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Forked reality? ‘Go’ Virtual #Winning

June 2, 2014

The Guardian: “City of Forking Paths: Surreal journey” is about “immersive artwork” that is part of the 19th Biennale of Sydney:

Viewing the walk through a mobile phone is so normal that it doesn’t feel like an over-technical artwork. In one section, we walk through a stream of people lit up only by their mobile phones, turning them into a crowd of zombie-like creatures. Ironically participants on the walk are doing exactly that, even though the intimacy of the handheld device makes it feel like a secret journey meant especially for you.

This is about a virtual experience that is geo-located and can be viewed through the cell phone as a window into a virtual world overlapping in the same space. This technology is likely to become increasingly prevalent but the metaphor is more important than the reality of this new technology. This technology is a new way to understand an aspect of human relations that has always existed.

We exist in our own version of reality, a private intimacy, a secret journey for each of us, and we pass through collocated worlds, sharing space for the projection of our individual perspectives. As with computer network access, we have always had access to different networks of understanding.

In this art project the cell phone literally connects to a server that projects digital traces, but in all human existence we exist through projection of our unique social network access and personal connectivity with distant resources. We should consider that we are always zombie-like creatures walking through the world with different versions of perceptional application, various ideas and relations abounding. This surreal forking is happening all the time everywhere there is multiple people with different perspectives.

By way of analogy we might consider the forking of a Bitcoin chain. I can’t say I understand the crypto-math involved here but Reddit user Daniel Taylor explained in “Now that it’s over: The blockchain FORK explained for regular users“:

There must only be one unified blockchain, which means that we must discard one of the ledgers, while accepting the other as valid. Due to the bug, there was no way the 0.7 accountant would ever accept the new ledger (yes, he is very stubborn). For this reason we told miners to switch to this version so there would be a clear majority and we could discard the other.

It seems simple enough, if we want to share currency, then we have to run the same version of the mining software to avoid bugs between ledgers. Ok, but what about cultural currencies. Which forks are worth pursuing when there is not one right answer? This is difficult question even for computers.

Maybe we need a Monte-Carlo tree search but humans with lots of experience still have a seemingly magic power to play the game ‘Go’. See Wired:
The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win” by Alan Levinovitz, and even then Go is not as complicated as the full experience of living:

computers can’t “win” at anything, not until they can experience real joy in victory and sadness in defeat, a programming challenge that makes Go look like tic-tac-toe. Computer Go matches aren’t the brain’s last stand. Rather, they help show just how far machines have to go before achieving something akin to true human intelligence.

Despite the complexity of the problem, the human experts can still make good decisions in this wide open and uncertain space. See a related point in the Chronicle of Higher Education: “Visions of the Impossible” by Jeffrey J. Kripal:

We are constantly reminded of the “death of the subject” and told repeatedly that we are basically walking corpses with computers on top—in effect, technological zombies, moist robots, meat puppets. We are in the ridiculous situation of having conscious intellectuals tell us that consciousness does not really exist as such, that there is nothing to it except cognitive grids, software loops, and warm brain matter. If this were not so patently absurd and depressing, it would be funny.

The human mind is not just a computer. And the frames of our poorly understood imaginative powers play a role in our decision-making.

See also, in Forbes: “Five Alternative Futures For Obamacare” by Chris Conover:

The range of possibilities include full repeal, repeal and replacement post-2016, morphing into “zombie legislation,” Medicare redux and H.J. Res. 263 redux (the latter being the bill that first designated Mother’s Day—a bill whose popularity and permanence presumably are beyond question no matter which party controls the White House or Congress). I’d be foolish in the extreme to make a confident prediction about which of these futures to expect. But I certainly can say something about relative probabilities of each outcome.

Understanding of the possibility space implicates on the decision making. It’s like a giant game of Go and we all have different algorithms for analysis, but also different random subsets of the Monte Carlo sequence and also each only looking at a small section of the board. Like living an insanely complicated version of the blind men around the elephant and the Prisoner’s dilemna. With WarGames: “The only winning move is not to play.”


From → computers

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