We humans are all alike and we are all unique. We love. We hate. We talk. We touch. We wear clothes (most of us). We sing songs. We dance and we give gifts. We seek out water and meaning. We take care of the next generation. What is "culture?" There are simple answers, and there are difficult ones. Any given culture is a set of symbols. The space of all possible cultures is a subset of humanity's behaviors and perceptions,... Read more
Graham Morehead: ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Graham Morehead writes about anything he finds fascinating — physics, complexity, the human condition, and just about everything else. He would probably find you fascinating too.
He studied physics and then computer science (and held down various jobs), but his great love is computational linguistics. The big problem he wants to work on is machine translation. Solving it will make some really cool software and foster world peace.
Graham Morehead: All Posts
Language is beautiful and language is functional. Language is poetry, song, and prose. Language is the linear expression of ideas. For us humans, language is a technology that goes back over one hundred thousand years. With it I can extract a complex concept from my mind and thrust it into yours. If I be an educator of sufficient skill, I can do so almost against your will. By language we express love. By language we teach our sons and daughters.... Read more
Design is an abstraction. It is both visual and functional. It can take on a slightly different flavor depending on context, just like soy beans. The people who designed your nuclear reactor are not the same people who designed your favorite font. You can design a disaster recovery plan, and you can design an electric toothbrush. Do these skillsets have anything in common? Someone seems to think so. Design itself is a subject to study. There are design classes springing... Read more
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― Richard Buckminster Fuller A long time ago, wars were fought over, of all things, salt. Examples include a war Venice fought with Genoa, and various wars in and around France during the time of the gabelle -- a hated salt tax. Could you imagine fighting a war over salt today? What changed? Why don't we fight over... Read more
I am a Bostonian. I lived there most of my life. I was born there. My heart has been aching all week. I heard about the bombs soon after it happened. I kept checking the news. I read about those who were killed. I saw pictures of people being carried away with sickening injuries. So many amputations. So many double-amputees. I was angry. I am angry right now. I want to cry. We found the guys who did it. We... Read more
I am elated. I was sitting in class on the first day of my first college course on artificial intelligence (AI). I couldn't believe my luck. I can get college credit studying something that seems like sci-fi. I sat there with my mind wide open. I learned about logic, Alan Turing, and Searle's Chinese box. As a Physics student, this was just an elective. I ate it all up. I secretly hoped that the Strong Theory of AI was true... Read more
From the inky shadows, it came with a whimper, not a shout. I didn't even know it had happened until weeks afterward. I am now a published scientist!!! I waited for so long. I had almost forgotten about our submissions. We had submitted and resubmitted. Until now, I didn't know how it would feel to get over that hump from "never been published," to "published". It feels good. It seems to hit me in waves. I spent a few years... Read more
Whatever the first self-replicating molecule was, whether it was RNA-like, or even a cooperation of more than one molecule … whether the membrane came first, or the stuff inside it … we evolution believers think that something came "first." Once that first self-replicating molecule existed, it was able to multiply. Evolution was off and running. The question is: How hard was it to generate the first such molecule? I have heard apologeticists preach about how impossible it was for any... Read more
A tradition with deep roots continues even tonight in much of Afghanistan : "Bacha Bazi," which means loosely "Playing with boys." When a man reaches a position of authority in the police or armed forces, he often takes a "chai boy" as a status symbol (chai = tea). The boy does serve tea to him and guests, and he feeds the boy, but the boy is a slave. The boy is a sex slave. What could be a better status... Read more
As mentioned last week, a U Maine economist named Sarah Morehead had this idea : Develop an economic environment in which selfish zero-sum-game strategies are maladaptive. (full disclosure: Sarah is my ex-wife) You can file this idea under the headings, "Complex Adaptive Systems," and "Game Theory." This post merely presents these concepts and how they might work together. More meat will come in later posts. Game Theory attempts to model interactions between people or other agents where each party has... Read more