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Category: Life Page 1 of 10

If We Found a Way to End the AIDS Epidemic, Would We?

The answer for Dr. Robert Grant — who is the researcher that found a vaccine for AIDS — is: “I don’t know.”

That’s a deeply disturbing response.

Here is his recent Congressional Testimony (May, 2019)

Here is the NYTimes Audio Podcast, The Daily, interviewing Dr. Grant. The title of this post, and Dr. Grant’s answer to the question, is at the very end of the piece.

I obviously have more thinking to do about the world I live in and about my place in it.


Society After The AI Singularity

It’s hard to imagine what life will be like after the time at which Artificial Intelligence becomes sufficient (or egad, “self-aware”). The only prediction that I feel comfortable making now is that life after that point will be “different.”

Presuming that we avoid the path that leads AI toward the “Ultron” outcome, and are able to find ourselves on a path more aligned with “J.A.R.V.I.S.” or “Vision“, then I suspect the first application of that AI would be toward solving homelessness and hunger.

So, what would a world look like where everyone is housed and fed?

This quote from yesterday’s Marketplace program struck a chord for me in that debate:

…there are some people saying [the development of sufficient AI] could happen so fast and be so disruptive as to sort of change the game there, and we need to be thinking about, you know, in a world where we don’t need to work, are we going to have society structured so that everybody has enough and can choose how to spend their time, or are we going to have a society where most people live in poverty?

Kelsey Piper, Will AI help humanity? Americans aren’t sure, Marketplace, January 29, 2019

And this on the heels of a study finding that 4 of 10 Americans are one missed paycheck away from poverty.

I know that people have been focused on wealth inequality for a while, but I believe that solving that problem seems to be more important now than ever…before we imbed it into the next evolution of human society.

I, for one, want a society structured so that everybody has “enough” and can choose how to spend their time…but I also am nervous about a path that leads to a WALL-E world of sloth-like humans.

I am not sure where this will lead…but I do suspect that it will be “different.”

The Coming Financial Crisis….

When I was young, I recall the comfort I got when the adults would talk about the big issues of the day. I could tell that they had the issues well in hand.

Today I heard an interview with Hank Paulson, Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke where they talked about the triggers of the 2008 Financial Crisis. Listening to that interview I again noticed a feeling a comfort as they discussed the events of that crisis. Here is the interview (and it’s a good listen if you have the time):

Later in the same program that contained that interview, I heard a report that the new tariffs were beginning to give rise to significant practical harm to U.S. businesses. I also heard a report that the stock market had taken a significant nose-dive.

In that contrast — with Hank, Tim and Ben on the one side and a different group on the other side — I realized that I have the opposite feeling about the current economic situation.

I have a feeling like there are NO adults in the room.

And I have a feeling like there is no minimum safe distance from the calamity that this current government could wreak.

And it scares me.

Ret. Gen. Breedlove Talks about the Strength of Three Branches of Government and about Russia

Today, NPR’s “Morning Edition” aired an interview with retired General Philip Breedlove, who was the supreme allied commander in Europe from 2013 to 2016.

The interview can be found here and below and is worth listening to in its entirety.

Two points stood out for me in his remarks:

1. General Breedlove’s report of how he and others sought to reassure our allies regarding 45’s presidency — and how those reassurances matched up with the actual results of these last 40 days. General Breedlove:

…back during the campaign, when questions were being raised, we reminded our great European partners that in the United States there are three parts of our government – the judiciary, the legislative and the executive – and that the powers are divided on purpose. And that was so that no one branch could run off.

And so what we talked to them about has very much played out, and it’s reassuring. They have seen the legislative become very much involved in the process. They have seen the judiciary become very much involved, concretely, in the process. And so what our European allies have seen is that America works.

I too find this reassuring.

2. When asked about his thoughts regarding Russian sanctions he replied in a manner that I found to be spot on. General Breedlove:

[W]e do, in the future, need to have a conversation with and try to move forward with Russia…what we don’t need is to do that in a manner that seems to approve or not hold [Russia] accountable for some pretty wrong actions that they have taken across the past, starting in ’08 with the invasion of Georgia and then in ’14, the invasion of Crimea, and then subsequently, the invasion of the Donbass – and frankly, some of the way they have conducted their self in Syria. These are all things that we cannot allow to stand or allow to be affirmed or approved in any way in any deal that we might make in the future.

I am heartened to find dialogue that is firm but not inflammatory. Pursuing dialogue that moves us toward Russia without condoning behavior we don’t like is a goal I support.

Who have you found in and around 45’s administration that is impressing you?

Preparing for Life on Mars

Today the NYTimes published a 360° video about a NASA-funded study of isolation designed to help scientists better understand the requirements for a mission to Mars.

Official information about the HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) Project can be found on the University of Hawaii website.

An NPR Article on a prior HI-SEAS mission can be found here.

Of course, if NASA wants to know about living on Mars, they could always just ask Matt Damon.

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