Sunday, June 05, 2022

Sing a Song of Spectrum

Is 100 MHz of radio spectrum a lot? It depends on whether it’s at 200 MHz (say, 200-300 MHz) where it’s a significant chunk of the entire band, or at 20 GHz (say, 20.0-20.2 GHz) where it’s just a sliver. Musicians don’t encounter this puzzle because they express intervals in terms of frequency ratios. Thus, a soprano can sing the same song as a bass, though at a much higher pitch; the same notes but transposed upwards. 

When we think about spectrum allocations, we shouldn’t think about raw hertz, but rather about the “song” that a given number of hertz allows an operator “to sing.” (H/t Nathan Simington, Ofcom/William Webb, and SPT; see endnote [1].)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Do egregores play?

Applying Betteridge's law of headlines to this blog’s title, it’s a fair bet that egregores (distinct non-physical entities that arise from a groups of people with shared motivations) do not play. And yet…

Friday, April 15, 2022

GPT-D, the dream-maker

I’ve been impressed by the creativity of my dreams – they show imagination and invention that my waking life doesn’t have. They’ve become tiresome, though, because I can’t get sense from them, try as I might. I’m beginning to think that there is no meaning to be found because there is no dream-self; it's just a mindless algorithm churning out material.

Friday, April 08, 2022

From Slime Molds to Orgregores

Slime molds are amazing, particularly when these single-celled organisms congregate and start moving as a single body. The analogy with groups of humans is tempting. I suspect that human organizations are distinct entities separate from their constituent people just as a fruiting slime mold is more than its constituent cells.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Atheist's grace

I was recently reminded of the old Scottish grace, “Some hae meat that canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit.” Expressing thanks for one’s blessings is a wonderful practice – but what if there’s no one to be thanked?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Nobody here but us coders

Ken Liu’s 2012 short story “The Perfect Match” is a disturbing premonition of a world where Facebook is everyone’s personal assistant. What struck me most forcefully, though, was that although a Turing-test-capable personal AI is a key character, and feeding the algorithm drives the plot, the story is told in entirely human terms. There’s no sense, let alone a depiction, of the super-human technology that I imagine is driving everything. (Spoilers.)

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Bubble Inc's Dream

We watched the animated movie Ron’s Gone Wrong (IMDb, Wikipedia) over the weekend. It occurred to me that one could read it as a dream in the mind of Bubble, the mega-company that makes Ron and all the other B-bots.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

O-gregores, an evolutionary rebuttal

 In “Scious organizations” I speculated that sufficiently large and well-connected networks of people could be conscious, by analogy to neural networks. I’ve been calling them o-gregores or orgregores. One possible rebuttal to this claim is that conscious brains evolved over hundreds of millions of years. O-gregores are ad hoc, human-made networks; while they may have the gross topology of neural networks (e.g. scale-free, small-world), they haven’t been under evolutionary pressure to be conscious. Here's a sketch of a response.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Spiderman romance: When the archetype drives the avatar

I’d been thinking recently about my exchange with Petri Mähönen around mythical entrepreneurs when I came across a comment about successive pairs of leading actors in Spiderman films falling for each other in real life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Tech & Mythology Project Snapshot – Nov 2021

It’s time to revisit what the Tech & Mythology project means for me. There were previous snapshots in July and October 2020, and most recently February 2021.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Glitching the invisible

I’ve been trying to imagine the invisible world created by internet apps: something like a video that glitches, showing what lies behind; or visualizing what a dog’s nose “sees” (something I think I saw on the BBC decades ago).

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

O-gregores (aka orgregores): Perhaps the aliens are already here

If my speculation that some organizations are emergent, conscious entities in their own right, then super-intelligent aliens may have been among us for some time. 

Myth definitions

This post is a rolling inventory of definitions and descriptions of myth – mine, and those of others. The date on which an item is added to the list is given in italics, in parentheses. I’ll move it to the top of the blog every time I update it.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Scious organizations

 Many things are said to take on a life of their own: corporations, movements, projects, urban legends, accusations, and so on. (For sample sentences, see The Free Dictionary, Longman, and Merriam-Webster.) I’m going to take this literally and assume that human enterprises – notably digital technologies – are not just alive but also conscious. In this way digital tech is a greater-than-human mythological force, that is, a god.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Journalism schools: An egregious egregore

I keep coming back to David Simon’s observation that postmodern institutions like the police department, drug economy, political structures, and school administrations, are today’s Olympian forces. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that US journalism schools leave graduates with hefty student loans; the schools seem to me to be an oblivious if not malevolent deity.