Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Impervious Romancements

Impervious Romancements
A dialog between Eric Albert and Nathaniel Hellerstein

Eric Albert:

I received my water / sewer bill from Newton today. In the upper right hand corner is a helpful box:

CALL (617) 796-1640

CALL (617) 796-1330

CALL (617) 796-1661

I tell you, I spent a good two minutes considering what "impervious questions" might mean.

Do my city really give me access to a help line for key philosophical queries? ("What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything if it's *not* 42?")

Was "impervious" a typo? If so, for what?

I was mightily tempted to pick up the phone and call for an explanation. Then I remembered that God had invented the interwebs, and I Googled "Newton impervious questions", which led me to this page:

Alas. It appears that water rates are, in some cases, related to "impervious surfaces."

Now I'm sorry I researched this. I would like to have continued through the day warm in the thought that my city had a truly extraordinary hotline.

Nathaniel Hellerstein:

Impervious questions? I love it!

This reminds me of a Lewis Carroll autobiographical tale. He was walking down the road, and saw a sign saying "ROMANCEMENTS". Amazed, he entered the store, and saw (to his greater amazement) a working-class man all covered with grime and dust. Lewis Carroll soon learned that the shop was selling Roman Cements.

Impervious questions; questions about water-impervious soil. Romancements; Roman cements. I see in this the meeting of earth and sky. Impervious questions about romancements!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Electron Psychology

Electron Psychology

I once read an online comment that went in part, “I am in and out...” This was written by a human being, so it meant that the human was in part of the time, and out part of the time. The human can be reached online with complete certainty part of the time, and is completely unreachable the rest of the time.

But if this had been written by an electron, then it would have meant that the electron was both in and out, all of the time. The electron is equally available at all times, by random chance. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

AI Prediction

AI Prediction

I predict this news for 2050:

The good news will be that we will create an accurate simulation of human intelligence.
The bad news will be that this is because humans themselves simulate intelligence.