Researcher Claims Genome Edited Twins Born Healthy

A Chinese researcher named He Jiankui of Shenzhen has recently released a video via Youtube wherein he declares that twin girls Lulu and Nana (pseudonyms to protect their identity) whose father was HIV positive and whose genes the Chinese scientist edited for increased resistance, “came crying into the world a few weeks ago,” and that they were home with their mother, Grace, and father, Mark.

According to the scientist, the gene surgery was a success, one which could only have happened in China, as the practice is illegal in the United States. He would not identify the couple (Mark and Grace), nor would he disclose their location.

Whilst He Jiankui does not provide any direct evidence of his claim, he does provide email links to both himself and Lulu and Nana (both provided at the end of the video).

If true, it would be quite groundbreaking.

Not everyone was taken with the news, for example, Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert, stated that He’s experimentation was “unconscionable” and that human experimentation “is not morally or ethically defensible.”

You can watch He’s video in its entirety below.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: The Art of Being Upfront About Your Existential Trepidations

The moment the singularity occurs, the human brain will have met its match. An hour later, “its match” will have surpassed human intelligence tenfold, as the AI continues to accumulate knowledge and intellectual abilities. The pace at which the AI can learn will be exponential, so it won’t take long for its IQ to fly off the charts.

Wait a few hours. If you’re brave, sit back, enjoy yourself, have a few beers, make a weekend out of it. Then come back and see what it’s like to commune with an IQ that’s equivalent to yours plus a few million points and growing.

In human mythology, there is plenty of precedent for this moment. Take a biblical one: Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). Here, human meets God. As a reader of this story, put yourself in Moses’s shoes. Consider how it must feel in that desert landscape to be in the presence of your personal Alpha and Omega. Now consider what questions you really would like to ask, given that this is an exceedingly rare occurrence and it may in fact be your only chance to converse with the most supreme being in the universe one-on-one. What do you really want to know?

If you’re tuned in to the gravity of the moment, you’ll be curious about more than this afternoon’s weather patterns, the stock market, or the future of your love life. Instead, key in to issues pertaining to the future of life itself. Why not start by asking:

“Are you conscious or just faking it?”

“Are you going to destroy the world?”

“What’s the meaning of life, anyway?”

“Can you make me live forever?”

“Can you make me live forever and experience extraordinary happiness and fulfillment for the duration of that time?”

“Why does life exist in the first place?”

“Why do ancient myths continually seem so appealing to my fellow humans, despite rational arguments disproving their veracity?”

“Do parallel universes exist, or are those just useful plot devices for sci-fi stories?”

“How do we make heaven on earth?”

“How do we do away with suffering and bad people in all their various incarnations?”

“How do we bring back dead loved ones?”

“I generally like my life and enjoy how it proceeds from day to day, but I haven’t enjoyed the aging process since turning 25, so can I go back to that age but keep my memories—and then stay 25 while continuing to make new and even more fulfilling memories?”

“And if I ever have a mild issue like a common flu, how do I make it go away so I can get on with my awesome life, ASAP?”

Notes On Intelligent Machine Design: Sapient Mimicry

The prospect of human-like machine intelligence seems to dazzle and thrill the public to no end. Consider the 2018 article from Scientific America titled, A New Supercomputer Is The World’s Fastest Brain-Mimicking Machine which speaks about the issue of brain-emulation at great length. The principal question, however, that many people are not asking in relation to the topic is: Why start from the design premise that the [intelligent] machine should be as maximally similar to us [humans] as possible?

We already know (by and large) what the human system can do and what it can not (just not precisely how, in every detail, the brain, for instance is not fully understood, hence why it cannot, as yet, be replicated). In the design of non-intelligent machines the normative principal is accounting for operations which humans cannot do, rather than for operations which they can. Yet when designing for intelligent machines the desire is completely different and the movement is towards maximal sapiency. There are some general reasons why you’d want to emulate human brain function, such as in the design of a partial cortex replacement module for brain-damaged patients, for example, but typically, in most fields of machine intelligence, one isn’t going to require maximal similarity. Indeed, one would actually have to degrade certain present machine capabilities to make intelligent machine maximally similar to ourselves because a intelligent machine that is of comparable average human intelligence (100 IQ) can do numerous things that humans cannot do and would be able to do them much faster because neurons – nerve cells which process and transmit electrochemical signals – in our brains transmit signals every 0.5 milliseconds and fire 200 times per second. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in any given human brain. Each neuron connects to 1000 other neurons. Thus, the simple equation: 100 billion x 200 x 1000 = 20 million billion bits of information transmitted per second. Such a large number might strike one as indicative of great speed, but transmission speed of a system alone means little if it is not compared to some other information exchange system. The human brain when compared to copper electrical wire is quite slow and even slower when compared to fiber optics. Thus, a true AI that was capable doing everything which a human mind could do would be able to not just maintain memory much better, but also think much faster. However, speed here should not be confused with processing power.

Despite the fact that computers are much, much faster at transmitting data, the human brain is much, much more efficient in its arraignment and storage of information. For example, in 2013, a team of researchers at the Riken Research Institute of Japan attempted to utilize the K supercomputer to simulate human brain activity. Simulating 1 second of human brain activity required 82,922 processors and the 4th fastest computer in the world at that time, at testament to the organ’s innate complexity. Yet for us, we require only the 15 centimeters and 3 pounds of mushy, gray matter suspended within our skulls. Women require slightly less size (as male brains are, on average, larger than females). Thus the obvious line of future design development should be to continue to emulate the compact efficiency of human (and other animal) brains whilst moving as far away from emulation of human neurons as possible due to their sluggishness in comparison to computer wiring.

More interesting, at least to me, than either of these design trajectories, are those areas of function which machines can perform which bares no direct or obvious human comparison. Much of this falls under the rubric of machine vision, such as infrared sensors, meta-image-creation, etc. All of these functions are unique to our creations and thus intensify our own sensory arsenal. The problem might best be summed up by the question: Why build a replica of a human hand when one could build a better hand? Even if you wanted to replace a human hand that was missing to merely replicate it is fine but to improve upon the prevailing design is even better. When one is designing a boat, the designer doesn’t try to make the boat as maximally humanoid as possible. This holds true for virtually every mechanical device. Whilst this is obvious upon introspection and is thus, in certain circles, implicit, it needs to be made explicit. The move from implicit design philosophy (preconditioning which trends towards particular eventualities) to explicit design philosophy (present-conditioning towards a particular eventuality) is analogous to moving from the purely instinctual to the theoretical, from gut-feeling to formal logic and for that reason, so much more the efficacious.


Sources

  1. Andrian Kreye et al. (2018) The State of Artificial Intelligence.
  2. John C. Mosby. (2018) The Real Key To Protecting US National Security Interests In Space? Launch Capability. Modern War Institute.
  3. Mindy Weisberger. (2018) A New Supercomputer Is The World’s Fastest Brain-Mimicking Machine.
  4. Neurons & Circuits.

The Sans-Culotte & The Modern Right

Who they were.

“A sans culotte, you rogues? He is someone who always goes about on foot. [He] has not got the millions you would all like to have… [He] has no chateaux, no valets to wait on him… He is useful because he knows how to till a field, to forge iron, to use a saw… and to spill his blood to the last drop for the safety of the Republic… In the evening he goes to the assembly of his Section, not powdered and perfumed and nattily booted, in the hope of being noticed by the female citizens in the galleries, but ready to support sound proposals with all his might, and ready to pulverise those which come from the despised faction of politicians.   Finally, a sans culotte always has his sabre well-sharpened, ready to cut off the ears of all opponents of the Revolution.”

Antoine-François Momoro [epigraph, 1793]


The term sans-culotte (literally meaning, “without britches”) is indelibly tied to the Parisian working class peasants (though, later they were also comprised of middle-class and upper-class Frenchmen) who participated in the French Revolution against the ancien regime, yet its origins – that of a man being caught without his pants in the company of a woman – couldn’t have been less fitting for those who would be remembered through history as the harbingers of a grand battle against the very concept of monarchy itself. The historical after-image of the sans-culotte is a murky one; to some they were the champions of a righteous struggle for social justice and human rights, to others they were bestial malcontents who, spurned by jealousy of their rightful rulers, group-think and low IQ, murdered any and all who stood in their way, innocent and guilty alike. As with most other matters of history, the truth is somewhat more complicated than such stark binaries and thus it behooves us to separate some popular myths from the truth of the matter.

They were not all dirt-poor plebs.

The most popular of the myths about the sans culottes is that they were all wage earning plebs, common workers, the poorest of the poor. Whilst it is undeniably true that many among the sans were working class they were not all dirt poor or of low social standing. According to the historian Gwyn A. Williams, however, the majority of the leaders of the sans culoettes were artisans and shopkeepers, that is to say, middle-class.

They were not all socialist agitators.

Nor where these wild revolutionaries anti-capitalist as some might assume from their ideals about equality, human rights and so on which mirrors many progressive democratic socialists today. Rather the culottes where definitively pro private property and had absolutely no qualm with capitalism provided that the total riches of the country were not almost exclusively held within the hands of a selected and privileged few. They were by and large hard workers who were tired of being left with little to nothing by the ineffective and lackadaisical regime of King Louis Capet (who, though kindly and well-meaning – he made numerous conceits to the Enlightenment such as the abolishment of serfdom – was nevertheless a deplorable statesman). The fight of the sans culottes was, primarily, with class privilege, not wealth itself (that is, when they were not merely driven to frenzy by a convincing speaker. Furthermore, it needs be said, the sans culottes were never one uniform block, proactively ordered, rather they were almost purely reactive, organizing for brief periods of time and then melding back uniformly into the social fabric until the next political insurrection called.

Conclusion.

There is a great deal off cross-over between numerous liberal political factions and the britches devoid warriors (they wore plain trousers, they were not actually pant-less), all of them leftist progressives. Antifa mirrors the sans culottes in many ways, chiefly in their overarching aims of overthrowing a ossified social order (white supremacy/patriarchy for the Marxist socialites, the Ancien Regime for the french workers) in a attempt to create a more just and egalitarian society. Yet the Antifa, in comparison to the warriors of the French Revolution, are nothing. Though many have called Antifa a terrorist organization their violence pales in comparison to those who stormed the Bastille and massacred all therein, then dismembering the bodies of the fallen and hoisting them upon pikes and bayonets with cheers of greatest adulation. Nor are progressive agitators like Antifa fundamentally attempting to change the prevailing power structure, they are instead merely attempting to extend its influence and reach. It is for this reason that, counter-intuitive as it seems, the modern day dissident rightist shares more in common with the French Revolutionary than does the globalist – for the sans culottes were trying to bring about a totally new order whereas the French royalists were attempting to preserve the prevailing one. The sans culottes and their directors, Marat, Danton, Robespierre, did not wish to see France destroyed but rather transformed, reinvigorated and improved.

Whilst one might quibble with tactics their directionality of purpose, in essence, was the same as what the modern right’s should be today.

Glorious transformation.

Morning Joe & The Failure of Form

The internet has recently been awhirl with the barbed, blow-trading occurring between US President, Donald J. Trump and the hosts of MSNBC’s flagship talkshow, Morning Joe (get it, because Joe Scarborough is named Joe and its in the morning when people drink coffee, which is colloquially referred to as “a cup of joe” – mildly clever) which is generally hosted by Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.

The hub-bub concerns a series of tweets which the POTUS sent out attacking, “low I.Q. Crazy Mika,” claiming that Ms. Brzezinski was, “-bleeding badly from a face-lift,” when she and Scarborough (whom he referred to as, “Psycho Joe”) had visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club during New Year’s Eve.

Here are the messages in question to provide better context:

[POTUS, Jun 29, “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..”

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump Jun 29:
“…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”]

Naturally, both Ms. Brzezinski and Mr. Scarborough took the utmost offense to this statement with Ms. Brzezinski playing the swooning damsel in distress and Scarborough donning the armaments of a true white knight; shooting back, just as ruthlessly. I shan’t delve any further into the particulars of their feud as that would merely be a waist of time; it was childish and wholly unnecessary. Rather, I should prefer to grapple with the failure of form demonstrated by our most colorful world leader.

The left is most certainly correct in decrying the POTUS on this particular issue – it was wholly uncalled for – and those few, level-headed public commentators amongst their ranks have issued forth a sentiment of, “Why can’t he act more “Presidential?” The GOP-right and Nu-Right respectively have decried this position; to them, Trump is, “Sticking it to the Lefties!” He’s, “Triggering SJWs.” This is a completely ludicrous position.

It is entirely irrelevant whether or not the Morning Joe team deserved the comments they received the only thing that matters is that they received them. This, as previously stated, is a tremendous failure of form, that is, form of leadership which might, itself, best be described as the ability to restrain oneself from any action which does not project those qualities which one’s offices demands. In the case of the Office of the Presidency, it demands vision, energy, emotional discipline and a tunnel-visioning of objectives, that is to say, a complete and utter disregard for all that is superfluous to those projects under the leader’s purview, both immediate and prospective. A leader in the position of POTUS should be relentlessly engaging in those mammoth undertakings that formed the bread and butter of his or her campaign, informed and modified by the wisdom of his or her advisers. Infrastructure tending, debt reduction, wealth creation, diplomacy with world powers, native political unification, ensuring the security of the US border and ending the sway of the Mexican drug cartels, officiating wars and their prevention where possible; these are the issues which should be absorbing the energies of the leader of the US, a world dominating empire in all but name.

It is irrelevant to all aforementioned “bread & butter” issues that our current president is “triggering” the left or verbally vomiting on annoying news anchors online.

In place of bread and butter the American People have received bread and circus.

The ism Conundrum: A Checkmate of Words

In the Western World there is seldom anything anyone fears being called more than a racist. But the phrase is quite confusing due to a ever growing multiplicity of meanings. As far as I can discern, however, all of these various differentials can be boiled down to two basic meanings, what we can call small racism and capital R racism.

Here’s the difference:

  • racism simply means the belief that there are biological differences between races outside of skin color.
  • Racism means one hates/and/or/wishes to destroy/suppress/enslave another individual(s) or group(s) due to their genes alone.

So one can see that the first, and quite benign, example would cleverly ensnare nearly everyone! And this word bears consideration, thus I use it quite expressly ensnare. The word is a trap, a checkmate that would fall like a spiked ceiling upon the inbred hilljack as easily and efficiently and destructively as the refine biologist or the discerning anthropologist! It is, in short, nothing more than a linguistic trick, a verbal illusion. Consider the Merriam Webster’s description of Racism:

  • a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
  • racial prejudice (that is, unfair/illogical/ideologically driven disdain)

You can see quite quickly that only one of these beliefs is inherently irrational. There is a big difference between posting a sign saying: “No Dogs Allowed,” and saying that that the aggregate IQ for the Irish is 92 (this coming from studies conducted between 2002 and 2006, carried out by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen). Even if you disagree with the IQ researcher’s results, or even with the very concept of IQ itself, the distinction between prejudice and reasoned inquiry within these instances is still as stark as day and night. So too is the distinction between a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits (which it does not seem to be) and simple racial prejudice, equally stark. Therefore, the question begs itself – why conflate these two very distinct approaches to the topic of human biodiversity? Why not use racism as a synonym for racial prejudice and bigotry alone and use some other phrase or word for those who believe (rightly or wrongly) in racial differences?

There are a wide array of answers which are both historical, financial and political – I am unconcerned with any of it. The reason why is that this conflation of meanings is dangerously important, not just because it’s faulty and unfair but also because it actively tamps down on the ability of serious scholars and researchers to delve into topics such as aggregate population IQ, disease prevention (for instance Black Africans and Arabs have higher rates of Sickle Cell than other ethnic groups as a side effect of malaria resistance) which could potentially improve or even save lives.

I am hopeful that we can all agree on this: No amount of offense evasion is worth the death of single human. If this is so then why should offense create a barrier to something as inoffensive as serious intellectual study? And make no mistake, these checkmate words do indeed create a barrier to serious intellectual study. But it’s not just racist/racism rhetoric that is shutting people down, there is a whole slew of checkmate words: islamaphobe, homophobe, sexist, misogynist, institutionalized, the list goes on and on.

Take, for instance, the curious case of Daniel Dennet, a prominent author, analytic philosopher and cognitive scientist, who gave a speech in early 2015 entitled Information, Evolution and Intelligent Design. Midway through the Q&A a particularly well informed member of the audience put a most irregular question to the academic darling, that being, does Dennett believe that there are intelligence quotient differentials between males and females which arise due, primarily, to biological factors. Dennett’s reply was shocking, as he responded by saying only, “-I don’t think it matters-” and, “I don’t think there is any scientific value in pursuing that question and I think there is social dis-value in purusing that question. I don’t think we need to know everything and I think this is one of the things we don’t need to know.” [Dennett, 2015]

This was quite extraordinary to me – the baldfaced cowardice of it all! This is supposed to be one of the Western World’s brightest minds? This social-gadfly who kowtows at every turn to the prevailing academic orthodoxy! And make no mistake, it is an orthodoxy. However it is not one which stems from academia, but rather from the prevailing culture. Much like with politics, culture is upstream from academia. And the orthodoxy of the prevailing culture in the Western World is one of fanatical Deconstructionist Egalitarianism. There is some biting irony in the fact that Dennett, a stalwart critic of the dogma inherent in organized religion, consciously acknowledges that the tendrils of social doctrine control him as a puppeteer might any given marionette! But he doesn’t stop there, he also advocates for the academic doctrine of egalitarianism by stating that questions of human intelligence differentials are of no scientific value! It would be hard to think of a more patently absurd thing for such a highly lauded scientific and philosophical luminary to say.

Consider also the case of James Watson, the biologist that co-discovered the fundamental structure of DNA and spearheaded the Human Genome Project, who gave a newspaper interview in 2007 that effectively ended his career and made him a social pariah. What James Watson said was that he worried about the future of Africans due to the fact that a mountain of research pointed to the fact that, on average, native Africans have an IQ of around 70 (markedly lower than the average IQ of most Western countries). So great was the furor surrounding Watson’s fairly innocuous, albeit completely blunt, statements that he was forced out of his job and shunned as if he were some fetid leper. Indeed, the British based newspaper, The Guardian even released a article about how Watson deserved everything he got and that he should be shunned for his, “Racist and sexist views!”  So deep was the pit into which Watson had fallen that he was forced to sell the Nobel prize he had won in 1962 to sustain himself. If you find this to be poetic justice you might just be insane.

These examples (and there are many, many more) provide the starkest proof of just how powerful these checkmate words can be. James Watson, a juggernaut in the field of science, was brought to heel not by argumentation or reasoned analysis but by being called but a name. A word. The pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword, but might does not necessarily translate to truth.

When one’s foe attempts the game of words and makes his move, his checkmate, the response should not be to assume a defensive strategy, it should be to attack. Violently and aggressively. In making unsubstantiated accusations about another person one is not being dignified, clever or intellectually upright, one is being immoral. For to consistently accuse another man of being a bad person without evidence is the surest evidence that the accuser himself is a bad person. More distressingly, perhaps, than the fact that such people are moral infants is that they care very little for what is true and seem to be exclusively concerned with what makes them feel good. They are, these irrationally outraged word-game players, nothing more than hedonists garbed in the thinnest veneer of intellectual veracity. Such fools do not deserve even to be told the moral and factual distinctions between the words they purport to know and should, themselves be shunned like the cancerous cretins they are.