“What I've always wanted to do would be bad for me, so I've decided that I can't accept your offer.”
Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

Facebook Psychology Experiment


“Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state … there was no need to ask study “participants” for consent, as they’d already given it by agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service in the first place.”


Posted in Business, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Tesla Motors – Opens Electric Vehicle Patents


On the heels of this, comes this:

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

… At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

… We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. “



Posted in Business, Intake, Open Source, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Weird Magic Ingredient – Quantum Computing


Over the last 10 or 15 years I have tried numerous times to gain some laymen understanding of quantum mechanics. I’ve read articles, watched talks … and though there is something intuitive in place it is not something I feel I have integrated into my consciousness. Though I continue to be attracted to it.

In the last few years I’ve been coming across more and more articles about quantum computing. They amuse me very much because, for the most part, they are failed attempts at presenting complex theory in lay-terms. All they seem to do for me is feed into some kind of mystic understanding … which is interesting in its own right.

Most recently I read this article which I would like to be able to summarize in one sentence but I can’t because it doesn’t seem to present anything coherent. The spirit of it did leave me wondering if researchers are looking in wrong direction, a direction that is more informed by our current computing paradigms which seem limiting and irrelevant for quantum computing (whatever that is).

The tone:

“finding practical ways to control fragile quantum states … Quantum devices are extremely difficult to build because they must operate in an environment that is noise-resistant”.

What if the nature of quantum computing invites a different attitude then that of control and isolation? What if “noise” is where computing power and information actually reside? Isn’t that one of the main insights of chaos theory – that the mot miniscule differences (noise) can have far reaching effects? Could it be that unlike in determinate computing (computers that we have now are expected to always give the same result to the same problem) where noise is considering an obstacle, that in quantum computing noise is actually a valuable signal?

“The term magic refers to a particular approach to building noise-resistant quantum computers known as magic-state distillation.”

Maybe instead of “overcoming” this “magical” field is asking of us for a different paradigm? be-coming? integrating? connecting? feeding in?


“Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems … In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world … What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.”

This is what really got me turned on … not because I understood it (I didn’t) but because I resonated with it. Current computing is completely isolated from any context – computers only respond to what they have been programmed to respond to by their programmers. They are almost completely desensitized to the people who use them (there are some superficial efforts by the makers of computers to simulate sensitivity to users). Quantum computing seems to be inviting us into another paradigm … one in which … by definition … computing devices are hyper-sensitized to what and how their users observe.

Maybe THAT is their magic? Is “defeating” that noise going to advance quanum computing or diminish it? Are we stepping into an unknown power of quantum-computing or are we trying very hard to cripple it to fit our current understandings?

What if ultimately this is going to challenge the very foundations of the meta-structures of thought that have given birth to computing. What if strategies such as question-and-answer or problem-and-solution are limited or even faulty?

What if the difficult challenges presented by “quantum dynamics” are an invitation for us to step out of our existing thought and computing paradigms into something else? What if we are finding it hard to figure out (or describe) because are asking the wrong questions?

Then, this morning, I came across this paragraph at the end of Appendix A of Rupert Sheldrake‘s book about morphic resonance A New Science of Life:

“Can morphic fields be established in electronic machines? … If morphic fields were to come into being within such probablistic analogue systems, they would automatically have an inherent memory, without the need for special memory-storage devices like hard drives or memory chips. They would also enter into morphic resonance with similar computers around the world, without the need for communication through wires, cables or radio signals. They would share a collective memory. An entirely new technology would be born”

That sounds more like quantum computing … doesn’t it?

Imagine “quantum devices” that resonate with and amplify our observation, communication and connectivity … devices that respond to us with “that is an interesting question, keep going” instead of wrong/right/definitive results?

Posted in Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Matt Mullenweg on being a CEO


From an interview with Matt Mullenweg who is now filling the role of CEO at Automattic – this is a profit-oriented company that just raised $160m:

“… Headcount stuff, budgeting, P & L’s, I just think those don’t really matter. In some ways I’m a non-traditional executive. But part of what we do, myself and Stu the CFO, is we worry about that so no one else in the company has to.

… The majority of the company isn’t focused on making money. It’s a very small percentage. The circle gets smaller and smaller.”


Posted in Intake, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Five Skateboards


Everything is Broken is a well written article about security and software … though I feel it is somewhat undermined by excess drama rooted in Quinn Norton’s activist energy.

Whey back when I worked in software analysis and design I was inspired by and specialized in UML (in it’s early years). One time I attended a talk given by Ivar Jacobson, one of the core contributors to UML, where he described writing software as a balancing act akin to riding a pile of 5 skateboards (an application on top of on OS on tops of a kernel on top of machine language on top of …).

It isn’t just security that is fragile in software, everything is. Function, purpose, performance, security, scalability … everything. I don’t know if there is another fields where there is an engineered (=man made) complexity that rivals that of software. Right now we are super-sensitized to security and this gives Quinn Norton an opportunity to pounce on the security perspective … and if nothing else it is a good opportunity to realize and appreciate how fragile software (which is so deeply embedded into our lives) really is and how much better we can make it.

Posted in Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment