Neologism: Octopus mud wrestling

octopus mud wrestling - A situation where multiple conflicting problems and solutions come together to prevent anyone from accomplishing anything useful. Every possible step toward a solution causes two other problems that further complicate things. Sometimes this means that something can't be fixed at all and a forklift upgrade is required. Sometimes attempts to fix everything cause an outage to occur, ruining everybody's day. So called because everything is dirty, messy, confusing, constantly changing and nobody will have any idea what's actually going on until it's over.

I am lost in a maze of twisty narratives, all different.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, to be sure.  While lots of different things have been going on lately, none of them are related in any particularly clear or straightforward fashion, so fitting all of this stuff together is going to be a bit of a struggle.  You may as well kick back with the beverage of your choice in a responsible fashion while I spin this yarn.

I suppose it all started with wardriving in northern Virginia many years ago.  In a nutshell, I had loaded Windbringer up with a rather small for the time USB GPS unit …

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Exocortices: A definition of a technology.

Originally published at Mondo 2000, 10 October 2017.

A common theme of science fiction in the transhumanist vein, and less commonly in applied (read: practical) transhumanist circles is the concept of having an exocortex either installed within oneself, or interfaced in some way with one's brain to augment one's intelligence.  To paint a picture with a fairly broad brush, an exocortex was a system postulated by JCR Licklider in the research paper Man-Computer Symbiosis which would implement a new lobe of the human brain which was situated outside of the organism (though some components of it might be internal).  An …

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Semi-autonomous software agents: Practical applications.

In the last post in this series I talked about the origins of my exocortex and a few of the things I do with it. In this post I'm going to dive a little deeper into what my exocortex does for me and how it's laid out.

My agent networks ("scenarios" in the terminology of Huginn) are collections of specialized agents which each carry out one function (like requesting a web page or logging into an XMPP server to send a message). Those agents communicate by sending events to one another; those events take the form of structured, packaged pieces …

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Semi-autonomous software agents: A personal perspective.

So, after going on for a good while about software agents you're probably wondering why I have such an interest in them. I started experimenting with my own software agents in the fall of 1996 when I first started undergrad. When I went away to college I finally had an actual network connection for the first time in my life (where I grew up the only access I had was through dialup) and I wanted to abuse it. Not in the way that the rest of my classmates were but to do things I actually had an interest in. So …

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Advances in transplantable organ preservation, grinders get night vision, and using genehacking to treat lymphoma.

Organ transplants are a fairly hairy aspect of the medical practice and are a crapshoot even with the best medical care money can buy. Tissue matching viable organs seems about as difficult as brute-forcing RSA keys due to the fact that, at the proteomic level even the slightest mismatch between donor and recipient (and there will always be some degree of mismatch unless they are identical twins) will provoke an immune response that will eventually destroy the transplanted organ unless it's not kept under control. Additionally, unless the organ is perfectly cared for prior to installation the tissues will begin …

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Synaesthesia and noise-cancelling headphones.

I've never really gone out of my way to publicize the fact that I'm a synesthete - my senses are cross-wired in ways that aren't within the middle of the bell curve. In particular, my sense of hearing is directly linked to my senses of sight, touch, proprioception, and emotional state. As one might expect, this causes a few problems in day to day life - I can't go to concerts without wearing earplugs because I shut down from sensory overload, and too much noise makes it nearly impossible to see (and thus, get anything done). The new office at work poses …

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Visiting the Computer History Museum.

A couple of months ago, Amberite and I visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California with his father. I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to expect on the way over there. I've been to the Smithsonian quite a few times but the Computer History Museum is just that: Dedicated to the entire history of computing and nothing but. There are exhibits of the history of robotics, video games, military equipment, and of course one of practically every personal computer ever made, from the Amstrad CPC (which never really had a large community in the States, though it was …

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