Pixel Scroll 2/19/23 Odin’s Ravens With The Assistance Of Fenrir Have Compiled A Scroll

(1) ADVERSARIAL POLICIES BEAT SUPERHUMAN GO AIS. [Item by Tom Becker.] Machines have been considered to be almost unbeatable at Go, since 2016 when AlphaGo defeated the world Go champion Lee Sedol by four games to one. Now, Kellin Pelrine, an amateur player, playing unassisted, defeated a top-ranked AI system, fourteen games to one.

There is a good general article explaining it at Ars Technica: “Man beats machine at Go in human victory over AI”.

This sure sounds a lot like many SF/F stories where underdogs exploit flaws in a system to win against overwhelming might.

Even though Kellin Pelrine was able to beat the AI without computer assistance during the game, his strategy was planned with a massive amount of computer power. He happens to be a research scientist intern at an AI company. His team used adversarial AI techniques to find flaws in a state of the art Go playing system. By exploiting the flaws, an amateur Go player can beat a system that routinely beats professional Go masters. The strategy used to beat the AI would not work to beat a human player — a human would see it right away. But an AI does not perceive the game the same way as a human, and the strategy took advantage of that. If you want the details, there is a very long and thorough research paper, “Adversarial Policies Beat Superhuman Go AIs” at Arxiv.org.

There also is a website at Adversarial Policies in Go – Game Viewer with analysis of games against various Go systems.

We’re going to see a lot of powerful, superhuman AI systems. It will be surprising if any of them doesn’t have a devastating flaw that eventually is exploited. Also we’re going to see a lot more human-machine cooperative efforts like this one.

(2) LINKS REPAIRED. The links in the “2022 Analog AnLab Readers’ Award Finalists” and “Asimov’s 37th Annual Readers’ Awards Finalists” posts have been fixed. It’s safe to jump back into the pool.

(3) 2023 WORLDCON MEMBERSHIP ISSUES? The Chengdu Worldcon committee, in the wake of questions from people who did not receive the Hugoteam email, asked Facebook readers to pursue a solution this way:

To Chengdu Worldcon Members:

If you still have not received any email from us or have questions about your membership status, and/or if you failed to get any response from [email protected] please DM your name and email address to this account so we can help you to help us to break the invisible wall. Thank you to all members for your support, trust and patience.

(4) NESFA SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNER.

(5) A LITTLE LIST. [Item by Alan Baumler.] “Tech Companies with Lord of the Rings Names” from Arbesman.net. I knew 9 of the LOTR names, but only one of the tech companies. (Palantir). I can’t speak for how well any of these names fit the companies, since while I know what the LOTR things are, I can’t figure out what most of these companies actually do, even after following the links.

(6) MEMORY LANE.

1987[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Glen Cook’s Sweet Silver Blues is the first novel in the more than a bit humorous adventures of one Garrett, P.I.  Published thirty-six years ago by Roc, with the cover art being by Tim Hildebrandt, the main character is Garrett, a private investigator living in the city of TunFaire, a not unusual fantasy city. 

Garret is the draw here though everything here is nicely detailed by Cook and I loved most of the fourteen novels though I thought, and obviously won’t say why as I’m guessing, that many here haven’t read these yet, that the last two were major immediate Suck Fairy material. 

So here is our lovely Beginning…

Bam! Bam! Bam!

It sounded like someone was knocking with a sledgehammer. I rolled over and cracked a blood-shot eye. I couldn’t see a figure through the window, but that wasn’t surprising. I could barely make out the lettering on the grimy glass: 

GARRETT 

INVESTIGATOR 

CONFIDENTIAL AGENT 

I had blown my wad buying the glass and wound up being my own painter.

The window was as dirty as last week’s dishwater, but not filthy enough to block out the piercing morning light. The damned sun wasn’t up yet! And I’d been out till the second watch barhopping while I followed a guy who might lead me to a guy who might know where I could find a guy. All this led to was a pounding headache.

“Go away!” 

I growled. “Not available.” 

Bam! Bam! Bam!

“Go to hell away!” I yelled. It left my head feeling like an egg that had just bounced off the edge of a frying pan. I wondered if I ought to feel the back to see if the yolk was leaking, but it seemed like too much work. I’d just go ahead and die. 

Bam! Bam! Bam! 

I have a little trouble with my temper, especially when I have a hangover. I was halfway to the door with two feet of lead-weighted truncheon before sense penetrated the scrambled yolk.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 19, 1912 Walter Gillings. UK fan and zine writer. He edited Scientifiction, a short lived but historic fanzine. Shortly thereafter he edited Tales of Wonder, regarded as the first UK SF zine. Clarke made his pro debut here. He’d edit a number of other genre zines later on, and ISFDB lists him as having two genre stories to his credit whereas Wiki claims he has three. (Died 1979.)
  • Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. Well known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list Awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressive so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ace Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.)
  • Born February 19, 1937 Lee Harding, 86. He was among the founding members of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club along with Bertram Chandler. He won Ditmar Awards for Dancing Gerontius and Fallen Spaceman. In the Oughts, the Australian Science Fiction Foundation would give him the Chandler Award in gratitude for his life’s work. It does not appear that any of his work is available from the usual digital sources. 
  • Born February 19, 1963 Laurell K. Hamilton, 60. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the  Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but one or two novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive. 
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 59. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work. 
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 57. I met him once here in Portland. Really nice person. Author, book reviewer and has edited numerous anthologies. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Eek! shows Gotham City’s surprising money-saving move.

(9) EN ESPAÑOL. “El día que Ray Bradbury, el autor de Crónicas Marcianas, fue una estrella de rock en Buenos Aires” in the Argentine publication La Nacion, a headline which Google translates as “The day the author of Martian Chronicles was a rock star in Buenos Aires”. And here’s a computer-translated excerpt.

“After leaving Argentina, the pilots invited me to the cockpit to talk. When I arrived, they asked me to sit in the commander’s chair and take charge of the ship,” wrote Ray Bradbury, on April 4, 2007, on the one-decade anniversary of his visit to Buenos Aires, in an e-mail addressed to his friend Marcial Souto, the editor and translator who convinced him to land in these lands so far from his own. With a prologue, edition and selection by Souto, Libros del Zorro Rojo launched Otros crónicas marcianas, a volume illustrated by David de las Heras that brings together 10 stories [some unpublished in Spanish and others published in a dispersed way] that at the time had been left out of the original publication of Crónicas marcianas….

(10) WHY CAN’T YOU CHEAT AN HONEST MAN? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This is so, so meta-… So iterative… That it almost hurts. Hurts so good, as the song says. “A Student Used ChatGPT to Cheat in an AI Ethics Class” in Gizmodo.

A student used ChatGPT to cheat on an essay in an AI ethics class, according to a report from NBC Bay Area. To quote the scorpion in a famous fable, “lol. lmao.

“The irony is very clearly there,” Santa Clara University professor Brian Green told NBC. The essay in question “wasn’t exactly on topic and, also, it had a very kind of, honestly, a robotic feel to it in some ways.”

The student used ChatGPT to spit out an essay for Green’s “Ethics in Artificial Intelligence” class and turned it in as their own work, the professor said. Green said he’s no longer going to require essays as a final project for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, replacing them with oral presentations given in person. Several Bay Area universities have convened their professors to discuss the implications of generative chatbots that can generate essays in seconds, according to NBC.

This is only the latest of several media reports about the cheat-tool of the century. The New York Post published a story Friday about a ChatGPT cheating scandal “erupting” in a Florida gifted students program. In both of these cases, the cheating was easy to detect because—news flash—ChatGPT writes like a robot, and if you just submit an essay that looks different from your other writing, your teacher will see the difference….

(11) BE GLAD IT MISSED. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The strange thing looks like a giant worm. That alone made the story worth sending for the Scroll. Since it was described in the article as being the size and shape of the Empire State Building, we can be happy that it didn’t hit the Earth. Then it would obviously be the Empire striking back. “NASA Images a Weirdly Long Asteroid” at Gizmodo.

Six radar observations made of an asteroid swinging by our planet have revealed an unusually oblong space rock. The object is three times as long as it is wide—an irregular shape, as far as asteroids are concerned.

The asteroid, called 2011 AG5, is about the shape and size of the Empire State Building, minus the 222-foot antenna of course. The asteroid’s nearest approach to Earth happened on February 3, when it came within 1.1 million miles of our planet. (When scientists talk about close approaches, they’re usually speaking relatively.) The Webb Space Telescope, for comparison, is about 1 million miles from Earth…

(12) CRIME IN SPACE. This calls for a trained homicide investigator!

[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Tom Becker, Alan Baumler, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]


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29 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/19/23 Odin’s Ravens With The Assistance Of Fenrir Have Compiled A Scroll

  1. (5) I know, I think, two including Palantir, and they’re not nice people.
    Birthdays, Laural Hamilton. I got tired after five or six of the Anita Blake (get it on or get over it!) stories. Some years later, I picked up Michael, because it was allegedly set in Philly. Um, not only has Ms. Hamilton never been in Philly, she’s clearly never bothered to read a tourist guide. There was not one thing that told me it was Philly, other than some random city.
    (11) Be glad it missed. Um, did it? Has anyone else not had the instant reaction, on looking at it, that it resembles Oumuamua, that has been suggested as an alien probe? Maybe we’ve been found…?

  2. Mark says Birthdays, Laural Hamilton. I got tired after five or six of the Anita Blake (get it on or get over it!) stories. Some years later, I picked up Michael, because it was allegedly set in Philly. Um, not only has Ms. Hamilton never been in Philly, she’s clearly never bothered to read a tourist guide. There was not one thing that told me it was Philly, other than some random city.

    That is, in my mind, an inexcusable sin. I once read a fantasy novel set in Seattle after I had lived there and it was obvious that the writer hadn’t a clue what the city was like, eg he did not know that the Pike Market wasn’t just a ground level market, or that Starbucks had really started out on the waterfront.

  3. Actor and comedian Richard Belzer has passed away at age 78. He had a long career in Movies and TV, playing in the original “Flash” TV series and “Lois and Clark”. His longest role was as Detective John Munch beginning on “Homicide: Life On The Street” and continuing on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for 23 years. He also appeared as Det Munch on 11 different TV shows on 6 different networks. He had a memorable appearance on “The X-Files” in 1997 in an episode set in Baltimore entitled “The Unusual Suspects” that detailed how Agent Mulder first encountered the Lone Gunmen.

  4. This conversation makes me think of the episode of the old FBI with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. which was supposely occurring in Detroit, but obviously had been filmed in Hollywood on part of the Walk of Fame with its unique black paving, and in the neighborhood of the Holiday Inn that had the revolving restaurant on top. Detroit!!

  5. I’ll never forget the Jim Butcher “Dresden Files book Death Masks in which there’s a huge battle between wizards and vampires in Wrigley Field in Chicago, but fortunately nobody noticed because it was isolated by the parking lots surrounding it. <snork> Wrigley Field notoriously not only doesn’t have parking lots anywhere near it, several tall residential buildings have clear sightlines into the ballpark and they’ve built actual unofficial bleachers on their rooftops to watch Cubs games…

    Also there’s a book which mentions the lakefront warehouses (and I mean lakefront, as partially-built-on-piers over the lake). WHich is also amusing because the Chicago Lake Michigan shoreline is one long uninterrupted parkland. The warehouses are on the Chicago River….

    Harry Dresden obviously lives in an alternate-world Chicago. Butcher gets some references correct, but some are hilariously wrong.

  6. Downtown L.A. stands in for NYC a lot – if you’re not around Wall Street, it works fairly well at street level. They filmed the 2005 “King Kong” downtown…. (The palm trees around Pershing Square had their fronds tied up and branches stuck in to make them look less palmy.) And Madison Square Garden had its entrance at 5th and Hill, in Pershing. The fake street and subway signs took a little getting used to.)

  7. I’m currently rewatching Fargo S3 (relevant because one character was an SF author back in the 70s and won a not-Hugo) and while it’s SUPPOSED to be set in Minnesota, there are occasional things — like, a character goes into a grocery store, and the grocery store has a selection of liquor bottles for sale behind the cash register. Nope, we don’t do that here. To say nothing of the characters driving across “western Minnesota” with high hills or low mountains looming on the horizon.

    I do still like the show, though.

  8. In “The Russians Are coming”, they used someplace on the California north coast as a stand-in for the island, and in one of the scenes they’re pouring from a carton of Foremost milk. That was a California brand (“Foremost, the freshmost”).

  9. @mark: Apparently Hamilton did visit Albuquerque before writing a book set there… which got the feel of the city crashingly wrong, except maybe if she spent her entire visit staying with someone who lived in Rincon Canyon.

    At least she spelled the name of the local restaurant she dropped correctly.

  10. Black Alice by “Thom Demijohn” (Disch & Sladek) was set in Baltimore. I think they had a street map, but that’s about it.

  11. 5) Long before the current outfit was a gleam in Peter Thiel’s eye, Palantir was the name of a quite-elegant, CP/M-environment word-processing package. It never quite got along with Windows and slipped into obscurity. In its day, though, it was an excellent piece of program design and implementation.

  12. (5) For Peter Thiel’s Palantir Technologies Inc., the name is accurate. It is surveillance technology, and it is tracking all of us. At least in this modern age, techies are very much aware of LOTR, and whenever Palantir comes up in the news, someone quickly reminds us that the original palantirs were controlled and corrupted by Sauron.

  13. @ Tom – indeed, I was intending to mention the Sauron thing myself. I think techies have always been aware of LOTR. When I first got into computing around 1980 or so, the classifieds were full of home-grown adventure and RPG games set in Tolkien’s world.

    When I was living in Marin I came home from work one evening to find a stranger in the house chatting to my (ex-)wife. Turns out we had a friend from England in common and he thought he’d just drop by uninvited. He wore sandals and a saree, had long hair and a beard. Turns out he was a ‘software architect’ for Palantir – not the image of an evil tech bro that you might imagine.

    The wife and I are re-watching Frazier, and were very excited to see an episode shot outside in the real city of Seattle (we both lived and met there). It was enormous fun spotting all the landmarks.

  14. @ Tom – Nice one, but it was actually a saree of many colours! It’s all falling into place: he certainly enjoyed my stock of pipe weed.

  15. Lt Colombo (the wonderful and now late Peter Falk): “… oh and just one more thing..!…. “

  16. Yeah. Ready Player One explicitly has scenes set in Wallowa County (the Wallowa Valley at least) at the end, and the only reason the book didn’t get thrown across the room was because I’d checked it out of the library. In Wallowa County.

    Needless to say, it was clear that Ernest Cline had been nowhere near Wallowa County.

  17. These days when I’m watching most recent, modern-day shows, I make a game of seeing how long it takes to notice, e.g., the ketchup-flavored potato chips in the gas station or some other indication as to where they’re REALLY being filmed.

  18. Joe H. says These days when I’m watching most recent, modern-day shows, I make a game of seeing how long it takes to notice, e.g., the ketchup-flavored potato chips in the gas station or some other indication as to where they’re REALLY being filmed.

    The Good Wife which I’m watch now, and the last two seasons are decidedly genre, is filmed almost on a lot in Brooklyn.

  19. (6) I really liked the first half or so of this series back in the day (some of the latter books were good but there were some real stinkers mixed in). ANYWAY I re-read ‘Sweet Silver Blues’ a couple years ago and oh goodness did it ever get hit by the Sexism Fairy.

    On a different topic, I’ve been thinking about Achewood, as one does, and along the way “Three Files, Three Scrolls, Three Thousand Pixels” and “Worst Pixel, Filed on Ugliest Scroll” managed to stick in the brain.

  20. (5) Rohan is an outdoor clothing company, making the kind of things you’d probably want if hiking the Riddemark.
    It’s also the name of a boy in my daughter’s swimming class. He has a twin brother who goes in the one after (mum stays in the water, dad lifts out one child or and passes the other in) and neither my wife or I have ever been brave enough to ask if the brother is called Gondor.

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