29 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 devoid of the real world situations of what happens when a given algorithm is integrated into a larger project for performing a needed function or service.

That's what they learn (or don't) when they become engineers in the field. Here, the beautiful recursive solutions written into algorithms at University, when stuck inside a real system with input memory limitations...all of a sudden reveals the need for tail call optimization or similarly reveal very pesky to hunt down memory leaks due to improperly closed data base connections or method code that is not properly handled for catastrophic interruptions (in college development the assumption is always made that the computer running your code will not crash while your code is being executed...this is an invalid assumption in the field...where not only must that assumption be made, but it must modulate the code such that it can heal or be robust in the face of such events from the perspective of execution [continue or restart the act interrupted] and from data [recover necessary data to resume] and to reporting [tell some system process that the failure happened so that it can be troubleshooted].

The coding world of engineers is one that emerges over *experience* time building code on live distributed systems and being the victim of these types of unforeseen events despite the apparent perfection of the programmers code.

That said,

The complexities that attend different languages interacting to create complex systems make the problems of engineering balloon. So my experience would say a better approach is to gain  a high level understanding of the types of code. The classes of languages that exist to solve certain problems in the field and why they emerged and a little bit about how those types of code interact on *live* distributed systems.

Once this 10,000 foot view is had, then steeping into the minutia of coding in a particular language will make more sense as the language will now be seen not as the end to the means but as a tool in the process of *engineering* a system that performs a desired system or function.

Tangentially, this difference between University and field coding points to a problem with the engineer hiring practices of most organizations. In a very real sense software engineering is like carpentry or housing construction as well as being a mathematical and technical pursuit. To gauge the ability of a carpenter, those looking to hire one do not ask the carpenter what tools he uses.

He's not asked as to his favorite choice of table saw, or what type of levels he applies, he's not questioned as to the formulations of concrete he uses or of the type of drills and other tools of construction he uses. Instead, the question is simply "show me something you've built".

Engineering is precisely the same way, the quality of code that solves a problem that consists of multiple interacting elements is revealed by looking at the end results. A working application, game or app, a well designed UI...these are the proofs of ability as an engineer that should be placed above in my view the minutia of algorithmic function (all of which at this date are easily harnessed in seconds by consulting google or ...stack overflow!) so though it is important to learn how to do practical engineering for the field work itself...often to get into the job one must bone up on the relatively irrelevant minutia of algorithms and structures that are easily referenced during field work.

The same is true regarding the actual API's and languages used, good engineers can build just as great code with Python as they can with Java if they have time to consume the languages role in the requested design and apply it. In the same way that a good carpenter will be able to construct a beautiful home with a DeWalt drill as he can using a Craftsman. ;) Ironically, those that learn to code outside of the University setting are more likely to be aware of the dynamics involved in live environments as they tend to be learning in those environments...but for hiring purposes the minutia of college learning are what tends to be probed. Adept use of available tools (engineering) is filtered out at the interview process thus missing the opportunity of hiring brilliant engineers.

The hiring practices need to start reflecting this difference between engineers and programmers and those learning to code (either inside or outside an academic setting) need to be aware of the issues to ensure optimal success.








26 March, 2012

Integrated Information does not equate to consciousness on its own

A recent article:


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 States, though, there is one issue to address: Despite the liberality of his view, Tononi does not regard every putative system as an “entity” that could be the locus of consciousness. If a putative system contains no causal, that is, informational, connections between its parts, then it is not an entity in the relevant sense; it is not, he says, a “complex." Also, a putative system is not a conscious entity or complex if a larger, more informationally integrated system entirely subsumes it. For example, two disparate nodes do not constitute a conscious complex if a third node lies between them creating a more informationally integrated network. This restriction on the possible loci of consciousness is still extremely liberal by commonsense standards: Complexes can nest and overlap, for example, within the brain, where tightly integrated subsystems interact within larger less-integrated systems."

The author is making a critical assumption with is already false, he's assuming that the critical requirements of specific cascades between memory storage elements (neurons and glia in the brain as analog to humans proper in the country) and specific connections between suites of memory storage elements (the circuitry of connection between regions that enable analysis, comparison and autonomic and emotional modulation of *intention) does not exist in precise and necessary ways.

We already know from the many fMRI studies coming out that it does! If you don't connect the regions in the *right* way, whatever that is..you won't get conscious emergence. Over lapping of some subnetworks means nothing if you don't get the *right* over lapping. A most recent study was able to actually show the precise way that different regions within the brain became connected or disconnected at the dawn of consciousness itself! These are huge huge clues to those investigating consciousness in order to at least figure out the correct ways to *connect* different regions of processing in an effort emerge it in our attempts to build synthetic dynamic cognitive agents.

The United States is a randomly connected set of networks...most of which absolutely greedy in their connection patterns. Most of which oblivious in how they "fire" such that cascades tend to persist only across local networks of individuals...in a way that is very different from the brain...which was *evolved* to enable efficient cascades from stimulus to analysis to comparison to import.

It stuns me that some one would make the case that the author is doing in this piece. I believe he is totally misinterpreting Tonini's statements regarding comparing "consciousness" between living agents and non living agents (like a diode).

Only some one making a really tight read would correlate possible states of input with "consciousness". Consciousness is NOT just about dimensional variation in a state of input (in the biological analog a dimension of sensation) and I never in my read of his views or viewing his talks thought he was giving that view. Tonini is presenting the abstract general representational model (integrated information...which I upon reflection is trivially true) but does NOT define the precise and necessary underlying constructed circuitry for creating that model as a dynamic process as it IS in the minds of conscious beings.

A diode will just sit there absent input but our neurons are constantly in motion and in action because of the dance (a precise dance) of enabled circuit connections between different regions that I posit requires the music of intention (autonomics + emotion) , memory, incoming sensory input across multiple dimensions of sensation and comparison of those sensations to memory as modulated by the intentional tuple.

I would give that perhaps some of the blame for the interpretation of Tonini's theory as correlating consciousness of the mammalian kind to simple information integration is due to Tonini's some what loose use of the word for both static and dynamic connected systems with precise and necessary connections between dynamic subsystems for emerging selective cognition. One absent inputs just sits there, the other roils in its own internal dialogue absent of inputs. I'd posit a great way to know if we've created consciousness is to look for dreaming when the agent is not actively taking sensory input...dreams persist the internal dialogue of dynamic cognition and I assert can only be had by minds with the necessary and precise internal connections for them. I've provided some ideas on dreams (the biological function supposed is as repair process)  in another blog post.

Last year I diagrammed a model that I believe will be successful in emerging consciousness of a biological type should all the necessary connections and algorithms of modulation be found. I hope to start work actually constructing the first such example of what I call a synthetic dynamic cognitive agent in the next couple of years.





20 March, 2012

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.


"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 energy to perform than on 4, then that risk  taken over subsequent event trials by individuals puts them at danger of never passing on that ability to progeny and if they do succeed in having progeny damns them to a harder life should their primary care giver fall while using a non conservative gate on a consistent basis. 

So the inefficiency of one would cascade to the lower generation effecting a stronger anti-selective force for that individuals line. On the contrary if less risk is entailed by assuming such a gate (mind the possibility that chimps (studied) can ambulate on all 4's and carry (rather drag) objects between available fingers...however this motion is cumbersome and possibly more energy expensive as well.)

With a fully bipedal gate, body load no longer need be born on 4 limbs saving energy in the upper body (which now just serves as a counter balance for the pelvic action) and the intentional loss and gain of equilibrium allows balance loss to be traded for *stride length or speed* thus getting more distance covered for each leg swing (or more swings per distance traversed) while expending less energy to do it...now you've got a way to survive better.

This energy conservation enables the arms to be free to carry away resources but also provides speed to escape from the situation should predators or troop mates pursue.

Anthropologists need to look at the work that roboticists have been doing in the area of efficient gates to see why this makes sense...they have shown clearly in the last 20 years that bipedal locomotion with passive dynamic processes (where you let the natural return to equilibrium of a limb provide energy for the detachment of the other limb to continue the cycle) is more energy conservative than many types of greater than bipedal motions with active motorization (equivalent of muscle actions as are required in a horizontal body plan carried on 4 limbs).

They even have mathematical models of describing the efficiency (specific cost). Many learning models for gait cycles naturally evolve bipedal gates as well when given cycles of evolution (evolutionary algorithms they are called) under specific conditions modeling the real world.


So I posit this gain in energy efficiency *is why you keep doing a bipedal gate after you've discovered it* and it helps you then exploit the fact that you've got free hands to use to carry stuff more efficiently and escape quickly (from predators or troop mates in pursuit of your cache) in the same act (if that's the situation you happen to be in) and you get the  best of both worlds by taking that consistently winning risk and *now* you have a survival advantage. If it weren't energy conservative...having the hands advantage alone (minus the bipedal gate) wouldn't help you be more efficient at getting away...so assuming bipedality only would have served as a *reason to take risk* and use the gate to aid in escape while freeing hands for carrying...that just happened to be more efficient to do so...and thus conferring the survival advantage. If it weren't more energy conservative, we'd likely still be on all 4 limbs next to our chimp cousins.

It's also important to note the rapidity with which bipedal locomotion has been discovered in the wild, it turns out that homonoid primates are not the first species to do so, that honor goes far back in time...hundreds of millions of years to the emergence of the first dinosaurs, who are believed again to have an advantage (of several) over their sinodont and other Permian families which included a bipedal gate. I don't think their dominance and singular posession of bipedalism are a coincidence...again energy conservation points the way.


12 March, 2012

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; you still have to judge what happens – in a moral way.  So, for this theoretical reason I think that there is a complete consistency between the moral view – or the ethical aspect of religion – and scientific information."  --
The Relation of Science and Religion

This is what I disagree with and I find interesting that Feynman held this view (at least at this time in his life, he lived on for another 3 decades so it is possible he changed or refined his view I've not investigated that fact as of yet) given that he knew some of the people that worked on ways inadvertently, that science and mathematics specifically indeed does explain moral questions. In particular, I refer to the game theorists...people like Von Neumann and others that studied the economics of resource based decisions in the creation of the new branch of mathematics and economics dubbed game theory starting with papers in the 30's.

Judgement, moral or otherwise is not done in a vacuum, we judge based on our own visceral metrics for value on the concepts under judgement. We assign these values by our innate emotional connection to the outcome, if it is something we are apathetic to we disregard it. You don't spend your days wondering how badly a rock on the beach in Peru is being weathered, it is being weathered but it is of no visceral import to you. Moral judgements emerge from visceral imports..or things we can associate with as being personally and physically important to our survival or by proxy of empathy to the survival of other personable agents at some time.

As those determinations are encoded in our brain body association between autonomic/emotional and higher cognitive sensory experience they are, if distally modulated by Scientifically describable relationships. A definition of morality, are the social rules of behavior that emerge when individuals bound by the resource constraints of a given environment become known to them.

I assert moral conflicts do not exist where the dual characteristics of environmental constraint and resource constraint are not present. In either case, the formation of those rules of behavior emerge from the mathematical realities of the constraints (resource and environment) as modulated by the individual autonomic and emotional internal modulating factors that lead individuals in the groups to "judge"; emerging a possible moral tapestry from which judgements are made.

The idea of  mutual cooperative altruism among social animals is intimately tied to this idea of moral emergence. We cooperate because the value for doing so exceeds the drawback of not doing so, a thought experiment reveals that there must be an association to the presence of limited resources within the orthogonal constraint of a limited environment of interaction. All we need do is change the examined group size of individuals in the environment.

If a particular resource or resources is required for our survival and we are the only agent in the environment that can gain value from the resource we have no inherent desire to be altruistic, this may seem trivial but it is not...our altruism is not an absolute characteristic of our make up but rather an emergent quality of moral expression that ONLY becomes extant when others that also value that resource are present and subject to the same constraints.

If within the experiment the other individuals are able to range away from our resource cache to find their own there is a desire to do so rather than attempt to engage in moral interaction with others. This is because moral interactions for resources have more stakes than just the securing of the value of the resource they also include the retention of the value of ones life when those resources are viscerally important as defined previously.

If however the resource restriction is such that despite the open nature of the environment (ability for other individuals seeking that resource to go find it else where) the resource is only found in one area, then again moral conflict and the need to engage in altruistic negotiations presents but again ONLY because the group size of the agents involved has gone from n=1 to n=k where k is any number above 1.

Thus if moral decisions can be so readily modulated by a mathematical concept as fundamental as group size and since the restrictions of resource and environment modulate those decisions, the emergent web of possible options all mathematically described are entirely within the description, if not in the absolute than in the probable of Scientific methods.

As aside, these issues are not ones that only humans possess, all animals that interact in groups either temporarily or continually via social interaction must be constrained by these realities.

Apparent difficulties in doing (describing the "moral" by Science) so are only failings of applying sufficient resolution to the problem of describing the dynamics of group size, visceral resource requirement within the individuals in the group, availability of resources in the local environment and finally openness of the environment to exploration for additional caches of desired resources. They make identification of the choices that emerge in the altruistic and moral interactions that result when those attributes are variably restricted more difficult but they remain solidly within the realm of Scientific questions even when the judgements being made seem to slip beyond the empirically testable and quantifiable realm.

So that settled what of Feynman's question? He put it as:

"I don't know the answer to this central problem – the problem of maintaining the real value of religion, as a source of strength and of courage to most men, while, at the same time, not requiring an absolute faith in the metaphysical aspects." -- The Relation of Science and Religion
Given the results of the previous exposition the answer is it doesn't matter, the dynamism of possibilities involve all manner of personal explorations of the interactions. That some people can come to maintain high value derived from their religious views while simultaneously holding scientific views should not be surprising as we shouldn't be examining the problem as a static entity. People's views evolve over time, their moral fabric (as proven clearly in the thought experiment above) appears and disappears, expands and contracts in quantifiable if numerically exhaustive variation but the nuance of particular views based on modulation of the recognized factors of group size, resource need, resource availability and environmental openness enable parallel existence of seemingly contradictory positions realized as these needs shift.





05 March, 2012

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 network over in order to get you to spend appreciable time there. This is why their strategy of just tying together existing resources (where people use their products world wide) and then providing the social platform for those people to build their network from ground up there is so smart. It is a time based strategy that appeals to all those *billions* of people who have yet to be on any social network. Facebook is big yes...and all over the world yes...but Facebook connects 800 million...but there are 7 billion on the planet...that is a lot of social networks waiting to be built and a much larger chunk of those 7 billion are now using at least one google product....and thus the hook is in the jaw. If their first taste of a social network is via an automatic Google+ sign up via gmail or docs or search...then that is where they will build their "home". Facebook lacking all those distributed features has to go the other way...country by country...hopefully virally building inward....Google+ is kind of converting existing service users to social networkers in the opposite way and that is going to take more time.

I won't probably ever be a big user of google+ (outside of business and networking purposes) because most of my *social network* is HERE and not there and I have nearly 1,000 in that network....to much work for me to move there and next to impossible to get them all to move there as well....but people with much smaller networks, will find that task way easier.

Finally, by getting the deeper demographic information from a sign up that google now has via Google+ they can target their ads better world wide and charge more efficiently for them even without the growth (as defined above)...and thus make more ad money *weather the people use their G+ service or not* today.

It's a total, win win situation, win now from the sign up and conversion efficiency of the service AND win later as the loose fish all over the world start and build networks on the first social network they see (google+).


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 (by automated metering of need keyed to production) land apportionment will be determined not by the imagined need of a rich land owner but by known demand. It will become more and more seen as socially responsible to not live beyond ones means, we see this already happening in the calls from extremely rich people to give up much of their wealth toward enterprises that better man. I predict these types of altruistic actions will have more pressure to be performed as the rich will be the very first to be able to completely pinch off of the labor pool by building their own private SHI infrastructures

Second, the purpose for grabbing land these days involves what? Using it for some purpose, either to extract rentier fees from those that lease it, use it to grow plants or use it to extract resources. Each of these reasons will become either increasingly costly (away from dollar cost and toward time costs) to perform OR pointless to perform (once you've got your own *self healing* infrastructure providing you with the means to thrive then you need no longer to extract such means from labor/fee interactions with other human beings).

The end of the rentier class

As we approach  SHI, I predict rentiers will have long before generated sufficient wealth to have emancipated their wealth in the form of SHI resources. The creators of the SHI elements will do this indirectly first by actually selling the means to construct the SHI, to every one ...by they corporations, individuals home owners or small businesses and farms. The rising tide of automation (as it is happening now with computer software) will raise all boats of production capability, moving it further from human agents and firmly on automated ones. As more people have such means they will be able to secure their own plots of land more easily and once had will be able to maintain that land (as they will have their own piece of SHI to help them do it...as well as the growing SHI of the land helping them as well). So the rentier class will basically go obsolete as it will be more work to extract income from renters than it will be to just derive income from ones own SHI, in short people who "rent" will go extinct as they pinch off and generate their own SHI driven bubbles of self sufficiency. So keep in mind the key elements that will be in place to make this possible.

1) Deep deployment of artificial intelligence, machine learning automation of the type that learns from watching a given data set and then optimizes performance by redirecting observed actions such that they can be performed more efficiently. This is precisely what Action Oriented Workflow (ADA-action delta assessment) algorithm does for business work processes. It's also what Boston Dynamics learning robots do to perform dynamic state estimation that is efficient for walking, it is also what the University of Pennsylvania  and ETH Zurich quadrocoptors do to make those learning processes efficient. It is behind how Google translate "learns" to speak different languages. It is behind  the driving capability of Google's and other car makers self driving car programs. The realization that statistical approaches to learning are extremely efficient is being deployed across many data sets (Note link below to use of Google's "page rank" algorithm for aiding in water processing to be convinced of this) using algorithms of this nature. These will be critical in enabling the first pieces of SHI, the reduction in distribution costs that I mentioned in this post. Already Google has seen the usefulness of a driving infrasturucture that for the most part conducts itself even while people are inside the vehicles. These types of hidden AI will be flattening cost structures in many types of industries but they will also be the main source of near term economic turmoil as displayed workers from areas taken over by this soft AI as I'll call it mount. AOW, itself involves automated learning algorithms and aids in this latter problem of displayed workers by allowing people to maximize their value...but the true efficiency of SHI will be realized only when entire production industries are taken over by SHI elements (robot/ai:design + robot/ai:construction + robot/ai:labor + robot/ai:repair).

2) Construction of the first learning and autonomous robots. Once the artificial intelligence being designed is able to emerge dynamic cognition, we will be able to fully replace humans in the last area that requires their need...physical labor in small roles. This will enable us to SHI enable many tasks that have massive human costs to their production today. All the labor and service roles in hospitals, repair shops, air ports can be replaced by agile robots doing the same. All labor on farms for planting and picking can be enabled and reduce a massive cost center in the way of production cost reductions in food production. All the human labor roles in mining and construction of all types (roads, buildings, bridges) will all be able to be replaced. Again, massive costs lay in the human resource needs of these areas today, once the final energy puzzle piece is in place (it will actually be first to be in place in my view) then these areas can be fully SHI enabled and the building of necessary infrastructure will be automated and optimized to the needs of humans but only tenuously constructed by humans (as designers along with AI).

3) Unlimited and SHI designed and operated energy production is a prerequisite of a wider deployment of other SHI elements. The facile availability of power to run the robots that build the different aspects of the SHI is critical. These technologies are being rapidly accelerated as we speak as very efficient solar, hydro-solar and hydroelectric systems come online. As well the last 5 years has seen a massive increase in the development of bio-solar techniques and these will become increasingly efficient in the coming decades. Energy directly produced from living agents on plant matter is another huge future industry that will provide the necessary fuel (and once production for those is SHI enabled with automated robot agents they'll be self sufficient)  I believe the solar technologies are the most advanced and also the most efficient and will form the bulk of power needs in the SHI future with electricity running most aspects of the SHI over liquid fuels which will linger only for the formal airline industry and even there future technologies may remove that sector. In any case all will be SHI enabled removing humans entirely from the loop in terms of production and thus eliminating the costs of labor provided/ payment demanded that drives economies today.

Optimal production for farming achieved

The same will happen with those that engage in agriculture on the land, as SHI elements are deployed...automated tractors, robot planters and pickers, automated processing plants with robots where needed, automated distribution and delivery. Production can be coupled directly to demand and land apportionment for necessary production can also be dynamically and automatically calculated. Farms don't grow any larger than demand needs them to grow, nothing will change about that post SHI, save that those farms will be even more efficient than the very efficient semi automated farms of today, the ability to extract more food from smaller areas of land will continue. As long as demand doesn't rise on a continuous scale (and there is no reason to think it will once we get all regions in the planet on a 0 or negative moving population growth rate) farm sizes will reach optimal land apportionment for necessary demand at peak population in a given region and from then on *fall*. Just as it is doing in local parts of Europe and Asia today.

When gold "mines itself"

Finally, extraction of resources. Again, once the barons of industries that perform that tasks today have fattened their coffers, implementation of SHI like elements (robot miners, robot extraction trucks, diggers, robot processing plants of minerals, ore, sand...etc) will enable the businesses to run free of  the current corporate requirement of "make more money this quarter than last quarter" ironically the value of corporations to potential investors will *fall* over time as investors (people) increasingly pinch off to their own bubbles of self sufficiency by building their own SHI and tying in to the SHI being built by the local and wider government in which they are embedded. This will happen across all areas of society. Production sources like smelting plants for ore will also have tight correlation to demand and corporate profits derived from these businesses will become more or less constant and in so doing making that production commodity. Commodities today trade usually in a short range of pricing and over long periods of time earn their investors wealth through compounding...this future will see the return time frame stretch out into infinity as production will be tied (through automation) to demand closer than was ever before possible. The profit motive will dissolve as humans pinch completely out of the loop and the former owners of the business emancipate the production infrastructure (now all SHI enabled) completely to the needs of society.






Previous articles on SHI:




04 March, 2012

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 OUTSIDE of your physical self.

The answer to THAT question is obvious, NO. Because though you are self contained body and brain, your physical unit is embedded in a random soup of possible interactions with OTHER agents (and a more or less random environment bubble as well) where your physical unit has no way of predicting what it will interact with, what resources it will encounter and thus no way of pre- determining what it will chose across any aspect of the emergent cognitive landscape (MIND).

So the answer to why it has been so hard to answer is that there are scopes of observation to define what "free will" is, and the confusion over the different definitions of "free will" that apply scope of observation of "free will" from physical unit TO mind as opposed to from say brain physiological substrate to MIND is where all the confusion comes in. Different people arguing about different conceptions of "free will" but no realizing it.

So wit the definition I described above down, I say there is free will in that scope of observation....but as we bring the cone of observation closer to the mind free will seems to boil down to a finite if large set of "reactions" to a given stimuli that look like there isn't free will but that is only because the randomness of the external physical context is not being accounted for.

In the same way that just 4 base nucleotides can be combined in *infinite* lengths to produce variant proteins and enzymes...so to is this set of possible choice options for cognitive agents infinitely combined to produce unique "choice" interactions...and thus proving that "free will" (secondarily defined as the ability to select from an infinite set of possible choices chains) does exist.

Sam Harris is stuck in the brain, he's not adding in that "physical unit" scope to external environment and so from his perspective all he sees is that subset of "reactions" to stimuli but he misses that those reactions are continuously summable and each unit addition makes a new "choice" possibility, just as each new amino acid added to a protein chain makes it's fold and active site affinity *slightly* different and thus it's bonding activity different.

So, does "free will" exist? If you accept the wider scope view then yes...if you accept the finite subset of "reactions" view, no. It is obvious that we are indeed embedded in a environment of interaction with other individuals that is extremely large if not infinite but constantly changing, in that context then we have practical free will, as no interaction between ourselves and the external environment will ever be the same and our internal reaction to those external stimuli also dynamically varies, so I'll just go ahead and say "YES" with the aforementioned conditions in place.