Monday, June 17, 2013

Response to Naomi Wolf's Snowden Concerns

Naomi Wolf expresses concern that Snowden is actually a government agent playing whistleblower. While this interesting theory might actually be true, the reasons given to support it are nonsense.

For example, Wolf thinks Snowden has too much "message discipline", to be a "real whistleblower". I follow Snowden on Twitter, and he does not have the message discipline that Wolf credits him with. He once tweeted, "I would fuck the shit out of [woman's name]." Then, with some Orwellian witchcraft, he retracted the tweet. Sounds to me like a man on the gallows!

Snowden is smart, and knows he has to play a numbers game. He has to be cynical, and media-savvy, as if his life depended on it. So maybe he is too slick to fit Wolf's conception of how a "real whistleblower" should appear.

Next, Wolf says that Snowden is in Hong Kong, and HK is closely related to the UK, and the UK is closely related to the USA. So obviously, Snowden is a covert US agent. Does Wolf not realize how much of a stretch this flying leap is?

Her most damning evidence is that Snowden does not have a lawyer. Why does an articulate man like Snowden need a lawyer? He has not broken any Hong Kong laws, as far as we know. So is Snowden too well-organized, or is he just authentic, and unguarded?

To be fair, there is an extradition treaty between the US and Hong Kong. Yet, Hong Kong is unlikely to extradite Snowden without approval from Beijing. All said, who's going to pull Snowden out of Hong Kong? Batman? And then, can a lawyer stop the Dark Knight?

As long as we're talking wacky theories -- for all we know, Snowden has already been debriefed by the Chinese. Not that they would get much use out of him. They are already in our systems.

Next, Wolf writes, "It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled..."
I think that recent whistleblowers were the last straws, confirming what we already knew.
We are all outraged by the story of NSA surveillance, but really, who is surprised?

"You have zero privacy anyway," then-Sun Microsystems' then-CEO Scott McNealy said in 1999. "Get over it."

I once worked with a bright and affable Engineer from China. He worked in the US Army Core of Engineers for a few years. Then, he worked for a large American e-commerce company. Now, he's gone back to China. He's a great guy, and I don't believe he's a spy. Still, how many American Engineers have seen the insides of Chinese defense installations, and companies?

If Snowden ever stands trial in a US court, I will personally donate 1 bitcoin to charity. I hope Snowden likes Chinese food -- the most popular kind of food in the world.
I hope you like Chinese food too. I do.

Update: I have removed the name of the woman Snowden tweeted about.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The God Bit: Machine Spirituality

Traditional AI paradigms consider consciousness to be a computer program. More precisely, AI tries to model your mind as software. Making an artificial mind is interesting. Hacking your own mind's software is even more interesting.
Let's explore this paradigm. I invite you on an informal Thought Experiment.

Find the God bit in the code in your cranium, and toggle it.
Depending on who you are, you might have tagged it the "belief" bit. Adjust accordingly.

So, if you were an atheist before, you're now a theist.
If you were a theist before, you're now an atheist.

Try switching back and forth.
One setting will probably feel more comfortable than the other. Here's the heart of this experiment -- try living with the "uncomfortable" setting for a few days.

I carried out this Thought Experiment myself.
I imagine everyone's code is unique, so reversing beliefs will produce different results based on identity. YMMV!

Here are my findings from this Thought Experiment:

1. You can change your beliefs as easily as your code. Optimize for fun!

2. Believing ( or not ) does not imply all kinds of things that I once thought it did.

3. I can believe, or not, independently of everything else. That's just how my code is designed.

4. Believing ( or not ) in God, seems to be a highly charged topic for most people, when it doesn't have to be.

5. Editing out the concept of God from your code entirely is not practical today, because the God meme is very much in circulation.

6. Here's some code I wrote recently. It is independent of the God bit. It has made me a much happier person:

   sub is_grateful {

If you try this Thought Experiment, please share your findings! Joy to the World!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Satoshi Nakamoto: Infinite Suspects, Eternal Suspense

Dr. Ted Nelson and I just now had a pleasant email exchange in which he offered to make a video crediting me with identifying Satoshi Nakamoto, if we turn out to be right. I feel so much better now. I am so glad that a great mind like Sensei Nelson validated my conjecture.

In truth, I don't want Satoshi Nakamoto to ever be revealed.     
If Mochizuki is indeed Nakamoto, then I am sorry to have possibly upset his well-deserved privacy and fortune. It was inevitable that somebody would have posited the same conjecture, sooner or later. 

Satoshi Nakamoto dropped enough clues to narrow this Drake's equation-style search for terrestrial intelligence. Take all the 40-ish, male, Japanese quants, who are fluent in number theory, English, C++, and economics. I'll bet you can fit this league of extraordinary gentlemen in an ordinary room. But would Mochizuki be alone in the room? And even if he were, would that prove that he is Nakamoto?

Hypothesis #1: one brilliant man (intentionally or not) revealed himself. Satoshi Nakamoto is Shinichi Mochizuki.

Hypothesis #2: one brilliant person cleverly misdirected us. We don't know who she/he is.

Hypothesis #3: Satoshi Nakamoto could be Anonymous. Some people in Guy Fawkes masks put on a fun musical show at Bitcoin 2013. I was there, man!

Hypothesis #4: Satoshi Nakamoto is the NSA. At Bitcoin 2013, some knowledgable people mentioned that the lead developer of Ripple worked for the NSA before.

Hypothesis #5: I am Satoshi Nakamoto.
I got a ZX Spectrum+ and taught myself programming in 1984. Now, I am a professional programmer, with a degree in Computer Science. I went through a Nipponophile phase in college, and took Japanese lessons for a couple of years. Next, I worked on a financial trading system on the 102nd floor of the former WTC. I have been hacking away at one of the hardest problems in Computer Science ( the P=NP Conjecture ) ever since I came across the Traveling Salesman problem in the 1980's. I am insanely passionate about the concept of Bitcoin. I would like to work on expanding and improving the Bitcoin economy. ( Got a job? Please contact me. I want to become a global nomad, and hack from anywhere, anytime. Pay me in BTC, and you shall know me by my git commits! )

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Man Who Identified Satoshi Nakamoto?

On May 11, 2013, I posted the ABC-BTC conjecture on my blog. The ABC-BTC conjecture states that Satoshi Nakamoto is Shinichi Mochizuki.

I posted this theory to Reddit, but was censored. I was told that "gossip relating to real life details of people against their wishes is against Reddit Terms of Service."

On May 12, 2013, I emailed Dr. Shinichi Mochizuki, apologizing for the intrusion, and asking him to comment on my theory. He hasn't responded, as of now.

A whole week later, Ted Nelson posted a video to YouTube, rehashing my theory. Reddit did not censor Ted Nelson's video.

These were my feelings:
"Who is this fucker, stealing my thunder? Why hasn't Reddit censored him? Why has he injected himself in the middle, instead of getting to the point? Why the cheap dramatics and the bad Dr. Watson impression? Why is he so certain that my theory is true? It's just a theory, with plenty of plausible deniability. Why has he put Shinichi Mochizuki on a pedestal? Why is he trying to speak Japanese? Mochizuki understands English perfectly well. Gimme a break! I am from India, but if you call me Guru, I'll punch you!"

Now, my feelings have changed.
I realize that Ted Nelson has better established credentials than I.

So it is natural that the mainstream would attribute the theory to him, even though I published it first. Ted Nelson has admitted that he was not the first person to publish this theory online, although he claims that he reached his conclusions independently. This is hard to believe, since Ted could have found my post with a simple Google search for "Satoshi Nakamoto" and "Shinichi Mochizuki".

The dramatics are necessary, so the audience feels the thrill of unwrapping a mystery slowly.
Discovering new things and solving mysteries is the essence of Mathematics.

Check my tweetstream ( @purrperl ) to verify my story.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto Identified?

Here's my wild-ass guess for today: Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto is really Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki. Let's examine the evidence:

1. Requisite level of mathematical genius; specifically, work on Number Theory.
2. Male, Japanese, 40-ish, living in Japan.
3. Nakamoto is fluent in English. Mochizuki grew up in the USA.
4. Elusive, reclusive behavior.
5. Same number of Hiragana symbols in first and last names of the two identities.
6. Some have speculated, based on v0.1 of bitcoin code, that the creator was someone with a lot of theoretical knowledge, but not a professional programmer.
7. Caroline Chen's article, "The Paradox of The Proof" doesn't mention bitcoin, but gives a glimpse into the mind of Shinichi Mochizuki. Read this very interesting article, and draw your own conclusions.


1. Satoshi Nakamoto

2. The Race to Unmask Bitcoin's Inventor(s)

3. The Paradox of The Proof

I am a professional programmer with 20 years of Perl and Web development expertise, available for full-time remote programming work. I live in the USA. Here is my resumé.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bitcoin's Potential for Social Change

Perhaps Professor Krugman is too hasty in calling bitbugs "antisocial". Bitcoin encourages secessionist tendencies, yet holds great potential for social change. What if the World Peace movement collectively transitioned to bitcoin? It would be possible for the people to negotiate peace with their warmongering governments.

Perhaps we will see the emergence of a self-contained, underground economy that chooses its own values. The bitcoin economy would perhaps do away with the real/perceived hypocrisy of political discourse.

Will this bitcoin-enabled New World Order be egalitarian? I don't think so. Early adopters, such as the Winklevoss twins, already have a significant advantage in the bitcoin universe. Question is, can we trust our new cyberpunk overlords?

Character is what one does, when nobody is looking. Bitcoin models reality much closer to human nature. Will the human civilization annihilate itself? Will we survive and thrive? We'll just have to trust human nature.

What will it take to bring about this self-fulfilling prophecy? What kind of infrastructure should bitbugs be building?
An easier, more private way of doing bitcoin transactions via cheap, ubiquitous devices, such as smartphones. Applications such as Bitcoin Wallet already enable this.
Yet, a tipping point hasn't been reached. I still think primarily in USD. When I think in a BTC-centric way, the world will be different.

In my opinion, bitcoin is full of open questions, and opportunities. I remain cautiously optimistic about it.

Full disclosure: I own 4 BTC which I bought at 5 USD/BTC.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Education: India and USA

I studied Mechanical Engineering for a year, in India.
I studied Computer Science for several years in the USA.
I have an inkling of how to contrast these two educational systems.
In the spirit of "release early, release often", I am publishing my current opinions, and inviting feedback.

Education in India:

                Teachers are given high respect, and treated as virtually infallible.
                Rote memorization was emphasized.
                Books and calculators were not allowed on tests.

                Students learned to do quick calculations in their heads.
                Students retain more material.

                Teachers were not questioned enough.
                The student's imagination and creativity were not emphasized enough.

                Include Art and Humanities courses to round-out the curriculum.
                Use free software.
                Expose all students to elementary computer programming.

Education in USA:

                Emphasis on inuition and understanding.
                Books and calculators were allowed in some tests.
                Critical thinking encouraged.

                Students integrate more material.

                Students can't do quick and dirty calculations in their heads.
                There is far less rigor than is needed for success.

                Use free software.