Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Sunday, December 21, 2014

21st Century Operating Systems

To my mind, our society's cultural models have not evolved in a particularly intelligent manner. We still employ idiotic cultural practices that humankind mindlessly adopted some 4000 years ago. Much to my chagrin, we seem utterly incapable of diagnosing and upgrading those anachronistic and dysfunctional cultural practices to arrive at 21st Century operating systems for human society.

Our profoundly dysfunctional cultural models and practices have generated so much stress that DSM-5 is a catalog (shipping weight 3.4 lbs) of the myriad non-criminal maladaptive ways that humans maladjust, while the criminal code catalogs all the remaining intolerable maladaptive responses. And then, where governments cannot agree, we have stress-inducing political conflicts and bloody war.

We have 250 generations of Homo Schleppians who have been maladapting over the past 5000 years to an increasingly dysfunctional, erratic, and chaotic cultural model.

Isn't it about time we woke up and upgraded Western Civilization to a 21st Century high-functioning model?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The First Book of System Design

A creation story for the Cybernetic Age from the Post-Apocalyptic Seminary of Neuro-Mathematical Systems Theology.

The First Book of System Design

Principia Cybernetica, 1999

If God were enamored of Model-Based Reasoning, The First Book of System Design might look something like this:

In the beginning, God created an open loop system. The system was without witness or controller, so God created a small-minded controller. God carefully avoided clueing in the small-minded controller on the finer details of the theory of feedback control systems.

Even God was amused, and so ended the first day.

And God said, “Let the small-minded controller draw up a goal statement.” And behold, the small-minded controller identified the desirable goal states for the system. And God thought it sounded pretty good.

And evening and morning were the second day.

And God said, “Let the small-minded controller determine corrections and adjustments and engage in determining rules of guidance and control.” Unfortunately, a debate about the sanctions and punishments to be inflicted in the event of a rule violation pre-empted almost all of the third day.

And evening and morning were the third day.

And God said, “Let there be a university in which the small-minded controller can envision system concepts and engage in discovering the deeply hidden laws of feedback control theory.” The small-minded controller considered adjustment of rules and sanctions and more intelligent alternatives to rules, and God saw that this was good. And God thought that it was even worth all of the adrenalin, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins he had to supply.

And so ended the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the small-minded controller’s policies be implemented with long-range vision and insightful strategies.” The small-minded controller considered insights and feedback loops and state-space measurements and sampling theorems, and comparative analysis and simulation models. And God saw that this was very ingenious and fruitful.

And so would have ended the fifth day, except for the unintentional renewal of the debate about the choices amongst rules and sanctions.

On the sixth day the small-minded controller devised criteria for classifying and assessing trajectories converging to the goal states and the associated rates of convergence. This wasn’t the thesis topic that God had planned. God wasn’t able to read the thesis, however, because he had to take the afternoon off to create day and night and heaven and earth and seas and plants and stars and trees and seasons and years and sun and moon and birds and fish and animals and human beings and the invisible karma economy.

On the seventh day God rested and the small-minded controller submitted his model and analysis. It turned out that the recommended system model was nearly identical to the way that God had created the world, so the small-minded controller gave thanks to God for his implementation according to the integrated system model. There was, however, some opinion expressed that humans should have been created in the mimnetically reflected image of the small-minded controller’s recursive system model.

And God caused a deep agnosimnesia to fall upon the model-based reasoner …

CopyLeft 1999 by Barsoom Tork Associates and The Orenda Project in association with Zazen Enterprises and the Post-Apocalyptic Seminary of Neuro-Mathematical Systems Theology.

This partial Gnosimnesic recovery of things deeply hidden since the beginning of the world may be freely kerygmatized, mimneticized, or semiotically mapped. Or not.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Message From the American Visceral Society

American Visceral Society

Dear Reader,

Sometimes you have a gut feeling that all is not well in our society. But what can one person do? Not much. Not much individually, that is. But together we can purge the system of the rot of social detritus.

Those are the words of Dr. Irving Mazloh-Freen, the founder of the American Visceral Society. Dr. Freen is a dedicated American who believes deeply in the beneficial aspects of this visionary program. A deep thinker and planner, Dr. Freen has has been called "... one of the truly great emetics of our time."
Please joint Dr. Freen's movement today. You'll sleep better tonight.
Respectfully yours,
Wordsworth R. Moribund
Acting Director
American Visceral Society

Established as a non-profit-sharing organization, the American Visceral Society is a temporal concept of IMF Worldwide Industries, Fast Feuds Division of International Malefactor and Fulminator.

At IMF, We're Into Everything.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Parable of the Egg Man

Moulton's Boarding House has 12 residents. Every Sunday, Moulton serves brunch for the boarders (which includes a fresh egg). Moulton has a standing order with the Egg Man to deliver a dozen fresh eggs a week. The Egg Man employs a neighborhood urchin named Dennis to deliver fresh eggs from the Egg Man's cold storage warehouse.  Dennis gets paid a penny an egg for each one-way trip. So Dennis expects to earn 12¢ for each weekly delivery of a carton of eggs from the cold storage facility to Moulton's boarding house.

About once a month, one of Moulton's boarders misses the regular Sunday brunch to join his girl friend at another boarding house. But the peripatetic boarder also invites the girl friend to join him the following week for brunch at Moulton's table. Thus, most Sundays there are 12 people for brunch, but about once a month there are only 11, and about once a month there are 13 at the table.

Alas Moulton never knows which Sunday there will be an empty chair, and which subsequent Sunday there will be an extra person at the table. When Dennis comes with the standard carton of a dozen eggs, Moulton sometimes says, "I only need 11 eggs this week. Please take one of them back to cold storage.  And next week you can bring me 13 fresh eggs."

The accountant for the Egg Man notices that, at the end of the year, Moulton's Boarding House purchased 52 dozen eggs, as expected. But the delivery charges from Dennis come to $6.42 (for transporting 54 dozen eggs) rather than $6.24 (for delivering 52 dozen eggs). Dennis explains to the accountant that there were twenty-four occasions (twice a month) where he either carried one egg back to the cold storage facility or one extra egg to Moulton. As far as the Egg Man is concerned, Moulton purchased 52 dozen eggs over the course of a year. But as far as Dennis is concerned, he transported 54 dozen eggs — 53 dozen in the usual direction, and one dozen in the alternate direction. So he is owed $6.42 for his labors transporting eggs over the rough cobblestone streets. The Egg Man thus had an extra cost of 24¢, over and above his expected cost of $6.24 for paying Dennis to deliver eggs. The Egg Man ended up paying 3.85% more to Dennis than he would have expected if there had not been any perturbations in the number of boarders at Moulton's table.

Moral:  There's no such thing as a free brunch.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Sad Case of the Blind Logician

Once upon a time there was a logician who imagined that his ability to reason logically was without error, and that he could reliably identify, diagnose, and report errors in logic by his erstwhile correspondents. He also demanded evidence to support the premises upon which logical arguments were constructed. But curiously enough, this otherwise self-professed logician was blind. Alas, he could not observe and interpret visual evidence with his own faculties; he literally could neither see the evidence nor reliably interpret its meaning. He was obliged to rely on the reports of others as to what was observed, and the meaning or interpretation of those observations.

One day, late in October, a neighbor set out a Jack-O-Lantern — that being a hollowed out pumpkin shell with a small candle inside. The orange skin of the Jack-O-Lantern thus glowed a lovely orange, as if it were luminescent. I asked the blind logician what could be deduced from the luminescent pumpkin. He replied that since the pumpkin shell obeyed the physics of an isothermal black body radiator, it must be glowing because it is at an incandescant temperature, presumably from an interior heat source that was warming up the pumpkin shell to an incandescent temperature. I asked him how he knew that the pumpkin shell was opaque and not translucent. He replied that, according to Wikipedia, pumpkin shells are opaque, and that he could see no evidence to the contrary. So I showed him evidence to the contrary, but he demurred, saying he was blind and thus could not see or interpret the visual evidence before his non-functional eyes.

I was thus reminded of a quote from John Heywood who, in 1546, said, "There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mathematically Defined Crypto-Currencies

There has been a lot of attention on BitCoin of late, and a number of my correspondents have been digging into the topic.

I was looking for some good analogies through which to understand the idea and the dynamics of BitCoin and similar mathematically defined crypto-currencies. This is my first shot at constructing such an analogy.

In this model, I think of the economy (the exchange of goods and services) to be an intricate clockwork mechanism. Everything is connected to everything else. Energy flows through the gears, allowing the machinery to operate at some level of speed and efficiency to move things along.

Any economy, like any clockwork mechanism, has friction. Energy needs to be supplied to overcome the friction, and that energy eventually degrades to heat as the state of the clockwork mechanism evolves over time.

One can improve the efficiency of the machine by applying a high quality lubricant. With a good lubricant, there is less friction, and less energy is needed to drive the machine.

In an economy, money is the lubricant that allows the machinery of commerce to operate efficiently. That’s the function of money: to act as a lubricant for the gears of the economy.

Suppose an inventor devises a super-lubricant that outperforms all current lubrication technologies. What happens? In an ideal world, everyone upgrades to the new lubricant and it soon takes a lot less energy to keep the clockwork machine running smoothly.

What could possibly go wrong?

The problem is that manufacturing the new lubricant is not free. Just as it takes energy to overcome friction, it also takes time and energy to manufacture the super-lubricant. And so there ensues a “gold rush” to manufacture this wonderful new super-lubricant.

Eventually, those who got in the game early end up owning barrels and barrels of this valuable super-lubricant. The problem is, they are not using it to lubricate the mechanism. Rather they are hoarding it because its market value is rising. As a result there is a shortage of lubricant in the clockwork mechanism. The material economy is not yet benefiting from the new super-lubricant because very little of it is being released into the gears of the machine. Most of it is simply being hoarded in privately owned barrels whose value on paper is rising.

But if and when all that hoarded lubricant is released into the clockwork machinery of the real economy, two interesting things will happen. The real economy will operate more efficiently (and that’s a good thing) while the price (or value) of the (now increasingly abundant) super-lubricant will drop. When that happens, the late-comers to the gold rush game will find that they unwisely spent a lot of resources in vain to manufacture or purchase small amounts of the once scarce lubricant that has now become cheap and plentiful.

Does this analogy work? How can it be refined or improved?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Shadenfreude Theatre: The Argument Culture vs the Bohm Dialogue Model

Welcome to Shadenfreude Theatre, hosted by Gastrin Bombesin.

GB: For the sake of forsaking the Argument Culture, I propose a demonstration:
Resolved, the Bohm Dialogue Model is superior to the Debate Model of the Argument Culture.

[Scattered audience applause.]

GB: Speaking for the Bohm Dialogue Model is Moulton, the Schmeggegy Scientist. Speaking for the Argument Culture is Barsoom Tork, Anthropologist from Mars. Let's begin with Professor Tork.

BT: I propose to argue that the Argument Culture, with its classical paradigm of taking a position and defending it with maximum zeal, while simultaneously bashing and trashing one's opponent, is a tried and true practice of Earthling Culture, dating back to the dawn of civilization. Who can possibly argue against that?

GB: Moulton, may we have your response?

M: You'll get no argument from me. [Gets up and leaves.]

GB: There you have it, boys and girls. No argument. Who can argue with that?

[The audience sits mostly in stunned silence, except for some nervous laughter.]

[Gastrin Bombesin also gets up and leaves the building.]

[Barsoom Tork nods approvingly and uploads the finished video to YouTube.]