Saturday, February 23, 2019

New Rose Zions

These are the displaced people. displaced because of a cyberphysical war that has driven them away from their Land and Sea - sea is how they refer to their upload space. land is where they download to RL - to take their bodies for a ride, a walk, a swim, sex&drugs&rock& was found after the singularity that pure upload beings suffer severe drift, diffusing. like mist, into a virtual smear, with no identity, and previous little memory. some folks were ok with this, but most preferred to retain their soul, indeed, their life and soul and right to party, so relatively frequently (a difficult term, since the Sea moves differently towards maximum entropy than dry land, ever true. Nevertheless, resynch turns out to be essential for cybersanity.

Now someone or thing has invaded these folks Sea and filled it with Sea Monsters, and the sea rose and drowned their land, and the people that survived, wandered to other Seas and Lands, and became known as the New Rose Zions.

But where they went,  wasn't that someones' elses' already? The displaced displaced.

what's wrong with this picture? how can there be a shortage of Sea? I mean, land, sure, but why fight over something we can just magic up more of? but what about time? if we can change the passing time at will, at Sea, then can we not parcel up time on land differently for the different displaced people? can we not just time share land in RL, and clone the virtual? but what if, people in this duality wanted to meet up? what if ships n the night wished to be camels in the day?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

how to use this book

you know all those  blurbs on the back of novels? tremendous waste of space.

What we really need is a user manual (pace, George Perec). A How To (obviously, not a read me)

First of all, it could say handy things like
Do Not Read This Book, it is more suitable to replace stockpiled toilet paper (most fantasy fiction fits this category well), or else as a stand for your laptop (I use the History of MI5 and MI6 for this).
This book contains letters from unfamiliar alphabets. It could be mathematics or perhaps a Russian spy's code book. Hand it in at a police station nearby, immediately.

If the book merits reading, the user manual should first of all establish whether this is feasible, by clarifying:
Before opening this book, make sure that you can read.
If the book is long, the manual might want to advise:
If you are at death's door, it is ill advised to start reading this (e.g. The Stand, by Stephen King) as you will never finish it in time, and therefore you will not know the ending, which will then haunt you for the rest of your days.

Assumming we pass these simple tests, then the book's suitability should be established.
For example,
This book is excellent for insomniacs, so save it til about 10 or 11pm
This book is a cure for narcolepsy, and should be kept with you at all times, especially when flying a plane or parachuting out of the plane.

As well as style, we should also make sure that mood and content (e.g. tone) are clarified:
This is not a book for super-happy people - this book will bring you down, even if you are the world's most optimistic son-of-a-gun. This book is for people who are already depressed and can go no lower - indeed, it will confirm their views of humanity, and this potentially make them happier.

On the other hand, some books are dangerous to some users for the exact opposite reason:
This book will potentially make you believe in the human race, and therefore make you susceptible to all kinds of terrible disappointments, and possibly the victim of multiple scams. If you are incurably optimistic, this book will prove a cure, ironically, as a result, but the cure will take a long time to act.

Finally, we should make sure there's truth in advertising: "there are approximately 25 million books in the British Library", and if you read one a day, and live to be 75 years old, you could have covered about 1/10th of a percent. Take care to choose carefully.

Have a nice day!

Friday, February 08, 2019

open science versus fair peer review.

so a recent posh conference just got super strict about not revealing anything about work under submission including open repository pre-print versions or even discussion on social media.

the obvious intended goal here is to re-enforce fairness in peer review, but I think this is
a) way over the top and
b) has serious consequences in terms of fairness

firstly, really significant work often is part of a body of work and experiments in guessing who did the work in at least 1 major conference that does double-blind reviewing were upwards of 50% accurate, simply because anyone who's technically knowledgeable should be aware of the work going on in the field.

secondly, researchers like to air their ideas early to get feedback before investing a lot of effort on the big project to really make an impact. so we have a whole bunch of mechanisms for this, including giving talks in seminar series, organising entire week-long retreats in cool places like Schloss Dagstuhl or Bertinoro or Tahoe, where people discuss partially formed notions in a friendly (i.e. non competitive and non-plagiaristic, collegiate) social setting.

This argues that really the extreme version of double blind is both impossible (and unfair) but also counter to the entire way science openly progresses.

we need to come up with another way to ensure fair peer review - my personal favourite is to have completely open peer review (i.e. reviewers sign reviews, authors are known) and iterative process (already used in quite a few top conferences now) where revisions allow progress, but require visibility to make the system converge.