Monday, October 31, 2005 -- Two More Moons Discovered Orbiting Pluto

This is pretty sweet. And another one of those exciting reminders that while science has made great strides, much remains to be discovered.

Our own solar systems still has some mysteries and surprises, as we can see...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Man On TV Urges Mass Purchase Of Listerine | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

A proper recognition of the small bizarre cultural assumptions we hold.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

QEMU on Windows

a fascinating program. I've always loved Virtual Machines, the concept is very amusing, in a strange way. This program simulates a small linux distribution you can run in a window.

Virtual PC is of course the most popular VM in the world, which allows you to run Windows on your Mac, or a little Windows box on your Windows box.

Why would anyone care to do this? Well, for instance you can pretend to be a whole internet, just on your very own computer, where one little VM is the server, and the other the client, or even to debug powerful parallelism code, like supercomputers use.

The more common use is just accessibility. I've used emulation layers, VM OSes, and similar to look at old files, interact with strange services, and use a feature not on my home OS too many times to count.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Design & Development: RPG Design Test

I don't have time to do this. But YOU should. I want my roleplaying to have epic fantasy.
Joshua's Brain Dump: News About Dallas

Sad. I will miss Dallas.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Model Railroad Slums

ah, art.
Recipe for Destruction - New York Times

This is such incredible bullshit I don't know what to say. Bill Joy, I should have expected this from. Kurzweil I always felt to be vague, but largely futurist, and harmless to me. But here he is, making an insidious call for research and publication controls. They modestly suggest that such 'very dangerous' research as the genome for a influenza virus should not be publishable, or perhaps researchable.

They do not mention what limits such controls should have. Who might oversee it, or what other fields of research should be so controlled. Why should they? It's common sense, that such dangerous things should not be allowed in the wild, where the 'terrorists' will get it.

Building a virus from a genomic specification is a non-trivial bit of biology. I will confidently state that the only people who may develop weaponized diseases based on this will be the US military/associated industry, who spies on them, and who buys it from them. WHO WOULD HAVE HAD THE VIRUS GENOME ANYWAY.

I'll tell you what else will happen, almost for certain. People will keep dying from influenza virii. Medical care will continue to be developed, which depends on viral research which falls entirely within the area Joy and Kurzweil claim should/can be controlled. The military will develop more and more biological weapons that it denies having, and prevents other people from having. They will contribute effectively nothing to medical research or the scientific community.

So we can control this research, and lose some medical progress in all related fields, which will not affect the development of biological weapons(which is largely undertaken by militaries who would be independent of such controls), in order to control the possibility of independent development of such weapons by terrorists.

That seems like a bad bet to me. The only sophisticated terrorist attack using independently developed weapons was the Aum group in Japan, who used Sarin, and attempted to use biologicals. Sarin is a nerve agent, and they developed it by recruiting chemistry majors. constructing a virus from a bare genome is profoundly more difficult than that, and requires independent scientific work to weaponize, very different from simply constructing a known substance. Every other terrorist attack has used conventional or stolen weapons. Even the anthrax letters in September-August of 2001 were embarassingly later shown to be of the Ames strain of weaponized anthrax(which is only known to be in US weapons labs).

Suppression, in the long run, doesn't work. You can prevent undetermined people(who weren't an issue in the first place), catch ill-prepared or incompetent people, and dissuade moral and legal people. This leaves largely the people you were concerned about in the first place, which is determined, competent, immoral people.

Ditto the concept of relinquishment. You can buy time by refusing to develop something if you were the person who would have developed it first. But someone will be second, and third, and so on. If you make further development illegal, it won't happen until a sufficiently competent illegal group has cause to develop it. Which doesn't really sound like an improvement to me.

Terrorism is already illegal in every country in the world. Rather than trying to ban antecedents and precursors, and possible aids to terrorists, we should focus our efforts on stopping and capturing specific terrorists. Even if we banned every weapon, every strategem than terrorists are known to have used, if a given terrorist still exists, he'll simply choose to do something new, like crashing a fuel tanker into a building, or setting fire to a hospital, or something even I can't think of. And having banned all these things, we will have lost every legitimate use of those tools, as well as ushered ourselves into a regulated life, where many innocous activities will be illegal and monitored as a matter of course. As well as all the known excesses of police states.

we lose and lose and lose, with Prohibition. It hasn't worked before, wouldn't have worked for any of our greatest terrorist acts, but why not try it now, Kurzweil and Joy seem to say. Well, no bet. I'm happy few seem to be listening to them now.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Psychohazard Premier: This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself.

Truly perverse. - Health - Survey: Most Americans Approve of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

An important bellwether to note. They're not all transhumanists, but at least we can begin to point at a lack of patience for arbitrary limits.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

World Chess Boxing Organisation

A fascinating "transitional" animal.
Another wonderful discovery that makes me want to dance on the much delayed grave of creationism.

Monday, October 10, 2005

First Annual Colloquium on the Law of Transhuman Persons

a colloquium involving talks by several people I'm acquainted with, most significantly, Peter Voss, my boss will be speaking, as well as Eliezer Yudkowsky.

I'm planning a Kifune this Sunday, Peter will give some of what he plans to present.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

crystal is gone, having spent a week or so here. Now, back to work, I suppose.

Very impressed with the successful Grand Challenge.

Also, rocket planes and a super-heavy lifter from SpaceX, a good week for tech news.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Well, we had a Kifune today, and it worked out pretty well.

We had quite a few people show up, and the discussion was good.

I spoke today, presenting the subject of Prediction; and some related topics, complexity science, chaos theory, statistics, and some more heuristic approaches(Fast and Frugal, affective categorization, etc).

We had a few interesting new people show up as well, AvantGuardian from the Extropians list one notable, it was fun to meet him.

I need to find someone else to speak next month, as the tentative topic is new medical technologies, and that's quite a bit out of my range.