Welcome to Saturday's Potluck - 12-3-2022
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
The weather has turned cold. Thankful steady delivery of electricity for the heat pump and wood available for the fireplace. The Crock pot is keeping the cold corner of the kitchen warm while cooking tonight's dinner. Just a few items that caught my interest this week.
An update on an alternative payment program to SWIFT for international monetary transactions.
The Global South births a new game-changing payment system The Cradle by Pepe Escobar Nov 30, 2022
The Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) is speeding up its design of a common payment system, which has been closely discussed for nearly a year with the Chinese under the stewardship of Sergey Glazyev, the EAEU’s minister in charge of Integration and Macro-economy.
The system will include a single payment card – in direct competition with Visa and Mastercard – merging the already existing Russian MIR, China’s UnionPay, India’s RuPay, Brazil’s Elo, and others.
That will represent a direct challenge to the western-designed (and enforced) monetary system, head on. And it comes on the heels of BRICS members already transacting their bilateral trade in local currencies, and bypassing the US dollar.
The EAEU was established in 2015 as a customs union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, joined a year later by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Vietnam is already an EAEU free trade partner, and recently enshrined SCO member Iran is also clinching a deal.
The EAEU is designed to implement free movement of goods, services, capital, and workers between member countries. Ukraine would have been an EAEU member if not for the Maidan coup in 2014 masterminded by the Barack Obama administration.
As if all that was not game-changing enough, Russian President Vladimir Putin is raising the stakes by calling for a new international payment system based on blockchain and digital currencies.
The next big step is to organize the agenda of a crucial meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on 14 December in Moscow. Putin will be there – in person. And there’s nothing he would love more than to make a game-changing announcement.
All of these moves acquire even more importance as they connect to fast increasing, interlocking trade between Russia, China, India, and Iran: from Russia’s drive to build new pipelines serving its Chinese market – to Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan discussing a gas union for both domestic supplies and exports, especially to main client China.
DNA from ancient population in Southern China suggests Native Americans' East Asian roots Phys.org July 14, 2022
For the first time, researchers successfully sequenced the genome of ancient human fossils from the Late Pleistocene in southern China. The data, published July 14 in the journal Current Biology, suggests that the mysterious hominin belonged to an extinct maternal branch of modern humans that might have contributed to the origin of Native Americans.
The researchers compared the genome of these fossils to that of people from around the world. They found that the bones belonged to an individual that was linked deeply to the East Asian ancestry of Native Americans. Combined with previous research data, this finding led the team to propose that some of the southern East Asia people had traveled north along the coastline of present-day eastern China through Japan and reached Siberia tens of thousands of years ago. They then crossed the Bering Strait between the continents of Asia and North America and became the first people to arrive in the New World.
The journey to making this discovery started over three decades ago, when a group of archaeologists in China discovered a large set of bones in the Maludong, or Red Deer Cave, in southern China's Yunnan Province. Carbon dating showed that the fossils were from the Late Pleistocene about 14,000 years ago, a period of time when modern humans had migrated to many parts of the world.
A little info on Ukraine.
It appears this British volunteer made it back physically intact from his time spent with the Ukrainian International Legion in beginning in March. I started the video where he speaks about 5 minutes on his general opinion of the various foreign fighters he met. Personally I found both of his interviews interesting, neither the interviewer or volunteer appear to have a preformed agenda they are trying to communicate. Just going about life and unusual things happen.
Back from the front: a British volunteer in Ukraine (57 min if watch all of the interview)
The first interview from March is 19 minutes long - A leap into the unknown: a British man joins the Ukrainian International Legion.
From 2 days ago on Judge Napolitano's program - Scott Ritter - Ukraine Russia War Update (27.44 min)
The language of science can be used to create a authoritative voice, even without understanding basic scientific principles of an issue, as shown by the Artificial Intelligence software Galactica. After the past 3 years of listening to "experts" the problem is not limited to software.
The Galactica AI model was trained on scientific knowledge – but it spat out alarmingly plausible nonsense The Conversation November 29, 2022
What’s special about Galactica?
Galactica is a language model, a type of AI trained to respond to natural language by repeatedly playing a fill-the-blank word-guessing game.
Most modern language models learn from text scraped from the internet. Galactica also used text from scientific papers uploaded to the (Meta-affiliated) website PapersWithCode. The designers highlighted specialized scientific information like citations, maths, code, chemical structures, and the working-out steps for solving scientific problems.
Authoritative, but subtly wrong bullshit generator
Galactica’s press release promoted its ability to explain technical scientific papers using general language. However, users quickly noticed that, while the explanations it generates sound authoritative, they are often subtly incorrect, biased, or just plain wrong.
We also asked Galactica to explain technical concepts from our own fields of research. We found it would use all the right buzzwords, but get the actual details wrong – for example, mixing up the details of related but different algorithms.
A galaxy of deep (science) fakes
Galactica could make it easier for bad actors to mass-produce fake, fraudulent or plagiarised scientific papers. This is to say nothing of exacerbating existing concerns about students using AI systems for plagiarism.
Underlying bias and toxicity
Other critics reported that Galactica, like other language models trained on data from the internet, has a tendency to spit out toxic hate speech while unreflectively censoring politically inflected queries.
For better or worse, citations are the currency of science – and by reproducing existing citation trends in its recommendations, Galactica risks reinforcing existing patterns of inequality and disadvantage. (Galactica’s developers acknowledge this risk in their paper.)
Citation bias is already a well-known issue in academic fields ranging from feminist scholarship to physics. However, tools like Galactica could make the problem worse unless they are used with careful guardrails in place.
A more subtle problem is that the scientific articles on which Galactica is trained are already biased toward certainty and positive results. (This leads to the so-called “replication crisis” and “p-hacking”, where scientists cherry-pick data and analysis techniques to make results appear significant.)
Galactica takes this bias towards certainty, combines it with wrong answers and delivers responses with supreme overconfidence: hardly a recipe for trustworthiness in a scientific information service.
What is on your mind today?