Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What strange machine man is. You fill him with bread, wine, fishes, and radishes and out comes sighs, laughter and dreams.

Reading this very interesting book.

Kurtzweil, R. (1999). The age of spiritual machines: When computers exceed human intelligence. New York: Penguin Groups. Retrieved September 18, 2008, from

Lovely quote from Nikos Kazantzakis "What a strange machine man is. You fill him with bread, wine, fish and radishes, and out come sighs, laughter and dreams."

Kurtzweil describes the difference between parallel computing and quantum computing. Analogy it is like comparing a firecracker to a hydrogen bomb.

Neat description of quantum mechanics and the action of light striking a mirror. Photons have many possible paths available to them and they take them all at once. Each photon actually bounces off each possible point of the surface, trying out every possible path. Most of these trials cancel out leaving the ones predicted by classical physics. This process is dependent on an observer to resolve ambiguity amongst the particles a process called disambiguation or quantum decoherence.

A bit of a discussion in the CCL08 Elluminate session today about connectivism and knowledge generally. The discussion is abandoning epistemology but is looking at ontologies. Part of the discussion seemed to support a typical positivist longing for objective reality.

Reading Kurtzwiel and listening to the CCK08 discussion put me in mind of two other authors, De Chardin and the Future of man, where he discusses the noosphere, the sphere of collective consciousness that surrounds the earth like the biosphere. When we are born our spirit is drawn from this sphere, we live and improve the spiritual energy and when we die it is returned to the noosphere. Mankind advances the state of the noosphere until it reaches the Omega point or Godhead. (That's the kinna stuff that gets you kicked out of the RC church)

Anyway, Teilhard anticipated the Internet and speculated that the mechanism of the noosphere may be electromagnetic computational machines.

Another guy I like is Gary Zukav and the dancing Wu Li Masters. Again an comparison of quantum physics and oriental mysticism.

When I started talking about such things as the noosphere of Gaia hypothesis. Downes shouted in big block letters NO NO NO. Put me off a bit but the guy seems to be a bit of a nutter, not quite as cleaver as he thinks he is. Although way way smarter that me for sure. Him and George have been getting their things pulled by Catherine Fitzpatrick who is a very prolific writer and unapologeticly challenges the basic precepts of connectivism. She make a lot of sense and I must admit that she expresses a few of the reservations that I have had about connectivism and the whole CCK08 show. It has a huge number of subscribers and I like the format but it also seems to be a bit of an ego proposition for the organizers, there is sure to be a book or two,

Anyway following some of the discussion on the CCK08 moodle and Twitter and listening to Catherine Fitzpatrick is quite refreshing although many of the other participants seem to be a bit freaked out about the very uncompromising views and opinions. She has a pretty low opinion of academics and theory making institutions and rightly calls into question some of the basic assumptions of connectivisim. One of the main issues for her is the reverence and awe and the start maker machinery and the fact that George and Stephen are apparently managing the flow of conversation inspite of the rhetoric of openness and mutual creativity. I see tonight she responded very sharply to Alec Courous of U of R. She doesn't hesitate to call a spade, a f**king shovel. These guys are so use to fawning and deference and an environment of enforced intellectual orthodoxy that it rattles them. I'm getting a kick out of it I must admit and I'm inspired by Catherine's tenacity. I suspect she would have my guts for garters if I ever tried to dialog.

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