News for June 2011

Stop the Clock! (part 2)

“What a Mess”
- – Jon st. John as Duke Nukem

So I’ve waited half my life for this game, and yesterday it announced that I started the “final battle”, and then it was done. Now I don’t usually do game reviews, since I only play Doom, Duke Nukem and Assassins Creed, but I’ll make an exception this time. So, did it live up to it’s expectation? No. Was it a good game? It was fair. Did you have fun? Yes, I laughed my ass off, but I’m kind of weak for this kind of humor.

duke-nukem

Duke Nukem has a terrible game engine. Just look at the picture above, does the girl turn you on? Does she look sexy? No. I’m looking at a friggin’ poser-model, which is badly lit. Most of the game does that to you. It is there, but it just isn’t. You know what I mean?
It has no open space-levels. No striking sound design. No volumetric audio. No realistic facial expression, No volumetric lighting. No Causting. Mediocre scripted action sequences. And Terrible acting.

But most annoyingly, the graphics are from a different era. We’re just up and about these graphics nowadays:

YouTube Preview Image

2004 called, Duke, and they want their engine back.

Still Duke Nukem is fun to play. As promised, you can interact with a lot of elements in the game (although I haven’t found a commander Keen Arcade machine). The game is quite easy to walk through, even in ‘hard’ mode and it’s funny as hell. Walking around with a shotgun, shooting pig-cops and kicking a Cycloid-Terror-Alien (or whatever these bosses are called) in the nuts is fun. Especially with the Duke wisecracking a reference or two. Splattering enemies with a machine gun is fun too, especially when you can go in and rip their heads off.

It’s all nostalgia. I played the Duke3d for nights on end, over an IPX network (and got blasted to bits by Schurem over and over again). I guess that  is my main concern; my illegal copy doesn’t allow local-network gameplay. These people aren’t actually thinking that I would pay for this crap? I want a game and a laugh, I’m not here spending money on this out-of-date-bullshit-excuse for a game. It’s nostalgia, dammit; a reminder of the fun I had when I was 15. Besides, I didn’t pay back then either; got my copy straight from the Twilight CD’s. Hell yeah. Back then it allowed for local network play too.

It’s a pity, because I would have had the most fun, presumably, shrinking Schurem and stepping on him (and get blasted to bits again by him after a respawn). Alas, in this day and age I need to login to Steam and register with payed-for credentials. Steam shouldn’t allow games that old on their network anyway. If you are about to bring out a game that is 7 years overdue, you should include an IPX network mod. I’ll dig up some serial cable again and get the computers together. Truth be told, the single player of Duke3d wasn’t that great either.

I’m serious about the price by the way, as Ravage puts it on GameFluke:

Duke Nukem Forever should also not be garnering a full-blown retail price of $60.  Instead 2kGames should have opted to release this as a bargain title at at less than 1/2 the price. [...].  Its clear Gearbox Software had one mission when they were brought in:  Just finish the damn game even if it sucks.

( italics by XX )

So with this part of my life finished I can look forward to real games. I hear the beta of Battlefield 3 will be available late september …

Posted: June 30th, 2011
Categories: nerd
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

This is brilliant.

Little pic I found on the interwubz. This is brilliant.
No really, Makes me wonder why I never thought of this.

Utter Briljance

Utter Briljance

Posted: June 28th, 2011
Categories: nerd, weird
Tags:
Comments: No Comments.

Indoor projection mapping

If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.
– Hunter S. Thompson

Because the next hip thing in Veejaying is mapping, and since I’m still a professional VJ, it is about time that I presented my first Mapping project. Now truth be told, I’m a bitch in these things, and won’t get out of bed unless somebody pays me an insane amount of money for these stuff like this. But our Sales-Samurai got Adobe crazy enough to sponsor a mapping project for something called “the National Publishers Convention 2011” at the deFabrique </mandatorynamedropping>

Let me fill you in on “Mapping”, it is the art of using everyday walls and buildings as a projection screen, where one uses the distinct features of the wall or building in the visuals. Simple idea, you have to be French to come up with it. Long story. As I said, it’s the next hip thing. And I must admit, it is very cool.

Now they wanted me to give a quick overview of communication media. I can do that. And with Peter Ankone and Max Sombroek at my side nothing can really go wrong. Except that Peter overslept and missed his own project. Jinx

YouTube Preview Image
Posted: June 27th, 2011
Categories: media, vj, work
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

Stop the Clock!

“[ George Broussard ] … first announced the [ Duke Nukem 's ] title’s development in April 1997″

chessclock

Bang! Stop the clock!

Duke Nukem Forever was first announced in ‘97.

Fourteen Years, and Two Months
have I waited for this game.
That is nearly HALF my life !! (43%)

Here the Razor Release. First one I saw. NOT CHECKED YET Seems to be working :)
this better be good.

* XangadiX is going to kick ass and chew bubble gum
* XangadiX is all out of gum
Posted: June 10th, 2011
Categories: nerd, web
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Comments: 1 Comment.

Singularitarian Anonymous

“How you doing, Dixie?”
“I’m dead, Case. Got enough time in on this Hosaka to figure that one.”
“How’s it feel?”
“It doesn’t.”
“Bother you?”
“What bothers me is, nothin’ does.”
“How’s that?”
“Had me this buddy in the Russian camp, Siberia, his thumb was frostbit. Medics  came by and they cut it off. Month later he’s tossin’ all night. Elroy. I said, what’s eatin’ you? Goddam thumb’s itchin’, he says. So I told him, scratch it. McCoy, he says, it’s the other goddam thumb.”

When the construct laughed, it came through as something else, not laughter, but a stab of cold down Case’s spine.

“Do me a favor, boy.”
“What’s that, Dix?”
“This scam of yours, when it’s over, you erase this goddam thing.”

- William Gibson, Neuromancer

It appears that my thinking on immortality catagorizes as “singulatritarian“.  I wasn’t aware of that and nobody bothered to come around and tell me that. I had to read it in Time magazine.  Kurzweils thesis is quite interesting and a heavy influence on my own thoughts on computers reaching near-human intelligence.

Exponential Growth of Computing

The Theory of Kurzweil is simple, yet elegant. It all starts out with Moore’s law, which states that “The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years”. This law has been surprisingly consistent the past three decades or so. Put another way; computational power for a standard desktop computer (or any computer for that matter) doubles every two year. This inevitably leads to a logarithmic graph reaching up, up and further up, towards a computer with near-infinite computational power.

Now take Moores law and plot it on a timeline, adjust a bit for computational powers – calculated in operations per second – and try to figure how many of those operations a human brain does. Here is where the whole thing starts to reek a bit, but I’ll get to that later. Kurzweil assumes that a human brain does about  1000 trillion operations per second, which is just about the speed of the latest supercomputer ( at least according to this article ).

Within a few years ( somewhere near 2015) our desktop computers will reach the computational level of the human brain; but more importantly, as Moores law progresses, we’ll have computers with the computational power of all human brains around 2040’s or thereabouts. This point in time Kurzweil calls the ’singularity’. Any prededictions beyond that point are meaningless because we, humans, will no longer be the most intelligent being on this planet.

“What we do know is that sometime in the early 21st century all of mankind was united in celebration. We marveled at ourselves as we gave birth to AI”
- Morpheus in “The Matrix”

To Kurzweils credit, he has done a lot of predictions that actually came true (among which the prediction that a human would be beaten at chess by a computer around 1998; it happened in 1997).  Although I do believe in simulation of human intelligence, I doubt very much if consciousnesses will come into the machine in 2015 or thereabouts.

Another problem with Kurzweils projection is the hypothesis of “the Quantum Mind” (or Quantum Consciousness) .  Roger Penrose, the famous mathematician, together with Stuart Hameroff developed a thesis now catagorized under the name “the quantum mind“.  It states that the brain does not only function on a molecular level, but also on a submolecular or quantum level. Now I won’t go into that to deep, since this theory has many quirks of its own, but I’ll try and jot down the git of it.

Hameroff, an anesthesist, wondered about people having memories of surgeries they had. Some people could recount details of an operation, while they under narcosis. Maybe, he figured, the mind operates on a lower level then we assume where some quantum effects take place; like quantum entanglement. Maybe the mind keeps together while in a sedated state and can even travel outside the body without losing cohesion. Now I know, this sounds very far out there, but it appears that there is some evidence that the brain actually has some parts ( the microtubule to be excact) that operate on sub-atomic level.

Now a friend that actually scans human brains in an MRI machine for a living estimates that the size of actual quantum processes are of by a factor 100 (at least). That is to say, most processes in the brain take place on a scale that is a hundred times bigger then the quantum universe. Penrose argues however that physicists see the universe either as Newtonian ( classic physics, relativistic physics, ‘big’) or on a quantum scale. Surprisingly little research has gone into places where those two world meet, like – presumably – in the microtubule.

Either way, if the brain can tap into this little known world of extra processing power – 100 to 1000 times smaller – and if the brain is indeed  capable of processing cubits, then we shouldn’t be measuring the human brain against a 1000-trillion-operations-per-second-computer but against something in the scale of 100.000 trillion cubit computer.
Which is to say, a computer that is much bigger then what we will have developed the coming century. I must point out though that Moore’s law is logaritmic in nature, which means we will get there eventually as computing power will increase up to an almost infinite level.

Penrose came to the same conclusion as Hameroff in a much more pragmatic way. Penrose considered Godels theorem, which in essence states that a system can never undestand a system of which it is itself part. So humans can never understand the universe completely as we are part of it. Neither can the brain understand itself, as it is of course part of itself.  Ergo; we can never build a computer that emulates the brain, as we are using our own brains to create it.

Quoting it directly from Wikipedia;

“Penrose presents the argument that human consciousness is non-algorithmic, and thus is not capable of being modeled by a conventional Turing machine-type of digital computer. Penrose hypothesizes that quantum mechanics plays an essential role in the understanding of humanconsciousness. The collapse of the quantum wavefunction is seen as playing an important role in brain function.”

I admit that I had to take a little detour, but I’m getting to my point in a bit.

Remember that I said the human brain will not be running on a computer any time soon, at least not in the coming century because of the quantum processes that might go on in there. That doesn’t mean the brain can’t be simulated on a computer in the next decade or so. That we can’t write a program that pretends to be a person and does it so well, that it fools us all.

As I’ve said here, and perhaps more profoundly in my article about being the first immortals, I do believe that some of us – of our generation – will be among the first immortal beings. Even though Penrose seems to be a terrible spoil sport in this regard.
The question I raise is philosophical; does it matter that we’re not actually simulating a real brain. That we’re merely simulating a person up to the point that is consistent enough with the actual flesh to fool everbody else. ( Or to pass the Turing-test). Here’s how I put it earlier;

“My personality can be uploaded or at least be simulated within 50 years. After I die my children and grandchildren will be able to talk and converse with me long after my death. I will be able to reflect and think about the times ahead and about the state of the world in 2070 and beyond.”

Is the simulation me? Or is the simulation my former self, a mere replica, a construct of a person?

“Now of course my immortal personality is simulated; but the human brain doesn’t make that distinction; if my virtual self has lived for 300 years, the simulation is, arguably, more ‘real’ then my own, fleshy, personality as it has ‘lived’ longer then the original. Simulation is not as bad as most people would think. Baudrillard argues that although we might think different, most of our perception is created upon simulated experiences. And even ‘real’ experiences are nothing more than fragments of real observation added with closure.”

And that is where things get Philosophical; let’s say both men are partially right, and we are able to simulate humans in such a way that is completely indistinguishable to others (to other humans). That would mean that we are probably postponing the ’singularity’, but we are then nearing a Ghost-in-the-Shell-like future (or Asimov-like future, whomever you prefer). We  have to ask ourselves what we believe consciousness really is. A future in which machines we’ll ask us if they do not deserve to be called conscious as we do.

And this will all occur well within our lifetime.