Subjects Keeping Me Awake

16/09/2008

The origins of creativity

Filed under: Books — bjosk @ 20:22
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“Effective searching procedures become, when the search-space is sufficiently large, indistinguishable from true creativity”

Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker

The quote is interesting to begin with. The fact that it does not come from any self serving google employee blog makes it usable. Being written by a biologist during the nineteen eighties makes it truly thought provoking.

Usually when I think about the gist of human intelligence I get stuck at the idea that it is the ability to extract abstract information from a context and then relate that context to a seemingly distant context via a closely related abstraction. Someone might be talking about a fantastic painting they saw att a tiny vernissage in Paris and you, after abstracting paintings in Paris to the Louvre, might be inclined to talk abaout the time you accidentally passed a room full of van Goghs at the Louvre and how, really anyone would go anywhere else in Paris to see art is beyond you.

Another interesting example of abstraction is the relation we have to text where colourful discussions may be had on subjects far and wide such as: The shaping of the letters into typeface, the meaning of words, the categorization of words into language, impact of sentence length and choice of words, the message of a paragraph and the feelings the text instills in the reader as it is read.

Dawkins of course is talking about the design process of evolution by natural selection but he does if you reframe it, say saomething of what it is to be human. The raw creative power, the creation of something from nothing, the filling of the blank page or the sculpting of the block of clay. I am not sure he has it nailed down but the idea of seeing the blank page as the set of all the pages that could be written will certainly transform the problem into a matter of search. Which one of the incomprehensibly large amounts of writeable pages should I choose and more importantly, how do I find it?

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06/09/2008

Comparative politics

Filed under: Politics — bjosk @ 21:12
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I once took a course in comparative politics. The experience proved utterly uncomfortable but subject itself is still very close to my heart. Turns out, as any regular viewer of The West Wing will know that when you start treating policy, not as as matter of life and death but as the strange mix of chess and no holds barred fighting that it is, things get very exciting. This interest in the theoretical aspects of politics in combination with my addiction to The Daily Show has resulted in the interesting situation where my insight into the american political situation is at least on par with what I know about the swedish political scene. This might of course seem sort of ridiculous since I only have input and any sort of stake in the second one but I as I mentioned the interesting part is really the game itself. It might also be that fact that the American political spectrum still actually contains things that run the slightest risk of rallying anyone up. If you go on TV in sweden saying things like ‘stop abortion’ or ‘guns for everyone’ or whatever other conservative claim that seems to be completely fair game in the US, you’re not likely to go on swedish television again anytime soon. Now of course there are socialist views being expressed here that will probably get you shot on the spot in about twenty fly-over-states but that party hasn’t been in charge of government, ever, as far as I know.  Obviously I am also one of those many fans of The West Wing but I have an idea of one up. How about a follow up in the form of The Kreml or maybe even a Chinese version although I haven’t really figured out what that would be named. Aparently all the central institutions of a democratic state is in place in China, they just don’t excerpt any power. I suppose it would be a reasonable first objection that making a political drama based on a totalitarian state wouldn’t be very exciting but I am very convinced it would. The idea that you can do whatever you want as the party leader of the ruling chinese communist party seems at best rediculous. Basically the man is in charge of 1,3 billion people who on average becomes 10-12 percent richer every year and if they stop feeling that before they pass the americans, they are going to be pretty upset. Perhaps upset enough to start their own government, one they can truly take pride in.

05/09/2008

Life at the top of the pyramid

Filed under: Books — bjosk @ 20:25
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Escher I would imagine, found that last precious step of the Maslow pyramid.

Escher I would imagine, found that last precious step of the Maslow pyramid.

I always wanted to be a writer. The illusions I suppose, of red wine and long nights. I wanted to tell the world… something. Something grand. Every now then I read a book which reinvigorates that dream. Last time it was Nassim Nicholas Talebs The Black Swan. Mr Taleb takes me through his domains as a professional practitioner of randomness(read: options trader) with such passion it is hard to even imagine the man caring for such trivialities as the here and now and yet oddly enough, that is all he has. It is all any of us have. And I don’t mean that in the time-is-scarce-carpe-diem kind of way. No, this is something very different. For if tomorrow is so random as Mr Taleb claims, our grand minds miscomprehend it regularly (in reality, this is of course completely random as well) you will do best in being here and now while it is still behaving the way you expect it to. Now that is what I am going to do and try again to start writing so that I can be any good at it before I die.

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