Friday, July 20, 2007

At the Speed of Thought

I've been watching the Ghost in the Shell series as of late and it has me wondering how some of the technology on display in the series would actually work in real life. What interests me the most is the idea of thought-driven net use. While the idea of using the interior of one's eyes or even hacking into the visual cortex of the brain itself is interesting enough, it's the idea of one's thoughts controlling everything from conversations to searches to what is displayed that fascinates me. For a mind like mine that, if one were to describe it, would look like a rabid squirrel in the park periodically falling into an epileptic seizure, a thought-driven net would have a hard time keeping up or even knowing what to do in the first place. This is what interests me about a thought-driven net. How does this kind of interface know when you are talking, when you are searching, when you are reading and when you are doing all three at once? Would every errant thought turn into a search or even cause one to call that person? Would every daydream become a rabbithole of information? And what of the servers and routers that hold all of this information once it does become a search or a conversation? When your thoughts themselves create an electronic paper trail is there the possibility of privacy? What happens to our sense of self?
A corollary question to this is how does a thought-driven net change the way we think? Given that we would necessarily have to change how we think in order to use a thought-driven net, what changes would we have to make? What commands would we need to access the net and how would those commands affect our conscious thoughts? How would we shape what we think about when we are both on the net and off?
It's a lot of questions with few answers at the moment. I don't know, I like the idea of a thought-driven net but I wonder about its effects on consciousness and identity.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Plastic Gods

Douglas Adams Lecture - BoingBoing

Below is my response to a question posed by a friend about this lecture by Douglas Adams in 1998. She recommended that I post it as is so I blame any murkiness or grammatical errors on her.

You have to remember that science in the old days conflated the questions of how and why into one. So while our scientists today focus only on the question of how things happen, the science of the old days attempted to answer why things were a certain way. So the old myths were the science of the day, god is in the rocks and the thunder and whatnot. The philosophers of old, like Aristotle, were also theologians and scientists. That's why most of Western science started with philosophy. But we've separated the questions which is why someone like Heidegger can ask why there is something instead of nothing without worrying too much about the science (physics) behind it. It's looking at information in a different way, not so much how does information move but why the information exists in the first place. If the fundamental element in the universe is information one does have to ask why this kind of information, or any kind of information at all. Moreover, what does nothingness entail, a complete lack of information? Because when we ascribe the quality of nothingness to something we are imparting some form of information. So true nothingness must necessarily have no information whatsoever. We use the term god to refer to something that exists outside of our logical realm, which is why the science of today cannot grapple with the question of whether god exists or not. It's a way of explaining the world in a full and meaningful way, even if it isn't true.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Novelty Items

I'd like to make a ring of metallic hydrogen.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Till the End of Time

White House Blocking Tillman Investigation - The Danger Room

I'd like to express the same sentiments as the fellows at the Danger Room about this news but honestly, nothing really surprises me about it.