Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How crypto-currencies will change the world

My first reaction to bitcoin - the popular electronic money,
was kind of dismissive. I thought `ahh.. all these shallow people only caring about money'
and `this cryptography stuff is always so non-elegant and over complicated, and thinking about security all the time is boring.'
but getting into it, and actually reading the genius paper of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto
(it is not known who he is, or whether he is actually a group of people,
or whether his name is short for Samsung-Toshiba-Nakamichi-Motorolla)

you start to feel, like others are feeling, that this is the beginning of a revolution on the scale
of the creation of the internet.

A revolution for the better?
Well it's like asking is life better with the internet?
I think the answer is:well.. it's not better or worse, it's just different.

Is there any point in going somewhere different that is not strictly better?
Well I think of the analogy: you are watching a movie - the
27th minute is as good as the 32nd minute - so why not just watch the 27th minute over and over?

Because (coming back from the analogy), there is a certain pleasure and excitement in witnessing and taking
part in this evolution of humanity, which is really part of the transformational process of mind and matter from the big-bang to the big-crunch - the *ultimate* movie.

Why is it a revolution?
Well you could say that any communication between people, or retrieval of information\media
that is possible now, was possible before the internet it is just much more convenient and easy now. (Maybe this is not precise but give me some slack.)
But this convenience\easiness changes the world, because it very very often changes the decision of
whether to proceed with the information retrieval  or communication.

The electronic currencies will ultimately make the same change in ease\convenience of exchanging
services for money - money in the broad sense of some, perhaps digital, currency.

Let me give an extreme example:
I am in my office thinking it would be nice to buy a muffin, in the coffee shop downstairs
(actually already ate a muffin half an hour ago, but just for the example..)
I think: I would gladly pay another 10 cents for someone to bring it to me.
And right now, there is someone downstairs that is buying something else in this coffee shop and on his way up that would gladly make the purchase and bring it to me for 10 cents.
But of course, we would not do this today,
because the complexity of coordinating between a person wanting the muffin, and the person who
happens to be downstairs at the same time, and the awkwardness of exchanging 10 cents for the delivery,
is too large an inconvenience to be worth it for either of us.

But if it was easy as typing `muffin' on google on your cellphone,  or computer,
it would be worth doing,
and that's where things are headed

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Science and Mathematics have created (a revolution in) Technology,
and consequently in our way of lives  (an issue much discussed in this blog, is that
they have not and probably cannot solve the basic problem of dukkha (suffering\unsatisfactoriness)
but that's a discussion for another time)

An exciting revolution, that we seem to be in the beginning of,
is technology creating a revolution in how we do math and science.

A beautiful post by Tim Gowers on this subject


initiated the polymath  project, where a large group of mathematicians jointly solved
a research problem, mainly via a sequence of comments in the comment section of the blog post.

One of many points in this insightful post:
Gowers purposefully encouraged people  not  to think in depth and in length
before posting a comment, and instead writing partial ideas that were likely to be wrong.
Thus, creating a process of doing mathematics that is indeed inherently different
than what was possible before the technology of the internet -
one giant interconnected brain consisting of many mathematicians with constant rapid feedback between the different parts of the brain.

Another point addressed is the issue of credit.
Mathematicians, and people in any field, are sometimes afraid
to publicly discuss their ideas before they are fully developed
as someone else might make the last step and quickly publish it as work of his own.
Here, Gowers says,
`is where the beauty of blogs, wikis, forums etc. comes in: they are completely public, as is their entire history'.

So, you have proof of your contribution.
The one potential problem here, is that the blog\forum\wiki owner could alter this documentation
of history, giving credit to himself or others.

It is interesting how ideas that are in the spirit of the time arise concurrently from different sources.
Satoshi Nakomoto wrote a paper a few years ago about how to implement a digital currency called a bitcoin, that requires no centralized banks.
In fact, his ideas are not limited to electronic money.
They give a general method to document history in a way that unless more than half of the people involved in the documentation collude together, it is impossible to falsify the account of what happened.
In the case of the bitcoin it is the history of a sequence of financial transactions,
but it could be just as well the history of a math research project.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I like sometimes to believe I am cursed,
because then, nothing you do matters,
you have an excuse to be lazy, to be bitter, to be negative to people,
to blame certain people for your pain.
Not having to make any effort.
But when you experiment, you see that what you do matters,
up to a resolution of a *minute*:
Watching 50 minutes of hard-core porn and meditating for 10 minutes
will leave you in a much worse mental state
than watching 30 minutes of hard-core porn, and mediating for 30 minutes.

and it seems that it's not just your mental state, somehow the  *events* for the continuation of the day
will vary according to if you chose option a or b above.

A friend of mine helped a blind person cross a road (yes of course anyone I associate with is a complete saint)
and he told her a saying I like very much:
`Don't worry, there are more obstacles than directions"

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Denied the happiness of waking up next to her smile, hearing her voice,
you turn to spirituality not out of choice.
You are not really an exception, almost everybody is lazy and hypnotized by pleasantness.
They will only truly search within when all other paths are blocked.
You search for something that can lift this blanket of sadness.
You start to meditate, and think at first it's an illusion that anything but her can truly help.
15 minutes pass..20 minutes pass.. and then , it starts to work; like a stream of water arising
from within; a stream flowing in the body, like a flood drowning negative emotions.
Soft tears flow through your eyes. Not really crying, just a few drops of water cleaning the eyes.
Would you trade this cleansing stream for the pleasure of being with her? Those intense emotions
that nothing can compare to? You would at any given moment.
But the choice is not yours.. God, fate, or bad luck has forced you to take the hard way.

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Hi! I am a computer science postdoc. For some reason google is not finding my new homepage so I added a link from this profile