Archive for November 2016
Despite the interesting subject, the article referenced below is full of grammatical errors. Willing to bet that ‘inclusive’ hiring practices are at work here. What a terrible example for those wishing to better their English via a once respectable entity, in particular the young or foreign. Who to look up to now?
Much more on the BBC to follow in my most heated blog post ever.
Mars probe returns first pictures – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38147682
I have bean safely making things, including pen holders, from food cans since single digits of age, without injury.
The harm to children done by their sedentary and almost devoid of tactile creativity lifestyles is far worse.
What is forgotten is that humans and animals are naturally cautious, learning their lessons from accidents.
Fight back club: Ignore the jobsworths, go on, take a risk!
Before starting, I wish to be clear that on both a personal and professional basis, I take the matter of plagiarism very seriously. Some of what you are about to read may be familiar, however, I have, like many thinkers, spent much time on the subject of how and why are we here, and I suppose, from where?
I first began to think about the concept of a simulated universe in the mid 1980s, when first getting interested in computer graphics and programming. I remember pacing up and down the kitchen in our parents house having revelation after revelation, and looking at reality from a totally different perspective. Most of this has been covered in earlier writings by thinkers, philosophers and of course, science fiction writers, although back then I don’t think I had read any books or such that covered the subject.
The Lawnmower Man, The Matrix, and earlier than that, some episodes of Star Trek have delved into the subject of characters unaware they exist in a simulation. In others, the characters are sometimes aware, or unable to tell, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall.
One particular episode of Star Trek TNG (Ship In A Bottle) features a semi nefarious Holodeck character by the name of Moriarty who becomes sentient and starts to question his existence. The plot is both entertaining and genius, but I won’t spoil it by going any further regarding the outcome.
More recently with Virtual Reality finally becoming practical and mainstream, others are now also discussing and questioning our reality.
However, and I have mentioned this before on this blog and elsewhere over the years, no one has as far as far as I am aware discussed how a an advanced AI in a video game would prove it’s status. Or in our case, if we are a character in a game, beyond proving or disproving the nature of our existence, if we are in a simulation, what the consequences of this revelation would be.
“Uhm, there’s something you should know”
Copyright CBS Studios Inc
After several starts and stops due to other more important matters arising, I am starting to teach myself Unity – a software development framework for developing and publishing video games across multiple devices. Although videogames can be ‘hand’ coded and dedicated engines developed (such as Frostbite for titles like Battlefield and Star Wars Battlefront, or CRYENGINE (used to power the hauntingly enchanting Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture), the concept is all the same. At the core, advanced mathematics render and simulate increasingly complex 2 and 3D environments. And now with VR, fully immersive experiences are possible – and well worth experiencing.
However, complex math(s) and flashy visuals aside, what makes single player games stand out is good AI. And that is where things get interesting. Ideally, you want AI characters that are as random and believable as a real co-op player or enemy.
Fast forward a few years, when game engines are running on hardware with 10 times the performance of today’s high end PC gaming rig, coupled with network derived knowledge (the Googleisation of gaming), how long will it be before a game character becomes sentient?
“I think, therefore I am.”
And if so, how would that character prove they were or were not an advanced 3D model with AI attributes and sensory perception attached? More so, if we ‘Earth’lings are characters in a game, and God is the programmer (‘sup Niall?!), then he has the power to bend the laws of ‘physics’! For example, move any object or entity in the ‘Universe’ to any other point, instantly, just by adjusting or inputting some mathematical co-ordinates.
81,000 years to get to Proxima Centauri from ‘here’?
No! Tap tappity tap, go! Instantly.
Forget warp drive, how about NOW drive!
Want to bypass ‘evolution’? No problem.
“God of Engineering? I fancy an eye in the back of my head.”
Tappity tap tap, blip blip, whooosh, thwap. Re-spawn you 3.1.
“I see you there! Thought you could sneak up on me eh?”
Scientists, engineers, physicists ‘astronomers’ and perhaps even philosophers must try to find a way to prove or not whether we are in a simulation. If we’re just code, how do we get to ‘see’ the core algorithms and even manipulate them, assuming DNA is just an illusion designed to distract us from the truth? Or is DNA real and an advanced system to self populate the simulation.
Don’t forget, if we are in a simulation and engineering are keeping an eye out, then nothing matters, it’s all just an illusion and that means even climate change isn’t going to harm us because if engineering God loves us, he’ll fix it.
Oh this is getting heavy. Bed!
So, for a million helicopters and a dah-lah, who is going to be the first to hack the Universe – from the inside?
Fight back club: Prove yourself!
Such a lenient nation we are. Lost for words.
BBC, Sky News, others now so lacking in educated staff they cannot narrate news reports any more, so instead display large text that often obliterates the actual subject video and also means you cannot concentrate on the footage because your eyes are reading the text! And to make things worse, even on more serious subjects, atmospheric music is used, as if it is a movie or drama doc.
How dumb our species is becoming. I despair for our future, I really do.
Typing this whilst the world is in a right mess. Let’s see now:
- Two unwanted US Presidential candidates (Oh dear.)
- Confusion and infighting over UK’s Brexit (In, Out – Shake it all about.)
- Chaos in Syria (So, who exactly are the ‘bad’ guys? Oh, it’s just about an oil pipeline? Ah, gotcha!)
- Global warming reaching tipping point (The irony.)
- Miscellaneous other worrying goings on (#Entropy)
- General loss of faith in politicians by the world’s citizens (So, what’s new?)
During all this time there have been countless technical innovations, from commercial space ventures to the invention of new materials to the general ongoing improvements in technology and social infrastructure, all making our lives easier.
Although it must be admitted that governments made a lot of this possible (such as US investment in Tesla), it was bold energetic impatient individuals who harnessed said opportunities turning them into tangible results we can all benefit from. Just look at how powerful that smartphone in your hand is! A CPU an order of magnitude faster than a room size supercomputer of only a few decades ago.
Meanwhile politicians are squabbling and not really achieving very much that inspires the public or gives us hope. (Most of what is done is compromise or smoke and mirrors, and that includes climate change policy.)
The difference between politics and business, and it is controversial to say so, is that the former is democratic, whilst if you’re a mad cap creator of new things, it’s pure ice breaker like forward movement, come hell or high water, no matter what anyone else thinks.
As I have been saying for ages, politics is a great way to achieve little slowly. And further, politics is politics, it’s political! If not just on an ego trip, most are in it for themselves, from well paid after office speaking tours to financial and other favours delivered by not so well meaning corporations and so on. The rest and more decent, just battling to realise their more well meaning ambitions against the aforementioned special interests and less honourably motivated politicians.
On the other hand, if you are running a well intentioned business, and the board are pretty much on the same track, you can just crack on and build your rocket, independently of what else is going on in the world and what anyone else thinks.
This is one of the things I love about America in particular. Over the last 20 years or so, despite all the political controversies, and even time of war, the country has continued to produce innovative products, as has Germany with more efficient solar technology and even the UK to the lesser extent, with companies like Shazam. More, despite being a communist country, China has been firing on all six cylinders for the last 4 or 5 years, producing the world’s best drones. And whilst a government initiative, it has been putting a few things in space too, without too many mishaps. The former in particular is thanks to the well educated very entrepreneurial Chinese youth. Have you heard of LeEco? You will soon.
Technically, this is a great time to be alive. Pending your good health, humans will be on Mars within your lifetime (this will lead to significant Manhattan Project and Apollo Program like technical and social advancements), your next phone will be bendy, your next ‘car’ will fly (!) and diseases are being cured at a rapid rate. All thanks to inspired individuals leading companies that take no prisoners and are beyond politics.
So don’t worry about what is going on in Washington or Westminster, or Moscow – support your favourite industrialist by voting with your wallet. Let the politicians impose the rules that ensure their creations are safe and do what it says on the tin.
Fight back club: Ignore the infighting and make or buy the good stuff!
I have driven thousands of times past the area where three children and their mother were tragically killed recently by a truck driver who was fiddling with his phone. Don’t deny it, we ALL do it, or did do it before texting and driving became illegal way too long after the development of mobile phones back in the 1980s.
There have been calls for a total ban on using phones in the car. This is an understandable reaction to what was not the only such tragedy – there have been thousands of accidents around the world caused by that momentary movement of ones eyes away from the road ahead when changing radio station, trying to finish a text message or get that navigation map back on the screen before missing the next exit. Or in the case of this driver, he was using Spotify.
I remember one of the first things my father taught me during driving lessons, and this is also a core of the highway code, and that is the breaking / stopping distance in proportion to speed. It is incredible how quickly a vehicle traverses a specific distance, even at 30 mph. If someone suddenly stops in front of you (or walks in front of your car), and your eyes are off the road for even a second or two, the next second, you either hit them or are skidding, foot instinctively on the breaks, adrenalin pumping.
We need to be able to talk when driving, it is a great way to get things done and pass the time, in fact, it keeps one awake and focused. Music does the same. And of course, we need to use navigation maps and such to get from A to B without getting lost and take suggested diversions if there is a traffic jam up ahead.
Safety wise, technology can solve this. All modern smart phones have built in voice control, in fact, just the other day, I sent my first WhatsApp message entirely using my voice whilst driving, and it worked reliably too, not a single ‘typo’.
Drive safely club: The government needs to produce some common sense guidelines, as follows:
- Buy a bluetooth headset or use a bluetooth speakerphone.
- Configure your navigation maps before setting off, whilst parked or use voice control. “OK Google, Navigate to XYZ.”
- Configure your music playlist before setting, whilst parked or use voice control.
- Limit physical phone use to ONE button press only, such as answering a call if you cannot use voice answering.
- Phone and/or app makers need to enlarge the important controls on their apps. For example, the icons that control spoken driving directions on Google/Android maps are too small to tap reliably. They need to be finger size.
- A standard layout tactile (not a touch screen) bluetooth control pod should be fitted to all cars that activates key features of in car technology, including those listed below. Blaupunkt used to make a pod that operated their car stereos. It was positioned to the right or left of the steering wheel so your hand fell onto it naturally without effecting safety. Controls mounted directly onto a steering wheel are dangerous, because they move with the wheel, so reaching them is fiddly and a distraction.
- Answer call
- Navigate to… (Trigger voice recognition)
- Call… (Trigger voice recognition)
- Up list/Increase volume/Next track
- Down list/Decrease volume/Previous track
- Shuffle music
If those 6 controls could be mounted onto a joystick like gadget, it would be possible to safely operate a phone or in car entertainment system with one hand, with the same safety level and convenience of a gear stick.