Second i’ll am writing about something off my usual beaten path and that is a movie review. Yes once in a while i watch ye ole “boob tube” as they used to call it back in the day.
This movie is a special movie to me as it is about the life of Frank Zappa the rock and roll guitar player, the composer, the artist, the movie maker, the recoding engineer, the American representative to Czechoslovakia, (or Czecho-Slovakia) and most importantly a man who fervently fought for free speech. Mainly at least for me it is a testament to someone who was constantly creating and recording that creation as well as documenting and saving those creations. While i’ve been into Zappa since a teenager i really started trying to understand the magnitude whilst in graduate school at the University of Miami where i was lucky enough to engineer and work with a group called the Zappa Ensemble. The musicianship and complexity blew my mind and it was hilarious all at the same time! It finally clicked!
Alex Winter was the main creative force behind Zappa with Frank Zappa’s oldest son Ahment Zappa producing.
One of my greatest enjoyments is being part of making or being in deep active listening of this thing human’s call music and Frank Zappa to me is one of the greatest composers of the 20th century of which this movie showcases. His ability to meld performance, musician ship and lyrical satire i believe will never be seen again in my time or possibly anyones time.
lf you’re going to deal with reality, you’re going to have to make one big discovery: Reality is something that belongs to you as an individual. If you wanna grow up, which most people don’t, the thing to do is take responsibility for your own reality and deal with it on your own terms. Don’t expect that because you pay some money to somebody else or take a pledge or join a club or run down the street or wear a special bunch of clothes or play a certain sport or even drink Perrier water, it’s going to take care of everything for you.
The movie deeply focuses on the extreme drive Zappa had to create and duplicate the sound that he heard in his head transferring it from paper to little dots of which we call musical notation then taking it to the studio and attempting to reproduce it as accurately as possible to the sound being heard inside his head. The recording process to me is truly astounding. It’s what i term “a perceptual to parameterization to physical transform”. He was self taught in all aspects of his creative pursuits of which he was what i consider to be an ultimate autodidactic.
This movie starts off with Frank’s last guitar performance then cuts to him in his Vault of recordings and VHS tapes identifying original master recordings. I was awestruck.
You’ve got to be digging it while it’s happening ’cause it just might be a one shot deal.
Through my research on the film i found out that alex Winter was Bill in the “Bill and Ted” films although i have no idea what those are as i haven’t seen them only heard about them. Evidently he has been making documentaries for a decade. He approached Zappa’s widow Gail (the film is dedicated to her as she died in 2015) for permission on the project. The result is a a cacophony of a life lived loud with constant feeding the disease of composition and creativity.
Winter was given complete access to the Zappa family archives which as i mention above was called The Vault. There are many shots of The Vault which is a treasure trove of both audio and video recordings all shapes sizes and formats.
There is also a ton of footage of his family and how he grew up. Initially his family completely opposed him getting involved with music and Zappa also notes that they were extremely poor. They also note Zappa was interested chemistry at an early age and tried to blow his school up.
The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.
There is a great section of Frank “On The Hill” testifying before the senate during the PMRC hearings on album and music lyrics which he definitely as i do consider censorship. The movie then details his pursuit of anything that looks or smells like censorship. If it weren’t for him doing this at every turn i believe things would be very different even a much a it is now. Then i wonder, today in this environment, he probably couldn’t publish a lot of the music he wrote.
The salient point i was reminded of in this movie is don’t waste your time go make a dent in this thing we call life and create at all costs even if no one – not one person – views, listens or uses the creation at least one person will and that will be the person of You.
Never compromise and always choose quality over quantity and remember give “them” a good laugh. They might not get the joke but at least you can laugh.
Why do you necessarily have to be wrong just because a few million people think you are?
To give you an idea of the sheer output and dedication to the art while alive Zappa released 62 albums. Since 1994, the Zappa Family Trust has released 54 posthumous albums as of July 2020, making a total of 116 albums/album sets.
This dear reader should remind you of one aspect of your life: Find your passion and dwell on it deeply, daily, hourly, minute by precious minute.
Personally i hope The Vault is all mined, uncovered, reformatted and converted so that the world knows about the volume and creativity.
If you think that Zappa was all about raunchy lyrics, complex poly rhythms and symphonies most ensembles and orchestras couldn’t play i urge you to listen to this song that ends the documentary. The documentary ends with amazing shots of his house and uses a live version that is recorded in 1978 as the back drop. Below are several versions including the studio version from Joe’s Garage album because the comments by the “Central Scrutinizer” are hilarious and are juxtaposed against what i consider to be one of the most amazing pieces of guitar work ever recorded. The sadness and lamenting of the piece is deafening. However at the same time as someone who i have met in the land of suspicious coincidence said it is intoxicating.
For completeness here is the live version in 1978
And here is a version in 2013 by his son dweezil zappa crying while he is playing.
There is a four “disc” set on itunes of the documentary soundtrack here: Zappa Soundtrack.
Frank Zappa died on December 4, 1993 of prostate cancer. He is survived by his four progeny: Moon, Dweezil, Ahment and Diva Zappa.
The human body resonates at the same frequency as Mother Earth. So instead of only focusing on trying to save the earth, which operates in congruence to our vibrations, I think it is more important to be one with each other. If you really want to remedy the earth, we have to mend mankind. And to unite mankind, we heal the Earth. That is the only way. Mother Earth will exist with or without us. Yet if she is sick, it is because mankind is sick and separated. And if our vibrations are bad, she reacts to it, as do all living creatures.
i have been considering writing a series of blogs on the coming age of Cybernetics. For those unaware Cybernetics was a term coined by one of my heroes Dr. Norbert Weiner. Dr. Weiner was a professor of mathematics at MIT who early on became interested in stochastic and noise processes and has an entire area dedicated to him in the areas of Weiner Estimation Theory. However, he also is credited as being one of the first to theorize that all intelligent behavior was the result of feedback mechanisms, that could possibly be simulated by machines thereby coining the phrase “Cybernetics”. He wrote two seminal books in this area: (1) “Cybernetics” (2) “The Human Use of Humans”. This brings us to the present issue at hand.
The catalyst for the blog came from a tweet:
More concerning Ted is how long before people start paying for upgrades. What effects will this have when you have achieved functional immortality?
We believe that before 2045 an artificial body will be created that will not only surpass the existing body in terms of functionality but will achieve perfection of form and be no less attractive than the human body.
Now for more context. I am a proponent of using technology to allow for increased human performance as i am an early adopter if you will of the usage of titanium to repair the skeletal system. i have staples, pins, plates and complete joints of titanium from pushing “Ye Ole MeatBag” into areas where it did not fair so well.
There are some objectives of the movement of specific interest is Number Two:
To create an international research center for cybernetic immortality to advance practical implementations of the main technical project – the creation of the artificial body and the preparation for subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.
This is closely related to Transhumanism which is more of a philosophy than an execution. The way i frame it is Transhumanism sets the philosophical framework for cybernetics. The contemporary meaning of the term “transhumanism” was foreshadowed by one of the first professors of futurology, a man who changed his name to FM-2030. In the 1960s, he taught “new concepts of the human” at The New School when he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews “transitional” to post-humanity as “transhuman“.
Coming from a software standpoint we could map the areas into pipelines and deploy as needed either material biological or conscious. We could map these areas into a CI/CD deployment pipeline. .
For a direct reference, i work with an amazing practicing nocturnist who is also a great coder as well as a medical 3D Printing expert! He prints body parts! It is pretty amazing to think that something your holding that was printed that morning is going to enable someone to use their respective limbs or walk again. So humbling. By the way, the good doctor is also a really nice person. Just truly a great human. Health practitioners are truly some of humanity’s rockstars.
He printed me a fully articulated purple octopus that doesn’t go in the body:
Building upon this edict and for those who have read William Gibson’s “Neuromancer,” or Rudy Ruckers The Ware Tetralogy: Software, Wetware, Realware, Freeware “it calls into question the very essence of the use for the human body? Of the flesh is the only aspect we truly do know and associate with this thing called life. We continually talk about the ‘Big C Word” – Consciousness. However, we only know the body. We have no idea of the mind. Carnality seems to rule the roost for the Humans.
In fact most of the acts that we perform on a daily basis trend toward physical pleasure. However what if we can upgrade the pleasure centers? What if the whole concept of dysphoria goes away and you can order you a net-new body? What *if* this allows us as the above ponders to upgrade ad nauseam and live forever? Would you? Would it get tiresome and boring?
i can unequivocally tell you i would if given the chance. Why? Because if there *is* intelligent life somewhere then they have a much longer evolutionary scale that we mere humans on earth do not and they have figured out some stuff let’s say that can possibly change the way we view life in longer time scales ( or time loops or even can we say Infinite_Human_Do_Loops? ).
i believe we are coming to an age where instead of the “50 is the new 30” we can choose our age – lets say at 100 i choose new core and legs and still run a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds? i am all for it.
What if you choose a body that is younger than your progeny?
What if you choose a body that isnt a representation of a human as we know it?
All with immortality?
i would love to hear folks thoughts on the matter in the comments below.
The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion.
Due to my hobbies and extracurricular activities i sometimes get in situations that are disadvantageous to my physical well being. Let’s just say i have my number of sprains, broken bones, and metal parts in my body. Which in addition to being a fan of Dr. Norbert Wiener’s work i also believe in Cybernetics. That said over the past number of years i have had recurring issues with neck, back, shoulder, and hip chronic pain due to what i would term having too much fun whether it be martial arts, lifting weights, surfing, snowboarding etc. Through Lisa Maki (click her name for her story on her trials of pain) i was introduced to Marc Dubick, MD who is a Pain Medicine Specialist in Charleston, SC, and has over 46 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from the University Of Kentucky medical school in 1975. He also happens to be a really amazing human being. Here is a picture of Dr. Marc Dubick and Your Author:
I started just as Lisa Maki did with injections of recombinant human growth hormone and testosterone to the painful and dysfunctional areas in my body that would otherwise have had to be operated on or replaced. Over the years while these injections are extremely painful they eventually help and heal the affected areas. i prefer the short term pain over the complexities of evasive surgery.
Dr Dubick has since retired and handed over the reins to a great doctor (and human) Dr. Todd Joye who is a partner at interveneMD. He is continuing the rGH therapy and it is proving as expected just as effective. This brings us to our current reason behind this blog. He has employed a rehabilitation – human performance machine called Vaspar.
Brochure of VASPAR
As it turns out professional sports teams and the military have started utilizing this machine with astounding results. To understand the physical benefits Vasper provides, they conducted research backed by supporting literature. In order to study its impact effectively, Vasper conducted a safety study, which verifies Vasper is safe and easy to use for most. Dr. Joye told me when he took delivery he had been working with the creator of Vaspar and Vasper users talk about increases in energy and strength. In a small study, they observed significant increases in testosterone as a result of Vasper use. Though there may be other factors at play, it is likely this testosterone boost explains the improvements in performance after Vasper use, which was discovered in a different study. Combined with its low impact physically and physiologically, the anabolic hormone increase with Vasper use is an unbeatable combination for anyone who wants to increase their physical performance. It is well known that testosterone is a key hormone that is involved in regulating muscle growth, bone density, fat metabolism, and mood in both men and women. The Vaspar folks explored this hormone with five professional baseball players in 8 Vasper sessions over 2 weeks. They data showed an 80% increase in free testosterone levels, with an average increase of 132% across all participants.
Purported levels of free testosterone level increase:
Given how much i pursue all things in human performance for mental and physical edges i was skeptical. However i am open to trying (almost) anything once if it shows the benefits of performant edge. Thus i went for my first 21 minute session.
Your author doing his best duck face:
In preparation, you get suited up in cuffs for your thighs, biceps, and neck. You train barefooted as the pedals are also supercooled. The thing that attracted me to the Vaspar workout was that it is low impact. The principles behind Vaspar are three areas: compression, cooling, and interval training.
Compression and cooling create the effect of high intensity (anaerobic) exercise without the major time soak or muscle damage. Compression also allows lactic acid to accumulate to your muscles which drives signals to your brain requesting higher amounts of human growth hormone and testosterone to accelerate repair and recovery. The cooling also increases oxygen to the muscles.
For interval training, it is obvious to anyone who has trained that is the way to go as far as i am concerned to generate high amounts of caloric burn in a shorter amount of time with higher amounts of lactic acid buildup which create a feedback effect.
The system can be customized for limb reach and throw as well as numerous analytics such as pulse oxygen, pulse rate, wattage burned etc.
So what happened?
The staff at interveneMD set the system to slightly higher than intermediate. Well dear reader it blew my mind in the first and second sessions. In 21 minutes it felt like i had been deadlifting substantial weight with sprints in between sets for at least an hour. Which i have done many times before with an extremely sore body afterward. The workout was very intense and exhilarating.
To my amazement, i had zero pain and in fact, greatly reduced pain probably to the endorphins released as well as the amount of HGH and testosterone.
My favorite part is after the interval workout you lie on a super cooling mat for 6 minutes. Nighty night bunny rabbit!
For anyone who is into human performance or needs rehabilitation of any means i highly recommended finding a facility that has one of these for use. As a note health insurance does pay some portion!
In full transparency i have no affiliation with interveneMD or the makers of VASPAR. This blog was written in order to amplify others and the fact i was totally amazed after so many years of searching for novel ways to workout.
You might know the narrator of the video. He was a college drop out and was fired from the company he founded. Many miss him as I do miss him. Why is this important?
Let us whittle this back some more. i was thinking when we picture ourselves doing something or in the process of doing something do we stop short of our truest desires? Better yet if we have a passion why don’t we go after it will a full heart? Or while we are executing on the said passion we stop short?
Maybe it starts young. Lets look at something that seems very innocuous at first. The simple word NO.
It hath been said words have meanings so let’s search – shall we?
“not in any degree, not at all,” Middle English, from Old English na, from ne “not, no” + a “ever.” The first element is from Proto-Germanic *ne (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian, Old High German ne, Gothic ni “not”), from PIE root *ne- “not.” Second element is from Proto-Germanic *aiwi-, extended form of PIE root *aiw- “vital force, life, long life, eternity.” Ultimately identical to nay, and the differences of use are accidental.”
Years ago a UCLA survey reported that the average one-year-old child hears the word, No! more than 400 times a day! You might think this is an exaggeration. However when we say No! we usually say, No, no, no!. That’s three times in three seconds! If that child (or adult) is particularly active then i could see this being a valid statistic. By the way for any parents out there don’t feel bad we have all done it.
(SIDE NOTE: i do realize there are lies, damn lies and statistics – yet i digress).
What do you do when you are constantly being told what not to do? Or being told NO! You can’t do that! We then “grow up”.
The passion and wonder of childhood fade. Yet it doesnt have to does it?
Now more than ever there are ways to monetize that passion unless your independently wealthy then you need not worry at all about such things.
One of my interview questions:
What is your true passion?
i truly want to know. What do YOU WANT? Whatever it is or whatever the person says i usually tell them to go do IT instead of what they think they should be doing. Caveat Emptor: There are always consequences.
I’ve heard all kinds of answers and more to this question: grow mushrooms, paint, be a comedian, peace corps, build the next (insert Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc herewith), fireman, and yes even a porn star.
Now why i am referencing the word ‘NO’ with respect to not thinking grandiose, audacious, stupendously – enough?
Because we are told you can’t by those that do not understand YOUR passion or those that cannot do what you do and to be more even more succinct they are probably scared at some level.
Now did i ever say it was easy? No in fact when it appears to be completely dire straits (not to be confused with the band) it is usually the most opportunistic situation. Storms never last they say and you will always most certainly feel like you are in some form of a storm. “Ordo Ab Chaos” as the old saying goes.
You will encounter criticism, countless setbacks, and ostracization in some cases, depending on how big your passions and executions are in certain areas. Do not let these deter you. The loudest negative voice you will have to deal with is the small voice inside your head at night – Nighty Night, but ya can’t do that….
Also to that point remember your passion is just a thought until you execute on it. Ideas are cheap. Everyone has ideas every day that they never act on because of homeostasis or they create a reason not to act upon thier passion.
One of my all-time favorite guitarist is Steve Vai. He was 17 years old when he played with Frank Zappa.
In this video he talks about what it takes to be successful.
The only thing that is holding you back is the way YOU are thinking. Again – What is it you truly want?
Whatever it is imagine yourself being there.
All of a sudden the reasons you can’t do it flood in and the word NO is echoed.
In the worst of times go to the larger big audacious outrageous picture of you executing your passion.
Hold it and make it precious.
Then move Ever Forward toward the next step closer to that vision as you become a NO Collector from all of the naysayers that say it cannot be done. For every NO you collect you are one step closer to your success.
As of late, i’ve been asked by an extreme set of divergent individuals what does “Open Source Software” mean?
That is a good question. While i understand the words and words do have meanings i am not sure its the words that matter here. Many people who ask me that question hear “open source” and hear or think “free’ which is not the case.
Also if you have been on linkedin at all you will see #Linux, #LinuxFoundation and #OpenSource tagged constantly in your feeds.
Which brings me to the current blog and book review.
(CatB)as it is affectionately known in the industry started out and still is a manifesto as well accessible via the world wide web. It was originally published in 1997 on the world wide wait and then in print form circa 1999. Then in 2001 was a revised edition with a foreword by Bob Young, the founding chairman and ceo of Redhat.
Being i prefer to use plain ole’ books we are reviewing the physical revised and extended paperback edition in this blog circa 2001. Of note for the picture, it has some wear and tear.
To start off as you will see from the cover there is a quote by Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s first Evangelist:
“The most important book about technology today, with implications that go far beyond programming.”
This is completely true. In the same train of thought, it even goes into the aspects of propriety and courtesy within conflict environments and how such environments are of a “merit not inherit” world, and how to properly respond when you are in vehement disagreement.
To relate it to the book review: What is a cathedral development versus a bazaar environment?
Cathedral is a tip of the fedora if you will to the authoritarian view of the world where everything is very structured and there are only a few at most who will approve moving the codebase forward.
Bazaar refers to the many. The many coding and contributing in a swarm like fashion.
In this book, closed source is described as a cathedral development model and open source as a bazaar development model. A cathedral is vertically and centrally controlled and planned. Process and governance rule the project – not coding. The cathedral is homeostatic. If you build or rebuild Basilica Sancti Petri within Roma you will not be picking it up by flatbed truck and moving it to Firenze.
The forward in the 2001 edition is written by Bob Young co-founder and original CEO of RedHat. He writes:
“ There have always been two things that would be required if open-source software was to materially change the world; one was for open-source software to become widely used and the other was the benefits this software development model supplied to its users had to be communicated and understood.”
Users here are an interesting target. Users could be developers and they could be end-users of warez. Nevertheless, i believe both conditions have been met accordingly.
i co-founded a machine learning and nlp service as a company in 2007 wherein i had the epiphany after my “second” read of Catb that the future is in fact open source. i put second in quotes as the first time i read it back in 1998 it wasn’t really a read in depth nor having fully internalized it while i was working at Apple in the CPU software department on OS9/OSX and while at the same time knowing full well that OSX was based on the Mach kernel. The Mach kernel is often mentioned as one of the earliest examples of a microkernel. However, not all versions of Mach are microkernels. Mach’s derivatives are the basis of the operating system kernel in GNU Hurd and of Apple’s XNU kernel used in macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
That being said after years of working with mainly closed source systems in 2007 i re-read Catb. i literally had a deep epiphany that the future of all development would be open source distributed machine learning – everywhere.
Then i read it recently – deeply – a third time. This time nearly every line in the book resonates.
The third time with almost anything seems to be the charm. This third time through i realized not only is this a treatise for the open-source movement it is a call to arms if you will for the entire developer community to behave appropriately with propriety and courtesy in a highly matrixed collaborative environment known as the bazaar.
The most obvious question is: Why should you care? i’m glad you asked.
The reason you care is that you are part of the information economy. The top market cap companies are all information-theoretic developer-first companies. This means that these companies build things so others can build things. Software is truly eating the world. Think in terms of the recent pandemic. Work (code) is being created at an amazing rate due to the fact that the information work economy is distributed and essentially schedule free. She who has distributed wins and she who can code anytime wins. This also means that you are interested in building world-class software and the building of this software is now a decentralized peer reviewed transparent process.
The book is organized around Raymond’s various essays. It is important to note that just as software is an evolutionary process by definition so are the essays in this book. They can also be found online. The original collection of essays date back to 1992 on the internet: “A Brief History Of Hackerdom.’
The book is not a “how-to” cookbook but rather what i call a “why to” map of the terrain. While you can learn how to hack and code i believe it must be in your psyche. The book also uses the term “hacker” in a positive sense to mean one who creates software versus one who cracks software or steals information.
While the history and the methodology is amazing to me the cogent commentary on the types of the reasoning behind why hackers go into open source vary as widely as ice cream flavors.
Raymond goes into the theory of incentives with respect to the instinctive wiring of humans beings.
“The verdict of history seems to be free-market capitalism is the globally optimal way to cooperate for economic efficiency; perhaps in a similar way to cooperate for generating (and checking!) high-quality creative work.”
He categorizes command hierarchy, exchange economy, and gift culture to address these incentives.
Goods are allocated in a scarce economy model by one central authority.
The allocation of scarce goods is accomplished in a decentralized manner allowing scale through trade and voluntary cooperation.
This is very different than the other two methods or cultures. Abundance makes command and control relationships difficult to sustain. In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.
It is clear that if we define the open source hackerdom it would be a gift culture. (It is beyond the current scope of this blog but it would be interesting to do a neuroscience project on the analysis of open source versus closed source hackers brain chemistry as they work throughout the day)
Given these categories, the essays then go onto define the written and many times unwritten (read secrets) that operate within the open-source world via a reputation game. If you are getting the idea it is tribal you are correct. Interestingly enough the open source world has in many cases very divergent views on all prickly things within the human condition such as religion and politics but one thing is a constant – ship high-quality code.
Without a doubt the most glaring cogent commentary comes in a paragraph from the essay “The Magic Cauldron.” entitled “Open Source And Strategic Business Risk.”
Ultimately the reasons open source seems destined to become a widespread practice have more to do with customer demand and market pressures than with supply-efficiencies for vendors.”
“Put yourself for the moment in the position of a CTO at a Fortune 500 corporation contemplating a build or upgrade of your firm’s IT infrastructure. Perhaps you need to choose a network operating system to be deployed enterprise-wide; perhaps your concerns involve 24/7 web service and e-commerce, perhaps your business depends on being able to field high-volume, high-reliability transaction databases. Suppose you go the conventional closed-source route. If you do, then you put your firm at the mercy of a supplier monopoly – because by definition there is only one place you can go to for support, bug fixes, and enhancements. If the supplier doesn’t perform, you will have no effective recourse because you are effectively locked by your initial investment.”
“The truth is this: when your key business processes are executed by opaque blocks of bits that you cant even see inside (let alone modify) you have lost control of your business.”
“Contrast this with the open-source choice. If you go this route, you have the source code, and no one can take that away from you. Instead of a supplier monopoly with a choke-hold on your business, you now have multiple service companies bidding for your business – and you not only get to play them against each other, but you also have the option of building your own captive support organization if that looks less expensive than contracting out. The market works for you.”
“The logic is compelling; depending on closed-source code is an unacceptable strategic risk So much so that I believe it will not be very long until closed-source single-vendor acquisitions when there is an open source alternative available will be viewed as a fiduciary irresponsibility, and rightly grounds for a share-holder lawsuit.”
THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 1997. LOOK AROUND THE WORLD WIDE WAIT NOW… WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Open Source – full stop.
i will add that there was no technical explanation here only business incentive and responsibility to the company you are building, rebuilt, or are scaling. Further, this allows true software malleability and reach which is the very reason for software.
i will also go on a limb here and say if you are a software corporation one that creates software you can play the monopoly and open-source models against each other within your corporation. Agility and speed to ship code is the only thing that matters these days. Where is your github? Or why is this not shipping TODAY?
This brings me to yet another amazing prescient prediction in the book that Raymond says that applications are ultimately where we will land for monetary scale. Well yes, there is an app for that….
While i have never met Eric S. Raymond he is a legend in the field. We have much to thank him for in the areas of software. If you have not read CatB and work in the information sector do yourself a favor: buy it today.
Today is a day that will live in infamy for many as a testament to what extremist beliefs can conjure into reality. To those who lost loved ones on 9.11.2001 – peace be with you. To those who survived 9.11.2001 – again peace be with you.
For me a different year 9.11.2005 is etched in my mind. It is a strange phenomenon to me as i spend much of my life always optimizing or at least making myself believe that i am optimizing. While i did not lose a father or husband i lost a dear friend and comrade – Steven Swenson.
Today 9.11.2020 one of my true friends and comrades was returning from a freediving trip with his lovely wife and i could hear the joy in both of their voices performing an activity that my comrade Sven died doing what he loved doing on this day in 2005 – freediving. Living underwater on #OneBreath.
i realized through them on this day the essence of it all came to fruition – The_Human_Do_Loop in action and it is ok to truly feel for without the depths we know no true joy.
to roma, leif, and gage – tell him i said hello – again.
i think he would have liked this song.
And I held the breath inside my lungs for days And I saw myself as one of many waves When I knew I’d become the ocean’s slave I just stayed
And we carried far with all the waters past Of the waves
I was not first I was not last And if we saw a boat afloat we took the mast So fast
There’s a part of it, that I’ll miss At the heart of it, your cold kiss From the start of it, I know this Always apart of it
And before too long the waves grew out of hand And they worked to keep the sea at their command And the only thing they feared it seemed the sand And dry land
There’s a part of it, that I’ll miss At the heart of it, your cold kiss From the start of it, I know this Always apart of it
From the water there was born a bright blue roar As it rolled and formed and calmed the ocean’s floor And it finally rose and broke upon the shore No more
There’s a part of it, that I’ll miss At the heart of it, your cold kiss From the start of it, I know this Always apart of it (I know this)
There’s a part of it, that I’ll miss At the heart of it, your cold kiss From the start of it, I know this Always apart of it Always apart of it
i know at least one person who freedove today loves that song.
“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” ~ HAL 9000
“If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change.” ~ MJ.
First and foremost with this blog i trust everyone is safe. The world is in an interesting place, space, and time both physically and dare i say collectively – mentally.
This past week we celebrated Earth Day. i believe i heard it was the 50th year of Earth Day. While I applaud the efforts and longevity for a day we should have Earth Day every day. Further just “thoughting” about or tweeting about Earth Day – while it may wake up your posterior lobe of the pituitary gland and secret some oxytocin – creating the warm fuzzies for you it really doesn’t create an action for furthering Earth Day. (much like typing /giphy YAY! In Slack).
As such, i decided to embark on a multipart blog that i have been “thinking” about what i call an Ecological Computing System. Then the more i thought about it why stop at Ecology? We are able to model and connect essentially anything, we now have models for the brain that while are coarse-grained can account for gross behaviors, we have tons of data on buying habits and advertisement data and everything is highly mobile and distributed. Machine learning which can optimize, classify and predict with extremely high dimensionality is no longer an academic exercise.
Thus, i suppose taking it one step further from ecology and what would differentiate it from other efforts is that <IT> would actually attempt to provide a compute framework that would compute The Human Condition. I am going to call this effort Project Noumena. Kant the eminent thinker of 18th century Germany defined Noumena as a thing as it is in itself, as distinct from a thing as it is knowable by the senses through phenomenal attributes and proposed that the experience was a product of the mind.
My impetus for this are manifold:
i love the air, water, trees, and animals,
i am an active water person,
i want my children’s children’s children to know the wonder of staring at the azure skies, azure oceans and purple mountains,
Maybe technology will assist us in saving us from The Human Condition.
i have waited probably 15+ years to write about this ideation of such a system mainly due to the technological considerations were nowhere near where they needed to be and to be extremely transparent no one seemed to really think it was an issue until recently. The pandemic seems to have been a global wakeup call that in fact, Humanity is fragile. There are shortages of resources in the most advanced societies. Further due to the recent awareness that the pollution levels appear (reported) to be subsiding as a function in the reduction of humans’ daily involvement within the environment. To that point over the past two years, there appears to be an uptake of awareness in how plastics are destroying our oceans. This has a coupling effect that with the pandemic and other environmental concerns there could potentially be a food shortage due to these highly nonlinear effects. This uptake in awareness has mainly been due to the usage of technology of mobile computing and social media which in and of itself probably couldn’t have existed without plastics and massive natural resource consumption. So i trust the irony is not lost there.
We are no longer hampered by the concept of scale in computing. We can also create a system that behaves at scale with only but a few human resources. You can do a lot with few humans now which has been the promise of computing.
Distributed computing methods are now coming to fruition. We no longer think in terms of a monolithic operating system or in place machine learning. Edge computing and fiber networks are accelerating this at an astonishing rate. Transactions now dictate trust. While we will revisit this during the design chapters of the blog I’ll go out on a limb here and say these three features are cogent to distributed system processing (and possibly the future of computing at scale).
We will definitely be going into the deeper psychological, mathematical, and technical aspects of these items.
Some additional points of interest and on timing. Microsoft recently released press about a Planetary Computer and announced the position of Chief Ecology Officer. While i do not consider Project Nuomena to be of the same system type there could be similarities on the ecological aspects which just like in open source creates a more resilient base to work.
The top market cap companies are all information theoretic-based corporations. Humans that know the science, technology, mathematics and liberal arts are key to their success. All of these companies are woven and interwoven into the very fabric of our physical and psychological lives.
Thus it is with the confluence of these items i believe the time is now to embark on this design journey. We must address the Environment, Societal factors and the model of governance.
A mentor once told me one time in a land far away: “Timing is everything as long as you can execute.” Ergo Timing and Execution Is Everything.
It is my goal that i can create a design and hopefully, an implementation that is utilizing computational means to truly assist in building models and sampling the world where we can adhere to goals in making small but meaningful changes that can be used within what i am calling the 3R’s: recycle, redact, reuse. Further, i hope with the proper incentive models in place that are dynamic it has a mentality positive feedback effect. Just as in complexity theory a small change – a butterfly wings – can create hurricanes – in this case positive effect.
Here is my overall plan. i’m not big on the process or gant charts. I’ll be putting all of this in a README.md as well. I may ensconce the feature sets etc into a trello or some other tracking mechanism to keep me focused – WebSphere feel free to make recommendations in the comments section:
Create Comparative Models
Create Coarse-Grained Attributes
Identify underlying technical attributes
Attempt to coalesce into an architecture
Start writing code for the above.
Humanity has come to expect growth as a material extension of human behavior. We equate growth with progress. In fact, we use the term exponential growth as it is indefinitely positive. In most cases for a fixed time interval, this means a doubling of the relevant system variable or variables. We speak of growth as a function of gross national production. In most cases, exponential growth is treacherous where there are no known or perceived limits. It appears that humanity has only recently become aware that we do not have infinite resources. Psychologically there is a clash between the exponential growth and the psychological or physical limit. The only significance is the relevant (usually local) limit. How does it affect me, us, and them? This can be seen throughput most game theory practices – dominant choice. The pattern of growth is not the surprise it is the collision of the awareness of the limit to the ever-increasing growth function is the surprise.
One must stop and ask:
Q: Are progress (and capacity) and the ever-increasing function a positive and how does it relate to 2nd law of thermodynamics aka Entropy? Must it always expand?
We are starting to see that our world can exert dormant forces that within our life can greatly affect our well being. When we approach the actual or perceived limit the forces which are usually negative begin to gain strength.
So given these aspects of why i’ll turn now to start the discussion. If we do not understand history we cannot predict the future by inventing it or in most cases re-inventing it as it where.
I want to start off the history by referencing several books that i have been reading and re-reading on subjects of modeling the world, complexity, and models for collapse throughout this multipart blog. We will be addressing issues concerning complex dynamics as are manifested with respect to attributes model types, economics, equality, and mental concerns.
These core references are located at the end of the blog under references. They are all hot-linked. Please go scroll and check them out. i’ll still be here. i’ll wait.
Checked them out? i know a long list.
As you can see the core is rather extensive due to the nature of the subject matter. The top three books are the main ones that have been the prime movers and guides of my thinking. These three books i will refer to as The Core Trilogy:
As i mentioned i have been deeply thinking about all aspects of this system for quite some time. I will be mentioning several other texts and references along the continuum of creation of this design.
We will start by referencing the first book: World Dynamics by J.W. Forrestor. World Dynamics came out of several meetings of the Rome Club a 75 person invite-only club founded by the President of Fiat. The club set forth the following attributes for a dynamic model that would attempt to predict the future of the world:
The output of this design was codified in a computer program called World3. It has been running since the 1970s what was then termed a golden age of society in many cases. All of these variables have been growing at an exponential rate. Here we see the model with the various attributes in action. There have been several criticisms of the models and also analysis which i will go into in further blogs. However, in some cases, the variants have been eerily accurate. The following plot is an output of the World3 model:
Issues Raised By World3 and World Dynamics
The issues raised by World3 and within the book World Dynamics are the following:
There is a strong undercurrent that technology might not be the savior of humankind
Industrialism (including medicine and public health) may be a more disturbing force than the population.
We may face extreme psychological stress and pressures from a four-pronged dilemma via suppression of the modern industrial world.
We may be living in a “golden age” despite a widely acknowledged feeling of malaise.
Exhtortions and programs directed at population control may be self-defeating. Population control, if it works, would yield excesses thereby allowing further procreation.
Pollution and Population seem to oscillate whereas the high standard of living increases the production of food and material goods which outrun the population. Agriculture as it hits a space limit and as natural resources reach a pollution limit then the quality of life falls in equalizing population.
There may be no realistic hope of underdeveloped countries reaching the same standard and quality of life as developed countries. However, with the decline in developed countries, the underdeveloped countries may be equalized by that decline.
A society with a high level of industrialization may be unsustainable.
From a long term 100 years hence it may be unwise for underdeveloped countries to seek the same levels of industrialization. The present underdeveloped nations may be in better conditions for surviving the forthcoming pressures. These underdeveloped countries would suffer far less in a world collapse.
Fuzzy Human – Fuzzy Model
The human mind is amazing at identifying structures of complex situations. However, our experiences train us poorly for estimating the dynamic consequences of said complexities. Our mind is also not very accurate at estimating ad hoc parts of the complexities and the variational outcomes.
One of the problems with models is well it is just a model The subject-observer reference could shift and the context shifts thereof. This dynamic aspect needs to be built into the models.
Also while we would like to think that our mental model is accurate it is really quite fuzzy and even irrational in most cases. Also attempting to generalize everything into a singular model parameter is exceedingly difficult. It is very difficult to transfer one industry model onto another.
In general parameterization of most of these systems is based on some perceptual model we have rationally or irrationally invented.
When these models were created there was the consideration of modeling social mechanics of good-evil, greed – altruism, fears, goals, habits, prejudice, homeostasis, and other so-called human characteristics. We are now at a level of science where we can actually model the synaptic impulse and other aspects that come with these perceptions and emotions.
There is a common cross-cutting construct in most complex models within this text that consists of and mainly concerned with the concept of feedback and how the non-linear relationships of these modeled systems feedback into one another. System-wide thinking permeates the text itself. On a related note from the 1940’s of which Dr Norbert Weiner and others such as Claude Shannon worked on ballistic tracking systems and coupled feedback both in a cybernetic and information-theoretic fashion of which he attributed the concept of feedback as one of the most fundamental operations in information theory. This led to the extremely famous Weiner Estimation Filters. Also, side note: Dr Weiner was a self-styled pacifist proving you can hold two very opposing views in the same instance whilst being successful at executing both ideals.
Given that basic function of feedback, lets look at the principle structures. Essentially the model states there will be levels and rates. Rates are flows that cause levels to change. Levels can accumulate the net level. Either addition or subtraction to that level. The various system levels can in aggregate describe the system state at any given time . Levels existing in all subsystems of existence. These subsystems as you will see include but are not limited to financial, psychological, biological, and economic. The reason that i say not limited to because i also believe there are some yet to be identified subsystems at the quantum level. The differential or rate of flow is controlled by one or more systems. All systems that have some Spatio-temporal manifestation can be represented by using the two variables levels and rates. Thus with respect to the spatial or temporal variables, we can have a dynamic model.
The below picture is the model that grew out of interest from the initial meetings of the Club of Rome. The inaugural meeting which was the impetus for the model was held in Bern, Switzerland on June 29, 1970. Each of the levels presents a variable in the previously mentioned major structures. System levels appear as right triangles. Each level is increased or decreased by the respective flow. As previously mentioned on feedback any closed path through the diagram is a feedback loop. Some of the closed loops given certain information-theoretic attributes be positive feedback loops that generate growth and others that seek equilibrium will be negative feedback loops. If you notice something about the diagram it essentially is a birth and death loop. The population loop if you will. For the benefit of modeling, there are really only two major variables that affect the population. Birth Rate (BR) and Death Rate (DR). They represent the total aggregate rate at which the population is being increased or decreased. The system has coefficients that can initialize them to normal rates. For example, in 1970 BRN is taken as 0.0885 (88.5 per thousand) which is then multiplied by population to determine BR. DRN by the same measure is the outflow or reduction. In 1970 it was 9.5% or 0.095. The difference is the net and called normal rates. The normale rates correspond to a physical normal world. When there are normal levels of food, material standard of living, crowding, and pollution. The influencers are then multipliers that increase or decrease the normal rates.
As a caveat, there have been some detractors of this model. To be sure it is very coarse-grained however while i haven’t seen the latest runs or outputs it is my understanding as i said the current outputs are close. The criticisms come in the shape of “Well its just modeling everything as a . I will be using this concept and map if you will as the basis for Noumena. The concepts and values as i evolve the system will vary greatly from the World3 model but i believe starting with a minimum viable product is essential here as i said humans are not very good at predicting all of the various outcomes in high dimensional space. We can asses situations very quickly but probably outcomes no so much. Next up we will be delving into the loops deeper and getting loopier.
So this is the first draft if you will as everything nowadays can be considered an evolutionary draft.
In my last post I discussed talent. Most companies buy companies either for a defensive move or for talent. Few and far between are the exemplar purchases for intellectual property. Although it is mandatory you have those ideas at least patent pending with some form of provisional application – yet i digress.
It has become very apparent to me we are heading into a talent shortage. Specifically in the areas of Data Science. It reminds me of the glory days of signal processing in the early to mid 90’s. We couldnt find people who knew how to code a (fast) Fast Fourier Transform let alone think about distributing that processing. I see Data Science related careers in that same situation. I also see the physical and soft sciences merging with the two as it pertains to gaining knowledge from the data. Need to find a lot of people and do not want to outsource it? Do not have the cash to make a company acquisition? Call in a team.
The above picture is of the good folks at Blackwater. Most people or companies do not like mercenaries. Why? Mercenaries are usually not very fun. Most people enjoy pithy campy fun. Mercenary teams are not the type of consultants you find in Office Space. On the contrary, these guys and gals know what they are doing – get in – get out and move on. They are expensive but will usually overhaul any situation. They have a huge amount of experience and are very calm under chaotic conditions. I am reminded that those who do a dangerous thing with style is a professional. I see a day when teams of Mad Max Mercenaries are plying their trade on Craig’s List or eBay. eBay is probably a better venue as then they can have a cover LLC and incorporate subdivisions as needed based upon specialty. Sound crazy? Maybe. Sounds like a possible Idea2Bank to me.