2005/07/09

Mozilla Update :: Extensions -- More Info:BlogThis - All Releases

Thanks, Mr. Gibson

Self Published

With all the reading I've been doing, I've been thinking more and more about maybe trying to write something. I've also found two promising works published under the Creative Commons license; Accelerando, and The Escapist. I've also run into some information on publishing your own work. I somehow doubt publishing your own work is more satisfying than sending manuscripts to dozens of publishers until one of them finally accepts you, but I'm sure its more painless.
The first tool I came across is the Creative Commons license. This is basically like an Open Source license but for books, music, and movies instead of software. You can get more information on the version for text here. Wired had an article on the license a while back. Although all their articles are online, I bought a copy because it included a CD of music released under the license including music from artists like The Beastie Boys and David Byrne. The author of The Escapist, James Morris, has a link on the book's page to an article he wrote on the importance of the license.

The second is an online service called Publish and be damned. Guess where I found that link? On the page for The Escapist. Looks like Morris used them for this particular book, which also puts him in the listings for Amazon.com. From the PADB website, "Our name is inspired by the Duke of Wellington who, when threatened by a mistress with the publication of certain private letters, returned a note to her that said: 'Publish and be damned'." You should read their about page for more details on what they do, but it sounds like a pretty dang good service to me.

Behind the Boathouse I'll Show You My Dark Secret

Grocery shopping at 7:30 am on a Saturday is very nice. There's no one around to run carts into you. There's no one around to give you dirty looks for reading magazines you don't plan on buying (because Jessica Simpson's on the cover) while they read magazines they don't plan on buying. You can sing to the music while you casually stroll down the aisles. If the employes putting things away hear you, they just smirk a bit.

But, yeah, turns out I got paid for the 4th of July. I thought I'd missed the day and had to make it up today. I could've stayed at the pool hall another coupla hours.

2005/07/08

Original Content

I've been thinking about my blog lately. I do too much link regurgitation. Posting links to interesting links on other blogs seems kind of pointless. I'm going to try to start creating more original content like The Technological Singularity. I'm still going to give interesting links, but I'll have to chew on them a bit more before I spit them back out.

Here's your link for today; its been proven that its possible to downgrade firmware versions on the PSP. This means you can go back to firmware versions that support the bootloader. The device thse Xecuter guys are making won't allow you do do that, but will allow you to use all sorts of storage devices with your PSP. $200 for a 2 gig Duo? Screw that, use an SD card, or a flash drive, or your 250 gig external hard drive with USB interface which costs less than the Duo ($34.99 for an enclosure + $129.97 for the 250 gig hard drive - $50 rebate = $ 164.96).

I've got a new favorite magazine. Asimov's Science Fiction. Its a bunch of sci-fi short stories and novelettes. This is the kind of cutting edge sci-fi I've been looking for. I'm still going to keep reading the classics--I just bought Frank Herbert's Dune last monday. This is how excited I am: the intro to one of the stories gave me goosebumps. Here it is

THE SUMMER OF THE SEVEN by Paul Melko
..."Summer of the Seven" is the third in this series--that includes "Strength Alone" (Asimov's December 2004)--concerning post-human teens coming to grips with their identity.


I'll repeat that, "post-human teens coming to grips with their identity." I could go on and on if only I didn't have to work at 7.

Eight Pound Hole

Raise your hand if The Technological Singularity was over your head.

2005/07/07

WTF?

What does a guy in Europe getting arrested for selling modded Xboxen with hard drives full of pirated games have to do with a guy in the States getting arrested for "hacking" a completely open wireless network? Two guys can't get arrested in the same day for completely unrelated reasons?

2005/07/06

Accelerando


I forgot to put a link to Accelerando in that last post. You can buy the book, or download it for free under the Creative Commons license. I like that.

Apparently its got some downloaded humans and space travel. A very good combination. Software based "humans" don't have our puny lifespan, and when your brain is in a computer, you can pause yourself for a few centuries while you cruise to the next galaxy over.

Here's a quote from an Entertainment Weekly review:
"Accelerando is to cyberpunk what Napster was to the music industry: volatile, visionary, a bit flawed, and a lot of fun."


There's also a short story called "Nightfall" by the same author, Charles Stross. I forgot what linked me to it, but it had somethign to do with all the research I was doing.


Hey, wow, I found the article I first heard about Accelarondo in. Its called "Is Science Fiction About to Go Blind?". I read it in the August 2004 issue of Popular Science. Its about how when the Singularity happens no one will be able to make anything like a decent prediction which is part of what Sci-Fi is all about.

The Technological Singularity

Ah, the Technological Singularity. There's so much to be said and read. I've only dipped my toes into the pool, nay, the ocean (you've gotta pour on the cheese sometimes). And I only recently noticed the discussion link on WIKIPEDIA. On the Singularity alone, the discussion page is nearly as long as the definition page. The first paragraph of the WIKIPEDIA describes the Singularity as, "a predicted time at which technological progress accelerates beyond the ability of present-day humans to fully comprehend or predict."

I used to understand it as being the point when technology has advanced so much the distinction between biological and mechanical life could no longer be made.

Verner Vinge is the guy who most spread the popularity of the idea in the 80s. You can read his 1993 paper on the subject here. The futurist Raymond Kurzweil and author of Age of Spiritual Machines (one of my favorite books) has also done a lot to spread the idea with his predictions of 'greater than human intelligence.' That's the most accepted, and most probable, cause for the Singularity. Either artificially intelligent machines, augmented humans, or the minds of humans downloaded into machines which operate at speeds our biological neurons aren't capable of. Once a greater than human intelligence is created, it would istelf be able to create something more intelligent than itself and so on. Intelligence would increase at an exponential rate until purely biological intelligence becomes obsolete.

This is where the danger lies in the Singularity: will our successors want to keep us around? To try to make it so, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence has been, founded to study and facilitate a broader discussion and understanding of moral artificial intelligence, and in particular, AI based on the principles of Friendliness theory." The idea of friendly artificial intelligence doesn't use the word 'friendly' the way we normally think about it. They're not trying to make robots that save kittens from trees and give all they have to the poor. The idea, basically, is to make sure the machines have similar goals to our own. Here are a few things to read about Seed AI and Friendly AI.

There's actually a philosophy called Singularitarianism based on the belief that the technological Singularity is possible. People with this philosophy would act in ways they believe would contribute to the likelihood of the Singularity happening, and happening safely. I'll have to read some more before I start considering myself a Singularitarianist. The SL4 wiki and mailing list looks like a good place to start. There's also a page on Singularitarian Principles.



Wow, I seem to have dropped the ball on that one. I start such a long, involved post, then spend an entire day away from the computer. Oh well, it was worth it. I tried to cover a lot of topics and plan on going into more detail in later posts.

I'm the Reliable One

Its come to my attention that some people rely on me for new bloggage on a daily basis while the rest of you slack off. Sorry, my life's been too crazy cool fun lately. I haven't even read /. since Sunday. Here's a quick link for you. I started a blog two days ago but its taking a lot of research. I'll try to finish it up this evening after my nap.

2005/07/03

I Want To Be The Father of Something When I Grow Up

Marvin Minsky (a.k.a. 'Old Man Minsky') is the father of A.I. I think I had a big long post planned, but its getting late so I think I forgot it. I'd just like to say that I'd like to be called the father of something someday. Something other than "that punkass kid", or whatever.

Minsky has written some pretty interesting things. The book of his I want to read the most is Society of Mind. In order to make a machine version of the human mind, we have to have a much better understanding of how it really works. In his Society of Mind theory, Minsky describes the human mind as not one mind, but a 'society' of smaller minds which he calls agents. There are varying levels of agents, with our conscious mind being the biggest and most complex. The agents decrease in size and complexity with each level until some are just simple unintelligent processors.

This theory kind of helps explain things like having two conflicting views and what we call "mixed emotions." I'll have to get my hands on that book before too long. Maybe I'll use some of my birthday money in three months. If you're interested in reading anything of his, there are some links on his homepage.