Intrigued by a statement from one of my students, the statement “politics of locations.” I finished listening to Serial Season #3: “Serial is heading back to court. This time, in Cleveland. A year inside a typical American courthouse. This season we tell you the extraordinary stories of ordinary cases. One courthouse, told week by week.” The season is centered in Cleveland, so as the host and writers focus on the criminal justice system, the listener also tours the neighborhoods of Cleveland, meeting people struggling with economics and oppression.
“People ask… is the American dream alive or not today? And I actually think the question itself is sort of ill-posed. The term ‘the American Dream’ — really we should think of it as ‘the Iowa Dream’ or ‘the Atlanta Dream’ or ‘the California Dream’ because there’s so much variation within this country.”
“Serial is heading back to court. This time, in Cleveland. A year inside a typical American courthouse. This season we tell you the extraordinary stories of ordinary cases. One courthouse, told week by week.”
"I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley
[We are looking for exceptional engineers and scientists. No neuroscience experience is required: talent and drive matter far more. We expect most of our team to come from other areas and industries.
We are primarily looking for evidence of exceptional ability and a track record of building things that work.
All positions are full time and based in San Francisco. For positions not listed, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
‘Developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.’
Elon Musk: “Humans must merge with machines.”
But perhaps an even bigger threat, he said, is “incredibly effective propaganda … influence the direction of society. Influence elections.”
AI can hone a message by watching online feedback and reacting to news, then making the message “slightly better within milliseconds.”
Musk said Washington is losing the war to control AI: “The way in which regulation is put in place is slow and linear. And we are facing an exponential threat. If you, if you have a linear response to an exponential threat, it’s quite likely the exponential threat will win. That, in a nutshell, is the issue.”
Elon Musk, the inventor and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, told “Axios on HBO” that humans must merge with machines to overcome the “existential threat” of artificial intelligence.
Musk said artificial intelligence is “just digital intelligence. And as the algorithms and the hardware improve, that digital intelligence will exceed biological intelligence by a substantial margin. It’s obvious.”
And he said we’re way behind: “We’re like children in a playground … We’re not paying attention. We worry more about … what name somebody called someone else … than whether AI will destroy humanity. That’s insane.”
Musk’s bottom line: “My faith in humanity has been a little shaken this year. But I’m still pro-humanity.”
Why it matters: Musk warned humans could go the way of monkeys, dismissed to small pockets of the earth. That could happen, he said, if we don’t respond more urgently the dire and increasingly real threat of machines holding exponentially more knowledge than mankind.
“When a species of primate, homo sapiens, became much smarter than other primates, it pushed all the other ones into a very small habitat,” Musk continued.
“So there are very few mountain gorillas and orangutans and chimpanzees — monkeys in general.”
“They occupy small corners of the world — cages. … Zoos. Even the jungles that they’re in are narrowly defined so they were sort of like big cages … So, you know, that’s one possible outcome for us.”
Musk said his neuroscience company, Neuralink, has about 85 of “the highest per capita intelligence” group of engineers he has ever assembled — with the mission of building a hard drive for your brain.
“The long-term aspiration with Neuralink would be to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”
Wait. What? “To achieve a sort of democratization of intelligence, such that it is not monopolistically held in a purely digital form by governments and large corporations.”
Musk said he’ll do that with an “electrode-to-neuron interface at a micro level” — “a chip and a bunch of tiny wires” that will be “implanted in your skull.”
“I believe this can be done. … It’s probably on the order of a decade.”
“And by the way, you kind of have this already in a weird way: You have a digital tertiary layer in the form of your phone, your computers, your watch. You basically have these computing devices that form a tertiary layer on your cognition already.”
Musk said an immediate application could be spinal cord injuries:
“We already know how to do this: implant electrodes into the motor cortex of the brain, then bypass the severed section of the spine and have effectively local micro controllers near the muscle groups. It could restore full limb functionality.”
“As people get older, they lose their memory — incredibly sad to have a mother forget her children, and that can be solved too.”
And Musk said people don’t appreciate the damage off-the-shelf AI presents today:
“You could make a swarm of assassin drones for very little money. By just taking the face I.D. chip that’s used in cell phones, and having a small explosive charge and a standard drone, and just have it do a grid sweep of the building until they find the person they’re looking for, ram into them and explode. You could do that right now. … No new technology is needed.”
One more thing:
After a string of mind-stretchers, Musk added: “Maybe we’re in a simulation.”
“Are you joking?” we asked. “You’re joking, right?
“Because Francis was not an intellectual, he did not begin with universal philosophies and ideas and abstractions. He began with the specific, the particular, the concrete: this person, this squirrel. I believe love is always, by its very nature, particular. “Just this!” When you start with the specific, you have a beautiful doorway to the universal. On the other hand, when you start with universal theories, it makes it very hard to ever get back to respect for the particular. In fact, you tend to find a reason to see that the particular is never good enough. It is always flawed and imperfect. There is inevitably a reason why this particular person or thing cannot be included, because it is seen to be abnormal, poor, broken, leprous, sinful, or unorthodox. Look at our Christian history: it seems to have been a nonstop search for who is unworthy and who does not belong. What a horrible waste of energy.
Walter Brueggemann says the entire biblical revelation is built on “the scandal of the particular.” Get it in one ordinary, concrete moment. Struggle with it there, fight with it there, resist it there, fall in love with it there. It’s a scandal precisely because it’s so ordinary. What is true in one place finally ends up being true everywhere. This is especially clear in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist offers one focused moment of truth, showing that the Christ and this ordinary bit of elemental bread are one, and therefore the spiritual and the material can apparently coexist. Struggle with that, resist it, fall in love with it, eat it. You can’t just think about it rationally in your mind. Spiritual things are known in a whole-body way. You know them with your body, heart, soul, and mind all operating together. In this mysterious sacrament of Eucharist, you eat the bread; it becomes one with you; you become one with all those around you who are the same Body of Christ. It’s a corporeal, cellular knowing. The bread is for the sake of the people, it is food for the sick and weary, a medicine for the soul to let people know that they are what they eat! Instead, as Pope Francis says, we made it into a distant “prize for the perfect,” and its transformative and healing power was lost.”
Gateway to Silence: “I am who I am in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less.” —Francis of Assisi
As the Sun Valley Institute moves into its fourth year, we’re reflecting on what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve learned, and are looking forward to what we can do better and take to greater scale. With the support of our community, we’ve made an impactful start and now are poised to expand and accelerate our contribution to resilient prosperity in the Blaine County region and beyond. We’d like to share with you a review of what we’ve done, some thoughts on where we’re headed, and, if this excites you, ask for yourcontinued support.
As you know, SVI was founded to advance economic, ecological and social resilience in Blaine County with models and programs that are scalable and replicable nationally. As we read reports of staggering wildfire impacts throughout the west, water shortages and food supply issues around the world, as well as increasing social division, we are reminded that the urgency of creating real, lasting community resilience has never been greater.
Our focus now is to sharpen our impact, turn risk into opportunity, and help Blaine County and the global community prepare for these changes in a way that provides lasting, stable prosperity for everyone, regardless of economic standing, nationality, age, and gender. This is at once a monumental challenge, an exciting possibility, and an urgent need – here, across our state, and far beyond.
SVI will respond by strengthening our support of our programs in four powerful areas:
Shift to resilient, cleaner, locally-generated and renewable energy supplies coupled with increased energy efficiency and storage technologies to provide greater security, cost-savings, job creation, and environmental benefits;
Shift to increased reliance on locally and regionally produced food, supporting our rural neighbors and economy, and decreasing dependence upon the unstable and ecologically damaging industrial food system;
Develop plans, policies and projects based on systems thinking and scenario planning; and
Convene those invested in building solutions to accelerate impact, such as through the Blaine County Resilience Workshops (first one on December 3rd) and our 5th annual global Sun Valley Forum, July 23-26, 2019, with top thinkers, doers and leaders.
2018 highlights and 2019 plans:
Energy: SVI partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy Idaho National Laboratory, local cities and the county to develop a digital blueprint of Blaine County’s electricity system, one of just three communities nationwide. We identified the power needs of our critical response infrastructure (fire, police, water, medical, communications, etc.), and potential projects to ensure ongoing operations during service interruptions. Next up for 2019, we intend to build plans and secure the capital (grant, government and private investment) to meet our critical loads and create local jobs for positive economic and environmental impact.
Food: Local food is a powerful lever to benefit health, economic prosperity and our environment. SVI’s food program, the Local Food Alliance (LFA), in partnership with University of Idaho and Blaine County Food Council, has engaged a nationally renowned food system analyst and economist, Ken Meter, to create a Community Food System Strategic Plan. Ken’s decades of experience will help us to prioritize food system infrastructure work and projects, such as food storage and distribution. This is a pivotal time: in 2019, we are excited to act on the recommendations.
Land Use: Blaine County has significant open space and land resources that can provide much-needed affordable food and housing and ample recreation and wild spaces. To help optimize our land use for immediate and long-term benefits, the Institute consults to landowners and developers to deploy innovative land-use strategies and new business models and to access capital and investment partners.
Community Planning: Since its inception, the Institute frequently has been approached to consult with local leaders on opportunities and risks. Leveraging SVI’s knowledge and experience, we have connected these leaders with best practices for policies, strategy, investment and technology resources and innovative business models. In 2018 and 2019, in partnership with Blaine County and other organizations, the Institute is leading our community in a formal process to identify and address Blaine County’s top threats and to transform risks into opportunities. We are interviewing dozens of community members and convening workshops to identify our current gaps, consider future trends, and prioritize specific projects (e.g., greenhouses, cold food storage, optic fiber for telecommunications) via the lens of climate change. The Institute will ensure each project has implementation plans to bring them to fruition.
Sun Valley Forum: In Summer 2019 we will host our 5th annual Sun Valley Forum where we catalyze connections, conversations and capital for a more secure, prosperous and healthy world. We gather leaders and innovators to share expertise, accelerate efforts and unearth opportunities for new collaborations and solutions. Speakers come from diverse perspectives and experience, from U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker to visionary Paul Hawken, from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions to adventurer-athlete-advocates including Arctic explorer and philanthropist Sir Robert Swan. We include companies like Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and Domo, and investors like BNP Paribas/Bank of the West, Generation Investment Management and Turner Impact Capital. We’ve watched the magic of the Forum lead to new partnerships and accelerated, scaled impact, and look forward to hosting our Forum 2019 at the new Ketchum Argyros Performing Arts Center, July 23-26, 2019.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Risk Report, three of the five top global risks in the next 10 years are environment-related: extreme weather events (#1), natural disasters (#2), and the failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation (#5). The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that significant changes to the earth’s life support systems in the next decade, and recent California fires remind us how much we have at stake. The just-released U.S. Government National Assessment on Climate Change backs up SVI’s multi-pronged strategy, urging an integrated approach to assessing and addressing the impacts of climate change, for example how the changes to food supplies, water and electricity generation interact with each other. “It is not possible to fully understand the implications of climate change on the United States without considering the interactions among sectors and their consequences,” the report says.
The world demands our action. We have the opportunity – indeed the imperative – to lead. Thisrequires us to betrailblazers: We innovate solutions that build our community’s economy, security and environment, while supporting others in need.
Our work is not possible without you.
We are deeply grateful for your previous support. It is clear you care about our community and want our work to thrive; we feel it every day. Please help us make 2019 our most impactful year yet and make a significant financial contribution, whatever that is for you. Your donation is an investment, with the return of a strong, localized economy, smart land use and protected natural resources. The Institute is shaping solutions now and for the future.
Please join us to think ahead, and act now.
Founder & Executive Director, Sun Valley Institute
A Toyota Prius passed me at 100 miles an hour. I didn’t know a Prius could even go that fast. The driver was passing on the right, using the breakdown lane, zigging and zagging across traffic. If a car could careen, he was.
The problem with this sort of fast passage is that there’s no room for error. One mistake, one failure, and you’re out.
The other sort of rambunctious, risky forward motion is very different.
This is the work we do when we’re out on a limb with a new idea. When we’re sharing ideas that feel personal or important. This is the work of practical empathy, and most of all, of acting ‘as if’ before we’re sure.
The thing is–even though this might feel as risky as driving down the Saw Mill River Parkway at 100 miles an hour, it’s actually the safest work you can do. If you fail while trying to help, you’ll get another chance. And then another.
Do you know what I noticed the other day? The light on the speedometer right above 45 mph is dimming. Coming home from the protest to protect Mueller, to remind anyone who would listen that no one is above the law, the light in the speedometer is dimming. “Oh no,” I thought, and gently patted the dashboard. D’s truck. 1994 black Ford Ranger…24 years old. My son is 24. I don’t want D’s truck to stop. Ever. It was my brother’s. The “Biter End” pin from the Gaslamp bar in San Diego is right where you left it, on the visor.
I walk through the world because I love it.
I walk through the world because I love it.
That’s what I read on a wall as I walked by thinking of you. I think you loved it. The world. And it broke your heart. And it breaks mine.
“When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.”
Unrest in Baton Rouge
“Our bodies run with ink dark blood. / Blood pools in the pavement’s seams. // Is it strange to say love is a language / Few practice, but all, or near all speak? // Even the men in black armor, the ones / Jangling handcuffs and keys, what else // Are they so buffered against, if not love’s blade / Sizing up the heart’s familiar meat? // We watch and grieve. We sleep, stir, eat. / Love: the heart sliced open, gutted, clean. // Love: naked almost in the everlasting street, / Skirt lifted by a different kind of breeze.”
Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith
‘Love is a language/Few practice, but all, or near all speak’
Idahoans keep electing the same party and politics and expect different results. There’s a term for that…not important. Here’s what is: ‘D+’ and holding. In 2018, again, Idaho remains 48th in education. Only three school districts were considered ‘best’, ours (Blaine County), Boise Independent, and McCall-Donnelly. We’re tied with North Carolina for a minimum wage of $7.25 (women earn less). Idaho teacher salaries rank the lowest…lowest…in the nation. Idaho has one of country’s highest suicide rates, receiving a solid ‘F’for mental health care. For six years Otter/Little turned their GOP backs on Medicaid expansion that would have insured more than 62,000 working Idahoans. Days before the election? Sure, they say, let’s do it. Knowing it’s the biggest divide between Little and Paulette Jordan we could probably agree it was a political move. But, will they, though? When PROP 2 passes, and if Little is elected, any bets on him saying, “Don’t have the money—let’s try this.”Without any check/balance in leadership, we’ll continue on the same destructive path. We have a chance this year, Idaho, for new leadership. The Idaho Mountain Express may have dangerously encouraged voting party for governor, not endorsing Little or Jordan, yet on her policy platform for our public lands alone should have been more than enough to endorse her for governor. (You know, IME, Obama was a community organizer…not a lot of experience…he did ok.) If we want more of the same for Idaho, vote the same. If we want something better for Idaho, for our kids and their kids, schools, health care, mental health, our public lands, teacher salaries, then let’s just go crazy and put one in the column for Paulette Jordan. What do we have to lose? Seriously, we’re at rock bottom. We can do so much better. Together, beyond party politics, we can do the right thing. “The future of Idaho belongs to all of us.”–Paulette Jordan
Jane Adams co-founded with Ellen Gates Starr an early settlement house in the United States, Chicago’s Hull House that would later become known as one of the most famous settlement houses in America . In an era when presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson identified themselves as reformers and social activists, Addams was one of the most prominent reformers of the Progressive Era. She helped America address and focus on issues that were of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, local public health, and world peace. In her essay “Utilization of Women in City Government,” Jane Addams noted the connection between the workings of government and the household, stating that many departments of government, such as sanitation and the schooling of children, could be traced back to traditional women’s roles in the private sphere. Thus, these were matters of which women would have more knowledge than men, so women needed the vote to best voice their opinions. She said that if women were to be responsible for cleaning up their communities and making them better places to live, they needed to be able to vote to do so effectively. Addams became a role model for middle-class women who volunteered to uplift their communities. She is increasingly being recognized as a member of the American pragmatist school of philosophy, and is known by many as the first woman “public philosopher in the history of the United States”. In 1889 she co-founded Hull House, and in 1920 she was a co-founder for the ACLU.