Sunday, November 22, 2009

On Chrome OS

Google is going ahead with Chrome OS initiative.

In Bobtuse Bobservations blogger-friend Bob MacNeal quoted Google founder Sergey Brind's words:
We really focus on user needs rather than think about strategy relative to other companies...a web platform on stateless machines that are performant.
Nowadays it is hard not be impressed by anything that Google comes up with. Let me confess I am a big Google fan, I use free Google cloud services, Google search engine, GMail, iGoogle, Google Reader, Blogger (including this blog) to name a few. I appreciate Google's positive contributions in making information available to masses, and their support of open source movement.

However I question Google's capacity to adequately analyse and act upon political, ethical and philosophical consequences of their blunt cloud strategy and I see everyone in the same bandwagon. Nowadays we are like fireflies attracted to the light of Google, we go everywhere with them without much questioning. This seems wrong.

While openness of information and ease of access is a good thing for people, the right to own private information and protect it from preying eyes of abusive and oppressive regimes is an important human right we cannot and we should not neglect.

After all Google is a business and it has to act not necessarily in the interest of noble humanistic ideals but in the direction of its commercial interests. In 2006 Google bowed to Chinese Government to censor itself in China.

Today there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who suffer as minorities, they are being oppressed, silenced and discriminated against with regard to basic human rights.

How do we know cloud computing will not take us to Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four ? How do we know the cloud itself will not become the big brother?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Project Skeinforce

I am kicking off an ambitious fun project code named Skeinforce.

I set up the following blog for managing the project:

This means I will be writing less for Negative Matter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Beast

If everything on Earth were rational, nothing would happen.
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky-

According to Sigmund Freud our ego's role is to control the fine balance between the super-ego (superconscious) and sub-ego (subconscious) realms.

The ego is the central hub of our consciousness, the gateway to success, failure, happiness, and misery.

Freud argued subconscious realm is driven by primal survival instincts most dominantly by sexual desires. Since reproduction is the ultimate goal of all species this seems a very plausible argument.

When we talk about "emotions" we talk about reflections or transformations of sexual instincts into the superconscious realm. While superconscious submits to the group unconditionally, subconscious resists against full submission. Subconscious strives to maintain a territory of selfish existence by aggression, and emotions reflect the borderline of that territory.

It is absurd to expect individuals to be deprived of emotions, what makes us 'us' is logic and emotions, without our emotional override we would become hopelessly and indecisively stuck in logical deadlocks.

However group pressure forces emotions to disguise themselves under subtle forms. Group pressure, often powerful and overwhelming, tries to keep emotions at bay in order to maintain group discipline and unity.

Therefore the ego acting as a 'safety valve' had to invent elaborate ways to hide but at the same time engage emotions. A subtly threatening short glance with eyes minutely narrowed or a tone in our voice skilfully marks our territory of existence.

Ultimately the group decides what is acceptable and what is not, so the ego has to adjust to a certain code of conduct when it comes to control emotions at bay.

The tension between the group and the individual interests is always there. The subconscious, constantly on alert to protect and expand selfish territory tests weaknesses of individuals or the group for exploitation, whereas the superconscious engaging actively with the group conforms to group protocol, forms alliances and strives to build confidence between the group and the individual.

In group protocol the term "someone being emotional" is used to mean decipherment and consequent exposure of someone's selfish intent.

There is no reason why a rival seeing the individual's emotions becoming highly visible to the group seizing the opportunity and counter assault with "you are being emotional" or in a more subtle form "lets not be emotional". This gives the rival a double advantage; while exposing his team mate's weakness, he seeks to strengthen his selfish status-quo and additionally he gains the group's confidence by seemingly caring for group interests.

We should distinguish between true (genuine) and false accusations of "being emotional". In its worst form some cunning individuals might even try to falsely accuse an individual of "being emotional" whereas there is no such evidence. The accused then taken by surprise and frustration of being falsely accused might become emotional in his response thereby validating the accuser's initially false claim. The attention quickly drifts from the deceptive accuser, the liar scores, and the innocent looses.

To the individual the accusation of "being emotional" (if genuine) means his assault is deciphered and failed. Regardless of the accusation is true or false, the best next move from the point of accused is not to become emotional in response and flee with "why don't we focus on our technical problem at hand" but at the same time marking the accuser in our memory as a formidable rival if his accusation was false. Liars require special attention. Knowing him will prepare us for a future warfare with him. But for now we should just admit withdrawal.

Some may see fighting with "could you please show me the evidence why you think I am being emotional?" would be a better move but in group's eyes this may seem our willingness to drag emotional warfare, so even though when we speak we show no physical signs of emotion, in itself our fair question will be seen as an emotional response from group's perspective.

Human beings are emotional creatures. Subtle as it may often seem there is always going to be an emotional warfare running at different levels in even deceivingly harmonious team environments.

Denial of selfish emotions and believing a fairyland version of comradeship would be a massive delusion with destructive consequences on individual's account. If we take a fully passive and humble approach and shutdown our emotional outlets completely then we would be self destroying ourselves. Submissive and pretentiously humble attitude would inevitably cause depression and self destruction. Whereas we are required to play the game with full prowess hence withdrawal would not help. In fact best ideas can only emerge through conflicts.

Being social animals should not mean to undermine the importance of our emotional psyche. We should simply acknowledge the beast within us and harness its power to our advantage. We should learn to establish sustainable and intelligent alliances between our superconscious and subconscious realms. Eventually such a mixed strategy will benefit both us and the group.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quantum Teleportation

Assume that Alice and Bob share an entangled qubit AB. That is, Alice has one half, A, and Bob has the other half, B.

Let C denote the qubit Alice wishes to transmit to Bob.

First Alice entangles A with C.

Alice then applies a unitary operation on the qubits AC and measures the result to obtain two classical bits. In this process, the two qubits are destroyed. Bob's qubit, B, now contains information about C; however, the information is somewhat randomized. More specifically, Bob's qubit B is in one of four states uniformly chosen at random and Bob cannot obtain any information about C from his qubit.

Alice provides her two measured classical bits, which indicate which of the four states Bob possesses. Bob applies a unitary transformation which depends on the classical bits he obtains from Alice, transforming his qubit into an identical re-creation of the qubit C.

Note in this teleportation method classical bits are transferred at the speed of light, so teleportation takes time over large distances. For example if Alice and Bob are one light year apart, Bob can reconstruct C after one year.

1) Quantum Teleportation - Wikipedia

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quantum Entanglement

If two electrons are initially vibrating in unison (a state called coherence) they can remain in wavelike synchronisation even if they are separated by a large distance.

The spins of each electron can be pointed up or down. Lets say that the total spin of the system is zero, so that if the spin of one electron is up, then you know automatically that the spin of the other electron is down.

According to the quantum theory, before you make a measurement, the electron is spinning neither up nor down but exists in a nether state where it is spinning both up and down simultaneously.

Once you make an observation, the wave function "collapses", leaving a particle in a definite state.

1) Physics of the Impossible, Michio Kaku

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Diminishing Patience

I don't blame teenagers. When I was a teen being a 'fool' was the norm, so is today. We used to speed in dark quiet country roads with headlights turned off, we adored Converse ALL-STAR sneakers despite their discomfort and unbearable smell, we wore tight Levi's jeans despite our reproductive organs crushed in them to the point of becoming a castrato, we suckled 1 lt. Coke bottles after we played basketball all day.

I have been lucky that I survived all this frenzy of nonsense with 5 stitches on my lower chin from a bicycle race without brakes, and chronic gum disease due to suckling too much Coke. I now pay 200 AUD to my periodontist every 6 months. Most of this stuff was of course done in order to impress girls. Incapacity to follow tidal waves of hormonal commands thanks to the median moral code of 'modern civilised society' resulted in adolescent DNA miss-triggering in confusion in all sorts of directions. So no, I don't blame teens. They have every right to be fools.

Since I am now following a self imposed rehabilitation programme for treating my own bullshit I feel obliged to explain in logical terms why I hate "modern" mobile phone.

I must admit, for a long while I unfairly accused mobile phone manufacturers of a conspiracy by deliberately over-designing and overloading the device with non-essential features.

My main problem though is to do with SMS and its implications of overuse. SMS stands for "Short Message Service"1. A useful feature when first introduced, but turned into an unfortunate memetic6 accident in the evolution of human phenotype7. Today SMS acts like a virus to break communications between generations of human species.

Teens literally took SMS to an unprecedented level. They use SMS for many short messages, but not necessarily for sensible messages. Since teens' chronic bollocks of "not being understood" has never been addressed properly by their singlet wearing bear drinking fart-all-day-and-watch-reality-TV parents, somewhere along the line they discovered that they could use the mobile phone to develop their own language.

As a matter of fact "SMS teen language" is quite similar to the secret language I developed with Ali, my childhood friend. We developed a cryptic language from an alphabet of transposition cyphers2. Our aim was to send each other cryptic messages written on a piece of paper, on serious issues such as whether it is possible to have sex with the most beautiful girl in our neighbourhood.

So SMS provided privacy, convenience and lots of opportunities to establish foolish conversations between fools. Again I have no problems with this.

Drama starts when a baby boomer like me had to put up with a design destined for generation Y.

The number one problem is I have to pay for the features I never or hardly use, SMS, video, Internet, ring tones, you name it, all sorts of rubbish. It has now become a science to learn how to use the mobile phone to make a voice call, and how to respond to an incoming call out of the box. This is absurd, and I have every right to protest it to the extent of becoming grumpy.

To make things worse according to second law of thermodynamics the battery eventually becomes flat and can no longer be charged and we are forced to take our grim trip to a store to face the mobile phone sales person. This is a man usually in his twenties and there is no way of understanding what he is talking about. You just give in, say "give me the damn phone kid", sign the contract and hastily get out of the store only shortly after to realise that the new version is designed to drive you mad. The half-Chinese, half-English manual is written in the smallest possible font just to mean "your time is over grandpa" and to push baby boomers into a mass suicide. The phone now has full of traps. Any wrong key pressed will take you to a web site the service provider designed to charge you from accidental hits.

The number two problem is to do with the generation gap. Cliche it may sound, I have always admired the fact that we had "the generation gap". Baby boomers have all sorts of darn things to worry about in terms of feeling themselves useless, for example occupying public toilets much longer than their fair share thanks to an unfortunate mutation on genes controlling the prostate function somewhere back in the evolution of human males.

So by engaging communications with teens it might occur to boomers that they are in fact useful and they are now paying their debt to a larger group they belong to for being pain in the ass, this is something their DNA put together so we should not resist against it3. Unfortunately with SMS the generation gap turned into a "generation black hole", SMS sitting in the event horizon8.

The implications of a "generation black hole" could be far worse than one might think.

Today's teens in alarming rates read less, exercise less, watch reality TV, hyper-click every link they see on the Internet, develop attention deficit and anxiety disorders at a very early age thanks to SMS, MySpace, Facebook, MSN messaging, Twitter, and Red Bull. To a large extent they do not bother at all to communicate with older generations.

This is in contrast to older generations who also hated the conversation with their parents but nevertheless used to put some effort to maintain the communications started usually by their parents. Perhaps they had less distracting stuff surrounding and bombarding their attention span and they did not have choice.

Historically maintaining the virtue of "patience" has always been a problem in teen generations. Again I cannot blame them for this. We society as a whole is guilty of creating a culture of "diminishing patience". Our society feeds on anxiety and attention deficit disorder.

Exponential advances in technology, globalisation of former state economies and shareholder greed are pushing "the pace of life" to warp speed levels in a frenzy of mutual positive feedback loops. And there are many indicators to support this. Take rock music for example which died in 70's.

There are no longer groups like Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd spending a year on an album, and teens who are biting their nails off for the release -usually a masterpiece- and eventually rushing into a store, appreciating its eternal flavours on a precious vinyl record. Today music, including other art forms became disposable like toilet paper. Diminishing patience is to blame.

Diminishing patience inflicts older generations too4. Today hyper-clicking5 on the Internet created a culture in which it is no longer possible to construct complex, intelligent, sustained and meaningful conversations.

We might have a chance though. Rising sea levels may push our species to slow down. We might go back to drawing board and create new memes, or bend old ones to prevent an environmental catastrophe. For that we would need patience and the virtue of "listening". We need to slow down, and re-learn "listening" and "reading" each other.

(1) SMS
(2) Transposition Cipher
(3) Passing on the wisdom
(4) Why do we need to rush -inspiration from Carl Honore-
(5) Hyper clicking
(6) Meme, memetic
(7) Phenotype
(8) Event horizon of a black hole