Feb 4, 2015
Before you write a letter accusing me of class warfare and petty bourgeoisie anti-intellectual navel-gazing, read on. The title is misleading. No, I'm not going to make the opposite case either. Let's talk for a moment about happiness and money. A windfall of a small amount can make a poor person unimaginably happy. Gifts that make it easier for you to buy something you need or want are a big deal. A gamer who wins a challenging game becomes elated and euphoric. Some have called it the "epic" emotion. A gamer needs extra money to buy games and so without money they are usually unable to play very many games. For many gamers, their happiness subsides over time playing the same game. This is known as replayability and is very important for MMORPGs, online games, and even single player games. But the epic emotion is just one tiny sliver of happiness.
Happiness is the emotion that accompanies goodness. But does goodness equal happiness? In my opinion, no. I have for years attempted to argue that hedonism is a bankrupt philosophy and that doing something because it makes you happy is not the same as only doing things because they make you happy. Purpose comes not from happiness in my opinion, the reverse is not exactly true either. Purpose is often thought of as an old puritanical value that doesn't fit in with post-modern philosophy of life. But wait, why do we care about post-modernism? Because life matters. It takes almost no effort on the part of a philosopher to come to the conclusion that nihilism is incorrect despite the important lessons it teaches us. But post-modern philosophy goes much further than nihilism. Existentialism is a much more complex philosophy that post-modernism uses to deal with the major questions of life. Its opposition to positivism and rationalism in my opinion makes it unable to explain purpose that is ingrained into our soul, but I can understand how they would come to their conclusions. So how does this fit in with happiness? It is my belief that happiness comes from more than one thing. This makes it elusive. When you chase it, you lose it. When you have it you don't know that you have it, you just are. But that doesn't mean that you have to just be happy with your lot and not strive to make yourself happier. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Strive, knock, ask and don't stop until you look back and say that you were happy. Don't worry that you aren't currently happy, as Winston Churchill said, "If you're going through hell, keep going." What makes this so important is that you don't really know if you're happy now if you are happy. So you have to try to figure out what will make yourself happy and do that. But like I said before, happiness isn't everything.Read more »
Nov 19, 2013
I wanted to post this to my Mexico blog here since I just told people that I'd be blogging there instead of here for the next two weeks, but I decided that a travel blog shouldn't have such an important announcement.
AI3 now has an alpha natural language interface. It doesn't yet query the database like it should, but it will. For now you'll have to be satisfied with thousands of possible conversations. What is a brilliant technology without a tutorial? Here we go.Read more »
Jan 12, 2013
I've been blogging more than usual since I released AI3 on Christmas Eve. You should check it out. In comparison to all websites I have released, AI3 has the most potential and should get the most respect. I purchased a super-fast server (SSD especially for fast database lookups), leased a super-fast colo space for it, and am going to add to it regularly. As a feature of AI3, I will attempt to keep a regular blog here with insight into what I think about each feature of the website is and then I will make a page with that data on ai3 using a simple slug. I've already done a few if you want to look at the past few blog posts.
The feature that I'm going to discuss today is single-minded research of a single difficult topic. Searching for a common word in Google can be one of the most frustrating things in the world. What you really want is for someone to answer the question you are asking, not learn every way to misunderstand what you are asking. Sometimes AI3 will fail, there's no doubt that Google is more in depth than anything I can create even if I had all of Wikipedia. So let's get in depth on a very simple question. It's not one of the easy questions I've been dealing with. Let's ask: "Is the word 'We' used more positively or negatively?" By that, I mean "Is the sentence 'We plan to solve poverty by 2017,' more common than 'We can not solve poverty by 2017'?" But not just that sentence, but every sentence which is in the positive "We *verb*" vs "We *verb* not". This is a deviously difficult problem. Even with a huge corpus, definitive answers require statistical analysis of a ton of stuff. Let's attempt it though. Start with We and we. All words in AI3 are case-sensitive, which is why there are links to all variants of we on the We word page. 1276 pages is too many unless we have a script. Let's try collocation of We. It's a slow process because We is such a common word. You can look below if you're impatient. While you're waiting, maybe try looking at a few sentences. The second sentence is:
`` We didn't want town work '', Jones said.Eureka already? Yup. All we need to do is find similar words on We and every word that is in the negative. That's pretty easy, right? There are only four pages of words that contain n't and most of them are pretty uncommon. Note that there's a bug where dashes assume that two words are one. That's a problem with my parser which should be more intelligent about whitespace. So manually or automatically, we can start searching for sentences that contain We didn't and so on. Since the related page doesn't have a count (due to slowness), we are stuck just trying a high page number and using a binary search from there. If you don't know what a binary search is, let me explain. Let's say that there could be upwards of 100 pages of sentences or more. Simply skip to page 100. If it gives you an error, then there aren't that many pages. Go to half that number, page 50. Half the number again and again until you come up a valid page. Then pick a number half way between the valid page and the invalid page. After a few hits, you will find that page 6 is the end of We didn't. In total, it should only take 7 tries to find any number between 1 and 100 because 2^7 is 128. If you don't understand the math, hopefully you'll understand the process. Anyway, now we have a way of counting all the negative sentences. Then we simply need to count all the sentences that contain We. That can be found on the We word page. But let's say that you thought this algorithm through and have some skill with a database. How long would it take you to come up with the solution? Read more »
Jan 2, 2013
AltSci will soon have a proper server with a lot of bandwidth. I just bought a $1000 server off Newegg and it's going to be fast. Intel Xeon E3-1230 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo) 8 threads, 16 GB ECC RAM, 240GB SSD. I'm going to send it to a datacenter with a lot of bandwidth to do some fun projects.
As I spend less and less time working on my new website AI3, I have to choose the most important features that I want to work on. Completeness is important (the page on Emma Goldman is missing everything after the header), social features are important (users aren't implemented yet), UI is important, and adding more data sources is important to my users (Creative Commons blogs will be added as time goes on), but more important to me is functionality.Read more »