Thursday, July 06, 2017

Fusion Energy Prize Awards

An inside look at the history of fusion energy policy and its relationship to prize awards legislation.


The following links are to scanned images of a 1995 legislative proposal sent by Robert W. Bussard, one of the founders of the US fusion energy program, to Congress suggesting that the fusion energy program be replaced by a system of prize awards for timely achievement of specific technical milestones.

Dr. Bussard's cover letter contains some historically very important disclosures concerning the founding of the United States government's fusion energy program - in particular this excerpt:
The DoE commitment to very large fusion concepts (the giant magnetic tokamak) ensures only the need for very large budgets; and that is what the program has been about for the past 15 years - a defense-of-budget program - not a fusion-achievement program. As one of three people who created this program in the early 1970's (when I was an Asst. Dir. of the AEC's Controlled Thermonuclear Reaction Division) I know this to be true; we raised the budget in order to take 20% off the top of the larger funding, to try all of the hopeful new things that the mainline labs would not try.Each of us left soon thereafter, and the second generation management thought the big program was real; it was not. Ever since then, the ERDA/DoE has rolled Congress to increase and/or continue big-budget support. This worked so long as various Democratic Senators and Congressmen could see the funding as helpful in their districts. But fear of undermining their budget position also made DoE bureaucrats very autocratic and resistant to any kind of new approach, whether inside DoE or out in industry. This led DoE to fight industry wherever a non-DoE hopeful new idea appeared.
The legislation, itself, was written by me in 1992, as Chairman of the Coalition for Science and Commerce with input actively solicited from all the privately financed fusion energy companies in existence during the early 1990s. The idea was to make a competition that the likely participants would view as not only fair, but also as likely to attract participation from capital sources not normally available to high-risk, long-term-payback development projects.

  1. Cover letter page 1: Introduction.
  2. Cover letter page 2: Confession of political subterfuge with outline of legislative measures to correct it.
  3. Cover letter page 3: On the legislation's origin and importance.
  4. Legislative language page 1: Findings.
  5. Legislative language page 2: Policy Declaration.
  6. Legislative language page 3: Definitions.
  7. Legislative language page 4: Program Activities.
  8. Legislative language page 5: Stimulation of Commercial Investment in Fusion Energy Technology.
  9. Legislative language page 6: Stimulation of Commercial Investment in Fusion Energy Technology.
  10. Legislative language page 7: Disposition of Interest, Helium-3, Test site land, Scientific findings and Information.
  11. Legislative language page 8: Reporting and authorization of appropriations.
An interesting and even amusing historical anecdote: I hadn't participated in politics for a few years when the late Robert Johnson, with whom I was working at the time, came up to me with a letter in hand and said (paraphrasing), "I just received this from a colleague of mine at UCLA. Since I know you're interested in fusion energy technology and its policy, I thought you might want to review it. Apparently its gone out to all the research labs as well as Congress." When I looked at it, I recognized Bob Bussard's letterhead, and then when I opened to the legislative language, there I saw the type from my old dot-matrix printer -- which I was still using at the time I put forth the proposed draft legislation to the various fusion entrepreneurs. Bob (Bussard) had actually Xeroxed my draft -- perforation tears, sprocket holes and all. You see, I had no money by the end of my attempt to change the world "through proper channels" and was doing the best I could with very old equipment.

(The IRS even decided to audit me after all this public-spirited effort when I began posting on Usenet that there should be a full judicial review of the legitimacy of the 16th Amendment to end, once and for all, the rhetorical posturing surrounding that historic ratification process.)

Introduction


Confession of political subterfuge with outline of legislative measures to correct it


On the legislation's origin and importance


Findings


Policy Declaration


Definitions


Program Activities


Stimulation of Commercial Investment in Fusion Energy Technology


Stimulation of Commercial Investment in Fusion Energy Technology


Disposition of Interest, Helium-3, Test site land, Scientific findings and Information


Reporting and authorization of appropriations


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Ockham's Guillotine

It's been:
  • 2 years since Google DeepMind's AlphaGo defeated a professional Go player
  • 11 years since Marcus Hutter sold his Ferrari (probably a joke, but I'm not sure) to underwrite the €50,000 purse for the compression prize I suggested, and I suggested students get their PhD's under Hutter.
  • 80+(!!) years since Harold Jeffrey's work based on Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica as a precursor to the Turing formalism's foundation of Solomonoff's papers.
The above provide strong support for lossless compression as the test for quality of theory:

The formalization of Ockham's Razor.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation's AI Progress Measurement seems to be going vertical. 


Yet the best we seem to be getting out of computational unified social etiology is stuff like Pathogens and Politics: Further Evidence That Parasite Prevalence Predicts Authoritarianism which, while impressive given the studied ignorance of disciplines like political economy, is still abjectly narrow. 


In proposing compression of a broad range of longitudinal social data, as an approach to unified social etiology, I seem to be operating in such a rarefied environment that there is precisely one active researcher who "gets it" out there.  His response was sympathetic if not enthusiastic. 


NGOs are rightly worried about "bias" arising from "big data" and "AI", but they're clearly not firing on all cylinders.  Indeed, if this public position by the Ford Foundation is any indication, they're coasting on momentum. 


"Bias" is exposed by cross-checking measurement operations and cross-checks are, ultimately, dependent on a variety of relatively independent measurement instruments being brought into consilience.  This is precisely what cross-disciplinary data, metadisciplined by Ockham's Razor, accomplishes.


Who are the serious individual philanthropists that should be supporting something like this?  Are there any?  


It is, of course, too much to ask that well endowed institutions like Harvard, let alone the government, support the destruction of their own theology.  In prior centuries, "elites" such as these would be put to the guillotine.  Indeed, it may be that the one thing that may save them from a new French Revolution is what I have proposed above:


Ockham's Guillotine


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Which "Social Constructs" Tell Us the Most About Human Ecology In the US?

Social measures at the level of State ecology according to how much they predict other such measures, on average*.

%     State Ecology Measure
26.9 JewishPercentOfWhites
26.3 FamiliesWithIncome125000to149999PercapitaIn1990
25.7 RussianPercapita1990
25.5 FamiliesWithIncome100000to124999PercapitaIn1990
25.2 ImmigrantsNonWesternPercapita1998
25.1 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1986
25 FamiliesWithIncome150000ormorePercapitaIn1990
24.7 FamiliesWithIncome12500to14999PercapitaIn1990
24.6 AIDSTotalPercapitaThru2001
24.6 FamiliesWithIncome75000to99999PercapitaIn1990
24.5 FamiliesWithIncome15000to17499PercapitaIn1990
24.3 JewsPercapita1999
24.2 FamiliesWithIncome17500to19999PercapitaIn1990
24.1 FamiliesWithIncome20000to22499PercapitaIn1990
24 FamiliesWithIncome10000to12499PercapitaIn1990
23.6 MothersAgeAtFirstLiveBirth1980
23.5 FamiliesWithIncome25000to27499PercapitaIn1990
23.4 ForeignBornPercapita1990
23.3 FamiliesWithIncome22500to24999PercapitaIn1990
23.3 ImmigrantsTotalPercapita1998
23 MothersAgeAtFirstLiveBirth1990
22.9 FamiliesWithIncome60000to74999PercapitaIn1990
22.8 FamiliesWithIncome27500to29999PercapitaIn1990
22.8 ImmigrantsChinaPercapita1998
22.5 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1986
22.4 MothersAgeAtFirstLiveBirth2000
22.2 MedianFamilyIncome1990
21.8 PublicEducationTeacherSalaries2000
21.6 ItalianPercentOfWhites
21.4 MothersAgeAtFirstLiveBirth1970
21.3 ForeignBornPercapita2000
21.2 FamiliesWithIncome5000to9999PercapitaIn1990
21.1 LithuanianPercapita1990
21.1 HIVPositiveTestsPercapita2001
21 DoctorsPercapita1990
20.9 FamiliesWithIncome30000to32499PercapitaIn1990
20.8 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1987
20.8 RobberyPercapita2001
20.7 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1988
20.3 RuralPercapita1990
20.2 SuburbanPercapita1990
20.1 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1986
19.9 FamiliesWithIncome55000to59999PercapitaIn1990
19.9 InnerCityPercapita1990
19.7 GSPIndustriesPerGSP1999
19.5 FamiliesWithIncome32500to34999PercapitaIn1990
19.4 West_IndianPercapita1990
19.3 ItalianPercapita1990
19.2 AirTrafficScheduledPassengersPercapita1999
19 UkrainianPercapita1990
19 GSPIndustriesPerGSP2000
18.9 CostOfLivingComposite2000
18.9 SATWICHEParticipationRate2001
18.9 ImmigrantsDominicanRepublicPercapita1998
18.8 AustrianPercapita1990
18.8 RomanianPercapita1990
18.7 GreekPercapita1990
18.6 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1989
18.6 Subsaharan_AfricanPercapita1990
18.6 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1993
18.5 BirthsPerAbortion1998
18.4 CostOfLivingRank2000
18.3 MurderPercapita2001
18.2 MothersAgeAtFirstLiveBirthIncrease1970to2000
18.1 AbortionsPerFertileWoman1998
18.1 PolishPercapita1990
18.1 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1989
18 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1991
18 AbortionsPercapita1998
17.8 BlacksPercapita1990
17.8 BlackPercapita1990
17.8 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1992
17.8 FamiliesWithIncomeLessthan5000PercapitaIn1990
17.6 CostOfLivingHousing2000
17.5 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1989
17.5 BlacksOrHispanicsPercapita1990
17.5 Asian_or_Pacific_IslanderPercapita1990
17.4 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1990
17.4 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1987
17.4 ImmigrantsJamaicaPercapita1998
17.3 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1995
17.2 FamiliesWithIncome50000to54999PercapitaIn1990
17.1 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1988
17 CostOfLivingHealthCare2000
16.9 WhitePercapita1990
16.9 AirTrafficPassengersPercapita1999
16.9 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1988
16.9 WhitesPercapita1990
16.8 United_States_or_AmericanPercapita1990
16.8 Age25To44Percentage2000
16.7 AlcoholAbstainersPercentage1987
16.7 Other_groupsPercapita1990
16.6 ImmigrantsPhilippinesPercapita1998
16.6 MotorVehicleTheftPercapita2001
16.5 ViolentCrimePercapita2001
16.4 PortuguesePercapita1990
16.4 MarijuanaUsersPercapita1999
16.3 H1BWithJobsPercapita1997
16.1 AirTrafficScheduledPercapita1999
15.9 FamiliesWithIncome35000to37499PercapitaIn1990
15.9 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1990
15.9 AirTrafficPercapita1999
15.9 CostOfLivingMisc2000
15.7 Unclassified_or_not_reportedPercapita1990
15.6 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1993
15.5 PublicEducationExpenditurePerStudent1998
15.5 SyphillisFemalePercapita1997
15.5 GSPServicesPerGSP1999
15.5 ImmigrantsIndiaPercapita1998
15.3 FamiliesWithIncome37500to39999PercapitaIn1990
15 FamiliesWithIncome47500to49999PercapitaIn1990
15 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1990
14.9 GSPServicesPerGSP2000
14.9 SATIMeanVerbal2001
14.9 ArabPercapita1990
14.9 CanadianPercapita1990
14.9 Race_or_Hispanic_origin_groupsPercapita1990
14.9 SATIMeanVerbal1991
14.8 WorkingParentsPercapita2000
14.8 SATIMeanVerbal1996
14.7 AirTrafficScheduledMailTonsPercapita1999
14.6 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1991
14.6 SuicidesPercapita1999
14.6 SATIMeanVerbal2000
14.5 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1992
14.2 HungarianPercapita1990
14.1 SATIMeanMath1991
14 SwedishPercapita1990
14 GonorrheaPercapita1999
13.6 SyphillisPercapita1997
13.6 FamiliesWithIncome40000to42499PercapitaIn1990
13.5 HateCrimeEstimatedPercapita2001
13.4 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1993
13.4 FamiliesWithIncome45000to47499PercapitaIn1990
13.4 WorkingParentsPercapita1990
13.3 FamiliesWithIncome42500to44999PercapitaIn1990
13.3 SATIMeanMath1996
13.3 CostOfLivingTransportation2000
13.3 DanishPercapita1990
13.2 SATIMeanMath2001
13.1 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1991
13.1 AirTrafficMailTonsPercapita1999
13.1 FinnishPercapita1990
13.1 Other_racePercapita1990
13 AggravatedAssaultPercapita2001
13 SyphillisMalePercapita1997
13 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1992
12.9 GSPGovernmentPerGSP1999
12.9 GSPGovernmentPerGSP2000
12.9 HateCrimeEstimatedPercapita1996
12.8 NorwegianPercapita1990
12.8 SATIMeanMath2000
12.7 HispanicsPercapita1990
12.6 HateCrimeEstimatedPercapita1999
12.6 HateCrimeEstimatedPercapita1998
12.5 Scotch_IrishPercapita1990
12.4 FemaleStateLegislatorsPercapita2001
12.4 GermanPercapita1990
12.3 SuicidesPercapita1990
12.3 CostOfLivingGroceryItems2000
12.1 NorwegianPercentOfWhites
11.9 DutchPercapita1990
11.9 AlcoholConsumptionPercapita1995
11.8 CrimeIndexTotalPercapita2001
11.1 AirTrafficScheduledFreightTonsPercapita1999
11.1 CocaineUsersPercapita1999
11 CostOfLivingUtilities2000
11 CzechPercapita1990
10.9 HateCrimeEstimatedPercapita1995
10.8 BurglaryPercapita2001
10.6 ImmigrantsVietnamPercapita1998
10.4 HateCrimeEstimatedPercapita1997
10.3 HateCrimeEstimatedPercapita2000
10.1 BelgianPercapita1990
10.1 MalesPer100Females2000
10 Age18To24Percentage2000
9.9 PropertyCrimePercapita2001
9.8 AlcoholConsumedPerDrinker1995
9.8 SlovakPercapita1990
9.7 AdultMalesPer100AdultFemales2000
9.6 ChlamydiaPercapita1999
9.6 SwissPercapita1990
9.4 AutismPercapita2000SansOregonAndMass
9.2 American_Indian_Eskimo_or_AleutPercapita1990
8.9 HeroinUsingPercentHighSchoolStudents2001
8.7 UFOReportsPercapitaPerSquareMilePerYear1941to1996
8.5 InjectedIllegalDrugUsingPercentHighSchoolFemales2001
8.5 AirTrafficFreightTonsPercapita1999
8.4 AirTrafficNonScheduledPassengersPercapita1999
8.4 YugoslavianPercapita1990
8.4 AgeUnder18Percentage2000
8.4 UFOReportsPercapitaPerSquareMilePerYear1941to1952
8.3 FrenchPercapita1990
8.3 AirTrafficNonScheduledPercapita1999
8.2 ForeignBornMultiple1990to2000
8.2 MethamphetamineUsingPercentHighSchoolFemales2001
8.1 French_CanadianPercapita1990
8.1 SATIVerbalRatio2001to2000
8 LarcenyTheftPercapita2001
8 AIDSPerHIVPositiveTest2001
7.9 EnglishPercapita1990
7.8 IrishPercapita1990
7.8 HeroinUsingPercentHighSchoolMales2001
7.7 UFOReportsPercapitaPerSquareMilePerYear1953to1969
7.3 ImmigrantsMexicoPercapita1998
7.2 ScottishPercapita1990
6.9 IllegalSteroidUsingPercentHighSchoolStudents2001
6.8 SATIMathRatio2001to2000
6.8 HeroinUsingPercentHighSchoolFemales2001
6.7 MedianAge2000
6.5 PopulationMultiple2000to2001
6.5 WelshPercapita1990
6.4 UFOReportsPercapitaPerSquareMilePerYear1985to1996
6.4 IllegalSteroidUsingPercentHighSchoolMales2001
6.3 MethamphetamineUsingPercentHighSchoolStudents2001
6.2 InjectedIllegalDrugUsingPercentHighSchoolStudents2001
6.1 IllegalSteroidUsingPercentHighSchoolFemales2001
6.1 Age65AndOverPercentage2000
6 InjectedIllegalDrugUsingPercentHighSchoolMales2001
5.9 UFOReportsPercapitaPerSquareMilePerYear1969to1985
5.7 SATIMathRatio2000to1996
5.7 AirTrafficNonScheduledMailTonsPercapita1999
5.6 Age44To64Percentage2000
5.6 SATIVerbalRatio1996to1991
5.5 AirTrafficNonScheduledFreightTonsPercapita1999
5.3 SATIVerbalRatio2000to1996
5.3 MMR4313VaccinationPerChild1994
5.3 SATIMathRatio2000to1991
5.3 MMR431VaccinationPerChild1994
5.3 AutismPercapita2000
5.2 SATIMathRatio2001to1991
5.2 MethamphetamineUsingPercentHighSchoolMales2001
5.1 SATIVerbalRatio2001to1991
4.9 SATIMathRatio1996to1991
4.8 SATIMathRatio2001to1996
4.7 ForcibleRapePercapita2001
4.3 SATIVerbalRatio2000to1991
4.3 ImmigrantsCubaPercapita1998
4 SATIVerbalRatio2001to1996
4 AutismPercapita1992
3.7 H1BAverageSalary1997
3.6 AutismMultiple1992to2000

* The % given is the average coefficient of determination with all other social measures.  I selected these measures in the early 2000's to do an ecological study of autism.  This rank ordering was an afterthought -- unrelated to autism or any other particular measure.

Here's the data I used (and a bit more). The last column is the "Source" of the data. I had to place the States as columns and the variables as rows because Google Spreadsheets has a reputation of being incapable of handling large numbers of columns and I didn't research whether they'd fixed that.

When I ran the r^2 rank ordering I used only rate or other non-count variables (percapita, cost, averages, etc. etc.) for reasons which should be obvious.

The regular expression I used to select those variables by their names was:

'Per|SAT|Salar|CostOf|Multiple|Ratio|Median|Age|Quality|Years|Rate|IQ'

Monday, June 12, 2017

Weird Fun With Propulsion

If you want to have some really weird experiences, just get serious about getting life into space.

Here's an example:

After I testified before the House Subcommittee on Space on my participation in the passage of a couple of laws to reform NASA's rather nasty attitude toward private launch services I was pretty close to being out of money. Civic responsibility will do that to you if you don't watch it. Even so, a company whose rocket technology I liked was on the ropes -- a couple of weeks from closing their doors. The CEO gave me an impressive sounding position with the company, offered me a percentage in the company and I maxed out my credit flying around to see what I could do to help salvage the business with no guarantee of compensation.

The first day I arrived at HQ, a strange call came in to the CEO. Some guy claimed to have been referred by NASA because he wanted to find out how to obtain certain kinds of permits that the company had obtained. It turns out the guy wanted a permit to let a device he had made go into space. He said he had constructed a high power vibration stimulator as a diagnostic aid in his business, which was vibration isolation in some mechanical systems, and the damn thing malfunctioned. The problem is this particular Damn Thing, when it malfunctioned, started vibrating off to the side of the table and then it fell off -- but before it hit the floor, it turned in mid air and went up at an angle, hitting the ceiling of his shop where it hit so hard it left a dent in the metal conduit -- and it didn't just bounce off and fall to the floor, it stuck there until he unplugged the infernal contraption.

OK, well the obvious questions were asked like: "Was the conduit a ferromagnetic material?" etc. "Are you sure it actually accelerated up to the ceiling or did it just jump up and somehow stick there?" -- you know, the standard Skeptics Society stuff.

This character got my curiosity, not having ever run across one of these conservation-law-violating-sonofaguns before, so I took one of his phone calls and started asking him innocent questions -- like, "How many tests have you run on the device since that time? Have you taken any quantitative measurements? What are the numbers? What did you to do get these numbers?" etc. The interesting thing was he gave me two sets of numbers from two tests, with different weights attached, he said he conducted on a playground with a fishing line attached to the thing to pull the plug on a cellular phone battery at a given height. The numbers he gave were distance traveled vertically vs time. In one test the calculus told me his upward force was less than in the other run by a big margin. So I asked him if he had changed anything else between the two runs other than adding the weight to one of them. He said no. So I asked him to describe his test procedure very carefully. He went through the process verbally, and at one point he said he "turned the variable resistor down until the thing started to lift off -- then I backed off". "Was the resistor in the same position both times?", I asked. "I don't think so because the heavier test run required more power."

Oh, gee whiz -- here is a guy who is not only imagining he ran a levitating device straight up in the air from a playground, but he fabricated results that were inexplicable except from an error in his experimental procedure that he himself seemed not to have thought about. He also told me that on the third run he had some friends of his with him to help and the thing lifted off but then exploded leaving a "line of metallic powder across the playground asphalt". This is either one hell of a smart sociopath playing mind games or he is a covert operative or he is some sort of genius at dreaming things up on the spot that even his conscious mind couldn't have fabricated or he is, in some important sense, telling the truth.

I admit it -- he had me hooked. I invited him to dinner and even though he was a couple hundred miles away, he drove his company truck up to meet me. I won't say what the company name was, because that would give a bit too much information away but it was a company name that was like a double-entendre or pun on his activities that reflected both his mundane business and this weird business of levitating infernal devices -- just the sort of the thing that your dream state would make up and Jung would analyze for you or maybe something that Jaques Vallee would report in one of his weirder "encounter" reports or maybe something that some covert operative would do to mess your mind up or maybe something a complete psycho would do because the little man in his head told him to. So anyway, I had dinner with him and he seemed genuinely worried when I told him that if this was real, he should take precautions by placing a disclosure with an trusted accounting firm to be put in the public domain upon his death or disablement. I don't think he thought I was going to kill him but he could pick up from me that I thought he should be more cautious.

So now what? OK, so he says he is going to build another version of it, because he thinks he knows the principle of operation, but he wants it to be lower power and lower frequency so it doesn't explode and hurt someone. He tells me how his experiments are going but he never seems able to get the original, unequivocal, levitating performance -- all his reports are closer to the rest of the legendary reactionless drives that always end up with marginal effects.

Finally, I tell him to send me a video tape of the thing either accelerating upwards or in a pendulum test and if he doesn't I won't be interested in talking to him any more, but if it shows an unequivocal force, I'll fly him to SV to talk to guys with some capital. He sends me a video tape. It is a short tape with some sort of noise on it. A friend of mine said it had been degaussed but with some sort of external magnetic field -- not by a tape recorder. So I call the inventor and tell him it really isn't OK to send me an erased tape. He seems at first uncomprehending and then a bit afraid but then composes himself and starts speculating on how it might have been degaussed in transit. So he says he'll send me two tapes, one via UPS and one FedEx. I never received any packages, his phone is disconnected and I never hear from him again.

To wrap up the story, sort of, he did tell me the electric motor make he used, so I went to an electric motor place -- an old one that had been around since the early 60s. I asked for the specific motor and the proprietor turned around to the assistant and said "Do you remember that guy from the Apollo program at NASA Ames back in the 60s who was building the flying saucer? Where did we order that motor from?"

OK, that's enough weirdness for now...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Totem As Biodiversity Preservation: A 1990 Letter to E. O. Wilson

Jim Bowery
PO Box 1981
La Jolla, CA 92038

Phone: 619/295-8868

December 5, 1990

Professor E. O. Wilson
Harvard University
MCZ 26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


Dear Professor Wilson,

I listened with some interest to a recent radio program which described the naming of a new species of ant after a friend of yours who discovered a colony residing in her tropical plant.

This set me thinking:

There are enough different species to allow every human family surname to be associated with a its own unique species.

The implications of this are significant when considering the impact of humanity on the destruction of genetic diversity.  Perhaps a greater number of humans would find themselves drawn to protect species with which they or their families identified.  Species and families are, after all, both forms of genetic lineage.  Such altruism toward a single species by humans of a single surname would lead to the protection of habitat.

But more pragmatically, there may be money in this for conservation organizations.  There are many families, particularly as the baby boom matures, where one or more member is obsessed with tracing back family lineages, discovering coats of arms, etc.  Many of these individuals would be over-joyed to pay some fee to an organization like the Nature Conservancy which would not only allow their surname to be given to a species, but which would take that money and spend it on buying control of the habitat in which the species lived.  Secondary markets would involve sending out packages of information on the species to other families with that surname.  This has the beauty of turning genetic diversity directly into cash for the preservation of same.

Of course, any species naming scheme would enjoy much greater legitimacy if it were supported by the scientific community.  That is why I am sending this letter to you.

While I am perfectly happy to donate some of my time to promoting this idea, I possess no authority to do so.  You do.  I suspect with a few phone calls and conversations you could motivate action on this idea.

If you consider it to be worthy of your attention, please let me know of any way I can be of assistance.  If not, please respond so I can pursue other avenues.


Sincerely,


Jim Bowery

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rescuing Computer Science With the Relational Dimensions of the Empirical World

First I'm going to make a few radical assertions:

  • A real-world relation is best-regarded as a random variable.  Think of measurement.  This is consistent with SQL's default allowance of duplicate rows in an extension.  These count tables represent the probability distribution of the random variable.  Each relationship (row) in an extension is, therefore, best thought of as a single measurement, or case.  The duplicate row counts are therefore case-counts.  A probability density function results from simply dividing each case's count by the total counts in the relation.
  • The properties of a measurement (say, time and distance) are the dimensions of the measurement and these correspond to the columns of the extension.
  • Any measurement can be thought of as a low-dimensional selected projection of the empirical world: the universe. The universal extension has a single row -- a row with as many dimensions as the entire history of the universe has properties:  We might call this row "That which is The Case."

Now, accepting all of that (which philosophers may well argue against -- particularly if they don't like Descartes, etc.):

In order for the random variable to have meaning, its dimensions must have counts, just as do its duplicate rows.  For instance, we might think of a relation whose composite dimension is velocity, with columns: time and distance.  Although there might be meaning to a physical dimension of time*distance (time^(+1) * distance^(+1)) that is not the physical dimension we call "velocity".  To obtain a velocity relation, we need distance/time which is time^(-1) * distance^(+1).  Note that these terms commute because multiplication (like 'and') commutes.  Column order is meaningless, just as is row order meaningless since addition (like 'or') also commutes.

Now consider the relational dimension of energy where we join the velocity relation with a mass relation and assign column counts thus: time^(-2) * distance^(+2) * mass^(+1).

Note that thus far, I have not talked about "units", nor of "types".  First a down-to-earth comment about "units":  It is important to regard "units" as I/O formats (or "representations") with isomorphic transformations between them (1:1 correspondence between a distance measurement in inches and one in feet).  Second is a more philosophical comment about "types" vs "dimensions" that gets to the heart of what I believe is a huge mistake in the foundation of computer science dating to Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica:

PM's type theory (and elaborations/variations thereof) is the current foundation of computer science.  Russell used it to develop Relation Arithmetic.  In "My Philosophical Development", of Principia Mathematica Part IV "Relation Arithmetic", Bertrand Russell laments:

"I think relation-arithmetic important, not only as an interesting generalization, but because it supplies a symbolic technique required for dealing with structure. It has seemed to me that those who are not familiar with mathematical logic find great difficulty in understanding what is meant by 'structure', and, owing to this difficulty, are apt to go astray in attempting to understand the empirical world [emphasis JAB]. For this reason, if for no other, I am sorry that the theory of relation-arithmetic has been largely unnoticed."

However, the ultimate project of Principia Mathematica was directed at "the empirical world" in the conclusion of PM: Part VI "Quantity". "Quantity" consists of 3 sections the last of which, section "C", is about "Measurement" in terms of a generalization of the concept of number (section "A"), to include units of measurement (mass, length, time, etc.) as commensurable (dimensioned) quantities ("B" "Vector-Families").

Yet, other than *314:

"Relational real numbers are useful in applying measurement by means of real numbers to vector-families, since it is convenient to have real numbers of the same type as ratios."

I see nothing in Part VI that references anything like "relation numbers" as defined in Part IV.

Before I get into a resolution strategy, I want to add one final issue that is key to understanding relational structure in terms of measurement:

Any value that we assign to a cell in a table has what is called "measurement error".  Note, I'm talking here not of a relation (table) nor of a relationship (row), but of a relata (cell value) of that relationship.  Take, for instance, a table of velocities with time and distance columns.  Each case (row, or relationship between measured properties) has two measurements for that case: a measured distance and a measured time.  What we call "measurement error" is an estimate of the probability distribution that would prospectively obtain with repeated measurements of the same conditions.  In other words, assigning measurement error, or "fuzziness", is best thought of as imputing missing data -- those prospective measurements just mentioned.  In any rigorous attempt to deal with the fuzziness of the real world, it is important to keep in mind the relational structure of the measurements so that propagation of measurement error is understood in terms of relational composition (aka 'JOIN' to use database jargon).

Now to proceed to the resolution strategy:

Late in Russell's life he admitted he regretted Type Theory, stating it was the most arbitrary thing he and Whitehead did and that it was more of a stopgap than a theory.

As it turns out, Russell admitted this because he was relieved and delighted he lived long enough to see the matter resolved in the late 1960s book titled "The Laws of Form" by G. Spencer Brown.  The resolution was to include what logicians think of as "paradox" as a, if not the, primary foundation of mathematical logic:

Russell's Paradox (The set of all sets that don't contain themselves as members.) which motivated PM's Type Theory, is only one form of this protean "paradox".  The most Laconian form is:

"This sentence is false."

The resolution provided in GSB's LoF was to introduce the the square root of -1 as primary in mathematical logic.  This is otherwise known as the imaginary identity 'i' found throughout all of dynamical systems theory.  Dynamical systems are about changes.  In relational database terms, these are updates.  Relational updates are addition and subtraction of rows.

Under the notion of row-as-relationships-as-case, subtraction entails negative case counts.

Interestingly, negative case counts permit the emergence of something called Link Theory which Paul Allen's think tank, Interval Research supported until its demise, at which point I supported it at HP's "Internet Chapter II" project aka "eSpeak" until _its_ demise, at which point Federico Faggin (co-founder of Intel's microprocessor division) underwrote its final support at Boundary Institute.

Link Theory utilized negative case counts to provide a relational description of physics including the core of quantum mechanics -- and was therefore of interest in the quantum computing field.  This is due to the fact that quantum measurement involves projection (as do all measurements -- see my prior invocation of "That which is The Case.") that included not only ordinary probabilities, but also what are called "probability amplitudes".  Quantum probability amplitudes have complex values on the unit circle of the complex plane. Complex values have imaginary components,   Link theory accommodated QM's imaginary components with a particular symmetry used by George W. Mackey in his 1963 book "Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics" representing 'i' as a 2x2 spinor matrix:

 0  1
-1  0

See Appendix A of "Link Theory -- From Logic to Quantum Physics".

The -1 in this spinor corresponds to the negative case counts required for relational structure to encompass quantum measurement.

Federico Faggin supported this work because hardware design languages needed a formal theory other than conventional logic to model digital circuits with feedback (ie: memory, state change, etc.).  George Spencer Brown developed his mathematics as a result of inventing minimal circuits in the early days of the transistor -- and found he was working with imaginary logic values.

So, tying this all together to address the original point:  It would appear that the computer science notion of "type" is not only ill-founded -- leading to all manner of confusion regarding "the empirical world" (in Russell's apt descriptive phrase) but is recognized as being ill-founded by its founder!

My assertion is that the notion of "type" is rescued by the notion of "unit" and that "abstract type" is rescued by the notion of "dimension" within the relational paradigm. That this might be the case should be no surprise as the natural sciences (particularly physics) most rigorously address "the empirical world".

Once we accept the framework of dimensionality as relational structure, we can see, further, the potential for new modes of schema analysis based on the scientific discipline of dimensional analysis.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Man's Primordial Morality of Sexual Selection

The foundation for Sortocracy's "State of Nature" is man's primordial morality of sexual selection.  What follows is an explanation of that foundation.

The best moral explanations start with the subjective experiences of the moral animal, aka "conscience":


The Irrationality of Fairness

Visualize two wild males together. A third of the same species is in the vicinity.  They approach each other.  A 2 vs 1 fight breaks out.

Take your time to visualize this and sense your reaction.

Now visualize a situation in which two wild males of the same species approach each other.  A 1 vs 1 fight ensues.

Again, take your time... sense your reaction.

Compare your emotional reaction to the two situations.  The first produces -- at least in many of us -- a different mixture of emotions than the second.  One aspect of that difference is qualitative:  We instinctively understand the 1 vs 1 fight but emotively question the 2 vs 1 fight.  The emotive question isn't so much "Why does the lone male fight rather than run?", as it is, "Why are these two males united against the one?"  In a dispassionate moment of thought, one realizes the most obvious explanation is ruthlessly rational:  Because the 2 are more likely to win the fight!  With that realization, a second-order question arises:  How could evolution favor a mode of dispute processing other than war -- selecting for the formation of the largest, most cohesive army prior to initiation of intraspecies force?  Then, a third-order question arises:  Why wouldn't nature have, long ago, selected for emotional understanding -- acceptance as "fair" -- the rationality of 2, or more, ganging up on any smaller number, including 1?


The Irrationality of Sex

During, and especially upon, maturation we experience powerful emotions toward the opposite sex.  We don't experience powerful instinctive (high time preference) emotions toward reproduction until the reproductive results of sex -- offspring -- obtain.  Our immediate, instinctive perception, emotions and actions center on sexual attraction and competition.  Although some species retain asexual reproduction as an option, most advanced multicellular species are entirely dependent on sex for reproduction.  The facile explanation for sexual attraction, that it is our only route to reproduction, begs the question:  Why not clone one's self?  This question is reinforced by the rationality of war:  The more closely related comrades are, the more evolutionary advantage there is in victory over less-related others.  A clone army is the most rational objective of reproduction -- particularly given the fact that nurture can develop variations in phenotype -- form and function -- from the same genotype, providing specialized war making and reproducing castes, as in the eusocial insects.


The Irrationality of Death

Humans don't experience their own prospective death as an immediate emotion, as they do fairness in conflict or attraction in sex.  The immediate, death-related emotion they experience is toward physical pain, in conflict, hunger, thirst.  For the young adult, the pain of lost sexual love is more immediate than the remote prospect of death.  Many risk and lose their lives to it.  Nevertheless, we sexual beings are programmed for death more certainly than sexual reproduction.  This isn't a "death-drive" in the sense of an emotional sex-drive or sense of fairness -- it is more deeply-ingrained than emotion.  It is a ruthlessly physical consequence of evolved senescence.  It makes no rational sense for the organism's physical foundation, its genotype, to throw away a reproductively viable vehicle, for the same reason it makes no rational sense to prefer sexual reproduction over asexual reproduction of specialized clone armies.


"We" Have All Been Here Before

From the point of view of rational evolution, cellular life is supremely rational.  They reproduce by cloning.  When two clone armies of the same species meet, fairness consists of eat or be eaten.  The individuals of single celled species don't die of senescence, but divide into two clones -- rejuvenated.  The most advanced sexual species dispensed with all of these rational evolutionary advantages.  Moreover, in sexual species, there is a memory trace of this sacrifice for the attainment of sexual love -- and it is in every cell of our bodies.  Our bodies are vast clone armies that have undergone specialized development so advanced that the most evolved eusocial insect colony looks like a disorganized riot of selfish individualists.  We remember this "past life" in every cell of our sexual being:  The loving unity of comrades in an eat or be eaten war.  So there is another "we" to consider:  Each individual sexual being consists of a cellular civilization in which each of its citizens is in asexual loving unity with its clones as "we are this sexual being".  Every cell loves being a part of something greater than itself.


Transcendent Life Over Death

This, cellular, level of love between clone comrades is buried like the memory of a past life -- a life that was sacrificed for sexual love.  Indeed, the senescence-toward-death of the sexual being is, precisely, that sacrifice of clone comrade love toward a higher, sexual, love.  We've been cut off from nature, by the artificial, from Mother Earth herself -- so we must pause and reflect.  We have feelings of love for our comrades in arms during war -- even though they aren't really clones except in fictive kinship.  This memory of ancient intercellular love is more or less fictive and no more relevant to our sexual love than is memory of a previous life.  We are new beings -- sexual love beings toward death.  It is hard for us to understand, separated from nature as we are by a long history of primate evolution in which fairness has progressively eroded in gang conflict; and, now, conflict going beyond mere violence to womb wars as the demographic destiny.  The warrior caste is overshadowed by the reproductive castes.  This is characterized as "The Better Angels of Our Nature" in direct correspondence to a husband's description of his wife as "My Better Half."  We have lost sight of the other half of sexual love:  Love of Enemies.  Other than some simple-minded masochism posing as "JudeoChristianity", what rational sense can the phrase "Love of Enemies" make -- particularly as an aspect of sexual love?  We are increasingly told this sexual love of one's enemy is morally expressed as homosexual love.  But the visceral emotion experienced when we witness 2 men unite to fight one man -- the evolutionary seed of war and clone comrade love -- corresponds to a visceral emotion, now labeled as the diagnostic category of "homophobia".  In reality, "homophobia" is a latent sense of fairness that is suppressed, not "man-love" homosexuality.  Love of one's enemy emerges only in sexual selection's 1 vs 1 conflict on fair terms.  This aspect of sexual morality is denied civilized men to the point that they are cut off and alienated from the half of their sexual beings:  Intrasexual selection.  Submission to a fair contest is the closest the sexual being comes to the creative consciousness of evolution.  In man, this submission achieves a moral dimension that transcends even female choice of sires, and risk of death in childbirth.  The male, in risking death, enjoys no immediate prospect of reproduction, as does the female.  In men, this is accorded moral territory:

Honor.


Civilized Man's Moral Horror of Death

For civilized man, deprived of transcendent death, he experiences an immediate, visceral and inchoate loathing of death that -- unlike the abstract notion of one's prospective death -- is moral:

To the extent that life is unfair, in the sense of violating the creative power of sexual love, evolution reverts to the cellular level: "All's fair in comrade clone love and war."  This reversion of evolution is destruction of creation.  It is dysgenic.  This destruction of creation is felt, viscerally, as a moral horror of death in societies deprived of the masculine aspect of sexual love and the creative power of fair evolution.  Organized religions throughout history promise eternal life.  This, pig-in-a-poke immortality is an ersatz emotional substitute for the transcendent god-like acts of creation embodied in sexual being.  Civilization may, ultimately, offer substitutes for death in life extension and transhumanist genetic engineering if not cybernetic uploading of "mind".  Civilized man, filled with an inchoate moral horror of death, and it's "irrationality", welcomes these substitutes as would the mortally wounded accept morphine: Out of desperation and alienation.  He has forgotten his own heritage, descended from the Creator that transcended death in mortal sacrifice for the creative power of sexual love.  But this substitute, pig-in-a poke, immortality is nothing compared to nearly a billion years of sexual selection and its joyful sacrifice of immortality for sexual love.