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False Modesty

June 9th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Calling yourself pathetic is not being humble. It's actually being pathetic.
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Universal Overflow

June 8th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
Surpassing the speed of light is the universe's equivalent of arithmetic overflow.
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The Lies We Tell Ourselves

June 2nd, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     Most people struggle to see past their own actions.  The world is dark, the light at the end of the tunnel dim.  I spent my life being told to doubt my intuition, to be more modest, humble, more open-minded, less naïve, to let go of what I think I know, only to realize later that was always the opposite of what I needed to do.  Others lie to themselves to grapple with what they don't know.  They convince themselves they are more knowledgeable than they really are and seek structure to shield themselves from the unexpected, to give themselves a false sense of control and certainty in their lives.  But my lie is to myself when I do know.  I close my eyes, purposely forget things, throw myself into the wind, whatever it takes in hopes that something might surprise me for once, to give myself a false sense of hope, the false hope that there might be more to the world than what I see before me, the mystery and excitement, the possibility of...[More]
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The Universe's Time Machine

April 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Suppose some time in the far future, we figure out how to travel great distances across space in a short period of time.  We figure out how to move light years away from Earth in mere seconds, whether it be through interdimensional travel or otherwise.  Our telescopes become strong enough that we can capture light from ground level activity of a planet or star light years away.  Our virtual reality and hologram technology become sophisticated enough that we can take that light from galaxies far away and cast it around us to recreate and experience a scene.  

At some point, a stargazer realizes he is so far from Earth that the Earth he sees in the sky is actually many years in the past.  He begins to experiment with this, repositioning himself either farther or closer to the Earth by light years at a time to see the Earth either older or younger.  It is entertaining at first, especially with telescopes being strong enough to see things on the surface like you...[More]
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Equality in Differences

March 25th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
You don't treat two people equally by forgetting both their names.  Equality doesn't mean removing what makes us different.
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Machine Learning is Not AI

March 24th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
It's pretty hilarious that Microsoft's AI chatbot Tay went "full nazi" in less than a day after coming online but not surprising.  I wrote before in my piece Creating Sentient Artificial Intelligence that much of what's considered "Machine Learning" right now is more akin your senses or motor skills - the muscle memory part of your body - than to your brain and that it's really not suitable to just throw these algorithms at more general problems and expect them to work.

Right now the algorithms learn solely on repetition and trial-error, but if we think about how we teach in school, the last thing we want is for students to learn by rote memory (parroting the textbook rather than understanding the concepts) - so why do we design our algorithms that way? It's because these algorithms are only a piece of the puzzle. When we as humans do things on repetition, it's to train it into muscle memory so we do not have to think about it.  In the same way that we are not conscious of every step we take or every muscle we use to swing our arm,  what we've built and dubbed machine learning so far are more like our muscles or senses; they have some level of learning to automate lower-level functions that the higher level intelligence (the mind, decision making piece) does not have to think about.  It's just that somewhere along the way (or perhaps we never really stopped to reflect on this), we forgot to look back on how our own intelligence works and see if it makes sense to how we're designing or using the algorithms we have so far.  You wouldn't touch a hot stove 100 times to train your hand to avoid it, even though that'd probably work to build up your reflexes - but that's the thing, these are your reflexes, not the thinking conscious part of your brain.

That said, I'm not against machine learning or saying it's not useful, just that it's not artificial intelligence; it's only part of the bigger puzzle.  We're less than half way there but flaunting it as it's all the way there.  We've come really far in creating a reflexive hand or eye with strong muscle memory, which is a great thing, but intelligence and autonomy is a whole other layer we've still got to add before we can expect anything meaningful on more general problems.  We've built the eyes to see the data but not the mind to think about it.
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Before My Eyes

March 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
The world I see when I close my eyes is clearer than the one before me.
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Noise and Splattered Colors

March 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Thought of the Day | #
This cage that is my mind... The noise and splattered colors that is my reality... What good is it all if no one can see what I see, feel what I feel, in here... You want to escape but not into that world out there.
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