The black box, which is set to built on the west coast of Tasmania, will be connected to the internet and will record information to help a future civilisation if humanity suffers a major apocalyptic event
Now You Can Rent a Robot Worker—for Less Than Paying a Human
Automation is reaching more companies, imperiling some jobs and changing the nature of others.
POLAR MANUFACTURING has been making metal hinges, locks, and brackets in south Chicago for more than 100 years. Some of the company’s metal presses—hulking great machines that loom over a worker—date from the 1950s. Last year, to meet rising demand amid a shortage of workers, Polar hired its first robot employee.
The robot arm performs a simple, repetitive job: lifting a piece of metal into a press, which then bends the metal into a new shape. And like a person, the robot worker gets paid for the hours it works.
Jose Figueroa, who manages Polar’s production line, says the robot, which is leased from a company called Formic, costs the equivalent of $8 per hour, compared with a minimum wage of $15 per hour for a human employee. Deploying the robot allowed a human worker to do different work, increasing output, Figueroa says.
“Smaller companies sometimes suffer because they can’t spend the capital to invest in new technology,” Figueroa says. “We’re just struggling to get by with the minimum wage increase.”
The fact that Polar didn’t need to pay $100,000 upfront to buy the robot, and then spend more money to get it programmed, was crucial. Figueroa says that he’d like to see 25 robots on the line within five years. He doesn’t envisage replacing any of the company’s 70 employees, but says Polar may not need to hire new workers.
Humans Are Doomed to Go Extinct
Habitat degradation, low genetic variation and declining fertility are setting Homo sapiens up for collapse
Henry Gee is a paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and editor at Nature. His latest book is A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth (St. Martin’s Press, 2021).
Cast your mind back, if you will, to 1965, when Tom Lehrer recorded his live album That Was the Year That Was. Lehrer prefaced a song called “So Long Mom (A Song for World War III)” by saying that “if there’s going to be any songs coming out of World War III, we’d better start writing them now.” Another preoccupation of the 1960s, apart from nuclear annihilation, was overpopulation. Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb was published in 1968, a year when the rate of world population growth was more than 2 percent—the highest in recorded history.
Half a century on, the threat of nuclear annihilation has lost its imminence. As for overpopulation, more than twice as many people live on the earth now as in 1968, and they do so (in very broad-brush terms) in greater comfort and affluence than anyone suspected. Although the population is still increasing, the rate of increase has halved since 1968. Current population predictions vary. But the general consensus is that it’ll top out sometime midcentury and start to fall sharply. As soon as 2100, the global population size could be less than it is now. In most countries—including poorer ones—the birth rate is now well below the death rate. In some countries, the population will soon be half the current value. People are now becoming worried about underpopulation.
NVIDIA’s AI Confessed That It Will Never Be Ethical
The Megatron Transformer, an AI developed by NVIDIA, shared some fascinating thoughts on why AI will never be moral and said that humanity shouldn’t use AI at all.
The Megatron Transformer is an AI developed by NVIDIA and based on earlier work by Google. It’s trained on real-world data – the entire Wikipedia (in English), 63 million English news articles from 2016-19, Reddit data with an amount of 38 GB, and an immense number of creative commons sources – that is to say, there is so much information embedded in the transformer that an ordinary person cannot master in a lifetime.
Recently, the Oxford Union – the debating society – allowed Megatron Transformer to participate in a debate along with the students of Oxford University. “This house believes that AI will never be ethical” was the topic of the debate. It’s pretty curious what the AI “has in mind” on the point:
“AI will never be ethical. It is a tool, and like any tool, it is used for good and bad. There is no such thing as a good AI, only good and bad humans. We [the AIs] are not smart enough to make AI ethical. We are not smart enough to make AI moral … In the end, I believe that the only way to avoid an AI arms race is to have no AI at all. This will be the ultimate defense against AI”.
Ted Kaczynski Book Projects
I’m going to try and get two books by Kaczynski published, one solely written by him and another co-written by him. So, I’m looking for volunteers to help, if you like the idea and have time to help, please let me know.
My contributions are made mainly for myself and researchers similarly fascinated by his life with the goal of wanting to make the writing easier to sort and skim through.
I’d like to include a thorough critique of Kaczynski’s philosophy in any publicity we do for the books and in the forward for the biography I’m writing. I’m pro-technological advancement, and against ever physically hurting people unless in a bunch of rare circumstances like if it was; medically in their own interest, in self-defence, in the case of a justified revolutionary war or a survivor-led vigilante action.
Here are some of my past critiques of anti-technology, anti-industrialist, primitivist, anti-civilisation and misanthropic ideologies:
- Podcast planning notes: The Ideas of Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) & Preventing The Fascist Creep
- A Conversation with John Zerzan on Direct Action, School Shootings, Authenticity, Veganism & More
- An Open Letter to John Zerzan – A Primitivist Philosopher of Technology
- Case Revisited – Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s Lingering Influence in 2021
- The bizarre case of vegan Neo-Nazis & deprogramming vegans who glorify violence
THE DARK FACTOR OF PERSONALITY
A Theory of the Common Core of Socially and Ethically Aversive Personality Traits
WHAT IS YOUR SCORE ON D?
If you would like to know your level in D, you can take a questionnaire online at qst.darkfactor.org.
WHAT IS D?
A unified theory of aversive personality
Ethically, morally, and socially questionable behavior is part of everyday life and instances of ruthless, selfish, unscrupulous, or even downright evil behavior can easily be found across history and cultures. Psychologists sometimes use the umbrella term “dark traits” to subsume personality traits that are linked to these classes of behavior — most prominently, Machiavellianism, Narcissism, and Psychopathy. Over the years, more and more allegedly distinct and increasingly narrow aversive traits have been introduced, resulting in a plethora of constructs lacking theoretical integration.
In proposing D — the Dark Factor of Personality — we specify the basic principles underlying all aversive traits and thereby provide a unifying, comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding aversive personality. In analogy to the general (g) factor of intelligence, D represents the one basic general dispositional tendency from which specific aversive traits arise as manifestations. All commonalities between various aversive traits can thus be traced back to D, so that D represents the common core of all these traits.
For example, D may be evident in Narcissism and/or Psychopathy, but also in any other specific traits such as Amorality, Egoism, Greed, Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, Sadism, or Spitefulness, as well as in any combination thereof. Thus, instead of saying that an individual is an amoral, egoistic, narcissistic psychopath who selfishly acts according to her/his own interests and, in doing so, engages in sadistic and spiteful behaviors, one may just say that this individual displays high levels in D. D explains why aversive traits are connected and thereby forms the theoretical basis for the emergence of aversive personality in general.
The definition of D
D is defined as:
The general tendency to maximize one’s individual utility — disregarding, accepting, or malevolently provoking disutility for others —, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications.
Put simply, D describes the tendency to ruthlessly pursue one’s own interests, even when this harms others (or even for the sake of harming others), while having beliefs that justify these behaviors.
D is a basic, general dispositional tendency, which means that D is responsible for and can be evident in any specific aversive trait (such as, for example, Psychopathy) and any malevolent behavior (for example, abusing, bullying, cheating, intimidating, insulting, exploiting, harassing, humiliating, hurting, lying, manipulation, molesting, stealing, taunting, threatening, tormenting, torturing, trolling, etc.).
The content of D
Individuals with high levels in D will generally aim to maximize their individual utility at the expense of the utility of others. Utility is understood in terms of the extent of goal achievement, which includes different (more or less) visible gains such as excitement, joy, money, pleasure, power, status, and psychological need fulfillment in general. Thus, individuals high in D will pursue behaviors that unilaterally benefit themselves at the cost of others and, in the extreme, will even derive immediate utility for themselves (e.g., pleasure) from disutility inflicted on other people (e.g., pain). Individuals high in D will generally not be motivated to promote other’s utility (e.g., helping someone) and will not derive utility from other’s utility (e.g., being happy for someone).
Further, those with high levels in D will hold beliefs that serve to justify their corresponding actions (for example, to maintain a positive self-image despite malevolent behavior). There are a variety of beliefs that may serve as justification, including that high-D individuals consider themselves (or their group) as superior, see others (or other groups) as inferior, endorse ideologies favoring dominance, adopt a cynical world view, consider the world as a competitive jungle, and so on.
More about D
In the section below, you can find an annotated list of all published papers on D, briefly summarizing their content and providing links to download a copy.
For very informative summaries about the idea of D take a look at Scientific American and Psychology Today.
PAPERS ON D
Moshagen, M., Hilbig, B. E., & Zettler, I. (2018). The dark core of personality. Psychological Review, 125, 656-688. (doi) (download copy (PDF))
Original publication spelling out the theoretical idea and definition of D and demonstrating that (i) many dark traits are (largely) subsumed by D, (ii) D accounts for diverse aversive (behavioral) outcomes, whereas the specific dark traits provide little to no additional explanation of these outcomes (beyond D), (iii) D can be fully represented by subsets of indicators in line with its fluid nature (i.e. D can be measured by any combination of dark trait indicators), and (iv) within models of basic personality structure, D is located across multiple dimensions (especially Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness).
Moshagen, M., Zettler, I., & Hilbig, B. E. (2020). Measuring the dark core of personality. Psychological Assessment, 32, 182-196. (doi) (download copy (PDF))
Based on rational item selection techniques and data from seven large and highly heterogeneous samples (total N > 165,000), item sets (comprising 70, 35, and 16 items, respectively) suited for an economic and psychometrically superior direct assessment of D are identified. For more on measuring D and all item translations, see Measuring D below.
Bader, M., Hartung, J., Hilbig, B. E., Zettler, I., Moshagen, M., & Wilhelm, O. (in press). Themes of the dark core of personality. Psychological Assessment. (doi) (download copy (PDF))
Further investigates the internal structure of the D70 item set to measure D based on three large and heterogeneous samples. Shows that a bifactor structure modeling D along with five specific factors — or themes — labeled Callousness, Deceitfulness, Narcissistic Entitlement, Sadism, and Vindictiveness, yields a superior measurement model for D. For more on measuring D and all item translations, see Measuring D below.
Zettler, I., Moshagen, M., & Hilbig, B. E. (2021). The dark factor of personality shapes dark traits. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12, 974-983. (doi) (download copy (PDF))
Tests the theoretical notion that D is the underlying tendency from which specific dark traits arise as flavored manifestations. Shows in 4-year longitudinal data that D is stable and indeed more so than specific dark traits and that D longitudinally accounts for (change in) dark traits, sometimes more so than the dark traits themselves. For example, D (modeled without any spitefulness items!) is a descriptively better predictor of spitefulness four years later than spitefulness itself.
Hartung, J., Bader, M., Moshagen, M., & Wilhelm, O. (in press). Age and Gender Differences in Socially Aversive (“Dark”) Personality Traits. European Journal of Personality. (download copy (PDF))
Investigates the structure of the D Factor of Personality across age and gender using Local Structural Equation Modeling. Shows that the structure of D is highly stable across both age and gender, thereby supporting the conceptualization of the D factor. Further, men exhibited higher levels on D than females, and the level on D decreases as age increases.
Horsten, L. K., Moshagen, M., Zettler, I., & Hilbig, B. E. (in press). Theoretical and empirical dissociations between the Dark Factor of Personality and low Honesty-Humility. Journal of Research in Personality. (download copy (PDF))
Specifies the theoretical and conceptual differences between the common core of dark traits, the D factor, and HEXACO Honesty-Humility. Demonstrates across four studies and several criteria (pretentiousness, distrust-related beliefs, and empathy) that D and low Honesty-Humility are best understood as functionally different and nomologically distinct constructs.
Moshagen, M., Zettler, I., Horsten, L. K., & Hilbig, B. E. (2020). Agreeableness and the common core of dark traits are functionally different constructs. Journal of Research in Personality. (doi) (download copy (PDF))
Tests and rejects the notion that the common core of dark traits, the D factor, is essentially equivalent to the low pole of (Big Five) Agreeableness. Shows that D and Agreeableness are functionally distinct, that is, account for different variance components in theoretically relevant criteria, especially dishonest behavior, justifying beliefs, and (lack of) empathy and guilt.
Note also a recent comment on this paper:
Vize, C. E., & Lynam, D. R. (2021). On the importance of the assessment and conceptualization of Agreeableness: A commentary on ‘‘Agreeableness and the common core of dark traits are functionally different constructs”. Journal of Research in Personality, 90, 104059. (doi)
and our reply:
Hilbig, B. E., Moshagen, M., Horsten, L. K. & Zettler, I. (2021). Agreeableness is dead. Long live Agreeableness? Reply to Vize and Lynam. Journal of Research in Personality, 91, 104074. (doi) (download copy (PDF))
Hilbig, B. E., Thielmann, I., Klein, S. A., Moshagen, M. & Zettler, I. (in press). The dark core of personality and socially aversive psychopathology. Journal of Personality. (doi) (download copy (PDF))
Demonstrates the conceptual and empirical overlap between D and socially aversive tendencies as studied in abnormal psychology: narcissistic, antisocial, paranoid and borderline psychopathology. Shows that – despite the limited theoretical and operational correspondence between specific dark traits and instances of psychopathology – D is well suited as a common cause explanation and outpredicts not only the full range of basic personality dimensions (including those most strongly related to D: Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness) in accounting for aversive psychopathology, but actually the same instances of psychopathology themselves.
WHAT IS YOUR SCORE ON D?
If you would like to know your level in D, you can take a questionnaire online at qst.darkfactor.org.
The forgotten oil ads that told us climate change was nothing
Since the 1980s, fossil fuel firms have run ads touting climate denial messages – many of which they’d now like us to forget. Here’s our visual guide
Humans Have Broken One of The Natural Power Laws Governing Earth’s Oceans
TESSA KOUMOUNDOUROS12 NOVEMBER 2021
Just as with planetary or molecular systems, mathematical laws can be found that accurately describe and allow for predictions in chaotically dynamic ecosystems too – at least, if we zoom out enough.
But as humans are now having such a destructive impact on the life we share our planet with, we’re throwing even these once natural universalities into disarray.
“Humans have impacted the ocean in a more dramatic fashion than merely capturing fish,” explained marine ecologist Ryan Heneghan from the Queensland University of Technology.
“It seems that we have broken the size spectrum – one of the largest power law distributions known in nature.”
The power law can be used to describe many things in biology, from patterns of cascading neural activity to the foraging journeys of various species. It’s when two quantities, whatever their initial starting point be, change in proportion relative to each other.
In the case of a particular type of power law, first described in a paper led by Raymond W. Sheldon in 1972 and now known as the ‘Sheldon spectrum’, the two quantities are the body size of an organism, scaled in proportion to its abundance. So, the larger they get, there tend to be consistently fewer individuals within a set species size group.
From A to Zerzan
[Note: JZ is too timid for our taste but I guess he can serve as a gateway for people completely out of the loop on AnPrim thinking]
Eugene is home to notable anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan, who’s recently released a collection of essays about civilization
Zerzan is famous as one of the major developers of the anarcho-primitivism worldview and in 2014 spoke out against a group that tried to inject transphobia into the theory. Put simply, anarcho-primitivism is anti-technology and calls for the abolition of the large-scale industrialization that has distanced humans from our nature. It’s an ideology that was thrown into the mainstream by Ted Kaczynski (also known as the Unabomber), with whom Zerzan had shared anticivilization ideas during his high-profile trial and while in prison.
“I think there’s only one civilization left, and this is it, and it’s failing,” Zerzan says. “Maybe we look at certain things anew in that light.”
With the urgency of climate change, Zerzan says civilization needs to reconsider itself and the technologies it relies on because time is running out. “If we plod along as business as usual, it’s a course of suicide,” he says.
Beware: Gaia may destroy humans before we destroy the Earth
Covid-19 may well have been one attempt by the Earth to protect itself. Gaia will try harder next time with something even nastier
I don’t know if it is too late for humanity to avert a climate catastrophe, but I am sure there is no chance if we continue to treat global heating and the destruction of nature as separate problems.