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ArtEfficient Intelligence

: tech, October 11 2022

Your corporation is probably blasting your ears with slogans like "digitization is the future", "automation is the key" and so on..., but only recently the management bobbleheads started using "Aritficial Intelligence" in their presentations. Of course, none of them knows exactly what this means, let alone what it involves. These people are so obsessed with their own agenda and focused on the political correctness, that you can sell them dogshit with an "AI" stamp and they will take it. But let them be. To make it a bit clearer I will try to explain what is usually meant nowadays when people say "AI". Are you ready? Here we go.
Advanced statistics.(notice the period at the end of the sentence)

Now, let's try to define what "intelligence" (including artificial) should involve. The opening article in Wikipedia describes it best.

Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. More generally, it can be described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.
It is all of the above mentioned qualities. One may argue that the machine learning somehow touches these topics, but that's not the case. ML is closer to mathematics and statistical analysis than real intelligence. Other may say your brain works the same way - no, it's not. Your brain uses layers of so called "cognitive and sensory pathways", so complex, nobody can even dare to try to describe how they function. For sure it is not the "if-then-else" construct, used in the puny exaggeration that most of you call AI. In other simple words - AI (as it exists today, in public) is not a real intelligence. It is a mathematical algorithm to analyze and interpret data. It is not some magical thing, learning and evolving past the parameters it has. For sure, it may lead to some unexpected situations, but so are the bugs in the open-world games. I know about a case where 2 AIs created their own language to communicate with one-another and this proves nothing - this was their purpose all along. After billion years of doing so, they will not stand up and walk to each other or go discover another AI, as the concepts of evolution and abstract thinking are not present in their initial matrix.
I was thinking of the "AI" implications for quite some time, but what really draw my (superficial) attention was an AI winning a drawing competition. Of course the judges had no idea what they were voting for.
An artwork made by Artificial Intelligence (AI) won first place at the Colorado State Fair’s fine arts competition last week, sparking controversy about whether AI-generated art can be used to compete in competitions. The winning artwork, submitted by Jason Allen, was created using the Midjourney program (which offers 25 free uses before requiring subscription) in combination with AI Gigapixel. The result came in first at the competition and won a $300 cash prize.
The picture "Space Opera Theater" (above) is created by Midjourney and is absolutely stunning! DALLE2 is another "hot right now" AI-painter. I checked/tested them both these days. The title picture is created by the latter. The string was "oil painting artificial intelligence explain to human it exists". Usually the bots create 4 pics. My 4th one was absolutely off topic, but the first 3 ... well, I would say they were pretty good. On the first you see a young man, teaching a robot what the letter "A" is - the robot interprets it binary. You can tell immediately that it is a machine by the sharp features and overall industrial look. On the second, a rather human-looking machine is having a conversation with a mid-aged man. The robot is cunning and feels he is really challenging the person. On the third pic a man in the background is holding his head in despair. Some really crude looking machines ... look happy. The picture lacks the focus and the distinctive lines of the first two. Do they represent some chronological timeline? The AI might have created them one after the other, or using 4 threads simultaneously...My lack of drawing expertise would say these 3 were pretty good. Reminded me a little of what an artis would draw in 1960s if asked to create a book cover for an Isaac Asimov's book.

Today I enrolled also with Midjourney and my first call was "oil painting,epic,emperor of mankind,beacon of light,cathedral,great hall,crowd,volume light,realistic,red,gold,black". The one on the left is the result (picked 1 out of 4 and refined it). If I have not seen some MJ creations before, my jaw would definitely hit the deck. Me and my wife both agreed we would be happy to have some high-quality prints on our walls as Midjourney creates FANTASTIC sceneries. Again, looking at them, you (only!) have the feeling what they represent, but ...if you concentrate on a certain part of the artwork ... you cannot really tell what it is. Some of the contours seem familiar, yet unidentifiable. Same is the case with the real modernist artists. I see no problem with that.

So is this an AI?
No, it is not. It is a really good algorithm, that combines different visual objects really well. If you take a picture of a flag, a soldier and a beach, obfuscate them using several known Photoshop filters and then splice them together, you will get more or less the same thing. To make it look good, a professional would spend several hours in the works - the bot does it in seconds. I am not saying it is not a spectacular feat of human engineering genius. It absolutely is and, in the future, when HQ-export is possible, I would definitely put some wallpapers around the house. But it is just an algorithm. If you spend long enough time, you will notice it uses the same patterns, when receiving similar input. DALLE2 does not even differentiate between "a cowboy riding horse" and "a horse riding cowboy". It also has some weird "quirks" to match the current woke narrative! (What a coincidence, huh?!)
In September 2022, OpenAI confirmed to The Verge that DALL-E invisibly inserts phrases into user prompts in order to address bias in results; for instance, "black man" and "Asian woman" are inserted into prompts that do not specify gender or race
Another funny outcome of this "AI winning a contest" story is the outrage in some art circles. Apparently these so-called artists dreaded the AI as much as others would question their skill and the value of their artwork. Some started fantasizing how in 2 years AI will produce its own movies, theatrical plays, video games. I can only pity such morons. To fear an algorithm can take your bread means you are mediocre at best, your "art" is mostly garbage and you lack creativity overall. If you are easily replaceable by a script, start thinking of another area to make a living. I experienced the same drama ~10 years ago (never been influenced by it though) when everyone in the IT started panicking over the "cloud taking over our jobs" and millions of IT profis dying of hunger. What really happened is developers are desperately sought after, cloud and security engineers basically raise their hand and get hired almost immediately. My humble prediction is that AI will be a new field for the artists to explore and collaborate. Working together will bring even more amazing stuff!

But why stop here?! Let's check other areas where the AI is the new gold rush. You guess it - the automotive industry and the "self driving cars". 13 years ago Google showcased their first (potentially) self-driving prototype. At that time I was absolutely stunned at this idea. Train drivers and maybe pilots would have been the first ones to lose their jobs, but driving a car has a magnitude more variables and unexpected situations to happen. If you ask someone from "the industry", he will explain you there is a revolution in the sector. If you ask the regular customer (like me) - nothing radically changed. Hardware became smaller and faster, programs (just maybe) a little bit better, but in its core, the tech is still a myth. Here is what a pioneer in the branch confessed 2 days ago:
George Hotz, the serial entrepreneur who founded self-driving startup, has this to say about autonomous cars: "It’s a scam. These companies have squandered tens of billions of dollars."
But despite all the money thrown at the problem by Google, Uber, Tesla, Zoox, Cruise, and countless others, autonomous cars are no closer to reality today than they were 5 years ago, and many of those companies are running for the exits, looking to cut their losses if they can.
He himself, a renown hacker, raised $18 million for his own driverless concept in the past 7 years. Let me tell you when/how you would know if we have achieved it - when your car insurance company agrees that all claims should go to the car's manufacturer and not to the owner of the vehicle. Only then we can really say "OK, we now have a self-driving car".
Let's step back for a second. In what context did you first encountered the idea of AI? I can bet it was either a robotics-related sci-fi book or his majesty "The Terminator (2)". And what did the AI do - yep, simple - it killed. So which organization, that existed in the entire human history, in literally every culture and society, would spare no effort or resource to get it? Yep, you are right again - the military. My best guess, derived from our newest history (world war 1 since) is, if something is commercially available for me and you, the guys in green have it for at least a decade. Meaning IF there is an AI at all, in its true meaning, the military has it. This will be something top secret, as a breakthrough like this would mean the difference the gunpowder made during the middle ages. Some military analysts predict achieving an "AI Supremacy" may trigger the next global war. That's how serious the things are. So next time your boss overhypes the new ERP software, stamping it with the AI badge, just pass by with a smile and a bit of salt, do not overthink it, it is just the next buzzword, nobody really understands it.

I made a game - PlanetDrop

: tech, October 28 2021

So I made a game, thus fulfilling a dream of mine. Next one is pretty big and I will need more than a couple of months to complete. It is called "Planetdrop - a tiny space adventure" and is available for free on STEAM. All details about the game can be found on its official website and here is the link to download it. You can also support me on Patreon. If I have some (non-monetary) success in the broad audience, I may decide to expand a bit on the setting - time will tell. It was quite a ride though and this article marks the end of it.

When a branch fails vol.2

: tech, March 11 2021

Just a month after the first "when a branch fails" article, we finally got a vaccine. What a relief! In late autumn 2020 BigPharma finally decided it is time to open the gates - the dollars are ripe for picking. They used a massive government donation (as if they needed such), to "develop" adequate weapon against the virus. Delivery contracts were already signed, the vaccine(s) was zooming through the fast lane of EMA's (European Medical Agency) drug approval procedures, vaccination centers were being prepared. What could possibly go wrong?!

"$" steps in with "hold my beer!"

At that point nobody, except the people who signed them, knew what exactly is written in the contracts. Everything was covered under the "top secret" blanket - not only because of the falsified price data, but probably also because it would have shown exactly how bent over the politicians were. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) board chair Christa Wirthumer-Hoche, reached another level of face-palming hypocrisy, by declaring an early approval of the Russian vaccine "Sputnik V" to be equal to playing a "Russian roulette", despite it was the FIRST mass-introduced one, with good results for over 6 months. The obvious politically-forced decision not to use it, was scrapped by many EU countries, who showed EMA the middle finger, and even started producing it by themselves.
Meanwhile BigPharma was showing EMA the same finger, after using them to legitimize their product, and announcing indirectly they will just sell to the highest bidder - and this is how Israel, and recently UK and US, managed to get a record numbers in their immunization campaign. The greed (and the lack of consequences) kicked out any remaining business-integrity. No such can exist, when you get big and try to play with the top players (oh, what a nice topic for another article this is!).
In Germany, the "Impfzentren" are almost empty, due to insufficient supply of vaccines, nevertheless generating serious expenditures - the taxpayer has nowhere to go,...right? FFP2 masks were introduced as mandatory and nobody (except me) asked himself "whose cousin brought a FFP2-loaded cargo ship from China?". I hate to be right - last week 2 parliament representative burned when somebody uncovered they lobbied for these specific masks and put over a million in the bag. At the same time fraudsters were scamming the Ministry of Economy, just calling them from the name of legitimate companies "in financial need" and asking for some money. "Just transfer them to this account". And the ministry complied... , then stopped the entire program (temporarily).
Again - no resignations, no penalties - nothing! The 2 lobbyists were forced out by their own parties. One went away, the other left the party ... but remained in the parliament! Just think about this next time, when Germany moralizes over the corruption in your government. Many times people's memory is just too short. Like my all-time-favorite innovation from Ursula von der Leyen (2013-2019 Germany's Minister of Defense), who spent €650K for uniforms for pregnant soldiers. You know her better as The President of the European Commission (2019-since) - the same commission who put the entire continent in the COVID19 fiasco.
I am not even mentioning the side effects and questions, regarding the medical application of all rushed vaccines. Questions, that will cost EMA (us, the tax-payers) billions in the upcoming lawsuits. There are numerous reports of people dying after vaccination, dubious effectiveness, lack of quality control, etc. This article continues the legacy of the first one, by just giving a glimpse on how the failure spreads in a system of communicating vessels. The flaws of the fist are fueling corresponding such in the second one and vice-versa. This is not the end of the story. I am absolutely sure we will have more "incredible" examples by the end of the summer 2021.

When a branch fails

: tech, October 29 2020

I work in IT and when we have a problem, we try to solve it ASAP or the company starts losing money - indirectly most of the time, thus difficult to measure (also the reason why some managers underestimate the importance of having good engineers), but fast. If it is a big one, we work on shifts, until it is resolved. When I am done, I go to sleep, handing over to my colleague, who "returns the favor" 12 hours later. Vendors are engaged, test-scenarios are replayed, workarounds are implemented and so on... So, more or less, this is how IT operates in emergency situations.
And now we go to the healthcare industry. * My thoughts below are made up entirely with the assumption, that there is no conspiracy plot of enslaving the humanity, all actors do their best and their failure is not deliberate.
One year has passed since CoViD-19 stepped in and destroyed our society. And the little sanity, that was left. Hospitals are overwhelmed, medics die, whole healthcare systems are on their knees (US should not worry for the latter). People see nothing, but failure. The political one is more than clear - nobody expects politicians ever to solve a crisis, let alone a global one. The miscarriage I did not expect, was the scientific one. Yes, I give the prize "flop of the decade" to all pharma-scientist and their companies. It is astonishing to see an entire science branch to fail that badly, crushed by its own laziness, bureaucracy and narcissism! Not only they are not pressing enough, while millions of people are dying, but also utterly fail to provide meaningful "root cause analysis". Excuses like "we have to follow the procedures, which will take 2-5 years of testing" and "we cannot estimate how this virus functions" are complete nonsense. Bend the rules! Gather data faster! Engage AI for simulations! Experiment on people more!

"If we do not test enough, some side effects may occur."
"Yeeah, death seems a better option than a nasty rash!"

If I am working the same way, I will be on the street before noon. Despite what companies claim about the importance and strictness of the IT processes, my entire experience shows the need of a very flexible mindset in 99% of the cases when solving an issue. If drug companies cannot be flexible and adapt to the worst pandemic of the century, then maybe, their ways are entirely wrong. They should at least try different approach.
Another favorite excuse is "human body is so complex...blah blah". No it is not! Ask any down-to-earth surgeon with a broad general knowledge - humans are a sophisticated set of fine plumbing and wiring (and nothing more!). At least you do not need to reach that level of insane complexity. Most of the drugs are derivatives, so you do not work completely from the ground up. Even if there is no such, with enough testing (and motivation), you can assemble some cure in a matter of months and it will work on most of the people. The 1% you will lose anyway.
Shout out to all governments:
Instead of burning trillions of "recovery" plans in "helping" already doomed businesses, just gather the top-brains in the field, give them 10mil each, lock them in the best lab available, provide everything they need and let them hammer out the goddamn vaccine! It will be not only faster, but way cheaper!

I pay high attention when it comes to the origins of the virus. Many scientists (Professor and above and who am I to even question them) say it has been tampered with. Not necessarily like entirely man-made, but tampered to become this highly-infectious, fast-mutating, not-so-deadly-but-very-damaging, elusive monstrosity. And the obvious questions - who and why? Past this, it is a conspiracy theory for now, but whoever did it, either has a cure/vaccine (meaning "it is possible to create one") or is completely insane. All I know is, that science needs to hurry. We do not have 10 years (the usual development time frame), we do not have even 5! You guys, all pharma-research-companies, are filthy rich, so money is not the problem. If "the plan" is to stall for years, we can just all go with the virus and whoever survives...and then we will come back for you with the pitchforks and torches.
To cheer up the mood a little bit, I present you today's number for China. I do not know how low your IQ has to be, to believe this. For comparison, Germany has registered 16000 cases. A country with 1.4 billion people, huge, polluted cities with extreme population density and "a person means nothing" philosophy...Maybe we should ask them: "how do you do it?" - the low number of infected people I mean.

Electric cars are expensive because of the new tech, batteries, and other lies

: tech, September 14 2020

If you are not living under a rock, you already know, that all big car brands are now switching to electric vehicles. Although too late, it is generally a good thing, but the way it is presented to the public, is rather disgusting. All new electric cars share 3 distinct issues. First and foremost they are EXTREMELY expensive (something this articles is stressing on). Second, everybody is lying about the range of their cars. Third - charging time and lack of infrastructure portray the them even less attractive.
No, I am absolutely "FOR" the electric cars. Internal combustion engine is an engineering nonsense, pushed by the petrol moguls in the late 19th century. It is dirty, inefficient, expensive, fragile and difficult to maintain, but now we are getting the same cheesy-money-grab, they got away 100 years ago.
And we reach "the price" topic. So all EVs, despite manufacturer's claims, that all efforts go to environmental protection, are waaaaaaay more expensive, than their ICE counterparts. I am sorry, big CEOs - even the dumbest people realize this hypocrisy and despise you and your brands for this. If you really care about the environment, slash the price in half (working "only" at ~20% profit). No? Why? Ohh, the other cars will become unsellable and obsolete, yeah, that's right!
The usual excuse is:

All new EVs use expensive batteries, made from rare metals, plus all the new technology on top of it ...

Waaait a minute, dear Mr.Salesman! What you see on the picture above, is called "Detroit Electric Modell C" and was built between 1907 and 1939 from the "Anderson Carriage Company" (yes, "carriage", like "horse pulling a big wooden box") in Port Huron and later, Detroit. It looks extremely luxurious, especially from the inside. The car was advertised with a maximum range of 130km/charge, but in test conditions it managed to reach 340km/charge. Top speed 32km/h - which, for the time, is just right.
Yes people! You are reading correctly! This 100-year-old tin can, with the drag coefficient of a house, zero electronics, lack of any advanced gearbox or suspension, modern lubricants and whatever they put nowadays, outperforms most of the brand-new EVs?! How is this possible? Probably because of the electric motor? Oh wait, it is the same! In its core, the electric motors did not change much for the past 100 years, so somebody blaming it for the cost is flat-out insolent. So which "new, expensive technology" we are talking about? Is it the Android tablet in the middle of the vehicle? Or the $50 sensors? Yes, batteries may (still) be expensive, but the cost of an electric motor is a fraction of the cost for an internal combustion engine, so, to a certain degree, it should balance it.
The price of the "Detroit Electric Modell C" car varied between $2500 and $3000 for the highest trim. They produced around 13 000 DE cars, so it did not lack popularity. Adjusted with the inflation it is $75K, and you may say it is comparable to its contemporaries ... well not really. Back then this was THE peak of the technology, as now, excluding the software, there is nothing revolutionary in any EV. Cheapest "Tesla Model S" starts at 80K. The modern equivalent of the Detroit Electric would be closer to a Porshe Taycan EV (reasonably spec-ed ~150K).
Let's get back to the main perpetrator - the batteries (Li-ion ca.1991). How often have you read about "new revolutionary type of battery" and you secretly hope that "yes, this is it!"? And they all disappear. No trace, no further development, despite all promising initial results. Are you telling me, that all these projects fail due to unforeseen tech limitations? Or there is not enough funding/interest? Batteries, that are dirt-cheap. Batteries, that charge in minutes. Batteries, that are stable and last forever. So all of their researchers are stupid or slow? Think again!
I do not even want to start the topic with the government tax benefits and purchase incentives for the EVs - money, that come straight from the tax payer and goes straight in the car manufacturer's pocket. If these incentives are cut, the prices will just fall down with the same amount. Now they are taken for granted as a pure profit.
To wrap it up: nothing, but corporate greed, is stalling the inevitable success of the EVs and there is no reason to justify the current insane prices!