code and the oracular

Archive for the ‘Geek Teachings’ Category

We are Godelians: logic is serial, feeling is parallel

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In the early days of AI people thought that representing knowledge by symbols would crack the hard problem. Since the waning of symbolic ai in the 80s more researchers now believe that unconscious cognition is sub-symbolic and perhaps the larger part of mental activity.

We had to work through the phase of fascination with the symbolic though. Human beings, amazingly, create culture, where they make symbolic stories about phenomena that can be passed to other brains. This means that children can learn time-bound skills from a huge repository. But this is not all of cognition because the sub-symbolic engine still drives us. Freud’s leap to posit an unconscious was truly a feat… language is not everything!

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Written by Luke Dunn

September 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

How to be a creative programmer

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A Rap on Kevin Kelly’s Nine laws of God

  • Control freaks in management tend to say: “help ! everythings happening all at once!” as if some totalitarian rule of linear ordering has been broken. If feelings are more like a flashing pop video with images and musicality, then surrender to a feeling state is a broadening of awareness. You escape the linear logic of a verbal stream of thought, you’re out of your head, the bubble pops leaving a whiff of cinnamon.
  • This is a scrum of programmers all rapping about or brainstorming a problem without any leadership. Feelings defy the top-down imposition of logic but a solution is still found. Its based also on an optimally riotous classroom with some paper darts but also some attention paid.

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Written by Luke Dunn

August 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Stopping Information Overload

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1. don’t overvalue the GUI

Unix philosophy: Information Hiding

I operate with an empty black desktop. If I need a GUI app it is called through a hotkey to a launcher. Panels are auto-hidden. My terminal is white on black, with no window borders, scroll bars etc.
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Written by Luke Dunn

August 19, 2014 at 11:40 am

The Lessons of Debugging, Canto vii

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Is that really an evil deity up there persecuting you?

Or is it not more likely that the universe surrounding you is still behaving deterministically as usual, and that you have not been cruelly removed from it into a prison created solely to confound all your efforts to understand.

Yet, when debugging, you still feel this on occasions when you simply cannot work out what you’ve done wrong…

Of course this applies plenty to other areas of life than programming, but in these you’re perhaps less often faced by such absolute accountability. The recipe for mini-hell is complete when you lose all balance and your obsessional tenacity sucks you into the gravity well to your cognitive doom. You cannot admit defeat even when you are battering and bruising yourself against the diamond-hard laws of logic…

Do not despair, pull back and take a break. The harsh yoga of coding will keep its promise to bestow the great lessons we coders hope for, as long as you keep your side of the deal and remember patience. The magical unconscious will work for you as soon as you disengage from the wrestling bout and lighten up.

And what great struggle, once survived, cannot be recollected later in safety and glorified? Each debugging where you are so cruelly tested is a story to tell others, and a sparring session that tightens your sinews and resolve.

I wish you luck in your journey. 🙂

Written by Luke Dunn

March 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Debugging Social Software

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In this piece I will rap briefly about the idea that social institutions and patterns are essentially a form of software and as such can thus be seen as something that can be debugged.

As geeks take over the world, many of us seem to be turning to various forms of political radicalism, espousing libertarian ideals and particularly freedom of speech and information. Is it a helpful image to think of reformers like Gandhi or Mandela as genius authors of new kinds of social software? Software because human institutions follow rules, software because our brains and behaviours are partly computational. Law itself is about rules, and legal or political thinking is just another application of logic. Government is about distributed systems that also follow rules and systematic behaviour. Even the innovations of avatars and prophets in religion are simply software innovation.
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Written by Luke Dunn

January 18, 2014 at 8:01 am

Why Geeks will rule the World as Inheritors of Cutting-edge Knowledge about Practically Everything

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In programming the first introduction to abstraction we receive really comes when we have a variable we choose to name. This allows the name to feature ever after in our code, instead of having to represent the actual data that constitutes the variable each time.

The second form of abstraction occurs when we choose to name a procedure. In the same way a block of code is represented by a function name. These two effects may become even more pronounced in LISP where from the start we are encouraged to think of data and program code in the same way.

And in these clever inventions we can already see a lot of the development of human thought paralleled:

first people pointed
then they described through gesture and evocation
then they named

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Written by Luke Dunn

October 16, 2012 at 9:20 am