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EP PODCASTSXML

November 18, 2011

Accelerated Ideas

Adm. Bobby Ray Inman (Ret.)When a retired four star Admiral provides support for nuclear arms control and a few other commendable things, the proper interrogatory is "yes." Or "yes, Sir." A gentleman with a friendly disposition and a cautious but lightning fast mind, Admiral Bobby Ray Inman (Ret.) reasonably assesses the risks. Other political issues can wait for a rainy day... It was gracious of the Admiral to talk with me and to allow me a chance to keep up. Total runtime thirty eight minutes. Lupum auribus tenēre.

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Comments


Fascinating exposition of conventional wisdom. The admiral might like to look into this:

Siri grew out of a huge project inside the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), those people who previously gave you the internet and, more recently, a scheme to encourage people to develop driverless cars. Siri's parent project, called Calo (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) had $200m of funding and was the US's largest-ever artificial intelligence project. In 2007 it was spun out into a separate business; Apple quietly acquired it in 2010, and incorporated it into its new phone.

When you ask or instruct Siri to do something, it first sends a little audio file of what you said over the air to some Apple servers, which use a voice recognition system from a company called Nuance to turn the speech — in a number of languages and dialects — into text. A huge set of Siri servers then processes that to try to work out what your words actually mean. That's the crucial NLU part, which nobody else yet does on a phone.

[That's a helpful perspective. Thanks! A prudent rule of thumb would be, if you have something important to say to someone you shouldn't say it over the phone. For an apposite example, a former colleague of the Admiral's told me in an email that he had a story about the Admiral — which he would tell me next time he saw me in person... g.]

Thanks for your continued excellent service to our Republics.

DD, Rachel, Nevada TU alumnus

So long as the US claims military supremacy over the entire Earth, there seems to be little incentive for Russia and China to consistently cooperate on nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

This is because these two countries generally do not have the conventional means to protect allies from attack by the US. Yet it is hard imagining anyone in Moscow or Beijing ordering nuclear retaliation against the USA because US-led forces have invaded Syria or even Iran. Consequently, it is better for these two countries if their allies have the means of deterring overwhelming conventional attack all by themselves.

The case of China also throws up additional hurdles to any degree of cooperation on nuclear arms issues. Due to the disparity in nuclear forces between China and the US, nuclear warfare might still be conceivable and China, being weaker, has every reason to keep its forces under wraps. According to some analysts, if one day a PLA task force sets sail to bring Taiwan firmly inside Beijing's strategic orbit, the US, given the enormous losses fighting a conventional naval and air battle near the Chinese coast would entail, could very well threaten a tactical nuclear strike against that invasion force. Beijing, being conscious of this possibility, has informally made it clear that the US would have to trade a major population center or two for such a move. The US leadership in turn, also knowing of this possibility, might be tempted to start such a war with a first strike against the much smaller Chinese nuclear forces to try to deny China this option in the first place. Consequently, China has no reason to engage in substantive nuclear arms control talks with the US that might allow the latter to gain information to help it better execute such a first strike. A sustained Sino-US dialogue on nuclear weapons issue is only likely if either China first builds a nuclear arsenal comparable to that of the US, or if the US renounces its claims to dominance over the western Pacific.

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