Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Tesseract Dreams

Ottawa, Ontario

I had a dream last night. It was about three dimensional shapes passing though a two dimensional universe. The dream started very easy with a sphere which appeared as a point in the plane and then a circle which grew and shrank back to a point and winked out of existence. The dream became about a cube which took on many different triangular and polygenic shapes as it rotated though the plane.


Then the dream was of a four dimensional cube, it called a tesseract, rotating though a three dimensional space. In my dream this appeared as a solid horse's head and then a horse's tail..there is no explaining dreams... I awoke and reached for my dictionary. The dictionary did not include the word tesseract, but when I looked it up online, it was defined as a four dimensional cube which has angles that go off at 90 degrees from the eight corners of a cube in directions that our eyes are not wired to be able to see. These directions are woalf and dirkit.


The City of Ottawa has about 850,000 people. They have a good bus system and park-and-ride parking lots that shuttle you downtown for $3 Canadian. We took the bus and went to see the changing of the guard, Parliament hill and the market section. We also went to the National Art Museum. The Art Building was impressive, but the collection was lackluster.


We also drove around to view some quaint little Ontario towns: Westport, Merrickville and Perth. We had coffee and pastries in Perth.

My impression of Ontario is that the speed limits are set very low and generally universally disregarded by the population; driving the speed limit results in a succession of people attempting to drive up one’s tailpipe. Driving 10% over the speed limit doesn’t help much. I’m ready to pop back over the border.


A developer in Edmonton has come up with a poker playing program that wins against championship players. It’s version 2.0, at least, and learns by watching its opponent’s behavior. This is quite an advance in artificial intelligence. It deals with a game of imperfect information, unlike the relatively simple chess playing programs where everything is known.


This development marks the beginning of the end of human poker players, at least the online variety. There are many skills that have been obsoleted by developing technology. Once I was a great navigator, but now that’s a skill you can’t give away. The computers are insufferably superior to humans at navigation.


Fortunately, many human skills contain much more imperfect information and physical skills than poker so that humans can still shine. I would include engineering, loan-sharking, house painting, database design and farming among many that professions are currently unsuitable for a smarter AI.

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