The phone will be sold by Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, and is expected to sell for between $200,000 and $300,000. It was taken from Hitler’s bunker shortly after his death by Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner, who died in 1977; his son Ranulf inherited the phone. According to the auction listing, Rayner was given the phone by Russian officers:
Very likely the first non-Soviet victor to enter the city, Rayner went to the Chancellery where Russian officers offered him a tour. On entering Hitler’s private quarters, Rayner was first offered Eva Braun’s telephone, but politely declined claiming that his favorite color was red. His Russian hosts were pleased to hand him a red telephone – the telephone offered here.
The listing goes on to note the phone’s uniquely horrific history:
It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history to annihilate countless innocents, lay waste to hundreds of thousands of square miles of land, and in the end, destroy his own country and people…with effects that still menacingly reverberate today. Read the rest of this entry »
It May Not Feel Like Anything To Be an Alien
Susan Schneider writes: Humans are probably not the greatest intelligences in the universe. Earth is a relatively young planet and the oldest civilizations could be billions of years older than us. But even on Earth, Homo sapiens may not be the most intelligent species for that much longer.
“Why would nonconscious machines have the same value we place on biological intelligence?”
The world Go, chess, and Jeopardy champions are now all AIs. AI is projected to outmode many human professions within the next few decades. And given the rapid pace of its development, AI may soon advance to artificial general intelligence—intelligence that, like human intelligence, can combine insights from different topic areas and display flexibility and common sense. From there it is a short leap to superintelligent AI, which is smarter than humans in every respect, even those that now seem firmly in the human domain, such as scientific reasoning and social skills. Each of us alive today may be one of the last rungs on the evolutionary ladder that leads from the first living cell to synthetic intelligence.
What we are only beginning to realize is that these two forms of superhuman intelligence—alien and artificial—may not be so distinct. The technological developments we are witnessing today may have all happened before, elsewhere in the universe. The transition from biological to synthetic intelligence may be a general pattern, instantiated over and over, throughout the cosmos. The universe’s greatest intelligences may be postbiological, having grown out of civilizations that were once biological. (This is a view I share with Paul Davies, Steven Dick, Martin Rees, and Seth Shostak, among others.) To judge from the human experience—the only example we have—the transition from biological to postbiological may take only a few hundred years.
I prefer the term “postbiological” to “artificial” because the contrast between biological and synthetic is not very sharp. Consider a biological mind that achieves superintelligence through purely biological enhancements, such as nanotechnologically enhanced neural minicolumns. This creature would be postbiological, although perhaps many wouldn’t call it an “AI.” Or consider a computronium that is built out of purely biological materials, like the Cylon Raider in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica TV series.
The key point is that there is no reason to expect humans to be the highest form of intelligence there is. Our brains evolved for specific environments and are greatly constrained by chemistry and historical contingencies. But technology has opened up a vast design space, offering new materials and modes of operation, as well as new ways to explore that space at a rate much faster than traditional biological evolution. And I think we already see reasons why synthetic intelligence will outperform us.
Silicon microchips already seem to be a better medium for information processing than groups of neurons. Neurons reach a peak speed of about 200 hertz, compared to gigahertz for the transistors in current microprocessors. Although the human brain is still far more intelligent than a computer, machines have almost unlimited room for improvement. It may not be long before they can be engineered to match or even exceed the intelligence of the human brain through reverse-engineering the brain and improving upon its algorithms, or through some combination of reverse engineering and judicious algorithms that aren’t based on the workings of the human brain.
In addition, an AI can be downloaded to multiple locations at once, is easily backed up and modified, and can survive under conditions that biological life has trouble with, including interstellar travel. Our measly brains are limited by cranial volume and metabolism; superintelligent AI, in stark contrast, could extend its reach across the Internet and even set up a Galaxy-wide computronium, utilizing all the matter within our galaxy to maximize computations. There is simply no contest. Superintelligent AI would be far more durable than us.
Suppose I am right. Suppose that intelligent life out there is postbiological. What should we make of this? Here, current debates over AI on Earth are telling. Two of the main points of contention—the so-called control problem and the nature of subjective experience—affect our understanding of what other alien civilizations may be like, and what they may do to us when we finally meet.
Ray Kurzweil takes an optimistic view of the postbiological phase of evolution, suggesting that humanity will merge with machines, reaching a magnificent technotopia. But Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and others have expressed the concern that humans could lose control of superintelligent AI, as it can rewrite its own programming and outthink any control measures that we build in. This has been called the “control problem”—the problem of how we can control an AI that is both inscrutable and vastly intellectually superior to us. Read the rest of this entry »
Nicolás Maduro es Encantador y Persuasivo! Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Threatens to Jail OpponentsPosted: October 29, 2016
Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela‘s President Nicolas Maduro threatened on Friday to jail his political opponents if they follow through on their vow of launching a legislative trial to remove him from power.
Shrugging off a partially-observed strike which the opposition called to raise pressure on him, the socialist president went on the counterattack.
Maduro sharpened the tone in a volatile political and economic crisis that has sparked food shortages and riots in the South American oil producer.
“If they launch a supposed political trial, which is not in our constitution, the state prosecution service must bring legal action in the courts and put in jail anyone who violates the constitution, even if they are members of Congress,” Maduro said in a speech Friday.
Friday’s strike was called after authorities blocked a bid by the center right-dominated MUD coalition to hold a referendum on removing Maduro from power.
After that move, the crisis heated up this week. Opposition lawmakers vowed to put Maduro on trial and exchanged accusations of coup-mongering with the mustachioed president.
Friday’s strike seemed to be only partially observed.
In the capital Caracas and cities such as Maracaibo and San Cristobal, the streets were quieter than normal but public transport was running and banks and some schools opened as usual.
Clashes broke out in recent days between riot police and pro- and anti-government protesters around the country.
Maduro earlier threatened to break the strike by sending the army to take over firms that took part in it.
The center-right coalition’s latest move to pressure the unpopular leftist leader came after anti-government protests drew hundreds of thousands of people on Wednesday.
Maduro vowed to respond forcefully. Read the rest of this entry »
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel.”
— Pope Francis, February 1016
Source: New York Post
Repent! Pope Francis Lectures America on Immigration, Abortion, Gay Marriage and the Syrian Refugee CrisisPosted: September 24, 2015
J. Taylor Rushing, Us Political Reporter In Washington and David Martosko, Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com report: Pope Francis delivered a stinging blow to nativist conservatives bent on keeping illegal immigrants and Middle Eastern refugees out of the United States, saying Thursday in a landmark address to Congress that Americans should show compassion to immigrants of all stripes.
“I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.”
‘When the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past,’ the Roman Catholic pontiff said. ‘We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.’
“Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.'”
Speaking in English – a language he has learned only recently – Francis also dropped coded messages to conservatives about gay marriage and abortion, and made an impassioned plea for a left-leaning approach to capital punishment in an unprecedented visit to Capitol Hill by a sitting Pope.
‘I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without,’ Francis told a packed House chamber filled with legislators, Supreme Court justices and multiple presidential candidates.
Pope Francis on Thursday morning became the first-ever pontiff to address the US Congress
Francis took the opportunity to lecture lawmakers on a variety of topics ranging from social to environmental issues. Known as a forceful advocate, he did not disappoint
Francis about to be introduced at the door to the House chamber
Francis’s address was heard by an audience of several hundred, including lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and presidential candidates
“Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”
And without mentioning abortion by name – or the name of the embattled domestic Planned Parenthood organization – Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.’
Francis spoke calmly but emphatically, never raising his voice as presidents often do in their State of the Union addresses to joint congressional sessions.
He was greeted by polite applause at certain points – particularly when he began reciting the Golden Rule but was interrupted before he could finish – ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’
Also, notably, applause broke out after these words: ‘The Golden Rule reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of development.’
But the applause was never raucous, a sign that members heeded party leaders’ directive not to applaud effusively or ‘glad-handle’ Francis if they got close to him.
Behind him on the raised speaker’s dais, close watchers got a different show during the speech, as both Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner – both well-known emotional men – proved to be almost as watchable.
“Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.”
Throughout the speech, Biden gravely nodded his head and looked down as if in serious thought. But Boehner appeared to tear up at several points, and was openly crying later on the Speaker’s Balcony after the address.
Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.
The pontiff made clear his firmness on the sanctity of human life, not only the veiled reference to abortion but also his opposition to the death penalty.
Francis and House Speaker John Boehner meet for the first time near the House of Representatives chamber
Biden, a Roman Catholic who co-presided over the Joint Session of Congress as the constitutionally appointed president of the U.S. Senate, caused a stir this week by declaring that he believes life begins at conception.
But it’s Francis’ comments about immigrants that will be most sharply felt as the U.S. deals with the twin crises of Syrian refugees and an immigrant invasion from Mexico and Central America, both of which the Obama administration has taken steps to pacify by loosening America’s borders as a show of compassion. Read the rest of this entry »
Matt Drudge: ‘A Prayer for Those Locked Up in Cruel Cuba This Morning for Dissent, as Pope Basks in Glow of Adulation from Masses’Posted: September 20, 2015
Stephen K. Bannon & Ezra Dulis write: Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report sent a message Sunday morning excoriating Pope Francis during his trip to Cuba, depicting the head of the Catholic Church alongside Raul Castro and suggesting Francis would rather ignore the plight of political dissidents than endanger his warm welcome from the Castro regime.
A prayer for those locked up in cruel Cuba this morning for dissent, as pope basks in glow of adulation from masses.. pic.twitter.com/H3y78zonDA
— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) September 20, 2015
Activists have criticized the Pope for failing to plan any meetings with Cuban political dissidents during his visit to the Communist Caribbean nation–while the government flagrantly and contemporaneously persecutes its Catholics. Just last week, the government violently arrested more than 50 protesters, mostly women, after attending Sunday mass….(read more)
“The unprovoked and systematic persecution and violent elimination of Middle East Christians, as well as other minority groups, especially in Iraq, has created an enormous humanitarian crisis.”
— Supreme Knight Carl Anderson
From the press release:
Knights of Columbus Announces Fund to Help Christians Threatened with Extinction in Iraq
Commits $1 million and seeks public donations for humanitarian aid to religious minorities
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Knights of Columbus announced today that is establishing a fund to assist those – particularly Christians as well as other religious minorities – facing a horrific and violent persecution and possible extinction in Iraq and the surrounding regions.
The Knights has pledged an initial $500,000 and will match an additional $500,000 in donations from the public.
Those seeking to assist with the relief efforts can donate to K of C Christian Refugee Relief by visiting www.kofc.org/Iraq or by sending checks or money orders to: K of C Christian Refugee Relief, Knights of Columbus Charities, P.O. Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509-1966.
“The unprovoked and systematic persecution and violent elimination of Middle East Christians, as well as other minority groups, especially in Iraq, has created an enormous humanitarian crisis,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Pope Francis has asked the world for prayers and support for those affected by this terrible persecution, and we are asking our members, and all people of good will, to pray for those persecuted and support efforts to assist them by donating to this fund.” Read the rest of this entry »
His words are chilling. “Today, Qaraqosh stands 90 per cent empty, desecrated by the gunmen of the fanatical Islamic State terror group now in control. The majority of the town’s 50,000 people have fled, fearing that, like other Christians in this region, they will be massacred.”
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – You know a situation is bad when a pope calls for an armed response. Pope Francis, widely appreciated as a practical and realistic man, is not just calling for a cease-fire or negotiations. Instead, he is inviting an armed response to the terrorism of the Islamic State.
“A child, just five years old, hacked in half alive, before his father. The boy happened to be named Andrew, after the vicar himself.”
Such a call is virtually unprecedented for a pontiff in modern times, but our age is an extraordinary one and the Islamic State has no interest in a bargaining table. Instead, the Islamic State is bent on genocide and barbarism, ruthlessly exterminating anyone who opposes them.
Where is the rest of the world? Where are the UN resolutions? Where are the condemnations from the world’s Islamic countries? Saudi Arabia? Where’s the edict or the fatwa? Why isn’t the world combining forces against these terrorists?
On Sunday, Pope Francis said he held “dismay and disbelief” over what is happening in Iraq. He called the Islamic State fighters terrorists and said there was a need for “a professional, well-equipped army.” “The situation is going from bad to worse,” he warned.
“The militants, in a further act of sacrilege, have established their administrative posts in the abandoned churches.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis was not the only cleric calling for swift and decisive action to end the genocide in Iraq. The Episcopal Vicar of Iraq, Canon Andrew White, managed to visit the town of Qaraqosh under cover and personally assess the situation in that community following Islamic State capture. Read the rest of this entry »
After Pope Francis met with President Obama, each leader had a different take on their conversation…
“On the one hand you’ve got the Bishop of Rome, the Holy See, of whom a billion co-religionists believe in his infallibility…”
According to The Hammer, it’s easy to choose who to believe.
“…On the other hand you’ve got a man who said, ‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.’ So who are you going to choose?”
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds.
As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.