Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Pope Smokes Dope

The title of this essay has nothing to do with it. I just remembered that T-shirt inspired by Dabid Peel's song. David Peel was a muse for the Yippie and hippie movements, so I guess thematically, they share the same cluelessness that the current crop of Ron-Paul-style libertarians do.

In the third season of the show Breaking Bad, there is a brief exchange between the characters Walter White and Gale Boetticher, where Walter asks (since Gale is an above average person who could have had a promising career in academia as a chemist, but lacked the impulse control to tolerate the bullshit) how Gale ended up cooking meth. Walt asks, basically, gesturing around the meth lab, "Why here?" And Gale's response is (paraphrased from memory):

"Well, I'm a libertarian. People are going to get what they want. At least with me, they get what they pay for. No adulterations. No toxins".

Ignore, if you will, the basic lunacy of this statement. That Gale is manufacturing toxin-free poison, and that Gale feels that there should be no restraints (barring the standard libertarian bullshit about harm, which clearly is a relative thing), let's concentrate on the libertarian fallacy of appeal to reason. 

This is a one of many classic examples of what is wrong with libertarianism: the substitution of rationalization for reason.  Libertarians ignore the irrationality of their premises, and rely solely upon the supposed soundness of a logical argument. But anyone who studies logic knows that logic is merely a tool, one that can produce completely wrong results with completely watertight syllogisms, and even the most rational premises (even in mathematical proofs) are founded upon at least twenty irrational assumptions. The primary irrational assumption is what I call Platonic Derangement Syndrome; the idea that perfect worlds that perfect ideas inhabit actually exist. "Real" free markets would operate perfectly, perfectly efficient, perfectly rational. "Real" communism would be perfectly equitable. Here's the deal. The real world is as real as it gets. "Real" free markets, and "real" communism, operating in the real world, favor the  most reprehensible behaviors imaginable.

Take Ayn Rand's Objectivism, which purports to be some kind of philosophy (um, yeah, if it's the horse-shit kind). Ayn Rand was clearly a fundamentally vicious, petty, small-minded, infantile thinker, and it shows in her writings. Take her boringly awful and fucked-up manifesto Atlas Shrugged, for example. It's basically a teenage revenge masturbation fantasy riddled with inconsistency and unintentional ironies. Did I say teenage? Try infantile, as in the Gault's Gulch "You'll be sorry when I'm gone" suicide/parental-murder injustice fantasy variation of A Christmas Story's Soap Poisoning scene:

Rand relied upon the supposed consistency of her logical constructions to identify faulty premises. Rand clearly never heard of Kurt Gödel. Among his many contributions, Gödel developed a theorem that stated that any sufficiently complex system of logical statements will either be incomplete - or -inconsistent. Incomplete, in the sense that there could statements which were true or false within the system but which could not be proven (or disproven) true or false. Inconsistent in that the system contained statements which were contradictory, thus rendering the system utter bullshit.  Either way, Rand's Objectivism (with its sadly and pathetically crafted Three Axioms) falls short of being considered anything worthwhile. 

Regardless, libertarianism - Randian or otherwise - is symptomatic of a fundamentally deep-seated viciousness that has been incorporated into a set of moralities little seen outside of the Western Enlightenment world. And small wonder, given that - even with the supposed rationality of the Enlightenment - American behaviors are founded upon the most brutish and vile barbarisms extant throughout the species. Not that this is new or unique to Western civilization (I've a sneaking suspicion there is a genocidal tale to be told about the Neolithic Han Chinese). We Westerners don't have a monopoly on behaving badly, but we do have a thriving franchise going.

But that's not what I want to talk about. I'm thinking about debt lately. What is debt? What is money? I read a book last year that attempted to answer those questions. Now, I'm reading another book with a bit more of an American flair. I'll do a book report on it later, but if interested, check out:  A Nation of Deadbeats. (Short review so far? This is the people's version of debt, ala Howard Zinn). 

So, monies, debt, what is all that? Simple. Debt, like Soylent Green, is people. More specifically, debt and monies are people's toil, or the promise of future toil, or the reward of past toil, or the faith in the promise of either future or past or current toil (which is another way looking at symbolic transference). Things that we think of as commodities, like gold, timber, oil, coal, etc. are all a product of toil. More specifically, labor combined with ingenuity, but let's just call the combined spectrum of muscle and brain work as "toil". 

Gold, at one time, was pure lumps you just picked up off the ground or out of river beds. Eventually the lumps ran out and more effort was required to find gold. Introduce toil into the equation. Some forms of mining pull out ores that are not pure gold, but contain it. Introduce more toil. Same with coal. Same with oil. As the easy sources disappear, more toil is required. More ingenuity. More effort. More waste. Resources are not exhausted, they merely become more dear (and unfortunately for our species, or any intelligent species, despite all the peak-this or peak-that talk, we've plenty of resources left to exploit, and our living conditions and survival as a species are the limiting factor - not hazards to the planet or resources scarcity). 

So, if you look a map of ancient Rome and you wonder about the geopolitical boundaries, you really, to get the real picture, need a series of resource maps, for geology, ecology, trade routes, etc. Logistics and human trafficking is what it is all about, babies. Question: what was the oil of ancient Rome? Answer: Grain.

Question: What is the oil of the modern world? Answer: Still grain. Why? Well, because despite the fact that we may have built up what some call an extended phenotype of technology, driven in one form or another by fossil carbon and oxygen, despite the fact that so many laborious tasks have been commodified and automated and robot-assisted, despite the fact that automation and a great deal of skills and thinking have been commodified and robotized, and the mental effort involved in that commodified as well, the fact of the matter is it all still runs right back to toil - labor and ingenuity on the part of these self-replicating, generally intelligent heuristic robots we call humans.

I remember reading a book by David Gerrold called The World Of Star Trek. And the book was mainly about the Star Trek folk canon and mythology, but there was also an interesting bit in there about world building. The way I remember it was, Gerrold asked the question "What was going on behind the Enterprise?" And before you could answer, he said, let me re-pose the question, "Pretend the Enterprise is a 747. What exactly is behind that 747?" And for the first time, I actually thought about the web of technology, of systems thinking, of adult stuff actually, the whole wellhead-to-pump-nozzle-and-all-ancillary-supports graph network of thinking and doing that busy little creatures engage in. 

A 747 is made of aluminum and steel, and uses jet fuel, and lands and takes off at an airport, and has a flight crew and attendants, and meal and drinks for the passengers, and luggage handlers, and flight controllers. And that aluminum has to be dug up out of the ground, and smelted and fabricated into an airframe. And the same with steel. And the flight crew needs to be trained. And the food and drink needs to be grown and processed. And before you know it, more than half the world has gone into something involving that 747. And that half the world is people, people that need shit too, and you end up with the other half of the world getting involved as well.

And in all that vast and intricate network that has slowly been assembling itself, slowly been growing and getting more complex since the Neolithic Revolution, the question then becomes, not what are your freedoms, but "Where does your freedom end and mine begin?"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Definitely Not About Kant's Categorical Imperative

Item: Near my work is a children's/dog play park. Parking is across the street. The state of Illinois put in a crosswalk with flashing lights for pedestrian access to and from the park. The crosswalk is not the shortest path to the park. Hardly anyone uses it. Fifty feet away from the official crosswalk is a well-worn muddy Indian path that people have created to move from parking to park. I would submit that the crosswalk is to the Indian path as a categorical classification is to real life metaphor.

Example: Astrology, either Chinese or Western. I don't buy it, but it doesn't mean the idea of fixed archetypes, or a mixture of same to describe the character and conduct of humanity at large isn't a fun thing to play with. Twelve aspects enough? Mix and match, use a percentage system, and the number of descriptors for personality become very large. Not infinite, but large enough to rationalize just about any description.

Example: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I was fortunate enough not to have to take this examination, although it is big in business, like so many quick-and-easy scams that management likes to rely, like all those golf aids and crutches designed to improve your game.

Example: (and a new one on me) The Process Therapy Model. Taibi Kahler's six personality types with adaptations. This one is a darling of government, NASA more specifically. I quote a relevant passage from Automate This by Christopher Steiner:

  1. Emotions-driven people. They try to form relationships and learn about the person they're speaking with before diving into the issue at hand. Women comprise three-quarters of this group, which makes up 30 percent of the total population. Tight situations makes this group dramatic and overreactive.
  2. Thoughts-based people. This group tends to do away with pleasantries and go straight for the facts. A rigid form of pragmatism drives most of the decisions they make. Under pressure, they tend to be humorless, pedantic, and controlling.
  3. Actions-driven people. Most used-car salesmen would come under this umbrella. They crave progress and action, even in tiny chunks. They're always pushing, prodding, and looking for an angle. Many in this group can be charming. Pressure can drive actions-driven people to irrational, impulsive, and vengeful behavior.
  4. Reflections-driven people. This group can be calm and imaginative. They often think more about what could be than working with what already is. These people, when they're interested in something, can drift off for hours while they dig into the new subject. Applying this knowledge to a real-world project, however, is a weakness.
  5. Opinions-driven people. The language used by this group is stocked with imperatives and absolutes. They tend to see one side of a situation and will stick to their views even when refuted with proof. More than 70 percent of politicians are opinions-driven people, but the group constitutes only 10 percent of the population as a whole. People from this group can also be tireless workers, who will persistently grind away on a problem until it is solved. Under pressure, their opinions can become weaknesses; they can grow judgmental, suspicious, and sensitive.
  6. Reactions-based people. Kahler called this group rebels, but the modern set of standards - and those on which personality-deciphering bots are built- refer to them as reactions people. This group is spontaneous, creative, and playful. They react strongly to things: "I love that!" or "that sucks!" Many innovators come from this group. Under pressure, they can be stubborn, negative, and blameful.
You will notice none of Kahler's categorical personalities works well under pressure.

In case you are wondering, I consider myself mostly number 6, and personality-deciphering bot concurred. But Kahler himself says, although personalities may be dominated by one category, they are a mixture of all of them. Again, in case you are wondering, no but I don't buy into this much. After all, a Cosmo-magazine-style questionnaire can't really be all that useful in determining behavior.

But I got to wonder about politicians. What selective pressures result in so many douchebags ending up in political office. Or rather, what selective standards within politics result in so many douchebags ending up there?

Friday, February 15, 2013


Someone once told me all the elements in your dreams are parts of you, and really only about you.

Uh, duh.

Dreams how we deal with what's going on, so of course it's all about me.

I'm pretty good at remembering my dreams, and I also know that, in general, it's not good form to relate your dreams as they usually boring to other people (because it's not about them). In any case, I am good at remembering dreams. Not just the one you wake up with, but the whole night. So, here's last night's series of dreams.

The first one was a depressing dream where due to work necessities, I had to move to Northeast Misery. It was very sad to say goodbye to everyone. But I remember rationalizing that I could head back home on a weekend every month or so, it wouldn't be that bad of a drive, and lots of people have even more disconnected relationships involving greater distances. When I woke up, I looked what the heck is in Northeast Misery and the answer is nothing. No thing. Clark County. The closest city is Keokuk, Iowa. No fucking way I am moving there. So, fuck you, Dreamtime Reality.  

The second one may have had a prescient element, although I don't really by into any psychic shit. But here's my theory, based upon observation. You know deja vu? The feeling you've done something or been somewhere before? Well, my theory it is the completion of a cycle in time. I've had moments of deja vu that I can hook up via memory to past moments and future ones. I'll have that feeling, and then there have been times when I realize it's a full circle moment, because I will remember the deja vu moment in the past that corresponds with the one I'm experiencing. It's just a theory, even a convenient fiction, but when I have one of the moments now, and I can't remember a corresponding past moment, then I'm reassured to know I'll survive through to that future deja vu experience. So, now, what's that say when you have a deja vu moment in your dreams? Better still, what's that say when (in the dream) I experience a distracting series of very bright microflashes up in the sky, as if someone were flashing a mirror at you? And then to have someone ask me "What's going on with Russia, dude?"And then, to wake up, and see on the news the meteor over Chelyabinsk, a 300 kiloton explosion. Coincidence? Sure, why not. But why the deja vu feeling? Dunno. Guess we'll see.

The third one involved a very cute, petite little brunette with deep brown eyes and raven black hair. I don't need to go any further do I? I've always been attracted to small put-together brunettes (it's not just me, my brother has this huge thing for Marisa Tomei and Betty Rubble), and I figured it must be our next-door neighbors when we were little, all the children in the family girls, and all of them very cute small put-together brunettes that I must have imprinted upon as the ideal mate.

Then one must explain why I've dated almost all blondes, and mostly tall skinny blondes at that. Well, I think the answer was the childhood neighbor girls (besides being pretty) were very nice, very polite, very considerate, very sweet, cheerful girls. Just wonderful children. And, I'm told, now all wonderful adults.

So, the brunette archetype was just a red herring wasn't it? Or rather, a fortunate association.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computer

Back when I was a glorified code monkey, I was almost always a rude, arrogant asshole, prima donna,  and an impossible-to-work-with curmudgeon. A lot of things haven't changed.

Wait a minute. Before I tell this story, I have to back up. I'm graduated from college, got no job, no jobs prospects, I'm an unemployed alcoholic (or working up to it), and I'm living in my parent's basement.

Happy now?

Finally desperate, I go to the US Navy recruiter and take the Officer Candidate's test. That test was quite possibly the easiest test I have ever taken in my life. The navy recruiter scored the test, his eyes got very big, and he said in a hushed and reverent and rather awestruck tone (and the Southern accent helped not at all): "You got every question right!"

As if that had never happened before. Well, I got up, said thank you for your time, and left. There was no way I could enter into an organization where I would be dependent upon people who had gotten even one those dumb questions wrong. This is not to say there are no smart people in the Navy, there are, it's just that I didn't want to be one of them.

That probably was a mistake. Because, as it turns out, the business world is pretty much the same place, except you don't worry about getting blown to shit or falling into water, and there's a lot less smart people, and about the same amount of dumb ones.

So, fast forward to my first gig, and I had to write programs in COBOL. (COBOL, my dears, was shepherded along by Rear Admiral Grace Murray Harper of the USN, so that should tell where we are going). COBOL is (was) a modern programming language in that it looked more like English than machine language. I had a knack for COBOL, as it turns out, which led to more gigs.

Now I should also mention that every single company I worked for is now defunct, extinct, gone from this world. I'd like to think it was me, but no, it's just your standard business dipshittery or bungholery and asshattery that any organization with numbers larger than Dunbar's number is destined to turn into the Soviet Union.  So, since all those companies did the right thing and took a shit, fell over, burned to the water line, and sank into the swamp mud, I just assumed that every bit of my code is also gone, entropied into heat death, and all the machines that code ran on, turned into anchor chains and Conex containers.

Imagine my surprise to find out COBOL is still out there! COBOL, as it turns out, still runs a large part of the batch processing world. So, funny thing, since what I did was troubleshooting and production support (which meant aside from bug-hunting, rewriting the shitty code of hotshot programmers so that it would finish a run within the lifetime of the universe), I could probably get a job right now.

But let me tell you this story before I get to my point. At one leasing company I cannot name, we had a kid who was assigned to write a cash posting program for accounts receivables. When cash would come in, it would have to be posted into the correct cost center bucket - revenue per inventory item sold or leased. The kid worked on the program for a solid two months, going through what was then the "methodology" (even now, that term cause my jaw muscles to bunch up in irritation) of quality control and standards. I was on the review team to look at the code, and it was, even for COBOL, lovely. Elegant, well-documented, simple, easy to follow, and very clever. It involved building what is called a tree data structure where each "leaf" was an accounting cost center to receive an appropriate type of cash. As the program ran, and a new type of transaction (or an erroneous transaction or typo) was encountered the structure would create a new branch and leaf to accommodate it. I told him it wouldn't work. When asked why, I said "After you are gone and moved to on to a shinier and brighter job outside of this shithole, there will very stupid people who have to maintain this program, stupid people who will modify it. I can guarantee you that there will be one stupid person who does not understand your admittedly wonderful lacework you've done here, and will fuck it up completely. Go back and rewrite it so that even the most close-set-eyed, slack-jawed simpleton can understand it".

My advice was rejected, the program was installed, and two years later we could not close the books at end of fiscal year because someone had made a modification to the program a six months prior that subtly hosed about every other 100,000th transaction. I ended up staying awake for 36 hours to fix the code, hunt down all the transactions and get the close going again. I'd hate to think that was the highlight of my life, considering I got basically no tangible reward, but a lot more responsibility, out of the deal. (I was a consultant working outside the company, so I ended up with a very nice letter of commendation, and the person who created the bug six months prior was, per the Peter Principle, promoted sideways into a harmless manager's position. In a rather shabbily disreputable move, I would later - one late night - pour sour milk into the carpeting under this person's desk).

So. Robots. Algorithms. Drones. They are all the bugaboo right now. Drones gonna spy on you and take you down. Robots gonna take your job. Algorithms gonna be much better at everything than you are. High Frequency Trading algorithms are gonna become Skynet. It's the dystopian Singularity, the Rise of the Machines.

Yeah, right.

I think you know where this going, so, why even mention it? I will, though. People fuck up. People are lazy. People are careless. People are impatient. People fuck up in a way that is highly non-Gaussian, and they do it all the time. So there's that.

The other problem with all this? They are all of them designed and built by humans. Isn't that the same problem? Well, no. I'm talking about the really smart and conscientious humans. The problem there, the dual problems there, with something like Ray Kurzweil's singularity (or Harlan Ellison's I-Have-No-Mouth-But-I-Must-Scream reality altering hypercomputer) is they 1) ignore carrying capacity, and 2) rely on boot-strapping or sky-hooking. Ray Kurzweil expected exponential growth, but that could only happen if he had an infinite amount of human brains to throw at the problem. The total number of human brains that are dedicated to a problem means that your exponential curve turns into an S-curve. There's only so many brains.

That's problem No.1, and it's not insurmountable if you have software augmentation or boot-strapping, which is problem No. 2. The problem with boot-strapping (the other article of faith for the Rapture of the Nerds crowd) is that you need to know how to build the next smarter brain. Because if you can't do that (and, looking around, I don't see anyone doing that, simply because we don't how to build our brains), you don't get to bootstrap to the next level, and so on, and so on.

The latest angst is based upon the fact that we slowly getting better at machine learning and intelligence. We are finally aping the tried-and-true biological approach and it shows promise. The problem is the press gives us the impression that some ice dam has broken, and all the futile efforts at creating AI have finally found fruit (ignoring the fact that people in the computer sciences field have been doggedly and ponderously plugging away at this dreary drudge since, well, the late 1950s - it's just that we were all promised flying cars and HAL the computer ten years ago).

But the fact of the matter is, SIRI and self-driving google cars, Big Blue, and Jeopardy-playing Watsons, and autonomous drones notwithstanding, general intelligence, the kind of intelligence that has been displayed by brains mostly much smaller than ours (pretty much any mammal, but if you want specific names, corvids, monitor lizards, primates, dolphins, whales, etc.) is, and will for some time, continue to be out of the realm of this particular endeavor.

I would never say never, because I know there is a shitload of stuff piling up in the left field bleachers that will eventually come spilling disruptive technology into our lives (quantum computers, for example), and probably sooner rather than later, but I do think it is a much, much harder problem than the hackers think it is.

Unless, you know, you exploit some type of heuristic exploratory problem-solving method using trial and error with real life situations in an embodied biosynthetic brain encased in an artificial body. But that's so 2001.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fishing For Paramecia (continued)

I have noticed, once I quit smoking, that I am able to smell many things much better, and with greater discrimination, than when I smoked. Not surprising.

I have also noticed that I have less wind, even though I have run all my life. Indeed, it was probably the running that kept my lungs open all those years. On the minus side, I now experience altitude sickness. I never experienced that when I smoked, even at 10-12,000 feet above sea level, and smoking a cigarette up there. I supposes it because all that tar in my lungs and scarring of the alveoli had me living at 10,000 feet all the time - even when I was at sea level. I no longer have that advantage.

Smelling, I can smell things I would prefer not to now. My pee, for example. Oh sure, there was always the obvious smell of asparagus pee. (And the interesting thing is I was told there are two kinds of people in the world: those who can and those who cannot smell asparagus pee. I had a girlfriend who could not smell her asparagus pee, even though I could. It's actually more complicated than that).

When I eat chinese food with soy sauce, later my pee smells like wood smoke. When I drink beer, my pee will smell like a pine forest. When I eat peanut butter, my pee will smell like peanuts. Coffee, coffee. Etc. Should I be worried? A quick google search tells me that if the odor of my urine corresponds with foods I recently ate, in most case I shouldn't worry.

But the whole excretion thing got me back onto metabolism and cycles and biology. More specifically economics with respect to biology.

Here's the deal. My shit is someones else's gold. It's not obvious, but it's still true. And not just my bodily wastes (as glamorous and unrestrained as my nose may make them out to be) , but more importantly my life wastes. All my garbage and stuff, that I, as a good little self-replicating robot, churn out. As Paul Krugman has pointed out many times, your spending is my income, and vice versa. So, what's the excretory portion of the economy?

Well, one thing I'm, thinking, and it's not a new thought, that if we ever get to the point where we are really good at joining the end points of the circle of consumption, where the lifetime of the product includes, not proper disposal, but best repurposing or re-use, we are probably going to need an energy efficient  industrial strength disintegrator.

Joe Haldeman touched on it in his novel Mindbridge, where he noted that what was needed for space colonization was industrial strength mass spectrometer. Eh, same thing. Joe had the advantage of controlled fusion for his device, so garbage was easy to recycle, kind of like Mr. Fusion in Back to the Future.

I'm thinking more along the lines of current technologies with crushers and shredders, and then finer and finer shredders and blenders, and then perhaps a lightning chamber to ionize it, and then a magnetic particle track (the mass spectrometer part) that deposits element into separate bins. All you need to do is figure out a way to efficiently power the sucker. I even have terms for the disintegrator. You got the maw, where you throw all your shit in, and then all the stuff in between, and then the plenum, which dumps the cleaned up and separated elements in the bins, which all together, make up a matter bank.

The matter bank could be like a big Conex box that ship off to your 3D printer print shop, which, by the way, is not stuck out on the ass-edge of the feed stream, like hip and fashionable Brooklyn, but strategically located in the giant package processing facility of a UPS or a Fedex hub, just like everyone else who does mail order.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fishing For Paramecia

I'd forgotten about Joe Davis. Joe Davis is kind of an artist-in-residence (research affiliate) in the Department of Biology at MIT.

The other day I was thinking about sensory interfaces into realms we don't normally get input on, like, say, a microdrone in petri dish, checking up on microscopic life at their level. And then I remembered Joe Davis fishing pole contraption, an interface for fishing for parmecia in a drop of water.

And that reminded me of a video I saw one time of a little micro-robot that was controlled by magnetic fields, and in the video, it was bumping into a human cell. Really, you couldn't call it a true robot, not the micro part. That was a just a crude sliver of ferromagnetic material, really not much than a chip of steel controlled by the macro portion of the robot, in turn controlled by a human. And it was an ironic scene indeed, to hear the news announcer rapturously praising this crude bit of metal, when it was next to a eukaryotic cell whose least complicated minor part was about a million times more sophisticated.

And that reminded me about Eric Drexler's grey goo, and how everyone was worried that - should nanotechnology reach an advanced stage - self-replicating robots would start feeding on their surrounds and multiply their numbers until the whole of the Earth was consumed by this "grey goo", as Drexler called it. Drexler has since admitted the fear of the grey goo scenario was unlikely, and sure enough that's true.

I mean, let's face it, when you get your nanotechnology sophisticated enough to self-replicate, and metabolize, then you enter the realm of biology. Biology, here on Earth, is a four billion-year-old proven, robust, hardy nanotechnology which would, quite frankly hand Drexler's grey goo its shredded ass back, should it come to that.The self-replicating robots are already here, and they own Drexler.

Of course, Drexler's scenario relied heavily on hand-waving. Somehow the self-replicating robots were able to turn carbon into a diamondoid material, which somehow they extracted from the carbon of living things. Thing is, though, he didn't, or wouldn't, specify exactly how this happened. But one thing we do know, it takes energy to extract and build. It takes chemistry to do all that, and I'm kind of betting that Drexler's chemistry is not quite up to speed with Nature's.

Combine that with the concept that these little self-replicators are generalists, kind of Swiss Army Knife  chemical processors. If you've ever used a Swiss Army Knife, you know it may be good for everything, but it is not particularly good at anything. And Nature has come (because of the cost involved in building connections) of modular specialist processes and creatures. And the creatures in turn cooperate to a degree that is deadly efficient. These hardy little rugged individualists love to form consortiums and divvy up the hard labor - with one critter specializing in one task, and relying upon others for other tasks. This community of bacteria, archaea, and eukaryia work quite well together, and are usually ready to consume any and all comers. Unless Drexler is ready to come up with his one self-supporting community of self-replicating robots, I really don't see how they have the slightest chacne of competing.

What's the point of this? Not really sure, just thinking about community lately. Society. How we all depend upon each other, and how it makes us - together - ready to take on all comers.