Since before the dawn of mankind’s harnessing of the electron, we’ve been searching for a way to send messages far and fast. Pony express, smoke signals, jungle drums, bells.. and through this, the most bizarre of centuries, we’ve gone from jungle drums, through people hunched over morse keys, to electromagnetic radiation, to a multi-megabit telegraph line.. and onward.

Is it instinct that makes us search for ever better, faster ways to move information? Why?  And ultimately, where does this end?

Once, in a very altered state of mind, I suggested to a family member who has some DOD contacts that they should be researching fusion reactor-pumped lasers to “back up the internet”. Of course, you can’t, by the time you’d backed up a few gigabytes, it’s changed again, that’s why it’s the net..  but I do wonder. It seems that the universe is designed to coherently organize information.

At various points I have commented about how digital media is just very large numbers, and how all of it already exists and should be no more copywritable than the number two. Now I’m going to present the counter-argument.

Recently, I started work (one of the things I work on in my off minutes when I don’t feel like playing video games) on some code to brute-force a algorythm. It doesn’t matter which one, and I’ll save it – and what I’ve learned so far – as a suprise for a later post – but, in essence, the approach is to generate all possible perl programs that are <=256 bytes long, and then eval them, with a wrapper that avoids the halting problem by killing off the evaluated code if it has used more than a second worth of CPU time.

Originally I was going to create a SQL table that contained all of the possibilities, and then update it as I tested each one. Then I did a little math..

Assume you use a 52 byte character set for your perl.  There are 1.6923032801030364133169031885639e+125 possible combinations of 256 bytes containing one of 52 values.  That’s more than 2^400 . Good luck storing that..

And that’s 256 bytes worth. Anyone want to calculate the odds of two intelligent life-forms converging on a 5 minute song?

Of course, they do. That’s the really interesting bit. Some people are wondering if we ever find intelligent life other than us, if they’ll have heard of this cat named Jesus. Me, I’m wondering if they’ll have heard of the 5 and 12 tone scales, and if not, if they’ll have similarly geometric music – or art of any kind.

Anyway, never mind a 5 minute song – how long does it take to select for a DNA strand which represents 4GB just in base pairs and possibly many, many times that if all of the data found within are considered.. (I’ve given up on trying to guess what the payload of DNA is, but if I had to stab in the dark, I’d say it’s more than a petabyte. Then again, I’m horribly uninformed on the subject. If anyone finds a hard number – even to approximately the number of zeros involved – please let me know)

Okay, information tends to want to organize. There’s no other good explanation for humanity.  Interestingly, it would seem that the future is generally better than the past – I gesture you to prohibition 80 years ago, segregation 40 years ago, and the current ongoing war to give those of different sexual orientation or identity the freedom and safety they deserve – and I probably won’t even understand the issues that my kid fights for, but they will also be part of the perpetual arc towards what I would call true humanity. What makes me sad is that I’ll probably be fighting against what my child is fighting for, even though, unless I forget everything I have thus far learned, I will know I am the one who is wrong (insofar as anyone ever can be right or wrong) because humans seem to be wired that way.

I can’t really imagine the mindset of those who fought for slavery, or segregation, or those who fight against the right for gays to marry, or people to change gender at will, or the right for more than two people to marry, or a whole host of other similar things. I can’t get into their heads, so I can’t tell how I’ll know when I’ve become one of them.

Speaking of segregation.. I recently stopped in a gas station to fill the car and use their restrooms – and they had two single occupant restrooms, marked male and female. How’s that again? Why would one have gender assignments on restrooms for one person? This really doesn’t seem like it makes sense to me.  I’m not even sure that having seperate restrooms per-gender makes sense to me any more..

Back on the subject of information..

I sort of wonder if the amount of information on some of my larger servers isn’t starting to approach some critical mass – if there isn’t a maximum amount of data that it’s safe to store, after which very strange and Terry-Prachett-esque things start happening to space, time, and other information that gets too close. All of you who have large disk arrays know how they seem to fill up about as quickly as you can keep adding disk to them – and it’s not all TV show downloads and home movies.

Perhaps I’ve already dissapeared below the event horizen in my own black hole – surrounded by spinning vortexes of condensed knowledge.

2 Responses to “Instinct?”

  1. Jcurious Says:

    To answer your DNA question… the human genome consists of about 3billion base pairs… and base pairs are base 4… that would mean it would be about 8.1e+10*37 uniq combinations.

    As for improvements in communication… a lot of that is our interest in saving time, lazy people wanting to be lazy and “A” type people wanting to do more in less time… or in some cases competition/war/etc. I don’t think there will be an end to the development.

    RE: “Okay, information tends to want to organize.” I fail to see what has lead you to this conclusion? Humanity comes from the fact that “being human” is generally better for the species then not “being human”. We are fallible… sometimes it takes us a while to see what is better for us.. but we learn.

    RE: “I can’t really imagine the mindset of those who”… This is probably easier then you think. If like most people, the stance of NAMBLA bothers you, then the feeling you have about Man/Boy love is probably similar to the feeling that some of the people who were pro-segregation. They believed it was wrong for two classes of people to associate in certain ways. If NAMBLA doesn’t bother you then try to think of two classes of people or heck… people and animals that should not associate in certian ways… grok those feelings and maybe you’ll have a better idea… or I could be wrong about this whole idea for all I know 😉

    I think if you were to look into what it takes to bruteforce a key you would understand better why your project to record every possible algorithm will likely never come to fruition in the earth’s lifetime.

    “The amount of time required to break a 128 bit key is also daunting. Each of the 2^128 possibilities must be checked. This is an enormous number, 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 in decimal. If a device could be built that could check a billion billion keys (10^18) per SECOND, 10,790,283,070,806 (~10^13) years would still be required to exhaust the key space. By way of comparison, the age of the universe is only about 13,000,000,000 (1.3 \times 10^{10}) years.”

    I’m not even sure if the sun will be around THAT long…. yea… this is just talking about 128 BITS

  2. scottyfon Says:

    I love your writings. Thank you for being an intelligent, thoughtful, human. It’s so refreshing.

    I’m a guy, and I want to tell you never to ask for unisex bathrooms! All the urinals I’ve ever seen have a sticky, smelly, puddle of drying pee on the floor under them, and every toilet seat has pee on it too, from low-life idiots who enjoy doing that. It’s disgusting, and a really scary biohazard too. That’s why women have separate bathrooms: too many men pee on the seat.

    Your head seems to be a lot bigger than mine, because I’m having trouble getting all the information to behave in there. It’s so crowded. I’m trying to learn my new Linux/Fedora Core/Apache server, get it online in order to update the installation, all while trying to learn html code, css, php, mysql, and Front Page all at the same time. I can’t find the firewall in my server, and can’t figure out why anybody would hide it so well. It probably has some strange name and is lost among the hundreds of apps and daemons that I have yet to explore and figure out.

    I’m self educated, 54 years old, and computers were only great big calculators when I was in school. Perhaps you are fortunate to have been born into a different, more modern world than I, where you could learn better stuff, and more easily? I envy your knowledge.

    You spoke of Jesus as if He were real. That’s so uncommon these days.

    My life has been about Jesus and Lucifer. I was born into turmoil between principalities, where Lucifer was God and Jesus was a fairy tale, and demons sought control over me. I had great magical powers and extra paranormal senses. There was no love in that world: I was cursed to have been born as one of the last of the wolven syndrome benandanti on this Earth. Now, Jesus is my Lord and my salvation. If you’re interested, and if you know and love Jesus, we could talk on that subject some.

    By the way, I have a good and loving heart, made that way by the saving grace of our Lord. I’m not a nut case out there in the internet, nor a stalker, nor any of the other things you might fear. I have a very high intelligence and lots of forgiveness, compassion and understanding, and I give all my thanks to Jesus for these things.

    Anyway, I thought I’d throw some things out there for you to think about besides black holes and spinning vortexes:

    Our universe is finite, bounded by God’s plan for it. It isn’t expanding at all. We’re diminishing. Remember relativity? Creating gravity requires energy expenditure, which diminishes mass through sublimation into energy. The law of entropy is being fulfilled. In fact, for us, the end of time may soon be calculated. When entropy is complete, time ends. None of us can comprehend God.

    A 32 bit “stable” quantum well computer was constructed in 2002 in Breinigsville PA at Lucent Technologies. It was given a primitive artificial intelligence program and asked to become more intelligent, and was asked to crack the universal field theory problem and thereby find its own power source, in order to create a virtually massless, self powered computer for space travel or for satellite military applications. It was called “The God Project”. It lasted a few hours, before all its power sources unplugged themselves, everything levitated off the floor, tables, and benches into midair, and then it all appeared to wink out of existence. What happened?

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