Saturday, 24 January 2015

Are you digital?

Mike Wazowski is digital, he is made of nano-blocks. The more blocks we use, the closer he gets to the ‘real’ smooth Mike Wazowski.

We used to record music using a big horn (ehem!) which focused the vibrations of the smooth sound waves onto a needle which cut a groove of varying depth in a wax disk. This was ‘analog’ recording where the shape of the grooves is analogous to the shape of the sound-waves of the music. Because of the mechanics of the process, the recordings were never truly faithful to the original.
A digital recording can get very close to the smooth sound-wave patterns by using lots of bits (building blocks) of information. The more bits it uses, the closer it gets to the analog original and so the more faithful is the recording. We have now got to the point where we can use enough bits to make the recording indistinguishable from the original to the human ear.
Digital technology has rapidly become our favoured method of representing the real world, so whilst the real world is an analog world, we have started to think of the world we have designed – which is the world we increasingly inhabit - as a digital world.

The analog world is evolved, female, and yin; whist the digital world is designed male, and yang.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Nature or Nurture?

‘Nature’ is the result of the process of evolution. We were not designed for a purpose, we evolved to be human by genetic imperatives constrained and adapted by our changing environment. The whole of nature is mysterious to us – it has no purpose – we try to understand it through observation and metaphor. Currently, our favourite metaphor is the computer.
A computer is designed for a purpose, it is not the result of an evolutionary process. So it’s behaviour should be predictable.
A computer program uses the assets of the computer to intentionally produce specific results. Because we understand the computer, we can program it to produce the results we want.
‘Nurture’ is a process by which we create an environment using (intentional or unintentional) rewards and constraints to enable certain results. We don’t understand how the human works so we can never produce predicable results by nurturing.

The chap in the picture doesn’t know how he got to be like that. Clearly his eccentric clothes are the result of cultural influences. His white gloves and deferential expression suggest he might be some kind of servant. In his ‘natural’ naked state he might have been an insect.

But of course he could never have evolved – he was designed for a purpose – as a character in a (Disney?) film and a happy-meal toy to promote the sale of junk food.