Entries from September 2007 ↓

Drugs as stochasticity in the mind

I’d like to present a motivation behind why some people might take drugs. Often, when prompted for a reason why, people might say something like “To expand my consciousness” or “To discover something about myself”. Of course, this does somewhat depend on the drug and who you ask, a lot of people just like them for the thrill or the immediate sensations. I’d like to explore the former reasons however.

Optimisation techniques

Since I’m a programmer, and enthusiast about artificial intelligence, I’m going to approach it from this angle. Particularly genetic-algorithms, simulated-annealing, neural-networks, and other optimisation techniques that have a solution space that one can visualise as being a rugged fitness landscape of peaks and troughs.

The height of a point on this landscape indicates the fitness of being at that particular point. Imagine you are standing at said point. If you move slightly in one direction it may increase your fitness, decrease it, or it may stay the same. All the above machine learning methods, in some way, are moving along a multi-dimensional landscape of fitness, all are trying to reach the peak fitness value. The problem however, is that, generally these methods only move in the direction of increasing fitness (although the specifics may be different). If you find yourself at the top of a peak, you’ve reached the locally optimal solution, but you’ve no way of knowing if you’ve reached the globally optimal solution.

Continue reading →

BarCampChristchurch recap

So BarCampChristchurch went pretty well. Quite a few interesting talks/discussions and I think my talk on the Singularity held some interest for people:

It’s also fortuitous that the BarCamp was on the Friday before the Singularity Summit 2007 because it meant I could at least pretend I was attending! On a side note, the Summit got on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ben Kepes and Marek Kuziel live-blogged the event. There were even some rumours of video being recorded. I’ll make an update if that eventuates (and I don’t look like a daft fool).

I enjoyed going out for beer and Indian dinner afterwards. Met a bunch of interesting web types, which was cool because I’ve been somewhat isolated from the web-tech world while doing my PhD in an Ecology department. I also heard some more about The Valley In Christchurch meals, which I’d like to attend… once I’ve exumed myself from the monetary grave I am in right now!

What I did with my weekend (and Monday)

A whole group of friends from Wellington and a couple from Australia came to Christchurch recently. For snowboarding, and for our alternate event to Burning Man…. Melting Man. Helix DJed at Nitrate, with some of the WDC there to support him on the Saturday. We travelled to Flock Hill station on Sunday, and on Monday I mountain biked like a crazy man (on the Broken Hill track). Monday evening was building a snowman, dancing on a hill, and having good times (more about it from Kathy and Tatjna).