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Archive for the 'HoB Research' Category

Mysterious Martian Symbol (a.k.a. Devilface 1 of 9)

Saturday, August 18th, 2012 by Wadical Weft

This image was extracted from a picture (0003ML0000084000E1_DXXX.jpg) of an odd Martian rock taken by Curiosity.   See the process for yourself by clicking on the picture below.


The first prediction of this kind, ever.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 by dean

Or so you’d think they’re implying from this quote from the blurb at phys.orgFor the first time, researchers have been able to build a consensus between different regional climate models using spatial statistics.

What say, we take time out from fuming about whether past predictions are even predictions and what people intended back then.

Look at the site, and maybe even find other sites, that have data more like something we could start tracking, like we were doing with the JAXA satellite. How is this different from other kinds of predictions? Have there been other predictions?

Put your thoughts on this topic, and your links to predictions (preferably in a nicely crafted post), in the comments section! Citizen Science is part of Science 2.0.

Trigger and amplifier

Monday, April 9th, 2012 by SecureCare

“…researchers compiled ice and sedimentary core samples collected from dozens of locations around the world, and found evidence that while changes in Earth’s orbit may have touched off a warming trend, increases in CO2 played a far more important role in pushing the planet out of the ice age.

“Orbital changes are the pacemaker. They’re the trigger, but they don’t get you too far,”…Most scientists now believe…that the first domino wasn’t an increase in greenhouse gases, but a gradual change in Earth’s orbit. That orbital change resulted in more sunlight hitting the northern hemisphere. As the ice sheets over North America and Europe melted, millions of gallons of fresh water flooded into the North Atlantic and disruped the cyclical flow of ocean currents…”…if you turn the conveyor belt off, it’s going to warm the south because you’re no longer stealing that heat away. Warming the southern hemisphere, in turn, shifts the winds and melts back sea ice that had formed a cap, trapping carbon in the deep ocean.”…” Full Slice

An extreme event

Monday, April 9th, 2012 by SecureCare

“International scientists have shown that a dramatic sea-level rise occurred at the onset of the first warm period of the last deglaciation, known as the Bølling warming, approximately 14,600 years ago. This event, referred to as Melt-Water Pulse 1A (MWP-1A), corresponds to a rapid collapse of massive ice sheets 14,600 years ago and resulted in global sea-level rise of ~14 m….” Full Slice


Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 by Wadical Weft

When Do Fish Have Names?

Thought in the Technium


HoB Research Institute Videochat Report #1

Copyright 2012 Steven Dean Calahan

HoB Research Institute Videochat 2011.11.25

Factors Participant: Cahn, Calahan, Guyll, Kemper, Osenbaugh, Snow

Factors Correspondant: Flanagan, Joellenbeck

Version 0.1.1



Imagine that you give a family dinner party, and Kim, one of your relatives, brings her friend Pat, who lives in another country and speaks only a few words of the prevailing language. After much jollity and some awkwardness due to Pat’s technical language deficiencies, she attracts everybody’s attention by earnestly asking a seemingly profound, or perhaps trivial question: “when do fish have names?”. Once the good-natured laughter dies down, further communication reveals that Pat is really asking what kind of fish had been cooked for the meal and was trying to ask “what is the name of this fish?”.  However, the group’s curiosity is piqued and a discussion (profound or trivial) ensues on just when do fish have names.

Now imagine that your book club meets to discuss a book you’ve all just read, and wonderfully the author of this book has graciously accepted your invitation to join in the discussion. You have a nice hour and a half online with him during which the author gamely addresses all of your questions, book related or not, making some profound comments and asking some profound questions although perhaps some of what seems profound later seems trivial.

The House of Baloney Research Institute (HoBRI) recently did the book club thing with Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants. To be sure, he invited us (as part of an invitation to the general public) to buy nine copies of his book, thereby securing ninety minutes of his time with up to nine people. In the book, Kelley coins the word “technium” to identify the entirety of the designed world, including not only the human artifacts but its propensity to become exponentially more sophisticated and capable, and including mindless design processes such as biological evolution. While it’s hard not to accept his argument that the technium will eventually exceed the abilities of the human brain, we found our communications on the technical reasons for his conclusions to be similar to Pat’s conversation at the dinner party. After much jollity and conversation about the technium, Kevin wondered “when will the technium ever have a thought?”.

At first, this seems like a profound question. Is humanity’s legacy of science fiction to be wasted, or will we be ready to embrace (or confront!) our new cognitive partner(s) in a meaningful way? Who could fail to be excited by the notion, less fantastic as the technium grows, that we, alive today, will be the first to communicate with such a novel entity? Given the immensity of the prospects for internet intelligence, why are we looking for extraterrestrial intelligence when we should be looking for internet intelligence?   Our curiosity has been piqued and this question the subject of many subsequent discussions (profound or trivial) at HoBRI research sessions and Office Hour with +Dean Calahan.  This little HoBRI contribution can only be called a kind of riff on a groove, inspired by jollity, camaraderie, and maybe a bit of hand-crafted hoppiness.


“Thought” thoughts are abundant in the philososphere.  ”Internet thought” thoughts (give a dog a bone) are only as profound as asking when fish have names. Guppies “have” names when their owners assign them, but our naming has nothing to do with whether guppies have names for themselves. Our names for them stay in our brains, never entering theirs. Looking for thoughts in the technium may be as inherently fruitless as looking for (human-defined) fish names in fish brains.

On third thought, internet consciousness seems profound again. And then trivial, and then profound, and then… blah blah blah. The word “thought” itself is but a name we use to describe part of the illusion that is consciousness. What actually happens in the brain when we introspect is only slowly becoming evident. Any technium-specific thoughts similar to ours are likely to be functional illusions within a technium analog of the cerebral cortex (if these distinctions are even meaningful). We may even learn how to install such illusory constructs at will. If did, then we would know that the technium had thoughts because we would have provided them.

But what what if the technium is already thinking? Is global consciousness emerging (there’s a thought!)? Where would we even look for it? The reason our thoughts operate the way they do is because that’s the way they grew. Neuroscience is beginning to understand how our thoughts happen because it knows the brain is the place to look. Where in the technium should we look for thoughts? Its evolution works differently from ours, with different substrates and different rules. How would we even define a thought in such a system? If the technium independently evolves functions that fulfill the roles for it that consciousness does for us, wouldn’t we have to call the technium conscious?

A corollary to technium-mentation being too foreign for human consideration is that it may never evolve its own thoughts until it encounters other technia. A significant part of human thought is devoted to imagining what is going on in other brains, and drafting all sorts of plans for future eating, breeding, or fighting based on those imaginings. Indeed, the very ability to model other brains gives a human brain the ability to model and control itself. The very act of self-modeling may be what gives us our own particular human form of consciousness, our sensation of introspection or an illusion that feels like introspection. Unless there are aliens, and until we have physical contact with them, the technium may never evolve its own consciousness. For the technium to think, we may need to find ET after all.


Maybe. Now imagine you accept an invitation to a swank, if bizarre, info-monastary/resort/retreat center. Swank because every comfort you are used to is freely available, but bizarre because you are locked inside your room, as are all the other guests inside theirs. You never encounter another living being in person. Your room is fully equipped with all of the latest computer gadgets, fully loaded with software that makes it easy to create digital artifacts, whether by writing, drawing, running simulations or whatever, but you are not connected to the internet. Your only audience or info source is the other guests, and the same with them. Everybody can post their creations to their digital “wall”, which anybody can view. Anybody can make copies of whatever they view on any wall, incorporating the information into their digital artifacts if and however they see fit. Even more bizarre, nobody speaks the same language. Written language would be used sparingly at first, though a common lingo or jargon would surely evolve. At first communications would be only through pictures and non-word sounds or music.

Behind the scenes, the hardware that serves this social networking environment is a vast cloud of enormous computing power, monitoring the attempted communications on everybody’s walls, finding correlations between various signals and eventually mapping, if only by brute force and statistics, the developing and ongoing conversations. Using every imaginable computing technique from bottom up to top down, simulation, emulation, whatever it takes, the system works relentlessly to optimize its computations to use the least resources it can.

At this point, you may be expecting some kind of metaphor intended to make you suppose that this resort operating system is actually thinking. Else why such an elaborate scheme? Unfortunately we’re only halfway through describing this scenario, and that’s not actually the point. Nor are there alien guests from other worlds. Everything is totally mundane.

Continuing the development of our metaphor, suppose all these back-end servers can issue work orders to suppliers and technicians (human and virtual) to reconfigure the network to absorb the latest technology available and that all the various embodiments of symbol/communication understanding have access to each others’ code, for reuse or analysis, and to the code for all the other computing clouds for similar resorts. We would expect computations to evolve which have no direct interaction with humans, ever. No matter what humans may do with their gadgets, these janitorial code clouds are unaffected in any operations they need to complete. Still, in their relentless optimization, these clouds would surely find underused patterns in the digital flow of the human content, and exploit that, if indeed their fitness landscape has particularly good minima that incorporate such tricks.

If there can be thoughts in the technium at all, must not these behind the scenes algorithmics be thoughts? Inherent aspects of their functioning ride upon human thoughts as closely as they can without using human brains – as close to being brain-thoughts as they can, and yet not being embrained, they are independent. This product of algorithmic activity, storage and retrieval, cataloging, modeling, peer-to-peer exchange, embodied in the massive voids in the data streams that humans leave to be exploited: Is this not language?


Now imagine you are a fish. That is, similar to being invited to a dinner party, or a futuristic room, you are invited to be a guppy in a fishbowl. Like Merlin and Wart in The Once and Future King, some kind of high tech allows you to experience the mental life of a fish. Contrived as the futuristic room gedanken was, the fishbowl is even more contrived: to imagine being a fish you have to sacrifice the very ability to imagine what it is like to be a different consciousness. The futuristic room only requires you to extrapolate current technology; the fishbowl requires you nearly to suppose near-magic. How can you get a sense of what it must be like to just float there waiting to fight, flee, forage or fornicate, while noticing that you are imagining all that?

And why stop with fish? If we can imagine propelling two electrons towards each other through a vacuum, such that they bounce or veer away from each other, why can’t we suppose that each electron is experiencing some thought-primitive or other. The question becomes one of scale and emergence – is it the underlying physics that defines the presence of thought, or the specific patterns and dynamics that occur? Is rate important – do plants think? or insect colonies or slime molds? Is thought so inherently boring, when you get down to it, that our philosophizing about it is little more than a symptom of unwarranted self-regard? It sure doesn’t feel that way, but maybe that’s just part of the illusion.

When Do Fish Have Names?

Saturday, February 18th, 2012 by dean

Over there on the right, under “Pages” you will find the text of a draft of our experience with Kevin Kelly.

Baloney Research Hangout with Kevin Kelly, 2011-11-25 19:00 PST

Thursday, November 10th, 2011 by Wadical Weft

Baloney Research has scored a Google+ Hangout with Author Kevin Kelly to discuss “What Technology Wants” on 2011-11-25 19:00 PST for 90 minutes.  Mr. Kelly will discuss his book and answer questions.  We should probably create a list of questions in advance to make sure we cover what we want:


What does technology want?

Heavy biological cost of agriculture

Friday, June 17th, 2011 by SecureCare

“When populations around the globe started turning to agriculture around 10,000 years ago, regardless of their locations and type of crops, a similar trend occurred: The height and health of the people declined.

“This broad and consistent pattern holds up when you look at standardized studies of whole skeletons in populations,”…early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet.”

She adds that growth in population density spurred by agriculture settlements led to an increase in infectious diseases, likely exacerbated by problems of sanitation and the proximity to domesticated animals and other novel disease vectors….” Full Slice

Effect hysteresis

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 by SecureCare

“…2008 saw the longest and weakest solar minimum since scientists have been monitoring the sun with space-based instruments.

Observations have shown, however, that magnetic effects on Earth due to the sun, effects that cause the aurora to appear, did not go down in synch with the cycle of low magnetism on the sun…these effects on Earth did in fact reach a minimum — indeed they attained their lowest levels of the century — but some eight months later. The scientists believe that factors in the speed of the solar wind, and the strength and direction of the magnetic fields embedded within it, helped produce this anomalous low….” Full Slice

Deep down life

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by SecureCare

“Single-cell organisms have been known to live deep in the earth, more than 9,000 feet below the surface.

But until now, it was thought that the temperature, energy, oxygen and space constraints of the subsurface biosphere were too extreme for multicellular organisms….” Full Slice

No more Clovis first ?

Monday, May 16th, 2011 by SecureCare

“It may not be Atlantis, but evidence of a lost civilization probably lies beneath the waves all along the Washington coast — in fact, all along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

A recently announced discovery of stone tools on California’s northern Channel Islands, just across the Santa Barbara Channel from the city of Santa Barbara, may tell us a good deal about what that civilization did….” Full Slice

Flow, redox, flow. Let your ions wash down.

Sunday, May 1st, 2011 by dean


The inventor of the vanadium redox flow battery is interviewed.

The redox must flow

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 by dean


As discussed in Research Sessions, the vanadium flow battery possesses some utility in electrical power storage, along with various disadvantages. This report, from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, purports to increase the advantages.

Some Fundamental Questions

Sunday, February 13th, 2011 by SecureCare

That Face the Normative Social Psychologist - Abraham Maslow (1968)

“…How good a society does human nature permit? How good a human nature does society permit? What is possible and feasible? What is not?…”

Like it or not, the questions Maslow surfaces in this paper are the ones we are dealing with when we decide to pontificate about human problems and suggest our solutions. Obviously I think it would be very wise for all of us to consider Mr. Maslow`s paper and use it as a guide to shaping our discussions. A (almost) Full Slice

[This reference is the closest I have come to finding this paper on the web. Anyone that can discover an accessable complete copy please let me know.]

HoB Research Meeting 2011-A

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 by dean
Proposed start: Saturday 2010-02-05 6PM EST, 5PM CST, 3PM PST
Promoting Ed’s agenda to beginning of next Moot.
  1. Ed - Quirk theory vis-a-vis the recent multidimensional patents by Baloneys and the cellbase project by other Baloneys.  Multidimensional organization a natural evoluationary process in data storage, navigation and transformation indicated by the emergent patent work.  Quirk queries into cellspaces as theorems of the mathematical theory.
    Timeline’s multidimensional sorting patent
    Rob’s multidimensional vector subspace for token analysis patent
    Wad’s multidimensional organization of portolio information objects patent
  2. Ed - Web organization to maximize networking effects.  Consideration of Daily Kos version 4 as an exemplar of the “outer” ring of Web “ping paths” we want to set up to drive traffic to more “inner” rings.  Establishing Baloney memes through circuits of ping paths laid down by coordinated design and execution.
  3. Dean - Statistical bootstrapping and multidimensional sequence analysis for detecting quirks.
  4. Wad - Wadical Capitalism.  A private sector insurance based response to King County Sheriff refusal to investigate unincorporated King County residential crimes.
  5. Dean, Ed - Global Village Construction Kit.
  6. Dean - Which is worse, impeding action or advancing action on climate change? And how would either position be defended. Reference. (Note: wording changed from prior agenda, link from prior agenda edited to refer to the document in question).
  7. Dean - Planet hunting? Worthy or other?