Posts filed under ‘Book’

I am reading and not reading

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid – Hofstadter is an incredibly dense read.  It’s light hearted and funny, but at the same time really really tough to read.

The book starts by talking of strange loops like:

[This statement is false]

And goes from there.

So, both these statements are true:

[I am reading the book]

[I am not reading the book]

This is no paradox depending on what you mean by ‘reading.’

Another entertaining loop from the book: asking the genie “I wish that you would not grant my wish”

A related paradox from How to Survive a Robot Uprising by Wilson, that I’m listening to in the car:

“Never show fear.  Robots have no emotion.  Sensing your fear could make the robot jealous and send it into an angry rage.”


September 1, 2009 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

The Equation that Couldn’t be Solved, Livio

The Equation that Couldn’t be Solved
How Mathematical Genius Discovered the language of symmetry
By Livio
A fascinating walk through the history of mathematics, Livio introduces group theory and shows its wide ranging applications.   He integrates the human stories of mathematical genius with descriptions of the theories being developed.
P8  Interesting off-topic  line “…This does not mean, however, that any delegation of visiting aliens would look anything like us.  Any civilization sufficiently evolved to engage in interstellar travel has likely long passed the merger of an intelligent species with its far superior computational-technology-based creatures.  A computer-based super-intelligence is most likely to be microscopic in size.” Someone has been reading Kurzweil.
P163 in describing operations and permutations, I was reminded of Wolfram’s a New Kind of Science.  Simple rules.  Identity, cyclic permutations, transpositions, inverse
P262 discusses possible characteristics of genius.  “Genius does what it must, and Talent does what it can.”

Beyond a certain IQ there is no clear correlation between intelligence and creativity.  For those that do make it into the roster of creators, a certain set of personality traits proves far more important than having a certain general IQ, or a high domain-specific ability, even one at prodigy. 

Creators are hard-driving, focused, dominant, independent risk-takers.  Complexity – tend to be able to harbor tendencies that normally appear at the opposite extremes.

The ability to think outside the box, stimulus freedom, break out of common assumptions.  Tolerance of ambiguity.

August 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Planet Google by Stross

Planet Google by Stross
Table of Contents

1. Open and Closed
2. Unlimited Capacity
3. The Algorithm
4. Moon Shot
5. GooTube
6. Small World, After All
7. A Personal Matter
8. Algorithm, Meet Humanity


The book covers the history of Google, through both good and bad decisions.   Stross talks about Google’s branching out from its core technology of search.  Google book search continues to be a timely and controversial topic.

“Google gave users the chance to set up a ‘personal collection’ of book titles, which could be search and also shared with others. “  Look into this.

Dig back into Google earth – mentioned sites Virtual Globetrotting, Google Earth Hacks, and Google Sightseeing…virtual tourism.

August 22, 2009 at 7:44 am Leave a comment

Thirteen by Morgan

I finished Thirteen, by Morgan: Dystopic Future, genitically modified humans, Mars, cannibalism, what more could you  ask for?  Morgan is adept at creating a dystopic vision of the all-too-near future.  The issue of racism is recast here as a sort of xenophobia describing ongoing tension between “13’s” who are genetic variations of modern humans – essentially the original hunters in the hunter/gather equation – and their “femanized” descendents, us.  Morgan creates and fills out a whole mythology here and gives the moster a soul.  Brilliant book.

April 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm Leave a comment

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