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The cashless retail revolution is overstated: Square report

Plastic and digital payments are growing, but the vast majority of retailers say they have no plans to stop accepting the almighty paper dollar.

— Read on www.fastcompany.com/90352640/the-cashless-retail-revolution-is-overstated-square-report

Yes, some innovations always leave some people behind. Change is a balancing act.

Secularism neutrality: the case of ‘no clothes’

www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-laicity-secularism-bill-1.5075547

Where particular clothes are more value-laden than others. A ‘clothing-optional’ society would solve a plethora of economic, psychosocial and environmental problems.

Empower Girls and Women

Empower Girls and Women
— Read on www.globalcitizen.org/en/campaign/empower-girls-and-women/

Women must also gain more control over their ‘presentation of self’ in society. This includes 1. What to wear; 2. How much to wear; and 3. Where to wear…..clothes. Even non-sexual public nudity has to become acceptable, including for men. Body acceptance in all its manifestations is the next frontier in need of a revolution of discovery.

Misogyny or Worse: the successful escape to freedom by Rahaf Mohammed

www.cbc.ca/news/canada/rahaf-mohammed-network-young-women-1.5035839

There are still countries in the world in which women’s rights and freedoms are controlled by men, justified by outmoded religion.

Against Teleology in the Study of Race: Toward the Abolition of the Progress Paradigm – Louise Seamster, Victor Ray, 2018

We argue that claims of racial progress rest upon untenable teleological assumptions founded in Enlightenment discourse. We examine the theoretical and methodol…
— Read on journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/10.1177/0735275118813614/full

Insightful, but not currently relevant to social policy, due to the degree of gene pooling through extensive miscegenation over the past 300 years. ‘Race’ doesn’t exist today, only ethnic-based discrimination. And all other forms of discrimination. Talking about “racism” perpetuates unnecessary negative stereotypes.

What’s in a Name? In this case, traditions do the defining, but body acceptance is at the core of this 100-year old, non-denominational, non-sexist, equal rights social movement. Now in over 108 countries.

Freedom at Last!

Through traditional and empirical observations, a nudist likes more to lay in the sun, or play volleyball or go swimming, at a nudist resort or on a private property. A naturist in somewhat contradistinction, may do the same, but “Naturism is a way of life, in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intentioon of encouraging respect for oneself, for others, and for the environment” (Federation of Canadian Naturists [FCN.org] [INF.org])

Further,  “As stated in this definition from the International Naturist Federation, naturism is the practice of complete nudity in a social setting. Though nudity is the most obvious aspect of naturism, it is part of a much wider context.

The purpose of naturism is to promote wholesomeness and stability of the human body, mind and spirit. These come easily to those who shed the psychlogical and social encumbrance of clothing, to see and respect the human body as created.

Naturism also promotes optimal health through complete contact of the body with the natural elements. It is practised as much as possible in an environment free of pollution and stress of modern society. It is therefore associated with an enlightened, holistic approach to nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and social interaction.

Naturism is founded on family participation. Children in naturist families learn to appreciate the body as part of their natural environment. They grow up with healthful attitudes and accept the physical nature of both sexes and all ages withour fear or shame.

Nude living thus removes barriers to communication between people and fosters appreciation of the environment. It leads to healthier and more humane living, richer and simpler, enlightened by joy and freedom.” (FCN.org pamphlet)

Both nudists and naturists enjoy fewer divorces, fewer psychological difficulties, less body shame, a better self concept, a greater tolerance for diversity, and non-exploitation of the human body for profit or power.

See for example, Therapy, Nudity and Joy, by Aileen Goodson, PhD. Elysium Press.

https://i2.wp.com/zjuzdme.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Selection_614.jpg Nudism. Naturism. Is there a difference? I know that in most of the US of A the words are used interchangeably. Nudists or naturists? I also know that in Europe, for instance, the two words are used differently. Naturism appeared after nudism. I’ve been thinking about those two words recently. Thoughts on the difference. […]

via A naturist’s view on nudism. (And naturism!) — Nudie News

GUEST APPEARANCE by Paul Bassett: Cosmologist, internationally-known AI specialist, keynote speaker and published author. His third contribution follows, speaking on Our Universe.

It gives me tremendous pleasure (again) in introducing my long-time friend and colleague, Paul Bassett. Paul has written a blog contribution below, which I know you will find extremely thought-provoking. Your responses are of course, solicited.

Paul Bassett photo Paul Bassett is a retired software engineer, author, entrepreneur, and inventor. His invention of Frame Technology (used around the world to automate software development) won him CIP’s Technology Innovation Award. He’s published numerous papers and a book Framing Software Reuse. Paul was a member of IEEE’s Distinguished Visitor Program, and has given keynote addresses, taught computer science at York University, and co-founded several businesses, including two successful software engineering companies. His MSc in artificial intelligence (U. of Toronto) imbued him with a life-long passion for divining the role and future life in the universe.

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What is the Name of Our Universe?

“Our universe” means different things in cultures with different creation myths. In my culture, “our universe” usually means the observable universe, which is a sphere with the Earth at its centre; it is the largest volume of matter that can ever affect us. Its radius is 46.6 billion light-years (1 light-year = 9.46 billion km.) and growing at one light-year per year. But the universe created at the “Big Bang” (13.8 billion years ago) surrounds “our universe”, and is unimaginably larger still. Virtually all the matter in the “Big Bang universe” is moving away from us faster than the speed of light, so can never affect us.

In “our universe”, we can see galaxies that can never see each other because any pair of galaxies that are more than 13.8 billion light-years apart have not had enough time since the Big Bang for light to travel from one to the other. So one could say that those galaxies are outside each other’s universes.

Finally, there is the notion of a ‘multiverse’, a universe some cosmologists speculate is spawning universes all the time, just as it spawned our “Big Bang universe”. With so many universes, there is no name for any of them! That said, “our universe” is the de facto name for the one and only universe that matters to us.

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Is artificial intelligence intelligent? or is it just machine learning?

There are many ways to define intelligence. Almost all of them involve problem solving proficiency. Problem-solving in turn, is deeply connected to the notion of algorithm, a method for converting inputs to outputs, or in mathematics, computing a function. Every computable function* has a countably infinite number of algorithms that can compute it, each varying greatly in its proficiency – the time and memory it requires to compute its outputs.

All brains and computers work by performing algorithms*. Brains have algorithms whose outputs are algorithms. Normally, brains invent/improve algorithms that computers use, as is. But ever since computers were invented, a goal has been to enable computers to invent/improve their own algorithms, what is commonly referred to as machine learning.

Human intelligence correlates with how quickly one can learn, with the vastness of one’s knowledge, expertise, wisdom, creativity,…This somewhat vague list of attributes all boil down, as I said, to the proficiency of various algorithms. After decades of frustratingly small advances, algorithms have recently been devised that allow simulated, multi-layered neural networks to learn to become much better than any human at quite a few impressive problem domains: from playing games such as checkers, chess, backgammon, poker and go, to medical diagnoses, to language translation, to facial recognition, to driving cars, to big-data pattern recognition, and so on. These machines are said to employ deep learning (“deep” means many layers of simulated neurons, each learning a different aspect of how to solve an overall problem).

Are these machines intelligent? In their domains of expertise, YES. Do they exhibit general intelligence? NO, because they still lack many key algorithms. In particular, no deep learning system today can give reasons for its choices (e.g., why it makes particular chess moves); nor do we know how to enable a machine to be an expert in multiple domains (e.g., chess and medicine). Billions of dollars are being spent on achieving general-purpose AI. And recent rapid progress leaves less and less room for skepticism*.

What is clear now is this: Like humans do, AIs will acquire their intelligence, not from human programmers, but by learning from experience, aided and unaided by teachers. Programmers may give them their initial learning algorithms, but what they learn, including learning to learn better, will emerge from an AI’s interactions with its environments.

*For those who still believe brains can think in ways that machines never can: Almost a century ago computer science pioneer Alan Turing and mathematician Alonzo Church, conjectured that a certain well-defined set contained all and only the functions that matter and energy can ever compute. (This countably infinite set is infinitesimal compared to the uncountably infinite set of all functions.) Since then, many have tried to refute it and failed. More recently, physicist David Deutsch finally proved the conjecture, assuming only that matter and energy obey the laws of quantum mechanics. Thus both brains and (quantum) computers are confined to thinking using algorithms in that set.

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