Reefer Madness ?

by WCE.   (Title by Mémé)

Marijuana is legal in Oregon. I didn’t vote for legalization for all the reasons described in this article. I was satisfied with “medical marijuana” and didn’t much care about prescriptions to treat depression and irritable bowel syndrome. I don’t think marijuana should be a Schedule 1 (highest risk of abuse, no medical use) substance. How should public policy balance the risks and benefits of relatively low risk recreational substances like alcohol and marijuana? How should the costs of abuse be paid?

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/08/americas-invisible-pot-addicts/567886/

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Student Loans, Family Obligations, and Career Path

by WCE

I understood the loan and family concerns of the working class immigrant woman who wrote this article.   Note from Mémé, her family was working class in the US, but her parents were trained as engineers in the home country, not an uncommon story.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/07/reshma-saujani-girls-who-code/562055/

Open Thread plus mini starter

Topics for this week:

Wed –  The Downside to Changing Your Eating Habits

Th – Student Privacy vs Suicide Risk

Fri – Life’s little luxuries

 

SPAM TRAPPING:   Several more posters have been getting caught in spam.   One person suggested that it relates to clearing cookies or other privacy settings on your browser or device.    I observe that almost the posters who are occasionally held up have handles that are words in ordinary language or appear to be place names.    Perhaps in the spam catching algorithm identifies them as bot generated handles.   We work on it, but at midday I am often out and can only free it up when I get home.

PRIVACY INITIATIVE:   The administrators may have bitten off more than we can chew in promising the complete change for July 1.    Please be patient.   We have other things going on in our lives, and most of this has to be done by “July” since for some reason “Mémé” doesn’t have the right sort bulk editing functionality for WordPress.

The fact that my administrative view in WordPress is limited provides a nice segue into a starter topic.       There are websites that work and display completely on my desktop Mac but not on my husband’s desktop PC (and I have logged into them via Google Chrome on both, so it is not browser specific), and vice versa.   There are mobile versions that lose partial functionality on the Ipad but not on the Android phone and vice versa.   Tech savvy folks, why is this?   Help!!!!

 

 

 

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

by WCE

Interesting article on the limitations of machine learning

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/05/machine-learning-is-stuck-on-asking-why/560675/

“In that case, what do you think about free will?

Pearl: We’re going to have robots with free will, absolutely. We have to understand how to program them and what we gain out of it. For some reason, evolution has found this sensation of free will to be computationally desirable.

Hartnett: In what way?

Pearl: You have the sensation of free will; evolution has equipped us with this sensation. Evidently, it serves some computational function.

Hartnett: Will it be obvious when robots have free will?

Pearl: I think the first evidence will be if robots start communicating with each other counterfactually, like “You should have done better.” If a team of robots playing soccer starts to communicate in this language, then we’ll know that they have a sensation of free will. “You should have passed me the ball—I was waiting for you and you didn’t!” “You should have” means you could have controlled whatever urges made you do what you did, and you didn’t. So the first sign will be communication; the next will be better soccer.”

The post header is, of course, the title of the Philip K Dick story on which Blade Runner is based (inserted by Mémé).    The TV series Westworld also explores issues of robot consciousness.    What do you think about machine learning in general and the wider issue of “free will” in machines?    What would you like to see in your lifetime?