Saturday, January 31, 2009

To go where no man has gone before

Quite frankly, I desparately want to be part of the culture that leads the expansion of humanity into space. If Japan succeeds in building its space elevator, I swear that I am definitely going to immigrate there (I’ll just keep knocking and knocking until they let me in) and leave this debating society behind. More...

CodePlex and the wandering API

I've started a new section called the CodePlex on the web site. Its up there on the menu at the top of the page, next to the Bazaar. One of the things I wanted to do here was start to share some useful software tidbits when I had them and when the situation under which they were developed allowed for it. So its starts today with the offering of wrapper classes for the api. FreshBooks is a great site for outsourcing your invoice preparation, delivery and followup. It is especially useful, I've found, if you have a lot of subscription billing or recurring invoices. More....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

From Albuquerque to Denver

In 1968 my father, with a freshly minted college degree, took a new job in the Denver area as a computer programmer. Moving from Albuquerque to Denver was a big change for the entire family, but a much larger change for my mother. She had lived her entire life in Albuquerque with a brief sojourn in Newfoundland while my father was in the Air Force. That was where I was born by the way, in St. John’s. In leaving Albuquerque more or less for good, my mother was also leaving her own mother and father behind as well as nearly all of her other relatives and friends. It was a big deal. More...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Zune car kit - impressive, no really!

Just a short note on an addition I made to the Bazaar this morning… I received a Zune music player for Christmas this year and am really quite impressed by it all. I had a few difficulties in the beginning finding my way around. But now I really grok the whole thing and am using 100% of the features and loving it. This morning I tried out the car kit for the Zune which is a combination charger and FM transmitter. more...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Organic: buy the same thing for twice the price

As my wife could tell you, I have an almost maniacal antipathy to the claims of "organic" food proponents. Perhaps it stems from the use of the term organic itself, as if all the other food was inorganic (which is preposterous, for those who fell asleep that day in Organic Chemistry). Or perhaps its just that many of these organic people also believe in the healing power of crystals and Feng Shui. I find these new religions even more tiresome and annoying than the old ones. For me, its all hokum; new-age snake oil. Read on...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Buddy Don has a book!

One of my favorite blog authors has now published a book. If you are quick you can get an autographed copy.

Miss Vero's Beach House: WHERE THERE'S SMOKE...

It looks like things just keep getting worse at Vero Beach's hospital. After barely escaping there with my life in 2000, I had no idea that things could get that much worse. Obviously I was wrong. Sheesh...

Miss Vero's Beach House: WHERE THERE'S SMOKE...

Friday, January 2, 2009


I came across an article the other day about a mathematician who had attempted to calculate the probability that we are all living in a matrix; a simulation and not the ultimate reality. Now that is peculiar enough of an idea that I became immediately interested - especially since it turns out that the odds are pretty fair that we are living in a simulation! :-) I found an exhaustive treatment of the subject on a web site authored by Nick Bostrom of Oxford. Now consideration of this idea takes you quickly down into the other rabbit holes of exponentially accelerating change, transhumanism and the Singularity.

The Singularity refers to a flash-over point, a basic state change, where the rate of change has accelerated to the point where human beings cannot possibly keep up -- unless they are wielding some phenomenally capable computing technologies. The Singularity is brought about by advances in software technologies such that we succeed in making software capable of improving itself. This kicks technological progress into high gear giving birth to artificial intelligence (AI). Ultimately this hyperbolic rate of change will result in a hyper-technonological world where unaugmented human beings will have a very hard time keeping up. Enter transhumanism - the augmentation of the human being into a entity who can remain relevant in the wake of the Singularity.

So, winding this back onto the idea of a simulation, you can readily see the motivation for building one. In light of a scenario like the Singularity, a motivation for building a simulation might be an attempt to create a refuge in a universe that's suddenly become incomprehensible. Another motivation might be a grasp at immortality - a new, non-biological platform on which to run your consciousness. Of course, if we were living in a simulator and then we created a simulation into which we downloaded ourselves, one might begin to wonder how many levels of simulation we are separated from the ultimate reality.

One of my favorite science fiction novels that dances around this theme is Accelerando by Charles Stross. Stross is always an engrossing read but Accelerando seems an especially well expressed story. I can't imagine the difficulty of trying to create a plausible story around something that is, by definition, so unimaginable. Charles Stross must be augmented somehow. Yeah, that's it! Hey, where is MY augmentation??? I could especially use a memory enhancement just about now.

So one other idea that I keep thinking about is that if we are living in a simulation, isn't it nice how just about everything in religious theology kind of finds its place and has a straight forward explanation in this version of "reality". Hmmmm..... Or, coming at it from the inside-out perspective, could it be that the whole purpose of our simulation is to birth an AI?

Do you want the red pill or the blue pill?