Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 3-Feb-2010
3-Feb-10 News - China objects to Obama's meeting with Dalai Lama

Web Log - February, 2010

3-Feb-10 News - China objects to Obama's meeting with Dalai Lama

Chess champion Garry Kasparov explains how computers and humans can work together.

China infuriated over Obama's planned visit with Dalai Lama

Tensions between the US and China continue to increase. First there was the bitter division at December's climate change conference in December, then there were the mutual recriminations over internet freedom following Google's accusations, and last week there was Washington's announcement of arms sales to Taiwan.

On Tuesday, an Obama administration official confirmed that the President plans to meet with the Dalai Lama in April, according to Bloomberg. Obama had put off a similar visit a few months ago to avoid antogonizing the Chinese, but now, in the current spirit of mutual brinksmanship, the meeting is on.

A Washington Post analysis of the rising tension between the two countries says that China is becoming "newly combative," simply because the US owes China so much money:

"Since the 2008 financial crisis, Beijing has concluded that the world's developed democracies "are badly wounded and therefore a healthy and growing China can now impose its will all over the world," said Edward Friedman, a China specialist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

"It therefore has become more assertive and uncompromising and self-confident, such that its actions seem arrogant to many," Friedman said. ...

"The fact that Beijing is Washington's banker is not lost on the Chinese government," said Oxford University China scholar Steve Tsang."

So, according to the article, China's government has become combative, assertive, uncompromising, self-confident and arrogant.

And yet, there's little doubt in my mind that if you were to ask a Chinese official, he would use exactly the same set of adjectives to describe the US government.

This rising level of confrontation could not have happened 5-10 years ago, because at that time senior officials in both countries had more survivors of the last generational crisis war (WW II and Mao's Communist Rebellion, respectively).

In America, the survivors of the Great Depression and WW II were originally called "Depression Babies," but in the 1950s, Time Magazine started calling them the Silent Generation, because they didn't complain about anything, they did their jobs professionally, and they were very conciliatory.

Now the Silent Generation is gone, and arrogant, incompetent Boomers are the senior officials, and most of the top-level managers are the nihilistic Generation-Xers.

The same kind of generational change is going on in China.

That's why both sides are increasingly combative, assertive, uncompromising, self-confident and arrogant. And that trend will continue until some kind of misunderstanding or miscalculation leads to war. That's what generational theory tells us.

Garry Kasparov: How humans and computers can help each other

Besides Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov has been the most colorful world chess champion in the last 80 years (since José Raúl Capablanca in the 1920s). Kasparov held the world chess championship in the 1980s and 1990s, and is considered by some to be the greatest chess player of all time.

Garry Kasparov is still in the news from time to time, but not necessarily for chess. He's known as a political opponent of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and he heads several activist political organizations in Russia. When he gets into the news these days, it's sometimes because the Russian police have arrested him for his activism.

Now he's written a philosophical article for The New York Review of Books about computers and chess, including his own experiences in beating, and later losing to, the world's greatest chess-playing computers.

The most fascinating portion of his article has to do with experiments in chess tournaments where humans and computers collaborate.

Normally, chess players in tournaments are forbidden from using computers to help them, for obvious reasons. Then there are other tournaments where humans play against computers, or computers play against computers.

"In 2005, the online chess-playing site hosted what it called a "freestyle" chess tournament in which anyone could compete in teams with other players or computers. ...

Lured by the substantial prize money, several groups of strong grandmasters working with several computers at the same time entered the competition. At first, the results seemed predictable. The teams of human plus machine dominated even the strongest computers. The chess machine Hydra, which is a chess-specific supercomputer like Deep Blue, was no match for a strong human player using a relatively weak laptop. Human strategic guidance combined with the tactical acuity of a computer was overwhelming.

The surprise came at the conclusion of the event. The winner was revealed to be not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and "coaching" their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants. Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process."

The significance of this experiment is its application to computer-assisted warfare.

Labs in countries around the world are developing intelligent devices that will fight wars and kill people. You can be absolutely certain that the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Indians, the Russians and the Europeans, and probably a lot of others are all doing their own development in this area. Our DoD has announced the first generation of intelligent battlefield computers for 2015. It seems all but certain that before the end of this decade, there will be battles, and possibly entire wars, fought where intelligent soldier robots of some kind will be killing enemy soldiers based on their own decision making.

Kasparov's description of human+computer decision making provides lessons for how intelligent computers will first be used in warfare.

At some point in the 2020s, super-intelligent computer soldiers will be able to work completely autonomously in war. But before that point can be reached, computers will still need guidance from humans.

In my lengthy book chapter, "Chapter 7 - The Singularity," I defined what computer intelligence is, and I described the software algorithms that will be necessary to implement computer intelligence. However, these algorithms will require very powerful computers, and those won't be fully available until the 2020s. In the meantime, my algorithms will have to be modified to make it easier for computers to make decisions based on guidance from humans. That will be the process that will be used for the next decade or two. After that, computers will be intelligent enough so that they won't need any more guidance from humans.

Additional Links

Oscar the cat works in a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island, and has the uncanny ability to predict the death the imminent deaths of its patients, according to The Telegraph. If Oscar comes to cuddle with you, it means you probably won't wake up.

More charges of fraud by climate change scientists. An investigation by The Guardian reveals that these scientists purposely withheld flaws in their data about about 42 weather monitoring stations in parts of China. The data from these stations purportedly implied that temperatures were rising in rural China, but now it turns out that they may have been located in cities with large populations.

Mir Moussavi, the opposition leader who supporters claim was the real winner in last June's presidential elections in Iran, is becoming increasingly harsh in his criticism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the hardline government, according to The NY Times. There are some real questions about how long he can keep this up before he's arrested for treason.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Feb-10 News - China objects to Obama's meeting with Dalai Lama thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Feb-2010) Permanent Link
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