Accuracy is Everything

Accuracy is everything

If you want to become a good debator and an effective communicator, accuracy in your statements is essential. I make a conscious effort to avoid using words such as “really” or “actually” when it adds no meaning to the sentence. Instead of saying “1 + 1 is actually 2” I just say “1 + 1 is 2” because by using “actually” I undermine my sentences without it in, because “actually” acts an an intensifier in boolean statements (where as “very” is used in continuous statements “1 + 1 is very 2” wouldn’t make sense but “the sky is very bright” does make sense because the potential brightnesses take on a continous space) but this makes no sense. A statement is either true or false. It can’t be, no matter how much you want it to be, half true or mostly true.

I am not a pedant, but I am often called it. Another phrase I avoid like the plague is “too”. This word is misused to often. It should only be used for shortening sentences when the long form of the sentence is easily deduced. So the sentence “There is an amount of water being poured into that bucket such that water is flowing out of it and onto the floor” is simplified to “There is too much water being poured into the bucket”. But people rarely think about the long form of the sentence, they use the “too” shorthand so often that they don’t even bother to think about the longer form of the sentence they’re shortening. As a result, in their mind the long form of the sentence evolves to something like “there is an amount of water being poured into that bucket such that something bad is happening” and use too always in this sense, so it becomes meaningless when used in some cases. One example is “Don’t eat too much pie” which is short for “Don’t eat an amount of pie such that something bad will happen”. It’s a barren tautology almost. No one would ever do something that they thought was bad. By saying it, you do nothing to help the person – no information is contained in the sentence.

English is not rigorous but I take pride in meaning everything I say. I don’t use metaphors. I hate them. It’s just butchering my language. Stop it. Don’t make demonstrably false statements and then say “but it’s not false, it’s a metaphor”. Just because a sentence can be constructed without breaking the laws of grammar does not make it coherent. Metaphors are basically art but made it language rather than a paintbrush. I don’t hate analogies that help people understand things more by means of pattern recognition. I do find metaphors that are blatantly false annoying, such as “A lifetime is a day, death is sleep; a lifetime is a year, death is winter”. All of those are false statements.

Here’s an analogy that explains my position. It’s like I’m an air traffic controller and the local radio station decides that it will broadcast songs on the same frequncy I’m on. Sure it sounds great. But people will die as a result. I’m trying to communicate with pilots and you’re making this much more difficult by blasting your art over our communication. It’s sort of muddying the language I’m using. Take your art to another medium – it isn’t suitable to use English in this way. I don’t buy into the hand waving “it’s a metaphor” when I point out that the statement “Death is winter” is false… and neither should you.

“Literally” was a word that used to mean something. Sadly, so many people have begun to attempt to use it an an intensifier that it has started to lost all meaning. “She was literally the hottest girl I’ve ever seen” strictly means that the girl I saw had the highest temperature of all girls I’ve ever seen. It does NOT mean “She was the most attractive girl I’ve ever seen and I’m not lying”. This is basically the path English is going down by having so many people use metaphors. But at least people know when they’re using metaphors. So it doesn’t matter too much. Where as people who use ‘literally’ incorrectly are unaware of their errors.

The Nature of Computation

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If you were building an AI for a game of chess it would be strange if you did anything other than modelling the game. But take a look at the universe we live in and the best equations to explain the reality. Some physicists will tell you that time does not exist. That time and space are really made of the same thing. It is my conception that if we put all the greatest minds together working on a chess AI, they would come to the conclusion that there is something more fundamental that the pieces and the squares. There is some more fundamental substance that they are both constructed from that would serve us better when creating an AI. Just as space-time  is named, we’ll call this fundamental matter square-piece.

This square-piece would allow a much more effective AI. An argument against this might be that we don’t know what reality is defined as, but chess *is* defined as pieces on a board obeying various rules therefore it can’t be anything else. This is wrong however. Just because a problem can be defined in a certain way does not mean it cannot be reduced to a simpler problem. Reducing the game so that the AI can make computations on the fundamental matter would be more effective.

I enjoy making wild statements that are difficult to verify (this seems to ruffle some feathers at times but I don’t care), so here’s another: our brains are actually operating on this fundamental square-piece when playing chess. This is how we can still compete current day chess AI that just iterates through potential scenarios on a weak processor that has a ‘mere’ 100 million transistors on it.

I think to exploit this square-piece a cellular automaton is needed. The space of algorithms that can be designed by humans is infinite in size but that does not mean it explores the entirety of the space of algorithms. There are many algorithms our brains could never comprehend that are essential to building intelligent systems. Instead of designing a CA, we need to search for one that does what we need. Play chess well.

The Weath Gap

The rich keep getting richer. This itself isn’t a problem. It’s just that if the wealth was distributed more evenly society would be a better place. There is one simple way to achieve this. By paying people according to how much money the company made in the past x days (where x is the number of days between payments).

The algorithm used would take a lot of designing but once made it could be used for all companies. It would be appropriate for any companies.

Reality is fluid. Many of our systems are rigid and therefore sub-optimal.It’s odd that people don’t really understand this. Suppose I say “worker A should be paid $19,435.24 this year” most people would react “that’s an oddly specific number, why not $19,000.00?”. Yet if I said “This large rock has a mass of 19,435.24kg” it would be met without the raising of eyebrows. It would be strange indeed if the mass of every rock I found was divisible by $1000.00.

It’s as though people are saying that I need justification for having a number which strays away from numbers with an accuracy of more than 2 or so points. This accuracy is their own system and doesn’t reflect reality. People basically believe that if you have a number with few trailing zeros like 19,435.24 then you need justification from straying from the solid, proven value of of 19,000.00. But that’s nonsense. 19000 in base 2 is 100101000111000. There is nothing special about numbers that have lots of trailing zeros in base 10. The number of trailing zeros a number has in base 10 has no impact on how much a worker should be paid. They’re not linked in meaningful way so to attack someone for suggesting a number with no trailing 0’s in base 10 is meaningless. There would be tempted to say “buy you cannot notice a difference between $19,000.00 and $19,435.24 and I would say “I can notice the difference between any numbers that are not equal because the just-noticeable difference does not exist“.

It is known that it makes sense to pay people more if the company is more successful since they contributed to it and there is more money available to hire better people. There should be an algorithm that automatically calculates the ideal amount to pay people. I don’t know exactly how that algorithm would look, but I know some of its properties.

First, it wouldn’t take the form of x + …. there would be no addition whatsoever in the calculation. It would all be based on multiplication and exponentiation. There would be no base rate. Reality is fluid, no part of it is rigid, everything is vibrating, and our calculations must reflect that.

Secondly, as input, it would only require the important of that persons job and the amount of profit the company made that year. As the importance of the job increases their salary increases and the dependency of their salary on the profits of the company also increases. So those at the top would lose more of their salary (as a proportion) than those lower down if the company showed a loss that year.

With the automation of many low skilled jobs, it’s inevitable that the rich will get richer. The skill level of jobs that can be automated will steadily increase as AI improves. First it was the people on assembly line. Next it will be stock brokers. Then it will be the programmers who made those stock buying algorithms. This will be the end of capitalism. People will revolt. When the top 0.1% controls 99.9% of the wealth a revolt will trigger.

I don’t know when or how this will happen, but it will happen. It is just the nature of capitalism. If you take any normal looking system and extend it out for a long time, its ultimate fate will always appear strange. Some say the fate of this universe is just dead. Entropy will increase so much that it will become impossible to support life. Other scientists say that the universe goes in one big cycle. After the big bang is the big crunch.

We Need A Revolution In Battery Technology

The desire for better batteries has never been greater. With so many mobile devices comes an even greater need to have reliable batteries with a much greater capacity. The best batteries we have are atrocious compared to gasoline and other forms of energy. Here is a graph from Wikipedia

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The bottom left corner shows Lithium Ion Batteries. Their energy density is 0.72MJ/kg 1and 1.5MJ/l. Compare that to 47.2MJ/kg and 34MJ/l for gasoline.

Suppose we had a massive breakthrough right now that gave us a battery technology with those energy densitiies. Many impossible things would be very possible. It wouldn’t just be that our phones and laptops lasted longer, entire industries would change. Electric cars would immediately wipe out all the competition. That alone id a dignificant change.

Electric cars which last a long time are a dream. Much queiter for one, and more environmentally friendly. They’re not perfect- that electricity they’re using has to come from somewhere and in some cases it comes from a coal power plant. It is more efficient than allowing each car their own engine though, so it’s a big positive. Cities in China would be most impacted. Over there their cities are riddled with smog and electric cars would go a long way to solve that proble.

All those gasoline statinos would go out of business and that’s a good thing. They are inherently unsafe. To get more petrol is a dangerous job. A truck full of the stuff has to drive there. That’s crazy. There have been many incidents where a tanker has overturned and killed people in the explosion. There have even been incidents in poor countries like africa where people have gathered around an overturned tanker and tried to gather up the petrolium gasoline that has been spilled only to be killed by a huge explosion trigged by only a tiny spark.

Climbing mount everest would be much less challenging. The mose difficult aspect of it is the cost. If that was removed it would be tough. With batteries with high densities, clothes with heating built into them would work. Think how an electric blanket works except instead of being the shape of a blanket it would be clothes shaped and run on a battery. It would be fantastic. Of course it would still be very tough to climb mount Everest and would take a lot of training but that’s a lot of the difficulty taken out of it, dealing with the cold.

Tools that typically use gasoline or diesel would now use electrical power via batteries. Things like lawn mowers and leaf blowers. It would make them slightly quieter as there is no engine inside them but more importantly they would be more safe and more reliable. Dealing with oil is a dirty job.

I think that making these devices entirely electronic makes it easier for software to be used with it. Instead of having many buttons that do different things, there would just be a touchscreen on the device that had all the options you needed after you navigated through the easily understood menu. This means there’s fewer moving parts and hence increases the reliability of the device. In cars in particular there’s far too many buttons and knobs. All of that could go with the introduction of a touchscreen panel.

Rocket ships would still have to be powered by fuel. A battery could never generate the power needed for liftoff without being of a too large size. It basically needs a controlled explosion in order to get sufficient thrust for escape velocity.

It would revolutionize our world. The breakthrough would be undoubtedly one of the biggest breakthroughs of all time. We need a genius to help us solve our issues. Many scientists are working on this problem as we speak but none of them are bright enough to solve it. There have been small success stories such as making batteries with a greater power output but less capacity. More money needs to be put towards paying scientists to find materials and methods to reach this goal.

Working Towards A Prisoner’s Dilemma Solution

For those without knowledge, prisoner’s dilemma is basically this: there are two men in prison and they both worked together in a bank robbery but the police don’t have enough evidence to convict them. They are trying to get each of the prisoners to state that the other robber was involved in the robbery and give details. If neither of the criminals say a word, they each serve one month. If one criminal states the other one robbed the bank, that crinimal goes free and the other serves 1 year. If they both tell on eachother, they both get 3 months. The criminals can’t communicate with eachother, they are interviewed separately. What should the prisoners do?

 This is an unsolved problem in game theory. It’s very interesting. This isn’t however a 2 player game. It’s a 3 player game. The two crimininals are the police are all separate entities in this game. That’s akey distinction. In two player games theree is no dilemma, simply do whatever makes the biggest difference between you and your opponent.
 
 Here’s an interesting though experiment I came up with which may help with solving the problem. Suppose there are two people who are exact copies of eachother down to the atom. They are both placed in isolation in rooms with two buttons. One red and one green. If both press the green button both will recieve $1000. If one of them presses the red button and one presses green, the player who pressed red gets $5000. If both press red both get $0. What action should be done?
 
 The most important concept in play is that whatever button one person presses, the other must press two because they are exact duplicates of eachother. If one person has a given though process the other must have it too. Keeping this in mind, both players know that if they press red, they will both press red and if they pick green they will both press green. There is no scenario where one presses red and one green. This makes the solution rather simple: press green.
 
 Even though each player knows that the other player is pressing red, this is not sufficient justification for switching to pressing red in an attempt to exploit the other person because the other player will jump to the same conclusion.
 
 Now what would happen if the subjects were exact copies of eachother except for one atom? They both knew this. What should their actions be? They should both press green again. But there is a non zero probability that one presses red and the other green becauuse that 1 atom difference could change how a person reasons about the buttons and how he ultimately makes that choice. It’s incredibly unlikely.
 
 What about 2 atoms? And 3? As the differences in each player increases, the reaoning we used that the other person must do the same as us becomes weaker and weaker. Is it therefore more likely that both players press red as the differences between them increase. Essentially there is little guarantee that the other player will not betray them in a grab for the most money.
 
 One might think “Ah, the opponent thinks I’m very similar to him but I’m not so he will press green and I will press red”. This strategy would work. If one player thinks he is similar to the other, but the other does not think he is similar to the other, the player who thiks he is dissimilar would come out victorious on some occasions.
 
 If you know you are going to be in a situation like this, before going into the scenario instead of saying “press green” (that will be of little use) try to convince the other person that you aree very similar to him and think like him. This will allow you to press red when he presses green.
 
 This may go towards explaning why similar people trust each other more than disimilar people. There are many every day scenarios which are analogous to prisoners dilemma.
 
This sort of reasoning applies when there’s only just 2 players. Supose you live in a flat with a housemate who is similar to you. When a person leaves the flat they will leave their wallet with lots of money in at the flat. It would be easy for the other person to steal the wallet and get away with the crime. So why isn’t it done? Because it implies that the other person would have sloten their wallet. I must remind you that free will does not exist. The house mates are bound to act similarly to each other as a result of being similar. Thinking of the situation in a vaccuum is impossible. You can’t just observe the situation until one housemate leaves, then say “a rational actor would steal the wallet”. It is essentially that causality goes backwards in time. By stealing the wallet, you make it more likely that in the past your wallet was also stolen without your knowledge. Even if you have perfect knowledge of the past and know your wallet was not stolen, you can’t think of it like this because the reason it was not stolen was because it was determined that in the future you would not steal his wallet because he didn’t steal yours. You can’t go against this calculation of the future that was done if it was accurate. It’s binding. Free will doesn’t exist – you can’t use it to escape predictions of the future.

It Adds Up: Minimizing Delays In Popular Systems

Google gets somewhere in the region of 2 billion hits per day. It is essential that the Google page loads quickly. How much would it cost if the Google web page took an additional 0.1 seconds to load? 0.1*2,000,000,000=200,000,000 seconds would be wasted waiting for it to load. If we assume the average worker is paid $10/hour, that’s 200,000,000/60/60*10 = $555,555.56 wasted per day as a result of that 0.1 second loading time. So per year it would be costing the economy $147,222,222.22.

Most people overlook small differences in loading time, but it’s key. I’m disappointed to see that most OS manufacturers don’t optimize boot up speed. OS makers seem to care more about how many new features the new OS is going to have rather than shaving seconds off boot time and loading times which is far more important. Microsoft has spent massive amounts of resources on the Metro interface. It will take massive amounts of time per user to learn how to use it effectively. Not only that but each time the OS boots loading that huge interface will take more time. It’s a terrible decision.

UI designers are often unaware of how much time their poor decisions could potentially waste. Adding a single dialog box “Are you sure you want to do this? Yes. No.” when applied to millions of users has a huge cost as a result of wasting the users time. One might be tempted to say “But no ones going to notice that 0.5 seconds of their time was wasted” I would have to direct you to my blog post explaining that the just-noticeable difference does not exist.

It’s  time for UI design to become more quantitative instead of qualitative. Lots of tests should be done and the test subjects should be asked to do various tasks and this will be timed. If it takes longer on average then the new UI should not be added. I doubt Microsoft has even attempted to even do this kind of analysis. There’s no way they would add the abomination known as metro had they known just how bad it is. I haven’t used it myself but I trust that all the reviews I have read are correct to say that it is terrible.

Chess Is Dead

Chess AIs are now far better the top GMs (Grandmasters). This has dire consequences for the realm of chess players. It allows cheaters to use AIs to help them play. This devastates the game as it. Previously, cheating would have been impossible at the top level since it would be impractical for a GM to assist you playing. It is now possible to run a program on your smartphone that plays better than the best player in the world. If a person goes to the toilet in a chess match, how do you know that they aren’t putting the board onto their phone for analysis?

Chess online is also ruined. It’s impossible to know if you’re playing against a human or an AI. AI isn’t a plague but it’s more thrilling as a game knowing that you’re up against a human. I am in favour of AI.

It’s time for the GMs to find a new game to play. We have been exceeded by computers. There is no need to keep playing a game that computers have become better than us at. It’s a waste of your time. I don’t mind if you genuinely enjoy chess and continue playing. But as a form of art chess is no more. It is now solved by the brute force of computers.

I am learning to play Go because there is no AI in sight that could come anywhere near the top players on an 19×19 board. It’s exciting to know that the realizations you have cannot be beaten by a computer enumerating all possible moves.