Archive for the ‘Rudy’s Blog’ Category


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!

Guanajuato & San Miguel de Allende

This spring, with my 73rd birthday coming up, Sylvia proposed that I take her down there to celebrate, and to let her see the place for herself. So we got on a plane.

I was in Guanajuato once before, back in October, 2015. I was there for an arts conference, and I really loved the town. The colors and the unspoiled quality.  Back in 2015 I blogged two posts about Guanajuato, and I still often talk about the town. Now in 2019, I’m doing two more posts, one of them today, and the second of  my 2019 posts will be on May 13, 2019.

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It was a long trip down—there was this thing about a certain kind of plane no longer being reliable, and naturally that was the kind of plane we’d booked on, so instead we had to fly this roundabout route from San Jose to Chicago to Dallas to Leon (which is the Mexican airport near Guanajuato.) As the sun set, we were finally drawing near. A peaceful moment above the clouds.

Right away, the adobe blocks of the buildings looked wonderful. And notice how there’s a pink building in there—the Mexicans are never satisfied with a block of all-beige buildings.

Guanajuato is in a ravine carved by an ancient river which has, as I understand it, moved underground. So the town has two halves, each half mounting up one of the two facing slopes. In the background of this photo, on the left, you can see this hill on the other side of the town. It’s chock full of bright little buildings like blocks. You see some hills like this in San Francisco, but not nearly so colorful

I like to walk around the streets and alleys just looking at the buildings, the people, and the walls. I think of this one as a picture of math, as the grid is kind of made of numeral 2’s, and someone scribbled a calculation, and that wire is like kind of weird arbitrary connections you find in math. Also note the irregular gray patch. And the metal flowers like prime numbers.

Alleys and fluffy clouds. The clouds looked firmer down here, more like they’re solid. That shade of pink…you never see that on a building in the States.

Everyone paints their house in some different wild color. Magenta, baby pink and baby blue, chartreuse, sour lime, deep cinnabar red, traffic orange, rich buttery yellow, pale citron. Often they paint “frame” rectangles around their windows.

I dig the interplay between the flat color areas and the wiggly tubes. The electrical conduits and meters are often on the outsides of the walls, which looks cool. Guanajuato goes back to the 1600s, when it was the richest silver mining town in the world. In other words, a lot of these stone and adobe houses went up before electricity was in vogue. So it was easier to put the wires on the outside. Kind of like in England, where a lot of old houses have their plumbing pipes on the outside.

Here’s Jesus, rising out of his tomb, and rarin’ to go. Xianity is like a widespread pop mythology. I figure in Greco-Roman times, the people had a spectrum of feelings about their “gods” as broad as our feelings about Jesus. For some it’s a colorful cultural things, for others it’s a light that burns within their soul. When the art gets this literal it’s cool.

We stayed at a hotel called Meson de los Poetas, that is, House of the Poets, and two doors down was the Diego Rivera house, where our man lived until he was about six years old. His descendants had the idea of making the house into a small museum. The most fascinating art in there is a series of watercolors that Diego made for a proposed edition of a history of the Mayas called Popul Vuh. These monkeys are some earlier stage of humanity. I love the ease and wit of Diego’s lines.

“Diego’s Hunhunahpu” acrylic on canvas, November, 2015, 36” x 36”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

After my 2015 trip to Guanajuato, I did a big painting modeled on one of Diego’s Popul Vuh watercolors that I saw. As always, more info on my Paintings page. This painting is, unaccountably (to me), still unsold.

Back to 2019. Perfection on the hoof. Those dusky deep red buttresses, and the rich buttery yellow of the wall. The war, low morning sun.

Guanajuato has a tiny cog-railway that runs up one of the ravine-city’s two sides. The car arrives in a tidy marble mall, fairly empty on a week day, with silver shops. I liked this big painting they had on display up there.

Speaking of art, here’s a cool original painting that was in our bedroom. Something about the culture or economics of Mexico makes it reasonable for a small hotel to have real paintings in the room instead of reproductions. This one is called, Maria Loreto de la Sangre de Christo, by G. G. Quevedo. I like that name Quevedo, it appears in a story by Jorge Luis Borges.

Deep idleness and relaxation in our room in the afternoons. That magical word: Siesta! Supper only starts at 8 pm, you’ve walked all morning, had a lunch at 2 pm, and then…kickback time. Sitting cross-legged resting the muscles of my legs. Or lounging in one of our comfortable chairs.

Not reading, not computing, looking out the window, enjoying the sight of that hill of houses, and, eventually, playing with my camera.

I spent over half an hour perfecting a duck hand, or maybe it’s a dinosaur, one of those guys with a knob on top of his head. The double edges due to mirroring, as I’m photographing the image in the door’s glass. How odd and alien and protean our human bodies are.

The Conquistador coffee roaster lay just under our hotel, cached in a space the size of a narrow living-room, with the machine roasting beans, off and on, all day, and clouds of bean-steam lufting out in foggy veils, causing, early in the day, the tidily uniformed school girls to feign great coughing fits. I’d sit there on a stool having a mocha mix of their coffee and chocolate. Peace.

Peeling spots of the alley walls only add to their appeal. Rich visual chaos, with its own implicit order. God is everywhere.


Click for a larger version of this image.

A night panorama of our view, sewn together from three full-size frames.

I remembered this view really well from my visit in 2015—I managed to get the same room as before, a salmon returning to his hatchery, savoring the aethereal memory scent.

With the ultra-low-light “Night Sight” setting on my Pixel phone the view looked like this. Those aren’t colored lights on the houses—the lights are white or yellow, the colors are from the walls.

In a lane near us we found a little art shop, selling etchings and postcards by a man and woman who ran a workshop together. The sales woman was pleasant, an local artist herself. speaking a good English (not a given at all). “Mexicans really like skulls,” I remarked, just to be saying something. “We love our death culture,” she said.

Here’s Veronica with her veil with Our Lord’s face on it. All sorts of art in the churches, not limited to any one style. Did Betty get a veil too? Whose face would be on it?

At one point we took a bus from Guanajuato over to the town of San Miguel de Allende for the day. San Miguel is better known, and we wanted to have a look. In many ways it’s as beautiful a town as Guanajuato, but it doesn’t have Guanajuato’s pristine, unspoiled quality.

San Miguel is known for the spire of its cathedral. The man who designed and built the church had only seen photos of Gothic cathedrals, so he made it up as he went along, and the result is wonderful.

Dig the line of yuccas. Very cool. Like a travel poster almost.

A downside of San Miguel is that something like ten percent of the people who live there are white US retirees, who have the look of Mill Valley people, although some are in fact from the East Coast. Of course Mexico City is fully cosmopolitan, but I think that’s a different thing.

At times I’ve wondered if it would be fun to go retire in San Miguel, but it’s maybe not a vibe that would work for me. I fear an entitled, self-satisfied, high-school-clannishness thing. Me thinking as a perennial outsider in saying that. But possibly if I ever did move there I’d soon fit in.

But there’s also the matter of the wealth-gap between the retirees and the locals. Seems like that could make you uncomfortable.

I really liked this guy selling hats. So classic. Loads of day-tripping white tourists thronged the San Miguel streets.

From a total outsider perspective, the locals in Guanajuato seemed at little more at ease than in San Miguel. Doing their thing in their own town. Fully in control.

I never once heard anyone mention Trump on this trip. For a lot of the local’s, he’s not even on their radar. Like, do I know the name of the President of Mexico? Parallel worlds.

San Miguel has scads of hip eateries and native art shops, also some higher end galleries. I liked seeing Mr. and Mrs. Death here above a restaurant.

I walked around San Miguel alone for an hour in the late afternoon, in that “golden hour” of sun, going nuts with the colors and the shadows, enjoying my trusty Fujifilm X100T digital camera with its fixed 23 mm lens. Well, not totally trusty, as it has a lot of manual settings, and it’s easy for me to mess them up, even now, after using it for over four years.

I always rework my photos in Adobe LightRoom…it’s almost like the shots I take are negatives and then I “develop” them on my computer. With a wider angle lens like I have, it’s often a matter of cropping down to the part you want.

Nice visual rhyme of the triangles here.

I was just feasting on those warm yellows and reds and ochers. Showdown at dusk. The San Miguel streets are a little wider and straighter than in Guanajuato. Although, as I say, more replete with rubber-necking goobs like me…though not really that many of us, not everywhere.

We wandered into an art show in a large building…had to pass in between a pair of guards…I thought maybe they’d want money or a search or something, but not at all. It felt like the locals weren’t much into hassling strangers over tiny things.

Anyway, this cool US artist Daniela Edburg, she was into was twisting up skeins of wool into shapes like tornadoes…and then taking photos of them. In one photo she held the faux-twister as if it were on a Kansas-type horizon. And here she lets it merge with her hair (I assume that’s her in the photo). “I am a tornado.” Yes. One Halloween our daughter Georgia “dressed as a tornado.” I don’t remember the details of the outfit, but I love the concept. It’s very Georgia.

I just love this photo. So Old Mexico. Like from Sam Peckinpah or from Brando’s One-Eyed Jacks. The late afternoon light, yes. Not a soul in sight. The warm stucco. Perfection. It’s a cafe on the main square next to the cathedral. And for spots like this, you gotta hand it to San Miguel.

Notice that little stand with three or four knobs? That’s a portable hat rack. If you like, you have one next to your table, and put your hats on it! I wore a hat most of the time we were down there, an old white felt model.

At the end of our day in San Miguel we got a taxi down to the bus terminal. I like these dudes in silhouette. Dark with light.

The bus we road on was a “first class” line of buses, with really a lot of leg room, amazingly nice, I’ve never seen a bus that comfortable in the US. Not that it was expensive. Maybe $7 for the hour-and-a-half ride between the two towns, basically busing through scrubby high desert. We were at 6,000 feet the whole time.

When we got back to our Meson de Los Poetas room after the San Miguel outing, I took a selfie of myself, looking hale and lucid, and the next morning, March 22, 2019, I posted it on FB and Twitter with the announcement that it was  my 73rd birthday, thereby indirectly petitioning for b-day cheer. Big score. I got hundreds of likes and replies, and on my birthday it was a soothing, pleasant activity to scroll through the replies, “liking” them, enjoying what they said.

As I mentioned at the start, I’ll put up the second of  my 2019 posts on Guanajuato on May 13, 2019.

Adrift

I have lots of little tasks I should do and I think of them in the morning and feel filled with ennui and despair. Paperwork, plans, maintenance.

It’s always better, as I so well know, to have a writing project. I’m high and dry with Return to the Hollow Earth all done. Also my story “Surfers at the End of Time” with Marc Laidlaw is done. Good news on that front: we sold it to Asimov’s SF Magazine. But vhat next?

When all else fails, I play with this hypercube puzzle I paid $100 for, in a way it’s like a Rubik’s cube, it’s called Melinda’s 2 x 2 x 2 x 2. It’s 3D-printed, with insanely strong magnets inside the individual cubelets to stick them together, so can, in effect, rotate the planes. I never did learn to solve a regular Rubik’s cube, but Melinda’s has the advantage that I can shatter it into cubelets and rebuild. Lots of interesting symmetries.

On Valentine’s Day, Sylvia made a big batch of cookie hearts. Wonderful. Here I’m eating one at my laptop in the Los Gatos Coffee Roaster café, a fave spot to hang.

I wrote story called “Juicy Ghosts”—couldn’t hack making it a novel like I was talking about, but I finished a story. I think I mentioned this one was about a guy assassinating an evil president via wasp larvae that our guy has grown inside his flesh? I waded into the story slowly, shallowly, careful of biting, stinging things. Not a great idea, but don’t know what else to do.

As I mentioned before, we’ve had torrents of rain the last six weeks or two months. Love it. I always get so excited about the rings that raindrops make in the puddle. Natural computation at its finest. Wind gusting 30 mph, rain sideways, 4 inches yesterday.

I went up to Lexington Reservoir, and yah, mon, it’s overflowing. The water rose, like, twenty-five feet in about three days. Smooth so-called laminar flow here.

I know a special lookout spot where you can see the true chaos of the flume. Paradise.

When I finished that assassin story, showed it to couple of friends, did some fixes, and sent it off to an SF zine. Not sure they’ll want to publish it. We’ll see where it ends up. Really the New Yorker should publish it. As if.

Dig the overflow scenes at the dam of Vasona Lake in Los Gatos. I like to think of natural processes as being computations. Those big churning flows…denser than any computers we can build.

Sylvia and I drove up to Terry Bisson’s to watch the Oscars with him and his family. Terry says he’s the world’s greatest unrecognized film critic. A lot of us feeling this way…

Now need something else to write. Like a junkie who keeps running out of his stash. Rooting for stories like a hog searching for truffles. I have an idea I might start on today.

Feeling unsettled and adrift these days. One of those periods when I start wondering if maybe I really am crazy. Going out in nature always helps.

Wonderful oak next door. The tracery of the branches.

I’ve been watching this fairly horrible Netflix series of six shows about Rajneesh in Oregon, “Wild Wild Country,” I hate just about every person in the doc by now, especially Sheela and that lawyer guy, so deeply full of BS, but kept wanting to see “how it comes out.” One of those shows that makes you feel diminished. I’m not sure I can face the sixth and last episode.

This is a photo I really like.  I’m making it into a painting right now.  Finally got back into my studio (the back yard) becasue it stopped raining today.

I’d like to write a story that’s a happy UFO 1950s transreal early autobio story. Or, really, any kind of story about my early childhood. In the evenings, before going to sleep, or in the mornings still in bed, I sometimes go into my memory bank and “walk around” our 620 Rudy Lane house that I grew up in, in Louisville, I walk around the house and around the back and front yards, with memories going off like landmines, or rather, memories opening up like the window flaps on an Advent calendar. Kind of an old-man thing to be thinking about, right? The guy in my story has a mean older brother who is a talking carrot. I suppose a bit of biotech went into growing the brother-thing.

I mean, really?  Is that all the  newspaper has to tell me?

The childhood UFO story isn’t gelling. Foraging for more story ideas. They pop out of the dirt like mushrooms in the rain.

I got really wet riding my bike to the Lexington dam to revisit the flume.

Nice night at the ballet with Sylvia.

I’ve turned to rereading William Gibson’s “Bridge” series, that is, Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties. Bill’s so good he makes me wonder why I even bother trying to write. This said, we don’t do exactly the same things, nor are we after exactly the same results, nor do we use the same types of characters, so there is room for me. If I ever write again, that is.

My friend and fan Chuck Shotton 3D-printed some UFOs shaped like the ones I write about, and each of them as a little flat battery and two diode-type lights, factory made in Shenzhen to flicker in interesting ways. Love these.  As you can see, they’re about twenty feet across.

Here’s a granddaughter with some balloons. A surprise party for our 85-year-old friend Gunnar. Rudy Jr. and his family happened to be there too. The three little kids loved doing a surprise party. And Gunnar really was surprised. Like witnessing a Platonic ideal, for the kids, the archetype know as “surprise birthday party.”

Despite my customary kvetching, I’ve got ten books coming out from Night Shade this year, with White Light and Saucer Wisdom this month! Details on the series.


“Wow” acrylic on canvas, February, 2019, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I finished a new painting called “Wow.” It’s a silhouette of one of my Wisconsin granddaughter standing in front of some blown art glass in a museum in Madison. I redid the profile a bunch of times. Drew a grid on a photo to help transfer the image by hand. I like how excited she looks—she was making a face for the picture.

With my Borderlands show over, I have a big stash of paintings in the basement.  Bargains galore. This one pinhead (Hi, Bart!) said he just wanted to buy the edges of the canvases, if I could cut them off and collage them together for him.  I might someday construct a painting like that, if all else fails.  But I’d be copying the edges, you understand, not mutilating the treasure trove.

One of my favorite neighborhood trees. The mossy crooked Y oak. With a girl and a dog nearby.

Different topic: Here’s a really crazy puzzle from my Hacker King pal Bill Gosper. What’s the next number? (Answer at the end of this blog post).
2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 31, 37, 71, 73, 79, 97, 113, 131, 199, 311, 337, 373, 733, 919, 991, ???

I was in the Cantor Museum Sylvia at Stanford yesterday or the day before, looking at their primo Jackson Pollock painting in the Anderson collection, Lucifer. Here’s a detail. His work has this fractal quality, in that the smaller bits work as well as the larger ones do. This particular painting he did in 1947, right at the start of his drip phase.

We walked around in the giant Serra sculpture they have at the Cantor, shaped like an eight, it’s called Sequence. Soothing to be in there. It was in the lobby of SFMOMA for the last couple of years, but it looks much better outdoors.

Something else I’ve been worrying about—a lot—is this currently hot computer data structure called blockchain.  It’s used by Bitcoin, and might have more applications.  See this article by Emily Su for possible use cases, but see Jimmy Song for grave implementation problems and see Kai Stinchcombe for full-on debunking disdain. I’m frantically researching blockchain, because I’m slated to give two talks at a blockchain conference in Miami Beach in April.

So I’m sweating about my talk, and I’ve been sweating—in parallel—about whether the people organizing the con were going to pay me in advance, like I asked them to. And for a couple of weeks that wasn’t happening, and I grew increasingly paranoid, seeing as how they’re a cryptocurrency-related company out of Hong Kong! (Visions of  Kowloon Walled City in Gibson’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.) But this morning my first payment came through, so I’m gonna do it.

I can’t really say much of anything fresh about blockchain, but I can spin out, I hope, a couple of amusing SFnal cyberpunk-type bizzaro use case scenarios. Indeed one of them relates to the story I’m summarizing just below, “Mary Falls.”

My foot is bigger than Sylvia’s foot. (Keen observation stored in blockchain link #00000000000002379818909797023978.)

Oh, what was I talking about?  Oh, yeah, “Mary Falls.”  I managed to start writing it yesterday.  An old woman dies and migrates into the digital afterworld under the auspices of a company called Juicy Ghosts. They fix her up with a material world peripheral of some kind, but the lady loses her control of this “body,” which is, lets say not a machine but a juicy-ghost organic peripheral—and then she has to accept an incarnation as a light-bulb switch. Or she has to work as an NPC (non-player character) in a videogame. And then, (John Shirley’s suggestion) she runs a drone herding sheep in New Zealand, or, no, she runs a ranger-drone in the Big Basin woods, electrically zapping dogs who get in there, but then she loses even that body, and has to transmogrify into a cascade in the Big Basin falls. But then, in the summer, the falls dry up, so she finds a life as a part of the slow shifting of the crystals in the sedimentary stone.

Yep, that’s a senior’s life in a nutshell.

Here’s my knee under the quilt on our bed day before yesterday. I was getting up the energy to go outside and paint…if the rain had  finally stopped, but it hadn’t stopped, so I wrote on my laptop for ahwile,  but yesterday the sun did come out, calloo callay! And I worked on my painting of the long cloud in that photo up the page somewhere.  Earlier in the blockchain.

Shot from inside a closing elevator.  Like, “Help!  Let me outta here!”

Oh! You’re waiting for the solution to Gosper’s great puzzle?  Well, the next number in the list is 1,111,111,111,111,111,111 that is, it’s the decimal number written as nineteen 1’s,  a bit larger than one quintillion, also known as “rep 19”. Why that number? Well each number in Gosper’s sequence is a prime number such that, if you list every possible ordering of that prime number’s digits, each of those digit=shuffled numbers is prime too. Some people call these “permutable primes” or “absolute primes.” And weirdly enough, no number between 991 and on past a quintilion to rep 19 is a permutable prime.  Fascinating, huh?  Who says mathematicians don’t know how to have a good time!


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