Friday, September 4, 2015

Turning Corners

I had a nightmare, actually a series of nightmares last night, which suggests that in that strange, discrete-phase, two-steps-forward-one-step back form of recuperation we all seem to go through, I'm coming closer to turning the corner. Which is to say I feel remarkably less subhuman today.

If you think of me as a turn-of-the-last-century dreadnought, and cut open my riveted hull platings to reveal a cross-section of the decks within, you'd have witnessed the black gang of the engine room desperately shoring with timbers and bedding the stave holes and breaches. And a little homunculi captain up on the bridge wing shouting useless orders to the sailors on deck scurrying about.

Still, a much better situation than if things had gone otherwise, with the cold Atlantic waters rushing in to confront superheated boiler chambers and coal-fired furnaces, the whole enterprise going to smithereens and up to the heavens in a massive explosion known to maritime folk as the release of  'the black soul'.

Oh, did I mention I'm reading Dead Wake? Just about done and had enough of that time thank you.

One nightmare I remember was actually looking at the wounds inflicted upon me through some magic glass, the tissues and fissures outlined in striking technicolor 3D. A voice, Satan perhaps, offered up as all the pain could go away and I would be rendered whole again if I liked. I wasn't sure, so a demo was performed on a separate creature, I know not of what fashion.

The interior 3D view of the creature, perhaps a grievously wounded fish or lizard, was all the blues and greens and yellows of copper-oxide shades and hues. An almost invisible conical ray, like a science fiction ray, scanned the creature and it was made whole.

I assented, and watched the science fiction conical ray pass over my abdomen. The pain disappeared, but the tissues depicted in the magic glass, formerly lustrous and glowing with a lovely inner jewel-like light, turned to cheap plastic, as if my body had been polymerized by Herr Doktor Gunther von Hagens. The vitality and internal light of the tissues were gone, replaced by cheap powdered colorants and industrial pigments.

I was no longer life, but simulated life, an ersatz creature. It made me wonder if the universe itself were not similarly created by that voice. And then I woke up. I had sweat the bed.

Well, if the Universe is a simulation, there's a lot of people I have to shoot.

Speaking of simulations, I'm thinking about that quote 'AI' unquote quote 'painting like a grand master' unquote science swoon item from the other day. It's along the lines of the fun Deep Dreaming convolutional neural net playing with image filters from a month ago.

Well, I read that paper so you don't have to.  Not sure it's that impressive, but here, the feed-forward nets combine two feature maps involving image recognition and the texture map of various painter's paintings, combining the filters to produce a grand-master's rendering of a photo. Huh.

Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk? from Gene Kogan on Vimeo.

But this got me back to thinking how swarms and neural nets is pretty much the same thing. And that got me to thinking about Uber. Uber, of course, is the taxi hailing service that you have on your phone. We are told it is a disruptive innovation that improves lifestyle and makes the economy more efficient. Uhm, no.

Uber (and Lyft)  is a rentier app emplaced over our current walkie-talkie radio networks that allows monetary extraction from you, to them, through the very, very old labor practice of pimps and whores.

It is a parasitism. Municipalities, of course, could offer up a free app that allows you the rider and a driver to do the same thing without the need of a middle man scraping your living room walls for saltpeter. A free municipal ride app (and more importantly, swarm route optimizer) is still parasitic in the form of taxation, but still…some of the best and most efficient people moving is done by public transport. Sorry, entrepreneurs and invisible handers.

I got your invisible hand.

The beautiful thing is now we have hyperparasitism. There is an app out that will compare ride sharing prices for you. I love it. What dirty tricks will these creepy organizations play to resolve this?

So, what's the real innovation? Why, radio dispatch, of course!

I can remember taxi call boxes on the street. right up until maybe the mid seventies, which corresponds with the first cell phones. I'm almost positive, that transport optimization software was available then. I could d have been in on that, maybe using swarms. I am such an idiot.

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