Saturday, August 29, 2015

An idea that may help to better understand the brain

I want to understand how the brain works. I learned that the two important aspects about the brain are its topography, and its pattern of neural activity.

If you fully understood how the brain molds itself from stimuli. You would be able to predict the structure of neural connections based off of certain stimuli. So far as i know, no one knows how to do that, no one truly understands how the brain works.

While trying to understand it myself, i tried to imagine groups of neurons and what structure they may make based off of the information that enters them. I could not do it, so i tried thinking of something else in the world that does the same thing. As in, changes its structure based off of the stimuli.

One idea i thought of was sand on a vibrating metal plate. Based off of the vibrations of the metal plate, the sand will change structure to match that specific stimuli.

If you fully understood how the sand changed in structure based off of the vibrations of the metal plate. Then i could give you a frequency that you have never heard, that would produce a structure that you have never seen, and you would be able to predict what it would look like.

I thought that if you could fully understand exactly how the sound causes the sand to form these structure's. You could apply that same understanding, and possibly more importantly how you achieved that same understanding, to understanding the brain.

Unfortunately i also do not understand how these structures are formed based off of these vibrations.
If anyone does, would anyone mind explaining it to me? Remember you only understand, if you can predict a given structure that you have never encountered.

I think another interesting thing to note, is how similar these patterns are to electron orbitals.

 


                       
Another thing that has been in my mind for quite some time, was the idea that neural activity looks very similar to the chaotic movement of a massive flock of birds flying in the sky. Even though this idea may not hold much merit, i still feel the need to share it with others. An interesting thing about how birds are able to coordinate themselves into these massive organizations and move as if they were a single organism. Is the fact that these seemingly complex flock formations derive from very simple rules. That each bird simply follows the one in front of itself. I think its interesting to almost think of each bird as a single processor. I think its also interesting that formations that at the core derive from neural activity, begin to resemble said neural activity.


This is the neural activity of a Zebra fish, right now it may be difficult to see its resemblance to the movement of a flock of birds. But i think it would be important to remember that a zebra fish lacks a neocortex. So i think it would be interesting to see neural activity from a neocortex imaged liked this, and i think it would further resemble the movement of the birds as well.

                               


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Google's Methods Of Resource Acquisition Are Unique And Powerful

Google is special. They are unlike most corporations, in the fact that the methods they use to acquire resources depend not on competition, but on something else entirely.

Corporations share many characteristics with organisms, and if properly observed, can even be classified as organisms themselves. And as you may have learned from biology, competition is not the only interaction that occurs between organisms.

The type of interaction that Google uses, is akin to Symbiosis, which is much more difficult to find, and take advantage of, not only in our man-made environments, but in natural ones as well.

This type of interaction can be seen in their main source of income, their search engine.

In the symbiotic interaction between bees and flowers, bees come and absorb the nectar from the flowers, In the process, the bees get food, the flowers get more genetic diversity. Yes both benefit, but that's not the important part.

In this interaction, not only do both benefit, but more importantly, both begin to experience rapid growth due to the feedback loop created by their interaction with each other.

The more bees, the more flowers. The more flowers, the more bees.

The same applies to Google's search engine. The more people that use their search engine, the more ad revenue Google receives. The more ad revenue they receive, the better their search engine becomes. The better it becomes, the more people use their search engine.

Google's search engine has grown to become the most used search engine. You could say that they hold, a monopoly over search.

But the interesting thing here, is that their monopoly over search, is not detrimental to its consumers, but in fact, very beneficial.

Not only due to the fact that we get better search because of it, but because of the other highly beneficial incentives it provides.

For example Google has much to gain from the internet being completely free, and completely ubiquitous.

The more people that use the internet, the more people that use their search engine, the more ad revenue they receive. Which last time i checked, constitutes over 90% of their profits.

They are the only ones that have much to gain from it being completely free, rather than profiting off of it, while having the resources to make it so, and they are on the path to making it such. But the amazing thing about this, is that they are not doing this because they are somehow altruistic (though they may be) but because they have much to gain from it.

It is this Symbiotic relationship that is built on rational objectivity that guarantees beneficial outcomes.

There are still over 4 billion people that do not have internet. Imagine the economic effects of suddenly bringing all 4 billion people online. (You can view the internet stats here: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/ It actually has a really cool counter that actively shows the rising population of internet users)

Making the internet completely free and completely ubiquitous, would be a major achievement, and with rippling beneficial effects. Here are some of the ways they are on the path making the internet completely free.

Project Loon: With project Loon they plan to put helium balloons in the sky, and use them as atmospheric satellites. With the direct goal of providing free internet for all.
http://www.google.com/loon/.


Acquisition of Titan Aerospace: Google bought Titan Aerospace, a drone company that is working on solar powered drones. You can see the obvious potential of this technology in their endeavor to provide free internet for all.  http://www.techspot.com/news/56387-google-acquisition-of-drone-maker-titan-aerospace-will-lift-project-loon-to-new-heights.html


Google fiber: Google has begun to lay out fiber optic cords in a number of different cities, one of them is mine (Austin, TX). This service does of course cost money laying down the infrastructure is simply to expensive. But i do not think profit is the main goal here. I think the goal here, is to disrupt the strangle that is the detrimental monopoly that ISPs such as Comcast, Timewarner, and AT&T have on us. By introducing incredibly fast internet speeds, around 1000 Mbps for a very low price. Around the same price that people pay these other sleazy ISPs just for 5-10 Mbps. (Horrible, i know, we should be out in the streets with torches and pitchforks)
https://fiber.google.com/about/

But making the internet free, and completely ubiquitous, is just one of their goals, or should i say, incentives.

Out of all the other corporations, Google is the only one i have seen to put so much money and effort towards technological advancement, from what seems to be purely for the sake of it.

If you do not believe me, here are some pretty amazing examples. (Seriously click on every link if you have not heard of them already)

Makani; http://www.google.com/makani/#overview 














Boston Dynamics: http://www.bostondynamics.com/
















Clean Energy: https://www.google.com/green/energy/investments/
















Google Car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqSDWoAhvLU













And these are just a few, the list goes on.

Again i am not arguing that they are altruistic, but rather, that they have much to gain from all of this. Where as other corporations only focus on money, and for good reason, because currency is a powerful resource, because you can convert it into just about anything else. It seems like Google is interested in much more than just money. Its like they understand that all of our businesses today are built on technology, technology that at one time did not exist. As such they seem to treat potential technology, technology that does not exist, but has the potential to exist, as just as much a resource as anything else.

But also where other businesses simply wish to grow and profit off of their products. Google seems to want to use the resources they have acquired, to make an impact, to change the world. Now whether for better, or for worse, does not matter. What matters, is that this makes them powerful.

Where other businesses have small limited goals, where they stagnate and cling to old tech and methods, which has proven to kill businesses time and time again.

Google doesn't just not stagnate, they create. They do not play catch up, they are the ones forcing others to catch up. Because of this, Google will be around for a very long time, and also, has the potential to become the most powerful corporation in the world.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Minecraft Social Experiment

About a few months back, i had one of the most fun, interesting, and socially enlightening Minecraft experiences to date.

I feel as if much was learned about human nature, from this one session. Though when me and some of my friends began this match, we had no intention of getting anything of the sort out it.

So ill start from the beginning.

I invited 5 people, some of them i knew personally, some of them were simply friends of friends. Out of the 5 people there were 4 males and 1 female. This one female would significantly change how the game was played out, simply due to her being female, and us being male. You'll see why later. So lately i had been wanting more of a challenge out of Minecraft, such as a harder time gathering food and resources, and surviving overall. So before i loaded the world, i came up with a single new rule. That rule, was that you only get one life. No matter how you die, if you die, you will be kicked from the session and will no longer be allowed to play. That was the only rule, any and all other actions, were allowed.

I did not realize just how much this would change things.

So as soon the world loaded, and we all spawned in. We looked around at our surroundings, and we saw relatively flat plains, with a few trees dotted about in the distance. We then did exactly as anyone who has played Minecraft would expect. We all spread out, but agreed to all meet back at a specific location, and began to gather resources. We all understood that starving didn't just mean despawn then respawn, but rather, permanent death. As a result, we were all careful not to travel to far away from each other, lest we get stuck alone at night, which would mean almost certain death.

As the sun began to fall, we all anxiously hurried back to each other, and due to the lack of resources, had to make our temporary home a lowly hole dug out in the side of a small cliff.

While all huddled in this small area, we realized some of us, had little to no food due to the scarcity of life in the area. When one person said they were hungry and needed to eat before the end of the night, We all got quite in the voice chat. We all felt it, and it was likely all our first time feeling..it. Normally you can gladly share you food with others because there is not much risk in doing so. But now. Sharing your food with someone else, could mean your death. When the person asked again, someone eventually broke the silence with a small offering of their food, then another person offered a small amount of theirs as well.

I had plenty...but offered none. I also kept the information as to just how much food i had, to myself. I believe this was the first time i noticed something different about myself, and about the others compared to all my past sessions.

The night felt long. To try to sleep through it, my good friend Devon tried to make beds, but only had enough resources for one.

I sat in a corner and fashioned myself a stone sword, little did i know how much of an effect this stone sword would have on me, and everyone else.

During all this time we also made the hole we lived in a bit bigger.

While Devon was mingling with the others, i saw his bed in the corner. A thought ran through my head..i wanted the bed. While Devon wasn't looking, i decided to take it for myself, but only as a joke.

When Devon came around and noticed that his bed was gone, he asked who took it. I said "I did".
He asked for me to give it back. Still jokingly, i said no. He then pulled out his, Wooden, sword, and threatened me with it. But because i was the only one that gathered enough stone just before the night came, i pulled out my stone sword.

In that instant we both realized something, that i had the power. Normally whether you got into a fight or not, or had the weaker weapon or not. It didn't really matter, because if you died, you'd just respawn.

But this was not the case. Now, you could threaten someone with death, and it would actually mean something.

We stared at each other for a moment. But Devon, understanding the severity of the situation, eventually backed down, realizing that his life, was not worth a bed.

That confrontation between me and him, stirred something in me.

From that point on, instead of asking for things, i began to give commands.

Ordering people to give me more food, to give me their stone, and other resources. And that if i ever found them holding out on me, they would be punished. Devon and another guy were always reluctant to do so, but had no choice, However, to my surprise, one guy gladly obeyed my orders.

I elected myself as leader of the group.

When morning finally came, i knew we needed more food, so i decided that we should travel.

I chose a direction, and the guy that gladly followed my orders, without hesitation, followed my lead. Which then caused the female to follow, and Devon and the other resistor, not wanting to be left behind, followed as well.

After much walking we saw a village in the distance.

At that moment i began running towards it, killing any villager i came across, yelling and telling the others to do the same. I commanded them to pillage the village, kill all the men and children, and rape the women!

After all the villagers were dead, i claimed the village and its farms as my own, all Mine and only Mine.

After a while i saw everyone harvesting the wheat from the farms, My wheat.

I gave the order that these farms are my farms and that you must give me a portion of all the bread you make.

I was really beginning to push Devon to his limit.

This other person however still oddly, gladly followed my orders. I decided to make use of him, i commanded him to go mining and get me enough iron for a set of iron armor.

Devon, his fellow resistor, and the female were picking out their homes. I saw that Devon chose to make the biggest house, his house. I did not agree with this decision.

When my follower came back with a piece of armor, i decided to reward him.

I told Devon to get out of the house, and that the house will be my followers home, as a reward for all his great deeds. I even gave my blind little follower a title. I called him, my Thane, and that he had earned the title for being such a great warrior, and for his service, to the king.

This was the last straw. Devon couldn't take my shit anymore, he grabbed his stuff, and left the village. His fellow resistor sharing the same sentiments, left with him. The only female of the group, decided to leave with Devon as well because she had known him longer.

 I would have stopped him and threatened him with death, but i knew even though i had slightly better weapons and armor. That it was risky to fight all three, even with my Thane at my side. Devon could have also fought for the village right there and now, but he also understood, the risk. So i let him leave.

But he and i understood that we would not be seeing the last of each other. That when he has gathered enough resources, he would make an attempt at my life.

Without saying it, we both knew there was an arms race going on, where ever he was, he was definitely trying to get stronger weapons and armor.

So i commanded my Thane to keep getting iron and make me a full set of iron armor.

later on through out the game, Devon and i, both knowing whats to come, decided to meet at a empty field. To make sure they did not try anything, i brought my Thane with me, and to make sure i didn't try anything he brought the two other people that left with him as well.

When we met at the field, we stayed a good distance apart from each other, making sure no one got too close. We stared at each other and discussed somethings. I forget the exact things we discussed, but what i did take from them this meeting, was that there soon would be war.

As we were leaving, i saw the female. A thought ran through my head..i want her. So i stopped and told her to hold on. Devon concerned for her safety stayed as well.

I asked her, why not come with me?

I am stronger, wealthier, better, a king of a whole village.

I said these exact words, "if you stay with him, you will continue to be nothing more than some whore living underground in the dirt."

And before she could get offended by my words, i told her. "But if you come with me, you will be a great princess, you will have an entire village with farms to yourself. You will live at the top of the tower."

Reluctantly, she agreed to come with me.

Even though this was all just a game, i know this hurt Devon's Male Ego in someway.

But at least for a moment, it seemed as if we all forgot that this was all just a game.

smugly, i asked Devon how he felt about me taking his woman. He of course tried to act it off as if it didn't phase him.

We parted ways for the last time.

When we returned to the village, as promised, i guided my new princess to her home, and had her climb to the top of the tower, At the top, laid her bed, the same bed, that i took from Devon at the beginning of all this. Not only was the tower a nice sight, but we could also see for miles, allowing us to see if Devon and his fellow resistor were coming to attack the village in the night.

Knowing that Devon is a better miner and resource gatherer than i am, i decided to attempt a preemptive strike, before he could attain better weapons and armor.

At first light, me and my thane left to attack Devon, telling the princess to wait for our return.

We carefully moved to where Devon and his fellow resistor where holed up. They were underground, just below us.

When i broke the block under my feet, It all happened so fast. I dropped down ready to swing at anyone i saw, hoping that the element of surprise would give us the advantage.

...I slipped on blood (a figure of speech that my friend Devon still uses today).

When i dropped, the ground below me was too high, so my head was still poking out at the top. I could barely see what was going on below me. Surprised that i was there, they reacted fast, grabbed their weapons and made their way toward me. I saw them coming and i attempted to select a block to place below me so i could get out, but i know i couldn't do it quick enough. So as a last ditch effort, i swung blindly. Helpless as they stabbed me to death.

The End.

It was interesting to see what we would all do in a simulated survival situation.
It was somewhat similar to the book, Lord of the flies, and the book Grendel.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The FDA is a bottleneck on technological advancement

tinycamera
This chip right here, could save lives in the emergency room. But we still have to wait months-years, for it to be approved by the FDA.


Another very recent example is the recent petition made by Nick Grillo, a person who was been diagnosed with ALS.


In this petition which you can view and i urge you to sign here he mentions that there is a drug called GM6. This drug has the potential to extend his and other peoples lives who have been diagnosed with this debilitating disease. It is not a cure, but it could at least extend their lives long enough for a cure to be found.


Yet the drug is still awaiting time consuming approval, it will likely take 3 years before patients will have access to this drug. Yet most people with ALS are only given 2-5 years to live. This means that most people currently living with ALS wont be around to see it reach the market.


This is unacceptable, and a clear example where the FDA does absolutely more harm than good, as well many others.


The FDA is one of many government entities acting as a bottleneck on technological progress. Soon technology will advance faster than they can keep up.


The FDA needs to be done away with if we wish to experience the beneficial effects of technology as soon as they are made.


This is not 1920, we do not need some vague entity making decisions anymore. We have advanced telecommunications technology. We can research the information ourselves, and can make knowledgeable decisions for ourselves.


All drugs and procedures have pros and cons, and it should be up to you to weigh those pros and cons.


The FDA, or atleast their power, needs to be removed. 


This is only one example of many where technological advancement is stifled by government intervention.


The Google car is another example, held back not by the FDA, but nonetheless other government entities.


Even though the car drives better than any human, can see in all directions, all at the same time. Does not get drunk, or distracted, it still faces inevitable, but time consuming approval.


Ray Kurzweil, a truly amazing individual who is director of engineering at Google. Has made many predictions about the future of technology, the far majority of them correct. The problem is, he predicted that we would have driverless cars on the road by 2009. He was wrong. But the interesting and rather worrying fact is that he was not wrong due to the lack of technology, but due to the inefficiency of government. Due to this his prediction was off by, I believe 4-5 years. If you've ever read his predictions, which you can read here. You would realize that 4-5 years, is a very long time.


He made another prediction that by 2019 computers will do most of the driving, and humans will be prohibited from driving on highways unassisted. From this perspective, i am sure that we all can agree, this prediction will be false as well. But again not due to technology, but the inefficiency of government.

For me and my fellow Transhumanist, i am sure this is very worrying, and that we can all agree that something, whatever it is, needs to be done.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To All The Theists And Believers Of An Afterlife

Many organisms can predict the future.
Hence the reason why a horse will stop at the edge of a cliff, because it knows it will fall and die. It may not understand, but it knows.

We humans, are so intelligent, that we can predict far-far into the future.

So far, that we know, we will die.

I can just imagine, the first couple of humans to come across such an existential concept.

To realize that no matter how much you eat, no matter how many predators you escape, no matter how strong you are.

You. Will. Die.

The idea that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try. You and every one you ever loved or ever known, will die.

Must have been psychologically unbearable to these first minds.

Instead of these first humans excepting such a truth.

They instead think, "no..i don't die..no, I just go somewhere else, to some far off place. Where me, and every one I ever loved, will never die. There will be plenty of food, water, no threat of predators, just pure utter comfort. We will be happy...forever."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Corporate Transhumanism

A new kind of corporation is coming, a corporation that expands in all directions, and strives to continue to ever advance in technology.

A perfect example of this, is continuously shown in the actions of my favorite corporation, Google.

Google started off as a small search engine company, with the simple goal of organizing the internet.

This has changed now, Google now takes on Innovative world changing projects.

A few of these projects are:

Google car, this car is completely automated, it has sensors that can look forwards, backwards, left and right all at the same time. It does not get distracted, drunk, or make rash decisions. This car truly has the potential to completely revolutionize transportation. It has the potential to drastically decrease accidents, and it has the potential to completely do away with traffic.

Project Loon, in this project, Google wants to send helium balloons into the air. With the end goal to make internet completely ubiquitous, and free for all.

Do i even need to mention the potential world changing benefits this project has? There are still over 4 billion people on this planet who do not have access to internet. Think about the disruptive effects it will have on the world economy, when everyone has internet? Think about the disruptive effects it will have on world governments, a good example of this would be Arab spring.


Google glasses, is a big leap towards augmented reality, and will likely be the next big medium for entertainment, and telecommunications. The potential effects augmented reality will have on the world, i think can be best show in this short sci fi film.


There are many other examples, such as Google's work with solar powered planes, that have the potential to never have to land, or their work with drones that can deliver packages far more efficiently than how it is done today.

Anyway, you get the point.

Google is no longer satisfied with just organizing the internet, Google wants to organize the World.

Google is the perfect example of Corporate Transhumanism, but they are not the only example.

Facebook, which started out as a simple popular social media site, is oddly enough, beginning to practice Corporate Transhumanism. Shown in their acquisition of Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset. Virtual Reality is another technology that has the potential to disrupt societal norms. It will likely become the new medium of entertainment, allowing people to go to other worlds, experience epic fantasies, and over all do things that they could never do in reality.

The future of transhumanism, lies in the actions of corporations, It is due to these entities, and the fact that they all strive to compete to stay on top. That the future we transhumanist dream of, will come to fruition.

Competition = progress






Friday, September 26, 2014

Idea to improve neural networks

Neural networks are a way of programming, or better, a way of computation that resembles the way your brain works.

Its is a method of programming that has shown to be very useful. I honestly think that neural networks could be the future of all, if not most computation.

Right now, neural networks are used only for things such as image recognition, mapping patterns. Overall used in a way that require you only to train the network, because apparently that is the only way to use them. This statement as you may have realized, foreshadows the main point/idea i am trying to get across.

 So, as i said before, neural networks resemble the brain, this means just like brain, we do not entirely understand how they work. I also mentioned, that a better way of referring to neural networks, is as computation, rather than programming.

The reason why i say this, is because of the fact that they resemble the brain. It may even be appropriate to go so far as to say, they are the brain. And that by playing with neural networks, we are playing with what makes you, you.

The brain, is a computer, very much like the one i am using to record this information now. But with this computer, which is comprised of transistors rather than neurons. I can program it to do things such as, play video, do mathematical calculations, or do what i am doing right now. But most importantly, i can make this computer do what i think is the greatest thing you can do with any computer. That thing, is run simulations, the very process of recreating reality, such as the physics of a ball dropping.

My idea, is a fairly simple one, yet at the same time, profound (at least to me). What if you could do on neural networks what we do now with transistor based computers? What if you could run a simulation on a neural net? I don't entirely know why, but it seems as if the way neurons work, is the best way to run a simulation. I mentioned this before in my idea to compute information in a new way. Which turned out to be neural networks, just in hardware form.

Now i know we can run simulations with neurons, i do it all the time, at least i think i do. I can imagine a ball dropping, when coming up with my ideas, i imagine them and all their parts. Nikolai Tesla used to do the same thing, so well that he would imagine every single part that makes up his machines before he even started to build them. He would then build them to the exact specifications in his head, and they would work just like he imagined. How he used his ability to imagine, is just like how we use simulations on computers. To do things before we do them, allowing for error without the consequences.

Now, i have no idea how to make neural networks do as i have mentioned. But i do have some ideas as to how to begin to understand neural networks, which would then allow us to do as i have mentioned. It also would bring us closer to understanding how the brain works.

My idea to further our understanding of neural networks, is to play with them. What i mean by that, is to turn individual neurons off and on at your will, play with what they connect to, and watch the outcome.

This leads me to another idea, a new way to program neural networks. Right now programming a neural network consists of tediously, and in my opinion boringly righting down lines of code.
My idea is to change that, to the point where you are visually connecting and turning on artificial neurons. Looking something along the lines of whats shown in the GIF.

The first step is learning how to create them by hand, or better, if we can.

I have devised a test in my head, train a neural net to recognize patterns. Then make a blank neural net, and copy all the connections of the first net on to the blank one by hand.

If the one made by hand, does not work, then there is a problem, a big, mysterious one. It would mean that there is more to the brain and to computation than simply the connections and the neural activity. But what made the connections, and the neural activity.

If the net does work, then we play with it. Randomly disconnect one of the neurons from another, and see the effects. 

I think the latter is far more likely, I also hope it is the case (though the first option does seem fun as we'll)

In my experience, when people talk of neural networks, they always talk of mapping, never the neural activity.

I think it is possible for two neural networks to have the same connections, yet have different outcomes, due to different neural activity.

I feel as neural activity, especially in simulations, is the important factor.

where programming a neural network to do what we do on transistor based computers. lies directly in turning neurons on and off in specific patterns.

I almost feel as if in a simulation, the connections the neurons have would describe the somewhat static parts of the world, such as the ground, and the ball.

while the neural activity would describe the movement of the ball.

The neural connections would describe the landscape, while the neural activity would describe your movement through the landscape.