Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category


Guanajuato, Part 2

Today I’ll post the rest of my photos from my March trip to Guanajuato in Mexico with Sylvia. I did the initial post on March 29, 2019.

But first a word from our sponsor, that is, me. I made a fairly cool book trailer for my novel Million Mile Road Trip, which went into print last week.

So dig that, and now…back to Guanajuato! Be warned that my commentary isn’t going to be fully in synch with the images.

I took Sylvia to the Museo los Momias, that is, the museum of the mummies. I’d visited it with my artist/writer friend Bef a few years ago.

[In an art gallery.]

Guanajuato is very dry, at an altitude of six thousand feet, and of course hot in the summers. Bodies were buried either in the hardpan, white, alkaline soil, or sealed in crypts. If the descendents didn’t keep paying the annual plot-rental fee for someone, the cemetery owners would dig up the body and put it on display in their Mummy Museum, which remains to this day.

The bodies still have their skin, flesh, teeth, and even wisps of hair. Leathery, dried-out, twisted from the contraction of the tendons, the distorted mouths open as if in the hideous screams of the damned—in every respect like undead, eyeless, zombies. Truly horrible—although from time to time a viewer’s terror flips over into anxious mirth.

There was one guy in particular, with a big jaw and his mouth wide open and quite a few teeth missing, but with a kind of Hell’s Angel biker energy to him, an undead hick out for a good time, and the curators had, for whatever reason, left a grayed-out pair of pants on him, the waistline very low, Pachuco style, or like he might even be on the point of dropping-trou exposing himself to you.

And near him was a woman with her mouth an open O, turned a bit to one side, as if wailing in woe, some teeth in there, her nose dried down to little more than skully nostrils, and somehow I saw her as the date of the Hell’s Angel.

Sylvia was groping for the mot juste to describe how she felt about the displays. Discomfited, dismayed, discombobulated. “I could have lived without seeing this,” she said. But, having heard about it from me, she did want to see it, at least to some extent and, charming though Guanajuato is, there are not a surfeit of cultural venues to explore.

Man did I feel relaxed there. And I know I posted this photo before, but I want to see it again. We liked hanging out in our hotel room with the comfortable chairs and the balcony looking out on the fabulously colorful town. The light and air streaming in.

The evening after the mummy museum, after regrouping in our room, we had dinner downtown at a fancy Italian restaurant on the triangular square, and on the walk home we passed the big yellow basilica or cathedral of Guanajuato. We’d wanted to check it out before, but that day there’d been a funeral with an adult-sized white coffin, and a hundred mourners on the steps, and some mariachis playing away, and he mourners heading off down the cobblestone street behind the hearse.

[Photo of the lounge in the old opera Teatro.]

The day of the mummies, as if in counterposition to the theme of death and decay, the cathedral doors was wide open, with the place lit up like no church I’ve ever seen. Intensely bright white-light bulbs festooned in over twenty elaborate chandeliers, and bright pale-blue LED bulbs arrayed in vertical strings along the edges of the columns.

Sylvia and I went in, some kind of service taking place, we slipped into a rear pew. The space was filled with resonant chanting, wonderful music, and the increasingly fevered ringing of bells. The priest’s voice up there, very soothing, a couple of hundred worshippers closer to the altar. Was it okay for us to be here?

Well, too late for that, here comes the priest, in his white cassock, and four or five assistants, also robed, some of them are women, a couple of thurifers are swinging these billowing incense burners, the priest is moving in a cloud, he’s holding something up, shaped like a hand-mirror, a disk with a handle, the flat disk has glass on front and back, with a wide silver band around the disk’s edge, like a frame, the disk might be a couple of feet across. The music and chanting continue, and the bells, the ringing, the sound is rising to a crescendo, rattling, frenetic, unsystematic, getting into my head. The smell of the incense is mild and pleasant.

[Sylvia gave me this glass heart for my birthday.]

The priest has come all the way down to the end of the aisle, people are reaching out toward him, at first, I don’t get what the people are doing, but now the priest is right by us, and I see they’re touching the priest’s raised disk with their two open hands. I can see through the glass, a big white circle is inside, maybe four inches across, it’s a communion wafer, what they call the Host, it’s sealed between the two layers of glass with the silver frame around the rim. The glass and silver holder is what I think they call a pyx, I recall, and, yes, that big round white flat shape inside the pyx—it’s God! Of course God is a white disk. Like the Sun. The priest is bringing God down to us, and even a poor mean wretch like I can touch God, or at least touch the pyx that God’s riding in. [By the way, when I got back home, a priest friend of mine said that thing is called a “monstrance” and not a “pyx,” but I’ll just keep calling it a pyx here, as that’s such a cool word.]

[The fabulous coffee roasting machine at El Conquistador coffee shop beside our hotel.]

Sylvia reaches out first, and touches the silver band of the pyx with the fingers of her two open hands, and now I do it too, with the smoke all around, and the frenetic rattle of the bells inside my head. I glimpse the priest’s face—humble, good, calm, he’s not looking at me, he’s absorbed in his work. I feel vast, unknown forces moving within my body and my soul—I’m filled with joy in the bright white church. A religious experience, wow. Sylvia and I are quite overwhelmed, nearly in tears.

[On my birthday I spend an hour or two walking the back streets of the hill above our hotel, totally digging the insane colors in the alleyways, and the sudden views across the valley the chocked pastel houses on the other side.]

The beautiful music is playing on, the heavenly glow of the lights continues, the congregation is chanting. People are drifting up the aisle, following the priest, massing in the church’s apse. Will they be taking communion? Not wanting the exulted moment to end, Sylvia and I go along.

The white-robed priest fits God and his pyx into a cabinet on the wall above the altar. God’s house. Rather than offering communion, the priest extends a simpler blessing. He has a ewer of holy water. Over and over he dips in a religious instrument, a little like a ladle or a pestle, then makes a flinging gesture which sends drops flying down onto us. Sylvia and I feel a few on our faces and hands. All right!

“Those Catholics,” Sylvia says to me when we’re back out in the square.. “You’ve got to hand it to them. They really know how to do religion. The theatre of it.”

I like how they’ll just throw a Virgin of Guadalupe up on the wall like a graffiti.

The dogs, their brains tiny spots of lights, little pals, trotting around, and every day is new, and every day is the same.

This pink, or magenta, I’m crazy about it. And the tonal/hue difference between the lit and shaded parts. And don’t forget the wire with the knot in it.

Walking around alone with my good Fujifilm 100XT camera on my birthday, alone in the back streets, the few people that I meet being reasonably friendly, intoxicated by the textures and shades. And, oh, the lovely little meter. “It’s all blue.”

These bread-carrying dudes are cool.

Tricolor, right? And the deep, subtle quality of the texture superseding or underlying the coats of paint.

Insane wrought iron. This dude truckin’ along. He’s about to glance over at me with a bit of a glare…why am I taking his picture? Waning to capture the stride, man, wanting to animate the geometry.

We went down to the big indoor market, the Mercado, huge hall with booths for fabrics, toys, gizmos, and lots of food, like butchers and bakers. Balcony outside with an eatery. On the “segundo piso.” Wish I knew more Spanish. And, ah, the patches of peeling paint, so perfecto.

View off our balcony near the end of the day. God’s acres of cloud cabbages, airy, eternal, perpetually renewed.

Poster in the entrance hall of a student coop near the University of Guanajuato, a big place. In the evenings, groups of student singers in black robes roam the streets, leading (mostly Mexican) tourists, and chorusing classic songs like “Cielito Lindo,” which is an affectionate term literally meaning “Little Sky.” Has the classic first line, “Ay, ay, ay, ay / Canta y no llores,” meaning “Sing and don’t cry.”

A piece of the church where we saw God in a pyx. Or no, wait, this is the church where we saw Jesus inside a glass box, crawling with his cross.

The 3D mosaic of the buildings on the hills.

Those crazy gas meters and the jury-rigged electric lines!

Advanced seminar in projective geometry and the planar sections of space curves.

In a speeding, lurching taxi, early in the morn, driving through the crazy dripping tunnels that lead through the Guanajuato hills toward the airport. I love you, Guanajuato!

And, as I mentioned above, I did an initial post of Guanajuato (and San Miguel Allende) photos on March 29, 2019.

Talk on “Cyberpunk Use Cases”

I gave two presentations at the IOHK Summit in Miami Beach, Florida, April 18, 2019. IOHK is a crypto/blockchain company with the full name Input Output Hong Kong, although in fact they’re not currently based in Hong Kong.

I gave a large audience a twnty minute talk, described in this post, and small audience a forty minute talk,  “Lifebox for Telepathy and Immortality“.

This “Cyberpunk Use Cases” post contains the slides for the talk, the draft text for the talk, and audio of the talk.  So you can listen and scroll through the images and words at the same time.

Click the player icon below to play the audio right now. Or click the talk title to download the mp3 audio file and listen to it on your own player. Or listen to the talk via Rudy Rucker Podcasts.

Cyberpunk Use Cases. By Rudy Rucker.

Where I’m From

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky during the 1950s and 60s. I read a lot of science fiction. And I was fascinated by the Beat writers Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.

In 1963, I left Louisville, and went to Swarthmore College near Philadelphia. I wanted to be a writer, but I majored in Mathematics. I didn’t like the English Lit classes. I figured I’d learn to write on my own.

After Swarthmore, I married my college girlfriend, Sylvia. We went to grad school at Rutgers in New Jersey, and I got a Ph. D. in mathematical logic. I went on to have a fairly good career as a writer. I’ve published about forty books. I’ve written popular science books about infinity, about the fourth dimension, and and about the nature of computation. Many of my books are science fiction novels. We’re talking high-class literary science fiction.

My best-known novel is Software, written in 1980. It was one of the earliest cyberpunk novels. The idea behind Software seems simple now.

  • It should be possible to extract the patterns stored in a person’s brain, and transfer these onto a computer or a robot.

You’ve seen this scenario in a hundred movies and TV shows, right? But I was the first one to write about it. In 1980, “soul as software” was an unheard of thought. Hardly anyone even knew the word “software.”

To make my Software especially punk, I made the brain-to-software transfer very gnarly. A gang of scary-funny hillbillies extracted people’s mental software by slicing off the tops of their skulls and eating their brains with cheap steel spoons. One of the hillbillies was a robot in disguise, and his stomach analyzed the brain tissue. Did I mention that I grew up in Kentucky?

I went on to write three sequels: Software, Wetware, Freeware, and Realware. They’re collected in my Ware Tetralogy. And you can read my Complete Stories for free online. Read one of my stories before you go to sleep tonight. You’ll have interesting dreams.

In grad school I was a hippie, in the Eighties I was a punk, and after that I settled down to being a cyberpunk. Even so, I’m a reliable family man, with three children, and five grandchildren.

A photo of my cyberpunk children!

Being a respected writer doesn’t necessarily pay very well, so for most of my life I had a day job. I was a math professor until I was forty, and then we  moved to California, and I became a computer science professor at San Jose State, in Silicon Valley.

I let the chip into my heart. At first I was faking it as a CS prof, but eventually I knew what I was doing, and I did some work as a software engineer at Autodesk. I published a book on software engineering for videogames. And I published several programs involving cellular automata, chaos, videogames, and artificial life.

And now here I am speaking at conference on blockchain. What am I going to say? Well, I’ll spin out some fantasies about things we might see in future. Weird, insane, cyberpunk use cases.

Cyber

Cyberpunk is about computers merging into our reality And it’s about maintaining our individuality in the face of that. As a writer, it was it was a lucky break that I ended up working in Silicon Valley. It’s like—what if William Blake had gone to work amid the “dark satanic looms” of a textile mill?

Cyberpunk explores the boundaries between humans, daily life, and computers.

Cyberpunk = Cyber + Punk.

Cyber is about the real world blending with the computer world.
Punk is about maintaining our independence and our attitude.

Cyber encompasses three trends.

  • Software → People. Programs imitate us.
  • People → Software. We behave like robots.
  • Software ↔ Reality. The cloud merges with daily life.

Software → People.

  • Bots, that is, intelligent programs, emulate people, taking over some of our jobs.
  • AI used to seem unattainable. But for many tasks we can beat the problem to death by training neural nets on big data sets.
  • We don’t program high-level AI. Logicians have proved we can never understand AI at our level. But we can evolve human-level AI. It’s an odd win.
  • That is, we can emulate our minds without ever knowing how the minds work. All it takes is big data, big crunch, and time.

People → Software.

  • As a way of keeping pace, people enhance or augment themselves with the smart agents in their devices.
  • The ultimate move will be digital immortality, that is, making a lasting software model of yourself. I call this kind of model a lifebox, and I wrote about it in my tome, The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul. I’ll discuss lifeboxes in my workshop presentation.

Software ↔ Reality.

  • Our daily world is saturated with the internet. Like damp sand at the edge of the sea. Both solid and liquid.
  • Face to face conversations are increasingly replaced by messaging, video, and social.
  • Stores close and move into the cloud. We shop online.
  • We use VR to emulate the world, for entertainment, for training, and for predictions.

Cryptocurrency, blockchain, and smart contracts are definitely cyber. Physical money tokens become patterns in the cloud. Signed agreements are in a database. In a smart contract, it may be that some of the participants are bots. A lawyer bot, an agent bot, and a collection bot. I think of the bots as remoras attached to a shark. The contract is the shark.

Punk

Computers aren’t everything. Behaving like a robot is unpleasant. It’s more fun to be human.

The VR worlds of videogames are too clean. Even their scuff marks are clean. As Bruce Sterling once said, “We cyberpunks need to get in there with our spray cans.”

The physical world is grungy and gnarly. Wherever I am, I always look for the chaos, the natural gnarl, and when I find it I feel safer.

Punk is about turning your back on conventional top-down rules. Cyberpunk film and literature breaks free of the boring old plastic, white-bread visions of the future. And folding in more of our actual, daily world.

Punk is for countercultural, decentralized politics. Like, “You’re not my boss. I’m not listening. I’m doing it my way.” In a nutshell?

Punk means give the finger and walk away.

Cryptocurrency, blockchain, and distributed information systems have a definite quality of punk. Many in these areas have a libertarian bent, a wish to be invisible to the government, to maintain privacy, and to evade central control. A good fit for punk. Don’t get permission, just do it.

Internet Goodies

The internet turned out much better than anyone could have hoped. It grew and spread before business or the government could shackle it. The people who designed and released the internet—they were cyberpunks. I’m not saying they were hipsters, no, they were geeks. But they were cyberpunk geeks.

They released the internet into the wild. Hoping for these goodies.

  • Deal. Buy and sell online.
  • Publish. Post what you like. Others can find your content.
  • Search. World library in your pocket. Search it all. Nobody watches.
  • Talk. Unsupervised messaging, talk, video.
  • Archive. Stash your data in the cloud.

But…

Warning to internet users: “Beware the beak!”

The browser makers, the social networks, the online merchants, and national security—they want to co-opt your goodies. They want to maintain silos of data about you, mostly so they can pelt you with ads.

Even in a democracy, you don’t automatically keep your rights to freedom and privacy. You have to win back these rights, over and over and over again. If you stop being a rebel, they make you a slave.

We need a recalcitrant cyberpunk attitude. Give the finger and walk away? Well, sure. But how?

Three Cyberpunk Use Cases

I’m going to hit you with three out-there cyberpunk SF scenarios. I’ll relate them to Search, Talk, and Archive.

Enhanced Goodies Drawback Old Fix New Fix
(Search)
Crystal Ball
Ads, Data Mining Ad-blockers, VPN Everyone has a Search Engine
(Talk)
Telepathy
Spam,
Eavesdropping
Crypto, Filters Recognition
(Archive)
Immortality
Impersonation, Spies Crypto, ID Memory thread

Crystal Ball

A commercial search engine tracks you and serves up ads. Conceivably the search engine tells some authority about nasty searches. Yes, you can use ad-blockers and use a VPN to be somewhat anonymous. But even without knowing anything about you, the search engine can skew the hits it offers you. Typically skewing the hits in favor of whatever advertisers or political factions have gotten to the search engine company.

And conversely, your publishing efforts will be unsuccessful if the owners of the global search engines choose not to serve links to your content.

The solution is radical, but simple. Run your own search engine. But, wait, a search engine company is constantly crawling the web, storing data in banks of computers worldwide, and curating their data with massive AI.

Ever heard of Moore’s Law? It’s not unreasonable to suppose that in ten or twenty years you’ll have a decent global search machine running on its own in your pocket. Maybe it won’t even be a chip. Maybe we’ll have gone to quantum computing by then and your search machine will be…a tiny “crystal ball.” A little supercomputer, either way.

You’ll automatically enrich your crystal ball’s history as you surf the web. It’ll run off down the branches coming off the places you go. It’ll be an expert on things you interested in.

And—the indie DIY punk aspect—you’ll share your crystal ball’s data peer to peer. But only with trusted parties. In a way it’ll be like Wikipedia. Trusted users building an encyclopedia. There could be a blockchain element akin to the Wikipedia edit tracker.

Telepathy

People are not going to be pecking at tiny smart phone keyboards in ten or twenty years. Already voice typing is close to being usable. But it’s a little embarrassing to be talking out loud to your phone, especially when the person next to you yells, “What?” and that goes into your message. And in the other direction, it’s slow to have to listen to a computer voice. And half the time screen fonts are too small to read.

We want to go beyond kludgy. haptic interfaces like keys, screen. touch, and voice. What you need what I call an “uvvy” patch to put on the back of your neck. A soft piezoplastic slug. It communicates directly with the net. It’s like a cell phone that’s glued onto your body. And—big add-on to the specs—an uvvy can read your brainwaves. Transform your thoughts into images and text. and of course we want the uvvy to be removable.

A visitor from the past might take our smart phones for a type of telepathy. But the phone, or the uvvy, just sends pictures and words. For true telepathy we want more than a silent videophone conversation.

  • Telepathy involves sharing access to thought patterns in your neurons. Instead of sending information to someone else, you send them a link to the location where that information is stored in your brain. And they can access it there.
  • It’s like, you send someone a link to an image on your webpage. Instead of emailing them a JPG image as an attachment.
  • It’s like, you send send them a link to a thought pattern in your brain. Instead of sending them a bunch of words about your idea and expecting them to convert your words into a model of your thought. Like I’m trying to do with you right now.
  • In two-way telepathy, people might let your brain patterns merge. Super thoughts!

So then comes porno, scams, and spam. Telepathic hucksters will want to overlay your sensations, push into your thoughts, and infect y0ur dreams—should you be foolish enough to fall asleep while wearing your uvvy.

How do we prevent this? Using a central authority is totally out of the question. It’s got to be peer to peer. We might start with a shared key protocol. But the key would have to be unhackable. Something very convoluted.

What if the key is related to the process of recognizing someone. Recognize them in that deep, reliable way that you recognize a life-long friend from their face, voice, conversational style, and overall personality..

Having a given personality is, one might say, a proof of work, in the cryptocurrency sense. A mature personality is, in a sense, a blockchain, with each new state of consciousness containing pointers to previous states.

But what about telepathy with people you don’t know? Unsafe telepathy could be worse than unsafe sex! Maybe we’d want to go for something like letters of introduction. Like, “Rudy sent me.”

Digital Immorality

So how about making a software model of a person? So that, like, you can get a beloved partner back? In the near term, we already have a simple way for mimicking this process, something that I call lifebox software. I’ve been writing about it for years. It hasn’t caught on in a big way, but I think it will. I’m going to talk about it in my workshop session later today.

But maybe being perserved as something like a website isn’t enough?

But, wait! How about actual immortality? Let’s suppose that a more futuristic lifebox is supported by a funky and extremely powerful device. Perhaps the support platform is bio-computational, or perhaps it’s a quantum computer. And let’s say that the lifebox has that elusive sense of “watching itself watch itself” that seems to characterize conscious thought.

Here we’d have an impersonation issue. It seems like I’d prefer to have just one posthumous lifebox ghost—and not a slew of Elvis-imitator-type poseurs mixing in with my estate, my work, and my surviving family.

But what about copies that are reasonably close. As with telepathy, there’s the “recognition” factor. Your thread of consciousness is a kind of blockchain. The richness of memories are, in their own way, a proof of work. It’s a block chain thing as the references are subtle. The thread of consciousness is a block chain. A non-hacked, non-forged. authentic record of my thoughts.

Preserve your software, the rest is meat?

That’s true, up to a point, but don’t forget—where there’s filth, there’s life!

In the long run, natural computations are where it’s at.  And by natural computation I mean a whole range of possiblities, including the functioning of an organism, the mass movements of a society, the thoughts in your mind, and even the quantum tingling inside a rock.

Links

For more info about these topics, check out my workshop talk, “Lifebox for Telepathy and Immortality.”

And visit the links on my home page, www.rudyrucker.com

Talk on Lifebox for Telepathy and Immortality

I gave two presentations at the IOHK Summit in Miami Beach, Florida, April 18, 2019. IOHK is a crypto/blockchain company with the full name Input Output Hong Kong.

I gave a small audience the 40 minute talk described below, and a twenty minute talk to a larger audience,  “Cyberpunk Use Cases.”

This “Lifebox for Telepathy and Immortality” post contains the slides for the talk, the draft text for the talk, and audio of the talk.  So you can listen and scroll through the images and words at the same time.

Click the player icon below to play the audio right now. Or click the talk title to download the mp3 audio file and listen to it on your own player. Or listen to the talk via Rudy Rucker Podcasts.

Lifebox for Telepathy and Immortality. By Rudy Rucker.

At the conference I also taped a great conversation with Stephen Wolfram, and that’s a podcast, too.

Lifebox

What is a Lifebox?

In the next few years we’ll see consumer products that allow people to make convincing emulations of themselves. I call a system like this a lifebox. A lifebox has three layers.

  • Data. A large and rich data base with a person’s writings, plus videos of them, and recorded interviews.
  • Search. An interactive search engine. You ask the lifebox a question, it does a search on the data, and it comes up with a relevant answer.
  • AI. A veneer of AI. The lifebox remembers a given user’s search history and inputs, so as to piece together a semblance of a continuing conversation, or even a friendship. And, of course, and animated head and body of the lifebox creator.

Producing basic lifeboxes is well within our current abilities. And over time the AI layers may evolve to pass the Turing test. A lifebox is  somewhat like a personal website—but larger, more densely hyperlinked, and with a sophisticated interface.

The links among the lifebox items are important—because the links express the author’s sensibility, that is, the person’s characteristic way of jumping from one thought to the next.

The lifebox gives users the impression of having a conversation with the author. The user inputs serve as search terms to locate hits of lifebox info. And the AI interface confabulates the hits into sentences and anecdotes and repartee.

More than that, over time, a lifebox will track the ongoing conversations with each particular user, creating a sense of friendships.

Training a Lifebox

How do you train your lifebox?  Certainly you can input your writings, your emails, your social media posts, your photos, and the like.

Beyond this the lifebox can interview you, prompting you to tell it stories. Using voice-recognition, the lifebox links your anecdotes via the words and phrases you use. And the lifebox asks simple follow-up questions about the things you say.

For ongoing neural-net-style training, the lifebox AI can listen in on your conversations, and tweak its weights to better match the things that you say.

Lifebox Use Case: Interactive Memoir

The initial market for the lifebox is simple. Old people want to write down their life stories, and with a lifebox they don’t have to write, they can get by with just talking. The lifebox software is smart enough to organize the material into a shapely whole. Like a ghostwriter.

The hard thing about creating your life story is that your recollections aren’t linear; they’re a tangled banyan tree of branches that split and merge.

The lifebox uses hypertext links to hook together everything you say. Your eventual users will carve their own paths through your stories—interrupting and asking questions.

I imagine a white-haired old duffer named Ned. Ned is pacing in his small backyard—a concrete slab with some beds of roses—he’s talking and gesturing, wearing a headset. and with the lifebox in his shirt pocket. The lifebox speaks to him in a woman’s pleasant voice.

At some point Ned dies. But he’s trained his lifebox. His grandchildren, little Billy and big Sis, play with Ned’s lifebox. Being kids, they mock it, not putting on the polite faces that children are expected to show.

Little Billy asks the Grandpa-lifebox about his first car, and the lifebox starts talking about Grandpa’s electric-powered Flurble and about how he used the car for dates. Big Sis asks the lifebox about the first girl Grandpa dated, and the lifebox goes off on that for a while, and then Sis looks around to make sure Mom’s not in earshot.

The coast is clear, so Sis asks naughty questions. “Did you and your dates do it? In the car? Did you use a rubber?” Shrieks of laughter.

“You’re a little too young to hear about that,” Grandpa-lifebox calmly says. “Let me tell you more about the car.”

Lifebox Use Case: Natural Language Recognition

In the intimate verbal conversations that you have with a lover, spouse, or close friend, spoken language feels as effortless as singing or dancing. The ideas flow and the minds merge. In these empathetic exchanges, each of you draws on a clear sense of your partner’s history and core consciousness.

By way of enhancing traditional text and image communications, people might use lifeboxes to introduce themselves to each other. Like studying someone’s home page before meeting them.

A lifebox would serve as a conversational context. Sharing lifebox contexts replaces the mass of common memories and cultural referents that you depend on with friends.

If an AI agent has access to your lifebox, it will do much better at understanding the content of your speech. We could finally gain traction on the intractable AI problem of getting a deep understanding of natural language.

Telepathy

When we use language our words act as instructions for assembling thoughts. But telepathy could work differently. By way of analogy, think about three different ways you might  tell a person about something you saw.

  • Text. Give a verbal description of the image.
  • Image. Show them a photo.
  • Link. Give them a link to the photo on your webpage.

Let’s suppose now that we come up with something like a brain-wave-based cell phone. I call such a device an uvvy. An uvvy might instead be like a removable plastic leech that perches on the back of a user’s neck.

(Note in passing that one would never want to have anything to do with an implanted device of this nature. Malware, pwning, crashes, limpware upgrades? No thanks.!)

The most obvious use of an uvvy would be to use it like a videophone, sending words and images.  But I want you to imagine people sharing direct links into each others’ minds!

I refer to this type of advanced telepathy by the word teep.

Lifebox Use Case: Understanding Teep

A possible problem with brain-link teep is that you might have trouble deciphering the intricate structures of someone else’s thoughts—seen from the inside.

Sharing lifebox contexts could help make sense of another person’s internal brain links.

This is a variant of the problem of understanding natural language.

I’m saying that, as well as using the ethereal brain-wave-type signals, you’ll want to use hyperlinks into the other user’s lifebox context. The combination of the two channels can make the teep comprehensible.

Lifebox Use Case: Blocking Ads and Impersonation.

It would be very bad to be getting ads and spam via teep.

And it would be bad to have someone impersonating me and teeping things to other poeple.

I’m groping for some kind of safety filter. A person might use their lifebox as a transducer during brain-to-brain teep contact.  Rather than you reaching directly into my brains, you might channel the requests through the my lifebox.

How to track the legit lifeboxes?  Track them with a blockchain?

Immortality

If what my brain does is to carry out computation-like deterministic processes, then in principle there ought to be a computer of some kind that can emulate it.

Yes, the brain is analog rather than digital, but perhaps a highly fine-grained digital computer would suffice. Like a pixelized photo.

Alternately, the computers of the future may be analog devices as well—one thinks of biocomputation and quantum computation.

In trying to produce humanlike constructs, we have four requirements.

  • Hardware. Device with a computation rate and memory space that’s comparable to a human brain. Not terminally out of reach.
  • Software. An operating system that allows the device to behave like a human mind. The most likely option is to beat the problem to death by training multi-layer neural nets.
  • Data. A lifetime’s worth of memories. Lifeboxes!
  • Consciousness. How?

Recipe for Consciousness.

Short answer:
Consciousness = “I am.

Long answer, from Antonio Damasio, as explianed in my Lifebox tome :

  1. Images of objects.
  2. Image of self.
  3. Movie-in-the-brain.
  4. Consciousness =  Watch your self watching your movie-in-the-brain.

Lifebox Use Case: Juicy Ghosts

Suppose we can copy a personality to a lifebox, and that the lifebox has such a strong AI that it enjoys self-awareness, and it feels it is a copy of the original person.  Call such a construct a ghost.

You don’t want Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook or their like to own your ghost. You want your ghost to be a free agent.  How can you afford a sufficiently powerful device to run your personality?  Let’s suppose we’ve got biocomputing working. Port yourself onto a dog.

So you might be a juicy ghost—living in the brain of a dog, a bird, or a rat. A big win in having a living body is that you then have sense organs, mobility, and an ability to act in the world.

If people can spawn off juicy ghosts, we have problems with ownership, inheritance, culpability, and liability.  It would be best to only allow one ghost version of a person at a time. How to register which device or organism is your ghost. Again it seems like blockchain could play a role…

References

I discussed the lifebox at some length in my futurological novel, Saucer Wisdom, and in my nonfiction tome,The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul>.

See also my online lifebox prototype, “Search Rudy’s Lifebox,” at www.rudyrucker.com/blog/rudys-lifebox

Kickstarting MILLION MILE ROAD TRIP

As I’m mentioned before, my wild SF adventure Million Mile Road Trip is being published in hardback and paperback by Night Shade Books on May 5.

And I’ll publish the ebook version via my Transreal books.

Also I’m publishing my novel’s companion, Notes for Million Mile Road Trip.

And I’m running a Kickstarter for the project. Sixth time I’ve done that. Doing the Kickstarter got me to make a cool video trailer for the novel…you can see it on the Kickstarter page. And I’ve made a permanent Million Mile Road Trip home page. Lots more info there.

I put all this together in the last three or four days. My brain is about to explode.

Thanks to all my readers for appreciating and supporting my work over the years.  I’d be nowhere without you!


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