Entries from May 2009 ↓

Love and Separation

In the past, I’ve written about the drug like effects of love. When I wrote that, it was from a retrospective viewpoint based on my prior experience but while single.

Now I find myself in love again, with a fantastic woman, and it’s interesting to be just a little bit more aware of the psychological stuff that goes on. The warm feeling of love, the companionship, and the equality.

However, there have also been the less pleasant effects. For instance, I’ve noticed that after spending a lot of time with my partner, and then going to a period of her absence, the day after I feel listless and generally down. “Of course” you say, “that’s what it’s like, you miss your partner when you’re apart!”. I understand that, and I don’t want to be indifferent to when the next time I’ll see her will be. It’s nice looking forward to spending time with someone. At the same time however, I wish the physiological effects were not so real, because they don’t actually contribute to my mental health as far as I can tell. After the initial down, I fortunately remember that I really appreciate and enjoy my time alone and get to work on a variety of fantastic and interesting projects. Time as an individual cements the concept of my independent self, which I think is important, so that when I spend more time with my partner I have more to offer.

In fact, she’s expressed similar ideas, but from a different angle. Bringer together two whole people is more amazing than seeking yourself in or minimising yourself for another.

Drugs and Internet Culture

I while ago I finished “What the Dormouse said” by John Markoff, subtitled “How the 60s counterculture shaped the computer revolution”. Although I was vaguely aware of the use of LSD in the development of the internet and personal computing, this book made it a lot clearer… particularly about how prolific it was. It was actually used as an enabler for team planning meetings of major businesses! Circuit designers would use it to visualise and solve logic problems (how exactly they did this with the other associated effects going on, I’m not sure, perhaps dose high enough for loss of consciousness of the external world?).

In reverse, the internet itself is a prolific source of drug information. Users (double meaning unintended) are essentially anonymous, there is a large amount of information available. Knowledge of new “research chemicals” can quickly be disseminated. Books that have been made difficult to obtain due to their possibly controversial nature (e.g. Pihkal) can be shared P2P. Suppliers of various substances can actually sell and ship research chemicals to people despite local drug laws, partly by luck of the substances getting through local customs (some suppliers will even try multiple times if the first attempt is intercepted), but often these research chemicals are too obscure for authorities to be aware of their usage in a recreational setting. This, however getting difficult to carry out, as the authorities are also becoming more aware of the internet as a source of knowledge on recreational substances.

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Zero-point existence

Recently I’ve been reading a combination of Undulating ungulate‘s book draft which discusses science, mysticism, and reality.

I’ve also been reading up some about quantum physics, and the idea of the evolution of physical properties of the universe. I’d like to read more about the ideas and work of John Wheeler and David Finkelstein (both being suggested researchers to investigate when I asked Ben Goertzel about a starting point on evolving physical laws).

This, combined with working on stuff for OpenCog, has led to several immensely surreal moments. Mostly while lying in bed about to drift of to sleep, when all reality and time collapses into a single point. Well perhaps not all reality, but at least my life and memories. Possibly this is a cognitive effect of memories being more easily retrievable in the state just before sleep? At any rate, given that: I think free will is just an immensely useful illusion of consciousness, and that physics tells us that the fabric of reality is space-time instead of two perpendicular concepts. It’s not infeasible to believe that seeing the future is possible. In fact, that’s exactly what intelligence does. We make predictions about the future. The question is, can we make predictions on things that, based on our limited of knowledge about the universe, are essentially random or make predictions that are more probabilistically accurate than our past experience allows?

I’ve also bought Outside the gates of science by Damien Broderick, which should be an interesting read. The book addresses some of the paranormal effects in experiments that have been deemed statistically significant but as of yet cannot be rationally explained (actually I bought this last year, I just have lots of reading queued up).

Notes on PLN

Kaj Sotala has been making his notes on PLN available on LJ as he reads through the Probabilistic Logic Networks book.