Saturday, October 29, 2016

Once AI Gets Good At This...

...And it likely will, not only will we not be able to decrypt it, we won't have any understanding at all of how it was done.

Ah, you reply, won't we then just get other AI to decrypt it for us?

Maybe. But how paranoid do you think we will become in wondering about whether the new decryptor was convinced, logically of course, to switch sides? And how would we really know if we couldn't determine what they were saying to each other?

Google’s neural networks invent 

their own encryption

By Timothy Revell

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Category Five Reality

Whirling shards
roiling around the core;
the hurricane
of tornados twisting
so many fragments,
flashing thought,
echoed feelings,
descriptive snatches
torn from any continuity.
My mind
and the maddening
matrix that made it.
Shit and shinola
fact and fiction
smoke and mosaic
mirrors, always shifting;
the angles and dangles
every juxtaposition
All of it roaring,
at the tearing away
and crashing into
thin membranes of cognition.
And still
connections are made.
That miracle all
the more maddening
by all of floundering
to articulate
a small thread of understanding
out of all of the chaos,
which itself flutters
away in the torrent.
Can it ever be
by another mind
to stitch together
a common weave
to hold
something shared?
A way to meaning
we can agree to?
Take the turn
of what we toil
to boil
in what we know
off the electric burner.
To find the calm
within the eye
that sees a better vision
of how to find
and make our way?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Big Expectations for Christmas Spending

As the article linked below indicates retailers are likely to ring up a big total for the holiday shopping season, and again I have to confront all of the mixed feelings this sort of thing resonates for me.

On the one hand it would be more than a good thing if people were feeling optimistic enough about their finances to indulge in giving generously to their loved ones. It doesn't take a keen viewer of the national scene to divine that we could all use a big dose of what Christmas is supposed to be about now, with all of the hate, fear, and bigotry demonstrated in Presidential campaigning so far. And it always amazes me just how much people can still pull out that core, loving motivation from all of the plastic, glitz and flash inherent in the commercialization that has taken over Christmas. Even for a non believer of deities like myself, one can always harken to the idea of families coming together to celebrate the ideals of a man that are real, even if he wasn't, or, even if he was, but not actually the son of one particular deity. Love. Empathy. Compassion and tolerance for all life and all people.

It has always seemed to me that you can believe in those even if you don't believe in other aspects of the religion that brought forth the ideas.

Be that as it may, though, my practical side can't help but wonder about what a number like $800 billion represents.

As in how much of that stays here to foster new investment (or sustained current investment) in more jobs, or the firming up of existing jobs, here? Wouldn't it be nice if the folks who report these kinds of statistics provided that kind of background context?

What is the carbon price we pay when that much extra spending gets pumped into our economy?

How much of that spending can one expect to be placed on the debt load that Americans are currently carrying?

I also have to wonder what the difference would be if, instead of using abstract counters to buy more trinkets, we were in an economy where you had to make all of the gifts you wanted to give yourself. An economy set up with the technical aids, and all of the component basics to allow you to do that very thing; just as you would be doing for all of the other items you wanted, or needed, for yourself.

Can you imagine the resources that would be freed up in just the elimination of product packaging, sales promotion, and global transportation costs (moving the items as well as the packaging)? Can you also imagine what such a thing would do to bring us back to a more complete focus on what this gift giving is supposed to be about? I can. And I have to tell you that it breaks this old man's heart everytime I see the difference between that possibility and what we live with now.

Consumers Will Spend Almost $800 Billion on Holiday Shopping


See Also:


Our favorite woodworker (outside of Matthias Wandel) talks about work ethic and the power of creation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Dichotomy of Simulacrum

As the linked article below indicates the debate about whether we live in a simulation or not continues. It continues to fascinate me because I have lived with feet firmly planted in two worlds: The world of words, metaphor and expression, as well as the world of computers and information processing (I got into the latter because the former lead me to become a student of Marshall McLuhan). Because of this I see things from a perspective that emphasizes the ideas of objectification, the layering of abstractions, and meaning derived by the interactive gap between to objects (read "From Cliche to Archetype" by McLuhan to get a quite interesting take on this). As such for me what we live in is both simulation and not simulation.

Simply put, our vector of energy interaction and translation, from which we associate meaningful objective relationships, starts out with what must be the assumption that we simply can't interpret all of the interactions. There is so much, in fact, that to properly process it all would require a processor reality all its own outside of our 4 dimensional realm. For the practicalities of biological interaction the meaning processor that evolved to be us had to start using filtering shortcuts (see Robert Ornstein's "The Evolution of Consciousness"). We ended up with a brain that makes quick, best guesses on objective interactions going on around us, and that usually works out to our advantage.

In this context, then, what we amalgamate of meaning is a representation of what is actually interacting at many scales of consideration. It is a representation that works so what we miss out on should certainly be contemplated, but not overly fixated on, at least as far as I am concerned.

This notion, however, that all of our reality, even the stuff we don't fully perceive, must be a simulation is ludicrous to me. It may certainly be possible, but the probability of it actually being so is infinitesimally low. I say this because I disagree with most of the main assumptions that are made to argue for the proposition. Let's take them one by one.

First let's talk about simulations in general. It's true that the computational ability to produce visual, auditory and near physical recreations of dynamic, ongoing experience has progressed at an incredibly fast pace. Because of that pace, and related notions that increases in the structure of knowledge leads to ever greater ability to gain more, makes it easy to assume that nothing of a technical matter will stand in our way of either duplicating sentience, or linking created experience directly to existing brain structures. That this might be easy, and/or intuitive, to see does not automatically imply the postulated result.

The fact of the matter is that there is simply so much we still don't know about how synapses and neurons link to what we live as sentient beings that making any kind of "assured" predictions is just foolish in the extreme. Even if we create what we think are sentient copies of our own meaning processor, there will be no truly objective means to verify it; if for no other reason than we will never be able to fully objectively define what we already have as sentience.

The same goes for artificial experience. We can't objectively fully quantify or measure what that is now, not only because of the uncertainty principle, but also because the filtering, and the process of experience association, that actually links meanings to the process of objectifying, as we grow from infant to adult, is so subjective in the first place, and subject to a host of environmental, and cultural factors we may well never be able to fully identify, and model with any absolute precision.

What I have always maintained about virtual reality is this: no matter how high fidelity it might become it will never have everything that actual experience has. Whether you consider what might be missed when you hug or hold a person you care about now, or what might be missed in being in the presence of an actual living mix of other life, you might make the tactility more amplified, or the scents, colors and sounds more vivid, but you would never get everything. Experience will always be experience but one side will also always have something the other does not, and in that we might find another example of how small inputs can have profound effects in truly complex systems. Profound to the point of our folly.

The bottom line here is that to truly understand our place in not only a particular reality, but in the entirety as a whole, we will have to ultimately resort to a philosophical description. And the ultimate guide there will be whether it feels right or not because reason alone won't get us there. This is, as I have stated before, why I have come to rely on a description that puts both mind and the elemental embrace as the fundamental elements of the entirety. From this the creation of meaning processors is an absolute given. At the very beginning of each vector of association the probabilities for the resolution of boundaries are already resolved to make meaning processors possible. It has to be that way not only because there has to be the points of reference that make an "observer in the first place," but also because that very "singular" beginning might itself be the start of sentience at another scale of consideration.

Is our world a simulation? Why some scientists say it's more likely than not
A swath of technologists and physicists believe that ‘simulation theory’ will be proved, just as it was proved that the Earth was not the center of the universe

by Olivia Solon in San Francisco
Tuesday 11 October 2016 08.30 EDT

Monday, October 3, 2016

When Should Art Think About Restraining Itself

Real art isn't supposed to be pretty; at least not necessarily so (an adage I think's been around for some time now). It's meant to resonate with and invoke all aspects of our emotional and sensorial experience. Especially with photography do we see where ugly or horrifying tells the story of other realities we need to understand on more than just an objectified level, such as worded descriptions might provide.

I think most of us get that. That being said, though, doesn't excuse art from the nostrum that there can always be too much of anything, or that anything can be taken to extremes. A case in point is the mixed modality installation now making waves in LA called the Tension Experiment.

First of all, let's be clear here. This is undoubtedly clever and creative. That's not the point though. I say that because, in my view, what we have here is a corollary to what Jeff Goldblum's character said in the first Jurassic Park movie:  "...Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn't stop to think about whether they should..."

The thing is, we are already being saturated with fear of all kinds within overlapping commercial, cultural information environments. And even more disturbing, the commercial dynamic is accelerating the path towards instant gratification of whatever fantasy that might be imagined. What we risk in this is setting up a self reinforcing emphasis on stimulating the baser parts of our brains to get at ever more extreme fantasies to keep the spiral going; and make no mistake, with the potential sums involved to be made here, there will be way too much incentive to do exactly that.

The bottom line for me here is that I just wish artists would put considerably more soul searching in play when they consider putting on any kind of exhibition. They would be among the first, after all, to demand that of the scientists and engineers among us.

The Future of Fear: Inside the psychological maze of LA's most insidious theater event

Director Darren Lynn Bousman gets under my skin with The Tension Experience