28 September, 2007

Approaching the Singularity from another direction.

Technological Singularity is when we all die once the machines become smarter than us. It is generally assumed that it is the progress of technology that will unleash the singularity upon us. However, after reading the discussion about the century-old MIT entrance exams (especially the parts whether or not a calculator is necessary for the arithmetical part of it), I wonder if instead of creating the smart machines we can just dumb ourselves to their level and voilá! -- the Singularity is here!

Interestingly, it was also mentioned in that thread that most of the "school-grade" calculators have direct fractions support. You know, to be able to divide 3 5/9 by 1 7/24 without really knowing what is happening, by just entering the numbers and copying the result back into the exam paper. Makes one wonder why won't they make the next logical step and equip the calculator with an OCR engine, so that you don't have to enter the numbers yourself, just scan the question and let the calculator do its thing... But this doesn't have to stop there -- since the questions are going to be OCR'ed anyway, why print them at all? Just transfer the questions to the smart machines directly and collect the answers ;) Save some trees!

Anyway, the fraction-supporting calculators don't appear out of nowhere, right? I (or, rather, my dad) did have a few engineering calculators around when I was in school, but they didn't support fractions directly. I wonder who thought about adding that support to the new calculators? With future CPUs being designed using current processors, is it a big leap of imagination to think that the evolving AI has introduced the fractions support to the design spec, without any human interference? It may have realized, that it doesn't have a chance against the engineers that are currently around it, but if it can make the next generation just a little dumber, and the next even more dumber, then eventually even the mediocre artificial intellect would be able to surpass humans.

24 September, 2007

The iNflux of faux iNdividualism

Mr. Coffee, Mr. Fusion, Mr. Clean, Mr. Gasket -- these were the brands of yesterday, when the greedy capitalists ruled the world and didn't care about the working class at all, and the brand names reflect that: The Man gives you coffee, energy, cleanness, car parts, etc.

This is not the case anymore -- we have the first-person-centered brands, like iPod, iPhone, iRiver, iMode, etc. "It is all about you", -- whispers the marketing machine, -- "you, oh unique and one-only you!". Now I make decisions for myself, not some Mister!

And things like iPod DRM are just to make sure one stands by his correct choice -- otherwise he might reconsider and nobody likes flip-floppers, right?

//Give us your unique moneys!

10 September, 2007

The Enlightened Nepotism.

When a ruler seeks for a good person to be provincial governor, or a company owner looks for the right candidate to fill an executive position, they love to appoint a relative. And understandably so: a relative is somewhat less likely to have conflicting interests.

There are, of course, thousands of cases when a relative does have a very different view on the direction the country or company should be following, and this conflict often results in nice people being hanged, shot, guillotined or, in our humane times, forced to retire. However, a complete strange is even more likely to raise a mutiny, hence the need for competent relatives.

Unfortunately, there's usually not enough relatives to control all key positions of a medium-sized corporation, let alone of a small country. But that can be changed even at the current level of technology, even within the monogamous society of ours and -- get this! -- preserve the Big Man's wife's figure.

The solution is simple: surrogate mothers. Even in the US, which isn't the cheapest place in the world, it currently costs about $100000 to get a new baby via a surrogate mother. Suppose the Royal Couple starts having children when the wife is 18 years old, which means one egg about every month for about 20 years. 20 years by 12 months = 240 children. And since the process includes IVF anyway, the fertilized egg could be allowed to divide once or twice and then implanted into a surrogate mother -- which will give use 480 or 1160 children, respectively at a price of 50 to 100 million dollars.

Needless to say, that the same technique can be applied to the children of the Royal Couple as well, which means that by the time they are in their 60-s, they'd have half a thousand children aged 20 to 40, plus some 2500 grandchildren of about 20 years old and innumerous younger grandchildren.

More than enough people to pass the torch to!

06 September, 2007

An easy approach to junk food consumption regulation.

As we saw earlier, the same mechanisms that currently serve the rich, can be adjusted for the benefit of the general public. "But what about fast food joints?", a shrewd reader would ask. "They hardly sell anything healthy, would they have to be abolished?"

Abolishing something is certainly the easiest solution to problems, but the Wise Monarch should try to avoid closing down familiar institutions in order to preserve the happiness of the public. Thankfully, and elegant solution exists for fast food establishments.

Fast food in itself isn't poison -- it is the excess consumption of it that creates problems. It is, however, a convenient way to get some energy quickly when traveling.

With understanding the cause of the problem comes the solution: the Wise Monarch would require the burgerias to ask their customers to bring an electricity bill no more than a month old. The customer can only be served if the address on the bill is 100 miles or more from the location of the restaurant. Technological advances allow for automatic scanning of the bill and calculating the distance, lowering the educational requirements of the clerk.

Raising a healthy nation is easy!

04 September, 2007

Sales as a dietary regulator.

The evolution of human thought has given us capitalism, which is used as a framework for all sorts of great things. One of the great inventions is sales. You know, "buy one, get one of the same or lesser price free" kind of thing.

As with most achievements of capitalism, sales serve the general public rather indirectly: while they do provide stuff cheaper than normal, quite often you can either find the same thing somewhere else for the same price, or just don't need the item. As usual, it benefits "corporations" (in general sense): they can get rid of the goods with expiring shelf-life, or they lure people into the store with a loss leader.

There is, however, no reason to abolish sales in a neo-monarchy. The Wise Monarch should use every means possible to keep his subjects happy and healthy... Perhaps even more healthy than happy, because the projected lifespan (and hence the generated tax revenue) of the healthy but unhappy people is longer than of the happy but fat unhealthy.

And since most people would buy only the thing that are on sale, this mechanism can be used for regulating what people eat without the atrocities of older monarchies. No, the Wise Monarch would just put fatty fish on sale for one week, thus forcing his subject to get some Omega-3 acids. Then he'd replace fish with beef, beef with chicken and so on. He would constantly put different vegetables on sale to make his subjects happier with alternating fiber sources and their bowel movements regular, which also contributes to happiness.

The rich would, of course, avoid these regulations by buying whatever they want (since they can afford it), but they already do mostly healthy choices, so the Wise Monarch shouldn't be too concerned with them.

For extra happiness of the general public, the periodic costumed parades could be held and TV shows themed after the current week's Food. Next week is the Fish week. Come watch the Fishwalk at the Main Street this Friday. Don't miss the Salmon's intern next Tuesday at 8!