Friday, October 12, 2018

Welcome to "Sesame Street"

Another Vintage Atom

As a way of embedding a cultural icon, influential on me among many, I've oft referred to a certain "concentric hierarchy" as "the Sesame Street of Synergetics".

I'm of course talking about a "stack" of concentrically arranged (one could say layered) topological frameworks, Eulerian networks.

You may think in terms of great circles and how we used to imagine electrons flying along geodesics, in those ancient movies about "the atom".  That's the kind of mental imagery we encourage, even if we're not literally talking about an atom.

The great circles remain, absent any specific frequency or special case interpretation.

However, the strobe light may reveal a shape at a "stand still" that's more what we might have grown up calling "Platonic".  When spinning around any pair of poles, we get a readout.

A lot of schools left those out (the Five Platonics), so if you don't know what a tetrahedron is, you're in good company.

After a few Sesame Street level videos, some time with puppets, some hands-on time exploring tactile senses (Gibbs-ish ala solid, liquid and gas), you'll be clear not only on what a tetrahedron is, but several other such hedrons (or hedra) as well.

You'll be ready for kindergarten in no time!

Not that your vocabulary needs to get that big right away.  Keep watching, stay tuned.


Two tetrahedrons intersecting, give a cube, its dual the octahedron, their pairing a dodecahedron of diamond faces, space-filling (and not Platonic).

Said RD has volume 6 with respect to said cube (3) and tetrahedron (1), octahedron (4).

The dual of the RD, the VE (cuboctahedron), scales to bridge the twelve centers of closest packed unit-radius spheres to:

(A) their nearest neighbors and
(B) to a shared nucleus.

1, 12, 42, 92... a lot of you know this already.  The tetrahedron connects four of such spheres and serves as unit.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Python in the News

Atom, Spyder, Pandas and Numpy

I quizzed my class tonight:  "Why is Python in the news again?"

The hint:  someone famous, as in prize-worthy, is a fan thereof.

I talked about ISEPP (Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy) and the big name lecture series (Goodall, Leakey, Sagan...), suggesting someone of stature.

Answer (revealed after suitable time):  Paul Romer, just awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics (shared).

He's a big promoter of the Jupyter Notebook ecosystem, of which Python is a big part (explains the "py").

Actually, the ties to ISEPP are closer in that Terry, the ringleader, is a Romer fan and cites him in his slides and videos.  That's probably why Wanderers were tracking from the get go.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Columbus Day


I had a good meetup with the family physician, in their new facility.  So the theme was already medical, including pharmacy.  Then it turned out Carol had lost the med I'd just fetched for her on immediate notice, from a somewhat far away pharmacy.

Our local one is all out.  I got that done, but that was over 24 hours ago.  Since then, she's lost the whole vial.  Yikes.  We've looked high and low.  [Followup:  pills found, atop under-desk files, October 10].

She's on the horn now, with another pharmacy, hoping to get a another refill.  I'm not going to take away her starring role on the phone.  I'm a blogger.  She's got her own iPhone account.

I'm likely to be sent out to refill the refill.  I can overhear the conversation.

... OK, back from that errand.  This time we'll keep a backup of ten pills or so.

I took the camera, and was glad of an opportunity to zap a few in a Petco, as well as in the Glisan, Fred Meyer.  The pharmacy was busy, yet friendly and already had Carol's order in the queue.  That's what gave me the time for a photo shoot.  Around Halloween, that's special.

Dog Food

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Playa

I'm lifting this term Playa from its Burning Man context.  That's an annual EPCOT-like experience wherein teams experiment with prototypes for tomorrow.

However, we don't see big engineering firms representing at Burning Man.  Maybe some of their people join a crew, but you won't see pavilions from Boeing, Siemens or Google.  That's a bit worrisome.

Sure, humans learned how to build geodesic spheres and domes in the 1900s, but did they ever attempt a really big one after Montreal, way back in 1967?  Was any bigger?

We expect the sea levels to rise, and even if they don't, we might need to build whole cities from scratch for other reasons.  What about that OMR design?

Old Man River was like a super-sized stadium in design, with or without the mile wide dome.  That means terraced, like rice paddies, around the interior.  The circular city could be built in sections, using giant A-shaped sections.

Were these ideas practical?  One needs to experiment, and scale models don't always tell the whole story.  Engineers need to try stuff, not just to get the physics right, but to learn the workflows and building techniques.

We're leaving all that to Burning Man apparently.  Or research into large scale structures might be happening in places I don't know about.  Does Google Earth block them out?

Sunday, September 30, 2018

ML Again

I'm back to attending to Siraj, meaning I'm falling asleep, sometimes intentionally, while getting back into the namespace of Machine Learning, wherein I visit new-to-me nooks and crannies.

Siraj is one of my Youtube teachers, one of a cast of celebs that have come to frequent the privileged homes.  In recordings of live chat sessions, I see a lot of kids from Bangalore and elsewhere, chiming in.  They're learning about TPUs as a feature offered by the Google Mind.

This renewed focus on ML is apropos for other reasons.  The Philosophy of Mind debates go well with Indian food.  Dwaraka rocks.  We yakked about such marvels as The Turk in the Age of Napoleon.  AI was in some dimensions self booting and retains some of its carnival ambience.  Sophia and so on.

The idea of an AI Brothel in Texas came up, which I think distills the memes in a wicked brew that maybe Texans are able to handle.  Shades of Westworld.

Speaking of Westworld, as a test of Google's picture matching I slid the picture below from file manager to Google image search.  I'd snipped it from a Youtube of the opening credits. Google search recognized right away where it came from.

Carol (89) and Celeste (94) are both at the symphony, is the current hope.  Supporting evidence would be no evidence to the contrary.  I just dropped Carol off in the Nissan, just a block from the venue.  Celeste was arriving by rail.

Long before I worry about a Singularity, I'm going to be studying the anthropology of what people believe.

Siraj is suffering from no serious delusions about robots about to be real humans, yet already many humans have been branded as "bots".  The need for a term other than "subhuman" has been filled.  The "Russian Bot" T-shirt has been popular in some eCommerce circles.

Long before we say AI has closed the gap, we'll see ourselves in the mirror as highly advanced AI.  We're entitled to some vanity, as we admire ourselves as machines, cyborgs, not because anything has changed, but because we've closed a lot of gaps in the narrative.  We see ourselves as learning much the same way machines learn, by perpetually re-weighing what marbles we're given, by God's grace.

What's changed?  In part it's that our machine models now converge without becoming clones of one another, because of differing initial conditions and sometimes randomness in the algorithms themselves.  Two strong classifiers need not always classify the same way, and that matches our experience of intelligent humans disagreeing.  AI becomes more believable in proportion to its not always seeing eye to eye with itself.  Intelligence means nothing if not contentiousness.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Intermittent Service

I'm finding the Jupyter Notebook rendering service, much appreciated on Github, to be hit or miss.  I'll promote one of my repos, only to find a Sorry, Reload? situation.

Sometimes I might take it personally, given my state of mind.

Speaking of which, I just got through both seasons of Real Humans, a Swedish series (so that's the title in translation).  All this after Westworld (season one only).

So much exposure to the machine-human conundrum all at once should probably be factored in as a likely bias going forward a few posts at least. 

Talk about brainwashing, though in exactly what way is the unknown.  That's what comes out in the wash, as they say.

I'm paying attention to the CoC business rippling the pond in Linux World.  That may sound neither here nor there, but then lets remember Vulcan Spock in Star Trek and give "coldly logical" a place at the table.

The machine-human conundrum embraces the "cold rationality" we sometimes project on machine intelligence.  Empathy or "warmth" is what's lacking in mere "Hubots" (a word from the Swedish series).

What I'm saying is, I acknowledge Github gets on my nerves sometimes, as do other aspects of our Wild World Web.  In that sense (nerves), cell and silicon unite.  We've become that cyber-creature.  We're still subject to intermittent breakdown.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Graphene with Quadrays

Another Test

Continuing my meditation on "user-friendly", I tried to pump more life into Quadrays by using them to ray-trace graphene-like imagery.

Some thinkers project a coming Age of Carbon, given all the nano stuff we've learned since the discovery of buckminsterfullerene.  Graphene, surprisingly, is a relative latecomer.  We already knew "pencil lead" was really graphite that rubbed off in layers.  An individual sheet:  that wasn't so much the focus.  Diamond was another allotrope.

Then Bf came along (C60) and a sudden interest in soccer ball imagery, on which I later capitalized using hash tag HP4E ("hexapents for everyone").  Nanotubes would maybe turn out to be good for something.  Separating them into isomers was a technological challenge.  Then came graphene.

However, from another angle, we've been in an Age of Carbon for quite some time now, in that we understand polymer chemistry, oil refining, all manner of things carbon.  As a life form, we're all about hydrocarbons.

I chauffeured again today, driving my passenger to Portland Nursery.  On the way, we rescued an abandoned coffee maker, a Cuisinart model I've owned in the past.  The Coffeemaker went out the morning Melody (visiting guest) tried to use it.  So far, everything is looking promising.  I'll try making some real coffee in a minute.

Added to inventory:  two fire extinguishers, dry retardant, still under regulation pressure.

Pruned:  my tree in the margin.  The office doubles as a Portland looking house.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Benefactor: the New Board Game

In this science fiction, every baby gets a million dollars at birth.  That's right, you're a millionaire out of the "box". But that must by funny money, right?  Some loser crypto?

The ideology is simple:  we're born helpless but with entitlements, to care from guardians at first.

Whether we're talking nuclear families or the UN Declaration of Human Rights is negotiable before game play.  Benefactor comes with a wide array of settable parameters (see: configuration file).  Accept the defaults to begin immediately, and then adjust with the wisdom of hindsight.

Regardless of what our rights are precisely, ensuring them takes funding, and giving
everyone the same million dollar account seems unarguably a good design.  One deals people in.

You can't expect a baby to hold down a full time job.

Provide the money up front and gradually build towards a right of passage wherein adult level access to Benefactor is conferred.

However, to have a game one needs a plot.  Many squander their million through lack of discipline, or encounter tragic misfortune through no fault of their own.

Without specific skills or a life plan, and with no other such secure source of income, some players, of necessity, turn to preying upon others, including by looking for flaws in the Benefactor scheme's overall security.

Could there be a way to get a second million?  Superstitions and rumors abound.   Players are not promised a world free of fake news, scams, hoaxes, pyramid schemes.

The corporate side of Benefactor is pretty huge, with vast enough inventories to make good on the claims of their sponsored parties, namely everyone, from birth.

Now imagine the computer game, based on the board game.

You'll want to do more homework regarding Benefactor.

The aforementioned ideology has roots in Egyptian metaphysics, especially in this "22nd Century" (ahead of its time) interpretation of Pharaoh Ikhnaton's religion: the Sun provides enough wattage to justify the million dollar per child fund.

Think of charging batteries.  Money measures a potential to pay for work.

You might think everyone would just kick back in this scenario. No one works, because hey, everyone is thinking "I'm one of the idle rich, I'll just sip martinis by the pool".  Nothing gets done.  Civilization breaks down.  Not only do the trains not run on time, they don't run at all.  What millionaire wants to play with trains?

A lot of them, as it turns out. Both simulations and real life experiment shows most people prefer to do meaningful work, committing their energy in ways that makes a difference, to others not just to themselves.

In fact, with Benefactor encouraging education and skills training, and with ubiquitous "authorized access only" obstacle courses, most players feel an urge to compete, achieve, excel.

Humans come with an innate athleticism that inspires them to set new records.

They play lots of "Glass Bead Games" and tackle real world challenges, such as space travel, for amusement.

In sum, many players still choose medical school while others train to become astronauts.

In general, many humans commit a lot of their initial million towards skills building and cognitive training.

Not all players want serious or heavy responsibilities, however, instead opting for more fun in the sun, at least in some chapters, especially as children.

Benefactor is non-judgemental.  The system was not put in place with the idea of "rewarding good behavior".  Other rewards systems run in parallel to Benefactor.  Benefactor is not the only game in town.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fear & Loathing in Florida

I was in high school in Florida at the start of the 1970s.

I'm not surprised it's among the most Jim Crow of the fifty states.

People retire there to live out their racist utopia fantasies, no longer playing out in Michigan, paying top dollar for the privilege.

The state government does its best to oblige.