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.

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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