May 10th, 2021 Walking into the Self

The role circumambulation plays in the initiation rituals of masonic degrees has been analyzed at various levels of resolution. On one hand, we hold that circumambulation is a way to inspect candidates. On the other hand, we take the act as symbolic: at once indicative of the heavenly bodies and other times revealing purification of the spirit. Yet, a unifying answer to the question of why we engage in circumambulation has eluded essayists and researchers. Thus, the purpose of this work is to advance the thesis that circumambulation is a function which reintegrates the Jungian concept of Self dispersed across nonlinear time as a means of preparing the initiate's consciousness to decode the morality embedded in our allegories and symbols.

Artificial Intelligence

July 15th, 2019 Artificial intelligence and epistemology

Immanuel Kant argued that we can never truly know a thing. Instead, we can only know what it is to experience that thing. I think Kant was onto something insofar as our physiological apparatus serve as intermediaries between things and our mind. Yes, I take that to mean experience is always subject to mediation. The additional layer of mediation as a problem is apparent when we consider our modern existence in the Virtual Age.

April 30th, 2019 Threats to machine leanring

Recently we discussed the integrity of our training data. More precisely, we examined the idea of poisoning training data. Such poisoning negatively. While data poisoning is rather nefarious, it is not the only cybersecurity threat. There are a host of potential cybersecurity threats to machine learning and there is no reason to think we are at the end of the threat evolution.

April 19th, 2019 Integrity of data

Our last machine learning discussion highlighted a broad issue of adversarial interactions between learning algorithms. The central point of the adversarial interactions we examined in the prior discussion was to induce errors through false negatives. There is another type of threat to machine learning, something much more insidious than simple content obfuscation or fancy word transformations, however.

April 13th, 2019 What is an environment?

Last time, we made our first foray into artificial intelligence by exploring the concept of *agents*. Today, I want to talk about the environment. We can explore what an environment is and why it may be more important than agents.

April 4th, 2019 The discomfort of AI

I came across an article recently discussing the use of narrow AI to automate various government functions, including that of a judge. While the article itself is fairly neutral, the comments surrounding the content are anything else.

March 28th, 2019 What is an agent?

The goal with this work is to provide my view on the fundamental mechanisms underlying the field of artificial intelligence. I am going to explain, in simple terms accompanied by simple math and simple programming examples, the theory and practical application of AI. With that said, we should start at the beginning and address the concept of an agent.

March 3rd, 2019 Bias and edges

Bias in machine learning is interesting to me because it tends to be largely unnoticed. Further, extreme edges are interesting phenomena because they are technically errors but mysteriously appear to be valid results.

March 2nd, 2019 Finding the root

You may have thought we were done with decisions trees. I am done with respect to discussing general approaches and types of problems. You could say that we're moving from a view of the forest, to finding the root for our tree. However, there is a bit more to explore when it comes to the underlying mathematical functions associated with navigating data to construct our trees

February 18th, 2019, Cost functions

Welcome back to another instance of demystifying machine learning. Recently, we wrapped up the overarching logic associated with decision trees. Now, we can explore the secret sauce of decision trees: *splitting* between options. How exactly is a split computed though?

February 1st, 2019, Decision trees finalized

Learning is the ability to acquire knowledge. Part of learning is the acquisition of decision making capabilities. Fortunately, decision trees are a great introduction to programming machine learning algorithms as well.

January 22nd, 2019, Machine learning algorithm overview

Recently, we looked at decision trees as a basic form of machine learning. As this series continues, I will walk you through a simple decision tree programming example. I also want to show you some math.

December 24th, 2018, Understanding decision trees

Previously, I suggested machine learning is not machine intelligence. I claimed such in an effort to situate machine learning into an approachable context for our study. Additionally, I suggested that machine learning is the instantiation of statistics through algorithms, applied over datasets. As much as we may abjectly fear statistics, algorithms, these are approachable, knowable topics.

December 12th, 2018, Machine learning for the perplexed

Machine learning may seem like true machine intelligence. That is, learning is dependent upon the ability to learn. The scale of our ability to learn is dependent upon intelligence. Thus, if something can learn it follows that it must be intelligent. This may leave us perplexed however.

Synthetic Intelligence

November 15, 2018, Synthetic intelligence and types of minds

While I understand that any non-human, non-natural intelligence may present existential risk, I am not certain about how a synthetic intelligence might view me (or you or the world) in such a way that carrying out an existentially risky behavior would be optimal. Perhaps understanding how synthetic intelligence may think can help us develop more certainty.

October 12, 2018 Why is the lack of time perception in synthetic intelligence important?

Certainly you have read or heard about the existential risk an artificial general intelligence (AGI) may pose to humanity. But you may not have heard about the work going on to develop a means of containing or boxing such an entity, thus rendering it safe(r). Suffice it to say, containment is an inordinately difficult problem.

September 24th, 2018 Will synthetic intelligence tell time?

The problem is a systematic failure to situate communication and agency temporally. You see, human experience is tightly coupled to time. The things we say, the things we do are encapsulated by an ever-forward construction of was, is, and will be. We tell time subjectively and objectively; thoughts and clocks we can say.

September 10th, 2018 Will synthetic intelligence experience revelation?

While there is benefit in exploring what synthetic intelligence might be, what it may be made of, or how synthetic intelligence will manifest, lately I've been wondering more about what having a synthetic intelligence would be like. How would such a being perceive itself, its surroundings, and the universe as a whole? ​

August 27th, 2018 Will synthetic intelligence pass the mark test?

Using the Turing Test alone we lack the ability to distinguish between imitative and synthetic intelligence. What about a modified mark test, however? The mark test has been used to show self-awareness in a variety of non-human organisms- apes but not all monkeys, pigs, ants, and recently fish. My hunch is that such a test will at least be an initial step towards the right instrumentation.

August 14th, 2018 Is synthetic intelligence a person?

Thus far, we have examined the definition of synthetic intelligence and outlined the qualities of intelligence and consciousness. We have also discussed how we can communicate with a synthetic intelligence. These aspects of synthetic intelligence are reductionist however.

July 30th, 2018 How Can we communicate with synthetic intelligence?

we know that forms of communication besides words and body language exist. While those two modalities are common through the animal kingdom, we have to look outside of the normative worldview to understand how to communicate with synthetic intelligence.

July 16th, 2018 Does synthetic intelligence have an embodiment problem?

Embodiment is a tricky concept to nail down. First, things can embody ideas. That is, things can render intangible concepts tangible. Second, and specific to consciousness, embodiment seems to be how we humans iteratively frame our cognition. In other words, we use our bodies to create, participate in, and filter experiences so that the ideas of those experiences can be made real.

July 11th, 2018 What will synthetic intelligence be made of?

As it stands, our methods and instruments are calibrated towards organic molecules, particularly carbon. At least terrestrially, carbon is the dominant element in what we define as biochemistry. Further, carbon seems to be the only element that exists as the foundation for intelligence and consciousness of all types. We must ask though, is carbon the only biochemical foundation possible?

June 18th, 2018 Why is an indistinguishable synthetic consciousness bad?

Previously, I argued that the three types of consciousness were indistinguishable. I argued that this is because we cannot reliably detect any consciousness other than our own. I reasoned that an undetectable consciousness is an indistinguishable consciousness. Based on that, I made the claim that an undetectable, indistinguishable consciousness would be bad.

June 5th, 2018 Can we distinguish between types of consciousness?

Descartes went to a personal Hell to establish that at least the individual instantiation of natural consciousness does. The other two types- artificial and synthetic- have no direct evidence yet. However, such does not imply that those types do not exist or will not exist in the future.

May 21st, 2018 What is the difference between intelligence and consciousness?

Previously, we constructed a definition for intelligence. This definition enabled us to consider the nature of synthetic intelligence, whether we can detect it, and whether we can trust it. However, the definition can only take us so far.

May 7th, 2018 Will the Turing Test detect synthetic intelligence?

Previously, we have discussed synthetic intelligence, agency in synthetic intelligence, and how we might measure both. Now, I would like us to consider a specific aspect of intelligence and agency: trust.

April 24th, 2018 Will synthetic intelligence have agency?

We know that synthetic intelligence is not artificial intelligence. The latter is an imitation whereas the former is authentic. Further, we know that agency is an emergent expression of intelligence, synthetic or organic. With those points established, we can begin to explore more concrete areas.

April 6th, 2018 Will Synthetic Intelligence have Agency?

Intelligence alone, synthetic or otherwise, does not provide the means to act. Indeed, without agency, I would suggest that intelligence lacks the facilities alone to interact with reality.

March 23rd, 2018 What is Intelligence?

We recently discussed why the field of synthetic intelligence is essential to the future of our species. Before we move along too far, I think it is crucial to outline just what we mean by intelligence or being intelligent.

March 9th, 2018 What is Synthetic Intelligence?

The popularity of artificial intelligence has grown to epic proportions. In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of advanced consumer-focused AI through products such as Alexa, Siri, and Telsa autopilot. Business too have embraced AI. But have we been duped?

Computer Science

March 30th, 2019 What is computer science?

Traditionally, computer science is the degree we pursue when our parents tell us to *study computers*. In this essay series, I want to speak with those of us wondering if computer science is the field for them, for those on the degree pathway wondering if they should remain, or even for those of us with the degree wondering what the hell we should be doing.


June 20th, 2019 Cybernetics and cybersecurity

We have known the principles of cybersecurity for more than 70 years. The architecture of computing systems has not changed in this time span. We continue to produce what is essentially the same hardware and software. Personally, I don't care to debate whether the frequency of cybersecurity related failures have increased in relationship to the proliferation of technology. I do care to discuss why these failures continue.

Discrete Math

July 5th, 2019 Practical logic

From statements such as x > 10, we can conjure statements like 100 > 10. The result is we can compute the logic truth value as True or False. That's all well and good for high academic performance in a discrete structures or discrete mathematics course. The operationally important question is, how practical is propositional logic?

May 21st, 2019 Conjuring propositions

Our last discussion ended after an overview of truth tables and a promise to look at quantifying a variable such as the x in continous equations. The implication, if we’ll recall, is propositional logic technology such as truth tables cannot be used to compute truth value solutions to non-propositional statements. Never fear, not all is lost.

April 10th, 2019 On truth tables

Okay, by using a truth table, we can decode the rules of a given connective and model the set of possible truth values for any propositional statement. I believe truth tables are the real power in propositional logic. They certainly are the definitive model for computation.

March 26th, 2019 What is propositional logic

Today we’re exploring the question: what is propositional logic. Propositional logic is one of my favorite topics in discrete mathematics. It happens to also be the first topic I discuss in when I teach the subject. So, what is it? Let’s find out!

March 20th, 2018 Fuzzy sets

Fuzzy sets are an extension of set theory proper. These guys are quite useful for problems where elements are more or less as opposed to the classical True or False. In other words, truth is generalized to degrees. Such elements have deep applications in fields such as artificial intelligence.

January 2nd, 2018 Magic squares

We're going to explore a strange but (I think) fun oddity in discrete math called a magic square. These guys show up in all kinds of places and have a tangential relationship to the popular game Sudoku and the original strategy game, chess