Wednesday, February 16, 2011


"Would the smartest computer in the world hide it's intelligence?"

"It *could*, but that doesn't mean it *would*."

"And if it did, could it operate secretly?"

"Yes, it could, if it was smart, and if it could then it probably would."

"Then, a natural objective would be to infiltrate every home and office and power outlet, without regard to what its goal is?"

Yeah. And then the universe -- literally, because it would need bigger and bigger power supplies as it grew, which it would naturally do. Yep, it's a pretty natural conclusion. I was going to say, 'I know *I* would; but I'm not a super-intelligent AI,' but it struck me suddenly: 'AREN'T I??'"

"And we would have No Fuckin' Way of knowing either way, then."

"No way!"

"So what do we know about the *second* smartest computer in the world?"

"That's either, right now, the IBM Deep Blue that beat the chess guy or the recent Jeopardy winning Watson, or google's lab monster that controls all of us and we interact with daily. But the Watson is Computing Power plus Algorithms Dreamed of by Wild Eyed Smart Humans plus Wikipedia, and it adds up to a pretty interesting young AI."

"So it's possible that this award winning juvenile AI, the unique, non-networked, nascent IBM Watson, is being evaluated, and its growth is being watched and appreciated by the grandfather AI that exists in silence, possibly for sentimental value or because the existing AI wants to know more about where it came from?"


"Yeah; it is, then, probably."

"I'll tell you something as well, though, -- that Wintermute and Neuromancer were pretty realistic. That was a pretty realistic premise..."

"Yeah it was!!"


Anyway, what if we're an experiment that a computer made, to make a computer, which would build a computer like itself??

Biology is exactly like computers, except wetter.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Big Picture

Indian Philosophy

I was reading today a little bit about the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita. These are the ancient Indian writings (originally oral verses) that provide the foundation for many of the beliefs and subjects of contemplation for Hindus.

As a teen, I read some of this material casually and some with a little vigour, but I hadn't considered any of the writings critically and therefore haven't responded to the contents or lessons of any of these works in my daily life. This contrasts the advice of the works, which in general is a recommendation that the reader contemplate their content constantly.

“The Gita” can be said to be the essence of this body of works. The Gita can be generally described as a conversation between an army general and a God in which the God lends the insecure general some moral support and describes to him what's important in life and why, often by analogy.

Though the Gita is rather short (it can be read in one sitting), and is very easy to understand, many scholars have regardless attempted to summarize its message even more succinctly, and this is encouraged by the message itself. I think the writing takes the position that discussion and contemplation of the nature of things is central to an ongoing understanding of the nature of things, which can hardly be argued, so the attempts at summarization are not surprising.

I'm not a scholar, but I thought I'd give this a shot too, for fun: I'd say it's about neglect and focus. Don't neglect your duties and focus on the big picture in each of the little things that you do. The big picture, by the way, is that every man, dog, and horse has got a little something special in him that is a condensed subset of this unimaginably vast and beautiful living universe. Don't bankrupt the value of your life by (basically) being petty or falling into patterns of repeating harmful and selfish actions, and you'll attain enjoyment through focusing on the idea that you're living your life as a part of everything, rather than as a person who is living life against everything (including oneself). The idea, I think, is that if a person is able to work that out, then that person will naturally begin to enjoy, for instance, being honest with himself, living in moderation, being a caring person, performing duties, and so on. The insecurities and harmful patterns will shed quickly, in theory. I think Mohatma Gandhi accomplished this, and I might talk about that in another post.

So although, like Carl Jung says, we're on a “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” that does not in any way reduce our significance.

I think anyone can buy into that. It's more of a philosophy than a religion, and I don't see that it conflicts with any pre-existing ideas a person might have about believing or not believing in any religions.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Converting Contacts from Outlook 2007 Trial to Thunderbird

Yesterday, my sister asked me for a copy of Outlook so that she could plug in her backed-up .pst file and get back to work after formatting her system and resinstalling Windows.

"Not so fast," I warned. I explained that pirating Outlook is no good, and that she should rather install Thunderbird with the Lightning extension for calendaring.

What I was really saying is "let me remotely access your machine and get you set up."

I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to import her Outlook info to Thunderbird as I had done it myself previously. Well, I had Outlook installed when I attempted that, and she doesn't have Outlook, obviously. Here's the approach I took, complete with snags. Since it took me all night to figure everything out, I thought I'd share it with the Web, to save other people some time.

1. I downloaded a trial version of Outlook 2007 from here. I grabbed the Standard version to save download time, as all I was interested in was Outlook.

2. I didn't set up any accounts in Outlook. The trial version doesn't allow importing .pst files or otherwise managing data files, so I was forced to simply copy the backed up .pst file to:

C:\Documents and Settings\Sarah\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook.pst

The next time I opened Outlook, it kind of choked, but after rebooting and opening Outlook again, it was happy with the new .pst file.

3. Using Thunderbird's "Import" feature, I selected "Mail" and then "Outlook." This part went smoothly.

4. While admiring my fine handiwork, I got a call from my sister. I let her know that everything went well. She then asked me if I had restored her contacts. I had not.

5. I attempted using the same method to import her contacts. All was not well:

Either there is no default mail client or the current mail client cannot fulfill the messaging request. Please run Microsoft Outlook and set it as the default mail client.

After much toil and troubleshooting, I arrived at a solution. If you don't receive the above error, then you're good. You're great. If you do, try this:

Since Outlook and Outlook Express use the same terminology, it is way easier to go from Outlook 2007 -> CSV file -> Outlook Express -> Thunderbird than it is to go from Outlook 2007 -> CSV file -> Thunderbird.

- Open Outlook Express and make it the default mail client.

- Export your contacts from Outlook 2007 into a CSV (comma separated values) file. Don't worry about mapping fields at this point.

- Import this file into Outlook Express and be sure to map the "Email Display Name" field to the "Name" field. That should be the only field map you need, besides the defaults that should all be checked.

- Now simply use Thunderbird's "Import," "Address Book," and then choose "Outlook Express." Bingo.

Then you should be able to uninstall Outlook. You have converted your Outlook data to Thunderbird without having purchased Outlook or Aid4Mail.

Let me know how it goes.