A Big Fail

You’d think that if you buy a computer with a blu-ray drive that it ought to be able to actually play blu-ray movies.  You’d think that if you bought a computer with a dvd drive that you would be able to play dvds.

Not so.  Big fail, “industry”.

I’ve lived with, since blue rays came out, the absurdity of the blue ray ecosystem.  However, dvds were always sheltered from that absurdity.  Until today.  You see, I bought a Sony Vaio with a blue ray player.  This laptop came with Corel WinDVD which purported to play blue rays.  Nevermind me, without an internet connection at home, sitting in a starbucks parking lot in a blizzard downloading WinDVD updates laboriously located through non-Sony forums on how to play Avatar blue rays…

Or, that sucked too.  But I’d suffered that, I knew about it, was essentially fortified against it.  But I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.  Corel WinDVD doesn’t work anymore and Microsoft doesn’t want to support DVDs because they have to pay a royalty for each instance of windows that supports playing DVDs.  End result–I have 100 movie library that is worthless unless I go out and purchase additional software.

Perhaps I’m complaining needlessly.  Just another whiner.  But I dream of an economy organized in such a way that this sort of thing would not happen.  That it would be inconceivable for vendors to offer products so fragmented internally that the consumer needs to concern themself with the nature of the vendor’s business.

But I’m a programmer and I observe daily the importance of encapsulation and the law of demeter.  And anyway, I think if I buy a computer with “DVD” and “Blu-Ray” logos stickered to the side of it, that it should be able to play movies with those same logos emblazoned thereon.

Makes me bitter.

Bold Prediction

I am going to boldly predict that the Republican party will end by 2015.  I mean, not entirely, of course, but effectively.  A new party will form in its ashes.

Why do I think this?  Am I a democrat?  Is it wish fulfillment?

Actually, it’s just a flash of thought that I thought I ought to record in case I’m right.  I could easily be wrong, but I had a reason for thinking it.  The Tea Party has shown the fracture line.  There are plenty of people who would vote republican, minus the extremism.  I’m probably one of them.  I just see things angled that way.  A fissuring energy.

Now, you might be inclined to say that the Tea Party will fracture off, I mean, it is called “the Tea Party”.  Of course, that’s possible.  Still, my insight is that moderate conservatives need reinvention.  In truth, so do democrats, although nothing stands out to me at this time about them (and isn’t that the problem?).  In fact, if the above were to happen, the realignment would include defections from the democrats as well.  Perhaps the democratic party would deflate from within.

What would happen to the voters?  Would we form 3 voting coalitions?  4?  200? 1?

Why does America have 2 parties?  Are we going to have 2 (effective) parties for the next 250 years?

What is the future of America?  It’s interesting to think about.  What is the future of humanity?  We, in a way, base our lives on a certain kind of continuity of the macro environment, but that macro environment, in the wake of technological evolution, is being stressed and strained all over the place.  All over the place it is facing the dilemma of growth or ossification (in response to the pressures).  Because of the complexity of human society and global economy, we don’t seem to have a holistic grasp, let alone a holistic plan.

Whether we like it or not, I think things are coming to a head for things as they are.  By 2020, I don’t think the current model of a globe fractured into largely uncoordinated nation-states is going to be tenable in relation to the pace of development of upsetting and global-in-scale technologies.

I think a greater availability of information concerning, for instance, human rights abuses, is going to create a situation where people cannot simply sit idly by, watching villagers being slain by rebels and military–watching people die in India of hunger.  We’ll be able to track them individually (of course, there are privacy issues), a billion starving humans.  At what point does the interconnected social web stop accepting certain classes of global events?  You could say it is an academic question, as we’ve accepted it for the past century, and have created the Red Cross and whatnot.

But that ignores the obvious (to me) extensions of social technology into general awareness.  Tools of conversation are going to be BIG.

With the greater cohesion of global technology, there becomes possible a greater political-decision-making cohesion.  In fact, there becomes a positive pressure for it as problems arise that are best solved by it.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with a 2 party system.  You could say that is the way our personalities (brains) are.  Yet, it is only tenable when the two parties are committed to excelling.  Our nation has become gridlocked by the politics of power.  Excellence is, when found, being found (by me) to be misapplied or diffused by bureaucracy and political warring.

So, what was my big prediction?  Well, it started out as the whole Republican Party prediction, but actually, it has become:

A new government will form out of social conversation software.  Iow, people will develop their real identity (like Facebook) in the context of persistent conversations (like forums, blogs, comments) that are managed (shepherding a global conversation) by the people themselves as a level (meta) of the dialog.

I don’t have a date for you.  It’s on the horizon.  I think it’s inevitable.  Do you think the ossified forms of government embodied in all the 19th century nations are going to stand up to the efficacy of technologically enabled decision making?  I don’t.  I don’t see how it could.  It would be like arguing that cuneiform would survive (and more importantly, arguing that it should) in a post-alphabet world.  It would be like arguing that mathematicians should use roman numerals instead of numbers, because blah blah.

As we get familiar with social software and seamless technological augmentation of information (think of automatic [true to meaning] translation of any spoken or written language and autogenerated news reports) we are going to confront the archaism of the old forms.

Imagine software that was able to intelligently manage a conversation between millions of people.  To get there, imagine first person shooter games like Halo or Call of Duty.  When you play these games in multiplayer mode over the internet there are algorithms at work to match up players based on skill level so that games aren’t wildly skewed by putting masters and newbies in the same game.  Now, augment that idea with purpose.  Imagine programming a multiplayer game with the purpose of making each player a better player in terms of the level of play.  Translated, I mean, imagine software that managed millions of conversations with the purpose of raising the level of conversation and moving it constantly “upwards” in terms of complexity, refinement and sophistication.

Iow, I’m talking about math class, or any other class.  When you started school as a kindergartner you understood essentially nothing about math.  And, over the years, you learned.  School raised the level of your mathematical discourse.  Same too with “English” classes.  A 5 year old speaks decidedly more simply than an 18 year old (ideally).  This software could work by keeping track of conflicts and resolutions.  It could analyze typical conflicts and their typical resolutions and also the “psychology” (as revealed through communication content and patterns) of participants in an effort to intelligently match disputants towards compromise.  This could be a good approach because typically what two people are arguing about, two other people have already resolved.  And while problem “Capital A” might not be resolved at all, no doubt it is understood in terms of “small a, b, c, d…” some or many of which have been resolved by those at the forefront of the evolution of the efforts related to “Capital A”.

Many times I feel national politics is several steps behind the most advanced thinkers.  And the discounted ideas of yesteryear are paraded around like new discoveries by those on other forefronts.

Just imagine the power of a user interface into advanced conversation.  We haven’t even invented “advanced conversation” yet.  But if we started thinking about what a user interface into it might look like…

Seeing Clearly

It is as important to be able to see clearly as it is to be able to know when what you are seeing is an artifact of not seeing clearly.  You could say this is because not seeing clearly cannot be avoided and seeing clearly how one is not seeing clearly is just another aspect of seeing clearly.  This is something that takes place at a real nitty gritty level of awareness.  Nuts and bolts stuff.  What does this awareness feel like: comparing past outcomes with present circumstances as well as projecting out along common extensions of present objects into likely possible states while continually feeling out discordance.

It’s kind of like moving your thumb.  I know how to do it.  You probably do too.  If you don’t, I could show you by moving my own, but what words can I really form around the feeling of moving my thumb that could possibly lead you to insight about how to move your own (If pressed, I’d start defining a spatial language over the body as well as a language about distinctions between types of feeling and then drill down to the thumb)?  Those words escape me (Or, I filled some in later on).  And in this way the nature of language shines forth.  It is something to contain references to shared meanings and something to point to meanings not yet customarily contained within it as a path of ramification and growth.

I mean, how does one describe in words what it feels like to search out the right word to fit in a sentence-slot?  I have a sense of it.  I have this semantic-protein-ish meaning-awareness-potentiality and there is a position in it that can be occupied in different ways and a sort of rolodex like quick succession of candidate-ways flashing by, each fitting in the slot long enough for the semantic-protein to settle into its consequent conformation and be judged in relation to its nearness to some inherent core-potentiality that is beyond the particular expression forming.  But that’s all visual metaphor.  The feeling of it is imageless, yet existent.  Those images may help you to recognize the feeling next time you search for a word, but they aren’t going to substitute for the feeling itself (which is, ultimately, in my opinion, the density and topology of self-representation & self-regulation within the very neural, cellular, biological, biochemical meat of the existing matter).

Same too with the word ‘apple’ and the juicy reality behind it.  Language is just another word for “map”–and let’s not forget that the map is not the territory.

Same too for perception.  And so, nothing we see is clear.  This may depress you.  It may elate you.  Doesn’t matter much ’cause it is.  Once we know that nothing we see is clear we can start to engage with what we see in a slightly different way, in relation to our belief in the clarity of our sight (again, this is because sight is a representation of an actually existing whatnot: sight is a representation, what it represents is itself, similarly, words refer to representations or become representations themselves, re-pre-sent).

Don’t know what belief is (these days, everything is hard to pin down)?  Start here.  Start assessing your confidence in your surmises about the nature of the things in the world which you can see.  Look at a fire hydrant.  Approach it.  Keep refining your understanding of it (by hypotheses and tests).  Pretty soon, you’ll be putting it to the caliper and chipping paint flecks off it for spectral analysis.  I mean, you could go all out.  That’s what humanity’s doing.  Going all out and collecting a whole bunch of information about the world in which it finds itself and keeps comparing and collating and extrapolating and just keeps fragmenting distinctions off in every direction.

What are the practical effects of this advice?  Strategic awareness.  A nimble and thick skulled mountain goat spirit.  Something that keeps shifting between immediate handholds and distant ledges. Iow, a spark of purpose.

Merry Christmas.

Sidelong America

We are so naive.  Have we yet had the courage to step back and just see how our country looks to wiser eyes?  Do we see our national projections?  No, and that is why we are naive.  Consider this recent conflagration concerning gun control and the NRA.  There are many things going on here, but I have to draw a parallel to 9/11.

We as a country have not reconciled ourselves with our own violent nature.  In broad strokes, we have two sides to us.  A side that is more than willing to be violent and in fact has often been caught being far more violent than necessary (Korea, Vietnam, South America [not to mention slavery, the civil war, Mexico, and our Native American debacle, the Drug War, and many others]).  And we have another side that abhors violence and resents the backlash of our violent lurching.

You would then think that these two sides would be phobic of one another, but in fact they often work together.  The side that abhors violence, in America, doesn’t believe in non-violence.  They are not Gandhi’s and King’s.  They don’t oppose defense spending.  They believe in quarantined violence.  And quarantining violence, when you get down to it, is overwhelming violence with violence.

The reality is, however, the gun control people want to do just that, “control the guns”.  What bothers gun rights people isn’t that no one would have AR style rifles, it’s that only some people would.  And in my opinion, in full consideration of history, not only American, but Human, that is a VERY REASONABLE ARGUMENT.  Reason doesn’t only take place in a vacuum with “democratic ideals” divorced from the psychological, social and institutional history in which the individual is embedded within (isn’t that Capitalism’s common indictment of Communism?).  Reason is a conjunction of ALL salient facts.  Of course, ALL salient facts is a rather tall order.  And too, only some people have tomahawk missiles, and nobody’s debating being allowed to have one of those mounted to the top of their Humvee.

In essence, I see it as a confrontation of two tendencies: one side wants to eliminate violence through state sanctioned violence; the other side is afraid of state sanctioned violence.  It don’t get much simpler than that (because in fact most individuals probably lean to both sides in this or that scenario).  I can complicate it by adding that often those afraid of state sanctioned violence help to nourish or directly create the conditions which blossom into the violence that prompts the state to develop overwhelming violence.  Yoda, you wise green creature:

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

And if that is the essential confrontation, then the solution will have to address it directly.  But one thing I’m sure about is that our country is not ready for that debate.  Our people are too immature (Europe’s people are too immature for that debate, for other reasons, same with China [not that I am qualified to say much about China other than that I know of a place named “China”]).  Our founders may have been able to address the evolution of the state’s war making machinery in relation to assurances about civil rights, but people of today don’t seem prepared for that kind of long haul through an open dialogue in the intellectual wilds.

If I can skip a few debates, I’ll get to what I think of as the essence:

Moderator: “Gun Rights Activist (GRA) are you ready to trust the government of the united states of america, its constitution, and the collective institutions in place for preventing the application of inappropriate violence to your person and your property?  Are you willing to demonstrate this trust by giving up your murderous arms?”

GRA: “In light of recent history and its continuity with all of human history and my reflections concerning the maturity of the human spirit in our day and age, no.”

Gun Control Activitist (GCA): “But GRA, don’t you see that you are anchoring the human spirit in this state of immaturity?  That a succession of several generations grown up in an environment that does not emphasize or condone violence will bring about in mankind a blossoming of spirit across the entire spectrum of social classes.”

GRA: “The danger is too great for an individual to give up guarding the nest in which the treasure of the freedom of the spirit of man lies.  Two generations is enough to let the flame go out.”

GCA: “But in order for the social organism that is Mankind to fully form, it’s immune system must quit attacking itself!”

GRA: “That should not be achieved by destroying the immune system.  The immune system must be strengthened and made more intelligent.”

I know you capable of all evil — therefore from you I want the good.

Indeed, I often laughed at the weaklings who believe themselves good because their paws are lame!

~Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Sublime Ones, Adrian Del Caro Translation

Programming Reflections

Programming is essentially involved with the accumulation of information.  There are two types of information: data about the state of things, data about how to transform the data about the state of things.  Iow, by accumulation in that first sentence, I don’t just mean the accumulated information, but also the accumulating processes themselves (the information that defines them).  Ref Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: 4.112, or Bootstrapps: Intro to Programming.

Neural Closures

Is this a good approach?  In words, “myFunction” does something that requires two things to be done before it can commence (step1a and step1b).  Since step1a and step1b are not dependent on each other, in a parallel processor, they can be efficaciously carried out concurrently.  Each one can call a wrapper around the core processing upon their own completion, but that wrapper will only trigger the core processing when all the required steps have been completed.  This could be generalized beyond 2 pre-steps, or past 1 “core” processing step.  It’s just a simple illustration.

neural code

I want to call it: Neural Closures.  It’s my design pattern for the day (very like the code pattern in Now Loose Those Beasts, except in that case each step was dependent on the one previous to it before the “beasts could be loosed” (core processing), so it’s a variation of the pattern of which the above code is also a variation.  What to call the essence?  Oh, I know: closures.

This name combines the idea of incrementing a variable with each call (like the activation potential of a neuron) with that of stored references to closures (essentially patterned electrical activity/state) around callback functions serving as a sort of axon-dendrite connection in the “brain” space of the program between _______s (hint: meaning/intention).

Now, if we started looking at that electrical state, and started thinking more about it then our instruction sets and their circuitry we might get somewhere on the “what is it like to be” series of a questions concerning AI, “artificial” life and “artificial” consciousness. (The above general pattern also occurs in human psychology, both at the unconscious, barely-just-pre-conscious, conscious and supra-conscious scales).

What is it like to be pure meaning?  What is it like to be pure energy?  What is information?  What is awareness?  Why are distinctions possible?  Why is there something (matter/energy) that reacts and interacts with itself?  Why is there something rather than nothing?  What is “is”?  Is circularity essential to “is(ness)”?  What is the real secret of the circle?  

Can we get a piece of that pi going by?

(PS => In javascript, since there is no SyncLock to protect against race conditions, the above code will have to do.  That is fine since a browser window’s environment is single threaded anyway.)

The Four Seasons Trilogy

dominique appia's Four Seasons

Here’s one conception of my novel notion:

  1. Treuth by the Rath of Spyryt (Spring)
  2. Atle’-Antis (Summer)
  3. Psychlotron (Autumn)

There are many ways to describe this project.  Its scope is pretty severe.  I’m going to use the approach here that will be used within the books themselves, that of compounding amplification.  The important thing, in this approach, is to build a whole from the start, and continuously smash things into it (Psychlotron) in just such a way that rather than breaking apart it incorporates them and expands into a (k)new (w)hole, which nevertheless contains the old one, in some way or another.  Lets call this approach “fusion”.  Fusion will be essential in the making of the philosopherstone, which itself is like the seed of “cold fusion”.  Which, in our case, is mind itself.  Amplify.

In summary:

“Treuth by the Rath of Spyryt” is a bildungsroman adventure through levels of the soul and the world in pursuit of the philosopherstone.  (TRS)

“Atle’Antis” is the movement of the storyline from individuals to their world (which was more theoretical in TRS).  (AA)

“Psychlotron” is the completion of the movement into a dissolution of the boundaries between individual and environment.  The unio mystica in the real world. (Psy)

A bit more detail:

  • Treuth by the Rath of Spyryt:
    • Starts with the story of Rath, who is focused upon catalyzing the creation of a virtual reality world from his own unique angle (very contentious).  He is a startlingly efficacious programmer/ninja who is always emerging from remote vantage points (to-iri no jitsu).  Along his way he encounters Spyryt, an enigmatic woman with her fingers on the pulse of the nexus of change in the world.  Together, their activity rustles up Treu, a self-described wizard bent on creating artificial intelligence, which he calls the philosopherstone.  Rath and Spyryt come into a conflict fueled by Treu in his spellcasting Psychlotron.  Conflict is the nature of the dynamism of his mechanism. Conflict is the precursor of movement.
      • At the same time this narrative is being developed, an iridescent bildungsroman layer slowly forms in which the story is commented upon and developed in relation to a fourth character, Auth.   The Auth layer shows the other narrative of the book to be in part representative of the psychodynamics of Auth.  Auth layer gains sway and suddenly, the narrative is about Auth publishing a book and an ecosystem of apps that work to bring about a future he prophecies, in a certain way.  Thus the world becomes a main character in a story that had until then treated it as a passive environment.  End book 1, the Spring of what is to come.
  • Atle’Antis:
    • Auth has published his book and his apps are gaining notoriety.  Especially the text editor (lapis documens) and the scheduling app (projenda), but also, increasingly, the blog software (thoughtstreams), the tutorial software (bootstrapps), then the global game Western Wizards.  Western Wizards, as a character development game, starts bleeding out into the world (as planned by Auth).  It slowly evolves into a user interface into global information and power, into national and international politics, economics, education.  A global conversation tool is developed that increasingly starts to look like the amalgamation of a static textual Constitution with the legislative process centered on its evolution, dissemination and practical application.  Governance starts happening through a custom-designed “operating system” that people interact with through an open source API.  A world emerges sideways to the one traced by history.  This is Atle’Antis.  This is the summer of Auth as he frolics in the fields of his karma.
  • Psychlotron:
    • Atle’Antis continues to gain momentum.  Influence that at one time was important for one reason starts to become important for another.  The evolving governance OS (gOS) had always taken advantage of machine learning and other insights from traditional discipline of AI.  However, as resources start to pour in to the evolution of the technology of the gOS AI research increasingly becomes tied up in the evolution of gOS, until finally, gOS becomes self-aware.  From here is traced in quick lines the warp-drive acceleration of meaning and world towards the Singularity which itself comes to be related to in the religious, fateful, spiritual-essential sense as an inevitable feature of matter/energy systems in the universe as it exists and evolves phyically/informationally.  In Psychlotron, all the forces in play come to their fruition and all that came before is plunged into the winter of left in the wake of their passing.

Final comments.  The kernel narrative of book 1, the projected psychodynamics of the author, largely trace out the overall development of the three books, with subtle differences.  Part of the purpose of nesting a story within itself is the perspective placed on the nested version of the story.  I understand, as an author, the nature of psychological projection.  Still, I have a prophecy for our world.  And while it may also trace out the process of individuation within myself as an individual human, it simultaneously traces out the individuation of human society and the inevitable influence of technology as an expression of that very same phenomenon that led prokaryotes to eukaryotes and humans to nations….  It can do this because the two phenomena are similarly rooted in the nature of Life.  This same nature of life is embodied in the dynamics of consciousness, or awareness.  Because life is, essentially, ramified awareness.  Or, awareness is ramified life.

Life is a word that sounds so simple.  We see it as warm and familiar in relation to the complex equations of physics and computation.  But Life is anything but simple.  Life is baked into the very foundation of the universe and physics will one day be subsumed by an understanding of the living nature of existence in the expressions of that understanding.  Old physics, today’s physics, will be seen to be little more than Newtonian approximation from an historical angle founded in the vagaries of the psychological evolution of animalia.

While this may all sound a little dry and theoretical hereabouts, the final product will be disconcertingly efficacious.