Monday, February 19, 2007

Will we ever get rid of Monopolies?

An irony is that while the phone companies are screaming to regulators that VoIP is killing their rate base and the like, hardly anyone bothers to mention that to use VoIP you gotta have a broadband Internet connection, and for most people that's DSL.

And where do most folks get their DSL from? Ta dah! The phone company!

Much of the competition talk really relates only to all of the gadgets and services, not to the fact that they're mostly being provided by a relatively small (and shrinking) group of very large telecom conglomerates, who are trying to set all of the rules of the game across the board.

Modern slavery

"The coming convulsion we face in the 21st century is not so much moral but no less stark: the collapse of a faltering industrial polity in the face of depleting energy supplies. Like the earlier dilemma of slavery, our national leaders refuse to face it."
Depleting energy supplies are but the surface of the real problem.
Which is still a problem of slavery, even if we could talk of a different kind of slavery.
The "abundance society" is built on the abundance of food and technical devices that should make our lives heaven, but whose production reduces man to a bigger slaveery than before.
Bigger because it is hidden and inevitable.
We are the slave of a system whose survival is in the more and more production which is based in a bigger and bigger consuming to allow a bigger production.
We have to work more to produce more and we have to consume more in order to have the need to produce more, so that the economical machine can run.
We have to work more and more to be able to afford more and more useless things, so that we will be able to make a useless world running on a useless production.
The only constant and useless depletion is still the energy supply.
We should consume less and produce less, so that we consume less energy.
But then, how would the actual machine run?

Friday, February 16, 2007


Perceptions are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the Universe.

"We have used our wealth, our literacy, our technology, and our progress to create the ticket to unreality which stands between us and the facts of life...experiences of our own contriving begin to hide reality from us...transforming us from travellers into turists."


Intelligence is a matter of conceptualizing rather than calculating.

In a chess game while a human can evaluate three moves a second, a computer can evaluate millions.

But the advantage is reversed when it comes to improvisation.

A computer would find it difficult to understand a strategy based on calculated irritation.

Reinventing Computing

Interesting perspective from Peter Clare of Oracle fame
"The problem w/ this approach philosophically (I think) is that most layered abstractions in real life undergo paradigm shifts as you move from one domain to another. Sure, you can describe cooking via atomic reactions, or even chemistry, but who cares – I guarantee you that a chemical model of cooking won’t likely taste as good as a traditional mixing ingredients w/ a pinch here or there approach.

The same is true for computer paradigms. Every (computer) modeling language is designed to solve a particular set of problems, and will likely be miserably inadequate for problems outside the domain for which this language was intended. Sure, pgmrs can do amazing things w/ languages using techniques that the language designers themselves didn’t forsee – but this is just stretching the limits, not making any fundamental paradigm shift.

I have always tho’t that computer weenies want to play at being God, and that our systems reflect this basic arrogance and prejudice.
Somehow, we feel that this modeling Deus ex Machina is going to solve some implausable problem by inserting the genius of Our-New-Computer- Language-in-God’s-Image into the mix. I am skeptical.

The real world seems rather complex to me and we seem to have varying degrees of comfort and discomfort using many different (internal) systems and models to navigate our way through The Maze. Such is the World.

If we look at the evolution of computer-as-language today, we use a wide variety of linguistic mechanisms ranging from Imperative to Dialogue to point-and-click Exploration to You-Name-It. At the end of the day, most of these linguistic mechanisms are basically proxies for communicating our intent to other people, usually communally through space and time, much as literature communicates intent through space and time.

If we look at the chaos that is the current landscape of ways to communicate our intent via these linguistic automatons, it is pretty easy to see that computer language mechanisms are evolving much the way natural languages evolve – via our ad hoc social systems that determine in a willy nilly way what works and what doesn’t over long periods of time."

May be the approach is wrong.
May be we still do not know the right way.
It happened with the written language.
I have a theory about it.
The first written language was made with idioms (as the Chinese and Japanese still are)which reproduced the concept instead of the sound.
The letters were the biggest improvement in the way of written language.
Because with 26 (Italians, 22)letters we can express all what we think and say.
Simplifying the way of writing allowed many more to access culture and the other bigger step was printing.
Now a days in many countries the basic culture is a matter of wanting more than affording.

The real reinvention of computing will come when the languages instead of using basic data format (string)will use simpler letters with which it will be universally possible to build a common language understood by all computers.
Simplifying computing will make informatics more a matter of wanting than affording.
I regret one thing: that I was born too soon...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Artificial intelligence.

Originally the designing of artificial intelligence programs was based on logical deduction and rational response.
In consequence it was easier to mimic the thought process of a chess master concerned with determined patterns, than a child which imagines randomly and makes improbable analogies.

To be comparable to the real thing, artificial intelligence has to accommodate subjective as well as objective processes.
And that's about the unpredictable and irrational-in other words, behaving like humans.
We are overlay impressed by the ability to calculate and rationalize, and inadequately impressed by the ability to see possibilities and make connections.

And connections, as Adam and Eve discovered, are what life is about.

Bloggers and journalist

I fail to see why journalists are in an uproar about bloggers being
marked as distinct from journalists. Clearly bloggers are not held to
the same standards and to include them in your ranks dilutes the
*ahem* reputation that journalists have. In many cases, companies and
politicians share information off the record with journalists - and
that relationship is maintained because journalists know they'll lose
access if they break confidence. Bloggers just don't give a shit and
will "print" anything they want, rarely holding back sensitive information.

I like having bloggers - it makes life interesting. Journalists,
however, seem to have their priorities mixed up by willingly
associating themselves with bloggers and ultimately hurting their own profession.
What makes bloggers interesting is that they'll print what journalists
won't - because they don't have editors telling them they're crossing
a line!

Dan Gilmor has built up 25 years of trust with his sources and
probably has a reasonable understanding of what is publishable and
what is not - but he's no longer a journalist in the traditional
definition - maybe just a trusted blogger. Apple would seek discovery
of his sources if he were to publish the same information as Jason
Ogrady (powerpage) but he would never publish this information! He
wouldn't get into the same fix! How can he be in such an uproar when
what they did clearly supported the violation of trade secrets?

I'm 25 and have been following some of these sites since their
inception and I am capable of recognizing the difference between
journalism and whatever it is that bloggers post.

disclosure: I did once work for Apple, but am no apologist for them.

Bradley Roberts