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Posts Tagged ‘Puritans

“How about a little magic?”*…

 

sorcerers apprentice

 

Once upon a time (bear with me if you’ve heard this one), there was a company which made a significant advance in artificial intelligence. Given their incredibly sophisticated new system, they started to put it to ever-wider uses, asking it to optimize their business for everything from the lofty to the mundane.

And one day, the CEO wanted to grab a paperclip to hold some papers together, and found there weren’t any in the tray by the printer. “Alice!” he cried (for Alice was the name of his machine learning lead) “Can you tell the damned AI to make sure we don’t run out of paperclips again?”…

What could possibly go wrong?

[As you’ll read in the full and fascinating article, a great deal…]

Computer scientists tell the story of the Paperclip Maximizer as a sort of cross between the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Matrix; a reminder of why it’s crucially important to tell your system not just what its goals are, but how it should balance those goals against costs. It frequently comes with a warning that it’s easy to forget a cost somewhere, and so you should always check your models carefully to make sure they aren’t accidentally turning in to Paperclip Maximizers…

But this parable is not just about computer science. Replace the paper clips in the story above with money, and you will see the rise of finance…

Yonatan Zunger tells a powerful story that’s not (only) about AI: “The Parable of the Paperclip Maximizer.”

* Mickey Mouse, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

###

As we’re careful what we wish for (and how we wish for it), we might recall that it was on this date in 1631 that the Puritans in the recently-chartered Massachusetts Bay Colony issued a General Court Ordinance that banned gambling: “whatsoever that have cards, dice or tables in their houses, shall make away with them before the next court under pain of punishment.”

Mass gambling source

 

Written by LW

March 22, 2019 at 1:01 am

It’s not easy being green…

In the too-frequently-horrifying theater of events playing out around us every day, we’re reminded that, for all the ambient praise of “diversity,” the differences among people are all too often the occasion for fear, then violence– sometimes physical violence; but more often violence of the “cooler,” but still-plenty-insidious political, economic, or psychological variety…

Occasionally, the expressions of that fear are so extreme as to transcend the offensive; they become so ridiculous as to be funny…

source

But mostly the fear just transmutes into hate…  hate that– emanating from the “normal,” the “righteous”– too often succeeds in (one of) its goals: infecting its target with the guilt that comes of being made to feel “abnormal” or “wrong.”

So it’s a treat to discover Born This Way, a site that invites the members of one long-time target group, gay adults, to submit photos of themselves along with short essays “that capture them, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate LGBT selves.”  It’s a collection of entries that are, at once, proud and self-deprecating, funny and moving…

Isaac: Here I am with my two brothers in the dustbowl mining town of Karratha in Western Australia, where the dirt is red and the people are predominantly white. Being one of the few ethnic people in town didn't bug me so much, I just assumed I was white like everyone else. Ah, the innocence of youth. At this point in my life I lived a blissfully unaware gay lifestyle: Having all female friends, really REALLY liking Catwoman, and always trying on my friend's fake, plastic, high heeled shoes when I went to their house. I actually didn't realize I was even close to being gay until my graduating year of high school, so this photo is one of those things I look at now and think to myself -- 'How did I NOT know?!'

Laurie: As a kid, I always enjoyed dressing up in more 'boyish' clothes. I loved my Star Wars figures, and hated Barbie dolls. I wore boys Under-roos (Superman was my favorite!) and played sports.

Dustin: This photo was taken somewhere in the wild back country of Wyoming on the annual fall hunting trip with the family. I can't believe I used to go hunting - definitely not something I'd do today. I used to love putting on that great orange gear - the best was the shopping trip prior to the hunt where I could pick out anything as long as it was orange. We shot all sorts of guns - mostly at Coke cans. I only remember once when a deer was actually killed. I just can't believe that when this photo was taken that my family didn't know I was gay. Look at the pose! The hips, the knees, the hand gesture and yes, the gun. How could they be so shocked when I came out?! I always knew I was gay - I never had a problem with it. I just knew one day I'd be a grown-up and fabulous. And I was RIGHT!

As creator Paul V. explains,

…some of the pix here feature gay boys with feminine traits, and some gay girls with masculine traits. And even more gay kids with NONE of those traits. Just like real life, these gay kids come in all shades and layers of masculine and feminine… this project is not about furthering stereotypes. It is, simply: ‘This is me and this is my story’ – in living color and black & white.

More stories at Born This Way.

[Thanks to i09 for the lead to what may be the best book cover ever!  And to reader CE for the pointer to Born This Way.]

As we celebrate the variety that is humanity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1631 that Roger Williams landed near Boston.   Soon after his arrival, Williams alarmed the Puritan oligarchy of Massachusetts by speaking out against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension and to confiscate Indian land. In October 1635, he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the General Court.

So, with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, Williams established a settlement at the junction of two rivers near Narragansett Bay, located in (what is now) Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters– and many dissatisfied Puritans came. Taking the success of the venture as a sign from God, Williams named the community “Providence.”

Williams stayed close to the Narragansett Indians and continued to protect them from the land greed of European settlers. His respect for the Indians, his fair treatment of them, and his knowledge of their language enabled him to carry on peace negotiations between natives and Europeans, until the eventual outbreak of King Philip’s War in the 1670s. And although Williams preached to the Narragansett, he practiced his principle of religious freedom by refraining from attempts to convert them.

 

Roger Williams statue, Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I.

source: Library of Congress

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