Radu Luchianov`s: Pastime: Commentary
About me

"If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?"
-- Robert Heinlein "Sixth column" p.18

I've been asked this question by link outLew Stelmach, whom I had the honor to meet during my stay in Ottawa at Carleton University... I guess the answer -if it exists- is somewhere below in "what I am" and "what I am not".

This page needs some restructuring, but if you're willing to hack through the jungle of thoughts within, here's what I'm talking about: [Bit of a story][What I am][What I am not][Plans]

Confusing Tidbit about me, hacking and MneMonic

To be edited when I get out of my somber mood

Hackers abund. As long as there are needs and intelligent agents having these needs, hackers will eventually appear. It's part of the circular definition of intelligence, coupled with the will and the endurance to find solutions to the problems the intelligent agent is facing. As I said, hackers abund. There are social hackers and financial hackers and emotional hackers and engineering hackers and scientific hackers and religious belief hackers and newest of all, electronic hackers and virtual hackers. The above list's not exhaustive, of course. It was only natural for hackers to appear in media based so much on information transfer. And as with any of the existing hackers, wisdom varies a lot and morals vary a lot in the virtual hacker community. Just as affiliation varies from independent teenagers spending time in the basement or attic with a computer and a fast connection, to government agents and other organizations and entities (human or not). Keyword's Community. If it's intelligent, it develops hackers. And if it's wise, it keeps its hackers busy and happy. Why? How can one keep projects and solutions which are potentially dangerous, out of the hands of so-called underground members of this resourceful "underground" [sub]community? (BTW, 'sub' is latin for 'under' :) Because hiding stuff does not ensure its security. The best hiding place is in plain sight, just as the best lie is the truth. The answer is also provided by the nature of knowledge. The best defense against hackers is to make them think they're looking for something else than they're actually looking for :) Knowledge is time-sensitive and as long as the hacker's happy s/he's got access to your files and poking around through them, the sensitive information is safely stashed away in places and forms they least expect. I mentioned that hacker morals vary. They can even be of the destructive type and try to erase stuff, or the entire file system, mark of total disrespect for the sanctity of knowledge- the only actual power in the virtual world. Though finite (again, due to its time-sensitivity), the immensity and redundance of the domain available for coding of information as data (out of which domain, cryptology barely skims the mathematical surface), offers ample grounds for the continuous hide-and-seek game that intelligent agents play with each other. Other than math and reasoning, there are the complexities of chaos, available even in the smallest ray of light playing over a pool's waving surface. But the ultimate source of hiding grounds is provided, to my knowledge :), by the capacities of the human imagination, where chaos is continuously restructured in rules and axioms as precise as necessary for specific tasks. The paramount importance, though, for intelligent agents like us, is to ensure the possibility of other intelligent agents like us to gaze upon the beauties of their own knowledge domains. Yep, MneMonic HAD to die and be reborn as MneMonic. The Phoenix is a gorgeous series of birds. Some of them may just look like sick chicks. That's why the arts (writing, acting, singing, playing, cooking, admiring, contesting, etc.) are so enticing to some people. I like poetry too.

Moon Steer, 23 May 2001

What I am

From a social point of view, I suppose I'd be a hobo :) if I would not have the responsibilities that come with a family and especially a baby. I guess the tramp dog from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" was actually a hobo, not a tramp. I can't understand tramps. And I see plenty, wherever I look.

Don't get me wrong here, if I get in a project I try my best at it and I sometimes forget about the world outside the project, including my own physiological necessities (sleep, eat, excrete, clean, sex). But I prefer to like my cognitive ambient (challenging peers, low stress, interesting problems to be solved, low redundance, etc.) And sometimes, in order to escape a nasty environment, I behave like a pain in the rear. It seems to be an automatic self-defense mechanism, because I always become aware of it pretty late, when the relationships have degraded sometimes beyond repair. So at that point I have to move along.

Moon Steer, 08 Mar 2002

Intellectually, I have been called a renaissance man, but that's a bit too artistic to define me well. I merely endeavor to build my mind the nexialist way.

Older "about me"

There's a wonderful parable in Nietzche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It's about ontogenesis:

  • Humans start as donkeys who bow their head and expect to be loaded with knowledge and morays.
  • When they reach the first cusp, they transform in lions who lash back at their previous "masters" and try to find a meaning in life for themselves.
  • When they [think they] found it, the second cusp transforms them in dragons, covered with thousands upon thousands of scales. On each of the scales it's written "thou shan't". Supposedly the internalized rules that govern a dogmatic outlook on life.
  • When the dragon in its strife with the ethereal knights of Truth (further life experience), loses all of those scales, the third cusp happens that transforms the human into a baby. Not the real type of baby (oh, definitely not! that I can tell from experience with mine :), but the idealized, pure and happy and content to live, respecting all life, not imposing anything on the others and looking at everything with new eyes, devoid of triteness and full of wonderment. Eyes that see structure in chaos and bring new data to the learning process rather than only matching what they see with what their owner 'already knows'.
    I sort of think these cusps correspond with the three general theories of philosophy: the epistemic, the ethical, and the moral, respectively.

    Me, I think that on different levels I am past all the three cusps. Still, due to the infinite nature of the world, I often assume the role of the donkey, but I do so with the fierceness of the lion (finding the faults in what I read rather than praising the obvious correlations the authors make.) And that scares my teachers into assigning me bad grades. Also the dragon within me didn't shed all of its scales, since I find every so often in my behavior the reflection of a "thou shan't" scale.

    Moon Steer, 11 Aug 1998

    What I am am NOT

    Now do not think that "what I am" covers everything... boundaries are defined both ways. Here's what I am NOT [more to be brought back from my archive]

    Perfect. I'm not a saint, I just try not to be too big of a sinner. I don't look at that as a problem, but a challenge. It's always good to have something to learn from.

    Pushy. If you don't want me around it's ok with me. That doesn't mean I'm distant. Only that there are too many things to do in life for me, and I lack the time to decrease mine and someone else's karma.

    Grown up. If there ever has been an inaccurate, dogmatic concept that poorly influenced any society, but strongly the western one, it is that of the adult. Ontogeny never stops until death. Phisiologically, adults continue to develop, change to fit their environments and change all their cells (except for neural tissue), every few months depending on everyone's metabolism. Mentally we continue to evolve too, and only tricks of consciousness and internalized dogma allow us to think that we are the same people at 20 as we are at 40. Being an adult never stopped anyone from making plenty of mistakes. It is simply a convenient way for society to remove some of the supports and lenience with which it treats children. When people lose their wonder, their open eyes and open hearts, and start considering the world from the throne of previous experience and internalized rules, they lose flexibility and gain nothing but arrogance.

    I don't look at cognitive architectures in order to "replace myself". That's what kids are for. I'm interested in "bettering myself" with the use of cognitively friendly technology.

    Plans, plans, plans...

    My plans are simple. I want: (1) to know the world, (2) a comfy place in this world, and (3) to keep track of what I do. All three goals are impossible to reach in their entirety, so (stoic tautology follows:) I can only do as much as I can.

  • Plan#1:

    On knowing the world, see what Woody Allen says: "I don't cease to be amazed that people want to know the Universe, when it's hard enough to find your way in ChinaTown." In my highschool days it took lots of time and organization to remember all the details, laws, terminology and procedures that Biology, Geography, Chemistry, Physics and Math were throwing at me. I was doing a fairly good job, but I kept feeling overwhelmed even by the highschool material, fairly basic in comparison with the state of the art in those domains.

    So I put my interest in Physics and Organic Chemistry on hold and looked at Computer Science, hoping to extend my own memory with the consistent long-term capacity of computers. I tried DBMS systems and classical symbol-based expert systems, and connectionist architectures and even my own hybrid approach, MneMonic (my BA thesis in Computer Science). Lots of data and no information. Humans are not machines and vice-versa.

    Then I heard Boicho Kokinov talking about the study of the human cognitive abilities, and I was hooked on Cognitive Science. I spent almost 10 years on this topic already and I find unreliable most of the results I keep reading about. Representations give headaches to philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists and linguists alike. Since I could not make headway in the cognitive modeling arena, I turned back to putting human and machines together, in CHI. My last attempt to use CogSci will be my PhD research plan (MonDoc and if possible MneMonic) here at Carleton U. Hopefully when that's done I'll have better tools with which to approach the real-world sciences (Physics and the Organic Chemistry applications: Biology, Neuroscience, Materials Engineering)

    From a conversation with a CU colleague:
    Radu: I also wonder whether I should be in this program. Then I remember why I am in this for - learning - and I gather energy for one more bout with philosophy :)
    CUC: Oh yeah, that's why I'm here ; ) Are we learning something???
    Radu: I for one, am. It's the first time I get my hands wet in a neuroscience lab. Andy's an excellent debate hat and so are some of the other professors and students. Terry's work on low-level, embedded cognition is very interesting. Sam's NL approach is challenging. I keep working on my own ideas... And I'll pretty soon be done with the requirements and start my own research in earnest.

  • Plan#2:

    I tend to have a stoic approach to "comfyness". All I need are a family, a house and computer resources. With the baby, the family subplan is on the way already. The house can be anywhere until I gather the resources to build my own; anywhere, as long as it has room for my family, computer and imagination loci (books, music, games and movies), that is. The computer resources I need in order to keep organized the piles upon piles (read gigabytes, past 1 TB) of archives I'm gathering, and of course for entertaining purposes..

  • Plan#3:

    These archives are mostly planned projects and data for them, or projects in various stages of completion. My web area (which you are experiencing now), is one of the venues for my organization plan.

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