All hail our computer overlords

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, February 24th, 2019 - 34 comments
Categories: articles, child welfare, class, Deep stuff, families, internet, Media, Politics, youtube - Tags:

I am a real fan of Mediawatch on Radio New Zealand.  The show always provides cutting edge insightful commentary on all things media.

The show in the last week had this fascinating story about the world debating champion being pitted against a computer in a debate.  The computer and the human were given 15 minutes to research and prepare and then present an argument in favour of or opposing the premise that public subsidising of child care centres is a public good.

Here is the debate:

My first impression, the computer was not freaking bad …

It used to be chess games.  Contests between computers and humans used to be interesting affairs but computers have become more and more dominant. Only the best players on a good day can beat their computer opponents.

Peter Griffin in Noted has this description of the debate:

Last night’s debate in San Francisco between Project Debater, an artificial intelligence engine based on Watson, and Harish Natarajan, the 2016 World Debating Championship grand finalist, suggests this is where humans still have the edge – for now.

Project Debater sat on stage, a monolithic black tablet emanating an even, American-accented woman’s voice. Over 25 minutes she traded statements and rebuttals with Natarajan on the topic of whether pre-school should be subsidised.

Miss Debater, as she has been dubbed, was arguing for the resolution. She and her human rival had just 15 minutes to prepare for the debate. But able to trawl 10 billion sentences of reference material, mainly newspaper and magazine articles, it didn’t take long for the computer to formulate a strong argument for funding preschool.

The computer says yes

Laying out her case logically, she peppered her talk with OECD and US Centers for Disease Control report statistics and even quoted former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Most impressive was Project Debater’s ability to listen to Natarajan’s arguments in real time, her display blinking away all the time, and counter them with a reasonable, fact-based rebuttal. She even managed some emotive flourishes at one point saying, “to be clear, my intention is not to leave a suitcase full of money for everyone to grab at will.”

Natarajan, without any research materials to draw on, had to rely on his best rhetorical skills. And his ability to do so skillfully is what separated man and machine. His rebuttals were stronger than Project Debater who largely just continued on with her narrative in favour of the resolution.

What really interested me was what the computer said about poverty:

And now a few words about poverty.  While I cannot experience poverty directly, and have no complaints about my own standards of living, I still have the following to share.

Regarding poverty research shows that a good preschool can clearly help the disadvantages often associated with poverty.

And the computer referred to something Gough Whitlam said in 1973!  That man was ahead of his time …

Given such enlightenment maybe it is time for our computer overlords to take over.

Of course it could all end in tears …

34 comments on “All hail our computer overlords”

  1. Andre 1

    What’s missing from the comparison is an expert human assisted by the instant database searchability and recall capabilities of the computer.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Dir. Stanley Kubrick ahead of his time too, matte and models, and silent space, still aces a number of CGI laden, zap ’em space films

    “Open the Pod bay doors, HAL”–sod off Dave…

    no need to go totally trepidatious on AI, well unless your scooter or driverless car loses the plot perhaps! But AI under capitalist ownership and development will likely be horrendous indeed

  3. RedLogix 3

    Yes. That’s my leaning as well. I base my sense of this on three premises:

    One the AI community is deeply divided on whether we can ever produce a conscious machine. We happen to live with a Professor of AI systems at present (a whole other story) and his sense is that given we understand almost nothing about the nature of consciousness in our own biological systems, it’s hard to imagine we could reproduce it in a machine.

    There is the argument that self-awareness might arise in machines in an endogenous, spontaneous manner without humans even being aware of it happening. This is an interesting possibility with some deep consequences we must guard against.

    Two is that I asked a question the other day “who are you going to trust”. This remains one of the core problems of computing; trust-ability. We already have enough problems determining what information we can trust on the internet that is generated by fellow humans that we share a great deal in common with. How then could we possibly hope to trust sentient machines we don’t understand at all?

    Thirdly I fall back on my all time favourite author Vernor Vinge. He was a Professor of Computer Science at San Diego University and published a number of short stories and a solid core of brilliant hard sf novels:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernor_Vinge

    Vinge’s core themes returned to the exact problem of the OP many, many times. And in a remarkably diverse number of forms. He was famously writing about the internet in the 80’s before it was invented. He also anticipated blogs, social media and virtual realities long before they became a reality. Critically he also foresaw the many unintended consequences of these things. In one novel he memorably constructed a galactic web colloquially called the “Net of a Billion Lies”.

    And in another thread he called AI “one of the great failed dreams”.

    Yet his novels are full of sentient life deeply entangled and enhanced by AI machines. In one story he has his High Tech humans each accompanied by a ‘robot’ which hovered about 1km above them, permanently linked to their human serving multiple layers of purposes, sensory, pre-processing, threat evaluation and defense.

    This seems to me the most benign of the possible technological Singularities (another term Vinge coined) one where AI systems remain essentially the servants of humanity, not the other way around.

  4. Jenny - How to get there? 4

    Computers will never be our overlords. They have no free will. In fact they have no will all.

    It is said that good computer can beat any human chess champion but even the greatest current chess playing engines cannot move a single piece on the board, they require a human being to do that.
    I suppose you could build a movable robot arm and program a chess computer to move it’s pieces. But would that chess playing robot drive across town to attend a chess conference?

    No. The computer and its arm would still have to be loaded into trucks and driven to the chess venue.

    But what if you had a fully autonomous robot able to drive across town to get to the venue and move pieces on a chess board?

    Why would it do that?

    It requires a human to want a chess playing computer to get to a venue to play chess.

    A computer has no will. It doesn’t want to do anything, neither does it want for anything. It feels no pain, it feels no hunger, it has no desire, (for anything).

    Only humans have desires and wants and ambitions and dreams and wishes.

    Not only do computers not have free will, they have no will at all.

  5. KJT 5

    On the one hand. How can a bunch of on/off switches ever be anything other than a machine.

    On the other. The human brain is a huge bunch of neural switches.

    • Chris T 5.1

      Get your point, but the brain is more chemical synapses than electrical.

      Different levels to different parts and then the electrical side just joining the pathways.

      Which is why psychoactive drugs work.

      If it was all on off everybody would be the same logic conclusion and life would frankly be very boring

  6. RedLogix 6

    It’s an interesting problem Jenny. The AI community is pretty deeply divided on this. A large part of the problem is that we don’t really understand the true nature of ‘free will’ even in humans.

    For instance using biomedical scanning techniques it can be shown that there are definite signals occurring within the brain some fraction of a second before we are ever conscious of a decision to act. We are very complex creatures indeed.

    Much of this rests on what we might call the religious proposition. If we take the view that life is an entirely materialistic affair, then it’s easy to accept the idea that we might build entirely material machines which can fully emulate biological ones.

    If on the other hand we accept there is a domain of the abstract or non-material … and that our consciousness is the link between the world of facts and values … then constructing a material machine that can operate in the non-material domain seems a much harder problem. Impossible even.

    This whole discussion may seem a bit fanciful, yet it holds some very real and rapidly encroaching implications for us all. Within a decade or so.

  7. Incognito 7

    Good topic for a post, Micky. In fact, it’s been on my mind for some time now to write about this too. I’ll keep my powder dry for now 😉

  8. Dukeofurl 8

    jenny , robots in factories do plenty of physical tasks. A Chess game can be played on a screen or tablet by humans, doesnt require a physical chessboard.

    I understand the newer AI chess computers arent programmed to do so, but use AI to learn how to play and very quickly play very very well. But of course thats a multi million dollar AI computer not an app on a phone.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/07/alphazero-google-deepmind-ai-beats-champion-program-teaching-itself-to-play-four-hours

    • Jenny - How to get there? 8.1

      My point is that a machine has no will to want to play chess, or any other activity, whether it be in the real world, or the virtual world. No matter how smart they are.

      All their tasks and goals are set by humans. And, as far as I can envisage, they always will be. Even if the goals and tasks set for computers by human beings far exceed human abilities. In many applications computers already exceed human abilities, I can only see this trend continuing.

      Whether computers will one day want to be our overlords?

      Computers don’t want for anything.

      Only human beings would want to enslave other human beings.

      A supercomputer that one day had the ability to be our overlord, will never be more than a tool used by another human being or group of human beings who ‘want’ to enslave the rest of us. Hopefully by that time, ‘the rest of us’ will also have the use of machines of equal computing power able to resist the impulses of the other human beings who want to enslave us, using their machine.

      A computational arms race of sorts.

      Those days are far off. So we probably won’t have to worry about it.

      If that time does arrive, hopefully also by that time, humanity will also be much more emotionally advanced, beyond such backward, primitive impulses.

  9. rata 9

    When electricity first came in suspicious older folks
    would peer fearfully at the miracle magic installation
    wary of the evil gremlins lurking inside 🙂

    • Jenny - How to get there? 9.1

      The ghost in the machine.

      Even before the invention of machines, people used to attribute animals and trees, and even natural forces like the weather, with human motivations,

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropomorphism

      Anthropomorphism
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities.[1] It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.[2]

      Personification is the related attribution of human form and characteristics to abstract concepts such as nations, emotions, and natural forces, such as seasons and weather…..

      …..In science fiction, an artificially-intelligent computer or robot, even though it has not been programmed with human emotions, often spontaneously experiences those emotions anyway: for example, Agent Smith in The Matrix was influenced by a “disgust” toward humanity. This is an example of anthropomorphism: in reality, while an artificial intelligence could perhaps be deliberately programmed with human emotions, or could develop something similar to an emotion as a means to an ultimate goal if it is useful to do so, it would not spontaneously develop human emotions for no purpose whatsoever, as portrayed in fiction.[59]…

  10. AB 10

    Chomsky – “I have been hearing this for 60 years”
    The threat of supercomputers
    So the only threat from supercomputers comes from the people who will own the technology. Most likely they will use it to enrich themselves and impoverish the rest of us.

  11. Drowsy M. Kram 11

    Can you have intelligence without curiosity?

    Can you have intelligence without empathy?

    Intelligence is often linked to other (human) traits, but could general ideas about what intelligence is, and how it develops, be the products of tunnel vision? Might there be some types of ‘intelligence’ that we won’t/can’t recognise?

    Second Genesis, by David Moffitt (1986)

    Many centuries ago, an alien race known as the Nar were able to recreate human beings from genetic code, broadcast from Earth into outer space by a beleaguered humanity. Although the Nar are kind and benevolent masters to the humans, discontent leads the humans to revolt, and the Nar realize that they do not yet fully understand their rebellious creations.

    They allow a group of humans to travel millions of light years through the galaxy, in order to discover what has happened to the original occupants of planet Earth. However, none of the human participants of the expedition are prepared for what awaits them at the completion of their journey…

    • ropata 11.1

      Asimov wrote a number of short stories about “Multivac“, a fictional supercomputer that was given the task of governing humanity. Asimov pointed out a number of weaknesses in this solution, among them our tendency to cheat the system, and to want autonomy.

      A short piece in The Atlantic notes that Silicon Valley thinks a technocratic utopia is the answer but that’s pie in the sky and the reality is that a proper functioning democracy needs a virtuous society in which civic education is valued.

  12. RedLogix 12

    @AB

    Chomsky’s put down “I’ve been hearing about this for 60 years” is only partly founded in reality. In one sense he may be right, that AI will always be one of the failed dreams.

    Yet in another sense it’s entirely possible that AI will become sufficiently capable and diverse that the difference becomes a meaningless question. We are already seeing this with Google, Facebook and other big data enterprises, we are already seeing disturbing political implications in China’s ubiquitous surveillance rollout.

    Most likely they will use it to enrich themselves and impoverish the rest of us.

    This has been true of every single technology humans have ever invented; from fire sticks onward. But none of us would discard every single human technology on that basis alone. (Or if you are really determined to do so, please check with any women in your life first to see if they want to permanently go back to the Stone Age.)

    We always have this problem, that some people will naturally be better or quicker at implementing a new technological advantage, and that the rewards for doing so will flow disproportionately towards those who already have the most resource.

    This is a basic law of nature; the more resource you already have, the more opportunity you will have, the faster you will grow that opportunity and the more dominant socially you will become. This isn’t necessarily about politics, greed or a lack of empathy … it’s fundamental to all natural systems.

    What is remarkable about human social structures is that over time we’ve gotten better at extending the advantages of new technologies to more and more people. 200 years ago almost all people lived in absolute poverty; now almost a billion of us live extraordinary lives of comfort and security unimaginable to our great grandparents. Another five billion are catching up rapidly and only one billion, mostly in India and Nigeria remain in absolute poverty.

    As an automation engineer what I’m seeing the so called “Internet of Things” (IOT) rapidly climbing over the peak of the hype curve, from an over-egged idea into reality. This will prove one of the crucial tools to enable the Third Industrial revolution, it should greatly improve our energy efficiencies and open the door to a new sharing economy. Services like Uber are just a glimpse of what will become possible.

    Railing against this AI transition is pointless and counterproductive; it will happen whether we like it or not. What we can do is pay attention to it’s potentials, it unintended consequences and continuously ask the hard questions. To what purposes is this new technology being used? Is it enslaving us collectively, or is it being used to liberate the potential of each individual?

    Probably both will be true at the same time, but we do need to know which direction we want to head in, and ensure we get there sooner.

    PS It seems the reply function isn’t working on this thread for some reason.

  13. Poission 13

    PS It seems the reply function isn’t working on this thread for some reason.

    Irony due to complexity.

    http://www.scholarpedia.org/w/images/thumb/4/48/Complexity_figure1.jpg/300px-Complexity_figure1.jpg

  14. RedLogix 14

    @Poission

    Yes I’ve encountered encounter over-complexity many times in my life; yet looking back it’s also obvious that the curve is not fixed in concrete, it moves with time toward the right. ie what was over-complex ten years ago, becomes good practice today.

    In general the way we solve the complexity problem is to break down large problems into smaller layers, and over time these layers become better understood, more generalised, more capable and more trusted. This in turn enables more layers to be reliably combined and bigger problems to be solved.

    In the IT world the usual order of priority is authentication, confidentiality and then availability. In my world of big machines and processes the order is the other way around … determinism and availability tops all. For instance once I had a system fully commissioned and verified (online in real-time with the physical process), assuming no-one fiddled with it in the meantime, I’d expect to come back 20 years later and still find the system working, no reboots, no updates … just quietly gathering dust in a cabinet somewhere doing it’s thing.

  15. AB 15

    @RL
    Chomsky’s point (as I understand it) is that humans cannot reproduce in machine form something, the workings of which, we do not even comprehend in ourselves. And will never comprehend in ourselves because it is beyond the cognitive limits of the human organism to do so.

    No doubt we can get machines to do complex tasks in a way that on the surface looks like human intelligence in a narrow sense.
    Therefore if we need to be concerned about technology – it is not the technology in itself, it is who owns it and how they use it.
    Our battles are primarily political. Being concerned about sentient machines taking over the earth is the idle indulgence of a de-politicised populace. It’s a highly irritating distraction.

    • soddenleaf 15.1

      Agreed. Building a machine that mimics humans is impossible because we won’t understand how it works. arah, but, building a machine that mimics humans, well thats like building a human, as humans are the great mimics, it wont matter that the computer mimic undersrands itself. Most humanity doesnt even notice how religious belief is essentially stalking an internal idealized other, though no doubt a computing mimic AI will prove the non-existance of deities if it only does come to understand itself.

  16. KJT 16

    “Another five billion are catching up rapidly and only one billion, mostly in India and Nigeria remain”.

    Swallowed the cool aid, Red?
    https://tinyurl.com/y5aq54fx

    “The global population as a whole hasn’t gained more wealth in the last 200 years, he wrote—instead, “the world went from a situation where most of humanity had no need of money at all to one where today most of humanity struggles to survive on extremely small amounts of money,” with much of the world having endured “a process of dispossession that bulldozed people into the capitalist labor system.”

  17. Stuart Munro 17

    They wouldn’t be much worse than the net effects of governments in my lifetime – which fell more than a little short of enlightened democracy. But if we take Michel’s law seriously, it would not be computer overlords, but IT folk, who, though many are pleasantly geeky, run as full a range of human foibles as any other rough sample of our species.

  18. RedLogix 18

    @AB

    Yes that does seem a reasonable approach to the question. Peterson interestingly goes one step further and suggests that the notion of a ‘disembodied intelligence’ is a non-sequitur; that consciousness arises from the link between the material and non-material domains … but critically depends on both.

    In other words the way we perceive the world is dependent on our bodies as much as the way our mind makes abstractions of reality. This doesn’t close the door on AI; maybe the sensory embodiment of a vast networked system will generate it’s own form of awareness we have trouble recognising.

    Yet I tend to agree, sentient AI that ‘takes over the world’ is probably the wrong way to look at the problem. A more challenging prospect is that highly capable AI forms will create a new class of humans who are the first and most adept to exploit it. Given we don’t yet understand the potential advantage this will give them (and it could be enormous), we must not regard this as an annoying distraction.

    As with all new tech it will have it’s unintended consequences; this one could come with some dramatic new blessings and curses all at the same time.

  19. Macro 19

    hmmmm let me guess. The answer was 42?

  20. RedLogix 20

    @ KJT

    And here some rebuttals of Hickel’s romantic notion that we all lived better lives before the Industrial Revolution.

    https://capx.co/bill-gates-is-right-the-world-really-is-getting-better/

    https://capx.co/the-romantic-idea-of-a-plentiful-past-is-pure-fantasy/

    https://www.humanprogress.org/article.php?p=1745

    And the idea that the masses of non-Western people lived noble lives of subsistence peasantry, free from disease, want and oppression is equally fanciful.

    In one sense you are correct, my views have changed; the idea the world is a better place now than even 40 years ago is something my partner doggedly argued to me for a very long time. Many of us who were influenced heavily by the 60’s and 70’s grew up with a deep suspicion of the modern world, pained at it’s cavalier treatment of the planet, and disturbed by the gross inequalities it seemed to tolerate.

    Yet alongside that vision there is another way to look at what is happening; and in particular the past five years or so I’ve been fortunate to work in many different countries and seen for myself the very dramatic changes in the lives of people all over the planet. It’s not even, it remains patchy and arbitrary … but the fact is that fully half the people in the world now live moderately middle class lives:

    Explaining the significance of what they are describing, Kharas and Hamel do not mince their words: “For the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty.”

    https://capx.co/bourgeoisie-of-the-world-unite/

    • KJT 20.1

      Tell that to a foxcon worker, or an African farmer now starving in a city slum.
      Money is not wealth.
      And averages are not indicative of the whole.

  21. RedLogix 21

    @KJT

    The transition from subsistence poverty to the middle class is not always pretty or easy. The Victorian era industrialisation is evidence of that. But by 1900 few people in Europe would have chosen to revert back to life 100 years prior.

    And you can argue all you want that averages are meaningless from the perspective of the individual, but they still clearly indicate which direction we are heading in.

    • KJT 21.1

      The direction we are all heading in, is environmental collapse, followed by mass deaths and displacement of people.
      Not to worry. We will be replaced by computers.

  22. Chris T 22

    Just a heads up with this thread to iPrent

    The reply function works on a phone (android, at least), but not a PC/laptop

    Cheers!

  23. Poission 23

    rl

    Yes I’ve encountered encounter over-complexity many times in my life; yet looking back it’s also obvious that the curve is not fixed in concrete, it moves with time toward the right.

    No with complex problems say newton third law, there is a reflection of the concrete and the arrow of time (That one should be aware of)

    https://www.ngssphenomena.com/arrow-vs-concrete/

  24. Sam 24

    She’s way to human. You don’t want a sentient being with no biological frailties and human emotions. Way to dangerous. No.

  25. KJT 25

    Interesting scientists are finding levels of intelligence and traits in animal intelligence, previously thought to be unique to humans.
    Not news to those of us who have pets or work with animals, though.
    I’ve known for years that cats have a sense of irony.

  26. Jenny - How to get there? 26

    Despite all its stunning progress and sophistication, AI is not intelligence, nowhere near it.

    According to Scientific American if we are to ever to develop intelligent machines we would practically have to ignore all the progress made in developing working neural networks to go right back to first principles

    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/ais-big-challenge1/

    …. current technology exhibits no convincing demonstration of anything remotely approaching “intelligence.”

    …..It is difficult to imagine a more searing indictment of deep learning than the inability to learn by analogy. Essentially all cognitive development rests on learning and abstracting the principles underlying a set of concrete examples. The failure, thus far, of deep learning to do so reveals the emptiness behind the facade of intelligence presented by current A.I. systems.

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  • Women’s rights, trans ideology and Gramsci’s morbid symptoms
    by John Edmundson The International Socialist Organisation (ISO) have recently reposted a February article, by Romany Tasker-Poland, explaining ISO’s position in the “trans rights” debate.  It is available on their website and on their Facebook Page.  The article sets out to explain why “socialists support trans rights”.  It reads more ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • We need to take guns off police
    Today's IPCA report of police criminality: a police officer unalwfully tasered a fleeing suspect who posed no threat to anyone:The police watchdog has found an officer unlawfully tasered an Auckland man who broke his ankle jumping off a balcony to escape arrest. [...] To avoid arrest, the man jumped over ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • “Bringing kindness back”
    "Auckland City Mission: 10% of Kiwis experiencing food insecurity", RNZ, 16 October 2019:About half a million people are experiencing food insecurity, according to new research from the Auckland City Mission. Food insecurity, or food poverty, is defined as not having enough appropriate food. The City Mission said over the last ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Press Release: “Fake News” from Auckland City Council CCOs Board Chairs re pay and performance b...
    Media Statement for Immediate Release 16th October 2019 “Fake News” from Auckland City Council CCOs Board Chairs re pay and performance bonuses for top managers Despite comments from Auckland City Council CCOs Board Chairs re pay and performance bonuses for top managers—Herald Newspaper Tuesday Oct 15th–there is very little evidence ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    5 days ago
  • Ever-So-Slightly Bonkers: Simon Bridges Plays To His Base.
    Would You Buy A Used Propaganda Video From This Man? Bridges and the National Party’s strategists have discovered that the ideas and attitudes considered acceptable by today’s editors and journalists are no longer enforceable. The rise and rise of the Internet and the social media platforms it spawned means that ...
    5 days ago
  • Asking for food
    There is plenty of evidence of the way the business mentality has permeated every level of society since the recrudescence of market liberalism 35 years ago. You only need to think of how citizens in need of help from their government, their state, their country, are now routinely described as ...
    Opposable ThumbBy Unknown
    5 days ago
  • Forty years of change in the jobs Kiwi do and the places they call home
    John MacCormick Over the last 40 years, New Zealanders – and people in other countries – have experienced big changes in the jobs they do and where they live and work. These changes include: a decline in manufacturing jobs an increase in jobs in ‘information-intensive’ industries (which are better paid ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    5 days ago
  • Protecting Fresh Waterways in Aotearoa/NZ: The Strong Public Health Case
    Nick Wilson, Leah Grout, Mereana Wilson, Anja Mizdrak, Phil Shoemack, Michael Baker Protecting waterways has the benefits of: (1) protecting water from hazardous microbes; (2) minimising cancer risk and other problems from nitrates in water; (3) avoiding algal blooms that are hazardous to health; (4) protecting mahinga kai uses (cultural ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • Massey University triggered to rebrand
    by The Council of Disobedient Women In a press release today Massey University announced it has decided to rebrand and reorientate after struggling to be a University for grown-ups. For some time the University has wanted to be a safe play space for wee-woke-misogynists who have been really badly triggered ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Swinson backing calls for a second referendum (again)
    After a brief dalliance with 'hard Revoke' it looks like the Lib Dems are changing ground on on Brexit, with leader Jo Swinson reverting to calling for a second referendum on Johnson's deal.The party has tabled an amendment to the Queen’s speech requesting that any deal brought back from Brussels ...
    6 days ago
  • An odious bill
    The government has decided that someone has done Something Bad. But despite their belief, there seems to be no evidence that they have actually broken the law. So the government's solution is to pass a retrospective law allowing them to be punished anyway, on a lower standard of proof. If ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • National is now the party of climate arson
    So, Judith Collins has done a Facebook rant about climate change, peddling the same shit National has been shovelling for the past twenty years: the impacts are overstated, there's no need to do anything about it, and its too hard anyway (oh, and its so unfair that people who peddle ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The environmental footprint of electric versus fossil car
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz There is a lot of discussion on the benefits of ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • “Manifest” by Andrew Bird – A Song For The Times.
    I came across this song quite by accident. If it isn't one of Greta Thunberg's favourites - it should be.Video courtesy of YouTube.This post is exclusive to Bowalley Road. ...
    6 days ago
  • Passing the buck
    Last month, NZDF's shoddy coverup of what it knew about civilian casualties in Operation Burnham began to fall apart, with the revelation that a report on the matter, which NZDF claimed not to have, had been sitting in an NZDF safe for the past nine years. Yesterday, the man responsible ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • India a major player in Earth observation satellites
    While many imagine that countries like the USA and Europe dominate space activities, in fact India is now a major player on this stage. It launches satellites for its own purposes and also commercially, and has constellations orbiting our planet and returning data of vital importance to that nation in ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    7 days ago
  • The rot at the top (2).
    Thanks to a report from the Acting Inspector General of Intelligence and Security following a complaint by Nicky Hager, we have come to find out that the SIS illegally spied on Mr. Hager on behalf of the NZDF after publication of Hager’s 2011 book, Other People’s Wars. The NZDF justified ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • Common misconceptions about “Global Warming”
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    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    7 days ago
  • A climate of tyranny
    For the past week, Extinction Rebellion has been peacefully protesting in London to demand action on climate change. The British government's response? Ban their protests:Police have banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing anywhere in London, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protesters who remained at the movement’s ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Collins crushes climate
    An essay by Judith Collins MP reported on Carbon News yesterday seems to show an alarming shift in attitude within the National Party. Collins argues against the Zero Carbon Bill, the Paris Agreement, and downplays the magnitude of climate impacts. The Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015 and ratified ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • More disappointment
    When they were running for election, Labour promised to overhaul the Employment Relations Act and introduce fair pay agreements to set basic pay and conditions on an industry level, preventing bad employers from undercutting good ones. They followed this up by establishing a working group, which reported back in January ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • What do these mother-child studies really say about fluoridation?
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    1 week ago
  • Losing Labour’s Mills-Tone.
    Nothing Left To Say: Labour's pollster, Stephen Mills, remains swaddled-up in the comforting myths of the 1980s. As if the experience of Roger Douglas’s genuinely radical post-Muldoon policy agenda was literally a once-in-a-lifetime thing – as much as the party could possibly absorb for at least the next 50 years.MEMO ...
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Disability and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse
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    1 week ago
  • Spain is not a democracy
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • UK Conservatives hate democracy
    With an unfair voting system, uneven electorates and an un-elected upper house, the UK's "democracy" is barely worthy of the name. But now the government wants to make it worse:The government has been accused of suppressing voters’ rights with the potential disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of people after plans ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • What is wrong with our building industry?
    Back in the 90's and early 2000's, the building industry was building leaky homes which should never have been granted consent. Now it turns out they've been building dodgy office blocks as well:New imaging technology has revealed hundreds of major buildings nationwide have defective or missing concrete or reinforcing steel. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Local bodies
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A future of government
      How could government evolve over the next decades? Reports of democracy’s imminent demise are greatly exaggerated.  However, satisfaction with political systems in many countries is low, so there is much to do for governments of all political stripes to improve relevance and trust. Digital technologies are seen as one ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Catalonia, interrupted
    Two years have now gone by since the Friday afternoon when my university-student son and I headed out of our Barcelona flat to a nearby primary school, designated as a polling station for the vote that was to be held the following Sunday: the referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain ...
    1 week ago
  • Sage Decisions Unwisely Over-Ruled.
    Overruled: The joint decision of Finance Minister, Grant Robertson (Labour) and his Associate Minister, David Parker (Labour) arguably the two most powerful ministers in Jacinda Ardern’s government, to grant OceanaGold the consents which Land Information Minister, Eugenie Sage (Greens) had earlier denied them, offers bitter proof of how hard fighting ...
    1 week ago
  • Government may ban voting in effort to get more people to do it
    More than double the number of people who will vote in this year’s local body elections have tried marijuana or urinated somewhere they shouldn’t have. As local elections look set for the lowest turnout in decades, with many regions falling well short of 40%, the Government is exploring a number ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Woman: Deleted.
    A Statement on Abortion Law Reform by the Council of Disobedient Women   On the eve of bringing an end to antiquated, anti-women abortion laws Green MP Jan Logie intends to write women out of the Bill. With a stroke of the pen, the woke are aiming for total erasure ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The Hollowest of Men Ride Again… SURPRISE!
    Musings continue apace about “the experienced businessman!” soon to be taking up a National Party MP position. Or to be more accurate, being parachuted into a seat to shut down their former MP Jamie-Lee Ross, who despite his own shortcomings shed at least some more light on the inner workings ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Barbaric
    The Ugandan government wants to murder gay people:Uganda has announced plans to impose the death penalty on homosexuals. The bill, colloquially known as “Kill the Gays” in Uganda, was nullified five years ago on a technicality, but the government said on Thursday it plans to resurrect it within weeks. The ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is this study legit? 5 questions to ask when reading news stories of medical research
    Hassan Vally, La Trobe University Who doesn’t want to know if drinking that second or third cup of coffee a day will improve your memory, or if sleeping too much increases your risk of a heart attack? We’re invested in staying healthy and many of us are interested in reading ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Fighting Monsters.
    Freedom Of Speech? The Säuberung (cleansing by fire) was the work of the German Student Union which, on 10 May 1933, under the watchful eye of the Nazi Reichminister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, consigned 25,000 books to the flames in a ritual exorcism of “un-German thought”. According to the logic of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The next wave of kaupapa Māori politics: its constitutional, it must be.
      “There can be no such thing as kaupapa Māori political parties or politics in Aotearoa” (Willie Jackson, Labour Party (2017). Māori TV, General/List Election Special) I begin with that claim because at the time, I was confounded at first that it fell out of Willie Jackson’s mouth, and then ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Night lights of NZ from orbit
    New Zealand has prided itself for decades with regard to its lack of pollution, and all will be aware that the ‘100% Pure New Zealand‘ meme is under threat through land, water and air pollution of various causes. There is another type of contamination that the country also faces: light ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Reporters deliver uplifting news to fleeing Japanese residents: they won’t miss any rugby
    New Zealand’s media is doing its part in Japan, reassuring those in the path of the storm that they won’t miss any rugby while away from their flooded homes. New Zealand sports reporters stationed in Japan for the Rugby World Cup have had the rare and heartwarming opportunity to inform ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Government in contentious discussions about whether to put surplus on red or black
    Regional Development Minister Shane Jones is the only Cabinet member in favour of putting it all on green. As Finance Minister Grant Robertson finds himself with an enormous $7.5 billion surplus, the Government has begun intense, at times contentious conversations about whether to put the money on red or black at ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Jordanian teachers’ successful strike has lessons for here
    by Susanne Kemp At the start of September close to 100,000 school teachers went on strike in Jordan.  They demanded a 50% pay rise.  A pay rise actually agreed to by the regime back in 2014. In early October, however, in the face of government repression and threats, the teachers’ ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Why some people still think climate change isn’t real
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz Why do people still think climate change isn’t real? David ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • The SIS unlawfully spied on Nicky Hager
    Back in 2011, journalist Nicky Hager published Other People's Wars, an expose on NZDF's activities over the previous decade of the "war on terror". NZDF didn't like this, and especially didn't like the fact that it was base don leaks from their own. So, they had the SIS investigate him ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • October 2019 – Newsletter
    https://mailchi.mp/7d9133add053/closing-the-gap-october-2019-newsletter ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    2 weeks ago
  • And they wonder why we think they’re environmental vandals…
    The Zero Carbon Bill is due back from select committee in two weeks, and will likely pass its final stages in November. So naturally, farmers are planning a hate-march against it. But they're not just demanding lower methane targets so they can keep on destroying the planet; they're also demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Paying the price in California
    Last year, California burned. This year, to stop it happening again (or rather, to stop themselves from being found liable if it happens again), Pacific Gas and Electric is cutting power to half the state for a week:Schools are closed. Traffic lights down. Tunnels dark. Businesses unopened. Hospitals running on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Let’s Hear It For Up-Close-And-Personal, Hard-Copy Democracy!
    The Best Way: Missing from the on-line voting debate is any reference to the voting system that produces turn-out figures ranging from 77 to 93 percent of registered voters. The voting system used to collect and count the votes cast in our parliamentary elections. The system that involves citizens making ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 10/10: World Day Against the Death Penalty
    Today, October 10, is the world day against the death penalty. Out of 195 UN member states, 84 still permit capital punishment. Today is the day we work to change that. This year's theme is children. Having a parent sentenced to death or executed causes long-term trauma and stigmatization which ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Talking Freer Lives: a Marxist gender-critical perspective from Australia
    Among the great new bunch of political friends we have been making recently is the excellent Australian-based Marxist gender-critical site, Freer Lives.  So we asked the comrade who set up that blog to write something for Redline on the blog, himself, his analysis of the rise of gender politics and ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Government spin accepted by union leadership
    by Don Franks  The Auckland City Mission is struggling with a 40 percent increase in demand for food parcels this year. A total of 23,020 were needed by June. Last month Missioner Chris Farrelly told the Herald the “cupboards are bare” and without an emergency food drive, he can’t see ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Forbidden Thoughts
    by The Council of Disobedient Women   Massey Wellington Student Association had a sit-in today. Imagine a sit-in. On a campus. Against a women’s rights meeting. Did the ’60s really happen or did we fucking dream it? They gathered in the student square, an echo chamber. Sitting on soft pillows ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Much love to my loyal Ukrainian readership
    For some reasons, my post about the mystery message from inside the Downing Street bunker seemed to catch people's attention.  Quite a lot of hits from NZ (unsurprisingly) and the USA (a bit more puzzlingly, but hi there, USAians!!) and 76 views from the Ukraine.I've celebrated my Ukrainian readers in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Another day of bonkers GNUmours (again, sorry)
    First, almost a score of Labour MPs seem to have sent a letter to the EU basically begging them to accept a deal - any deal - just so Britain can get the Heck on with Brexiting instead of being trapped in limbo:
    To avoid no deal, deliver on the ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Southern Response claims move to EQC
    Responsibility for processing the small number of Southern Response claims still to be settled will be transferred to EQC by the end of the year. “As claim numbers reduce, it no longer makes sense for the Crown to have two organisations processing the remaining Canterbury claims,” Grant Robertson says. “Since ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Bowel screening starts in Whanganui
    Health Minister David Clark is encouraging Whanganui residents to take up the opportunity for free bowel screening, which can detect cancer early when it’s easier to treat.   Over the next two years 12,000 Whanganui locals, aged 60 to 74 will be invited to participate in the National Bowel Screening ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Pacific Peoples Minister to attend Our Ocean Conference in Norway
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, heads to Oslo today to represent New Zealand at the sixth Our Ocean Conference, which is being hosted by the Norwegian Government from the 23-24 October. “The Our Ocean Conference mobilises real action on issues like marine plastic pollution and the impacts of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government announces 27 percent increase in Trades Academy places
    Two secondary-school initiatives are being expanded as part of the Government’s plan to see more young New Zealanders take up a trade to help close the skills gap.   This includes the largest single increase in Trades Academy places in recent years. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Methane reducing cattle feed one step closer
    The Government today announced its support for a project that could substantially reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from cattle. The announcement was made as part of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s visit to Nelson’s Cawthron Aquaculture Park. The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Bill to refresh superannuation system passes first reading
    Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has welcomed the first reading of the New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension Legislation Amendment Bill. “Every New Zealander has a stake in New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension,” says Carmel Sepuloni. “They are our most common form of social assistance – nearly 800,000 New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government announces next steps in fight against measles
    Babies in Auckland aged six months and over can receive a free vaccination and children will all have access to vaccines, Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter announced today at Papatoetoe High School.   The move comes as part of Government efforts to step up the fight against measles. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Pacific Futures: Connections, Identity...
    ***Check against delivery*** Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here, and to have the honour of opening this important conference on behalf of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. Let us take the opportunity to acknowledge all the people who have helped make today possible, including our special ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Police trial new response to high risk events
    Police Minister Stuart Nash says the safety of frontline officers and members of the public will be the focus of a new trial of specialist Police response teams in three of our largest urban centres. Police have this morning released details of an initiative to be trialled in Counties Manukau, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New awards celebrate fisheries sustainability
    The Minister of Fisheries is calling for entries for a new public award to celebrate innovation in our seafood sector. “I have established the Seafood Sustainability Awards to recognise and celebrate those throughout industry, tangata whenua and communities who demonstrate outstanding dedication and innovation towards the sustainability of New Zealand’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • More progress for women and we can do more
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter welcomes leaders in the private sector taking action on closing their gender pay gaps to ensure a fairer workplace for all New Zealanders. Ms Genter today launched a new report, Addressing the gender pay gap and driving women’s representation in senior leadership, from the Champions for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Proposals to curb environmental damage help our coasts and the oceans
    Government Ministers today welcomed the release of a marine environment report highlighting the four key issues affecting our oceans, estuaries and coastlines.  The release underlines the importance of government proposals to combat climate pollution, ensure clean freshwater, protect biodiversity, make land use more sustainable, and reduce waste and plastic.    Environment ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New mental health facility for Waikato
    The Government has approved funding for a new acute mental health facility for Waikato which will provide better care and support to people with mental health and addiction issues. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Dr David Clark announced the $100 million project to replace the aging Henry Rongomau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • 500 new te reo Māori champions in our classrooms
    The Government is making progress on its goal to integrate te reo Māori into education by 2025, with over 500 teachers and support staff already graduating from Te Ahu o te Reo Māori,  Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. Kelvin Davis made the announcement at an awards ceremony in Waikanae today, for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Minister James Shaw welcomes 2018 Census first release
    Statistics Minister James Shaw has welcomed the first release of 2018 Census data. The first release of data today, 23 September, includes key data on population, regional growth, the number of homes and the size of different ethnic groups in New Zealand. Data from the 2018 Census will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Driving transparency, ethics and accountability in government use of algorithms
    Minister for Statistics James Shaw today announced a public consultation on a proposed algorithm charter for government agencies. The charter has been developed by the Government Chief Data Steward in response to growing calls for more transparency in government use of data. Computer algorithms – procedures or formulas for solving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand and the Netherlands working together on climate change
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte co-hosted a business roundtable in Auckland this morning focused on working together to address climate change.  “The Netherlands is an important partner for New Zealand. We share a strong agricultural history. Sustainable agribusiness and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Protecting fairness for workers and businesses
    The Government is taking action to build an inclusive economy where more of us receive our fair share at work and businesses can compete on great products and services, not undercutting wages and conditions, Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. Two consultations launched today seek feedback ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Indigenous Freshwater Fish Bill Passes
    The future for New Zealand’s threatened indigenous freshwater fish looks brighter with the passing of the Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill in Parliament today said Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “Until now, our freshwater fish legislation has been 20 years out of date. We have lacked effective tools to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Kiwis to take part in world’s biggest earthquake drill
    At 1.30pm tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Kiwis will join about 65 million people around the globe in ShakeOut, the world’s biggest earthquake drill. The annual drill is to remind people of the right action to take during an earthquake which is to Drop, Cover, Hold, and to practise their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Rising wages and low inflation supporting Kiwis
    Kiwis are benefiting from higher wage growth and low inflation under the Coalition Government. Stats NZ data out today shows the rise in the cost of living remains low, as annual Consumers Price Index (CPI) inflation fell to 1.5% in September from 1.7% in June. “The low inflation comes as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ economy strong amid global headwinds
    New Zealand’s economic strength and resilience has been recognised in a major update on the state of the global economy. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook released overnight shows a reduced global growth forecast over the next two years as issues like the US-China trade war and Brexit take hold. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders safer with better counter-terrorism laws
    Justice Minister Andrew Little has today introduced a new Bill to prevent terrorism and support the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill gives the New Zealand Police the ability to apply to the High Court to impose control orders on New Zealanders who ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Improved succession and dispute resolution core of Ture Whenua changes
    A Bill that proposes targeted changes to simplify the processes for Māori land owners when engaging with the Māori Land Court has had its First Reading today. “The approach taken by the Government is to ensure that the protection of Māori land remains a priority as we seek to improve ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Speech to CTU Biennial Conference
    Let me first thank all the new unionists and members in the room. There is nothing more important to improving people’s working lives than people making the decision to care, to get on board and help, to take up the reins and get involved. Congratulations to you. You bring the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Minister ensures continued Whenuapai flight operations
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark has signed a certificate exempting the activity of engine testing at Whenuapai Airbase from the Resource Management Act 1991. The Act gives the Minister of Defence the power to exempt activities for the purposes of national security.  The certificate will mean the recent Environment Court ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ joins Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced New Zealand will join the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action while attending APEC meetings in Chile. The objective of the 39 member Coalition is to share information and promote action to tackle climate change. It was formed in April this year, in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Feedback Sought – Section 71 – Lyttelton Parking
    Feedback sought– Lyttelton commercial zone parking  The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Poto Williams, is seeking feedback on a proposal to remove on-site car parking requirements for new developments in the Lyttelton commercial zone.  The proposal, by Christchurch City Council, asks that powers under section 71 of the Greater ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Feedback Sought – Section 71 – Hagley Oval
    Hon Minister Poto Williams Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration   MEDIA STATEMENT       Tuesday 15 October 2019 Feedback sought – Hagley Oval The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Poto Williams, is seeking feedback on a proposal about Hagley Oval. The proposal was developed by Regenerate Christchurch ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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