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Monday, December 31, 2001
busting the underlying operational model (from slashdot)

The major point is that the conventional digital cuircuit logic is based on a certain ideal model.

Some of the assumptions of this model are:

  1. we have two states 0 and 1
  2. states evolve over time controlled by a regular clock signal
  3. signals propagate by conventional electric current (moving electrons)
But guess what, a typical phyiscal device implements only an approximation of this model.

For example we say a certain voltage range is interpreted as a logical 0, a certain different higher volatage range is interpreted as a logical 1.

But the evolutionary algorithm was not constrained in any fashion to make use of this ideal digital model only. It can and will make use of the full available degrees of freedom the physical system, that the fpga device is, offers.

With the result that there might evolve analog cuircuits (which use more than 0 or 1 values), or that we might have electro-magnetic signal transport (Thompson reported some spiral structures which might work as electro-magnetic wave guides), yes it might even employ some quantum mechanical effect that could explained by advanced semiconductor physics only.

One might say that the approximation process that the evolution algorithm is, has started in the domain of digital devices and converged out of that domain into the wider domain of physical devices.

This has a couple of draw backs:

  • the resulting design is harder to understand
  • individual fgpa chips vary slightly, which is no problem in a digital world, where ranges in the specification allow for slight variations among individual chips, but the resulting evolutionary design migh work only with certain chips, because it has much narrower tolerances than the production spec takes into account

I wonder what would have been happend if the algoritm had a control step after each evolution step which ensured that the next generation design would operate strictly under the assumptions of a conventional digital device model, in that case the evolution process should evolve towards a classical design. Would it have been stil something that is hard to understand?

Perhaps in that case it is easier to stick to software simulation of the design.

Friday, December 28, 2001
the ultimate purpose of the brain's cannabinoid receptors (via scitech)

On the other hand, uncontrollable laughter remains largely a mystery. "This effect of the drug is hard to explain," writes Iversen in his book The Science of Marijuana (2000, Oxford University Press), "as we know so little about the brain mechanisms involved." Ordinary laughter is, from the biochemical/neurological point of view, still poorly understood, let alone stoned laughter.

Thursday, December 27, 2001
rock rock rock 'n' roll high school

Consider this gumbo...70s stud Van Patten as hopeless jock, mixed with rock and roll saviours Ramones as geek chorus, Clint Howard (in his funniest role before EdTV) as the risky business young enterpriser, a Rock-Ometer that deftly measures who is the loudest band of em all, exploding white mice, and the cherry on top, PJSoles as protofeministpunkwannabe, complete with her bitchin' record collection and her Horatio Alger drive to be FIRST in line.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001
living information

In some sense, gnosis is information about information. As one Mandean text puts it, "One call comes and instructs about all calls." Rather than being merely "heard," this incoming call is imagined as something almost substantial that enters the hearer, like the call described in the Twelfth Ode of Solomon: "and they were penetrated by the word and knew him that made it." This substantial and almost animate quality of the Word is by no means restricted to Gnosticism—as the Lord puts it in Isaiah 55:11, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

Tuesday, December 25, 2001
not doing much of anything

I think that, aside from his knack for dropping in on characters at uneventful moments of their lives, he also has a talent for writing dialogue between characters who aren't quite communicating. NIGHT ON EARTH was an episodic collection of cab rides in which the driver and passenger(s) were on separate wavelengths in one way or another, and DEAD MAN followed a mild-mannered accountant and a nomadic tribesman who were brought together by a bizarre and dangerous turn of events and who didn't quite know what to make of each other. Characters who would normally nod politely at each other and pass are, in Jarmusch films, forced into extended contact with each other, with the result being an interesting and sometimes amusing form of subtle conflict.

Monday, December 24, 2001
cooperation's rise from nowhere

The basic point is that emergent properties do not lend themselves to an analytical approach, that is, an approach which dissects a population into its components. Once we perform this dissection, once the individuals become isolated from each other, any properties due to their interactions will disappear. What virtual environments provide is a tool to replace (or rather, complement) analysis with synthesis, allowing researchers to exploit the complementary insights of population thinking and nonlinear dynamics.

Friday, December 21, 2001

But it's the Russian RD-180 that will power Lockheed's Atlas V rocket into space next May, delivering a communications satellite into orbit. The RD-180 engine, the product of a combined venture between Pratt & Whitney and Russian engine-maker NPO Energomash, is built for thrust, not looks. "The Russians don't worry about cosmetics or workmanship," says plant manager Steve Blake. "They build the thing and test the shit out of it. This engine cost $10 million and produces almost 1 million pounds of thrust. You can't do that with an American-made engine."


AN ANGOLAN refugee camp is not a happy place. Tired and hungry families huddle for shade under black plastic sheets. Amputees limp by on makeshift wooden crutches. The smell of human waste hangs thickly in the hot, dry air.

Angola is arguably the most wretched place on earth. Three decades of civil war show little sign of easing. A pitiless rebel army makes the countryside too dangerous to farm, so peasants flee to the cities in search of food and safety. Every rubbish skip has ragged children in it, foraging for lunch. Twentieth-century technology has caused terrible harm. Armour-piercing bullets keep evil men in power. Plastic explosives shred limbs.

Thursday, December 20, 2001
acting simultaneously

Characters are seen as being members of the same community without ever coming in contact with one another, because they are acting simultaneously. "...the conceived as a solid community moving steadily down (or up) history. An American....has complete confidence in their [fellow Americans'] steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity." (p.26) This simultaneity is demonstrated in novels when the actions of the masses are described without the individuals ever being named. Objects are described in plurals, and an individual reading the newspaper does is not interested in the described death of a vagabond, but in his symbolic value.

what normal looks like (via robotwisdom)

It's interesting theatrically, too. A psychopath does know what "normal" looks like. In fact, a psychopath is arguably someone who knows how to imitate a normal human being but who lacks some basic human characteristic–conscience, say, or an ability to feel for others. Psychopaths and sociopaths are essentially brilliant actors, people who go through life fooling us into thinking they're something they're not, which is one reason movies and plays about them can be so compelling. We're intermittently forced to confront the fact that we're watching an actor imitating someone imitating a human being, so we're intermittently forced to ask ourselves what humanity looks like.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001
thomas nast (via thisishell)

karin & vaughan oliver (via carey :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2001
a strategy for a convertible currency by bernard a. lietaer

This paper proposes a solution for countries which are characterised by four criteria: they have no convertible currency now, and they experience three problems - potentially or actually - unemployment, inflation, and ecological degradation. The proposed strategy provides a new convertible currency - hereafter called New Currency - which constitute a powerful mechanism to tackle simultaneously these three problems. Its only precondition is that they produce at least some raw materials for which an organised international market exists.

eternal debt (via thisishell)

The latest board game to hit the shops in Argentina goes by the name of "Eternal Debt".

It invites players to pit their wits against the International Monetary Fund - something in which Argentina's present rulers appear to be failing.

The game is produced in a small factory in a Buenos Aires suburb.

Employing about 70 workers, the company makes a wide variety of board games.

Monday, December 17, 2001
advance movie ticket!

science fiction on pbs :)

Friday, December 14, 2001
icelandic free state (via robotwisdom - yafc)

The sagas are also a valuable source of information about medieval Iceland, a subject of interest to more than medievalists. One of its notable features is that it had a sophisticated legal system but no executive government, which makes it a magnet for political theorists - if you search the web for information on medieval Iceland, you'll find a running fight between the libertarians and anarchists over who can best claim it as an exemplum. [more]

wow factor 11! (via robotwisdom)

They stand out against the scrubby sides of the pit, incredibly clean in this environment. They cling to the pit's sides like fish eggs. They deserve their iconic status. When you stand below, beside them, their size is stunning. They exude mystery: their contents are invisible save for faint outlines and a sense of movement within. There's a hum from heat controllers: something strange is going on. [more :]

Thursday, December 13, 2001

leaving behind

a robot that thrives on slugs

"To create robots that devour flesh is to step over a line that we would be insane to cross."

woman shares car with rat for two weeks

"I'm disgusted. Imagine, I drove with that big, ugly thing right underneath my legs."

taking away

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

(via boingboing, plus assmorph!P)

china's space program (via robotwisdom)

Tuesday, December 11, 2001
robo cop

The director is Paul Verhoeven. He is a gifted Dutch filmmaker whose earlier credits include "Soldier of Orange" and "The Fourth Man." I read a Los Angeles Times Calendar section interview with Verhoeven when Robo Cop first came out. He said the reason why he did the movie was because it was a retelling of the story of Jesus Christ. He said Jesus "is the greatest" story ever told. He went on to say that he had been a Pentecostal Christian. But had since left the faith, but remained interested in the Christ story. There are, hence, many Christ-like moments in the film. The most obvious is the one below. [more]

hollow man

The potential for misunderstanding could reach new heights if Verhoeven gets around to making his longtime pet project, a movie about the life of Jesus. "That's a dangerous project—beyond the critics, it's physically dangerous, as we know from the people who shoot abortion doctors." The film will attempt to place the life of Jesus "in the political context of Israel at that time being occupied by the Romans," which he intends to parallel with the political climate in Holland under German occupation. He sums it up: "An occupying power, a collaborating elite, the people suffering, and some man who at the moment says, 'Hey, there is a way out of this.' " [more]

Monday, December 10, 2001
snakes & ladders

Oh Christ. The cross rolls by the curb, there in the soot and sweepings, the tobacco-spit. In Syon, every incident is symbol, every symbol is immediate and real. The seal of the most holy trodden in the mortal filth and dirt.

Oh Christ. Yet there is meaning here. The symbol of Divinity within mankind is crucified, a dog's death, crucified with thieves, dies in the human gutter with the world's shit all around and this, then, is the truth:

...that the profane and sacred are both one, and that the salt of the Earth and its scum are struck from the same coin, and in our lowest depths, the worst abyss of us, there is light.
Oh Christ.

Oh Christ in all of us.

promethea no. 17

Oh yes. See, crucifixion, it wasn't just, like, excecutin' somebody. It was something you'd do to a dog. To a dog, man. A @$%&in' dog. It was degradin'. It was humiliatin'... and they did it to him. To him. You get it?

Our highest point. The best in us. The gold. And it's nailed writhing on the cross of the world. That's us up there man. But even down here, at the lowest Auschwitz ass-end of what humans are, and what humans do... our highest point is still here with us. There's light. Always remember that. There's light at the bottom.

Friday, December 7, 2001


space harrier! from emuunlim :)

Thursday, December 6, 2001


origami cd holder! by tom hull :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2001
stephen w. hawking

reginald t. cahill

Tuesday, December 4, 2001
qwerty and christmas [more]

when i knew bobby fisher [more]

Monday, December 3, 2001
classics of tomorrow today

picked up yi yi yesterday. also read this washpost article that was posted on metafilter and thought this quote kinda applied, "It isn't that there is action and then there is style. It's that the style, the action, the plot and the events embrace each other and belong together. If you read a book that is written with style -- well-written, that is -- it comes to you not as bare occurrence, but as something that has come through someone's imagination." another washpost article posted on metafilter today:

Sunday, December 2, 2001

also robotwisdom linked to these articles about 70,000 year old artifacts in s. africa, but when i first read jorn's description, "Excellent look at 70kyo advanced tools in S Africa," i thought it was about japanese technology in south africa or something.

Saturday, December 1, 2001
an important step (via blogdex)

missingmatter asked a question a while back about whether it's okay to genetically modify humans to create "super-people" (super nice that is! j/k :) the argument goes we've engaged in self-selected breeding programs, been modifying ourselves phenotypic-ally etc. etc. for the last however many thousands of years so really genetic modification is just the next step down a path we've been on and such and such. i guess the counter-argument being the "what hath we wrought?" type Pandora positions and Frankenstein "it's a monstrosity!" issues of human identity. [um, this is my own cursory analysis of the issue. u can tell i'ven't given it a lot of thought :]

Two separate teams of scientists have succeeded in making stem cells originally derived from human embryos turn into brain cells.

anyway i responded as much, but what caught my imagination was that regardless of how we (as a species :) proceed, we'll be experimenting on animals first [us being specie-ists! that is if PETA doesn't intercede. full disclaimer: i'm an omnivore] and i was thinking we'll be trying to make animals better, in our imaginations of course, and not without horrible—but acceptable-cuz-they're-animals—failures, that we'll raise them on some level closer to some ideal... higher to G-d. the thing is it's possible that what we're unwilling to do to ourselves could make our experiments, our creations, better than us. call it the Pandora/Frankenstein conjecture or the Planet of the Apes scenario or something something.

When they then transplanted the brand new human brain cells into young mice they found that the cells continued to develop.

alternatively, Uplift: the david brin future where animals stand up to take their place side by side with humans. imagine Flowers for Algernon-cum-Robocop for animal 57. not exactly alien consciousness, but a consciousness of other nevertheless – one that rivals our own intelligence, one that rivals our humanity. j/k! but it's fun to think about and entirely plausible judging by the urban legends and stories generated over the years devoted to its expression. i just think it's weird that it could actually be happening. the global brain is churning and it looks like it may have decided we need someone else to talk to :)

Siberian tiger cub Prince is licked by his foster mother, a stray dog nicknamed Klava, at the zoo in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Friday, Nov. 30, 2001. The tiger cub, who was nursed by the dog after his own mother ignored him, is out of danger. The dog suckled the cub for 30 days and officials say the baby is now healthy enough to switch to a diet of meat. The cub was born over a month ago, the zoo's first birth of the rare species. (AP Photo)

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