Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Gardner's Beacon, Vol XIII, No 1

This issue of Gardner's Beacon continues with the context of our previous issue with respect to a regular presentation of ongoing work as well as reviews of common interests. ...


Technology, AI


GB XIII, 1 (PDF w/links)

GB XIII, 1  

(the next issue will cover origins and 
the beginnings of the new story of Thomas and Margaret)

See Vol. XIII, No. 1 of Gardner's Beacon for links to Sources.

Remarks: Modified: 09/13/2022

09/13/2022 --

John Dewey

TL;DR -- How did we miss John Dewey? We will have to look into the matter. He, of long New England pedigree and major cuz. 


While getting Gardner's Beacon, Vol. XII, No. 1 ready, we are looking at our technology focus. In doing some research, we realized that we had ignored an example of the long reach of New England. So, let's correct that by introducing the guy who will feature in some future discussion of what John calls AIn't.  

  • John Dewey (1859-1952) (Wikipedia, WikiTree) - Born in Vermont and educated in New England, he worked in psychology and philosophy. Dewey will be of interest with respect to our analysis of technology and its ways and means. 

Perhaps, we were keeping our focus on the earlier crowd, such as Charles Sanders Peirce. Dewey had pragmatists leanings. Too, his work on Kant will apply. 

Remarks: Modified: 09/13/2023

09/13/2023 -- 

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

To Bard or not

TL;DR -- We're approaching a year since the release of OpenAI's system. There are many others in the mix. After a little review of the situation, we [will] look at an interchange with Bard (of Google) with respect to core items that are usually ignored. [As such, we] We will demonstrate that such oversights are not tenable now (the piper always arrives; karma unfolds its retribution or reward). 


Technology is a focus that we have adopted. We see it and its influences all around. Of late, machine learning (ML) has risen to attention after decades of preparatory  (saw this; forgot to fix; Boston influences caused the "r" drop ;>) work. Well, a side note would emphasize the improvement of hardware over that time period as being of primary importance. 

Actually, we can thank gaming and its emphasis on graphics that is fast and representative beyond merely providing stick figures [plumbed out and shaded]. Recently attention has grown even more in this area with the stock of Nvidia bursting out as a consequence of its last quarter's boom in revenue. Nvidia made chips for the graphics processing used in gaming (GPU) which are now [which now] have another alternative that has potential. That relates to a better way to handle the processing of numbers. 

ML requires huge expenditures of several types, including computer time. One expectation is that the new Nvidia chip will get things done faster or allow more work within the same timeframe. But, what is ML and why is it getting attention? That is one topic that we will cover. Is this topic related to artificial intelligence (AI) which has seen so much coverage in the press? Yes. 

Right now, there are two items to present. Over the past few years, we have had several posts which covered various aspects of this new way of doing business. We have plans to continue that emphasis but more thoroughly and with regularity. 

  • Technical - The history goes back to the 1950s in the early days of computing. A major division of approaches then related to our understanding of intelligence. The next bullet looks briefly at the overview issues. For now, here are two recent posts: Getting technical; Year to date, 2023. ChatGPT of OpenAI was released in November of 2022. It attracted the attention of millions of people who started to experiment with the system. Now, several months later and after an intitial negative reaction by the academic world, we now see this system being used as a tool by students under the auspices, and guidance, of professors. One important topic will be how to get academic knowledge covered by these systems as the first pass ignored such a requirement. 
  • Cultural/Philosophical - Given the intelligence focus and that this deals with the core of human abilities, we have to relook at how philosophy is important to computing. Such a recognition was lost which we will discuss. Too, this does apply to the U.S. and its history and people. At the same time, we are talking worldwide influence due to the role that the "cloud" architecture plays in this area. All of this is both technical and more general. ChatGPT has a peer from Google named Bard. We have mentioned work with both of these. There are others. But, consider Bard looking at Kant who was a pivotal entity (in his time and now). The pre-Kant look considered ethics and its importance. The post-Kant look bring to bear some serious issues, some of which seem to induce pessimism. An example of that is the dystopian view that seems to have erupted with strong emphasis of late, as seen in certain quorums found on social media. 
As well, Kant brought "critique" to bear in his look at metaphysics. In regard to ML (or AI, for which we have used AIn't) there have been people on both sides of the arguments. We particularly have like Dreyfus' position (see this post: Alchemy and AI). 

This post is brief. Going forward, the breadth of the topic will require several threads to be followed, simultaneously. We will try to keep that coherent. On the other hand, the fact that the computer and its AI is ubiquitious demands that we pay attention to details as well as motivations. 

Sounds difficult? Not really. Think of the 400 years that have been documented here of which only a minor part has been studied. That will be changing. Again, new ways will be central to the new work. 

So, on to the future. 


Note: This was typed up in about 15 minutes (late in the evening of 09/06/2023 with a limited amount of time available) and pushed to Quora and Facebook. The typing, per usual, is by touch while composing in the mind using the editor provided by the blog. Use Word (or other) and cut and paste? There used to be issues with text markings and such. But, the style is so not what is being done by xNN/LLM that I'll continue (a human is doing this; cannot be replicated; we'll test that someday). This am, I looked at the post via smartphone. Saw a few errors (nothing major). Per usual, I make corrections later and then change the "Modified" date. Why this topic and choice? Technology's lure and promises versus its downsides which I have observed up close for decades. No magic there, folks.  

Remarks: Modified: 09/07/2023

09/07/2023 -- A few changes, wording, grammar. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Alchemy and AI

TL;DR -- This post is about Dreyfus and his arguments about what computers can and cannot do from a philosophical position. Dreyfus was a student at Harvard. He taught at MIT and Berkeley. The post provides links to some of his material in the interest of future work related to technology. 


We have a technological focus to pay attention to. Of late, the main topics have related to the xNNN/LLM approach that has been called "generative." In November of 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT upon the public. It got acclaim and criticism. The former is still there as companies rush to make money on the idea, even though AI has had a troubled past in some cases. 

Criticism range over a wide domain. For one thing, students got to using it to do their work. Again, companies have been using it where "fiction" is not an unlikely find. For instance, where PR doesn't have a firm basis. So, people came up with analogs, such as "lies" or "hallucinations" to describe the careless output. Well, actually, sophisticated, albeit misdirected, mathematics was doing the work. 

A sister approach became quite adept at creating "fake" photos that could fool people. And, movies being a moving stream of photos, there were "fake" videos.  

Since then, there is a newer version of ChatGPT. It has scored well on some tests. But, at the hard problems where guts and smarts are necessary, we still see low scoring. No one, in their right mind, would trust their lives being run by these new deals. Though, management decisions now are setting up the future for just that event. 

Of all of the issues at hand, that is the one that really bears some attention due to its potential for errors. Oh yes, bias has come up in discussion as it seems to be inherent to the approach. There are many things to discuss, as said. 

In the below, we will use "AI" to mean "artificial intelligence," in toto. We coined AIn't about two years ago with respect to the adulation being given xNNN (and its manipluative ways) which is only one aspect of what has been considered to be important to AI.  

So, is any of the critical opinions other than new? You bet. The following is a summary. 

  • Hubert L. Dreyfus (1929-2017) is one example. He studied transcendental and existential phenomonology at Harvard and in Europe. He talked to some of the greats (Heidegger, Sartre, ...). He also was a professor at MIT which was the hotbed of the early development of AI. As we will see, he and AIers did not agree. 
  • While at MIT Dreyfus wrote "Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence" which was published by RAND and is available at the DOD site. Later, this paper became a book, What Computers Can't do
  • Later Dreyful publish an update since AI had made seeming progress. His new title was What Computers still Can't do. There is a "preview" available copy of this book at GDocs. In the commentary, there is this great quote about this work: ... was widely attacked but quietly studied. Dreyfus's arguments are still provocative and focus our attention once again on what it is that makes human beings unique.
  • Hubert Dreyfus's views on artificial intelligence (at Wikipedia) has a great summary of the discussions and related themes. John McCarthy, early AI pioneer, mentioned that Dreyfus had good concerns, however his presentation and argument style was offputting. Which, in McCarthy' opinion was too bad as some necessary discussions were not to be. 
And, that is where we are now. Dreyfus's ideas will figure in coming work. Too, one
thing that might be the result of this cycle of AI which has had several is that AI might now continue into the future as something that is recognized though without proper definition. It means different things to different people. But, over these decades, there have been many cases of AI involvment in progress and effective work. In fact, it's daily on the computer horizon and touches operational situations more than we might realize. 

Remarks: Modified: 08/23/2023

08/23/2023 --

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Reworks and recaps

TL;DR -- During our thirteen years of working, we have had a few readjustments. We are at that time, again, and will be organizing the posts and their information content. At the same time, we are now into American History fully having been given a shot in the arm by the COVID constraints. At the core and toward the periphery, and everywhere else, we will see technology's influence growing, regulary. Probably, too, that will be more steady; after the pop of this latest bubble related to AIn't. 


This post collects together stories that are American at the core.  We will add to this for a while. Then, each of these deserves some further study and comment. 
  • Royal connections --  This comes from the Nutfield Genealogy blog that is about as old as this Thomas Gardner Society, Inc. one. We have been working on applications for D.A.R. for a while which has lead to many stories of historical interest. From this work, we continued exploring our theme "the long reach of New England" in many directions which seems to be endless in scope. This post is about a Spanish Lady (with uncountable titles, almost) who applied for D.A.R. membership through a Scottish connection. 
  • Salton Sea -- This huge affair (see article at Wikipedia) in southern CA is well known by visitors and locals. Is it naturally there? This is an answer that was found on Quora with respect to the subject.  

Our first post was on the 25th of September of 2010. We had started to study the family lineage the prior summer (2009). As the winter was amongst us, we started the Wikipedia page, Thomas Gardner (Planter), on the 10th of January of 2010. BTW, one can use "View history" to see the edits through time in detail with regard to the change and the person doing the change. This page needs to be rewritten (see the post, In summary) as does many of the blog posts. Before the blog, we had started the Thomas Gardner Society, Inc. website (summer of 2010). Our first issue of Gardner's Beacon was in the spring of 2011. Our first redo was in 2012 (movement from Microsoft's cloud). We will have more recaps on all subjects as we go along. 

As we research Sherborne records and modify the story, we will also identify places where we cannot tell the story without some speculative modes. These will be clear. We will watch to see how others might conjecture. The thing with the internet and the process used by most publishers to verify information, we expect that those things published will be in good order. However, on the other hand, anyone with a creative bent is free to write to their heart's content. The future will be fun, even with technology muddying up the water. 

Remarks: Modified: 08/20/2023

08/20/2023 --

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Cols. Joseph Hodgkins, Nathaniel Wade

TL;DR -- After reading of the Society of Cincinnati, it seemed apropos to find a case close to home with respect to finding some to add to the prospectii list. In one case, only the daughter had children some of whom have descendants alive today. The other has male descendants bearing the name. In the first case, there is another organization that may offer memberhip. In the other case, a little more research work is required.   


The subject matter of this post deals with close relatives and demonstrates various types of studies that can be done to find interesting stories. We begin with the story of one book that led to a TV series. 

Part of this motivation was the prior post on the Society of the Cincinnati which organization allows one member (male) per each Patriot that is qualified. The qualification, briefly, is being an officer for the Continental Army. There are additional requirements, one of which is having served to three years. At the same time, the daughters have their own organization but allow multiple members for each Patriot. Our interests, in part, deal with the time and conflict, in general, the unfolding of the U.S. from them to now (we're talking 247 years), the movement of families, and historic/genealogical studies and consequence of these research, such as related memberships.  

So, it didn't take long to pull this example which deals with our favorite town, Ipswich MA, after Salem, of course. The post looks at two families who are related, but there are many others involved. 
  • Let's start with the book, 1776, David McCullough, which deals with the times and letters of Col. Joseph Hodgkins (WikiTree) and his wife Sarah Perkins. Hodgkins served under Col. Nathaniel Wade (WikiTree). They were both at Bunker Hill and served for more than three more years. Joseph and Sarah had children, however only one daughter had children who grew to adulthood. She married the son of Col. Wade, and they had children with descendants who are alive now. 
  • Society of the Cincinnati membership claims comes down through the sons. So, that would not be a sustainable claim. On the other hand, female descendants of Joseph and Sarah would be eligible for the Daughters of the Cincinnati should they be able to prove their lineage. Our  hope will be find an extant male descendant of an officer who meets the prospectii requirements. 
  • The blog, Historic Ipswich, provides commentary and a copy of some of the letters. We have had used this blog as a resource several times. Our last post was on the founding of Ohio by a team of veterans from Ipswich. But, the Smithsonian Museum of American History displays a house that was taken from Ipswich
  • Taking this a little further, we can look at the D.A.R. and S.A.R. databases. Col. Joseph Hodgkins is not in the D.A.R. database, but Col. Nathaniel Wade is there with several applications being done by his descendants including through his son, Nathaniel who married Hannah Hodgkins. For the S.A.R. database, Joseph Hodgkins has a record but no applications. S.A.R. has been trying to identify all Patriots. The Col. Nathanial Wade record shows no applicants with the Wade name. 
This is an example of how families were involved in the Revolution. The two Patriots were from the same town and served together. Their children married. There were many cases like this. So the families kept an association through the years. D.A.R. allows supplemental applications after a primary one is verified and one becomes a member. 

One motivation can be membership approval. However, the larger picture related to history is very much tied into the families who were there. That type of research will be better served with the improvements in technology than we had before where paper chasing was the theme. But, the larger problem was figuring out where to find the paper as well has hoping that such might exist and actually be of use. 

Now? One of our interests is technology for reasons that John has dealt with that for decades. STEM is pushing this type of thinking without any regard for other issues. Such as? Take philosophy which was thrown to the background (for reason that can be discussed). See the Knowbility post. It's a beginning. Briefly, one problem is that assumption computing have no basis. Oh sure, these issues can supposedly be overcome through demonstration. But, rationalaity is going to have to be deconstructed and put back on its pedastal. That work has been waiting in the wing for several decades now. 

Remarks: Modified: 08/12/2023

08/12/2023 --

Society of the Cincinnati

TD;DR -- We have had regular posts about the Revolution and descendants of the Patriots - D.A.R. and S.A.R. This post is about a Society that recognizes the officers of the Continental Army.  


We have run across the Society of the Cincinnati a few times in our research and have mentioned it in the blog (five posts). The latest post was from our helping a friend apply to the Baronial Order of the Magna Carta which is a member society of the Hereditary Society Community. At the time, we discussed a house in New Hampshire owned by the Society of the Cincinnati (Two houses) but did not look further at the Society. 

This post corrects that oversight and is motivated by research performed for a recent post (Knowability). We had been reading an editorial in the American Ancestor magazin and also saw an add for a recent book: Biographies of Original Members and Qualifying Officers

This is the intro to the Society at their website. 

The Society of the Cincinnati is the nation’s oldest patriotic organization, founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army who served together in the American Revolution. Its mission is to promote knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of American independence and to foster fellowship among its members. Now a nonprofit educational organization devoted to the principles and ideals of its founders, the modern Society maintains its headquarters, library, and museum at Anderson House in Washington, D.C.

The research arm of the Society has a list of the officers who have known descendants: The American Revolution Institute. Gardner Research will be pay ing more attention to the work of this Institute as we would like to identify officers who are not represented. There is a process that allows such work to be documented and verified. Like we have seen with the Daughters of the American Revolusion (D.A.R.) who honors Patriots who supported the Revolution, Patriots with known descendants who have joined D.A.R. are a small percentage of the total. A perusal of one research effort (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors) will give one an idea of the quantity of prospecti having a modern descendant who qualifies and can establish the fact.

The Society of the Cincinnati is for gentlemen. A comparable organization has been established for the ladies: Daughters of the Cincinnati

Remarks: Modified: 08/12/2023

08/12/2023 --