1-13 to 1-17-2020: Bill Meyer’s Blog

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Bill’s Guests: Monday, January 13, 2020

6:50: Robert Marks, Director of The Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Discovery Institute chats with Bill. Dr. Marks is making a case, of why the United States should be developing Lethal AI in his new book:

A Moral Argument for Killer Robots: Why America’s Military Needs to Continue Development of Lethal AI

Doomsday headlines warn that the age of “killer robots” is upon us and that new military technologies based on artificial intelligence (AI) will lead to the annihilation of the human race. In his new book, The Case for Killer Robots: Why America’s Military Needs to Continue Development of Lethal AI, artificial intelligence expert Robert J. Marks investigates the potential military use of lethal AI and examines the practical and ethical challenges. This short monograph is published in conjunction with the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence and the Center is making if freely available as a digital book at the Mind Matters website. Physical copies are available through Amazon.com. In The Case for Killer Robots, these questions are answered:
  • Were AI weapons used in the U.S. conflict with Iran? 
  • Is the use of autonomous AI weapons new?  
  • How could AI have been used by Iran to disrupt the U.S. operations against Iran?
  • The UN Secretary General proposed a ban on autonomous AI weapons. Will this help?
  • Is it easy to make killer robots? 
  • Will computers ever take over? Is Skynet from the “Terminator” movies possible with future AI?
  • How do high tech weapons win, shorten and prevent war?
  • What do we learn from history about the role of high technology like AI in warfare?
  • What is the history of opposition to high tech weapons? What is the reasoning here and why is it wrong?
  • What’s the biggest danger from AI weapons?
  • What is the difference between autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons? Can we get by without using totally autonomous weapons?
“Marks makes a lucid and compelling case that we have a moral obligation to develop lethal AI,” said Jay Richards, philosopher and author, The Human Ad-vantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines. “He also reminds us that moral questions apply, not to the tools that we use to protect ourselves, but to how we use them when war becomes a necessity.” Marks provocatively argues that the development of lethal AI is not only appropriate in today’s society; it is unavoidable if America wants to survive and thrive into the future. “I am an outlier in the sense I believe that AI will never be creative nor have understanding,” said Marks. “Like fire and electricity, AI is neither good nor bad. Those writing AI code and using AI systems are solely responsible for the morality and the ethics of use.” About The Author: Dr. Marks directs the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Discovery Institute, and he is a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University. Marks also heads up the Center’s daily news website, Mind Matters News and hosts the Mind Matters Podcast. Find out more at: RobertMarks.org Get your copy of the FREE E-Book: Right HERE. 7:10: Greg Roberts, Mr. Outdoors from RogueWeather.com, calls in to bring you the Monday, Outdoor Report. He’ll give you the latest news on the weather as well. 7:35: Alex Poythress, Medford City Council member from Ward 1 joins Bill in studio. We’ll talk with Alex about the city’s proposed, $60 million dollar aquatic center and other issues affecting you. 8:10: Dr. Dennis Powers, retired Professor of Business Law, author and local historian joins Bill for this week’s edition of: “Visiting Past & Present.”

Rogue Creamery


Dennis Powers

Gaetano “Tom” Vella arrived in Sonoma, California, in the early 1920s, and worked various jobs with the Sonoma Mission Creamery; his brother, Joseph, held “considerable” stock in the creamery. In 1931, local dairymen called on Tom and asked if he would start his own cheese factory, if they guaranteed him all of the quality bulk milk needed. Tom agreed. Once he started the Vella Cheese Company in Sonoma, Tom realized that another larger market existed further north. When he visited this area in the mid-1930s, the Rogue Valley was then quite different: It was a sea of small but diversified farms, pear orchards, and lumber mills, but in the grasp of the Great Depression. Despite this, he chose Central Point, halfway between San Francisco and Portland, for a new rural cheese factory and creamery. With Kraft’s assistance, he helped local farmers acquire cows and in 1935 began using their milk to make cheddars, jack cheese, cottage cheese, and butter. He kept his Sonoma dairy business, although on a reduced scale. His son, Ignazio (“Ig”) Vella, was learning the trade, starting in Sonoma when he delivered dairy products in his dad’s Model-A truck. Tom’s Rogue River Creamery grew slowly but surely until the U.S. entered World War II. With troops around the world needing food, his operations ramped up. For four consecutive years, it produced one million pounds of cheddar cheese shipped to troops in many countries. With the ending of the war, the civilian market accelerated and his creamery became the first major supplier of cottage cheese in Oregon. Tom traveled in the 1950s to Roquefort, France, where he toured its famous blue cheese operations, from the farms and cheese factories to the curing limestone caves at Cambalou. He left with plans for a Roquefort-type cheese factory, and construction began in Central Point. Envisioning caves similar to Cambalou, he designed a building to duplicate its atmosphere: Two Quonset-shaped, half-circled rooms of cement were poured, one over the other, with space in between for insulation. The result was a true cave-like atmosphere. The Rogue Creamery began its production as the first blue cheese produced in caves west of the Missouri River. Its dairies along the Rogue River produced the whole milk used for their gourmet blue cheeses. During this time, son Ig graduated magna cum laude from Santa Clara University and eventually headed the operations of the Vella Cheese Company in Sonoma. When Tom died in 1998 at age 100, the businesses were inherited by Tom’s wife, Zolita, and his four children: Ignazio, Carmela, Moris, and Zolita. Ig soon took over the operations of the Rogue Creamery. The CEO of both operations, Ig believed strongly in artisan dairy products. As the American consumer grew tired of the blander, mass-produced cheeses, they returned to his handmade specialty “artisan” cheeses. For 30 years, Ig trained cheesemakers and instituted a union-recognized apprentice cheesemaker program. For three years after his dad’s death, Ig split his time between Sonoma and Central Point. Sales were suffering in the Rogue Creamery after his father died, however, as he shuttled back and forth. He also had strong Sonoma ties: Ig was a Sonoma County supervisor for three consecutive term (four years each), manager of the Sonoma County Fair, and even President of the Association of Bay Area Governments. In 2002, Cary Bryant and David Gremmels acquired Rogue River Valley Creamery from Ig under the condition that he stay on as the master cheesemaker and teach them all that he knew. Buying the business on a handshake on the porch at the facilities, Ig traveled from Sonoma to Central Point one week each month for a time, happy to hand over his family’s local legacy to the two men. The name was changed to its present one of the Rogue Creamery. It won the award for the World’s Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London, a first for a U.S. creamery. Their long award list includes four trophies and thirty medals and awards, including the coveted Best New Product Award as the world’s first smokey-blue at the national trade show in 2005 and Best in Show at the 2009 American Cheese Society show, among others. The third and fourth generations of Tom Vella manage the Vella Cheese operations in Sonoma; it produces jack and monterey jack, habañero dry jack, cheddar cheeses, and even salami. The separate Rogue Creamery’s specialties are blue cheeses, cheddars (different varieties), and TouVelle in numerous ways, both companies being in basically different markets. A large French cheese-making company, Savencia SA, purchased Rogue Creamery in 2018, allowing David Gremmels to work more in the handcrafting of the cheeses (Cary Bryant had earlier sold his interest.) Savencia has operations in 29 countries, employing more than 19,000 people, and is a $5.7 billion enterprise. Its Rogue River Blue was declared the world’s best cheese at the World Cheese Awards in Italy in October 2019. The organic blue cheese beat out a record 3,803 other cheeses in the competition. Made with cow’s milk from its organic dairy, each cheese wheel has been cave-aged for 9 to 11 months and hand-wrapped in organic Syrah grape leaves that have soaked in pear liqueur. Incredible (and a local entity)! Sources: Sanne Specht, “Cheesemaker Vella dies at 83,” Mail Tribune, June 14, 2011, at Rogue Creamery Founders; “Rogue Creamery: An Historical Overview,” at Rogue Creamery History; “Vella Cheese Company: The History of Vella Cheese,” at Vella Cheese Company; Greg Stiles, “Rogue Creamery has new owner,” Mail Tribune, May 22, 2018, at Company’s Sale; Ryan Pheil, “Singing the Rogue River blues at the World Cheese Awards,” Mail Tribune, October 20, 2019, at Best in the World Award.

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