Monday, May 21, 2007

Descriptions have lots of uses

It's 4:30 am and I should be asleep, but birds are chirping, cool air is flowing in through the window, and I'm having way too much fun to go. Why am I having so much fun? The (even more) exciting part of this blog will happen when we start to be able to record knowledge on a web-site or some sort of distributed repository, and that moment is getting closer and closer. Remember, the goal is to optimize life. So much stuff and information is available which I want, or even need, that it's getting hard to keep up. I read or scan about 100 articles each day and soon that won't be enough. Furthermore, many of the articles are beginning to be above my head. That means that I have to read more to understand them, and sometimes that isn't enough! For example, I recently read an article on something called "Mock Theta Functions." Apparently an important mathematical puzzle in "number theory" has been solved about them. But I have never heard of them though I know quite a bit about mathematics. Number theory is important; the fact that computers aren't able to do things like design software, control a robot in an intelligent way or understand complex speech is probably due to something we are missing in number theory. So... Is this "Mock Theta Function" deal something I should spend time learning about or is it an obscure issue not related to anything important to me? I have no idea? Wikipedia says "a mock theta function is the holomorphic part of a weak Maass wave form of weight 1/2" What??? It may take me months to figure out what that means; and what if it turns out to be unimportant to me? What a waste of time. But if I don't learn about it then I won't be able to accurately predict when intelligent computing may happen. If too many things that affect my life begin to go over my head I'll begin to slip behind and someday the World will seem foreign to me.

When we are done here, someone who understands mock theta functions will be able to make a form describing them (like with Wikipedia, but formal) and a program that knows my goals will figure out whether they are important to my agenda. If they are, I can read the form to figure out what they are; I won't have to learn some obscure concepts because the forms will reduce the knowledge to the simple "root concepts" that I alluded to in Discovering a Miracle .

Before I can explain the final form our forms will take, I need to make two observations. The first observation is that our forms should be descriptions of situations.

There are many many types of computer-compatible languages today. Some look like lists of commands the computer should do. Others are like questions. Still others are assertions. I have found that all of these things and more can be done with a form that allows descriptions of situations. How so? Suppose I have a description like "The birds are chirping" I can use that description to say something about the world by asserting it (duh.) But I can also use it to ask a question: "is it true that the birds are chirping?". In fact, I can use a description for many many things. Consider these:
  • I can state beliefs: "I believe the birds are chirping"
  • I can issue commands: "Make it so that the birds are chirping"
  • I can express desires: "I wish the birds were chirping"
  • I can quote: "Roger said that the birds are chirping"
  • What about "I know that the birds are chirping"
Do you recognize some of these uses? Remember the post about recording the state of people? I mentioned that I wanted to describe my mind which holds things like beliefs, knowledge, desires, habits. We won't really be able to have a computer figure out what is important to us unless it can process information about topics like politics or psychology. But these topics are about people! Are you beginning to see why I want the forms to record descriptions?

Actually, there is a vastly more important reason to have a form for people. I have noticed that there are times in my life when I undergo an improvement that I didn't know was available. I mentioned the time (which took many years) I learned that authoritarianism was almost the opposite of love. The "Before learning" and "After learning" versions of myself are very different. How many more things are there for me to learn? I am sure that there are some people who have a good idea of what my next step in life may be. I have a vague idea. But if I could have a simulation or a chart that showed all the possibilities for what I could become, then I wouldn't have to wait until old age to be mister wisdom.

I want to go ahead and show the final form of forms but it will make more sense if I talk about one more thing. Namely, why identity ('='), plus ('+') and times ('*') are important. Don't worry, you won't have to learn about mock theta functions. Right now, though, it is 6:00 am, and even the birds aren't keeping me awake anymore, so it will have to wait until next time.


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