Entries Tagged 'general' ↓

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).

Form and epigenesis

DNA, the code of life? Or only part?

Hofstadter asks whether the meaning is in the code or the interpreter?

Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

DNA isn’t exactly like that, because the existing form affects the expression of the code. Which in turn affects the expression and replication of said code. DNA should more be likened to an attractor in a complex system. Under this view, the concerns with genome research taking away our free will (whatever that concept means to you) are unfounded.

Is Zen is the opposite of life?

Prompted by reading a chapter on Zen in “Gödel, Escher, Bach”:

Zen seems to be a sort of holism to the extreme… dissolving the self to become one with the universe and achieve enlightenment.

In some ways I see the use for this viewpoint while meditating and as a relaxation technique. In particular the concept that all the universe and time in static and immutable, and time and space is mere illusion, has a remarkably calming influence (at least for me). In some ways this reminds me of something I did that was somewhat odd as a kid. I think I first thought this around 5… I found time strange, and my memory of it also strange, thus I decided to imprint a distinct memory of that moment. I was sitting at the dinner table and I focussed on the fork I had. I can remember this moment, whereas many other parts of my early childhood are but a blur. There are other moments too, such as when I was riding a bike home in a ridiculously strong wind at age 11… again I committed this to memory because I reasoned “this is incredibly hard work, I feel exhausted! But in but 30 minutes I’ll be at home and this will purely be a memory. In fact, it may as well not be happening since this is a small fraction of my total experience at any time and will continue to get smaller as I continue in my life.”

Did other people do this too? Or was I just a somewhat strange kid?

Zen philosophy is somewhat relaxing and find kōans play novel games with the logic in our heads. As a life philosophy however, I think it’s flawed since the separation of us from the rest of the universe is what makes us human. In fact, it’s what life is all about. The localised increase in pattern and extropy within a system. Maybe Zen boils down to being an acceptance of possible the heat death of the universe when everything becomes a homogeneous soup? Which, if time is but an illusion has already happened and is the culmination of the universe’s evolution!

Before I sign off, time for a kōan:

A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the meaning of the ancestral teacher’s coming from the west?” Zhaozhou said, “The cypress tree in front of the hall”.
case #47 of the Book of Serenity

Zen also seems to have mastered the art of surrealistic humour.

Modafinil in Silicon Valley

Looks like I’m not the only one:

“Is someone you work with taking Provigil to give them an extra competitive edge? I’ve spoken with one executive who says he uses it regularly to work twenty hour days, and the buzz lately is that it’s the “entrepreneur’s drug of choice” around Silicon Valley. Over the last week two separate entrepreneurs have mentioned it casually in conversation, and one said he tried it once and loved it.”

An interesting conversation was had at a friend’s bday dinner about drug prohibition, and I meant to mention this kind of thing while dining. Another reason I think the whole recreational drug thing needs to change or be approached without a maxim of “drugs are bad” is because performance enhancement is going to become more common.

What’s so funny is that entrepreneurs apparently aren’t interested in typical drugs – instead they find the one that gives them a mental and stamina advantage.

“What’s so funny” about this statement is that I’m sure this is a completely false claim. It’s merely more socially accepted to take drugs to be a more productive member of society. Thus it’s easier to admit this to colleagues. Possibly it conveys “I’m a hard worker”, not that it really does (since you can still be unproductive even if you’re awake), but the dissonance between the reason behind taking drugs and the public’s perception of it is annoying.

I’ve personally talked to several entrepreneurs who’ve had the seeds of their business inspiration arrive while under the influence.

Note however I’m not saying innovation and new ideas can’t be arrived at without drugs, since that’s patently untrue.

Social dynamics and politics

I’ve been reading a little about social dynamics and what makes people attractive. There is the obvious and oft mentioned confidence, but another one is a lack of response to criticism or insult. Or rather, not being dramatic about things. If you respond, you give those people acknoledgement to whatever their frame was (a frame is basically a viewpoint), you are acknowledging their frame has value and thus are accepting whatever their insult/complaint was about. If you ignore it, by just not acknowledging it, or by acting as if what they said was just odd, then you are not buying into their frame.

What gets me, is that the opposition in political debates and in the media almost ALWAYS is complaining or reacting to something the incumbent does. This, in my opinion, lowers their value. Instead, I’d be immensely more impressed if they worked with the incumbent, subtley trying to mould policies to be more inline with their values. Or by offering alternatives, but not by blaming the incumbent for a problem. Just state “this is the way things are now” – don’t go down the path of blame, it’s pointless. Work together for change and improvement, demonstrate WHY you think something will be an improvement over current circumstances. Do all this, and you as a politician, and as a political party, will look like you have value, like you should be in power if you are not already, instead of a whiny little bitch.

Turning a sphere inside out…

A video with a really great explanation of curve numbers and how to turn a sphere inside out.

My spatial mind felt a mite expanded after watching it.

Haven’t been writing much here due to being very busy. I’ve moved to Wellington, I went to Kiwiburn, I’ve started contract work continuing my PhD work part time, and also developing artificial general intelligence for OpenCog.

War on terror increases chances of biological invasion

I recently attended a workshop on invasive species distribution and spread modelling. One interesting thing to note, is that APHIS has lost a lot of biological inspectors (people trying to intercept biological contaminants that may result in foreign species establishing in the USA) to Homeland Security. A similar thing has happened in Canada with CFIS and Border Security.

It’s a shame, because at least APHIS and CFIS were doing something useful, the whole war on terror thing is so ridiculous, because if someone was half-intelligent and really wanted to cause mischief, then the smoke screen of apparent security wouldn’t be barrier.

New Zealand Customs ignores TSA locks

So yesterday, at the end of my journey from Vancouver, my luggage got left in Sydney, Australia. Whereas I went all the way through to Christchurch. “That’s fine” I thought, since Christchurch airport promised to deliver the luggage to my house the next day.

It just arrived. But one of the zippers is broken off, and my Travel Security Agency/Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs registered lock was removed. Now these locks are MEANT to be opened without damage by custom’s people. But it seems New Zealand Customs doesn’t do this, they just break the fuckers off. I rang them and they just laughed at the suggestion that they’d have a master key for them (which other countries do).

My advice: next time you go travelling don’t bother buying the expensive $30 TSA locks, just buy a few shitty $2 shop jobs. So much for buying something to last, instead it’s a disposable throwaway culture in New Zealand official-dom. Green and clean New Zealand? Whatever.

(I might be particularly pissed off since it was annoying enough to have my bag left behind, and this is just the thing that’s put me over the edge).

Drugs compared to mountaineering

The article linked below calls for the general public and policy makers to talk about drugs openly, and stop negative rhetoric about them, and actually discuss the issues instead of fear-mongering (via Tatjna).

In particular, the comparison to mountaineering is quite nice:

The truth is that recreational drug taking is like mountaineering. When all goes well, as it does most of the time, the experience can be fun and even profound. Not only can the experience be great, it can also give the adventurer insights into his or her own character and the workings of the brain, insights that can be applied to the rest of life. But drug taking, like mountaineering, can be dangerous.

Let’s all grow up, stop pushing lies and have an honest debate about drugs

Free Burma!

Today is the International Bloggers’ Day for Burma. More than three thousand bloggers around the world are participating to raise awareness of the Burmese junta and its oppression of Burma’s people. The protests may have been stamped out,and the monks murdered or imprisoned, but the international community must continue to pressure the Burmese regime to improve its human rights record and restore democracy.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you sign the Avaaz petition calling on the UN Security Council and the Chinese government to take action. It has half a million signatures already, and they’re aiming for a million. If you want to take more concrete action, Amnesty International will be holding protests in Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin this Saturday as part of the Global Day of Action for Burma. Alternatively, you could also email the Burmese embassy expressing your disapproval, or write to or email members of the Burmese regime urging them to respect human rights and release political prisoners. But if you’re reading this, please do something. We can’t do a lot from so far away, but every email, letter, and voice raised helps.

Text borrowed from No Right Turn, and via mundens.