Link Of The Month

Old links of the month

  • February 2012
  • January 2012
    • The Science of Insecurity by Meredith L. Patterson, 28C3 December 2011. Studies computer security from a language theory perspective. The fundamental affordance between the input a program will have to parse and use. The more restrictive it is, the simpler it will be parse and thus the harder it will be to make the program unsafe. Highlights the importance of specific grammar type (cf Wikipedia:Chomsky hierarchy) and the computation power required for each. Some discussion also on network protocols and variable length fields. See active discussions on the mailing-list. To compare with an Wikipedia:Algorithmic information theory approach. Overall several very interesting talk from CCC.
  • December 2011
    • De Arte Combinatoria by Gottfried Leibniz, solely its brief Wikipedia page though. A much more mechanized view of what creativity could be and this very early. Still not as early as Raymond Lull's work which initially led me to this piece of work but surely more theorized. Also with less direct application than Lull's automatic religious argumentation "device". It also makes one wonder how Turing view Leibniz's work and how his work on computation as a general system is going beyond this old position. An extremely interesting and sensible step toward the history of computation, its devices and eventually its limits. It also seems related with Gregory Chaitin's work on Biology#metabiology.
  • November 2011
    • The World is Either Algorithmic or Mostly Random by Hector Zenil, FQXi 2011. The result of FQXi, Foundamental Question Institute, 2011 question which brought several physicists, cosmologists and computer scientists, this essay take the stance that there is either structure or not, and if there is it has to be algorithmic. Based on algorithmic information theory (AIT) proposed by Chaitin, Solomonoff and Kolmogorov and by own Beliefs#B1 this is probably one of the most fundamental belief I have thus what makes the others possible (or not). Amongst the references is Seth Llyod's ProgrammingTheUniverse and Charles Henry Bennett's article which both deepened my interest in digital physics.
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
    • The Evolution of Intelligence on Earth by David Krakauer, Ulam Memorial Lectures: Cognitive Ubiquity, Santa Fe Institute August 2011. In three parts this lecture explore what made intelligence possible,: its pervasiveness and its biological nature, the scaffolding of complex cells and finally what is around us and might still to come. Overall a clear overview removing any kind of "magic" for intelligence to arise, eventhough not everything is fully understood yet. Few key quotes including Nozick on creativity : "If there is to be an explanation for how our intelligence functions, it will have to be in terms of factors that taken individually themselves are dumb, for eample in terms of concatenation of simple operations performated by a machine. A psychological explanation of creativity will be in terms of parts or processes that are not themselves creative.".
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
    • Physical One-Way Functions, Science 2002. After his thesis Ravi Pappu work on holography offers a very tangible way to approach security, the economical problem of how one can makes a process easy to verify yet costly to forge. This paper provides an example outside of the mathematical abstraction of one-way functions that most of us use daily through cryptography for the web. This better understanding of the possible pervasiveness motivated the StructuralInformationAsymmetries proposal. Note also the unrelated yet interesting WithoutNotesMay11#IIT as an hypothesis on consciousness as a synthesizing function studied through the model of information theory (i.e. entropy).
  • April 2011
    • The Reconstruction of Science Phylogeny by David Chavalarias and Jean-Philippe Cointet, 2009. Based on the principles and tools of scientometrics, bibliography measures restricted to scientific fields, the authors explore through co-word analysis few fields and produce large visualization. The aim is to study which existing or new metrics are actually relevant and can make quantitative epistemology a way to support science by providing a way to analyze itself. I find this work particularly exciting because it leverages the fundamental concept of evolution and apply it to non-biological organisms and can provide some of the basis for a really generalist phylogeny and not only in sciences but also in technology (e.g. in software) or even arts. Epistemology would then be much more relevant than through careful but very restricted studies for physics research during few decades or through various plausible yet unfalsified theories. When this would happen though, the way to traverse such a large structure would require some precise means of access or visualization but hopefully tools developed for the scale of the Web should help. Note that the Matlab framework WordsEvolution (WE) they developed is linked but does not seem to be downloadable nor provide a web interface to explore other fields. See overall the whole Mining the Digital Traces of Science (MDTS11) conference at ISC-PIF for recent advances in scientometrics and mapping.
  • March 2011
    • Energy Rate Density as a Complexity Metric and Evolutionary Driver by E.J. Chaisson, Wileys Periodicals Complexity 2010. Diversity is marvelous because it keeps us on our toes, ready to be surprised. Yet there has to be a connection, a link between what seems at odd. Not just from one object to another but from anything we encounter and from all aspect of life. Having a unifying model provides the abstract link to makes sense of what seems unrelated and thus keep coherence in our understand. Yet what is common between a worm and our Sun, or even from a much distant sun? Eric Chaisson at Tufts University considers energy, but not as an absolute value, rather as what can be used by the object of scrutiny and, to keep them comparable, as a function of their mass. This principle and its resulting metric the allow to compare objects across layers of complexity, from galaxies to societies and the technologies they are relying upon. No mention is done of software or of the Internet but it is definitely a nice unifying framework.
  • February 2011
    • The multiple articles on The Lights In the Tunnel - Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future by Martin Ford, Acculant Publishing 2009. See also related links like Robotic Nation by Marshall Brain (2008) and the blog mediated debate with Robin Hanson (author of the much earlier article Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence 1998). It brought me back to the basics, the economical foundation of projects linking creativity and artificial intelligence. What would be the consequences on the economical system based on retribution from the efficiency of labor and uniqueness of skills if automation is a process without technical boundaries? Would the underlying ideal of meritocracy also suffer? How would life change? A fundamental question, even more political then technical. Yet, despite this importance, if the rate does not significantly increase (even considering Moore's "law") the impact might not be significant for most on the short-term.
  • January 2011
    • Facing the Future: Evolutionary Possibilities for Human-Machine Creativity by Jon McCormack, Chapter 19 of The Art of Artificial Evolution: A Handbook on Evolutionary Art and Music, Springer 2007. It very simply and concisely expresses my own view on the impact and importance of computer science. Even though it limits itself to domains of the arts, through music and visualization, and avoid epistemology at large and scientific progress in particular, it shows how the state of the art in computer science already is but will keep on being central on producing new content. It postulates the several ways how but suggest that it will be side by side, or even in symbiosis, that progresses will be made. Finally 8 open problems are proposed to make the structure the field of evolutionary computation. Note that We come in peace, 27th Chaos Communication Congress for a overview of the politics and control technologies around the Internet and The Future of Scientific Simulations: from Artificial Life to Artificial Cosmogenesis by Clement Vidal, 2008 for a cosmological step back also have radically changed my way of thinking.
  • December 2010
    • An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization by Peter T. Leeson, Journal of Political Economy 2007. An historical depiction of group of outlaws still abide to politics build around rational economical principles. Extremely interesting by providing a rather logical view including on innovation regarding organization of individuals, even in ways that could sound counter-intuitive based on the education of the masses, e.g. "The institutional separation of powers aboard pirate ships predated its adoption by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century governments." (p1066). It also begs for better understanding of the pirates utopia through Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias edited by Peter Ludlow, The MIT Press 2001.
  • November 2010
    • Internet libre, ou Minitel 2.0 ? by Benjamin Bayart, RMLL/LSM 2007. Briefly describing the infrastructure of the Internet and thus removing the mist around the cloud display how economical and political actors organize themselves. This organization is not free of ideology as actors have to abide to legislative frameworks already in place and new ones getting in place. The view acquired is very much less idealistic that the casual understanding of the Internet as a new space of freedom that does not need to be constantly fought for but that already is for the "public" at large. It is a perspective coherent with presentation in hacker conferences including those the CCC.
  • October 2010
    • Guns Germs and Steel with Jared Diamond, Lion Television 2005. The 3 episodes show by PBS describes the lifelong work of Jared Diamond following his quest at understanding why some are privileged and why others are not. We travel through hypothesis and locations to step by step unfold his model and gradually get a more humbling look at how civilizations interacted and what lead some to outpace others, at least economically. See also his 1997 book Wikipedia:Guns, Germs, and Steel : The Fates of Human Societies.
  • September 2010
    • Connections, British historical series with James Burke, BBC 1978. Starting from a seemingly anecdotal event in episode 1 The Trigger Effect, ideas and inventions are explained until during the last minutes of each episode James Burke sew events back together chronologically and logically. The series is subtitled "Alternative View of Change" and explored the flow of human civilization avoiding ideological myths but instead a more political, economical, technical and even amoral viewpoint even if often letting the viewer ponder the decisions made then. Note that this initial 1978 season was later on followed by Connections2 in 1994 and Connections3 in 1997. Note that James Burke also authored a book following the same principle The Pinball Effect (Review by the Smithsonian Magazine 1997) and participated to the James Burke Institute for Innovation in Education the Knowledge Web.
  • August 2010
    • On the Evolution of Human Motivation: The Role of Social Prosthetic Systems by Stephen M. Kosslyn, 2006 : how we relate to each other in a utilitarian way, why we want to collaborate and how behaviors that sounds biologically doubtful can make sense in a more social context. The paper connected a lot of different concepts I discovered earlier and the "SPS" framework is very simple, a geek metaphor could be that we all provides "APIs" to others. It is rather theoretical yet very straightforward.
  • July 2010
  • June 2010

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