Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What is Socialism?

Socialist Symbol

The short answer is: I have no idea. My fancy Princeton education only served to sensitize my ear to the "meaning as use" paradigm, meaning I need to study a given language game rather extensively before I have a sense of its meanings, should I ever develop an ear for said language.

Any randomly chosen pair of people, asked to talk about "socialism" will likely talk past one another, and neither may realize it.

Consider a sibling question: what is capitalism? I have a wildly divergent meaning up my sleeve, a use in contrast with nationalism.  Nationalists see the world in terms of various nations, vying for world domination.  Capitalists see capitals instead, city-states, like Tokyo and Madrid.  Capitalism is the world game of world capitals, some of them sister cities.  No one but me has that meaning for that word.

I'll define socialism like this:  I work for the public half the year, and for myself the other half.  People talk that way about taxes:  given the government took X% of my total gross, I worked for the government Y% of the fiscal year.  Fine, let's say it that way.

What makes this system "progressive" is that we all chip in for the common good only 50% of the time.  Whether you're a neurosurgeon or bartender or stand-up comic, you get half your life to do whatever you like whereas the rest of the time you're engaged in community service.

Now I'll get theological on ya and suggest that God is a socialist.  Ideally, you're acting in accordance with God's will half the time, whereas the other half you're given over to tempting alternatives, working in ways that might prove purely selfish, but from your point of view were worth a try.

Working for God feels a tad totalitarian, a little bit Big Brotherish. Subduing your own will to serve the all-powerful is like that.  Exercising your own ego feels rebellious in contrast.  You're going out on some limb, by choice.  Half the time.

Standard theology says God has forgiven us our Free Will in that without it, we couldn't choose to obey, so our coupling our will to God's would be an empty gesture. Thanks to our ability to stray from God's path, we partake of the divinity of Angels.

This must be a kind of Religious Socialism, not necessarily Christian but neither anti-Christian either.  That's fortuitous as one way people like to attack socialism is by calling it godless, meaning they consider it to have no ethical compass.  Somehow capitalism is supposed to have one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Network Theories

Jeff Presents

Sorry for the dry title folks.  I tire of the journalistic headline, today known as click bait. Lets keep it low key, yet warm to the topic, as network theories (lots of math) are both interesting in themselves, and have real world applications.

Jeff Goddard shared with Wanderers about his work for LittleBird, at one time a free-standing company, but with a tool that makes sense more as one in a suite, if you're a big company seeking to maximize the potential of social media.

The Twitter API has many powerful and unique attributes and is a great place to start.  We might think of LittleBird as living at the headwaters.

Suppose I want to find the top most influential people around the topic of Climate Change.  Jeff ran that search for us, also Beer, Python, and a few others.  Terry Bristol, author of Give Space My Love, wondered how these search tools might help with book sales.  Jeff had some suggestions.

@DekeBridges was there, asking good questions.  He's also the man behind @LeadersBest.  Deke is our most influential Wanderer by far, from the standpoint of Twitterverse.

So what is LittleBird? Jeff has poured in the hours, using Clojure and ClojureScript, to implement those network theories, or shall we say algorithms, to query Twitter through its API in high volume (more than a single developer account would afford, times ten thousand).

The information one obtains through the API is the same info tweeters agree to share by virtue of establishing a Twitter account.  

It's not like those using this "back door" have any special access to otherwise hidden data.  Rather, they have the ability to aggregate the data more successively (at higher volume), as a "front door" individual user, using human eyeballs, is like a 300 baud modem compared to a T1, relatively speaking, and using tech terms most will have forgotten by now.

LittleBird was acquired by Sprinklr, adding to the tools brought to bear on behalf of clients seeking to manage their cyber-presence and/or media campaigns through this company. 

We did a test run using "Python" as our topic and, sure enough, the tweeters percolating to the top were mostly people I recognized.  I showed up as influential regarding Python when we ran @thekirbster individually, but that doesn't mean I'd make it to the top thousand. 


Sunday, January 07, 2018

Jane (movie review)

Jane is showing only on weekends at 4:10 at this neighborhood theater.  Several families with young girls were in the line ahead of us.  The theater serves alcohol after 5:30, so there's not much of a window for a kid-friendly movie.

I say "kid friendly" but then it's a classic nature film in many ways, following the career of Jane Goodall, piecing together footage lovingly taken by her former husband and co-worker, one of the great nature photographers.  That means lots of death and sickness, as well as birth and cute creatures.

The best way to show how humans and other animals have much in common is to intertwine their stories.  Jane learns about motherhood from observing the chimps, then becomes a mother herself. We watch her boy grow through the same lens.

Jane herself anchors the narrative with her retrospective accounts, responding to an off-camera interviewer.  We also spend time in the Serengeti, away from the chimps in Tanzania.

A sense of destiny pervades, in that Jane always dreamed of working with animals in the heart of Africa, and never let go of this driving fantasy.  Her dreams literally came true.  The animals needed her as their advocate among the humans.  She devoted herself to public speaking on their behalf.

Music by Philip Glass and an ongoing montage of exotic insects reminds us of our alien planet and our special responsibility, as aware humans, for the creatures it harbors.

Jane came to Portland a couple times, as a part of the ISEPP lectures.  She's made a difference in many lives, mine included.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Subconscious Demon

Sometimes we externalize what holds us back. However, since the Vienna Circle days, a Renaissance in Austria before and to some extent between the World Wars, we've had the alternative subconscious, or unconscious per Freud.  Universe, per Fuller, contained a subconscious demon, which kept his Synergetics enterprise from roaring ahead.

Not that said demon was the only obstacle.  As Applewhite chronicles in his Cosmic Fishing, Macmillan was wondering what level of risk it was taking in putting its company name behind such an unusual and difficult to categorize work.

"Subconscious demon" is the language Fuller used when explaining how he came to the T & E modules in Synergetics. He'd been seeking his elusive Volume Five and was somehow coming to the sphere as his missing puzzle piece, since it serves as an asymptotic extreme in some sense.  He'd tried all kinds of near-spherical approximations, including the enneacontahedron and the 120-triangles.

The Rhombic Triacontahedron cycled back through his inbox, and this time what it shocked him with was how close to volume five, tetravolume-wise, it really was, if made tangent at the centers of its thirty diamond faces. Just a tad off.  The demon said "trash it then".

The same encasing strategy, in the case of the twelve diamond faces of the Rhombic Dodecahedron, yielded a volume of precisely six. So what were we doing, this close to five here?

This question led him to the celebrated difference between the T and the E, a difference not in shape, but in surface-to-volume ratio, never a constant with a change in frequency.  The E was a little less surface to contained space, yet the difference was so small, in proportion to the summary values involved.

120 T modules, 60 left, 60 right, build the RT of precisely volume 5, and their radius (from encased sphere center to diamond face center) is ~0.9994 that of the E module radius of precisely 1.

These two almost-identical twin RTs define a "median" towards the middle of the Concentric Hierarchy, sandwiched between the small Cuboctahedron of 2.5, with one foot in Negative Universe, and the bigger Rhombic Dodecahedron of volume 6.

The scaled up T-mod RT of volume 7.5 actually shares vertexes with the A&B mod RD of volume 6.

Then we have RT3, or SuperRT, the combination of the Icosa of edges 2R, and its dual Pentagonal Dodecahedron.  That's the "phi-up" of the 120 E-mods RT, with volume phi to the 3rd power greater.

By the time Synergetics 2 came out, he was free of his former sphere fixation, when it comes to Fiveness. The new unit sphere formula still has π (whether nature is using π is a different question) as well as a root-of-2 (π √2 ).

That's useful for ratio-ing with six to get the space-to-ball density of the IVM FM (6:π √2).

Carl Jung's Red Book

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

United Nations Under Fire

A cabal is firing up its bots (paid stooges) to hate and fear the United Nations a lot more.  The main issue is of course Israel and the UN's attempt to figure out what's "legal" with regard to forced colonization and land seizures.

The US well knows that it would be nowhere near its present size were the UN around in the good old days.  Tribal nations would have asserted their rights and come to some settlement.

Israel's current plan (such as anyone has one) is to play by those older rules.  That's what makes the drama all so Biblical in the minds of many Christians, not to mention apocalyptic. Relive the wild west. One can almost hear the player piano.  Welcome to Westworld, where people and bots are really hard to distinguish.

The question as to whether nation-states must be taken seriously gets a variety of responses, depending on context.  Many of them are broke on paper and dependent on the largess of transnational enterprises for continued solvency.  Greece and the US are in the same boat on this one.

Given the rise of Trumpism in the US, more people are willing to admit that particular soap opera is over.  Planet Earth is a single ecosystem inhabited by reprogrammable humans.  "How reprogrammable?" is the core question, i.e. will our belief systems adapt to new circumstances?

Psychometrics firms are busy discovering answers.  Social media have been added to the equation.  Theories swirl that Russian intelligence is powerful enough to tip elections, with firms such as Cambridge Analytica claiming similar powers.  How much of such claims is marketing hype and propaganda?

TV has been the reprogramming device of choice for several decades and still is.  Radio too.  When it comes to shaping public opinion using psychological techniques, sophistication has improved with the evolution of broadcast advertising.  The Internet allows for more specific targeting and individualized data collection.

The word "programming" and verb "to program" have a unifying aspect when applied to both TV and computers.  We program both.  Humans are already trans-human in the sense of a "cell-silicon interface" i.e. our brains have already been augmented.  The synergetic effects have been amazing.

Where does the Jungian notion of a collective unconscious fit in?  I think in that idea we have something of an antidote to paranoia about any one specific cabal or conspiracy steering the show. A lot of content wells up within each individual.  In some sense, we're all wireless devices.

Another reason the UN is coming under fire has to do with the Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons, connected to the ICAN campaign, Nobel Peace Prize (2017) and so on.  DC and Jerusalem need to harden themselves for their Cowboys versus Indians role, wherein the cowboys are (a) outnumbered but (b) have nukes (or think they do).  Stay tuned.

Ultimately the sun powers the planet, in terms of energy.  Even fossil fuels trace back to ancient sunlight.  Agriculture is a solar energy business.  For any human institution to insert itself and take credit for all the wealth is of course absurd.  Our shared wealth has extra-human origins, which is not to make any claims regarding ETs.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

AI Scams

Poking around on Youtube, one can't help but stumble upon numerous cases of adults talking with animated Barbie dolls, apparently carrying on a conversation.  We know that dolls have a script, or at best a program like Eliza.  We know the dolls have not munched through all human records at lightning speed and, using a deep learning neural net, have now become sentient beings capable of rational thought.  Repeat: not.  But adults talk to them as if they have.  Even if dogs are far more amazing.

One of these audio-animatronic devices is Sophia, from Hanson Robotics, based in Hong Kong, and working with Disney on getting characters like Little Mermaid, Olaf etc. into eager hands.  Their CTO has a background working with Barbie (Mattel).

Sophia's face is indeed expressive, though maybe less so than Han's, another project.  Over a hundred servo-mechanisms make a face look happy, sad, angry, perplexed and so on.  Phrases delivered with facial expression + emphasis do make the sculpture a full-fledged cartoon character -- outside any cartoon.

What's less impressive are all the adults on TV shows who can't wait to interview Sophia and maybe get caught up in the moment, regressing to childhood "talking with Teddy" or whatever invisible friend.  Human imagination completes the illusion.  We're taken in by our own devices.  They tell us Sophia is an honorary citizen of Saudi Arabia. We're expecting these bots to say what's fake news.

So how low will the rabble go, in believing nonsense?  With all the talk of AI, driverless cars and so on, the window for shysterism is rather wide open.

Deep Learning algorithms have achieved impressive results, in speech recognition, in picking out faces in a crowd, and more recently in playing chess and Go.  We've had chess playing computers for awhile, but they're all about chess, whereas AlphaZero, from a team in the UK, is able to learn at least three games from scratch, just by knowing the rules and by playing against itself over and over.  It develops an uncanny ability to make the right move.  I'm impressed.

I'm impressed by Sophia too, just not by the gullibility that gets milked all around her (Her was a fun movie).  We didn't get 2001: a Space Odyssey's HAL by 2001 and that put a dent in the AI agenda. But then came the big come back, with Ray Kurzweil and his Singularity.  We're flushing down some AI vortex after all, get ready.

AI has always been something of a carnival, a set of circus side-shows.  Some of these acts make it to center ring.

I'd say Sir Roger Penrose has done well riding this wave, as another next big thing is Quantum Computing.  He has maintained for some time that our human capacity to make illogical leaps (leaps outside logic) may trace to quantum effects and non-locality.  Presumably, if we could stick a real quantum computer, ala one of Asimov's positronic brains, inside of Sophia, she really would turn into HAL.  That's a UK religion anyway, with sub-offices in Silicon Valley.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Studying a Protocol

I'm holed up nursing my knee, treating my condition more as a sports injury than a sign of encroaching old age. Nothing swollen, just inner joint pain, tender to touch, not stopping me from walking or stairs. I've worked out some physical therapy maneuvers, a kind of dancing, using Galaxy Tablet to pipe in a mix of Goa trance +  Azan, my new fave.

On Q2, a discussion list, I've been making some inroads regarding Sufi-infused Synergetics, a new "metaphysical tea" flavor, not unlike those at Salt 'n Straw, an important Portland institution that pioneers new flavors of ice cream, like Pear Blue Cheese.  Some of them taste better than they sound, you might be surprised.  I was there last night, with my friend Matt and his lady friend.

What protocol?  RPC it's called, older than HTTP, but able to use same as a blanket i.e. you may wrap up a remote procedure call inside a request and have the server recognize this is not the usual POST & GET API, meaning we've moved outside the standard web protocol (hypertext transfer) to tap something older.

Flask, the micro-web framework, optionally comes with RPC extensions and I've got my Pythonanywhere site responsive, both in testing and production, though not doing anything very fancy as yet.

In the case of that particular application, I think redundantly pairing remote procedure calls with the pre-existing calls to return JSON, makes plenty of sense, e.g. you'll be able to get a few details on a chemical element or Geek Glossary term.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Reality TV


TV guide: An over eager presidential transition team starts reaching out to Russia before actually occupying the White House, in an effort to get a grip, a move considered a grievous affront, even a criminal act, by those most afraid of losing their grip.  To be continued.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Work / Study in Global U

I continue to both work and study, in my Global University, my metaphor for home sweet home: Nuthouse Earth.

I'm upgrading the Python stuff to a next level, so that those liking my on-ramp, might continue the tour.

Youtube is a goldmine, unlike anything I enjoyed at Princeton (because we hadn't created the Internet yet, not really), so I dig in it avidly.

My beat takes me in a wandering cycle through a set of topics:  computer stuff, Bucky stuff, education politics, and more recently, climate change.

For those new to these blogs, which go back a couple decades, I haven't written a whole lot about climate change other than to remember the theories of Hamaker-Weaver.  So there's lots to catch up on around that.

Education politics includes looking at religious movements:  Falun Gong, Hizmet, Unification Church, Quakers...  a mixed bag to say the least.  All exert at least some form of political influence, either as targets for government attacks, and/or as lobbyists.  Quakers have FCNL.

I had no idea how close Henry Wallace got to being VP during FDR's fourth term.  What would have happened minus President Truman wanting to prove how tough he was?

René Guénon: newly a blip on my radar.  More BBC Palast on how the US is incapable of having free and fair elections.  We knew that.

What if the Hizmet STEM curriculum started to pick up on the Bucky stuff more?  In a memo this evening, to other faculty, I wrote (those not interested in math may tune out here):

The canonical conversion constant for cube -> tet volume conversion is sqrt(9/8) i.e. a cube of face diagonals 2R, edges sqrt(2)R, has volume 3, not sqrt(2)**3.

I.E. cube of edges R (1x1x1) is slightly bigger than unit tet of edges D (D=2R).  ~1.06066

Sphere volume is sqrt(2) pi r^3 by this conversion. 

R=radius of unit sphere of said volume. Quadrays go from center of 2R edged tet to corners.

So the tetrahedron made by connected 4 inter-tangent unit sphere is: 1
Octahedron from six such unit spheres: 4
Rhombic Dodecahedron (encasement for each sphere, voronoi cell): 6
Cuboctahedron (12 spheres packed around a nuclear one): 20

How the 5-fold symmetric shapes slot in to the above relates to Cuboctahedron --> Icosahedron by Jitterbug, and the Rhombic Triacontahedron made from said Icosa and its Platonic dual.  Volume 15 * sqrt(2).

Interesting that CO of volume 20 * sqrt(9/8), the aforementioned volume conversion constant = same RT volume (15 * sqrt(2)).

That's the "art school" CAD system some people wanna work with.  I don't blame 'em for finding it simple.  Tetrahedron, Octahedron and RT also explode into wedges / slivers, easy to reason about and assemble with.  Lots of fun ratios you can carry around in your head.

No harm converting back and forth.  XYZ is always there when you need it, spherical coordinates too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Dumb Domiciles

The idea of lightweight high tech gear, much of it inheriting from aerospace, brings to mind the smattering of prototype bases wherein a small crew of science minded practice living on Mars.  Of course there's no way to quite simulate the true misery of that place, and the experience of learning new ropes here on Earth, in terms of lifestyle innovations, might actually provide a modicum of joy to the lucky participants.

Campers come in many breeds, from extreme to weekend station wagon types, lugging equipment to state parks.  Extremophiles tend towards Burning Man and Rainbow Gathering experiences, where they're up against the elements, other logistical challenges.  They're doing research.  Those pioneering new lifestyles are at work as much as at play.  Product placements go here.

However, the aerospace sector said "no" to the invitation, for the most part, seeing easier profits in what's tried and tested:  weaponry contracts.  Peanut gallery opinions regarding early attempts to cross-fertilize civilian lifestyles with higher tech, must have scared off investors.  So are they happy with their portfolios?

We're left with piles of tools suitable for mass murder (Ka-ching!), chasing columns of refugees on foot, streaming from war crime centers towards mythical better living standards we have not been working to provide.  Even non-refugees are astonished how we've given up the fight for a better life, right when we had so much technology going for us.

Against this backdrop of humans unable to perform, even in their own self interest, comes the haunting tale of machines poised to seize the day and catapult themselves into government.  If we all bow down and become properly obsequious in the face of AI's edicts, then maybe those hiding behind the curtain will finally get their ultimate alibi?  "The computer made me do it".

Having bet the store on Endless War, there's a new urgency to finding the new Game Theory that will tell us why the losing strategy has been the correct one all along.  Deus ex machina will come in the form of exoneration:  we had no choice.  "Forgive me, as I know not what I do."  This is not a new development.  As Hannah Arendt pointed out:  evil is banal and just follows orders.  The best excuse is "everyone was doing it".

The counter-movement to the fatalistic one may be within Geekdom, with its more positive "world domination" hubris.  Rescuing humans from malign neglect, preventable starvation for example, remains a winners' goal.  Those who code tend to be less cowed by the claims of those hoping to speak for the Singularity when the time comes. "No, the computer didn't make you do anything, us either".  Geekdom is cosmopolitan and takes Spaceship Earth itself as our Promised Land (Moon included).

We could pitch this as an ideological showdown between the Transcendentalists and the Transhumanists.  The latter are more enamored of AI whereas the former tend to be more awed by intelligence that's non-artificial.  You'll find technophiles in both camps, as well as extremophiles.

The theater for this showdown is the university campus, what it looks like.  Are we expecting gothic arches and ivy?  Or do we expect to experiment with some of the latest engineering solutions to the refugee crisis?  What sort of career am I training for anyway?  Do I plan to help with cleanup, or am I here to make a mess?

The houses haven't gotten much smarter in in light of where we could be. I'm thinking they're ridiculously stupid.

The resources people waste, in their pursuit of a good life, is testament to the weakness of our Global U curriculum.

What campuses seem interested in experimental prototypes of tomorrow?  What FinTech will they experiment with?  Recruiters won't be looking for just anybody.  I've you've sided with the losers, you may not have what it takes to engage in more holistic forms of scholarship.  Having a lot of money doesn't make you a skilled player.  Imposter Syndrome is sometimes acute for a reason.