Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Inevitability Of President Donald J. Trump

In February, before any vote was cast, it seemed inconceivable that Donald J. Trump would be a nominated candidate for President and yet, reluctantly, I predicted that he would become the next President Of The United States.
I made a brief argument based on my scientific work, work that concerns the complex behavior of organisms, and the idea that Indiscriminate Familiarity equals Trust.
In other words, I argued that Donald J. Trump has exposure never seen before in a candidate. And this exposure is primarily due to his 15+ television seasons of The Apprentice. Since 2004, for 12 years, the public (although probably not you and I) has been exposed to a continuous flow of Donald J. Trump.
It should be clear that what applies to one, applies to all. So the dynamics I describe here can be found in every election.
Past elections started with relatively unknown presidential candidates and so, according to this theory, the winner would be the one that during the campaign could garner, beg or steal, the greater amount of familiarity before election day.
Advances in new media and personal technology today enable social immediacy, simple exposure, familiarity — trust — to be easily bought.
This is why candidates that spend on media exposure promoting their own policies win, why those that give exposure to their competitors lose, and why those with privilege have an undue advantage.
Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger are ready examples of elected officials in which the effect of this theory can be easily argued. But cases can, I believe, be made for every president, and every elected official, of the modern era.
For example, Barack Obama benefited from a familiarity with America's worse public enemy at the time. Many English speakers could not easily differentiate between the name Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden, underscoring the indiscriminate nature of this familiarity.
Over the years the effect has been mostly benign. We’ve been lucky.
Indiscriminate familiarity is simple exposure. It gives no account to policy, faux pas, whatever was said, or personality. The theory simply states that indiscriminate familiarity is trust — and that we act on trust.
I was so alarmed by this realization that in February I saw the potential for the first USA Military Coup should Trump be elected, I believe that this maybe the only possible peaceful resolution. I have given this idea much thought since and I believe that the Supreme Court would need to initiate the act.
Before the Supreme Court can act, however, it must understand the implications, what is involved in this simple mechanism, and the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific theory.
The theory is difficult for many to accept because they are drawn into the public narrative and they feel the ebb and flow of the constant narrative. Emotions rise. But this narrative makes no practical difference, it only changes how those engaged feel. It has little to no effect upon behavior and it distracts us from the dilemma at hand.
The theory undermines the very nature of our democracy. It argues that politics is futile. The cherished VOTE impotent.
The 2016 election, like all the so-called democratic elections before it, will be an act of the mob. The choice of the mob is necessarily Donald J. Trump.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Open Letter to Google: Go Competition Unfair

At one time, when computers had small capacity, it was a challenge for us to ask if we can program the machine to compete with a member of our species.

Today, when capacity is readily and cheaply called to hand, this is not how to measure progress, it is a cheap marketing ploy. We do not, for example, ask workers producing motor vehicles to compete with a factory full of heavy robots - and if we did the result would be obvious, the machines would win.

But this is what Google have done in their unfair competition with Lee Se-dol and the previously neglected game of GO. Se-dol was not playing against a Commodore 64, then the win would have been impressive. He was competing against a machine of very significant power utilization and computational capacity. He was a single worker competing against a factory of machines.

Shame on you Google (John and Peter) for not making the nature of the competition clear and allowing the community to mislead itself into believing that the machine is truly intelligent. It is certainly clever programming and orchestration of combinatorial results by the engineers, for that the Deep Mind team deserves applause. The win was certainly artificial but it was not an example of intelligence.

At best it was an example of admirable and effective automation - a proxy for the intelligence with which the machine was imbued.

I would still like to know a comparison of the amount of power actually used by Deep Mind and Lee Se-dol, so that we may gain a real estimate of how distant machines are from the capacity of our species.

How could the game be played and be fair? Match power utilization. Instead of allowing elapsed time to dominate and treating the machine and player as equal, allowing the machine to burn megawatts of power against the 15Joules per second of the man, make them truly equal and allow them only to use the same amount of power to play.

Friday, February 26, 2016

On Familiarity: President Donald Trump

Despite the fact that I find the idea deeply offensive, I predict the inevitable success of Donald Trump to become the next president of the United States of America.

Here I record my reasoning and in doing so highlight the failure of the current system of government, evolved since The Founders, the impotence of “The Vote,” and its complete failure as a tool of effective democracy.

In the end, I suggest that the Union is in such a state of disrepair that a USA Military coup is the only resolution. So here, a man of peace, with deep respect, I address the Generals.

Let me immediately note that what I mean by an “effective democracy” is a system that allows the right of dissent and a fair hearing.

By denouncing the effectiveness of “The Vote” and advocating the universal right of dissent and a fair hearing, I support the freedoms of the Founders and strengthen the role of the courts.

The issue here has to do with the power of indiscriminate familiarity to impart trust.

Donald Trump will be elected to President, nominally “the most powerful man in the world,” not because he is the best man to lead this great nation, nor because he defeated a collection of lesser competing mortals in a fair political competition, but quite simply because since 2004, and now entering the fifteenth season, he has developed a Reality TV Game Show host personality.

Through his TV coverage the general public is familiar with Donald Trump and this gives him an undue political advantage.

It does not matter how much of a rogue he is, nor how faulty what he says may be. The facts of his private life and personal finance are incidental. If his tax returns reveal that he has been a crook all of these years, no matter.

Nor does it matter how many of us of reason and good sense, as President Barack Obama has, say that a man with Trump’s characteristics surely cannot become the president.

Barack Obama’s power of familiarity, incidentally, came only from his name association during a period of time where it proved impossible for many native English speakers to distinguish between the arch-enemy of America, Osama Bin Laden, from Barack Obama. It is perhaps sad to record that Barack Obama was elected only because of a broad familiarity with the name of our worst enemy.

It turns out, of course, that President Obama is an educated and smart man. By fortune, he was a good representative in the world just when we needed it. We could have done a lot worse. But this is an instructive example that illustrates that it does not matter how the familiarity is formed and whether the object of that familiarity is good or bad, right or wrong.

Familiarity is power. It is, ultimately, a physical force that moves populations.

This is not new, of course, every elected official since the 1970s has played in these changing circumstances. This familiarity is the consequence of changing social, information, and media technology.

We need to pause to reconsider its impact.

The public is especially familiar with Donald Trump and this alone gives him power that by the current system is exploitive. Now, I am confident that Donald Trump thinks he alone is responsible for his success. It is a dangerous fact that he no doubt believes that the public supports him.

But the fact is that the public is playful and truly indifferent.

It is painful to admit that the public are sheep in this case and that they will follow wherever Donald Trump leads. It is even more painful to acknowledge that the electorate are readily maneuvered and manipulated by the physical dynamics of familiarity in this case.

The world has seen these dynamics before, at the birth of the modern era.

I believe we need to reconsider. I ask the Generals of the USA Military to consider what action to take in the interest of protecting the Union and, ultimately, the people.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

AlphaGO. Not a fair match. Here's why ...

There has been a lot of excitement recently about Google's Deep Mind program AlphaGO defeating the European GO Champion, 2 Dan, Fan Hui.

Fan Hui in 2005
I too wish to extend my congratulations to the Google team for

1. their achievement in writing a program upon the Deep Mind system able to defeat the French Fan Hui European GO champion, and

2. their sheer chutzpah for even suggesting that such a competition was fair.

How then are we to assess this notion of fairness in a match between human and machine?

Basically, I believe that to be fair, "thinking time" between human and the machine must be measured equivalent in Joules, not in elapsed time.

So I would very much like someone from Google to inform me regarding the number of Joules AlphaGO utilized in order to win this match. Human v. human competition is easily shown to be fair in this regard.

Fan Hui cannot be considered “defeated” until this matter is resolved.

Friday, January 8, 2016

FOCUS Upon YOUR GOALS! Not Theirs.



The Beautiful Steven Ericsson-Zenith

All of us seem to either end up in industry or, at least, flirt with it. This narrative is a personal journey that ends in an offer to join me.

I start with this photograph of me simply because my wife says that this is how she sees me. And she thinks that I am beautiful. This is the first time ever, that a woman has confessed that she finds me beautiful. The faith of a wife should never be taken in a cynical fashion, it is, it must always be, true.

In the 1980s, I worked in the English semiconductor business, as a part of a team designing microprocessors (the Transputer). I became interested in the problems of parallel computation and I completed my Ph.D. in that area. I started my Ph.D. work at Yale and I finished it in France (1992 — Paris VI i.e., the Sorbonne, and ENSMP now PARIS-Tech).

1992 was the year when all interest in parallel computing died. I initially did some work with Kendall Square Research, fixing their broken relationship and their parallelizing compiler with and for KAI. But that company died dramatically in 1993 and at the end of that year the last of the major parallel computing companies, Thinking Machines, closed their doors.

I moved to Silicon Valley at the start of 1994 from Champaign/Urbana, Illinois to start my own company, called — unsurprisingly — “Parallel Inc.” I toured Sand Hill Road, I entertained VCs, few of whom could imagine a computer network, and gave them stories about an entrepreneur (me) that they still tell with a sense of wonder. I do not plan to repeat those stories here. But they generally start with my arrival “This guy drove, his entire family in a uHaul, to Silicon Valley with an idea …” and so on. Yeah, that guy was me. I was always ahead of my time.

By the turn of the century and numerous other start-up ventures, I finally had a “going concern,” The Kiss Principle, Inc. There we focused upon the design and development of conversational interfaces providing affinity categorization for large-scale content systems — think Internet, Television and Turing’s “Imitation Game.” We worked with and were funded by Microsoft and were dependent upon friends at Dish Network, Sony, AOL, AT&T and numerous other major corporations.

But 9/11 killed the goose and in 2002 I found myself alone, divorce papers in hand, sat on my ass, wondering what the hell life was all about and what I should do next.

During my Ph.D. I had discovered a then little-known thinker, Charles Sanders Peirce, who had influenced my work to date and I decided to write a book on his Semeiotic Theory (theories of signs) for a wider audience.

In 2003, however, that plan became diverted as I attended a conference at the University of Arizona in Tucson where I met many interesting thinkers, Nobel Laureates, and Knights of the Realm. In particular, I spent much of that week in the corridors with Roger Penrose. The conference asked whether recent advances in Biophysics and Quantum Mechanics informed us concerning the mind.

In listening to Penrose and his concerns, a new approach to the problem came to mind. I abandoned my popular science book and took a turn into mathematics and hard science.

With the limited funding gained by selling my remaining technology interests to Microsoft, I left behind industry and academia in order to pursue basic research.

Over the following few years, IASE was established, and oversight was provided by two old friends. Suresh now a tenured professor in CS at Purdue in academia, today on sabbatical to DARPA, and the other in a high position in the semiconductor industry, Bob heads up STMicroelectronics in the USA, and my work began. By 2009, I had made much progress but I was stuck technically and I did not know how to proceed.

Much of the work consisted of learning and studying closely, the work of a scholar, of new results becoming available in biophysics, developing solutions, and advancing plans. I had a number of very general goals and a number of particular goals. I see problems in parallel computation and computation generally that have escaped many, and I see problems in biophysics that few have addressed properly. At its core, all questions involve locality (the subject dealt with in my doctoral thesis) but critically asks one of science’s greatest mysteries: what sensation or feeling is, what sense does, and where does sense come from?

At the heart of it is why we do with the 15Watts of our brain, what a computer with 60 MegaWatts has no chance of. How are we able to integrate so many sources so readily, why is recognition so cheap? And why is there no load/store architecture in biology? What have we missed?

Computers can obviously do things brains cannot. Mostly these are things like or born of repetition without boredom or tiredness.

I knew many of the problems in detail and could take on any philosopher (for practice, I am no philosopher), except my proposal was always too radical. Everyone else thinks that basic physics needs no extension or is today invention by mathematics. And because this invention is so complex that few can understand it, we permit many to get away with abandoning the physical sciences and presenting philosophical fantasies.

I am old fashioned and believe in traditional science (repeatable experiments and viable proposals for fallibility). While I claim that many theoretical physicists are misguided because they abandon scientific epistemology they also make the same claim of me because I argue the necessity to extend physics (in a way similar to Newton) in order to account for sensation.

2009 is also significant for the economic environment that caused me to move from my location in Sunnyvale. I spent a winter sabbatical in Connecticut, I visited my friends at Yale, and upon my return in the spring of 2010, I decided I could no longer live in the Valley. I had reconnected with nature in and around Litchfield. This is when I moved to the Mountain and Redwood forest overlooking Silicon Valley in Los Gatos/Santa Cruz.


Personal circumstances turned around and I married Debbie in November of 2010. But it was not until summer of 2013 that I had the technical breakthrough I needed to move my work forward. In November of 2013, I presented the opening chapter of my new book in a seminar at Stanford University (now available on YouTube).

Unfortunately, I then discovered that I had had a minor stroke and was diagnosed with Cancer. A few months later I found myself in the Santa Clara VMC ICU, brain surgery and with stage IV Cancer. It is now 18 months since the brain surgery and the completed Radiation and Chemo Cancer therapy and the prognosis for a full recovery are good. The last scan shows that I am currently cancer free. My primary challenge is a deformed tongue and dry mouth and, of course, now finishing my book.

Now, what is the moral to this story? Along the way, I became distracted by people that wanted to pay me extraordinary amounts of money if only I would put down my “science project” and return to it later. And this happened multiple times. I will not mention names. And at times, well-meaning friends sought to hire me. But mostly rich people tried to tempt me and had no real intention of assisting IASE.

I made it clear every time that IASE was my sole commitment and I could only help as long as what I did would take me toward my goal, it really did not matter that I had run out of money long ago. Of course, I took money when offered, and I should not have done so, because no matter how clearly I stated my independent mission, no one seemed to believe me. So taking money simply raised expectations and tempted conflict, despite my clear statements to the contrary.

The many offers I have been made in the past ten years are embarrassing. “Just give me three years and you will have all the money you need,” … phooey! This is a recipe for personal disaster and the achievement of nothing. I found myself being spoken to as though I were an employee but I made it clear to all that I have a defining commitment, an existential necessity, and there is nothing that can shake that.

There is no money you can offer and no opportunity that offers a reward greater than the one I have chosen.

In a rich landscape of mathematical, physical, biophysical and computational ideas, it simply demands a life-long commitment, a preparedness to accept the potential embrace of poverty. To do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes … in the cause of the advance and reconciliation of humanity.

In the meantime, I have discovered a generous society, unrelated to the awful Silicon Valley. They need no excuse for why the book is not yet finished, they want me to take my time, to get it right — to do the best I can do. Because there is no competition and they know that the book will change everything.

This is how my friends now see me. And this too is the first time ever, that people have confessed an unqualified faith in my ability. The faith of such friends should never be taken in a cynical fashion, it is, it must always be, true.

When I am finished I will change the world in ways that few are able to imagine, not just by technology where the above problems will be solved, but by presenting an advance in science that is profound, integrating consideration of the mind in the physical sciences, explaining the quality of sense, explaining the origin of life and experience, and in the spirit of Benjamin Peirce, without scientific compromise, present the discovery in nature of what he and others call God.

And in doing this, I will enable God to evolve the world beyond Darwinian theory and enable our species to place life where it would not otherwise occur.

Now, I must ask YOU, does what you are doing in your own career have anything like this potential? Are you free to pursue your own ideas for your own ends? If not, you must be compelled to put down your work and to help me on this greatest of adventures.

I need free thinking mathematicians, bioengineers, and existential thinkers, cosmologists, I need systems engineers and material scientists, I need marine scientists, biophysicists, medical professionals and open minded physicists. I need practical engineers to build machines using entirely new techniques.

The pay sucks and it may do so for a long time, but this is the most important thing that you will ever do.