3/03/2015

The College Days

So I have an Anthropology degree.  That must have been a fun major.  I guess.  Except I was undecided up until late into my Junior year, when they forced me to pick a major.

What classes were required?

I took Biological Anthropology where we studied cranial capacity over time, the evolution of man through Australapithicus , Homo Habilas and Homo Erectus.

I took Cultural Anthropology where we discussed different cultures and societies across the globe over time.

I took Linguistics where we learned all composition of a variety of languages.  The one fact I remember is that the people of Haiti have the most efficient language where they communicate with the least of amount of syllables.

I took Florida Archaeology combined with a 7 week excavation out in the field where we dug pits in search of artifacts.  We learned about the Indian tribes who flourished before the Spaniards got here and how the fished and lived and their spiritual lives.

I took Cognitive Anthropology where we learned of Levi Strauss and his theories

I also took a class called Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents where we read books like Kon Tiki and how it was plausible that small straw rafts were used to navigate the oceans into the New World which goes against the mainstream assumptions.  We discussed all the wonders of the world and how is was possible that Aliens once roamed the planet.  And the statues at Easter Island.

I also took an elective called African Experience where we learned all the tribes of Africa and how they band have fought for thousands of years.

However, before I selected Anthropology as a major, I was sort of a Business Major.  And I took Statistics, Calculus, Micro and Macro Economics, Accounting, Marketing.

As well as Astronomy Lab, Music Appreciation, World Geography, English 1 & 2, Spanish 1 & 2.  And a bunch more.

I graduated with I think a 2.8 average but the core Anthropology curriculum was a bit higher.

I also took FORTRAN programming language where we wrote programs on the VAX.  The one thing I remember is that I showed up for the final exam, read the questions, and I became flustered as I didn't know the answers to any of the questions.  I called the proctor over and said we didn't learn any of this in class.  It turned out that I showed up for the FORTRAN final exam for Engineers, instead of for Business.  That was a relief.

But speaking about showing up to the wrong place, I took Astronomy Lab.  For some reason the professor never called my name during roll call.  After a few days, I went up to speak with him, and he said he would research and get back with me.  It turned out I was showing up for the wrong time, I was actually in the class after that with a different teacher.  But he allowed me to continue taking that class and gave me final grade to the other professor at the end of the Semester.

And one final note, the week before graduation, I received a letter from the University indicating I had not taken enough credits to graduate.  So I ran over to the Head of Anthropology department, who happened to have been the Cognitive Anthropology professor I had, and he examined my course history and typed a letter on his typewriter to the University to indicate that I had sufficient credits to graduate.  Lucky for me, as my relatives were flying in from New York to attend the graduation.

Suffice to say, my college career was anything but straightforward.  It was a challenge to say the least and I'm kind of surprised I graduated on time, because there were some diversions along the way.

And that's all I have to say about college.


The Missing Years

Learning is fun.  Not the kind of learning where you're force fed a series of facts in an effort to regurgitate back on a test.

I'm talking about learning all there is to know about a variety of subjects.  And one segment of information to study surrounds the world of conspiracy theory.

Now if you're a conspiracy theorist, you're basically a self proclaimed nut job.

Regardless, they're still fun to read about.  Yesterday I found a theory which I had not heard before.

This one is about the Gregorian Calendar.  Apparently, some person discovered some holes in the calendar and concluded that some years were deliberately missing, roughly the years 601 to 911.  I had always wondered what exactly happened during that time frame as there's not much information.

Here's a link to the theory in Wikipedia titled "Phantom Time Hypothesis" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_time_hypothesis

I like this theory because there's mathematical proof to justify it.  I just don't understand why the calendar would have been deliberately altered and the facts of those years manufactured to fill in the holes.

The thing about conspiracy theories, you have to take them in moderation.  People say that a lot of the theories are actually true accounts of actual happenings.  But the mainstream's narrow minded view is not eligible for discussion.

Regardless, it's a titillating theory, one which I had never heard and it's quite fascinating.

3/02/2015

Projecting Human Traits to Robots

Will our future robots experience love, loss, fear, pain, happiness, sadness, envy, greed, lust, etc.?

Is that one of the requirements for the Turning Test?

I can just hear, robot A talking to robot B, "So, did you hear what happened to robot C, she just bought a new CPU, twice as fast as ours.  I never liked her anyway."

Envy.  A human trait.  Doesn't seem to fit a robot.

How about greed.  "Did you read the latest poll, robot D has accumulated the most massive amount of money."  What use would a robot have for accumulating wealth?

When we think of robots inheriting the earth and enslaving mankind, why would they do such a thing?  Why do we assume they would be evil and lack compassion?

Are we projecting our human quality of conquering people, places and things onto the potential robot like beings?  Out of fear?  Threatened by our loss of Alpha status?

I think one of the difficulties about the potential robot future is that it directly forces humans to look at themselves under a microscope.

Humans are responsible for tapping resources from the earth without replacement, starting countless wars throughout the ages, including genocide and forced enslavement.  We worship the dollar bill over compassion and equality for all.

You can hear them say, "No robot species is going to take all this away from us."

And so there's a segment of the population who would prefer to keep the status quo and see any technological advancement as a threat.  By projecting our human qualities onto a robotic being with the assumption that they'll have all these bad characteristics also.

But I imagine, a super intelligent being, understanding the ludicrousness of our ways and rise above our animistic nature.  I think their advanced reasoning abilities would form a conclusion that killing others, raping the land, greed, envy, hatred are bad qualities and would refrain from such activities.

Would robots be spiritual beings?  Would they believe in a higher power such as God and the Universe?  Would they have an algorithm written for such thought?  Or would they get to a point where logic did not compute and the only possible explanation is the Divine Light of a more Supreme Being?

You hear about higher levels of consciousness of spiritual gurus who live in a world of less conflict.  Would robots have this ability?  Would a spiritual robot believe in war and killing and taking others land and creating genocide?

Why are we so insistent that these robots will be killing machines?

Possibly because we fear who controls the robots and how they are designed or for what purpose.  If they are to patrol the earth, fight as soldiers in war and carry out the deeds of evil men, that is reason for concern.

I'm still a believer that the more intelligent a being is, the closer they are spiritually to the higher purpose and less likely to cause harm to other beings.  Who knows, robots could create a Utopia on earth where everyone gets along, there's food and shelter for all mankind, we care for our elders and war becomes obsolete.

When dealing with the unknown, we project our fears and past history onto new things.  So it makes sense that we are fearful of a new advanced species, in that we live in a Dystopian world.  But the jury is still out, our new robot friends could pave the way to a Utopian society for all to enjoy.

50/50 chance either way.  Time will tell.

The World Is Flat

When I went to school, they taught us that 2 + 2 = 4.

And there's an entire field called mathematics to prove that.

Which forms a basis of our society.

Because what if one day we woke up and 2 + 2 = 22.

And what if Ostrich no longer meant a tall, two legged, flightless bird.  What if Ostrich now meant turtle, the little shelled fellas who walk real slow.

Strange, but possible.  That would shatter our basic concepts which are the building blocks of society.

We have developed system of referencing objects, events, and time in a way to understand and communicate. 

And as we grow up in life, attend school and learn by experience, we learn what the objects are, how they operate and how they fit into the current understanding of existence.  We transform chaos into order.

Most of the stuff that we know about has already been discovered, labeled, classified and disseminated throughout the people.

We view the world in a narrow field of vision, which is the socially accepted agreed upon version of reality.

Which is great.  It allow us to drive 70 miles an hour down the road, just a few feet from oncoming cars, as we learned that the double yellow line going down the road means to stay on your side and the people on the opposite side know not to drive across it as well.  And those basic rules keep society moving along.  Predictable

It's the free thinkers who tend to question the rules.  They go past the agreed upon rules and definitions to discover uncharted territory.

Did you know the world was flat.  Really, it is.  Well, if you lived a few hundred years during the times of the inquisition, then yes, the world really was flat.

But some crackpot didn't agree with this idea, and went on to prove otherwise.  Which may have gotten him burned at the stake.  But regardless, he questioned the current dogma on acceptable facts and his hypotheses, that the world spun around the sun and planets were round, turned out to be correct.

So what else do we accept as fact that may not be?  Is Time travel possible?  Extra sensory perception?  Premonitions?  Seeing ghosts?  How about UFOs?  Aliens?  Intelligent life inside our outside our solar system?  Remote viewing?  Life after death?

The trick is, to come up with some basic building blocks, from which you form the rules of society, both written and unwritten, drill that into people's heads day after day after day after day, so that people begin to stop questioning their own beliefs and opinions and accept whatever they're told.

Because this keeps people in line by creating a false sense of order, at the same time, people tend to believe anything they're told as long as it's from a legitimate source, repeated over and over, and is accepted by the mainstream to become fact.

After that, you identify and label those who do not subscribe to that point of view.  You label them as outcasts, shunned from society, ridicule them for their odd beliefs, like the black sheep of the flock.  This also helps to solidify the masses as they now have an object to frown upon, to oppose and to hate.

Because there's strength in numbers and if you belong to the herd, you are somewhat protected.  But if you go around questioning people's basic beliefs, questioning assumptions and getting people motivated to do the same, well then, you've become a problem.  And will rightly be labeled as weird or odd or eccentric or an outcast in attempts to get your thinking back in line or removed indefinitely.

And this is how a fraction of a percent of people can maintain influence over the masses.  Mob rules.  Identify and label the outcasts.  Present a consistent picture of reality, repeat over and over, until that becomes the accepted belief system among the masses.

This kind of summarizes my college paper I wrote back in 1990 for a Cultural Anthropology class.  Perhaps it's hogwash as I wrote the conclusions without the assistance of any pre-written material, but I did receive a perfect score on the paper.  In fact, the professor asked me where I derived the material, my response was personal observations.

So there you go.  Carry on my wayward son.

What's the Purpose of Middle Names

In the process of life, sometime we adapt and grow so that useful things are no longer needed.

Take humans for example.  Did we once have tails.  Some argue that if you go back far enough in the evolutionary tree, you will surely find "tails".

Yet for some reason, our present day form does not have a need for such an appendage.

So what else has evolved in our growth?  I would propose "middle names" to be obsolete.

I really don't know why we have Middle names.  What is the specific purpose?

The only time I'm required to state my true legal name is on true legal documents.

I could easily see us doing away with such antiquated naming conventions.

As they serve no real purpose.  They provide no real value.  If they were supposed to guarantee uniqueness for an individual, perhaps then I could see the need.  But I can tell you, from doing a quick search on the internet, there are many people with the exact same name as me.

So our social security numbers are the only true unique name we have.

What about nicknames, I'm sometimes referred to as Jon or JB, or misspelled John or Johnathan.

Our names were given to us, we really didn't have say in the matter.

What if we wanted to legally change our names.  There's a process, but it takes some effort.

And why does the woman typically take on the man's name in a marriage.  Or create a combined maiden-new last name concatenation.

And names change over the years.  My grandparents names are not common now.  And the names given to children today are nothing like when I was growing up.  So names have a shelf life date and are typically fad driven as to the latest trends.

There's a lot to our names that we don't think much about.  I still say that middle names are obsolete and serve no particular purpose.

Yours truly, Jon, JB, John, Johnathan (take your pick)

College No Longer Required

Many jobs require a college degree.  Such that you have dedicated at least 4 years of your lives to higher education.  For which you have earned a degree.  And that degree will allow you to get a job.  In order to gain fruitful employment and climb the ladder to success.

There's a few holes in this traditional logic.

1. not every job requires a college degree.  Yes, if you want to become a doctor or nurse.  Or join the teaching profession.  Or become a lawyer or CPA.  Then school is mandatory.

2. the fact that you earned a degree does not indicate how successful you'll be on the job.  Being book smart does not translate to getting results.  Some college courses glance over the details and teach just the basics.  It's not until you get started on the job that you really learn the aspects.

3. even if you have a degree, that's no indication that you'll get hired on a job that matches your degree.  Many people do not work in the profession they went to school for.

4. college is really expensive.  Many people take out student loans, so when they graduate, they have a mountain of debt before they get out of the gate.  If I did not have some type of student aid in the form of scholarships, I'd think twice about going to college.

5. many High Schools now offer college level classes while going though High School.  Why spend the money when you can accomplish many of the basic courses for free.

6. online University's are now competing with traditional colleges.  They may not have huge football games and 100 years of tradition, but they offer the flexibility of attending from home, so there's not cost to live in apartment or dorm roof hundreds of miles from home.

7. in some professions, like computer programming, you may not actually need a college degree.  Some people do well by learning the basics on their own, attending the free online courses on the internet, reading books from the library or tutorials on the web.  Once you land your first job, rarely do people ask to see you college transcript.

8. when choosing a major in college, be sure to research thouroughly as there may not be a huge demand for the career you'd like.  Perhaps change your career goals so that you learn an actual skill which is marketable in today's workforce.

9. with the rise in automation, many jobs that exist today will not be here tomorrow.  So why go through the effort of getting a college degree in a field that will be going away.

10. there are plenty careers you can do without a college degree and still earn a great living.  Here's a post I did stating 12 careers to start without capital: http://www.bloomconsultingbi.com/2014/04/12-careers-to-start-without-capital.html

If I were growing up today, I would skip the traditional four year college degree experience.  I would learn technology while still in High School, take on an internship, do work on the side to gain real world experience and never look back.  Who needs the student loan debt, the four year delay before earning a real salary and the entire process of learning skills that do not prepare you for real life.  If you do decide to get a degree, make sure you pick one that will give you actual skills to land an actual job which will be around for a while.  And if you do that, make sure you have some type of student aid or scholarship so you don't have to flip the bill for an education.

Just my two cents, but I think some of the points stated have value.


2/27/2015

Being an Observationalist

Extroverts make the news.  Introverts watch from the sidelines.

There's so much happening in the world of technology, the best you can do is to watch the steady flow of information as it flies by.

We have to process the signal from the noise.  As we focus on the important stuff and form our own conclusions and opinions.

I call this being an "Observationalist".

And that's what this blog is all about.

There is just too much information floating around to become an expert in everything.  You can pick up bits and pieces from here, and then gather information from over there, and synthesize that into a cohesive conclusion or prediction.

It's sort of like forming conclusions from vasts amounts of data, except I don't run queries against a database.  I read articles and blogs and twitter posts to gather the information, I run it through the old noggin' CPU, and the output appears in the form of a blog post for dissemination.

I can not tell you how many times I've gone back and forth about the content I post, because of the potential people who could be reading, like employers and customers and coworkers and bosses and relatives and such.

When someone tells me they did a quick search of me on the web and found my blog, my first response is "don't hold it against me".

But the bottom line is that the blogging platform allows people to broadcast to the world the thoughts and ideas about the current trends and events as they happen daily.

By posting only facts and events, this blog would become boring and commoditized as I'd be competing for bandwidth with all the other sites on the web.

The only thing I can provide is an authenticate viewpoint based on my observations.

It would be tough to tone down the topics to merely facts.  Perhaps create a new blog which wasn't technical, where my professional reputation wouldn't be at risk.

Either way, being an Observationalist is fun and creative and self expressive.

And so it goes~!

2/26/2015

Hiding in the Cracks

I remember being in the 2nd grade at Oak Grove Elementary school in Poughkeepsie New York.  At the time, they were experimenting with classes and they combined 1st and 2nd grades.  They had two teachers and two classrooms but they were connected and everyone interacted together.

I was very shy and quiet and didn't participate too much in class.  I remember reading books about all the American hero's.  Like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington Carver and such.  I took a liking to the traits and characteristics which the historical figures possessed.

One subject I was good at was math.  I could do the additions and subtractions real fast, I knew the times tables by heart and they gave me long division problems to solve.  I remember a word problem, where there were two people, with approximate weight and a boat to carry them across the river along with their supplies.  I was able to solve it.

For that, they allowed me and another student to move up a grade, just for math.  So at a certain time each day, we'd head on down to the 3rd grade class and participate in math.  Because I was shy and didn't like to acknowledge attention, at some point, they moved me back to 2nd grade math.  And nobody every put pressure on me again throughout school.  I learned that the other student went on to become a dentist in his adult life.

In the 5th or 6th grade, I solved the Rubiks cube.  And people asked me to solve it for them.  And throughout my early schooling, I was asked to go get the movie projector, set it up and run the movies for the class.  So perhaps even then I had a knowledge for electronics and how things worked and confidence from the teachers to take care of it as I displayed what's considered 'geek' tendencies.

But I was good at sports and didn't put much effort into school as I got good enough grades not to get in trouble.  And the main thing, I was always a lousy test taker, second guessing the right answer and it became obvious when I was in college.  I did not due exceptionally well on the multiple choice test.  Yet for the exams that you had to write your answers in the form of stories, I excelled.

Sometimes we had to write papers for class in college.  One time, in Cultural Anthropology, we were assigned a paper and because I sat in the back of class, I misinterpreted what the assignment was.  We were to compare and contract two different cultures and explain the commonalities.  So I wrote the paper, comparing the Papua people of New Guinea with our culture.  I explained that they formed their numbering system based on the number 10 while we used the number 3.  I provided examples and in the summary, I explained that all cultures as based on rules.  And these rules are written and unwritten.  And the unwritten rules as based on their values.  And it was the values between societies that tied everyone together.

When the professor passed out the graded papers, I did not receive mine.  So I went to the office and asked where was mine.  He asked me about the paper and why I did not reference any papers in the bibliography.  I said because I didn't use any, I based the findings in the paper on my own thoughts and beliefs.  He seemed kind of puzzled but then handed me the paper and I got a perfect score.

The next day, the professor announced that he was awarding a prize for the person with the highest score on the paper.  So he said if anyone in the class got a 10, please come forward to accept your prize.  I had gotten a 10, but there was no way I was going up in front of the class.  So the teacher waited a minute, and said if anyone got a 9 on the paper please come forward.  The class superstar ran up to the front of the class to accept his award and that was that.

Most students played the game of schooling where you befriend the teacher in an effort to get recommendations for graduate school to go on and become a professor or what have you.  For me, I just wanted to pass the course in order to graduate because I had no idea how the system worked, what happened after college, I had absolutely no clue.  I was very short sighted in my thinking.

And because of that, after graduating with an Anthropology degree in a deep recession, I was stuck.  No job prospects, no real world business experience and no direction.  So I worked temp jobs, sweeping leaves, moving furniture and lifting stuff.

It wasn't until years later, when I entered the world of Information Technology, where I found a niche.  Because all the math skills, logic skills, problem solving skills, ability to write coherently finally paid off.  And the fact that I worked so fast and got a lot of stuff checked off the to-do list, that I was able to climb the ladder and become marketable.

So this story kind of covers a lot of ground, and for the casual reader, would think it to be narcissistic and self promoting, but these are the facts that I remember and by writing them down, it helps to form an overall picture of my life.

I was not a typical student.  I was not a rebel or rule breaker.  I stayed within the confines of the established boundaries and did what was expected.  I never got in trouble at school.  I usually had perfect attendance.  Although I never participated in class and sat in the back row, avoiding attention at all costs.  To summarize, I slipped through the cracks.  And nobody seemed to notice.  I was dependent on no one.  And that allowed me to maintain my freedom, as a critical thinker, observer of life as well as the youthful innocence which spawns creativity.  The system did not beat that out of me like it does for the majority.

I'm no super star.  I'm a shy kid who survived childhood by hiding in the cracks.

And that's about it~!