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Showing posts from March, 2012

Engineers versus Programmers

I have found as more non formally trained people enter the coding space, the quality of code that results varies in an interesting way.

The formalities of learning to code in a structured course at University involve often strong focus on "correctness" and efficiency in the form of big O representations for the algorithms created.

Much less focus tends to be placed on what I'll call practical programming, which is the type of code that engineers (note I didn't use "programmers" on purpose) must learn to write.

Programmers are what Universities create, students that can take a defined development environment and within in write an algorithm for computing some sequence or traversing a tree or encoding and decoding a string. Efficiency and invariant rules are guiding development missions. Execution time for creating the solution is often a week or more depending on the professor and their style of teaching code and giving out problems. This type of coding is devo…

Integrated Information does not equate to consciousness on its own

A recent article:

http://machineslikeus.com/news/why-tononi-should-think-united-states-conscious


Makes the claim that the Integrated Information Theory of  consciousness makes it possible that the United States a nation of millions of people is also conscious.



What a strange correlation. I've read Tononi's IIT paper and though it is a brilliant model  for attempting to describe the minutia of consciousness and experience in an agent gathering events via samples from a multi dimensional sensory space...I don't see any reason to suppose that this means the model would apply to all *physical* devices that could through rough mathematical analysis of connections between independent agents also be modeled by an "experience" theory. In fact the author of the article above actually references this caveat as made by Tonini in his paper but then goes to interpret it incorrectly:

"Before we saddle Tononi straightaway with commitment to the consciousness of the United S…

Humans, Locomotion...why bipedality? Robots, Dinosaurs and energy conservation tell the tale....

A recent set of studies posited a reason for the emergence of bipedality in human homonoid ancestors.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-reveals-ancestors-bipedal-power.html

"The study concludes that unpredictable resources, like the coula nut in the field survey, are seen by as more valuable. When these resources are scarce and access to them is on a “first-come, first-served” basis, they are more prone to switch to bipedal movement, because it allows them to carry more of the resource at once."

I think the explanation provided is an impetus for momentary acts of bipedality but it doesn't explain why evolutionary adaptation along those lines would follow...for that, some survival advantage would have to be provided consistently for using that mode of ambulation...and I believe that comes because moving on two limbs instead of 4 is simply more energy conservative.

If it were more risky to ambulate on 2 limbs, say because it is slower or requires more energ…

Morality, Mutual cooperative altruism and Feynman's question

Earlier today I was introduced to the transcript of a talk given by my hero Richard Feynman in 1956. The talk concerned Professor Feynman's thoughts on the values of religious thought to humanity in comparison to the values of Scientific principles that have shaped the development of the modern world devoid of the appeals to faith that are the purview of religious teachings.

Central to his main question is the idea that questions that depend on moral determinations of judgement to be answered are by definition "moral" ones and in so being are out of the analysis scope of being probed or described by the methods of Science. I makes this statement plain when he writes:

"I claim that whether you want something to happen or not – what value there is in the result, and how you judge the value of the result (which is the other end of the question: Should I do this?) – must lie outside of science because it is not a question that you can answer only by knowing what happens;…

Google+ ramps adoption faster than growth, but growth will come.

I am still reading ill thought comments about Google+, that it is failing at attracting users that no one stays to discuss and interact. I explained what was going to happen *back in september* but few seem to understand what their strategy is about.

Google+ adoption (the sign up process) is tied to conversion from existing google services to google+ profiles and growth (in terms of increased use of the service by the users that adopt it by signing up) is tied to scale and network creation (not conversion).

They are gaining viral adoption now but are going to hit their super viral mode (when more people start spending longer periods of time on the service itself) when the people who are starting a "social network home" there start interacting there because ALL their network (or most of them) will be "born" there.

Social networks are so sticky because the people we interact with in the real world are on them, google+ has the problem of needing to bring you AND your n…

Self Healing Infrastructure, more details on how it will emerge.

The question was posed in a Facebook thread:

"Unfortunately eliminating property taxes would just be a recipe for even more severe wealth concentration, as there would be no cost to hoarding land. Have you ever played Monopoly®? Studied English feudalism?"

It's a good question to which I'd not previously provided a detailed answer, that answer now follows:


Yes, assuming restricted apportionment of land laws are not generated wealth concentration would continue to occur, however ; in a world where having the land sufficient to survive and thrive for one and ones family can be had property tax free, acquisition of lands beyond *need* will be a practice shunned, for several reasons. First, environmental (this isn't our planet to grab land and do with as we wish willy nilly, though we've behaved that way in this era of limited infrastructure resources, when resources are easily extracted at low or no cost to us and then demand tightly coupled to that extraction…

Free will exists or doesn't depending on your scope of definition

A recent thread on Facebook brought up the question of weather or not free will exists. The mention of Sam Harris views on free will (that science has shown it doesn't exist) provided fodder to explain what I've seen as a key difficulty in answering this question that all of the discussants seem to fail to realized. It regards the  MASSIVE misunderstanding between those discussing the subject in academia or as laymen.

I refuse to enter the discussion before creating a solid formal definition of what "free will" is, to some it is the ability to chose your destiny based on your desires in the moment, to others it is a stronger idea of not being tied to the autonomic drives of your physical self that defines the probability cone of what you *may do*.

It is obvious both from the neuroscience and biology proper that it can't be the former, "free will" is about weather or not your substrate bound cone of possibility is in anyway *pre* constrained OUT…