Archive

Archive for December, 2012

Having Pets

I don’t understand everyone’s apparent need to own a pet.

I think the essence is in the word own, in a world in which nobody is really in control over anything.

But aside from the fact that nobody owning a pet really knows why they do (only to follow others, probably), they would undoubtedly say that they love their pets, and their pets love them.

That is exactly what I’m wondering, because you have to admit that this kind of relation looks a lot like a master-slave relationship. If the slave doesn’t know any better (ie. he was born in it), he will love his master without any question.

So, you own a pet, you do what you want with it, you make sure he/she cannot have any offspring, for the illusion that something alive is giving you what you think is love in return…?

Others would say that having a pet is healthy because it relieves stress. An environment with a pet is terribly unhealthy, and the pet itself is a huge source of stress (get out of your denial phase on this point, please). Add to that the fact that the pheromones your body makes when petting an animal can be had in better quality and higher quantity when interacting with other humans…

I don’t understand.

Categories: Thinking Tags: ,

Artificial Intelligence

Reading Dr. Michio Kaku’s book Physics of the Future, I thought a bit about how we evolved and how AI could do so much better.

Imagine a central Knowledge Database (which I’ll call KDb for short), and a type of robot that is preprogrammed to make a new model every week. During the first iteration, this KDb holds the laws of physics and basic information about the world, and these robots would be programmed in such a way that anything endangering their integrity would be added to the KDb.

For example, a first-iteration model would bump into a wall, damaging some circuitry under the metal panel of its arm. During the following night, it would upload wirelessly to the KDb details of the event (location, force of the hit, material of the wall, etc). Every week, the central computer (or motherbrain, or however it would be called) would gather all events of the week, and calculate how best to prevent these events from happening again.

It could reason that the next iteration’s robots would need a stronger chassis, intra-wireless connections within its body, better cameras, better algorithms to detect collisions, or a better mobility. Then the robot factory would receive the recommendations, and start building the next iteration. The central computer would upload to the KDb that walls can be dangerous when hit with a certain amount of force. The only thing preventing the central computer from thinking about giving them explosives or weapons (in order to destroy the wall first) would be that the collision could be with a fellow robot.

Another example: a robot gets acid on its chest. This doesn’t damage it, but its chest is marred – it sends an event to the KDb. The central computer decides that the best course of action is to add that kind of acid to the list of things that a robot should avoid (maybe with a danger rating), along with how the acid looked like. Given enough knowledge about how acid and normal water each usually look like, these robots would, in a few iterations, be able to avoid acid.

And, every month or so, robots would go back to the factory to be recycled for materials, constantly leaving the better, newer versions out in the world.

 

In only two years, this kind of robot would go through a hundred iterations, and with them, the fastest evolution ever. The key point here, of course, is the KDb – a collective knowledge. Add to that an incentive to constantly build better and faster computers, and there would be no stopping them.

Categories: Thinking Tags:

It’s so dry!

This post is about my hands’ dryness right before winter. Yes, all that text below, all talking about my dry knuckles. If you’re easily bored, check out some other post on my site.

 

A bit more than a week ago, my hands started to be drier than usual. Every year, right before winter, they do that. They dry up a lot for about two weeks, then stay a bit dry for the rest of the hard Canadian winter. I usually just put a moisturizer a few times a day, and doing that keeps the dryness at bay.

But this year, I wondered if they were less dry. That seems like a good test! It was more sensitive than painful, so it really didn’t bother me that much. In fact, just the day before, I was clenching my fist, then looking at the tiny beads of blood appearing between the cracks. And by the way, only the knuckles are drying up – no idea why.

To be more precise about how my hands were, I can actually see the progression. At their worst (Wednesday, in fact), my right little finger’s knuckle was a bloody mess of cracked skin beyond recognition. The ring finger next to it was cracked and bloody, but the middle finger was almost correct. I was still surprised to notice that was left hand was 96% okay. That day, I started applying a moisturizer regularly, but only on the ring finger. The middle finger I licked – both to try a natural way to hydrate it, and to clean the wounds.

Today, four days after the worst, the little finger is healing up very nicely – faster than I anticipated. The ring finger is a beautiful moisturized marvel, and the middle finger has stopped cracking two days ago. Unfortunately for my test, it is very noticeably dry and scaly – all the proof I needed that licking a wound, although most likely helping it heal, actually dries it (the salt in the saliva, maybe). The index finger is itchy, but stopped bleeding earlier today. The thumb is a bit itchy too, but didn’t really bleed.

The land of dryness has spread to my left hand, though not like the mess it was on the right. Weirdly, the most affected place is the area between the index and middle fingers – cracked and itchy. It feels like it would bleed again if I stretch the fingers too much. There are also cracks here and there on the fingers, and I think the little finger is going to flare up tomorrow.

 

Do you have any idea what it felt like, when I first put the moisturizer on my right ring finger when it was raw? The feeling was incredible – similar to when you have an abscess or a wound, and your body is so used to feeling it hurt than you just don’t feel it anymore, but then suddenly the pain is gone, and you’re left with a weird sensation of relief. My ring finger had an orgasm.

But what if the body remembers? When you take too much Tylenol or whatever painkiller, the body gets used to it, and demands more (by making your head hurt more often). Imagine that, year after year, my knuckles dry up, more and more, because my hands are demanding some moisturizer when the winter comes? I think it would be important (at least for someone like me who thinks long-term) to suffer a bit for two weeks, but then the hands dry less the following years. Anyway, I’ll check my right ring finger – the only one that received moisturizer – next year, when they dry up again.

 

Wait… Did you actually read the whole post?

Categories: Slice of Life

I’m back, I think…

It has been a while. Too long, in fact.

For the 0.17 person wondering, my last post was right before starting a new way of life. I decided that I would spend a complete week almost disconnected from the Internet – only checking my email once before going to bed. After the fruitful week was over, I loosened my goal to a more appropriate “There shall be no unplanned usage of the Internets“. Meaning that I could go on youtube while I was eating dinner, or spend half an hour on reddit, but only if I had planned it.

All of a sudden, there were no more oh-my-god-it’s- 22:00-already-and-I-haven’t-done-anything-all-day. I had time to read and draw. They were good times. Instead of surfing the web during my lunch hour at work, I brought a book and read. It was all more peaceful, more zen, more serene. It’s when you take a step back that you realize how much strain the Internet, if used in a free-for-all manner, takes on you.

But then I wanted to do something more constructive during my lunch hours. I wanted to make a web site in python/django – and I had to learn the language, which I also did at home. Just a peek at the front page of reddit, a quick check on 4chan, reading my emails and RSS feeds more and more often… It almost got back to the state it was before I started.

It’s crazy how much of a drug the Internet has become.

So I might as well write once in a while in my old blog, where I write about things that cross my mind, or that seems interesting. Meanwhile, trying to minimize the unplanned web.

 

I’m back, I think…

 

Categories: Thinking