Monday, June 22, 2015
I wanted to make note of the fact that I neglected to be as precise about the way I ended the original post as I should have been.
Specifically, I ended this last post by indicating my astonishment concerning the fact that natural systems would create meaning processors, with choice being a very important design requirement.
What I didn't make clear here is the difference between how and why. The how, as was the main thrust of the post, was already established in the contention that any level of complexity could be obtained by conditional iteration starting from simple rules. The why, however, is something else again.
And let us not forget that it was "choice" in the human context. Why would a natural system find that in any way advantageous?
One would think that a purely rationally oriented meaning processing system designed make choices would have no less amount of adaptive advantage, even if it were not better at it. Could there be something in much larger time scales, and/or across significant percentages of the many possible realities, as they play out in those time scales, that makes choice in the human sense, in some way better?
I would like to think that it has something to do with how an ever shifting balance of both the rational, and the subjective, does more than provide simple survival. The real game, as far as the ultimate "Big Picture" is concerned is to walk the fine line between the pure heat of undifferentiated, and constant change, as opposed to a final, and absolutely frozen entropy. That's the only way the questions and answers will keep going.
And make no mistake, In my view, it is all of the frailties of what constitutes the human condition that are what contribute here. The fact that we know fear viscerally, and not for just the self, but for significant others. The fact that we can appreciate something called beauty, whatever that is ultimately. The fact that tones, in various combinations, can create joy, sorrow, and exultation; as well as the fact that cooperation can be a harmony both literally and figuratively.
All of these, in addition to imagination, empathy, and the ability to ponder all things in the abstract, make a choice context a "reasoning engine" will never be able to match. And if we go beyond mere reasoning engines?
The trick there will be in how we set up not only the associating, meaning mechanisms, in these new meaning processing systems, but how we go about nurturing the same kinds of frailties.
Doing that while maintaining effective monitoring and feedback channels in entities that will process millions of times faster than we do may well be a challenge we really ought to think long and hard on before we go any further with it.
The contrast between "A New Kind of Science," and Cosmolosophy
Sunday, June 21, 2015
If you ever want to get an idea of what real genius is listen to the presentation by Stephan Wolfram I've linked below. And if you haven't already, get his book “A New Kind of Science.” You probably won't understand all of it; I know I certainly didn't, especially when it came to all of the proofs he provides with the full explorations of some of the many simple rules he posits. It takes more math than only getting through Algebra II, as I have, to have the tools necessary, and I suspect that, even with more advanced tools at your disposal, it's still a stretch.
Still, the sheer depth and breadth of what he took on to get this book written is astonishing. I can remember very clearly how humbled I felt looking at what someone with truly serious intellectual chops could do with a mind toy I only had deep feelings about. And of course, in this I am referring to “Cellular Automata.”
Back in the early to mid eighties, you see, even after two years at Green River Community college as a transfer student intending to major in English and Communications, and completing another two year program at Highline Community College to get an Associate in Science degree in Data Process, I was still of the mind that I was going to be a writer of fiction. I say “even after” because I did a year at Boeing by this time as a “COBOL” mainframe programmer because an income was required, and I had a facility for programming. The problem was I hated it; especially as it was formalized (understandably) within the Boeing bureaucracy.
While I was applying myself quite doggedly to be better at fiction (without much success), a part of me was still fascinated by the process of conditional iteration. And when IBM, as well as the Tandy Corporation, came out with the first truly commercial personal computers, I was able to indulge my self in exploring what such machines could do. And as the graphical possibilities were the most immediately apparent, I went with the Tandy 2000; one of the very first color PC's to hit the market.
Let me just say, if there is a better incentive to get a person motivated to delve into the intricacies of both the hardware, and software, of a personal computer, than creating conditional structures to create interesting patterns on a screen, I am certainly not aware of it. And no where was this more established than with the community surrounding “Cellular Automata.” Starting with the game of life, and its myriad variations, “core wars,” and most especially the truly amazing Mandelbrot routine that was first published in Scientific American.
When I saw that first depiction on the magazine's cover of what you could create by arbitrarily assigning colors to count groups of an iterative calculation (involving an imaginary number, as well as the X,Y coordinates of the pixel array) that took the results of each run as the input of the next, and where another arbitrary limit was set to indicate that it was going towards infinity, so that the color black would be used, I was blown away. The hours I poured away into coding, and waiting for those first CPU's to crank out results, would have done any rabid gamer, or programmer, of today quite proud.
I mention all of this as a way to emphasize how getting a visceral feeling for the power of conditional iteration was established in me at the very beginning of the PC revolution. The interesting thing here, as I finally came to understand that I was nowhere near ready to write fiction yet, was that educating myself in all things PC would not only provide me an new income source, it would lead me not so much into considering complexity itself, as to trying integrate my love of words, with process, expression, and what meaning itself was; and this against the backdrop of the mess that our social processes have become, and the lack of meaning each of us seems to have the more complicated our social operating system became.
When Mr. Wolfram's book finally came out in 2003 I was already several years along in the overt expression of my critique of our current economic system, and the need for an alternative. The Old Softy Concerns web site had been running for nearly 3 years by then and I was just beginning to understand the need for a formalized philosophical foundation to support the change in sensibility that I felt was part and parcel of not only the mind set this alternative was meant to satisfy, but for which a holistic, systems view of the cosmos demanded. In this, it is safe to say, his book had a big influence.
What interests me now, though, in looking back, is not only the commonality of what is in Cosmolosophy and what is in “A New Kind of Science,” but what is different.
To review, Cosmolosophy posits that the entirety is an inconceivably big, iterative, question answer engine. The simple primitives involved here are the elemental embrace (or love) and mind. These are expressed in an infinite array of vectors of association which I like to call “Reality Ray Tracing.” The idea here is that each answer is simply the creation of the next question, and in this context, the question revolves around the nexus of “what does it mean,” “what did it mean,” and “what will it mean.”
The primitives come into the mix as, first, the need to interact and exchange, and second, the need to objectify in the first place. Time, of course, is expressed as the various vectors of association, Space is the tension field automatically created by having objects, and objects the result of meaning applied to an interaction interpreted from a singular frame of reference. In this, as a consequence, is the inherent requirement of meaning processing systems, which are then able to make choices based on those meanings. From this as well then comes the layering upon layer of abstraction that formalizes structure of whatever complexity you care to contemplate.
Mr. Wolfram's tenets of “Computational Equivalency,” “Computational Irreducibility,” as well as an iterative model based on simple rules, certainly doesn't contradict anything in Cosmolosophy, even if it may only be tangentially supportive of it at best. What I do think is an important distinction, however, is where the emphasis is placed.
Mr. Wolfram is primarily concerned with establishing that complexity does not require complex explanation; whether that be unbelievably complex mathematical models that can never quite seem to balance the macro with the micro, or just as unbelievably absurd intelligent agencies in control of all aspects of life, save the choices we make, and yet only too willing to punish us for those choices in a realm far beyond the consequences endured in the here and now.
His emphasis allows for “free will” but sees no specialness in the human species. “Meaning processing systems,” in his view are an aspect of complexity that any simple computational system can achieve, and he may well be right. The fine line here is where a “reasoning engine” ends and a self aware intelligence, that can imagine, empathize, and routinely benefit from the intuitive leap, begins. Ray Kurtzwiel, another genius way beyond my pay scale, has been way too enthusiastic in embracing the inevitability of bridging that fine line; not to mention blithely ignoring what the consequences may be to for the rest of us along the way.
It seems to me that “choice” in the current human sense is a truly breath taking aspect of what one might expect from a natural system; especially if one allows that such systems start from very simple rules. Cosmolosophy is an attempt to provide a basis for appreciating what are the important aspects in those simple rules that we need to apply in balance if we wish to preserve human choice, and the kind of structure that makes better human choices possible.
My hope, in presenting this contrast, is that not only will Cosmolosophy become more understandable, but that the reader will take away a new appreciation of the importance of finding a better social operating system.
Friday, June 19, 2015
Before I begin let me first state that I am quite aware of the possibility that this particular bit of pondering has already been postulated, and perhaps even laid to rest already. I did do some Googling on it and came up empty, but even so, I can only hope that those of you a good deal more informed than I am will forgive the conceit of my presenting it here as if it were anything new at all. As Captain Picard once said “It may be a conceit but it's a healthy one.” Or at least I hope so.
Try as I might to be well informed, there will always be things I will miss. One can only do the best they can with what they have and then hope that they will, from time to time, be lucky enough to stumble over something worth while. In my view it is better to try and fail, no matter how much you might embarrass yourself, than to not try anything at all.
With that out of the way, let us begin. Here is what I hope is a conjecture for you that is just full of interesting questions.
Suppose you have two galaxies. Let's further suppose that both are fairly big as galaxies go, having already done some intersecting with other, smaller galaxies, and have accumulated a lot of solar systems as a result. They both also have, as a result, quite large, mass singularities at their centers, and because of that, as well as all of the intersecting having already occurred, some of the solar systems inside are now moving around the mass singularity at a significant percentage of the speed of light. As such, relative to the singularity, as well as more than a few fellow solar systems, time moves a lot slower for them.
With me so far? Good.
So... Let's now suppose that galaxy A is separated from galaxy B by more than the event horizon formed of both the rate of overall universe expansion and the inherent limits of the speed of light. As such nothing, beyond what they could both get in common before that separation occurred, can translate in the ordinary fashion through space time between our two fast moving solar systems. My first question, then, is what is the time relationship between the two? In other words, would they be in the same rate of time if they were moving around their respective mass singularities at similar speeds, and even if they were, would the synchronization they had relative to the common point of origin (that is, after all, why an atom in one part of the cosmos is supposed to do the same things in another) still hold? Does synchronization at all, in this context, have any applicability in the first place?
Let's take the conjecture further. Let us suppose that both fast moving solar systems have life, and evolved sentients to the point that they have a science that is at the level of where we are today. Let us then allow that they have been observing the cosmos that they can observe, and smashing bits at the quantum level, just as we have done. As such they would obviously, then, be formulating conclusions based upon the separate bubble snapshots of the cosmos, as the light now streaming to them would allow them to perceive. What do you suppose might be the same in their conclusions, and what might be different?
On the face of it you might conclude that the smashing part of their inquiries would yield similar results, but would that necessarily be true? They are both now expanding in an isolated realm of their own vector of time. Not only that, but we cannot be certain that their very small inputs in the quantum world will not have quite unexpected affects on their bit of macro; as we already know that small inputs into very complex systems can yield results far surpassing the scale of the trigger. And then there would also be the random variations of how each set of scientists went about their smashing; with something even a simple as the mind set of the different groups might be applicable here.
Would both solar system groups conclude that there wasn't enough mass to account for the cosmos they perceived? Or that there would be an energy not directly observable now effecting expansion? Might they be right for the wrong reasons? Or just wrong?
Is one of the basic problems here that we are making observations, and forming conclusions, without a proper regard for our own time scale bias? Or, in other words, trying to deduce relationships that can only be truly understood after, say, at least ten thousand years of observation? Or even orders of magnitude more? Does the amount of energy in absolute vacuum disagree with theory precisely because of such bias, let alone the possibility that expansion itself is regionally variable?
And then you throw in the idea of worm holes, as well as quantum entanglement. A pathway to circumvent ordinary space time? And a meaning link irrespective of distance, at the very least, and maybe of time as well?
Hoo boy! My head is sure spinning. I do love it though. Even if this is nothing new to the real brianiacs out there in science land it sure is fun for me to think about.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
It always amazes me how much one can stumble over by chance on the internet. The sheer, vastly random, nature of what people choose to put into it guarantees a wondrous, as well as appalling, depth and breadth, of content.
I mention this because, just by accident, I fell into a marvelous bit of filtering delivered to me via YouTube.
You know how this can work sometimes. The boffins behind the algorithm of anticipation, working to present you what you might be interested in, have a great deal of result that I feel they could be certainly be proud of, but also quite surprised at. You pick at one thing because of a link you found by chance, and from that, suddenly, you are presented with a wholly unexpected content theme.
Case in point, the view, as expressed by the British, of the differences between the States and the U.K. Quite illuminating I can assure you; especially if you listen to every day Brits, as well as their luminaries. For the purposes of this post, however, I would like to start with the latter. And there are few better to do this with than Stephan Fry. If you aspire to be well read, quite reasonably intelligent and articulate, you could hardly do better than use Mr. Fry as a role model.
One thing that he seems to emphasize in interviews (as culled from my limited sampling) is the American sense of optimism, and the willingness to take risks. And of course that got me to wondering, are we still an optimistic people?
Quite by chance again, however, I started clicking on British and American comedians doing standup on the various differences and, of course, making great fun of the various stereotypes and cliches that operate on both sides of the pond. And therein one inevitably gets to the ridiculous extremes of religion we manifest here (beyond the guns, crass commercialism, and obesity we are also noted for). Which also got me to wondering. Where does religion fit into the idea of optimism? Or more fundamentally, where does faith itself fit it?
If you ask yourself: are the overtly religious optimistic? You would probably have to scratch your head and think... well, maybe, but then... maybe not. After all, a lot of American religious belief starts with the notion that we are born sinners and are held over the fires of hell by an angry god all too ready to let us fall to our virtually assured judgment. Only by the most arduous of commitments to piety, denials of the temptations of the flesh, and perhaps most important of all, an absolute, unquestioning acceptance of scripture, which is the word of god, can we even begin to hope for salvation.
Other religions don't go to quite such extremes of course, but they still put significant amounts of dogma towards the idea that the word of god is supreme, and salvation comes only from giving your life over to those words, as well as unquestioning belief in him, and/or his son.
The bottom line here is this: just how optimistic can you be when so much of human nature goes against what is purported to be the word of god? And it's not just that evolution has made us hard wired to want sex, or to be fear based in so many of our emotions (where the loss of love, self worth or meaning creates the lions share of our passions). We've ended up with a brain that demands curiosity. That is built to question. How can such a being believe in anything unquestioningly?
Going down this road then gets one to thinking on how faith and optimism are related. For it certainly seems to me that faith and hope are related. To be hopeful for a better day tomorrow, one would think, ought to mean that one has a certain faith in the means to achieve it. Unless, of course, one is talking about blind faith. Which, unfortunately, is kind of like talking about evil. Everyone might agree that, at the very least, evil exists in the abstract. The problem comes in when, and how, the term gets applied.
I mention all of this because one of the other things one gets from the above mentioned comedians, as they make fun of religious extremes, is that Atheism isn't very optimistic at all. In fact, one of my takeaways from Mr. Fry is that it is precisely the denial of faith inherent in Empiricism, and scientific rationalism in general, that forms the foundation of British pessimism; where this opposite of optimism is formed in the cold realities of fixed cause and effect. The exact opposite of wonder, magic and the notion that anything is possible.
Where does all of this leave us?
Well, for one thing, I don't believe that this is an optimistic country any more; at least as one gets a general sense of it from the popular cultural, religious, and commercial expressions one sees currently predominant. Apocalyptic movies, end of days sermons, and a market mentality that grows ever more fearful of risk every year hardly makes a good case for an optimistic nation. Sectors in changing areas of demographics, and/or geography, still retain various amounts of optimism certainly, but the overall environment doesn't seem conducive to the preservation of this important sense of spirit and mind set.
The problem for me, and for which I have already written about (see “Cosmolosophy: Why is Faith Important“), is that good people on the one hand, having become disgusted with the obvious shortcomings of extreme religious belief, have given up on the idea that faith can still have great value. And on the other hand, other good people have forgotten that blind faith is not only possible, but that any adherence to it is not really faith at all (as the essence of faith is belief within the framework of the doubt of a questioning mind).
The thing these two groups have in common is certainty. In the former group this manifests itself in the certainty of the absolute truth of empiricism, numbers, and logic. In the latter group it is the certainty that something written down by generation after generation of men and women is the literal word of one or another deities.
To start with, let's be clear on one thing. Empiricism, numbers and logic, can be very powerful indicators of the truth. We have come to rely on a great many relationships revealed to us in this way. Relationships that have provided huge boosts of improvement to every aspect of our lives. The problem there however, as we delve into trying to understand ever more complex systems, is that the application of the empirical method becomes ever more tricky. And this is precisely because it is human beings who attempt to do it; the very entities whose frailties, and proclivity towards subjective thinking (where everything from outright wish fulfillment, to subconscious desires, run rampant), make them imperfect creators of objective tests and measurements. Whereupon we now have reoccurring commitments to all things “double blind,” as well as rigorous numeric proof.
This becomes even more so when you begin to cross ever greater scales of consideration; especially when the scales cross down to higher energies, and much shorter time frames. Not only do you come to the fringes of what can constitute effective instrumentality, you begin to question the nature of objectification at its most fundamental level. This is precisely why the “Grand Unification” of quantum theory and general relativity have been so difficult.
I believe, and I want to emphasize that it is a belief, that we will face a fundamental limit on what can be measured, or tested, objectively exactly for the reason that what we test with, and the choices made in testing, are part and parcel of the very thing being tested, or measured. In other words, the outcome of the test will ultimately be significantly caused by the test itself, and there will be nothing we can do to change that. And make no mistake. This has been established experimentally (see “Let's hear it for sentient measurers”).
The danger that I see here is that we test or measure at one scale, and then extrapolate what we find there for application at other scales altogether. Not fully appreciating the one thing that very complex systems are notorious for; hiding channels of feedback, or even feed forward, for which cascade events can occur out of what always seems like nowhere. And in the case of an entirety that might be made up of an infinite number of quantum varied realities, you are guaranteed to have a lot of unexpected channels, and a completely new concept of what “coming out of nowhere” might entail.
On the other side of the equation, however, is recognizing the fundamental importance of faith. Without faith, it seems to me, one cannon keep a sense that anything is possible. Faith based at the very least in the notion that infinite complexity ensures that there will always be possible e channels for transfer, and translation, that we do not yet know of; avenues of affect that will always resist specific objectification and predictability. The thing to always keep in mind with this is to simply accept that somethings will also still be a great deal more, or less, probable than others.
With that in mind, I think, is it possible to keep a balance between reason and wonder; logic and magic. With that in mind we can dream the impossible dream. We can aspire towards a reach that exceeds our grasp. But we can also stay mindful of what is probable this moment and of the next few. Of what practicality demands because of what we love, and cherish and feel responsibility towards each moment to the next.
The whole point of love, it seems to me, is that your faith in what you feel from this other is why you take the emotional risk of integrating them into your sense of yourself, and your being, as you make choices in the great dance of being and becoming. Likewise, how can you love life at all if you have no faith in what you feel, or faith in larger than logic possibilities of what you can accomplish when honest effort is applied. The benefits of effort after all are seldom foreseen in high fidelity. What may seem impossible now, after working towards something, and taking on some risks, may seem a great deal more possible further on down the road, and from combinations of factors and occurrences that would have been unthinkable beforehand.
Failure is a fact of life of course. And it can be painful beyond expression. How we deal with that pain, and the facts of the failure, are always a choice however. Just as what we perceive as a worthy goal is a choice. As well as what constitutes being successful is. The fact of the matter is that, some times what we want must yield to what is most probable, and then find a way to make the best of it. Having said that however cannot be allowed to dissuade as many of us as possible to dream beyond our grasp, for that is certainly what the entirety requires of us; for in no other way will we rise to the task of fully appraising and appreciating its vastness otherwise. A task that can never be fully completed but one that is essential none the less. Because it is only by our appreciation and understanding, as well as our application of love of life, and creating loving structure, that keeps it going. Something that I have great faith in.
Monday, June 15, 2015
yourself with abstractions
only, the fiction
of ones and zeros
in switches thrown
for the state
their programs require.
Occupy your own
lives, and spaces
to make what you will
of what you love
and what is
loved in you.
It is not a street
on which their power moves,
and from seizing
can you dam them
up, to make them
pay you attention.
with what your are
where you are.
to any work where
you don't fully own
Go to your neighbors
cooperation in redefining
just what ownership is;
sharing the responsibility
as well as the benefits.
Take away what counts
by not counting
on counters any more.
of the charging
The new exchange
will be the revolution
and what they count on
won't count at all
Saturday, June 13, 2015
I have been quite taken up of late wondering about relativistic mass.
Mass and mass in motion. From a systems perspective it sure gets interesting.
On the one hand, you have to accept the idea that, though any object, or quanta, has a perceived unity of meaning, and therefore a consistent solidity of boundary properties, it is still an abstracted unit of process. One for which contained motion is prominent. The inner workings of other, lower scaled, abstractions, each with their own set of boundary properties, interacting with each other, present to us a new, self sustaining abstraction.
In our scale of things then, when we imagine, or actually initiate, various external forces to this already encapsulated bit of meaning, we imply to it motion relative to us that it did not heretofore have. In doing that we create a new set of meaning considerations. Though the intrinsic initial mass does not change, the overall meaning must because there is now the total kinetic energy of the object. Mass and energy are two sides of the same coin, of course, so, whatever the rest mass may have been, the object now has a mass that includes the imparted velocity; something that is, in one sense a potential, but in another a thing already realized as any attempt to increase its velocity takes even more energy; a process that steadily yields diminishing returns as this potential/real mass increases. Wherein lies the inherent limit of the speed of light.
It seems to me, then, that all mass is, in a sense, relative. Already encapsulated bits don't change relative to us because all of the bits of meaning around us, and of us, started from the same point of reference. And we now exist in a synchronized vector of meaning interaction. Which is nothing more than to say a system where the boundary resolutions at particular scales of consideration have been set so that fundamental process abstractions remain constant relative to our vector of association.
One can then consider the system as a three dimensional white board that must expand so as to allow for more meanings to begin to collect as the excitement of birth cools down and basic interactions create more abstractions to allow for even more complex interactions to follow. Just as more words must have more pages for which to allow them expression.
Through out all of this, I think, is a certain synchronicity that remains at various scales so that meaning can have consistency over space and duration. Complexity, however, has a habit of throwing ever more uncertainty into total system process. This would have to become especially vexing for a system where motion, and the differential of observed, and observer, as regards duration and the space therein, comes into play.
To my mind everything in this overall, more complexly expanded, system is relativistic mass to one degree or another; especially when one begins to consider the biggest of singular concentrations of encapsulated motion. They seemingly begin and they end without ever actually creating or destroying anything, even as they deny any outgoing information. One then has to wonder just how consistent synchronicity can remain.
We believe we see only so much ordinarily encapsulated meaning in the cosmos but it is not nearly enough to account for how overall expansion has proceeded with the structures thus revealed so far. And now we also detect that expansion is actually accelerating, though the mass/energy repression that would account for this is also not directly observable.
Those previously mentioned concentrations of meaning, representing a speed of process, or conversely, so much accumulated meaning, that it cannot communicate in any ordinary sense within our vector of association, still seem to evaporate in some fashion. But to where, and how? Conversely objects at a certain scale can become meaning entangled, and remain so, regardless of distance. But does that necessarily hold true for time as well?
What I am suggesting here is that causality, and thus the transfer of meaning, is a great deal more complex than we currently realize. And one of the important aspects of this is the fact that observations, and the meanings derived from them, need to be handled with a great deal more circumspection, as well as skepticism, when they cross large spans of scale. As such, taking a measurement at one scale and then using the results to deduce conclusions at another, may be problematic at best, and perhaps more invasive, or deterministic—either as a cause or an effect, than we realize as well.
I can only hope that those who have credibility in the sciences are already considering these aspects a great deal more deeply than I am able to.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
And is there a harsher mistress than hardware? Always so seductive when wearing the ware of the mind, but in the cold light of a real day's labors? Does she bear her wares with truth of your intents? I think not.
The Most Hilarious Robo-Falls from the DARPA Robotics Challenge
Thursday, June 4, 2015
The following post was prompted by the gizmag.com article linked below.
Researchers at the Australian National University's School of Physics and Engineering did a variation of the John Wheeler delayed choice experiment; using the more difficult option of atoms, instead of photons.
A diffusion like grating of counter directed lasers first worked to set a single, super cooled helium atom in one of two possible directions. A second set of lasers would either do noting, in expectation of a single atom path, or set up a recombining constructive or destructive wave interference, in expectation of an atom traveling on both paths; with the determination of which option was selected being done by a random number.
The kicker here, of course, is that the measurement was done before the random number was generated and the second set of lasers had done what needed to be done for the atom to be a wave or a singular particle. That measurement merely pre-confirmed what the second lasers were going to do to accommodate the established the atom wave/particle state.
If that's not a mind bender I don't know what is. Be that as it may, however, it does serve to suggest that sentient meaning processors have a pivotal part to play in what constitutes any given reality.
Experiment suggests that reality doesn't exist until it is measured
A tip of the hat to this guy. Using V shaped floating barriers to capture waste plastic. Brilliant. In this way he has the ocean's own currents do most of the work of collection.
The Ingenious Plan for the Ocean to Clean Itself Is Led By a 20-Year-Old