Imagine Google apps as viruses or spyware

Maybe that’s not a fair analogy, but it is an interesting thought that Google apps would make fantastic viruses and spyware.

For one, you don’t need them to act like part of the operating system (Android) but they do anyway.

You can disable some of them though, but you do not get the option to uninstall them like regular programs. Not unless you root your phone, which voids your warranty. (Very convenient for phone manufacturers, I suppose.)

It’s interesting that Microsoft and Linux give you root privileges to your own computer. But for your ‘security,’ more likely the security of Google’s business, root privilege has to be wrestled from Android at potentially great expense. Google’s Android seems to give the user the ‘barest’ minimum of control. Like when task manager (on Windows) is disabled by a virus.

Then you notice that Google Play Services updated itself in the background without the option to give it the permission to do so. (Of course it is not the only culprit.) That’s classic virus/spyware behavior — doing interesting things under the hood.

You boot up the phone for the first time and you are asked to acknowledge (setup) the presence of Google. Then her apps encourage you to leave your door open in order to enable a better service experience for you. In real life, this is not smart.

(It’s okay that we have nothing to hide, but our private parts are still private parts. We might choose to bare almost all on the beach, but we leave the beach where it is when we leave it. It seems like several app builders just want us to live life fully as on the beach — for the convenience that that would provide them.)

Then, was there ever a sudden realisation that your phonebook was backed up to your Google profile for your convenience. That’s okay if you don’t mind. But was this feature on by default? You probably told it to. There are settings choices that the make easy to make, and may be useful. There are also menacing default settings, particularly those you cannot change (like the compulsory background updates using your data), or the option to change is blurred or discouraged (placed at the bottom of a scrollable menu, or ‘dehighlighted’).

In summary, it is possible, perhaps easy, to view Google’s Android as a hijacked opensource operating system. It’s just about their business though; nothing personal. (The article in the following link highlights the business: It doesn’t seem like things have changed.

So I’m beginning to think that it is in the interest of the public, national security, and basic human rights, that Google’s Android come with root access provided, and better, easily accessible user control of access to the private. And if Microsoft lost an antitrust case, should Google not lose one too.

Information, Being, and Living

From information theory, we might want to say these things relating to life, nature, and society. Each thought has significant consequences.

Wherever there is change, information has been generated or effected. This is the establishment of purpose and meaning, since a destination becomes implied by change, or because of it.

E.g. Movement (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual …).

Every change is a cause. And we change as we move, exercise, take action, make action….

Change, or information, does not have to be perceived for it to exist. However, that it exists should mean that it is perceivable.

E.g. The cycle of cell replacement in the body. Healing and repentance. Impression of righteousness, faith, hope, love….

A state of constancy (like a change with difference only in time) is itself information: speaking either of a powerful inertia, or of a balance of influences. Constancy tells one that another can be trusted to be/do ….

E.g. Attitudes and character. God. Commonsense. Physics. Satan. Chemistry. Fidelity. Biology.

If an apparently random system, or system far from equilibrium, continuously produces information, then over time, that system will arrive at an equilibrium position or system (even if complex).

E.g. The development of the United States. Origin of the world. Rockefeller’s increase in wealth. Socialism. Scientology. Increase in people giving away their virginity during their teenage years. Gluttony in food, drink etc. Divorce. Social organisation ….

The Big Bang, Information Theory, and Society

The big bang was said to have launched our reality about 14 billion years ago. At its start, the universe was far from equilibrium and there was a lot of uncertainty. Over the years, patterns towards balance (equilibrium) developed and resulted in what we perceive today: interconnected spots of certainty.

From seeming randomness to seeming organisation, that is the story of the evolution of human society.

If we describe information as a reduction in uncertainty, we can say that the ‘big bang’ and its evolution to our current reality was, and produced, a massive stream of information.

We may indeed read some things from our considerations of it.

If in some way we can feed a system information, so that it produces information in a way that we would like, then we have determined a hopeful end.

And if we perceive correctly, the information we are producing as a society, we would better be able to tell where we might end, and perhaps also, what information to imbibe in order to modify the pattern of change that trails our information generation.

Information, Certainty, and Behaviour

Gregory Bateson would say that information is the ‘difference that makes a difference.’ So we could say/see that judges in shows like Xfactor, Project fame, et al, receive information from the differences (shows) created by the contestants. And there are differences between the differences so that they have information to receive and judge.

You have received something from every difference that makes a difference to you: information.

Practically, judgement is information processing information to produce information. And a lot (if not all) of the manifestations of self (behaviour) come from previous judgements. So that change is possible with the right information processed correctly.

A bit more technically, information is the reduction in uncertainty. This is easy to picture: how certain are you that what he meant to say by what he said, was what you interpreted from what you heard. The larger the reduction in uncertainty, the more information you received (as opposed to noise, or confusion), and the more correctly certain you (think you) are.

To have information is thus to have accepted certainty about a particular reality or perception.

There is a mantra that says something like, ‘get feedback to get clarity.’ Indeed, the main reason for feedback is to ensure the correctness of our eventual perception cum certainty. Fundamentally, we seek feedback for certainty. This is important because certainties are at the core of our psychology, hence, of our experience of reality, and behaviour.

To summarise: information gets transformed into our certainties, and our certainties result in our behaviour. Every movement is motivated by information, and produces information. And every action, tangible or otherwise, is a statement of certainties.

Your Brain Learned to Control Your Organs

Your brain learned to control your organs. Very little came hard-coded at the start.

Our brains developed first with basic firmware, and not the full operating system, with models of organ behaviour et al, learned. By virtue of its awesomeness, it built its own operating system. If it learned wrongly, disease and abnormal situations occurred. Examples might be epilepsy and some congenital disorders.

But the brain would not be able to cause normal operation if the organs didn’t function the way the did. Every organ has a voice, and a language the brain learns, much in the same way that children pick up the language of their environment as they grow up. This learning starts in the womb. Upon reading what an organ says, if it responds wrongly, it gets a message it interprets as negative. And it tries again with something new, but now more informed. The process iterates at incredible speeds so that the organs do not roll into disequilibrium or instability.

Every organ is an independent machine with inputs, outputs, and a messaging Protocol. The brain figures out which is positive and negative after it attempts control until it figures out what really works. kind of like using what they call ‘system identification’ in the field of control engineering. We’re basically saying that the model for/and control is learned along the way. So that we move from apparent randomness to perceived order. What we call ‘Genetic algorithms’ also might mimic this learning process: starting from an initial guess and iterating through better and better ‘guesses’ (of models and associated control) based on the brains perception of the responses, until ‘flow’ is achieved.

The brain learns to control the heart and heart rate, and to do so optimally, the same way it learns a habit. It seems that once it identifies a feasible direction, equilibrium point, or a way to make an organ work, it seeks to reinforce the associated neural firing pattern by driving the same pattern when close/similar stimuli to the originating stimuli for that pattern exists. This is like the OGY control method for chaotic systems in a way, and how it is possible to sail around the world:

Where am I?
Which wind can/should I catch?
Catch it and ride
I hope it leads home
Jump from wind to wind
I hope it leads home
Jump from wind to wind
Getting closer in general
Repeat until objective achieved.

Its interpretation of overall stability, efficient global equilibrium, or effective local behaviour might be the basis of the brains response to organ behaviour. It is a learning machine that learns equilibrium oriented experiences; perhaps identified by dopamine, endorphins, and similar chemicals. Practically, it attempts to estimate the stable state of the functioning of the organs by seeking what it interprets to be peace in the long run and minimising what it sees as pain.

We could expand this to also say that the brain uses the same mechanism to arrive at ‘all’ its decisions and norms: a kind of reinforcement learning seeking peace, long term. (We may add our personal psychology too.) Reinforcing what leads to peace and what combats pain, as perceived. And then, once it concludes that it has learned adequately or correctly, it feels the need to remain the same (as with the phantom limb phenomenon).

Reinforcement learning makes the brain an obsession generation engine; both good and bad, useful and wasteful. And especially as it got positive feedback then the process started, it will release ‘feelings’ that tempt the person to act such that it can reinforce and establish the associated patterns of peace.

Read, record, respond: the brain does that. Sometimes, ‘respond’ comes before ‘record,’ with reflexes and all the learning going on. Think of a baby crawling. The brain learns its limits. And as the limits expand (stronger bones and muscles), it launches him to his feet over time. Apparently, it must test limits too.

Epilepsy? The brain has a reward circuit for it, I think. It probably ‘feels’ good (or right) when it happens. But why, or how?

If a situation persists, then it may be that we enjoy it in some way. Perhaps the brain thinks that it (epilepsy) is the better of two evils: in the sense of the body temperature rising because of malaria. The brain seeks to reinforce behavior or firing patterns it is more comfortable with (still the peace motive). So if it were not okay with the stimulus
(or neuronal response) that leads to epilepsy? It will try not to reinforce it. Can’t this habit of the brain be replaced?

An example of neuroplasticity: the more a ‘naturally’ grumpy person thinks good happy thoughts, the happier they feel, and therefore, the happier they get. So that they evolve to become, at the least, not naturally grumpy. Neuroplasticity is thus, perhaps, the basis of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), hypnosis, and other such methods for behaviour modification. Also why/how meditation on the Bible changes you. The assumption is that, ‘behaviour,’ whether internal (as in the ‘natural’ function of the body system), or external (as with out attitudes) are represented by patterns of neuronal connections, firings, and firing patterns.

So a question arises: couldn’t we ‘cure’ diseases like epilepsy by harnessing the neuroplasticity principle? By facilitating and/or learning new methods of control? Perhaps this has been explored already.

Neuroplasticity is usually spoken of, it seems, in the context of learning and healing; but there is more. We could say that neuroplasticity is the fundamental attribute of the brain, because that most of its functions and functioning result from it. It is a primary characteristic that makes the brain, the brain. And it results from the design of the brain as a learning machine that evolves itself, significantly motivated by its connections and perceptions.

PS: armchair neuroscience

Why is there something rather than nothing

Why is there something rather than nothing?
An answer is that we cannot say.
Explorations in physics may explain the beginnings of the universe,
but not its origin, we could say.
The mantra of bombardment and collision
looking for that which is fundamental
and to explore it further
might dwell inside of sceptical regress,
one of the Trilemmas of Agrippa.
Another of which leads back
to where we started.
That is, the question.
And the last, a certainty
To which we may ascribe the trait:
no beginning and no end.
It is what it is.

If the Higgs is the last,
or string theory be right,
what we have is still some thing.
So we trace again to the lemma,
saying that there was a first:
energy or matter,
it doesn’t matter.
For by Einstein,
they are linked by a thing:
we call it light.
A constant effect,
simply present.

Which came first,
somethingness or nothingness?
If it were to be nothingness, then how did anything come to be;
and if it were somethingness, how did it come about.
Which of these two did you choose to be true;
your preferred mystery.

Proteins are Delicious Drugs

That’s perhaps stating the obvious, but I recently came to an awareness of this. There must be something of the character of drugs in any food that tastes really really nice when only salt (and onions?) has been added on cooking.

(Also, it might be a good test for protein content, to grill and taste the contestants. You know how grilled potatoes taste. Compare that with grilled fish. No contest.)

There’s this thing called dopamine in the brain, engineering reward (aka pleasure) feelings, and therefore repeat (a la temptation). Its ‘dop,’ and I think because it is an amine. Proteins get broken down into amino acids for use by the body. In the right path, we might end up, actually, drugged.

By the way, who likes beans?

Put two and two together: our enjoyment of roast beef and fried chicken makes brain sense. Proteins are delicious because of the way the brain interprets their presence. From taste alone, we feel high pleasure.

Choices And Consequences: The End Doesn’t Justify The Means

I think that it is mostly, if not always, wrong to say that the end justifies the means; what is more apt is to say that the means justify the end.

The end they got was a child.
The means was ‘in vitro fertilisation,’ (or adoption, or sex).
The end justified the means. That’s okay.

But a conclusion doesn’t live for its premises: it would not exist if they didn’t at first exist, because Premises define the possibility of the conclusion through a sound argument.

So, actually, it was the means that justified (led to) the child.

The end she wanted, and got, was marriage.
The means included a deception-cum-betrayal.
If the end justified the means, it would place focus on the nature and characteristics of the end. Therefore saying that that end justified the means would be unsound because the road to marriage, ideally, assumes certain truths and trust.

If the means justified the end, that would be sound because it is not about what marriage assumes, but the path that successfully led to it, questions of morality aside.

An end may have many means, thus a many-to-one mapping; a surjection. There are many ways to weave a basket or express appreciation. One way might be unsound. Regardless, the way that you chose led to the destination that you reached; the end you justified. This is the better perspective.

If we wanted a direct cause-effect relationship. We’d be wrong to think that the end justified the means where there is a many-to-one mapping. An injection, a one-to-one mapping, is more reasonable. And it says that the means justify the end.

So if one justifies his means by his end, he is likely looking from the wrong side of the binoculars. And the one who justifies his end by his means? He follows natural law.