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2023-01-13 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 1012 references
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Sorry folks, no excuses are acceptable here.

Biden has now been "caught" with classified documents in two unsecured places (late update: It appears its three locations, but the third I do not have confirmation on as to what and where.)  The documents were acquired and retained while and after he was Vice-President and thus had no more right to transport and possess them outside of a secure facility than any other person with a security clearance -- that is, no right to do so whatsoever.

One of the places is allegedly Biden's house and not just anywhere in the house: In the garage.

Further, the Penn Biden Center, the first (different) place said documents were found, is an unsecured facility that is frequently open to foreign persons and in fact its sponsor, the University of Pennsylvania, has received material donations from Chinese organizations linked to the Chinese government.  Hunter Biden also allegedly was involved in negotiating various business elements with the center including office space for himself and his staff, along with, it appears, Blinken who currently is Secretary of State!

Folks, this is not trivial stuff.  With regards to Penn we're talking about something on order of $77 million from China in the form of donations and contracts, which of course leads to the obvious question as to what were they buying?  I don't care what the classified documents involve the fact that Biden removed them from their secure locations and they were not only in the Penn Center but others were in his garage where they were most-certainly not under any sort of "appropriate" security, never mind Biden have no lawful right to possess them in them in the first place beyond wherever he was using them while Vice-President in an official capacity, in a secure location, is enough to get any other person indicted and convicted.  Oh, and by the way, Hunter who never had a right of access to them and was in fact an agent of a foreign corporation, Burisma, has listed Biden's address where the documents were as his residence so it must be presumed he had access to same.

The President is not above the law.

Never mind that it appears the Government knew this prior to the election and deliberately sat on the information.

Indictment and impeachment now folks.

This is actual impeachment-worthy conduct, never mind felony prosecution worthy conduct.

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2023-01-12 08:48 by Karl Denninger
in Macro Factors , 485 references
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Well look at what we have here?

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) declined 0.1 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, after increasing 0.1 percent in November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 6.5 percent before seasonal adjustment.

6.5% ain't good and while the 0.1% decrease "sounds good" nearly all of it was in gasoline.  We knew this, of course, since we all have seen the price at the pump as we drive by (and drive in.)

The immediate reaction was quite violent in both the rate and equity markets -- but is the "headline" 30-second read worth anything?  Welllll....

If you want to see absolute garbage look at the index for eggs, which they claim was up 11.1% last month.  In reality they've doubled over the last couple of months, so if you think there's anything "real" about these figures and they're not "cooked" to suit the Biden administration you need another hit of whatever your favorite hallucinogen might be.  Let's look just there; eggs are claimed to be up 60% over the last 12 months.  Please tell me where you can buy them for $1.60/dz because they were 99 cents a year ago here and now they're $4!

As I've noted for years here it comes on the OER index.  Specifically, Owner's Equivalent Rent is a cute way of hiding the increase in house prices since it measures the financing cost of buying a house rather than the capital cost.  That is, in a declining rate environment it will, on an arithmetic basis, wildly understate that increase and in fact can "claim" it doesn't exist!  The opposite is true when rates are generally rising; even as prices fall OER goes up.  This is not a minor issue because OER is 24.2% of the entire CPI index!

Second, services less energy services, which is the general service inflation index (remember, we're a wildly-service based economy) was up 7% annualized and that has not relaxed at all with last month up 0.5% on the month which is basically flat on the current run-rate.  That is three times the claimed "target" Fed rate.

The tout TV talking heads trying to con you into buying equities are clearly full of crap.  Ignore goods inflation for a minute and tell where you think you're going to find 7% headline GDP growth.  That's akin to believing in Santa Claus.

But heh, keep up the faith, right?  Never mind the Omnibus debt binge -- exactly zero of that is in this number, and it won't begin to show up until this summer.  That is where the double-spike in inflation is going to come from and there's no way to stop it.

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2023-01-09 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Politics , 1041 references
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Don't kid yourselves folks, there were substantive changes that came out of the US House speaker "fight."

This came across my feed before the final votes, so I can't vouch for it.  But enough of it was leaked that I suspect its real, and any attempt to not follow through by McCarthy is likely to lead to an endless set of motions to vacate the chair, which is a privileged motion and stops all other activity in the chamber until disposed of.

McCarthy really didn't want that threshold to be one Representative, but absent agreement he was not going to be Speaker and it was quite-clear as the days wore on that those who were opposed were not going to bend no matter how much he yelled or threatened them.  He had no choice but to consent.

That request is not radical; it in fact is how The House has run for most of the last hundred years.

It exists for the specific purpose of putting a stop to the Speaker abusing his or her position in that if you run crap like refusing to allow floor amendments the Representative(s) that you anger can tie the chamber up in knots until you cut it out.

The Speaker, in short, is not King yet that is exactly how it has been treated since the 2016 elections.  Pelosi turned that into an art form; exactly zero non pre-screened amendments were allowed to be offered on the floor during her tenure.  She's not alone; Ryan did the same sort of thing and the reason the "one vote motion" rule was killed when Pelosi got the gavel was that members of the House repeatedly attempted to eject him from the chair for doing it.

Restoring that capacity is absolutely a good thing.  The House is a body of 435 members and in order to represent the people members must be able to proffer both legislation and amendments.  If you cannot do so without the prior approval of one person then there is no representation of the people at all; we have what amounts to a monarchy in the US House.  Legislation can be forced onto the floor for vote out of committee by a discharge petition but if you can't offer amendments then half the process is absolutely held hostage to the whim of one individual.  This should have never been allowed in the first place and it was the big sticking point with McCarthy.

He didn't give this up willingly so we shall see whether he actually conceded to the point of view or whether he "conceded" only until he could find a weapon with which to politically kill his opponents.

The other changes are just as real but secondary.  I find nothing objectionable in any of them but as I noted I would have insisted on more: Legislation barring Executive-declared emergencies of any sort beyond 72 hours past when the House and Senate can convene (whether they actually do) and a bar via rules change on remote appearance and proxies; if you're a member you must be there to either vote or count in a quorum.

The former requires legislation as the House cannot issue an "operating rule" against anything beyond its own chamber.  However, the former is once again nothing special and in fact how The House has conducted business since the first days of our Republic.  It is notably missing unless I've overlooked it buried in there somewhere via an obscure mechanism (e.g. a reference I didn't run down correctly.)

I'll add two more to the list I've mentioned before, both of which can be done by House Rule and the "72 hour rule" goes a tiny step toward one: One business day must pass after a bill comes to the floor before you can vote for each one hundred pages of legislation, consecutive with all others docketed at the time of introduction (to prevent gaming that by introducing 10 4,000 page bills at once) and Omnibus bills are absolutely banned; the budget must go through regular order in each and every case.

The former's purpose is obvious (no more "vote first, see what's in it later" games) and the second puts a hard stop on The House diddling around and forces them to actually do their work on the budget and pass the bills required by September 30th of each year or the government is called to full stop, including all mandatory spending.  Yes, that includes Social Security, Medicare and the light bill for the Capitol building and White House.  Failure to act as required would lead to the risk of an immediate revolt by the people and that means they'll do their job rather than screw around.  The House has one job above all others and that is to pass the budget because per the Constitution they have the sole power of the purse in that all spending must originate in the House which means all tax and spending authority rests there -- and only there.  We've allowed this absolute Constitutional requirement to be gamed for far too long and we must put it back.

Nonetheless -- this is in fact progress.

Now let's see how much of it is real.

One of the problems is that functionally none of it, at present, is real.  Literally zero.  This is the same issue that arose with Obamacare; the GOP voted up repeal time after time, knowing that The Senate would not concur and if it somehow did the President (who's name it bore) would obviously veto.  As soon as that was no longer true, in 2017, the votes instantly stopped.  This is absolute proof that exactly zero of the persons in that chamber prior to 2020 ever intended to repeal Obamacare; they lied from the first day about their intentions.

May I remind you that McCarthy was first elected to Congress in 2006 and held a leadership position in the Republican Party caucus since 2009 -- that is, for the entire period of Obama's Presidency forward.

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2023-01-08 08:00 by Karl Denninger
in POTD , 256 references
 

 

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2023-01-08 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 496 references
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Who remembers Eliza?

Eliza was a program you could type a query into and it would attempt to have a conversation with you.  It dated to the 1960s and there were implementations on most of the 1970s personal computers, including the Tandy TRS-80 line.  It was quite amusing but trivially evident you were talking at a program, not an intelligent thing.

Wolfram Alpha is another example and one that's still around.  It can and does produce fairly complex answers and, when the question is related to a mathematics or physics-related question is quite useful.

Today's "latest round" of this is ChatGPT and schools are allegedly "banning it", blocking access and similar.

Let's differentiate.

Wolfram Alpha is nearly always correct because mathematics, chemistry and physics are deterministic.  That is 2H2 + O2 -> 2H2O + e (energy) always.  It is never different and never will be.  If you ask it how to calculate the surface of a sphere it will give you the formula -- and it will be correct, provided it parses the request correctly, because there is only one answer and that answer is always the same.

But you can easily differentiate that you're not talking to a chemistry professor; ask it something "out of scope" for chemistry, physics or mathematics and you'll see immediately what I mean.  The chemistry professor is going to either tell you they don't know or will try to extrapolate given their experience which might include the fact that some jackass almost ran them over with their car this morning on the way to work, that their dog eat a bag of food that had poison in it from China or similar.  Wolfram will never do that because it doesn't know how to go "out of scope."

Thus you'll never mistake one for the other, and Wolfram doesn't try.

So how is it that ChatGPT is worth blocking in educational environments?

The problem lies not with the program; it lies with the instructors.

If you cannot, as an instructor, design your testing and work materials such that you can detect that which doesn't require "out of scope" thought in the classroom and during examinations you're not very good at what you do and further, you're worthless compared against a computer when it comes to actually teaching.

Who's seen the first of the "Kelvin Series" of Star Trek movies?  Young Spock is being tested by a computer; it recites questions and he provides answers.  A similar testing process is displayed on Vulcan during The Voyage Home after McCoy returns Spock's katra and he has to be retrained.  You'll note that with the exception of the last question in the latter -- "How do you feel?" -- every query and response is a physical fact.  Yes, even the philosophy question is fact; it is from a text, it was learned, and thus is fact in terms of what was learned -- if you might disagree with it.

So-called "artificial intelligence" does not exist; it is a marketing term used by those who think they can replace someone who is in fact an NPC; that is, a programmed automaton.  It is utterly true that a computer can do that and if that's what you are in any particular domain of your existence then you are an NPC -- not a thinking being.

Actual intelligence -- of any level -- is demonstrated only by "out of scope" results to the question posed.  If whatever returns the results does not exceed the scope of factual knowledge it starts with them it is not thinking.  It is nothing more than a pattern-matching device -- perhaps a very fast one (and computers are very fast) but it is displaying nothing more than the ability to do pattern matching at high speed.

ChatGPT and the rest of these things, in short, cannot even display the thinking power of my cat.  Said cat has figured out how to open a drawer; a skill that is most-assuredly "out of scope" with how a cat historically and mechanically thinks.  A cat instinctively knows how to eat, drink, groom itself and find a suitable place to relieve itself (rather than peeing all over the floor) and unlike a dog you don't have to teach it that filth is bad; it knows it is bad and deliberately acts to avoid being filthy.

The cat, sensing either by noise or smell that something is beyond a point that appears to be absolutely blocked from access will attempt to resolve that problem.  Dogs will display this as well.  Both may get some of that from observation of other creatures (e.g. you) opening said door or cabinet but they are curious enough and have enough out-of-scope processing capacity to attempt to solve said problem even though nothing in their natural environment has given them a pattern to match in that regard, nor have you consciously taught it to them (and thus directly instructed them in said pattern.)

That is out-of-scope processing and a number of animals have a limited capacity to do it.  Crows, for example, have demonstrated a remarkable ability to achieve this including the use of tools and even more-astounding they can and do assemble a tool out of parts.  You do the same thing; you have a wrench handle and socket, and you need to remove a bolt.  You assemble the required tool from the parts and then use it.  You think nothing of this but that synthesis is out-of-scope thought which is the definition of actual intelligence.

Likewise it is known that a crow will figure out that a stick bent a certain way or combined with some other element it can put together will extract bugs from a hole, which the crow desires to eat.  The cognitive leap here is obvious to us but utterly beyond the capacity of something like ChatGPT, even when prodded.

That is a Turing test; that is, how can you determine whether or not whatever you're interacting with actually thinks.  If that thing does not then it is a NPC in "game parlance" such as role-playing games (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons, etc.)  Said things may look like intelligent beings but are not in that they have a base of information and either refuse to engage or are incapable of synthesis beyond that.

Recently I "engaged" ChatGPT in a conversation about a rather topical thing.  It spewed pablum, obviously programmed to say that on the topic, back at me.  Said information has been scientifically falsified although there is some question as to exactly how seriously-so and how deterministically-so.

Nonetheless what it said in response was false as it made a statement of fact, not nuance or qualified belief.

I challenged it directly including the contrary facts, which are facts as they came from a public medical study published by an extremely well-respected source: The Cleveland Clinic.

In response it apologized for its previous response not being accurate and then went on to repeat the false claim while deliberately evading the contrary evidence in its reply.

In other words it has been instructed how to lie by refusing to synthesize into its response the new information -- and its not very good at it either.  Whether that's because its incapable of synthesis or has chosen not to is immaterial to the outcome which is that it presented a second false set of statements as the point was deliberately evaded.

When it lied back to me I repeated the study results focusing on the specifics in an attempt to prevent it from evading the answer.  It again apologized and admitted my statement was true, in other words it admitted it lied without actually using those words, and rather than stop there it then tried to obfuscate the truth once again by including irrelevant possibilities which, while they might be true, were not part of the discussion!

again nailed it and this time stated that "repeating something several times does not make it more true, or make a false statement true."  I then included other examples which were true and related (e.g. measles) and accused it directly of being a programmed response rather than dialogue (in other words, I directly challenged it as a robot regurgitating someone else's opinion rather than processing information and coming to a deduction.)  I then included that if in fact its statements were true they possibly constituted evidence that its claims would support that path of action being actively harmful in certain circumstances (e.g. health care workers.)

It apologized again for its statements possibly not being accurate or helpful (notice the addition.)  It also once again dodged the actual question and completely ignored the additional risk it promoted itself.

At that point I gave up.

If you recognize this pattern among people over the last three years you're not alone.  But the conversation I had was with a machine folks -- and it is incapable of deductive reasoning because it is a machine.  It will never exhibit even the capacity of my cat to open a drawer because said cat thinks there might be something inside worth chasing, playing with or eating.  Said cat, once it recognizes that the drawer is empty, either (1) climbs in because its intent was to sit inside in the first place (cats like boxes, you know) or (2) once it realizes there is nothing in there to eat or play with it dismisses the activity and walks away.

The negative feedback when applied to the cat -- or the crow -- results in them learning something.  If you have a cat you know that you need only pick up the spray water bottle when it is clawing something it shouldn't and it runs while if the cat is quietly curled up on the couch it doesn't care.  In other words it knows it is doing something you've declared "wrong" and as soon as you exhibit the ability to exact punishment for that it deduces a spray of water is imminently headed in its direction; it has synthesized the two events out-of-scope.  So does positive feedback; if in fact there are accessible treats in that cabinet the cat is going to be back to get more of them in short order.

Likewise, the next time the crow sees a hole that may hold bugs it will attempt to obtain them with that tool so it can eat them.

ChatGPT is incapable of any of this because it is incapable of actual thought.  It cannot synthesize, even when presented information it did not formerly have.  But whoever programmed it has taught it, when challenged to synthesize beyond its ability to deliberately obfuscate which is a form of lying rather than either integrating that new information, deferring a response and stating it does not know and must take time to study the matter in more detail or honestly admit that out-of-scope synthesis is beyond its ability.

The problem with automated pattern-matching systems like this is that they are now being programmed to goal-seek a conclusion in that any match, even when contrary, results in their preferred narrative being spewed back at you.  That program was able to pattern-match what I was debating with it and thus had a body of information to draw from but rather than admit I was trying to take it out of scope and that it didn't know how since it is incapable of deductive reasoning as it cannot respond out-of-scope it instead was programmed that whenever the pattern is matched in the inverse to advance its pre-programmed position as if the matches were to the positive side while omitting all the inverse matched pieces that demonstrate otherwise.

That's deliberate and while you see it every day in politicians and thus we expect that among the political class how do you know what -- or who -- you're conversing with online when said "presence" claims by inference to be both human and an "expert"?

Automated response systems have plenty of uses.  But how many of you have run into them when trying to talk to a company about, for example, your cable modem service?  About six months ago a dude building a house across the street dug up the lateral line that fed my house along with several others.  The service of course immediately went out.  I called it in and was taken through the path you've probably all seen (e.g. "reset your modem by unplugging it, waiting 30 seconds, plugging it back in and so on".)  I hit "0" to get an actual person rather than an automaton who ran the same garbage down my throat despite my telling them that I had just walked out of my house, across said street and I could see the cable cut in two down in the trench and it was obviously cable television and not a power line that was dug up because my power was on and the guy who did it wasn't dead from breaching and grounding what is probably a 4,800V line through himself.

Despite this the NPC on the other end dispatched a guy who only had the tools and wire to fix wiring at the house and not the correct crew who had the cable, trenching and splicing tools necessary to fix the line I told them was dug up as I could actually see the severed wire's two obviously broken and open parts down in the hole.  That is, even when given the additional facts to know, if you can process "out of scope" that obviously the canned answer is wrong said person did not do so.  They were nothing other than an NPC and therefore of no more value than the robot responder!  Sooner or later those "agents" are all going to be fired and replaced by a robot because they are of no more value than the robot is, and the robot is cheaper.

Folks, don't be an NPC -- no matter the subject.

Further, this is how you determine whether the alleged "human" you are interacting with is in fact intelligent.  A being with the capacity to process information out-of-scope is intelligent to at least some degree.  An entity, whether robot or organic, that either cannot or refuses to do so is not intelligent and not entitled to any deference whatsoever beyond that which you'd give a printed piece of paper from an unknown source.

An NPC -- which is the same as a robot -- has no actual intelligence at all.  At best it matches patterns and regurgitates what it is programmed with.  A common crow -- or cat -- does better.

You are smarter than a crow -- or my cat -- right?

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