Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Class of 2007

In the school year 2006-2007, I gave my students a test. Their task was to recreate a black and white portrait that I had cut into squares and rearranged. They had to draw each square individually, not knowing what the complete portrait looked like until they drew all the squares.

I offered extra credit to anyone who could name the person in their portrait.

One student wrote: Ted Kaczynski.

The other 79 students wrote the following:

Wierd Al Yankovick
Micheal Jackson
The Ghost from Scream
An Alien
Bruce Springsteen
OJ Simpson
Howard Stern

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Network Address

A note to the reader, or to those at least who are looking to understand this.

The tag “Mass Transference Device” is a reference to a book, still being written, by the same title. Log entries tagged with this name are excerpts from the book. It is, or seems to be, understood by the author, that all of these things, excerpts and entries alike, are stand-alone, and can thus be understood in either context, those being that of the book itself, or that of a single entry, a single point or idea.

The relationship between log entry and book excerpt (entry as individual, stand-alone; and excerpt as part of a whole, part of a larger idea) is one yet to be fully understood by the author, and so, if any confusion as to the lineage of causation emerges, it is being noted here at least some basic explanation. But, as from confusion emerges clarity, so from clarity contradiction. We end up only facing once again, confusion.

One of the overall purposes, it seems, of this all, both the book and the log entries, is to facilitate the development of a resistance to sustained confusion, thus yielding…something…

Comments are welcome.

Artificial Projection

Geese don’t try to find a placid lake to spend the afternoon in. They are just following instructions, from the conscious-human perspective. Animals don’t try to do anything. Our tendency to project consciousness into animals reveals this basic understanding of evolution: Animals are a direct result of genetic activity, genes, in themselves being pulled forward by some force. They give some instructions that the animal “unknowingly” executes. But alas, they cannot know, and thus, their execution of genetic operations is a complete subservience to the will of their genes (although even ‘submission’ implies conscious activity). There is a subtle distinction in perspective offered here. Are animals slaves to their genes, evolving eventually to liberate themselves?

Consciousness, of course, is this liberation. But then we must ask, referring to the same relationship between animals and their genes: What “mindless” operations do we undertake? We are conscious, intercepting genetic fulfillment, yet we may be performing under the illusion of self-control. Will we, if we will still be able to call us that, will we look back on us now and see the absolute subservience to evolution once again, in this new phase, now under the soft-formed authority, the chaotic maelstrom of memetics and artificial selection?

And so, as the goose glides in to settle down for a warm autumn day on the water, are we in the same way going forth into the world, our world, the mindspace, with the same absolute fidelity to instructions whittled down by the sands of time, albeit a time of post-biological magnitude. Is this mindspace not a wild frontier that we have yet to fully explore? Is not our world, the one that sits atop the ‘wild’, not just as wild? As those sands of time become a shower of meteors, carving out a place on this earth, who will we become, and where will that be?

and then there's this:
This Aeon article is a must read for anyone interested in just about anything:
When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?
-Ross Anderson, Aeon Magazine, 2013

Prompted by a recent article in Aeon Magazine warning of the threat posed by advanced artificial intelligence, Kristin Centorcelli of SF Signal put together an impressive panel of renowned science fiction authors to get their opinions on the subject.
Mind Meld: The Future of Humans and AI
Kristin Centorcelli, SF Signal Fanzine, April 10th, 2013 http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/04/mind-meld-the-future-of-humans-and-ai/

-via io9

Some notes on Steven Pinker's Words and Rules

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fortunately or Unfortunately

It has been decided.

The recent increase in the use of the words ‘fortunately’ and ‘unfortunately’ signals a shift in the collective paradigm. In using this new relationship between the diametrically opposed terms as a way of describing an event, there is a distinction between chance and causation. When a certain outcome or mode of behavior or operation is categorized as ‘fortunate’, it denies causation and, hence, renders the operation incapable of being rationalized.

To refer to anything as fortunate renders the logical human mind powerless to analyze it, manipulate it, predict its outcome, or prevent its onset. It exists entirely in another realm as a function of randomness.

So, in the current collective paradigm, instead of referring to something as a problem that can be solved, it is instead a phenomenon, the true nature of which we can not understand by way of the rational mind.

When certain political or social issues are not recognized as a problem, then there is no fault, and there is no need for direct action. Surely, this seems like a most unfortunate context in which to address major issues of our time. However, fortune, by its illogical nature, removes the moral compass, the universal right-and-wrong. And in this vacancy, perhaps, there is room for a recalibrating of that compass. All of the sudden, the fortune now becomes ours for the taking, for those of us who wish to see it in this way.

[note a contemporary article relating to this subject]
Candidates for "Genius" tech support staff undergo more training in facilities world-wide, then are certified and regularly tested on their skills. Training extends even to language. Former Geniuses say they were told to say "as it turns out" rather than "unfortunately" to sound less negative when they are unable to solve a tech problem. People familiar with the matter say Genius appointments are often triple booked, so they are always swamped.

Secrets From Apple's Genius Bar: Full Loyalty, No Negativity