Saturday, December 11, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Clouds work for free.
Who is the thief and what is the currency?
Somebody gets ninety-nine cents.
There’s nothing wrong with that,
People invented money for trade.
But what does the cloud get in exchange?
It gets sulfuric acid from the coal-powered bottling plants.
I’ve heard on TV that people are two thirds water.
So why doesn’t water get human rights?
We and the liquid within are one in the same.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Values that Americans consider rights.
It’s beautiful when its true.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
In his science fiction novel Foundation, Isaac Asimov envisions a future where history, mathematics, and psychology merge into one super-science that he calls psychohistory. Asimov speculates that if scientists assemble an extensive collection of historical data and then explain the history in terms of reoccurring psychological patterns, then history ceases to be history. History, instead, is then a reflection of the future. In Foundation, Isaac Asimov creates a genius psychohistorian who predicts the future so well that he chooses to direct its flow for the betterment of mankind. I admit that the idea that psychohistory can become a precise science seems farfetched in 2010, but the signs of its viability already exist around us. We need only to look.
The extent to which psychohistory can predict the future depends on the sample size. Because each human has an infinite amount of variables that direct their personal futures, psychohistory cannot predict the course of their lives individually. Isaac Asimov admits this, but he believes that unpredictability on the micro scale does not doom predictability on the macro scale. Asimov compared this accuracy in quantity to gas laws in chemistry in which it is difficult to predict the motion of a gas molecule, but one can predict with mathematical accuracy the mass action of a gas. The uniqueness of each individual or particle ceases to throw of predictions when each does not itself have a deep impact. With 6,855,680,908 humans on the earth according to the US Census' population clock in July 13, 2010, psychohistorians have a sufficient sample size. In its enormity, the infinite possibilities of the future break down into predictable courses of action.
If psychohistory's limit is the amount of variables, then a game of few variables will allow psychohistory as well as the macro world. Because there are only two players and psychology plays a great role, tennis fits the requirements of few variables and psychological explanation. In tennis, one can observe that his opponent cannot effectively hit a certain shot. This tennis player can then shape the course of points so that the opponent needs to hit that certain shot often enough that the opponent loses more points. Therefore, the tennis player can change what Asimov calls the "inertia of the present" with his own actions to craft a desirable future. I admit, this is a very simple example to support such a vast idea as psychohistory, but it operates much in the same way as a physics example in which one assumes the world to be a frictionless vacuum. Tennis is a metaphor with ideal conditions that won't reoccur on the macro scale, but it is nevertheless evidence that psychohistory works.
It is established that one can immediately change the "inertia of the present" with a strong action. But what if one does not expect immediateness? Over time, small changes to the "inertia of the present" can accumulate to make a significant difference. Chaos theory calls the effect of such small changes "the butterfly effect" because if one were to go back in time and kill a butterfly, the results would amplify in a snowball effect. Now, if we think about the present as the past and the future as the present, we can kill butterflies (figuratively that is) and create a better future with seemingly small actions. If we can begin to understand the impact of our actions, then changing the world can be easy.
Although the actions can be easy, determining the appropriate action is not. Karl Marx, an early pioneer of psychohistory with his Historical Materialism theory, attempted to explain history with repeating patterns that relate back to psychology and economics. In response to his patterns, he predicted a future in which the common people own the means of production in a utopian society. He was wrong. Today, communist countries are ironically furthest from the utopia Marx predicted. Although Karl Marx had the noblest of intentions, his inaccurate predictions inadvertently caused dystopian societies to form. This irony shows that psychohistory is too powerful a force to have done wrong.
So how can psychohistory help the world? We already know that unwitting psychohistorians predict and alter the future to help themselves win in games of few variables such as tennis or poker. Because most tennis players enjoy competition, it would benefit tennis if more participants were better psychohistorians. We also know that when psychohistorians like Karl Marx make predictions much larger than what they can possibly know, the falseness of their predictions can hurt. Therefore, psychohistorians must hold their predictions with caution and humbleness so that they don't stumble blindly into the future. Although I won't pretend to know the exact butterfly effect that the awareness of psychohistory from this article will cause I am somewhat confident that it will help. So I did it.