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Care and Feeding of Neural Nets

Recently I asked myself the question, “Plants need air, soil, water, and sunlight to live; animals need air, food, and water. What does a neural net need to live?”

The answer, I realized, was “A steady diet of entropy that can be converted to negentropy.”

As biological machines, we consume matter at a lower entropy state and excrete matter at a higher entropy state; this is what fuels our metabolism. As neural machines, we consume information at higher entropy states and excrete information at lower entropy states; this is what fuels our intellect.

In other words, our minds consume disordered information and excrete ordered information. This is what our neural nets need in order to stay alive, just as our bodies need air, water, and food to maintain homeostasis.

By nature of the very processes that make us conscious, our minds exude order the same way our bodies excrete piss and shit.


The Cognitive Surplus of Video Games

NYU New Media professor Clay Shirky estimates that humanity as a whole has about a trillion hours of mental downtime, or cognitive surplus, on its hands each year, most of which is still spent watching TV.  I haven’t come across any figures for the cognitive surplus represented by video game usage, but I can only imagine it must be following some type of exponential or early logistic growth curve.

So far the use of video games has mainly been for entertainment, yet the potential for science and self development is largely untapped.  Sure, you can currently fold proteins and map the brain’s neural architecture with Foldit or Mozak, learn languages with Duolingo, and improve your life with Habitica, but what are these compared to World of Warcraft or Second Life?  When will scientific research become as massively connected as Facebook and as user-created as Wikipedia?  When will learning communities become as popular as Twitter and Instagram?  When will acquiring any skill for anyone on the planet be as easy as getting addicted to Angry Birds?

All this and more is coming soon, we’re working on it…

Schneider On The Universe As An Organism

Excerpted from A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, by Michael S. Schneider:


All universal designs are found in human body proportions, which we have seen can be repackaged to produce the proportions of a crystal, plant, animal, solar system, and galaxy.  It is as if the universe is one single organism, motivated by a single power, developing in many ways to gradually become aware of itself through the awareness of the creatures and forces it produces.

Schools Of The Future

Schools of the future will not be “schools”. The very purposes that we believe these institutions serve, let alone the institutions themselves, will eventually come to be obsolete. Therefore, what they evolve into will not be an advanced version of the same thing. It will be something unrecognizably different, that will perhaps perform some similar functions, but utilizing very different means and with very different objectives. They will not be institutional facilities designed for the sequestration of unsupervized youth, but rather opt-in organizations providing barrier-free lifetime personal development opportunities.

The same can be said of hospitals, prisons, churches, governments, militaries, and all other institutions rooted in the historically dominant paradigms of scarcity and competition that are quickly becoming extinct.

What You Do In This Moment

Whatever you do in this moment, you are likely to do more of in the future.

If you move a little, play a little, dance a little, sing a little, write a little, in this moment, you are more likely to do more of that in the future.

If you treat people with a little more kindness, choose what you eat a little more consciously, choose your thoughts a little more deliberately, stretch yourself a little more, those patterns will be more likely to continue.

Love is Like Air

Love is like air

It is all around you

It inflates and gives buoyancy

It sustains you

You constantly fill yourself with it

But can never become full

You constantly exhude it

But can never become empty

You do not have to force it in

Merely open up the space within you

And it rushes in to fill the void

You do not have to force it out

Merely contract

And it leaves you

The Yawning Abyss

Life is like an invisible bridge
Spanning a yawning abyss

At times we close our eyes
And feel only the solidity of the bridge
Comforted by its firmness
Yet the abyss is always there

At times we gaze down
Into the infinite depth of the abyss
And feel overwhelmed by its vastness
Yet the bridge is always there

What Motivates Us?

Is differential access to the means of survival really necessary or efficient as a means of directing human economic activity?

Recognition is a powerful motivator, but it has the drawback that when it becomes the primary motivation behind an activity, the character of the activity changes greatly.

Contribution, curiosity, and growth are the most powerful and reliable human motivators. They bloom perennially without coercion, even in the face of resistance, like dandelions growing through sidewalk cracks.

When Will Things Go Back To Normal?


The jobs aren’t coming back.

The economy isn’t going to recover.

Education is never going to be the same.

Human consciousness is irrevocably altered with each passing year.

The “good ol’ days” are gone for good.

What we have instead are the “good new days”.

The Tyranny Of Objective Truth

The fixation with objective truth is a form of self-imposed tyranny. The concept
of objective truth is an oxymoron, since truth is based on perception (including
apprehension), which is subjective.

Beliefs can be assigned a truth-value, but they can also be distinguished
according to effects. Pessimists are more accurate, but at what cost?
Optimists are more effective (and happier).

If it’s true that “you can be right, or you can be happy”, which do you prefer?

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