The title says it all, well, almost. During this introductory post to my developer blog, I will outline some of the mysteries we are still facing as a species. Upon doing so, I intend to draw some analogies to the similar 'mysteries' found within the world of computational technology. For those whose interest is piqued, I encourage you to continue reading; for the rest of you, well, this is not likely your cup of tea.
The Hard Problem of Consciousness
"What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" - Thomas Nagel.
How do we see? How do we speak? How do we remember? These are what you might call 'easy' problems. I won't bother to explain how these biological functions work. Still, they typically perform their role through the passage of stimuli from the outside world to our bodies and brain.
But what is it like to be a bat? That is to say: how do we explain, through empirical science, phenomenal consciousness? Why do we experience our experience? Where does it all come together? Long story short, we have no earthly idea. It may be explainable! But, right now, you, me, we don't know.
"God does not play dice..." - Einstein.
Classical mechanics, a well known and studied field in physics, can prove to an observer (to a high degree of accuracy) where an object will move if given a little push. Similarly, using the same physical framework, we can predict orbital patterns of planets within our solar system (and much, much more).
However, when we take a closer look (ironically), these rules begin to falter. As we approach the universe's energy level, known as the quantum level, the mere act of measurement seems to affect what we observe. Currently, there exist several frameworks that we can apply mathematics to, thereby generating a probability distribution of how an event may unfold. Still, it is uncertain—in complete opposition to proofs introduced within classical mechanics, where certainty peacefully lies.
It would seem that the only certainty is uncertainty. Queue: Descartes.
Behold Artificial Intelligence!
"I have always been convinced that the only way to get artificial intelligence to work is to do the computation in a way similar to the human brain. That is the goal I have been pursuing. We are making progress, though we still have lots to learn about how the brain works." - Geoffrey Hinton.
"Large Convolutional Network models have recently demonstrated impressive classification performance on the ImageNet benchmark Krizhevsky et al. . However, there is no clear understanding of why they perform so well." - Matthew D. Zeiler and Rob Fergus.
We have made a lot of progress in the last ten years in Artificial Intelligence. We're gaining a deeper insight into why these neurological-based predictive models function at a super-human level (in some cases) as each day passes. However, in some cases, we do not yet understand why this technology performs so well, demonstrated by the unrest within the scientific community regarding whether Artificial Intelligence will 'take over' or not!
Distributed Ledger Technologies
"If only I would have kept the 103 BTC I owned when I was 16." - Jonathon Dilworth.
If you have no idea what a distributed ledger technology is, I wouldn't blame you. However, I would imagine you have heard of Bitcoin? Of course, you have. Bitcoin is a distributed ledger technology (DLT). Within later posts on this blog, we will dive into how such a system functions. For the time being (as it is pretty complicated), think of it as a new form of making a transaction.
Although it's not as complicated as Quantum Mechanics, there do appear to be a hell of a lot of people who are interested in it but have no idea what it is or how it works. Most people are misinformed about what DLTs are and what their uses hold for the future. But mark my words, these technologies are essential, and whilst Quantum Mechanics changes our current view of the world, DLTs will change how we interface with the world.
"Don't Be Hasty, Master Hobbit!" - Treebeard, Lord of the Rings.
It would seem that there is a lot that we still do not know, even if we think we do! From Descartes to DLTs, we're blissfully blind in a world of potential awe and wonder. Let's remove the blindfold, let's stop facing the wall, let's see the world (in itself) for what it truly is.
I'm getting ahead of myself. As mentioned within the first post, I will be concentrating mainly on technology within this blog (Artificial Intelligence and Distributed Ledger Technologies); so I encourage you to return if that sounds interesting to you.