Category Archives: Concepts

Death of Facebook

It’s always a good idea to fortell the doom of something thats just hit contemporary consciousness. It’s a good way to strike up a conversation and especially good thing to do when your blogging, since you’ll have a record of saying it well before anyone else.

I am here to cast the doom on Facebook.

I have written before about the very basic need of humans to be acknowledged by other humans. The existence of this need explains why we greet people; in the hopes that they will greet us back, it explains why people want to become famous; to have their lives be one huge acknowledgement from day-in day-out. Numerous social customs revolve around this need. We exist because other people think we do.

Not only reaching critical mass, Facebook has also tapped this basic need. They have only gone at it the wrong way. Facebook encourages you to beg for acknowledgement. That’s what constant status-updates, pokes, invites and tags are all about. The computer-network-aided extension of what has, in part, allowed humans to flourish so well. There are dozens of ways you can go about it.

But thats not how you build a long-lasting social networking platform. People get tired of being poked, novelty wears off quickly. A critical mass can be negative, when the right (amount of) people of a certain social circle leave, rest will quickly follow.

The initial chink in the armor of Facebook will be the futility of the way it enables social interaction. It goes about it the wrong way, Facebook makes it rewarding to be acknowledged (with numbers alone, e.g. how many friends do you have, how many people liked this ), not rewarding to awknowledge other people.

If you can come up with a way to achieve that with your social networking, I’d say you are on your way to riches as well as building something a bit more valuable.

Sunday Night Ramblings, Part II

I accidently clicked the “Add New” and now I’m expected to be intelligent, witty, insightful, interesting and all those other Slashdot moderations.

I’ve been slightly discouraged reading (and answering) all the attempts at spam this Blog receives. There seems to be two approaches, one is the obvious google-bombing style; stuff your comment post with as many links and keywords as you can. It doesn’t really matter if they are not that all related, it’s all good for the grand Google.

The other, more disheartening one, the spam contains a comment so generalized, careful not to say anything at else, but yet, trying to appear sincere, that it might appear real to some. I have extracted some fun answering those, as you might have noticed. I was thinking maybe I’d get famous and popular by writing those angry, yet funny replies to obvious spammage. I suspect this will be a type of activity that will get old soon and paying any amount attention to it loans some credibility to the whole activity.

I think spamming reveales one usually wisely hidden aspect of the existence of humanity, namely that we continue to exist solely for the actions and dedication of those who decide to pull _more_ than their own weight. “It’s not my business”, “somebody else can take care of it, there were plenty of other people”, “I couldn’t do anything, I would have only messed everything up”, “I don’t have time for it”, “I have other problems”. If it weren’t for those people, the people who make preceding type of comments would wear us down. Spamming is the unfortunate side-effect of the fact that we have those people.

Now, how’s that for some rambling?

Beware of Winterists!

It is that time of year when Winterists come crawling under their rocks to spoil everything for the rest of us. They put on their cardigans, woollen head gear, neck scarfs and mittens, just as soon as they thinks it’s “time for Autumn”  or whatever is the current euphemism for these people. No coat is too heavy for them, no number of layers of clothing too small.

This phenomena has some serious implications. It is a well-known fact that temperatures get lower when people start wearing more clothes. This fact is backed by thousands of years of empirical experience. Also the opposite is a true fact. When people start to wear less in the Spring, the weather gets warmer. But the Winterists spoil it for everyone else by starting to wear wintergear as early as possible and hold on wearing them as late as possible, effecting the weather patterns of the whole universe.

Stop the Winterists before it’s too late! Wear your shorts and bikinis as late as you can to offset their influence! Remind people on various forums on the dangers that Winterists pose!

Boy, Was I stupid When I was a Kid!

Memes have been all the rage since their invention some 2 million years ago. Internet memes have been even bigger rage since Al Gore invented them along with Internet itself back in the late 80’s. You don’t really exist in the web (i.e the Real World) unless you have enough eyeballs consuming your webpresence. The way to gain those is to become a part of a meme.

Usually this works by being either incredibly stupid, self-destructional or brilliant (preferably on camera). For us who don’t own a camera there’s one option left. This.

When I was a kid (4-5 years old) on one Independence day when there were fireworks displayed, I thought the Näsinneula-building, a landmark of Tampere, was a space rocket about to launch into space. Yes, I actually thought that Finland had a space program of it’s own. Boy, was I stupid!

Passive Agressiveness

My Aikido associaton has classes at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium which houses many kinds of other athletic activities. One of the things I like about the place is the feeling of history of sweating and human resolve in those halls. Some of these other arts have their classes along the corridor I take to the locker rooms. Most along that corridor are various kinds of dance-classes. I usually just walk pass them, merely glancing inside, only catching a glimpse of the dedicated female bodies sweating inside.

Today I wasn’t going to the regular practice but to see the graduation for this springs beginners class. I was early, since I didn’t have to change or anything. I decided to take a more than a mere glance on one of those dancing classes. So be it. I was set.

Only one door was invitingly open. In Aikido, all the classes are open for spectators, anyone can come around and watch the practice. I assumed this applies to other physical arts. Especially one like dance with its ungodly provocative shaking of the pelvis and… you know where it all leads to! Teen pregnancy and broken homes. I stop at the doorway, watching openly, not hiding my intentions, I’m curious to what goes inside.

Less than minute (no, I’m not exaggeratin the time even for the purposes of an anecdote) the teacher of the class approaches me and utters:”Excuse me, I’d like to close the door a bit… I can’t concentrate (with you watching)” and proceeds to close the door on my face.

Instead of approaching me directly and telling me that me standing there was bothering her, she decided to close the door “a bit”.

Passive Agressive.

From now on, when ever I pass those open doors, I will avert my eyes, being careful not to catch any glimpses inside. I won’t make any eye contact with people I see leaving or entering those rooms. I shall also scowl out load when anyone ever confesses to practicing one of those dances.

On Failure

As a former (and recouperating) failure, I am a fond proponent of failing. Not in the sense that you should aim to fail, but how you respond to it once you do. This Saturday I attended the first Aikido dan-graduation in my life. Dan-graduation is quite different from kyu-graduations. It is more formal, it usually takes place along a seminar, is, of course, more demanding and is judged by three people from the Aikido federation of Finland.

Three out of four applicants for the 2.dan were disqualified. Apparently this was something unheard of. As one of the judges marked, if you don’t get disqualified in a graduation at least once in your life, it’s hard to become a good budokan.

A failure is fruitful way to learn something. I don’t mean to learn a simple proposition, I mean something a bit more fundamental of nature; proper ways to conduct yourself, new ways to think, adjusting your set of values. Failing gives you limits. If you succeed all the time, how would you know what you are doing right or whether is all to up to luck? What if one day you have to change the way you do things for any number of reasons? Now everything that has worked so far just doesn’t, and you have no idea why, you probably don’t even recognize why you are failing all of a sudden. You’re stuck on a single mode of thinking, doing, learning, existing…etc. As Calvin (as impersonating his father) once marked:”Feeling lousy builds character”.

When you’ve failed in a <insert a set of circumstances here>, by all means gripe about it, get pissed, blame it on the judges, vow revenge (in your mind) and then get over it. You can always try again, and nothing, NOTHING, you’ve done so far has been wasted.

So kids, fail early, fail often, blame everybody and everything else, then blame yourself (because you’re the real cause), take heed and learn about it. Then shrug it off and continue your life. Am I making myself clear? Bueller?

On Greeting

I have a vague feeling of déjà vu that I’ve written this post already, but the subject bears repeating.

I’m working with a few preconditions of human nature with one of them being that humans like to see that they have some kind of effect on and in the world that they live in. This explains the subtle enjoyment one gets from cracking the ice of small ponds on a cold morning or why some people build models or any of the huge number of human endeavours that exhibit this idea.

Being social creatures that we are, we also like to see that we have an effect on other humans. We like to be acknowledged by them and recognized by them. I honestly think that you could drive anyone mad by just everybody not paying any attention to him/her or engaging in any interaction with them apart from the smallest possible amount. For example, if you tried to talk to people at work, they wouldn’t respond with anything meaningful, just grunts or shrugs. No matter what you said. Any questions at the supermarket would be met with I-don’t-know’s and I-guesses.

It is exactly because of this need for recognition that makes people greet each other. It is the assumption that if I acknowledge you, you will acknowledge me in turn. It is because of this fundamental link with basic human needs and traits that makes greeting an activity in need of as little as possible of reasons. Greeting should be acceptable in any situation. You should never have to explain why you greeted someone.

For any number of reasons, listed in this post or otherwise, I genuinely think that the world would be a bit better place if people greeted each other more often.

Friday Night Ramblings

It has been far too long since I’ve rambled in my blog, which is a shame. This is a shame from the point of view of the Dinosaur media who consider Blogs the primary media for rambling. It is not the same thing to be accusing the, if I pick a random Finnish media, Helsingin sanomat for rambling, even if their editorials bare no names and are mostly collections of sentences of the form:”Every intelligent person knows that…” and “It is a well-known fact” etc.

It is not the same thing, I want to stress this well-known fact.

Blogs are a slimy medium. They resonate and interact with each other, making it, at one side, a highly un-predictable concoction and on the other side a highly-predictable entity. It is very difficult to say what will become famous for example. On the other hand, there’s the Streisand effect. There are well-known examples of this in the Finnish blogosphere. It is no suprise that something like this puzzles those who were brought up in a totally different system of conveying ideas for people.

Because the blogs form a system so big and complex, it is impossible to understand and crasp its workings. Even a well-read blog reader can only skim a small amount of everything that gets written. It is exactly this that makes it also easy to trivialize and also to rationalize the apparent unimportance of blogs. How can you understand the impact of something that you can at any given moment see only a fraction of a fraction? Why would blogs make a difference when only a handful of them get any decent amount of readership? Because theres thousands of them, millions of them, linking to each other and any and all resources you can attach a wire to, piling, adding up, slowly and continuosly re-organizing itself and most of all, being read by much more people than write them.

This is only relating to the nature of the medium. I haven’t even touched the quality of writing…

A List of Artificial Intelligences in The Decreasing Order of Strength

The principal divide of Artificial Intelligences (AI) among researches in the field is between weak AI and strong AI. I have discussed this in connection with KSAI (Kimmo Strong Artificial Intelligence)  so I won’t go into that here but I will try and formulate a way to categorize AI’s (real, imaginary or theoretical) into something of an order.  I will take the idea of Rule following as my starting point.

The most simple way of rule following is to be able to repeat something. I will try to illustrate my idea using counting as an example, this example isn’t probably the best possible but we have to start from somewhere. If you are presented with how to count “2+2″ then on the lowest level thats all you can do. In the next level you can add any numbers together.  Further on, you can, starting from addition, come up with multiplication, on your own. Even further on, you can come up with different kind of numbers (such as fractions) and other basic concepts. Basically this level would mean you can create the whole system of Mathematics, i.e. you could come up with any number that can be counted. On the next level you could surpass this and be able of what I believe is called hyper-computation. Here we enter into the area of absolutely-theoretical it is pretty much impossible that we could never experience hyper-computation in this universe (or any parallel ones). It is of course possible to propose an infinite number of levels of intelligence by declaring each level surpassing the previous one, but those lose their relevance for a pragmatist pretty fast.

I hope this example illustrates that the problem of creating an AI is not one of having computational power but rather one of programming. I’m assuming that you really can’t come up with anything not provided by your “programming” and I use the term here in the loosest possible meaning. You humans, for example, can’t imagine what hyper-computing would be like, outside of listing some general attributes it should have.

But for now, on to the list! “Product” isn’t really defined here, but since we are so deep in theoretical swamps, we can assume it to mean whatever collection of human mind-states.

0. An AI capable of hyper-computing.

  • NOTES: This and possible higher levels are beyond human understanding.

1. An AI capable of producing anything within any possible universe.

  • NOTES: An AI at this level can produce anything any kind of intelligence can.

n. An AI capable of producing anything within this universe.

  • NOTES: An AI at this level can produce anything any intelligence can in our universe.

m. An AI capable of producing everything any possible human can.

p. An AI capable of producing everything any existing human can.

q. An AI capable of producing what one particular human can.

  • NOTES: The AI’s (and I’s) above this level are all capable of producing an AI more stronger than themselves, i.e. I’m claiming here that humans can produce a strong AI.

r. An AI capable of producing a meaningful subset of what one particular human can.

  • KSAI along with its various levels.

——–Line between strong and weak AI

s. an AI capable of altering computation (i.e. programming)

t. An AI capable of computation.  (Practically every computer program written to date belong here)


  1. *sigh* There are probably many, many levels between r and s, but as I said we have to start somewhere.
  2. Consider this as a work-in-very-much-process, I’ll add more AI’s to the list in time.
  3. Is this making any sense to all you bots and botsesses?

On Nerds

As part of my work duties and my past academic record, I’ve come in contact with many a person that are referenced as nerds. By themselves too I might admit. This experience lends itself for me to make some observations on the nature of these people.

I’m not a nerd. There would be some notoriety in being but I’m not. My life is a collection of being in the middle, not quite this or that. This has some drawbacks and advantages, among the latter might be the ability to make observations one otherwise couldn’t.

Many nerds seem to be interested in language but language as a system. As a collection of rules and exceptions to those rules. I’m also interested in language, but mainly as a vehicle for meaning, the different ways to portray the same meaning and different meaning with the same apparent utterances.

I think this fascination with rules explains the interest many nerds have with programming. Programming languages are a far cry from the vagueness of human language. My interest in programming is mostly pragmatic, it is a means to an end. Most computer games, even today, are still written in programming languages. If you are interested in realizing computer games, it pays to know programming. I also enjoy solving problems, which programming ultimately is.

The supposed onsocialness of nerds is a muddier issue. Some nerds are as sociable as consultants. Some seem to lack certain confidence that translates in some minds as awkwardness in social settings. Some possess some esoteric interests that might translate poorly into conversation topics in a more broad setting. I like to think myself as socially adept, I have a broad range of subjects I’m somewhat familiar with, I have a quick mind although I have certain hang-ups, I’m not going to go in detail here. Although I’m not that drawn to people as such, I find you humans genuinely interesting.