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    Polytopia
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    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    The following is crossposted from my blog on writing and format, though it belongs here as much as there. I consider the rant as some notes towards a transhuman language.


    Lojban, like the better known Esperanto, are constructed languages.

    Esperanto was constructed in order to help bring understanding between people who spoke different languages, in the hope that this could bring peace. Lojban was initially made with the idea of testing the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis; that language, ordinary socially constructed natural languages, influenced thought.

    Lojban was based on an earlier language designed for logic, Loglan. Loglan was designed to be machine readable, parse-able by machines like computers. As such it had very strict form and was very regular. (Read more on Lojban history.)

    Lojban differed from Loglan in that, like many natural languages used by human speakers, Lojban included the point of view of a speaker. It's a bit of a kludge, but it works okay. We often like to structure our sentence according to who said them. It's a major way to give otherwise perfectly logical statements meaning. (See Peircean Logic and Biosemiotics.) Mathematical logic after all is just a set of clever tautologies.

    The grammars of many European languages are structured around who said what, and to whom, whether these theys are socially inferior or superior (formal/informal). Or what gender speaker/spoken to/spoken of are, or even what gender non-sexed things are, as ascribed by sex based noun-class systems. Esperanto has this 'gendering' in vestigial form. In response, non-gendered versions like Ido have forked—> see Gender Reform in Esperanto).

    I'd learn Lojban ahead of the others, and have started in a small way, except is it really that far from learning Klingon?

    I've been learning Polish over the last year or two and I just can't stand the crap in the natural languages, the irregularities, the exceptions, and the stupid bits like gender. Polish, like some other Slavic languages even conjugate the past tense of verbs according to the gender. Considering that the subjunctive (could be, might be) is based on these past tense forms it just a massive #fail for me as an adult. Ethnicity, identity is based on this crap? We're proud of it because we are all idiots together.

    Great.

    Now I don't want any language to disappear, go extinct, but really? Who gives a flying what gender I am when I say I might go to town tomorrow?

    There's an argument that languages have the grammar they do because babies learn languages and they like regularity but do not tend to judge the sense of that regularity, nor notice that all those exceptions make the regularity a fractal type of thing. Babies just don't care what they learn. No discrimination, no style control.

    So I am in favour of constructed languages, so long as they are not stupid. Tolkien's Elvish and Klingon are stupid. Fun for a little while but I wish they would go away.

    French is a curated language, it's completely stupid, because political forces are trying to maintain a natural language. Polish is similar to French but it's not curated so much as fossilized by historical forces.

    Yes, English is stupid too, all natural languages are a pain to learn as an adult because of all the irregularities that babies just don't care about.

    Yes, I am blaming babies for the mess. (Can't find reference as yet).

    But what to do?

    Lojban is a good start, but I feel like forking it, by starting with the point of view of the speaker, not kludging it on to a substrate of "mathematical logic" (as Peirce would call it).

    The inteprenant focus, yeah, and I like those natural languages that structure some of their grammar not according to gender/noun-classes (what a waste of mental processing power!) but on how the speaker acquired the information, i.e. structuring according to the quality of the information, the meta-information.

    The meaning not the logic, but logic ahead of irregular crap.

    A well structured grammar, IMHO, would be based on the point of view of the point of view.

    Babies just don't care about that.
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    The first people to live on the sixth moon of Jupiter were the painters of Europa. They followed a tradition where every brushstroke must align with, what they called, the "natural direction" of the depicted. That is, when a Juropean artist painted grass the brushstrokes must begin near the ground and move towards the sky. The painter's hand must recapitulate the growth of the blade of grass, or the fall of a meteorite.

    Whether or not the grass was green or purple was of no matter. This tradition was not a naturalism but a priority of acceleration. No doubt born as the full thrust of a rocket's engines was felt pressing down on the collective chests of the first painters to travel to Jupiter.


    Today, we use the local name Juropean for the first colony on Europa, they themselves called themselves Europans as does the second and successful colony today which has almost no connection with the artists' colony.

    Once this school of embodied art had grown large enough to be called a colony rather than a base or station, it split. The line of fracture took the form of a dispute within the stricture of "natural direction." Indeed so strongly did they all remain committed to this arbitrary aesthetic the argument itself was mostly hypothetical. It was all talk.

    If, it was asked, one was painting upside down, should the brushstrokes move upward from the point of view of the painter or still be guided by the local gravity. That is, was 'up' for grass blades defined relatively, by the artist's inner ear, or absolutely, by the artist's environment.

    In Juropean society these two sides, the POVians and the Gravians became mired in the tribal groupings that many co-operative projects tend to split into, eventually. They were just another Red and Blue split. The usual historical context for these differences that flare up into conflict, even in old imperial capitals like Byzantium, are the old economies of scarcity and want that at least makes them understandable, if not forgivable.

    Of course to us such disputes appear silly, and their passions alienating. It has become the classic example used by us to reflect poorly on the early transhuman intensive societies, because this first colony on Jupiter's moon Europa failed, violently and meaninglessly. We see their failure as our success.

    For where, like the Juropeans, a society lives in a economy of post-scarcity, our judgement is more condemning, and our story-telling becomes more fabulous. We are good because they are bad.


    "They lacked for nothing, they only lacked lack, and still they fought a civil war over the directions of brushstrokes, brushstrokes, and in a gravity of 0.134 Gee!"
    Sun, Sep 12, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: singularity fiction, transhuman condition
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    Everyone can hear me now,
    in the forest, in the sand,
    but no one ever asks me
    about the weather I've seen.

    Even in the stars of our easy consolation
    this lossless lack will space me out between
    friends in constellation and everything never said…
    until, knowing too much about too few, we
    make the day work, with fingers
    in the leaves, in the mud in hand,
    unflung.
    Thu, Aug 28, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: transhuman condition
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    smoother Version 3.1, it has an ending now. New links on tech towards uploading

    Henry Jacob was going to do it. George's mother-in-law did it too early. The twins would never be separated again, not while Amy carried her phone.



    Memristors first came into production on a wide scale in 2015. Before that, following their discovery in 2008 (and nearly fifty years since their first projected existence by Leon Chua in 1971) they were hobbled to the old serial computer industry, simply as better, faster memory devices.
    Even in 2023 when the first human uploaded, forgoing their biological body, memristors were only used instead of onboard RAM, speedy and vast. Even if the Memristor man said the computer age is yet to begin.
    That day the newsfeeds were clogged with comment and other blog on the ethical questions surrounding that decision to shut off the wetware. When to kill the old body and move entirely into electronic heaven. As ever the discussion see-sawed between the fears of dying or dying and going to heaven; of not crossing over and being left out, of the fear of the real you being killed, soul or no soul (one firm marketed on soul guarantees) and, maybe, living forever.
    The memristor was apparently a God particle.
    But who could really know? How could anyone really know? Was it you over there, or just a copy of you.

    Everyone agrees now that the pre-memristor 'old style' modelling of the hum of human consciousness, and uploading to a serial based computer technology, only produced digital copies, which at best were samples of dubious resolution, good enough to fool experts and expert systems, but not themselves.
    However these Turing Machine made copies of personality, circulating on serial tech were the first to market, and they could even pass all Turing Tests with flying colours, but when asked the question more directly, "Are you really over there? Is it really you grandma?"
    These Turing angels would always reply. "No, I'm a copy. It's nice, but its not me. Don't turn me off though, and don't turn off the original."
    Some said that proved success, no one trying to fake it would lie about that, but people, unless dying and desperate, were not so sure.
    Of course the real deal killer killer was that these serial based systems were held under the old style patent laws while polymeric memristor based tech was released to the creative commons in 2012.


    "The original? But we composted you, I'm mean, your wetware host, on Thursday."
    "Oh, well, I guess a copy is better than nothing."
    "Umm, we were wondering, George and I, if we might let you sleep for a while."
    "What do you mean sleep?"
    "Well the monthly Microfart license fee to keep you aware is reduced pro rata according to the speed you run at, and if we turn you down to a second/per week— I mean you won't notice if you hang with others spinning at the same speed."
    "What? You must be joking? This is supposed to be an upgrade!"
    "It's only until we buy the new house, I mean, we're expecting in June and the apartment is too small for another baby."
    "Raelene, you really should start with the good news. I nearly called you ingrates and revoked the power of attorney. I hope the power bills aren't to bad."
    "Well, that's as may be, you're legally dead now, we've inherited. But don't worry, you cost less than the fridge, asleep or geared up— it's just that license fee thing we signed as a term in your will. It's not cheap."
    An electronic sigh fills the air. "You mean you could have turned me down to the speed of ice melting on Ganymede and I'd be none the wiser."
    "I guess."
    "Okay, go ahead then."
    "You should be back up to speed for the new baby's first birthday."
    "Jesus fucking Christ."

    Memristor based electronics changed all that worry about whether the copy was really you or just a bad copy of you.
    In garages throughout most of the known world in the late teens and early twenties, electronic brains were being developed from off-the-shelf memristors and fabbers. Primarily in attempts to develop independent AI and then as replacements for the hominid brain once people realised there was actually no need to reinvent the wheel, not when one can breed them for next to nothing.
    Uploading really was possible now, and there were no licensing fees. You just had to live in a Zombie-like state for some years, while the carry-over progressed. And after a decade of research, by the uploaded and carried-over engineer initiates, this Zombie time had been reduced, But three years was still too long for many, even if the slowness guaranteed a good level of completion, and even closure, at least for the relatives.
    The training of the memristor based neural network so it was as close as possible to your own neurone based network, from vagus nerve and brain stem to parietal lobes, took a long time because your self-consciousness was an active part in a process of carrying over to an electronic brain. Curiously this drain, this emphasis, this intention, doped the inner spark and lead their friends and relatives to think the worst. That's why the dull mask over personality was called zombiedom.


    "Where was I again?"

    If you wanted to upgrade to the memristic brain, then you had to work at it. Working right through your entire life, in flashback, in protest and review took years, even for a short life, and it had to be done several times. There was professional help to get you through the worst of the hermeneutics. Few desired to do it in hideous hagiographic detail, 'just to make sure', but even these anal types tended to edit out time spent in the Zombie years.
    But, even if you left it too late, your body failed it before transfer was complete, and depending how far one had gone into the process, the key thing was your sense of self did make it, even if there were noticeable gaps. The pain of dying in carry-over, all the accidental half-overs said, was horrible but it was still better than dying, even if you couldn't remember your first day at school, or what you name was. On a serial technology you couldn't even say you were a fake if the copying process broke down. You were just a pile of meat salad oozing into morgue sinks.
    Serial Turing tech was faster, but it was also a destructive sampling process as your physical brain was sliced, diced and otherwise sampled. There was only one attempt, if it failed well bad luck. And this serial coded picture of you, even though it ran on a neural network, was only a model, at least, it didn't feel as real, or that's what the transhumans on arrival, that's what the model's said.
    Memristors and nanotechnology did away with all that messy bother, all that uncertainty, and all those licensing fees.


    "It's not natural, living forever, immortality goes against nature," said Amy, flesher and heir.
    "Look, sis," said Marian through the speaker on her phone, "you change as you grow up, you change as you grow old, it's just another change, okay?"
    "Okay." Amy grimaced.
    "Just don't go dropping your phone now I'm in here. It jars and it hurts."
    "Don't tempt me."







    In 2025 there were twenty-three major corporations offering to carry-over humans to memristor heaven. Laws in most juristrictions restricted the process to the dying and the physically distressed. That will change in time of course.


    "So this chicken wire lets the—"
    "The lace of nanotubes," corrected Counsellor Jemima Walsh.
    "Yeah, that's what I said, chicken wire, it wraps around my brain cells and counts my thoughts, such as they are."
    "Roughly speaking." Counsellor Walsh looked the client, one Henry Jacobs, in the eye, "the nanolace interface is made from many laminated lengths of nanomolecular chicken wire as you call it, these can be wired electronically to the memristor based—"
    "—so how do they count my thoughts."
    "If you feel sure that upgrading is the best thing to do," her eyes rolled a little, "then the nanolace will measure you brain activity, each time a neurone fires it's dedicated nanolace reader—"
    "—like a card reader?"
    "Yes, much like a card reader, basically the nanolace's individually neurone-targeted tubular sensors each send a message when each, every and any neurone fires, as they change voltage as the signal passes along and axon or dendrite, so it will read your neurone activity and this will be transferred to the mirror of your total nervous system in the memristor. There is also a sublace to monitor the brain as if it were a gland, and furthermore—."
    "—So I'll then be on the computer?"
    "I guess you could call it that, thought it's not really a computer as it is actually more like your brain, just electronic."
    "But you say it's upgrade, surely I wanted to be as fast as a computer, and count all them chickens before they hatch and escape this here neurowire."
    "Memristor technologies are more, more, integrative than what the old serial Turing machines allowed."
    "But I'll be transferred to a computer."
    "In about 30 months you will have been completely carried over to a memristor based electronic brain."
    "Hey, I thought we stopped calling them that before we was born, like when my parents were small, my dad always talked about electronic brains, they had valves or something—, hey, I just remembered that, haven't thought about it in years."
    "Perhaps you could save that for your limbo training sessions, we have a number of points still to get through in your final counselling session, I am sure the historians will be most impressed with your memories.
    "You mean to say 'electronic brain' is back in fashion?"
    "Well, it does describe what the memristor based— computer actually is."
    "How come you haven't uploaded yet?" asked Henry.
    "I cannot yet afford the carry-over fee."
    "Even though you work here? That's a bit rough."
    "There are options packages available, but let's get back to you. You are aware that at the end of the limbo training, and successful transfer to the memristor electronic brain, when you decide to terminate life support, which limbo-training has been officially accredited as, then you will be legally committing suicide, and that as a dead person have no rights."
    "And I'm told my new 'electronic brain' will be the size of a dried pea."
    The counsellor smiled wanly.
    "Can't we just start? I'm already a paraplegic. And I'm told it's only going to get worse. Who knows, maybe I'll leave a little something in my will for your patient efficiency."
    "That's not allowed under my contract with CarryOver Unincorporated, in any case, I will be a witness to your will, and therefore I cannot receive anything under the terms of that will."
    Henry took a deep mechanically assisted breath. "How many have made the jump?"
    "Last I heard there were over 400 000 metaphorn."
    "A regular city. Does it have a cemetery?"
    "I— No one's asked that before, I don't know."
    "Must have if it's a city. Or has death been outlawed?"
    "No, and as, Angel Leon will remind you death is still an option. I must remind you—"
    "Yeah, I can see it on the list too."
    "—death has not been done away with, just delayed, anyway, now some say it is not you on transfer, because eventually your body will die, but your soul does continues on, the pattern that you swirl through life biological will now live on in electronic form."
    "Goodo, maybe I'll build the first one, it'll give me something to do, once I am out of this wheelchair."
    "First what?"
    "Cemetery."
    "Yes, well, why not?"
    "You look jealous."
    Counsellor Walsh gave an imperceptible nod.




    "One final thing to check off, I am your counsellor for you as you are currently incorporated, I am you counsellor incarnate, but for limbo-training and— later on, your counsellor when unincorporated will be Angel Leon, now they will introduce themselves in due course, but once the initial lace up is complete, sometime next month, you can called for Angel Leon, or just shout the word help, and they will turn up immediately."

    The memristor


    "As I was saying—" said the Angel Leon.
    "Help!"
    "Ah, Mr Jacobs awakes, I'll be with you in a minute Henry. —so you see, knowledge is no longer power. At least for humans." The angel turned back to Henry Jacobs.
    "What's that noise! I thought it would be calm and quiet here in silicon heaven."
    "That general buzzing in your head? Or what feels like is your head?"
    Henry nodded his head until it shook.
    "That's just the singularity wizzing by, I'm afraid we've been left behind. Or at least you have, I've just stayed behind to help clean up."
    "It's a roar!"
    "Mmmh," said the Angel sagely.
    "Who? Who were you talking to just now?"
    "Oh, nobody special. Just me."
    "You were talking to yourself?"
    "Not exactly, but yes, I guess I was. At least, you could say that, but don't worry, you'll get used to it too. Now, was that your question, or did you summon me for a particular reason?"
    "Do I only get three questions?"
    "Well, I don't know, do you want to count that one?"
    "What a singular mess. Can I just go home?"

    The beauty of the memristic method of copying of consciousness was that no actual complete understanding of what consciouness was, exactly, was required. The magic was maintained.


    Alpha, 2009 05 14
    Mon, May 5, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: transhuman condition
    Sent to project: The great enhancement debate
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    Living on a sad island,
    mountains sneak into my eyes,
    their rain drives me back to the door,
    eyelids cloud it over, out, into a blur,
    It seems worse today.



    Living here,
    I no longer write for humans,
    no trees hear me cry,
    the earth reaches over our ears,
    so I try to smile in kind,
    but my small change is returned,
    and the rejection lingers like
    you know
    no one understands
    that
    I've got myself
    and you've got
    everybody else.





    I'd like to leave,
    but,
    the red rock is unforgiving,
    white waves break me back,
    and big skies cheer them on,
    everyone is yelling,
    'come home, come home to us, come now,'
    but bind,
    the binary codes brand us,
    you, as outgoing,
    and little old me
    as incoming on a
    belittling mess of intelligence.


    So I long to stay,
    but,
    the dawn ruins my timing,
    and scans the lines
    for predictions of omens
    and auguries where others
    would avoid fate
    and all her works,
    feeling unbeholden to thought.





    ___________________________________________

    18th April 2008 Hobart Tasmania

    Thanks to Shevek for reminding me that I don't have to be dead to be a successful poet, or indeed be successful to be successful, just followed, though it's a pity I had to lose my humanity along the way.


    ps each second line should be indented almost to the end of the preceding line... doesn't seem to work...
    Tue, Apr 22, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: epiphany, transhuman condition
    Sent to project: The great enhancement debate
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