• Qualification

    03/08/2017 at 20:46 0 comments

    I'm not actually a professor, I'd like to be clear about that. Formal qualifications in the arts and sciences have never been my thing, and I've been a caregiver for close to 20 years alone and unassisted. I hardly had time to get more than vocational certifications for teaching IT and my career was over...

    It has allowed me time to think, time to research and play in my secret laboratory though, and you have seen the results. I have a unique mind, Projection Synaesthesia is named because the individual's mind literally projects onto the world, and changes it. Pervades all aspects of their lives. It is as much a curse as a gift, for those who offer me nothing but envy, or worse.

    I do love how I can project myself into a guitar, a synth, a computer and become part of it - or it part of me - and it is the same for all the things I touch. It makes me enigmatic, I know, and shy, which is why I don't comment a lot. I'm not here for validation either, another reason for not having letters after my name.

    If you want to know the reason behind the change of name, @Mark Nesselhaus and I had a good laugh about Gilligan's Island - what with me stuck on my little island here and building myself a new society from bamboo and coconuts the way I do. He called me Prof and it stuck. Meh, I dont really mind, I've been called some things in my time. Most of them unrepeatable in print, thank you to the trolls who delight in getting away with it. That is why I was delighted Mark was inspired to write a piece of 'faction' for the Cardware project which just about sums me up, but in less comedic fashion than Gilligan's.

    I may joke about taking over the world with my robots, but I am kind of serious about it. I'm aware however that nobody wants a Terminator running around their homes, so I'm doing it with an army of robots that can at best give you a paper cut. Hardly threatening, I'd say. I've also watched and read enough fiction as well as fact to know that a functioning synthetic intelligence wont fit inside a single computer unless it takes up a lot of real estate and a lot of power, needs cooling, security, maintenance, administration, etc, etc.

    Supercomputers can now be built from nodes like Raspberry Pi's all networked together, but you need a lot of them to do anything worthwhile. This is the theory behind the synthetic intelligence for AIMos, which will drive the hardware and talk to other nodes on the network. It is a supercomputing environment. Each node has it's own sensors and servos, maintenance, security etc, and real estate in the form of an environment to study. The system will never send video, images or personal information because it uses the AIMil language to transmit what the system knows. An AIMil program is the machine equivalent of a thought, which in the confines of an individual robot is limited to sensory and motive information. Viewed as a wider supercomputing environment with sensory and motive information flowing across it controlling that robot - all the robots - you can see why I am trying to build a synthetic intelligence this way. Safely... It is designed to play and no more. This is how a child learns, and I dont see a better way than an awful lot of 'parents' teaching my 'child' rather than myself alone.

    These are lessons I have learned from the world around me, cautions because my dreams have an annoying habit of coming true if I wish that. And it's taught me to be careful what I wish for.

    I do wish I could describe for you the misery caused by being stared at and talked about as if I'm public property. I'm no celebrity either you see, and dont wish to be. That would require a much larger ego than I have managed to grow after the life I've had. You wouldnt believe me if I wrote it here so I'm saving it for a book, when I'm too old for anything else.

    Remember that you are my inspiration as...

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  • Social Media

    01/21/2017 at 15:49 9 comments

    I cant say I've had a lot of luck with social media. I dont find it very social for one thing.

    Hackaday is different. Hackaday is a home like the internet used to be nearly a quarter of a century ago. Much has changed of course, I no longer have to phone into a bulletin board on a 2400BPS modem for starters, and the engineers and programmers that dominated the boards are all here by the looks.

    Those early days were heady, I remember using ICQ from its early text-only interface, watched as ASCII Art appeared, Smilies grew into Emoticons, and many slaps in the face with a wet trout scrolled up the screen. The chatroom got too crowded and turned into a Lobby for threaded chat with quizzes. Virtual drinks and presents appeared, it was another world altogether.

    Speaking of drinks, I remember that being the death knell for me. The internet as I knew it was changing fast as it became popular. Saturday Night chatrooms appeared as people began to go online for entertainment, and the weekends became fraught with drunken football fans, and eventually that was every evening of the week. By the time Bingo Chat had arrived I was out of there and used the internet for research and email until MySpace popped up.

    Then Facebook arrived and all hell broke loose. I tried it, and the feeling I got from it was to have my work stolen, my privacy invaded, and a channel opened for abuse from people who didnt want to understand me. It pushed me to the edge of a breakdown, and I deleted it after I realised that locking it down to private mode kind of defeated the object as well. Antisocial Media wasnt what I was after.

    I have good days and bad days, I struggle with depression. With the eyes of a mad scientist I look at my hands, one an artist's, one a musician's, and wonder why I was made this way.

    But since I joined Hackaday I've noticed no flaming torches that arent for lighting the way, and not a pitchfork in sight... It feels again like it used to and I am inspired.

    To all the kind and cool people I've encountered, and those I've yet to meet... Welcome to my world.


  • Dysgenesis of the Corpus Callosum

    01/16/2017 at 10:23 6 comments

    In the Autumn 22 years ago, my eldest daughter was born. She looked perfect, and did all the things babies should do, for a little while at least. But she didn't sit, took 4 years to learn to walk and has never said anything more than 'B'. What little I have managed to find out about others with the condition, this sort of thing is not unusual and often earns them a nickname. Her name is Keri, but I've always called her Bea myself, long before I knew anything much about her condition.

    By the time she was two, me and her mother were at breaking point, knew something was wrong and were tired of chasing doctors as to what exactly. We ran out of doctors who didn't shrug eventually, and wound up in London for a few days and a battery of tests that Bea didn't like much. In the end they stuck her head in an MRI to have a look.

    I remember there being a lot of muttering before we were approached and given the diagnosis. What did that mean, I asked, to be told that there hadn't been enough documented cases for them to refer to statistically, and she couldn't even be given a life expectancy. They'd never even seen a case themselves, although they had heard of it. Of functionality, they had no idea either, and could only tell me what was wrong:

    The Corpus Callosum is a bundle of nerve fibre buried deep inside the brain that connects the two hemispheres together directly, and forms the main bridge for communication.

    Bea's didn't form correctly. This is what dysgenesis means, sometimes it is called agenesis where it is completely missing, but she has one, if only a vestige. It means that it takes her a long time to figure out things properly, because normally, emotional content is processed in one hemisphere and logical content is processed in the other. It must mean that she is literally in two minds about things, although she has one distinct personality. She doesn't understand what it is she likes/dislikes about something, and its hard to like something you don't understand, so it must be difficult for her. She is happy and friendly though, and everyone likes her.

    Brain tissue is highly plastic, especially when young, so if it is damaged it does it's best to re-route signals and re-establish function. Bea was born this way, so to route signals around a missing part of her brain, it has co-opted other processes, degrading her motor function and presumably giving her Synaesthesia too. Speech is processed and articulated each by different hemispheres, so her brain thinks it is speaking, and at the same time doesn't know what to say. These are known as aphasias, and it is unusual to have both of them. It also affects symbolic communication, so she is as unable to write and sign as she is to speak. But she does understand, and like me has a photographic memory. She notices even small changes in things and points them out with an accusing smile; 'Hey, you moved that picture!'

    Most people have heard of Rain Man, the film with Dustin Hoffman as an auteur. Some people are aware he studied with an auteur to learn his part well enough to treat the subject with the dignity and respect the film had, but very few are aware who that was. It was Kim Peek, a man from Utah with brain abnormalities including Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum. Like Bea, he presented as autistic, but he was also savant - he had a phenomenal memory and perfect recall. Unfortunately, since 2009 Kim is no longer with us. Until his death though, he lived with his father and enjoyed limited fame with his abilities.

    Like Kim's family, my relationship with Bea's mum didn't survive, and I was left to raise her and her sister alone after a traumatic breakup. I've become her voice and her hands, and now she is an adult I'm her advocate as well as her carer. I've been asked many times why I've done this, being as polar as we are. Raising two daughters, one of whom needs everything...

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