Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Month: August, 2007

Portrait of a Creator as a Sims Freak

Fantastic profile of Dr. Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, in <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/science/14tier.html?ei=5124&en=22efff4469281187&ex=1344744000&adxnnl=1&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink&adxnnlx=1187101355-5HWiLxChv9ReqvISlLpTnQ”>the New York Times</a>. <blockquote>In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation. [..] Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.</blockquote>

I’ve had a similar theory for a while now, which I’ve tried to spin in to a fantasy novel (someday…) about a creator as a high-on-sugar kid with a LEGO set, albeit a LEGO set that builds intricate worlds. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

In any case, none of these ideas are ‘Matrix’-like pluggable-hybrid humans; they’re actually completely simulate that live in the circuits. The tubes, as they say in Alaska. I’d buy this theory, except there’s no way of knowing if it’s true. This isn’t the Truman Show, where you can walk out the end of the world or where everyone else is in on the joke. So, ultimately, it’s a cool hypothesis but I’m already set against unprovable creators.

A Chinese Golden Parachute

The boss of the toy company responsible for the huge recall in the US has “committed suicide by hanging himself”:http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070813/china_tainted_products.html?.v=18 in his warehouse. The toys were recalled due to toxic paint in the toys, which was sold to this ‘boss’ by a close friend of his. The most interesting paragraph in the AP story is:<blockquote>Zhang hung himself on Saturday, according to the report. It is common for disgraced officials to commit suicide in China.</blockquote>

John Edwards on Green Living

“No Impact Man”:http://noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/2007/08/interview-with-.html has put together a questionnaire for U.S. presidential hopefuls and John Edwards is the first to have answered. It’s a pretty straight and informed dialogue- I hope other candidates respond.

If you’re not familiar with <em>No Impact Man</em>, then his is a blog worth keeping track of. In his words:<blockquote>No Impact Man is my experiment with researching, developing and adopting a way of life for me and my little family—one wife, one toddler, one dog—to live in the heart of New York City while causing no net environmental impact. To do this, we will decrease the things we do that hurt the earth—make trash, cause carbon dioxide emissions, for example—and increase the things we do that help the earth—clean up the banks of the Hudson River, give money to charity, rescue sea birds, say.</blockquote>

This guy isn’t a nut- he’s doing this for the right reasons. To demonstrate that it can be done. To remove the cynicism and the inertia from the process of reducing our impact on the planet. This guy is the real deal and is an inspiration.

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