Wednesday, January 25, 2023

25: Putin

ChatGPT Wrote (Most of) This Letter, but Its Editors Are Human A chatbot comes to its own defense, saying the idea that it is a threat to democracy is “fear-based speculation.” .......... While it is true that ChatGPT can generate text that is often indistinguishable from human writing, it is important to note that this technology is not capable of understanding the nuances and subtleties of political networks and systems. ....... ChatGPT and similar technologies have the potential to be powerful tools for businesses, researchers and educators. They can be used to automate repetitive tasks, improve efficiency and generate new insights

The U.S. Has Made a Coldly Logical Decision in Ukraine. So Has Russia. Kyiv wants as many weapons as the West can send, it wants to reclaim every inch of territory, and it doesn’t want to entertain terms that would concede anything to the invading Russians. ......... shared by many hawkish voices in Europe and America, who continue to plan for Ukraine’s triumph and Vladimir Putin’s overthrow. .......... the White House’s proximate goal is a favorable armistice, not complete Russian defeat. ......... the Russians seem to be not just digging in but also girding for their own renewed offensive. ....... From the assumed Russian perspective, Ukrainian gains in the fall and European resilience in the winter have made military success only more urgent. There’s no point in elaborating peace proposals so long as the Ukrainians are convinced that they can win a total victory, and they’re more convinced of that than ever. ......... escalation is embraced as a coldly logical decision, as the only reasonable course. ....... And out of such rationality, you get closer to the irrationality of fighting for years in a war that neither side can fully hope to win.

Putin Has No Red Lines The Taliban’s return to Kabul in August 2021 — an outcome the West had spent two decades and trillions of dollars preventing — was the brightest of red lines, until, in the face of changing priorities and a different view of costs and benefits, it suddenly wasn’t. ........... preoccupation with red lines invites deception. A state will seek to manipulate an adversary’s desire to restrain itself by enlarging the range of interests it claims are fundamental and actions it considers unacceptable. Fear of escalation thus encourages an escalation of bluff. ........ communicating the certainty of severe consequences should Russia use nuclear weapons. ........ Russia has no red lines: It has only, at each moment, a range of options and perceptions of their relative risks and benefits. ........ a long war threatens his regime — whose preservation seems to be the only thing he values more highly than a subordinated Ukraine — by fatally weakening domestic cohesion or by escalating out of control. ........ To signal unilateral restraint is to make an unforced concession. ....... An orderly withdrawal is unlikely to lead to regime change, let alone the breakup of Russia. ......... if Russia’s elites conclude that it is as dangerous for Russia to leave Ukraine as to stay, they have no incentive to press for an end to the war.

Are We in the West Weaker Than Ukrainians? I worry that we in the West are made of weaker stuff. ........ almost half of Americans want the United States to push Ukraine “to settle for peace as soon as possible,” even if it loses territory .......... We are holding Ukraine’s coat as it is sacrificing lives and infrastructure in ways that benefit us, by degrading Russia’s military threat to NATO and Western Europe — and thus to us. ......... “They’re doing us a favor; they’re fighting our fight” ........ “If Ukraine falls, there will certainly be a wave of nuclear proliferation” ....... If the West falters and allows Putin to win in Ukraine, Xi will feel greater confidence that he can win in Taiwan. ........ Putin has been a destabilizing and brutal bully for many years — from Chechnya to Syria, Georgia to Moldova — partly because the world has been unwilling to stand up to him and partly because he possesses a powerful military force that Ukraine is now dismantling. Aside from energy, Russia’s economy is not substantial. ........... “Russia is a poor country, an oil appendage to the world, a gas station.” ......... bowing to nuclear blackmail and rewarding an invasion would create their own risks for many years to come, and on balance those dangers seem greater than those of maintaining the present course. .......... The world could use a spinal transplant from brave Ukrainians.

I Went to Ukraine, and I Saw a Resolve That We Should Learn From

How ChatGPT Hijacks Democracy It could mimic the work that the Russian Internet Research Agency did in its attempt to influence our 2016 elections, but without the agency’s reported multimillion-dollar budget and hundreds of employees. ......... When we humans do these things, we call it lobbying. Successful agents in this sphere pair precision message writing with smart targeting strategies. Right now, the only thing stopping a ChatGPT-equipped lobbyist from executing something resembling a rhetorical drone warfare campaign is a lack of precision targeting. A.I. could provide techniques for that as well. ......... What makes the threat of A.I.-powered lobbyists greater than the threat already posed by the high-priced lobbying firms on K Street is their potential for acceleration. Human lobbyists rely on decades of experience to find strategic solutions to achieve a policy outcome. That expertise is limited, and therefore expensive. ......... A.I. could, theoretically, do the same thing much more quickly and cheaply. ......... Just as teachers will have to change how they give students exams and essay assignments in light of ChatGPT, governments will have to change how they relate to lobbyists. ........ Not everyone can afford an experienced lobbyist, but a software interface to an A.I. system could be made available to anyone. If we’re lucky, maybe this kind of strategy-generating A.I. could revitalize the democratization of democracy by giving this kind of lobbying power to the powerless.

What Will Russia Without Putin Look Like? Maybe This. Russia’s current condition — militarized, isolated, corrupt, dominated by the security services and hemorrhaging talent as hundreds of thousands flee abroad to escape service in a horrific war — is bleak. ........ To change the country, however, it is not enough for Mr. Putin to die or step down. Russia’s future leaders must dismantle and transform the structures over which he has presided for more than two decades. .......... an “act on peace” that would demobilize the army and end the occupation of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea; create a joint group for the investigation of war crimes; pay reparations for damaged infrastructure and the families of the dead; and reject future “wars of conquest.” ......... The officials responsible for the devastation will need to be rooted out, too — something that never happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union. ........ The congress would bar from working in state and educational institutions those who belonged to “criminal” organizations — such as the Federal Security Services or state television channels — or publicly supported the war ........ The Russian Federation is highly centralized, with a patchwork of over 80 republics and regions that are strongly subordinate to the president, enabling the accumulation of enormous power. .......... dissolve the Russian Federation and replace it with a new parliamentary democracy. .......... “self-determination,” the future Russian state should be “joined on the basis of free choice by the peoples who populate it.” ............ From Vladimir Lenin to Boris Yeltsin, modern Russian leaders have a history of offering decentralization to win support and then reneging once they consolidate power. ........ the disproportionate deployment and death of ethnic minorities from poorer republics like Dagestan and Buryatia in the war in Ukraine. .......... Mr. Khodorkovsky and Aleksei Navalny, the country’s most well-known dissident, who is currently languishing in a penal colony, have also issued calls to turn Russia into a parliamentary democracy with more power devolved to the local and regional levels. .......... history shows that radical developments are often incubated abroad or underground. ....... In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, political émigrés in bickering communities around Europe plotted the downfall of the Russian empire. Among them was Vladimir Lenin, who was living in Poland at the outbreak of World War I. ......... In early 1917, a pessimistic Lenin lamented that he probably wouldn’t live to see the revolution; a few weeks later, the czar was overthrown.

Where is Physics Headed (and How Soon Do We Get There)? she now uses quantum computers to investigate the properties of wormholes......... things have never been more exciting in particle physics, in terms of the opportunities to understand space and time, matter and energy, and the fundamental particles — if they are even particles. .......... I was so excited in 1980 about the idea of grand unification, and that now looks small compared to the possibilities ahead. .......... the basic building blocks of matter are quarks and leptons; the rules that govern them are described by the quantum field theory called the Standard Model. .......... Why two different kinds of building blocks? Why so many “elementary” particles? Why four forces? How do dark matter, dark energy, gravity and space-time fit in? Answering these questions is the work of elementary particle physics. ......... for 20 years I’ve been chasing the supersymmetrical particles. So we’re like deer in the headlights: We didn’t find supersymmetry, we didn’t find dark matter as a particle. ........ Discussing what space and time are and where they came from is now within the realm of particle physics. ......... does the universe have an end? Is there a multiverse? How many spaces and times are there? Does that question even make sense? ........... At high enough energies, the fundamental forces — gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces — seem to become equal. ............ the ultimate law remains a persistent puzzle, and the way we solve it is going to be through new thinking. .......... it looks like the four different forces we see are just different facets of a unified force. ........... the hallmark of great science: You ask a question, and often it turns out to be the wrong question, but you have to ask a question just to find out it’s the wrong one. If it is, you ask a new one. .......... String theory — the vaunted “theory of everything” — describes the basic particles and forces in nature as vibrating strings of energy. ............ Some scientists criticize string theory as being outside science. ....... Mathematics is the language of science, and the more our language is enriched, the more fully we can describe nature. We will have to wait and see what comes from string theory, but I think it will be big. ......... Among the many features of string theory is that the equations seem to have 10⁵⁰⁰ solutions — describing 10⁵⁰⁰ different possible universes or even more. Do we live in a multiverse? .......... the multiverse gives me a headache; not being testable, at least not yet, it isn’t science ......... But it may be the most important idea of our time. ........ the standard model of cosmology doesn’t say what 95 percent of the universe is .......... space can bend and time can warp ........ Particle physics invented big, global science, and national and now global facilities. ........ science has allowed humankind to do big things — Covid vaccines, the Large Hadron Collider, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, the Webb telescope — that extend our vision and our power to shape our future. ....... If we continue to dream big and work together, even more amazing things lie ahead.

A New View of the Most Explosive Moon in the Solar System Recent strange activity around Jupiter’s volcanic moon, Io, confused and excited scientists........ Because Io is far from the sun and has a very thin atmosphere, its surface, on average, sits at around minus 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is coated in a frosty layer of sulfuric compounds. ........ Volcanic eruptions there, which come in many different forms and intensities, can reach temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. When super hot meets super cold, molecules like sulfur dioxide and sodium can be shot into space. ..... Some of the most explosive eruptions come from fissures in the surface and throw fountains of lava half a mile into space. The charged molecules create what is known as a “plasma torus” in Io’s wake: a doughnut-shaped cloud of ionized gas that collects in Jupiter’s magnetic field. ....... “You can think of it like looking at different parts of an elephant”

A Brutal New Phase of Putin’s Terrible War in Ukraine The war in Ukraine has entered a new, more deadly and fateful phase, and the one man who can stop it, Vladimir Putin, has shown no signs that he will do so. ........ After 11 months during which Ukraine has won repeated and decisive victories against Russian forces, clawed back some of its lands and cities and withstood lethal assaults on its infrastructure, the war is at a stalemate. ........ Both sides are now said to be bracing for a fierce new round of offensives in the late winter or spring. Russia has mobilized 300,000 new men to throw into the fray, and some arms factories are working around the clock. ........ the broad, muddy fields of Ukraine will soon again witness full-scale tank-and-trench warfare, this time pitting Western arms against a desperate Russia. This was never supposed to happen again in Europe after the last world war. ......... But as Mr. Putin digs himself ever deeper into pursuing his delusions, it is also critical that the Russian people be aware of what is being done in their name, and how it is destroying their own future. ....... their lives are being mortgaged for generations to come in a state distrusted and disliked in many parts of the world. ......... The Kremlin’s propaganda machinery has been working full time churning out false narratives about a heroic Russian struggle against forces of fascism and debauchery, in which the Western arms are but more proof that Ukraine is a proxy war by the West to strip Russia of its destiny and greatness. Mr. Putin has concocted an elaborate mythology in which Ukraine is an indelible part of a Russkiy mir, a greater Russian world. .......... The start of the war stunned Russians, but Mr. Putin seemed convinced that a West wasted by decadence and decline would squawk but take no action. He and his commanders were apparently unprepared for the extraordinary resistance they met in Ukraine, or for the speed with which the United States and its allies, horrified by the crude violation of the postwar order, came together in Ukraine’s defense. .......... what he insists on calling his “limited military offensive” into an existential struggle between a spiritually ordained Great Russia and a corrupt and debauched West. ........ until Mr. Putin began trying to change Ukraine’s borders by force in 2014, they were finally enjoying what those in other industrialized countries had long considered normal — the opportunity to earn decent salaries, buy consumer goods and enjoy vastly expanded freedoms to travel abroad and speak their mind. ........ Like the last great European war, this one is mostly one man’s madness. .......... Russia faces decades of economic stagnation and regression even if the war ends soon ......... Many Western companies have left, trade with the West has dwindled, and financing the war is draining the budget. Numerous foreign airlines have ceased service to Russia. Add to that the millions of Russia’s best and brightest who have fled, and the future is bleak. ......... Moscow’s casualties were “well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded.” About 300,000 men have been pressed into cannon-fodder duty in the army and many more may follow. ........... on Jan. 11, in his first televised meeting with government ministers in the new year, when he tore into Denis Manturov, deputy prime minister, over aircraft production figures Mr. Putin insisted were wrong and Mr. Manturov defended. Mr. Putin finally exploded, “What are you doing, really, playing the fool?” “Yest’,” Mr. Manturov finally said, the Russian equivalent of “Yes, sir.”

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