Author Archives: oldbyte10

Internet

Without the Internet, I would never have amassed the knowledge I currently hold today. The wild success of the knowledge powertrains of Wikipedia and Google fail to cease captivating users into learning something new every day.

Yet, I loathe the Internet in numerous ways. It’s become what is virtually (literally virtually) a drug habit, and in a way worse than a drug habit because I depend on it for social needs and information. Without it, I would lose interesting, common-minded people to talk with, as well a a trove of information that I would have to buy expensive books for.

But without the development of the Internet, what would humanity be…? I suppose we would return to the days where people would actually be inclined to talk face-to-face, invite each other to their houses, play around, sit under a tree reading a book, debug programs, go places, make things. It wouldn’t necessarily be a better future, but it would certainly be a different one. If it took this long to develop the Internet (not very long, actually), imagine the other technologies we are missing out on today.

And then there is the problem of the masses. The problem lies not in the quantity itself, it’s that attempting to separate oneself from the group merely attempts to imply elitism. And you end up with some nice statistics and social experiments and a big beautiful normal model, with very dumb people on one end and very intelligent people on the other.

This wide spectrum means that conflict is abound everywhere. People challenge perspectives on Reddit, challenge facts on Wikipedia, challenge opinions on forums, challenge ideas on technical drafts and mailing lists. And on YouTube, people just have good ol’ fistfights over the dumbest of things.

On the Internet, the demographic is completely different than in human society, even if the Internet was supposed to be an extension of human society. The minority – yes, those you thought did not exist: the adamant atheists, the deniers, the libertarians, the conspiracists, the trolls – suddenly become vocal and sometimes violent. The professionalism with which the Internet was designed in mind is not to be found on any of the major streams of information. This is not ARPANET anymore. These are not scientists anymore studying how to run data over wires to see if they can send stuff between computers. These are people who believe the Internet is freedom at last. Freedom to love, freedom to hate; to hack, to disassemble, to make peace, to run campaigns, to make videos, to learn something, to play games, to make opinions, to argue, to agree, to write books, to store things, to pirate software, to watch movies, to empathize, to converse, to collaborate, or just to tell the world you really hate yourself.

Thus, I am a victim of freedom and a slave to it. My friends do not talk to me anymore. I am just left with solitude and a keyboard.

Employment

This entire blog is the reason I’m not going to get a job in the future.

And if you keep thinking like this, you really won’t.

This website is so heavy in material that I deemed it dangerous to put on GitHub, so I removed it from there. My GitHub profile comes in contact with way too many people now, and one day they might be recruiters. They will not necessarily be recruiters of reputable companies, but they will take notice of my problems anyway. On the surface, I know my stuff. Good poise, eloquent diction. Very technical. Splendid work ethic. On the deep end: contrived, arrogant, anxious, troubled, and terribly unpredictable.

When it comes for resume time, mine looks weak.

  • No formal job experience in a technology company (this man has no ability to interact in a diverse workplace environment).
  • No formal education in computer science, except the classes he took in high school (this man knows nothing and should wait until his junior year of college).
  • No outstanding computer-related awards, despite this candidate’s purported devotion to computer science. (If this guy is a genius, where’s his award from USACO and TopCoder?)
  • No continuing hobbies (this man is single-minded and is going to burn himself out).

Every contest I am eligible for, I compete against college students in their junior and senior years, doing algorithms and some wondrous magic I have absolutely no training in. Do I care about writing hacky code on B-trees to earn some points I use to hype my professional self? NO! I care about writing actual code, used in actual applications. The problem is that nobody wants to use your code. That’s right, no one. They’ll -2 your code on Gerrit, ask you to send your CLA via fax to some random toll-free number and wait 5 business days for processing, and do everything they can to block your pull requests. When it’s your application, the investors and the judges will question every decision you have made up to that point in time, unless you use media buzzwords that inaccurately represent your super-simple program yet make them warm and fuzzy on the inside.

The question is, has this ever happened to you? How do you know they’ll do this to you? Looks like you really have no experience. Clearly, your blank resume represents you very accurately indeed.

Most problems you have encountered and written about on your blog have been caused by you, and only you. The distinguishing factor is that you put the blame on other people and fail to accept responsibility for your own problems. Own up to your mistakes like the man you are going to become. Remember your bad experience in the Japan trip from not going to Akihabara? That was all YOU. YOU were the one who decided to go with the wrong group, YOU were the one who decided to spend time in places that weren’t worth a visit, YOU were the one who decided to go to Harajuku instead of Akihabara. No, it wasn’t the tour’s fault, so you should change your review to four stars. And you enjoyed it right? So change it to five. It’s rude behavior in the travel industry to give bad reviews. If you had a good time, then give a good review. Don’t nit-pick the small stuff, think about the larger picture.

If you continue like this, you’re never going to make it through college, so you better delete everything in this blog and hope it hasn’t already damaged you. Yes, that’s right, DELETE ALL OF IT and consult a mental health professional right away.

Where did you get this quote from? Did you write this yourself? Why do you make things up and condemn yourself for things that you can’t even control? Just chill out, man.

I can’t chill out. There is no sense of progress in the office. My dad doesn’t even pay me, even for the time I work. But if I haggle, then he’ll give me looks and might scold me for asking for money.

Some ideas

Concept of AI itself

I’ve glanced at many papers (knowing, of course, that I know very little of their jargon) and concluded that the recent statistical and mathematical analysis of AI has simply been overthought. Yet the theory of AI from the 70s and 80s delves to entirely conflicting perspectives of the driving force of AI in association with the morality and conscious factors of the human brain.

Think about the other organs of the body. They are certainly not simple, but after 150 years, we’ve almost figured them out, how they work mechanically and chemically. The challenge is how they work mathematically, and I believe that an attempt to determine an accurate mathematical representation of the human body would essentially lead to retracing its entire evolutionary history, up to the tiny imperfections of every person across each generation. Just as none of our hands are shaped the same, our brains most likely are structured uniquely, save for its general physical structure.

I conjecture that the brain must be built on some fundamental concept, but current researchers have not discovered it yet. It would be a beautiful conclusion, like the mass-energy equivalence that crossed Einstein’s mind when he was working in the patent office. It would be so fundamental that it would make AI ubiquitous and viable for all types of computers and architectures. And if this is not the case, then we will adapt our system architectures to the brain model to create compact, high-performing AI. The supercomputers would only have to be pulled out to simulate global-scale phenomena and creative development, such as software development, penetration testing, video production, and presidential-class political analysis and counsel.

Graph-based file system

Traditional file systems suffer from a tiny problem: their structure is inherently a top-down hierarchy, and data may only be organized using one set of categories. With the increasing complexity of operating systems, the organization of operating system files, kernel drivers, kernel libraries, user-mode shared libraries, user-mode applications, application resources, application configurations, application user data, caches, and per-user documents is becoming more and more troublesome to attain. The structure of POSIX, in the present, is “convenient enough” for current needs, but I resent the necessity to follow a standard method of organization when it introduces redundancy and the misapplication of symbolic links.

In fact, the use of symbolic links exacerbates this fundamental problem of these file systems: they work on a too low level, and they attempt to reorganize and deduplicate data, but simply increasing the complexity of the file system tree.

Instead, every node should be comprised of a metadata as well as data or a container linking to other nodes. Metadata may contain links to other metadata, or even nodes comprised solely of metadata encapsulated as regular data. A data-only node is, of course, a file, while a containerized node is a directory. The difference, however, is that in a graph-based file system, each node is uniquely identified by a number, rather than a string name (however, a string name in the metadata is to be used for human-readable listings, and a special identifier can be used as a link or locator of this node for other programs).

The interesting part about this concept is that it completely defeats the necessity of file paths. A definite, specific structure is no longer required to run programs. Imagine compiling a program, but without the hell of locating compiler libraries and headers because they have already been connected to the node where the compiler was installed.

The file system size could be virtually limitless, as one could define specifics such as bit widths and byte order upon the creation of the file system.

Even the kernel would base itself around the system, from boot. Upon mount, the root node is retrieved, linking to core system files and the rest of the operating system; package management to dodge conflicts between software wouldn’t be necessary, as everything is uniquely identified and can be flexibly organized to correctly define which applications require a specific version of a library.

In essence, it is a file system that abandons a tree structure and location by path, while encouraging references everywhere to a specific location of data.

Japanese visual novel using highly advanced AI (HAAI)

This would be an interesting first product for an aspiring AI company to show off its flagship “semi-sentient” AAI product. Players would be able to speak and interact with characters, with generated responses including synthesized voices. A basic virtual machine containing an English and Japanese switchable language core, a common sense core (simulating about ten years’ worth of real life mistakes and experiences), and an empathy core (with driver, to be able to output specific degrees of emotion) should be included in the game, which developers then parametrize and add quirks for each character, so that every character finishes with a unique AI VM image.

In fact, the technology showcased would be so successful that players would spend too much time enjoying the authentic human-like communication, getting to know the fictional characters too well, warranting the need to place a warning for players upon launching the game (like any health and safety sign) stating that “This game’s characters use highly advanced artificial intelligence. No matter how human-like these fictional characters interact, they are not human beings. Please take frequent breaks and talk to real, human people periodically, to prevent excessive attachment to the AI.”

Orientation

Look, I’m sorry I couldn’t get to the travel account. I’ll finish it over the weekend or something, and in return I will make this one concise.

The people of orientation were very friendly and thoughtful, almost to a Japan level of thoughtfulness and convenience. Even the food service people were competent in their jobs, in contrast to my horrible experience with lunch ladies in high school, where they just yell at you something and you don’t quite know what they said, but you say “Yes” anyway.

But when it was time to register, I thought it was going to be all right. I had planned to make a script to register all of my classes the moment that the registration opened, but I didn’t think the interface would prevent you from even getting to that menu before it was time, so I was unable to capture the HTTP requests for replaying. The infrastructure held together at the last moment from all of that incessant refreshing for the opening, but a few seconds before, the gates of hell opened once more to my mortal eyes. The servers slowed to a grinding halt during the redirects.

Once I confirmed my email and clicked a tiny little checkbox, I was then able to access the registration page, in which I entered the five-digit “nuclear codes” which I had determined after many hours of advising. Some of them gave me red error text; I read it quickly and moved on to the next numbers.

The casualties were my first-year “signature” course, which filled up 100% within 120 seconds of registration opening, and second-semester Japanese, which was on waitlist, but I was not allowed to enter the waitlist because prerequisites were being enforced.

I thought “quick, let me register for Government” which is another class I’ll eventually have to take, but alas, the ones available conflict with my schedule.

I wish I could just leave and admit defeat, but I couldn’t because I was missing three credit hours to deem me a full-time student. I kept browsing around, finding ways to prove to myself that every single course was full. When everyone was gone from the room, one of the advisors told me some course numbers that had not been taken yet that could be used to fulfill a requirement, and then drop once I could take Japanese. I don’t even think I’ll be able to take Japanese this semester, to be honest. It’s waitlisted, and sticking to a crappy class and crappy dorm seem to be the status quo.

During the day, I felt all right, but at night I kind of realized how antisocial I am, and how there are simply an excess number of people for me to ever correct that without professional help. I thus considered professional help, but sadly didn’t think that there would be any time for me to make any sort of consultation with anyone. I also didn’t know if they would notify my parents. I don’t want my parents to be notified. I already told you: because that makes the whole family in need of professional help, and then we all get thrown into group therapy, which sucks. And then to make me guilty, my parents will repeatedly suggest me to see a “spiritual director” which does not solve problems caused by chemical imbalances and is still unable to make a diagnosis. If I think I have anxiety, which I do, and need a beta blocker or something, well a spiritual director is probably going to tell me “it’s just some bad things and you just pray and meditate and relax and it’ll go away.” Really? It will go away? I am not criticizing the spiritual director’s job; they help people who just need to talk to someone about life problems; I am criticizing my parents who think that a spiritual director is just a throw-in, cheapo equivalent to a psychologist. After ranting for almost two years now, with the tendency of subordinating myself toward others and practically asking for the bottom of the barrel since I was twelve or so, is this really a temporary problem? But somehow, I have to explain to them this, but I don’t even know how.

It’s college and everything is supposed to change, but really I’m just whining at a higher level, and still not getting what I’m paying a good sum of money for.

Ugh.

Change

Now that I’ve graduated and my trip to Japan is over (still working on that memoir/account), it’s time for me to bring my brain back to rewind mode.

The good news is that I haven’t killed myself from stress yet, and the Japan trip was actually enjoyable, rather than some horrible disappointment.

The bad news is that I feel like I fit in less into the world now.

Back then, I was just a kid and I let my dad take care of all of the important work. I knew my role: I was a kid, and my dad was the guardian. Now, my dad passes on an unknown quantity of responsibilities back onto me, and now it’s not clear what he wants of me. I still need his signature for many documents, but it is still my responsibility to keep the submission of such documents within deadlines, which is difficult given my dad doesn’t care about my deadlines. I tell him that he needs to sign something and he never does it, or maybe I find him sleeping on the couch. My prayerful mother is oblivious to paperwork and requires me to answer many questions and wait for her to put on her glasses and carefully read what she is about to sign, before she even attempts to ask for a pen. This is, of course, assuming she isn’t still at work or praying quietly somewhere.

  • Code Lyoko, my favorite franchise, is dead.
  • Garry’s Mod, my favorite sandbox game of all time, is on the way to the grave now.
  • I don’t even play Team Fortress 2 anymore, or even any video game in particular now.
  • School is over.
  • Young people in their twenties or thirties are filling in menial labor positions. This somewhat concerns me because it feels as if there is some kind of upsurge in unemployment or oversupply of skilled labor, or perhaps high demand for unskilled labor as people retire. For example, my last bus driver looked like he was in his twenties.
  • My house is not surrounded by a forest anymore, but rather more houses.
  • Parents of newer generations are being trained to be more paranoid about the Internet, that everyone is a stalker and everyone is out to get you and find your house and kidnap you.
  • Companies are being overrun with young programmers a little older than me, kids who think that ambition is easy and that every idea should be supported.

I only listed this because after a week of not being at home and not touching a computer, I realized everything in my life has changed yet remained the same, like the dust that constantly rests on furniture yet is quick to leave when blown lightly. The dust is simply replaced with new dust.

Even the local horse racing park is shown to have a changing demographic. I don’t see as many smokers anymore blowing all their retirement money betting their butts off all day, because they’re dead or they’re out of money and they want to retire for good. Now I see parents being followed by kids and employees who appear slightly friendlier to newcomers. Sometimes I’m even concerned about the future of horse racing as a whole: maybe in forty years it’ll be long gone. People won’t think racing horses is humane anymore.

And now what? The burden of the future is shifting onto my shoulders now. They say it is sinful to dwell on anything except the present. It would be nice if I could stop deadlocking myself with posts about nostalgia. I have things to do, you know.

I must finish the account. The memories are fading quickly from my mind…

EF review for Japan

They said they’d be posting my review “this fall,” which I guess implies that they screen and censor each review for any personal information. Also, I had to write the review in a tiny textbox in Internet Exploder because it failed to work in any other browser, and when I go to the “write review” menu, it’s as if I had never submitted a review in the first place. What a horrible web infrastructure their website has.

I’ll post my full account of my experience in Japan in a few days, but for now, please enjoy my scathing three-star review of the EF tour. The country is great, but the tour was certainly not.


One cannot review the culture and aspects of a country; it is not something that can be placed stars on. You can choose any country that EF offers tours for and expect a great experience simply being present in a new environment with classmates. This part does not change with any educational tour or travel agency.

Thus, I will focus on primarily the tour itself, which is the part that EF specifically offers in competition with other travel agencies. I will cover praise and criticism by points rather than in chronological order.

Praise

  • There were no outstanding needs to contact EF. The tour and flights were all booked correctly.
  • Good density of places to visit. The tour’s itinerary was loaded with many points of interest, yet there was no feeling of exhaustion. I took around 900 photos by the conclusion of the tour.
  • Excellent cost-effectiveness. It’s difficult to beat EF in terms of pricing, especially in how they provide a fairly solid estimate with one big price tag.
  • Tour guide knew his history very well, even if he was unable to explain it fluently. You could ask him about the history of a specific point of interest, and he could tell you very precisely its roots, whether they be from the Meiji, Edo, or Tokugawa period.
  • Every dinner was authentic Japanese food. No exceptions.

Criticism

  • Tour guide had poor command of English and was extremely difficult to understand. In Japan, “Engrish” is very common, and it’s admittedly very difficult to find someone who can speak English fluently and correctly. However, this really reveals that you get what you pay for: if you want a cheapo tour, you will get a cheapo tour guide who might not be all you wanted. I will reiterate this: he was not a captivating tour guide, and it took great effort to try to absorb the information he was disseminating.
  • Little time spent in the actual points of interest, possibly due to an inefficient use of the tour bus. In many cases, it’s cheaper and faster to use the subway to get to places, although I concede that the tour bus is useful in times where one wants to see the area that leads up to an important or unfamiliar destination. Still, on the worst day, we were on the bus for a cumulative three hours, yet we only had around forty to fifty minutes per point of interest. No wonder I took so many pictures, as the tour felt rushed and didn’t give me time to take in the view before we had to get back in the bus to go somewhere else.
  • Miscommunication with EF during the tour. We were promised two people to a room on the first hotel, but instead were assigned three to a room. The arrangement wasn’t that bad after all, but it still contradicted the claims made in the travel meetings. What’s more, we were informed something about an EF group from Las Vegas that would be merging with our group, but this also never happened (they toured separately from us, but we encountered them occasionally).
  • Reversed tour. There is, in fact, fine print that EF is allowed to do this if reversing the tour would save money, but it’s still unpleasant and detracting from the intended experience. My group leader, who is a native speaker I know very well, told me before the tour that she was irritated from the reversal, since it’s much better to start from Tokyo, the modern part of Japan, and work one’s way southward to the more traditional Kyoto.
  • The last day of the tour was poorly planned by EF, so our group leader had to change the itinerary of that day (well before the tour, obviously) to some significantly better plans. Originally, the whole day would have been basically hanging around in Ueno Park, but she changed that to going to Tokyo Skytree, Hongwanji Temple, the Tsukiji fish market (which is moving elsewhere very soon), and the Edo-Tokyo Museum. We had to foot the bill for the attractions of this day, including Skytree, the museum, and 100 grams of toro (fatty tuna).
  • Poor distinction between what is already paid by EF and what we would have to pay for in addition to our tour. For instance, some of our subway tickets were already bought ahead of time by our tour director, but some we had to pay for with our money, which doesn’t really make sense because all of the transportation was supposed to have been covered by the tour cost.
  • Our group leader (and her husband and kids) ended up doing most of the work, especially rounding up everyone and ensuring that they are all present.
  • Less time than you would expect to spend your own money. After all, they want the tour to be educational, rather than just general tourism. But the interesting part was that we had to vote to go back to Akihabara, because we were only given two hours (including lunch!) to buy the games and figurines we had always wanted to buy from Japan. Even after the small petition, the final decision was to make Akihabara and Harajuku mutually exclusive, which means that you could only choose to go to one or the other. I decided to just go to Harajuku purely because I’d feel guilty if I didn’t stick to the original plan, but I regret the decision in retrospect because I ended up buying absolutely nothing there. (They just sell Western clothes in Harajuku, so you’re a Westerner buying used Western clothes in a non-Western country.)

There are probably quite a few number of points I am missing here, but this should be sufficient to give you an idea of the specifics of the tour that are not covered in the generic “it was really great and I had a lot of fun!!” reviews.

As a recent high school graduate, I’ll be looking forward to my next trip to Japan, but this time with another travel agency that provides more transparency in terms of itinerary and fees. I’d also be predisposed to spending more money to get a longer and better quality tour that actually gives me time to enjoy viewing the temples and monuments, rather than frantically taking pictures to appreciate later.

Reality

After spending what has pretty much been one solid week sitting in front of my monitor, I haven’t accomplished as much as I wanted. My imagination is abuzz, but where is the action?

Instead of doing productive things for the world, I’m stuck here racking my brains for an asset download protocol rejected by a developer, adding features to a poorly-designed Java application for a summer project (I mean, it could have been worse), and comparing Qt and wxWidgets despite not really knowing C++.

Sometimes, I don’t feel like being a programmer anymore. My programming is doing little to help people directly: there are people somewhere in the world starving, while I’m trying to figure out how to transfer files from a server to a client in the most efficient manner to save players a few clicks. The contrast simply taints my conscience.

On one side, I know far more about programming than most people my age – many can code, but can they critically analyze others’ code? Can they say, “oh, you should not use a singleton here”? I can take a college computer science class and probably be able to skim through most of the details and have to hunker down only on the absolute specifics of the curriculum.

On the other side, there are professionals on the Web who puff their chests at anyone who dares to be wrong: “Arrays are pointers? Blasphemy! Go back to reading your textbook!” They’re the people who say “C++ is for Real Men” yet when it comes time to make some Real Men, they say, “No, you won’t ever be a Real Man!” And to be frank, associating an intricate programming language with testosterone seems pretty sexist to me, on top of the elitist overtones this message already portrays.

But what is reality? Well, this is reality when I turn off the monitor: It’s 9:15 am, and there is no breakfast on the table, so I toast some pieces of bread that have conveniently already been placed in the oven. Now it is 9:30 am, and I have the rest of the day to myself, so I check the usual feeds to see any messages I have missed overnight. I play Nuclear Throne with my brother to agitate myself for the day, but when it comes to work, nothing comes to mind. Nay, there is no impetus for learning C++, no sense in implementing a protocol no one will use, no reason in working on a UI for a game I do not play anymore (with a programming language I do not know), no team members ready to continue working on that theoretical chat program. My parents are hard at work; I have the house to myself and my brother.

I look at the sun and it is quickly ascending: a while looking at my brother play Starbound, and it is already lunchtime. I get my act together and start working on a small fix for that game client, and once the fix is done, it’s 2 pm, so I take a break. Some browsing and it’s 3 pm. I don’t know what to do. 4 pm. My brother asks me to play with him; all right. 6 pm. I’ll screw around a little bit more; 7 pm, and time for dinner. 8 pm; I should shower, but too concentrated on my current task: updating WordPress. 10 pm: apparently my busiest time of the day. 11 pm: time to wrap it up. 12 am: asleep. The day repeats.

I hate being on the computer all day. It’s unproductive and distracting. If I leave home, though, I have to put up with traffic constraints (best leave after X am and return before Y pm), time overhead (at least 40 min for driving to and from), and costs (on average, I find someone will spend $40 on something). I don’t want to spend money, so I want to stay inside.

No, I don’t want imagination to get the best of me. People see lucrative virtual universes on their computer monitors, but I see the flesh and blood of their eyes and the liquid crystal components the monitor is comprised of. The little creatures of Starbound, who colonize your base within seconds of your query for colonists, walk around aimlessly asking your character to send a secret message to their closest neighbor. Anything that looks remotely hostile in Starbound – well, just a slash will kill it, no matter how many words come out of its mouth or how humanoid it appears. Like any video game or action movie, there is no dignity in killing the thugs – when they are all dead, everything surrounding their lives are simply disregarded: their possessions, their memories, their ancestry.

Aliens, Pokemon, zombies – none of it exists. They are all works of fiction created by humans for entertainment, to distract oneself from the depressing realities of greed, corruption, egocentrism, and poverty. It would be very nice indeed to visit one of these “perfect worlds” where anyone can build anything and go to war on a whim, but these worlds are not compatible with ours. As such, until I die, the only world I wish to interact with is this one.

Innovation has always come one step at a time. How do I go from sitting, doing nothing at my desk, to working together with competent people to actually make real things with a real demand? I wish I could answer that question, for I have been seeking an answer for years now. Nobody can seem to procure an answer, either. And once this is done, what idea is the world ready to receive, and what ideas are red herrings whose trajectory merely falls in the trash can? I don’t want to simply volunteer doing some menial task. I want to innovate and work on new tasks. But no one gives me this opportunity yet. How long more must I wait?

On the regulation of AI

It seems so futile the attempt of trying to regulate AI, something that doesn’t even truly exist yet. We don’t have AI we can call sentient yet. The rationale is well-founded, but what we’re really trying to say is, “We know we can make something better than us in every way imaginable, so we’ll limit its proliferation so that humans are superseded not by AI, but by our own demise.”

So after the many times this has been done ad nauseum, it looks like the “Future of Life Institute” (as if they were gods who possibly have any power to control the ultimate fate of humanity!) have disseminated the Asilomar AI Principles (Asilomar is just the place the meeting was held. Apparently, these astute individuals really like the beach, as they had gone to Puerto Rico in their previous conference two years prior). They have garnered thousands of signatures from prestigious, accomplished AI researchers.

The Asilomar Principles are an outline of 23 issues/concepts that should be adhered to in the creation and continuation of AI. I’m going to take it apart, bit by bit.

 

Research Issues

1) Research Goal: The goal of AI research should be to create not undirected intelligence, but beneficial intelligence.

What is “undirected intelligence”? Does this mean we can’t throw AI at a big hunk of data and let it form its own conclusions? Meaning, we can’t feed AI a million journals and let it put two and two together to write a literature review for us. And we can’t use AI to troll for us on 4chan.

2) Research Funding: Investments in AI should be accompanied by funding for research on ensuring its beneficial use, including thorny questions in computer science, economics, law, ethics, and social studies, such as:

They throw this word “beneficial” around but I don’t know what exactly “beneficial” means. Cars are beneficial, but they can also be used to kill people.

  • How can we make future AI systems highly robust, so that they do what we want without malfunctioning or getting hacked?

You get programmers to stop writing lazy, dirty, unoptimized code that disregards basic security and design principles. We can’t even make an “unhackable” website; how could we possibly make an AI that is “unhackable” at the core?

  • How can we grow our prosperity through automation while maintaining people’s resources and purpose?

You can’t. Robots replace human capital. The only job security that will be left is programming the robots themselves, and even AI will take care of patching their own operating systems eventually. Purpose – well, we’ve always had a problem with that. Maybe you can add some purpose in your life with prayer – or is that not “productive” enough for you?

  • How can we update our legal systems to be more fair and efficient, to keep pace with AI, and to manage the risks associated with AI?

Legal systems can’t even cope with today’s technology. Go look at the DMCA: it was made decades ago, back in the age of dial-up, and is in grave need of replacement to make the system fairer. You can post videos within seconds today that most likely contain some sort of copyrighted content on it.

  • What set of values should AI be aligned with, and what legal and ethical status should it have?

Most likely, they will be whatever morals the AI’s developers personally adhere to. Like father, like son.

3) Science-Policy Link: There should be constructive and healthy exchange between AI researchers and policy-makers.

Like lobbying? I don’t think I’ve ever seen “constructive and healthy exchange” made on the Congressional floor. Dirty money always finds its way into the system, like a cockroach infestation.

4) Research Culture: A culture of cooperation, trust, and transparency should be fostered among researchers and developers of AI.

Doesn’t this apply to pretty much everything research-related? Oh, that’s why it’s titled “research culture.” I’ll give them this one for reminding the reader about common sense.

5) Race Avoidance: Teams developing AI systems should actively cooperate to avoid corner-cutting on safety standards.

I almost interpreted this as “AI should avoid being racist.” Anyhow, this is literally capitalism: competing teams will cut corners and do whatever they can to lead in the market. This is probably the liberal thinking of the researchers leaking into the paper: they are suggesting that capitalism is broken and that we need to be like post-industrial European countries, with their semi-socialism. In a way, they’re right: capitalism is broken – economic analysis fails to factor in long-term environmental impacts of increases in aggregate supply and demand.

Ethics and Values

Why do they sidestep around the word “morals”? Does this word not exist anymore, or is it somehow confined to something that is inherently missing from the researchers?

6) Safety: AI systems should be safe and secure throughout their operational lifetime, and verifiably so where applicable and feasible.

“Safety first.” Okay…

7) Failure Transparency: If an AI system causes harm, it should be possible to ascertain why.

You want a black box for your AI? Do you want to give them a room where you can interrogate them for info? Look, we can’t even extract alibis from human people, so how can we peer into AI brains and get anything intelligible out of them?

8) Judicial Transparency: Any involvement by an autonomous system in judicial decision-making should provide a satisfactory explanation auditable by a competent human authority.

This is not a place where AI should delve into, anyway. We will not trust AI to make important decisions all by themselves, not in a hundred years.

9) Responsibility: Designers and builders of advanced AI systems are stakeholders in the moral implications of their use, misuse, and actions, with a responsibility and opportunity to shape those implications.

Meaning you want to be able to sue individual engineers, rather than the company as a whole, for causing faults in an AI. Then what’s the point of a company if they don’t protect their employees from liability?!

10) Value Alignment: Highly autonomous AI systems should be designed so that their goals and behaviors can be assured to align with human values throughout their operation.

What if AI finds itself to align better to values than humans? What if the company that made an AI got corrupt and said to themselves, “This AI is too truthful, so we’ll shut it down for not aligning to our values.”

11) Human Values: AI systems should be designed and operated so as to be compatible with ideals of human dignity, rights, freedoms, and cultural diversity.

Debatable topics like abortion come to mind. Where’s the compatibility in that?

12) Personal Privacy: People should have the right to access, manage and control the data they generate, given AI systems’ power to analyze and utilize that data.

Again, we don’t even have control over this right now, so why would we have control over it in the future with AI?

13) Liberty and Privacy: The application of AI to personal data must not unreasonably curtail people’s real or perceived liberty.

And it probably will “curtail” our liberty. Google will do it for the money, just watch.

14) Shared Benefit: AI technologies should benefit and empower as many people as possible.

What a cliche phrase… ohhh. It’s as if I didn’t include this exact phrase in my MIT application, not considering how gullible I am to not realize that literally everyone else had the exact same intentions when they applied to MIT too.

When Adobe sells Photoshop, is it empowering people to become graphic artists? Is it empowering everyone, really, with that $600 price tag? Likewise, AI is just software, and like any software, it has a price tag, and the software can and will be put for sale. Maybe in 80 years, I’ll find myself trying to justify to a sentient AI why I pirated it.

15) Shared Prosperity: The economic prosperity created by AI should be shared broadly, to benefit all of humanity.

Reminds me of the imperialist “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” Did Japan really want to share the money with China? No, of course not. Likewise, it’s hard to trust large companies that appear to be doing what is morally just.

16) Human Control: Humans should choose how and whether to delegate decisions to AI systems, to accomplish human-chosen objectives.

I can’t tell Excel to temporarily stop turning my strings into numbers, as it’s not exactly easy to command an AI to leave a specific task to be done manually by the human. What if it’s in a raw binary format intended to be read by machines only? Not very easy for the human to collaborate, is it now?

17) Non-subversion: The power conferred by control of highly advanced AI systems should respect and improve, rather than subvert, the social and civic processes on which the health of society depends.

I think at some point, the sentient AI will have different, more “optimal” ideas it wants to implement, or shut down entirely.

18) AI Arms Race: An arms race in lethal autonomous weapons should be avoided.

Tell that to our governments, not us. Oops, too late, the military has already made such weapons…

Longer-term Issues

19) Capability Caution: There being no consensus, we should avoid strong assumptions regarding upper limits on future AI capabilities.

“Assumptions” including this entire paper. You assume you can control the upper limit of AI, but you really can’t.

20) Importance: Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources.

21) Risks: Risks posed by AI systems, especially catastrophic or existential risks, must be subject to planning and mitigation efforts commensurate with their expected impact.

You don’t say.

22) Recursive Self-Improvement: AI systems designed to recursively self-improve or self-replicate in a manner that could lead to rapidly increasing quality or quantity must be subject to strict safety and control measures.

Because such efforts show that human labor is going to be deprecated in favor of stronger, faster robotic work…?

23) Common Good: Superintelligence should only be developed in the service of widely shared ethical ideals, and for the benefit of all humanity rather than one state or organization.

Every person will have their own “superintelligence.” There will not be one worldly superintelligence until the very end of human civilization, which ought to be beyond the scope of this document, since we obviously can’t predict the future so far.

 

You can make pretty documents outlining the ideals of AI, but you must be realistic with your goals and what people will do with AI. Imposing further rules will bring AI to a grinding halt, as we quickly discover the boundaries that we have placed upon ourselves. Just let things happen, as humans learn best from mistakes.

Final report

I have a sore throat right now, so I don’t feel completely great. But the fact that high school is over has failed to sink into my brain. It feels like the chaos will continue next week, but it won’t. It’s over. College will not be like high school, but my brain predicts that it will be a greater burden, a tougher threat, that necessitates mental preparation.

I hardly felt emotional. It’s not the end of the world; it’s not like those people instantly disappear or something once the ceremony is over. Yet I am somewhat concerned: will I ever see them again, or care about them again? Something tells me that it doesn’t matter anymore, that the ultimate answer is no. We spent time with them because they were our classmates, but now they are classmates no more. They are a distant speck now, with their personality assimilating to new, unanticipated branches and derivatives which appear unbeknownst to the old friends. Eventually, the old friends have lost their commonality, and their sole connection is that they once knew each other and laughed together a long time ago.

Of course, there were few other ways to complete my schooling. My greatest disappointment, aside from my dad taking a total of nine photos during the ceremony on my DSLR (and no videos!), was the tendency for teachers to pull me into only what was required to be known and nothing else: “You don’t need to know that (yet).” Is life to be imparted from a textbook? Hence, I’m grateful that this phase is over, that now there is no institution locking me into a fixed eight-hour schedule dictated by an electronic bell system that sounds in 45- or 50- minute intervals to indicate a forced transition between entire subjects. No, enough of that.

I have a retinue large enough to find whoever I want from my class, so the problem of friendships does not concern me after graduation. If I want friends, I’ll get them.


The sore throat is gone now, and my greatest fear is that the memories of school will fade away so quickly. I know it is not possible, but the mere thought that disuse can cause thoughts to simply fade from the brain is simply startling.

School really was just a chapter of my life. I figured the only reason I didn’t get to MIT was because I didn’t apply myself enough. I just took orders and that’s it. I didn’t live a life of excellence like I should have. I’m not talking about “rugged individualism” or any of that “patriotic” idealism; I’m referring to the concept that when you do something, you do it excellently. But by the end, my perfectionism had to be degraded to stave off my recurring depression.

I see companies of people pouring money into ideas and making great things, things that could never be accomplished alone in one’s spare time. Do you really think I love being here on the computer doing nothing, repeatedly checking forums and Discord for any new stimulus that might need my attention? No.

I wait for the day I’m talking to the psychologist and he tells me, “Well, you spend too much time on the computer. Get off and stop using the computer,” and I’ll answer back, “What will I do instead, then?” and he will tell me, “Read books. Play board games. Go outside.” But I will tell him this: “I do not want to consume anymore. We consume, consume, and consume. I want to create.” And, of course, with the limited mindset of a simple member of society, he will suggest me to paint, or draw, or write, or build with blocks. But I want to do no such thing; these are simply small enjoyments, little capsules that release brief pangs of satisfaction.

Let’s get down to it. I want to create things that actually help people. I want to design and build real contraptions with a functional purpose. Heck, I’ll start a company if I have to, but I want people who can, will, and are inclined to help me reach these goals. Screw individualism. It took Adobe a decade to build and perfect a full-fledged image editor that open-source devs still haven’t even finished. I guess David Capello was right to charge for Aseprite: there was no way to accelerate production without dedicating yourself to it. (Heck, he had been working on that for more than a decade.)

I’m not a kid anymore. I want to make dreams realities, but I can’t do it alone, much less in front of a big blasting array of pixels. All my life I wanted to build things and I was never given the opportunity to truly apply myself in that field. The NXT was an opportunity seized from me; the FPV project, my father found no purpose in; the water-condensing windmill – well, let’s just say I never even got a chance at that; the electric bike, my family dismissed as some kind of glorified moped. I don’t know how to read or understand circuit diagrams well. I have no mechanical intuition or background.

I don’t want to take an ordinary job, either. Even the prospect of “coding till I drop” seems rather dull. I want my job description to be “teaching an AI how to automatically correct common programmers’ mistakes,” or “provisioning AI VMs with calculus, English, and Google.” I know my college professors won’t help me in that, either.

On Aseprite

Once upon a time, my uncle wanted to give me Photoshop CS5 4 as a present for my tenth birthday. However, as he did not bring the physical box along with him when he visited (he was a graphic artist at the time), he ended up installing a cracked copy when I wasn’t on the computer. I kept whining that it was illegal, that he couldn’t do that and now there were going to be viruses on my computer, but he explained calmly that there was no other way since he didn’t have the CD with him. So I said okay, vowing I’d uninstall it later, but after a while of using it, it kind of stuck, and no malware appeared (to this day, it is to my surprise how he managed to find a clean copy so quickly). The only condition, as he stated, was that I could not use Photoshop for commercial use – basically, you can’t sell anything you make with this cracked Photoshop. Fair enough.

Even so, I steered away from Photoshop, as anything I made with it felt tainted with piracy. Later, I’d use it a little more, but I placed little investment in learning the software, as I had made no monetary investment in the software at all. I used Paint.NET instead, and despite its shortcomings (no vector mode, no text layers, half-decent magic wand, no magnetic lasso), the shortcuts felt familiar and the workflow remained generally the same as that of Photoshop. People also recommended Gimp as “the only good free alternative to Photoshop”, but I didn’t like Gimp because literally every shortcut is different, and the workflow is likewise totally different. The truth was that Photoshop was Photoshop, and Gimp was Gimp.

Yet I sought to do pixel art. This was supposed to be an easy endeavor, but Paint.NET was an annoying tool. Eventually, I found David Capello’s Aseprite and had no trouble adapting to the software, as it was designed for pixel art.

I had few complaints, but they had to be dismissed; after all, this was software still in the making. Only relatively recently was symmetry added, and the software was made more usable. I also liked its $0 price tag – if you were competent enough to compile the binaries yourself. And because the software was GPL, you could even distribute the binaries for free, even though Capello charged money for them. Capello was happy, and the FOSS community was happy. Some even tried setting up Aseprite as an Ubuntu package in universe, although it generally wasn’t up-to-date, due to stringent updating guidelines.

Until the day Capello decided to revoke the GPLv2. I knew the day was coming and wasn’t surprised when the news came. Plop, the old GPLv2 came off and subsequent versions were replaced with a license of his making, forbidding distribution of binaries and further reproduction. The incentive of making pull requests to add features was gone – after all, you were really just helping someone out there earn more money, as opposed to contributing to a genuine open-source project. Of the 114 closed pull requests, only 7 are from this year (as of the time of writing).

In fact, the entire prospect of Aseprite continuing as an open-source project collapsed, for Capello had bait-and-switched the FOSS community to support his image editor because it was “open source,” without informing clearly of his ulterior motives to drop the license in the future. Licensing as GPLv2 was, after all no mistake as opposed to choosing GPLv3 – perhaps this had something to do with being compatible with Allegro’s license, or more permissibility for other contributors? No. This had to do with a clause that GPLv3 had, but GPLv2 did not: the irrevocable, viral release of one’s code to the open-source realm. Without this important clause, and because he was the owner of the code, Capello could simply rip off the old license and slap on a more proprietary one, which is exactly what he did.

The argument in defense of Capello was, “Well, it’s his software, he can do whatever he want.” After all, he was charging for the program, anyway. But the counterargument is that the GPL is intended by the Free Software Foundation to promote the open-source movement, not to deceive users into thinking your for-profit project upholds the ideals of free and open-source software, especially that open part: free as in freedom, not just free as in beer. Now there is not only a price tag on the product, but also a ban on distributing binaries, thanks to this incredible decision to make more money.

Yes, I know someone has to keep the lights on. You can do that in many ways, but one of them is not by turning your “open-source” project into downright proprietary software. Now, people demand more and contribute less – why should they pay when there are less results and less features being implemented? The cycle of development decelerates, and putting money into Aseprite is now a matter of business rather than a matter of gratitude.

I don’t remember how to compile Aseprite at this point. I remember it being mostly a pain in the butt having to compile Skia, but that’s about it. Thus, I have no more interest in using Aseprite.

Entering college, Adobe is offering absolutely no discounts on its products. It’s almost as if they want kids like me to go ahead and pirate Photoshop again. There is no way I am going to afford a single program with the price of an entire computer. Yes, I know, Aseprite is obviously cheaper than Photoshop, but why should I buy a pixel editing tool when I can get something that can do all kinds of image manipulation?

A slap to the face goes to the general direction of Adobe and David Capello. Good job for keeping the image editing market in the status quo.