The Tromsø Interviews: Scott Locklin - Science Dick
Elon Musk, Modern Science as Bullshit, Technology's Stagnation, web3's Potential, the Failure of Western Elites, and Right Wing Butt Plug Enthusiasm
Playing the straight man is a thankless task, much like interviewing Scott Locklin is. In show business, knowing your cues is the ‘make or break’ when it comes to delivering a solid performance, like Jerry Lewis would consistently do in France (that country adored him).
There are exceptions, though. The iconoclast is one such example. They are to be forgiven for missing their marks because they are by design prone to going off on wild tangents. This is where they locate their genius. Scott Locklin is such a person (his genius is yet to be discovered though, even by him).
I sat with my old friend Scott in Tromsø, Norway, shortly after his return from a classified research project on the Svalbard Islands. He talks a lot of shit in this interview, half of which I don’t come close to understanding. See if you can do better than I did.
Much like I believe all women, I also believe all scientists. Without science, we are little more than cavemen (the pre-historic white kind, not the pre-historic minority cavepersons, of course). It is with their direction that I have come through this pandemic thus far virtually unscathed. I double and sometimes triple mask (N-95 only please!). I recently got my booster shot (pics posted on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and my lawyers are currently negotiating with the Israeli Embassy to allow me to get a fourth shot. I've spent around $35,000 in legal fees so far, but one can never be safe enough. Last year, I laughed at how xenophobic people were towards Asians when this virus reached our shores but realized pretty quickly that this was a killer! I quarantined myself up until scientists let me know that attending #BLM demonstrations was not a threat to my personal health since the virus would not treat it as a superspreader event. I somehow got Corona anyway around 10 days later and was intubated for four months despite being a healthy 5'9, 325 lbs. man with Asthma and Type 2 Diabetes. What I'm trying to get at here is that your criticisms of today's science are without merit, undemocratic, and probably racist too. I say this while sitting in an ergonomically-perfect Charcoal Rhythm-coloured Herman Miller Embody Office Chair. It's designed to enhance health, improve focus, and provide ergonomic support for people who sit more than 4 hours a day and features: tilt limiter, adjustable Seat Depth, fully adjustable arms, graphite base and frame, Black arm pads, and carpet casters. The rhythm fabric is tight, smooth soft to the touch, and prevents heat buildup.
Nice; I bet you fucking love science. You probably also own a butt plug.
(Please note: I set this shithead up for an easy touchdown on the HMQ (Herman Miller Question, and he didn’t go for it. Read his rant here.)
Speaking of ergonomics......Those who have researched secret societies know that Rites of Initiation often involve humiliating and self-debasing acts. Former UK Prime Minister (and Conservative) David Cameron was reported to have put his penis into the head of a pig during his University days. Would you agree with me that the now popular insertion of ergonomically-designed butt plugs into one's own anus for public viewing is a rite of passage for online narcissists who seek to enter the barely lucrative world of right wing grifting? Or is it a case of showing everyone just how comfortable you are with the act and secure in your own right-wingedness? I showed the clips of Gavin McInnes and Masculinist Jack Murphy engaging in this heroic act to Glenn Greenwald and he replied to me: "What a couple of fucking faggots! These two homos are gonna find themselves slaves to Big Diaper by the time they're 55 as half of their savings will be automatically allocated to Pampers." I usually don't like to publish this kind of language, but he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist after all.
I defer to Glenn Greenwald on the subject of inserting objects up kiesters. The Dalai Lama says masturbation is a sin though, so maybe it would be more right wing to pay someone to stick things up their hiney holes. Future right wing grifters take note.
Science teaches us that #BLM is scientifically correct. It also has taught us that MTF transgenders make for the best women (see: athletics, military, and so on). It must suck to be a right winger since Science is progressive.
Girls have the right to compete with boys and men on an equal footing in all matters. Also, if the sport happens to be predominantly female-identified, the presence of Y-chromosome diversity will at least make it watchable.
Being an iconoclast (dick), you have these weird little quirks and stupid opinions like Thomas Edison being superior to Nikola Tesla. For me, the pantheon of great scientists is as follows: Isaac Newton, Tesla, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Galileo, Lysenko, Einstein, Copernicus, Darwin, Bohr, Mendeleev, Fermi, and so on. That thief Edison, albeit moderately-talented, doesn't rate much higher than Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Gosh, I'm pretty sure this list is antisemitic somehow. You also out famous Bagpipe-American James Clerk Maxwell; easily tied with Sassenach Newton.
(Please note: Scott failed to even bring up his case for why Edison was better than Tesla).
Pseudo-Intelligent Portion of the Interview
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads”, said Jeff Hammbacher, a Facebook engineer. I think about this quote quite often because I have in the past lamented the fact that there is a misallocation of resources in the USA in particular due to the massive size of its banking and finance sector, and how payouts in that world completely dwarf that of public service, leaving government to third stringers and narcissists who like the public spotlight, whether it be negative or positive. Why subject yourself to constant media scrutiny in a 24 hour news cycle when you can get 10 to 100+ times the pay working for BlackRock, with no one trying to peek through your windows or going through your online history? Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to agree that there is a misallocation of resources as well, and that it has resulted in the failure of tangible technological progress.
Elon Musk had to found and monetize a payment company before he was able to build spaceships. At one point working at Lockheed or China Lake would have been pretty neat, but that's sure not happening now.
Hammerbacher is an odd duck; he was a fairly successful quant who ended up working for corporate syphilis, then cofounded a rent-a-center for hardware with a veneer of fancy database and math stuff. I assume the latter makes him feel better about the giant bed of money he sleeps on, but doesn't really add to the bottom line. Most of the rent-a-center baloney is only a thing because accountants don't want to press the depreciation button on their quicken software. His midbestern ancestors probably cry at this. Weren't they the ones who put freemasons on the moon (in minecraft)?
Britain was the world leader in science and technology back when London was the world's financial center instead of the alternative to New York. Financial engineering never really recovered as a way for a nerd to make a buck since 2008; the only big money has been in tech. Most of them quants do Hammerbachian "data science" now which is arguably even more useless. Pre-WW-2 Britain also didn't have a bunch of weirdoes masturbating their nerd dingus ipotatoes, so they probably got a lot more done.
What 'low hanging fruit' is available when it comes to today's science in terms of actual advancement of knowledge? Beyond that, what fields should scientists be tackling, and why?
Rather, at this point, "experts" have become so abysmally stupid, I'd be content if they'd learn enough basic arithmetic to perform the elementary statistics involved in socially useful endeavors such as epidemiology. You know, noticing things like people get lung butter in the winter. I suppose our expert technocrats are now expected to "know" things which are laughably false, which makes calculating sums difficult.
One of the more amusing phenomena in the contemporary scientific community is the persistent existence of mostly fanciful fruity quasi-subjects. Quantum Information Theory, Nanotech, Cosmology, Noodle Theory: virtually nobody who labors in these fields is doing science or technology. Their work product has nothing to do with matter which exists in the known universe, and appears to be little more than an exotic form of science fiction involving live action roleplay and occasional alleged mathematics (doubt). Talented people should avoid this sort of thing, all of which is talked up by the mass media (that doesn't get anything else right either). I assume because media goons have loser brother-in-laws who work in these scam "mentaculus" fields. At this point the media is a very good signal: whatever they're talking about as the hot new subject is a hype chuckwagon that will destroy your life if you actually take it seriously; all to make some media goon's loser brother-in-law look important.
There are quiet revolutions happening in humble subjects like Linear Algebra, statistics and signal processing. Of course virtually nobody knows about them, because everyone's talking about neural doodads. Nobody knew about Fracking either until it changed the world. I knew a little bit about it in the late 80s because the guy who taught me E&M (the late Po-Zen Wong) got research bucks from Exxon for taking MRI images of pumping soap water through sandstone. Literally the least sexy sounding research in the physics department had geopolitical tier real world impact. Other than improvements in silicon lithography (which we didn't do in our department), pretty much nothing in physics has impacted the world the way fracking did; certainly not since nuclear weapons.
The mountebanks in VC (please look up the Russian translation) will tell you there is plenty to do with computers; even some of the dumb things they fund might be worth doing. I've said it many times: devops is ridiculously ripe for disruption…you don't even need "AI." If you want something more fruity: operating systems are all garbage. Just making one which didn't require daily security updates would be a considerable achievement and add huge increases in productivity, safety and privacy. Nobody will do this of course, as too many rice bowls will be upset. Retard software engineers go into transports when someone releases a new variation on Algol with some dumb feature; why can't they come up with a programming language that increases productivity by a factor of 10 the way LabVIEW did in the 80s? I mean, these dipshits are always complaining about labor costs. It seems like an obvious thing to do.
If you want to get really weird; the Church Turing thesis is obviously meaningless bullshit that shallow reddit spergs go into transports over…and there is no reason to make computers the way they are presently made other than habit and lack of imagination. The fact that our brains don't work the way a von Neumann machine or neural net does offers a big old hint that we're not doing something right. Maybe you could put a dent in the Moravec paradox with a different approach? Nobody is even trying to try here, though; it's laughably cowardly and stupid, and it’s why we don't have nice things. The design of the von Neuman computers we use today is mostly an accident based on mid-1940s electronics limitations (von Neuman had nothing to do with it, but I'll blame it on him anyway since he was a slimeball who took credit for other people's results after writing them up).
In our pre-interview in Tampere, Finland, you also indicated that there are "huge political implications" for this lack of technological progress. Is this because of great power rivalry such as Russia's advances in hypersonic missiles? Or is it an internal issue that speaks more to the culture at home?
Capitalism becomes a zero sum game without improvements in productivity to share around. These improvements come about through technological progress. Our "managerial elite" have only one reason to justify their existence; managing the risks and benefits of technologies and using them for national goals. They've arguably been fairly useless since FDR invented this social class and gave it vast unaccountable powers over the rest of us. The lack of things for them to do, and the lack of new wealth from new technologies has solidified them into a sort of priesthood for an ever changing religion whose primary purpose is awarding comfy jobs to themselves and keeping the lower orders in line.
The concept of "progress" is also embedded into the mental hardware of the post-Christian bugman segment of society. The same people who would be excited about new technologies (the ones who used to line up for new models of iPotatoes) are the ones who go into transports over transgender toddlers or lady aircraft carrier Captains or whatever the social progress du jour we will be enduring by the time this hits the printing press. The concept of historical progress is deeply baked into the Western mind, and since we don't have any actual innovations to get excited about, these sperdos will probably keep coming up with more and more insane "social progress" until you give them new technological shiny things to make up for their lack of Jesus.
Imagine if someone cooked up a truly too cheap to meter form of electricity along with energy storage technologies that approach that of hydrocarbons? I'm guessing it would make the middle and lower classes lives better in numerous ways. The managerial class could then take credit for this and stop lecturing us on the difference between Omnisexual and Pansexual, raising our quality life even further.
Much of what we see as 'scientific progress' seems to serve the security state and corporate behemoths. The state is driving towards an incredibly granular level of knowing its citizens and storing that data. This same data serves corporations as well who view it as 'gold'. The future seems to be the complete monetization of the human mind, body (and soul) for corporate profit and societal control.
The good news is Fair Isaacs is probably the only company on earth who makes a profit from actual use of "AI" rather than selling consulting welfare cheese to the government. So the worst thing that could happen is your FICO score goes down. The oligarchs would absolutely love it if vast machine intelligences could tell when someone is about to use the word of power, or commit some other horrific crime, like shitposting on the chans. The reality is "AI" requires 100 ph.d.s making a half million bucks a year, plus a few million bucks worth of EC2 instances to do the work of 50 bureaucrats doing shitty boring work sifting through 4chan posts. IRL most of what they call "AI" is actually a UI problem.
Imagine you have a PhD in machine learning; you know all about stochastic gradient descent and how to calculate eigenvalues and so on, and multiply matrices in O(n^2.373) operations. You come up through the ranks thinking you're going to be a Schmidhuber brain in a can Frankenstein neural thing which spontaneously asks "what are you doing, Dave." Slowly over time you realize the thing that would solve the problem you're tasked with is making a really sweet database UI written in NodeJS so some 98 IQ coppers narc can more efficiently add Croatian cigarette smuggler shitpoasts to a database of dangerous thought criminals. What are you going to do? Are you going to go learn to code excellent user interfaces for snitches, or are you going to continue farting around on a GPU? The reality is you don't need vast machine intelligences to know Marc Andreessen was thinking "retard" even if he didn't have the bad manners to use the word of power. There are plenty of tattletales like Taylor Lorenz who will inform us of this for free without paying 100 PhDs to build giant neural nets which raise the global temperature of the planet by 0.2 degrees C to achieve this result.
Ching Chong Chat
Turning back to great power rivalry, you recently reviewed Wang Huning's book which details his experiences in the USA just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and Tianamen Square. Huning is an eminence grise in Beijing, almost entirely unknown in the West. I took a look at his book as well and came away with the notion that he was the East Asian Sayyad Qutb, a foreign traveler amazed by much of what he saw in the USA, but equally horrified as well. The fact that Yuning's work has gained little traction in the West must be a case of our own hubris. What particularly struck you about Huning's observations? What was he right about?
Qutb looked directly at American culture in the late 1940s and decided it was a great evil that needed to be destroyed, which is a natural reaction any decent person could sympathize with. Huning looked at America in the 1980s, 40 years more degenerate and decadent, and decided he would like to figure out a way of getting Chinese people more telephones and database technology before the baizuo forgot how to do these things themselves. His observations on how fucked up the future of the country appeared to be was simple common sense that any honest person without a Ph.D. from Harvard might have noticed. This is why Egypt is less of a technological superpower than China: focus.
To keep in the theme of this interview, we have to ask the CQ: Can China Science?
Terry Tao looks kind of Chinese and is one of the few actually impressive scientists of our time, so it seems physiologically possible. I'd guess though, probably not any time soon. It's okay though. They're better company than people who swoon over drag queen story hour. They also pay better, and are very adept technologists if someone else does the creative parts. I support our new Chinese overlords and would consider welcoming them as liberators.
Shifting gears for a second, there is so much energy now around web3. Crypto, Blockchain, NFTs, and so on are now all the rage. I don't claim to know much more than the average person about these topics, but there is an easily detectable messianism around them, particularly when it comes to their purported ability to route around the state and deliver freedom in an era where it is trending downward. My gut tells me that the state's monopoly on force and ability to gather and concentrate resources means that any potential existential competitor can be easily wiped out or co-opted by them.
Bitcoin was invented to overthrow the central banks. It might succeed .... against the El Salvador central bank. Blockchain and other forms of trustless databases are a new technology that hasn't even begun to play out yet. Mind you, this was invented completely outside academia, corporations and even normal society by a couple of cranky anti-government anons who decided to troll Hal Finney's annoying neighbor. Bitcoin is pretty shitty as money goes: it's difficult for normies to use, transactions cost too much for convenient amounts. It has stupidly high volatility, but it's an excellent bet on the incompetence of central banks for making their money useful for storing value.
Blockchain: it's a shared database with rules where you theoretically don't need to trust anybody. Bitcoin is like pong, NFTs, I dunno, maybe Space Invaders. This has a long way to play out before we see what it turns into.
It's ironic, and it shows Western Civilization's present parlous state; that antisocial nerds have gifted us with a technology that allows us to live a relatively normal life without trusting our crumbling institutions. Markets inform us this is the most exciting technology in current year. We should, of course, be embarrassed, if not terrified.
The government legalized gambling in order to tax it for the sake of increasing revenue. Many jurisdictions in North America have also legalized marijuana for the same reason. There is now a concerted effort to normalize the use of hallucinogenics for the sake of therapy. It seems that with this in particular, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of a previous era, specifically the 60s and 70s, where drug use was rampant. I can't help but think back to Philip K. Dick's novel "A Scanner Darkly" where he lists the names of real life friends who became drug casualties due to their experimentation with psychedelics. Many fried their brains, never to recover. Others ended up in the hell of schizophrenia.
I think a safe prediction is our managerial class will select whatever path seems most likely to provide jobs for them. Putting psychedelic victim brains back together sounds like a great job for social worker clients. Bonus; it will be them administering the treatments. They'll probably eventually make it mandatory like in "Wild in the Streets."
Another bad idea seems to be the blossoming of online communities. Where once bad ideas were often contained due to lack of proximity to others with those same bad ideas, the internet has created free-forming corrals of like-minded people with bad or wrong intentions. Society already has enough of this thanks to politics, but this ease of community-forming without the guardrails of common good community leadership only makes matters worse.
I think online communities are particularly toxic in the US as there isn't much else to do or anywhere to go. Everyone is ugly and nobody trusts anybody else. For countries where people have normal social lives it seems to be much less of a big deal. They find it mostly useful for organizing riots against medical fascism.
I have little desire to live in California, yet I am fascinated by it, particularly the time period between the early 60s up until the mid 80s. This was in my mind "Peak America", and California stood at the summit of that peak. Despite its sunny weather, reputation for laid back living, and natural beauty, there is an undercurrent of what I openly call 'demonic forces' (even if people mock me for it) that seem to bubble up from the surface every once in a while. I have a theory that California shouldn't be there, in that what is now California shouldn't actually exist. It is as if this once-almost-paradise is a simulation, or even worse, a desecration of what existed there in some past time. Am I insane?
One of the fun things about California that nobody thinks about (if the looming multiple earthquake disasters weren't enough) there are megafloods every 100 years. The last one was in 1861 before there were many people there. Because diversity is our strength and we live in a time of great technological progress, I'm sure we'll do much better when it happens; probably by blaming it on CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The excellent California government certainly has proved this with their cutting edge forestry management techniques.
So yes, the feelings of doom you get when you get off the airplane in California are, like, natural and accurate feelings you should probably pay attention to.
Dumb Part 2
You left California and the USA as a whole not too long ago. Distance gives us perspective and residing in a foreign country allows us the ability to compare and contrast. Was your move a smart move? What precipitated it? I imagine that it was a build up of things over a period of years that finally drove you to leave. Would you agree that life in Europe is not as psychologically smothering as that in North America?
Well the food is better, and the people mostly look and act like human beings rather than ambling shuggoths and twee bugmen. The downsides are I am not as charming in a foreign language as I am in English.
Michel Houellebecq, Patron Saint of the Incels, married a biofemale in 2018. Was this an act of treachery? Is he a fauxcel/fakecel? Will this sap his creative energy?
Everyone has moved on to Delicious Tacos at this point.
On the Samael Qlipha, the magician makes a pact with the dark forces and realizes the invitation of Friedrich Neitzsche to re-evaluate old values. Insanity becomes wisdom; death becomes life. Samael is the 'Poison of God.' Here is where illusions are poisoned, and all categories and conceptions are deconstructed until nothing is left. The dark side of the astral plane could be compared to a chalice filled with poison or an intoxicating fluid. While Gamaliel is the chalice, Samael is the elixir and the following lower Qlipha, A'arab Zaraq, is where the magician experiences the effect.
Afflict me not with Madonna-tier gibberish, you filthy offspring of cigarette smugglers.
Neil Degrasse Tyson plays a world famous scientist who intends to put a stop to Climate Change, racism, and Santa Claus. Mel Gibson plays a researcher who devises an algorithm that will save Santa Claus and end Climate Change, but encoded within it are thousands and thousands of ethnic and racial slurs. Nassim Taleb takes them both out for Black Squid Ink Risotto at a famous Italian bistro in Sicily in order to get them to work together. Finish the storyline.
Scott Locklin can be found screaming at clouds at his personal website/containment zone, creatively entitled Locklin on Science.