Category Archives: Personal

Tsunami dream

I finally got some sleep last night. A week of stress and conflict, topped off with a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In my dream I was in a meeting, talking to friends in a very tall glass tower. I was standing by the wall of windows and looking out over the seacoast skyline. In the distance a big wave forms like a lump in the sea. It is moving toward us. The shore recedes, rolling back into the ocean. My breath stops. My hands on the glass. The wave comes in fast and high. It climbs up, out the of sea and starts to form a crest. I feel like we’re hundreds of feet in the air, but the wave is breaking just beneath us. I don’t feel a thing. The building doesn’t move at all. I watch other buildings wiped away. A mess of lumber and cars and buildings and people floats along as the water continues to push through the city. Small fires ignite and send up little tufts of smoke that must be hundreds of feet across when you get close. I was still. The building was still. Nobody said anything. I woke up. Maybe if I go back to sleep it will be different.

Jim Cramer is a dirtbag

Jim Cramer admits to manipulating the market for certain stocks and inventing false rumors which he then spread through the media (including CNBC). He says that this is how hedge fund managers operate normally, and gives the impression that insiders and market manipulators can (and should) use these strategies to earn excess returns.

Let me assure you that he is wrong. The behavior he talks about certainly does happen, but it is not ethical, normal, good, or as pervasive as he implies. Most funds do NOT utilize this strategy. Jim Cramer and any fund managers who use these strategies give the industry a bad name. Worse still, they are the reason that Federal and State regulators must be so intrusive and vigilant. The general public is right to criticize this behavior, but other fund managers should be the loudest critics because he’s part of the reason that our industry is over-regulated.

Somebody should punch him in the nose (or fine the crap out of him and put him in jail).

[UPDATE – 3/23]

The video has been pulled from YouTube by claims of copyright infringement by Jim’s company, TheStreet.com. Pulling the video doesn’t make him less of a dirtbag. For your information, a detailed account is available here: http://seekingalpha.com/article/30257

The Next Generation

Washingtonpost.com has a story about what biotechnology means to being post-human. While the article gets a little dorky at times, and the comic-book references somewhat over-the-top, it manages to penetrate well past the surface of what most articles would do. (And come on, admit it, how many of us have daydreamed well into our twenties about doing the kinds of things only comic book heros can do?) They reference a lot of good material, talk to John Kurzweil and Max Moore, and use the excellent Science Magazine issue on this subject for a lot of their material.

The Etherface

Etherface, if you’ll let me coin the term, will refer below to the inevitable pervasive network interface that will link physical things and the information that describes and controls them. There will be a tangible world, and a corresponding representation of that world, that will be rich with detail and control. The etherface will enable interaction with our world at a much deeper level; a level where the tangible is supplemented. Analogous to hyperlinks supplementing texts, tangible objects in our familiar physical world will be linked with information and controls. Other virtual environments will also develop for personal and thematic use.

There will be many paths in the development, including:

  • The transition of computing systems to capture the strengths of centralized, peer-to-peer, and personal computing.

    There is a transition toward centralized and peer-to-peer systems-away from personal computers-but there is a role for all three, based on the natural strengths of each. Personal computers are well suited for local storage, personal applications, and private servers. Centralized and P2P computing can better take advantage of commercial and shared applications and storage.

  • The evolution of portable digital assistants (PDAs) into wearable, even sub-dermal, sensory, productivity, and interactivity tools.

    The opportunity to support the existing senses with supporting devices offers people the ability to enhance the human condition in a wide variety of ways, and the ability to compute with mobility frees us from many traditional location-based confines.

  • The extension of networks into a broader scope of devices.

    As 802.11, Bluetooth, RFID, or other wireless networking systems are supported in a broader array of appliances, the usefulness of the network increases. Definition of an interface standard for the broad introduction of compatible devices will be an important milestone for increased adoption.

  • The development of intuitive interfaces, taking advantage of more of our senses and biology.

    Interfaces will come to replicate the natural interface through which we experience reality, namely, our senses and biology. Visual and auditory interfaces are advanced further than others, but still have a long way to go. Voice interaction, holographic video, biofeedback, and dynamically self-enhancing affective computing techniques are some stepping-stones toward truly intuitive human-computer interaction.

  • The standardization of information management and distribution platforms to support all of the above.

    .NET and SOAP are strong steps in the right direction with regard to interoperability and integration standards for information applications. Further, systems like CPAN make available a very large and constantly growing code base that is public and documented. XML extends HTML for the definitions of unlimited tag definitions, and new standards are developing for the sharing of data. XSLT transfers allow for the separation of the content and the presentation with almost unlimited extensibility. These trends will continue, representing an evolving standard for the management and distribution of information.

  • The development of machine understanding standards and tools.

    Objects in the physical world share characteristics with other objects in the same class. This type of inherited descriptive understanding enables us to understand deeply and draw analogies based on commonalities. It may even be the case that creativity is based in part on the exploration of indirect analogies. Similarly, inheritance and object-oriented design is growing as an important heuristic for information management and distribution. Inheritance plays a key role in the functionality of a code base, and similarly allows for deeper machine understanding of virtual objects.

The etherface is key to enlightenment and the extension of the human life span. Eventually, the etherface will allow individuals to live with any level of relationship to the tangible world that we choose. This means that one could choose to use the etherface to set a timer for coffee in the morning, or to overwhelm the physical world with a virtual environment where one controls the rules and the access. Enhancements to our sensory, memory, communication, and processing systems increase our opportunities for experience, reflection, sharing, and learning.

Mental health will grow in importance relative to physical health over time as better tools reduce demands on our physiques. The etherface is one of these tools, enabling productivity and interaction while reducing the risk that failing physical health will end life. Taken further over time, we could extend life spans and quality of life to a degree that we do not yet understand or have any experience with.

Samurai Technocrats

Samurai Technocrats are committed to improving humanity through championing technological tools and systems. There was a premature rise and fall of this class in the internet boom that rung in the 21st century, as many individuals — and eventually groups — began to work and build businesses that were designed to create utility and not just capital.

The conditions that create samurai technocrats are financial security, embracing of innovation, freedom of communication, and broad generosity.

In the 21st century, anonymity will become more optional, and so samurai technocrats will emerge from obscurity.