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Showing posts from 2010

Delusions of Grand Audience

Over two years ago I mentioned how the social interaction on FB enables what I called the fostering of an illusion of grand audience. The idea is that the pseudo public nature of discourse on an FB wall leads people to place more importance on personal appearance than they would on a less socially constructed web site.

It's all part of the interesting psychology that people manifest while participating in this pseudo-public space called a Facebook profile. It is the digital equivalent of a podium on a stage that has flood lights obscuring your view of the audience. You know that people are there because you hear them but you can't exactly see them all (analog of not knowing who sees what you post or reads it) this does an interesting thing to people. First, when challenged while on their "stage" they are far more likely to react with a defensive posture on many subjects that in reality they would be for more reasonable discussing. I've been perplexed by the harsh…

The circle of reason....

A recent conversation I had with a friend concerning the existence of deities prompted me to think a bit more deeply about how man has used logic to help describe or extract truths in the world and then use use to our advantage.

In the process we have been able to describe thousands of real natural systems and exploit them, from our understanding of the biology of corn and other plants and then using that knowledge to modify them to suit our purposes...to the realizations of the patterns of truth that govern the behavior of planes in the sky or missiles on a launch trajectory. All these things are enabled by the slow acquisition of knowledge concerning the invariant truths and relationships of the real world.

However, we often fail to realize that the certainty of control that we appear to have over the world is mostly an illusion. As a scientist I was trained to prize empirical data above all else, data informs hypothesis and sets of hypothesis inform theories...these theories are the…

Wait until Facebook starts mining our tagged photos...

Many words have been written on the ad revenue that could be generated from Facebooks knowledge of the deep set of factors we provide to them when we sign up for the service. The knowledge of our interests and disinterests as explicitly shared in our information pages and as indirectly shared through our interactions on the site is a major unique boon for Facebook's ability to target algorithms that will have a unique ability to present relevant ad's to users when they are most likely to find the ad content interesting or useful.

This however is only the beginning of ways that Facebook can target the data we are providing them. One potential ad targeting gold mine lies in how we "tag" individuals in our galleries. Facebook could conceivably observe over time the tagging patterns to determine real world associations between people tagged who often share the same photos. It could for example determine if two people are in a relationship over time by watching the tag pa…

Cool Android app, turn your phone into a tiny wifi network mobile web file server

I recently purchased my first smart phone, an Android based Samsung Captivate. I've been having a blast exploring the new paradigm of touch enabled UI and the many orthogonal dimensions of sensation (eyes..via cameras, ears via microphones, location via GPS, accelerometers and attitude sensors) that the mobile device presents for application development that doesn't exist on a desktop. One cool app. I downloaded today is called File Share. The reason requires a bit of back story:

So last week I downloaded an app called "Sketcher" to doodle on my Captivate using the touch screen, I quickly created a few bits of art that I want to share on Facebook. I could plug in the phone via micro usb and set it as usb storage but that doesn't always work as seamlessly as it should...thankfully Samsung packed removable ram via the tiny mmd flash slot, I could take that out and pop it in my adapter and into a USB stick ..instant files ready to upload to Facebook...that works rel…

Why Facebook + comment ratings = a big F-ing deal.

Facebook has been quietly but consistently creating tools that enable the service to know normally difficult to capture metrics about what people are doing, who they know, what they know and now with comment ratings, how well their knowledge is valued by their peers. Prior to this upgrade Facebook was able to provide excellent data for their ad targeting algorithms to enable highly coupled ad placements to the desires of those users shown them. The use of user submitted information regarding their geographic location, their likes in movies, music and other interests enabled Facebook to target large swathes of users to show relevant ads that target to those particular topics...this in itself was a pretty big deal as no one before Facebook had as large an audience to mine for this data and ad targeting and no one had as many points of information from the users base. Google has a much larger user base arguably but their ability to infer the interests from those users is much less focuse…

social networks and coming deep personality analysis

An exerpt from this article on the social consequences of social networks and the increasing amount of time that people are spending on them follows:

"but would you want a potential employer to see pictures of you off your head in Ibiza from back in the day? With the latest figures showing that one in 13 of us are using Facebook, this redefinition of public and private is already happening."

This statement assumes that such an incident as some one partying a bit beyond their normal mode in some exotic land would be taken alone as a representation of their character. However this is not at all assured. I see the many data points that people provide on social networks as ways to gain statistical shaping of their average behavior over algorithmic judgments of their behavior over time. It is over time that the invariant nature of personality truly shows up, not in a single picture viewed out of context. That said, the question remains will such a statistical analysis be possible ?…

Why Chrome OS is not going to do so well.

From the moment I first read an article mentioning Google's plan to create a Chrome OS...I was puzzled. At the time Android's success was not at all assured and there were no carriers producing phones for the device but a rumored G1 was said to be in the works from Verizon.

At the time my reasons were simple and pragmatic and all derived from the perspective of the possible consumers of such a device.

First, I was convinced from what I saw happening in the panel space that thin TFT LCD technology was on it's way out. As an Engineer I'd been keep in eye on the developments of Organic Light Emitting Diode technology that was in my view going to be the screen technology to end them all. If not it than some variant of it, I also knew from the production processes of such panels and their amenability to running off of standard CMOS fabs that they could eventually be produced in mass at prices far lower than what is possible with TFT LCD. Also, because OLED's can be prod…

The why of emotion, from whence did it come?

A recent article positing a theory for the origin of emotions as a system to induce cooperation got me to thinking about this subject which I've been mulling for quite some time recently in an effort to understand the requirements for building a truly stable Artificial Intelligence. A post from a few months back covers how emotion once emerged is used to tie emotional import to newly sensed memories while comparing those sensations to previously stored memories and the associated emotional triggers to them. Conditions like Kapgras syndrome highlight the unique role that deep brain regions like the hippocampus and the amygdala play in tying emotion to memory. The new study however knocks at the heart of the question, why do we have emotion in the first place? Why did it evolve? What necessity did it serve?

Fundamentally, we should be able to agree that our emotional system emerged to trigger the individual as to important occurrences in the surrounding, to serve as a stimulant to a …

Lucky Earth

A random sample of the collection of improbable and mutually exclusive events that led to our emergence here on this rock.

If the Sun formed in a region with less or different gas contribution the Earth would likely have an ammonia Ocean instead of a water one.

If the proto planetary disk didn't have so much accreted asteroids and comets proto Earth would not have gained so much water and would likely be dry.

If the Earth didn't accrete as much dust as it did, we'd have a smaller radius and likely not have a radioactive active core..the active core is what produces our magnetic field and thus protects us from the deadly solar wind of the sun. Life would not exist.

If the proto Earth had not been struck by another body just before 4.4 billion years ago, the planet would not have reconstituted into the present Earth 2 + moon system. Without the gyroscopic stabilization of the moon against the distant but influential gravitational nudges of Jupiter we'd have no predictable se…

My short walk in faith...

I was too inculcated into the ways of religion to seriously give it thought as being *unreal* until about the age of 9. My parents (read: my mother, my father was religiously apathetic) did a good job of taking us around to various prayer services with her evangelist friend who happened to be married to a pastor. Tangentially, I found out much later that he used to physically beat her in accordance with the scriptures he preached at the pulpit, now he's suffering from severe dementia induced by Alzheimer's disease. Karma? No...just bad luck. During those times I was forced to endure 3 hour long services that consisted of grown adults and their kids sat on white sheets in hot living rooms (many times our own) with their kids forced to pay attention (some how) to the constant singing, talking or Bible reading in Haitian Creole and French. I was partially curious about the various stories I'd read and wondered if they could be real, I was an avid comic book fan from an early …

Accident: A view into the future of organ replacement...

Listen to the podcast: Accident:A view into the future of organ replacement.

Mira Chu is always in a rush, she got up today filled with particular excitement as it is her first day giving the inaugural speech at the Institute of Exoplanetary Studies. Mira joined the institute 3 years ago in 2045 and had been deep in her studies of the spectral characteristics of the 50 or so Earth class planets found decades previous by the Kepler Satellite mission. She was anxious to report her findings regarding the specific bio signatures emanating from 43 of those 50 worlds.

Unfortunately for Mira today, she tends to get her mind very wrapped up in her work and today was so focused on the talk that she failed tohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif heed the pick up truck making a quick turn before the light as she charged across the intersection unaware that the light was about to switch. The truck struck her with more force than one would expect given the fact it was turning. She was knocked out of…

Democratization of voice has changed everything...why Jaron Lanier is wrong.

In a recent interview, computer scientist Jaron Lanier expresses his view that the social internet has not been a benefit to human society. In particular the open software movement upon which much of it is based is for him mostly a negative for human society.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIwikI7IVYs&feature=youtu.be&a

I think he is missing a critical aspect of what is enabled by the internet and in general communication technologies as they have developed in human societies (predating even homo sapiens sapiens) that aspect is the democratization of an asserted "voice" as explained below.


His attack is more than just on web 2.0 , he has this view that there has been no beneficial social impact to the internet. He couldn't be more wrong, if it were not for the internet, for the hyper connected real time web of communications and the fora of discussion that are made available on the social networks that he called "packs" the following incidents of the last …

Technology: will it kill before it saves?

"And I am very much a skeptic in regards to technology being able to save us from killing ourselves as a species."

A recent email exchange with a new friend contained the previous quote from my friend. It inspired me to finally write out what I'd been saying in bits and pieces to people on Facebook for quite some time.

As for the question, will technology be our saving grace? I am still somewhat ambivalent about it myself, the current time of rapid developments in genetics and biology have me terrified and amazed. Terrified because as a software and hardware engineer I am well aware of the history of change that attended certain technological developments in both areas in the past and how those changes revolutionized human productivity in two phases. The first was the invention of the semiconductor transistor in 1947 by Shockley and Bardeen. The second was the invention of the integrated circuit and soon after photo-lithography that led to the astounding miniaturization o…

A Poem in the key of Erdos

I am a believer of the BOOK,

though there is no Supreme Fascist as it's author.

Before I should die, I would have several epsilons,

though now is not the time as I have no boss as other slaves do.

I do wish to be captured however, before those epsilons come

as is custom and in my view, only the right thing to do.

Having been captured I should not be liberated as my choice

of boss will be a careful one, as any proof should be.

I have no plans to ever leave as science quickly

unravels the mystery to that disease.

Despite this, I occasionally partake in poison in doses

sufficient to enjoy but prevent my leaving.

Though under the influence of poison I must admit to dying temporarily.

Often I listen to noise but never while my mind is open.

I enjoy the act of preaching though in engineering and art but yet mathematics, excluding instruction to my sisters little epsilons at which time I often take great joy in torturing them.


My brain is open!








;)


Links:

http://geekvarietees.spreadshirt.com/images-erdos…

Communication as a promoter of human empathy.

The following is excerpted from a comment to a friends Facebook wall post concerning humanities pending control over life itself. (Recent announcement of synthetic life being created) I advocate the view that if we do not learn to embrace the sanctity of all life and in particular human life before the costs of weilding this power come down we may end up destroying ourselves.

We have already seen the distal effects of empathy in averting what would otherwise have been great tragedy just by the hyper connected communication streams we share today. What would have happened in the former Yugoslavia if our communication technology were still morse code? Total extermination of Bosnian Muslim by Christian Serb, and the world wouldn't have known until far too late and then not really cared. "Those slavic people who are they ?"


What would have happened in Georgia when Russia decided it was going to invade and take over Abkhasia? More massacre, and we would not know about it for…

The Story of Language...

Languages have also been a very fascinating subject in my life. For one , I feel as if I should be able to speak more languages than I do. My parents are Haitian but I was born in Brooklyn, I speak English fluently (without a Brooklyn accent) but my Haitian creole is halting, my French is halting. I'd need some serious practice in both to be truly fluent. However, the similarities between the Latin languages allows me to figure out maybe 30% of spoken Italian, Portuguese, Spanish if the speaker speaks slowly enough. My facility with spoken languages would improve if I had the practice but the last few years have been spent getting around the problem rather than attacking it directly and it has a fascinating history that I will detail below.


The history of the formation of languages is something I've done a lot of reading on, the other reason for my interest is that I am a software engineer and program in several different computer languages: c++,java,xsl,javascript,css,xml are…

Synthetic life ..........are we ready ?

J. Craig Venter announces the boot up of the first artificial genetic sequence:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/science/21cell.html



Regarding the ethical issues of doing this now, he is right for TODAY...

but when the costs come down dramatically in the next 10 years (as they did for pc programming)

as the knowledge continues to be refined with bulletproof techniques...

as GDE 's(genetic development environment) are developed to allow a high level genetic language syntax to be used to build organisms using an abstraction (like coding applications but with a "maker" step) there will be a huge potential for trouble as any "gene kiddie" (analog of script kiddies today) will be able to tinker together something "for fun" that I don't know, invades all pigs and causes their intestines to shut down, or causes cows to die on the field after eating grass...who knows...as varied and nefarious as malware methods and vectors are in software coding, expect the …

A bit on "faith" , "belief" and the inapplicability to real science.

This posts builds on a response to a thread started by a mutual friend on facebook that I thought merited exposition here.

I am a firm proponent of the methods of science having been trained in them and employ them in my work and life, but I have no faith. The collections of data that form the theories posited by science are not accepted by what they will predict they are accepted by what they have predicted...this is a subtle difference that makes assertions of all scientists having "faith" as some define it a fallacious one. I have no faith that any of the systems which have succeeded at answering questions about the workings of the world will continue to do so, I have only past evidence that they have. This is the difficulty of scientists...of falling into the "I believe this will happen." trap instead of asserting the "In the past, data of this sort was explained by this process." in the first, "faith" and "belief" are implicit...in…

It only gets better from here...

The following is a comment to this article on the new "cosmecuticals" industry that is emerging due to advances made from the sequencing of the genome and the amazing discoveries of stem cells in the last few years. Early this year a paper was published that isolated key genes in the expression of skin tissues that contain both sebaceous (oil) and perspiration (sweat) glands. Last year a method was published that allowed the genetic mutation changes in tissue pathology (in that case two cancers) to be tracked down to the number of changes (the 1 mutation per 15 cigarettes paper) tie these methods together and you have a recipe for finding differentiating pathological and normal development in tissues.

We already know that the genetic code is amazingly dense but most of it consists of "non coding regions", now the story is coming clear....it is a hierarchical code. Most of it is devoted to developmental pathway ('how long to grow or release it') as opposed…

Emotion no longer has to be our guide?

Two recent discussions I've engaged in on Facebook have elicited more thought on the subject of how the human brain ties together emotion to memory. A study released recently showed that an emotional component could be untied or subtracted from the associated sensory experience or memory under current retrieval if a stimulus is provided at a given time. This discovery hints at some amazing possibilities for how the human brain works and helps point to a possible hypothesis for the purpose of emotion in the evolutionary history of the brain.

The new frontier of brain science

We know today loosely that the neocortex is responsible for processing and relating sensory input (between adjacent senses) we know that "adjacent" is more than an abstract categorization of their hierarchy in the mind but is quite literal, when flattened out the surface consists of patches of cells devoted to processing various types of sensory input in several layers (5 or 6)...where their edged touc…