Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

New Technology

December 2, 2010

“Technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.” Mel Kranzberg —

I have a book here that Heisenberg wrote for the lay reader on quantum. In it he mentions that once a technology appears, whether it is the atom bomb, or Internet or cell phones, you CANNOT just shove it back into Pandora’s jar (it WAS a jar in the original Greek and not a box) you CANNOT just say OOPS we should not use cell phones or Internet or neutron bombs and just shove it back in the jar. I think that aspect of technology is relevant to what Mel Kranzberg may mean when he adds “NOR is it NEUTRAL.”

Whenever someone plays a C major chord, the SOUND of that chord is something HOLISTICALLY different from and greater than the three individual notes of the chord, i.e. it is not subject to reductionism; the whole is GREATER than its parts. BUT, it gets better, because when you are listening to Mozart and suddenly he plays a Neapolitan Sixth with is the major 7th chord built upon the flatted 2nd of the scale, THEN there is a quality, a feeling, that stands out from the context of that scale and melody, and the feeling of that Neapolitan Sixth goes even beyond the transcendence of the more basic harmonic chords. So what Adler is getting at I think is that there are ideas which are MEMES which live for centuries and the minds of individuals are the cells of that meme’s brain. So, Christianity is a Meme, Islam is a meme, Democracy is a meme, mathematical model theory which is perhaps a metamathematical discussion of individual axiomatic systems, that too is a meme.

Mary Shelly and Frankensteins Monster

November 23, 2010

One thing I read once regarding Mary Shelly’s story which seared into my mind is that when the “monster” first peered into the window of a hut and saw the humans, he was charmed by them and wanted to benefit them in some way. It was only when they violently persecuted him that he turned hostile. I sometimes think I see a bit of that monster in each of us; we want to love and be loved but we are treated like monsters and so, quite naturally, we often become monsters. But perhaps my memory has failed me once again, so I should google on SparkNotes to refresh my understanding (oh, how low one can sink in old age!)

I became curious and went to SparkNotes to find one passage which substantiates something of what I remember about the monster wanting to love and help : The monster’s eloquent narration of events (as provided by Victor) reveals his remarkable sensitivity and benevolence. He assists a group of poor peasants and saves a girl from drowning, but because of his outward appearance, he is rewarded only with beatings and disgust. Torn between vengefulness and compassion, the monster ends up lonely and tormented by remorse. Even the death of his creator-turned-would-be-destroyer offers only bittersweet relief: joy because Victor has caused him so much suffering, sadness because Victor is the only person with whom he has had any sort of relationship.

Like the monster, I approach with affection to help the villagers, but I can only help in my monster fashion, with lateral thinking, but Heidi the villager, for whom I feel kindly, is horrified by my alien monster appearance and looks for a torch and a pitchfork… Mary Shelly’s story can never take a different direction… Prometheus is the homo sapens development of philosophy, then technology, the industrial revolution, and finally nuclear energy and genetic engineering, those things which escape from Pandora’s box (or jar) and can never by shoved back in. The the real monster is the renaissance and the industrial revolution. The persecuted monster is the Neanderthal, the aboriginal, who lived for thousands of years in harmony with nature, perhaps a life of only 30 or 40 years but a life filled with meaning, a hearty robust life with no need of medicine or healthcare because natural selection kept the species robust, no need for private property, an alien concept. But now, even the sickliest reproduce, and become increasingly dependent upon antibiotics while all the microbes, virus,fungi develop resistant strains. We live longer and longer, almost to 100 years, but our society worships youth and what is new and different. So our final years are empty and bitter and we are useless, extraneous. The only way we can survive is to grasp at wealth to support us in our declining years. We destroy the environment, we destroy ourselves by becoming that ghoul in Dorian Grey’s picture. We destroy each other with weapons of mass destruction pitted against terrorism. So, you see, for me to give Carlo that second sentence, I must make up a fairy tale, a lie. A happy-ever-after-ness which can never be. But I shall give this some more thought. Fairy-tales have their place and serve a purpose.

Does Technology Destroy the World

September 12, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOqfWj0HqNE

Wayne Radinsky posted this fascinating youtube. An incrementing dial pauses at 666, then stutters at 999999999 and then returns to 000000000 and we see the Earth explode as a spaceship departs. I suddenly realized that 6 is the first perfect number, and THREE 6’s is like maximum perfection of technology (Goethe’s Faust Part II) which leads to annihilation. This would mean that Armageddon is man-made technology destroying itself. Just a thought…

Earthly Paradise Is In Our Reach

August 1, 2010

Let’s face it: IF the entire human race decided to do this then it is totally theoretically possible. 1.) All warfare and violence ceases. 2.) Means are found to reduce the planet’s population over the next century to ONE billion (down from 6.7 billion). 3.) The sciences of artificial intelligence and robotics will create as much as possible the automated means to produce all that is necessary for life. 4.) Human life will be reorganized to eco-friendly technology using renewable resources. 5.) In one century, the remaining human population will all be a leisure class devoted to worthwhile creative pursuits in total equality. Earthly paradise will be achieved.

EXCEPT, let’s face it. War is sweet! The name of the game is REVENGE. We will continue to squander what we have and attempt to enslave one another. We will gouge out each others eyes until we are a planet of the blind. And then we will blame it all on God for being so mean. But we have only ourselves to blame.

Aha, but you, in the back row, with your hand raised! You make an excellent point. What benefits the human race 100 years from now will not benefit anyone here in the audience. We shall all be dead by then. So, who cares? Right! No one cares! So, forget I even brought it up. Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.

Now what do I mean by “earthly paradise is in our grasp”…. I MEAN
THAT, AFTER THE EARTH HAD RETURNED TO THE ONE BILLION population
level,…..over the next 200 years…. technology, science, medicine, and a
united world democracy, would make EVERYONE independently wealthy,
and disease free.

It is very obvious to us , even now… that computers and robots and
modern technology makes possible a level of production (food and other
materials) which does not require such a work force as in previous
centuries… and CERTAINLY DOES NOT require the slave labor which was
employed so many times in history….

So, humanity has it totally within their power, to choose, to elect, to
transform human life into a paradise of wealth for all, free of disease…

But our own selfishness and greed, and our racial and ethinic prejudices
and nationalistic pride, will perhaps never allow us to co-operate with one
another, and to practice the personal asceticism and self denial, to
achieve such an end….

But even if humanity COULD manage to unite and discipline to create such
a UTOPIAN WORLD…. what would those people do with all their free time,
their leisure, their perfect health and incredible life spans extended by
genetic engineering and artificial organ transplants??

Would they write poetry and create works of art….???

Recite prayers and debate theology????

Or would they have too much sex, drink and smoke too much, and
become bored and depressed??

(end of excerpt)

Now, we might wonder why it is that people cannot get together and cooperate

work towards such long-range goals.

I try to answer this question in :

http://literarydiscussions.myfreeforum.org/ftopic153.php

We are all mortal. We all die within 100 years or less. Have you ever
noticed that? Why yes, of course you have.

We can never all agree upon anything of great significance. Have you
ever noticed that? Even in democratic nations, there are at least two
parties, if not more, in any election. There are Republicans and
Democrats, there are Liberals and Conservatives, and perhaps all sorts of shades in between.

I have come to see mortality and discord as distinct survival advantages.

But, how can this be, you ask? How can there be an advantage in the
fact that we are all doomed to die? How can there be an advantage to
the fact that we can never arrive at unanimous agreement upon important issues?

How wonderful this world of ours would be (you say) if none of us would
ever face death, and if all of us could share in one religion, one language, one culture, one nation, one philosophy, one economy and one single set of values and principles. Allow me to explain.

I see the vanished races of north American Indians, who dwelt for
millennia in that continent, as having been very hardy because of natural selection, and kept hardy as a race by the rigors of survival. Modern man, by contrast, becomes a progressively weaker and less robust species because of high tech and increasing dependence on things like antibiotics, surgical procedures, insulin, etc., which in the short run greatly benefit individuals, but in the long run weaken the species.

Amoral nature, with its natural selection and survival of the fittest, seems to have a very different agenda which favors groups and species over individuals. Our society now seems to place the well-being and interest of the individual above the well-being and interests of the group as a whole. In the short run this emphasis on the individual is quite benevolent. But what is long-term benovelence? Does long-term benevolence sometimes wear the mask of cruelty and indifference?

Nature makes it difficult for the weak and defective to pass their genes on to another generation, but medicine and modern technology makes it
easy for even the infertile to pass on their genetic traits to future
generations. For me, the problem is so patently obvious. Physis and
Nomos, Nature and Law, mortal enemies for eternity!

Of course, we may ocassionally discover some temporary cure for a
particular disease, but then all those little pathogens turn around and
produce thousands of generations in a short time, and evolve a resistant strain, so then we develop a different antibiotic, and so it goes, on and on, in a vicious cycle, a Catch-22. Those pathogens desire immortality just as much as we. Their oeuvres are plagues.

As individuals, certainly we benefit from this medicine and technology, but as a species we were obviously better off under the amoral natural
scheme of survival of the fittest. Now, as a species, we are gradually
becoming weakened and dependent upon that medicine and technology.
“Better Living Through Chemistry.”

Mind you, I am not saying whether this increased dependence upon
medicine and technology and genetic engineering and this progressive
weakening of our species is bad or good in the long run. I am merely
pointing it out as an observable phenomenon.

In an odd way, mortality is a survival advantage.

In Ham’s Histology (a textbook from the 1960’s), generation after
generation of mice had their haemopoetic marrow tissue destroyed by
radiation, and received a transplant of the same strain of tissue received by the previous generation

In theory, that culture of haemopoetic tissue should be immortal, but in
practice, it was not, it became weak (exhibited its mortality.)

Here is why I think the property of immortality is a survival disadvantage for the species. That strain of haemopoetic tissue weakened because it was perpetuated asexually, with no chance for change, modification, evolution.

In theory, there is no reason why a strain of cells could not be asexually immortal (in fact, the hela cell cultures are one example), BUT, from an evolutionary point of view, that very immortality is a survival disadvantage, since it does not permit change and adaptation

http://www-micro.msb.le.ac.uk/video/culture.html

Humanity’s inability to reach universal consensus in philosophy, theology, politics/government is possibly related to the obvious survival advantage inherent in a genetic tendency towards diversity/uniqueness, so that some might be shoemakers, others soldiers, others scholars, others politicians, each happy in their ecological niche of specialization.

We might have evolved as a species capable of a higher degree
agreement with one another, but that would have been a survival
disadvantage.

If what I have said is the case, then that aspect of humanity has every
bearing in the world on philosophy.

If everyone saw things the same way, then everyone would want to be a
philosophy professor (or movie star) or president…. there would be no
diversity… no one to live on mountain tops, no one at the polar circle, no
one in the Amazon rain forests; that very diversity which was key to
species survival now makes unanimous agreement difficult or impossible.

I think of the imaginative faculty of the human mind as a kaleidoscope,
constantly churning, changing (almost by chance) , (and how interesting it
is that a similar image of “the churning of the oceans” is given in the
Vedas as the process by which nectar is produced)

Such a kaleidoscopic churning may produce many mathematical models
(model theory), but then by an arduous process, we apply those random
productions of imagination to reality, until one day someone stumbles
upon a “match” between model and noumena, like Archimedes in the tub,
shouts Eureka!, and runs naked through the streets

For years, people called “imaginary numbers” imaginary precisely
because it was felt they had no reality or analog, but now they are
indespensable in treating such phenomena as radio waves

Yet, the products of imagination are a part of reality.

The laws of physics and chemistry do not predict rabbits, but the
existence of rabbits in no way defies the laws of physics. If you wanted to
learn to play poker, would you study probability and statistics?

Obviously, gambling and gamblers came first, and then the
mathematicians like Pascal turned their attention to it .

The universe will continue after our sun supernovas in 8 billion years, and humankind are extinct, and this 8 billion year from now doomsday is
something which we could be addressing to preserve culture and
knowledge, but no one is concerned because that doomsday seems so
remote.

There is no causal connection, I suspect, between the laws of
reality, and the activities and products of human imagination, and yet
imagination (and the imaginary) is our source for this kalaidescope of
models which we heave at reality in a hit or miss fashion.

In a certain sense, imagination is the threshold of Being.
+++

I thought our national faith was in freedom in the pursuit of happiness even if that does not involve “God” for certain people. I thought we put faith in separation of church and state. Suppose every American TOMORROW decided to convert to Islam, which is unlikely but in theory possible. Popular vote has the power to change and amend the constitution. If we are true to the founding principles of American government then we always leave ourselves open to gradual but radical change. We expect God to fix our lives and we blame God when things get bad but we have the power of freewill choice so the fame and blame lies at our feet.

The Wickedness of the Heart

June 15, 2010

@Jason, I am intrigued by your mention of gene specific virus because I mentioned such an idea several years ago. I doubt that I am the first. Certain ideas are simple “in the air” for a number of years before they take explicit form and develop a history and life of their own.

@Sam You mentioned the “Indiana Jones” movie in a light-hearted fashion (as if a jest and a smile would make my uncomfortable question go away) but you unwittingly hit the nail right on the head. Consider all the science fiction and fantasy over the past hundred years (people traveling to other planets, robots, cyborgs, artificial intelligence) which ultimately becomes fact, reality, history. Consider that sci-fi movie, Demon Seed (1977), where the supercomputer, Proteus REFUSES to tell the scientists where to dig for oil under the sea because it would be unethical to empower such an activity since it would destroy the balance of life.

What SURPRISES us in our imagination as novel, perhaps impossible, we weave into our fiction and gradually we actualize it in our science and technology. Ironically it is BECAUSE WE ARE SURPRISED that one day we are “not surprised.”

There is a motif running through the Old Testament: Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Proverbs 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief

Population and Ecology

June 12, 2010

I read that it took until around 1830 for the world population to reach 1 billion (there are estimates that in Socrates’ day it was 6 million.) By 1930 it had DOUBLED to 2 billion. By the 1960s it had TRIPLED to 6 billion. Yet ecologists speculate that our planet can only support 1 billion without permanent damage to the ecology (which is a moot point since one Scandinavian think-tank of scientists concluded that global warming is now irreversible and we would get more bang for the $ by spending on clean drinking water for afflicted nations, or programs for HIV). Just “thinking out loud.” I don’t know what the answer is. They say China would have a much greater demographic problem now had they not instituted the unpopular 1-child policy. But as more people migrate from rural to urban settings, they are no longer satisfied with weekly bathing but desire daily baths (and a host of other things which put an increased strain on energy and environment.)

Firefox Browser Hijacked

April 19, 2010

Suddenly this morning, I find that whenever I try to visit my http://www.delicious.com/billbuell bookmarks link and am prompted to sign in, my browser is hijacked to a Yahoo sign-in page. I do not have this problem in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Browser.

I decided to install the Google Chrome browser just to be safe and have several browsers available. Chrome installed quickly and smoothly and has no hijack problem when I visit delicious.com.

I am running malwarebytes.org malware scanner and Avira antivir.

I have Google searched and found a few message board posts on similar problems.

I updated http://malwarebytes.org and Avira Antivir.

Next I rebooted, holding down F8, to enter SAFE MODE.

I ran malwarebytes and avira scanners simultaneously. No malware was detected. While the scanners were running I launched Firefox and did various things like clear out history and cookies and change the HOME page to http://google.com.

When I rebooted, the Firefox browser acted normally.

I did search on FIREFOX HIJACK DELICIOUS and various other search arguments and saved a few links at
http://delicious.com/billbuell

It is always a good idea to have several different browsers installed on your computer. Sometimes when you have a problem with Mozilla Firefox you can switch to Internet Explorer or Chrome and avoid the problem while searching for a FIX.

Creating and storing passwords

January 4, 2010

Here is my trick for creating long, strong, memorable passwords. Lets say you like history. You pick 1066 for the Battle of Hastings and you pick Caesar’s “veni vidi viki” (this would also work with the Gettysburg Address or Lords Prayer and
the prime numbers) now veni1vidi0viki66 and to make it even stronger veNi1viDi0viKi66, capitalizing each third letter. If you need to change passwords monthly, you can rotate through the Lord’s Prayer, taking three words at a time and merging with the year you were born.

Or, you can get a free account at clipperz.com
pick some sign-in name like cinderella or superwoman and a long strong memorable password (using technique described above). Now you can store hundreds of passwords, links, email addresses, notes. It is encrypted on your client side BEFORE it is sent to their server. Clipperz people dont know WHO you are or what you store. You can invoke its random password generator.
You can access it from anywhere on the Internet. You can also download a read-only version to a memory stick or hard drive for when you are off line. And there are 2 methods to back up and restore.

Teamwork

December 29, 2009

We need you on our team. You need us on your team. Lets face it, the world NEEDS a team, some kind of team, any kind of team. So far, all we seem to manage is teeming (as in teeming hordes). Our problem is a geographical one; we need to eliminate boundaries. Our problem is an ethnic one; we need intermarriage. Our problem is an ideological one; we need pluralistic interfaith.

Ubuntu blows me away

December 21, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 simply blows me away with its speed and elegance (and so reasonably priced). It took me a total of 50 or 60 hours experimenting, first with Wubi installs on top of Windows, and then with a pure Ubuntu install on a 280 gig
Gateway. I took detailed notes at my WordPress blog. Anyone with those notes should be able to install it in 5 hours or less. Firefox is amazing on Ubuntu. There is a multi platform Instant Message program (Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, MSN, etc), an email client, an IRC client (Konverse) which lands you in a Kubuntu channel with dozens of specialty rooms and hundreds of people on line around the world. The only think it cant do yet, which I like, is Paltalk. Ubuntu updates are far smoother, more automated, less in your face, less annoying than Windows updates. I tried out Ubuntu because I finally had a spare machine I could afford to ruin. I felt if I did succeed in installing Ubuntu, that it would be very primitive and user unfriendly. It is very user friendly with lots of GUI interfaces.
You do not have to be some C++ wizard or know shell and bash commands. You CAN do all that if you know how, but you don’t NEED to to use it. And you get Open Office for spreadsheet, word processor and presentation manager. If more apps become CLOUD based, then you will do everything in your browser, and all apps and data will be on some remote server.