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The roof is on fire February 7, 2009

Posted by olvidadorio in Economics.
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Folks, this economy is going to pot. And it’s just amazing to watch it unfold. It is so striking that this is a necessary and inevetable occurrence of (finally) a dose of economic, even physical reality in the guise of market forces. These have been determined by our overspending, overblown infrastructuring overblown consumption and askew distribution of value in our world economy (i.e. US long-long standing trade deficit & export surplus in Germany, China — the US consumer has been getting a free lunch for decades!). And all these bailouts, stimulus packages and what not are doing is a) pay off those who still are clinging to power (specifically monetary power) and b) increase the pressure for downward adaption of our entire system.

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It’s only After Dark January 23, 2009

Posted by olvidadorio in Economics, Humans, Me.
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After quite a hiatus (but after all, it was vacation), here are some reflections (warning: glumness may follow):

  • I have become slightly more aware of the importance of organization for social prosperity. It is really of utmost importance. It’s what seemed to me to be #1 reason why Nicaragua is 3rd world.
  • I have been touched by what I saw on TV, watching President Obama’s inauguration. It is impressive how such sentiment can be connected to a leader. I believe they call it hope, but they gotta pry that from my cold, dead lips. 😉 [read a blogpost]
  • Living in US suburbia brings to mind the expansiveness of the US-American middle class as a mass of people. People used to such grand life-styles!

On Laziness There is not very much room for laziness in the industrial nations I know. Even the easygoing US. Easygoing here sometimes seems to translate into extra work to be extra nice. (Not that I wouldn’t try to be nice!)
I’m quite lazy — that’s what was so neat about the time I spent in Costa Rica and Nicaragua: I was in a really tight financial situation. But being lazy was a sensible choice there. It saved energy, so I needed to eat & drink less — and I really enjoyed the tropical weather and living outside. Is it sensible here too?
All those nice appliances, gadgets and amenities of industrial life! For example these Computers. All built on this baffling machinery of modern society. It blows my mind again and again, that all these ghosts are alive and moving in such admirable concert. All this system of interdependency sometimes eats on my mind! If something were to go wrong — and I suspect it will, the fear I have is that folks will hurt. (In another only slightly related news, I have been thinking of how the Israeli people are running into pain, I fear — in the long-, the geo-strategic & demographic run.)

Oh, how glum all this is, I do apologize! Very! I am still quite concerned that this or that might collapse at some point, but maybe it’ll take a bit longer than feared, and come more gradually, so we’ll hopefully have plenty of room to wriggle our way through the crisis while having a gratifying life.

But for the proponents of the “people will come up with something, people have always come up with something” thesis: I totally agree. But it’s not at all guaranteed that what they will come up with will resemble our current lifestyle, even in some of its most fundamental amenities. On the other hand, I do not suggest a doomsday scenario, well I kinda suggest it, but I do not expect it. Our lives and our expectations will change, which is just absolutely normal. The difference is simply that I often times live in expectation of social change. You know, it’s change we can believe in… dollars… yeah right.

On a more personal note I notice getting a bit older again. I accustoming myself to my mid-twenties and am nursing some chronic bodily weakness, most vividly present in my everyday life for half a decade now. My hope is very much to get myself on a track of recovery from pain by setting myself up in a more regular life-style now. Please bear with me in your thoughts, that I may.

My aunt has an ant-invasion going on in her house, and she’ll be calling the terminator. At the family I stayed with in Nicaragua this was a non-issue; they had a dirt floor. Ants simply were present.

Well, here’s my actual thesis.. November 11, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Machine Learning.
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.. as was handed in on the 27th Oct.: Subsymbolic String Representations Using Simple Recurrent Neural Nets (Bsc_Pickard.pdf)

@Nic:

  • Actually, I’m not flying until Monday.
  • Yes, one of the outcomes is that it’s rather difficult to memorize fairly large sequences using feedforward nets and backpropagation. Did I finally prove it? No. But I produced material to support that claim, I guess. And it’s also my strong intuition that regardless of the learning-paradigm used, fairly small (i.e. non-huge) nets just run into big problems. Non generalizing. Most probably this has to do with the fact that neural activation (with non-linear activation-function) can at most encode ordinal information, not scalar data (due to the non-linear distortion). One way or another this makes it hard to encode arbitrarily long sequences, as — and this I haven’t proven — all linearily-decodeable encoding-schemes that press arbitrarily long sequences into fixed-size vectors rely heavily on scaling.
    So the problem is that ffNN’s have non-linear distortion which mixes up signals, but only linear means to decode with.
  • So about that “evolving metadata along with evolution” approach — what do they work on concretely? Like, for what kind of a domain is that useful? I can see that as being a fairly interesting area… I think I read something on that once. One of the issues is that one tends to end up in is solving the problem already within the evolutionary parameters. But no idea. Just keep giving me reasons to move my ass to Amsti! ;}

Strategies 4 AI November 6, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Machine Learning, Money.
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Had another cherished meeting with the good gang this weekend. Topics ranged from pubic hair to l33tspeak. In between I gave an overview of some of the ideas I had, that haunted my subconscious, but that I couldn’t work on while entrenched before my thesis. Luckily the fortress is bust and so we got to talk our way thru strategies for AI, in length (grab the slides/handout). Most of it’s rather impractical, since requiring command of a slightly larger workforce than the 0.5 portion I’d consider myselves, but the main take-home massages wuz:

  • Numerically adaptable (sooft) computing suffers from curse of dimensionality w.r.t. number of parameters. Also, many easily-traineable models (e.g. Hidden Markov Models, Support Vector Machinas) are computationally low-grade (i.e. far from turing-equivalonce). That will not do for semantic & pragmatic generative models. Rule-based, crisp stuff is not adaptable to model our (kinda continuous-valued) world, hence kinda inadequate (at least as stand-alone).
  • So we need numerically adaptable methods that really can be used to calculate high-level problems. And we need ways to adapt those parameters.
  • Idea 1: Integrate whatever you’re doing into a big, adaptable AI-environment. Let lots of people work on it. Hope that that will give you lots of computational resources and eyeballs to adapt to very specific problems. Caveat: You need a system that basically works, so that people will even start using it — and then they still have to see some benefit in it. So you kinda need a working system to start with, possibly on a restricted domain.
  • Idea 2: Dream up some learning-heuristics and other methods that either make your parameters-to-be-learned less, or faster learneable, while still being computationally powerful. I propose a predator-prey learning model, where a generator has outsmart a classifier (and vice versa) to get good learning even if you only have positive and no negative training samples. Also, I suggest ways to spread the parameter-butter (weights of recurrent neural nets) across more bread (memory-capacity) by placing these neural nets like robot-controllers into an artificial world, in which they have read-write access.

Some of this runs under crazy dreams some of it is more like potential Master’s thesis.

And if you actually read this far and still are following the text, I congratulate you. While reading through I was slightly flummoxed at the rate of reader-unfriendliness some of the constructions exhibit. Maybe it’s just l33t.

Sharing A Currency System October 6, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Earth, Economics, Money.
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One of the fundamentals of sharing an economy-around-a-currency:

You share the responsibility to retain the currency’s value.

This fundamental responsibility has been and is being trodden upon by the federal reserve system in the US — in the effort of mending prior irresponsibility by financial institutions. If one for some reason thinks one has to use standard fiat money (money not backed by commodities, i.e. gold) then one should either not go for fractional reserve banking or totally not go for free-wheeling, no-state-intervention, market capitalism. Simply because this free-wheeling market, combined with fractional reserve banking can be exploited for short-term gains, which then necessitate big governmental intervention such as the current bailout. So — as people have been pointing out — all this necessitates the opposite of non-interventionism to keep the economy going.

What the current situation will create is inflation in dollar and dollar-backed currency. Which will increase US-depression. I’m a little bit worried about that country and its economy, especially if one takes into account that it consumes 50% of the worlds oil-production. You know, oil isn’t going to be getting significantly cheaper, unless something really strange happens.

I’m looking forward to my time in the states. I might have to find work there, so I’m a bit worried about the job market too.

Edit: Solely predicting inflation is not quite on spot. We have already seen massive deflation in the housing market and there will be further deflation in other parts of the material economy as it will probably be much harder to receive credit! There also has been deflation on the financial markets so far, however, expect to see inflation creeping up, due to the simple fact that there are, acutely, more dollars floating around that have been conjured from thin air at the federal reserve. Also, US treasuries will most probably be leaking onto the market, as primarily asian stakeholders will try to diversify away from the dollar.

Inflationary and deflationary effects may cancel each other out in part, making development look more moderate, in the end however, i would say that decline in trust in the US economy would lead to inflation.

Information Warfare: Opinion-Spam August 17, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Advertising, Humans.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

This is the first time I’ve seen something like this; I received a spam-email (in German) that didn’t want to sell anything, it wanted to shape my opinion:

Ein kleines Mädchen spricht die Wahrheit über georgische Angriffe:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=H8XI2Chc6uQ
(YouTube manipuliert den Aufrufzähler und lässt dieses Video nicht populär werden)

2000 Tote innerhalb von 2 Tagen durch georgischen Angriff – RIP
Für alle Kinder, Frauen, Männer die durch georgische Angriffe umgekommen sind starten wir diese Aktion.

Wir sind gegen Propaganda in deutschen Medien!
Wir sind keine Medien-Marionetten.
Wir wollten die WAHRHEIT! Wir sind das Volk!

Verbreite diese Nachricht wie ein Lauffeuer! (Emails, Blogs, Foren, ICQ)
Zusammen sind wir stark.

English summary: “A small girl speaks the truth about the Georgian invasion; Atrocities by Georgian military. We are against propaganda in German media. Spread this news like wildfire!”

I guess that someone who’s strongly interested in promoting the Russian government’s views just bought a list of email-addresses off some spam-base. The fun thing is that I personally actually don’t need to be convinced to view the Georgian version rather critically. Incidents such as these however do underline the creepyness-factor of the Putin-controlled aparatus.

Has anyone had experience with this? Maybe it’s connected to this Botnet-buildup?

Propaganda party.

Work In Progress August 11, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Programming.
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I am still hacking away at my thesis. That’s why I haven’t posted in a while. I would have loved to have made some pithy comments about Obama’s evolving policy for president and how seamlessly he’s getting into the mood. Oh, and I’d loved to have talked about a few more issues: There were some further thoughts on Browser as Platform vs. other ways of doing that (remember, I had opted for IM’s). It’s interesting that XMPP has been getting more and more attention (as well as discontention) as it becomes clear that some sort of push-mechanism is really kinda necessary…

Most of the other topics are fermenting! My thesis, as I said, has taken a front seat. I still haven’t really started writing a text (that could worry me). I set my time to finish until the end of September, where I should be done & ready to review by mid Sept. – which doesn’t leave a heck of a lot of time. Oh no. Next steps are: wrapping up the programming part. Since a straightforward way of learning the task hasn’t worked, I’m opting for an augmentative strategy. Very much like heuristics help you in search problems, I’ll be helping the learning algorithm along by providing a (hopefully) well-picked set of more easily learnable sub-problems and sub-networks that are merged and integrated step-by-step. Lets hope it’ll fly.

Back to hack.

Times of Declining Energy June 16, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Earth, Humans.
Tags: , , , , ,
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David Holmgren really spells it out: PERMACULTURE & PEAK OIL: Beyond ‘Sustainability’ (youtube video).

He talks about some of the basic facts: that we soon will be having less and less energy available, that there will have to be other methods to adapt to this situation. In a thoughtful, realistic and kind manner. I am highly impressed!

Platform Problems June 15, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Programming.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Earlier today I read a TechCrunch article (had been reddited) on Google Gears and its position as a direct competitor. The main thrust is that the browser — possibly with some extension — is going to be the new important virtual machine — and that Google is positioning Gears as an alternative to both Flex/Air and that M$ technology. I was having an uneasy feeling dans le gutt.

Also, I was watching a joint interview by Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Besides this being an intriguing setting as a whole, just watch the second part of this sub-clip. Steve & Bill are asked for their take on exactly this browser-as-new-standard-platform thesis. Of course they basically laugh it off. But as Jobs puts it: they are the dinosaurs. But watch the clip, it’s nice.

Update: Despite the fact that there would be no cocoa for Windows, which had been dispelled, there seems to be something afoot, involving SproutCore to take on Flash/Flex/AIR et al..

Here’s my (& my gutt’s) take: The browser (or conversely, the www) is quite a shitty choice for a standard platform because:

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I am poor June 4, 2008

Posted by olvidadorio in Economics, Humans.
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I just realized that compared to the world’s per-capita yearly income (statistics from 2000), and considering my current steady income of 177 € per month, that I’m by now most probably living off less than many humans around the globe have on average. Nowadays I should be somewhere right around average. If you through in price-differences between countries, well I’m not exactly well off. But am I truly poor? Don’t really think so.

Update: The DFG(German Research Foundation)-sponsored project I had a little job working for has abruptly been panned, so after end of this month I won’t even be able to rely on the above 177 euroquid. However, my dad mentioned that he’ll be keeping me from starving until my thesis is done… Then I can starve… ;-}