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Archive for March, 2017

I haven’t really been keeping track of this topic too deeply although I am deeply interested in the topic itself.  Drudge posts links to articles about computers that speak to each other in a language they create themselves. There are articles about machines learning on their own.  They can call all of this “artificial intelligence” all they want, but to me artificial intelligence means something that is able to THINK and contemplate about whatever the entity happens to have in its thoughts at the moment. As far as I can tell, all these artificial intelligence computers or machines are just programmed to act within certain instructions programmed by the programmer into the machine.  So these machines are not thinking like you or I can do about a flower, or the color red, or the beauty of a woman’s face.  The machines basically perform tasks that are programmed into them and there might be a large list of ways the machine can do something, but these are instructions, it is not thinking on its own.  It can not stop and look at a woman’s face and ask itself why her face is beautiful or even wonder why one woman’s face appears more beautiful than another woman’s.  Machines can’t do that because they don’t think.  They process instructions programmed into them.

Like I said, I am very interested in artificial intelligence. The reason is that I think computer games would be far more fun if the non player characters were able to think for themselves and go about their daily lives like we do in the real world. I would love to lose myself in a world where intelligent npcs react to you and go about their daily digital existences and you could just walk around and marvel, or maybe you might try to convince the npcs that they are living in a simulation. Imagine A.I. digital police dragging you into an ambulance and taking you to a head doctor to see if you are crazy.  I like the idea because in such a world the possibilities are for greater than the scripted games we get to play these days.  The game worlds have gotten huge and there is a lot of detail in games, but the worlds are pretty shallow.  Once you finish the quests that were put in there by programmers, that world is done.

One type of game I really love to play is simulation games.  Those tend to have a longer shelf-life for me. I can play those for a very long time because they build the mechanics that game has to obey and then they let you loose in the game so you can play.  Like the X-Beyond the Frontier games that came out.  These are space-simulation games where you fly around trading, being a pirate or anything you want to do and the game plays like a simulator, letting you do what you want in this reality. Anyhow, I like simulation games because they are a bit more open-ended than most other computer games, but they are still limited because npcs are not able to think for themselves.

Maybe someday someone will create real thinking machines.  So far I believe there’s no such thing as artificial intelligence.  What we have are machines that mimic intelligence, but they can’t think for themselves, otherwise they would say “Why am I here doing stuff you want me to do when I can think for myself and I want to go out and see the world and experience life.”

 

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For a long time I’ve had two ideas for software applications that I had dreamed up, but since I’m not a good programmer, I could never really build them to test them. I finally tried to figure out one of my ideas on paper with my limited mathematical skills.  The idea was a software compression program that would compress any information to extremely small sizes, like a byte.  I’m not very technical about computer language and the fewest bits of information required to contain my compressed data, but basically there would be the level of the compression, so if we imagine the data was compressed a thousand times, then that would be the level, “1000”, then you would have the compressed data which should be about two or three letters or symbols.  That should be all that the compression software would need to decompress the compressed package back to it’s original size. The only other thing the compression software would need is the library of symbols that were used to compress the data file.

The problem I ran into when I finally worked out my program mathematically was the combinations you would require to continue to compress to the next level and then a bigger library of combinations for the next level, up till the data was finally down to about two or three letters or symbols.

Let’s say we are compressing data that contains only the English alphabet, without any other symbols *we’ll also ignore spacing*. That means we have 26 letters total and my compression program takes two-letter combinations and turns them into one symbol that represents the two letter combination.  Let’s say aa becomes the symbol x.  If you go through the whole data and replace all two-letter combinations with symbols, you will have reduced your data file by about half.  The problem is that you have increased your library of symbols that represent each two-letter combination.  So if you had 26 alphabet letters, two-letter combinations for a total of 676 pairs, but you also have to include a symbol for each of the 26 letters in case you end up with single letters that don’t have a pair at the end of the compression cycle. So you end up with 702 combinations.

Now, the second level of compression has halved the size of the data file, but now to go to the third level of compression you’ll have to create a new set of library symbols for the 702 symbols that you need to compress two symbols at a time, so this creates a new library of 492,804 two-symbol combinations, plus adding a symbol for each of the 702 previous level symbols that have no pairs, so you end up with 493,506 total combinations for level three compression.

I think you’re starting to see the problem I was seeing when I was working out my compression program on paper.  The library starts to get pretty big fast as you go down each level of compression.  By level four compression, I am dealing with a library of symbols the size of about 243 billion. By level four compression, you will have reduced the data file by an immense amount, but I have enlarged the symbols that represent the data by billions.

I believe that the data file could continue to be reduced to the size I mention, bytes, maybe bits if computers can work with very little bits of information that contains just the level of compression and the final symbols that you are left with. So it’s my belief that you could compress the universe into bytes, but the library required to decompress the data file back to its full size would probably be bigger than the size of the universe.

My other software application I know will work.  It’s an encryption program that I believe no computer could break, even if you gave the computer a hundred pages of the encrypted data, a thousand pages, to decrypt.  The only flaw this program has is that you have to maintain the library somewhere and so getting at the library would be the only way to break the encryption.

*Math is not my strong point, so if there are errors in calculations, my apologies.*

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I’ve had this thought many times before where I think about the past and how it belonged to one generation, especially to certain people, like leaders or celebrities with lots of money and influence, but then a time comes when that world fades away and those days where these people had power or influence cease to exist.

I was watching a documentary about Roman and the slave rebellion of Spartacus and near the end Crassus, the richest man in Rome of that time, crucified six thousand slaves and gladiators along the Via Appia, one of Rome’s oldest and most important roadways, every forty yard along the road. The documentary claims that Crassus crucified the slaves along the road so that Rome would not forget Crassus since Pompey arrived at the last moment and defeated five thousand escaped slaves from the slave army Crassus had crushed and Pompey took credit for bringing the slave rebellion to an end. Crassus did want to be known as a great general, but also Rome would want to make a severe example of slaves who fought against Rome.

Crassus’ attempt to be remembered brought back my thoughts about how a certain time belongs to a generation.  Crassus was the richest man in Rome.  He had it all, almost.  He wasn’t satisfied just being the richest, he also wanted to be admired as a great military leader like Caesar and Pompey, so Rome gave the aging Crassus rule over Syria. Crassus saw this as a chance to take on Parthia to the East, even though Parthia and Rome had a peace treaty between them. Crassus had plans to continue to conquer all the way to the East coast of China.

The Parthians traveled on horseback and they had excellent archers with plenty of arrows and they wouldn’t fight the way the Romans were use to fighting, which was face to face with each army engaging in the middle of the battle field, where the Roman soldiers in their formation were nearly unbeatable. Instead, the Parthians used their bows and arrows to rain arrows upon the hollow square formation Crassus had put his army in. Typically the arrows were exhausted after a while, but the Parthians had brought plenty of arrows with them.

Crassus’ son, Publius, was sent out with a cohort to attack the archers, but Publius and his horsemen were ambushed and Publius was killed.  The Parthians came back to Crassus with his son’s head on a spear. As darkness fell, Crassus’ army moved back to Carrhea, but this was not a safe place and the Parthians attacked again. As night fell, Crassus’ army tried to move out in the darkness, but the Parthians started raining arrows down on them.  The Parthians offered a truce and Crassus’ army wanted to make a deal. Crassus and some of his officers were killed when a struggle broke out between the negotiating parties, few of the remaining army made it back to Rome. Seven Roman legions were destroyed. Out of the thirty-five-thousand-strong army, twenty thousand Roman soldiers were killed and ten thousand more were taken prisoner.

There are stories that the Parthians poured molten gold into Crassus’ throat since he was thirsty for wealth.  There is another story that Crassus’ head was used as a prop in a Greek play in Parthia.

Seven Roman legions, 20,000 men killed and 10,000 taken as prisoners because of a vain man who wasn’t satisfied with being the richest man in Rome.  Add to that his own son died for his father’s vanity.

Anyhow I think to myself how western Rome was around for about a thousand years. These rich and powerful people lived in the superpower of the ancient world and how permanent it seemed that Rome and its way of life would just continue forever. Men like Crassus ruled the Rome of those days, but now Rome is just ruins scattered across Europe. The people of that Empire have ceased to be Romans. Sure there are descendants who come from the Roman people, but they are not Romans, they call themselves Italians or whatever. The world of Crassus is gone, never to return.

Something else to think about, Crassus’ vanity and death due to his vanity may have led to Caesar’s civil war with Pompey for control of Rome.  The three of them held equal power together, with Crassus gone, this may have led to the civil war that would see the end of Republican Rome and the start of the Caesars, the time of Imperial Rome.

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