Monday, July 25, 2005

Maps: understanding and relating to human interaction

Part I
Maps

All people use artificially created constructs of reality based on perceptive based interactions with the world. Rules are learned over the course of a lifetime and create maps in order to help navigate the territory of the perceived relations that exist in life. For the vast majority of any given population, the maps all begin with commnalities and degenerate into self absorbed nuances of personal truth. Because of the intimacy that most maps are generated in relation to the terrain in which sparked it, personal Maps are often extremely difficult to alter from outside sources. Relation to the current terrain must be established in order for new map rules to be intergrated into an individuals perception.

Theory

When we are children, one of the first marks on our maps that we learn is that Hot things, like stoves, burn. Burning hurts. Therefore, hot is hurt, and hot is bad. This is a simple line of logic that helps infants through the course of their lives navigate their surrounding terrain with out being hurt. It is, in fact, one of the first map points that we create.

Further along in life we begin to associate different interactions with similar good/bad experiences and sorting them onto our own maps of the terrain we inhabit. Some of these map points are learned by being taught in school, solid ideas like 2+3=5 and so forth. Abstract ideas like love, hate, ect are generally self taught through experience.

Its an unfortunate reality that the most basic map/terrain interactions are usually never taught by anyone during our youth. We begin to learn them on our own and most often times end up with maps that have massive errors in them. Sometimes our maps aren't able to be correctly constructed simply because of lack of information. For instance, no one has the ability to to read another's mind, and wont quite ever be able to completely relate to that person's perception of you. This is not to say that we can not all understand one's generalized perceptions. It does, however, become increasingly difficult to relate to what I'd like to call a grand perception- the sum of all map points as it relates to the totality of a terrain point- as you get more and more specific about a paticular person, idea, or terrain subject.

As we age the map/terrain points become increasingly complex, and aren't helped by misguided map points or "general wisdom" that float in and out of our ears and eyes at an increasingly faster rate. General misnomer like "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" are horrendous and self destructive in the mind set that they tend to inhabit. They become affirmations, and are well known in the practioners of sympathetic magic- the person exposed to a incorrect and self destructive map point like this has to some where on his map belive this saying. Positive and neutral affirmations that enhance/change/build map points also exist. One of my favorites is "in every day and in every way I am becoming better and better." Sometimes simply believing a map point exists, even though it does not or is an abstract thought, causes it to exist by altering the interaction between an individual or group's maps and terrain. This idea was well understood by the founders of our nation, when they decisively rejected the idea of democracy- that is, one man, one vote, every time, all the time, as rule by mob. Mobs of people almost always tend to subjectate their will to that of the mob. Unfortunately the mob is never governed by a rational, clear thinking mind, but rather, fueled by emotion and spectacle.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Business: Building a system from the ground up

Ok, so ive decided in the last two weeks to do something pretty drastic with my life. I'm going to build a buisness. A coffee shop.

This wont be the first buisness ive started (my third) nor will it be my last. While I feel like i have just about enough experiance with business's to start something as simple as a coffee shop, i know that i have a ton of work ahead of me.

This is the first place im announcing to the world my intentions, and for good reason. I want to make sure everything is thought through as much as possible so that im successfull with this venture and dont fall flat on my face.

While ive met with limited success with my previous two ventures, they werent with out their problems. The three biggest problems ive had are:
1. Undercapitalization. this especially so in my stock trading business. less so in my ebay venture.
2. Too small of a market. Conversly, this hit me the most in my ebay business as opposed to my stock trading buisness
3. Lack of a good team surrounding me. While both buisnesses didnt require that i have a team in place for daily opperations, having a team, or at least a mentor who's been there and done that would have probably helped me from making several mistakes.

Knowing these problems now i need to proactively work towards making sure that they dont effect me in the future. what I think i need most is an effective team to help me out. specificaly, someone who's like minded, understands the concept of a master mind, and wants to start a buisness. If any of you reading this know's anyone in the albuquerque area who would be interested in something like this, please have them contact me at deckard256@yahoo.com. I also need a mentor, someone experianced in starting and runing a business from the ground up and would be willing to just drop me some advice, please, contact me.

After that my main concern is money. Right now i have two plans in place to generate capital for my new venture. The first is trying to get a job at a local starbucks. I usually spurn working for someone else where i am not working to build a share in that buisness, but, i feel that both the experiance i can generate, contacts, and capital would be worth it. Secondly ive got a plan in the works to seek investors and those who would like to simply donate to a fund online. Ive seen the success of people simply asking for money on the street for a dollar to drink some cheep ass wine, or girls trying to pay off their debt. I want to start a buisnes and i feel like that might be a positve route.

As for the buisness, ive got a definate vision of what i think will be a succesfull win/win/win operation. My concept is simple: People drink coffee for the energy it gives. while starbucks and other shops offer a fine cup of coffee, both the environment, operating times, and demographic shun a huge share of what could be a very lucritive market: the night owl's. There is very little competition in the night time coffee market, where clearly there is an opportunity for successfull offee bars that opperate and complement regular bars and night life in generall. Many cities, albuquerque included, have very few options for those who just want a trendy urban coffee shop that is open past 10pm.

I have a lot more to say, but have to go now. I'll be adding to this as the days go by. If you have comments, suggestions, or wish to contribute either to the team i'm building or financially, please leave comments below or contact me directly, deckard256@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Books: thoughts on Guns, Germs, and Steel

I was at my local book shop the other day and saw a copy of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The fates of Human Societies and quickly picked it up. Although its had mixed reviews on many websites I've been drinking it up like a thirsty man in the desert, it offers some very unique Systems Builder perspectives on why some societies flourish while others are conquered and never seen again. I've only read the first hundred pages or so but I've already gotten quite a lot out of it. Through my reading I kept thinking about a book I read when I was in highschool, Foundation by Isaac Asimov. He proposed a very peculiar thing, placing humans on a planet with almost no metals, which caused them to develop smaller and faster computers than anyone else in order to produce needed technologies. While Asimov worked this idea of social engineering backwards, Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Steel, and Germs, works this idea forwards- Looking back on human history and recognizing the commonalities between different successful and non successful societies.
while its a fantastically good read, and illuminating the essencetials needed for a society to grow and prosper, I'm finding myself asking what other inputs can be found to work upon human societies to proved desired outcomes. I think more ideas will begin to pour through my head the more I read.

There is one point that i havent read yet and dont expect to for some reason in this book, beyond just germs, food production, and technology, and that is ideology, both politicial and religous based, and how they do effect the outcomes of interactions between societies. Diamond completely overlooked this when he had the opportuinity to in a key chapter where he describes the intereaction between the spanish conquistadors and the incian empire. hopefully he'll go back and touch on it later in the text.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Generation Twixter: Injecting a new segment to life

Browsing the magazine isle yesterday I came across the latest issue of Time magazine. Usually the fluff in such a zine would have me not giving it a second thought, but the cover was about a topic that is often in a round about sort of way the essence of many a late night discussion over coffee. Time calls us "the twixters" and a host of other authors have their own name for what my generation is the first to go through: a stage of life that isn't adolescence, and it isn't adulthood. Indeed, most of the people that I seem to interact with have easily settled into this new stage of life, kind of a wonderland of time where we still hold on to and actually have the chance to enjoy our youth on the one hand and, albiet slowly, learn how to take care of ourselves in adulthood on the other.

500 years ago, during the birth of the renaissance and the beginning of the common era of continual growth for most of the western world, the average life span was about 34 years. This was a steady rate until about 1800. During this time 80% of the population was a farmer.
34 years to experience an entire lifetime.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the average American life span had increased to about 47 years. That's fantastic compared to what was. Today, the average life span is around 77 years, give or take a few depending on your gender. I've seen a lot of my family die, the most recent just last week, my great aunt Kate, who was in her mid 80's, and ten years ago my great grand mother, who made it to the ripe old age of 98, nearly 3 times the average life span of her counterpart just 200 years prior. Now, only 2% of the population farms.
Just think about that for a second; in 200 years we've managed to double the average human life span, and that was just with the discovery that washing hands, eating right, and not getting sick will allow you to live close to an entire century.
Should it be to outlandish to think, then, that, when put into context of treating aging as an illness and the active and very enthusiastic work being done by people like Alex de grey (see article below) that humans, as a species, may see human life extended another 100 years over the next century? And what happens when the fundamentals of life are completely understood, and human life span can be extended indefinitely, baring a catastrophic injury?

I think we're beginning to see what happens as the average life is extended out past 100 years to 200, 300, 500+. Life will no longer become a mad dash. It used to be that, for most Americans, you'd go to school, graduate, then, depending on your means, you'd go and get either a blue collar job that would be sufficient for one to work at for the rest of your life and cover the costs of you and your family, or, if you came from a more affluent family, you'd have the opportunity to go to collage and get a 4 year degree and enter the workforce a little ahead of your fellow blue collar workers. In essence, you'd be consigned to whatever path you chose when you were 18 and fresh out of high school.

How insane is this? Who, but the minor part of your fellow class mates knew what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives fresh out of high school? Obviously circumstances kept the average person from exiting this box that was cast upon us by society. For the first time, perhaps ever in human existence, the average person has the opportunity to really live life. Most of us wont die 10-15 years after we finish puberty. Most of us probably wont die 50 years after high school as long as we take care of ourselves. Just as our parents werent bound to farm their entire lives, we wont be bound to a nameless blue or white collar job.

So is it any wonder that I, like so many others around me, spurn the path that our parents had to take? We are reaping the fruits of so many generations hard labor; most of us wont have to live on a farm, fight in a war, or be stuck to a job in a gigantic faceless corporation. We now have the precious time we need to really explore ourselves, grow, and find the right path for us to live. We finally have the time to get over our youth, get over the mental strings that held us back, and see life for what it is and excel in what we were meant to do. From my point of view, this has been wondrous. Ten years ago I didn't know what I wanted, who I was, or how to fit in with the rest of the world. Chances are that had I been born just 30 years earlier, I would never had had the opportunity to learn about myself, and I would have been stuck in a job that I hated, with children of my own who I would have doomed to my own self absorbed crappy life.

As one of the first generations of experiencing what a twixter is, or as one who is living his youthood to its fullest, I think its our responsibility to set the president as to how we should go about this new stage in life. Live it up, just be sure you, like I, see the bigger picture and know that the experience we gain now must be to help further generations expand their own lives.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Profile: Alex De Grey

Our society has a strange duality when it comes to success; on the one hand there are those who view success as a secure job in a specialized field of work, such as earning a degree at a collage where you then go to work for a giant corporation and settle nicely into a job that is moderatley dificult but ultimately your life consists of producing nothing really significant.

I think this is because those who teach us follow this path, and never know anything else. They assume their mediocrity is success and try their damnest to pass on this succsessfull mediocrity to the pupils in their charge.

Then there come along people like Alex De Grey. I get all happy and giddy when I come across profiles of people like De Grey because I know that we are cut of the same kind of cloth. De Grey, a computer engineer taught himself cellular biology and has decontsructed the various components that lead to old age and defined 7 problems which we, as humans, collectively need to solve.

There seem to be moments in history in which great thinkers tend to just pop out of the ether. Socrates, Plato, and Alexander shared this, as did Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Rapheal during the rennisance and Jefferson and Franklin during the begining of this country. Perhaps its just a case of sharp swords refining other sharp swords, maybe its divine providince, but reguardless of the case, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we may live in a similar time, and Alex De Grey is one of these men.

Profile: Alex De Grey

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Opinion: Why Americans need to support Bush, even if you hate him

I have a lot of books that delve into war and strategic thought. The term "grand strategy" is one that is desperatly needed in the american comon lexicon, much like idiot mean nothing terms like grabitas have. Looking through my pile I picked up my copy of Clausewitz's On War. I have to admit I haven't finished it, I tend to buy way more books than I'm able to finish but I think now, in light of current events, is a good time to finish up on it. Opening up to the last page I read, I came across this;

The aim is to disarm the enemy.
"We have already said that the aim of all action in War is to disarm the enemy, and we shall now show that this, theoretically at least, is indispensable.
If our opponent is to be made to comply with our will, we must place him in a situation which is more oppressive to him than the sacrifice which we demand; but the disadvantages of this position must naturally not be of a transitory nature, at least in appearance, otherwise the enemy, instead of yielding, will hold out, in the prospect of a change for the better. Every change in this position which is produced by a continuation of the War should therefore be a change for the worse. The worst condition in which a belligerent can be placed is that of being completely disarmed. If, therefore, the enemy is to be reduced to submission by an act of War, he must either be positively disarmed or placed in such a position that he is threatened with it. From this it follows that the disarming or overthrow of the enemy, whichever we call it, must always be the aim of Warfare. Now War is always the shock of two hostile bodies in collision, not the action of a living power upon an inanimate mass, because an absolute state of endurance would not be making War; therefore, what we have just said as to the aim of action in War applies to both parties. Here, then, is another case of reciprocal action. As long as the enemy is not defeated, he may defeat me; then I shall be no longer my own master; he will dictate the law to me as I did to him. This is the second reciprocal action, and leads to a second extreme (second reciprocal action).
I like to think of this passage from On war a Systems Rule. It is applicable upon all humans as a rule not necessarily governing us, but, as a rule that is more of a symptom of clashes between more human elemental rules like power and fear and hope. The true programming of the rule, may never be precisely known, much like trying to rewind a cellular automata.
The "war on terror" (so wonderfully named, and for a myriad of reasons) would have been completely abandoned by the Kerry administration. Part of the systemic sickness within the left in general is that they misidentify the enemy, (the enemy is us not them, as people are generaly good in their systems world view) dont understand the nature of the arms they carry (fanatical militant religous faith that does not recognize the values that all americans assume they abide by), nor seem to be engauged in the reality that there are bad people who really hate us. Say what you will about Bush; he's a horrid communicator, has a shifty camera face, and has lost a lot of credibility with me and most people for all of their own differing reasons, he does have a clear vision, of where the world, specificaly the middle east needs to head over the next century, the arms that they carry against us in this strugle and the values that are absolutely nessicary in injecting into the mid east in general. Observing the product of the systems policies put into place over the last few years, that vision isn't necessarily about freedom, wmd's, dictators, or genocide. The system reformating of the middle east is about stability. From a grand strategy point of view- thinking in terms longer than the next weekend as most Americans have sadly sunk to, the middle east, much like Europe, needs to be pacified. Instead of a united middle east block of countries fueled by radical Islam threatening the rest of the world, we have a mish mash of new democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, a growing support for democracy in Iran (which should have been there already had it not been for the unbelievable lack of vision in president carter, perhaps the first president to rule in the first volleys in the war on terror) and ruling kingdoms that are at the very least, friendly enough towards the money which their oil brings.
Relating history to current events is a strange, often times disturbing thing. Its doubtful that that most of the major players in history ever understood how much they changed things. The system of the world was, for all its ills, stable. Kingdoms and empires were the name of the game and kept things, if not bloody, predictable. This predictability more or less ensured the continuation of humanity as a species.
The reemergence of the republic form of government has turned all this on its head, and it is very much apparent that the elements of the system of republic governing (the people) still don't understand what this means.
Most of my fellow Americans, my generation and younger specifically, are in the long view of human events the most privileged, spoiled group of humans ever to exist. This form of existence isn't bound to end anytime soon, either. In fact it is on the precipice of unusually quick bouts of growth, not just for my fellow Americans but for every living person on this planet.
Radical theocracies and dictatorships can not grow with this. Eventually they have to be pacified or they will go to war, and in this day and age of the briefcase nuclear bomb, this is unacceptable.
This is why reformation of the middle east is so very much necessary. Bush and whatever secret band of power mongers he works with, for all his and their ills, understands this, more or less, and is actually doing it. The faster we get it over with now, the less pain the world will have to endure later.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A call out

To those who might have them i'd love to have your links, thoughts, and book recomondations. feel free to email me or to post in the comments section. I'll be posting a short essay relating systems building in Dune soon.

Thanks!

Books: Thoughts on Dune

I figured I'd share some thoughts about a book that skirts on the edge of both systems building, systems manipulation and working within given systems.

Frank Herbert's Dune stands alone in its genre as a masterpiece of political, philosophical, and religious therory. It also happens to be where I pulled the terms Mentat and OtherMemory from (as if you didn't already know this).

Of the many themes touched upon in Dune, two ideas have always stood out to me more than the more popular ideas that most people usually talk about when discussing dune. Drug abuse, superhuman powers, and giant worms aside, the universal ban on democracies and sentient computers are two artifacts that unfortunately weren't expanded upon in any great detail by Herbert, only noting how both lead to a near extinction of humans in the coming centuries. As fantastical a story Dune is, the direction of the universe crafted in Dune is the very direction that our increasingly computerized society is headed towards.

This ban on the two most Systems Builder friendly structures ever devised by humans leads to what a historian would quickly recognise as something of a default setting when it comes to governing masses, a reversion to old ways- feudalism on a universe wide scale. As our society increasingly interrogates artificial intelligence and the networked systems that computers must use by their default design, this generation must be the first to come to terms with the fact that we may very well be on the edge of creating not only a new evolutionary step in human development but the development of intelligences that aren't our own.

Right now our American society is becoming that which Herbert predicted- mechanized to the point that humans have to do nothing but exist, the old struggles of the previous hundred thousand years of struggling against famine, disease, war, and even death will be rendered obsolete by the offspring of our minds. While this semi utopian view of life is coming increasingly closer on our horizon, what isn't generally thought about is what happens when humanity's first child, the artificially sentient mind comes to fruition.
Sooner or later, artificial intelligences based on human concepts of thought will begin to act like its creators.
The Herbert Dune vision of the action/reaction of the elements of humans vs artificial minds in the context of a lazy human population and power hungry/ genocidal AI population causes an interesting repeating loop in the history of humans as a whole- Democracies and Computers lead to a corrupt and lazy human population on almost every planet, which leads to the near extinction of humans in general after sentient computers decide to run amok and start enslaving and killing human populations by the billions. Eventually the humans revolt, win, and, fearing the path that took them there, outlaw the ineffectual democracies and sentient computers that took so many lives, replacing them with Kings, barons, Emperors, and living human computers.

Its at this point that Dune illustrates perfectly why all Revolutions (which are so aptly termed) are doomed to become at least that which they revolted against.
The wrong system was overthrown.

This becomes more and more obvious as the story progresses through several books. Instead of a genocidal race of artificial intelligences originally made in order to help man who began to kill off and enslave mankind, a single superhuman consolidates power and does the same thing to the universe as a whole, doing so on purpose for thousands of years because he, unlike those around him who only wanted him to do their biding, understands what the system is, and makes plans to ensure that the correct system, that is, the human element itself, is changed, not the circumstances in which the human element, which had, over the thousands of years previous, been the source of all the ills which had befallen mankind.

It is this illustration of the weakness of human nature that I think needs to begin to be reexamined over the coming years. "The more things change, the more they stay the same" is probably not the best approach to the coming century, which is going to produce new intelligences, new governments, and new powers. Actually trying to produce results in truly understanding, expanding and improving on the human system itself is what, in my view, needs to be addressed quickly before we move ahead and create things greater than ourselves.
© 2005