Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why AWS is stupid

Amazon Web Services ( AWS ), which ironically offers elegant efficiency, is so Baroque as to defy comprehension. Google "AWS big picture" and look at the images you get.

Today, I was contacted by an Amazon recruiter looking for someone who got the "big picture". However, my request to "work remotely" was declined.

My response:

"I am surprised to hear that -- Mr. Bezos seems like an inspiring and open minded person, who would like to empower his employees to add the most value they can, in the best way they can ( not in the way he thinks people ought to ).

I was rather eager to speak with Amazon's AWS engineers, and discuss a "big picture" radical resimplification of the offering. Specifically, why are there so many different best practices supported by AWS? Even Googling for "AWS big picture" doesn't produce something that will fit inside the mind of a single average engineer.

Are there really so many different, irreducibly complex ways to do things people are ultimately trying to achieve? Are there really these many things to achieve in the first place?

While I celebrate Mr. Bezo's vision in generalizing from a bookstore to an Everything store, scaling up is easier than producing scaled down work of quality. This is where I can bring value, if you will let me work remotely."


I have spent over $500 of my own money using AWS. Amazon's back-end ( AWS ) is laughably suboptimal. As for Amazon's front-end, it looks like Bezos barfed some rich text into an editor. Amazon is yesterday's success story and AWS is for rich suckers who like to feel smart because they are doing something complex.

Yes, there is a better way, but Mr. Bezos is probably too busy counting his old world money to care about hiring remote workers.

The author is an enthusiastic technologist, available for remote contract work.

Monday, June 19, 2017

762mm


In "House of Cards", a corrupt leader is able to turn tables on a young idealist who is out to bring him to justice.

How did such a transformation happen? With just one word -- a secret. What the word was, doesn't matter; it's different for everyone.

Everyone has a word that will bring them to their knees. To transform, one only has to guess one word.

I was sent on a mission with Great Universal Nothing loaded with 3 sapphire bullets. Hopefully, I'll need only 1.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Shinichi Mochizuki has left the Universe

Japanese Mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki calls himself an "Inter-universal Geometer". Let's parse that!

1. "Inter-universal" implies that there are at least 2 universes.

2. "Geo" -- Earth.

3. "meter" -- to measure.

Mochizuki is apparently measuring Earths in multiple universes.

How is this possible? Mathematical frameworks exist which allow for the existence of alternate universes. One interpretation of Quantum Physics says that everything that can happen in a quantum probability cloud, does happen. The Universe forks in the same probabilistic proportion as the probability cloud, and observers in different universes each observe different discrete outcomes of the same quantum event.

Do these alternate universes actually exist or are they just mental constructs? How would you empirically detect another universe? The whole proposition seems to be riddled with paradox! Let's suppose you could construct an experiment to detect other possible universes. As soon as your "alternate universe detection device" detects another universe, that other universe is immediately part of this universe. It's called "Uni"-verse for a reason. Think, McFly!

If other universes exist, then there seems to be no logical way to get there from here. Other universes are utopias, like those true but undecidable expressions that Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem talks about.

In her article, "The Paradox of the Proof", Caroline Chen mentions Jordan Ellenberg, a Mathematics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who wrote about Mochizuki's Proof of the ABC Conjecture -- “Looking at it, you feel a bit like you might be reading a paper from the future, or from outer space...”.

Through numbers, Mochizuki might have found a way into other spatio-temporal dimensions. Quantum particles are "quantum" because of these dimensions. Numbers themselves exist because of those dimensions. If your mind did not frame your senses along these orthogonal dimensions, you would not be able to grasp the concept of numbers at all. For example, an electron apparently does not cross all the intermediate states from one orbit to another. An electron really has more dimensions than the ones we imagine. So we see the electron as jumping from one quantum state to another.

A Flatlander would see a sphere crossing their world as a circle that appears out of nowhere, does some neat geometric behaviors ( expansion and shrinking ), and vanishes. In current paradigms, there is no causality at the quantum level. It takes higher dimensions to preserve causality. Causality implies time, and in a deterministic universe, there is no time at all. The electron does not jump from one orbit to another, without traveling through intermediate states. The electron is actually part of a continuous multidimensional shape that contains more information than a tesseract. It is our strobing consciousness that causes us to perceive the electron as a discrete entity instead of as a continuum.

Causality is an illusion. Time is an illusion. The Universe, with all its myriad causal forks and natural patterns, is a single timeless, unmoving, supra-causal entity -- like the coral paperweight from "1984". Do you want Meaning? Free will? Privacy? My, aren't we greedy! Ok, I'll drop a few more not so subtle clues.

Once you edit the code in your head to preserve determinism using higher dimensions, you can do quantum computations by spawning entire universes at will.

Cosmic Lock-Picking -- try any and all permutations and combinations necessary. Find a universe where the safe cracks open, and jump there.

Prime factorization? What's that? Crypto is for mere mortals!

If you do manage to hack the Universe with your mind, please be kind and grateful. That's all I ever ask!

So why is there Something, instead of Nothing? My answer is so obvious that it says nothing -- The question is wrong. Nothing is real. In Nothing however, there is Nobody to ask the question, "Why is there Something, instead of Nothing?".

If you think I have lost my marbles, please take a look at the picture on Mochizuki's site. If there are other Earths, could we please move to a better one? A sleepy, Blue-Green Earth, where we invent technologies from scratch, to live in peaceful harmony with the Earth, with nature, and with each other!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Occidental Empire: The Accidental Catalyst of Indian Democracy


Shashi Tharoor's essay, "'But what about the railways ...?' The myth of Britain's gifts to India"
, would be more appropriately titled -- "Boo to the Villains of the Past." Although a vociferous critic of imperialism, I found Dr. Tharoor's article vacuous and regressive. Here, I shall critique this article, and present the following cases:

1. Even though India's historical association with the British empire brought many lasting benefits, crediting the British is absurd.

2. Even though the British rule of India was a terrible period in history, blaming the British is a waste of time today.

3. There are concrete policy reforms India can undertake today, to undo some damage inherited from the British empire, and set the country on a more progressive course.

4. The way forward is to co-opt and transform empire from within. "Embrace and Extend" was Microsoft's strategy, and it should be ours.

To begin, let us ask -- Did the British really sow the seeds of discord in India, or did they just opportunistically add fuel to already burning fires? To answer this question, let us parse a sentence from Dr. Tharoor's article: 
"Large-scale conflicts between Hindus and Muslims (religiously defined), only began under colonial rule;" 
This sentence cunningly cherrypicks history with arbitrary qualifications: "Large-scale", "between Hindus and Muslims", and "(religiously defined)". Removing these confining clauses, I now bring a broader dataset into consideration, and derive a more comprehensive picture, which contradicts Dr. Tharoor. Literary epics from the region depict large-scale wars fought over land, or women. The Aryans conquered and subjugated the Dravidians. The Mughals took over a lot of the region in a series of bloody conquests. The Sikhs and Rajputs were in violent conflict with the Mughals. Numerous petty rajas and nawabs were in continual territorial warfare with each other. All this turmoil and bloodshed was happening in the region, well before the British arrived. How is it relevant whether the violence was "religiously defined" or not? The British once opportunistically incited religious violence, and gained power with their policy of divide and rule. But (let's be quite honest), so did Mr. Narendra Modi, and we forgave him.

In reality, we don't have any means of knowing what might have happened if the British had not colonized the region, though one can spin off several fanciful fantasies:

1. The region could have been liberated by China, and be a proud member of a pan-Asian communist block.

2. 
The region could have continued with Mughal rule, and today all "Indians" would be living under "sharia" law, and the dwindling non-Muslim population paying a "jazia" tax.

3. 
The region could have become a stagnant backwater as the maharajas and nawabs continued fighting for power and territory; struck by famine in the absence of good governance and resource planning, the bay of Bengal could be notoriously pirate-infested, ala Somalia.

4. The region could have prospered as a trading destination on the Silk Road, attaining its own version of the Enlightenment, which ushers in rationality and secularism. Although several independent homegrown democracies take birth, there is never a unified India. Instead, a tenuous umbrella organization, much like the European Union, is eventually formed.

Each such dystopian/utopian past is an absurdist exercise in futility, since these hypotheses are scientifically untestable today. None of them is quite what we want, and none adds up to a modern, unified, secular, and democratic nation called "India." The very notion of the spontaneous emergence of a unified democracy in the region, without the catalyzing influence of British empire, beggars even the richest imagination. 
There is very little evidence to support Dr. Tharoor's claim that an Indian ruler would undoubtedly have unified the subcontinent from Afghanistan to Burma, in a span of 200 years. However, there is plenty of evidence in history against a supposed "impulse to unity".

1. Consider the long and violent history of separatist and secessionist movements in India. Khalistan. Naxalites. Kashmir.

2. Consider the ever-rising number of states in India.

3. Consider the resistance from non-Hindi-speaking states to using Hindi as the official language.

It appears that India is not exactly a collection of free people, living harmoniously in a common union by choice. Without a single, powerful force to repeatedly, and violently crush separatist mutinies, dear India might have crumbled to pieces long ago.


Even if a local ruler had unified the region, what you would get is a dictatorship, ruled by a maharaja. Maharajas are widely known for their corrupt, decadent and debauched lifestyles, and not usually as wise and benevolent leaders with the interest of the people at heart.  The maharajas were the original kleptocrats who exploited the poor, and sold the control of ruled territories to the British, in exchange for their own short-sighted, selfish rewards. Tales of the maharajas cruelty, greed, and bloodlust are rife.

Dr. Tharoor, funny that you should mention racism, when your prayer seems to be, "If a boot is going to kick me hard in the spleen, please let it be on a brown man's foot, and not a bloody Britisher's."

But let's not confine our discussion to the narrow elitist history of the rich and powerful few. What about the quality of life for the common man? Does it matter that local artisans produced exquisite luxury goods for the enjoyment of the maharajas, if most people were suffering abject poverty? Was there really prosperity, in a time and place where farmers were (probably) being drafted as soldiers, and killed in bloody wars, fought at the whims of their corrupt rulers?

And what about women? Would women have achieved the right to vote sooner in the region, if the British hadn't arrived? From Razia Sultana, to Laxmi Bai, Indian history mentions scant few women in positions of real political power. Without borrowing the ideals of Western Enlightenment wholesale, India might never have boasted of one of the first female heads of state. Indeed, the fate of women's rights in a traditionally patriarchal, male-dominated society would have been grim.


Throughout his essay, Dr. Tharoor fails to provide evidence of a long-persisting, uniting Indian identity. Instead, we have an anecdote by way of Maulana Azad, translated across languages, distorted by history, in which someone lumps together many people into one labelled group. There is nothing to imply that those people objectively had a common country, national identity, loyalties, language, and culture. The label, "Hindi", when used by anonymous Arabs long ago to group together foreigners from faraway lands, is about as meaningful as the label, "Firangi", which might once have described all Europeans. Need I say, Europe is not a country.

As for the ancient coinage of the word, "Bharatvarsha" ( भारतवर्ष ), perhaps we should refrain from reading too much into it. Just because a word has been coined, doesn't mean that it refers to something objectively meaningful. Take the Sanskrit word, "Vimana" ( विमान ), meaning "aircraft". Do you really believe that actual people once flew in a physical aircraft, nonstop from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya, thousands of years ago? If you do, I've got your press release ready:
"Dear Theresa May, As a result of the British stealing our ancient flight technology and muddling our traditions, India still has to import its aircraft. As reparations, British Airways should provide a lifetime of free flights to all Indian citizens."


Jokes aside, mythopoetic flights of imagination are a far cry from stark reality. We would do well to stop pining for a mythical past that never was, and take responsibility for shaping our own destiny. Playing the victim card and blaming the villains of the past, however justifiably, will only get you so far. More than money, India needs to restore its self-respect. In the long run, blaming the British, and continually defining India in relation to its former colonizers, is detrimental to the nation's self-image. Change begins at home, and there are many steps India can take to start repairing some of Britain's harmful, and continuing legacy. 

1. Institute a Uniform Civil Code. All people should be equal in the eyes of the law, with no exceptions made for any religion.


2. Abolish institutionalized caste-ism. Economic need should be the only basis for reservations. There should be various quotas for the poor, not for scheduled castes/tribes.

3. Stop organizing the Indian army under divisive categories given by the British. For example: The Sikh regiment could be renamed the Bhagat Singh regiment.


4. Adopt Open Source Software, and stop entrusting imperialist powers with your data.

5. Grant gay people the right to marry, and further India's reputation as a forward-thinking nation that celebrates diversity.

Britain once played a unifying role by becoming the common enemy to a number of disparate people. Today, the United Kingdom is no longer seen as the enemy in India, where India-England cricket matches are enjoyed over sips of chai. In this fluid current context, dwelling on the colonial past, dredging up old scars, and trying to stir up Two Minutes Hate with a "British, bad. Indian, good."-rant, are really unnecessary.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Google, the CEO of Microsoft, and the Mayor of London are busy transforming empire from the inside out. The antiseptic turmeric in the curries dished out by Southall's Indian dhabas, is surely healing the colo-rectal tracts of Londoners with the postcolonial blues, even now. Feel the spicy revolution within!



Update: Changed "Mr. Tharoor" to "Dr. Tharoor", throughout. My apologies for the mistake.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto Identified?


Here's my wild-ass guess for today: Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto is really Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki. Let's examine the evidence:

1. Requisite level of mathematical genius; specifically, work on Number Theory.
2. Male, Japanese, 40-ish, living in Japan.
3. Nakamoto is fluent in English. Mochizuki grew up in the USA.
4. Elusive, reclusive behavior.
5. Same number of Hiragana symbols in first and last names of the two identities.
6. Some have speculated, based on v0.1 of bitcoin code, that the creator was someone with a lot of theoretical knowledge, but not a professional programmer.
7. Caroline Chen's article, "The Paradox of The Proof" doesn't mention bitcoin, but gives a glimpse into the mind of Shinichi Mochizuki. Read this very interesting article, and draw your own conclusions.


Sources:

1. Satoshi Nakamoto


2. The Race to Unmask Bitcoin's Inventor(s)


3. The Paradox of The Proof






I am a professional programmer with 21 years of Perl and Web development expertise, available for full-time remote programming work. I am a US citizen. Here is my résumé.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bitcoin's Potential for Social Change



Perhaps Professor Krugman is too hasty in calling bitbugs "antisocial". Bitcoin encourages secessionist tendencies, yet holds great potential for social change. What if the World Peace movement collectively transitioned to bitcoin? It would be possible for the people to negotiate peace with their warmongering governments.

Perhaps we will see the emergence of a self-contained, underground economy that chooses its own values. The bitcoin economy would perhaps do away with the real/perceived hypocrisy of political discourse.

Will this bitcoin-enabled New World Order be egalitarian? I don't think so. Early adopters, such as the Winklevoss twins, already have a significant advantage in the bitcoin universe. Question is, can we trust our new cyberpunk overlords?

Character is what one does, when nobody is looking. Bitcoin models reality much closer to human nature. Will the human civilization annihilate itself? Will we survive and thrive? We'll just have to trust human nature.

What will it take to bring about this self-fulfilling prophecy? What kind of infrastructure should bitbugs be building?
An easier, more private way of doing bitcoin transactions via cheap, ubiquitous devices, such as smartphones. Applications such as Bitcoin Wallet already enable this.
Yet, a tipping point hasn't been reached. I still think primarily in USD. When I think in a BTC-centric way, the world will be different.

In my opinion, bitcoin is full of open questions, and opportunities. I remain cautiously optimistic about it.

Full disclosure: I own 4 BTC which I bought at 5 USD/BTC.