First Thoughts

… the clocks set back an hour last night… an extra hour of sleep… that used to be more meaningful when working full time… less so now… still, i took advantage of it and feel groggy this morning…

… dogs let out, treated, watered… they have gone back to bed with H…

… i crank up Bach’s Goldberg Variations… played on harpsichord by Maggie Cole… i think about C, who’s partner is a highly trained classical musician… i think about the northwest and about the book Analogia, by George Dyson… i think about mysterious things happening in wild cold forests…

… not a huge fan of the harpsichord… but it’s ok this morning… i am actually liking it… most of the time it seems a bit shrill and fussy to me… i like the rounder tones of the piano better…

… i read about Maggie Cole… white woman looking slightly aristocratic… am i thinking so because she is a classical musician and classical music is of the white patriarchy, aristocracy?… in addition to harpsichord she plays the pianoforte and the piano… she teaches… she performs… she records… the Goldberg Variations are a specialty…

… i think about zeroing in on the harpsichord, and then the Goldberg Variations (or was it the Variations first, the harpsichord second?) for expertise development… what must it be like to live this music in your head all the time?… what must it be like to find yourself in the settings conducive to its practice and performance?… the cosmos accessed through a narrowly defined pathway… what has she come to understand about all of it through the music?…

… M texts… they are up early… the time change… habits need to shift… sunrise earlier… sunset earlier… no, those things happen on the same schedule all year round cosmically… it is the humans that don’t… the humans adjust their time keepers to shift their relationship to sunrise and sunset… all things are relative to the earthly clock!… the reason, apparently, is to save energy… i am not clear how it does this… couldn’t we more naturally adjust ourselves to come and go during the available daylight?… i could do without it… it seems an unnecessary inefficiency in the human condition…

… did some cleaning up of the planter tanks yesterday, installed a hoop system that will be covered with frost protective fabric for the winter… will also mulch things in a little… hoping to preserve the herbs through the winter… the sage, thyme and oregano all made it through the winter last year… rosemary is new as is tarragon… hoping i can get them through this winter…

… i also swept up the natural detritus in the driveway, bagged it and put it out at the curb for the town to pick up… and, importantly, i reinforced the fence line where Fiona has been finding her way out of the yard… i have done this for a quarter of the perimeter of the yard at least over the past year…

… today i am thinking i will work on finishing the back stair…

… there is also the daily walk, the farmer’s market, the weekly family zoom…

First Thoughts

… beginning to look forward to getting home… miss H and the dogs… getting a little bored… M seems as though they will go on… a little sad… a little lacking in motivation… but otherwise ok… doing some future planning…

HCR meter neutral to pointing downwards… about the voting rights landscape… about whether the multicultural majority will control the next many decades, or the mostly white minority will… the filibuster stands in the way of the former and so far, Dems have been unwilling to change it…

… have started reading a book on Issa haikus dealing with animals… i thought, when i bought it, that it was focused on animal symbology, and it does get into that, but the main focus is demonstrating Issa’s attitude towards animals, which was more or less a Buddhist attitude, and making an argument that he believed in the fair treatment of animals as that might be meant in our time, not his… i don’t know that i see the purpose of making such a case in a scholarly treatment of the poet… Buddhist belief systems generally treat all life forms as fellow travelers in the universe… as part of the web of life… i suppose i prefer the web of life view in general, even as i consider machine intelligence, and what might be evolving in the entire life/consciousness/thought system… having just finished George Dyson’s Analogia, which makes the case that machines and the coding that runs them will, have(?), reached the point of self determination and self reproduction, but not without needing us as a sublayer of their existence… this is perhaps the more benign way it could go, if indeed it is going that way… human beings not at the top of the intelligence chain, but necessary to it and therefore guaranteed a place in it going forward… i need to pick up Ken Wilbur’s book and read it again… i think it dovetails with the Dyson ideas… one question remains, however… this whole human machine thing maintains the possibility of self annihilation… how will this machine/human complex avoid destroying itself?… is violence an unavoidable part of all cultural thought systems?…

Analogia, George Dyson 02

… at last, we get to an idea of intelligent and evolving machines…

Erewhon contained three central massages: machine intelligence will supervene upon human intelligence as surely as our own intelligence supervened upon that of our individual cells; self reproduction is inevitable once evolution takes hold among machines; and there is no future in trying to turn back the clock.1

… and, quoting Canon Thomas Butler…

Our plan is to turn man’s besotted enthusiasm to our own advantage, to make him develop us to the utmost, and find himself enslaved unawares2

… and…

Butler concluded that it was impossible to draw a precise distinction between living and nonliving things, or to give a precise definition of life that would not, sooner or later, include machines. “Then only thing of which I am sure,” he argued in 1880, “is that the distinction between the organic and inorganic is arbitrary; that it is more coherent with our other ideas, and therefore more acceptable, to start with every molecule as a living thing, and then deduce death as the breaking up of an association or corporation, than to start with inanimate molecules and smuggle life into them.”3

… and this…

Automata, advertising, and natural selection are an explosive mix. Google’s introduction of AdWords, nonetizing not just language, already coded, but also meaning, not fully coded yet, was the equivalent of Lee de Forest’s introducing the control grid into Fleming’s vacuum tube. Internet advertising drives a global high-gain amplifier connecting the reward sought by computers (more machine cycles and instructions) to the reward sought by humans (more of the stimulation now returned with every click). We set loose an evolutionary system that rewards machines that learn to control both how we feel and what we think4


  1. George Dyson, Analogia, The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control [return]
  2. Ibid [return]
  3. Ibid [return]
  4. Ibid [return]

Analogia, George Dyson

… i must confess to a good deal of confusion on what this book is about… i am well over halfway into the book and it has, so far, not much to do with the subject suggested by the subtitle… “The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control”… there have been a few hints of the development of digital technology, but otherwise the book has been a recounting of history and individuals, sometimes with connection to the advancement of digital technology, sometimes not, oft times only peripheral connection… i assume this will make sense at some point, but it doesn’t just yet…

… i keep reading and reading and reading, expecting that any moment the main point of the book as rendered in the subtitle will make its way to the fore front… it just doesn’t… it’s all anecdotes and quasi related history… very little about digital information processing technology… perhaps making a point about how one can live with and on the land without all that technology… it’s enjoyable reading, but a little baffling… is the author putting us through a set of analog experiences before unleashing the digital overtaking of those experiences???… hard to know… hard to see what the endgame will be…

Analogia, George Dyson

… of the growing number of rabbit holes i am prone to going down, AI, which i expand to “Alternative Intelligence,” is a big one… i wrote a talk on the subject a while back… for a long time i talked about it at family gatherings, dinner parties, etc… until my wife gently brought it to a stop, at least in public… she was bored, she was sure our friends were bored… maybe they were, but i haven’t stopped thinking about it… this presentation by Maria Popova on Brain Pickings of George Dyson’s book, has launched me down the AI rabbit hole again… i bought the Kindle version of the book and it awaits my attention in the near future…

… the notable quote that headlines the article…

Nature’s answer to those who seek to control nature through programmable machines is to allow us to build systems whose nature is beyond programmable control.1

… the best way i found to come at the subject was that the rise of AI was evolution in action… that nature was finding a way to progress intelligence and that such progression might or might not include a future for women and men, or if it does, women and men might not constitute the apex, if they ever did… AI does look to me to be the viable way we set sail across the universe… it seems more plausible to me that intelligent and self motivated mechanical life will evolve… alternative intelligence will be much more capable of survival in the interstitial spaces of the cosmos than flesh and blood, which is fragile and in need of extensive protection and support to persist beyond the surface of the planet…

… i am sure i will be writing more on this subject…