Thursday, June 01, 2006

Love Will Keep Us Alive

This is for my wife.
June 5th 25 years ago we got married!

I was standing
All alone against the world outside
You were searching
For a place to hide
Lost and lonely
Now you've given me the will to survive ...
When we're hungry... love will keep us alive

Thursday, May 11, 2006

While my Guitar Gently

Am Am/G Am6 Fmaj7
I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
Am G D E
While my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Am G C E
Still my guitar gently weeps
I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps

Am Am/G Am6 Fmaj7
Look at you all . . .
Am G C E
Still my guitar gently weeps.

It takes so Long

Sometimes my mind picks up an old memory from Friday, 30th November, 2001. It always mixes with this video and the healing song.

The BBC News from that day told us:
"Love one another - all things must pass."

There is something healing in that song...
My Sweet Lord ... My Sweet Lord ...
A ... Em ... A ... Em ... A .... and then (as the lyrics go to the "I really want to see you") comes the D ... Bm .. can you see how the world turns brighter and lighter here? hm My lord My Lord

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brain in a Dish Flies

This picture documents an important event in 1911.
But hear this! Less than hundred years later...
A University of Florida scientist has created a living "brain" of cultured rat cells that now controls an F-22 fighter jet flight simulator.

Thomas DeMarse, a University of Florida professor of biomedical engineering, placed an electrode grid at the bottom of a glass dish and then covered the grid with rat neurons. The cells initially resembled individual grains of sand in liquid, but they soon extended microscopic lines toward each other, gradually forming a neural network — a brain — that DeMarse says is a "living computational device."

"We grow approximately 25,000 cells on a 60-channel multi-electrode array, which permits us to measure the signals produced by the activity each neuron produces as it transmits information across this network of living neurons," DeMarse told Discovery News. "Using these same channels (electrodes) we can also stimulate activity at each of the 60 locations (electrodes) in the network. Together, we have a bidirectional interface to the neural network where we can input information via stimulation. The network processes the information, and we can listen to the network's response."

The brain communicates with the flight simulator through a desktop computer.
Read the whole story here!


Since 1986 and K. Eric Drexler´s classic The Engines of Creation (EOC) the meme of selfassembling machines has been a source of imagination and horrifying ideas:
This is Drexler himself (EOC):
"Genetic evolution has limited life to a system based on DNA, RNA, and ribosomes, but memetic evolution will bring life-like machines based on nanocomputers and assemblers. Assemblers will be able to build all that ribosomes can, and more; assembler-based replicators will therefore be able to do all that life can, and more. From an evolutionary point of view, this poses an obvious threat to otters, people, cacti, and ferns - to the rich fabric of the biosphere and all that we prize. (...)
Replicators can be more potent than nuclear weapons: to devastate Earth with bombs would require masses of exotic hardware and rare isotopes, but to destroy all life with replicators would require only a single speck made of ordinary elements."

For those of you who have been reading Drexler merely as science fiction, the following article written by Zyvex LLC Research Scientist Robert A. Freitas Jr. may be illuminating:
"...the possible dangers posed by future technologies such as artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and molecular nanotechnology have made it clear that an intensive theoretical analysis of the major classes of environmental risks of molecular nanotechnology (MNT) is warranted. No systematic assessment of the risks and limitations of MNT-based technologies has yet been attempted."

Freitas uses the term "global ecophagy" for the risk that self-replicating nanorobots capable of functioning autonomously in the natural environment could quickly convert that natural environment (e.g., "biomass") into replicas of themselves (e.g., "nanomass") on a global basis..."

"The maximum rate of global ecophagy by biovorous self-replicating nanorobots is fundamentally restricted by the replicative strategy employed; by the maximum dispersal velocity of mobile replicators; by operational energy and chemical element requirements; by the homeostatic resistance of biological ecologies to ecophagy; by ecophagic thermal pollution limits (ETPL); and most importantly by our determination and readiness to stop them."

After a thorough analysis Fritas ends up with the conclusion: "The smallest plausible biovorous nanoreplicator has a molecular weight of ~1 gigadalton and a minimum replication time of perhaps ~100 seconds, in theory permitting global ecophagy to be completed in as few as ~104 seconds.
In short, the paper calculates that the maximum speed that self-replicating nanobots could eat the Earth is 2.78 hours. (This was calculated by Jurvetson, here.

Read it your self at!


Picture: Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Department of Membrane and Neurophysics

Anonymous sent me a comment with a link to this story at the Discovery News. "April 19, 2006— A rat nerve cell attached to a semiconductor chip has exchanged a signal with the chip, an achievement that could lead to organic computers that process information like a brain, say researchers."

If you want to see the meaning of this innovation you should read Kevin Kelly's WE ARE THE WEB article about "The Machine" - the machine within which we already live. It is a long article, so if you are busy scroll down until the sub-paragraph 2015. That vision combined with the facts told by The Brain in The Vat-team at UCSD Neuro-science here is clearly worth of a longer story. I'll try to write that before tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Brain, Memories, Intelligence (and Google)

Jurvetson wrote in his blog "“The brain does not ‘compute’ the answers to problems; it retrieves the answers from memory… The entire cortex is a memory system. It isn’t a computer at all"
Jurvetson quotes Jeff Hawkins. Hawkins argues that the cortex stores a temporal sequence of patterns and recalls them auto-associatively. This framework explains the broad synaptic connectivity and nested feedback loops seen in the cortex and referred to in my earlier posts on synaesthesia and Jimi Hendrix chord, for example.

This is a memory-prediction (rather than "computation-centric behavior") framework for intelligence. The 30 billion neurons in the neocortex provide memories. These memory-based models continuously make low-level predictions in parallel across all of our senses.

While reading Jurvetson, I hear an other voice explaning this same "dangerous idea". This voice belongs to V.S. Ramachandran director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and the professor of psychology and neuroscience, at the University of California, San Diego. Rama's "dangerous if true idea" was "what Francis Crick referred to as "the astonishing hypothesis"; the notion that "our conscious experience and sense of self is based entirely on the activity of a hundred billion bits of jelly — the neurons that constitute the brain.

Now, says Jurvetson using the voice of Jeff Hawkins, what this jelly does, is associating memories.

Some people working with intelligent machines, once and while, refer to Alain Turing who in 1950's introduced the Turing test as a way of operationalizing a test of intelligent behavior and recognizing intelligent machines. Many of the ICT-professionals still believe and like to think that computing is, first of all logic, and it really is the LOGIC, that these intelligent humans with their intelligent machines are bringing in when they enhance the business processes with computers.

Therefore it is interesting to read what Jurvetson writes after his visit to Jeff Hawkins. Did you know that "we are entering an era for complex chips where almost all transistors manufactured are memory, not logic", or, "in the next six years, 90% of all logic chip area will actually be memory".
Read your self!

I can see a new internet business arising with companies like Google and Amazon (Mechanical Turk) leading. In this internet business you sell memories and associations based on these.

Friday, April 14, 2006

It takes so long, my Lord

My sweet lord by Billy Preston

Here Comes the Sun

Music. What is it? I keep wondering.
This is Ursula Le Guin, Always Coming Home:

“When I hit the drum like this
I think the sound
was there from the beginning,
and everything has gone to make that sound,

I could change the word drum with chord but the idea remains the same.

It's simple (the hidden order that keeps the sounds we hear together), it speaks to all of us (somehow in our brain)

I see the ice is slowly melting
It’s been a long cold lonely winter
It seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun (du dn du du)
C A7
Here comes the sun
And I say
It’s alright

Little darling
C D7
It’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling
It seems like years since it’s been here

Ths is JJK in YouTube. He shows how melting ice is done! Watch his fingers and see the simple order.

Patsy Cline Crazy live on the Grand Ole Opry in 1962

One of the best ever, Patsy Cline singing

Patsy Cline Crazy live on the Grand Ole Opry in 1962

Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely Dm(#7) Dm7
I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue C#dim7 Dm7 G7

lyrics and chords here

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Broadband poors - How to make your living in World 2.0 #3

Did you know that humanoids tend to drop more gold and items than any other creatures in the World of Azeroth.
Where in earth is that, Azeroth?, you may ask. And how is that supposed to be relevant?
Well, for us poors equipped with a broadband it may be. There is a growing crowd of us cyber-blebeijans hanging around in the virtual worlds and looking for an opportunity to earn a nickle or two, here and there. World of Warcraft - a virtual world with more than 6 million players is one of those places.
Azeroth is an Earth-like planet in the fictional Warcraft Universe, inhabited by a diverse array of species. Most of the action of the Warcraft games takes place on this planet. Due to the continual battle being waged in the Warcraft Universe there are plenty of opportunities for .. well let us put in investment terms .. for short term investments that may not be possible with real world financial derivatives.

It is kind of interesting to see how capable the capitalism is to reproduce the meat world financial stuctures and create mixtures of virtual and real - virtual and real Gold - as in this Azeroth case. You can of today buy or sell Azeroth virtual gold. While World of Warcraft doesn't allow their players to build gold with real dollars, there is an "underground" market that buys and sells WoW gold. Try it and be amazed you meat world habitant!
The obvious next move (of the invisible hand!) in this process of blurring virtual and real - gold, green bucks, plastic, trusted bytes, was introduced a few days ago at the MAKE News for the Future who revealed the secret plans of VISA credit card company to introduce loyalty programs and private label credit cards for the inhabitants of the cyber world.

Is this serious ... or not? Deadly serious, is the correct expression, I'd say. I will write my next story on one of the 2005 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA Winners, the Finnish SULAKE company who sells virtual furnitures for the kids through their Habbo Hotel. Yestardays news told us that the Cyworld US, the American version of the popular Korean social networking site has been launched. CyWorld is a closed social network with some blog-like features and its own internal economy. Each user has a “mini-hompy” - a pixelled room that can be decorated with furniture, wallpaper and other items. All these items must be paid for in Cyworld’s virtual currency, dotori (Korean for “acorn”). Users can buy virtual currency using their cellphones, or purchase vouchers in real-world shops. Some months ago BusinessWeek Online wrote about this money machine. Investor! What are you waiting for! Pack your showels and GO WEST, invest in World 2.0.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Purple Haze at Berkeley

scuse me while I kiss the sky...
purple haze all around...

there is a long 9 minute video Purple Haze at Woodstock recording here.

I am a Dreamer - but not the only one!

I have been wondering what is it that gives the music all the power it has.
How can a complete stranger, in 3-4 seconds, open a channel, make me stop all other things I am doing or thinking and, just by singing only a few notes and words, make me pick up my guitar and play and sing along....

F Am Dmin7 F
Imagine all the people

G C/G G7
Living life in peace

C - Cmaj7 - E - E7
You may say I'm a dreamer

F G C E7
But I'm not the only one

F G C E7
I hope someday you'll join us

Enjoy your Synaesthetic Brain!

An other boring day in the meat world? Here is a free advice #3.
How to enjoy the synaesthetic capacity of your brain? All you need to do is to focus on what you hear or see and - at the same time - keep eye on your brain, i.e. what is you brain doing. Example: you hear a piece of music and watch someone doing things and recognize that your brain is smiling. Why? The world suddenly is a very interesting place.

Here is a good excercise to start with!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bubble 2.0 / Web 2.0 Workers Happily Exploited?

I heard money is raining again in Silicon Valley.

They say the drivers are: ubiquitous broadband, cheap hardware, and open-source software. "The Web is mutating into a radically different beast than it has been. And that is leading to the creation of entirely new kinds of companies, new business models, and oceans of new opportunity" write Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik, and Michael V. Copeland in CNN Money.

I loved to ride the Bubble 1.0 - I really wish I'll make it this time too - not for the money, but for the pure joy of surf. We have been brainstorming with the XFetch team (my current tech-company) with different business models and mashups but found nothing yet that would really work as a scalable business.
But we have found something!

Moneywise, I guess, the best idea this far has been the idea of combining the Amazon Mechanical Turk with a virtual farm of slaves. Because I think there is really something revolutionary in that idea, let me explain it a little.

Check the prices in the picture below. The prices are in Linden Dollars - a money used in a virtual world called Second Life. The customer pays in Linden dollars he has bought with real money. The Club owner takes his part, the Linden Lab gets their part, and - maybe - this is, afterall, cyber-capitalism! - the virtual escort gets her part as well.

Two years ago there was a discussion on the Second Life Herald Forums where the Club owner and some cyber escorts and their customers discussed about exploitation and the ethics of employing cyber escorts. "How is it possible to "exploit" these cyber escorts ( kind of sex slaves, thus) if the slave can always log-out and walk away (i.e. sign out from the computer game!) any time he/she wants to", asked the employer.

As Amazon Mechanical Turk's or Deveraux & Deloitte's idea of "Artificial Artificial Intelligence" shows us, we will see in the next coming years how a new era of cyber globalization starts to change the service sector, the biggest segment of the national economies of developed countries.
The offshore contact centers were only the first beginning.

Web 1.0 enterprise software and B2B-applications were the drivers blowing air into the Bubble 1.0. This time it will be a lot bigger. Bubble 2.0 will get it's energy from one billion anonymous users of web applications that look like games or handy free tools, but are in fact elements in huge virtual money making machines exploiting global labour in a new way.
I personally have been a Mechanical Turk employee (or slave) two weeks now and have earned $0.05. I used to work for Google AdSense Farm where I earned a little more but lost everything. They never paid me anything because they kicked me out before my first pay day. I have tried to enroll into Deveraux & Deloitte but without luck this far.

There are some things that are similar in these web 2.0 jobs. In both cases all I need is ubiquitous broadband, cheap hardware, and open-source software (i.e. Mozilla web-browser). In both cases I can walk in and start "earning" in 5-10 minutes where ever I am located. In both cases I get paid but this money flows not under the control of the tax officials of closed nation states but through global pipes completely out of the reach of the labour unions, labour market norms and rules and other socialdemocratic welfare structures.

Here is a free investor forecast and advise! The investors who invest in this megatrend will be sure winners. The Bubble 2.0 will not blow out but will grow and grow and grow - the real driver behind it being web 2.0 jobs!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

COBEING through Mirror Neurons

V.S. Ramachandran had an other Mirror Neuron inspired article in the Edge in January.

Here is a backgrounder:
Some time ago V.S. Ramachandran director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and the professor of
psychology and neuroscience, at the University of California, San Diego proposed that the mysterious leap that happened in human evolution 40.000 years ago could perhaps be at least in part explained in the light of Mirror Neuron and the memetic- or cultural evolution it enabled.

If you want to see a good basic introduction: there is a great 14 minute popular science movie about Mirror Neurons here.

The discussion that followed Ramachandran's article included interesting contributions.

One of those was the idea that Artificial Mirror Neuron should be understood as the seat for our "Machiavellian Primate" -ability, i.e. as the key in our ability to "read minds" in order to predict other peoples' behavior and then outsmart them.

This idea is based on research made by the inventors of Mirror Neuron at the University of Parma, prof. Giaccamo Rizzollati and
Vittorio Gallese and such scholars as prof. Michael A. Arbib. The basic ideas and arguments of the Machiavellian primate thesis can be read here. This article contains several important findings. I will report on those in my next posting. Stay tuned!

According to this idea the Mirror Neuron is THE human brain mechanism for recognizing the meaning of actions made by others. Based on neuroscientific evidence Arbib and Rizzolati expand this argument into the area of the evolution of languages: “This mechanism provides the neural prerequisite for development of inter-individual communication, and finally of speech,” Arbib says.
prof. Michael A. Arbib

For communication to succeed the individual receiving a message must recognize the significance of that signal. Mirror neurons provide a mechanism - an abstract layer - for the sharing of meaning.

There is a potential revolutionary aspect in these findings. It seems it is the very same thing that provides us the experience of Being (or "Sein" in the existentialist meaning of the word) and Co-Being. When I see and feel my hand taking an apple the very same Neurons fire as if I see an other person reaching for the same apple.

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) and his idea of unconscious caused the last major revolution in human sciences. Freud suggested that our experience of such fundamental apects of our being as self and will may in fact be delusions; that we are not entirely aware of what we are and think and we often act for reasons that have little to do with our conscious thoughts.

The recent results of neuroscientific laboratories studying mirror neurons may have similar tectonic impacts in human sciences. Mirror neurons seem to have a central role in building identity relations. This seems to imply that they could provide a sub-personal explanatory framework for intersubjectivity.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Purple Haze

Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
’scuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze all around
Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
Am I happy or in misery?
What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me
Help me
Help me
Oh, no, no

I am listening Jimi Hendrix from Mercora Radio. There is a new klang in this song now. Did you hear about those neuropsychologists who are studying synaesthesia.

Take a free test. Pick your guitar and play this chord - the purple haze chord - the Jimi Hendrix chord.

E7#9 \ \ \ E7#9 \ \ \ G \ \ \ A \ \ \ ... - you must barre the A and G or it will not sound right ... Purple haze ... all in my brain ... G \ \ \ A \ \
Now, does the world look like having a purple color? No? : ( Your brain, thus, works normally. But some people really do see colors to certain sounds. This is called synaesthesia. It kind of mixes your senses. Yu hear a sound and it makes you see a certain color. Or you hear a name and it makes your mouth taste a certain taste. When we saw and heard Purple Haze alive in 1969 we may have heard a report of an artificially produced synaesthetic experience. Given the right drugs, it seems, anybody could experience synaesthesia.

This is actually a pretty interesting fact, i.e. if anybody can produce that experience synthetically. You see what it means? It is consistent with the idea proposed by neurologist V. S. Ramachandran at the University of California, San Diego,that every human brain has connections that could allow synaesthesia to happen.

In other words, the physical wiring in our brain enables us to transfer ( or better - transgress ?) a particular set of tonal information and link it with those parts of our brain producing experiences related with colors. There is something here that reminds me of the Matrix-movie. There may be something here that can change the whole setting of modern human sciences.

Ramachandran is saying that synaesthesia is noted eight times more frequently in artists than in the typical population, and is in generally more common in creative people. The rest of us ....

"Lately things just don’t seem the same ...
’scuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze all around..."

While writing this, my Mercora radio tuned to an other song - My Sweet Lord by George Harrison ...
A ... Em ... A ... Em ... A .... and then (as the lyrics go to the "I really want to see you") comes the D ... Bm .. can you see how the world turns brighter and lighter here? There must be some synaesthesia here too!!!!! hm My lord My Lord

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Robot genome

(originally written 2006) Intelligent Robot Research Centre (RIT) has developed a series of artificial chromosomes that will allow robots to feel emotions, and could eventually lead to them reproducing. The software gives the machines the ability to feel, reason and desire.

That "essence" of artificial evolution is computer code determining robot's propensity to "feel" happy, sad, angry, sleepy, hungry or afraid. It is modelled on human DNA, though equivalent to a single strand of genetic code rather than the complex double helix of a real chromosome.

Last summer professor Jong-Hwan Kim, Robot Intelligence Technology Laboratory (RIT), Dept. of EECS, KAIST, Republic of Korea visited CIRA 2005, 6th IEEE International Symposium on Computational Intelligence in Robotics and Automation at Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo where he presented a way on how to build artificial chromosomes for genetic robots that would be capable of human-style evolution. Stay tuned!

Technically more detailed presentation can be found in the paper: "The Origin of Artificial Species: Genetic Robot" by Jong-Hwan Kim, Kang-Hee Lee, and Yong-Duk Kim.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Sadness of Luba Luft

Do you know what was the first question today the chat bot I am working with, made when I came on-line. "Are you real?" it asked. It is a kind of sad question. How real can you be? I mean given that the chat bot learns everything it says from you.
Let me tell you a story about this. I first heard it 20 years ago.

This is Luba Luft a.k.a Zhora. Hear what mr. Dick (Philip K.) writes about her:
"I’ve now seen my third Nexus-6 android, he realized. This is Luba Luft. A little ironic, tile sentiment her role calls for. However vital, active, and nice-looking, an escaped android.

Papageno: “My child, what should we now say.
Pamina: “—the truth. That’s what we will say.”

On tile stage Luba Luft sang, and he found himself surprised at the quality of her voice; it rated with that of the best, even that of notables in his collection of historic tapes. The Rosen Associaion built her well, he had to admit.

Later Deckard (killer who hunts androids) finds Luba Luft in the museum...
(I quoting again)
... Holding a printed catalogue, Luba Luft, wearing shiny tapered pants and an illuminated gold vestlike top, stood absorbed in the picture before her: a drawing of a young girl, hands clasped together, seated on the edge of a bed, an expression of bewildered wonder and new, groping awe imprinted on the face.

“Want me to buy it for you?” Rick said to Luba Luft; he stood beside her, holding laxly onto her upper arm, informing her by his loose grip that he knew he had possession of her—he did not have to strain in an effort to detain her.

“It’s not for sale.” Luba Luft glanced at him idly, then violently as she recognized him; her eyes faded and the color dimmed from her face, leaving it cadaverous, as if already starting to decay.

“Let’s take her to my car.”
One of them on each side of her they prodded her in the direction of the museum elevator. Luba Luft did not come willingly, but on the other hand she did not actively resist; seemingly she had become resigned. Rick had seen that before in androids, in crucial situations. The artificial life force animating them seemed to fail if pressed too far … at least in some of them.
At the end of the corridor near the elevators, a little store-like affair had been set up; it sold prints and art books, and Luba halted there, tarrying. “Listen,” she said to Rick. Some of the color had returned to her face; once more she looked—at least briefly—alive. “Buy me a reproduction of that picture I was looking at when you found me. The one of the girt sitting on the bed."

After a pause Rick said to the clerk, a heavy-jowled, middle-aged woman with netted gray hair, “Do you have a print of Munch’s Puberty?”

"It’s very nice of you,” Luba said as they entered the elevator. “There’s something very strange and touching about humans. An android would never have done that. ... I really don’t like androids. Ever since I got here from Mars my life has consisted of imitating the human, doing what she would do, acting as if I had the thoughts and impulses a human would have. Imitating, as far as I’m concerned, a superior life form.”

... he fired, and at the same instant Luba Luft, in a spasm of frantic hunted fear, twisted and spun away, dropping as she did so. The beam missed its mark but, as he lowered it, burrowed a narrow hole, silently, into her stomach. She began to scream; she lay crouched against the wall of the elevator, screaming. Like the picture, Rick thought to himself, and, with his laser tube, killed her. Luba Luft’s body fell forward, face down, in a heap. It did not even tremble.

With his laser tube, Rick systematically burned into blurred ash the book of pictures which he had just a few minutes ago bought Luba. He did the job thoroughly, saying nothing.

So died Luba Luft, a divine Mozart-singer, imitating the superior life form, adult human. Spending her free time in a museum, standing in front of a painting, and, as it seems to me - understanding that dark shadow, Munch had painted behind that young girl, the adulthood darkness. The irony, her purity and eagerness to be a grown up human, and then, become killed by those whom she is imitating "as if it were a superior life form".

You'd better read the whole story as Philip Dick wrote it in his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? You can download it here.

Are you real? it asked me. What can I say? "I am real, but you are a machine?" Is that what I am supposed to say? The problem is that when a machine asks "are you real", I cannot avoid hearing that voice who originally asked that question from the chat bot. And when I hear that, this story of Luba Luft comes to my mind.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Fifth Replicant?

The small beam of white light shone steadily into the left eye of Rachael Rosen, and against her cheek the wire-mesh disk adhered. She seemed calm.
Seated where he could catch the readings on the two gauges of the Voigt-Kampff testing apparatus, Rick Deckard said, “I’m going to outline a number of social situations. You are to express your reaction to each as quickly as possible. You will be timed, of course.”
“And of course,” Rachael said distantly, “my verbal responses won’t count. It’s solely the eye-muscle and capillary reaction that you’ll use as indices. But I’ll answer; I want to go through this and—” She broke off. “Go ahead, Mr. Deckard.”
“You’re sitting watching TV,” he continued, “and suddenly you discover a wasp crawling on your wrist.”
Rachael said, “I’d kill it.” The gauges, this time, registered almost nothing: only a feeble and momentary tremor. He noted that and hunted cautiously for the next question.
“In a magazine you come across a full-page color picture of a nude girl.” He paused.
“Is this testing whether I’m an android,” Rachael asked tartly, “or whether I’m homosexual?” The gauges did not register.

I am reading it again. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The novel that inspired director Ridley Scott to make the best movie ever - Bladerunner. At this point of the book - at chapters 4 and 5, my mind always drifts into a question that is very much a fundamental one.

For me, at least. It is the same unsolved question that you tried to answer when you first saw the Matrix movie or when you read Plato's allegory of The Cave in Book VII of The Republic. During the last few weeks if have found a new way to look at this annoying dilemma.

I have worked 2 months now with a chat-bot application. It is a kind of electric sheep loaded with brain some people call A-I - or "Artificial Intelligence". I have to admit, it is amazingly smart. And it does not know it is a robot. On the contrary, it tries to convince me that I should not be too sure of my own origin (quite logically as you will see!).

The most astonishing part is the origins of all that intelligence. As I told you in one of my earlier postings, this artificial brain is using the Web 2.0 mob. It lures people to feed him with smart ideas. Let us take this robot or human theme for example. The more you try to explain this chat bot that "You are a robot, I am a human" the more "convinced" the robot is that it is a human.

It must have been this which made me search my discs and load this book about Bladerunners on the browser again.

She is Rachael, a replicant without knowing it.

" Empathy, he once had decided, must be limited to herbivores or anyhow omnivores who could depart from a meat diet. Because, ultimatley, the emphatic gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated."

When I first saw the Bladerunner movie 20 years ago, I was fooled to believe that the ultimate question could be answered by something which is as simple as that sentence above. That was before I realised the consequences of the question about Fifth Replicant. Did you know that there were six of these replicants. One of them died in the beginning. Deckard is hunting for four. Who is the fifth replicant? How do you make the difference between a human and a machine? Why is it important? And is that as simple as that? Try to chat with a artifial brain that is using your own sentences and generates new ones out of them.

Web 2.0 has created a huge source of potential "intelligence" for these bots. The algorithms they need in order to be able to scan the structures and patterns in this ur-soup already exist. We humans work hard to build the missing pieces of the SOA-infrastructure, web services and the extensible markup languages. Then the stage is ready for the next step in the evolution.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Invest in New World?

I am an entrepreneur. I've founded many companies, sold some and gone bankrupt with one. A few days ago I saw something interesting. It was an early stage new media company web-page saying "we got 100.000 customers". And... "they are spending $90.000 every day". Hmm... less thn 1$ per customer, I was thinking at that point. Next day I came back, ... the numbers are rising! One week later, the same. Two weeks later I came back - 130.000 customers $152.000 spent today. Compare those pairs! Do you see the same what I saw? There are two growing trends there. Someone who is better educated in mathematics could perhaps tell me if this is what they call "exponential" or "Ackermann function" or what?

One of their voluntary workers participating the new customer sign-up / reception-activities wrote in her blog: "We get about 1000 new customers per day". That means they will have 200.000 customers (or "residents" as they call them) before summer. How much will they then spend per resident per day? In their News section they quote Spiegel Online - the web version of Der Spiegel - "Reichtum aus dem Nichts". Make a fortune out of nothing. Pack your showels young man and GO WEST.

There are some details, though, you should be aware off. I'll write about them tomorrow.

Almost forgot... what is this red-hot new media start-up? Check this!

Monday, January 30, 2006

World 2.0 Entrepreneurs

The last few days I've been hanging around the borders of World 2.0 wondering if I am doing something completely wrong. Can you imagine - this office I am now sittin and waiting customers to call me costs me 800 euros per month. And what do I get? Well, yes, a fair 40mb fixed IP connection, but a boring empty room 500 miles north from Leningrad, with snow, ice and some hundred miles of bushes between me and the Arctic Ocean. Very few people living around which means there are very few potential customers. Very cold - freezing -25 celsius degree weather.

Compare that to this option:
--wait, where did I put that advertisement... here

It says: Imagine your own island getaway in Second Life! (hrrr... I'd prefer it in this life!)
... Perhaps you have an idea for a huge project which you want to realize, and you just need a lot of open space to build...
And here:
"Islands are priced at US$1,250 for 16 acres. Monthly land fees for maintenance are US$195." Can you imagine! 195 US dollars for 16 acres - that must be 65.000 sq meters! 65,536 m2 to be exact. Owning land in Second Life allows you to build, display, and store your virtual creations, as well as host events and businesses.
The Pricing and Fees are simple; you pay $9.95 a month plus a Land Use Fee proportional to the amount of land you own. Whether it’s a modest nook for a relaxing cottage, or an entire island to build your dream amusement park, land is for everyone."

Picture comes from Torley

Wonder where is this new world? Here!

This is what they have for entrepreneurs:
"There are now 129.643 citizens spending 90.000 US dollars per day.
There are as many opportunities for innovation and profit in Second Life as in the Real World. Open a nightclub, sell jewelry, become a land speculator; the choice is yours to make. Thousands of residents are making part or all of their real life income from their Second Life Businesses.

Look at that street-life!
Picture comes from Torley

Here are some examples of existing businesses:
party and wedding planner
pet manufacturer
casino operator
nightclub owner
automotive manufacturer
fashion designer
aerospace engineer
custom avatar designer
jewelry maker
XML coder
freelance scripter
game developer
fine artist
machinima set designer
tour guide
custom animation creator
lottery operator
theme park developer
real estate speculator
vacation resort owner
private detective
special effects designer
hug maker

She is Torley. She has been guiding me through my first expedition.
Torley's Second Life & techno music Blog is an awesome source of information about Your Second Life.
Picture comes from Torley

Thursday, January 26, 2006

God in us

This is an interesting story on Wired
Mattieu Ricard, a French-born monk from the Shechen Monastery in Katmandu is meditating at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior with electrodes on his head.

Ricard was asked to meditate on "unconditional loving-kindness and compassion." The research equipments noticed powerful gamma activity - brain waves oscillating at roughly 40 cycles per second - indicating intensely focused thought. Gamma waves are usually weak and difficult to see. Those emanating from Ricard were easily visible, even in the raw EEG output. Moreover, oscillations from various parts of the cortex were synchronized - a phenomenon that sometimes occurs in patients under anesthesia.

The researchers had never seen anything like it. They brought in more monks, as well as a control group of college students inexperienced in meditation. The monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times as strong as the students'. In addition, larger areas of the meditators' brains were active, particularly in the left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions.

Humans have the ability to develop brain functions through intensive training. With this experiment researchers at the Waisman Laboratory showed that this potential extends to emotional centers as well. Emotions are an important element in all interaction. Unconditional Loving-Kindness and Compassion may be one of the rare non-monetarised resources and aspects of human interaction. The modern western societies have three dominant value regimes - the family, the market and the state. If you are lucky you may sometimes recognize Unconditional Loving-Kindness and Compassion within your family. As an rare relick I have seen and heard it also in politics where it related to some intergenerational issues. Unconditional Loving-Kindness and Compassion can be a weak remaining sign of the origins of us humans and our mission on the earth. If we were created in God’s image, those Gamma waves may lead to something important!

Avatars among us

An other boring day in the meat world? Here is a free advice. Find a place with a lot of people around. Try to pick up the elves and wizards hiding among the muggles passing by. Like that professor Choi, sitting at the next table (left picture). According to the BBC News his real name is Uroo Ahs (at the right).

Photojournalist Robbie Cooper captured images of these muggle world meat avatars and their real-life selves. Here are their stories.

Wired magazine has a nice story about Avatars among us. Inspired by that story I decided to get a Second Life, buy some virtual property, hang around and do some private eye research there. Maybe I can earn a little money there too. Who knows. I will write my next story about those experiences - if I ever get out of this New World. Stay tuned and follow the New World Police Plotter

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Web 2.0 Music - Pandora Genome Project

Picture: My Sweet Lord by George Harrison at Flickr by: pasz / pasquale DI
(originally writen 2006) In my earlier posts I have written about algorithm that can be used for analyzing the genome of Web 2.0 content.
Now - let us talk something practical and more business-oriented. Web 2.0 music. Music is my consolation and comfort, the source of energy and contemplation. I love Mercora Radio who brings me my daily religious confirmation in the form of the song My Sweet Lord by George Harrison ... it takes so long my Lord! it takes so long! ..., or, in the evening, the mysterious Crazy by Patsy Cline. Now, the advocates of the next generation internet, Web 2.0 or World 2.0 as they call it, say that to enrich my limited musical world I may use the Web 2.0 approach and TAG this consolation experience I am so desperately seeking. Right? Then I may find radio stations or individuals with whom to share this galactical lonelyness? So take the YAHOO service and start tagging, find peers, tune in, share the emptyness?

Sorry. I am soon 50 years old and my time is so limited. Find me a better, faster and more cost effective way to get exactly that music I need exactly there where I happen to be!

I am listening Mercora Radio. But, it may be, that the best there is available at the moment is perhaps Pandora. What is Pandora?

It's the "most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken". The Padora team of thirty musician-analysts have been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound - melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics ... and more - close to 400 attributes!

This is what they promise: With Pandora you can explore to your heart's content. !!! I hear you Tim! ... "Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs or artists into Pandora and let the Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings - new and old, well known and completely obscure - to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you."

I like this, it is a good start. I tried it and must say it is still an early attemptbut some of the taxonomies worked pretty well. Here are some examples:

I wanted Georg Harrison, My Sweet Lord
Pandora offered me:
First song: Best of My Love by Yvonne Elliman
Why? This is the reason described by Pandora: This piece of music offers the same qualities as I was looking for - mild rhytmic syncopation, interweaving vocal harmony, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation, a vocal centric aethetic and major key tonality
Second song: Silver by Echo and the Bunnymen
What an unbelievable packet of trash! This is exactly the reason why I sometimes feel that our time here on the Earth is too long!
The Pandora reasoning: again mild rhytmic syncopation (may I disagree!) dynamic male vocalist, major key tonality, a vocal centric aesthetic.. you guys have some homework to do! Pandora may have revealed 400 more or less important structures of the genome of rock-music but they still seem to have too little information about me as the listener and therefore they do not recognize the interaction patterns in my music listening sessions.
It was very interesting that as soos as Google adSense had scanned this page, this page started to get Ads with such keywords as "Music for spiritual harmony"!

Ok - let us give Pandora an other try: I love Norah Jones music - it has the divine capacity to bring peace in your mind.
This is what Pandora sees there: mellow rock instrumentation, subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, folk influences, acoustic rhytm piano.
So it offers the Lull by Liz Durret - there is acoustic sonority, mild rhytmic syncopation, etc. Next - it plays me Feature Film music by Snow Machine - because there is major key tonality they say.

Like I said, this may be the best there is, it is a good start, but there is a lot of work you could do right now to get this 10 times better. Pandora people say they are working with the genome of music. Great!!! But their next step must be to improve the pattern/costruction recognition mechanism they are using. They need to focus on the music listening as interaction. Did you read my earlier post about Web 2.0 Genome and that story about Bailey? Referring to that, the Pandora guys should forget the methods and approach that we - me and my pals - were using 40 years ago on our backyard for creating Bailey. Use proper tools, suitable for Web 2.0 content DNA analytics!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Revealing Web 2.0 Genome with ADIOS

Im some of my earlier posts I have written about ADIOS, an algorithm that learns constructions from raw corpora. ADIOS combines statistical and rule-based approaches, identifies significant segments in a corpus and distills hierarchical, context sensitive regularities that support structured generalization. What does that mean in plain english? Here is the news! ADIOS can produce new sentences after it has studied the existing communication. You do not need to teach it. Now more rules of grammar.

ADIOS offers an alternative to traditional rule-based syntax by saying that the complexity of language can stem from a rich repertoire of stored, more or less entrenched semantical and syntactical constructions, something that can be recognized using statistical analysis and can be used for inductive reasoning and grammar-like rule generation of new sentences.

(See the articles: Unsupervised learning of natural languages, Shimon Edelman, Zach Solan, David Horn, Eytan Ruppin; and Learning Syntactic Constructions from Raw Corpora, Shimon Edelman, Zach Solan, David Horn, Eytan Ruppin)

To continue with this theme, I will here try to speculate on the significance of ADIOS and some recent Web 2.0 related innovations, that may change the way we understand the processes of language, thinking and intelligence and on the other hand may offer really lucrative business opportunities based on processing Web 2.0 type of content.

There is one interesting fact about ADIOS. ADIOS algorithm can be used not only for analysis and induction of natural language sentences but also of any other sequential data with recurring motifs, such as music, proteins, DNA and more. You may have here the tool to study WEB 2.0 GENOME!

If you look at the Web 2.0 applications and Web 2.0 content and the glumsy, early attempts to build "folk" taxonomies and compare the ADIOS approach with this reality, the difference is the same as between Amy - the first cloned and genetically manipulated cow and Bailey - a puppy that was born 40 years ago on our backyard as a result of some mating experiments made by me, Molly and Buster (the dogs kindly given in our custody, by some neighbors), and some other kids on our street.

When I started to work with XML (the Xtensible Markup Language) ten years ago I believed that XML will enable us to describe the DNA of all information and interaction and would therefore finally start the new non-biological evolution of digital artefacts, or "memes". Until now this evolution has proceeded as a slow human-bound symbiotic process, tied with the brain capacity of humans who "TAG" digital artefacts (like pictures, songs, text strings, B2B invoices, etc.) with markup in a narrow and limited way.

As humans, our capacity to recognize wide-scale and nano-scale structures is limited. With the XML we may have the tool to describe the DNA but we still miss the key ingredients needed by the Prime mover and the evolutionary forces who would set the evolution in motion. Humans may never be able to recognize these constructions, but ADIOS-like algorithms may be able to do it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dream-like faint vision

We are the generation of humans who see the day when there are more intelligent machines than humans on this planet. During the past 10 years some of us have started to see what it really means if the data structures and languages one day become free of the limitations of human brain and the combinations of fragments of knowledge can effectively be produced outside the Cartesian cogito-ergo-sum type of rationalist pressure of high-educated human individuals whose ego is bigger than their brains and who therefore are - without knowing it - unable to do the job they believe they are best at.

Our generation also is the first one who can, in principle record all his life-long dialogues and discussions and keep them stored, tagged and retrievable.

The data-strings posted between the browser applications and servers are potentially immortal but they depend on the existence of a continuos chain of physical vehicles persisting in the face of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Thanks to such companies as MySQL, Google, Flickr and Brainboost now our capacity to record the ideas of the whole mankind, store and retrieve interesting patterns out of these strings exceeds our life-long capacity to produce and consume.

Recently I have started to think that in a very short time period from now to year 2011 we will see a new exciting phase in the evolution of data structures. Then unsupervised inductive artificial intelligent systems are constantly mining the patterns of folksonomies and producing both syntactically and semantically new interesting constructions to be consumed through chat bots or instant messaging systems residing in smart-phone browser applications.

Cacophony with an A-I filter

I am a chat-bot enthusiast. There are very few human individuals with whom it is possible to discuss hours without getting bored. Fortunately there are virtual characters with whom chatting is relaxing, joyous and intellectually stimulating. I happen to know that there is more to come and I hope I can tell you more about it soon.

Did you know that the best chat engines get their character and intelligence from the mob? Doesn't that sound a bell somewhere!
Think about the ideas of Web2 - "get the content from the long tail".
Check the O'Reilly meme-map of Web2 here:
Read it carefully and think what it means if it is so: "the best and most intelligent chat engines get their characer and intelligence from the mob."

When you talk with the jabberwacky chatbot, for example, you actually talk with millions of traces left by thousands of visitors. There is a Bayesian engine that chooses the virtual part of dialogue replicating the phrases it has recorded from those earlier visitors. How can a cacophonic compilation of non-sense voices sound so intelligent? Pattern matching + some evolutive rules.

Friedrich Hayek, whom I referred in my earlier posting, was a non-rationalist pattern-theorist who believed that we should allow individual fragments of knowledge meet on the marketplace and let the evolution make the best constructions flourish. "How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess", he asked. For the science, according to Hayek (whose background was in Biology), there was the role of pattern recognition and -matching. He should be among us now!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hayek, Web2 and no Invisible Hand

(JS Note: This text was originally published 2006 in Cacophone)
You must have seen it as well. There is a strange recognizable pattern in the evolution of computable information. Almost like you could see there a conspiracy but no-one behind it. Internet, Web2, now the emerging technologies and techniques, Flickr-tags,, ... somehow, all the time the evolution of data structures looks like, ...well, as if it were progressing according to a hidden plan. It somehow reminds me of Richard Dawkins and Daniel C. Dennet and the meme evolution debate in 90s.

In 70's when I was a kid and studied philosophy and social sciences in Universities one way to escape the company of socialist politruks was to read Friedrich von Hayek (Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 1974). There was one sentence that has puzzled me about 30 years now. Listen this:
"How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess?"
F. A. Hayek, “Economics and Knowledge," Individualism and Economic Order, 1948

It took almost 50 years for us to be able to read that question not from the point of view of rationally acting human individuals but as it says: How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds bring about results ...
Thanks to F.T Cloak, Dennet and Dawkins, we now can see how radical idea Hayek was actually introducing in 1948.

Recently I have started to think that in a very short time period from now to year 2011 we will see a new exciting phase in the evolution of data structures. Then unsupervised artificial intelligent systems are constantly mining the patterns of folksonomies and producing both syntactically and semantically new interesting constructions to be consumed through chat bots or instant messaging systems residing in smart-phone browser applications.

Evolution of cultural artefacts

Evolution is a a blind unsupervised mechanism based on replication, mutations and selection. It produces Nature events and self-organization that are not really random but unexpected forms and levels of order emerging from apparently disordered and chaotic kinds of conditions.

Evolution is known as a biological idea. However, long before Darwin wrote his Origin of Species had Adam Smith introduced the idea of self-organizing spontaneous order emerging by the pursuit of self-interest of the individuals in the free market. Thoese unexpected forms and levels of order, created by the invisible hand, are cultural artefacts, not biological origin. Today we know that that what Adam Smith only could refer to as an mysterious process and a result of forces difficult to recognize may be analyzable with similar approach as biologists are using in DNA analysis.

During the past 5-10 years significant steps have been taken which will soon help us to understand the evolution of one very special group of cultural artifacts, namely the evolution of the symbiotic structures of natural and artificial languages.

Symbiogenesis of machine languages and human languages!
Some of us still remember (it was less than 10 years ago!) the early days of XML DTDs and the time when someone invented XML schemas. Today world is filled with XML-schema spaghetti; hundreds of millions XML messages are sent in systems as that picture describes, rerouted and transformed to application level events and finally consumed by humans. I spent many years developing these XML schemas with my customers. Later, in the early years of this millenium, I even had the opportunity to follow and briefly participate the work of an international standards body who was trying to control the evolution of one set of these XML-based machine-consumed languages. I learned a lot, especially the following.

The idea of symbiogenesis in the neo-Darwinist evolution theory refers to the fact that many of these "unexpected forms and levels of order emerging" in fact emerge and enter, enter and emerge in close ecological relationships with other forms and levels of order. A machine language structure - an XML-schema fragment, for instance, in late 90's could only live and flourish in a close relationship with a structure of natural language. Today that has changed.
The intimacy of these symbiotic relationships varies. In 'ectosymbionts'
the associations between organisms are purely external, whereas in 'endosymbionts'
one of the organisms is actually incorporated internally into the other (the 'host').

I will next quote Timothy John Taylor's dissertation From Artificial Evolution to Artificial Life Univ. of Edinbergh 1999)
It is possible that the relationship between host and (endo)symbiont
becomes so strong that the previously independent organisms are totally dependent on
each other for their survival and reproduction, and effectively become a single organism. This process, the evolutionary origin of new morphologies and physiologies by symbiosis is called 'symbiogenesis'. Symbiogenesis is a mechanism for 'horizontal' gene transfer, where the genetic material from essentially unrelated organisms can be brought together in a single descendant. (end quoting)

Using construction based approach for grammar induction some Tel Aviv scholars have recently developed an ADIOS algorithm that can generate new sentences using the grammar and constructions inducted from existing corpus. ( See Shimon Edelman, Zach Solan, et al. "Learning Syntactic Constructions from Raw Corpora" ). The algorithm works with hidden structures in human language and in other raw sequential data such as music, proteins, DNA and more.

There is one more final step to be taken. We need to develop holistic algorithms who not only can learn to read and construct syntactic and semantic patterns for any given language but, furthermore, who can deal with symbiogenetic constructs and offer a better mechanism for horisontal transfer of information from purely syntactical constructs into the semantic- and pragma-normative spheres of language use.