My Thoughts Exactly

A real-live (OK, real-mechanical) Turing Machine, and a real-live Hoosier locution.

For any of y’all sufficiently ungeekoid so as to not understand why this machine is only the coolest thing in the history of fuckall, first, Welcome to Wetmachine, and how the frack did you end up here? And second, please see this very helpful wikipedia article, which will get you up to speed.

As a special, special, bonus, right about the 4-minute mark into this video the narrator/machine-maker uses a locution (is there a name for it? pls ans) in which the words “to be” are omitted from the object-verb of the verb “to need”, and the naked past participle is used instead, viz, Each loop of the Turing program reads the current cell and uses the transition rules to determine if that cell needs changed. N.B. “needs changed”, not “needs *to be* changed”. About this idiomatic usage, Wiktionary says:

Rarely, with a past participle, as in “Something needs done”, which is synonymous with “Something needs to be done.” Note that many speakers do not find this construction to be acceptable.

Please note that *this* speaker, me, finds this construction perfectly acceptable. My Dear Wife, a native of Evansville, Indiana, uses it, and finds herself unable to change that habit after 30 years of effort to speak more “correctly” since I first pointed it out to her. I just think it’s charming when she speaks Southern-Indiana-style and will be heartbroken if she ever drops this usage.

But I doubt she will. After all, according to this source referenced by Wikipedia,

“ (If you’re a need/want+Ved speaker — ”The garden needs watered“ — you can go for decades without realizing that lots of other people don’t use this construction, ever.)”.

But I’ll bet Alan Turing would have noticed. That guy didn’t miss much. (I nearly said “That guy didn’t miss a trick”, but that would have opened a whole nother can ‘o worms.)

Posted in My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

Because You Can

Ever since Shelly’s “Frankenstein”, the distinguishing characteristic of science fiction (as opposed to fantasy and other literature) has been the postulation that beings can change the circumstances of the world in which they live. We can alter the human condition, for better or worse. An idea of the last few decades has been that we can create an alternative reality for ourselves that is better than the one we inhabit in the flesh. For example, the movie “Avatar” has the characters access an improved natural world through a virtualized experience.

This terrific short blog applies this idea wonderfully to learning and collaboration. “The real power of a virtual immersive environment is the ability to transport the learner or collaborators into an environment that is ideally suited for the learning or collaborating that needs to take place and this usually requires an altering of the spaces.”

In principle, we can abstractly virtualize such an experience with 2D photographs, or even 1D text, but that doesn’t tend to cross the threshold of immersion that is necessary for deep learning and deep collaboration. As this commenter on the above puts it, “In most 2-D meeting tools, the data is the center of focus, not the human. Think about a Web meeting. The leader is simply showing participants slides. But the participants are not interacting with the information, nor one another.” Simply reading about nature or viewing it from a helicopter was not enough for the characters in Avatar, they had to “be” there and interact with it.

Posted in Inventing the Future, metaphysics | Also tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

My Thoughts Exactly

Blogroll Jubilee!

Noted “reasonable conservative” blogger Jon Swift last year came up with the idea of a “Blogroll Amnesty Day”, sort of a jubilee during which the policy of “put me on your blogroll and I’ll put you on mine”1 would be in effect.

Now he reports that the idea is catching on, and that many blogs will be observing blogroll amnesty days on February 1, 2 & 3. Friends, I’m here to tell you that Wetmachine will be joining the fun too-also, subject to the proviso explained below the fold.

Read More »

Posted in My Thoughts Exactly, Wetmachine site news | Also tagged , | 9 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

MIT AI researchers develop healthy technoparanoia

Or, so says The Onion, in any event.

“The more we thought about it, the less we were able to laugh off the threat of killer machines,” said Dr. Henry K. Arronovski, a leading expert in the field of heuristics classification. “It really started to freak us out. What if, decades from now, humans end up in a virtual-reality construct designed to blind them to their enslavement to the hivemind—all because of the work my colleagues and I started?”

Added Arronovski: “I want no hand in creating a world where only Keanu Reeves can protect my great-grandchildren from a giant drill that plummets through the ceilings of subterranean cave dwellings.”

As a true technoparanoaic, I guess I wish there were more truth to the story. . .

Posted in General, General, General, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , | Comments closed
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