Showing posts from April, 2023

Review: The Inevitable War

By Graham Allison 2500 years ago, the Greek Historian Thucydides wrote: ““It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Allison, Graham. Destined For War. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. These words have proven prophetic. Allison and his colleagues have analyzed a series of changes in the balance of powers in the world and found that they have often led to war, perhaps most catastrophically in the early Twentieth Century when the rising power of Germany ultimately led to the First world War and its aftermath, including the Second World War.   Today it is the rise of China, which has now become the world’s largest economy and is in the process of becoming a military superpower which poses the threat.   Neither Thucydides 2500 years nor the Allison much more recently believed that war was truly inevitable, however.   Rather, it is the missteps of leaders and nations that lead to war, and Allison believes that if we are to avoid a t
  What is GPT doing … By Stephen Wolfram This is a short book which combines an description of how GPT, the revolutionary new AI technology shaking the world, works with an advertisement for some Wolfram products designed to augment GPT.   His description is pretty good but I couldn’t really follow his explanation of the crucial “transformer” component, the attention blocks.   ChatGPT was able to give me a better account. Wolfram pointed out some key failings of GPT.   It can’t really do deductive chains of any substance.   For example, ask it to compute 3^73 and it comes up with an absurdly wrong answer, off by a factor of roughly 10^34.   I tried giving it some hints, including using logarithms.   Again, it confected a plausible looking deductive chain and an answer only off by a factor of ten or so. Wolfram then argues that supplementing GPT with some deductive system like Wolfram language would have more capability.   Of course lots of people are working on such things.

Brexit, by ChatGPT

 I coaxed GPT-3 into writing this ditty on Brexit.  Those who know assure me that GPT-4 would have done much better. Amidst the Isles, a tempest doth arise, A nation's fate hangs in a balance dire, As Brexit looms, the future's shadow lies, And discontentment rages like a fire. The voters spoke, a cry for sovereignty, To cast aside the shackles of the EU, But little thought was given to the gravity, Of severing ties with a union so true. Now chaos reigns, uncertainty abounds, As negotiations flounder and stall, And fears of economic downturns, Cast a pall over the land once proud and tall. The border issue, an unyielding thorn, With Ireland caught in the crossfire's aim, And many wonder if the day will dawn, When peace is shattered, and war becomes flame. The Scots and Welsh, their patience wears thin, As England stumbles on a solo path, Their voices drowned amidst the Brexit din, Their hopes and dreams lost in the aftermath. And yet, one man seems immune to the strife, His