurzweil's predictions about speech recognition technology were so disastrously wrong). Until we get to the point where meaningful AI development can efficiently bypass profit motive without sacrificing effectiveness -- IOW, until/unless the SOFTWARE curve begins to show exponential growth in pace with hardware -- the conditions for the Singularity cannot be met. In this case, the obstacle is the fact that only a few humans on the entire planet are even qualified to do that kind of research and there are huge limits to how efficiently that kind of education can be distributed to people who are less likely to care about profit motive and more likely to develop strong AI systems. As I've said many times, commercial projects aren't going to do that -- there's very little market incentive to develop machine sentience of any kind -- but there a lot of places in the developing world where the development of supergenius artificial mind would have certain advantages, not least of which would be increased access to education (schools and universities require far more infrastructure and investment than pre-programmed expert systems) and dramatically increased productivity.

Until we start seeing these kinds of breakthroughs coming out of the developing world -- or at least being directly shared with the developing world on a partner basis -- this isn't Singularity news, it's just ordinary progress.
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Old November 25 2012, 06:21 AM   #425
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Deckerd wrote: View Post
You two should really get a room.
Seconded.
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Old November 26 2012, 09:33 AM   #426
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Re: Ancient Aliens

A wizard did it.
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Old November 26 2012, 10:05 AM   #427
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Yay, Lloyd's here. Now everything will make sense.
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Old November 26 2012, 02:37 PM   #428
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Re: Ancient Aliens

It's quite simple to accept that aliens visited earth in the past to help human development if you accept that the universe is, in fact, banana-shaped.
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Old November 26 2012, 02:40 PM   #429
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Told you.
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Old November 26 2012, 04:26 PM   #430
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Balrog wrote: View Post
It's quite simple to accept that aliens visited earth in the past to help human development if you accept that the universe is, in fact, banana-shaped.
As long as it's a hyperbanana, I don't see a problem.
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Old November 26 2012, 06:57 PM   #431
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Re: Ancient Aliens

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Old November 26 2012, 07:38 PM   #432
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
Balrog wrote: View Post
It's quite simple to accept that aliens visited earth in the past to help human development if you accept that the universe is, in fact, banana-shaped.
As long as it's a hyperbanana, I don't see a problem.
HYPERbanana?!

Heretic...
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Old November 26 2012, 08:50 PM   #433
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Ancient Aliens may be the best satire ever put on screen.
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Old November 27 2012, 03:50 AM   #434
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Re: Ancient Aliens

It needs a Quinn-Martin Production theme song.

"Ancient Aliens - In Color"
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Old November 28 2012, 05:37 AM   #435
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Re: Ancient Aliens

Ancient Aliens is filmed in front of a live studio Ostrich.

HAHA!
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