Sunday, August 8, 2021

New format, new stuff.

> New format, new stuff. If you check the bottom of each post in future, it'll have a box with a link to check out my other sites. (Just like the box at the bottom of this post, actually...)

If you follow that link, it'll take you to the bottom of this page of blog posts and there, you'll find a footer named "Footer- Check Out My Other Sites" and a heap of links to some of the other sites I operate.

There's my other blogs on Blogspot, of course - goes without saying. Some of those blogs were born (and laboriously hand-coded) back before blog sites became popular. 
  • TEdALOG Lite II - is the blog I post all sorts of general articles and items of interest to me and that I imagine might be of interest to you.
  • TEdADYNE Systems - I've always had a bit of interest in the ethics of technology, especially where the borders are between humans, cyborgs, and machines, and the ethics of AI. You may find this interesting.
  • TEdAMENU Tuckertime - as a proud geek and a proud Aussie and a proud multicultural citizen of the Earth, what better way than recipes to show the scope and depth of all these facets?
  • OHaiCorona - COVID-19 gave us all a shake-up and will continue to do so for a considerably long time to come. It shook the sh*t out of me and this blog became the place I put all the things I discovered as we uncovered the truth of this little bug.
  • OHaiCorona Fiction - is a blog on the same hosted server (which Tech Pacific is my service provider for) with all the crap fiction ideas that inevitably come up during the lockdowns... As such I should probably apologise for these stories... 
  • Grumpy Old Guy - is a blog where all the things that really p*ss me off go to be exorcised - some things just need the grumpy old guy touch, and now that I'm the age I am, I have EVERY facet of this NAILED.
  • PrawnTech3d (also for a shorter URL) - is a place where I share everything I'm learning and generating in the strange and absorbing world of 3D printing, from how to print stuff to best places to find stuff, best software for designing and making your own.
  • Youtube - I'm attempting to put a few videos up on Youtube, hopefully culminating in a fairly regular series of vids with some cool topics.
  • DiscordEmail me for an invite to the PrawnTech3D Discord server, where I tend to spend the most of my time anyway, or to arrange a Zoom sesh where we can happily chat one on one or in a group. (To get my timezone, go down to that link because it has the current time and date at my location.)
Additionally, you can buy/donate/help by using any of these links:
  • Ptec3d Shop - is where you can find my models I've designed and made, many available for free download; And also snippets of software, diagrams, and so forth for making cool gadgets and gizmos; And also of course I can print many models on demand for a fee and postage.
  • BuyMeACoffee - you can buy me a coffee and smashed avocado toast here, or
  • - just a latte with two sugars thanks!
  • Patreon - everyone knows Patreon, where people go to support people like me who spend all their time making and developing and disseminating and creating things. (I'll link this up once I have my Patreon up and running. It's a shambles for now...)
There are also a few more places you can find me:
  • I have my models available on Thingiverse, Thangs, Cults3D, Creality Cloud, Prusa Models, My Minifactory, and probably a few others.
  • There's an Etsy shop too. Naturally. 
  • You can direct tip me via Paypal or Stripe.
  • On Second Life I'm teddlesruss Vollmar, also on Dreamgrid where I occasionally run my own simulator at Catsylvania.
  • I've got some others - groups and pages here and there, about everything from rabbits to amateur radio - and will happily share those if you use the "Email me" link a few bullets back. 
I really do hope I'll see you at all these other sites - I've been working on and developing and publishing some of these blogs since before there were such things as blogs, and some of them are quite prescient. And I look forward to chatting with you all. 

And check the links, they'll remain in the sidebar to the left - do take a look around and see you somewhere around those places!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Probably A Simulated Blog Post

 So - it's been a while since I posted here... Multiple reasons - moved a few thousand miles (two thirds the way across Australia) to share a new improved life with a lovely woman, several milestone illnesses later, retirement, yada yada. Reads like a game of The Sims doesn't it? 

Which is why I've kind of had an interest in simulation theory for a while now. The theory has some merit. 

It Explains A Few Things

Imagine 'being' in a simulation. Computers achieve things in 'ticks', the registers change states because an inbuilt 'clock' ticks at a (fast) known rate, each tick represents a group of operations, and a computer where the clock is stopped remains in whatever state it had until the next 'tick' allows everything to progress by one step. Modern computers have a clock that ticks at extremely high speeds. 

That's why when you're buying a gaming PC you need a 'fast' CPU. (Central Processing Unit) That just means that the CPU can operate at a high clock tick rate (aka 'clock speed.') 

And while we're on the idea of computer gaming - a typical 3D first person shooter game is a fairly realistic world in which you (as your in-game avatar or character)  move around, encounter objects and random NPCs ('Non Player Characters') and interact with them. The game only 'exists' during a clock tick. You could stop the clock, go out and have a cup of coffee and a three course dinner, go back to the computer and restart the clock, and things would just continue from the exact point when you stopped the clock.

You could make the clock tick once a second, and the game would appear to jump from one frame to the next every second, The NPC opponents would move extremely slowly - but so would your avatar. If you could be the avatar, you wouldn't be aware of the clock tick rate, because you yourself would only exist at each clock tick, along with everything else. 

Also, in a simulation, you can't simulate a continuous thing, because everything has to be laid out a tick at a time. Also, for some reason the characters wouldn't be able to measure time in a continuous stream but rather, in 'ticks'. The characters wouldn't be aware of this unless they were doing fiendishly complex experiments. If they did do such experiments  they'd see that things are composed of certain smaller things, down to a unit that was the smallest they could measure, which in computer terms would be one pixel in size.

That would explain

(If, for example, we were actually living inside a simulation) things like Planck's Constant, a unit of length below the length of which nothing exists. And quanta of time. And quantum science in general... You can't measure light as a wave because *tick* you start *tick* a measurement *tick* and then look *tick* at the wave *tick* a clock-tick *tick* later and *tick* the wave hasn't gone smoothly from one state to the next but has appeared to jump between point A on the waveform to point B. 

We could 'drill down' and find a constant such as Plancks's, that there is nothing smaller than. (And there are already exceptions to that but I'll get to those in a tick. (did you see what I did there?)) A "planck's constant' of anything would be an atom. Light would seem to exist as both a wave and a particle, the particle probably conveniently close in size to the distance light can travel in a single quantum of time.

There's also a few other things that mutely point to the  clock-tick-divided (it's where our word "quantity" comes from) nature of our world. Our Universe is a quantum universe. That allows only two possibilities, either quantum universes are the most common universes, or else we're in a simulation. There is a third possibility, what if all but one of the other universes are simulations. 

Programming 'Cheats'

The program that generated that Universe would have to be HUGE, and require unimaginable CPU power. Yet games developers can cram a great deal of a simulated world into a single PC and within the constraints of that PC's memory. Programmewrs have cheats that they use.

For a start, they don't hold ALL of the game's 'universe' in memory at any one time. If they did, they'd need a serious chunk of ALL of Google's computing time world-wide, some way to synchronise it all together, and a lot of other things we just don't have yet, like quantum computing, quantum entangled memories and computing elements so that ALL the parts of EVERYTHING were programmed EVERY clock tick.

So they have cheats.

If, in your game, you're standing outside a cluster of buildings and can't see inside, there is nothing inside those buildings. Nothing behind them, and nothing behind you. (NPC movements are calculated and if they come within range of your avatar, you become 'aware' of them. If they're behind you, there's still no actual NPC there until you turn around and look - and then the scene that's behind you is computed and the program 'forgets' the scene with the buildings until they're needed again.)

If you go inside a building, then the interior becomes the active scene and is computed. 

Quantum particles.

So what about stuff like quantum particles? Quarks? Glad you asked. (And this explains perfectly why we can and do find quarks, read on.) Let's presume that the house you enter has rooms. While you're in the hallway, the inside of the rooms doesn't need to be computed so it isn't. Open the door and suddenly there are a lot of sub-room-sized objects inside. You open a cupboard and it's full of sub-cupboard-sized things in there. because you're looking in the cupboard, the room and the building don't need to be computed. So they aren't. 

Inside the cupboard you find a large crate and look inside. *tick* and the cupboard's gone, the Scanning Electron Microscope appears. You look in the eyepiece, there's a hum and *tick* the crate and the SEM disappear and you can see atoms. They look like they have smaller parts but - *tick* the SEM has become the screen to a Large Hadron Collider and the atom disappears to become a mess of quarks and particles smaller than small. 

When you zoom out to the whole planet again, you now know it's made of sub-units, sub-sub-units, sub-sub-sub-units, sub-sub-sub-sub-units, sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-units, and so on all the way down to at least the resolution of the LHC, but the program doesn't have to simulate all the particles, just the particles that are in your field of view at that time, and the range of possible effects that particles in your vicinity could cause.

By cheating, the programmers have gone from computing an almost infinite number of particles to only the size of particles that you can observe at your current zoom level. If you make the leap and decide that for the purposes of simplification, every other sentient being in your sphere also exists independently in the simulation, then that's still a manageable number of computations. Today, that number of synchronised calculations isn't possible. But tomorrow it might be different.

This also speaks to 'continuity of self', a conundrum that's haunted philosophers and psychologists for a long time. Basically, you go to sleep and lose consciousness - what happens in between? Are you the same person - when you wake up - as you were - when you went to sleep? Your memory is what shapes who you think you are, but memory is frangible and fragile, you can be convinced of complete untruths and end up believing implicitly that they are real memories.

How can you be sure that the 'you' that went to sleep is the same 'you' that you are right now? How can you guarantee that you were even the same species yesterday?

And by extension, we stop in between clock ticks, in between quanta of time. How can we know what happened in the preceding tick? (If you're looking at the room and see the cupboard, then look in the cupboard, there's  one *tick* when your view is the room, then next *tick* your view is inside the cupboard. Why do we think the same doesn't happen to us - and how could we tell?)

So if we're in a simulation, then (for example) we could have parts of our personality, memories, or even appearance changed and as it's all part of the program we wouldn't necessarily know it. 

We wouldn't know how long between clock ticks, either. In theory, we could - right now - compute a Game Of Human Sim Life as detailed as our own Universe. But we might need to code thew game asynchronously - that is, have a network of computers computing away like hell and producing a single - detailed - 'frame' of the game every six weeks. The characters wouldn't be aware of how far apart the clock *ticks* are. And if we're in this game, we also wouldn't be able to tell how much time we spent in stasis between *ticks*.

Even more brain-bending is that we have no way of knowing if the simulation has been run all the way already, or if it's been saved and restored to various points, nor do we know its purpose. How would we know if we've been rewound to 6AM yesterday a thousand times before, and if there isn't the same program running on the same computer as us, only different by a few *ticks*? 

Could It Be Turtles All The Way Down?

And thereby we come to the next step. If I can just step back a bit in time (and even if that makes any sense in the context of a simulation) to Victorian times, there was a similar theory that we existed as characters in an author's book. The technology at the time was printing presses, pen and ink, and possibly typewriters. We could imagine even then that we are not really real.

Step back a bit further and we're the creations of gods, again created not naturally occurring, and the world in most religions also shaped by those gods.

So what we could see, experience, and discover - those things are what would shape our 'knowledge' at each stage of the simulation. When fire, light, and dark are the limits of our science, we frame it in terms of supernatural entities. When we have widely available printed books, we have the 'author' theory.

And now that we have fairly powerful computers, we have the 'simulation' theory. We're not real, some other Universe is the real one and we're just collections bits and bytes of a program running on a computer in that Universe. THAT in turn calls to mind the question of whether that Universe is a simulation. 

As the original article at the top of this post says, there will always come a point where the topmost computer that's running simulations of computers that are in turn running simulations of computers is going to run out of processing power to run each and every one of those next-level Universes and at least ONE computer simulation in that Universe capable of running the next level simulation. 

BUT. What if the topmost Universe (with that computer running a whole series of Universes with computers running yet more Universes) is doing what I suggested, taking a week to render a single *tick* of it's computer simulator? At such a point, you could then posit that there could still be another Universe above the topmost one, that runs its simulation program an order of magnitude more slowly. And so on. In effect, I'm describing the Multiverse done in computer code. 

We don't really know what time is, or real actual space or matter or gravity for that matter - because they all exhibit the typical signs of being a simulation with no physical quantities whatsoever. 

And what about a truly analog world? Does it have to be a DIGITAL computer simulation?

Now I suspect that I'm going to blow your mind completely. What would a truly analog world look like? Could we even imagine what that would be like? How light behaves when it's no longer constrained by quantum effects? Distance that isn't granular but continuous? Matter that is truly homogeneous? What sort of properties would a chemical have when it isn't composed of individual atoms? How far - how fast - would homogeneous analog light travel, how much force would it exert, what colour spectrum would it have? 

Simply put, we can't. Not without doing some serious hypothesising and playing mind experiments. And even then it'd be like trying to truly visualise a tesseract or other high-dimension shape. We don't even have the sense to perceive it nor do we have words to describe what we perceive. 

Try this: Time is suddenly a three dimensional space, we can see tomorrow off in that direction, yesterday behind us, to the left - let's call it widdershins, so then to the right would be deasil. And what about up? Down? You see the problem. We can't imagine going at right angles to time, how would that work? When would that work? 

Now try to imagine that you're Doctor Who. "Tomorrow I'll be having had dinner yesterday with a widdershins fuzzbud that I'l be have cook(ing)ed at 5 redds to redactil."

And here we are trying to imagine analog time with our quantised brains... 

HOW exactly would a computer function of there are no discrete quanta? You'd have to create a quantising device that made time ticks possible, and then settle for the fact that the closest we'll come to realistic is as far removed there as a movie film is from reality here, a series of frenetic snapshots of change.

So I'm saying that it's almost 100% certain we're in a simulation, since we experience everything in a 'pixellated' (aka quantised) form. Which means we're a program, and from our experience most programs have a purpose. Perhaps our purpose is to drill down into our reality until we hit the limits of the program we're running. So let's keep doing the science, drilling down, and maybe we'll hit the end. EOF.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Riding In Smart Smart Cars With A.I.s

And while you're reading about the A.I.s that may one day exist, take a look at what might end up their one Achilles' Heel - the power source... %)  Actually, that article deals with batteries for cars - but then again it could still be right - why wouldn't an AI like to have a car as a body?

Am I A.I. Or Am I "Real?"

Great discussion of AI "human rights" here - follow the comments!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Desktops Pigeons And Sociopaths

I never know whether to hug people or punch them - they are both magnificently intelligent, and profoundly stupid, at the same time...  In this case - I think a good smacking might be in order.  (Metaphorically, all right?  I don't actually go around being violent, it's a figure of speech...)

The case is this article about desktops being dead.  I can agree with that, I saw desktops making way for more ubiquitous forms of computing back in the late 90's when I saw PDAs with cellphone technology, cellphones with cameras, and the first tablet computers.  Desktops were already irrelevant when I was a system admin making a living out of maintaining the damn things in their thousands, and butting my head against the stupidity of PHBs who couldn't see past the good ole clipboard and biro let alone to the age of using your a wireless phone thing to check - uh, "email" wasn't it?

So why does this eagle among reporters immediately descend to the rathole of thick-headedness with this quote? "Both companies know that mobile computing is where the action is now and where it will be forever."

WTF?  You've just said yourself, technology changes.  But "mobile computing will be forever?" OMFG.  No wonder even pigeons can think rings around us...

The direct connection to the brain is where the next tech battle is most likely to be, and then the tables will turn and the next battle will be to get oneself into the technology rather than putting the technology into ourselves.  And if that sounds wrong and bad and all kinds of not gonna happen, just think how each succeeding technology seemed to be the worst of its kind - until a few people adopted it and began to use it...

Believe it or not, snail mail (and I'm talking REAL snail mail here, carried over the course of weeks by ships and coaches) was going to disrupt life because people using mail were no longer paying as much attention to local social happenings.  Then the telephone threatened the very social fabric for much the same reasons, no longer needing to deliberate over the wording of a letter or visiting a person to pass on messages.  And OMG if you thought that was bad, you should read about what the cellphone was going to do to our neatly ordered social scenes...

So no - I'm not going to believe that we wouldn't adopt such future technology out of some sense of responsibility or altruism.  It's going to happen.  And it's happening faster and faster, year by year, month by month, week by week.  The real worry is what kind of people we will be once we adopt it.

Going from State messenger to social mail carriers created a group of people who communicated ideas and multiplied their collective intelligence using communications.  But you know what?  Local community DID suffer.  Because all of a sudden it became clear that one of the parts you needed for your Next Big Thing was more easily obtainable at your correspondent's location - and was also infinitely easier to ship to you than to find someone local, explain your idea, and get them to make the part for you.

And at each stage, the technology we've built has reshaped us - a polite nuance dropped here, a social responsibility avoided there - to the hurry-scurry uncaring people we are today.  But it's working, because by and large, we're all evolving into that type of person, and we're very good at adapting to new norms.  So the people who fear new technology because it will turn us into introverted, asocial, and possibly even sociopathic  machines should take a look around, and realise it's already happened, we've prepared ourselves for the next step, and the next, and there's no way to not take that step now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We Are The Alien Signal Our Parents Warned Us About

So where are they?  Those teeming alien hordes that SETI has spent fifty years looking for?  I'm going to suggest something, something really whacky, really off the wall - but maybe, just maybe, it's in with a chance...

Let's suppose, just for one moment, that radio signals obey the same rules out there as they do here.  If you send a signal in every direction at once, it's spread pretty thin and you can't detect it after just a few thousand kilometers at best.  So any alien civilisation that's broadcasting a signal strong enough for us to pick up a billion parsecs away has to be burning through an average sized sun's worth of fissionables every few centuries.

The other way to improve the strength and range of your signal is to focus all that energy into a beam. And what are the chances that an alien civilisation is pointing a radio beam right at us?  Right.

Professor Davies thinks much the same.  He also suggests that we need to look at a much broader frame of reference if we're to find any evidence of those elusive green people.  I suggest that even he's maybe not looking at a wide enough frame yet...

For a starters - if I wanted an alien civilisation to find out about me, I'd probably not bother to leave a radio beacon around.  Just not worth the effort.  Also, to be quite honest, quite primitive for my tastes.  If I'm at that stage where I contact another alien (or alien civilisation) then I'd be using a much more permanent beacon.  Like, maybe, I'd leave a 3D hologram of my civilisation.

Maybe the reason we're not seeing a message is because we are the message...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is "Jacking" a good term for "Genetic Hacking?"

Does anyone else remember only a few years back, when DNA sequencing was carried out across thousands of distributed home PCs running SETI-like batch software?  And how it was going to be, like, ten years to decode a fairly simple genome given the state of the art in computers at that stage was 486's and the very first Pentiums?

So it was good to see Moore's Law kick in and that first genome fell in only a few years.  Meanwhile, other DNA was being unravelled, larger more complex chunks, bigger genomes.  And now, we're at the point where the number of people with completely sequenced genomes will go from a handful, to the proverbial shitload.  In fact, the article even discusses home hobbyist gene tinkering.  Because of cheap gene sequencing technology.

My thoughts?  Almost as soon as we had civic records, we had people "hacking" records to create false personas.  When we got telephone systems, we had phreakers hacking the telephone networks to make free calls and/or create mayhem.  When we got credit cards, we had credit card fraud as well as clever ideas like gift cards. Almost before computers got on a few elite desks, there was the brain virus and then stoned virus.

Yes, we also had people who compiled great information from our civic records, telephone help and support lines, convenient ATM banking, and so much software and computing power that the genome fell in a tenth of the time that was originally predicted.  But there are always people wearing grey hats and black hats, taking advantage.

Gene technology is going to open a few very strange doors indeed.  I can imagine the first home genetics hacker to discover how to stop ageing processes by a simple genetic manipulation.  But there are also going to be some very nasty hacks.

Are we ready for this kind of onslaught?  Probably not, but that's never stopped us or slowed us down in the past.  I'm sort of hoping I can hold on long enough for some home hacker to figure out a way to regrow emphysemic lung tissue, that would be nice.  But I'm not at all looking forward to the first case of chocolate bars laced with some kid's "zombie juice" virus laying inert in it...

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