Monday, February 08, 2010

Health Care Reform Restart: Watching "Sicko" is a Pre-Requisite to Discussion

Just saw Michael Moore's film recently. In the interest of spreading key info, I've transcribed and highlighted a bit of dialog. You fact-checkers can read the whole screenplay here (but I recommend you also watch it)...

Birth of the HMO
2/17/71 taped White House conversation between Nixon and Ehrlichman --
Ehrlichman: "...narrowed down to one issue and that is whether we should include these Health Maintenance Organizations like Edgar Kaiser's Permanente thing..."
Nixon: "Now let me ask you... You know I'm not too keen on any of these damn medical programs..."
Ehrlichman: "This is a private enterprise one."
Nixon: "Well that appeals to me."
Ehrlichman: "Edgar Kaiser is running his Permanente deal for a profit. And the reason he can do it...I had Edgar Kaiser come in to talk to me about this. And I went into it in some depth.
All of the incentives are toward less medical care, because the less care they give them, the more money they make."
Nixon: "Fine."
Ehrlichman: "...and the incentives run the right way."
Nixon: "Not bad."

The next day Nixon gives a speech --
"I am proposing today a new National Health Strategy. The purpose of this program is simply this -- I want America to have the
finest healthcare in the world, and I want every American to have that care when he needs it."

Tricky Dick indeed!

Democracy and Healthcare --
Interview with former British M.P. Tony Benn:
Moore: "When did this whole idea that every British citizen should have a right to healthcare?"

Benn: "Well if you go back, it all began with democracy. Before we had the vote, all the power was in the hands of rich people.
If you had money, you could get healthcare, education, look after yourself when you were old. And what democracy did was to give the poor the vote.
And it moved power from the marketplace to the polling station. From the wallet to the ballot.
And what people said was very simple. They said, "In the 1930's, we had mass unemployment. But we don't have unemployment during the war."
"If you can have full employment by killing Germans, why can't we have it by building hospitals, schools, recruiting nurses and teachers?"
If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people.
It's as non-controversial as the right to vote for women. People wouldn't have it in Britain... they wouldn't accept the deterioration or destruction of the National Health Service. If Thatcher or Blair said "I'm going to dismantle National Healthcare.", there would have been a revolution.
I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world. Far more revolutionary than socialist ideas, or anybody else's idea.
Because if you have power, you use it to meet the needs of your community. And this idea of choice which capital talks about, "you've got to have a choice", choice depends on the freedom to choose. If you're shackled with debt, you don't have a freedom to choose."

Moore: "It seems it benefits the system if the average person is shackled with debt."

Benn: "People in debt become hopeless, and hopeless people don't vote. They always say everyone should vote, but I think if the poor in Britain or the United States voted for people who represented their interests, it would be a real democratic revolution.
So they don't want it to happen. So keep people hopeless and pessimistic... see, I think there are two ways in which people are controlled.
First of all, frighten people, and secondly, demoralize them.
An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.
And I think there's an element in the thinking of some people: "We don't want people to be educated, healthy and confident, because they would get out of control."
The top 1% of the worlds population own 80% of the world's wealth.
It's incredible that people put up with it, but they're poor, they're demoralized, they're frightened. And therefore, they think perhapes the safest thing to do is to take orders and hope for the best."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Antarctica Weirdness

from an email I got today:

It is the coldest in Antarctica that it has been in decades.
Amazing Striped Icebergs

Icebergs in the Antarctic area sometimes have stripes, formed by layers of snow that react to different conditions.
Blue stripes are often created when a crevice in the ice sheet fills up with meltwater and freezes so quickly that no bubbles form.
When an iceberg falls into the sea, a layer of salty seawater can freeze to the underside. If this is rich in algae, it can form a green stripe.
Brown, black and yellow lines are caused by sediment, picked up when the ice sheet grinds downhill towards the sea.

.... Is this amazing??

Antarctica Frozen Wave pix's - Nature is amazing!

The water froze the instant the wave broke through the
Ice. That's what it is like in Antarctica where it is the
Coldest weather in decades. Water freezes the instant
It comes in contact with the air. The temperature of the
Water is already some degrees below freezing.

Just look at how the wave froze in mid-air!!!

Having the Internet means that we get to see something
That we never imagined! Pass it on for others to enjoy!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it...

I just heard an interesting discussion on about different "levels of reality" and perception -- why quantum mechanics can describe a world equivalent and yet completely different from ours.


Over a century later Berkeley's thought experiment was summarized in a limerick by Ronald Knox and an anonymous reply:

There was a young man who said "God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there's no one about in the quad."
"Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God."

In reference to Berkeley's philosophy, Dr. Samuel Johnson kicked a heavy stone and exclaimed, "I refute it thus!" A philosophical empiricist might reply that the only thing that Dr. Johnson knew about the stone was what he saw with his eyes, felt with his foot, and heard with his ears. That is, the existence of the stone consisted exclusively of Dr. Johnson's perceptions. What the stone really consisted of (given that such a question can in fact be asked sensibly) could be entirely different in construction to what was perceived - it existed, ultimately, as an idea in his mind, nothing more and nothing less.

see also

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

MoreOn Intelligence...

Continuing on the topic of my last post, interesting ideas by Barry Kumnick in 2008 reprinted here:

We cannot use symbolic information or symbolic computation as the basis for the development of sentient systems due to multiple DEEP PROBLEMS in the fundamental representation of information.

I consider these deep problems because all logic, mathematics, natural and artificial languages, communication, computation, and most of science are based on the concept of "information". In essence, all of humankinds written records are based on information of one kind or another. If we must replace the use of information as the substrate for the development of sentient computation we need to dig deep indeed. Information is so ingrained in our education and communication that it is difficult for most people to even conceive the possibility of any other alternative representation.

The concept of information suffers from the following deep problems as it relates to its use as the basis for sentient computation:

1) We think from the first person direct perspective. We represent information from the 3rd person indirect perspective. Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I exist. This is fundamental. It is impossible for an indirect representation to represent anything directly. Information represents everything using reference semantics. Information is always a label or reference that represents something else. Information can never represent anything directly, in the sense of first person direct representation. Even if we write "I thought that", the "I" is really a proxy, substitute, or representation of the writer. The I is not the writer himself or herself. "I thought that" is a 3rd person indirect representation of a 1st person direct statement. I don't think there is any way around this. This limitation is fundamental to the concept and formal definition of information. It is built into the foundation of sentential logic, set theory, mathematics, language and all symbolic computation. This fundamental limitation prevents a computer from thinking for itself, from the first person direct perspective. There is no way an information processing system can have a true sense of self if all its computation is based on indirect representation.

2) When we think, our mind allows us to remember and understand the semantics or meaning of information or knowledge. We inherently understand the meaning of our own knowledge, and we can interpret and understand the meaning of information and convert the information into knowledge for subsequent storage and recall. Somehow, our brain must use an internal knowledge representation that can encode, represent, store and recall semantic meaning, not just the syntax of information. In contrast, information only encodes and represents syntax. Information is just a sequence of symbols with syntax, but no meaning outside the mind of an intelligent observer. The meaning of information is not encoded or represented by information. A book cannot understand the meaning of the writing contained within it. A computer cannot understand the meaning of the symbol sequences it manipulates. It can recognize symbols and symbol sequences and manipulate symbols based on preexisting instructions, but there is more to meaning than recognition of symbols and symbolic manipulation. A symbolic information processing system cannot represent, process, store, or recall that which information does not even encode or represent. I don't think there is any way any information based computational system can work around this fundamental limitation.

3) We think in context. It is reasonable to assume we utilize a context sensitive encoding, and/or a context sensitive representation of thought and knowledge. Doing so would be much less complex, and much more efficient than using a context free encoding and context free representation, and then being forced to "simulate" the context using "higher-order" representational structures. Why represent, store and process representation for context dependencies if it can be built in to the underlying knowledge representation or encoding? On the other hand, information is encoded and represented in context free form. For example, we always use the same symbol to represent the letter "e" in the latin alphabet. We always spell the same word the same way. We always use the same binary encoding to represent the same number. For example, we always represent the number 5 using the binary sequence 101. Information requires the use of context free encoding and representation to support efficient and effective communication between individuals. However, thought is private. Why should the same requirements apply to the representation of thought? The different parts of the brain have no need to send each other information, decode it and interpret it. Why can't each brain use a unique private encoding specifically optimized for maximal compression of the unique knowledge that it stores and processes? Why can't the encoding encode the semantic meaning along with the syntax? While it may be possible to use a context free representation to represent context dependent thought, it would certainly be a lot more complex and much less efficient than it would be to move the context dependencies into the encoding or knowledge representation.

4) Godel's Incompleteness Theorems. All fixed formal symbolic systems above a certain minimal complexity (that of Peano arithmetic) are either incomplete or inconsistent. Yet thought appears to be both complete and consistent. (I am using the terms "complete" and "consistent" in their formal mathematical sense). Thought outruns logic. We can think about things that we can't represent using logic or any logic based fixed formal system. We can use a multitude of different fixed formal systems to work around this problem, but if we do, then to represent the entire universe of knowledge, we must find a way to translate between each representation and ensure the mutual consistency of all the interdependent representations. This is all very complex, cumbersome, error prone, and innefficient. I can't see the brain using multiple representations to get around this problem if a single representation can avoid the problem all together. It would be too much of a kluge, too complex, too slow, and too innefficient.

I have invented a new knowledge representation that avoids the consistency and completeness limitations of Godel's Incompleteness theorems. The key to overcoming the consistency and completeness limitations of Godel's Incompleteness theorems is to create a representation based on direct representation instead of indirect representation. Using a direct representation, one can create a fixed formal system of minimal complexity that is both consistent and complete. This can be done by creating a first person direct representation of abstraction that represents a non-extensible upper ontology. The upper ontology is based on the representation of abstraction. It is the first order abstraction of abstraction itself. Since anything can be represented as an abstraction, it is then possible to represent everything else in the universe of thought indirectly in terms of an abstraction. Simultaneously, in a single representation, this allows us to think both directly from the first person direct perspective in context using the representation of abstraction, and indirectly by using abstraction to form an abstract representation of anything we can think about. In one shot, this solves problems 1, 2, 3, and 4 above. It will allow us to create sentient systems that can think and understand the meaning of knowledge from the first person direct perspective in context. Cogito ergo sum in a sentient machine.

BTW: biological neurons are direct physical implementations of the upper ontology of abstraction.

Best regards,

Barry Kumnick

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AI: Unreal Intelligence?

Isn't "Artificial Intelligence" an oxymoron? I find it interesting that it is so hard to express how we know what we know. For example, how hard is it to make a robot that get on and ride a bicycle? Pretty hard I'll venture... try Googling it.
Anyway, these are some source notes of ideas I'm developing into a project of sorts. Mostly things to cogitate upon and you can come up with your own conclusions.

"It seems that given the artificial intelligence worker's conception of reason as calculation on facts, and his admission that which facts are relevant and significant is not just given but context determined, his attempt to produce intelligent behavior leads to an antinomy. On the one hand, we have the thesis: there must always be a broader context; otherwise we have no way to distinguish relevant from irrelevant facts. On the other hand, we have the antithesis: there must be an ultimate context, which requires no interpretation; otherwise there will be an infinite regress of contexts, and we can never begin our formalization.
Human beings seem to embody a third possibility which would offer a way out of this dilemma. Instead of a hierarchy of contexts, the present situation is recognized as a continuation or modification of the previous one." but, "how can we originally select from the infinity of facts those relevant to the human form of life so as to determine a context we can sequentially update?...there must be another alternative, however, since language is used and understood... the only alternative way of denying the separation of fact and situation is to give up the independence of the facts and understand them as a product of the situation." (Hubert Dreyfus, "What Computers Still Can't Do", 1993, p. 222.)

"One can find out which features of the current state of affairs are relevant only by determining what sort of situation this state of affairs is. But that requires retrieving relevant past situations. This problem might be called the circularity of does the brain do it? appears that experience statistically determines individual neural synaptic connections, so that the brain, with its hundreds of thousands of billions of adjustable synapses, can indeed accumulate statistical information on a scale far beyond current or foreseeable computers...the brain clearly has internal states that we experience as moods, anticipations, and familiarities that are correlated with the current activity of its hidden neurons when the input arrives. These are determined by its recent inputs as well as by the synaptic connection strengths developed on the basis of long-past experiences, and these as well as the input determine the one knows how to incorporate internal states appropriately..."
(Dreyfus, 1993, p.xliii-xliv)

"On the surface, neural networks seemed to be a great fit with my own interests. But I quickly became disillusioned with the field...I had formed an opinion that three things were essential to understanding the brain. My first criterion was the inclusion of time in brain function. Real brains process rapidly changing streams of information. There is nothing static about the flow of information into and out of the brain.
The second criterion was the importance of feedback...for every fiber feeding information forward into the neocortex, there are ten fibers feeding information back toward the senses...
The third criterion was that any theory or model of the brain should account for the physical architecture of the brain. The organized as a repeating hierarchy.
But as the neural network phenomenon exploded on the scene, it mostly settled on a class of ultrasimple models that didn't meet any of these criteria. Most neural networks consisted of a small number of neurons connected in three rows. A pattern (the input) is presented to the first row. These input neurons are connected to the next row of neurons, the so-called hidden units. The hidden units then connect to the final row of neurons, the output units. The connections between neurons have variable strengths, meaning the activity in one neuron might increase the activity in another and decrease the activity in a third neuron depending on the connection strengths. By changing these strengths, the network learns to map input patterns to output patterns.
These simple neural networks only processed static patterns, did not use feedback, and didn't look anything like brains. The most common type of neural network, called a "back propagation" network, learned by broadcasting an error from the output units back toward the input units....when the neural network was working nortmally, after being trained, the information flowed only one way...and the models had no sense of time. A static inout pattern got converted into a static output pattern. There was no history or record in the network of what happenbed even a short time earlier. And finally, the architecture of these neural networks was trivial compared to the complicated and hierarchical structure of the brain."
(Jeff Hawkins "On Intelligence", 1999 pp. 25, 26)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"a word is worth a thousand pictures" by James Sedgwick

James Sedgwick passed away in 2003. I've enjoyed his material @
and am not certain (:P) how long that site will be around. For that reason, I'm posting some of his essays. Here's the first:

A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures
Do you hate words? Many do who think they don't. They regard a word as a poor substitute for a picture, a gesture, a mathematical formula. Words are approximate, but measurements are exact. Words indicate things, but pictures actually show things. Words have vague meanings, multiple meanings, tricky meanings. Words have to be spelled the right way, defined the right way, placed in a sentence the right way. Words are thought to be not worth all the trouble.

If words were mainly a means of communication, then the haters would have a point. But that is not the case. Words are something much more profound than that. They are mental containers. What they contain is your ability to think, which determines your ability to cope with life.

Suppose you need a rubber band. You pull open the kitchen drawer, and find a chaotic jumble of objects. You paw through the jumble looking for a rubber band, and wishing that the objects were arranged in some order, so you could reach in and instantly find what you want.

For many people, all of reality is like that kitchen drawer. Thought consists of rummaging around in the mind looking for some conclusion that will make sense out of what is happening. The result is a platitude, an attitude, or a slogan. Any idea of forming an original conclusion is a distant dream; it's hard enough just finding a slogan.

When words don't do you much good, it's natural to think little of them. First you have to get smart, and then you can learn a lot of words and what to do with them. But what if words could make you smart? What if you have it backwards? What if learning words and what to do with them is a method for getting smart?

If you decide to sort out all that junk in the kitchen drawer, you choose some classifications, and put everything into piles according to the classifications. You make a pile of rubber bands, a pile of soap, a pile of kitchen tools, a pile of measuring aids, and so on. To sort things out in your mind, you do the same, except you have to find a way to make mental piles. That's what words are for.

What do you mean when you say, "people?' You mean a concept, which is a mental pile. What does it contain? It contains the humans you encounter now, plus all the humans you have encountered in the past, plus all the humans you might encounter in the future. The word "people" lets you treat this unlimited number of things as one thing. You handle it as a unit.

If a word can contain an unlimited number of things, and your mind can contain an unlimited number of words, then mental power has no limits. Everything in existence can be sorted out and put in order. Not only can you arrange everything in various useful ways, you can compare one arrangement with another, and use words for the relationships you observe. The ability to convey those arrangements to others is icing on the cake; being able to sort things out is what gives you the power to

Words can do all of that, and pictures can do none of it. So the title of this essay is wrong. A single word is not worth a thousand pictures. It is worth lots more than that.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Nigerian Scam Response or "Have Fun With Police Brutality"...

unfortunately, I don't think Dr. John West really read my response...

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Haughton
Sent: Monday, April 06, 2009 4:45 PM
To: ''
Subject: RE: You Have A Package.

Dear Sir,
I have directed your information to my good friend Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo at the command's headquarters in Ikeja. He will be arranging for proper completion of this transaction. I beseech you to contact Mr Akpoyibo at your earliest convenience so that we may properly take care of this matter. My good friend will make sure you are properly rewarded for your efforts in this matter. He may actually have already sent out some officers to assist you. Thank you so kindly and God bless.

-----Original Message-----
From: FedExpress []
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 9:39 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: You Have A Package.

Victoria Island,lagos Nigeria.
Direct Line: +234-12202708
Plot 8,Ahmed Way,
Victoria Island,Lagos Nigeria.

Custormers Service Hours--Monday To Saturday:Office Hours Monday To

The FedEx courier Service Company are hereby passing an essential massage to all our valuable customers to be very careful while presenting their receivers residential address to avoid wrong delivery.
This is the FedEx courier service company mailing you as per your parcel that was brought to this company to be delivered to you by one Mrs.alice & Marcia Fert,along the delivery process there came a misunderstanding between you and the Nicon Insurance Company inregard of their request as per their insurance certificate which happens to be course of your parcel pending for the past one year..Meanwhile we are hereby happy to inform you that the FedEx Company has finalized everything with the Nicon Insurance Company of Nigeria as the company organization has also listed 4 valuable parcel's to be intact in their office after the released of the parcel's from the Nicon Insurance Company.
We are happy to inform you once again that your parcel that contain the sum of $2.5 million dollars is among the 4 parcel's listed which is now in our office and also with your name as the receiver despite that we lost your private residential address, which is an indication that you can now re-send your residential address back to the FedEx company where your parcel can be delivered to you without hesitation with this e-mail(

Meanwhile remember that the sender of this parcel Mrs.alice & Marcia Fert still owes this company the sum of $ 125 before the incident occured, know you that this company has spent out of their incomes in the process of recovering back your parcel's so dear sir/madam we once again appreciate your patronage in our favour.

Without hesitations you are to pay the required sum of $125 via Money Gram Money Transfer so that your parcel can be delivered to your residential address before it accumulate a demurrage after one week only,as you know your parcel is not just an ordinary parcel but with a huge amount and I think you understand what I mean by accumulating demurrages Which you will not allow to happen to your recovery parcel that was almost gone if not for the love that the good God.

We assure you that your parcel will arrive at your country in two days time and it will get to your door step the second OR third day as soon as this company receive the balance left by your sender and the tracking number of your parcel will be sent to you via e-mail immediately so that you can track it yourself to see your parcel coming on the way and you will also know when it will arrive at your country because we operate in trust and loyalty in your favour. And also the FedEx courier Service
Company is hereby to inform all their customers by eradicating all their communication with the scam mails that are going all-over the world be careful with their e-mails so that your parcel will not be in danger with their evil plans.FedEx provides access to a growing global marketplace through a network of supply chain,transportation,business and related information services for the payment.

TEXT ANSWER---------------.RED
AMOUNT TO BE PAID---------$ 125

FedEx is one of the world's great success stories, the start-up that revolutionized the delivery of packages and information. In the past 30 years,we've grown up and grown into a diverse family of companies -a FedEx that's bigger, stronger, better than ever.


Dr John west.
For the Victoria Island Manager FedEx Express Services Lagos -Nigeria .