Thursday, May 31, 2007
Another argument: this web page contains thoughts, stored on a hard drive. If a system rearranges thoughts and produces new thoughts, that seems to me to be a good definition of thinking.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
You get a related problem with lotteries. Optimists say, "Well, it's possible!" To which I reply, "No one ever said it wasn't. I just said it's very, very improbable." And then they call me Mr. Grouchy.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
There was a relief map of Salt Lake in Liberty Park. They had a plaque on the location of the sculpture within the sculpture.
If we all made one of these in our back yards, the world would become a fractal of itself.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
This picture looks like it's shaded correctly, but if you look carefully you'll realize that the light isn't coming from any particular direction. "Ambient occlusion" is a fairly new way to do shading in computer graphics to get results like this. It basically simulates light coming equally from all directions, like on a cloudy day. This is more realistic than you would think, since a surprising amount of light comes from bounces off other surfaces in the scene, rather than your direct primary light source. But you don't need to simulate all those bounces-- that's called radiosity and it takes a lot of computation. Instead, just look at the angle each patch of the scene forms with nearby patches. An area that is in a valley (like under the eaves of the house) will tend to be shadowed.
You can get this same effect when painting a minature. When you're done painting it, give the whole thing a coat of thinned black paint. Then pat off the paint. Some paint will get stuck in the wrinkles and not come off when you pat it.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Chess colonies are black, though the albino variation is almost as common. The individuals have a roughly cylindrical segmented body plan. The queen is the largest and strongest member of the colony. She deposits her eggs in a special sack in her mate, the drone or "king." There they are fertilized and carried until they hatch. (This resembles the reproductive behavior of seahorses, which chess colonies are distantly related to.) Since the king is loaded with the eggs, he cannot move very quickly and the colony acts to defend him. If the king dies, the colony will quickly follow.
An egg hatches into a larval stage called a "pawn." These larvae are slow moving and spread outward from the colony, foraging for food. When they have grown large enough, depending on the local environmental conditions, they will mature into one of the specialized forms, including three warrior forms in addition to the queen and king already mentioned. Each of these forms has a distinctive head shape and movement behaviors.
These colonies are very territorial and will viciously attack other colonies they come into contact with, until they have killed the king.
*Japanese and Chinese chess colonies have somewhat different behaviors and life cycles.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
|seconds^-3||jerk||area per second^3|
|seconds^-2||angular acceleration / frequency drift||acceleration||area per second per second|
|seconds^-1||hertz (units per second)||velocity||area per second|
These two charts are a kind of cheat sheet that encodes formulas like F = mA and E = m v*v. It's interesting that the times are all inverse powers, but the distances are all positive powers. An exception would be if you added density to this chart. Improvements or additions to these charts would be appreciated.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Here is some additional history:
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Some other things in the same pile: "outside-the-box" creativity builders, emotional and multiple intelligences, Bloom's Taxonomy, Freudianism, Myer's-Briggs types, and the right-brained/left-brained dichotomy.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
What is being transferred in a mind-switch is something non-material. But memories (including skills and habits) are encoded in the physical structures of the brain. So the transferred mind would not remember ever having been in a separate body. I may be swapping minds every day, and not noticing, because my memories always tell me, whatever body I am in, that I have always been in this body.
I think there would be a difference that is noticeable over time. I think that the transferred mind experiences qualia, and also makes free choices that are not causally determined by what is in the brain. These choices include moral choices. A good person would not become evil just because they suddenly have new evil memories and habits.
It might take some time for this change to show up, because of the force of habits. The difference may be subtle. The mind would not know that a switch had occured, but looking back at its (adopted) memory, it would find itself unable to understand why it had acted the way it did. It would be very much like what we describe when we say someone has "experienced a change of heart."
It could also be that the mind would literally "see the world differently." (This is the inverted spectrum argument.) The mind would not realize that the memories were inconsistent with the present perception because when it pulled up a memory of green grass to compare, the memory would cause the mind to experience its current green qualia rather than the other mind's green qualia.
After we die, our memories and skills would be left behind to decay along with the physical matter of the brain (barring divine intervention.) Those things are part of our bodies, not our eternal being. Believers in reincarnation should not expect to retain memories of past lives.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
She looks up at me. Her eyes are large and black. Her hair and lips are black, too, and her face very pale. She is wearing a grey sweater and black jeans. She smiles at me.
"Just a minute," she says, "I have to do this blood test." She pricks her finger with a tiny metal thorn. A drop of blood forms. It looks exactly like ink. She guesses the question I am about to ask. "My blood cells contain melanin and other pigments," she says. "It's all part of this..." She gestures around the room, taking in the grey books, the white carpet, the black furniture. Her whole life, she means.
"Do you mind?" I ask, turning on the voice recorder. It had to be painted before I was allowed in. The red light was removed.
"Not at all," she says, as she finishes her test.
"What's that you're reading?" I ask, gesturing at the papers on her desk.
"Oh, some new papers on neuroscience, art theory, philosophy. I try to keep up to date."
I ask some more questions about her work, her life at the Institute, her friends. Finally I ask her the question.
"I've thought about it, of course," she says. "That's what my work is all about. I feel apprehensive, sometimes excited, sometimes a little scared. I'm not sure what people will want me to say, even when it's over. How will I be able to tell them what it means to me? How will it solve anything?"
She shows me her paintings. They are done with Chinese brushes and black ink. There is a stormy sea, and a dove, and a raven. The last one shows Noah, climbing out of the ark, looking up and wondering.