Month: January 2009

Time is a river.

Time is a river. It’s raging white rapids at times and at others it’s calm and it’s flowing.
There’s pools that are stagnant and bottlenecked sections that speed by much faster.
We sometimes encounter a waterfall, rocks at the bottom, and some of us don’t make it past this.
But mostly we do, and it’s then we can swim through the currents and make it to shore, where we crawl up on land and we dry ourselves off.
We can backtrack upstream and relive all those moments we had, whether good ones or bad ones.
We never can swim back the way that we came, but the day when we reach the wide mouth of our river, we’ll look up the side of the mountain we traveled and realize then that although our life’s path was so winding and troubled, we always were destined to find our way back to the ocean of life.

Perfect Machines.

Take a look at your hand. Move it around, twitch your fingers.

Modern robotics is astonishing, and every day new developments are made that make the idea of artificial intelligence more and more realistic.

The perfect machine already exists, however.

Take a look at your hand again. It is part of a machine, an organic robot with impossible amounts of potential. Using organic material from lesser forms, a single cell reproduces itself – a microscopic self-replicating machine.
It proceeds to construct around itself many more cells, who replicate in turn. Using hard-coded instructions as to which cells go where, eventually they grow into a human being.

Why is it that these cells, trillions in number, make up a person? How can it be that rather than be a big fleshy colony of individual living cells, they instead work together to form one single, sentient being? Why is it that a lump of grey flesh, when subjected to billions of tiny chemical reactions and electrical charges, becomes the central processing unit of a thinking, adapting, feeling human? Are we really nothing more than a series of neurons firing in a particular way so as to present the illusion of individual thought? Or instead, is there some unknown force which serves as a catalyst for the electrified lump to do what it does? Is this what a soul is? No one can say for sure what fuels the human spirit, what part of us is the real us. It is quite a strange feeling to imagine yourself as some sort of spirit making use of one of these boney, complex collections of cells. When your body dies, does your soul die too, assuming it exists? What is the difference between a living person and a dead person, biologically speaking?

Take a look at your hand again, twitch your fingers. What amazing synchronicity exists between you and this, well, organic robot. You control it and you can make it do anything. It’s yours to customize, to wield, to use to interact with the world you inhabit.

We are the perfect machines.

A second chance; a fresh start.

Aha, my first post of the new year. I don’t intend to make this a blog about my personal life, since it’s not all that interesting. However, the other day my mom nearly died from an allergic reaction to some medication she took. I got her to urgent care just in time.

It didn’t feel like she was close to death. It’s impossible for me to even consider the fact that she could have been gone forever just because of some pill. In fact, I wasn’t even that scared when they were fixing her up. I told myself it was because I had faith in the medical staff at the hospital, but the truth is I just couldn’t fathom it. I felt like I was in Garden State, sort of.

On a related note, a few weeks ago I lost control of my car on a long stretch of ice and nearly killed myself and another driver. I only avoiding a 50 mph collision on a turn-off by slamming my car into a snowbank and spinning out to stop the car from slamming right into another one. After that, I felt excited. I felt very happy, not because I had survived, but because it was fun. It was a lot of fun. I’m not a thrill seeker or adrenaline junkie, but near-death experiences are more exciting than terrifying to me. I can’t explain it.