Joonas Pajunen

Page 4


free will

People are products of genes, upbringing, chance, etc. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be accountable for their actions, or that it’s all just destiny. But thinking that no one chose how they ended up as they did, makes it easier to understand or withstand them.

I’ve recently been thinking about what Sam Harris has to say about free will. His thoughts can be accumulated via podcasts, videos and of course the book titled “Free Will”. I was most intrigued by the fact that we exist in a state machine of sorts. And that even though we can consciously affect that state, it couldn’t have ended up in any other way.

This is one of those things that still keeps me thinking about it.

state

The universe, and therefore our minds, have a state at any given time. Sometime in the past, could you have decided and then done something differently? How much can be attributed to randomness? Quantum...

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pattern recognisers

I’ve repeated the following quote before, and I’ll do it again:

“to understand is to perceive patterns” - Isaiah Berlin

I’m intrigued by this because of working as a programmer, after seeing Jason Silva’s many outputs, and after reading Raymond Kurzweil’s “How To Create A Mind” last year.

What Kurzweil’s does in the book is first he attempts to explain how the brain works and how the mind then emerges from it. Later, he proposes some techniques on how this could be digitally replicated and what philosophical and cultural conundrums that would create. I find both interesting, but to me, the part about what constitutes the mind is more thought-provoking.

connections

Kurzweil argues that the thinking mind emerges in the neocortex, with it’s approximately 300 million pattern recognisers. The pattern recognisers are then linked with each other, in a hierarchical grid of sorts.

Inputs...

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inflation of good ideas

Agile used to be the hottest buzzword for project planning and progression. Minimum viable product wasn’t an excuse for low quality shit. Some ideas are overused and misused, so much so that they’re losing their meaning. I’ll look into these two, as I’ve witnessed their usage most:

agile

Agile concepts were introduced in the 80’s, and around 15 years ago within the software industry. The “agile methodologies” then quite soon reached adoption within smaller companies. These companies would ridicule the enterprise world with notions of rigidness and waterfalls.

Scrum is an example of an agile framework with strict rules promoting agility. Following them too closely and dogmatically can be an contradictory to agile. Applying scrum orthodoxically is a challenge. At best, Scrum can promote easier approximation, planning and productivity. At worst, it’s a battle of schedules and...

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dogmas

I was watching “Going clear”, a documentary about the “church” of Scientology. It details the creation, growth and present state of the religion/cult. It’s a display of how people end up following ridiculous rules, religious or not.

The documentary consists of narrated history and a multitude of interviews from former top-level executives to public figures. Out of which, the likely most recognisable is Paul Haggis. These interviewees obviously no longer participate in those shenanigans. They are free to provide insightful commentary on how people end up in, stay and finally leave these groups.

Haggis summarised some of these thought patterns:

“We lock up a portion of our own minds. We avoid things that could cause us pain just if we looked. If we can just believe something then we don’t have to really think for ourselves, do we?” - Paul Haggis

dogmatism

Following rules and...

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gene testing

I subscribed to the gene testing service from 23andMe some time back, and have been inspecting the results during the last couple of weeks now. Overall, I find the results interesting. I’m slightly concerned about the privacy and security aspects of this kind of a service. Not so much from the technical standpoint of this particular site, but from the nature of the data itself. I am also unsure if the ROI for this (169 €) is what I was looking for. I did, however, buy myself some peace of mind.

I’m no biologist, but more of an engineer, and don’t pretend to be an expert about this stuff. I’ll do my best not to butcher the facts. The whole process takes a month or so, including the two-way shipping of a saliva collection kit and the analysis of the spit with some kind of a chip technology.

genetic information

The results list things like inherited conditions and genetic risk factors...

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self-deception

I’ve just finished “Leadership and self-deception”, and it was eye-opening. It’s a book about management and leadership, but more importantly, about managing relationships with people. I’ll go over some of the things I found most revealing, and hopefully without confusing anyone with too much of the book specific concepts and ideas.

Personally, I expect the message of the book to induce a change in how I behave and think about others.

self-betrayal

The shit starts to roll downhill whenever people “betray themselves”. This would be a moment when they perceive certain actions as being favourable and “right”, but for any reason, act the opposite or not at all. From that moment on, people begin to think and generate reasons why they didn’t really need to act good on that particular instinct, and perhaps even why it was better this way. The situations of self-betrayal are many, ranging...

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confabulation

I’ve recently been playing Grim Fandango, a remastered release of a classic PC game from the 90’s. I find myself confused how I first have no recollection about what’s going to happen next, until a new screen loads. Broken parts of stories and and images instantly flood my mind from over 15 years ago.

What’s troubling, and interesting, is that some of those memories are blatantly false and inaccurate.

false memories

This particular game consists mainly of dialogue, problems and solutions. The more difficult (and sometimes ridiculous) solutions are usually achieved by interacting with the environment and different items. I remember things totally wrong, and actually remember seeing wrong items interacting in incorrect places and events happening in different order.

I’m not sure if I’m making these incorrect memories up as I go. Maybe I imagined these possible solutions 15 years ago...

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abundance part 2, generalism

I pondered about the abundance of Javascript libraries, about it being both good and bad. While I still think it’s both, I tend to think the negative aspects emerge from our established ways of viewing prowess in technology.

What I see as a problem is this notion that one should be proficient at some certain library or framework. Instead, I think we should be good developers in general, and be able to learn and adopt new stuff rather quickly. We should be open minded in trying out new stuff without fearing too much about the time used (and potentially wasted) learning.

expertise

Investing in one specific library might be daunting. A well versed generalist can learn (almost) anything in a relatively short amount of time. All of us developers know this. What’s disturbing are those old-fashioned requirements for job or project positions, that list a bunch of technologies an applicant...

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tomorrow

I attended the first ever Tomorrow conference a few days ago. The mastermind behind the event is Lauri, and for a first time organiser of an event of that scale, he did an excellent job. Everything went smooth, and no problems could be detected whatsoever. In fact, the staff themselves were perplexed how well everything worked out.

The event was spliced into 4 sections, each having a somewhat vague sub-theme, of which the speakers followed with varying accuracy. Each of the sections began with a musical performance by Anni. Coupled with the proper sound systems of Musiikkitalo, they were a great mental reset before the talks.

As the name implies, Tomorrow was about things in the future. The talks were, in a sense, all over the place. Most of them dealt with how we influence what happens in the future, with our actions and behaviour. I won’t necessarily go into per-speaker details, but...

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data, of considerable size

Data science, big data, data mining, MapReduce, buzzword. Data is being generated in an increasing pace as the amount of it is exponentially growing. Problems arise when handling such large amounts of information and interpreting what it all means. Drawing misleading conclusions from that data can happen by accident or in purpose.

flood

Data is being generated by both people and machines. As the adoption of some technology reaches saturation, new technologies and new types of information gathering become available. Meanwhile, as the saturation is reached, the accuracy of the data keeps growing well past the adoption. Machines collect data about people, each other, and generate more data based on the previously collected. It is all stored somewhere, where no one is likely to ever review it. Luckily, the costs of storing data seems to decline at a compatible rate. The costs of managing...

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