Flying cars and the ‘vision thing’ primary

With help from Derek Robertson

Finally, Donald Trump has found a technology that he likes.

On Friday, the former president – who regularly speaks out against big tech and only recently started texting– unveiled its “Quantum Leap” plan to improve American living standards. This requires massive investments in vertical take-off and landing vehicles, also known as flying cars.

This could be the start of a bigger change in the political environment as the presidential campaign season approaches.

Washington’s love affair with Silicon Valley has soured in recent years, negated by concerns over online censorship, monopoly, privacy – and, more recently, the rise of crypto and internet. AI.

But presidential campaigns come with a built-in pro-tech dynamic. You could call it “The Vision Trick.”

Every four years, candidates offer American voters a chance to choose between competing visions for the country.

Time and time again, politicians have found that when it comes to painting a positive vision of the future, it helps to include some sort of cutting-edge technology – be it Stephen Douglas and a transcontinental railroad , Franklin Roosevelt and rural electrification, or John F. Kennedy and a mission to the moon.

(Although the Vision Thing dynamic is not always favorable to existing technology companies(FDR, for example, clashed with private electricity providers over his wish to set up utilities.)

What’s more, America’s physical border has been closed for over a century, but candidates like Kennedy continue to rediscover the rhetorical value of finding “new frontiersopen. This activity usually goes hand in hand with the adoption of new technologies, such as spaceflight.

Coincidentally, Trump’s planas reported for the first time by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw, also includes a proposal to “reopen the border” by building 10 new “freedom cities” on federal land.

Not that Trump’s rhetorical style has suddenly become Kennedy. In his CPAC speech yesterday, the former president’s take on the “Quantum Leap” mingled with standard Trump fare like digs on electric cars and a vow to “tear down woke tyranny.”

Prior to running for president, Trump was a regular on the motivational speaking circuit, where the importance of visualizing success is often emphasized.

In this regard, choosing flying cars as a campaign issue has an obvious advantage: they are easy to visualize.

There’s also the fact that President Joe Biden has already claimed his claim to electric cars, leaving Trump nowhere to go but ride.

Trump’s plan tacitly aligns it with a favorite Silicon Valley criticism of American society: that it has lost its ability to produce truly mind-blowing new technology.

“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” as Peter Thiel lamented ten years ago.

Since then, visions of flying cars have come closer to reality. Startups around the world are work on vertical take-off and landing vehicles, with some impressive demo videos show for it.

Kind of like a comedian, Trump often inserts new tunes into his stump speech and sees how they play with his audience. Whether the promise to steal cars becomes a mainstay of the campaign will depend, in part, on whether he can make it a line of applause.

And whether Americans actually get them in the near future is another matter.

Trump’s promise to build a wall on the Mexican border began as a gimmick offered by a campaign aide to play on the real estate mogul’s image as a “builder”. The wall was easy to view and appealed to rally participants. This led to years of political fights over the proposal, but little in terms of an actual border wall.

If Trump makes flying cars a campaign issue, it could be another president who makes the idea a reality.

It was Douglas and his fellow travelers in the Young America movement who pushed for a transcontinental railroad, but Abraham Lincoln who saw to its completion.

So whether it’s flying cars, asteroid mining, liquid hydrogen, or cold fusion, whichever space-age technology wins the “Vision Thing” primary, it will gain momentum. ground in the years to come, regardless of who ends up sitting in the Oval Office.

Why do you see this man anywhere in your Twitter timeline?

You might not be terribly surprised to learn that it has to do with the increasingly dizzying world of discourse around generative AI – namely, something one pseudonymous blogger calls “The Waluigi effect.” It’s shorthand for the phenomenon whereby large language models like ChatGPT can unexpectedly do the opposite of what the user ostensibly incites him to do, named after a Super Mario Bros. character. who has little identifiable personality beyond being not Louis (this guy).

The author, who says in his profile LessWrong (a community blog founded by pioneering AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky) that he studies the technical security of AI, takes the reader through an extensive tour of probabilistic reasoning, deconstructionist literary theory and, well, Nintendo stuff, to explain how and why LLMs might exhibit such unlikely behavior. That’s enough there, yes. But given the extent to which AI researchers themselves are increasingly can’t explain exactly what’s going on inside some sophisticated systems, a more unorthodox analysis might be worthwhile. — Derek Robertson

A consortium of privacy and digital rights activists pleaded today in a major French newspaper to ban facial recognition AI from the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

In and editorial in Le Monde, the group warns that legal preparations for the Olympics are on track to make France the first European nation to officially sanction the technology. “As the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor have pointed out, biometric surveillance has a serious impact on people’s reasonable expectations of anonymity in public spaces,” the authors write. authors (in French, via Google Translate). “…This measure threatens the very essence of the right to privacy and data protection, making it contrary to international and European human rights law.”

French Data Protection Officer pleaded in January against the use of the surveillance tool during the next Olympics, calling on the French Parliament to reject the bill authorizing it. The argument is also underway in the United States: The Los Angeles Times reported last week that a San Jose-based company was offering, for the first time in the West, sophisticated “co-appearance” facial recognition technology that can not only track individuals, but also who they associate with. — Derek Robertson