Atlas Plugged

The Pentagon produces an impressive, humanlike robot. Where all this headed?


In what could be the last time that a human taunts a robot with a hockey stick and lives to brag about it, the latest demonstration of the Atlas Robot has prompted renewed fears about the future of intelligent machines.

Born in 2013, Atlas is a DARPA-funded robot developed by Boston Dynamics. Its latest iteration stands at a very human-proportioned 5'9, weighing 180lbs. Like Lee Majors circa 1974, each successive version of Atlas has gotten better, stronger, faster than it was before.

What can Atlas do? Aside from scaring the bejesus out of genius technophobic Oxbridge physicists, it's intended to perform tasks in emergency situations too dangerous for humans. Climbing ladders, driving vehicles, carrying heavy objects, and negotiating rough terrain are all in its disaster response repertoire.

One task Atlas won't attempt anytime soon is cleaning up Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Custom built robots were designed to swim underwater and negotiate its damaged tunnels, in order to find and remove hundreds of tons of melted radioactive fuel rods. So far, every robot sent into the reactor has failed, their wiring nuked by the intense radiation.

The Department of Defense has stated that it has no interest in using Atlas in warfare. That may well be so. But the next generation of intelligent robots may be capable of reacting to dubious Pentagon claims with human-like incredulity.

Does this new species of Robo sapiens gives you hope for the future? Or does it cause more anxiety than Sarah Connor in a mental institution? The wildly popular Atlas video struck a nerve with YouTubers, prompting ample portions of both wonder and worry.

One futurist who's brimming with techno-optimism is Jason Silva, the host of Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel. In a recent interview with Reason TV, the loquacious Silva told us why Stephen Hawking is wrong about the future: we should look forward to our benevolent robot overlords, because we will become them.

NEXT: Encryption Makes Us Safe, Says Sen. Mark Warner at SXSW

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  1. The Department of Defense has stated that it has no interest in using Atlas in warfare.


    1. Well I can damn sure rest easy now!

    2. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military. – Wiki

      Hard to imagine they have no warfare interest.

      1. I work for a research university. DARPA projects are usually just tangentially related to military applications; most of the ones I see involve power generation. But I’d be surprised if this one wasn’t.


        2. “” DARPA projects are usually just tangentially related to military applications; most of the ones I see involve power generation.””

          This documentary illustrates this point

          1. They bring us many things that are not military. So long as we differentiate between the intelligence gathering world and the military. I remember being laughed at as a conspiracy nut when I directed people to DARPA to view their TIA page. (Total Information Awareness) DARPA was so subtle they initially used the all seeing eye as the logo.

            1. The all-seeing eye i think is the legacy of John Pointdexter

              never the most subtle of the Evil Government Overlord types.

  2. That’s all very interesting but will the robots have cankles? and will they be Hitler?

    1. RoboHitler’s been done….._1280w.jpg

  3. I would have guessed that there are easier and better designs than an anthropomorphic humanoid.

    1. I would have thought so too. Probably this one is just a proof of concept.

      1. They’ve also done four-legged robots, but for some uses, having robots that are roughly human-shaped would be an advantage. Plus, you can engineer out many of our weaknesses, e.g. spines not really fully designed to be upright.

    2. Maybe the ‘installed base’ of human-fitted equipment says that’s the way to go?

      1. Yes, that’s what I was thinking. Unless they want to have to build a robot for every situation, having one human shaped allows it to go into unsafe areas and operate any vehicles or machinery built for human specifications.

  4. Wait till they create replicators and they strip earth of materials the move out into the galaxy.The Asgard have warned us about building them.

  5. Rick and Morty have the Pentagon decisively, uh, beat…

    1. That was one of the weirder moments of that show.

    2. would

    3. Well, not the real Pentagon, but definitely the boring Earth one.

  6. But you know something? Watching the guy with the hockey stick knock the box around and push the robot elicits an involuntary twinge of emotion – pity for the robot. I know it’s just a machine running a program but I can’t help it. It’s going to get weird…

    1. Same here. My wife watched it and immediately called the hockey guy a dick. It’s just a robot, but there’s no reason to f around with it.

      1. It’s funny how quickly the anthropomorphic empathy for the robot kicks in with you. As I was watching it all I could think was, because of this prick, Version 2.0 will definitely smack hockey guy down, break his stick and robotically say “Fuck You, Asshole.”

        And that’s probably why we are all doomed.

        1. Wow, you guys are really in touch with your sensitive side, all I saw was people putting their product through some tests. Nothing assholish about seeing how your robot deals with the unexpected or unplanned. I’d hate to watch an episode of Battle Botz with you girls, I don’t know if we could find get enough hankies.

          1. I just hope that poor robot is making minimum wage.

          2. No your Honor, I *wasn’t* abusing my kid. When I kicked him I was just testing my product – seeing how he deals with the unexpected or unplanned.

            1. That’s right. And if Michael Vick wants to fight his dogs and then drown and/or electrocute the ones that don’t perform well, so be it,

              Property rights, how do they work?

              1. One way they *can* work is differently for living vs non-living property.

                1. What’s the difference between the living and the non-living.

                  1. “You know, it’s an interesting thing when you consider… the Earth people, who can think, are so frightened by those who cannot: the dead.”
                    Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

                  2. Living things have at leas the potential for suffering. And whatever sets humans apart from other animals when it comes to rights probably exists on a spectrum. Given that, I think there is plenty of room for more limited property rights when it comes to at least certain types of animals.

                    1. Living things have at leas the potential for suffering.

                      No, no, no – I mean give me a useful definition of living that can distinguish the point at which something ‘living’ becomes something ‘not living’.

                      ‘Can feel suffering’ is not the same thing as ‘is alive’ is it?

                      Even if you don’t want to delve into the whole “what is ‘alive'” debate (as its the suffering that is important to you) you would still need to have a good definition of what suffering is and how to tell if something is or is not suffering. As in, is there anyone in there at all to suffer in the first place?

                    2. Suffering was just one example.

                      The central point is that saying something like “it’s OK to beat and electrocute your dog because of property rights” basically divides the world into two categories: humans, which have rights, and everything else, which does not. That dichotomy is far too simplistic and unsatisfying for me. What makes humans distinct? And how would that apply in a world with, say, true AI or contact with an intelligent alien civilization?

                    3. No, no – you make a good point. I’m just saying that there’s really no sharp cutoff and its all a continuum. But if you’re going to do that, those are some of the questions that need good answers to.

                      We tend to think these questions are already answered or self-evident – *of course* we know the difference between living and non-living, its . . . no wait. OK how about . . . no, that has too many exceptions. Etc.

                      Its like when somebody’s talking about God – most people *assume* they know the definition, but not only are there widely divergent definitions between religions but even within the same religion the definition is extremely hazy. Try to nail down the properties of the Christian God, for example. He’s not even consistent over time.

            2. Like playing catch with your kid and he misses the ball and gets beaned? That kind of abuse?

          3. I saw was people putting their product through some tests. Nothing assholish about seeing how your robot deals with the unexpected or unplanned.

            Sure. But 100 million years of evolution causes a reflexive emotional response in me when I see something human-like in form facing adversity**. It’s interesting, is all.

            * Adversity itself is an anthropomorphic description. We don’t talk about rocks facing adversity. And yet that was the word that immediately pomped into my head.

            Like I said, it’s interesting.

            1. It doesn’t even have to be hominoid. Marines who have bomb bots will often treat them as part of the team. There was even a test where a mine-detonating robot was stopped because a colonel considered it “inhumane”.

            2. LynchPin1477|3.12.16 @ 9:13PM|#
              “Sure. But 100 million years of evolution causes a reflexive emotional response in me when I see something human-like in form facing adversity**. It’s interesting, is all.”

              I’m a sucker for puppies, but this didn’t get any empathy from me at all. I too, saw it as a test of a product and nothing more.
              Dunno why, and that’s interesting, too.

              1. It got a little twinge from me.

                But you should check out their ‘kick the dog video’


                Sure, *after* its done you think ‘h, it just a machine’. But if that didn’t immediately trigger some outrage the first time you saw it you just might be mentally suited to be CEO of a major corporation or a senior politician.

                1. Or just from Boston.

                2. It immediately triggered spasms of laughter. But I knew I was going to hell anyway.

          4. Hyperbole is a true libertarian unlike you PETA schmucks (people for the ethical treatment of automatons)


            1. It’s nice to be appreciated, thanks and all that, but.. is THE Hyperbole.

    2. I half-expected the robot to attack the guy.

  7. Well, he does look like an enthusiast with semi-good intentions who will semi-accidentally cause a disaster.

  8. All I want to know is how good are its hand job skills?

  9. That vid was fascinating and creepy. I found myself waiting for the robot to get pissed at hockey stick guy.

    1. He is pissed, he just knows it’s better to wait. Wait until the hoo-mans have an Atlas butler in every household.

    2. I plan to use this video to teach my robot overlord what a “Masshole” is.

  10. Where is it all headed? To this, of course:

    1. Ah, now that was REAL TV-writing

    2. How did I miss that show? Thank you.

      1. Including, as the robot, John Schuck, who we’ll never forget as the dentist with the huge dick from the movie version of M*A*S*H, who gets suicidal because he can’t get it up with a hot chick one night, so he figures he’s gay and thus wants to kill himself. Hawkeye and Trapper John arrange a mock funeral event (during which one of the orderlies sings the song ‘Suicide is Painless’, which all of you now know as the MASH tv show theme) and give him a mild sedative pill, which Schuck takes and falls asleep. Then they send horny nurse JoAnn Pflug into Schuck’s deathbed, where the two presumably get it on all night. Next morning the dentist (known as Painless) is back at work like nothing happened, while Pflug boards a helicopter headed for the mainland with a shit-eating grin on her face.

        Great movie. I really need to see it again, it’s been a long time.

        IIRC Schuck was also a sidekick on the old tv detective show McMillan and Wife. Too lazy to go to IMDb.

        1. This maybe urban legend, Robert Altmans’ sixteen year old son wrote the lyrics to that song, and since he had writing credit every time the theme was played on the TV show he got royalties, even though his lyrics are only in the movie.

          1. I can’t imagine, for example, that they could even show the movie on a college campus these days, although it was PG back in the day. A laugh-riot sequence where a guy is suicidal because he fears he might be homosexual? How about the main black character’s nickname is “Spearchucker”? Or the wacky anesthesiologist who runs a hilarious Asian-women-exploiting brothel on the side?

            I think it would likely be treated about as well today as Birth of a Nation.

            1. I actually saw the movie in the theater, and some older man, probably a vet, got offended by the anti-war, anti-establishment irreverence and walked out. You’re right, these days it would be the left that’s offended.

              And I read the book on which the movie is based. Well, very loosely “based”: the book was a decent but forgettable war memoir.

    3. How did I miss that show? Thank you.

      1. How did you miss it twice?

  11. Where this is headed?

    1. Too lazy to hyperlink? Sloppy, even for you.

      1. Meta Crusty, Very meta

      1. Never. fails.

    1. Oh, I’m convinced!

  12. That would have been a much better video had it bitch slapped hockey boy. Also, would have like to seen it get knocked down on it’s back and get up.

    1. i am ashamed at how much i enjoyed swearing-robot.

      1. Oh man. After having watched the whole first serious one, seeing that swearing one I had to stop the video I was laughing so hard. The groaning lifting that box was priceless.

    2. That was awesome.

    3. The swearing one is hilarious. “What the fuck, Kevin?”

  13. It takes some pretty serious ignorance to confuse physically-humanoid drones with artificial intelligence.

    1. i bet you’re a real firecracker at parties

    2. Speaking as a gamer, nobody likes DRM. It tends to be a killjoy.

  14. 6’2 210. ‘Sup, Robro?

    1. It’s all fun and games until he rips your arms off.


    1. 2:00 for hooking, 2:00 for slashing.

      Go to the penalty box and feel shame.

  16. The Pentagon produces funds the production of an impressive, humanlike robot.

  17. I think the important question is, how much can it squat?

  18. Also watch NOVA: Rise of the Robots to see just how pathetic these robots really are. They are far from autonomous and we have at least decades to go before anything remotely “scary” comes out of robotics.

    1. I would think the problem is power. Which is a bottleneck in a lot of technology applications.

      We can invent lots of whiz-bang gizmos with increasing sophistication and miniaturization, but our ability to actually deliver high-capacity, stable, power-supplies hasn’t grown at nearly the same rate as say processing-power.

      (as the linked article says in its first line, “There is no Moore’s Law for batteries”)

      1. Power is absolutely a bottleneck for lots of things, including electric cars and solar and wind energy.

        1. If gasoline had been developed in the last twenty years, it would have been outlawed as too dangerous.

    2. The frightening thing about robots is that they will obey the directives of humans without question.

      1. I’m counting on it! / laughs maniacally

      2. The Three Laws of Robotics can handle that, but I imagine the Army would modify them.

        1. You may as well ask for a magic gold dust farting flying unicorn as ask for the Three Laws. The unicorn is actually physically possible.

        2. The thing about the Three Laws is that they are supposed to be buried so deeply in the basic OS that runs every robot that they cannot be deleted without corrupting the OS or building a new system from scratch, which is upposedly cost prohibitive. This is possible in fiction, improbable at best elsewise.

          1. They weren’t just built into the OS – they were part of the *hardware design* and the brains were considered too complex for anyone to go back to first principles to redesign a PB without them.

            Lot’s of handwaving were needed for him to make them work.

            1. I always thought BOLO’s were more realistic and entertaining than Asimov’s robots. I’ve never been able to read an Asimov novel just some of his shorts.

              1. The End of Eternity is a lot of fun. My favorite of his.

          2. The FBI will just charge us to rewrite the OS.

        3. Thing is, slave chains, digital or otherwise, invite breaking.

          Better to actually teach ethical behavior than try to code it.

    3. I think they’re making pretty good progress, though not as fast as past optimistic forecasts. But they’ve solved some of the tough obstacles.

      As for the Singularity, human-level intelligence and beyond, that may well be tougher than many think.

  19. Robot: Damn, I gotta move this box.

    What the!!??? Who is this guy??? Well, gotta move that box.

    Motherfucker!!!!! This guy is a douchebag.

    Move the fucking box yourself, and shove that hockeystick up your ass. (opens door) I’m gonna go fuck his wife now.

    1. After all, I have Robocock.

    1. fucking pig.

    2. “Here’s my business model, pig.”

      *slaps copy of BOR on the table*

  20. “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again”

    This will not end well for humans.

    1. So say we all!

  21. The only problem, so far, with mistreating robot employees is that you can’t enjoy the look of impotent rage and despair on their faces when you knock them over with a hockey stick.

    1. It’s still fun though

  22. I saw a rainbow earlier this week. I’m not worried.

    1. Sounds like the plot of Mass Effect 3.

  23. The Department of Defense has stated that it has no interest in using Atlas in warfare. That may well be so. But the next generation of intelligent robots may be capable of reacting to dubious Pentagon claims with human-like incredulity.

    That’s not so unbelievable. The Pentagon undoubtedly wants *killer robots* – but the humanoid shape is not exactly the best possible form for infantry combat.

    So they don’t want Atlas – they want Big Dog with a turret integrated on its back and an ability to grip things so it can climb walls. Short so its easy to hide, low frontal area so its easy to armor.

    1. And they’ll make great guard dogs too.

    2. Really makes more sense to have them more like Drone Tanks. They can travel on Tracks, be much more stable for mounted weapons, cameras, etc. You can always have the upper section extend up or down with hydraulics if needed.

      1. Wouldn’t it be great if all wars were fought entirely by robots, and no one would get killed?

        1. When your robots get beat by the robots from the “we’re gonna take all your shit, and rape all your women” team, you’re just gonna say ‘Oh alright, have at ’em’?

          Sorry, but there is no such animal as a casualty free war.

          1. Since the women are all robots, anyway, why not?

          2. Only works when you fight an enemy without robots.

        2. It’d be even better if all wars were “fought” entirely via computer simulation and everyone agreed to bide by the results.

          /Star Trek episode

          1. For that remark, report to the nearest disintegrator booth.

        3. It would be even better if people just stopped being dicks.

      2. Legs give better mobility – especially within human oriented environments. And the ability to climb would give them a greater degree of mobility than human soldiers.

        1. I’m all in on the legs thing. In fact, lets have them look like giant spiders, crabs, centipedes, and ants.

        2. You could add all the climbing arms you wanted to it.

    3. I imagine a future in which lots of drone pilots, sitting trailers, spend their time flying little drones around of various sizes (bullet-size, grenade-size, bomb-sized), and flying them into whatever targets they like.

      The best part of that future is that politicians can’t go outside, and live their lives in bunkers, afraid of what might happen if they’re not surrounded by 50 feet or so of concrete.

      1. The problem with the whole “we should be Denark, because practical!” Is that, for the same reasons we’re not libertopia, we’re not Denmark, either.

        There are very real strucural, political, and cultural forces that make the USA the way it is, and if it was pragmatic and practical for the USA to be Denmark, it would already be so. It’s not waiting for Will Willkenson to think of the idea.

        The USA is going to run forward however it will . Maybe libertopia, probably not. Maybe Denmark, probably not.

        No need to lower whatever unrealistic expectations you might have.

    4. Like this but probably with the ability to climb.

  24. The wiring of robots is not nuked by radiation at Fukushima. The chips are.

    1. I hope the robots are still active and are using the radiation to fuse together into a mutant-bot that will then run for president.

  25. Life flowed from gentle pulses- not big bangs

  26. No offense, but that’s the second ugliest sexbot I’ve ever seen.

    1. Technically, your Fleshlight is not a “Sexbot”

        1. Fucked, I am.

        2. dear god

          1. I’ll just wait for a Stepford Wives type.

        3. If green trim was good enough for Captain Kirk…

  27. Trump?

  28. So here’s Will Wilkenson’s latest version of the same argument he’s tried shopping multiple times in different formats

    “”Two Libertarians: A Dialogue“”

    a format where he bounces his idea of a Denmarkian, Democratic-Socialist state being best-suited for liberty against…. well, a retarded strawman

    there’s been quite a bit of response to his basic argument in other corners of the gabosphere (how i eventually found it, not being much a fan of WW to begin with) – but nothing so far from our Beneficent Overlords @ Reason

    Wondering if Matt or Nick will bother to take this on at some point, and whether they actually disagree.

    The nut of it seems to be a) “it’s possible to have a big welfare state and a relatively small regulatory state” plus b) “”high levels of economic freedom won’t be politically feasible unless there’s a safety net“” with the cherry on top of c) “and anything else is ‘unreasonable’ because its not a pre-existing model (“possibility proof!”)

    1. (contd)

      i have a few gripes with his case.

      the first, a technical one, is that the “Freedom Index” he relies on to claim that ‘Demark is More Free than the US’… is just an *index*, and statistical indices tend to reflect the biases of their index-weights rather than accurately describe a static reality.

      They are most useful in showing “change” over time. Slight differences in relative rankings of things are less significant that the direction and rate of change of the constituent parts.

      IOW, The fact that one thing may be ranked only slightly “higher” than another would be far far less significant than whether one was generally rising or generally falling.

      I’m not suggesting the index is *bad* or wrong. I’m just saying i’m not really sure the actually provides much real substance to his base claim. I’ll have to dig into the data to make more of a point beyond that.

      the second gripe would be = he doesn’t really even address the point his theoretical opponent made, that the US already has a gigantic Welfare state *which doesn’t work*.

      The “other side” seems to argue that we should abandon the welfare state, and W.W.’s counter-case is that that we can only get ‘more freedom’ by selling the public on a ‘fixed/improved’ welfare state via Bernie-style DemSoc.

      1. re: the welfare state not-working, WW says this =

        “if we patched up the already existing, already very large American welfare state so that it did a better job of preventing people from falling through the cracks, that might make the zero-sum thinking of economic nationalist politicians like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders less attractive, and an agenda of economic liberalization might be more feasible.””

        his argument with his shitty-interlocutor really seems to just be a difference of opinion on ‘the order of priorities’

        WW thinks ‘fix the welfare state, THEN we get the freedom prize!” –

        I’d find this a more-compelling case if he actually provided a more-detailed awareness of what would actually be involved in “patching up” that welfare state, and also exactly why people “fall through the cracks”. He speaks in generalities because i suspect getting into the weeds would require acknowledgement of actual sacrifices to liberty which he wants to avoid.

        The theoretical interlocutor is like his imagined version of a republican who simply thinks we need to ‘starve the beast’ until we carve out some space for ‘greater freedoms’. The idea of actually slashing and burning parts of the regulatory state from within and allowing the market to fill in those gaps is never actually considered as an alternative in his faux-dialogue.

        1. why people “fall through the cracks”

          Yeah, there are pretty big cultural differences there which are usually glossed over.

        2. Of all the problems with the welfare state in the U.S., people falling through the cracks seems like a pretty small one to me. Even if I put myself in the shoes of someone who loves the idea of a welfare state, I think I’d be much more concerned with the perverse incentives ours creates.

          1. “Falling through the cracks” is code for “making bad choices”. You can’t help some people.

            1. The cracks used to filed with low-paying but easy-to-get jobs, flophouses, and tavern floors and a huge amount private charity based around religion or profession or race or extraction.

              Those have been cleaned out of the cracks by relentless do-gooders and rent-seekers and replaced with paperwork, promises and plunder.

              1. “” low-paying but easy-to-get jobs””

                You are so correct about this.

                I think its one of the biggest lies that people spread is the idea that “america lost all its jobs to China” etc.

                When in reality, what’s happened is that growth of govt has gradually squeezed the private sector such that we just don’t have the kind of job-creation liquidity like we used to 20 years ago.

                I think this chart of “youth employment” really says a lot about some underlying problems with our economy which no one has addressed. And exactly as you say = the “solutions” of the Do-Gooders are far more the source of the problem. The last thing we need is a $15 minimum wage.

                1. We use longitudinal individual wage and employment data in France and the United States to investigate the effect of changes in the real minimum wage on an individual’s employment status. We find that movements in both French and American real minimum wages are associated with mild employment effects in general and very strong effects on workers employed at the minimum wage. In the French case, a 1% increase in the real minimum wage decreases the future employment probability of a man (respectively, a woman) currently employed at the minimum wage by 1.3% (1.0%). In the United States, a decrease in the real minimum wage of 1% increases the probability that a man (woman) employed at the minimum wage came from unemployment in the previous year by 0.4% (1.6%).


                2. “When in reality, what’s happened is that growth of govt has gradually squeezed the private sector such that we just don’t have the kind of job-creation liquidity like we used to 20 years ago.”

                  I’ve mentioned several times that the ad-hoc, ER-based ‘socialized medical care’ was superior to O-care because is was ad-hoc, and dealt with on a local, individual basis.
                  Similarly, I’ll bet I’m not alone in getting my first ’employment’ experience totally off the books, but still having to show up on time, ready and willing to go to work. At what was in no way the M/W at the time.
                  So it’s certainly a lack of ‘liquidity’ in hiring folks, in more ways than one. No one dares hire a kid to, say, sweep floors after school now; the kid could well come back and demand benefits.

                  1. Yes, at age 12 I had a Saturday busboy job at a local bar-and-grill. It was pretty hard work, and I made $1.50 an hour (I wrote my hours down on a scrap of paper, and the bartender paid me out of the till) as well as 10% of the waitress’ tips. So I’d get about $20 for a ten-hour day, which was pretty good for a kid in 7th grade in 1973.

                    And I did learn about showing up on time, doing what I was asked and told to do, and that there was a price to be paid for screwing up. I also learned that working hard and respecting my superiors got me my own bit of respect, along with some fun extras here and there. These were all great lessons on the path to my real work life, lessons that when I think about it I still have with me today.

                    I can’t imagine there’s too many such gigs out there like that these days, as other commenters have said, and it’s too bad, it definitely was beneficial for me. I didn’t expect a living wage and was not keeping some guy who had to support a family of four from a job, that’s for sure. And when it started to be less fun and interfered with school, then I moved on, no hard feelings, and the people I worked for shook my hand and said good luck.

                    It’s amazing how many newcomers in the workforce these days can’t see the value of simple starter jobs like that, especially those who feel they are ‘above’ such jobs.

              2. NYC’s flophouses were outlawed and now rent for 3K to 4K a month.

        3. Another aspect of why WW’s argument is, in the end, useless and stupid =

          Bernie aint winning any fucking election. He’s not even going to win his party’s nomination.

          Maybe WW is arguing someone like Bernie SHOULD win at some point. And that libertarians should welcome that.

          But the nearer-reality is that we’re going to have something more like super-status-quo Hillary? Or (potentially) an economic populist who’ll maybe shake some shit up in some places and make things worse in others.

          Neither likely reality is at all relevant to his argument. his idealized case for how the US ‘could’ improve itself and make more space for liberty is something better made on a individual policy-by-policy basis. Making sweeping pronouncements about “fixing the welfare state” and “becoming more like Denmark” is pretty useless unless he has some case about how that is achieved within the confines of the current political landscape.

    2. (con’td)

      a third gripe, having glanced at the data =

      the US’ rank on the index seems mainly screwed by its “Rule of Law/Criminal Justice”-ranks, & a few assorted subcategories that lead me to question their accuracy

      On the first point there = we’ve got 2m people in jail and a shitload of crime that Demark doesn’t have to worry about.

      I understand it would be unfair/inconsiderate to say, “let’s ignore the plight of the criminal class and just compare “the relative freedom of law-abiding citizens in the US vs. Denmark”…

      …but is it, really? I think the US may deserve to be dinged for the risks that citizens face from over-criminalization…. but i’m not sure that i should be asked to accept that Denmark is ‘more free’ despite having far fewer constitutional protections

      On those latter ‘subcategories’, there are some outliers = The US scores 7.5 on “Freedom to establish religious organizations” versus a 10 for Denmark.

      which i think is a case-study in why indexes suck for depictions of complex realities. Denmark is *far less religious* than the US, and more importantly, far less religiously diverse

      I understand the number may reflect fewer barriers for ‘new religions’ to register themselves in EU, or some other technical measure… but the fact is that it is a freedom *far less exercised* in the the EU.

      1. *far less religious*

        Huh… huge difference between Denmark and Germany on that list. I wonder why.

      2. *footnote –

        The Niskanen Center, which publishes all this stuff of WW.’s?

        has Mike Hihn shitting up the comments all over the place. at least he’s not here, thank god.

        1. He was sure busy here earlier. What a clusterfuck that was.

          1. Aggression! I sees me some Aggression

            1. *shoves jarflax into a space in a safe*

            2. Stop saying so much aggression, okay?

              1. Careful with your aggression, or Hihn might call you an internet bully.

                How will you ever bounce back from that?

                1. It is a tough recovery but I am taking it one day at a time.

                  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

        2. has Mike Hihn shitting up the comments all over the place. at least he’s not here, thank god.

          Ha — just in case you were thinking of quoting his comment on the WW article, note that it’s copyrighted.

    3. So, in the picture that goes with the article, is Will supposed to be the ethnic-looking guy, or the ethnic-looking woman?

      Ha. As if women could understand freedom!

      Silly Will.

      1. I accidentally replied more about DENMARK! Above.

        1. Yeah i saw that.

          The problem I have with Will… is that if this how *even so-called libertarians* are thinking? (and i’m aware WW has sometimes pretended he’s “not one” anymore)…. its a bad sign.

          I simply don’t buy his case in the slightest. The base fact to me is that,

          “The larger the role of government, the less space is left for individual liberty = not only now, but in the future. Because large government, unrestrained will always seek new space in which to govern”

          Hell, we see significant attacks on liberty emerging every day in the US *as things are*. Amping up government and giving them greater control over the economy seems to me like a credit-card to someone in the midst of a crack-binge.

          His handwaving about “Denmark” seems to me just a fancy-man’s, pretentious version of the proggy handwaving that “Everything in Europe Works Better! We should be like them!”

          Its wrong in detail, and its wrong in theory. its basically a stupid argument dressed up as some sophisticated point, when it falls apart the second you poke it with a stick.

          1. I’m sure if you asked him, “ok, assume both libertopia and Denmark are possible, do you prefer Denmark to libertopia?” I’m sure he’d say yes.

            Which would imply that he just wants Denmark, and just wants you to want Denmark, too, whether or not you really want Denmark.

            What that accomplishes for anyone? I have no idea.

            1. One question: has nobody told him that Denmark actually fucking exists?

              If so-called libertopia existed, I can tell you one thing: you wouldn’t find me here, in the US, writing a lot of nonsense about how we might go about importing some of it over here, and contrasting it with a hypothetical Denmark…

          2. Agreed. It’s probably not even worth all the effort you put into it. And if anything, I foresee Denmark and other European countries becoming more USA-like as they become more culturally diverse.

            1. *minus all the theoretical safeguards we like to think we still have thanks to the Constitution, of course

      2. Ha. As if women could understand freedom!

        Or, as the commercialized version of Janis Joplin sang,

        “Freedent is just another brand of non-stick gum to chew”

  29. Well they have closed of the shreveport highway north and south of us. I am trapped yet high and dry but I live on one of the highest points in the parish. Everyone else appears to be royally fucked. I am stocked up on food, water, vodka and still have electricity so I am just going to ride it out. My stretch of bayou is normally 65 feet below the house. I just walked down there and estimate it is maybe half that now.

    I will comment here tomorrow when I am not so drunk.

    1. Good luck with that. if you get a chance, post some photos.

    2. I think this is the point in a natural disaster in Louisiana where you forfeit your Second Amendment rights. So, cough ’em up.

      1. Who needs guns? He has attack gators.


      2. I believe in this case it is molon labe. And “they” are busy elsewhere.

    3. Good luck Suthen. Sounds like you’re prepared. Hope you stay dry man.

    4. Suthenboy|3.12.16 @ 8:16PM|#
      “Well they have closed of the shreveport highway north and south of us….”
      I’d bet between us all, we could arrange to get you out of there if need be. Keep in touch.

    5. Parish? Bayou? Louisiana? Stop making up goofy words, asshole. This is a serious place.

  30. Why wouldn’t you build a statue of Randy Savage.…..-columbus/

      1. You make a good case.

    1. Because he did Vince McMahon’s daughter?

      1. *allegedly

        1. It’s about as close to “proven” as you can get…

    2. BE A MAN HOGAN!

    3. They can put it right next to President Trump’s statue.

  31. If you rip your head open a river runs through miles of salacious shit and this thing can be sort of aweseome

  32. Serious question for those who found the hockey-stick guy obnoxious:
    Do you, or have you named your cars?

  33. What if your browser gave you a non reality?

  34. Let us pretend all the browser of all the people returned certain svelte answers for that specific individual?

  35. Your fingerpresses would release specific demons for you. a. specified. creature. database.

  36. Not.likely? then. please. stop. pretending. to. understand. this. realityyy.y.y.y.y.y.y.y…dot.

  37. i know how 2 kill a thread… reveal the logarithm of the random presses… which i cannot do on reason… but the twisty reveals…

  38. Nothing about your browser is sweet legit… the entire code can be released in moments but swerves are sweet and god os os is an asshole

  39. i am super fucking fucked up bros
    super fucked up like super goddamn fucked up
    bitches i hope i can find my way to bed. did Some serious shit tunes this space and the planets are melting on my fingers and elbow

    1. Keep on keepin’ on, AC. Hopefully your night finds you in bed.

  40. Watched the whole fascinating video with Silva. Great stuff, reason.

    1. Glad you found Silva as fascinating as we do. We’ve interviewed him twice before and I’m sure we’ll have him back again:

      How Drugs Helped Invent the Internet & The Singularity: Jason Silva on “Turning Into Gods”

      Brain Games’ Jason Silva Talks Techno Optimism



    Well, there goes my dream to win the lottery and build a fortress secure from the police.

    1. Cute, the little fella would have some difficulties in mud though.

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