Sunday, June 22, 2008

Eating out ... after a long time

Today my colleague Terai's family visited us for dinner. Mine and my friend's (Nanda) family made a five course meal, and topped it with Indian mangoes. It was fun all day as Terai-san's son Ryose was an active guy, much like Terai himself. I made most of the cooking and cleaning, as my wife was busy with Solomon.

After the dinner we set out for shopping and bought few household things and one the way back we decided to eat the much hyped Marukame [丸亀] udon. Everybody liked it. I like udon very much and this particular shop is my favourite. I wish I can visit Sanuki some day to eat my favourite udon...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obsessed with our gray matter

Recently I have been reading a lot of IEEE spectrum. Another article on mapping human consciousness and selectively adding or removing it. The future seems to be thrilling, but I feel something slippery about the path taken by humans.

If we reverse engineer the brain and create a machine with the functionality of the brain, we might needs to create a way to stop it from going against us.

At this I remember King Arthur's farewell,
"The future seems dark and dreary" ...

20 years from now, you call 911 .... and the answer is something like "Sir, this is your Robo-Cop speaking ... How can I help you" ... And you say, sigh !!! "I just want to talk someone human ..."

Star thrower - an impressive story

There's a story I would like to share with you. It was inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley. Loren was a very special person because he combined the best of two cultures. He was a scientist and a poet. From those two perspectives, he wrote insightfully and beautifully about the world and our role in it.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had the habit of walking along the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore; as he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day, so he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead, he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?" The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing Starfish into the ocean."

"I guess I should have asked; why are you throwing Starfish into the ocean?"

"The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and Starfish all along it, you can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another Starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. "It made a difference for that one."

His response surprised the man, he was upset, he didn't know how to reply, so instead he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.

All day long as he wrote, the image of that young man haunted him; he tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon, he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed the essential nature of the young man's actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and watch it pass by, but was choosing to be an actor in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrassed.

That night he went to bed, troubled. When morning came, he awoke knowing that he had to do something; so he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man; and with him spent the rest of the morning throwing Starfish into the ocean.

You see, what the young man's actions represent is something that is special in each and every one of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like the young man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.

And that is your challenge, and that is my challenge. We must find our Starfish, and if we throw our stars wisely and well, I have no question that the 21st century is going to be a wonderful place.

Vision without action is merely a dream
Action without vision just passes time
Vision with action can change the world

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Matrix and total recall ... Now it may be reality

Today I was reading an article in the IEEE Spectrum , this article is titled "Reverse engineering the brain". Guess what they are trying to do, YES! they are trying to map a human brain. I use to work for a semiconductor company after graduating and heard from my manager that Taiwanese are good at reverse engineering ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuits). I thought it was just gimmick, or those people who can reverse engineer are way too good.

After reading the above article, it was interesting how close we are towards resolving many human issues like "mental depression", "loneliness", "stress", etc. using brain mapping. The future looks interesting. I will be more than happy if someone can transfer all the "Japanese Kanjis" into my brain. But, that said, I guess it might have a darker side to it too ...

Is scientific fiction yet another reality of the future. Are those fiction writers oracles. Recently I read a novel named "Alchemist" 「アルケミスト」(in Japanese) by Paulo coelho. It talks about omen 「前兆」, and how they become reality. Now I am left wondering, may be ... those fiction writer are in a way ... oracles.