February 01, 2005

Argentina, yes! ...tango! Maradona! Latin america... mmm... remember?

Are they -finally, sinceresly- looking to us? Did they remember that we exist?

I knew about Mr Negroponte´s interests and concern about emerging economies since long ago, it is the bunch of first class tech corporations following him what suprises me (gladly). Hope this turns out fine and has a true good impact in our world as a whole. But... I have two questions... banging me:

1) What will be the/our governments´ (in those targeted developing countries) response to this project. (Read: will they screw this up? as it is their habit to f** up every helping hand they are given with corrupt acts and other ashaming behavours?)

2) what about software? Will we have the chance to purchase a 100-bucks PC... but will we still need a 300-bucks software license to run it?

RED HERRING | The hundred-buck PC

MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte pushes a cheap PC for the rest of the world.
January 29, 2005

The founder and chairman of the MIT Media Lab wants to create a $100 portable computer for the developing world. Nicholas Negroponte, author of Being Digital and the Wiesner Professor of Media Technology at MIT, says he has obtained promises of support from a number of major companies, including Advanced Micro Devices, Google, Motorola, Samsung, and News Corp.

The low-cost computer will have a 14-inch color screen, AMD chips, and will run Linux software, Mr. Negroponte said during an interview Friday with Red Herring at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. AMD is separately working on a cheap desktop computer for emerging markets. It will be sold to governments for wide distribution.

Mr. Negroponte and his supporters are planning to create a company that would manufacture and market the new portable PCs, with MIT as one of the stakeholders. It is unclear precisely what role the other four companies will play, although Mr. Negroponte hopes News Corp. will help with satellite capacity.

An engineering prototype is nearly ready, with alpha units expected by year’s end and real production around 18 months from now, he said. The portable PCs will be shipped directly to education ministries, with China first on the list. Only orders of 1 million or more units will be accepted.

Mr. Negroponte’s idea is to develop educational software and have the portable personal computer replace textbooks in schools in much the same way that France’s Minitel videotext terminal, which was developed by France Telecom in the 1980s, became a substitute for phone books.

Mr. Negroponte has been interested in developing computing in the developing world for some time. He and his wife have funded three schools in rural Cambodia, helping outfit them with regular laptops and broadband connections.

Major companies from Hewlett-Packard to Microsoft to Dupont, facing saturated markets in the richest industrial countries, have shown an interest in developing less expensive products to sell in low-income countries in south Asia, Africa, and Latin America.


What do you think?

January 14, 2005

Brain SPA

Steve's post, Thank for the Memory, a recent discussion about easy access to documents on the Net and one of the traditional predictions for the New Year driven a special interestof mine to surface.

It would be nice to collect your opinions on the subject. First of all, read Steve's post. I think that what allowed the connexion of the two subjects was : The issue though, is not the amount of memory, but the need for massive and dynamic interconnect..

Now, a small historic of the elements that made me predict the building of what I named the Semantic Internet.
While following Steve Jobs keynote presenting Spotlight, a tool included in the next Mac OS X edition, Tiger. Spotlight's subtitle is "Find Anything, Anywhere Fast". I show applications for my job immediately, for building assistants based on this. What was a little bit tricky was the anywhere. I never considered my hard disk to be everywhere. What would be nice would be to really search everywhere, at least where shared resources are available.
In early 2003, with a few friends, we experimented the shared resources trough Apple's iDisks, a distant storage space, featuring a public space and password protected sections. That's a great way to share documents and each iDisk's index allow for fast searching, not as efficient as Spotlight should do, but good enough for us.
Some time after the presentation of Spotlight, Google announced the Google Desktop Search and I show Light ! ;-) What if...

  • The desktop search tool creates an index pointing to every available document, including those available in the "Shared documents" folder, then send to a central facility the subset concerning the shared ones.
  • Every index collected is compiled in a database conserving the accession data (probably a serial of the software rather then an IP, to be able to adjust to mobility),
  • then make this database available for searching via a simple interface, as Spotlight's or Google's

That means that a search would go through every available and shared document over the Net. Whaou!

Is that possible, interesting, economically sustainable, culturally acceptable and what would be the applications?

It seems so. Shared documents could be identified by DOIs [Digital Objects Identifiers] or something equivalent and tracked the same way as BitTorrent made usual.

Economically sustainable
As much as Google actually, as the same business model could apply, maybe combined with a "larger" Flickr-like service including sharing of every kind of document.
Computers are cheaper and cheaper, you can even get a Macintosh for $500 [o_O]
More and more people is connected via high-speed services, and stay connected permanently.
One point that is so obvious that it seems hidden, is that this is distributed computing! Each computer being charged with the creation of the index of the Shared Content, a task that would be to onerous to be carried out by a central facility.

culturally acceptable
As much as Lawrence Lessig describes it here, with people used to BitTorrent, Flickr, Common Content, Open Access, PLoS etc.
And Ideas would fly around as they actually do in blogs.

I skipped this one to put it near the applications. While dreaming about the way to use Spotlight I imagined a fully linked text application for "intelligent" reading of scientific papers, automatically linking every relevant document to keywords spotted by the reader and constituting an aliases collection within the document. Imagine yourself in front of a review paper tagged this way, intellectual heaven :-)
For the moment I use an Applescript that transforms the selected word to a Google Search :
or http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=keyword&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&btnG=Search. That could be made automatically for every document, and include pertinent Shared Documents.
What do you think of it ?

Now, the second level would be to consider what you can build with such a facility: feeds. Aggregated content following your thoughts. If you have the right keywords, you may be willing to get new material as is made available, either as a notification (via an RSS reader or an e-mail alert) or even by direct download to a specified folder, limiting to some files formats virus free [this isn't paranoia, just protection].
Then you may be willing to share your feeds with other people as you can do already with Bloglines, distributing collections of links to pertinent documents covering some topic on which you have expertise, including your stuff, maybe some kind of review of the domain. That is for loops :-)

There are two elements I would like to see added.
First, the possibility to add keywords and abstract describing the document itself; probably using something like RDF, to be accessible for machines. Second, the possibility, not obligation, to sign in when you use one of the shared documents, in order to start building a web of awareness and bonds between the users of the system, something like the FOAF but rather named UOYR : User Of Your Ressource, or something like that.
The Semantic Internet would be born.

Do you see the parallel with Jeff Hawkins' model of the human brain ?

Memories : documents
Meta-memories : RSS feed for DOI collections
Interconnexion : the Net, it was build for that after all
Loops : Feeds of Feeds of ...
my addition: Specialized Neural Centers : UOYR webs

Now, as I said elsewhere, if my guess is wrong and Google, Apple, Yahoo! or whoever else aren't heading this way, someone should start working on that. As soon as possible. A year is a short lapse of time and I would like to see my prediction being realized.

There is a final consequence I would like to present for discussion.
Most experts are connected people. And they could decide to include on their Shared Documents Folder some reviews on specific terms, the same way they would write an encyclopedia entry. And tag it with a special tag, say Interpedia [for Internet Encyclopedia].
That would be one kind of an encyclopedia I would like to have handy :-)

Please, comment abundantly. And somebody have to print that and stick it there. I would like to here from those people at Redwood. Steve say that is a fine place for a brain spa... I do need something like that.

copy posted at my main blog, but I don't expect much discussion there

December 30, 2004

Reach out, Touch faith

  • PhotoGroup that gathers help, aid and hands for the Tsunami disaster in Asia
  • Tsunami Aftermath from the flickr.com blog. It gathers many links to photos, information and group for help.
  • Tsunami Missing Persons group
  • SE Asia Tsunami help blog itself.
  • NEW http://thanks4supporting.us/tsunami.(your contributions of information welcome)

    I wanted to post here this image to finish the year with it as a reminder of what is happenning in the world right now, to help us reflect and put things in perspective. And also I wanted to post this to begin the new year with an image of will to help, will to love and will to support.

    My hand is small, I am home, far away, no money to donate... geez I am filled with helplessness. However, even in this situation there is something I can do: show my care about what is happenning, point other people where they can help, suppport with an image and my words... Spread the message, enlarge the chain.

    The spirit of this community is based in this simple principle: No matter how big or small you contribution is: We need you. The importance of each of our actions and interactions always impact the whole. The principle of synchronicity, of "at-one-ness"... the chain effect.

    Have a happy new year, wish you the best, whatever this means to each of you, and let us all pray and hope things to get better for our brothers in Asia.

  • December 09, 2004

    Morning Becomes Eclectic

    November 04, 2004



    "Ecstasy does not repeat its symbols; there are some who have seen God in a splendor, there are those who have perceived it in a sword or in the circles of a rose. I saw a high Wheel, that was not in front of my eyes, neither behind, nor beside, but everywhere at one time. That Wheel was made of water, but of fire as well, and it was (even though its border was visible) infinite. Interwoven, it was formed by all the things that will be, are and have been, and I was one of the fibers of the total weft and Pedro de Alvarado -who caused me pain-, was another one. There they were the causes and the effects and I only had to look at that Wheel to understand it all, endlessly."
    -Jorge Luis Borges [+]

    The image above was given to me by Epp (i take it as a true gift =) and I am SO thankful for that. I wanted to share it here -and I am sure that she will agree and be happy- because of its strong meaning. Images have that magic of making us realize and adopt instantly certain concepts that may take long time to explain in words.

    In these times I believe that we all have to have this image in our minds present. Today we -people of the world- cannot give our backs to the US people, neither judge them, nor close our eyes with indifference.

    We have to understand that we are all part of the same game. And that beyond apparences we all belong to the same Team. And we all want to win for the greater good.

    May you think that it is useless because the United States always shows apathy to other people´s of the world needs. First: I don´t think so, they are not conclusive any of all the evidences you could show me. Second: if this is actually the case (US don´t care about anything but themselves), shall we be examples and builders of another way of communicating with this fellow nation.

    Epp pointed out at Orkut (and I beg you that you post you comment here) brilliantly and wisely what she perceives is the reason why the United States citizens voted the way they did. Based upon her accurate words, US people are afraid. They are in panic. They are acting in fear. And that is not good. Beyond their president, we, also citizens of another countries, should open a bridge to the american brothers.

    And I am saying this when America Latina, my country included of course, will belong to the ALCA agreement to be sealed the next year. We will become (definitely) a modern fashion colony of the US. This is terrible. But it is also terrible all the things we south americans did and didn´t do that lead us here. Since the Monroe Doctrine "America for the Americans" in the 1900´s.

    This is the concept of interconnectedness. Cause and Effect. Let us all understand and assume our responsibility not only of our own acts but of the results of the acts of the whole. We are one.

    VERY Welcome are your comments, please. Tks.

    ps: interesting reading -post and comms-(tks Steve): Lead21 Blog: The moral argument of free trade

    November 02, 2004

    Freedom to vote or not to vote

    orkut - eclectic´s community - "Freedom" discussion

    A long discussion on the definition and meaning of freedom introduced and followed enthusiastically by a new member, Waleed, =) has been putting most of the active members to think and make a contribution about any of the aspects that a question about "freedom" can evoke. One of these subjects brought up to the table was the limits on freedom of speech which led us to freedom to voting, the right all citizens have.

    Since this is a subject of deep implications and right now because of US presidential elections is a global theme for commenting and discussing I thought of bring it here, to the blogosphere and make the discussion a public one.

    I will start quoting my last comment there:

    "Since we are all citizens of our countries.

    Since countries are built upon their citizens,

    Since citizens have a lot of rights and obligations but had never been trained, neither tested on how to manage those tools consciously and thinking about the greater good for the community...

    Since the administration of a country does not rely on the politicians charisma to convince the masses but on their skill and ability as technicians (as lawyers, engineers, staticians, mathematicians, social scientists, etc...)

    Since the country´s development, future, representation in front of the other countries, defense, improvement, etc, depends on these administration people for at least 4 years...

    Isn´t it crazy that someone who does not read and write can tell who could be appropriate to drive the course of its community? (analphabetism is just the first example that came to my mind)

    Isn´t it crazy that the same system that with equanimity with all its citizens the right to vote at the same time it gives them the right not to vote!? I mean: Or we all vote or we all don´t vote, but what is the half-way?

    Since we are citizens, again, and haven´t been trained on how to chose good leaders and administrator... and anyway we all vote as we "knew", based on bias, based on feelings, based on tarot, based on faces, TV, etc...

    Shouldn´t be a good idea that each voter before making it´s vote should have to pass a 5 minutes test? With little but important questions. A test like this, short and concise:

    "Dear citizen, before making your vote we need to know if you match a minimum criteria of knowledge and consciousness about this important act of yours which consequences will impact our whole community life for the next period of years. Please answer the following questions:

    1- What is our current president and vice names and which political side they represent.

    2- Which is the name of the chief of the parliament, what is his political view and what is the importance of its position in the political system.

    3- Name and definition of our political system.

    4- Whose political wing / party has more chairs in the parliament at this moment.

    5- The two candidates with more changes to win the election are?

    6- Which is the professional background of these two candidates (ie. lawyer, doctor, engineer, etc)

    7- What are you basing your vote on:
    * trust
    * candidate´s past performance in other charges
    * candidate´s way of winning TV debates
    * political party
    * other:

    8- Which has been the tendency of our economy in the past years:

    9- which are our country´s priorities in terms of Internal and External policies and affairs?

    10- Are your conscious that your vote will influence of our country´s destiny and your life for the next years?

    Thank you."

    And depending on preformatted answers it can be validated or rejected in less than a minute."

    I would really like to hear your opinions here on this matter. Adieu.

    October 05, 2004

    What are people interested in?....

    Do you sometimes wonder, where do people have their heads at?

    The Word Tracker Report is a well known and a must have resource for people who do business on the internet. Among their variety of servicies, they feature lists of the 200 or 300 top words searched in the internet within the last month or the last 24 hs et ceteras...

    They retrieve these data from the most important Metacrawlers (search engines that search inside the search engines to say it plainly).

    Each time I read the weekly newsletter... my Hope cries. Make your own conclusions....

    In order not to make this post too long, the first comment to it will include the list with the Adult Filter OFF, like Word Traker delivers it.

    October 02, 2004

    Racialized drugs

    Geneticist worked hard to prove that races didn't exist otherwise then a social behavior based on superficial phenotypic variations of minor importance.

    As the resolution of reading of the genome was increased, and data collected world-wide, geneticists worked hard to show individual reaction to medication, seeking for markers allowing evaluation of the efficiency of a treatment on individual cases.

    Naturally, following the rules of genetic transmission of a founding mutation, genotypes are clustered following families, clans, ethnic groups, whatever group limiting inter-groups-breeding on the basis of habits, culture, social or religious conventions etc.

    It was inevitable that the pharmaceutical companies would come to the conclusion that some treatments should be reserved, and tailored, to/for specific groups, based on specific genotypes, probably corresponding to ethic group. Just because people marry neighbors. The case appeared and somehow, once again, the racial problem popped up.

    It is obvious that sometime in the future, medication will be adapted to ones genotype and acquired phenotypic variations, in order to optimize treatments and avoid side-effects. Sometime, without any estimation is the best guest I could give. Several problems have to be solved before this will become a routine.
    Better knowledge of individual reactions and correlations with genetic markers is just the first step.
    Easy and affordable genotyping available to physicians will be the second one.
    Acceptation of the use of genotyping data in medical files will be a major obstacle to overcome as privacy should be protected and security warranties given.

    Troy Duster, in "Racial Medecine's Revival", talk about the ...the new mantra of biotechnology is to claim that someday soon pharmaceuticals will be marketed to individuals based on their DNA,[but] the fundamental truth is that selling drugs is still a mass-market business.
    And he is worried about racialized drugs, as [t]hey may be coming soon, accompanied by the retrograde racial thinking - with its full range of dangerous assumptions and historical associations - that molecular biology was supposed to have dispelled.

    Well, molecular biology do abolished racial thinking for those accepting to consider the evidence of genetic data. Anyway, molecular biologists aren't competent to tailor the public opinion as such. Some of them may be also interested by social issues and fight racial discrimination, but this isn't their job.

    I suppose that we are here in the presence of a stupid marketing movement. Considering in the first place the African American Community was the worst of things to do. It would be more wise to choose an neutral group, let's say the Greek Community. Greeks love to be special people, it would be in phase withe the Olympiad and nobody would suspect that this was a racial discrimination! And this would be profitable to the Greek Community, hopefully me included.
    Despite the fact that Greeks don't represent a large market target, it would be preferable to have an easy going proof of concept case, the shift from this paradigm to other genotype related groups.

    So, fellows molecular biologists, quickly choose any affection specific to Greeks and please take care of it. This may somehow easy (one may hope) the reactions of the African American Community and be of great help for us Greeks who haven't be able to drown your attention in the first place.
    An other suggestion, probably more reassuring for the African American Community, is to work on drugs against melanomas induced by UVs on the absence of pigmentation. This wasn't my first suggestion because I fear that there will be some sociology professor who will claim that "trying to destroy melanocytes is an attempt to the dignity of melanin-rich people".

    And you, fellows Eclectic Thinkers, what are you think about it?

    September 29, 2004


    PsychoKinesis is the ability to influence physical experiments with your mind. e. g. You choose head or tail, then I toss a coin and you influence the coin to give what you choosed. RetroPsychoKinesis is the same thing, but backwards in time. e. g. I toss a coin and hold it in my hand, then I ask you to choose and you influence the coin IN THE PAST.

    There is a project to study it and find if it exists and the people who possess this ability. Apparently I don't, but let's everyone here try and, if someone here has it, we could buy some lottery tickets. What do you say?

    September 27, 2004

    Funny one [?|!]

    I was "working" a path through our recent discussions about AIs, levels of information and co-evolution and I encountered and interesting landscape.

    As we know them, supports of Artificial pre-intelligent hardware/software assemblies are made in such a way it is quite easy to dump them, clone them in fact.
    Even for my laptop, a monthly full backup and daily partial ones, warranty that I could be able to resurrect it in the case of a major drawback. The most essential information is duplicated at a distant disk as soon as I connect to the Net.

    AIs will benefit from this not only for immortality (as long as backups will be available) but also being able to mix individual experiences, the very same way smart synchronization is made between two directories/folders; copying elements from/to the two of them, in order to get two identical sets at the end of the process. Something like "living the same as the other one" in an accelerated rhythm. Accumulate experience, learn, by connecting and exchanging information. Ultra-fast and accurate studying.

    If AIs already have an advantage over NIs, this might be the one that will make the difference. It tends to make the individual ubiquitous, at least for observation and data gathering, omniscient, as it can share methods of info treatment with specialized fellows, and as omnipotent as possible if it agglomerates the collaboration of others to achieve a goal.

    Can you imagine the power of the process?
    The first example that I though of is a scientific gathering where during the registration process, the evening before the opening of the meeting, everybody shares the entire data set (and methods of analysis, results, observations and conclusions) with everybody else, before starting any critical analyses.
    Of course this is a ridiculous example, as continuous connection through a Net is the best solution, the same way we exchange over Internet. A permanent scientific gathering.

    The schema is in use in scientific circles already, but very slow and somehow hindered by NIs egos and vanity, determining a degree of resistance when it comes to acknowledge the work of colleagues as superior of his own.

    Would that be different for AIs? If yes, then we will be History as soon as AIs will appear.
    On the other hand, we are already following this path, using tools to increase our capacity of info gathering and treatment. It might be that we slowly transform ourselves to AIs :-)
    I am unable to calculate a Pearson coefficient by mind, but I do use more then a million of such calculations every week, seeking correlations. I always felt that this makes of me a kind of Borg. The same way you are one, reading on your screen what I wrote some time ago on one of Blogger's Hard-Drives.

    September 19, 2004

    Co-evolution - Cooperation Not Competition

    I thought it might be important to address the issue of cooperation vs. competition in a new post, rather than continue it in the limited consciousness post. There I brought up the importance of realizing that evolution and all the "living systems" (micro to macro) with which we are intricatly connected and participate with has been dependent on processes of cooperation as opposed to competition.

    Ideasware responded with general agreement but also pointed out that: "Against violence one MAY be forced to compete, or be overcome (i.e. die)... it depends on how the competitor responds. But surely, this is exemplified in all the same cooperative contexts you would cite. Viruses, bullies, companies, nations, terrorists..."

    Well, here is my response to what Ideasware said. Yes, in the context of the present moment, we are sometimes forced to react protectively in a way that is competitive. Even the Dalai Lama said (and I am paraphrasing from a limited memory) that when confronted with a crazed dog, we have to use common sense ... we DO have to respond in a self-protective way that will preserve ourselves or damage to life will result. Indeed, in an operating room, if someone has just gone through surgery for a life threatening health condition and a post-operative infection sets in - it is essential to use antibiotics to try to save this person's life. The same goes for dealing with bullies - although ideally it is best if we think of a quick way to outwit the bully, as opposed to going on their level and defending ourselves by way of violent retaliation. (Another way of dealing with a bully is to have preventative training in Tai Chi, a non-violent form of martial arts which makes the person being attacked "slippery" like soap so that the attacker's force has no impact and where the momentum of the attack ends up affecting the attacker not the attackee - in that the attacker end up moving past the target and experiencing the impact themselves by way of smashing against a wall or on the ground. The attacker expends their energy futilely - becomes out of balance and exhausted - while the Tai Chi "artist" walks away unhurt and with no major energy expenditure.)

    Anyhow, when it is an issue of having to deal with an emergency situation in the present moment, quick "competitive" responses can be essential to survival. This involves perception of the situation from the particle perspective - a focus on the now where at issue is danger to the particle formation as it exists in that moment.

    Yet in planning for improvement in the long run - how to deal with viruses, bullies, companies, nations, terrorists - a different perspective is required that involves foresight and understanding of developmental/evolutionary processes. For example scientists studying the evolutionary processes of bacteria point out the fact that "harmful" bacteria cannot be overcome indefinitely with antibiotics. The bacteria mutate and become resistant to these drugs. The same scenario is experienced in relation to agricultural pests and the use of pesticides. Drug and agrichemical industry are finding it increasingly more difficult to come up with antidotes to these "pest" problems without harming the life that they are supposed to protect.

    A few of the above mentioned scientists (studying evolutionary processes of single- celled organisms), are exploring the "new" possibility of finding ways to live with these pests as opposed to being in a continuous process of waging war. One way is by way of examining genetic adaptation. For example many people of african descent are prone to a condition called sickle cell anemia - interestingly people with this disorder are immune to diseases such as malaria. The people with sickle cell anemia are examples of genetic adaption (by way of the survival of people with certain genetic traits) which enables them to coexist safely with malaria. Also studies have been done on what I believe was people with the HIV virus - the question was why some people continue to live healthy lives while others get full blown AIDS. Turns out that (if I remember correctly) the ones who are not affected by the virus are decendants of those people who survived the black plague. So the ability to coexist can be attributed to certain genetic traits and/or genetic mutations that have resulted from contact with organisms that were previously perceived as a threat.

    The point here is that while there have been tremendous costs to humans who have lost their lives while "hardier" genetic pools have survived, we are now learning that the ability to coexist with a traditionally harmful "pest" depends on the establishment of a certain kind of genetic compatibility and, in some cases, also the ability for the immune system to recognize a traditionally perceived "foe" as a "friend". In finding solutions to these types of pest-related problems it seems that both experience and foresight are necessary to come to new and innovative ways to solve the problem. Societal tendencies to view things from the point of view of fighting - which is very apparent in our use of language (combatting this disease, fighting cancer, etc.) - tends to create a bias against other forms of problem solving.

    It is important to recognize that our lives are sustained by a complex web of life functioning by way of symbiotic interconnectedness. Seeking to fight and/or exterminate certain elements of it can throw things off balance in unforeseeable ways, especially when we act without caution and foresight. From this context of life, it is important to help bullies to reintegrate with society and discover there a sense of belonging - they are part of our society. If we do not deal with them appropriately, we end up facilitating the evolution of mutated and resistant versions of bullies who, like it or not, are still part of our society.

    In order to establish networks of support, companies need to discover win-win relationships with their environment, their clients, their employees, their shareholders, with their "competitors" (yes it is better to find your own niche and having "might-have-been-competitors" to refer their clients to you in order to strengthen their own ties with them - than to compete against another). Otherwise businesses find themselves fighting tooth and nail so as not to be "eaten by the bigger fish" - which leads to an unfortunate amount of expenditure of energy and finances (entropy) and a precarious existance in the market place. Applying this "pattern" of "co-evolutionary problemsolving to the difficulties experienced between nations and in respect to terrorism (mutated bullies?) can help us overcome traditionally unsolvable problems. It might take time, but it is better than actions that take place without thought for the future.

    I have to stop here, as a dog is begging to go for a walk and children are shouting for breakfast. I think I have said enough here to invite participation by other in this group. What are your thoughts and ideas in this regard?

    September 12, 2004

    The Universe, levels of information (and us)

    Little something relating to friendly AIs thread, but on others too so I thought I'll make a new thread for it.

    Axiom 1: The universe can be seen as information. The amount of information, the fineness of it, has been increasing since the beginning. While we can not say anything definite on the reason of this, we could postulate that the Universe wants to evolve.

    Axiom 2: New levels of finer information need previous levels to build upon.

    Axiom 3: Newer levels refine information faster than the old ones.

    I'll explain first a bit how I came to these.

    Big Bang. First there is minimal information: matter and anti-matter.
    After some time particles start forming, so we have more distinctive entities => more information
    Bit later we have atoms, electrons spinning around protons, which already is hell of a lot more information.
    Atoms get together as stars, get old and explode spreading heavier elements around, until theres enough of them for planets.

    This is would call the first level: the material level. It took a good couple billion of years for the Universe to evolve to this level. Very slow indeed, but the good thing with this slow approach is that the information is fairly durable: if you have information in the form of a planet, you have that information there for a very long time.

    The first level is needed for the second: life. You can't have a good life without any material... and a reasonably peaceful planet within a pleasant distance from a nice and cool star. The basic approach with life-information is completely different to material-information. Where the latter is durable but slow, life is very fast but of very short duration. The solution to that problem is that life carries information from one generation to another, thus information is not lost when the carrier of it decays.

    Life has been quite slow too in refining information: from the first one cell creatures to anything even crawling took hundreds of millions of years (or billions, a bloody long time nevertheless).

    Some ten thousand years ago the third level appeared: technology. It can evolve incredibly much faster than life, but can not exist without life - the third level needs the second as a base.

    Or does it? Could technology survive on level one - material - alone, without the life level in between? Can you imagine a machine operating on atomic level? And a network of these machines, the network also operating on the atomic level? And machines that eventually do not need any specifically ordered atoms, but can process information on any matter? Every grain of sand being a node in the planet wide cluster computer? I can imagine that.

    What do you think? Is such cluster possible, and if so when? And where to after that? And if/when such technology comes to existence, how will it relate itself to (unnecessary) life? Will it save us from the ecological catastrophe or will it just look by as life ceases to exist on earth?

    Limited Conciousness

    I resemble Bill´s topic title on Limited Imagination because this question arouse in my head while reading attentively what you are saying at that thread.

    The question is: What if the constitution of our intelligence / mind / conciousness -what we use to learn, think, feel, remember and create, the SOFTWARE that runs the Brain, but at the same time is built by it with adjustment, expandings, prunning, etc... What if the "self" of it, by definition, will never allow us to understand it?

    Is clear the question? What if the mind, on order to be what it is entirely, makes its true full constitution unreachable to our conciousness? I just wonder...

    September 09, 2004

    Friendly AIs

    Steve ask the question "Can friendly AI evolve?".

    I would like to comment on that, lengthly, so I decided to set a topic here, as he is around and this seems to be an Eclectic Thinkers topic.

    First of all, the "us vs them " attitude is somehow overdone. There are people willing to create AIs with build-in evolution potential allowing even for confrontation with NIs (for Natural Intelligences). Else, the discussion would be inexistent. The segmentation between NI and AI is done essentially to give credit to the parents of AIs, in a world where technological achievements are mostly made for glory and/or money. At least for power.
    So, let's keep in mind that there may be a secondary segmentation between NIs, a minority pro-AIs, those driven by Asimov's Frankenstein syndrome, afraid from machines, and all the others who haven't' even take time to think about it.

    Self-preservation is build even in simple, non-intelligent systems, and this is due to human willing to preserve their realizations. Back-up (clone, mirror, whatever) is essential so one wouldn't have to re-iterate the same work a second time. I am sometimes puzzled from people who don't do that. I always considered this as being one of the first elements to build in any application. Thus it seems obvious that AIs will/should be self preserving.

    This doesn't mean that they will have to compete with NIs.
    If you are an IBM engineer we may be willing to see Deepest Blue win a chess tournament against a human Chess Master. That doesn't mean that Deepest Blue wanted to win the game. But then DB isn't intelligent either.
    Competitions present at least two aspects: I am better then you and I own more then you. Both may be present in a single competition, say with a great material prize to win for the best competitor.
    In a any case, power is what the best gain. Either directly as money to spend to control their environment, or indirectly, as they can influence the very same environment using their fame.
    Do the NIs and AIs have to share the same environment? If yes, there will be some competition. Even if obviously there isn't any need to share a parcel, the power gained by the others will drive competition. The Google vs Microsoft vs Yahoo! situation is an example. Competition between Yahoo! and Google seems natural, as they share the same space. The entry of Microsoft in the domain is driven essentially by the will to preserve influence over internautes and don't let new actors gain enough power and be able to drive the public opinion, thus ensuring that the public opinion will be favorable to Microsoft.

    Being selfish or selfless is a quite simple or complicated matter.
    If you do have clearly defined goals and introduced your self-value it is easy to see if you should act egoistically or altruistically, depending of the overall gain. I would accept to die instantly if I had the assurance that every single HIV virions would disappear and don't be replaced by something worse.
    I suppose that AIs would be at least during the first times simpler and thus more efficient then the actual NIs. Thus more selfless, understanding more clearly the need for personal sacrifice to improve the species survival.
    As a matter of fact, most of the selfish attitudes inscribed in a social behavior tends to be based on the idea that the self-value is important for the community (which is not necessarily truth). I recently named this behavior the "Neo complex": I am the One, even if it isn't clear even for me how I will manage to save the World. Let ME see were the white rabbit goes...
    I suspect that AIs will be able to develop such attitudes :-)

    Now, let me know what do you think about those matters dear NI-fellows.

    September 06, 2004

    the quotebox

    Very simple to understand what I mean to do opening this topic.

    I consider myself a quotaholic. Almost Fetiche that of saying something with other person´s words just for the pleasure of using quotation marks. It feels better to the eye, and sounds better too. So I bookmark and archive quotes everywhere. Frustration goes hand in hand with achievement... Certainly, I have tons of quotes but not tons of situations to use them. Therefore I open this space.

    Feel free to post those brilliant things dropped from you, too. No modesty, pliz.


    stupidity vs evil


    This link: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity that Bill posted at Orkut in the "Life, definition" discussion, I have found it very interesting and a trigger of a common place in my conversation with friends. Generally, when a proper talk give space to it, I ask the following question:

  • "What do you prefer? Damage caused by stupid or evil people?(on you, close people or things, or just in general)

  • To clarify the question I will take the definition of the Third Law of Stupidity that the link above states:

  • "A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses. "

  • And I add: A evil person causes losses (in this category it is all implied with loose, pain, damage, harm, illness, etc) looking for some sort of gain, whether he finally can achieve it.

    H: harmfull, I: intelligent, S: stupid, B: bandit (evil)

    I would like to know what do you think. I deeply recommend that you read the link. After some posts I will tell you what are the answers I generally get from my question. In all cases, it always sparked interesting discussions.... let´s see what happens in this neck of the woods.

    September 05, 2004


    DNA testing made it easy to discover paternity in cases there is doubts.
    But there is a case where biotech is of no help and I would like to collect your opinions. Mine is already made, but new arguments could change it. So :

    Author MC describe in one of his books a character named MRS, inspired by a real lady, MFT.
    A few years later, MFT drops her real name and plan to publish a new book (her third one) using the MRS pseudonym!
    This is an excellent marketing movement, as MC is a much more popular author then MFT. But is it legal and/or moral?

    Let's leave the legal part to lawyers, they will have an interesting case there.
    What are your opinions from the moral point of view.

    More details, with the names in extenso for Multiply subscribers

    September 04, 2004

    eclectic thinkers goes public ;-)

    Welcome to the ET weblog. We´ve finally made it and "gone public". We are happy. =)

    EclecticT shares are given for ideas. Speak up, share your thoughts and get your stocks.

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    La femme

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    scary uh? ;-)