Posts

2018-10-24: Modern thought

2018-09-10: Feeding a controversy

2018-06-11: Glow worm distribution

2018-04-23: Outlawing risk

2017-08-22: A rebuttal on the beauty in applying math

2017-04-22: Free googles book library

2016-11-02: In search of Theodore von Karman

2016-09-25: Amath Timeline

2016-02-24: Math errors and risk reporting

2016-02-20: Apple VS FBI

2016-02-19: More Zika may be better than less

2016-02-17: Dependent Non-Commuting Random Variable Systems

2016-01-14: Life at the multifurcation

2015-09-28: AI ain't that smart

2015-06-24: MathEpi citation tree

2015-03-31: Too much STEM is bad

2015-03-24: Dawn of the CRISPR age

2015-02-12: A Comment on How Biased Dispersal can Preclude Competitive Exclusion

2015-02-09: Hamilton's selfish-herd paradox

2015-02-08: Risks and values of microparasite research

2014-11-10: Vaccine mandates and bioethics

2014-10-18: Ebola, travel, president

2014-10-17: Ebola comments

2014-10-12: Ebola numbers

2014-09-23: More stochastic than?

2014-08-17: Feynman's missing method for third-orders?

2014-07-31: CIA spies even on congress

2014-07-16: Rehm on vaccines

2014-06-21: Kurtosis, 4th order diffusion, and wave speed

2014-06-20: Random dispersal speeds invasions

2014-05-06: Preservation of information asymetry in Academia

2014-04-16: Dual numbers are really just calculus infinitessimals

2014-04-14: More on fairer markets

2014-03-18: It's a mad mad mad mad prisoner's dilemma

2014-03-05: Integration techniques: Fourier--Laplace Commutation

2014-02-25: Fiber-bundles for root-polishing in two dimensions

2014-02-17: Is life a simulation or a dream?

2014-01-30: PSU should be infosocialist

2014-01-12: The dark house of math

2014-01-11: Inconsistencies hinder pylab adoption

2013-12-24: Cuvier and the birth of extinction

2013-12-17: Risk Resonance

2013-12-15: The cult of the Levy flight

2013-12-09: 2013 Flu Shots at PSU

2013-12-02: Amazon sucker-punches 60 minutes

2013-11-26: Zombies are REAL, Dr. Tyson!

2013-11-22: Crying wolf over synthetic biology?

2013-11-21: Tilting Drake's Equation

2013-11-18: Why $1^\infty != 1$

2013-11-15: Adobe leaks of PSU data + NSA success accounting

2013-11-14: 60 Minutes misreport on Benghazi

2013-11-11: Making fairer trading markets

2013-11-10: L'Hopital's Rule for Multidimensional Systems

2013-11-09: Using infinitessimals in vector calculus

2013-11-08: Functional Calculus

2013-11-03: Elementary mathematical theory of the health poverty trap

2013-11-02: Proof of the circle area formula using elementary methods

Modern thought

I would like write about the core concept of thought in the university environment, and civilization at large. This is a hard topic, long topic, but one I need to address for myself, so that I can point it out to others when needed. This will take some time, but let me start by arguing a premise. “Modern thought” is a new and different from what we had before.

The most profound change in our structure of our civilization over the 40 years has been the incorporation of computing into our work and leisure lives. The roots of modern computing with binary electric transistors go back to World War II, but even in 1980, having a home computer was a novelty. In 2018, computing is part of a sizable percentage of how we make things, change things, communicate, and have fun.

What is this “computing” that has become so ubiquitous? At the finest scales of scientific definiteness, computing is moving electricity/magnetism/light around to create patterns we want, and we’ve created machines and networks to help us do this. As a pragmatic philosophy, computing has become a tool of thought. We’ve a long history of creating tools to help us thing, from sticks in sand, to cave painting, to early writing on cuniform clay tablets, to paper and pencils, printing presses, recording telegraphs, to mechanical calculators and slide rules. Modern computing is the latest and most profound yet of these tools of thought. And it raises the quality of our thought to another level – we have worlds of information at our finger tips, can perform man-years of calculations in seconds, and can share what we learn around the world just as fast. Relatively speaking, a brain without computing assistance can hardly do more than a chicken scratching in the dirt. The accomplishments of the pre-computing age, while profound, were also profoundly slow compared to what today’s engineers can do.

We are still in the midst of a great transition, which has variously been called an great acceleration, accelerando and singularity by various authors. While the future is hard to see, we can say that by now, civilization has changed from one of thought based on only human intellect to one where our thoughts and ideas exist in a hybrid state between our brains and our computers. We have no name for this hybrid form of thought yet. Perhaps I can just call it “modern thought”.