“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
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
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 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
In the 1800's, Thomas Carlyle called economics "The dismal science." The name stuck. Sometimes names stick for a reason. At a recent family reunion I was locked in yet another fascinating discussion with a certain uncle-by-marriage. We were going back and forth with our typical thought-provoking discourse when all of the sudden he dropped a bomb on me. With a gleam in his eye he said that our economic system was going to collapse, and that he was looking forward... Read more
Up-and-coming techie, Aaron Swartz,killed his 26-year-old self out of despair. He was only days away from facing up to 35 years in jail. For what crime was he going to get 35 years? Rape? no, 35 years is too long for rape (the average serves 5.4 years). Manslaughter? Nope. 35 years is too long for manslaughter. It's long enough for first-degree murder, but Aaron didn't murder anyone. Swartz's crime was to download a huge number of scientific papers with the... Read more
This picture of Grace Hopper belies the inestimable contribution made by this person to her country and to the world at large. The first time I saw a picture of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, I experienced a true double-take. She reminded me of my old piano teacher, and half all the librarians I ever knew. I found it hard to connect this image with what I knew she had accomplished. If she were a man, it would have been... Read more