Simplicity

crap

Every bell and whistle is another wrong button to press.

Simplicity: White Hex Corporation

one-world-one-heart-one-hex

Complexity: The Haven of the Status Quo

flower

The sophistication of simplicity.

Currently, my team and I are analyzing and evaluating all of the visual applications in the industry. We are beginning to question the plethora of “features” and asking are these elementals or molecules composed of elementals that we are dealing with? If they are molecules, we are breaking the bonds and looking at the atoms that compose them. We are throwing out all of the molecules from our interaction designs and only offering the atoms. If you want a molecule, you build it.

We are asking the same questions about media. What is fundamental to media what are the nodes and what are the links? How do we break the links (rules) that compose them?

The result is simplicity. We are learning what the elemental atoms are and the fundamental bonds between them. We are exploring what digital technology is making possible and questioning all our premises. Do we need these nodes? Do we need these lines? Do we need these tables? Do we need these networks?

We are finding that complexity is the haven of those that want to conceal the fundamentals and profit from our ignorance. Complexity is an obstacle to the change we need to implement to escape the trap of the banking institutions, the lending institutions, the credit institutions, the existing infrastructures and resource companies who profit off of what we think we need. Complexity is only a necessity to those who want to entrench the status quo through mental red tape we neither need or want.

Destroy the rule systems that exist throughout society. We don’t need to streamline. We need to disintegrate the existing power structures.

The bonus monies disbursed to bank executives was payment by the powers that be to those who succeeded in generating massive profits at the expense of the American people and the world. It was payment for creating a system so complex we could not let them topple for fear of bringing down everything with it. But the secret is to let them topple by destroying their nodes and links, hubs and networks. Such freedom and responsibility is a scary prospect, but “You will miss us when we are gone!” is not a business model. Complexity is fat and American capitalism is gluttony.

Put down the plate and lose the weight.

Rediscover the freedom and responsibility of simplicity.

Use Visualization to identify and destroy complexity.

Jared Diamond: Societal Collapse

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If you listen carefully to what Jared Diamond is saying in the TED video above, he is describing not a five part, but a six part power curve into a systemic singularity. This has been one of the core themes of discussion of this blog.  We all seem to be too close to our problems to see the commonality.  The interrogatives come into play here:

  1. Goals
  2. People
  3. Functions
  4. Forms
  5. Times
  6. Distances

Times and Distances being the basis on which the higher orders are built.

When we look at the recent economic “crisis” we see 300 trillion in currency circulating and roughly 1 trillion to 2 trillion shifting suddenly and unexpectedly.  We witnessed a systemic collapse, a singularity, a tipping point, a power curve, an exponential change, a phase transition or whatever label you want to call it.  These have been happening everywhere since Time and Distance began in different contexts and orders both in human and non-human systems.

What Jared Diamond and other alarmists are implying is that human society is now a system approaching its final singularity in this century on this planet.  We are implying that today we are experiencing a less than one percent crisis on a power curve into a singularity.  How many more iterations will the global system withstand?  Will humanity make the step into space successfully before we experience a global dark age?  How will the six or more factors in the power curve play out?

The truth to me appears to be that power curves whether they play out or not result in either a systemic climax or anti-climax followed by a systemic collapse.  Would it not be better if we experienced a systemic climax that led to us expanding into the solar system?

Systemic collapse seems to be the fashion of this generation.  Every generation looks with fascination at its own youth, maturition, reproduction and acceleration into mortality.  Some die early, some die late, but all die.  It is an irrevocable law of nature.  It is not about self-interest.  It is about what self-interest is defined as.

Related Posts:

Beyond the Singularity

Servitas and Libertas

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Singularity, Pluralarity and Lorentz Transformation

Working with Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping point, Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity and the Pareto Principle lead me to begin thinking about a pattern that presented itself. In an earlier post here and here I discussed how there had been many Singularities in history. It also lead me to talk about Pluralarites. Then it struck me there is an oscillation between Singularity and Plurality, giving us the Singularity Pluralarity Plot above. And the implications are interesting.

Any innovation follows the Singularity Pluralarity Plot as a complete life cycle. Kurzweil’s singularity will be no exception. The first working AI will be the domain of specialists it will not be unleashed uncontrolled on humanity and it will have been accomplished after several incremental developments that will leave humanity more than prepared for it. The AI will then have to be molded into compatibility to a variety of purposes. After that it will have to be iterated until it is reliable. Once it is reliable then the true singularity happens: the cost benefit ratio is achieved and AI becomes accessible to the general public. The next step is availability on the global market. Finally, AI will have to be always on and pluralarity is achieved. AI will be ubiquitous and the next innovation will take place. The commoditized original AI will begin its descent and a new innovation in AI or a completely new technology will take its place and begin its ascent.

There will be social upheaval, but I don’t think it will be as dramatic or as immediate as some think.  The anthropomorphization of AI will fade and it will just be considered another tool.

The first thing that occurred to me is that as there is a positive and negative infinity there is also a positive and negative zero. Whether the zero is positive or negative is determined by whether you approach it from positive values or negative values. The second thing that occurred to me is that a pluralarity to singularity transition is divisive while a pluralarity to singularity transition is multiplicative. The third thing that occurred to me is that it is possible to have a positive to negative transition. For example you could follow a positive singularity to positive pluralarity curve with a negative pluralarity to negative singularity curve which would ascend like a staircase. The fourth thing that became obvious is that on an exponential curve the Pareto Principle applies at both ends. It’s like applying Lorentz transformations. Fifth, I am currently reading Peter Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship and have discovered that seizing opportunity, Entrepreneurship, requires recognizing whether you are approaching a Singularity or a Pluralarity while creating opportunity, Innovation, is making a Singularity or Pluralarity. The final thought that occurred to me is what are the implications of this knowledge on network design, physics, chemistry, biology, databases, complexity, simplicity, organization, history, anthropology, evolution, commoditization? I’ll leave it there.

The Brain: Hardwiring and Softwiring

I’m just finishing a very fine book by Steven Pinker, The Languange Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

and several years ago I read Donald D. Hoffman’s book, Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See. Both books deal with the same subject: What part of our minds are hardwired–instinct–and what parts of our minds are softwired–reason. It is a truly fascinating exploration.

Stephen Pinker in The Language Instinct very thoroughly explores all the aspects of spoken language. He discusses how broken pidgin languages are turned into grammatically rich creoles by children. He explains that whether a person learns a language or not they can have complex thought he calls Mentalese. He explains Chomsky’s concept of a Universal Grammar and how, with language, learning does not cause mental complexity, but mental complexity causes learning. He reveals that children have an acute sense of the morphology of words and rapidly acquire vocabulary as listemes because of the nature of the relationship between child, adult and reality. The perception of speech as well as the physical production of speech is explored. How we derive meaning from language rejects the technical concept of packets being transmitted and received for a much more subjective process of interpretation. The ability of children to learn language is treated as an evolutionary trade off existing only long enough to adopt the tribes language and then shutdown to make way for other special priorities. The “Language Organ” or region of the brain that is responsible for speech is narrowed down. The chain of being is pushed aside for the bush of evolution to reveal that hundreds of thousands of generations existed for language and homo sapiens sapiens to evolve separate from all our other primate cousins. The difference between living spoken language is separated from living written language, the discipline required for each and the fact that language is never in decay. Finally the relativism of the Standard Social Science Model (SSSM) or tabula rasa as proposed by Margaret Mead is rejected, Pinker takes sides with the Evolutionary Psychologists stating that environment alone cannot create the complexity of the mind, the mind must have many complex modules to be able to learn from the environment at all. He discusses Donald E. Brown’s Universal Person (UP) inspired by Chomsky’s Universal Grammar (UG). Finally, Pinker tries to define the modules of the human mind and here I get excited as I find I am able to fit them easily into the Six Hats, Six Coats model. Pinker says that language is a system and extrapolates to say humans are a system of both hardwiring and softwiring.

Hoffman’s book deals with an aspect of mind that more easily subscribes to the module concept than language because it is a much more detached, empirical exercise to test for the visual hardwiring that humans have through the use of visual illusions. Hoffman takes us through many aspects of vision such as facial recognition, edge and shadow and color and the perceptual development of children to reveal what appears to be hardwired and softwired. He concludes with a relativistic statement, but I think that he chooses this because of the political desire of scientists to distance themselves from the eugenics of the first half of the 20th century instead of an objective conclusion that, yes, we have a complex module in our brain specifically hardwired and softwired for vision as used by our species. In other words, when presented with the depth of Steven Pinker’s work compared to the breadth of Donald Hoffman’s work, I believe that we do have a vision instinct.

All in all I believe that Steven Pinker’s and Donald Hoffman’s work is revealing that humans minds are far more than just an empty neural net at birth. That in fact there is an evolved complex predefined structure that humans make use of through the learning stages of childhood to understand their environment that diminishes to adult levels at puberty. Consequently, no form of Artificial Intelligence will succeed unless it also comes with a robust collection of Artificial Instincts.

Related Article:

Systema: Whyever? Part 2

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Part 1 is here.

strategy (n)

4. a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result: a strategy for getting ahead in the world.

goal (n)

1.the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

rule (n)

1. a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc.: the rules of chess.

An extensive form game is a specification of a game in game theory. This form represents the game as a tree. Each node (called a decision node) represents every possible state of play of the game as it is played. Play begins at a unique initial node, and flows through the tree along a path determined by the players until a terminal node is reached, where play ends and payoffs are assigned to all players. Each non-terminal node belongs to a player; that player chooses among the possible moves at that node, each possible move is an edge leading from that node to another node.

It should be noted that even in a game with a finite number of moves (steps) there are generally countless strategies (paths).

Looking at the Extensive Form diagram above and considering the definitions, we can see that the game above has two players: 1 and 2. The numbers by every non-terminal node indicate to which player that decision node belongs. The numbers by every terminal node represent the payoffs to the players (e.g. 2,1 represents a payoff of 2 to player 1 and a payoff of 1 to player 2). The labels by every edge of the graph are the name of the action that that edge represents.

I would like to play with the terminology. I would call the nodes “goals”, I would call the edges “rules” and the paths I would call “strategies”. Goals are actually states of the system and the rules are actually processes. Thinking about it this way makes me think of information architecture and website architecture. Browsing and navigation in this case becomes a one player strategy where the website provides the goals and rule set. However, the design process of the system is to determine the goal set and rule set of the player and provide a “natural” or even more optimal set of strategies for the user to follow.

Part 3 is here.