Coming Up in Factasia


This is my page for thinking aloud about where I am trying to go with Factasia. Once in a blue moon I try to make this page reflect what I would like to do with the web site, but I don't treat it like a plan and make any serious attempt to follow it.
The idea here is to say, for each subject area, why I am writing about it, and where I am heading.
The listing below starts with ultimate ends and progresses through techno-logical means to logico-philosophical underpinnings.
Links are provided to the relevant directories (click the icon, if there is one).
  • bibliography
  • business
  • computing
  • economics
  • engineering
  • the future
  • glossary
  • logic
  • maths
  • methods
  • music
  • philosophy
  • politics
  • science
  • religion
  • values
  • writing
  • What's New This Month
    Mostly material about analytic philosophy and its history.
    For the long view see:
    Factasia Development - Strategic Notes


    How to cast the die.
    Factasia as a whole is supposed to be about the future, so why is it a treated as a topic?
    I started this in 1997, when I spent a good chunk of time thinking about how to translate ideas about the future into realities. My future of the future material is about how the forces which shape the future will themselves be shaped in the future. I'm particularly interested in how ordinary individuals might influence the future, rather than despots and tycoons.
    I mismanaged my time on this topic and ended up with a lot of roughly sketched ideas but not enough words around them (even by my standards). For the bare bones see the presentation. Sometime I should go back and fill some of this in.
    This is also where I keep track of what other people are saying about the future (see the future net links), so I expect to pop back to that page every now and then to keep (it and me) up to date.


    Put the purpose back into life.
    This started as a wacky idea (invent your own religion, whence CYBERFAITH), but each time I think about it seems to get more important.
    The power of religion to transform peoples lives and shape the future has to be reckoned with.
    Nowhere in a hurry. This one needs a lot of festering.


    What matters?
    If we want a better future then we need to get our heads straight on what "better" means. That's why I'm trying to write something about values.
    I'm trying to suggest that we should all think harder about values, and that we should wear them on our sleeves. But its hard.
    Well, I'm not too sure about where this is going, but it has to be there, and it has to move on. Slowly.


    The food of love.
    Music is a chunk of my life. Listening to it, and doing it. I had have something on it.
    However different two activities are you can find connections, and bizzare connections can sometimes cast new light. When I think about things like learning and language my music seems to be telling me something which may be relevant to philosophy and artificial intelligence.
    You don't learn to play piano by reading a book. And if you do read a book about it, it probably won't be very enlightening. It seems that most people who know how to play well aren't much for writing. (contrast Chopin's struggle in his sketch for a method [Eigeldinger86], with Hofstadter's easy storytelling in Pattern poetry and power in the music of Frederic Chopin [Hofstadter85])
    I'd love to have a go at writing about what its like to learn and play Chopin, but can't pretend that its important enough to happen soon.
    I should have something about the power of music to shape young lives, the Chopin message may be a little dated.


    Power to the people.
    You can't seriously think about changing the world without engaging in politics. So I have a directory for this but have so far written absolutely nothing (though there are some bits about politics in other subject areas).
    I am intending to work out some ideas about the evolution of democratic institutions to make them much more responsive to the detailed wishes of the electorate (much more bandwith). But my main thrust is about how more sophisticated decentralised market mechanisms can do the functions of government better (see: Value Net). Something needs to be said in this area soon.


    Making every penny count.
    I regard economics as more important than politics in shaping the future so that's why its here, though the only bit of writing which belongs in this area is currently under "values":
    Value Net Value-net is about how we might transform our future through the marketplace, using economic power to leverage social change.
    This is one of the deserts in Factasia that I hope to populate (a little) in the near future. I'm interested in the role of markets in our global control system and in how to evolve markets which give us much better control over where the world is going (the future).


    Keeping the ship afloat.
    Whatever you're trying to do, you have to balance the books. Laudable ideals are no substitute for a sound business when it comes to feeding the children. On the other hand, do we have to earn our crust through businesses whose primary purpose (generating cash for shareholders) is at best orthogonal to most worthwhile purposes?
    We consider how good business might be made compatible with laudable purposes. Value agents are the first ideas, and the Factasia business model fills in some ideas on how to make a business out of a web site.
    This is so closely related to the economic thread that I expect them to move on together, but not much clue how right now.


    Infrastructure for the information society.
    The importance of this topic arises from the pervasive influence of computers and networks on the way our future society works.
    Of particular interest is the progression to intelligent information systems, how this will happen, what its effects will be and how to control it and exploit it in realising our utopia.
    A second interest is in the way in which computer networks can be exploited by people as part of a cybernetic control mechanism steering planet earth toward utopia and away from distopian nightmares.
    The Global SuperBrain The global superbrain theme has two faces which correspond to the two main interests in the information systems area. I'm hoping to be able to reorganise and fill out this material and related material on artificial intelligence in the not too far distant future.
    I'm particularly interested at the moment in making a connection between the people networking side of the global superbrain with the political and economic side of Factasia (e.g. the connection between the superbrain as a cybernetic control system and the proposed use of markets for the same purpose).


    Engineering a new world.
    Thinking of engineering very generally as how you build things that work (and keep them working), this area should cover how we build our new world, and how we build things in our new world.
    Engineering design is also a target application area for the logic technologies which we consider important. This covers the information systems design activities which are part of the design of our future society. In the future engineering a new constitution is information engineering.
    Mainly interested here in how to engineer the future and the global superbrain. More concretely in how the global superbrain automates engineering design using mathematical models via a logic based mechanisation of mathematics.
    There are so many other areas in Factasia which connect in to this one that I'm not sure whats on the cards in the near future specifically under this heading. Perhaps a good idea would be a page which shows all the connections.


    Scientific models for engineering design.
    Our enterprise is in large part engineering. We need models of the real world to enable us to design things which will work in the real world. Science is here so that we can talk about how to get models which are formal enough to be used by our mathematically talented global superbrain when it helps us out with the engineering design.
    There are also many other aspects of science and technology which will impact our future, e.g. genetic engineering and nanotechnology. The impact of science on society is a concern for society as a whole, not one to be settled covertly by scientists or any other special interest group.
    I would like to be able to do some work on scientific method. Particularly concerning how this might be impacted by the mechanisation of mathematics. Not soon.
    Evolution is an area of science of particular interest since it may be necessary to adopt evolutionary methods to realise artificial intelligence, and they may also be applicable to the more general problem of how to steer the good ship earth to its utopian destiny. Not sure how soon.


    The Science of Abstraction.
    Handmaiden of Science and Technology.
    Mathematics provides the raw materials from which science builds the models which are then used by engineers for designing our future. It also provides the theoretical underpinning for information technology which will eventually enable the global superbrain to look after the programming, while we human beings just work on getting the requirements right.
    Mathematics is enormously important and greatly underutilised. This particularly concerns the use of abstraction in reducing the complexity of information systems.
    Factasia is particularly concerned to collude in dragging mathematics into the 21st century. In particular in coming to terms with the fact that computers will soon be able mathematical assistants for mathematical reasoning as well as computation and symbolic transformation, and will eventually be independently capable of solving difficult mathematical problems and proving important new results.
    To this end I would like to do some speculative writing about the scope and nature of mathematics (to supplement the materal, mainly under other headings, concerning the mechanisation of mathematics).


    The purest technology.
    Logic provides foundations for mathematics and is the bedrock of rationality. Its so important to factasia that I'm stuck for words to explain why.
    Two little projects which are uppermost in my mind in this area are:
  • Filling in the story on the integration of compiler and logic technologies which is necessary to make HOST do what I want it to. This half belongs under computer science though.
  • Defining logical truth, which is part of the philosophical work underpinning HOST so doesn't really belong here.
  • Methods:

    How to get it done.
    To transform the world you need to know "how?", and the answer to this question is a method. Well, maybe lots of methods. I thought it might be a good idea to gather together methodological material into this one place. This was partly inspired by the idea that some methods, maybe "formal" or "analytic" methods, have a generality which transcends most subject areas.
    The framework for formal analysis is still no more than a skeletal sketch. I would like to see a bit of flesh on it.
    There is some method-related thinking in the rough material I have on The Future of The Future, and when I get back to this area some of it might get converted into articulated methods.


    Thinking it all out.
    See: Coming Up in FactasiaPhilosophy


    Nosing out a good book.
    The bibliography was originally intended to provide a consistent way of referring to books and papers, and also to makes it easy for me to provide links to booksellers. Now the remit has been broadened to include any other kind of resource which indexed by author, especially online resources. If I write notes on a book these are made available here, though generally they are scrappy and insubstantial.
    The main thing I would like to be able to do which connects with the bibliography is to provide help on how to achieve various things (e.g. defining and implementing a language and/or logic) which are practical guides linked to the best books to support this kind of enterprise. This potentially applies to any aspect of building our new future, the bibilography should be oriented to supporting projects of this kind. This doesn't require a change to the basic structure, but more subject specific pages with practical orientations.

    I am at present re-orienting the bibliography to include information about any kind of online electronic resources which are best indexed by author. This requires some changes to the style. I expect this to make it much more useful for me, and I hope it will make it more useful for others as well.


    Never short for a word.
    The main idea of the glossary is to make it easy for readers to discover the meaning of technical terms used in Factasia. It also potentially make Factasia accessible in the manner of an encyclopaedia, as well as the other ways.
    I think the basic idea is OK, and I shall carry on picking at it. There needs to be a lot more both of the glossary and the site for this to be much use.


    Dumping the ideas on paper.
    Building the future involves a lot of more concrete activities than writing, but writing is one of the few ways of working out what those more concrete activities might be, and that is the nature of the Factasia web site. Even the cerebral part of this project is orders of magnitude (who knows how many?) more work and talent than I can deliver, so the idea of this section is to share the techniques for sharing the ideas.
    When I get the hang of writing I may have more of value to say here. Meanwhile I don't anticipate a lot of action.

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