Baron-Cohen points out that “attributing mental states to a complex system (such as a human being) is by far the easiest way of…

“Baron-Cohen points out that “attributing mental states to a complex system (such as a human being) is by far the easiest way of understanding it,” that is, of “coming up with an explanation of the complex system’s behavior Thus our tendency to interpret and predicting what it will do next.””

Zunshine, Lisa. Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 2006. 2012. (viacarvalhais)

Host in the Shell

thenewinquiry:

By Sarah Black McCulloch

Immune systems don’t make for clean narratives, even as we expect them to keep us pure.

Spinoza said: we don’t know what a body can do. The question of a body’s power [pouvoir] pushes aside another question that we tend to ask right away: the…

Host in the Shell

From 7–8pm on Friday, software used by third-party sellers to ensure their products are the cheapest on the market went a bit…

From 7–8pm on Friday, software used by third-party sellers to ensure their products are the cheapest on the market went a bit haywire and reduced prices to as little as 1p. “Amazon is all kinds of broken,” one observer tweeted. “Mattress 1p. Heaphones 1p. Batteries, clothing, games all 1p. Someone messed up big time.”

Martin Le Corre, who sells toys and games via his MB Homewares store on Amazon, told the Guardian that the glitch in software developed by RepricerExpress could have cost him more than £100,000.

“We got a call from a competitor to say ‘do you realise all your listings at a penny?’ By the end of the hour, we had 1,600 orders,” he said. “People were buying 10, 50, 100 copies of everything. It is £50,000, £60,000, £100,000 of stock; we can’t even work it out.”

Le Corre immediately took his store offline, but more than £30,000 worth of orders had already been marked as dispatched by Amazon. Orders that have already been dispatched cannot be cancelled and shoppers will be able to keep the goods.

Amazon sellers hit by nightmare before Christmas as glitch cuts prices to 1p (viaiamdanw)

Operation Socialist: How GCHQ Spies Hacked Belgium’s Largest Telco

Belgacom, GCHQ, espionage, EU, state sponsored hacking, NOCTURNAL SURGE, MUTANT BROTH, Five Eyes, Sn

The Belgacom hack, he said, is the “first documented example to show one EU member state mounting a cyber attack on another…a breathtaking example of the scale of the state-sponsored hacking problem.” Publicly, Belgacom has played down the extent of the compromise, insisting that only its internal systems were breached and that customers’ data was never found to have been at risk. But secret GCHQ documents show the agency gained access far beyond Belgacom’s internal employee computers and was able to grab encrypted and unencrypted streams of private communications handled by the company.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/13/belgacom-hack-gchq-inside-story/

Biologists discover electric bacteria that eat pure electrons rather than sugar

bacteria, biology, metabolism, electronics, electricity, ecology, microbiology

University of Southern California (USC) have discovered bacteria that survives on nothing but electricity — rather than food, they eat and excrete pure electrons. These bacteria yet again prove the almost miraculous tenacity of life — but, from a technology standpoint, they might also prove to be useful in enabling the creation of self-powered nanoscale devices that clean up pollution. Some of these bacteria also have the curious ability to form into ‘biocables,’ microbial nanowires that are centimeters long and conduct electricity as well as copper wires — a capability that might one day be tapped to build long, self-assembling subsurface networks for human use.

http://mobile.extremetech.com/extreme/221698-biologists-discover-electric-bacteria-that-eat-pure-electrons-rather-than-sugar-redefining-the-tenacity-of-life

"President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government have committed over $16 billion towards building the required infrastructure to…

silk road, silk route, trade, history, rail, china, eurasia, economics, Asia, Europe

“President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government have committed over $16 billion towards building the required infrastructure to recreate the centuries-old trade route stretching from China to the Mediterranean. The new ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, a high-speed train line running through Eurasia, Iran and Turkey before finishing in Western Europe, is one of two large-scale, global trading projects China is aiming to create, as well as the ‘Maritime Silk Road’, which will run via Southeast Asia, India, and Kenya, before finishing in the Mediterranean.”

The human race is not divided into the irrational and the rational, as some idealists think. All humans are irrational, but…

“The human race is not divided into the irrational and the rational, as some idealists think. All humans are irrational, but there are two different kinds of irrationality – those who love old ideas and hate and fear new ones, and those who despise old ideas and joyfully embrace new ones. Homo neophobus and homo neophilus. Neophobus is the original human stock, the stock that hardly changed at all for the first four million years of human history. Neophilus is the creative mutation that has been popping up at regular intervals during the past million years, giving the race little forward pushes, the kind you give a wheel to make it spin faster and faster. Neophilus makes a lot of mistakes, but he or she moves. They live life the way it should be lived, ninety-nine percent mistakes and one percent viable mutations.”

Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson in theIlluminatus! Trilogy

Within an hour of its posting, the Vine had garnered thirty-two thousand likes. After waiting three more hours, to whet interest…

“Within an hour of its posting, the Vine had garnered thirty-two thousand likes. After waiting three more hours, to whet interest in his director’s cut, Bach uploaded a fifteen-second version to Instagram. “If it gets six thousand likes in four minutes, that’s good,” he said. “Eight thousand is epic.” The likes clocked in at 8,115. “Now I’ll upload it to Facebook, get those views, and fans put all my Vines on YouTube—it’s too much work for me to upload them—which gets me ten to fifteen K a month from the ads.” By expertly tuning every knob on the digital mixer of himself, Bach made the video one of his top three ever. On Vine alone, it’s been viewed forty-one million times.”

The Stars of YouTube and Vine | The New Yorker (viaiamdanw)

Measurements from Rosetta’s Rosina instrument found that water on comet 67P /Churyumov-Gerasimenko contains about three times…

Measurements from Rosetta’s Rosina instrument found that water on comet 67P /Churyumov-Gerasimenko contains about three times more deuterium – a heavy form of hydrogen – than water on Earth.

The discovery seems to overturn the theory that Earth got its water, and so its ability to harbour life, from water-bearing comets that slammed into the planet during its early history.

Comet 67P is thought to have come from what is called the Kuiper belt, a broad band of frozen bodies that begins beyond the orbit of Neptune. The main asteroid belt contains more rocky objects that circle the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Kathrin Altwegg at the University of Bern said that rather than comets ferrying water to Earth, it may have arrived onboard asteroids instead. Details of the discovery are reported in the journal, Science.

“Today asteroids have very limited water, that’s clear. But that was probably not always the case, said Altwegg. In the earliest period of the solar system, 3.8bn years ago, asteroids are thought to have crashed into Earth regularly in what is called the late heavy bombardment. “At that time, asteroids could well have had much more water than they have today,” Altwegg said.

The Rosina instrument measured water coming off the comet as it flew around the body. Scientists plan to take more measurements as the comet nears the sun and its begins to spew more water vapour and dust out into space.

Measurements from other comets have found water with similar deuterium contents to that on Earth. But the strange composition of comet 67P’s water suggests that the picture of comets bringing water to Earth is too simplistic.

TIRED: comets are the source of water for Earth.

WIRED: asteroids are the life giving, death dealing forces of nature.

and my updated guide to Panspermia needs revising again.

(viam1k3y)

Monastery vs. unMonastery

Edgeryders, community, benedictine, Monastery, secularism, social structure, unMonastery, long termi

Most hackers, activists and social innovators and unMonasterians take solace in their work too. Like monks, unMonasterians believe their work is important, but only very few think it will single-handedly “change the world”. Almost all projects within our reach are quite small. And yet, they feel important. Even the smallest and least influential open source project encodes a better world: the sharing of knowledge, generosity with one’s time, the attempt to make the world ever so slightly better and more free. Like monks, unMonasterians don’t do work because they think it is all-important and world-changing: they do it because they like to, because it makes them into the people they want to be.

https://edgeryders.eu/en/monastery-vs-unmonastery-reflecting-on-a-deep-conversation-with-father

CIA Fact Sheet Regarding the SSCI Study on the Former Detention and Interrogation Program December 9, 2014 Related…

icontherecord:

CIA Fact Sheet Regarding the SSCI Study on the Former Detention and Interrogation Program

December 9, 2014


Related Documents:


The Detention and Interrogation Program Ended in 2009 and Will Not Be Renewed at CIA:

  • President Obama ended the detention and interrogation program nearly six years ago in 2009.
  • The use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) by CIA ended in December 2007, and was subsequently prohibited by an Executive Order issued by President Obama when he took office in January 2009.
  • The President also directed that CIA no longer operate detention facilities and banned the use of all interrogation techniques that are not in the Army Field Manual for those held in U.S. custody or under the effective control of the United States in any armed conflict.
  • It is Director Brennan’s resolute intention to ensure that Agency officers scrupulously adhere to these directives, which the Director fully supports.

History:

  • The detention and interrogation program was authorized by President George W. Bush six days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, reviewed and determined to be lawful by the Justice Department, and implemented by the CIA.
  • The program was one part of a global counter-terrorism effort undertaken by CIA to dismantle al-Qa’ida and prevent another mass-casualty strike on American soil.

CIA’s Response Acknowledges Serious Mistakes:

  • CIA’s 2013 response (found at www.cia.gov) to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Study acknowledges that the program had shortcomings and the Agency made mistakes. The most serious problems occurred early on and stemmed from the fact that the Agency was unprepared and lacked the core competencies required to undertake an unprecedented program of detaining and interrogating suspected terrorists around the world.
  • In carrying out that program, CIA did not always live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves and that the American people expect of us.
  • CIA has owned up to these mistakes, learned from them, and taken numerous corrective actions over the years. Further improvements to CIA practices continue to be made today as a result of our review of the SSCI Study.

The Program Produced Valuable and Unique Intelligence:

  • The Agency takes no position on whether intelligence obtained from detainees who were subjected to EITs could have been obtained through other means or from other individuals. The answer to this question is, and will remain, unknowable.
  • However, CIA reviews indicate that the program, including interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used, did produce valuable and unique intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives. Tab C of the Agency’s response addresses this issue in detail.
  • CIA’s position on the value of information derived from detainees is not an endorsement of the policy decision to use EITs or an “ends-justify-the-means” case for them, but merely a reflection of the historical record.
  • CIA assesses that most of the 20 case studies cited in the SSCI Study and the Agency’s representations about them remain valid examples of the program’s effectiveness, although CIA has acknowledged some flaws in its past representations.

Bin Ladin Example:

  • For instance, information that CIA obtained from detainees played a role, in combination with other streams of intelligence, in finding Usama Bin Ladin.
  • Information from detainees in CIA custody relating to the involvement of courier Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti in delivering messages to and from Bin Ladin fundamentally changed our assessment of his potential importance to our hunt for Bin Ladin.
  • As an example, Ammar al-Baluchi, after undergoing EITs, was the first detainee to reveal that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti served as a courier for messages from Bin Ladin after Bin Laden had departed Afghanistan. Before that, CIA had only general information that Abu Ahmad had interacted with Bin Ladin before the group’s retreat from Tora Bora in late 2001, when Bin Ladin was relatively accessible to a number of al-Qa’ida figures.
  • This information prompted CIA to re-question other detainees on Abu Ahmad’s role, to review previous reporting in light of this information, and to increase the focus of Abu Ahmad’s role in our questioning. CIA then combined this information with reporting from other streams to build a profile of Abu Ahmad’s experiences, family, and characteristics that allowed us to eventually determine his true name and location.

CIA Representations to Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Public Regarding the Program:

  • CIA disagrees with the Study’s inference that the CIA systematically and intentionally misrepresented the program to Congress, others in the Executive Branch, and the media.
  • The Agency’s record is not perfect – there were instances where representations about the program that were used or approved by Agency officers were inaccurate, imprecise, or fell short of Agency tradecraft standards — but the factual record does not support the inference in the Study that the Agency conspired to intentionally mislead the Congress or others regarding the effectiveness of the program.
  • Within the limits on access established by the White House, CIA made a good faith effort to keep Congressional oversight committee leaders fully briefed on the program.
  • CIA also facilitated multiple reviews by its own Inspector General (IG), whose reports allowed Agency leaders to address a number of the same shortcomings noted in the SSCI report.
  • Despite some flaws in CIA’s representations of effectiveness, the overall nature and value of the program, including the manner in which interrogations were carried out and the IG’s findings about the program’s shortcomings, were accurately portrayed to CIA’s Executive and Legislative Branch overseers, as well as the Justice Department.

CIA’s Response Included Recommendations Based on a Review of the Study:

  • While there are no specific recommendations for CIA improvement in the SSCI Study, CIA developed its own recommendations based a review of the concerns raised in the Study. CIA has made substantial progress implementing these recommendations, including:
    • To better plan and manage sensitive programs, CIA has codified a requirement to explicitly address at the outset lines of authority, resources, the implications of public disclosure, and an exit strategy.
    • CIA is improving how it assesses the effectiveness of its sensitive programs and has instituted a process for determining which assignments entail particularly sensitive responsibilities requiring enhanced vetting of CIA officers being considered for those assignments.
    • CIA has created a mechanism to ensure it regularly revalidates and, as necessary, updates the factual basis for the legal guidance on which it relies from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
    • CIA has established a requirement that internal accountability boards do not focus exclusively on individual misconduct, but look more broadly at any systemic problems.

CIA’s Response Takes an Introspective Look at the Past with an Eye towards the Future:

  • CIA has learned many lessons over the years from this chapter in its history, and the Agency is stronger as a result. The SSCI Study is no exception.
  • Nevertheless, CIA must ensure the SSCI Study doesn’t undermine the confidence of officers charged with executing current or future Presidential directives and hopes that, in the future, such reports can be the result of collaborative, bi-partisan investigations.
  • CIA sincerely hopes that, as a result of the Committee’s work and our subsequent review and response, we can move forward in our efforts to address successfully the many national security challenges facing our nation. By learning from the past while focusing on the future, we will be best able to meet our responsibility to protect the American people.

Via CIA.gov

Release of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report Press Statement — John Kerry, Secretary of State December 9, 2014 …

icontherecord:

Release of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report

Press Statement —John Kerry,Secretary of State

December 9, 2014

Release of this report affirms again that one of America’s strengths is our democratic system’s ability to recognize and wrestle with our own history, acknowledge mistakes, and correct course. This marks a coda to a chapter in our history. President Obama turned the page on these policies when he took office and during week one banned the use of torture and closed the detention and interrogation program. It was right to end these practices for a simple but powerful reason: they were at odds with our values. They are not who we are, and they’re not who or what we had to become, because the most powerful country on earth doesn’t have to choose between protecting our security and promoting our values.

Now this report sheds light on this period that’s more than five years behind us, so we can discuss and debate our history – and then look again to the future.

As that debate is joined, I want to underscore that while it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant to reexamine this period, it’s important that this period not define the intelligence community in anyone’s minds. Every single day, the State Department and our diplomats and their families are safer because of the men and women of the CIA and the Intelligence Community. They sign up to serve their country the same way our diplomats and our military do. They risk their lives to keep us safe and strengthen America’s foreign policy and national security. The awful facts of this report do not represent who they are, period. That context is also important to how we understand history.

Via State.gov

A lot of my life is lived as part of this stringy confederation of nerds interested in perception over distance and mediated by…

“A lot of my life is lived as part of this stringy confederation of nerds interested in perception over distance and mediated by algorithms, in the river rapids where culture flows around protuberant lumps of technology, in volition and encoding, in the connections, separations, and flavors of the network itself, in scale, in long chains of molecules and routes of IP packets and corten containers and coffee beans, and in the submerged cathedrals and unmapped data halls that they build. And I make fun of us, our rhizome or distributed pocket, with jokes about James C. Scott and so forth. But I feel the weight when I wonder whether the children who sorted the beans I’m drinking were singing.”

Charlie Loyd, ‘6, 35: Moonlight’ (2014)

One version of the history of modern medicine is written around the growth of the diagnostic enterprise: physicals, serologies,…

One version of the history of modern medicine is written around the growth of the diagnostic enterprise: physicals, serologies, radiologic cross-sections. Rightly or wrongly, we’ve been conditioned to trust visions of our health informed by the perspective of this third eye. A credible diagnosis increasingly relies on objective data that allows us to sense the body beyond its obvious borders, to peer into it and through it.

This fetish extends beyond the clinic as well. The ideal of the tricorder, for instance, a palm-sized scanner designed to detect a universal range of pathologies first posited by the Star Trek franchise and further mythologized by the X Prize Foundation as medicine’s next holy grail, supports this equation between mechanical assessments and the optimization of our well-being. The quantified self movement, as embodied by a diverse array of commercially available wristlet-pedometers and data-management apps, offers another compelling example of our penchant for deriving self-worth from our digital reflections.

More and more, we turn to devices to help us explain the generalized tenderness of our flesh. However keenly we suffer, however cleanly that suffering fits into our common nosology, each of us is inevitably captivated by the elaborate workings of our own insides. Whether or not we strictly need this information, pleasure is built into the unveiling – the thrill of reflexive comprehension, another small truth made naked. Diagnosis as a synaptic connection doubles as an emotional one, renewing the intimacy of self-knowledge, and of being known.

Nitin K. Ahuja, “Softer than Softcore” (viathenewinquiry)