December 14, 2016, 4:19 pm
Musk & Trump Talking at Last!
Wednesday December 14th, it was announced by Trump’s transition office that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will join an advisory team for President-elect Donald Trump. Later Wednesday, Trump speaking to the executives gathered in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower during a photo opp and introduction before the meeting:
I want to start by thanking Peter, because he saw something very early — maybe before we saw it... America has the most innovative and vibrant companies in the world, and the pioneering CEOs joining this forum today are at the top of their fields. My administration is going to work together with the private sector to improve the business climate and make it attractive for firms to create new jobs across the United States from Silicon Valley to the heartland... There's nobody like the people in this room, and anything we can do to help this go along we’re going to do that for you. You call my people, you call me, it doesn’t make any difference. We have no formal chain of command.... We’re going to make fair trade deals, we’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders. There’s a lot of restrictions, a lot of problems that I think you see. And if you have any ideas on that, that would be great.
Only Musk’s quick self introduction during the meeting was released to the public (see video below):
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, building rockets, and cars, and solar stuff in the US – actually really excited about expanding our manufacturing footprint in the US
Cook and Musk joined Trump for a smaller meeting after the other technology executives leave, a spokesman for Trump's transition team said. Perhaps he's already leaning on Elon Musk as an example to Tim Cook of what Apple should aim for with their manufacturing... Give Elon a chance to tell Tim about the machine that builds the machine and looking at manufacturing with a first principles approach. Massive props to Peter Thiel, the unsung hero of today.
After the meeting was over Bezos stated:
I shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech — agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing — everywhere
What's incredible, is that of all the people in the room, Musk was the only person invited to join Trump's advisory team, even though his companies market capitalization between SpaceX and Tesla which now includes Solar City, is only $47 billion, which is less than one third of the next smallest company, Cisco with a market cap at $154 billion, and yet he's the one to lead more than any of the others.
If Ayn Rand was writing about captains of industry in Atlas Shrugged, this room is it! And Atlas just did a bench press!
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June 29, 2016, 12:46 pm
Tesla: The Family Is Growing
There are times when serial entrepreneur, Elon Musk, has been called a "media darling" by some, and then there are weeks like this one, when finding a positive article about the man is a real challenge, to put it mildly. As most readers know by now, Tesla made an offer to buy Solar City on Monday, for $2.8 billion. It is a move Musk might call "super-obvious", and he made a clear case for the purchase on a conference call to the media. He answered everyone's questions with detail and confidence, and even went over-time to make sure all questions were addressed. An honest article about the proposal might speculate as to what a Tesla / Solar City merger would look like, and how this might translate into real-world, sci-fi products. An honest article would highlight the obvious synergy that already exists between Tesla and SolarCity. In this post, we will take an honest look the media attention given to this potential deal, and highlight the one or two positive outlooks I found buried under a steaming load of questionable journalism that has me baffled:
While everyone and their mother seem to hate on the acquisition plan, the real question is: do shareholders like it? And maybe more importantly: do institutional shareholders like it? They will be the ones deciding after all.
Tesla’s SolarCity offer is primarily getting hate from people who don’t own the stock – and not only from people who don’t own the stock, but from people who are shorting the stock. People who benefit from the share price falling and people who will not vote on the planned merger.
Famed short seller Jim Chanos went on CNBC to call the deal a “brazen Tesla bailout of SolarCity”. Chanos has been shorting both stocks and he will not get to vote on deal. - electrek.co
I found the following excerpt from a letter to Tesla from the CtW Investment Group, who holds about 200,000 Tesla shares, to be completely subversive. Why is it a problem for Elon Musk to place within his own companies the people he trusts and who understand his vision?
The core problem with Tesla's governance is the continuing dominance of the board by Mr. Musk," CtW wrote. "We are concerned that Mr. Musk continues to dominate the board and sits at the heart of a complex web of relationships among board members and other companies controlled by him and/or family members. - thestreet.com
Arguably no one has the vision, leadership and problem solving capability Elon has, why would anyone honestly want to remove those traits from the table? Moving from such a dynamic and successful personality as Elon, to a committee vote, can only at least mean a success-velocity-reduction, at most, utter failure. The real question is, why is CtW so heavily invested, if they don't think the company is making good decisions? Purely for the ability to negatively influence the company and strip it of the genius that's brought Tesla to where it's at today?
How many people complain about electric cars, foolishly stating that they all just have a long tailpipe to the power plant, even though if all power companies were to be using fossil fuels, they operate at a much more efficient level that a car engine, duh, and I bet the same people complaining about the "long tailpipe" are the ones trying to discourage this acquisition:
From where I sit, it’s pretty simple. If the merger is approved by the shareholders, it would make Tesla an automotive company that also provides clean energy power generation and storage capabilities. A natural fit in my opinion.
This just says it all:
If this deal goes through, I expect a few months down the road those same shareholders crying foul right now, at the drop in Tesla price (below $200), will be raising a toast to Musk.
I took a small starter position in Tesla yesterday in the midst of the pounding.
I am also taking a look at SolarCity given that I think Elon Musk might have to sweeten the offer a bit to pull the acquisition off.
Betting against Elon Musk has proven to be a fool’s game in the long run and that is exactly what I think will happen this time around, once the hand-wringing is over with. - forbes.com
Wow, a refreshing perspective on such a highly contested acquisition opportunity, finally, someone who kinda gets it. I only say kinda because the article speaks about Tesla/Solar City becoming a power distribution/utility company of sorts, utilizing battery back up and panel production to smooth out the power needs, but they already are a power distribution company, they own all their installations, charge a fixed cost to the homes they install on, and sell the power back to the grid, so I thought.
I really like this rather unique perspective on Tesla becoming the Apple of Solar retailers, well, it did make news near the end of last year that Tesla hired the lead Apple Store architect
, but I really like how they compare the buying process of Solar today to the buying process of a computer in the 80's:
Adding solar requires customers to sort through competing technologies and complex financing schemes with no household names to turn to. And then there’s the aesthetic impediment: Solar panels alter the look and value of one’s most important personal asset—the home. It’s a big leap of faith, even in regions where adding solar is an economic no-brainer.
What's at Stake
This problem has dogged solar companies for years. Vivint Inc. has legions of door-to-door salesmen, while others have deployed mailers, robocalls, sports sponsorships, and internet search ads. None of it resonates all that much.
Musk, who turned 45 on Tuesday, wants to change this daunting transaction in the same way the Apple Store changed the way we buy consumer electronics. Fifteen years ago, Apple Computer Inc. (as it was known then) faced problems similar to those hobbling solar today. Buying a computer was a big investment: They were complicated, the benefits uncertain, and the choices undifferentiated. Sound familiar? - bloomberg.com
So a quick background on what's going on with the two companies, it's the Gigafactory's grand opening in July. Note, that it's been building battery packs for quite some time, and their cell manufacturing is going online in the next few weeks as well. Even though this is the case, there's a radical amount of growth to come, here's a current size of the gigafactory:
Here's what it will look like when it's completed, notice the black outline of a small section of the gigafactory, that's where we are today:
This quote from the same article at Bloomberg really spells out why the timing is so perfect:
Tesla is about to cut the ribbon on the world’s biggest battery factory and unveil the next version of its Powerwall battery pack. SolarCity is getting ready to reveal a new line of high-efficiency panels that it developed from its acquisition of California startup Silevo Inc. in 2014. Musk said he wants to put his mark on those panels, which will be produced in the largest U.S. solar panel plant, which is still under construction. - bloomberg.com
With the Gigafactory spinning up and SolarCity's panel manufacturing plant, the largest in the world, and one which will produce panels 33% more efficient than any other roof top panel in the world, will be a HUGE force to be reckoned with, especially if profits & sales costs are shared, and tomorrow's SolarCity products have the brand recognition of Tesla, and they redesign the panels to be so beautiful that they increase the value of a house it's installed on, beyond the utility benefit. This is such a no brainer how can anyone be against this?
"the exit rate of cells, will be faster than bullets from a machine gun", "we've achieved an efficiency rate of 3X of the most efficient battery manufacturing plant in the world, I think that's pretty good" - Elon Musk
Damn, he's showing some serious confidence on the call. Check out how he lists off his accomplishments... he hardly ever does this:
We will be the worlds best manufacturer, I said we'd build the worlds best car, we did that, at SpaceX I said we'd build the worlds best rocket, we did that, we will be the worlds best manufacturer, not by a small margin, but by a margin most wont think is possible
If Tesla's going to be doing installs in the home, I can't wait for them to get into smart home automation stuff, to dramatically improve our lives and appliance efficiency, and if you didn't already know, Elon Musk is already working on a home robot, well, his OpeanAI non-profit BILLION
dollar software initiative is:
The robot OpenAI is targeting would be as reliable, flexible, and intelligent as Rosie the maid from TV cartoon comedy The Jetsons.
OpenAI leaders Musk, Sam Altman, Ilya Sutskever, and Greg Brockton explain in a blogpost that they don't want to manufacture the robot itself, but "enable a physical robot ... to perform basic housework". - zdnet.com
Imagine OpenAI home robots made by Tesla, I can hear Elon saying "somebody's got to do it", wait, maybe I just did:
SolarCity's product road map, and Tesla's product roadmap... very significant... the timing if anything, maybe I should have done this sooner, but I certainly don't think we're doing this to early
Hmmmm, what new products are you talking about? Robots? What would they do you ask, manage all your appliances, load and run the dish washer at optimal times based on your calendar & guest invite & eating habits. A robot that vacumes, pickes up the house, switches the coffee table books depending on who you want to impress, cooks your meals for you, acts as a personal assistant, sees when you get home and who you're with to automatically light the house as needed, imagine:
- date (romantic lighting and music)
- friend (well lit, low inspiring music for conversation)
- a group of friends on the weekend (party music and dance lighting, fresh popcorn)
- alone week day (news updates favorite TV show hot meal)
This is gearing up to be a pretty exciting world, and time to live in it.
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June 13, 2016, 12:21 pm
The State of AI: Hope
There has been a fundamental shift in the world of AI since my last article
on the subject nearly a year ago, and I believe there's a lot to be hopeful about. This has to be the most exciting 12 months in the world of AI, as I've been writing about Artificial Intelligence since 2001
, and more has happened in the last 12 months than all the years since 2001 combined. We now have deep learning AI in our homes, in our phones & watches, processing our photos, driving our cars, in the cloud and on our desktops, and I believe all the exposure Elon Musk and his peers have given to the potential down sides of AI, has turned into real positive moves and even a new, highly motivated AI organization, with the goal of moving forward in an open, democratized and thoughtful way. I'm going to run through all the major milestones for AI over the past year and then bring some perspective on where I think we may be headed. First I want to start with a really quick primer in case you missed my last article:
The holy grail of AI is big data, combined with a recursive learning algorithm.
Meaning if you have tons of data you can expose to an algorithm that can learn from that data, and a learning model which effectively rewards good learning behavior, it can prove radical, radical, leaps in learning. All the forms of AI mentioned here are deep learning.
On June 23, 2015, nearly a year ago, Amazon, a new comer in the AI field, released the Amazon Echo to the public, it's an AI for the home, starting with only 135 "skills" at the beginning of the year, it now has 1,000, it's always listening with some incredible natural language processing, and already there's a bit of an (albeit probably overblown) moral panic among parents who hear their children being rude to the friendly AI, and fear that their children are learning bad interpersonal communication skills:
October 2nd, 2015 Apple bought a U.K.-based artificial intelligence startup who's technology was likely used to improve the next-gen Siri which at WWDC16 was announced to be added to Apple's new macOS Sierra, watchOS 3, as well as the improvements to it's iOS10. The startup company’s software can recognize the human voice, record conversations, and keep track of each instance in which the software failed to understand speech, according to VocalIQ’s website. The AI is a learning algorithm and will continue to get better over time:
October 15, 2015 Tesla activated via over-the-air software updates, it's autopilot for all it's cars delivered after late 2014. This is a narrow AI deep learning system utilizing all the data it's collecting from it's fleet of cars, now collecting nearly 3 million miles a day (this is not big data, this is massive, massive data, every day they collect more data than Google has collected with all their self driving cars since 2005), to learn from and constantly improving with regular over the air updates, and is currently said to be twice as safe in autonomous mode, than it's human counterparts at the wheel:
December 11th 2015, OpenAI with a billion dollars in seed money, was founded as a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company which aims to carefully promote and develop open-source friendly AI in such a way as to benefit, rather than harm, humanity as a whole, here's what Elon Musk, one of it's founders, had to say about it:
"I am concerned about certain directions AI could take that would be not good for the future... So if we create some digital super intelligence that exceeds us in every way by a lot, it's very important that that's benign"
On January 7th, 2016 Apple Inc. has purchased Emotient Inc., a startup that uses artificial-intelligence technology to read people’s emotions by analyzing facial expressions. Think of how this could help Siri better understand the quality of it's responses.
February 26th 2016, an art gallery opens in the heart of San Francisco's Mission district, displaying Google's latest art created by it's neural networks called DeepDream:
March 15th, 2016, Google's AI Lab machine called AlphaGo, beats the Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol at the 2,500-year-old game Go for the first time in history, a game that is exponentially more complex than chess, using a technology called reinforcement learning, this AI taught it's self how to play, and achieved a level of capability not expected for another 10 years:
June 9th, 2016, Sunspring, a movie was debuted who's screenplay and accompanied song was written by an AI, it's a quite incomprehensible flow of randomness, but a milestone none-the-less in machine learning self guided creativity:
May 18, 2016 at I/O Google Home was announced, a direct Amazon Echo competitor, this to me, is huge, not only having a second player in the game, and rumors of a third player, Apple, to be jumping into the voice operated smart home game, but also because of it's radically advanced voice recognition AI, Google Now, already being used on 1.4 billion handsets around the world now, and has been used for nearly 4 years. Having a Google empowered natural language smart home hub consumer device will be nothing short of living in the future, illustrating that the long journey towards the creation of natural language processing product has finally arrived in our homes for good:
June 2nd, 2016 Elon Musk was interviewed at Code 2016, at this interview he spoke at length about AI, one of my favorite points, and a point which I've long espoused, is a general idea about technology, power, and the effect of it's distribution:
"The intent with OpenAI is to democratize AI power, there's a quote that I love from Lord Acton, he's the guy who came up with power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, which is that freedom consists of the distribution of power, and despotism is in it's concentration
"And so I think it's important if we have this incredible power of AI that it not be concentrated in the hands of a few which could potentially lead to a world that we don't want" moderator "And what world is that? What do you see, foresee that" Elon "it's difficult, it's called the singularity because it's difficult to predict what exactly what future that might be, except that I don't know a lot of people who love living under a despot"
moderator "And the despot would be a computer?" Musk "or the people controlling the computer"
One of his more chilling statements, is how he has focused his concern, and who he could be focusing his AI concerns on:
moderator "do you worry specifically about any of these companies I've mentioned, who have all seemed to now, kind of be pivoting to this as a battleground over the next 10 years?" Elon Musk "I won't name a name, but there's only one" moderator "there's only one that you're worried about, and they're not preoccupied with making a car that will compete with you, I assume?" Elon "there's only one"
This comment prompted many to speculate that his old pals Larry and Sergey at Google may be up to some irresponsible AI development. In fact, one of Musk's only companies he invested in, DeepMind, a company Musk admitted he invested in so he could "keep an eye on" it, was snatched up by Google in 2014, shortly after their purchase of 8 robotics companies in 2013, including Boston Dynamics best known for it's DARPA program BigDog, which has since advanced to bipedal robots:
June 4th, 2016. One good thing about this public expression of concern and people's speculation that the one company who houses the entire collective sum of knowledge of the world (big data
), who's acquiring the most advanced AI & robotics companies in the world (recursive learning
), is also developing those technologies with little care or potentially mal intent of the potential negative ramifications said technologies may have, is that they have come out with a bit of a PR campaign, two days after Musk's brazen display of concern, to exclaim that they to are preparing for the worst, and have said they are developing a panic button of sorts:
Google's AI research lab in London, DeepMind, teamed up with Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute to explore ways to prevent an AI agent from going rogue. In their joint-study, "Safely Interruptible Agents," the DeepMind-Future of Humanity team proposed a framework to allow humans to repeatedly and safely interrupt an AI agent's reinforcement learning.
Wheather Google's attempt to publicly decree that they're being responsible is supperficial or real, at least there's some thought being put into the potential downsides of this gold rush towards the holy AI grail.
I'm also really excited to hear the direction Apple is taking towards doing most of it's AI processing on it's local silicon, rather than in the cloud, primarily for their privacy concerns, and for good reason after their battle with the FBI demanding access to unlock iPhones, and Google's battle with the NSA, discovering the NSA has been hacking into their systems and stealing private customer information. It's also great to know that an organization like OpenAI, on the billion dollar level, is receiving so much funding and attracting NFL status talent, and will hopefully change the landscape of AI deployment.
One last thought to consider, is that some believe, odds are that we in fact might be AI ourselves. Think about it, if it's possible to create consciousness in some sort of digital environment, someone will have done it, and done it a number of times (since software is scalable at a rate far grater than wetware). So the consciousnesses that are simulated is higher by orders of magnitude than base reality consciousnesses. Therefore, the odds that any given consciousness — you, me, Elon Musk — is simulated are much higher than the odds that it's not. Here's what Elon Musk had to say:
So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions.
Whether or not you believe we are artificial or base reality, our world and life as we know it is about to get really weird, radical changes in status quo will become the norm as we approach the world of singularity.
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September 16, 2015, 6:29 pm
Where are the Replicators & Robots!
Bright minds of the 60's painted a picture of a beautiful future of abundance, with free labor and free food, things were looking bright, we "went to the moon" and then 40 years later, what happened, as Peter Thiel said, "we got 140 characters"
Yea, I know, we have cell phones and wall hanging TV sets... but what about replicators and robots, my guess is that, in the real world, replicators will come about as most of today's technology does, DARPA challenges, met by research institutions and then talent scoops by Google, ha ha, but basically Silicon Valley or Universities, and to some degree, cutting edge private industry and the open source maker community, who eventually find a way to hack one together on the cheap, as long as our overlords allow us.
We're really not all that far from the replicator meals, check out these nerds covering the next printable food basket grower thingies:
Here's a NASA funded 3D printed pizza, part of a Mars initiative, where food from their powder form can long very last, ha ha ha ha, sorry, thought the guy was pretty funny:
I think I'm arguing against myself with those two examples, so yes, they are quite crude indeed, but this one looks kind of promising:
Why can't they print meat, ground beef and sausage can come out of a tube, I found someone who did print a burger but the only video he posted wasn't worth sharing.
On the robotics side, I'm pretty disappointed with the rate of progress of robotics projects out there, this 6 year open source project that ended a few years ago, was the reason I didn't continue with my open source robotics project, they had the exact same specification goals I had, voice, gesture, facial and object recognition among others, but their project was well funded and really achieved a lot, and are now available for sale, but for $4,125 USD:
I really felt my initial wheeled design with no arms was a huge compromise, as I had really hoped for a bi-ped robot that is capable of general purpose actions, but 8 years later there's a new-ish "maker" culture which brings with it open hardware, and DIY projects like this impressive Star Wars droid (not autonomous and no arms, but pretty cool):
Here's a really smart kickstarter
telepresence robot by Robotbase
, meant to integrate with smart home devices and act as a personal assistant for under $1k (still, no arms):
Here's one mostly unimpressive open source 3D printed biped robot with arms, Poppy, for the low price of $7,8300:
Jimmy is another 3D printed open source biped robotics project, this kit price tag (includes everything but the 3D printed body plastics) is pretty reasonable in price $1,600, but it's so short and has no hands, it's basically a dumb virtual presence machine with legs at best:
Finally, someone has begun developing a full size open source 3D printable robotics project, the InMoov robot created by French sculptor Gael Langevin who had zero background in electronics or engineering. Unfortunately, he's been working on legs for about two years, and, I think the build quality and therefore precision movement, is so low, in trying to achieve the lowest possible price point, that unless some changes are made to expand the scope of the project to include machined metal parts, I think it'll never stand, here's where it's at now:
As you can see here, even these HUGE budget projects for the DARPA challenge are really, really far from anything close to human level capabilities, in a general purpose application.
I personally think the innovation in robotics that are happening in soft robotics are the best direction we've yet seen, it doesn't seem that the level of granular control is yet there with their pneumatics, and most soft robotics projects are purely soft, like this open source soft robotics toolkit project:
I think we'll see a leap in robotic innovation when a when a movie special effects artist will get together with a robotics nerd to build a combination of 3D printed rigid frame and 3D printed soft robotic muscles, taking advantage of open source projects like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, ROS, QBo and SRTK, add real life smart home voice control hub functionality and not only open source it for the maker community to improve on the project, but set up manufacturing to sell them to the geek and non-geek alike.
We're no where close to clone wars, I think we're making much better strides with Artificial General Intelligence than we are with general robotic capabilities, but if you want to see what's going on with AI, check out my recent article:
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July 21, 2015, 5:29 pm
ASI: An Existential Threat
I'm not sure if you're aware of the growing debate about Artificial Intelligence (AI), some of our brightest minds have started to warn us of the potential existential threat that an Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) may pose to humanity.
Here's Steven Hawking being asked about machine learning:
"I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race"
Elon Musk is one of the most outspoken public figures speaking about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence, here's a clip of him speaking to MIT students and faculty, notice, he is so deeply concerned, that he completely misses the next question:
"I think we have to be very careful about artificial intelligence, if I were to guess what our biggest existential threat is, I would guess it'd be that... With artificial intelligence we are literally summoning the demon"
You may not know, but he's recently donated millions to the Future of Life Institute, with the goal of ensuring AI's interests are aligned with our own. Here's another quote from Elon Musk on artificial intelligence, speaking with Bill Gates in China to entrepreneurs, he's trying to help people to understand the difference between Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and ASI:
"The risks of digital super intelligence, I want you to appreciate that it wouldn't just be human level, it would be super-human almost immediately, it would zip right past humans to be way beyond anything we can really imagine... It could be catastrophically bad, it could be the equivalent of a nuclear meltdown."
Following that question, Bill Gates was asked "Is there any difference between you and him [on this subject]", Gates responded in the same way, trying to emphasize the huge difference between AGI and ASI:
"I don't think so... I highly recommend this Bostrom book called 'Superintelligence'... You won't even know when you're at the human level, you'll be at this superhuman level almost as soon as that algorithm is, implanted in silicon... When people say it's not a problem, then I really start to really get to a point of disagreement. How can they not see what a huge challenge this is."
A few months ago, Elon Musk tweeted an article about ASI, that's pretty much where I recently got started back into this subject, it's a two part series from wait but why on Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), basically the kind that can play chess, drive a car, manage the stock market and other things, and AGI, human level intelligence, a more rounded kind that isn't focused on one specific task, the second part titled "The AI Revolution: Our Immortality or Extinction" is about ASI. To help us understand the difference between our level of understanding, and that of what ASI might understand, he uses a staircase:
"To absorb how big a deal a superintelligent machine would be, imagine one on the dark green step two steps above humans on that staircase. This machine would be only slightly superintelligent, but its increased cognitive ability over us would be as vast as the chimp-human gap we just described. And like the chimp’s incapacity to ever absorb that skyscrapers can be built, we will never be able to even comprehend the things a machine on the dark green step can do, even if the machine tried to explain it to us—let alone do it ourselves...
But the kind of superintelligence we’re talking about today is something far beyond anything on this staircase. In an intelligence explosion—where the smarter a machine gets, the quicker it’s able to increase its own intelligence, until it begins to soar upwards...
And since we just established that it’s a hopeless activity to try to understand the power of a machine only two steps above us, let’s very concretely state once and for all that there is no way to know what ASI will do or what the consequences will be for us. Anyone who pretends otherwise doesn’t understand what superintelligence means."
A great deal of the information from these articles comes from a book by Nick Bostrom, "Superintelligence", here's an hour and 12 minute presentation he gave on the subject, I found it incredibly compelling, but you have to be shaken at least a little by the answer to this question - "You're one of the worlds experts about superintelligence and the existential risks... do you think we're going to make it":
"Uhhhh, yea I mean, it's, I think that the, uh. I mean like, I mean, uh, yea probably less than 50% risk of doom... the more important question is what is the best way to push it down."
Last night Jon, Stanton, Ben and I were having a discussion about the existential threat that ASI poses. Most people have a difficult time understanding how a computer can do something that it wasn't programmed to do. My answer was they are only programmed to learn, their responses are not programmed, they are learned, and deep learning can only happen when you expose this learning process to big data. Jon's deep skepticism found root in my explanation of the learning process reward mechanism, whether or not there was human interaction. I had to learn more about how this works, and as expected, there are many different approaches, here's a great articulation on how one of the approaches works, the non-human interaction one, which has huge benefits in speed to advancement as well as a really potential negative result:
In the real world, it is not the case that operators can always determine agent rewards. For example, our sheer distance from the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity make our communication with them slow and prone to future breakdown; if these rovers were reinforcement learning agents, operators would have significant restrictions in the speed and reliability of reward allocation. Similarly, autonomous financial agents operate on very fast timescales that human operators cannot effectively respond to.
In response to such difficulties, designers of a system may engineer the environment to make rewards assignments more reliable, perhaps even removing a human from the loop altogether and giving rewards via an automatic mechanism. Call this type of effort reward engineering; the reinforcement learning agent’s goal is not being changed, but the environment is being partially designed so that reward maximization leads to desirable behaviour.
For most concrete cases faced today—by Mars rovers, or by financial agents, for example—the reader should be able to devise ad hoc reward engineering methods that prevent some pathological dominance relationships from holding. However, the theoretical problem remains unsolved, and may rear its head in unexpected places in future reinforcement learners:
- Increasing an agent’s autonomy, its ability to manage without contact with human operators, makes the agent more able to venture into situations in which operators cannot contact them. If pathological behaviours arise when an agent is not easily reachable, then it will be difficult to correct them— reward engineering becomes more difficult.
- Increasing an agent’s generality expands the set of policies which it is able to generate and act on. This means that more potentially dominant policies may come into play, making it harder to pre-empt these policies. Generality can be both motivated by desire for increased autonomy, and can exacerbate the reward engineering problems autonomy causes; for example, a Mars rover would be well-served by an ability to repair or alter itself, but this could introduce the dominant and undesirable policy of “alter the reward antenna to report maximum rewards at every future time”.
These two observations motivate the reward engineering principle:
The Reward Engineering Principle: As reinforcement-learning based AI systems become more general and autonomous, the design of reward mechanisms that elicit desired behaviours becomes both more important and more difficult.
As a result of the reward engineering principle, the scope of reinforcement learning practice will need to expand: in order to create reinforcement learning systems that solve the AI problem— “do the right thing”—reliably, theory and engineering technique will need to be developed to ensure that desirable outcomes can be recognized and rewarded consistently, and that these reward mechanisms cannot be circumvented or overcome.
Most of the people that speak to the potential existential threat that ASI poses, will nearly always refer to types of AI that has been programmed for recursive learning. So if we only provide a framework for how they learn, and a system for them to determine what a quality decision is, rather than having humans always there to reward every decision, than they can learn on their own at unthinkable rates, and can begin to make some bad decisions if not closely monitored.
Here's a great video talking about the current state of Artificial Intelligence, hosted by Steve Jervetson. It's a high level view about how we've had a recent explosion in AGI, most of my understanding on how AI works, comes from these developers and their explanations, this is queued up to the part where Ilya Sutskever from Google is talking about the learning principal, what I've been calling the reward mechanism, how it determines which is the best answer:
Whether or not you think ASI does pose an existential threat to humanity, I think it's healthy to begin the discussion, because if it may be, I hope by the time we know, we have put enough thought and resources towards it's prevention to ensure that it doesn't.
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June 19, 2015, 6:17 pm
Some really exciting developments surrounding the Hyperloop this month, first off, if you're not caught up on what the Hyperloop is exactly, here's good primmer that Reason did:
Yesterday an Austin-based design consultancy firm called Argodesign released a 43 page concept design publication
of renderings to complement Elon Musks 57 page alpha technical paper
SpaceX released in 2013 about their initial ideas for what the Hyperloop could be:
They've designed faux windows which will display "Trip Scenes", to open up the pods and make people feel more comfortable while traveling at extremely high speeds in an inclosed tube/pod:
Earlier this month, SpaceX announced
a Pod Racing Competition that it's hosting, slated for June 2016. It's aimed at university students and independent engineering teams and will enable applicants to try out their pod design on a one-mile Hyperloop test track that will be built adjacent to the SpaceX headquarter in Hawthorne, California:
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June 17, 2015, 2:21 pm
The libertarian Silicon Valley Revolution
I made a rather flippant statement to Stanton in an email thread that reads as follows:
"I find it strange that there is this ideological revolution going on in Silicon Valley that's changing the world, implementing and preaching libertarian values, and Jon's not on board at all."
I hadn't given it to much thought, even though it's an idea I've had for quite some time, I guess I first wrote about it in Jan 2012 [1
], but after the comment was forwarded to Jon, and questioned by him, I had to clarity my thoughts, and trends I've been following, speeches I've listened to, Q&A I've been blown away by.
It's a trend that seems obvious to me, I mean, it's been incredible watching some of the "rockstar" libertarian geeks become billionaire industry leaders, sending monopolies like Lockheed and Boeing into a panic to restructure to be more price competitive, and the top HBO show to be about Silicon Valley, literally the star of the show (first season, the actor died) is supposed to be Peter Thiel, with his own man made mobile island, and another top rated TV show to be "Halt and Catch Fire", another Silicon Valley startup set in the 80's, and nearly every other day I've been getting invites to another new meetup group that's centered around tech startup companies in one way or another. I've also been going to this "Silicon Beach Young Professionals" Google sponsored Evite event for a bit over a year, and watched it go from 60 people a month at no cost to about 500 people a month at twenty bucks a head, it all seems to pointing to a boom in entrepreneurship.
a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.
I don't believe any industry is safe any longer from radical disruption from technology, which to me, means the ugly power institutions that exist today, will likely become irrelevant. Here's Steve Jurvetson, Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist, talking about what effect Elon's success has had in Silicon Valley, he has proven, that there is no industry that is sacred, that nothing is outside of the reach of technological innovation.
To me, the most libertarian expression one can make is to start a successful company, and a Silicon Valley startup revolution is gaining ever-increasing momentum, similar to the second half of the 90's, but this time, disrupting intrenched industries:
"Now, founders are no longer the geeks in the garage, behind the scenes. Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Elon Musk are global celebrities. TechStars, itself once a startup based in Boulder, Colorado, has its own reality TV show. And there’s more: StartUps, Startup Junkies, Startupland, Dragon’s Den, and Shark Tank all turn the notion of building a business into compelling entertainment so that almost anyone can start to dream about launching his or her own company. Startups are now mainstream. It’s never been easier to start a business. There are new tools available that make the process easier than ever before.
Startup Weekend, a Seattle-based not-for-profit with branches in 100 countries, helps entrepreneurs learn how to go from an idea to a startup. If you don’t know how to begin, you can learn in just 54 hours, for $100, in almost any city in the world. But you don’t have to go to a Startup Weekend; you can download free apps and books on analytics, how to create a business model canvas, or how to make a great pitch. There are thousands of organizations around the world to help connect you with your local startup community.
Nor do you need a rich uncle or a venture capitalist to fund your business. Many large corporations and universities have incubators or accelerator programs to help you find the funding and mentoring you need. Or you can pitch your idea on a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter."
But it doesn't stop just in the business word, there are many leaders of industry that are not only starting disruptive businesses pitted against entrenched industry, they are disrupting the general perception of government, and are very vocal about it, Peter Diamandis, Founder/CEO of XPRIZE and Singularity University, is now spearheading a technological movement to take us "back" to the moon, literally, and with private funds, and 18 teams that have "demonstrated good progress" over the last 5 years in qualifying for the competition. Here's an incredible quote by Peter:
"I gave up on the government long ago... because the incentives are perversely wrong, because government doesn't take risk anymore, and again it's driven towards incrementalism, because the greatest hope that the government would do never materialized"
These Silicon Valley billionaire moguls aren't just indirectly talking about the values which libertarians hold, they are directly being asked about them, in this next video, at George Mason University, Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, Facebook and Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist, is asked 5 questions in a row about his views on government and his libertarian views about a host of topics! This is simply amazing to me:
Here's Peter Thiel being interviewed speaking about his libertarian views:
"I'd still describe myself as a fairly staunch libertarian... I believe that individual freedom is very important"
Here's Peter Diamandis again, at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council:
"I'm what you might call a libertarian capitalist, if I had to label myself... we're going to see massive changes in society in the next 20 years... I think we're heading towards a world of what I call technological socialism... technology is going to zero the cost of healthcare, zero the cost of learning, reduce the cost of energy, clean water, in China this year we saw a company 3D printing houses, 10 houses in 24 hours for $5,000 each, capitalism is going to change"
In an interview on April 5, 2011 for the Stimson Center's sixth Chairman's Forum, Elon Musk voiced a very libertarian view on government funding:
“Funded by the government just means funded by the people. Government, by the way, has no money. It only takes money from the people. Sometimes people forget that.”
He's clearly against intellectual property, on the Tesla website
, Elon states:
“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
One of my favorite quotes that Stanton just found, where Elon states that Ben Franklin is one of the people that he most admires:
Here is Larry Page, founder and CEO of Google, responding to the privacy infringements that Google had to deal with:
"for me it's tremendously disappointing that the government secretly did all this stuff, [NSA digital break in at Google] and I don't think we can have a democracy if we're having to protect you and our users from the government... I'm sad that Google's in the position in protecting you and our users from the government"
I find this incredibly exciting, that new industry giants, giants that sprouted in Silicon Valley, seem to have a very different mindset than our current entrenched institutions that create very little of value, and only survive because they lobby congress to create regulations which become insurmountable barriers of entry. I'm excited that those poised to take over old industries, are clearing those boundries with their Silicon Valley drive, creativity, technological, financial and project management prowess, are genuinely wanting to better the world.
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June 16, 2015, 2:28 pm
The New Mars Race
I can't think of a more epic trailer I have ever seen. This is so incredible to me in so many ways. This block buster movie will inspire a new generation, it is the call for science, knowledge, innovation & perseverance. This is the great call to humanity, so exciting:
I love the line "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this". The film is based on a book by the same name, written by American author Andy Weir, he created a character and imagined every possible setback he might have on Mars, and tried to come up with a scientific solution for each problem the protagonist Mark Watney encounters, I think this comic captures exactly what makes this movie so exciting to me and others:
Elon Musk is the visionary behind SpaceX, which he founded for the sole purpose to help get humans to Mars, as Larry page says "to backup humanity":
In an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit Jan. 5, Musk told readers that the details of his Mars Colonial Transporter would be unveiled by the end of the year, and that the plan would be different from the Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets SpaceX is flying today.
"The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture," Musk wrote in the Reddit AMA. "Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year
I bet, he will make that announcement shortly after this movie comes out, This could be his biggest PR stunt ever. It could have an incredibly long lasting societal trajectory change, and a deep changing impact. I believe it has the chance to reignite a new global space race, this is like Kennedy's call to go to the moon:
But one of the media's greatest physicist darlings, Neil deGrasse Tyson, believes that only government can make such bold investments:
I think he's using a flawed argument, firstly because he doesn't think that space exploration can be profitable. I'm not sure how one person, who's not an entrepreneur, can conceive of every possible entrepreneurial outcome in space exploration, and determine that they'd all fail, can maintain their media darling status. To this end, Elon has received $1 billion in financing from Google for a new SpaceX program to build a global communication network of satellites that will more than double the amount of satellites circling the Earth today, with the primary goal of providing incredibly broad-band internet to the entire world at a very low price, and eventually establish communications between Earth and Mars. He plans to use this project to fund his mission to Mars.
Tyson's second argument is that this is how it has been, so it could never be any different. I believe there's a tidal shift going on today, and Peter Diamandis nails it on the head here:
"I think ultimately we're living in a new era, where individuals driven by their passion and their frustration are going to take on the worlds biggest problems"
I also agree with Stanton, that there is a space race that is ensuing, and the two biggest contenders for the Mars prize will be NASA and SpaceX, both competing for innovation, talent and funding, however, as Peter Thiel said at the 2015 LAUNCH Festival, I "would never bet against Elon in anything."
On a CNBC interview, shortly after the Disruptor 50 awards, where Elon Musk was given the Disruptor of the year award for SpaceX on May 15th 2014, he said “hopeful the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years”, which means we could land people on Mars as early as 2024:
This timeline was before winning the contract to deliver astronauts to the space station, which wasn't until September 16th 2014, it was also before SpaceX qualified for the $7+ billion in Air Force contracts in May of 2015. I imagine that both of these opportunities must have accelerated his ability to invest in R&D for his newer rockets that will be needed to carry 100 metric tons of usable payload needed for his Mars missions.
Even more impressive is SpaceX's plan for their Falcon XX heavy rocket, otherwise known as the Mars Colonial Transport seen here:
This is a really well researched SpaceX fan-boy's video on his projections of what stats a Mars Colonial Transport space craft would have to have to achieve Musk's stated requirements:
All in all, we are living in exciting times, whether NASA lands first in 2035 or SpaceX in 2025, we will likely be able to watch a live feed of man's first steps on Mars.
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June 3, 2015, 1:56 pm
The Best Thing Ever from Apple
Looks like my next phone just might be an Apple, I am so impressed:
Apple CEO Tim Cook at a Monday award ceremony reaffirmed his support for strong encryption, TechCrunch reports, slamming law-enforcement plans to undermine it as "incredibly dangerous."
Tim Cook has previously written an open letter to Apple's customers, stating:
"[Apple has] never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services ... And we never will."
Just days before Tim Cook's statement at the award ceremony, before the Patriot Act's body has cooled
Facebook.. announced it is letting users add encryption keys to their profiles and opt in to have notification emails sent in an encrypted format.
Here is nearly an equally impressive answer to government spying by another tech giant, Larry Page, founder and CEO of Google:
"for me it's tremendously disappointing that the government secretly did all this stuff, [NSA digital break in at Google] and I don't think we can have a democracy if we're having to protect you and our users from the government... I'm sad that Google's in the position in protecting you and our users from the government"
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April 10, 2015, 6:46 pm
My Uncle regularly circulates memes to his entire email list, including me. Most of the time the messages are jokes, or warnings of computer viruses, but from time to time he sends political propaganda. Today I received a message about the ABC New ban on American flag lapel pins. The following is the content of the email meme followed by my rebuttal:
ABC News Joins Obama and Bans American Flag Lapel Pins!
ABC NEWS BANS FLAG LAPEL PINS
This is what we get from the present attitudes in Washington.
Barbara Walters said that this was going to hurt ABC bad. And she works for ABC.
YESTERDAY THE BRASS AT ABC NEWS ISSUED ORDERS FORBIDDING REPORTERS TO WEAR LAPEL PIN AMERICAN FLAGS OR OTHER PATRIOTIC INSIGNIA.
THEIR REASONING WAS THAT ABC SHOULD REMAIN NEUTRAL ABOUT 'CAUSES'.
SINCE WHEN IS PATRIOTISM TO BE DISCOURAGED?
I URGE YOU TO BOYCOTT ABC AND ITS SPONSORS AND AFFILIATES.
WE ARE SLOWLY LOSING EVERYTHING OUR COUNTRY STANDS FOR AND EVERYTHING OUR MEN AND WOMEN FOUGHT AND DIED TO PRESERVE!
PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO AS MANY AS YOU CAN.
THIS HAS BEEN VERIFIED THROUGH: truthorfiction.com
THIS ONE NEEDS TO BE CIRCULATED...QUICKLY
No offense towards you Uncle Mike. I have great respect for you. ABC is a private company and can do whatever it wants to do as far as style and dress code. Some find an anti-flag message offensive. I do not. Nation-states propagandize children with Flags and stories of what they represent... The long, hard fought battles to secure freedom and a way of life. Every child in every country are taught that same story, from Americans, to Muslims. It is propaganda to lather people up for nationalism, so they fall in line and obey their masters in government. Flags are symbols of nation-states, and used to force people into a collective mentality. They are a symbol of the tax-farms people are born into. This email is designed to enrage, but why would I get upset about a private company choosing to not display a symbol of a type of slavery? We are the cows, they are the farmers. Flags and patriotism are aspects of propaganda forced on us as children, and reinforced into adulthood by media, our families, and our jobs. Flags are designed to soften people up to the idea of going to war when our masters tell us it is time to "defend the flag" and "defend our freedoms", but I am not playing along with those falsities anymore. The only true freedom is individual freedom, and the only flag I fly is a black one.
(Names have been changed to protect the ignorant)
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March 27, 2015, 4:01 pm
Boy Iron Man, Tony Stark & the Incredible InMoov Project
This story is just incredible, a desperate mother, hoping to make her son whole, a son who was born with a partially developed arm, sent out an email pleading for a brilliant mind, to help build her son a prosthetic arm. She was heard by a few Florida college students, and a high school student. One student, Manero, had belonged to an online community called e-NABLE, they collaborate to make prosthetic hands. Manero got together with some other engineering students to answer her plea for help and in 6 weeks, they had an arm designed and built for just $350, using off the shelf servo motors and a 3D printer.
This could be a multi-million dollar business, but instead these students shared their blueprints, designs, parts list and build instructions on Thingverse
, an open source community of builders. I love this quote by UCDArmory in their comments "We encourage people to reproduce our arm, with the understanding that nothing is to be sold. No one should profit at the expense of a child needing an arm."
Personally, I think they should do both, start a company making these, hopefully philanthropically paid for, by something like the Make a Wish Foundation
, and still they could share their designs for those makers out there who want to build their own.
They've clearly done a fantastic thing, these are the kind of people that really make a difference. I reached out to the guys at the Limbitless Arm project, to let them know about another similar effort. There's a French sculptor/modelmaker, based in Paris, Gael Langevin, he built a really well designed motorized hand, one thing that I liked about it a bit more than most I've seen, is that the motors are in the hand and each finger can be seperately articulated. He too has open sourced his project on Thingverse
, but his sights are set much higher than stopping there.
He's building a full sized and open source humanoid robot called InMoov. The whole project is designed with cost in mind, to be created at home, on your home 3D printer, and uses low cost servo motors. So inspiring.
Here's a well produced introduction video to Gael Langevin and his shared InMoov project:
Here's a spin off project for the InMoov humanoid robot, InMoov Explorer project, it's hope is to build low cost virtual presence machines for hospitalized children so they can go to the zoo, virtually, from their hospital room, using a virtual reality headset and a game controller, awesome!
Here's another beautiful video about Gael Langevin's InMoov project, and features an Electrical Engineer Kevin Waters, who helped to inspire the InMoov Explorer project:
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March 25, 2015, 12:43 pm
Dystopian or Utopian
So, I really liked this video, I guess it's that feel good rebellion against "the man", justice will prevail kind of emotion that it incites in me. I felt the same way as when I watched Apple's epic Macintosh commercial directed by Ridley Scott, which aired in 1984, quite directly alluding to the dystopian future depicted in the Orwellian book titled 1984:
Which also reminds me of this Rob Dougan - Clubbed to Death video about prevailing:
Which clearly reminds me of the movie The Matrix, which reminds me of this article I read this morning:
My favorite quote:
"If you’ve not seen the Matrix, watch the Matrix. Elon is Neo. He sees these zeroes and ones. And he just has a different look at the entire world. And he has this rare gift where he’s super intelligent when it comes to engineering and to learning complexity and challenges but he also understands business and consumer need. And that’s very rare."
Wait, did you notice that every letter in Neo is in Elon's name? Coincidence? I think not.
So the question is, what will our future hold, I've written about inspiring personalities
that seem to lead a generation of optimism, and I think there are a lot of good examples of great leaders
doing incredible things today, and now more than ever, I have hope in a more Utopian future.
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March 6, 2015, 7:58 pm
Russians Believe the Internet is American Propaganda
Interesting article, a huge percentage of Russians believe that the internet is a propaganda tool created by the US government to brainwash Russians. Basically.
Quick fact check, yes it was created by the US military, DARPA, yes the CIA has heavy investments in companies through In-Q-Tel, like Facebook and Instagram and many, many others, kind of an interesting idea, maybe the central planners are smarter than we think, maybe everything isn't slipping away from them by the great equalizer, the Internet, maybe the revolution that we've seen in Egypt which was at first promoted by a woman on Facebook was exactly what "they" wanted?
When I hear people say that the internet is a communications technology, therefore saying that the internet is a US government propaganda tool, is like saying the phone is a propaganda tool, but isn't the TV used as a propaganda tool, and the newspapers, and just about every other source of information?
I'm not quite as polarized as I once was, I don't think government is a huge blundering blind giant, nor do I think of it as an omnipotent oracle with super powers, I do think that our government is highly compartmentalized, and some of those entities can do amazing things, like create the internet, go to the moon, ha ha, inspire the creation of antonymous cars, I think they are quite capable of instigating revolutions, brainwashing the public and many more feats of "magic". So if, after DARPA had ARPNET(basically the pre-internet) for 30 years, a government entity had any vision of what the internet could become, the new media of the future, where every communication, even seemingly private ones, are logged and could be searched and traced to their origins, it wouldn't surprise me if it was released into the wild, and watered, so that it could be utilized, as it has been heavily utilized, with some intent, not divine puppet master control, but with general direction, adapting and moving with it, seizing opportunity, utilizing it as it has many other forms of media, as government has always done. I completely disagree in the rather overly simplistic notion that I've heard many, many times, that this technological marvel, the inner-webs, somehow caught (the entity that created it) them with complete and udder surprise, moo.
We're just cattle
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March 5, 2015, 3:11 pm
Peter Diamandis - Shooting for the Moon
This is kind of a simple perspective on the impact and exponential rate of the growth of technology, but I found this an interesting combination of ideas of abundance, and entrepreneurship, it's like Jacque Fresco - meets - Elon Musk meets - Ray Kurzweil, in a hand-drawn video format:
This video was produced by Peter Diamandis. He is good friends with Elon & started "Singularity University" with Ray Kurzweil. He was the Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE which Richard Branson's team won the $10 million dollar Ansari XPRISE by launching a reusable manned spacecraft, the SpaceShip Two (SS2), into space twice in two weeks. Diamandis is also a Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Recourses, a company that's bringing the natural resources of space within humanity’s economic sphere of influence, and will be putting the first ever crowd funded space telescope in orbit next year. The purpose of the telescope will be primarily to identify near Earth objects which will be marked / claimed / homesteaded for Asteroid mining.
Another pretty damn exciting XPRIZE venture, is the Google Lunar XPRIZE, I love this guy, check out the challenge:
"A $30 MILLION COMPETITION
TO LAND A PRIVATELY FUNDED
ROBOT ON THE MOON"
This guy is spearheading a technological movement to take us "back" to the moon, with private funds, thanks in no small part to Google. This gets better, over the last five years they've been selecting and qualifying teams to enter the competition, and there are 18 teams that have "demonstrated good progress". The grand prize expires at the end of 2016.
I'll end with this incredible quote @19:14:
"I gave up on the government long ago"
"because the incentives are perversely wrong, because government doesn't take risk anymore,and again it's driven towards incrementalism, because the greatest hope that the government would do never materialized"
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March 4, 2015, 4:23 pm
The Era of Simultaneous Invention
I believe there is a profound impact that not only SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City are having and will continue to have on society, but there are many others, Google's Larry Page, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Virgin's Richard Branson and others. It's as if they're in direct competition with one another, those with billions to throw at innovation, are not only challenging each other, but are inspiring many, many other start-ups, creating a culture of innovation.
One investor I'd like to mention, is a Tesla & SpaceX early investor Steve Jurvetson, I encourage you all to watch/listen to this 53 minute presentation in it's entirety, he introduces this historically relevant event of simultaneous invention, like an explosion of innovation, he talks about how Silicon Valley, now, is effecting every facet of industry, creating unconstrained exponential disruption, from biology to agriculture, manufacturing, space, transportation, communication, entertainment...
No industry is safe from radical disruption from technology, which to me, means the ugly power institutions that exist today, will likely become irrelevant. Here's Steve talking about what effect Elon has had in Silicon Valley, he has proven, that there is no industry that is sacred, that nothing is outside of the reach of technological innovation @28:38:
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March 3, 2015, 1:51 pm
The Tesla Revolution
There are people on both sides of the Tesla coin, some bear, some bull. One thing to remember is that stock prices are just a popularity contest survey result, I think most investors who are bearish on Tesla are very short sighted, which is typically what stocks are, very short sighted.
The bearish crowd can't even look to the third quarter of this year, when the Model X will start shipping, of which they've already sold 20,000 units and are using current profits to invest in production capability for the Model X, just as they have already heavily invested in the design and production of the Model III, they've built the paint shop and probably many other aspects of production for 500,000 a year.
The Tesla Model S has received more awards than probably any car, and it was their first generation volume production car. They've learned a lot since then and have spent nearly 3 years in R&D on the Model X car, getting it ready for production, pushing the release back several times in order to add features to it that I believe will destroy the competition.
That's not to mention, in a month or two, they're going to announce their home battery pack that they've already completed it's design, which will also start shipping this year, with their partner company, the largest solar installer in the nation, Solar City, installing one of their battery pack in every house they install solar panels on, this is a huge game changer. These alone are indicators that Tesla is going somewhere big, but that doesn't include a market just announced in the last earnings call. Tesla is in talks with "every" electric power producer in the nation, all wanting to use Tesla battery packs to augment the peak energy challenges they've been facing.
The reasons most bear Tesla stock projectors cite, on the future price of stock, is the amount of money Tesla is spending on capital expenditures, which is stripping away profit showings. It's like that's the only thing they look at -- if they're not making a profit, then they aren't a viable company. They don't get that like Amazon, who has been making so much money but reinvesting everything into new products, markets & expansion, Tesla is about to enter new markets, and is investing in rapidly expanding production in both their cars and batteries by building a gigafactory, which will produce more lithium-ion batteries than the worlds current production.
This alone could make them a bigger deal than any other car company, as they expect to build hundreds of these around the world. As most forward thinking people understand, all cars will eventually be electric, so someone will have to produce and sell battery packs to other car manufacturers, and on top of that, they have home installations and power companies who will be snatching these battery packs up.
They do have a long way to go in capital investment to begin to match their competitors. They're nowhere near the big players in volume production, but with Elon Musk's growth plans of doubling production & sales every year while maintaining a 10% profit, they are on track of beating everyone in the industry. The question is, can they double production, and keep investing insane amounts of money while maintaining a 10% profit? That's where the doubters come in, because they haven't been able to do that.
One more thing, I believe they've got the best auto-pilot tech on the market at this point, and I think they'll probably release some over-the-air updates this year that will destroy all of their competition.
Here's a really insightful article on the effect autonomous cars will have on society, just to understand the how important it is to be leading in this automotive tech:
It is quite shocking how far disruption at the hands of autonomous cars will reach into society. One radical behavioral change will be ownership. There is wide belief that owning cars will become a thing of the past -- most people will choose no longer to buy cars, but instead they will find that using a ride share service like Uber will become much more practical. Using Uber currently is cheaper than owning a car if you drive less than 10,000 miles a year and live in an urban area. 75% of Uber income is going to the driver. Uber has already announced that it plans to build it's own fleet of autonomous Uber cars. This would be a HUGE game changer with, as they claim, an average wait time of just over 30 seconds, and it will only take 10% of it's stock valuation to do so nationally. It would be so cheap to take an Uber, that I can't imagine who would own a car, except for the very wealthy.
In comes Tesla, they very well may be the first to market with an autonomous car, and all other car producers are geared up for mass production, and PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that the number of vehicles on the road will be reduced by 99% because of autonomous cars. Most car manufacturers will not be able to scale down production fast enough to meet a near a 99% reduction in demand, but Tesla may be one of the only car producers by that point still in business, as their own production will only be scaled up to 500,000 annually by 2020, which may only be one fifth of the eventual demand of an autonomous fleet (2.4 mill is 1% of 245 mill, current vehicle fleet). With Apple and Google getting into the game, they might be able to meet the demand that the big car companies can no longer produce.
Even though Musk expects to double production output each year for the next 10 years, the output, may not be cars alone, as Stanton and I've been discussing, two other projects high on Musk's to-do list is his vertical take-of and vertical landing electric supersonic jet, and his high-speed (750ish mhp) hyperloop toob transportation system, which he recently announced that he'll be building a test 5 mile system soon, each of those have insane revenue potential.
They're predicting that 2017 will be the year of the autonomous car. Today there are two cars that I know of that have pretty sophisticated driver assist technologies already in their production cars today, a Mercedes S Class, roughly $94k, and the Tesla Model S, average of $100k. There are some notable mentions, like Audi's 2015 A7 has forward collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and active lane keep assist now, Lexus LS 600h L has all-seed dynamic radar cruise control and can brake to a stop at speeds below 24mph, but both of the cars out front are out of the reach of the average consumer, so their tech is not widely known. This will change very quickly with GM, Cadillac, Nissan and Volvo are all entering the market in 2017. Tesla only began assembling his autonomous team a year and a half ago, and late last year, they've surpassed every production car's autonomous capability. He's been asked "will Tesla be the leader [to market with an autonomous car]?"
“Tesla’s a Silicon Valley company,” Musk said. “I mean, if we’re not the leader, then shame on us.”
The $35k car will be rolling off the production line in 2017-18, I'm guessing they'll be fully-autonomous by 2018-19. If they can somehow be DMV certified as fully autonomous, Uber, if their own Carnegie Mellon University team isn't producing cars yet, may find it a financial gain to start snatching these up for deployment. Apple and Google will be way behind Tesla in their manufacturing ramp up, but they will have far greater resources to invest, and could lease or "use in good faith" Tesla's tech, as they're all open to use, so they perceivable could ramp up a lot faster than Tesla has/is.
Interesting article on the competition between Uber and Google to launch both their own ride share service and autonomous car production:
The 2020's are going to be a hugely disruptive decade, I think that's when car sales will be significantly hit, and the viability of the big 3 American auto makers, and many others will start to come into question. I think the lure of nearly free and completely hassle free transportation, will be hard to resist, and hopefully, we will grow out of the need for the DMV, traffic cops, registration fees, smog checks, car insurance and traffic.
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December 15, 2013, 5:53 pm
Free Market Drone Delivery Service Grounded by Government Regulators
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Only 2 weeks after Jeff Bezos' announced his idea for "Amazon Prime Air", a drone delivery service, pundits say it may never happen. They cite government regulations, or the lack thereof, as a permanent block against this exciting new tech. Meanwhile, movie producers wanting to film with innovative drone cameras are forced to shoot their movies outside of the United States. The clincher, US companies responsible for creating much of this tech over the past several years are now forced to shut down as a result, not of economic recession, but by a government paranoid of the competition. Meanwhile, government spy drones have been spotted flying over major US cities since 2012.
Amazon Prime Air concept:
US residents document government spy drones:
This is a prime example of the way in which law makers create rules to govern how ordinary people interact and do business with one another, but then exempt themselves from those rules.
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October 12, 2013, 6:50 pm
The Day The Dollar Died
"It won't be a crash, t'll be a really rough soft landing" Stephan Molyneux said in his Oct 9th 2013 padcast. This is probably the best explanation I've yet heard of how the US dollar will collapse, in a blaze of propaganda blitzing, demonizing the lazy and exploitive dependent class, to shift our opinion of the welfare state and to cut, only when it is absolutely necessary to save the dollar, the spending on the welfare state. Then another propaganda campaign against fraud in the military, and outlining the ineffectiveness and corruption of our military adventurism, to cut military spending when absolutely necessary. His point is, that when the dependent class no longer can serve the interests of the ruling class, spending will be cut, but what will come first, will be the great conditioning. He gives a timeframe of about one to three years when he thinks this process will begin.
The listener's question was asking when he should buy gold, and when private ownership of gold will become illegal, as it was made illegal in the US for private citizens in 1933. I think a good investment might be another commodity, bitcoin. I really enjoyed this talk Jeffrey Tucker had with a class about the bitcoin revolution:
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May 19, 2013, 1:10 am
Adam Kokesh arrested, potentially a political prisoner
Earlier today, Adam Kokesh was forcibly removed from a Marijuana Legalization rally in Philadelphia by police, and ushered away in what eye witnesses described as a "white suburban". Attendees report that Adam was not smoking pot at the time of arrest. It is unclear whether or not today's arrest is related to the July 4th "Open Carry March on Washington" Facebook event created by Kokesh. If so, the former Marine has been unlawfully arrested as a political prisoner.
Nathan Cox reports via Reddit.com, that Kokesh was not taken by Philly Police, as appears to be the case in the video of the event, but rather Federal Park Police (215-597-7077), and was held at 401 North 21st Street in the 9th District. He has likely been transported to a nearby Federal Detention center since then, according to Cox.
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March 11, 2013, 2:38 pm
#StandWithRand: Time for the Liberty Movement to Put Its Internal Squabbles Aside and Lead
Last Wednesday, the son of a man who stood alone for most of his political career stood on the Senate floor at the head of a remarkable coalition. How many symbolic “no” votes did Ron Paul cast over his career that were ignored by all but a remnant of die-hard libertarians? Compare the hundreds of those statements, powerful in their own right, that went largely unheard over the years to the attention that Rand Paul's 13 hour filibuster of Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA received on Wednesday and you can get an idea of how far the liberty movement has come in the last few years.
When #StandWithRand spends hours as a top trending hashtag on twitter, something usually reserved for celebrity gossip or “post what you had for dinner” chatter, suddenly liberty seems to have gone mainstream. Sadly, going mainstream seems to make parts of the movement uncomfortable, as it is a change from the comfortable old days of being an exclusive subculture, all of the members of which could fit in Murray Rothbard's apartment
, as that great economist and historian once joked.
Over the years, as much as the liberty movement accomplished in the realm of groundbreaking ideas, it was often characterized by a circular firing squad. Most new activists have heard one faction scream about decades old “racist newsletters”
and the other faction label the first as the “Kochtopus.”
Some of the core factional conflicts characterized by those charges go back over thirty years
, with younger writers and activists keeping battles alive today that began when they were in kindergarten. But as a movement grows in numbers, to be effective it must also start to outgrow the internal conflicts of its more isolated days. With the remarkable growth experienced by the liberty movement since 2007 and spread of its ideas to larger audiences than ever before, older sectarian splits from the days of a much smaller movement could be things that hold libertarianism from reaching a higher level of influence in the future. Although some of the theoretical concerns involved with the old disputes are important, when our time has seen both a huge growth spurt in the liberty movement's size and influence as well as an unprecedented assault on basic liberties over the past decade, it might be time to realize that minarchists, anarcho-capitalists, and all of the other factions face common opponents and will walk the same road together for a long time. Someday, after the federal government is finally back within its constitutional limits, we can engage in a spirited debate over whether to privatize the roads. But first, we need to make sure Barack Obama's drones never loom over them.
Unfortunately, the old sectarianism continued to fester beneath the expansion of the movement's size and public presence following the beginning of the Ron Paul phenomenon in 2007. It burst to the surface with a new round of ugly infighting as the 2012 Paul campaign drew to a close without winning the Republican nomination or choosing to mount a third party effort. Grassroots podcasters bitterly grumbled that the campaign leadership had become a “Ron Paul, Inc.”
of beltwaytarians that sold the movement out to advance their DC careers. Others cast aspersions on the unhinged conspiracy theorists
supposedly lurking in the grassroots, deeming them an impediment to further growth. When one understands that the two Ron Paul presidential campaigns were about more than just a pair of elections, they clearly stand among the struggle for liberty's greatest triumphs in recent decades. Suddenly, though, everything seemed in danger of unraveling into name-calling and blame for the campaign's electoral defeat.
In the midst of this round of recriminations, some chose to turn their rhetorical guns on Rand Paul for his endorsement of Mitt Romney for president as the primaries wound down. Misidentifying tactical maneuvering and a strategy to seize control of the Republican Party for the liberty movement with a fundamental betrayal of principles, posts in online forums devoted to his father slammed him as a traitor. Senator Paul proceeded to open the new year with several other statements
guaranteed to lose him points on the Libertarian Purity Test
but with the potential to neutralize opposition to a 2016 presidential bid from key Republican constituencies. The anger, accordingly, mounted from many in the movement despite Paul's overwhelmingly positive voting record in the Senate.
Then came Rand Paul's epic Wednesday. Unable to get a clear answer to a basic question of whether the Obama Administration believes it can order drone assassinations of American citizens on American soil, Senator Paul began to filibuster John Brennan, Obama's choice to head the CIA and an architect of indefinite detention without trial, drone strikes, and other similar Bush/Obama policies. One hour went by, then two. Text messages began to fly around libertarian circles: “Rand Paul just cited Lysander Spooner
on the Senate floor!” “He's been speaking for three hours now. Real stuff too – not just reading the phone book or whatever!” “OMG are you watching this? He sounds like his dad again!” People with opposite opinions on Senator Paul's previous tactical moves found themselves united to #standwithrand against Bush's endless war that Obama had expanded into a global campaign of drone strikes.
As the hours passed, one senator's line in the sand against the threat of Obama's drone war coming to the militarized “homeland” was no longer a principled but lonely battle akin to the hundreds fought by his dad over the decades. Tea Party libertarian-leaning Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz appeared in the chamber, allowing Paul to take brief breaks by yielding the floor to them for questions. Justin Amash and Ron Paul's other libertarian heirs in the House of Representatives sat in the Senate gallery in solidarity with what was taking place in the upper house. In a few short years, Ron Paul's lonely fight had turned into a noticeable libertarian beachhead on the Hill for the first time since the days when Robert Taft was Senate Majority Leader. Some mainline Republicans, like Senator Paul's possible 2016 presidential primary opponent Marco Rubio, noticed which way the wind was blowing and hurried to the Senate chamber to make sure the record showed that they were there to #standwithrand on that historic day. Finally, after thirteen hours, Senator Paul called it a night.
In the days after the filibuster, Sen. Paul received support from a surprisingly diverse range of individuals and organizations. First, many skeptical libertarians came back on board. For example, Justin Raimondo, author of the vital Reclaiming the American Right, editor of antiwar.com and previously one of Paul's harshest libertarian critics, commented
that “I have been one of Rand’s harshest critics precisely because I saw his enormous potential as a force for liberty – and feared it was going to waste. As it turns out, it looks like my fears were not justified, and that is a great relief.” While many on the left abandoned their antiwar and pro-civil liberties sentiment from the Bush era in favor of turning a partisan and old fashioned identity politics based blind eye to the continuation of Bush policies under Obama, not all did. The ACLU and the antiwar women's group Code Pink
firmly and publicly chose to #standwithrand against Obama's drone war.
But most surprising was the support Sen. Paul received from talking heads who were once in love with the Bush-era policies at the root of Obama's current assault on the Constitution. Rush Limbaugh
, darling of grassroots Republicans for over two decades, spoke out in support of Paul and observed that, on the other hand, “the neocons are paranoid.” Sean Hannity, famous for trashing Ron Paul on Fox News after every primary season debate, gushed over Rand Paul's filibuster against a program he probably would have heartily endorsed under Bush. Glenn Beck did the same thing. Why would mainstream Republican entertainers with no particular libertarian leanings suddenly embrace Rand Paul? Their goal has often seemed to be more about Republican electoral victories than ideological purity. Perhaps they realized that the party of McCain, Romney, and Graham is old, exhausted and the loser of election after election and that the youthful energy and principle of the new libertarian movement could be the only thing to give it a chance to rebuild in the years ahead.
Are Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck acting from a place of deep principle? Probably not. But so what? If their audience becomes favorable to Sen. Paul through their kind words about him, then that's a good thing. Through their discovery of Sen. Paul, not only does his path to the Republican nomination become more hopeful, but his new fans may take a second look at his father's less Republican-oriented presentation of the same ideas and ultimately discover the radical libertarian philosophy behind them. How many new libertarians could join us in the years ahead through the gateway drug of kind words from right wing talk radio about Rand Paul? But even if some of them can only stand with us in a limited way, let's welcome them and work together to undo as much as we can together and then patiently work to convince them to join us in going to the next step beyond that.
America finds itself in a strange place as the '00s drift into history and the '10s begin to define themselves as a decade. Bush-era conservatism stands exhausted from being on the wrong side of the key issues of peace and civil liberties in the previous decade and having lost election after election as a result. The hope and change of our current Nobel Peace laureate president lies blown to pieces by his wars while he wines and dines the bankers he bailed out. Good people from both left and right are looking for a new road forward out of our broken economy. With the widespread acclaim the #standwithrand moment is receiving, will the liberty movement take this opportunity to lead? When was the last time that what today would be called libertarians stood in the leadership of a broad coalition? The America First Committee, with nearly a million card carrying members standing against war in the early 1940s, perhaps? Or do we have to go even further back into dusty history books to the Democratic Party of Grover Cleveland's era? Either way, it's been a while. What Rand Paul appears to be doing is brilliant: raising core civil liberties issues in a way that doesn't scare away the Republican base that he needs to win the nomination in 2016 as well as potentially bringing on board those on the left who never abandoned their principles about peace and civil liberties during the Obama years. The outline of a victorious coalition may be starting to emerge.
If we are to lead, it's time to set our internal sectarianism aside. Principled debate within our own ranks over nuances of the philosophy of liberty and the best way forward is one thing, public name-calling and the kind of ugliness we've seen over the past year is quite another thing. It is time for those of us who have toiled in the liberty movement for the last few years to clarify who our political opponents are and who they are not. John Tate and “Ron Paul Inc.” are not the enemy. Nor is your facebook friend who seems to believe everything he reads on Infowars and insists on posting all of it. The minarchists are not committing aggression against you by voting. Nor are voluntaryists and agorists do-nothing dropouts. On the night Rand Paul munched on a Snickers bar to keep up his energy, our real opponents met at the Jefferson Hotel four blocks up 16th Street from the White House and dined on Lobster Thermidor with a white wine saffron galcage
– a feast paid for by your taxes. John McCain, Lindsey Graham
, and all other Republicans who did not #standwithrand and chose to stand with Barack Obama instead and dine with him that night are our real opponents. Needless to say, Barack Obama and the key players in the administration he heads are our opponents as well. Let's put our differences aside and instead get to work creating and leading the coalition against them that will be necessary to undo the current nightmare of endless war and economic crisis and move forward to the new birth of liberty that is the dream of all of us in this movement.
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January 17, 2013, 1:08 am
The Fall of the Nation State
I've long believed that Jeffrey Tucker is an enlightened visionary and his latest video gives me hope. My guess is that the way the nation state will fail is when most individuals have successfully abandoned oil and coal as our main sources of power and are able to independently produce our own power and products. I'm not sure what technologies will successfully help wean us off the power grid, our  addiction to oil, and the dependance of  centralized large scale production of goods, but there are incredible advances in solar,  DIY open source wind turbine,  tidal,  hydrogen and  electromagnetic power generation. Local manufacturing, such as with  3d printers, will probably be the most disruptive technology since the personal computer and until  autonomous biped robotics becomes a household item. Being able to design or download open source free designs, or designs from your favorite shopping site, you could print just about anything you need -- someday soon even complicated electronic items such as cell phones. Small scale technology like this could topple the largest of corporations and free up a new market to individual designers/manufacturers.
The only thing left to hold this precious nation state together will be the war industry, or at least our belief that war is a necessary evil. Thankfully, one of the points Tucker is trying to make is that social networking communication is bridging that gap where hatred bred.
It's my understanding that powerful corporations have the most to lose from the fall of the nation state, as it is the only way they can stay in business, utilizing the force of government to sustain themselves by gaining access to large government contracts, and creating crippling regulations for any potential upstart competitors or  open source collaborations.
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November 8, 2012, 7:38 pm
Ron Paul: We're Broke and Already Over Fiscal Cliff
As he prepares to retire from Congress, Ron Paul took a pessimistic-in-the-short-term post-election tone today. In this interview, he comments "We're so far gone. We're over the cliff. We cannot get enough people in Congress in the next 5-10 years who will do wise things." He goes on to note that "I don't have much confidence in the political system and never did. My goal has always been to change people's minds" and continues by mentioning the huge crowds he gets on college campuses. Short term pessimism and long term optimism sounds about right to me -- what about to other people?
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September 20, 2012, 3:33 pm
Beltwaytarians Vs The Grass Roots
Attending the Tampa grass roots PAUL Fest and the Campaign's rally in August, an event where both Ron and Rand Paul spoke, made it quite clear to me that there is a deep and growing divide in the liberty movement. On our first night in Tampa, we had a vigorous debate outside an Irish pub with a young and enthusiastic individual who described himself as a libertarian but who seemed dogmatic in his idea that politics is the only path to liberty. I saw this in the way he described how exciting it was to have someone speaking on the Senate floor about the TSA. It seemed that his perception was that the peak of achievement we could hope for is having a senator speaking on the Senate floor about abolishing the TSA. He seemed to believe that power originates from politics, and speaking on the Senate floor was the best way to gain influence from the institutions of power. My argument was that power originates from money and movements. Since the liberty movement doesn't have the power to create money, our power play must be one of numbers and vigilance to literally strike fear in the establishments in order to achieve liberating change. I argued that Ron Paul was able to create such a movement and that his ideological purity which created the movement is the only reason for Ron's recent legislative success. He dismissed my argument because he already had his leader, and that man was Rand Paul.
We met two younger guys in suits in the VIP lounge at Ron Paul's campaign rally at USF's basketball stadium. They cheered enthusiastically for Rand, and left before Ron began to speak. Earlier, in a casual conversation with them, before the Pauls went on, my friend Jon Arden mentioned the connection between the CIA and those individuals involved with creating postwar conservatism in the US. They reflexively, simultaneously grinned and rolled their eyes. One flippantly said, "oh, and you believe in chemtrails", then rudely turned their back on us. After being shocked by their response, Jon insistently reengaged them and gave a quick summary of the chapters that cover this topic in Murray Rothbard's Betrayal of the American Right
, explaining that William F. Buckley was a CIA operative
who played a central role in this effort to squash the Old Right and its antiwar platform, moving the right towards becoming the imperialistic conservative movement we know today.
The day before, Jon and I had an opportunity to speak with Butler Shaffer at the P.A.U.L. Fest. In conversation about this growing divide, Shaffer mentioned that a strategy the CIA often uses to strip movements of its power is to infiltrate a movement, seek out areas vulnerable for exploitation that might cause divide, then work both sides of that divide to ensure its perpetual growth and destruction or devaluation of the movement.
A few of my friends participate in an online forum where some of the discussion emphasizes a need to steer people new to the movement away from commentators such as Alex Jones, Adam Kokesh and David Icke. This viewpoint, from my perspective, divides the liberty movement into two camps: one containing Ron Paul and his supposedly fringe followers and another following in the political footsteps of Rand Paul and pits them against each other. Lines are being drawn between insiders vs outsiders, winners vs losers, compromise for mainstream acceptance vs integrity.
On one side you have the Southern Avenger stating_here
that "We Are Change is unquestionably damaging to the liberty movement," and after an attempted interview below, he reported the We Are Change film crew to security so as to prevent them from engaging Ron Paul in an interview. I understand his not wanting the liberty movement to be publicly associated with truthers, only because I believe the mainstream media has waged a very effective PR campaign against conspiracy theorists. My complaint is that it is divisive to try to try to strike this divide between truth seekers and those seeking political influence.
I don't see this growing divide as coming from only one side, Adam Kokesh has come out directly against one of our great leaders in the liberty movement, Lew Rockwell, in this video titled "Lew Rockwell: Obey everyone in a uniform or expensive suit." I understand the reason to not simply obey, and that Rockwell may have had no right to assert his authority to get those attending to comply, but I think there were probably better ways to respond:
In this very disheartening video, probably because most of it resonates with me as being true, Kokesh interviews Penny Freeman, a former staffer, Kokesh accuses Jesse Benton of being a "plant," which has garnered him some scathing resentment from those who have little tolerance for accusations of conspiracy theories. I'd personally like to see a longer explanation on the information Kokesh has been exposed to to lead him to believe that Benton's a plant:
I can understand the reasons I've heard that "beltwaytarians" are hoping to exclude some in the movement. As I've heard many of them say, they hope not to have these people who speak of aliens, or people who insist 9/11 was an inside job, or others with "wizard beards" who make 45 minute long videos taking drugs, taint the otherwise respectable image that they hope to grow the liberty movement into. My hope to change the image of the movement in LA was the reason I cut off my long hair and traded my beret for a tie and blazer. We have a major PR campaign to wage, and it won't be done entirely by the use of logic and reason, we have to create a positive, attractive image of the liberty movement, one of hope, and prosperity through liberty.
I believe we must actively combat this natural or planned division in the movement, and I hope to propose a solution that my friends and I have came to use over the years in our own organizational efforts. It's simple and has squashed any potential divide that comes up each time one person or a faction of people began to assert their idea as the only way to "win." I'd like to suggest that there are many paths to liberty, and to accept that liberty, not political power or influence, should be our number one goal.
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August 3, 2012, 11:44 am
How to Communicate the Ideas of Liberty (Stefan Molyneux interview)
Here is a remix I did from a recent interview Stefan gave at LibertyFest West in Odessa Texas. Check out Stefan Molyneux's "Freedomain Podcast" at
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August 2, 2012, 7:05 pm
Did Rand Paul try to intimidate an RT Journalist?
It might be worth watching the entire video before commenting on this thread, and I'd like to note that I'm really not a fan of this type of journalism, "ambush journalism", it's a tactic which exemplifies a defeatist strategic disadvantage, and is only used by those not able to get interviews, or answers to questions the MSM may be instructed not to ask. One might argue that if the MSM isn't asking a question, it's not a credible question, though I've not seen Rand offer good reasons for endorsing Mitt, if there is some interview, paper, or some other info that has turned you in favor of this alliance with Satan, I am open minded enough to review offered materials, but it's my sense that this series of events is begging some needed to answer questions.
Should a journalist ever be threatened with imprisonment, when simply asking a "public servant" a rational, even though it may be an anoying question, at a public event? Could anyone who considers themself a liberty minded individual support the use of violent force to silence free press?
This is part of a much larger debate, "can Rand do no wrong?", at what point, would it be acceptable to distance ourselves from the son of Ron, or those "in the liberty movement" who may be actively killing Ron Paul's campaign?
Clearly we don't know who sent, what seems to be, a coalition of the most powerful members in media, to threaten and intimidate this RT journalist for asking the forbidden question that the truth seekers in the liberty movement want answered, but I would have hoped Rand Paul could have given me reason to have hope for the future, instead of at least allowing, if not initiating, the violent silencing of a question, that I still haven't heard a good response to.
I think it's easy to attack a truther, the mainstream media has quite thoroughly destroyed the credibility of 911 conspiracy theorists, and I personally feel embarrassed when people in public forums throw around words like Illuminati, CFR, Trilateral Commission or any other of the things that show a person only understands how to discredit himself, but I hope to look at this event not with some knee jerk reaction to a person's ideological bend, or lack of desire to climb socially by conformity, but simply get at the heart of what's happened.
The one paper that kept me from seeing Rand as Judas left me understanding that Rand didn't do anything against libertarian principles with his endorsement, Ron Paul Inc. seemed to have already hung Ron's presidential campaign on the political cross.
I do want to see libertarian ideas go mainstream, I hope the non-aggression principle would be taught prolifically in voluntary educational gatherings, I am definitely not counter culture to the detriment of libertarian flourishment, as the Southern Avenger might like to label those who felt betrayed by Rand when he supported Mitt. More than anything, I hope to see the principles I've learned carried to the Whitehouse, though, my perception is, like Goldwater begat Reagan, so will Ron bear the political Rand, and those principles I'd love so much to be carried to the Whitehouse, will get lost in the effort to dance with the devil.
I'm sure Rand's support of his father's antithesis was well thought out, and it's not treason, but the goal of an endorsement is to have those who follow you follow that which you endorse. Here in lies the problem, this, in and of it's self is divisive, because, some will, like lemmings follow, and those who think for themselves, and had higher hopes for a true liberty candidate, might feel betrayed.
In another thread, I eluded to the hope that Mitt will appoint Ron Paul as the Fed Chair, but I agree with Andrew, Romney doesn't have a chance in a Presidential victory, and Goldman Sachs would never allow Mitt to appoint Paul to such position of power.
I think this could be one of the lowest voting turn outs in history, and that alone could be a small victory, and might eat away at the validity of government, possibly the only victory we at this point in the future history of Ron Paul Inc, can hope for.
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June 26, 2012, 7:00 pm
LA Individualist Bretigne Shaffer Launches Peace Comic
Writer and film maker Bretigne Shaffer has introduced The Adventures of Urban Yogini last week. Shaffer, the author of, Why Mommy Loves the State, has created a super heroine who can't use violence.
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June 20, 2012, 4:16 pm
Growing Up is Painful but Necessary: Anarchist Edition
Anarchism is the great liberator of man from the phantoms that have held him captive; it is the arbiter and pacifier of the two forces for individual and social harmony.--Emma Goldman
Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.--Ayn Rand
Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publications.--Fran Lebowitz
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June 19, 2012, 9:25 pm
Where's the Opposition to Obama and the Neocons on Syria?
Christian church in Homs, Syria, burned down by Syrian rebels
Neocon foreign policy delusions die hard, even in the fourth year of the "peace president." The Obama Administration's calls for regime change in Syria are growing increasingly strident
, with open demands for Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, to step down. Not surprisingly, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney strikes a hawkish tone with calls for opening U.S. arming of Syrian rebels
By overthrowing the Assad regime, what do Obama and Romney hope to accomplish? Despite Bush-era talk about how the invasion of Iraq would launch a domino effect that would turn the Middle East into a region of friendly democracies, secular dictatorships in the Middle East do not seem to easily transform into pro-American governments of any type, let alone democratic ones. In Iraq, for example, sectarian bloodshed has escalated again
in recent weeks and radical Islamists are playing a major role
in post-Qaddafi Libya. This dangerous record could be on the verge of repeating in Syria, where reports of rebel atrocities against Christians are on the rise (see this compilation
of news reports over at the LRC blog).
To make matters worse, the U.S. and Russia are trading accusations about arm shipments to opposing sides in Syria. Is Obama looking to start the second Cold War that the neocons have pined for since the first one ended twenty years ago?
Rep. Ron Paul, a consistent antiwar voice for decades, is introducing legislation
this week to block military action in Syria by the Obama administration. Paul also spoke on the House floor yesterday about the dangers of intervention in Syria:
Sadly, the Paul era in Congress is coming to an end, with the good doctor set to retire at the end of this term. But the movement that came of age with his two recent presidential campaigns will likely live on and continue to grow long after his departure from politics. When it comes to foreign policy, the liberty movement is needed more than ever with the old leftist antiwar movement shriveling into an ineffective shell of its former self. United for Peace and Justice
, once a massive coalition that organized the American portion of the largest protest in human history
, quickly faded away in the Obama era. The other major organizer of antiwar protests over the last ten years, ANSWER
, still exists and is strongly opposed to military action against Syria. Unfortunately, ANSWER remains what it always has been -- a front for a small, odd communist sect
that sees the targets of U.S. military action as somehow progressive in a strange "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" viewpoint. Turnout at ANSWER's antiwar rallies has dwindled in recent years, as much of the mainstream left continues to drink the Obama Kool Aid, leaving little more than the various small old style Marxist sects that dwell on the far left fringes
of American politics.
The emergence of the liberty movement into a visible force over the last five years comes at a crucial time. Drone strikes against multiple countries, tens of thousands of troops still fighting in Afghanistan over a year after Bin Laden's death, and the possibility of new wars against Syria and Iran combine to make this one of the most warlike administrations in American history. Antiwar opposition on the left virtually disappeared after Obama took office and the establishment of the Republican Party derides the Democrats for not pursuing even more wars.
In the midst of this, Ron Paul's popularity surged, an unexpected "black swan event"
in American politics. Among other things, Paul brought antiwar ideas back into political consciousness. His legacy seems set to continue with his son Rand Paul, who continues to speak out
against unconstitutional wars from his Senate seat.
But here at the grassroots, what can we do? A vacuum exists in terms of a viable grassroots antiwar movement. Groups like ANSWER, with their worn out communist baggage, aren't going to cut it and the mainstream left shows little sign of breaking with a Democratic president over the wars. The neoconservatives and much of the religious right are as hawkish as ever. So, as with many other issues where we stand alone, the liberty movement has a tremendous responsibility. Will Obama will get away with arming Syria's rebels despite their attacks on the country's Christian minority? The answer to that, not to mention the broader issue of changing our foreign policy to that of a limited constitutional republic, may depend on how fast our movement grows and connects with the broader public in the months and years ahead. No one else is going to take up this task -- it's time for the liberty movement to lead.
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June 13, 2012, 7:22 pm
Localize or Lose the Liberty Movement
“The key to libertarian success is doing everything all the time.”
Whatever your view on the Ron Paul 2012 campaign or Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, issues like those that divide the Liberty Movement are rendered meaningless in the face of the police state. The worst crimes of government are not the handshakes among the political class and their ambitious devotees, but the violence leftover that falls upon the common person. If this movement is only fit for TIME-Life Memory Lane then no new action is required. Another option is to localize efforts, leaving behind the federal theatre and all the celebrity it attracts.
Values of non-aggression and self-ownership along with the monstrous crimes perpetrated from the Capitol and the White House brought us together. Millions were brought into the fray by Ron Paul (as I was) but as the campaign is over, the supporters must revisit some objectives. As Ron liked to say, we must “pick up the pieces” and move ahead. One of my favorite pieces picked up was the principle of nullification that I could have only learned from being a freedom nerd. From the individual scale to local government, there are many weapons at hand to inflict pain on the feds. Without nullification, we’re stuck waiting around for another Ron Paul presidential to shine a spotlight on libertarianism and obviously a Rand Paul 2016 flag isn’t uniting anybody right now.
Nullification is an American legal tradition officially dating back to 1798 with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison based this doctrine in the US Constitution or more specifically the state ratifying conventions. All the founding father talk gets uninspiring for some in the liberty movement but this history is indispensable defense against those who would insist such resistance is illegal or even terrorism. The US Constitution has been brought into reverence for many and is a proven avenue towards total liberty philosophy adoption.
Not only will the localism strategy improve the image for the movement and attract new people, it will simply do away with more statism than any other political effort. The groundwork is laid by the likes of the Tenth Amendment Center
which offers model legislation and tracking. Already several towns, counties and states have passed resolutions and bills of non-compliance and nullifying the NDAA and other severe incursions on people and property.
Thomas Knapp, publisher of the Rational Review Digest
, believes “the key to libertarian success is doing everything all the time.” Decentralizing the tasks and tactics of the movement does this in a beautiful way. Nullification is like acupuncture for America, putting pressure on local points to affect the entire system. For those localists in LA County, the premiere of the groundbreaking documentary Nullification: The Rightful Remedy is coming up on Saturday, June 23rd in Pasadena. It’s a potluck party with boating and fishing, a great opportunity for building coalitions around proven and sound principle. Drop $5 to help offset the costs of putting on the event and get back on track towards winning liberty locally.
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June 13, 2012, 6:31 pm
Tom Woods: The State has Warped our Moral Sense
Tom Woods, co-editor of We Who Dared To Say No to War, addresses the Texas State Libertarian Convention, June 9, 2012. Excellent comments about historian and philosopher Murray N. Rothbard at 42:30.
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