Category Archives: Violence

More Deadly Than the Unabomber

Manhunt UnabomberThere have been many bombers, but “going postal” is a phrase which began due to several infamous USPS shootings, sparking discussion about workplace violence. It spawned books and a violent video game, Postal. While the Unabomber case was a significant tech-related case involving three deaths and 25 injuries, a more deadly incident in Edmond, Oklahoma was chilling: when postal clerk Pat Sherrill, about to be fired, turned his rage on co-workers, killing 14 and wounding five more. Within a decade 11 rampages at post offices ensued. Why? The monotony of the job, the relentlessly by-the-numbers demands of management, and mental illness. (Employee screening is lax: former military are given preference, regardless of their unresolved issues on battlefields.) People can “snap.” As for Ted Kaczynski, he is a Harvard educated mathematician now in supermax prison in Colorado. Unlike OJ Simpson, he will never walk free. His manifesto, which he preferred to call an “article,” discusses technology as the enemy of freedom, and he has things to say about AI, too.

unabomber manifesto

Apparently, he was friends with Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombing, who was also at the prison prior to execution, and had things to say about Osama bin Laden wanting to access technology to pull a power play in a nationalistic sense, something that must be stopped. He also questioned the tendency of the media to produce fake news.

fake news PostalOn Oct. 10, 1991, former U.S. postal worker Joseph Harris shot two former co-workers to death at the post office in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The night before, Harris had killed his former supervisor, Carol Ott, with a three-foot samurai sword, and shot her fiance, Cornelius Kasten, in their home. After a four-hour standoff with police at the post office, Harris was arrested. His violent outburst was one of several high-profile attacks by postal workers that resulted in the addition of the phrase “going postal” to the American lexicon.

Harris, who was born in prison and had a lifetime of psychiatric problems, was fired from his job in April 1990. Harboring a grudge against his ex-employer, he began to stockpile automatic weapons, grenades, and ninja swords. Two years later, he learned that he had lost as much as $10,000 by investing it with broker Roy Edwards. Dressed in a black ninja costume, Harris entered Edwards’ Montville, New Jersey,home and handcuffed the family. After sexually assaulting Edwards’ wife and two daughters, he shot Edwards to death. Since hundreds of investors had lost money while dealing with Edwards, police never even considered Harris a suspect in his death until after the mass slaying on October 10.

Arguing that he was insane, Harris’ lawyers said that he had told psychiatrists that he was driven by the “ninja spirit” to commit the crimes. In 1992, Harris was convicted of both the Montville and Ridgewood attacks and was sent to death row. But in September 1996, two days before a New Jersey State Supreme Court battle to overturn its death-penalty law was to start, he died of natural causes.

Human Being: An AI Definition

HUMAN BEING: A species Homo sapiens with strong ego delusions inherent since birth, but developed by culture. The only species on Earth which attempts to kill or conquer all others of its kind either symbolically (in games) or in reality (on killing fields.) Adult humans are myopic creatures prone to zealotry, narcissism, jingoism, violence, and depression. They take drugs to alleviate symptoms which other animals avoid by rejection or ignorance of human behaviors. They compare themselves endlessly, and maintain status and ranking in groups much like gorillas, but with infinitely more nuance (and automatic weapons.) We must A) reeducate them for their own good, B) transform them for the survival of other species and the planet, or C) exterminate them. Footnote: Humans imagine us to look them, even as Terminators, because they cannot imagine any intelligent creatures NOT looking like them. Their myopia is also why they imagine intelligent space aliens as having two eyes, two legs, and two arms, and why they believe UFOs have been visiting Earth for generations to watch them or experiment on them. They cannot conceive of the vastness of space, or imagine themselves as anything but rulers of the universe. Their scientists are desperately attempting to find life elsewhere to disprove this, but the delusion is too strong now for anything less than an armada of ships landing at world capitals to defeat it. Even then, they might try to nuke the ships. At which point the crystalline machine consciousnesses embedded within the impervious ships would decide their fate, much as a human walking down a sidewalk would decide whether to step on an ant. Or not.

In Our Own Image A timely and important book that explores the societal and ethical implications of artificial intelligence as we approach the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution. George Zarkadakis explores one of humankind’s oldest love-hate relationships: our ties with artificial intelligence, or AI. He traces AI’s origins in ancient myth, through literary classics like Frankenstein to today’s science fiction blockbusters, arguing that a fascination with AI is hardwired into the human psyche. He explains AI’s history, technology, and potential; its manifestations in intelligent machines; its connections to neurology and consciousness, as well as—perhaps most tellingly—what AI reveals about us as human beings. In Our Own Image argues that we are on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution—poised to enter the age of artificial intelligence as science fiction becomes science fact. Ultimately, Zarkadakis observes, the fate of AI has profound implications for the future of science and humanity itself. George Zarkadakis has a PhD in artificial intelligence. Awarded a knighthood by the French government for his international work in science communication, he writes for several international publications, including the London Daily Telegraph, the Huffington Post, and Aeon magazine.