Monday, September 15, 2014

Approach as One: Technological Resonance and its Natural Progression to Singularity

     The fast paced outing of various technological giants will make your head spin. Here we have a new OS version, there we have a new screen configuration, a new device, new functions. All in Gatling gun speeds. 

     With the quantity of new releases, one might wonder about the quality of the same. Apple's newest offering in particular, garnered a lot of noise from the tech republic. Many say Apple is just presenting things that have been done many years ago by other companies.

     One might think that Apple has lost its sense of innovation and creativity that it has been brandishing ever since the companies creation. That the tables have actually turned 180 degrees. What used to be an icon of originality is now taking cues from the companies it once sued for stealing its product ideas. 

Recycling now a thing?

     If we present the facts alone, it really seems like there is no real new idea presented by the iPhone giant this time. The idea of the Apple Watch has been existing way before. Large screen phones are definitely around for a longer time. Same with health monitoring apps and NFC payments.

     To be fair with Apple, they have always been good at marketing their products and making sure the users maximize their capabilities. Like it or not, these products will still sell to the public who loves easily understandable UX and cool and elegant designs on their gadgets. But that is beside the point.

     The question is, has Apple really lost its magic? Has it lost its ability to create innovative and groundbreaking products that captures the worlds' imagination in a beat? Or more generally, are IT companies now just relying on obtaining the next product idea from the best thing the other company is offering in the market?

     Is the lack of innovation and creativity becoming widespread on the corporate level nowadays?

A Burst of Resonance?

     Let's take a step back. If you look at Apple's capability, it would seem that these latest technological offerings are really a breakthrough in terms of their products. Could it be that it just took them longer to achieve this level, maybe not because of lack of innovation but due to some limiting factor introduced by some "technological deity" somewhere? And could it be that this "technological deity" is simply rationing or guiding the advent of new technology to achieve a certain end goal?

     No need to nail me into the cross for that statement though. Because there is no such "deity". There is no need to inject a supernatural entity into the development of a purely logical endeavor.

     However, there is indeed some end to all of this innovation. Futurists call it the "Technological Singularity". Some define it as a hypothesis that states "that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing or even ending civilization in an event called the singularity. (Wikipedia)"

     My conjecture though is that to reach this point, there is another milestone that should be achieved first. Call it "Technological Resonance". I'd like to think of it not as a specific point but more of a period or range. Technological Resonance in its broadest term is a period in the future wherein all technological innovations from every inventor everywhere no matter how independent they work from each other, would result to very, very similar end products at the same time. It is the period as if technological innovation is being driven independently of every other factor like market share, corporate rivalry or technological espionage.

     It is possible that what we are witnessing is just the beginnings of the Resonance. Like how calculus was developed by two independent thinkers coincidentally at the same time period. (Actually, who knows if there others who developed it at the same time.)

What drives it?

     The scientific explanation of resonance would involve natural frequencies and the fact that just a small driving frequency would result to higher amplitude of the oscillation.

     In the case of Technological Resonance, what I have are just theories on what could drive this resonance. First possible driving frequency is the market. Initially, the law of supply and demand could start the resonance, what the market buys, the big companies manufacture the supply and advertise the products which will increase the demand which will start the cycle again. I'm not quite warmed up on this theory though as we've seen some aggressive marketing on various technological inventions which did not take flight like the Google Glass or the Windows mobile OS.

     I'd like to think that this driving force is more innate to human nature and to the real definition of technology itself. The most basic definition of technology is the development of tools to be used by humans. Technology is the way to improve what humans can do.
It would be more feasible to have the evolution of technology to follow the same path as that of human development, only difference is in the pacing. What human can do, they can do better and faster with technology. We can build houses faster, communicate more effectively, travel more efficiently live better with technology.

     Hence, the evolution of technology will be guided by how humans behave in our society. Take the most basic human necessity or societal needs and technology will naturally wrap itself around those activities to make them more efficient.

     Taking cue from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, new technology will be developed to cater to humanities' physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization needs. Can we find a pattern? (Pop quiz: Which technology caters to our need to Belong? How about Safety?)
Technological resonance now becomes defined as the period in time wherein all technological innovations are all independently oriented towards providing for the most fundamental human needs. As such, in that period, technology would not be an alternative to living anymore. Technology would be another characteristic of life akin to Adaptation, Procreation and Growth.

     (As an aside, if you need to change your basic life processes to adapt to a new technology, then it is not bound to last long. Technology should adapt and improve life, not the other way around.)

Approaching Singularity, as One 

     If you think about it, Technological Resonance is a natural step towards singularity. Artificial intelligence will only achieve autonomy if it has full grasp of all human activity and processes. And the best way for that to happen is if humans become fully dependent on technology. During Resonance, all our Technological breakthroughs are on improving or even replacing human needs. That kind of symbiosis is the best way one learns from the other which is a very convenient shortcut to a learning AI. But more importantly it gives Technology some level of control to the human user.

     Some futurists believe the Singularity will come in a hundred years time. And that if it does come, it will happen rapidly without warning. The "ending the civilization" part seems too extreme and grim but shouldn't be ignored.

     Going back, Apple's supposedly 2 year backdated "innovation" would not seem like outdated at all. It might just be a spurt of the aforementioned Technological Resonance.

In the end...

     It's good that there are a lot of companies ejecting a lot of products into the market for human consumption. But the thing is, which companies develop which product does not really matter. In the end, every manufacturer works independently towards a common goal whether they are aware of it or not. That goal is to provide, improve or even replace the most fundamental human needs. What happens after that phase might be good or bad. But the good thing is we'll be approaching it as one.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MRT: A horror story

From the imaginative minds behind "OTJ", "Rigodon" and "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles" comes the most terrifying movie based on a true story to be shown in Philippine cinemas.

More terrifying than all the movies in the Final Destination franchise combined.

More exciting and pulse-raising than Speed (first movie).

More emotional and heart-wrenching than Denzel Washington's performance in "Unstoppable".

You will scream at the real-life terror. You might faint with disbelief at the worst circumstances that await the characters. You will swear for the horrors of all things going all wrong all at the same time.

This summer, prepare to watch in terror as you think that it might actually happen anytime on any of your commutes.

No one is safe. Even behind the yellow line.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I X Hate X This: The Rise of Conjunction X

I've been seeing a lot of usage of the X symbol recently on websites, posters etc. I can't help but get annoyed with this new 'fad'. I mean I see titles like:

Artist X Musician
Abstract concept 1 X Abstract concept 2 (i.e. Love X Art)
Band X Location

What the hell does the "X" mean? "Versus"? "And"? "With"?, "In"? I don't really know. I think it's a hipster way of saying this not an ordinary combination of two things. This is an X of two things. X is a conjunction of two entities related or otherwise which makes the sum of the two separate entities appear much, much better.

As if one entity would magically get the redeeming traits of the other if the Conjunction X is used instead of say And or With or Versus.

 When did this new trend even began?

X already means a lot of things, some even quite cool. X marks the spot for Pirates. X is a prize worth aiming for by inventors, scientists and engineers. X is a generation used to be thought of as cool and forward-looking (that is until generation Y came.) X is a gene that gives cool powers. X indicates an unknown/classified project. X are files referring to mysterious and unexplained events.

But Conjunction X is fairly new. I see this on events where a designer would partner with a comic book artist for a line of clothing with comic book characters printed. Or when a symphonic orchestra performs with a rock band. Or when a electronic band performs in a trendy restaurant.

Googling "X" does not return anything useful. I find a band named X, a manga titled X, the xprize etc. Googling "Conjunction X" is the same. I find the real mathematical and grammatical definition of conjunction and X as a cross-product of two vectors. Google fails me this time.

In any case, I think conjunction X is here to stay to symbolize something that materialized from the hipster generation of today, like YOLO, or selfies or expensive ice cream.

End X Rant

(Hey look! My username has an X!)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

God's eye view

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman just posted a short clip in Vine of a lightning storm over Houston from the ISS point of view.

This reminded me of a small project run by a group in Germany called Blitzortung.

The project monitors all lightning strikes all around the world in real-time using a network of sensors in different locations in the globe.

You can see the lightning strikes as dots on the global map. Places with a lot dots would mean ther is most probably lightning storms occuring in the area.

Another project simply named Earth, shows a real-time visualisation of the global wind map.

Here you can see the winds flowing, circling, spiraling probably following some unknown patterns or maybe just going on chaotic paths to noone knows where.

One would think some higher beings up above is really monitoring these things using far more advanced technology than ours. Or perhaps these beings are controling the flows, the strikes using their high-tech or magical powers to maintain some balance or to achieve some unfathomable goal.

To them everything looks deterministic, even calm. To us below everything looks far chaotic and destructive.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Gravity of Just Being

You don't know me. 
But you will soon.
For I possess the most powerful weapon of all. 
More powerful even than death.
More powerful than non-existence.

I give you the Just-Life Equation.

You will be under the state of Just-Living. 
You will be just waking up everyday just to go to work just to eat just to go home and sleep and wake up again.
Then you'll just do the same thing over and over again.

You will just be living.
Like a clock just ticking.
Or a candle just melting away.
Or a river just flowing.

Endless. Aimless.
No goal or ambition.
No hopes or dreams.

Just living.

My name is Justexist.
Soon this world will be mine.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What Patok Jeeps and Awful Radio Remixes taught me about life

Back in college, I used to commute from home to school and back. I regularly ride the 'patok jeeps' because they are accessible, cheap and fast. Patok jeeps are just like your typical jeepneys in the country-- with some modifications. If you see jeepneys with decorations all over their chassis, from inutile decorative antennas, to abstract paintings, to mottos devoid of meanings, to various attachments of statues of horses, eagles, what have you, Patok jeepneys are steroid-enhanced versions of those jeeps. They come with more decorations, more colorful paintings, disco lights to boot and its signature large loudspeakers playing disco-remixed music from the 80's and 90's.

Patokstep, the Pinoy version of dubstep, as I'd like to think of it. Take 'Sometimes When We Touch' by Dan Hill. Then add a generic bass drum heavy beat and some DJ muttering senseless words randomly  like the one below:

And you get the Patokstep.

I  found some remixes in youtube with this type of sound:

It doesn't sound so bad actually. I knid of like it. It's the music they play during fiesta disco nights in the provinces. (Maybe that's why I like it, because of the nostalgia factor. Aw.)

There's another type of songs they play in these jeepneys. The Christmas remixes. They take a very famous novelty song from that year, give it a Patokstep remix then make it a medley with another Christmas song with Patokstep mix. Then add 1 or 2 more songs in the mix. You get the Mandatory Generic Christmas
remix of the year. Like the one below.

Anyway, during my first rides on these jeepneys, listening to these music is unbearable, what with the very loud sound and the repetitive tunes. But days passed and I began to get comfortable with the songs. In the end I just learned to go with the rhythm (I don't really dance or jive to the music but I just learned to be at peace with it, the repetitions serving as a melodic meditation chants for me.)

So in the end, I realized that I did not notice the long journey, the traffic, the heat and smoke, as long as I tune in and meditate with the music.

What I'm saying is, life is full of noise. It's up to you if you want to hear them still as noise or transform them into wonderful music. I'm reminded of the movie 'Another Earth', where the main character tells an anecdote about an astronaut in space who keeps hearing a ticking sound but he can't find the source. It keeps on ticking when he is awake. Tick tick tick.  And even when he sleeps. Tick tick tick. He seems to be losing his mind because of the sound. But then later he found that he can make this ticking sound serve as a background percussion of any song he imagines in his head. Sort of a Heavy Bass drum mix. Then he became at peace with sound because he can just hear nice music.

Back in college, in another jeepney ride, there was a father and his daughter. The daughter seemed agitated by all the travels and seems to be on the verge of crying. The father consoles him by saying 'Enjoyin mo lang anak' (Just enjoy [the ride] my child'. I find his advice very simple yet true.

It's a matter of enjoying what you have and looking at the positive side of your problems.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diamond-coated phones, forward thinking etc.

​First, iPhone had Gold mobile phones (or at least gold-tinted). Now Samsung is doing diamond phones. Quite a level up.

Samsung Galaxy S5 may have diamond coating: Report

I did my thesis in a laboratory for plasma physics and its applications. One such application is the surface coating of a particular substrate using a plasma-enhanced deposition technology.

When family members asked what I am studying (They know I am studying to be a 'scientist') I try to explain my thesis in a very, very layman's terms.

'I create diamonds from some gases'. Because I can't explain to them the exact mechanism, that we need to have very low pressure vacuum at high voltages using rare inert gases at exact proportions using some fatal electrical contraptions.

And they think I'm a rockstar after my simple explanation. One cousin even asked for a diamond jewel.

Going back to Samsung's diamond coated phones.

Well, just like 'rockstar'-rifying my thesis, the news that a phone will be coated with diamond is some form of rockstarification.

First, it's not really diamond.

It's almost diamond but not quite. They are coating it with carbon with molecular structure resembling that of diamond. And remember that diamond and graphite have the same composition (carbon) just different molecular structures. You know graphite, that lead in the pencil we use for writing.

At its worst, we can say Samsung is covering their phones with graphite-like material. They're just covering up the phone with pencil lead scratchings!

Not really. Heheh. What they are doing is kick-ass. Diamond-like carbons (DLC) are a breakthrough in material science. It's about as hard as natural diamond (which is the hardest mineral there is) but much easier to fabricate.

Natural diamonds form in extreme pressure and heat in thousands of hours. Volcanic levels extreme. Center of the Earth levels extreme.
Diamond-like carbons can be formed in the lab in just a couple of days (as in my laboratories cases). In just around 100 degress celsius (boiling water temperature). So there's that.

I'm interested in how they are going to do this for mass production. It took our lab 24 hours even more just to coat a 1 inch by 1 inch surface with DLC. And We used a very complicated contraption of vacuum tubes, thick steel chambers a few gas tanks, a big vacuum pump and a lot of power supplies. The entire contraption costing hundreds of thousands of pesos.

They may have found ways to deposit DLC with low power, heat, pressure requirement and found some technique to shorten the deposition time. Which I'm interested in knowing. I'm sure after many years, the DLC-coating technology has advanced (I'm just not aware. Time to do some research.)

Anyways, it's just good to find out that some research topic you know back then to have no huge commercial application is gaining some momentum at present. It takes a great deal of forward thinking to realize the value of your research.

It's similar to how Physics Nobel prize laureates are actually scientists in their latter stages of life, because society only realize the value of their work many years after their publication. Great forward thinkers, those laureates are.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crisis Tech

"Necessity is the mother of invention. When the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it."

In the aftermath of immensely destructive typhoon Yolanda, some suggestions, inventions, propositions have surfaced, all to mitigate, aid or prepare for future impending natural disasters.

UP students recycle chargers and batteries for Yolanda survivors
Volunteer physics undergraduates from the University of the Philippines (UP) are turning old chargers and batteries into disposable energy sources that can be used by Super Typhoon Yolanda’s survivors.
The recycled devices can charge a cellphone and give the user enough energy to send at least one text message.

PNoy wants DOST to create dependable emergency communications system
President Benigno Aquino III on Monday said he has asked the Department of Science and Technology to create an emergency communications system that is not dependent on cellular networks or external power sources.

Hospitals must be disaster-proof—expert
“We should be designing our hospitals to be more resilient in the face of such natural disasters, especially disasters relating to rising sea levels. We can have hospitals that store and extract energy at the roof, as opposed to placing them at the basement. There are also certain materials that you can design and build hospitals with so they would more likely withstand earthquakes,” explained Gary Cohen, Health Care Without Harm president and founder.

Survivors transform fridges into fishing boats
A fishing community in Tanauan, a small coastal town 20 kilometers south of Tacloban city in the Philippines have been going out to sea in boats made out of refrigerators after their vessels were destroyed by a killer typhoon.

Tacloban City as global center for climate change proposed 
A renowned urban planner on Wednesday told the national government that it should transform Tacloban City into a global center for climate change.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The City of the Living Dead

It's just a couple of days until All Saint's Day. Time to go to cemeteries to remember our departed loved ones. I checked Google to look at one cemetery here in Makati, the Manila South Cemetery. The graves form a grid with semblance to a real urban landscape.

 Zooming out just makes the similarity more obvious.

Zoom out some more and you'll see houses and buildings look like magnified graves.

 The city sure looks like a graveyard from up above.

Well, we're all just dead corpses scuttling around and about, getting busy dying, gradually rotting in this stinking graveyard called life. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Quantified Corruption

A bunch of senseless rants follows.

Corruptibility Coefficients

An amazing visualization tool to sort of understand the complex network of the pork barrel fund money flow.

Consider, they were able to derive the following values from their data for each of the politicians:

Betweenness CentralityWeighted DegreeClustering CoefficientEigenvector CentralityCloseness Centrality

From here, can we derive another number, the Corruptibility Tendency  Coefficients defined as:
 - a coefficient that indicates the possibility that the politician is taking the pork barrel funds for themselves and therefore tend to be corrupt. The closer this value to a certain threshold, the higher the possibility for corruption.

Let's call those thesholds, the Napoles Thresholds (like the Schwarzschild radius but these are more a social indicator than a universal constant.)

Political science theorist in collaboration with mathematicians, physicists can create theories.
The Napoles investigation will be the experimental proof for the hypotheses.

From accounting data, these can be generated annually and analysed.

This will not serve as an evidence, merely an advanced warning system. A precaution and then a deterrent for politicians thinking of misusing these funds.


Deserved Corruption

 I had an absurd idea way back that corruption should not be seen in a negative light. It is the degree of corruption and person that is doing it that should matter.

If a politician is doing great work to his people, he should be allowed a certain amount of kickbacks from the projects he is able to implement successfully. Like a 20,000 peso cellphone gift as kickback for a multi-million peso housing project that benefited a thousand homeless families. The politician deserved that cellphone didn't he. It should serve as an incentive, a motivation to do better on all his projects.

Compare corruption to the Yakult good bacteria. Bad if too many doses.

I said it was absurd, didn't I.


The Science of Politics

In our local government, the people running for govt positions during elections have established some kind of process, pointers, strategies for campaigning.
- tips to cover the most areas during one motorcade.
- a list of funerals, birthday parties, graduations which will be held during the campaign period (a list which is shared and distributed among running mates)
- the correct size of shorts to wear to attract men's attention without losing too much dignity (yep, the female candidates do)

They boiled the entire campaign processes to a science. Or a business.
Profit = Income - Expenses


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