Saturday, 27 October 2018

How Homeopathy can help reduce the plastic mountain

About 25 years ago I purchased a bottle of Harrogate Spa Water. 

When it was nearly empty I decided to test out the principles of homeopathy - which claims that the properties of something are preserved when you dilute it. so when the bottle was nearly empty I topped it up with tap water and put the bottle back in the fridge. If homeopathy is true the contents are still effectively Harrogate Spa Water - as it clearly still said on the label. 

Nearly every night since then I have taken the bottle from the fridge and poured a glass of cold Harrogate Spa Water for a final drink before I go to bed.- topping the bottle up every time it is nearly empty. 

So far the water has been diluted 10-fold on about a thousand occasions and I guess that not one of the original molecules of Harrogate Water remains in the bottle - but each night I still enjoy a lovely cool drink. By now not one atom of the original contents remain ... 

Perhaps I should write a review saying how wonderful Harrogate Spa Water is and how its excellence has lasted 25 years - and perhaps my review would be republished as a recommendation from a satisfied customer in an advert .

But wait. The label is starting to disintegrate. Perhaps the bottle is embarrassed and is trying to tell me that homeopathy does not work, and it no longer wants to be seen carrying a misleading "Harrogate Spa" label.  

But do I care what the bottle thinks about the effectiveness of homeopathy?  Of course not. By repeatedly diluting the original water I have avoided having to throw away 999 plastic bottles (and saved myself a lot of money).

So if you want to help save the planet may I suggest that everyone should start drinking homeopathic water - just buy one bottle and keep it topped up from the tap.

Captured by the Camera - Relaxing Ripples

Relaxing Ripples at College Lake
Home affairs have been rather busy recently, and to give a flavour of the problems just one of the distractions from posting here has been the need to try and get a stair lift installed by Christmas. In such circumstances one of my top priorities has been to spend some time relaxing at College Lake, or one of the many other rural spots a few minutes drive from home.

One of the pleasures this year has been that the resident pair of swans have succeeded in rearing two cygnets - when in previous years they have been unsuccessful - possibly due to predation by mink.

An Evolutionary Model of Human Intelligence

I have just posted a summary of a paper "An Evolutionary Model of Human Intelligence"  together with some notes on future research plans, which will normally be reported on my new blog - although key updates will be cross-reported here.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Will robots outsmart us? by the late Stephen Hawkins

There is a interesting article, "Will robots outsmart us?" in today's Sunday Times MagazineWhile I don't accept all Stephen's predictions I was most interested to read:
When an artificial intelligence (AI) becomes better than humans at AI design, so that it can recursively improve itself without human help, we may face an intelligence explosion that ultimately results in machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails. When that happens, we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours.
Later he says:
In short, the advent of super-intelligent AI would be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. The real risk with AI isn’t malice, but competence. A super-intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours we’re in trouble. You’re probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you’re in charge of a hydroelectric green-energy project and there’s an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let’s not place humanity in the position of those ants. 
Of course we know what happened last time a super-intelligence came into existence. About half a million years ago the Earth was populated by a great variety of animals of a comparatively low intelligence. All the higher animals had brains that worked in roughly the same way, and how much they could learn was limited because everything they learnt was lost when they died. Then one species, which we call Homo sapiens, discovered a way to recursively increase its own intelligence. It was already good at making tools but for several million years the cost of trail and error learning had limited what it could do. But then it invented a tool to boost intelligence, which we call language.  Language not only made it possible to make better tools, but also it made it possible to recursively build a better language generation by generation. So some 5000 generations later the Earth is home to a super-intelligent species ...

And are the goals of this species aligned with the the goals of the millions of other species? Of course not. Billions of animals are kept as slaves to be killed and eaten, while the homes of countless more have been, or are being, destroyed. 

If we invent a super-intelligent AI system why should it treat us with more respect than we have  shown for our animal relatives.

A new book "Brief Answers to the Big Questions," by Stephen Hawkins is published later this week
For the background to my observation see