2006-07-17

Limits of Moore's law

These thoughts emerged after speaking with Clément Vidal, from an ongoing discussion at the FRIAM mailing list, and are also related to the so called Singularity. Many people say that in a few decades computers will have the same computational power as the human brain, and then AI machines will take over. This argument is based on Moore's law, which states that the transistor density of semiconductor chips doubles roughly every 18 months, giving an exponential growth in computing power. Ignoring the fact that brains do different types of computations than PCs, these people argue that when we'll have the computational power to model all the neurons of a human brain (100 billion, with about 100 thousand connections each), computers will be smarter than humans. And since their capacity will keep on growing, soon we'll be left in the shadow of obsolence.
Now, just imagine that you have all that computational power right now. Even more, let's say with the capacity of 10^100 CPU's running in parallel, or even more. How the hell do you program a human mind in there??? It takes us several years just to learn to talk! This is related to the so called software crisis: even when computing power increases, the ability to produce more complex software is not increasing as fast as Moore's law, so in practice we can make faster computations, but not more complex. I don't know if there is a measurement of software complexity, to see how it has increased over the years, but my guess would be that it would be linear, or even less... just look how long does it take to release a new operating system. Software is progressing, but not as fast as hardware, thus limiting the practicality of Moore's law.

Related ideas can be found on my essay: Why Computers Will Not Take Over the World, where I argue that rather than machines taking over humans, we will converge in our evolution, since we have different niches, which are actually complementary.

2006-07-16

Facts on the Mexican elections fraud

I am translating these facts from the senderodelpeje blog, trying to spread the information internationally. I would ask anybody reading this to spread it as well, helping the ill Mexican democracy. All of these facts have been reported in the Mexican press.

  • Felipe Calderón, presidential candidate of PAN, who is attempting to steal the election supported by the current government, certain businessmen, and certain media, was a honour witness at the wedding of Luis Carlos Ugalde, head of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), in charge of the elections
  • One of the companies of Diego Zavala, brother-in-law of Calderón, porvided the software for the IFE, and gave "technical support" to the very suspicious preliminary results system (PREP) of the election
  • This same company, gave illegal access to all the data of the Mexican voters to the PAN
  • The PREP was plagued of inconsistencies favouring Calderón, such as this which erased 100 votes for López Obrador:
  • The "final" counting of the votes had a mathematically impossible behaviour, counting that votes should be added randomly to the system. This graph shows that as votes were added, a percentage for Calderón was added equal to the one reduced to López Obrador. Also other people noticed that during this counting, there was no change in the percentages of the other candidates, which is also mathematically impossible.
  • Researchers form the UNAM are suggesting to count the votes again with a different system, because that of the IFE is not trustable. This is because after analizing the data given by the IFE, it was clear that there had been a cybernetic fraud.
  • According to physicist Jorge A. López, an algorithm used by the PREP consisted in giving 1.008060294% votes to Calderón for each 1% of votes for López Obrador
  • After the preliminary results (PREP) were given, only 1% of the booths with irregularities were checked, because the PAN and IFE opposed to open the boxes to count the votes.
  • From that 1%, there were 13598 votes missing for López Obrador during the PREP. Following this tendency, 13598 * 99 = 1,346,202 missing votes in total!!! which would give an extra 3.36% in favour of López Obrador, winning comfortably the election, and fitting more reasonably the exit polls.
  • Most of the media, headed by TV giant Televisa, support the fraud trying to hide it and present López Obrador as a "violent" person, "conflictive", and almost want to blame him for the volatility of the market. You see, in Italy Berlusconi owned the media. In Mexico the media own the government. With Vicente Fox they got tax extemption, and a new law was approved giving them lots of benefits. That's why they are supporting the fraud.
  • President Vicente Fox attacks López Obrador for claiming a recount of the votes, but he did the same in 1991 where he was contending for governor of Guanajuato.
  • The IFE, who at first refused to open the electoral packages, has illegaly ordered (only the Tribunal is entitled by law to do this) the opening of 40% of them, presumably to fit more or less the votes in the boxes with the invented computer data. Why would they order to open the packages if there was no fraud? Why do they open them now and not when they should have done so in the final counting of votes? Because the IFE people involved betrayed their motherland and the incipient democracy, they sold themselves to the circles of power...
  • 60% of the booths have "mathematical inconsistencies". To have things tracked down, each booth receives a given number of voting sheets, depending on the number of people registered for that booth. When the votes are counted, they need to return the unused voting sheets. So, in 60% of the booths the number of votes reported plus the unused votes was unequal to the number of received sheets, namely taking votes from López Obrador, giving votes to Calderón.
  • Today, more than a million people marched in Mexico City, coming from all the country. This was the largest demonstration in the history of Mexico. This shows that people are ready to defend democracy legally and peacefully.
(Pictures from El Universal, more here)

Atomium pictures

Here in Brussels they recently renovated the Atomium, a relic from the 1958 World Expo. It's quite nice, shinny and with lights at night...




it seems I should take a tripod the next time... Posted by Picasa

2006-07-09

More on the Mexican Elections fraud


More dirt has come to the light in the last few days, giving more proofs of the huge fraud. The PRD, party of López Obrador, claimed a recount of 48,000 booths (of a total 130,000 in the country), because these had inconsistencies or irregularities in the "preliminary" results compared with the exit polls they made. The Federal Electoral Institute (which director was promoted by the leader of the national teacher's union, with her own party now, but clearly supporting the current government. btw, she was involved in the murder of a competing leader of the teacher's union), for the "final" count, did not change much of the preliminary results, and only checked 2000 booths, and opening only 800 electoral packages. They also included some votes that had "gone missing" in the preliminary results (which gave López Obrador a gain in more than 200,000 votes), so it seems that they fiddled with the votes of other districts to keep the advantage of Calderón. The nice thing is that it seems that this happened without opening those packages... One proof of that was in the state of Jalisco, where there were several booths with annex booths, so that they shared the same number. In these there were footprints of the digital fraud: booth 2876 and its three annex booths have 264 votes for Calderón each. Booth 893 and its 3 annexes, 179 each. And 3177 with its annex, 274 each. Now, this is mathematically impossible, so it shows that there was an algorithm massaging the numbers received from the booths. Another proof was seen with some of the packages that were opened, the preliminary results simply took one vote from López Obrador and gave it to Calderón. If you extrapolate to all the booths, that's 260,000 votes out of the air, which is more than the "official" advantage of Calderón. Certainly, not all the booths need to be altered, and most of the fraudulent ones are those where there were few people observing them.

Another indicator that something is fishy is that the government, the PAN, and Calderón, are extremely reluctant to count the votes one by one (the army is now guarding the electoral packages). As Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas wrote: if they have nothing to hide, why don't they want to recount the votes, to give the election real credibility? Their refusal fuels the common belief that the fraud was cooked...

Certainly, López Obrador will demand a recount to the Federal Electoral Tribunal and to the Supreme Court of Justice. Yesteray between 150,000 and 240,000 people met at the Zócalo in Mexico City for an "Informative Assembly" (see picture above, by José Carlo González of La Jornada). There will be a National March starting next Wednesday, from all the country, culminating next Sunday on Mexico City, to defend democracy and our right to vote.

El pueblo no se deja, el pueblo no se apendeja...

2006-07-07

Mexican Presidential Election Fraud

Last Sunday, more than 40 million mexicans voted for president, both congresses, and in some states for governors. There was (once again) a fraud in the election, in favour of the current president's party, the right-wing (and sometimes extremist) PAN. Felipe Calderón was its presidential candidate. He was busy in the last months with a dirty campaign worth of Goebbels: "If you repeat a lie a million times, it will become a truth", against Andrés Manuel
López Obrador, candidate of the center-left-wing party PRD, who headed the polls for several years now. Why was he ahead? Well, he did a great job as a mayor of Mexico City since 2000, basically not stealing money and working for the people. He vowed to do the same at a national level, changing the current technocratic economic model that has stagnated the country for 30 years and motivated massive immigration to the USA (about half a million per year). Actually, depending on the price of oil, the money sent by mexicans to their families constitutes the first or second source of income to the country. That is NOT normal... Even people in the USA got doubts about Mexican economic policy (implemented by Harvard-educated rich boys): maybe a free market doesn't work in all countries (just like democracy doesn't work in all countries...). Investment bankers and businessmen gave support to López Obrador, because he was the only candidate to have shown the ability to get things done, while the government of Vicente Fox has only damaged our international relations and benefitted a few people. It was this few people, who have money and power, and would lose it if López Obrador won, that plotted the "victory" at any cost of Calderón, e.g. giving presents with state's money to people who might not vote for him.

The dirty campaign (e.g. saying that López Obrador is a danger for Mexico, and many other fallacies that were later prohibited by the Federal Electoral Institute, but as soon as a TV spot was banned, they would come with a new one) helped Calderón to reduce the difference between him and López Obrador, but not completely ("you can't fool all the people all the time"), López Obrador was still ahead in the polls a week before the elections. So, in order to ensure the prevail of the privileged ones, the election was rigged. First of all, it turns out that the company of the brother-in-law of Caderón developed the software to count the votes (not to mention other privileges that the brother-in-law obtained in the last few years). Second, the PRD made its own exit polls (since this is not the first rigged election), giving López Obrador a victory with more than 2% margin. After the elections, a "preliminary" counting gave Calderón a victory with a difference of 1.04% of the votes. However, three million votes were missing from that count, supposedly because they had "inconsistencies". Still, when the PRD denounced this, some of them WERE counted. So, which inconsistencies? When the "final" counting of the votes began, López Obrador had a clear lead. However, this was reduced, and it seems that some people knew when the balance would tip over. At the end, Calderón was ahead by 0.5%, about 200,000 votes, so in principle he would be the next president. However, irregularities are popping everywhere: boxes with votes appeared in the Xochiaca junkyard in Mexico City. People who helped counted votes in their district note that the votes they counted differ from the results given by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) in their webpage... and even some mathematicians claim that the results given by the IFE were the result of a preprogrammed computer algorithm, not of vote counting, so that the result was known beforehand, decided by the people who developed the software and not by the people.

I'm sure that in the next few days much more dirty tricks will show up. The PRD will claim a recount vote by vote, and all the complaints will be dealt by the Federal Electoral Tribunal, who will officially decide who will be the next president... so we'll still be in suspense for a couple of months...