Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Significance of Philip's goatee...

Phillip shaved his goatee off for November. His post here.

I had just shaved off my goatee but she didn’t say anything. That’s right. She looked at me for a second trying not to feel uncomfortable, then she looked away, and then I had to TELL her I had shaved and then she leaped into the air screaming in laughter, realizing what it was that was freaking her out…

I’m not very good at noticing details in everyday situations and things around me. I can get obsessed with them if it’s a particular thing or subject I’m interested in, but not without a conscious effort.

I was talking to Tom yesterday about this (everyone I know has problems with their hair… and you don’t want to know mine. Ugh. Wax on, wax off). I was reminded of this book I read years ago titled “On Intelligence” by Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm Pilots and inventor of handwriting recognition software (someone else was there first, but he made a better, cheaper one). The book was about the difference between computers and the human brain and the difference in how we perceived and responded to the external world.

Basically, robots take in visual information about the object and then compare it to its database of stored objects. After which they then they tell you if it’s a table, toy car, an reconstituted beef burger or your late buddy Bruce. You can help a robot better refine it’s comparing skills, and soon it will be able to tell the difference between a table and chair, a toy car and a toy truck, it might one day be able to tell a beef kebab from a mutton one and that your friend Bruce with a goatee and without a goatee, is still the same person. (I know there is sophisticated software in CCTVs that can measure eye span, face width, nose bridge etc up to a very accurate degree, despite arbitrary disguises like beards, mustaches and facial tattoos). But it will not think like a higher order mammal.

The thing is, human beings are obnoxious, and a lot of what we ’see’ as being ‘the external world’ is what we assume it to be from past experiences. We only ever register the differences. It makes things simpler. That way we don’t have to compare every point of a particular object with the memory of another object like it in order to determine what it is.

When I look at Phillip, I expect him to look a certain way and I simply assume that he does. I have already established in my head that this is the way he looks, and it is not necessary to re-evaluate how he looks every time in order to have a conversation about other people’s beliefs (economic, spiritual or otherwise). However when there is a mismatch between what is assumed and expected and the visual stimuli actually received, something in our brains go “… hang on a second…” Now if it was a huge tash he had grown, I would probably have noticed it, but no sensible man in the 21st century would find it fashionable to have his facial hair dominate his features…

I think the first reaction we have to most things that contradict our internalized model of the world is indignation. It’s “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you fit into my mental model?” From there, we then try and figure out what this difference is, and recalibrate this view of the world. Basically, we project our views on the world and then take in the external stimuli and compare the two if there is a mismatch. Robots take in the information, and then compare it with previous ‘experience’. We predict, they don’t.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Party at Home Club

Last night was fun. I kind of told myself I didn't really want to go to anymore of the parties for exchange students, but it was cheap, and the guy was selling the tickets at Raffles City, so there was no reason not to.

Liz came over for dinner (late as usual), and then I got a call from Thomas who is this Finn I met through a random add on facebook (his profile pic showed of a nice body... six pack, nice arms, yeah) asking if he could come over for a shower, because the shower at his gym in Cairnhill was out of service. This is quite a bit more random then it seems. I had only met him once before at Zouk, and he was there with some chick, and I had just come by from a somewhat frustrating, threesome with a Norwegian guy I sure as hell wasn't supposed to fuck. He was a weird one, anyway that was weeks and weeks back.

So Thomas calling me was pretty damn random, but anyway I was glad to have him over and I made them all tequila shots and the I got dressed and we went to Home Club. Everyone there was pretty young, the oldest kids were my age, the rest were younger. They kind of behaved really young too. But I love boys and some of them were really cute. There was this blonde Dane that was totally adorable! Like oh my god. With pink cheeks. Haha!

Sven was there (oh man). I swear to god, I still have this thing for him, but yeah he doesn't really like me and he's so young and German (I never understand Germans, unless they're from Bavaria). Anyway I got up this morning (finding a huge bruise on my knee, broken glass on the floor, and thinking, "Shit. I slapped Sven". I certainly remember hitting someone. I texted him and apparently I did hit him, but... whatever. He didn't take it personally. I find it quite funny actually, but what else is a spoilt little girl supposed to do in a situation like this? Haha, it was the second time I hit a guy I reckon, the first time was in Budapest when Barna and I stopped seeing each other for 10 days (because he made me angry) and he turned up at a random flat party, and I administed a roundhouse kick onto his hip. My friend had to break up the fight, but I wasn't really angry and I think he knew it. It was just my strange way of having fun.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Notes on the Personal User Manual.

From my other site: which has other stuff.

There are a few sites I visit regularly for pure entertainment value. Apart from Facebook, which is kind of lame because no one except me ever posts really cool stuff on a regular basis, okCupid is another one. It’s got a good algorithm that matches people really well on the cerebral interests front, and it has got fun tests that you can learn absolutely random facts from, like which planet rotates clockwise (Venus). Sometimes you also come across really funny profiles. I have copied and pasted the profile of some random cute nerd that had decided to put his selling points and his warning signs all into one funny “User Manual”. I think it’s a good idea because it makes really mundane and tedious things light-hearted and fun. If he had put it in another way, it would have just made for a rather obnoxious profile (IMHO).

Also, it is interesting to me because I have been reading quite a lot of experimental fiction lately, and different ways to string a narrative is an obsession. Of course this is someone’s dating profile, so it is not art, but it is a good idea. The other 2 instances of experimental narrative I have been thinking about are the description of someone’s personal space over a length of time (which has been used before, but the only one I know of is a poem), and the index of someone’s biography (from Ballard’s Drowned World). I should start thinking harder and keep a collection of different types of ways to tell a story, it could make for an awesome novella. (I have pretty much decided that I don’t ever wish to write a full-length work of fiction because I lack verbosity -blogging is easy! Try writing 60 000 words, which is the lower limit of the average length of a novel… And I also lack sufficient working memory capacity).

Anyway, the pasted profile (he apparently also rides horses for a hobby, which I find quite charming.):

USER MANUAL read carefully!

Thank you for choosing this model of person. This version includes the advanced feature of Working Module (WM), which guarantees that this person is willing to work and make money for his future family, he enjoys both physical and cerebral works. Note that this person cannot be exposed to extreme emotions, the Empathy Training Module (ETM) is not included. Exposing to high level of emotions may cause malfunctions and stop the valuable feature, thinking algorithm. We are proud to introduce the new and improved Shopping Module, which is capable of spending money in book store, further tests required, but the recent tests show that this person cannot be used for shopping in clothing related stores. Version includes Entertainment Function, which works regularly on better days, also includes optimistic parameters. If the person looks frozen, wave your hands in front of his eyes, to catch his attention, most possibly he is only thinking. If he smiles during this time, that means he found out how to rule the world or maybe he is daydreaming about something. This person includes wide knowledge of random facts and high performance ability of learning. Also runs a well working tennis module.

1. The person can NOT read others’s minds. He won’t find out what is your problem. Voice or written conversation are required to send him a problem, and he will attempt to solve it.

2. The person can NOT reincarnate. Don’t kill him.

3. The person can NOT dance. This feature can be added to his repertoire by teaching him.

4. The person can NOT be fed by fast foods, raw meats, and most snacks.

5. The person requires loyalty, and gives loyalty.

6. The person can NOT watch Hollywood-made romantic movies.

7. The person needs at least 6 hours of sleeping each day.

8. The person won’t go to parties each weekend.

violating these points there is a risk of losing the long life warranty.