Like water, like light

Creeping through the empty cells.

Machine intelligence.

Ok, this post is about a couple of my fav subjects – and right now I’m so fucked that I’ve no idea what direction it will go in. I’m fucked because for weeks now… for years, I’ve been staying awake until I literally pass out, hooked into the machine. My name is Nick Taylor and I am an Infoholic.

The fav subjects are:

1) Machine intelligence that can “inhabit” and learn how to control any hardware.

2) The human machine symbiote

And this is a scattering of stuff to do with that.


A dorkbot fires arrows at a target.

They’ve dressed it up like one of the Village People and I bet it runs like a girl… however… it is using AI, and it learned how to hit the target in 8 goes… which it will (unless I’m much mistook) do perfectly from now on. It’s a machine learning to use its hardware… growing into a new configuration, learning new skills.

2) “Why the Stuxnet worm is like nothing seen before

“Stuxnet is the first worm of its type capable of attacking critical infrastructure like power stations and electricity grids: those in the know have been expecting it for years.”

“The Stuxnet worm is different. It is the first piece of malware so far able to break into the types of computer that control machinery at the heart of industry, allowing an attacker to assume control of critical systems like pumps, motors, alarms and valves in an industrial plant. In the worst case scenarios, safety systems could be switched off at a nuclear power plant; fresh water contaminated with effluent at a sewage treatment plant, or the valves in an oil pipeline opened, contaminating the land or sea.”

This is causing a fuss because it’s been attacking Iranian nuke program for the last couple of weeks.

The way this worm is working isn’t raw machine intelligence – it’s guided by (or working alongside) human intelligence.

3.a) The internet in New Zealand is a fucking disgrace.

It’s so slow I can hardly believe it – it has capped data usage. At my brother’s place, if you go over a certain number (like 2) gigabytes, it “eases you back” to a fucking sub-dial-up speed… “easing you back” being what it says in the company literature – which makes me want to go round to see the CEOs of that company and smash them in the face with a fucking machete. I’ve got one you know. I’ve got a machete. Don’t push your luck.

And NZ is slow in general… think of all those millions of wasted hours of kiwi time. Lifetimes. It’s genocidal. It’s a genocidal waste of time.

We need more. Faster. I don’t see an end to it.

3.b) The Empire Strikes Back.

This has been an Empire Strikes year. All over the planet governements (colluding with psychopathically greedy corporations) are trying to impose censorship… “controls” on the internet. Sorry, we don’t need fucking controls, you do. In the last 10 years we’ve had an uncontrolled internet and it’s been great – there have been no “terrible scary disasters” caused by a totally uncontrolled internet – and the disasters that have happened have all been caused by governments colluding with psychopathically greedy corporations.

We don’t need to be controlled, you do.

But… this has been an Empire Strikes Back year, and if one thing has become quite clear, we can’t trust governments colluding with psychopathically greedy corporations to provide our information infrastructure. We need to take the web away from the telcoes and do it ourselves.

The internet absolutely HAS to be gatekeeper-free.

3.c) And I’ll tell you another thing – the radio here is rubbish as well. I imagine it’s pretty rubbish everwhere, but here it’s worse. I only listen to it in my car, where I’m cut off from the internet, and I get so bored I feel like I’m going to die. So I turn on the radio – there are only about 4 channels – and one of them seems to only play American anti-evolution tapes. Maybe my radio is fucked… but it would have to be very very very very fucked indeed to play American anti-evolution tapes. It would have to have devolved.


Apparently wifi is junk spectrum. Apparently TV and radio have hogged all the proper spectrum, and wifi grows in the cracks. Bruce Sterling (who is a god) mentions it here..

Recently though… the FCC in the US have opened up empty broadcast spectrum for “super-wifi”.

WTF? It should ALL be opened up for super-wifi. Have you seen broadcast TV? Fucking game shows and infomercials and whatnot? It’s drek. It doesn’t deserve to live. It’s a fucking rubbish-tip… a wall so covered in fly-posters that they’re the only thing holding it up, and they’re starting to fall away revealing rotten timber and long dead spider-webs underneath. This is what broadcast TV looks like

Except that it’s wearing a tiarra that it’s found in a dumpster somewhere and it still thinks its queen. It’s not. It’s finished. The only people who care are sub-literates, and the rest of us looking on in a sort of kitch, post-ironic horror.

The broadcast era is so stupid I can hardly believe it.

So anyway, I was thinking about this as I was driving around the other day, listening to the almost-beyond-satire moronitude that was on the radio (have you heard them? DJs?) and I kindof got this vision of an internet that used any and every conduit for communication that it could… it could knock on pipes if it needed to. Send vibrations down electrical wires, over airwaves, down fibre-optics… wherever there’s a vibration, a signal could be piggy backed onto it.

The machine is learning to use whatever hardware happens to be at hand… and “the machine” is actually a human-machine symbiote. It’s already happening. This is the future. This is now. A massive symbiotic intelligence that inhabits whatever hardware (or wetware) that it finds… grows into it.

We’ve always done this… with books and farms and so on… but now we’re starting to get really good at it. Like water; like light. Into every cell.


You know how people (even Clay Shirkey (who is a god)) bewail the fact that we’re creating document formats that will be in accessible in the future. Do you still have any Word 2.0 documents lying about? I used to work for this law firm in London… and I KNOW they do. Remember windows 3.1? There were a couple of years before Windows 95 where… what Wordproccessor were people using… Wordstar? Supercalc?

There are theoretically oceans of information that will become in accessible because they’re locked into proprietary formats.

I don’t think this will be a problem… I think this is seriously underestimating the power of the human-machine symbiote… opening old documents will simply be a matter of getting the relevant Open-Office/Firefox plugin. It will only be a problem if anally retentive lawyers working for psychopathically greedy corporations try to make it illegal to reverse-engineer their codecs. Proprietary software is the problem… you really get a feel for this when you start using linux on the desktop. You get that programmer’s sense, that everything you have been doing has been based on a serious legacy error… an architectural error. Proprietary software is an architectural error. “Intellectual Property” is an architectural error – which is being swept away by a tsunami of… us.

So in case you’re wondering, the human-machine symbiote is open-source. It just is.

9 Comments » for Like water, like light
  1. “Except that it’s wearing a tiarra that it’s found in a dumpster somewhere and it still thinks its queen. It’s not. It’s finished. The only people who care are sub-literates, and the rest of us looking on in a sort of kitch, post-ironic horror.”

    This description = perfection.

    90º System = beautiful.

    “…so fuck “monetization”, and fuck everyone who thinks it’s the only thing that matters…”

    Right on. Better fetch my yurt and make friends with farmers, eh.

  2. admin says:

    Well… unfortunately for me I like international travel.

    I’m not really into environmentalist or socialist austerity – on any level really… but… it’s to do with what money is actually “for”. What it’s for is to provide a mechanism for allocating scarce resources. It isn’t ideal, but it does have an fairly unbeatable internal logic, so… it’s been around a long time.

    But it IS only for allocating scarce resources – it should be the bottom-line for our entire culture.

    Unfortunately it creates a massive driver for making resources scarce when they’re not (or shouldn’t be), and a lot of the financial relationships we’re subject to are purely parasitic. So people are stuck… selling “Meaningful Beauty” anti-aging-cream (by Cindy Crawford), obliged to tell people all sorts of preposterous bullshit about what is actually meaningful, and so it is with pretty much everything. Every aspect of the human condition has some poor soul trying to make money out of it – because they have to.

    We shouldn’t have to. We’re better than that.

  3. I agree the economy structure is corrupt in every sense, chiefly in the values and intent of its impetus. But in practical terms, we all need food and shelter, don’t we? Unless you are suggesting doing away with money as such.

    I’m likely too dull to grasp what you are seeing as a better approach, on account of your being a complete visionary genius.

  4. admin says:

    We need food, we need shelter, we need international travel, lattes, a new laptop every 2 years, cars, cameras,… and then more food I should think.

    I’m totally serious – we need all this stuff… and all of this stuff (to a degree) comes from resources that are in short supply, so we need some means of allocating it… and money seems to be a sortof workable means of doing this… although…

    What we don’t need is EVERY system that we use to do anything at all, based upon the system that we use to allocate scarce resources. Money belongs in a little corner somewhere. It shouldn’t own everything.

    Money (particularly fiat money – that is itself loaned into existence as a scarce resource…. with interest charged (pure parasitism)) has a number of inbuilt problems and biases. What we should be doing is trying to eliminate scarcity… rather than continually trying to find ways to leverage it, and create more of it.

    We should be doing this partly because the current system forcing people to have gratuitously harsh lives… and it really isn’t making us happy. We should always be looking for better ways to do things – and fiat money is a system broken by design…

    … and if the robotics revolution and the gen-tech revolution achieve half what it looks like they might achieve, then there is going to be a hell of a lot less scarcity to go round… so there are going to be a hell of a lot less jobs.

    David Simon’s bleak take on it here (see the bit where he talks about “the great conceit of the wire”)

    I agree with him – but… I’m not resigned to it being awful… it might be good – but we need to throw off the parasitism that comes with fiat currency.

  5. I see a bit better what you mean, Nick. Very interesting pov. I agree with you about money being nothing more than convenient yet highly deformed means of exchange.

    I think what you are describing would require more than a change of monetary approach. It would require an utterly different planetary system, one where pig brains didn’t worm their way to the top of the barnyard and lord it over the sheep.

  6. admin says:

    re: an utterly different planetary system… it’s coming.

    It’s half way here already – and pigs lording it over sheep, both is and isn’t a law of nature. It’s a level of organisation, which is increasingly non-useful. It’s no longer a winning evolutionary trait.

    The trend is away from this (I mean the 500 year old trend) and the drivers of the 500 year old trend… the protestant revolution… have just massively increased.

    And in spite of (or because of) web billionaires, and in spite of (or because of) the internet bubble of 2000… and vice-versa this is a 90-degree value system revolution. The energy isn’t in money, it’s in sharing.

  7. What a lovely, hopeful thought! I, however, am entirely cynical at this point. I think it’ll be centuries before human consciousness shifts to the degree you sense, if ever. I’m convinced this planet, while beautiful to me, is ideal for working out the ugly stuff. Like a brutally rough school yard floating out in the cosmos.

  8. admin says:

    A couple of hundred years seems about right – it took 300 to go from The Reformation to The Enlightenment… but things are speeding up, and the trajectory does seem to be in a certain direction. And things are speeding up… and I’m expecting there to be a couple of big hiccups in the next couple of decades to move things along.

    But… all that history – the enlightenment etc, is Western history, so who knows.

  9. Exactly. The Global Dynamics shift like were all in a rather large square dance, doesn’t it.

    Well, for me the whole enchilada is a test kitchen, so, up down, or sideways is all just energy trying different trajectories to see, glean, and enjoy the processes.

    With that attitude I don’t get invested in outcomes. It’s all good. Even when it’s rotten.