Thursday, March 25, 2010

I’m oldish

I’m close to hitting a milestone in age and this one in particular is bothering me. I think I’ve identified one major concern where I think that I’ve crossed some imaginary threshold in thinking. In particular I’m worried that I am spending more time running a pre-automated script rather than learning. For example, one script that I run is when I meet someone new, I have a preset number of questions that I have ready at the top of my mind as well as relevant follow up questions. While the list helps me be polite and friendly, the conversation is pretty much guaranteed to stay on a superficial level.

That’s just a more complex example of a script. From the moment we wake up, our bathroom habits are pretty much 100% scripted and until we open the first non-routine e-mail at to work we might not had an original thought. I’m not mindlessly praising uniqueness since much of random unique thoughts probably do not have any value.
I’ve been reading a lot about how much of what we consider to be vision is actually the brain remembering and filling in the blanks. Similarly I wonder how much we are actually thinking as opposed to just identifying situations and then running the appropriate script.

I think the largest worry is that I’m at a point where even if free will existed, I’m not acting freely.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Uncanny valley

I was thinking about causes the uncanny valley effect and I think it has to do with a couple of things working in unison. First is the human’s brain ability to compare things and find dissimilarities. The second is the ability to compress faces. In terms of compression, the amount of data that a face has is huge. Think of how large the file would be if you took a high resolution JPG of someone’s face. As we encounter hundreds of people on a daily basis it would be impossible to store all of that information at full resolution. As a efficient compromise the brain compresses these images so that you can still recognize individual faces but do not have to store full resolution data. The final component is human’s wariness of disease. This is manifested as how we have unease when we see someone with a physical abnormality even though we understand that the underlying cause is not due to a contagious disease. I think that we are processing images of CG generated people to be “diseased” people.
I guess one way to test this would be to read fMRI scan of the brains of people who look at these images.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Apple Tablet

I think most people have been thinking about the Apple tablet in the wrong way. I'm expecting something similar in functionality to an MacBook Air lite than a iPhone on Steroids. I expect an non atom Intel processor and obviously alum construction with an integrated battery. I also expect it to have all the sensors and features of the iPhone.

The main logic behind this is that you need to have decent processing power to manage HD video playback and having the processing power will allow for much easier imports of existing software programs. I can't think of a good enough reason why Apple would want developers having to work with a completely new platform especially since they still are having difficulty properly managing the iPhone App store.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

From an environmental perspective I think that the Cash for Clunkers program's impact is going to be pretty negligible. To calculate the true environmental contribution you have to consider the following. The overall trend of car purchases has been toward more fuel efficient vehicles. Which recent record gas prices on everyone’s mind most people will factor in gas prices already into their purchasing decision. Additionally newer cars are more fuel efficient on average. So the added value of the program is the difference between the additional fuel efficiency between the car a customer would have purchased and a car that they purchased through cash for clunkers. However since the purchases will be made sooner than later, we will see the improved fuel efficiency sooner.

About 750K new cars could be purchased under this program compared to annual US sales of over 10 million per year. If we assume that as a group these vehicles will be 20% more efficient than cars that would have been purchased without the program, we can see that the program’s environmental impact is not that large compared to what the status quo would have been.

Perhaps there is a peripheral effect of introducing fuel efficient cars to groups that would have never considered them otherwise as well affecting their lifetime purchasing habits to at least not have a negative bias towards more fuel efficient, (smaller, non American) vehicles.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two acts of violence, one commonality

I am starting to worry more about what I have previously posted. In a span of less than a week there were two incidents of violence in the U.S. centering on the issue of morality. Dr. Tiller, a late term abortion doctor in Kansas was murdered earlier this week and today a store called the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Maine was burned down; officials say that it was arson. While the second act of violence does not seem to be in the same class of violence as the first, it should be noted that the store owner lived in the space adjacent to the store and had to evacuate his family 1am in the morning.

While these incidents seem independent from each other, they center around a similar issue; an objection to a perceived immorality. I worry that if and when individuals who have similar moral objections to lawful activities congregate, they will attempt larger scale acts of terrorism.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Facebook > (Digg + Twitter + Myspace)

I was having a discussion with a fifty-something about Twitter and I was annoyed with his overenthusiasm for Twitter. I'm sure Twitter has a niche market but it will not ever be as remotely as relevant as Facebook.

Facebook has the core features of Myspace and Twitter, so there is no reason why a person would migrate from Facebook to Twitter. The biggest problem I see with Twitter's long term growth is that there are no clear customers. Facebook's friend feed is already superior to Twitter's. Celebrity twitters are also an unreliable source of content. Take a look at Ashton’s threat to leave twitter.

I can't wait for the day that I will no longer hear about Twitter.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Radical Christianity

This is one of the few times that I hope that I am wrong.

I worry about a future where there is domestic terrorism by fundamentalist christians. The reason why I imagine this scenario to be possible is that fundamentalism at it's core is the same. Fundamentalists allows for certain truths to be held beyond logic. Once these truths become challenged to a critical degree I believe that it is possible for domestic religious fundamentalists will take radical action. As non believers and religious moderates change national policy to regect truths held by these fundamentalists, I forsee a future where these groups feel threatened.

Once gay marraige is recognised on the federal level, once creationism is remoeved from any type of school curriculum, once there is a clear majority of liberals on the supreme court I worry that the religious right will determine that America is godless and that it is their responsibilty to rectify the issue. Someone please tell me why I have nothing to worry about.