“It’s like an alien civilization inventing its own mathematics which allows it to do things like time travel”

Stunning AI Breakthrough Takes Us One Step Closer to the Singularity—George Dvorsky, Gizmodo

In a tournament that pitted AI against AI, this juiced-up version, called AlphaGo Zero, defeated the regular AlphaGo by a whopping 100 games to 0, signifying a major advance in the field.

Now, every once in a while the field of AI experiences a “holy shit” moment, and this would appear to be one of those moments.

“What we’re seeing here is a model free from human bias and presuppositions: It can learn whatever it determines is optimal, which may indeed be more nuanced that our own conceptions of the same. It’s like an alien civilization inventing its own mathematics which allows it to do things like time travel,” to which he added: “Although we’re still far from ‘The Singularity,’ we’re definitely heading in that direction.”

The Colour of Terrible Crystal

The Colour of Terrible Crystal by Odd Order and Hermetic Library Anthologies Artist Alka has been released! It’s available at the VeryRecords shop, in limited edition CD, and digital there and everywhere else.

Our new album is released onto the unwitting world on this day, Friday the 13th in the Gregorian calendar cycle of 2017 years. Featuring loads of analog and digital synthesizers, ethereal vocals, and a spectral array of emotions… with additional programming from thee Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Yaz, Erasure).

“… and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. They move through the firmament which is the colour of a ‘terrible crystal’, and around a throne like sapphire, on which sits Metatron, suffused in the radiance of the rainbow.” – Peter Lamborn Wilson, Angels (1980)/Ezekiel’s Vision.

“you’re not going to believe this but it’s the Hogwarts Express”

Family Stranded In Scotland Rescued By None Other Than The Hogwarts Express. “When they saw the steam train coming, all sadness left their little faces and was replaced by excitement and fun.”—Dominique Mosbergen, Huffpost [See also]

The cops, it turned out, had an extraordinary plan. They couldn’t use brooms or “apparate” to the Cluetts, but they offered the next best thing: The Jacobite steam train, the real-life vehicle that was used to depict the Hogwarts Express in the “Harry Potter” films, would make an unscheduled stop to pick up the family.

“The policeman said, ‘We’ve arranged for the next train passing to stop for you, and you’re not going to believe this but it’s the Hogwarts Express steam train. Your kids are going to love it,’” Cluett told The Associated Press on Sunday, adding that his kids — aged between 6 and 12 ― are all fans of the franchise.

Cthulhu Christmas Cards

Cthulhu Christmas Cards is a crowdfunding effort by Auroch Digital.

Christmas is fast approaching; so what better way to share festivities than blasphemous, eldritch cards that scream, ‘Happy Holidays!’

As the evenings draw in and the seasons turn towards the end of the year, looming on the horizon is the ghost of Christmas future. We thought that this year we’d like to send an assortment of Mythos themed Christmas Cards to the special (and not so special) people in our lives. Then we thought; let’s print them up and let others send these blasphemous greetings, too. Then we remembered we live in a market-based economy and we need a bunch of monies to do just that. Then we thought; hey we found a bunch of like-minded crazy-but-fun peoples on the Internets last year – let ask them if they want to go in and help us print off these amazing designs!

Ah, Christmas! Whether for you it is a time for celebration with friends and family or a bah humbug chore to be endured, what we can all agree on this festive season is the inevitability of death. So with the nameless void that awaits us all in mind, we thought what better way to blow a raspberry at oblivion than with humorous images and text printed on pulped dead tree! Our crack team of artists have created six amazing designs and we’re champing at the bit to click ‘send’ and whizz them off to the printers. That’s where you fellow cultists come in; with your support we can make this modest yet not-modest goal of eldritch greetings cards flying through the post a reality.

“I believe that the information bottleneck idea could be very important in future deep neural network research”

New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Neural Networks—Natalie Wolchover, Wired

Last month, a YouTube video of a conference talk in Berlin, shared widely among artificial-intelligence researchers, offered a possible answer. In the talk, Naftali Tishby, a computer scientist and neuroscientist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, presented evidence in support of a new theory explaining how deep learning works. Tishby argues that deep neural networks learn according to a procedure called the “information bottleneck,” which he and two collaborators first described in purely theoretical terms in 1999. The idea is that a network rids noisy input data of extraneous details as if by squeezing the information through a bottleneck, retaining only the features most relevant to general concepts. Striking new computer experiments by Tishby and his student Ravid Shwartz-Ziv reveal how this squeezing procedure happens during deep learning, at least in the cases they studied.

Tishby’s findings have the AI community buzzing. “I believe that the information bottleneck idea could be very important in future deep neural network research,” said Alex Alemi of Google Research, who has already developed new approximation methods for applying an information bottleneck analysis to large deep neural networks. The bottleneck could serve “not only as a theoretical tool for understanding why our neural networks work as well as they do currently, but also as a tool for constructing new objectives and architectures of networks,” Alemi said.

“science fiction can bypass people’s normal partisan filters”

[Is Sci-Fi a Religious Experience? Adam Savage Thinks So](https://www.wired.com/2017/10/geeks-guide-adam-savage)—Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy

“It acts as a Trojan horse,” Savage says. “This was a constant refrain that my guests kept mentioning, that science fiction can bypass people’s normal partisan filters.”

He also notes that one of his guests, Kevin Smith, describes pop culture narratives like sci-fi movies and superhero comics as his “religion”—his source for meaning and moral guidance. So could science fiction evolve into something akin to an actual religion?

“I’m not positive that literature could satisfy that deep need for the transcendent, but I hope it can, because for me it really has,” Savage says. “I’ve gotten a tremendous amount from it over the years, not just entertainment, but also thinking about the ways I am a person, a father, a husband, a friend, a citizen.”

The Lost Words

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris is a new release that is also a response to the loss of words about the natural world in the 2007 Oxford Junior dictionary.

All over the country, there are words disappearing from children’s lives. These are the words of the natural world – Dandelion, Otter, Bramble and Acorn, all gone. The rich landscape of wild imagination and wild play is rapidly fading from our children’s minds.The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. With acrostic spell-poems by award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustration by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.

Via A new book teaches kids of the internet age all the “lost words” from nature and outdoor play—Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz

In 2007, Oxford released a new edition of its “Junior” dictionary, aimed at kids aged seven and older. A handful of parents and pedants were critical of which words had been dropped from and added to the edition. Words about nature—”moss,” “blackberry,” and “bluebell”—were gone, and in their place, “blog,” “chatroom,” and “database.” (“Saint,” “chapel,” and “psalm” had also been removed.) The dictionary made more cuts in 2012: “Cauliflower” and “clover” were supplanted by “broadband” and “cut and paste.”

In 2015, authors Margaret Atwood, Helen Macdonald, and Macfarlane, among other novelists and nature writers, expressed their dismay in an open letter to Oxford University Press. “Childhood is undergoing profound change; some of this is negative; and the rapid decline in children’s connections to nature is a major problem,” they wrote.

Star Trek Adventures Quickstart

A new Star Trek Adventures Quickstart is available from Modiphius.

Welcome to your new assignment, Captain. Your continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before…

“We’ve received a message from Narendra Station that a runabout called the Susquehanna has gone missing in the Carina Nebula, deep within the Shackleton Expanse. The Susquehanna was investigating an unusual alien signal that originated from the nebula when all contact was lost. We have been ordered to enter the nebula, find the runabout, and determine the origin and cause of the alien signal. Starfleet has also advised that Romulan and Ferengi ships have been sighted in the region, so we should exercise caution since they may well have detected the alien signal as well.”

This is a FREE 30 page Quickstart for the Star Trek Adventures Roleyplaying game, and contains an introduction to the main game’s core rules, plus “Signals” a self contained adventure with six pre-generated characters for you to enjoy. You will also need:

At least two 20-sided dice (d20) per Player, and several
6-sided dice (d6) to serve as Challenge Dice
A set of six chips or tokens for Momentum
A set of twenty chips or tokens for Threat
The pre-generated characters found in the back of the booklet.