Beauty

At the end of the last blog about patterns, I have written that beauty is mostly pattern recognizing. I want to share here my thoughts about beauty with a blog on its own. So that I have a bit more space for that.

Beauty is the reaction we get if we see something. If there is a positive emotion we describe it as beautiful. Well, not all positive emotions. They have to come from the pattern. If we have positive emotions about a geometric figure, nature, lyrics, music then this is beauty. Why do I describe it? You surely now what beauty is. But for me it is important to define it. This way it is easier to talk about it. So beauty is when we recognize a pattern and we have a positive emotion about it. Another example is a good design in a product. When we solve a problem with one concept and repetitively use it. Then for the people knowing that concept is your solution beautiful. Let’s make an example. An easy concept is the concept of card-houses. When you put two cards together they stand. Not very stable but they stand. Now if one builds only from this concept a huge sculpture then this is not only impressive. It is also a beautiful design of a sculpture. If we don’t use this concept. We use glue. Then it stays equally beautiful, when done right, but the design isn’t beautiful anymore. So using a pattern again and again brings beauty, when out of that a bigger pattern evolves.

Some people tell me as an argument for the existence of god, that — “God has a sense of beauty and he gave it to us. Beauty is not useful. It does not have a reason. Evolutionary there is no explanation for beauty. But god wanted that we sense this as he does.” — I disagree with that. There are multiple reasons why beauty is useful. I name some of them. (Besides: I don’t want to argue against god only against this argument.)

Art enriches communication. When one is able to picture a situation with beauty, such that we can feel the situation, then the beauty has done more that words could do. The saying: “A picture says more that 1000 words.” also says that. (An ugly picture doesn’t say more that 1000 words.) Through beauty we have more ways to communicate.

Beauty is good for the society. When we see the same things as beautiful we have an emotional connection through that thing. We respect people with the same sense for beauty.

The pleasing feeling when we have created something beautiful is very powerful. It helps us to look for patterns. We try to describe complex behaviors with simple rules, because if this description works it is beautiful. We look for simple explanations.

The drive in many people to find simple and elegant solutions to problems is so helpful that it is hard to say it is useless. When we look in nature and finde a amazing landscape, doesn’t it drive us to take care of the planet? Or take care of at least that landscape? Maybe you say that beauty does not only have good effects. But I can’t find much. Some could say: When one is trying to make something more beautiful than useful this is not good. They are perfectionists. This is correct. That this isn’t efficient but first I want to say that we have other things that drive us. We want maybe to be acknowledged for what we do. We have empathy. This list would go on and on and beauty is just one of them. We should have a good balance of most of this motivations. And an other argument about “beauty is not only useful” is: We are not perfect. Our desires are not purely good or bad. They are just here to help us to get through the day.

At the end I want to say: Beauty is maybe one of the most significant differences between us and animals. It always looks for an easier solution. It wants to tell stories. It wants to see the whole world and universe because there could be some beautiful places. It transfers emotions. Let us just appreciate that the concept of beauty is beautiful itself. So don’t take it for granted because animals don’t have it. But also don’t disgrace it as useless. Beauty is so much more.

Patterns

Patterns: Why do they appear in some random things? Out of some easy rules there emerge somehow complex structure. Bird swarms or fish swarms, flowers, aliasing in pictures, clouds, crystals, snowflakes and much more. This list is only here ending because I know too little. I’m sure in every natural or engineering science there are these effects. I know some more in mathematics. Aliasing is one example in IT. And the mathematics is the correct keyword for that. These easy rules all can be formulated with mathematics. Most of the time with a grammar (Formal grammar, L-system) or a state-machine(finite-state machine) which is then recorded over some time. And the thing that is created is then a big pattern. But what is a big pattern? It is also something mathematical that we recognize. Maybe a symmetry, maybe a number, maybe a shape. Something that is rather simple for its size. But I think this is not so special at all. Isn’t it clear that when you do something structured and not random you create a structure. I think it is way more difficult that no such pattern emerges. In information security there is the concept of pseudo-random numbers. These are numbers, that are generated by some deterministic algorithm. So an algorithm without randomness. But not any numbers. These numbers should behave random. So there should not appear any pattern. And to show, that the algorithm produces good pseudo-random numbers we need to prove that there is no ‘efficient’(P, Turing-machine, Probabilistic Turing-machine) algorithm that can predict the number or parts of the number. And do you think this is easy or hard to achieve? It is hard. There are only a few pseudo-rand number generators (PRNG) for which no one found an algorithm which can predict some bits of it. What does this mean? It is pretty hard to come with some simple rules that do something which has no pattern. If you know enough about PRNGs (Link 1, Link 2) you can even argue that this is not possible. (If you prove that this isn’t possible or that it is possible. Please come to me. The answer to that question is equivalent to the question (P=NP?). And when you solve this you get a million US$ (Millennium Goals). 😉 ) This is just how things are. Let’s register that small rules most often result in bigger patterns. And these bigger patterns have itself some attributes like a swarm that doesn’t get attacked by it’s individuals enemies. A flower having spacial efficient ordering of its seeds. Crystals that are very hard and so on. But for me interesting is that I think even more complex phenomenons appear because of some simple rule. Like our society. It is not obvious that this is the case but it is also not so difficult to imagine that. Rules like Tit for Tat and effects like shame and empathy enable a quite complex community. What I want to say is that from patterns that emerge from small rules can emerge again even bigger patterns. Because the big patterns like the spiking behavior of a neuron is again mathematical pretty simple. Maybe you don’t think this is so interesting but the proposal I am aiming for is hopefully more exciting. Research has shown, that only the wiring of the spinal cord of a salamander enables complex movement(Video[download], EPFL-Article, TED-Talk). They have rebuilt it in a robot without encoding any movement explicitly and the robot had the same movements like the salamander. Many suggest that this is also the case in human movement, even though we make conscious decisions to walk or not, and where to put the foot. (I know that the conscious decision are not in the spinal cord but it is still remarkable that we can trigger the movement, alter it. But still mainly use the movement patterns encoded in the spinal cord.) And this is the case for most of our conscious decisions. They are encoded in well known and understood networks in the nervous system(Visual Cortex). The next step that comes very naturally from here is, that consciousness itself emerges from the simple rules in neurons and in neuronal networks. For me it is very likely that such a big compound of cells, that all have an impact on their surrounding form an interesting pattern. That this pattern is the “me” is of course not clear but also not that abstract.

Let’s appreciate that the world is such mathematical and consisting of simple rules, this is the reason for nearly if not all the beautiful behavior of the world. What we regard for beautiful is nearly always patterns we see. This drive for patterns has led us to find more and more patterns. And we sense beauty most easily with our ears and our eyes. This is also the reason why mathematics isn’t universally seen as beautiful, because you have to understand it. You can’t sense it. But maybe beauty is another blog for itself. (Ugliest Music Video)

Summary: Patterns are everywhere, All patterns are mathematical, They build bigger patterns which is beautiful but not surprising, it is hard to find an easy mathematical description without bigger patterns emerging, the bigger patterns can build even bigger patterns, maybe consciousness emerges from neuronal behavior; beauty are mostly patterns.

Remarks: When I say easy mathematical rules I mean not that you will understand it fast. I mean, when you understand it, you see that this wasn’t such a difficult thing.

Ego

Ego is strongly coupled with the word identity. But i really want to differentiate. Ego is your emotional connection to identity. What words trigger you emotional. To find this out you can do an easy test. What insults you or where do you start with excuses. I give some examples:

  • All Christians are stupid. How can’t you see that this view doesn’t work.
  • Women are strange they just can’t think straight.
  • These gamers are so anti social they should look for a girlfriend and stop playing all the time.

These examples should illustrate what I mean. If your reaction on these sentences are anything but rational, you are in danger believing lies. There are some good and some bad reactions. Bad ones are:

  • This guy is an asshole!
  • I’m sure he is a (*insert your counter oppinion*) he has now idea how it is to be in my situation.
  • I’m sorry but I’m not so good like you. (*sarcasm)

The common pattern is that they don’t takle the argument and are in some way emotional. I don’t mean that you have to react angry but some form of defense. Like excuses, insult back, ironic or sarcastic reaction, not answering at all and so on. They all mean you did not tackle the problem and work around.

I think people that do this miss the possibility to discover rich ideas. Have you ever thought that maybe a worldview of you is completely wrong? Do you think you would ever be able to change something very wrong if you always react defensive? Making mistakes are no shame. And this is so true. Do you know how much good (also bad) doesn’t happen because people think they don’t want to be a looser. And this is not only true for your dreams it is also true for your thinking. There is nothing bad about understanding something wrong.

So please try to be emotionally independent of your ideas. And every time you feel offended think of it: Maybe I am wrong. Maybe he is wrong. But never make excuses.

Reality

Real is what you sense. There is no addition to it. Why is this important? When it differs what we see as real it is hard to find consensus on a subject. It is like a axiom in mathematics. You need to find a base on which you agree on. As you may already know now, I am Christian, and this definition of reality is not trivial for us. But I say if this is not the case, it is really hard to discuss what is true. For example many religious people are saying that god is the true reality. But just for pragmatic reason let’s agree that he is not. God is only part of reality when him. The times when you feel fulfilled and when you close your eye you almost feel the touch of god.

For people not in faith this may seems strange. Try to see it in my framework of reality. When you’re thinking something or you’re having a feeling, this feeling or thought is real. Not especially what you are thinking of but the thought itself. I give an example: When I think of brown unicorns, then this thought is real. I have it. Neurologist may measure it but still brown unicorns aren’t real. (Everybody knows unicorns aren’t brown.) I don’t want to say god is as real as a unicorn but I say when you don’t experience god they are equally real.

Try to look at your paradigms and your worldview. On what are your paradigms based on. Which experiences manifest them. If you hardly can find any they may be wrong. How to shift paradigms it is important to be aware of your ego (My Blog about Ego). Assume you have read the Ego part. I now know you know that it is beneficial if you let your emotional binding to your worldview go. The most important thing is that you always do a reality check. Are the things happening as you expected. When not: What has to change in your worldview that your expectation hits? And as I have experienced many times I want to give you a hard baseline, what things you never should aspire, independent of your worldview. When you hurt many people without saving others, just because your worldview detest them you should not do it. If you think not to help dying children, or killing Moslems, or letting refugees die and so on is good in the long term. Please think again. Make a reality check. We are social and emphatic beings. Don’t betray your nature that much.

Maybe in another blog I will write about human design to make this last point clear. But I am aware that if one has too much time and lacks confrontation with the consequences of their thoughts, there is a good chance that this one will develop some crazy worldview.

Stupid is as Stupid does

Forrest Gump

I heard many things about intelligent or dumb people. And I want to give you a picture how I see it. There are two people. One is not so smart but hardworking. The other one is a smart guy but hardly working. So who do you think will achieve more? Maybe you say the second, but I assume you say that because you are a lazy person. Have you ever read or heard interviews with successful people. All they have in common is that they work crazily hard and on 9GAG it was for a long time a meme that lazy but smart students go to McDonalds working. And not in a leading position. For me this picture is true for many attributes people assign to other people. There is the potential and what the actually do with it. And the adjectives do not differentiate between those. It maybe even puts the potential over the action. So a smart guy that only sits around may seems more intelligent than a not so smart one that puts his thoughts into practice.

I think most of you have huge potential but when you don’t use it it is worthless and for me you aren’t so smart or intelligent.

Aspire “Success” or “Good Odds of Success”

The difference between both may seem negligible but it isn’t. The first is the one that is coded into our biology. We look at people that are successful and think that they have done something right. And it is often the case that they have but if you only look at success you may confuse luck with success. Maybe you think the last winner of the lottery has done it right, because he is now rich. Or the heir of some rich guy has done something right. But if you look what they have done to be so successful you will find nothing. They haven’t earned it. I don’t want to sound jealous because I’m not. But I think it is wrong to educate yourself with the examples of lucky people. It won’t help you. The best you can do is to optimize the odds of success. And when you do that you will never play the lottery and you will also never win it. But that’s okay.

success

Another aspect of aspiring good odds of success is that success itself is not so relevant anymore. In this framework success is just something random which may come or may not. It should not be relevant for your mood. You can’t ensure success you can only make it more likely to happen. Success and failure are not important anymore. Maybe this isn’t clear. But let’s say you make a bet: You give your friend 10$ when he tosses a fair coin 10 times and it shows 10 times tails. If he tosses any heads he gives you 10$. Now should you play the game or not? Of course you should. You will win 1023 in 1024 times. But now reality strikes and he tosses 10 times tails. You loose. But have you made a bad decision? No, you haven’t. It is just that you want to have the best possible odds of success but what in reality happens is not in your hand. So although you have failed you have not made a mistake. That is what I mean, when I say success and failure becomes irrelevant.

So the next time you fail think back and answer the following question honest: “With only the things I have known at the time of the decision, did I make a wrong decision? Or was it not possible to see that this will happen?” If you come to the answer that you have decided correct then don’t let the failure pull you down too much because it isn’t your fault. Of course there are still failures. But you can decide before you do the action whether you want to fail or succeed. Either you do the thing with the highest odds of success or you don’t. If you don’t, you have failed.

Are we only Simulations?

I often asked myself this question. I realized that all well known phenomenons in nature behave according to some very mathematical laws. Since I study computer science I had the chance to get a look into the mathematical world. I also realized that mathematics is strongly coupled with computer science because in computers we could define some laws that it has to follow and afterward it does exactly what we said. So you could transform an equation into a program and vice versa. So theoretically when we would have a perfect mathematical and complete description of the world we could possibly simulate some parts of it. (Nearly all the computer simulation done today are very coarse and not complete. They mostly simplify the problem such that it runs efficiently on a computer.)
But for me is clear that a program and the physics of the real world are coupled. At least you can’t say wich world can describe more information. Both can “simulate” the other. Something you might think is, that a simulation without real physics is not possible. This is true but it is possible to have a physics only inside a simulation independent of the real physics. And inside this physics you can say there is no physic without the computer. Ok enough from that. Why should we be a simulation? As I said everything well-known behaves very mathematically like a computer program. Another argument is that we don’t know any infinite thing. Maybe the universe is infinite but maybe not. We don’t know. So in a computer program there is also nothing infinite. There are cycles but nothing infinite that doesn’t repeat itself. If we assume that the simulation we run on is made on a computer similar to ours, than there is a smallest length of space and time. This length can not be divided further. This length is proposed be Max Planck (Planck Length) but it is way too small to detect it with our instruments today. Let’s assume there is the Planck Length wich can not be divided. This is similar to a number on a computer. Say you have 3 decimal places. So 0.01 is the smallest unit. There is no 0.005 in this computers world. (finite precision floating point) If our world is simulated on a computer working with finite memory than if we fly out from the earth to the border of the universe we either come to the same place again (overflow of the variable that defines the position), we get stuck in some state (state that decodes that the position coordinates are too big to store) or we crash the simulation (we use all the memory for our positional coordinates). Sadly there is no way to compute the distance to go until one of this effects need to occur, we would have to know the size of the memory and how our world is represented. On the other hand if we get one of these effects we could infer pretty straight forward how our world is implemented. Maybe some think that the aliens simulating us don’t use a computer like we have. That is possible I only describe what observable phenomenons could be if they do. But let’s be clear if they use a computer with finite precision and finite memory than such effects have to occur. And also the fact that we haven’t found any infinite thing suggests that the the simulation we run in has also no infinite structure.
Some people say they are surely not a simulation because they are conscious. Consciousness is the last stand for many of the more esoteric or religious questions even though, few religions are talking about it. But this topic is for another blog.

But what is the answer? I think it is obvious that this question is not easily answered and I only wanted to give some arguments. (The title was only to bait 😉 )