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One Step Closer To Cyborghood

Tools appear to become part of your brain’s body map when you use them. “When you brush your teeth, the toothbrush may actually become part of your arm – at least as far as your brain is concerned.

Why would the same not be true of your mental map? Integrating an exocortex into your mind may be easier than you think.

Economics Professors Say Copyright and Patent Laws Are Killing Innovation

Yes! Finally, someone agrees with me! More specifically, Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine agree with me that the copyright and patent system should be abolished, as it is stifling innovation; the opposite of what it was intended to do.

Read all about it here. Oh, and you can read their book here too.

Even More Blasphemous Entertainment!

God Idols are a bunch of atheist friends and I, making fun of celebrities, Raellians, the Amish, and now Pentecostals.

Go watch it now! You get to see me wearing glasses. And drinking water. It’s hot. Me, not the water. Why would I be drinking hot water? That’s weird.

If you hate it, you can tell all your friends, and they can hate it too.

How To Build An Artificial Intelligence

Ever wanted to build a fully artificially intelligent robot as a kid? I did.

So now that you’re older, why not use the OpenCourseWare materials at MIT? They have a complete Artificial Intelligence course online. Not only that, but they also have an online tutor that’s available for anyone to use.

That means you. Go! Go forth and learn some mad science! Muahahahaha!

Numbers Are Written The Wrong Way Around

Why do we write tha largest units in numbers first? It doesn’t make sense. Instead of writing one hundred as 100, we should be writing it as 001.

English, and most other western languages are written from left to right. But let’s say I want to add 14235 and 31322. I have to start at the left side, at the smallest units. I can’t just write 45557. I have to calculate the seven first, and either remember it, or write it down somewhere else.

However, if we were to write numbers the other way around, things become much simpler. Let’s say I put a chevron in front of reversed numbers. It is placed in a way that indicates that smaller units come first.

Let’s try adding <53241 and <22313. The result is obviously <75554. I didn’t have to remember the smallest unit! I just typed it as I calculated it. The most I have to remember is to carry a one.

Why does our number system exist in this weird state? Probably because western merchants got it from the Arabs. They invented the number zero, which really simplified arithmetic for the merchants. And Arabic is written from right to left.

Will we ever fix this deplorable problem in the way western civilisation does arithmetic? Probably not. After all, in electricity we’re still using conventional current flow, as opposed to electron current flow.

Blasphemous Entertainment!

You can now see yours truly as one of the judges on a Youtube show called God Idols. It makes fun of funny religions. That means you, Scientology!

Rotten tomatoes and criticism to /dev/null.

Datalog As Exocortex Technology

The problem with Twitter and other microblogging tools is that they are too public. There’s no provision for logging private data at the moment.

Let’s say you have a private datalog that only you can access from the web or your mobile device. You use it to log private data, like when you get in bed, and when you wake up. Your daily weight. Your exercise and caloric intake. Ideas. Thoughts. Todo items. Interesting things to follow up on. Anything worth remembering.

Once this data is logged, you can do all kinds of data analysis on it. Plot your weight trend (like The Hacker’s Diet Online does). Keep a running total of your daily caloric intake.

You can then start programming the system with heuristics. It can suggest meals for you, keeping in mind what you already ate, what your weight goal is, how much exercise you’re getting, and what nutritional rules you should follow.

With proper device integration, cool things can happen. You can meet someone, take a snapshot, tag it with their name, and your phone sends it to your datalog where it goes into your private contact database. The datalog scripts can set reminders for you on your phone.

Basically, your datalog puts personal data in a format that is readable and usable by whatever scripts and data analysis tools you can imagine.

When you run heuristics on your data, you are automating something you would have done manually before, or not at all. You are offloading personal data processing to wherever you store that personal data.

This is the first step towards exocortex technology. And it’s completely doable.

The Ivory Tower And The Bazaar

Our country is theoretically a democracy. We don’t have Civics classes like they do in America, so most of our lessons in democracy come to us subconsciously.

School forms a large part of this subconscious education. I only started realizing how bad it was when I started reading books like The Underground History Of American Education (readable online) and The Hidden Curriculum.

Schools are not typically run as democracies. Examine their structure, and you will realize that they are dictatorships. Democratic Schools do exist, but they are by far in the minority, and they certainly aren’t state policy.

The hidden lessons are scary. Obey authority. Don’t take initiative. There is only one way to do anything. I think the most insidious lesson is that only the teacher can ever be right.

The trend continues in Universities. Learning is institutionalized. Only a select few have the right to create new knowledge. The Ivory Tower. What if there’s a better way?

Open education resources (OER) are not having as much of an effect on Universities. Some big universities, like MIT, Stanford and Berkeley, are releasing some of their courseware under copyleft licenses, but these courses are rarely complete. I have yet to see them use a single copyleft textbook.

In The Cathedral and the Bazaar Eric S. Raymond contrasts two different methods of open source development. In the Cathedral model, a small group of developers carefully craft all the code for a project. In the Bazaar model, the code is public and gets developed by anybody who wants to. The analogy may give us a hint as to why OER has such an insignificant effect on education.

What I’d really like to see some grassroots Bazaar style open content education. People collaborating to learn and discover new things, where anybody who can add value can participate, regardless of income or age. I want to see a meritocratic, autodidactic revolution.

Free love and knowledge, dude.

Marketing Stole 136.5GB From Me!

Yesterday I finally received my new 1.5 Terabyte drive. I felt like the dirty Harry of nerds. “This is the largest hard drive ever manufactured. It will blow your mind clean away. So you gotta ask yourself… do you feel lucky… punk?”

That was until I fired it up and discovered that it’s not actually 1.5 Terabytes.

Everybody knows that 1024 bytes is a Kilobyte, that 1024 Kilobytes is a Megabyte, 1024 Megabytes is a Gigabyte, and 1024 Gigabytes is a Terabyte. Everybody except drive manufacturers.

Instead of counting a Terabyte as 1,099,511,627,776 (1024^4) bytes, they redefined it to mean 1,000,000,000,000 bytes. Effectively they are exploiting binary/decimal confusion to make drives seem larger than they actually are.

So my 1.5 Terabyte drive can actually only store 1.3635 Tebibytes. False advertising! I demand a 9.1% discount.

It’s still huge. I put every piece of data that I own on that drive, and I haven’t even filled a quarter yet.

“So, do ya… punk?”

Copyfreedom

The world is undergoing a quiet revolution. While the RIAA and MPAA are suing the pants off anyone who they can pin copyright infringement charges on, the world is slowly moving beyond the concept of copyright.

It all started with Richard Stallman. By starting the GNU movement, he rebelled against the concept of non-free software. In the process, he made people start questioning the very concept of copyright.

Inspired by the GNU licenses, Lawrence Lessig started the creative commons movement. This provided licenses that can be applied to any work to remove many of the restrictions that traditional copyright law protects.

There aren’t just idle theories. Content producers are buying into the concept of less restrictive copyright on their works.

Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails released albums online for free. Cory Doctorow releases his books online for free. Baen Books puts many of their books online for free. Michael Moore released his latest documentary movie online for free. Technobrega artists in Brazil give their music away for free in order promote themselves. MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and other universities are releasing their course ware online for free.

What is interesting to note is that content distributors are the people who are fighting the hardest for the future of copyright. It wasn’t The Artists vs. Napster, it was the RIAA vs. Napster.

This is because content distributors have been exploiting the artificial monopoly of copyright for all it’s worth. The services that these conglomerates used to provide (distribution, marketing, exposure) is being replaced by the Internet.

By using copyleft licenses, people are effectively opting out of the copyright system. They are choosing freedom. People want information to be free.