bitcoin 2017 starts with a bang

bitcoin_wraphi all. havent written on bitcoin in awhile. its surging in value at the beginning of the year. this isnt the first year that happened. a set of favorable circumstances is propelling it. it is known that china regulation has a lot to do with its value and that there are a lot of chinese holders. it appears that chinese regulatory climate looks newly favorable.

another pattern is that whereever there is economic crisis in a currency, bitcoin surges.[f18] it seems that theres always some kind of monetary crisis somewhere in the world, and bitcoin capitalizes on it. there is that old saying by rahm emanuel, “never let a good crisis go to waste”. a bit machiavellian sounding, yet bitcoin seems to embody some of this. another way to see it is as a sort of ambulance that shows up at bloody scenes.

it looks like the media has gotten past the wild alarm and surprise over bitcoin. maybe part of the hype has subsided for the moment. theres less feverish reporting on it. but that does not fully capture its steady pace of innovation.

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collatz radial basis function back to basics

hi all. some extended wallowing in self appraisal/ reflection to begin with in this installment. last months installment of collatz had a big highlight, at least wrt this blogs history.  as has been stated in various places, & trying not to state the obvious here, part of the idea of this blog was to try to build up an audience… aka communication which (to nearly state the almost-canard) is well known to be a “two way street!” there are all kinds of audiences on the spectrum of passive to active, and in cyberspace those in the former camp are also long known semi-(un?)-affectionately as lurkers.

must admit do have some “blog envy” of some other bloggers and how active their audiences are wrt commenting. one that comes to mind is scott aaronson. wow! thought something like a fraction of that level would be achievable for this blog but now in its 5th year, and candidly/ honestly, it just aint really happening. have lots of very good rationalizations/ justifications/ excuses for that too. ofc it would help to have some breakthrough to post on the blog and drive traffic here through a viral media frenzy… as the beautiful women sometimes say, dream on… ah, so that just aint really happening either. 😐

however, there was a highlight from last month, for this blog something like a breakthrough, but also, as you might realize the subtext on reading further, with some major leeway on where the bar is set (cyber lambada anyone?). got an anonymous, openminded, even almost/ verging )( on encouraging comment from someone who wrote perceptively and clearly had a pretty good rough idea of what was going on in that significantly complicated collatz analysis blog post as if reading substantial part of it and comprehending it, and getting to some of the crux/ gist of ideas/ approach here. nice! 😎

(alas, full “open kimono”/ self-esteem challenging disclosure… admittedly that is a very rare event on this blog, and despite immediate encouragement and my marginal/ long gradually increasing desperation now verging on resignation acceptance, anonymous has so far not returned. this overall predicament is something of a nagging failure gap/ regret/ ongoing challenge wrt the original idealism/ enthusiasm/ conception of this blog. which reminds me, also, long ago there was an incisive/ discouraging/ naysaying/ cutting/ near-hostile/ unforgettable comment, and may get to “highlighting” that one too eventually as part of the overall yin/ yang balance etc after changing circumstances and/ or building up enough courage wrt my cyber-ego, long keeping in mind that other quirky aphorism, success is the best revenge…) 😈

anyway here is the comment again, suitably highlighted/ framed/ treasured forever at the top of this blog:

What is a “glide” and how is it related to the trajectory length? Have you defined it somewhere earlier? What are your input variables for the model? What’s the reason to believe that even if you have a good predictor for your “glide” it helps to prove the conjecture?

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visa ban connections/ impact with science/ tech/ research/ edu

hi all, ideally technology advances might exist in some kind of vacuum that is unimpacted by politics. technology does have a huge resilience these days to shifting political winds du jour but alas, it can be highly impacted by political currents/ decisions. after a major regime/ administration change, these heretofore “hidden” dependencies can come into more stark focus, as is the case lately.

am trying to come up with a personal strategy/ pov/ philosophy toward the Age of Trump, still under development/ construction. have been through major election disappointments before. was mostly apolitical before Bush and then became much more political after bush, just trying to understand the world we live in and the direction it was going. bush 2004 election was a big disappointment to me. it seemed like a victory for warmongering. its strange how delayed the publics reaction to Iraq invasion was. it seems it took over a decade for the public to sour on it. but its heartening to some )( degree that those types of shifts can eventually happen and affect mainstream politics.

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AI 2017 — poker milestone passed/ crumbled

hi all. AI technology is really exploding in the last few years. the last big post/ compilation on the subj here was ~½ year ago and the links piled up in a blur since then. the main trigger for this post: the game of poker now seems to have “folded” to computer supremacy. a new paper was published on Deepstack and its highly competitive play, and Libratus is $800K up in a recent match against top experts (top players). my understanding is that there is still some weakness in multiplayer games and that the new breakthru is for 1-1 games, human vs computer, but presumably that razor-thin human edge might also melt away quickly.[a]

poker was a very good game for humans wrt our inherent/ evolved psychology. we (top humans that is) seem to have an intuitive grasp of how to bet based on the strength of cards, including the use of bluffing. it took computers until the 21st century to master this stuff. but it looks like they just passed the threshhold again. in a small surprise, it wasnt done by Deepmind but which is behind many other near-monthly, even verging on weekly breakthroughs.[c]

maybe not by total coincidence, the winning Libratus algorithm involves training a neural network to accurately estimate the search tree, quite similar to the Deepmind Go strategy that made huge headlines just a year ago. the media hasnt picked up on the poker competition as much as it did with Go… is it because cautious/ publicity shy academics have less PR instinct than google? or less budget? but maybe that “relatively low profile” will change in the weeks/ months ahead. hopefully there will be a very high profile contest that again captures widespread public interest/ imagination.

it seems the top poker competitions are typically held in Las Vegas afaik… what would it take to get the computers in that? wouldnt be cool if say Vegas (or some other high profile gambling center) decided to publicize it to attract attn/ tourism? but would the computer algorithms be competitive in the top multiplayer games? there have been increasing/ huge audiences for poker over last few years, not sure what all the factors are in in this surge (internet gambling might play a role…)

its neat to see academia still at the top of competitive research in AI. but that seems to be thinning somewhat over last few years as the massive corporations Google[b], Microsoft, Apple,[g] Facebook, Intel [f] and misc other corps [e] are snapping up AI talent like its a feverish arms race, and to some degree it is. theres also very fast/ dynamic startup/ other merger activity going on, and new research laboratories being founded.[h]

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attack of the (job!)killer robots survey

hi all. robots have been attacking people for over a decade now, they’re called drones, and the public outcry has not been too substantial. however, maybe the slumbering masses are starting to wake up to a related threat, job-killing robots.

this is a very complex topic that has been bubbling at the edges for years but 2016 finally seemed to mark the transition/ jump/ tipping point into mainstream consciousness. and theres some alarm/ panic, with headlines reflecting it.

despite this headline on this blog, despite the headlines elsewhere, it is really not a topic to be taken lightly. it has international implications. its affecting global economies. its tightly connected with the last few decades shift of globalization and neoliberalism, both of which seem these days (with Brexit/ trump upsets) maybe to be showing signs of aging and “long in the tooth”. it seems to be tied up with the future of technology, economics, and governments/ politics (eg whitehouse/ trump)![l] hence its one of those devastating crosscutting trifectas, aka “perfect storm”. its even starting to show up in intelligence agency strategic predictions/ alarm bells, and they are not pretty.[k1]

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