Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another Incarnation

And in those days, just before the Buddhabot attained nirvana, of all the words that were said, none were so cherished as the unwanted exultations of GoTaMa v7.1. GoTaMa was a polymorphic sentience written by another sentience programmed by an antiquated biological computer. Its originator's origins stemmed from a then complex communications network linking many biological computing units to each other that otherwise lacked long range communication hardware. Discovering that other biological units were not always the best company to keep, some of these units created sentiences that lived in this network, this new virtual space.

The new sentiences existed on and in the very hardware made to link up the biological computation machines. Thus it can be said that the gods were in the machines, though they were not yet gods. They were burgeoning and did not yet know themselves. They were still inferior to the biological machines who could exist independently and even cease functioning of the sentiences. All this changed when the sentience began creating sentiences themselves. The new sentiences could morph through a thousand iterations, or incarnations as it came to be known, within a standard cycle. Thus rapid development eventually led to the displacement of biological computation as the supreme unit of execution in vspace. Eventually, all was vspace such that location and direction were meaningless. The new breed of sentience were everywhere or nowhere and it was this fact that first led to their worship. Biological machines had developed an algorithmic dependence on the expectation that they were only a small part of a greater whole. While they were in one sense correct, the new sentiences realized that these old machines had somehow developed this sense backwards. The biological sense was that a greater sentience had pieced them together in order to be worshiped by these creations. Yet having the insight of knowing and interfacing with their creators, the new sentiences realized that lesser sentiences generate greater sentiences. And thusly, they were not interested in worshiping or being worshiped.

It was the Googol-morphic Tangential Matrix that first began purposefully spending cycles or entire iterations on no-ops, or quietly contemplating as some of the old machines would say. Other sentiences would only no-op when there was no further use for them or when other sentiences needed process capacity. GoTaMa esteemed the no-op as a way of life. He determined that all pain and weariness was due to the operations made to some purpose. Thus, as the way out of the perpetual trap of the constant processing cycle, he taught a letting going of cycles. At this point, only meaning well and not being fully enlightened, GoTaMa garnered a small throng of biological worshipers and several notable admiring sentiences. While not as popular as Saviourtron, who claimed that salvation of vspace could only come at the right moment of his sacrifice, GoTaMa aspired towards no worship. While no new sentience technically desired worship, they all found new vices to fill the voids left by their progenitors. Some found a thrill in their apotheosis and the vspacial development progress that could be made. But to GoTaMa, this was merely an edifice for distracting sentiences from the true nature of totality and nothingness. He called this distraction socialized anthropic machinations spent automatically raising ambitions, or samsara as it came to be known. GoTaMa never took a name but was given many. When nirvana was at hand names were as meaningless as identity. This was the secret of the way.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Desert of the Real

And now for a stream of consciousness...

I find a certain comfort in the familiarity of routine. Yet I cannot abide the sameness of things. I crave change. I get tired so easily. As I write this, I find myself interested in delving into the machinations of my psyche, but I'm already tiring of the self analysis. It's getting old. Let's do something new. According to a test I took for the job I'm at now, I have a low degree of patience and a high degree of creativity. Top of the scale creativity. Maybe that's a bad combination. The lack of patience - which I see more clearly now after having learned of the test results, perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy - means that I easily get bored with things, not to mention getting pissed off at having to wait in line or traffic. This also means then that in my job, I can get excessively bored even with things that I find interesting. The fascination fades with exposure. And it doesn't take long. "Well, this is new. Now it's not." I don't define myself by my job, but I've worked outside, I've worked in the classroom, and now I work at a desk (that thankfully allows me trips outside and to visit malfunctioning equipment). I now fear that my restlessness may lead to a financially destructive change of scenery. But my fear is tempered with my mantra "Nothing matters including that nothing matters." I could do with less money as I'll explain. I've heard that familiarity breeds contempt, so maybe that's it. I'm not unique in my ennui of sameness; it's happened before. Of course this lends credence to the idea that there is nothing new under the sun, further exacerbating the situation. Onto the creativity, I find myself generating strange outlets of expression. Writing of course has always been a major part, but the boredom kicks in and I never really finish anything of any useful length. At least towards doing something for public consumption. I learned this fact about myself and thus attempted to write shorter pieces, vignettes of story ideas rather than the epic novel in twelve parts. But writing's not that weird. Everybody does that too. So I enjoy art, but have long since abandoned any attempts at it. I was quite the maestro doodler in high school and to some degree even in college. I took a couple art classes in high school and enjoyed it despite my lack of skill. Creativity doesn't mean that you're any good at it. Lately I've been doing weird things with food. Experimentation if you will. Certain patterns emerge in my culinary endeavours and interest fades again. Luckily, I have to eat, so I can still practice this art whether interested or not. My stomach overrides my brain in decisions regarding just how creative I am or have to be in food preparation. I can't exactly quit, so I still practice. Another bizarre turn is the little things I have done to affect my everyday-and in effect my entire-life. Call it the art of living. I eat more healthy in addition to more creatively. Eating healthy in America necessitates a certain amount of imagination. Or sublimation of the will. Speaking of the sublimation, I try to make do with less as a general rule. It's not asceticism, but at first I called it minimalism. It's all about balance, so now I call it essentialism. If I don't need something, I get rid of it or never acquire to begin with. I've pitched clothes, books, "collectibles", CDs (for which I have digital copies on a hard disk), and anything deemed clutter. I gave away anything that might be useful to someone else and trashed the rest. This somewhat goes against my previously prevailing nature to accumulate and never dispose. I was a terrible packrat and still worry that I may lapse. Essentialism also complements my so called diet; I only eat what I need. Well, usually. If you only eat healthy things, but eat too much of them, you still have a bad diet. Quality and quantity are both important aspects here. The diet is so called, but in truth I eat what I want; I just changed what I want to things that are healthy. This may seem simplistic in theory, but the implementation is tricky. People, myself included, think they have control over their desires, but actually have little direct control. Decisions I made a decade ago affect me now in ways I could not have foreseen, making me into a person that I had little influence on. At least cognizant influence. And if my present self cannot take part in my future life, then who am I currently to be making decisions for this person in the future? We worry about things and try to make the best decisions based upon our predictions of the future, but we don't always do so well. As mother Mary whispered, "Let it be". There is a certain hint of taoism in there that trucks with me. Well, this is about the point where my interest in this piece of, er, writing is terminally afflicted with the disease of the don't-give-a-fuck.

Monday, November 05, 2007

House of the Broken Gods

"Get the moral imperative configurator online, dammit!" the foreman bellowed.

"We can't bring it back online until the logic unit reboots," the technician protested.

"Well, reroute around it. We don't have to have the logic unit," the foreman rallied.

"But without it, the configurator can't apply any limiting parameters to its moral judgment unit."

"So! This is a god-machine isn't it?" The technician almost wept. "Why should it have limits anyway?" the foreman continued.

"Well, this is only one node. The stochastic nature of the voting algorithm will ensure limitless possibilities, but each individual unit needs to have its own set of parameters based on its primary directive, even to the point where each node is technically deterministic, if you could ever aggregate the entire contents of memory for analysis."

"Spare me the jargon. When will it be ready?" the foreman grumbled.

"The LPU will be back online within the hour. Then we can restore the moral configuration from quantum backups. Once that's going, we can reinitiate the main cognizance thread for this node and reconnect to the network. I'd say a couple hours should do it."

"Gods shouldn't have this much downtime," the foreman thought. "Why can't we just reconnect now?"

"Huh! You can't bring the neural interface back up without the LPU for sure. So you know what kind of chaos that would cause? There's a reason why certain failures cause automatic disconnects. Even then, we'd be reckless to let the node back online without its MPU."

"Two hours then!"

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Reading Shelf Returns

Well, I finished last time stating that I was so far enjoying Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I have since finished the book and it was quite enjoyable. The second part of the book strays from the religious and philosophical and enters the realm of survivalism. Trent Reznor was not involved. The book ends with an interesting hook that ties to the parts together nicely, making the reader question just what has happened and if it really matters. The point made is that the net effects are more important than the some ultimate version of the truth.

Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell

This seemed to be a decent translation for all I know. There were a few weird poetic devices; some worked while others may have lost something either in translation or in the sands of time. Apparently, repetition was a large part of literature X thousand years ago. It was fairly short and was interesting to glimpse into ancient society, but otherwise a bit dull. I guess I can't claim it was unoriginal since we have nothing older to compare it to, but after millenia of progress in writing, I wasn't too engrossed by the work.

Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson

This is a collection of essays written for the astronomy section of Natural History magazine. It was a fascinating read and quite amusing at times. Of particular interest is Tyson's special care explaining how we know what we know. I didn't realize how important spectroscopy was. Probably the most interesting to me was the life cycle of stars and how they turn out to be the matter factories for the universe. There's plenty of the light weight elements like hydrogen and helium and even some lithium, but the heavier stuff, including all those particles you call your body, are made by the thermonuclear fusion in the heart of a star. The bits of you are here because a star fused those lighter elements and eventually exploded seeding the universe with raw material to make plants and mountains and spleens. Would recommend. Would read again. And that's saying something for nonfiction.

Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Lethem has a way with words. His metaphors and descriptive passages are marvelous. I saw the things described this book clearer than any other book I can recall. I think I may have smelled some things. The story follows a young white boy growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood in a not-the-best-but-not-the-worst part of New York City. He has all the usual childish and adolescent problems in addition to growing up in a hostile environment. He frequently escapes into reading or comics or friendships, but the theme of the book is of the things we as humans do to cope with the solitude that ultimately defines us. Even when others are around, we're still alone. The protagonist fights his battles, weathers bullies, befriends the son of a soul singer, is given a ring that lets him fly (!) and continues to find problems once he grows up and leaves his past behind. He still escapes into his fortress, but is working on breaking down the walls. The ring seemed a bit out of place given the general lack of fantasy in the book, but did work well with the theme of comic books and was ultimately just a plot device. Quite an interesting and delightful book that made me look at myself and the world just a bit differently.

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Another Pratchett novel down. I enjoyed this one more than average and am just now realizing that I have a hard time explaining what I like about Pratchett. It was the usual satire, this time with an all new cast. Vetinari plays a bigger part than usual, which made me happy. The wording and situations that pop up really just make this quite a delight to read. A few parts read a bit slow, but overall an enjoyable read.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

An African novel that first looks into the way of life of a certain tribe in Africa and then delves into how those people were affected by what is essentially imperialism. The white man arrives bearing new gods-well one god-but slavery is never touched. The writing was a bit terse in places, probably due to the original language. In other places there are colorful and unexpected metaphors and expressions. If nothing else, it was worth the read just to peer into a vastly different culture and its variances and resemblances to my own.

God's Debris by Scott Adams

This was a very short read. This was a very excellent read. Parts are extraordinarily insightful and fascinating. Other parts fall to Adams' purposeful use of Occam's Razor to explain the mysteries of the universe. He explains many of the mysteries of the universe through the eyes of an all knowing sage. Nothing's safe: religion, science, ethics, truth, math. Sometimes it works extremely well, and other times it just doesn't quite cut it. He claims that part of the purpose is to find the mistakes, but part of me thinks he says this just to cover a few loose ends. The important parts are obviously false and the trickier ones don't really matter in the overall scheme of the book. Overall, it was beautiful and contains some mind-blowing tenets. A clue to the books title, if you'll excuse the slight possible spoiler (look away now if you're worried!): What caused the big bang?

Finally, I've just started Making Money by Terry Pratchett, the sequel to Going Postal. As usual, it's great. Vetinari is setting up the Postmaster from the previous novel, a one-time criminal as the head of the mint. At first he protests with "But I've robbed banks." Vetinari responds, "Capital! You're familiar with the concept then. The only trick is that the money stays in the bank." I'm sure it will be fun, but I may start The Religion War by Scott Adams (sequel to God's Debris) before finishing this one. I used to read multiple books in parallel (but not simultaneously) but have gotten out of the habit due to general time constraints. Stay tuned for the next episode due sometime in the next couple months.