DAT203x Data Science and Machine Learning Essentials

This is a MOOC sponsored by Microsoft, and is one of of the edX courses. It is free, but you can get a certificate, if you qualify for it, and pay $50.

The instructors are full qualified – in fact, over-qualified – but, as is becoming normal in the online world – can be contacted easily in a number of ways.

Give the intro the look-see, and see if you are interested.

Mental Illness is Part of a Culture

I noticed this back in the Nineties, when I worked in Silicon Valley – the whole Valley was crazy. And plenty of other people noticed this, and wrote books about it. And therapists of every description, said they could cure it.

But none of them called this strange behavior, mental illness. That would have been going too far. They would have been tarred and feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail. Or something equally serious.

This morning, I downloaded Brain Hacking – where I found much of the same nonsense going on. The refusal to notice that mental illness is part of a culture. That entire cultures can be crazy.

Is this too much for people to see? It seems so – if it is part of their culture.

Perhaps another observation is apt. I met a man here in Orosi, where I live – who seemed to have his act together. He invited me to join him for breakfast, at a restaurant of my choosing. I picked the most expensive place in town. While we were eating – I mentioned that Americans didn’t seem to know what was going on. And his answer surprised me “They know what is going on,” He said “But they are afraid!”

I knew he was right, and I wanted to talk about it some more. But he terminated our conversation, right there – and never brought it up again.

Some things people do not want to talk about.

Buying Votes

Today, this is done all the time. I get desperate appeals in my inbox every day – for money to pay for campaign expenses – usually to buy advertisements.

This is not thought of as buying votes – but it sure looks that way to me. You pay your money, you get your votes.

This is backed up with some sophisticated Software based on Machine Learning. The Computer learns about you (and lots of people like you) and then gives this valuable data to whoever pays for it.

Does this involve some ethical conflicts? It sure does!

Some people chose to deal with this (not an easy choice) – but most sweep it under the rug – that can hardly cover all the stuff under it.

This causes a problem – but only temporarily – people (and some very important people) decide all this crap does not exist! Zingo! It all goes away!

At one time, all this manure was spread on the land – to fertilize it. This new method is much easier – no labor is involved at all – but no fertilization occurs either.

Business Wants to be Free of Ethics

This is not surprising, every power structure wants to be free of ethical restrictions – and Business is a power structure. It has also become a religion, which has similar feelings about restrictions on them. In either case they want to be free – to do as they please.

They want to overlook their social setting – and insist that only they are important. They say – if they they become all-powerful – all will be right with the world. The faults in this reasoning cannot be seen by most of today’s population – because they have been taught to not think.

This is a recent development, that began with the rise of Industrialization in the 19th Century. Industry needed workers – people who would not think, but just do their jobs – be cogs in the wheels of the Business Machine.

This was the plan – but it didn’t work out that way. People could not be easily domesticated – turned into beasts of burden, as the horse was. They had minds, and these minds were unpredictable.

They developed religious passions that were difficult to coordinate with Industry. An example of this was the religion of my family – Mormonism – which arose as one of the results of Industrialization. Their leader, Joseph Smith, was a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln – but their paths never crossed. Abraham Lincoln fit in with Industry – he was a successful Railroad lawyer. But Joseph Smith was not interested in it – and, as a result – was murdered by an angry mob, in 1842.

We now live in another transition – the Industrial world is over, everyone agrees with that – but no one can agree on what has followed it. People have gone crazy again – and once again, have insisted on abandoning ethics. And on giving complete control to today’s dominant force – which is still business, but a different kind of business – that has arisen with TV and the Computer.

We still speak of industries, but entirely different industries – such as the Software industry. Which most people cannot comprehend in the least – but rules their lives almost completely – in the form of the smartphone, that is almost as universal as the TV.

Now that I am safely removed from all that, I am finding it interesting – especially the rise of data – everything has become digitized and stored in the cloud.

And people, once again – have become nothing.

They Get to be As Bad as They Really Want to be

I keep saying this, over and over – the people of the world are destroying their world – much to their satisfaction. But this destructive urge resides in their collective unconscious – where it can be safely denied. Along with the unconscious itself.

Many observers of the social scene have been saying approximately the same thing, for some time – but more politely. They know that telling people they are bad, will make them unpopular – and in extreme cases – dead.

People want to be bad – but they do not want to be called for it. They want to be told they are good – and not only that, but very good – even as they rape their neighbors.

This is the worst situation imaginable – which means most people cannot imagine it – and reject it out-of-hand. They will not dip into their unconscious to see what is there. Which is simply – murder, which has been there since the beginning of history. As the Good Book itself says.

They are willing to admit to a little evil here, and a little evil there – but not its existence everywhere. In fact, I am not saying it is everywhere – only in the human heart and mind. Which covers quite a bit of territory.

I can take my own mind as an example – there have been times, many times, when I wanted to destroy everything – beginning with my mother. And this urge has been debilitating – it meant I could sometimes do almost nothing. And I could see it happening in my family also – they would go to a tremendous effort to build something – and then destroy it.

This what has happened, on a global scale. We went to a tremendous effort to make Capitalism global – and then destroyed it. If it didn’t like us – we didn’t like it.

This is insane – but like any insanity, it is logical – when looked at from the inside.

They Don’t Read, They Don’t Watch

This morning I watched Why open a school? To close a prison on TED. I was amazed – I wanted to tell my family about it – but I knew they didn’t watch TED.

This afternoon, I downloaded and read Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right and again I was amazed – but once again, I knew my family would not read it.

They are the right kind of Americans – they know nothing, and will continue to know nothing. But they think they know everything.

I would like to reverse-engineer this situation – and indeed, this is not difficult. We can begin with the ending – they think they know everything.

Our networked technologies – TV and Internet – assure them this is so. They have enormous amounts of data on everything imaginable – so much so, that figuring out what it means, has grown into a major industry. They can tell if you are pregnant – even before you can.

I’m reminded of this: “The difficult we do immediately – the impossible takes a little longer!”

People look with amazement at their smartphones – how they respond to their every touch. And conclude: if they can do everything – they can also.


The Perpetual Growth of Business

We live in a world where business is everything – it has taken over completely. But this means it is finished – it has to grow to exist (that is part of its internal dynamic) but it cannot grow any more – because there is nothing more for it to take over.

It was so successful for so long – for about 150 years – because it could always promise – more! More of everything. That was the magic word that hypnotized everyone – and made them breathe harder and faster. And made them stupider and stupider.

There is a limit to how stupid people can get – and they have reached that limit. The roller-coaster has reached its top, and is on its way down.

They may mean the end of Capitalism, and the beginning of something else – perhaps made possible by the Computer. Or it may mean another Dark Ages – where we live in the ruins of the past. Or a mix of the two.

I think it will have to be a mix – I continue to marvel at all the plastics we have – from the espresso machine that makes my coffee, to the containers that package everything. The Computer cannot make these. It can make Software, but it cannot make Hardware.

We now live on two worlds – the Software world and the Hardware world – and the two do not talk to each other.

And that is not all – we now live in a unethical world – and we have no idea how to cope with this.

We have conquered the world – but we cannot conquer ourselves.