JacobBlog!

Society of Mind Explained Visually

by on Feb.13, 2017, under - Show All Posts

Marvin Minsky’s life’s work https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_Mind

The walls of the skull are entirely artificial barriers!  Where does the self end and the other begin anyhow?

 

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“Don’t let the energy escape”

by on Dec.02, 2015, under - Show All Posts

Feross: What was your biggest insight from Peru?

Jacob: Don’t let the energy escape.

Feross: What does that mean?

Jacob: It means things on multiple levels. On a very physical level it means, when practicing qigong / tai chi, don’t let the subjectively perceived feeling of energy flowing out of your fingertips, your mouth, your eyes, escape, but instead catch it in the fingers of your opposing hand, or by putting the tongue tip at the roof of the mouth, or by closing your eyelids. Where the attention goes energy flows. Be careful about where you’re putting your attention.

It also means don’t let your energy or the world’s energy escape in your day and life. By energy I mean the same thing as when I say “I have a lot of energy today”. It is your finite capacity to do things in the world. “Don’t let the energy escape” means stewarding your energy by being very conscious of what you put it into, being cognizant of the downstream consequences of what you’re going to do and making wise decisions accordingly. Acting on this psychological energy requires physical energy in your muscles and/or other stores present in the external world. You can’t let it escape either.

Feross: So does this mean mean we should destroy the ozone layer and foment global warming so that we don’t let the energy escape from Earth?

Jacob: Well when you put it that way…

Feross: But seriously, is what you’re saying that we should plan more and act less? Because I’m actually trying to do the opposite in my life. I get the same social gratification from discussing an idea with my friends as I do implementing it, so talking saps my motivation to actually do it. By contrast, if I just do it, then it gets users and takes on a life of its own and doesn’t require active motivation for me to sustain it. Also, there many ideas that are time sensitive, like a hack about a current event or a project implementing something mentioned in a hot post on reddit, and if I write them down and implement them two days or a year later, they won’t be relevant anymore or noticed by as many people.

Jacob: I don’t think that’s doing justice to the concept of not letting the energy escape. Not jumping on an opportunity that is time sensitive is letting the energy escape, the energy and attention of the redditors whose comment thread you’re posting on, the energy of the world.

Feross: Ah, I see. So similarly, keeping momentum going in various contexts is not letting the energy escape — this could be physically, like keeping a train moving, or subjectively, like keeping people’s enthusiasm for a project alive.

Jacob: Yes, it’s like spinning poi balls, or fire spinning — you know those flaming or non-flaming balls on ends of ropes people spin at places like Burning Man? The trick with those is to never let them stop, to never lose momentum. It’s just the same with running a startup.

Feross: “If you stop, you get burned.”

Jacob: lol you’re really good at those. My favorite is still when I told you about Grubhub and you asked if it lets you “fork” things, though.

Feross: I guess, then, what I was about to go do is about not letting the energy escape. I was planning to go merge the 36 pull requests I currently have outstanding on my open source projects on Github, some as recent as yesterday. I feel like merging pull requests quickly is one of the best things you can do to keep the momentum going on a project: it keeps people who are enthusiastic contributors engaged and lets people know that a project isn’t a dead and not being maintained.

#idea way to figure out what projects are dead on Github vs those that are alive

Jacob: Go merge those requests so the energy doesn’t escape!

::Jacob writes down conversation::

Jacob: Mind if I post our conversation about not letting the energy escape to my blog? I just wrote it down.

Feross: Sure.

Jacob: I’m glad. I wouldn’t want to let its energy escape, to have it be forgotten and its potential to help energy in people’s lives not escape be wasted.

@blog
#wisdom #posttaichi
?<> CJ’s blog post:”you have so much energy” (search for quote on page)

 

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Highlights from Stanford Salon 10/13/15 Notes: Josh Whiton’s talk on Expanding Consciousness

by on Oct.13, 2015, under - Show All Posts

Josh was the mega-successful founder of TransLoc, and has since turned his focus to elevating the world’s consciousness and his own. About: http://joshwhiton.com/

Full Notes: Salon 10/13/15 Notes: Josh Whiton’s talk on Expanding Consciousness (Google doc)

Below are some highlights:

#quote There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” ~Henry David Thoreau

  • If you get your psychological needs met you grow automatically, like a plant, no choice.
  • If you keep getting your needs met you end up like Gandhi. People who become great are fundamentally just people who got their legitimate needs met; what a human looks like when functioning at capacity.
  • #quote “[We have never seen a fully grown person]” ~Thoreau (paraphrase)
  • People in prison got there because they weren’t getting their needs met and then one day they put their foot down in a misguided way trying to get them met.  Putting them in prison doesn’t help them get their needs met

“Integrity has to do with how integrated your psyche is” ~Josh #etym

  • Problem: Repression
    • Repression happens because if we were to connect with our most embarrassing memories we wouldn’t function, would shut down or lash out
    • physical neurons we could be using are bound up holding repressed memories.
  • Solution: Highly resourced state
    • List 10 situations in which you felt  proud, other positive emotions
    • Like your Facebook photo <> minimalist homepages vision, proud.of
    • Two figures example
    • Assign symbol, database lookup key to happy memories

“Your consciousness lightens with each step of healing… Until you are enlightened” ” ~Josh #etym

  • “I’ve lived and died several times since I last saw you because every day I’m practicing”
  • Your growth limiting step, the blockage to your growth might not be because lack of meditation but e.g. bad relationship (personal, business, etc.)

Corporations as wellness programs #idea #best

 

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Notes from the Transformative Technology Conference and an Epiphany

by on Oct.04, 2015, under - Show All Posts, Abstract Philosophical Musings

http://www.ttconf.org/
The Silicon Valley Intelligentsia were here in force (at least the meditation-oriented subset).

Notes: Scratch Notes from Transformative Technology Conference (Google doc)

#Epiphany
I learned about the difference between satori and samadhi today, the peak states in Zen and yoga meditation respectively (Dr James Hardt’s talk). Both are characterized by maxed alpha waves across the brain, but there is a key difference:

Satori – The peak state in Zen. One can ring a bell next to a Zen master in satori a thousand times and elicit the same level of surprise, i.e. alpha wave block then return to maxed alpha waves shortly after. <> William Blake #quote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern. ~William Blake, The Doors of Perception 

Samadhi – the peak state in yoga. Yogi can put hand in ice bucket and have no alpha wave block. It’s like the yogi’s consciousness is somewhere besides the body.

Later, I had an epiphany which was really a recollection, in which I realized that I have found something that feels as robustly blissful and inspiring as samadhi. I remembered why IdeaFlow is different from all other projects in the world — the thoughts that consoled and inspired me through the toughest times of my past — and why I am working on it: the full project is not done until literally everyone in the world is happy, including me. This means I don’t have to “fear” competitors because there are only two possibilities:  I have a project to complete that nobody has done and it is great service and a great startup, or someone else has already made everyone in the world happy, including me. So either way I don’t have to worry. Completion of The Project equates to turning the world into a true utopia. So until this has happened, I have nothing to worry about competitor-wise. And at that point I really have nothing to worry about!

This suddenly re-enchanted the world for me and gave me access once again to a profound perspective from which to interpret reality. For instance, I realized why it bothers me so viscerally and persistently whenever I don’t get along with someone I meet. Coming into harmony with everybody in the world is my ideal, if I’m not in harmony with a person, that’s an open gestalt for me. And creating new open gestalts bothers me so deeply because completion of The Project equates to closing all the world’s open gestalts. So when I create new ones, it’s like I’m creating more work for myself and moving the project which I care about most about in the world backwards! So, to everyone I haven’t gotten along with ever, hang tight, I’m coming to make things better before all is done.

Even thinking about working on The Project of making literally everybody in the world happy instantly jumps me to this completely blissful and inspired state and gives me incredible purpose. And the fact that my own happiness is guaranteed either way, whether I’m working on It or someone else beats me to it, makes this peace imperturbable, like samadhi — even if The Project occasionally requires me to do the mental equivalent of shoving my hand in an ice bucket. 

Bonus: (continue reading…)

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Understanding the The God Paradigm

by on May.08, 2015, under - Show All Posts, Abstract Philosophical Musings

From A Buddhist/Vedantic Reading of the Brothers Karamazov, an essay I wrote on The Brothers Karamazov for Harvard’s Slavic 155. The cited book Religiousness in Yoga by Desikachar is especially worth reading.

Goal:  Explain my understanding of how all computers and thinking/living things are channeling the vast computational power of the universe, how intention and motivation arise from this sunlike source of energy, and how finding a way of existence that flows with this source of energy is what is meant by being inspired by “the holy spirit.”          

The God Paradigm

How do we come to personally understand what is meant by the idea of Christian God short of having transcendent experiences? Below I propose a model of doing so that is fundamentally Buddhist or Vedic, though it was derived from modern scientific thinking (which is, in a way, Buddhist). To explain, I will trace you along the steps of my own realization.

This journey began when I was in high school, hiking during a thunderstorm. I was pondering, with some trepidation, how the path of lightning bolts are determined. Suddenly I was struck (by an idea) – if the lightning bolts somehow took some sort of shortest path, could you use them – a natural phenomenon — to solve the computational shortest path problem? As it turns out, this insight didn’t pan out, but the idea stuck with me: to what extent can nature itself actually solve computational problems? It turned out, this was the entrance this was the beginning of a complete revolution in thought for me. Soon, I came to realize that all computers do is follow the laws of physics, and that, as it seems, the universe itself — nature — is what is performing the “computing” that they do. Each instant of time, the universe computes its next state from the previous, in the process moving the processing elements of computers to their next states. All our computers do is channel a small portion of the greater universal computational capacity and use it to process some information we can perceive! This was profound.

But the profounder connection still came when I realized that brains themselves, which do things as fantastic as produce our personal feelings and motivations — our consciousness — if they follow the laws of physics too (as we believe they do), aren’t actually producing our motivations “themselves,” but instead, each tick of time are just having their the next state computed from their previous state by the physics engine of the universe. We, and computers, and all objects moving in the physical world, are animated by this incredible causal “force” that causes time to move forward. So that made me ask: what is this great computational force that gives rise to the movement of all things moment by moment — to inanimate objects, to computers, to brains? What is this great computational capacity that my mind, and your mind, and my computer, are merely channeling? And why does it compute anyway?

This suddenly gave me a glimmer of understanding of what God was for the first time, and I suddenly glimpsed what the religious mean when they say that we are figments in the imagination of the “mind of God.” In my model, I could construe the “mind of God” to mean the whole universe — all things, including us personally, even our minds and our bodies — are but small processing elements being shuttled around by the animus of physics in a much larger system. The notion that God transcends and includes me enabled me to see how even a deist (noninterventionist) God would be a truly conscious entity — in the same way you or I are, because it is the very thing from which our consciousness flows! We are just a piece of its consciousness. Suddenly I understood the God paradigm, its elegance, and its explanatory usefulness. (continue reading…)

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A breathless epiphany

by on Apr.12, 2015, under - Show All Posts

The  right question to ask, in every room, in society, in every interaction is “how can we help each other?” and when you see this there is suddenly joy and honor in every job from being a cashier to curing a dread disease and it puts into stark relief what is meaningful and what is not and that’s the point of running intellectual salons and connecting people and also teaching well and building technology and suddenly I remember the meaning of it all again; and I know to be true that, in this moment, I have the power to heal the world, to include everyone in humanity’s blazing, unstoppable circle of care and light.

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The Euphoria of Software Architecting

by on Apr.18, 2014, under - Show All Posts

I have such a love for the process of architecting software — I don’t even care if it’s interesting software — just software! I was helping a friend with 6.005 — designing a simple chat client — this week, and I had a truly euphoric experience. I wrote to another friend afterwards:

“I’ve entered a state that Walter Pater described as the ‘quickend multiplied consciousness’
I was snapped into this by helping my friend design a chat client in Java
for his class
and it was just such a wonderful thing to architect software
to go and explore
in that unknown but familiar joyful realm, that Narnia
that lies through the looking glass of my computer screen
encountering objects never seen before
forging within the smithy of my soul the uncreated bones of a world
I can’t help but be poetic as I describe it”

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Why Pusheen the Cat is Significant

by on Aug.28, 2013, under - Favorites, - Show All Posts

When Facebook, one of the biggest companies on the web, partnered with Pusheen to integrate Pusheen emoticons into chat, I was initially slightly surprised. Why would a giant like them make a random cartoon cat part of their official product?
But then I realized that this was not a level-crossing, a heavyweight partnering with a lightweight, at all.
The unofficial symbol of the Internet is the lolcat. Cats are adorable. Cats are a tremendous aesthetic force. They physically move people’s hands to share pictures of them more than any other creature. Until now, what the Internet did not have was an ideal stylized cartoon cat to capture the essence of that sentiment. That cat is Pusheen.
Moreover, I frequently comment that most of the worlds problems aren’t hard like rocket science, but hard like herding cats. And I’m so optimistic about the Internet because it’s the best tool ever created for herding cats. Then Eric Smalls remarked that this was literally the case! Suddenly I was enlightened!
Long live Pusheen!

Art is great because it shows you  not the real thing with all its imperfection as does photography, but the essence of the thing, why it is awesome, through the rose-colored eyes of the artist. LOOK AT THE HUGGABLENESS

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HackerCasting: Tested

by on Aug.26, 2013, under - Show All Posts

I can see that it is as William Gibson wrote: the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet. Many, perhaps most, of the largest challenges in the world today – such as building societal frameworks that inspire and empower people to get involved in, for instance, doing science and creating things as a way of life — are already solved in specific subcultures. We don’t need to create new cultural paradigms, we just need to expand the ones that are already there! In fact, I think that the largest as-of-yet untapped power of the Internet is to enable this sort of transmission of people’s ways of being that are productive and happy at the same time.

This fascination arose from a recurring experience at MIT. I often find myself in a room with such amazing people working together with such fleetness of mind that I reflect: if everybody in the world could have an experience like the one I’m having right now, it would permanently change the courses of many people’s lives and perhaps even the course of society itself, from the root! So last year, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I enable this?  There are probably 10,000 kids in India who would love to see what a bunch of MIT students working on advanced programming projects are like!” So friends and I organized the HP Vertica “Hackathon 2.0” last semester to try out what I called “codercasting”: having everyone broadcast their screens and audio on the web while animatedly coding together. With the help of a friend’s cousin, we actually got a group of kids in India who were aspiring programmers to join us virtually, some coding along with us, some observing. They were exuberant to have the opportunity and inspired all of us as well! This was terrific!

This was followed up by a larger telehackathon in Tanzania this summer! Article:

Tanzanian Standard
Article titled “Untapped Internet Potential”
http://allafrica.com/stories/201308190100.html
Published on Sunday, 18 August 2013 01:13
Written by JAFFAR MJASIRI
Hits: 314
Mr Cole.
The visiting student from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mr Jacob Cole who was a
facilitator at the telehackathon held here recently says that, by working together “we are going to
make it so nobody has to suffer going at them alone; in fact we are going to knock them all out and
solve them all.”
He granted this interview to Our Staff Writer, JAFFAR MJASIRI. Excerpts…
QUESTION: Please make a short introduction here about Hackathon and your visit to Tanzania.
ANSWER: The mission: “We believe that there’s no better way to learn something than hanging out
with people who are doing it for fun and we think one of the Internet’s untapped potentials is to
include people everywhere in the world in social communities as wonderful as our own.
If we can develop a model workflow by which to run tele-hackathons, that is, programming get-
togethers attended by people virtually across continents at the same time, between the USA and
Tanzania, then we believe we can port the model to anywhere.” (continue reading…)

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Questions and Comments on Tai Chi

by on Jun.25, 2013, under - Show All Posts

Excerpted from an email:
…Secondly, I’m really interested by what you said about analyzing the fourier transform of ECG (was it ECG?) data. Specifically, when you said that you thought the 4-minute release point on the qigong Embrace the Tree exercise might reflect some peak on the spectrogram, did you mean that you thought there might actually be a peak, a biological rhythm, beating at the absurdly low frequency corresponding to period 4 minutes? If so, that’s EXTREMELY cool, and I think this kind of thinking might shed light on a lot of the rhythms that subtly guide people in their day-to-day lives as they work and play. (It inspires in me many questions: What other invisible hands are there guiding us that we generally don’t sit still long enough to become consciously aware of? If we sit still long enough, can we learn to consciously control them? What distinguishes that which is controllable by the consciousness from that which isn’t? Can those elements of the brain which are under consciously control be identified through neurological imaging studies? Do the brains of people with and without that conscious control look different? How can the pathways of information transfer that enable this conscious control be found? Tangenially relatedly, I want to see if EEG data can distinguish between activity perceived as work and activity perceived as play, as this is a fascinating and very relevant distinction.)
(repeat from prev. post) This is doubly interesting to me because the more I live the more I think that the single easiest, highest-impact thing that we could do as a society to make people’s lives better (and, in the process, society more efficient) would be to start a tradition in which everyone did 20 minutes of tai chi or qigong every day and got the feeling I get (I say tai chi/qigong because I have not yet found anything with the same effect). It’s so energizing, focusing, sensitizing, clarifying, inspiring, and edifying for me. It brings the day into my body. When I do tai chi in the morning, it helps me organize myself and focus on the critical goals, and be at my most alive when accomplishing them. It brings me to a state where I work with passion towards my dreams and do not get distracted.  Moreover, because it serves as a centerpoint around which my whole day organizes itself, if I take 20 minutes to do tai chi, I end up saving 40 minutes (or more often hours!) for having done it. It seems to be a win in all directions. So I’m really interested studying and raising awareness and understanding of this wonderful thing!
I’m so happy that such studies are going on right now at UCSD, and in case you’re interested,  I wanted to give you some already-established, solid results on the subject:
A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/nejmoa0912611 — By my Tai Chi master Ramel Rones!
Tai Chi is Effective in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023169/ — By my Tai Chi master Ramel Rones!
Tai Chi and Postural Stability in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1107911
Really though, I am less interested in studies on tai chi’s effectiveness, though they are a necessary first step. I want to try to analytically understand what’s going on in tai chi. I want see what’s happening electromagnetically when tai chi masters get “tai chi hands” — I know that when a tai chi master touches me with tai chi hands, I often have this irresistible peaceful smiling laugh feeling deep within that is profoundly good, and my intuition tells me there’s a measurable aspect to it. The feeling is more than that which I think plain gentleness would induce, and I haven’t yet seen a proper study of it. Subjectively, it feels like an analogue of slowed encelographic activity — alpha, delta, and theta brain activity (which has been demonstrated in brains of tai chi masters)– is actually going on in my hands! I would love to see this happen or perhaps orchestrate it myself.
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Single most constructive thing society could do

by on Jun.25, 2013, under - Show All Posts

The more I live the more I think that the single easiest, highest-impact thing that we could do as a society to make people’s lives better (and, in the process, society more efficient) would be to start a tradition in which everyone did 20 minutes of tai chi or qigong every day and got the feeling I get (I say tai chi/qigong because I have not yet found anything with the same effect). It’s so energizing, focusing, sensitizing, clarifying, inspiring, and edifying for me. It brings the day into my body. When I do tai chi in the morning, it helps me organize myself and focus on the critical goals, and be at my most alive when accomplishing them. It brings me to a state where I work with passion towards my dreams and do not get distracted.  Moreover, because it serves as a centerpoint around which my whole day organizes itself, if I take 20 minutes to do tai chi, I end up saving 40 minutes (or more often hours!) for having done it. It seems to be a win in all directions. So I’m really interested studying and raising awareness and understanding of this wonderful thing!

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A collection of status messages

by on Jan.31, 2013, under - Show All Posts

Ideals I really like:

“Renaissance Engineer”
“Warrior-poet”
What are some ideals you like?

…ideas skimming beneath the surface of my mind like dolphins in the sea, moving faster and faster, orbiting, gyrating, around the water-globe of my head until suddenly they breach the waterline and fly free on the wings of my fingertips into the eternity-realm beyond thought

Minds are what brains do.
Programming is what Jacobs do.

“I wake up to the sound of music”! “Today I go forth to forge within the smithy of my soul…” (Lennon + Joyce)

Programming is philosophy made alive.

When you do philosophy, you use your entire understanding of everything to build models of the mind and reality. But it’s all just static. It’s just a set of hypotheses. When you program, especially when you write programs to problem-solve, to understand the world, or to play (by play I mean find beauty/grace within a given set of aesthetics), you get a chance to get up off the armchair and to see if these hypotheses are any good. You get to see how the world really is.

Literature is also philosophy made alive. But you’re running the philosophy on the brains of your readers instead of a computer.

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Brilliant detail in Avatar

by on Dec.09, 2012, under - Show All Posts

I think that the movie Avatar was profound in part because of a certain element of the aliens’ anatomy – the neurological fibers coming out of their ‘hair’ that they could hook up anything. As a result, even our classical Western viewers could clearly, intuitively understand that when 2 people or 2 creatures hooked their nerve fiber bundles together they would share consciousness in some way or another. Just the same, when they connected to Eywa, the spirit-network, the mechanism by which shared consciousness occurred was clearly perceivable. It was an axiom that such a phenomenon could exist given their anatomy. But what is really profound about that metaphor is that when we drill down into the mechanisms of information transfer that neurological fibers would allow, it’s fundamentally no different then what could happen through wireless media, such as speech, or touch, at lower bandwidth. In this way, this plot element clearly brings out our deep intuition about the potential for the unity of consciousness in the ordinary world, which was a central theme in the movie. I am you, and you are me.
In this way the story reenchants the real world, as does all fiction.
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Why I record words and thoughts

by on Oct.27, 2012, under - Show All Posts, Abstract Philosophical Musings

“what are you into?”

Only when your words go away do you realize how precious they are, how even dumb and wrong words are precious because the miracle is that we have any words at all. That’s why I record them now, because I think I know what it’s like for them to go away, and I’m astounded that they exist at all. Patterns that never needed recording before because they were obvious truth, are magical and powerful.

Everything I do tells you something about me, even the dumbest assertion, the least relevant quote, and when you look back at your past self with the wondering eye of a historian, whatever it was becomes precious.

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Lessons learned from Motherlode

by on Oct.27, 2012, under - Show All Posts

Today I was working on a project, and then found myself distracted by an irrepressible urge to go and play the Miniclip flash game Motherload, which I had enjoyed back in 9th and 10th grade. Little did I know how enlightening I would find the experience to be…
  • “I’m not too rich to go for that emerald”
  • it’s all a matter of economics! Of course I’ll use the dynamite to get the emerald or the diamond because it’s going to make money on the net
  • I’m trying to win this as fast/fun  as possible, not as carefully as possible, this is my game. Therefore even when I don’t need to, I’ll use the quantum teleporting. I want to see how fast and loose I can play. This is what is fun.
  • it’s cheaper to use repair nano bots and a quantum teleporter then the matter transmitter in cases where you’re hurt and need to make the surface fast
  • it’s not about playing the game carefully or anything — it is the most a fun game to try to go through the game fastest. How quickly can I get the end? Even though the game isn’t that fun in and of itself, going through it to get to the end fastest is a fun challenge!
  • Mining in motherload is a wonderful exploratory process that mirrors discovery in a rich world. You go off a little bit go collect precious piece of ore, and then you see something out of the corner of your eye, and then you see something else, and something else, and pretty soon you have gone a complete lateral! The organization of ore and artifacts in the game is just perfect to optimally stimulate your exploratory taste
  • it is worth the monetary investment to satisfy my curiosity: does upgrading my radiator make me able to withstand gas explosions? Answer: yes it does.
  • Ignore the rest of it! It doesn’t matter anymore! Go for that amazonite! That one thing is worth more than you’ve made in your entire life! It’s worth 50 diamonds! Can you imagine that! And use your dynamite to blast through all the potentially gas explosion-laden dirt, whatever it takes, just to ensure that you will get that Amazonite! Nothing else matters!
  • Odysee is a good song, and it brings me back to playing this very game and listening to this very song while at the Peninsula in 10th grade

(continue reading…)

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Being Present

by on Aug.09, 2012, under - Show All Posts, Abstract Philosophical Musings

When the mind is not thinking about something else, but here. This is among the biggest of big ideas, and perhaps the root of happiness itself.

“We become conditioned. We appear to be acting with attention but there is no attention but there is no attention. We are functioning but we are not present. Yoga tries to create a condition in which we are always present in every action, at every moment.” ~Desikachar, Religiousness in Yoga

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Hackercasting — a Big Idea

by on Aug.05, 2012, under - Show All Posts, Project-Related

To all those trying to hack education, I present Hackercasting — a big idea.

I’ve been discussing the concept of hackercasting with Daniel and a few others — basically, TwitchTV for hackathons, a service that allows people to cast their screens while they are coding, also cast their audio/webcam data, and also display what keystrokes they’re making. By putting themselves on a stage, pros enable avid learners to watch and learn how they think, talk, and code. I think this is of utmost importance as it allows transmission of hacker culture, and it’s a keystone in hacking culture and education (not to mention it’s a technically easy and lowhanging project).

The trick is to get people to actually do it. Like recording good conversations, it will start happening if it’s made ultraconvenient. We need to have a boxed tool and get it announced by a charismatic and well-respected person at the beginning of hackathons saying “all competitors! Load up this tool to start broadcasting yourself live and become a coding Olympian, inspiring people all around the nation. Anybody ever wanted a league of skilled minions to follow and work on projects with you? This is the first step to becoming a hero and gaining adoring acolytes!”
This community would scale exponentially, and have the secondary effect of allowing ordinary programmers to try on the shoes of being an inspiring leader. I want my Mouse Army from Diamond Age.————————

Secondly, on the topic of great conversations: these are beautiful balls of neurological patterns of inspiration and a precious resource of incredible sociological importance. Autorecording is a huge incidental benefit of chat as a medium, and I think it would be amazing if we could make it ultraconvenient app/device that automatically records the last few minutes of a conversation and allows me to replay them. One friend (Lucas Hansen) suggested a microphone necklace for this purpose. When the juices are flowing, when you’re in your little bubble, at the wellspring of truth, insights echoing off your brilliant companions, it’s easy to forget how much of society is clogged with negativity, uncertainty, avidya, etc., how the state of an joyful effort high activation that you are now experiencing is not even dreamt of in the philosophies of many. It would change things so much if we could work on including people in these blazing circles I often see form amongst my friends, where all but the most beautiful thoughts are seared effortlessly out of our collective psyche, and our insight leaps forward with ease.

What I’d I really want to do is talk to an anthropologist about this. Anyone know an anthropologist or journalist who would like to talk about this kind of thing (“cultural engineering”?)?

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Does brain structure hint at nature of problem solving?

by on Aug.04, 2012, under - Show All Posts, Abstract Philosophical Musings

I notice that at any point in my life I am capable on reentering the behavior patterns of any previous point in my life if I focus and relax, and that I use this same process of recollecting previous patterns of my life to subsume new patterns empathetically from other people.  While this isn’t news at all, it’s awesome because it means that (at least per my subjective perception) my brain’s functional architecture reflects the fact that spatial and temporal distance are fundamentally analogous concepts. The brain exploits the symmetry for ease of processing! Good class structure -> better and more extendable app/framework! It’s as if it models those fundamental relationships into its application-specific architecture!
I wonder what other hints to the structure of the universe you can figure out from the way the brain’s problem-solving structures are organized? (In general, I’m boggled by the idea that all computers/minds are actually just channeling the computing power of the larger quantum computer of the universe that animates their processing elements)
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Edugaming Scratch Notes

by on Aug.03, 2012, under - Show All Posts, Project-Related

I’ve listed below a tight clustering of educational tools/games that gave me the inspiration/ability to begin creating things. I would unequivocally recommend them to almost any curious kid, and I would absolutely love it if they could be packaged together into something cohesive. That’s what excites me most about Airy Labs might do!
If there’s nothing else on this list that you’ll see, check out Stagecast Creator (video) — an incredible graphical game-making environment for kids that introduced me to programmatic thought. It’s seriously awesome.
Among others things, there is a children’s homeless shelter near MIT that I want equip with toys that retrace the steps of my own learning minus the stumbling blocks. I don’t see homeless children, I see future hacking partners, employees, and employers 😉 I see the Mouse Army from Diamond Age. One of the achievements I was most proud of in high school was that I was able to inspire fellow students to start programming for fun, and subsequently hire them as web developers — I feel like there is huge potential to do the same for many others via life-guiding technology.
Basically, I want to create a series of apps that, like a perfect parent, suggests how you should schedule your day, spend your time, etc. and effortlessly connects you with the software, games, etc. that are  best for you to explore at that point in your life. This  dovetails beautifully with an element of another project I’m working as part of admitsphere.org (a wiki where successful college applicants share essays/advice): the “what to do in high school” pages (2). Imagine there were an app that guided students through high school, suggesting that they explore various contests, that gently guided them into the areas that they would enjoy most.

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PoliticalProgressbar

by on Aug.03, 2012, under - Show All Posts, Project-Related

I’ve recently been trying to answer the question “What is Congress is actually achieving?” for myself and others. I’m working on creating a website with a simple graphical user interface  — a set timelines showing important milestones — that voters can use to quickly see what government is trying to accomplish and how far it has gotten towards achieving its goals. More generally, the deeper significance of many news items can be revealed on interface such as this — if a certain piece of sustainable energy legislation passes, how much closer has it gotten us as a nation and planet to actually being energy sustainable for the forseeable future? This system would graph that kind of information on timeline/”progress bar,” the position (% completion) of which could be determined roughly by a consensus of scholarly opinions.
Above all, what we really want to do is make a database of thoughtful people and politicians’ visions/dreams — their collective positive visions for how the world should be — then find the most rational way to make those dreams real (e.g. elect the senators that have the competence, vision, and concrete plans necessary. Are trickle down economics or Obamanomics better for creating a vibrant economy that allows people to live the American dream? I don’t know. Let’s look at the research and find out, and take the most rational action.)
At the very least, this could be applicable to state/local/student government. What does student government actually do? I’d love to see all the goals they’ve set out to achieve and concrete milestones as to how far they’ve gotten. This would help me see who is actually setting the agenda I like most, and who is more successful/unsuccessful at achieving their goals.”

Demos:
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