Entries from March 2006 ↓

Reality algorithms

When the computer revolution started it essentially prompted the research into algorithms and algorithmic complexity.

Wikipedia describes an algorithm as “a procedure (a finite set of well-defined instructions) for accomplishing some task which, given an initial state, will terminate in a defined end-state.”

I believe that in the same way that this definition applies to algorithms Turing machines there will be a similar definition for molecular algorithms. Von Neumann machines are self-replicating nanobots that carry out procedures to accomplish tasks using real matter as a substrate rather than electrical pulses in a fixed structure.

The aspect of this that interests me is the study of algorithmic complexity. Computational algorithms can be classified based on how the time for completion scales with the number of elements involved. Algorithms can be divided up into several compexity classes which have their own subtleties but generally you can have algorithms that take linear, polynomial and exponential amounts of time based on the amount of input.

There are often many ways to achieve the same end point of an algorithm. The process of sorting a list of elements is a prime example which range from the incredibly slow Bubble sort to the quick binary tree sort (yes Quicksort is another quick algorithm but its worst case timing isn’t as good as binary tree sort). I wonder if the same thing will be applied to carrying out molecular algorithms? What is the best way to replicate yourself 1000 times? What is the best order to construct a protein from amino acids while it is trying to fold itself? Will the same algorithms we use for computation be applicable to molecular engineering?

Debian election time!

Votes close on April 9th!

I particularly like the half-joke candidate.

Do you remember Liero?

If you do, then you really want to be going here.

Applied maths

Do you really want to = lonely
Wouldn’t you rather be >?

Particle Swarm Optimization

In relation to my thoughts on incorporating space into mind models, Particle swarm optimization (PSO) is a way of optimizing a function or set of parameters. PSO treats each parameter as a spatial dimension and proceeds to use swarm behaviour for calculating the movement of parameter values.

Coca(ine) Cola

I bought some coke but I couldn’t play the free song that was supposedly under the lid. I read the requirements and saw that they were in bed with Microsoft.

They also like blaming apple for Microsoft’s behaviour:
“Mac users. Because Apple has decided they wouldn’t support the Microsoft Digital Rights Management in the Mac version of Windows Media Player you can’t use CokeTunes on a Mac.”

Umm, it is a MICROSOFT product. Not Apples fault sorry (although if someone knows of an explanation of why this could be Apples fault I’m all ears).

So, insensed, I wrote an email to Coke (not entirely in a serious tone):

I would just like to register my annoyance that you do not support firefox with coketunes. Despite Internet Explorer being crap and insecure, it is also not very good for Coke’s image. Firefox is much cooler 😛

Plus using a proprietry format like WMA instead of MP3/OGG is additionally annoying. DRM is a waste of time, in doesn’t stop people from hacking it. DRM inconveniences legal customers by imposing restrictions on the use of their purchase while illegal downloaders get none of the restrictions, giving people an additional reason to pirate media.


It’ll be interesting to see if they ignore me.

UPDATE: Yes, they do ignore me.

Spatial intelligence and evolving the mind

Two ideas about artificial general intelligence I had:

Evolving thoughts

Ideas could be evaluated based on their conformance to real world observations, those thoughts that are reasoning (evolved from other thoughts) and not directly observed can be evaluated on the similarity to what has been observed. Real world observations or ideas with alot of supporting evidence would have a tendency to replicate strongly linked nodes – the replicated nodes would undergo mutation of held data and weight strengths for links to the same nodes that the parent is linked to.

A thought or idea is evaluated from a basal node, but to evaluate it one must evaluate links from the basal node to other nodes. There would be a time\hop limit to how many evaluations occur, and different problems could require varying limits. Perhaps periods of rest/sleep or contemplation would set this very high, while moments requiring direct action would have a small limit.

Spatial intelligence

It might be an interesting idea to use spatial aspects in simulating the mind. All nodes having spatial attributes with their distance to other nodes influencing the evaluation time if they are linked.

A node that is evaluated as conforming to reality or the mind wants to reinforce has its neighbouring nodes pulled closer, the strength of pull is based on the weights of the links. Ideas/nodes that are not useful or are not used disperse by brownian motion – and with sufficient distance the link between nodes becomes weak and breaks. A free floating node is removed, or alternatively it remains floating around until it randomly bumps into another node and forms an adhoc short distance but very weak link.

From this mental focus could be developed. Computation and node evaluations would occur near the spatial “focus point of the mind”. This is a spatial location representing where the mind looks for new things to process and evaluate. After evaluation any node would have a refractory period where it couldn’t immediately be evaluated again. In the human brain our neurons fire every ~5ms, and many people will be thinking “But the whole benefit of thought in silico is that electronic circuits are so much faster!”, and I don’t think that we should necessarily make the refractory period as long as 5ms. I do however think temporal and spatial patterning are important in our brains and the 5ms delay might be necessary for human intelligence (although this doesn’t preclude other forms of intelligence). Think reaction-diffusion equations, but much more complex.

This also lends itself to having more than one thread or CPU running. Each could be assigned a specific region of the mind to work in such that some will be doing mind maintenance tasks, handling locomotive ability, or communication.

Immortal Suicide

When we achieve the potentially unlimited lifespans that are predicted by futurists, there comes the question of whether we’ll want to remain living forever. Will we eventually tire of reading or experiencing every “human” drama, or start to find the almost overwhelming amounts of information and new worlds somewhat passe?

Alternatively some ageless immortals (i.e. us, since we’ll likely be the first generation to have access to indefinate lifespan technologies) may go temporal jumping. They’ll suspend themselves and then rejuvenate themselves every century/decade/millenia to see what’s going on.

If this is point is reached, then will we decide “I’ve seen enough in this universe, the only unknown frontier that holds any appeal is that between life and death”? Maybe we’ll start to see suicide in a new light, that of someone who has experienced the physical universe as fully as they can and now is just ready to move on.

Maybe the collective, like right now, will decide suicide is not allowed. It could be for more selfish reasons than because society thinks suicide is wrong and that the person must be mentally imbalanced, it might be that we want to maintain the wealth of information, experience and pattern that is stored within a being many millenia old. A compromise may be reached where the pattern of mind is stored but is not activated, so that information may still be retrieved but the mind is static and essentially dead. But assuming we could simply revive an individual with a stored pattern (likely if we make the transition to electronic or hybrid mental substrate), then in medical terms the person wouldn’t be dead, since doctors declare death when they despair they are unable to restore brain activity. For someone who chooses to become inactive, this wouldn’t be the same as suicide since the pattern of that person still exists whereas suicide would destory the pattern.

Will we be comdemned to eternity when immortality/indefinite lifespan is commonplace? A new wave of thrill-seekers may catch on to extreme sports in a way to flirt with death, yet due to the potentially godlike restorative powers nanotechnology the only really extreme sports will be solar-flare surfing and black hole skimming.

New computer

Baring nuclear holocaust or an adverse reaction to oxygen I will be getting a new machine at the end of March/beginning of April to play Oblivion.

So far it consist of:

  • CPU – AMD Athlon 64 3500+ 2.2GHz Socket 939
  • Memory – 2 x 1GB PC3200 PC3300 DDR400 SDRAM
  • Videocard – GeForce 7800 GT 256MB PCI Express
  • Motherboard – Asustek A8N-E nForce4-Ultra Socket 939
  • DVD – Pioneer DVR-110 16x DL
  • LCD monitor – Samsung SyncMaster 940B 19″ 8ms
  • Hard drive – 250GB SATA-II Barracuda HDD

The fact thoughts of this makes me salivate either says I’m an extreme geek, very sad, or both

(alternatively I could have Rabies or have an insatiable appetite for electronic componentry)

Any suggestions or recommendations for particular brands are very welcome.


Zaadz is attemping to change the world, and I’ve joined them for the ride.

For the people in range of London and like Parkour:

Just to let everyone know that PK10 is now happening on the 28th of
May in London. Anyone who’s interested should wake up and reserve
their spots, as places are limited to 140 people.

Was my birthday on Saturday, I got nice stuff from nice people and a few more drinks than usual. Missed seeing Wildebeest Asylum by about half an hour at someone else’s going away party. Also paid far more for a haircut then I’m used, although I did get it stylishly coloured too. Photo may follow soon.