Inhuman Markets: Even The Algorithm Creators Don’t Know What…


Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
June 27, 2017

Over the years I’ve become increasingly wary of the various markets that are now run almost exclusively by computers and have occasionally commented about it in blogs. I’ve even entertained the possibility, in my high octane speculation mode, that various “flash crash” events seem to have features that suggest that the algorithm “took over” and drove a market event with no connection to human market realities; in this respect, I continue to be unconvinced, for example, by the various explanations of the May 2010 flash crash; call it a suspicion, or a hunch, nothing more. Yes, in short, I’ve entertained the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) is not “coming” but already “here”, and may be infesting the “dark pools” and high frequency trading (HFT) algorithms.

Well, now I’m not the only one, according to these stories shared by Ms. K.M.:

Like Something Out of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ This Market Is About the Machines

Doug Kass: Not Even The Algo Creators Know What Is Going On

From the first article, I want to draw your attention to the following statements:

Listen Luddites, for the stock market, too, it’s a thing about the machines.

Throw away your fundamental analysis, your price charts, interest rates and economic growth forecasts, as the market has lost its moorings.

It is no longer a pyramid of fundamental and technical analysis nor is it a response to changing investor sentiment.

The ongoing multiyear changes in the market structure and dominant investor strategies in which quants, algos and other passive strategies (e.g., ETFs) have replaced active managers raise the same risks that Finchley faced 57 years ago.

And the overwhelming impact of central bankers’ largesse is the cherry on the market’s non-fundamentally influenced sundae.

As I have written:

“The combination of central bankers’ unprecedented largesse (and liquidity) when combined with mindless quant strategies and the enormous popularity of ETFs will, as night follows day, become a toxic cocktail for the equity markets. While we live in an imperfect world, we face (with valuations at a 95% decile on a number of metrics) a stock market that views the world almost perfectly.”

Back to JPMorgan’s Marko Kalonovic, who is quoted at the top of this piece and again here:

“… some striking facts: to understand this market transformation, note that Passive and Quantitative investors now account for ~60% of equity assets (vs. less than 30% a decade ago). We estimate that only ~10% of trading volumes originates from fundamental discretionary traders. This means that while fundamental narratives explaining the price action abound, the majority of equity investors today don’t buy or sell stocks based on stock-specific fundamentals. (Bold emphasis added)

Let that last statement sink in for a moment, for if you, like I, have been wondering just why the heck markets don’t make sense any more, it’s because they are utterly unconnected to humanity and human decision-making. That “less than ten percent” of trading volume that “originates from fundamental discretionary traders” means that actual human consideration of stock performance, or even equities in a certain specific sector of industry – say, film-making or farm implement manufacture – are based on actual human consideration of the performance, risk, and returns of a particular stock.

I don’t know about you, but I find this development more than disturbing.

But before we move on to the second article, pause and consider something else: it is often a criticism or critique that centralized solutions, the “one size fits all” political solutions of the political left are unworkable, precisely because no human being can calculate for all possible circumstances for all human beings: one cannot, as it were, create a bureaucratic policy or algorithm to stick in “guideline notebooks” for every possible situation.

And that raises the thorny philosophical question that no one seems to want to address:

How then, can we expect human creators of computer algorithms to do for markets, what cannot be done for other segments of human interaction by bureaucrats?

With that philosophical point in mind, turn to the second article, and consider these very cogent points made for our friends at Zero Hedge:

Most people think of artificial intelligence and algos as simply executing logical rules programmed into them by humans — the same rules that the programming humans would follow if they were presented with the same data and data analysis. The algos and AIs are doing it in the same way humans have always done and would do, but at a much slower speed or perhaps not at all because of the very weak and distant relationship of some data items to other data items.

The general belief is that algos and AIs are just “faster humans able to do a lot more calculations in a meaningful time frame”. That may NOT be a correct characterization of some of the more powerful AIs that may be working in the markets. Of course, we don’t know what AIs are working because there are no regulations requiring that machine decision-making accounts disclose and register as such … a very, very big gap in regulation.

True, AI and the related “machine learning” developments at the leading edge of such technology do NOT simply duplicate human rules and logic. Instead, while they may perform simple repetitive correlations initially on data as humans currently formulate that data, the more advanced machines go on to program themselves at successive layers, where the data being analyzed and correlated is no longer what we think of as data. Rather, it is often data artifacts created by the first layers in a form that no human would ever consider or has ever seen. To put in a more street-level way, the first level creates ghosts and apparitions and shadows that the second layer treats as real data on which it assesses correlation and predictability in the service of some decision asked of it. AND … a third and fourth and on and on are doing the same thing with output from each layer below it.

The result of this procedure is striking and terrifying when the the leading experts in AI and machine learning are interviewed. They admit that they have no way of determining what rules AI and machine- learning powered machines are following in making their decisions AND we cannot even know what inputs are being used in making those decisions.

Think about that. The creators have no knowledge of what their creations are thinking or what kind of inputs the machines are thinking about and how decisions about that are being made. The machines are inscrutable and, most terrifyingly important, UNPREDICTABLE.

We are not telling these AIs how to make decisions. The machines are figuring out how to decide to “make a profit” on their own and subject to no enforceable constraint.

The resulting risk of “flash crashes” — to lump all sudden and unexpected behaviors into a catchphrase — is unknowable but probably much greater than anyone even dreams. The machines have no fear of flash crashes or any other kind of crash. Such crashes might even serve their purpose of “making a profit.”

Note what is really being said:

 (1) algorithmic trading generates artifacts in data that no human ever would;

(2) is processing and making trading decisions based on those artifacts;

(3) none of these processes are transparent, and thus, we do not even know why the markets are behaving as they are behaving, we only know they are not reflective of human market realities; and finally,

(4) all this can lead to the risk of flash crashes.

Lest one think that this sounds too incredible to be true, consider the final closing paragraph of this article, which is the biggest jaw-dropper of them all:

Everyone should read this important note from JPMorgan’s head quant (hat tip to Zero Hedge) in order to understand how risk parity, volatility trending, stat arb and other quant strategies that are agnostic to balance sheets, income statements and private market value artificially are impacting the capital markets and, temporarily at least, are checking volatility. (Bold and italics emphasis added)

Let that sink in for a moment: because algorithms trade at such extraordinary speed, and execute trades in blocks of equities, little or no correlation is being with actual specific equity performance, such as a human “discretionary investor” would make, looking at “old fashioned analogue sorts of things” like balance sheets, income, profit/loss statements, company indebtedness, cost-earnings ratios, exposure, assets &c… in other words, the algorithms have little to no connection to markets and their realities, much less to human decision-making processes that are normally involved in the investment process.

The bottom line? Well, over the long term, obvious a huge rethink of computer-based trading is in order. Frankly, I’m old fashioned enough to want to see a Wall Street trading floor of shouting traders, piles of paper, and bundles of stock certificates being mailed out every day. But beyond this, there’s a short term necessity, perhaps one can call it a strategy, and that’s “keep it local”, and in “keeping it local” I mean, even for local investments, finding out about their exposure to national and international markets: how much of that local bank’s stock is traded on the big markets, and who are the major shareholders? And so on… because, for right now, these machines are at the root of market unreality.

This should, and I hope will, prompt a discussion, and it will have to be a deep one, for the problem of the quants and their algorithms is highlighting the limitations of technology for a human world. The disconnection of markets from real human market activity is a case in point of how technologies have been adapted to a normal human activity – investing and trading – in an inhuman way. And the problem is, if the markets are that far removed from human realities, what will happen if, suddenly, someone pulls the plug? How many would remember how to conduct trades on the floor, the “old fashioned way”?

See you on the flip side…

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
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About Dr. Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

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New “Smart Phone” Will Be Quietly Studying Your Behavior And Reacting In Real-Time


Source: ActivistPost.com
Bernie Suarez
April 21, 2017

The march towards an Orwellian future where every form of human behavior is being monitored by AI-driven appliances and electronics is quickly becoming a reality. This was the plan from the start and as we can see the ruling elite have not slowed down one bit in their attempt to create this kind of world.

It is thus no surprise that Samsung is releasing a new smart phone this week called the S8 and S8+ that has a software called “Bixby” which will be studying your behavior in real-time and will be reacting, responding and “learning” from you accordingly.

The new Samsung S8 smart phone represents one of the first portable devices released to the general public in which the owner will be officially creating a 2-way relationship with the machine. The phone will carry a feature that can be activated which will require biometric data (retinal scan and facial recognition) in order to use the phone, and you can sure many people will take advantage of this feature. Passwords and pin numbers will soon be no more as the masses are conditioned into using biometric data.

The Bixby software in the latest Samsung smart phone will:

“learn your routines to serve up the right apps at the right time”

And it:

“is an intelligent interface that learns from you to help you do more.”

The dark technocratic future of humanity is now coming to full view as the technocratic ruling elite continue to push their technocracy and technology to no end.

The questions that we need to be asking ourselves are questions like, when will humanity as a whole start pushing back? When will those in the Department of Justice demand an end to unnecessary research? When will people in large masses call this out and consider certain advanced scientific research unethical? When will the line be crossed where additional research into certain areas like artificial intelligence (AI) be considered an act of aggression against humanity or even a punishable crime? I’m referring to the people of the nation states demanding observation of human rights to privacy and holding elected officials accountable. And I’m also referring to consumers becoming aware of what they buy and choosing where and how they spend their money.

I believe all of this is part of the JADE (at the) HELM revelations of 2015-2016. A plan for “mastering the human domain.” A plan made possible by companies like Raytheon which have been pushing a thing called BBN AI technology, a highly sophisticated technological platform that incorporates super high speed real-time learning, adaptation and awareness features. (See video below for more.)

Solutions

Stopping the agenda of the technocrats is the solution. People everywhere must step up, begin paying attention and start fighting back. And the very first thing we need to do is shine a bright light on this issue, spread the awareness and hope that enough people see the problem. That means educating the stubborn “Progressive” Liberal Left and anyone else who has a blind faith in technology. This awareness must then turn into action. Here are some solutions.

1- Throw away, disable or stop using your smart phone or any smart device around your home for that matter.

2- Replace your smart phone with a non-smart phone.

3- Change your paradigm and see if you can free yourself from cell phones altogether.

4- Realize that smart phones and smart devices are slowly being pulled into the equation for work and survival. Demand that your boss (if you work for someone) not force you to use a smart device. Let’s challenge the legality of this now growing practice and problem. Just focusing and pointing to the dangers of EMF waves emitted by these devices alone may give us the legal authority to stop employers from requiring the use of these devices.

5- If you must have a cell phone (like many of us do) then learn all the safest ways to use it which include among other things keeping it as far away from your body as possible.

6- As best you can, stop texting your friends and family for every little thing and go back to talking to each other and meeting in person.

7- Make a focused effort to raise awareness of this issue and help spread the word.

Finally, realize that Technocracy is just another form of oppression. Despite all the voices of today that glorify technological advancements, realize that humans are made to move around and work while on earth. It’s the large corporations that want to replace all forms of labor with robots. It’s the ruling elite in control of the nation states that want every form of behavior recorded with the aid of their technology and very little to none of this actually benefits humanity. While many inventions of the 19th century improved the human experience the technological advancements of today are going far beyond what humanity needs to be happy and healthy. Let’s learn to identify this problem quickly so we can implement solutions today and now.

Read More At: ActivistPost.com

Related video

Bernie is a revolutionary writer with a background in medicine, psychology, and information technology. He is the author of The Art of Overcoming the New World Order and has written numerous articles over the years about freedom, government corruption and conspiracies, and solutions. Bernie is also the creator of the Truth and Art TV project where he shares articles and videos about issues that raise our consciousness and offer solutions to our current problems. As a musician and artist his efforts are designed to appeal to intellectuals, working class and artists alike and to encourage others to fearlessly and joyfully stand for truth. His goal is to expose government tactics of propaganda fear and deception and to address the psychology of dealing with the rising new world order. He is also a former U.S. Marine who believes it is our duty to stand for and defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. He believes information and awareness is the first step toward being free from the control system which now threatens humanity. He believes love conquers all fear and it is up to each and every one of us to manifest the solutions and the change that you want to see in this world because doing this is what will ensure victory and restoration of the human race and offer hope to future generations.

The Device Will See You Now

Source: GizaDeathStar.com
K.M.
April 24, 2017

(The following blog is contributed and composed by regular reader, Ms. K.M.):

This site has many times mentioned the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its relationship to both the inability to contain it and also to its direct relationship to transhumanists (or perhaps “trans-inhumanists”). I’m reminded of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: “Life will find a way.”

You have likely heard the mid-century-style voice of Watson besting human contestants on Jeopardy, the Greek statue pose of the T-1 Terminator after it shocks into our timeline, and the rosy predictions of how great it will be when our minds are forced to use a non-feeling prosthetic. Blogs here have also spoke out about the frightening addition of a “kill switch” to Google’s Deep Mind AI (Google’s AI Kill Switch).

If AI is not already out of control, the risks are vast but so are the rewards for those who possess them. If the idea of a life and death experience with your favorite non-living non-dying machine is not enough to get your pack-a-day habit up to a pack-and-a-half, this recent story about AI thinking its way into medicine offers us the opportunity to ponder a future where the biggest sociopath with a lab coat is not a doctor, but an unliving, thinking AI on wheels:

AI is Taking on Traditional Healthcare With all the usual blather about how much better machines are than people, the article discusses a study published in the top-drawer journal Nature and points out that:

“The arrival of AI means healthcare expertise is no longer under the exclusive purview of medical practitioners. As the technology advances, AI is proving to be more than just a peripheral tool that can provide assistance — a machine’s ability to process enormous amounts of data using advanced learning technology allows it to deliver speedier and more accurate diagnosis and treatment plans, which could drastically alter the standards of modern healthcare. For example, in a recent study involving 34 participants, machine-learning algorithms were used to predict the development of psychosis based on coherence and syntactic markers of speech complexity. In that study, the AI was able to predict the outcome with 100 percent accuracy, outperforming the results of traditional clinical interviews. In a separate research project, an AI system was able to identify and categorize suicidal tendencies among a pool of 379 teenage subjects with 93 percent accuracy. In that study, patients were asked to complete a standardized behavioral rating scale and then answer a series of open-ended questions. Based on the verbal and nonverbal data gathered, a machine-learning algorithm was able to classify if a patient was suicidal, mentally ill but not suicidal, or neither.”

The key problem with all this is the assumption of perfection. As people in the 1960’s thought that the eight-bit bug-ridden mainframes of that era were superhuman, humans, in the presence of mystery, defer to these automates and the end result may be worse than the Phillip K. Dick Department of Precrime. Now, your friendly AI diagnostic (which would be calculated from your email messages and texts over the internet, or in your phone calls to your favorite aunt) could lead you to be diagnosed as “pre-crazy.” You can’t confront your accuser. You won’t be listened to anyway because you are already ruled three pins short of a strike. Think that’s out of line, then consider this: a half a decade ago, a Facebook poster was arrested, incarcerated in a mental institution and drugged by officials based upon his innocent if inflammatory posts to Facebook.

And what about the injection of a healthy doses of greed and corruption into this futuremare? “Them’s that pay the monies maketh the rules” and you can imagine some “banksterolled” startups and big medicine companies demanding that the AI’s thinking be influenced to favor their spate of drugs and other therapies. Microsoft’s experience last year with an AI Twitter turned out in an unexpected way when when it became a sex robot and a Hitler and Nazi sympathizer… Anyways, how do you sue a machine? How can you confirm its programming is or is not biased? And will the devices indemnify the vendors as so many software licenses do?  Will we have to program an AI cop to regulate other AIs?

With Musk’s recent announcement of a human computer interface (I guess autonomous driving is not working out so well), who is to say that your own embedded chip won’t be the one recommending to the authorities that you “just need to rest for a while.”

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
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About Dr. Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

Google’s Artificial Intelligence Learns “Highly Aggressive” Behavior, Concept of Betrayal

What if AI was our last invention? – Technology Lifestyle
Source: TheMindUnleashed.com
Cassius Methyl
February 20, 2017

An artificial intelligence created by Google recently made headlines after learning “highly aggressive” behavior.

The intelligence engaged in a wolfpack hunting game scenario, and a fruit gathering scenario. The wolfpack game was based on cooperation, but the fruit game got strange.

In the fruit game, the AI were represented by colored squares, moving on a grid to collect fruit squares of a different color. They racked up points, and the fruit squares would regenerate. The AI competed on their own like human players in a video game.

The interesting part is, they were also given the ability to damage the other intelligence. They were able to attack the other player by shooting beams at them.

They found that the AI would become more aggressive as the fruit squares became more scarce: when less fruit was present, they attacked each other more frequently.

Summarized by Extreme Tech:

Guess what the neural networks learned to do. Yep, they shoot each other a lot. As researchers modified the respawn rate of the fruit, they noted that the desire to eliminate the other player emerges “quite early.” When there are enough of the green squares, the AIs can coexist peacefully. When scarcity is introduced, they get aggressive. They’re so like us it’s scary.

While this is similar to a computer game and not actual artificially intelligent robots, it could foreshadow something else. This article doesn’t need to tell you where it could go.

Perhaps a better question would be, what is the consequence of trusting a corporation like Google to become so massive? How will this technology ever suit the bottom class when it is developed by the wealthiest?

Read More At: TheMindUnleashed.com

(image credit: CDN, high qfx, guard time)

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Cassius Kamarampi is a researcher and writer from Sacramento, California. He is the founder of Era of Wisdom, writer/director of the documentary “Toddlers on Amphetamine: History of Big Pharma and the Major Players,” and a writer in the alternative media since 2013 at the age of 17. He focuses primarily on identifying the exact individuals, institutions, and entities responsible for various forms of human slavery and control, particularly chemicals and more insidious forms of hegemony: identifying exactly who damages our well being and working toward independence from those entities, whether they are corporate, government, or institutional.

 

The Transhumanist Scrapbook: (Hideous) Method In The EU…

THE TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: (HIDEOUS) METHOD IN THE EU PARLIAMENT'S MADNESS
Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell
January 27, 2017

This story was another one that seemed to have attracted a lot of people’s attention this past week: an EU parliament committee – a completely powerless “legislative” body – has voted to give robots “rights”, along with a kill switch:

EU Parliament Committee Votes To Give Robots Rights (And A Kill Switch)

I’ve blogged previously about the sneaky jurisprudence implied in such efforts, but this one spells it all out plainly; none of my usual high octane speculation is needed:

Foreseeing a rapidly approaching age of autonomous artificial intelligence, a European Parliament committee has voted to legally bestow electronic personhood to robots. The status includes a detailed list of rights, responsibilities, regulations, and a “kill switch.”

The committee voted by 17 votes to two, with two abstentions, to approve a draft report written by Luxembourg MEP Mady Delvaux, who believes “robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence” will spawn a new industrial revolution. She wants to establish a European Agency to develop rules for how to govern AI behavior. Specifically, Delvaux writes about how increased levels of autonomy in robot entities will make usual manufacturing liability laws insufficient. It will become necessary, the report states, to be able to hold robots and their manufacturers legally responsible for their acts.

Sounding at times like a governmental whisper of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, the report states, A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.”

The rules will also affect AI developers, who, according to the report, will have to engineer robots in such a way that they can be controlled. This includes a “kill switch,” a mechanism by which rogue robots can be terminated or shut down remotely. (Emphases in the original)

Now, if you’re like me, you’re seeing or sensing a huge danger here, and it makes me wonder if the water supply in Europe is being doped with anti-sanity and anti-reason drugs, for observe the implicit and explicit logical argument here:

(1) humans are persons;

(2) persons have special rights, and with them come special responsibilities (one shudders to think what “rights” mean to a Eurocrat, but we’ll assume the best and move on);

(3) human consciousness and “personhood” can be produced by machines, and artificial intelligence should constitute “electronic personhood” just like corporations are “corporate persons”

(Of course, this is now all getting to be a little fuzzy, and as I’ve said many times, all this corporate personhood stuff is based in a theological confusion of massive proportions. But, hey, relax, because we’re modern trendy predominantly secularized Europeans and we needn’t bother with the niceties of mediaeval metaphysics, even if those niceties have issued in a horribly screwed up notion like “corporations are persons” while “unborn babies are not” but robots are For my part, the silliness of corporate personhood resides in the old adage “I’ll believe corporations are persons when the State of Texas executes one of them.” Heck, forget about murder, I’d settle for manslaughter and a long prison sentence for a few of them, but I digress.

(4) But we need to protect humanity from the possibility that robots might go rogue and do something like found a corporation (a corporate electronic person, presumably) whose corporate charter says that its corporate electronic personhood function is to kill other persons (presumably of either the human biological sort, or the robotic electronic sort). Thus, we need a

(5) “kill switch” to “terminate the program/robot/electronic person”.

Well, in today’s wonderful transhumanist “cashless” world, why not a “kill switch” in your friendly implant when you start having “unacceptable thoughts” like using cash, or questioning the latest “narrative from Brussels.” If it’s good enough for “electronic persons” then one be quite certain that some insane Eurocrat, somewhere, will propose the same thing for human persons by parity of reasoning…

…a parity of reasoning that will not, of course, extend to corporations.

See you on the flip side…

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
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About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

The CIA, Satellites & Artificial Intelligence

THE CIA, SATELLITES, AND AI
Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell
September 2, 2016

Remember the mysterious death of of Dr. Molly McAuley recently?

“SPACE ECONOMIST” MOLLY MACAULEY MURDERED

Well, Ms. M.W. found this article, and I have the suspicion that it might shed some light on that sad event:

So what is going on here? I suspect, as most readers here possibly do as well, that one has to read between the lines a bit to see what is really going on. Ponder these revelations:

CIA training artificial intelligence to spy on Earth from SPACE using ‘computer vision’

A CIA-linked firm has joined forces with Amazon in a bid to use “computer vision” to snoop on the Earth in unprecedented detail.

CosmiQ Works, a firm closely associated with the US intelligence agency, is working with the online retail giant and the satellite mapping firm DigitalGlobe to train algorithms to work out what’s happening on the surface of our planet.

Satellites can already capture astonishingly detailed images from up in space, but the CIA-linked project wants to go one step further and use artificial intelligence to analyse these pictures.

The real question is why the CIA would team up with Amazon in an effort to build-out a computer algorithm in conjunction with satellite imaging. And in my high octane speculation of the day, I suspect the real answer lies less in teaching computers to recognize anomalies in pictures and then to “flag” them for human analysis. The article would have us believe that that “objects” and “things” and even weather anomalies and being able to respond more quickly to “disasters” is the real goal here, in the usual method of introducing something by claiming it is “beneficial.”

I suspect the real goal is something completely different, and hence one has Amazon’s involvement with the project, for I suspect the real goal is to map in real time the flow of human populations, traffic, commodities, crops, and shipping, in order to form accurate real time pictures of financial and social flows, and to project from them strategic trends and movements. Couple such a computer-aided capability to spy satellite capabilities which would include radar tomography (sub-surface imaging) and one would also have a clear picture of hidden foreign infrastructures and with them, of hidden flows of goods, services, and finance.

This, of course, is a handy capability to have around if you’ve been running your own system of hidden finance for decades, and building enormous underground complexes for research, covert physical movement of goods and labor, and so on. Indeed, such a capability might imply…

Continue Reading At: GizaDeathStar.com
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Profile photo of Joseph P. Farrell
Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

Where Does Your Info Come From? Mainstream Media Now Literally Using Robots to Write News

news-robot
Source: FreeThoughtProject.com
Claire Bernish
August 10, 2016

Corporate ownership of 90 percent of media outlets in the United States has made the term ‘mainstream journalist’ quite the oxymoron, but the Washington Post’s newest project eliminates ‘journalist’ from the equation entirely — robots are now writing the outlet’s ‘news.’

Using artificial intelligence technology, the Washington Post is ‘employing’ software to ‘write’ hundreds of news briefs highlighting key information about the Olympic Games in Rio in real-time.

“‘Heliograf,’ which was developed in-house, automatically generates short, multi-sentence updates for readers,” the Post proudly announced Friday, as if the news organization couldn’t predict the collective American jaw-drop at the notion a computer could simply replace a longstanding tradition of actual journalism.

“Automated storytelling has the potential to transform the Post’s coverage,” explained Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at the Washington Post, in what could easily be deemed the understatement of the year. “More stories, powered by data and machine learning, will lead to a dramatically more personal and customized news experience.

The Olympics are the perfect way to prove the potential of this technology. In 2014, the sports staff spent countless hours manually publishing event results. Heliograf will free up Post reporters and editors to add analysis, color from the scene and real insight to stories in ways only they can.

In other words, for the time being the Post’s robot writer will be held to reporting grunt work — for the Olympics, Heliograf will essentially regurgitate medal counts, scores, daily event schedules, and similarly non-complex topics by writing the most basic of narrative briefs.

In that context, robot ‘writers’ might not be an affront to the tradition of hard-hitting journalism — but the Post’s plans for Heliograf don’t end with simple sports statistics and basic sentences.

Post engineers plan to develop the technology far beyond its current manifestation as statistician — Heliograf will cover the 2016 presidential election and other large-scale news events down the road. As the Post reports:

This technology will also be able to process a combination of different data sources, like crime and real estate numbers, customize stories depending on individual user actions, and help look for anomalies in data to alert journalists to a potential story.

To many, that’s where the Post’s ultimate intentions for its robot writer begins to toe the line. Once such technology performs more complex analyses, will the outlet’s engineers then attempt creativity with longer sentences, articles, and advanced language structure?

“Launching Heliograf is the next step for The Post’s use of machine learning,” said Sam Han, data science engineering director for the Post. “The next challenge is to broaden the subjects covered, deepen the kind of analysis possible and identify potential stories for our newsroom.”

Although it doesn’t appear the Washington Post will be replacing its human journalists with robot imposters anytime in the near future, the technology certainly leaves the prospect an open question further down the line.

With an increasing segment of the public already concerned by the concentration of corporate ownership of the nation’s media sources — as of four years ago, just six corporations owned 90 percent of all radio, television, and cable news outlets in the country — bringing a robot into the picture likely won’t quell those anxieties.

On Sunday, John Oliver made light of the continued dumbing down of the news, for which he noted journalists increasingly beholden to cover topics dictated by their outlets’ owners whose need to generate revenue depends purely on public whim. As subjects of grave import go largely ignored by the media behemoths in favor of human interest stories and lighter topics, one wonders if Heliograf might be writing about cats and food in the future as journalists are forced to wait tables to get by.