12.49, Friday 15 Feb 2008

Some pictures:

TorrentFreedom have built their service to never store any data which could be used for identification. In a pleasant turn of phrase, they call it structural anonymity: We built the system from day one so that there's no correlation between an IP+timestamp and a username - this means we can't hand over logs of 'who was on what IP at what time' ... Our payment system is fully abstracted from the operational environment - billing events are passed to the VPN engine via temporary 'tokens' that are one-way-factors ... we don't have 'server logs' like everyone else does ... all of our operational VMs run in fully-encrypted partitions.

Space smells metallic.

The law of unintended consequences is what happens when a simple system tries to regulate a complex system. See also, from cybernetics, the Law of Requisite Variety.

Jason Kottke has collected videos showing multiple time periods at once. He pulls a quote: But, we can kind of think of the multi-playthrough Kaizo Mario World video as a silly, sci-fi style demonstration of the Quantum Suicide experiment. At each moment of the playthrough there's a lot of different things Mario could have done, and almost all of them lead to horrible death. The anthropic principle, in the form of the emulator's save/restore feature, postselects for the possibilities where Mario actually survives and ensures that although a lot of possible paths have to get discarded, the camera remains fixed on the one path where after one minute and fifty-six seconds some observer still exists.

I think of it somewhat like ray-tracing an interactive space. Each player is a ray of light fired into the black box of the game world, bouncing off interaction possibilities differently each time. The integral of all the consequences gives the shape of the interaction surface. Then perhaps a diagram can be produced. (It's only be looking at parallel universes side-by-side that the contingency of a particular event or counterfactual can be ascertained. That is, you can't know from a single game whether a move was 'hard' or 'lucky'.)

As video games get trickier to learn - because learning is fun - they'll hit a point where it's as fast to get good at real-life skateboarding than it is to get good in-game. What an odd singularity. The choice for the player then becomes, where can I find the best teacher?

What would Richard Feynman do?