Boulder Future Salon

Stable Diffusion takes over! (Open source AI art!) Yannic Kilcher collects a huge number of applications of Stable Diffusion into one video. Lots of pictures. People made a tools to make a collage picture, overlapping regions of pictures, and Stable Diffusion makes the overlapping regions just match. An anime series about Oprah in Kyoto. Bubbles, trippy Memento Mori. Diagrams. Children's drawing to cool art. Squirrel! Dragon! Explosion of creativity! Evolution of the typical American living room from 1950 to 2040. Photoshop plug-ins. Alternative web UIs. SageMaker, Collabs. Inpainting by text. Jeff Von Zuckergate. Textual inversion: teaching the model a concept ("yoga pose") and giving it a name, and then you can use it in prompts. DALL-E 2 added outpainting but somebody out there just added it to Stable Diffusion, without needing permission. Color palettes from text. Dream textures in Blender (textures of unlimited style and size you can wrap around 3D models).

Toward the end he rants against the people who want to centralize control of AI. He's definitely in the "distribute everything to everybody" camp, and doesn't agree with the "AI Safety" and "AI Ethics" people who argue centralization of control is necessary and the most morally ethical path.

What makes Israel so good at hacking? Flame. Stuxnet. Duqu. Gauss. Offensive cyberattacks against Iran's nuclear programs. Hacking Kaspersky and catching the Russian government using Kaspersky anti-virus software as a global search engine for classified data. Intercepting moble comms, satellite traffic, tapping undersea fiber cables. WiSpear. NSO Group. Yehida Shemone Matayim. Unit 8-200. Mossad. Shin Bet.

Egypt and Syria's surprise attack on Israel in 1973 in the Yom Kippur War resulted in Israel firing its entire intelligence establishment, bringing in new leaders, and building a completely revamped system. Now Israel anticipates conflict far in advance and projects power through hacking methods.

Each year, over 60,000 take tests and are sorted into different units based on school grades, personality, and IQ scores. High scores mean tech units like 8-200, while low scores mean the border police. IQ tests start in elementary school and high performers get afterclass cyber programs to help train and identify young talent for military tech units.

The ideal candidates are self-taught learners who can solve problems creatively, who are also nice to work with. The ideal personality has 4 key traits: 1. Chutzpah: audacious, doing what no one else is willing to do; 2. Rosh Gadol: taking initiative and doing things the best way possible, even if it means more work, because you see the bigger picture; 3. Bitzua: being resourceful at getting things done; and 4. Davka: doing things despite a situation.

After hiring, 8-200 has a 6-month "basmch" mind bootcamp, where dawn to dusk, new recruits are learning programming, Arabic, project management, and intelligence tradecraft, followed by small team tests that mimic real-world missions with tight deadlines.

Keychain sized retro gaming. PocketStar is a Kickstarter project for an Arduino-compatible, open source gaming console. Has multiplayer capability through both WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Has an App Store for buying games, which includes Doom. Has a software development kid (SDK) for writing games. Stores games on a microSD card. Has sound, a vibration motor, and an accelerometer. OLED screen with 30 frames per second. 160 MHz processor.

Elvis impersonator... + Sofia Vergara impersonator, + Heidi Klum impersonator... + Simon Cowell impersonator... on America's Got Talent -- achieved by deepfake company Metaphysic and synthetic voice startup Respeecher.

"When you extend your finger, it doesn't go sideways, does it? So why are the keys on your keyboard not directly on top of each other? The answer is archaic design, which we fixed. The ErgoDox EZ has linear columns of keys, reducing finger travel and fatigue."

"Roughly two decades ago, a strategy called optogenetics emerged to control brain activity with lasers. It uses viruses to insert genes into cells that make them sensitive to light. Optogenetics has revolutionized neuroscience by giving researchers a precise way to excite or suppress brain circuits and shed light on what role they play in the brain. However, a key drawback of this work is that it usually only targets cells that are genetically modified to respond to light."

"In the new study, researchers experimented with thin-film single-crystal silicon diodes." "In tests on lab-grown neurons, the silicon diodes could excite or inhibit neural activity, depending on their positive or negative voltage."

"In addition, these devices are bioresorbable, meaning they naturally dissolve in the body."

"Just one day after the Ethereum Merge, where the cryptocoin successfully switched from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS), profitability of GPU mining has completely collapsed. That means the best graphics cards should finally be back where they belonged, in your gaming PC, just as god intended."

NYC subway stringlines. "Stringlines are a time & distance chart which illustrate the movement of trains between stations over time. Stringlines are an easy method to visualize operational problems that affect rail service; such as delays, train bunching and gaps in service. Each train trip appears as a string moving diagonally across the chart. This tool was inspired by a NYCT paper describing the creation of their in house stringline tools and is intended to be a free and public equivalent."

"Created in late 2021, Critterz incorporates nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency into the Minecraft universe, bringing a 'play to earn' model to the best-selling video game of all time."

"It was a new experiment in play-to-earn gaming, hot on the heels of Axie Infinity, the figurehead Web3 game from developer Sky Mavis that had attracted thousands of players, especially from low-income countries such as the Philippines. After interest in Axie Infinity collapsed, following a plummeting in-game economy and a $620 million hack, many players moved to other play-to-earn games, including Critterz."

"For a while, it worked. Some Critterz players told Rest of World that, at one point, they were earning more than $100 a day playing the game."

"Then, on July 20, 2022, in a post on the Minecraft website, developer Mojang Studios dropped a bombshell: Minecraft would not support integrations with NFTs."

"It was clear from the languages used in the Critterz chat log that almost all guild members, also known as 'scholars,' came from low-income countries, and, overwhelmingly, the Philippines."

Near the end of the article, though, we find this whacky quote:

"Mikhai Kossar, a chartered accountant and a member of Wolves DAO, a group that consults with NFT gaming projects in the early stages of their development, also envisions NFT games that could exploit the wealth gap between players to deliver a different experience." "With the cheap labor of a developing country, you could use people in the Philippines as NPCs ('non-playable characters'), real-life NPCs in your game."

Wait, if you have humans playing "non-playable characters", doesn't that make them ... (drumroll, please) ... playable?

"The face search engine PimEyes heralds the end of anonymity in public spaces. All it takes is a photo from a cell phone or security camera, and PimEyes provides links to similar or identical faces on the web -- all for a monthly fee. The linked pages can then reveal the name, profession or further personal details about a person."

"After critical reports from in 2020, the once Polish company fled first to the Seychelles, then to Belize -- and did no longer respond to any press inquiries. Politicians from Germany and the EU have sharply criticized the search engine. A local German data protection commissioner has initiated proceedings and, according to his own statement, is still waiting for a response from PimEyes."

"Now PimEyes has a new owner, who is a 34-year-old security scholar from Georgia. In an interview with, Giorgi Gobronidze explains why he, of all people, bought the search engine -- and what he intends to do to make PimEyes less attractive to stalkers."

"The Russian invasion of Georgia was a main driver for me to study security studies. I started to learn more about technology because the Russian army carried out a massive cyber attack which closed down the whole country for almost three days. Later, I also started to study how artificial intelligence based solutions affect not only the security landscape, but our everyday life."

"Customs officials have copied Americans' phone data at massive scale. Contacts, call logs, messages and photos from up to 10,000 travelers' phones are saved to a government database every year."

Not just phones but iPads and computers as well. 2,700 Customs and Border Protection officers have access to it without a warrant, according to the article.

"Customs and Border Protection's inspection of people's phones, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices as they enter the country has long been a controversial practice that the agency has defended as a low-impact way to pursue possible security threats and determine an individual's 'intentions upon entry' into the US."

"When we navigate in a new environment, we are required to pay attention to our surroundings and to update our position using our own internal navigation system in order to reach our destination. Using GPS removes these requirements and renders navigation less cognitively demanding. In fact, people who travel along given routes using GPS gain less knowledge about those routes compared to people who travel the same routes without an aid, using a map, or after being guided by an experimenter. However, no studies have looked at whether GPS use has long-term effects on our internal navigation system, when we are required to find our way without a navigation aid."

"When we navigate without GPS in a new environment, there are two navigation strategies that we can use that depend on separate brain systems. One is the spatial memory strategy and involves learning the relative positions of landmarks and serves to form a cognitive map of the environment. This strategy critically relies on the hippocampus, a brain region heavily involved in episodic memory and relational memory. The other strategy is the stimulus-response strategy and involves learning a sequence of motor responses (e.g., turn left) from specific positions (e.g., next corner). Stimulus-response learning critically relies on the caudate nucleus, a brain region also responsible for habit learning (e.g., learning how to ride a bicycle). This strategy leads to more rigid behavior and allows us to navigate on 'auto-pilot' on routes that we travel frequently."

"Using GPS involves following step-by-step sensorimotor instructions, which is similar to learning stimulus-response associations (e.g., turn right at the next intersection, turn left in 500 m). In a cross-sectional study, we sought to determine whether individuals with greater GPS habits rely more on stimulus-response strategies and less on spatial memory strategies when they are required to navigate without GPS, and whether they have poorer cognitive mapping abilities and landmark encoding."

"There was no significant correlation between lifetime GPS experience and subjective sense-of-direction scores. Thus, it does not appear that participants who used GPS for more hours did so as a result of a subjectively poor sense of direction."

"We found a significant negative correlation between lifetime GPS experience (in hours) and performance on the first probe trial of the concurrent spatial discrimination learning task, and a marginally significant negative correlation with performance on both probe trials combined, indicating that people with more lifetime GPS experience use hippocampus-dependent spatial memory strategies to a lesser extent."

"With regards to GPS reliance, there was a significant negative correlation with both probe trials combined, which indicates that as GPS reliance increases, spatial memory strategy use decreases." "In terms of sense of GPS dependence, there was a significant positive correlation between sense of GPS dependence scores and the second probe trial of the concurrent spatial discrimination learning task. This indicates that those who feel more dependent on their GPS have a lower ability to learn from their mistakes in the first probe trial, regardless of their subjective sense of direction. There was also a significant correlation with both probe trials combined, indicating a lower use of spatial memory strategies in those who feel more dependent on their GPS."

"We also examined the question of whether perceived spatial abilities are related to actual navigational performance on the concurrent spatial discrimination learning task. Subjective sense-of-direction scores were significantly related to faster learning, and, surprisingly, to lower performance on the second probe trial, and on both trials combined."

On the 4-on-8 virtual maze, "We found a significant negative correlation between lifetime GPS experience and navigation strategy scores. This indicates that individuals with more lifetime GPS experience use hippocampus-dependent spatial memory strategies to a lesser extent, concordant with the concurrent spatial discrimination learning task probe results. People with greater lifetime GPS experience also had more difficulty forming a cognitive map, as evidenced by a significant negative correlation between lifetime GPS experience and map drawing scores. This can at least in part be explained by the fact that people with more lifetime GPS experience encoded fewer landmarks, as there were significant negative correlations between lifetime GPS experience and the average number of landmarks used while solving the task, as well as the number of landmarks they noticed in the environment."

"Shinkei Systems' AI-guided fish harvesting is more humane and less wasteful." "The machine, about the size of a big refrigerator, includes a hopper for incoming fish, an operational area and an output where it can go into an ice bath. A computer vision system identifies the species and shape of the fish it is holding, locates the brain and other important parts, and goes through the ike-jime motions, dispatching the fish quickly and reliably."

"'The robotics perform at surgical-level accuracy -- our vision for this is it's completely hands-free, no operator,' Khawaja said, noting that it is also robust against boats' natural pitching and rolling."

"The exciting new world of AI prompt injection." You've heard of SQL injection attacks. Well, now we have "AI prompt injection." Except, not really. All that's going on here is someone is tricking a Twitter bot hooked to a GPT-3 system into saying something they want it to but the creator of the Twitter bot probably didn't. Not an actual security bug but could be entertaining.

"Google DeepMind researcher co-authors paper saying AI will eliminate humanity." Do they really?

"The paper, published last month in the peer-reviewed AI Magazine, is a fascinating one that tries to think through how artificial intelligence could pose an existential risk to humanity by looking at how reward systems might be artificially constructed."

"What the new paper proposes is that at some point in the future, an advanced AI overseeing some important function could be incentivized to come up with cheating strategies to get its reward in ways that harm humanity."

"Cheating" to get a reward sounds like addiction to me, but they hypothesize the route the AI would take would involve eliminate potential threats and gaining control of "all available energy" to secure control over its reward.

"Under the conditions we have identified, our conclusion is much stronger than that of any previous publication -- an existential catastrophe is not just possible, but likely."

"If you're in a competition with something capable of outfoxing you at every turn, then you shouldn't expect to win."

That seems to hard to argue with. That's like me playing Stockfish. Not even AlphaZero.

"And the other key part is that it would have an insatiable appetite for more energy to keep driving the probability closer and closer."

I had a look at the actual paper, and most of it concerns itself with "distal" and "proximal" probabilities. They model the system as an AI agent interacting with a computer that simulates the environment, and in the "distal" case, the computer that simulates the environment gives the agent a reward number after each of its actions, and in the "proximal" case, the computer's output is displayed on a screen, and an OCR system reads the screen and gives the agent the number. Which is a fancy way of saying the agents feedback from the environment is noisy. The agent has to act under uncertainty. It may sound like a pedantic difference, but they hypothesize that the agent will actually formulate different goals in the two scenarios. And the "distal" goal is what we want the agent to actually formulate as its goal and achieve. But the "proximal" goal is what the agent will actually adopt as its goal and it will achieve something unintended, with perhaps disastrous consequences.

One of the annoying things I have noticed about being human is having to act under conditions of uncertainty, over and over. For whatever that's worth.

Brain-inspired chips promise ultra-efficient AI, so why aren't they everywhere? "Neuromorphic chips up to 16 times more efficient; brain-like chips potentially powering future supercomputers; Samsung wanting to reverse engineer the brain; IBM recreating a frog brain in silicon."

"Traditional accelerators are simply getting more powerful and more efficient quickly enough." "Platforms like Nvidia Jetson Orin or some new novel platforms from startups, are solving the problem really quickly. So the need to do something super exotic is continuing to lessen as the state of the art in existing technologies evolves. If you look at what Qualcomm has done with their AI engine, you're talking milliwatts... and what it does when you take a photograph is astounding."