segunda-feira, 1 de setembro de 2014


Squarespace is far from perfect, but I decided to move all my stuff there, for now.

Including this blog.

To read more, please go there!

I won't be posting here anymore.

domingo, 24 de agosto de 2014

Intelligence is one's capacity to predict the future

I've been using this definition a lot, lately. Can't remember who told me first or where I saw it first. Wikipedia says Intelligence has been defined in many different ways such as in terms of one's capacity for logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awarenesscommunication, learning, emotional knowledge, memory, planning, creativity and problem solving. But without future accomplishments, how can you measure any of it?

As far as my limited intelligence can tell, the brain ( <-- many important videos there ) is still the most intelligent machine we know of. But it has a purpose. And one purpose only: generating movement. If you don't understand this, go ahead and watch the video!

Hitting a baseball is a very simple instance of that. It has to capture an image of a ball coming at a quite good speed, calibrate every muscle in the body to twist in a way to hit that ball with maximum power and give the hitter enough time to run across a big field before someone else brings the ball back. It generated a lot of movement and so complex ones we can barely reproduce them with robots. It's making small predicting calculations all the time, from what the pitcher might be thinking to actually predicting the ball's path after watching its movements, to dodging each base into a home run.

And how does that extrapolates to logic, memory, emotional knowledge, etc?

Being such a complex machine, it ended up malfunctioning. Like any other evolution mutation. Most are not useful. This was. (I'm not sure this is what happened, but I'm pretty sure it could have and at least something similar did): By abstracting the nature, we were able to predict when a tree would be fruitful and then start migrating places with more food supply. This brain malfunction would then be naturally selected to their offspring, which would be more plentiful than of those who couldn't find food. Regular Darwinism takes place.

Your brain is malfunctioning (this is no animated gif!)
Memory helps planning, creativity and problem solving. Those are all tools to shape the environment by predicting how those tools will behave. Communication forms the collective memory and allows the exchange of ideas. It's the obvious link of the humankind and it's also its biggest gap. It's so difficult to predict how to better communicate with any other single human that's probably, in the list, the one that takes the most out of a single brain. Processing all that data ain't a simple task, but all that's just so we can better tell what's next.

Emotional knowledge is just an attempt to keep the brain healthy. Bad emotions are reflections of unhealthy behaviour the brain identifies... But the brain isn't flawless and emotions are often wrong or too short-termed protection triggers. What? You think the brain is flawless? Some optical illusions are just one tiny demonstration of how flawed our brains are (another cool video here). Recent news bring another one: disorders. Depression (asap videos, yay), in that case. Emotions might be good indications on when your brain might start (or already have started) to malfunction. So knowing your emotions will lead to better predicting your own health state.

From that list, self awareness is probably the most difficult to extrapolate into my favourite intelligence definition there. How does that help predicting next events? Is it even a sign of intelligence? I don't know. You tell me. :P

Found this funny and insightful cartoon searching google images for "awareness". ^_^

quinta-feira, 7 de agosto de 2014

Let us all love sao paulo, shall we? A robbery tale followed by an inspiring idea.

I was just robbed by an armed man. No big surprise for a Sao Paulo's citizen. The police didn't care shit either. Somehow I was a bit surprised with that...

I had a great phone to be localized, a moto razr hd. No batteries to remove, cyanogenmod didn't allow it to be turned off (it always turns itself back on). I could have improved upon removing the SIM card by breaking something on the clips hole, but well... It was enough so I did even pinpoint his likely home or place where he could stop and find a way to remove the chip. Not a cop nearby, not the 190 (like 911 around here) and not a third cop over the phone would care enough.

Very luckily, that's all he robbed.

The whole robbery was anything like the 3 stooges. I was walking a dark street with a friend and being very cautious. When we got to the light side, very close to a train station (those are generally very safe here in Sao Paulo) and I relaxed. That's when he appeared. I was pushing him away, as I noticed it was a robbery... I had many people attempt to rob me, I fight and never lost anything... But then he showed his gun. A revolver, not much different from that image on the side, from what I can tell. I don't know guns, but I knew that was one. Well, I entered "victim mode" and was ready to give him everything. He had hidden the gun soon after showing it to us.

But then I noticed he was a stooge. He talked slow, not very frightening. I was assaulted by non-armed boys who did much better, and got 2 bucks out of pity from me, while they wanted the same phone. But that's another story...

The robber looked all right. Like most armed ones, as I hear. He didn't look like the usual thief, he had the appearance of a regular citizen "of good". And he definitely wasn't ready to do what he was doing. I gave my phone first. Then, when I noticed he was slow, so was I. I slowly picked my wallet and showed to him. "Look, I got no money, can I keep it?". He hesitated.

A homeless came by. He stood right there, in the middle of the assault, yelling in low voice, like a very drunk person, but seemed to be sober. He was mumbling "stop that, don't assault them" or something like that. The robber got confused, I saved my wallet. He asked for the bags. My friends bag had only clothes. He gave up on her, asked for mine. "What you got worth anything there?" I showed him the iPad. He took the whole bag.

That's when a woman came running and screaming "thief, thief", and he started to run away. I saw that and ran after both. The robber stopped, was going to pick the gun, but hesitated again. Turned around, and continued on running away. We followed him very closeby, few steps away from the "Paraiso" (Paradise) subway entrance. He passed by it, turned back, dropped my bag and went down.

The crazy lady asked me if her purse was in my bag. I stopped to check. Of course it wasn't, he didn't have any purse when he approached me and my friend! We continued to try and follow him, but it was too late.

I had no idea what I was going to do if I reached him, but inside the station I would sure start to yell "thief" as well, in hope a security guard would appear. Well, after that it was a lot of frustrated attempts to make any kind of security or police to do their work efficiently. They're not here to work - just like airport security isn't there for anything other than theater. One cop even told me "This is brazil".

I'll just skip all that.

There must be a more intelligent way to deal with this...

First, I'll take a few extra measures. From now on I'll keep in mind I'll just lose everything I walk with. And deal with that. This is easy to think about, there's no real challenge there, except you have to police yourself every day. It's like going to a poor and unknown country streets - you take as little as needed, and you think as if you're going to lose it today. Every day be glad if you didn't. Sure, you can take extra steps to protect against dumb robbers (such as mine up there) but you have to keep in mind sometimes they won't be so dumb.

That's not what I mean by "a more intelligent way"...

segunda-feira, 4 de agosto de 2014

Only for "geniuses" and not for stack exchangers

I came up with this quora question the other day about mathematicians and how they, along with most educated people, have some kind of difficulty on communicating with lesser educated ones (a.k.a. the public).

And most feedback I had there was not much different from what I had on a kind of similar post I've created months ago on stackexchange - educated people were putting me down, even while I got the sensation most of them didn't really get my question at all.

Now, it's no big news to anyone who read this blog (a.k.a. myself and my mom) that I suck at making myself understandable. I mean, it really isn't your fault if you can't understand whatever I say or write. I do believe I write enough you should be able to understand, but I often get myself with too many ambiguous messages when I re-read what I wrote, after understanding my dear readers point of view.

In any case, I think I also got to an answer to satisfy myself for that quora question: people are intellectually lazy. I'll write more about that later on, but it has a lot to do with definition of intelligence...

For now, I just want to start making a copy of all that. Because I like this subject and you never know when stackexchange community, quora or the internet will shut you down. So, redundancy copies! Whatever I write in my blog is automagically saved in my computer. ;-)

So, this is the question and answer I had on SEN before it got deleted, and how I can still see it right now:
Last format I've seem of this was from this image: enter image description hereWhat's the correct answer, and why?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Calvin LinTomásClement C.Samrat MukhopadhyayDavide Giraudo Feb 26 at 13:40

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit your question or leave a comment.

deleted by Community Mar 9 at 3:00

Considering that OP chose to answer this and claim that there is only 1 correct answer, I'm voting to close as this is "primarily opinion based". –  Calvin Lin Feb 26 at 13:08
@calvin i don't see what's wrong here. Can you please help me out? –  Cawas Feb 26 at 17:07   

The question is very ill formatted in every aspect and the answer could be anything you want.
Among common answers people give to this question, maybe the simplest one is 90, and at least 2 ways to achieve that:
n * (n + 1) = S
2 * (2 + 1) = 6
3 * (3 + 1) = 12
6 * (6 + 1) = 42
9 * (9 + 1) = 90
Or with algorithms, which is simpler to think about than to write...
n = 2; S = 6;
   n = S + (6 + (n - 3) * 2);
which, in each line, will bring n and S values of (formula in middle):
n   formula                  S   comment
2                            6   (starting condition)
3 =  6 + (6 + (3 - 3) * 2) = 12  ( 6 +  6)
4 = 12 + (6 + (4 - 3) * 2) = 20  (12 +  8)
5 = 20 + (6 + (5 - 3) * 2) = 30  (20 + 10)
6 = 30 + (6 + (6 - 3) * 2) = 42  (30 + 12)
...                              (42 + 14, 56 + 16)
9 = 72 + (6 + (9 - 3) * 2) = 90  (72 + 18)
To get to 9, we ignore 7 and 8 results, but not the maths / algorithm behind it.
There are two other common answers: 56 and 72. You just ignore the left column skipping from 6 to 9. It's probably easier to understand seeing the numbers:
solution 56 - completely ignore left column
1:   2 * (2 + 1) = 6
2:   3 * (3 + 1) = 12
5:   6 * (6 + 1) = 42
6:   7 * (7 + 1) = 56
And then:
solution 72 - ignore left column only inside (n + 1)
1:   2 * (2 + 1) = 6
2:   3 * (3 + 1) = 12
5:   6 * (6 + 1) = 42
6:   9 * (7 + 1) = 72
deleted Mar 9 at 3:00
I think you're wrong, it should be –  Daniel R Feb 26 at 13:12
This answer does not explain the use of the equals sign in the question - it gives formulae which compute to the numbers of the right hand side, but it doesn't explain why those formulae are equal to what appears on the left hand side. –  Mark Bennet Feb 26 at 13:28 
If there is only one correct answer, then I think it should be: "anything you want". –  Etienne Feb 26 at 13:53
What did I do or say that was so wrong, guys? Daniel seem to be joking. @markbennet The equal sign is just wrong, but it makes no difference for the logic. But what you mean about left side formula? –  Cawas Feb 26 at 22:13   
You didn't say or do anything "wrong". Apparently, many people just don't like this kind of questions. I agree with them (even though I didn't downvote). It just makes no sense to say that there is only one "correct answer". It is pretty easy to produce infinitely many simple algebraic formulas f(n) that will give the values 6,12,20,30,42 for n=2,3,4,5,6 and ... anything you want for n=7. –  Etienne Feb 26 at 22:59
Thanks @etienne. Do you think I should delete all this? –  Cawas Feb 27 at 3:34   
Well, I really don't know. It's up to you. –  Etienne Feb 27 at 7:53