Milan's Public Journal

© Welcome to Milan's Public Journal, weblog by Milan Živić - a personal cloud of short stories, both fiction and real, including honest reviews, travel guides, rationality and personal glimpses of the world. Also a lot of science, physics, astronomy, science fiction, history and reflections on religion and politics.
"The site of supersonic fighters constantly flying above the beaches, parked heavy military aircrafts next to the civilian runway and anchored large destroyer ships in Souda Bay was definitely not something old Minoans would evolve into if history played the cards differently." - The Minoan Legacy

"With this summer trip I rounded walking the lands of all three main stages of Greek ancient times. Classical Greece that belongs to the mainland north of Sparta, Mycenaean epoch that precedes them in the time of Agamemnon and now the ancient of the ancient civilisation of Minoans that precedes them all." - The Minoan Legacy

Serendipity vs Zemblanity

Do you gamble? I don't. Not because it is not fun nor because it is one of famous five sins. It is simple for me. I never win. I tried couple of times with lottery tickets and I never won a dime. Not to mention that I am terrible at predicting sport results or to win any kind of gambling event. I remember once I watched Euro-song contest and had strong feeling that Austrian band will win big time. Their performance was great and the song was pretty good.. I even typed one of those SMS messages to support them. And yet, they scored exactly zero points! Were they bad? No. Check the video within YouTube refs below. They were pretty good. Only sometimes, the luck doesn't come with quality.. It chooses by some strange criteria, as it seems, I will never understand.


When I was in high school I thought I was smart enough to build some system by analyzing previous results in national lottery and to win at least the second prize which would be enough for me to buy super home computer of the time. Nope. It was complete failure and waste of my time and efforts. It goes that far that sometimes it could be completely disturbing and cruel for my inner emotional personality. Let me give you one example - we have a projector clock, a small gadget in our bedroom that shows time and temperature on the wall. Couple of seconds it is the time that's written on the wall and other couple of seconds it is the temperature. My luck is going that much down so when I want to see the time the wall is beautifully decorated with temperature. You guess, when I want to see the temperature I always need to wait first for annoying time to disappear from the wall before showing what I want to see. Ok, ok, it is not always like that, but it is also not 50-50 chance as everybody would expect. I checked. More than twice. It's irritating. So don't call me Lucky, cause it is not my middle name. However I strongly believe in universe balance in everything, so my inner luckiness balance is not exception either. My middle name could be Serendipity - not really in Fleming's kind of a way but I definitely have some "scientific" or "intelligent" or "accidentally on purpose" kind of luck or whatever how serendipity could be described better.

I tried to find better description of the word on the net and after all the best explanation was given by Julius H. Comroe, Jr. - he described serendipity as: "to look for a needle in a haystack and get out of it with the farmer's daughter". Ok, ok, I am not that lucky as well, but this is it. Let me explain on my usual experience when I stuck with some programming problem and I can't find the solution. This is not those kind of blockage when I have to learn new stuff to continue. These are those events when I have to investigate the problem on the net for couple of hours and find nothing useful. I mean nothing at all. Before, in the past, I was desperate and I always ended in rewriting the complete code from the beginning, but now I simply know that when I am not finding anything on the topic on the thing so big as internet is, it usually means there is no problem at all! What it means is that I am simply forgetting to include some semicolon or experiencing some other small and syntax related error or I am simply too tired to see the solution starring at me invisibly. Luckily for me, serendipity saved me so many work hours and I always describe this as "I found the solution by not finding it".


There are many well known serendipities in the past and probably the most famous is the story of how Alexander Fleming discovered the penicillin and how this accidental discovery is continuously saving lives, not to mention resulting research in antibiotics and continuous fight with bacterial diseases up to date. Here is the complete story from the NOVA science article "Accidental Discoveries"*: "While researching the flu in the summer of 1928, Dr. Fleming noticed that some mold had contaminated a flu culture in one of his petri dishes. Instead of throwing out the ruined dish, he decided to examine the moldy sample more closely. Fleming had reaped the benefits of taking time to scrutinize contaminated samples before. In 1922, Fleming had accidentally shed one of his own tears into a bacteria sample and noticed that the spot where the tear had fallen was free of the bacteria that grew all around it. This discovery peaked his curiosity. After conducting some tests, he concluded that tears contain an antibiotic-like enzyme that could stave off minor bacterial growth. Six years later, the mold Fleming observed in his petri dish reminded him of this first experience with a contaminated sample. The area surrounding the mold growing in the dish was clear, which told Fleming that the mold was lethal to the potent staphylococcus bacteria in the dish. Later he noted, 'But for the previous experience, I would have thrown the plate away, as many bacteriologists have done before.' Instead, Fleming took the time to isolate the mold, eventually categorizing it as belonging to the genus penicillium. After many tests, Fleming realized that he had discovered a non-toxic antibiotic substance capable of killing many of the bacteria that cause minor and severe infections in humans and other animals. His work, which has saved countless lives, won him a Nobel Prize in 1945."

Beautiful story but due to my bad luck (awkwardly convenient to the topic) I hate to say that I am allergic to penicillin. Nevertheless, Fleming's story is the serendipity kind I wanted to mention in this post. This is something that drives me personally my whole life and what I identified as my friendly companion in my work and life. Comparing to pure luck, for me, this is not something that you have to count on you journey. Rather it seems that this is kind of luckiness you deserve somehow, simply by not giving up from what you are doing. In other words if you are persistent enough in reaching some goal, little serendipity will smile at you when you least expect. Sometimes I like to call it intelligent luck, a kind of luckiness that is given by some big amount of research - a reward of some kind, if the effort is truly genuine.


More than a century before Fleming there was one more, I'd say even more "effective use of serendipity". It was in late 18th century, in the time of legendary "philosopher's stone" - a myth describing the existence of the mysterious substance capable of turning base metals into gold. Among all those alchemists of the time, the best known was Hennig Brand, who thought the mystical substance might be, well, urine. So he stockpiled it in enormous quantities, especially from beer drinkers, and started brewing, boiling, stewing and experimenting with gallons of yellowish liquid. He didn't produce any gold, of course, but in the end, he did found a whitish substance in the sludge that glowed in the dark. What he discovered was the element phosphorus. The name, appropriately, starts with "p"**

While reading about serendipity on the net I found something I didn't know - the word "zemblanity". It is completely opposite to serendipity - something like "unpleasant surprise" or "development of events in a non-happy or non-beneficial way". As the word is unfamiliar the effect is not, sometimes I experienced this one as well. When this happens, for me it means that I am really doing something I shouldn't do in the first place. I wonder, if the "universe balance" in humans like me is true, when the pure luckiness is rare and serendipity is not, then what is the counter-weight for those lucky ones? Maybe they experience zemblanity often?

Yin can't make it without the Yang.

Original post: March 2012, Update: December 2017.

Article quotes:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/accidental-discoveries.html
** https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/phosphorus-starts-with-pee

Refs:
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/images/I061/10326668.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5018998.stm
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1385402
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/accidental-genius
http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/464-serendipity-and-zemblanity.html
http://serendipitypatchwork.com.au/blog/2007/02/10/serendipity-zemblanity/
http://zemblanity3.blogspot.com/
http://www.biography.com/news/alexander-fleming-5-other-accidental-medical-discoveries
https://youtu.be/duW-PsDbysg

5th Grade Coding

It was different when I was 5th grader in many ways. Learning how to code was not in the realm of elementary schools back then. Computers were simply too large and expensive for kids to play with and having a good teacher who knew programming languages was rarity. So I was in a bit of a blur when I pressed "P" key on, my first, just unboxed, brand new and state of the art, Sinclair ZX Spectrum' keyboard with amazing 16KB of RAM memory. It reacted immediately and at the bottom of the large home TV, it said "PRINT" followed with blinking black square cursor. "2+2" I added and hit "ENTER". It was like magic seeing "4" printed on the screen next instant. The magic of course was not in the correct number. It was rather in the unworldly feeling I got that exact moment of what would come next. What I could command it to do. It was like I found the door of the amazing new world and the door started to open wide!

Soon later I learned more, especially commands like "INPUT", "IF", "FOR", "GOTO" and those more interesting ones, like "PLOT", "BEEP", "DRAW" followed with even more exotic directives like "PEEK" and "POKE". It went without saying that I occupied living room TV for too many precious hours every day, so my parents eventually bought me a small 12", black and white TV, so I continued with my self-coding BASIC lessons (and with games) on my little 5th grader's desk in my room.


Today, in Viktor's 5th grade time, three and a change decades after, introducing the programming world is a bit different. The main tool is now the browser and the language evolved into VPL or Visual Programming Language. This practically means the coding is done by creating and juggling program elements within graphical environment. It is far more intuitive than doing it with words and I can't see any obstacles that, in one way or another, what kids are doing today will be the main way of coding in the future. How far in the future is debatable but just compare the function created by one simple VPL in above screenshot with the following code that does the same thing and I am sure that you don't have to be coder in order to understand what's better for 5th graders to start learning programming. And not just for them.

public void NectarCollection() { for(int i=0; i<=3; i++) { MoveForward(i); for(int j=0; j<=2; j++) { MoveForward(j); GetNectar(j); } TurnRight(i); } }

VPL coding was not the new idea. Programming languages are slowly pushing in this directions for some time. For example, within my professional world, which is fully oriented towards the data manipulation, unified communication and business in general, the main programming tool is Microsoft's Visual Studio with its first version dating way back in 1997. It's current release is named VS2017 and it's about tenth or eleventh edition by now, but in the nutshell very little inside is truly visual. To be honest, there are some graphically operated bits and pieces but still, good old VS is still using the text editor for it's main weapon.

Quantum Weirdness

Rarely I've got a chance and real opportunity to revive an old article from the past and to update it to fit better in the present day. Actually, the quantum weirdness is still where it was four years ago - science is not something that changes over night especially with quantum mechanics, so I am not going to update the post with any new physics or breakthroughs. Instead, what 's new and what pushed me to repost today is one extraordinary novel in the field. The book that kept me from sleeping last weekend was "Quantum Space" by Douglas Phillips and in short it is by far, one of the best titles I read this year. It is one of those true sci-fi stories that follows the real science and in this case the weirdness of the quantum world I wrote about in this post and I would add one of those articles I enjoyed the most writing in the history of the blog. But, before couple of my glimpses to the book itself, followed by my warm recommendation and especially if you want to read it yourself, please continue reading about physics itself. This one definitely requires some knowledge to understand it fully, so let's start with some weirdness of our own macro physics first.

It's very well known that the world we live in are driven by two sets of rules or physic laws. The one for big and the one for small. We don't need to be rocket scientists in order to observe our big world surrounding us and to notice all the laws we obey to. For example if we drop a book and a feather and let them both hit the floor separately, it is obvious that book touches the floor first. However if we put feather ON the book and let them fall together, they will hit the carpet in the same time. Well, the book will still hit the carpet first, but if you try the experiment you will know what I mean. This simple experiment was itching Galileo's mind centuries ago when he discovered one of the fundamental physics law stating simply that mass of the object has no influence to the speed of free falling. But, we can ask ourselves next, why the feather traveled slower toward the floor if dropped alone? Because of the things we cannot see. The air is blocking it. To learn what is happening with the feather during the fall we have to go beyond our eyes. We need science and experiments to discover why small molecules of the air would rather play with feather than with heavy book.


Was the book/feather experiment weird to you? I am sure it was at least little weird if you are seeing it for the first time. We simply accept things for granted. What we cannot see, like the air and its little ingredients in above experiment, we tend to exclude from our perception. If this was little strange and intriguing, lets go further to the world of even smaller and compare it to the world of the big. For example, in a mind experiment, we have a 9mm gun and shoot toward the wall with two holes in it, both with diameter of 9mm or little bigger. If you are Olympic champion in shooting you will, of course, need only two bullets, one for each whole. In the world of little if we use a gun that shoots electrons toward a wall with two adequate holes in it, you would probably think that we would need two electrons to hit both holes, right? Nope, we need only one. Believe it or not, one electron goes through both holes and we even don't need to aim too perfectly. No, it doesn't split up in two and use each half to pass the holes. It goes through both holes in the same time. In fact, if we had three or more holes on the wall, one single electron would go through each one and in same time use all possible paths toward the destination. Perhaps the best illustration what happens in this experiment is presented by "Stephen Hawking's Grand Design" documentary made by Discovery Channel.

And you thought feather on the book was weird...

Space Humor

It happened long ago, in the dark ages of CRT monitors, when I first received a short forum message with :-) at the end. I stared at the message for a long minute(s) before giving up of decoding its meaning. It came from the well respected friend of mine so I responded with short reply:

"What?"

"You have to turn your screen 90 degrees clockwise." Answer came promptly.

My CRT was large and heavy and it looked way too dangerous to tilt it that way so after little brainstorming the problem, I concluded there's a better way of achieving the same goal.

I tilted my head 90 degrees anticlockwise.

"Aaaaaah!!!" I said promptly and after realising the picture, big smile on my face slowly morphed into loud laughter. So I typed back:

"Wow!"

I didn't have to wait long for the next message:

"LOL!"

"What?" - I quickly copy/pasted my earlier message but realised I was too not informed about new internet fashion so I canceled the message and opened new Netscape window instead, called www.altavista.com and 'googled' new internet words. Ever since then LOL is on the top of my list of favorite acronyms. Along with all those cute ASCII faces. ;-)


In my case, and probably with many people as well, laughter is one of those most powerful cure for everything. The all mighty vaccine for all diseases. Especially boredom and poor moodiness. LOL moments, somehow come naturally with live social occasions and in movies but in books they have one extra dimension. I really can't explain why is that. Perhaps funny moments in written world often come unexpected and more genuine. Take for instance Andy Weir's "The Martian" - the hilarious parts in the book were genuinely funnier than in the film. At least with me... Well, nevermind that, so to get to the chase, last month I read three extraordinary funny books in the realm of science fiction and space exploration. So here they are in this short review, sorted by the count of LOL moments I had during reading. In descending order of course.

The first one was "Where the Hell is Tesla?" by Rob Dircks. I stumbled to this one by accident and boy I am glad I did. Nikola Tesla is one of my favorite men in the history of people, science and engineering and here in Serbia, especially during my childhood, Tesla was idealised and always portrayed in too serious manner. Anyhow, when I saw the title with Tesla playing the major role in the comedy story I couldn't resist and I didn't regret a single penny. It was by far the funniest book I read in a while. It had it all, decent science fiction based on cutting edge scientific theories of the multiverse, the romance and friendship within different storylines, cute aliens, sci-fi battles of enormous proportions, great style of writing, Nikola Tesla in the most entertaining meaning of the word and of course ... Chip. I am not going to spoil the reading for you but I will tell you this. On one occasion, I almost dropped my Kindle on the hard floor caused by one of the strongest LOL moments. Enough said.


The second is "Jazz of Artemis". In context of today's post, this is how I would name the book if I was Andy Weir. Of course, his new book is not a comedy per se. But it is not "The Martian" as well. However, in the realm of the funny moments it is a decent sequel. Way better and much funnier. Jazz is ... let me find the right word ... extraordinary girl on the multiple levels. I enjoyed her adventures fully and I do hope for the real sequel this time. I mean with Jazz around, what can go wrong on the Moon? I really hope there will be the movie after this one as well but not solely because of the entertainment part and all the LOL moments, especially with that Svoboda guy and his ability to manufacture various devices that do or do not belong to ESA blueprints and worksheets.

But seriously, what Andy Weir did with creating a fully functional city on the moon with both working technology and society organisation is amazing and also extraordinary. It definitely deserves the motion pictures and I am sure filming the movie that takes entire story and action on the moon is another challenge. I am sure Ridley Scott is buzzing his mind with this as we speak.


Finally and to use the cliché, the last but not the least comes the good old British humor. Something I grew up with all the great TV shows like "Monty Python" and "Only Fools and Horses" or short comedy sketches and skits by Dave Allen, Benny Hill, Rowan Atkinson and others. But in the flashlight of the parody novels the throne is still with Douglas Adams and his "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". This was the first book I experienced LOL moments with, way before LOL acronym was ever invented. "The Worst Man on Mars" by Mark Roman and Corben Duke was probably the most similar novel I read in a long while.

This is also a parody, but not really as much as the famous predecessor. This book follows the plausible science fiction and doesn't go into wild imagination, like the restaurant at the end of the universe or "42". I really did like many technological backgrounds inside, like artificial intelligence or space elevator for example. But the humor with this one comes first and the robots in their sitcom on Mars are something I do recommend warmly.

:-)

Refs:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25053578-where-the-hell-is-tesla
http://www.andyweirauthor.com/books/artemis-hc
https://www.amazon.com/Worst-Man-Mars-Mark-Roman/dp/1536930970
http://www.milanzivic.com/2013/06/dave-allen.html
https://www.space.com/38725-artemis-andy-weir-author-interview.html

Here’s How Augmented Reality is Going to Rock Our World

Augmented reality (AR) is on the cusp of changing the world. The technology overlays imagery and information about our physical surroundings on visual devices like tablets, mobile devices, and wearable hardware like glasses. Everything from how we shop to technical training will change as advances in AR create new applications in every aspect of our lives.

Apple has been at the forefront of the AR trend with the introduction of ARKit, a framework tool that enables AR mobile web app development for the iPhone and iPad. The software uses the device’s camera, motion sensing, GPS data, and more to explore the physical world around us and add new, innovative ways to interact with it. Here are other ways augmented reality is changing the world as we know it.

Guest writer article by Serena Garner


Augmented reality (AR) is on the cusp of changing the world. The technology overlays imagery and information about our physical surroundings on visual devices like tablets, mobile devices, and wearable hardware like glasses. Everything from how we shop to technical training will change as advances in AR create new applications in every aspect of our lives.

Apple has been at the forefront of the AR trend with the introduction of ARKit, a framework tool that enables AR mobile web app development for the iPhone and iPad. The software uses the device’s camera, motion sensing, GPS data, and more to explore the physical world around us and add new, innovative ways to interact with it. Here are other ways augmented reality is changing the world as we know it.

The Application of AR Will Spread Everywhere

Gamification is a great way to introduce new technology to consumers. It’s fun, entertaining, and a proven way to teach users new applications. Probably the most well-known AR mobile app is Pokemon Go!, which introduced millions of consumers to the concept of augmented reality technology.

The same ideas that made this app so successful can be applied to the workplace. For instance, it is possible to gamify the work process, allowing employees to earn points and rewards as they complete tasks, outperform, and improve their results. Gamifying enhances engagement and employee performance.

The potential for improving lives, however, goes beyond simple gaming. With AR, the workplace can be transformed with greater safety and efficiency by giving staff access to vital information about their surroundings. Things like warnings about machine operations, tracking items within a warehouse, or expanding situational awareness in chaotic environments can contribute to better and safer spaces for employees.

The applications AR has for life-saving are also vast. From military in the field to underserved remote areas of the world, medical training and guidance can become an augmented reality experience that will save time and even lives.

It Has Even Greater Effects on Retail and Design

Another huge impact from AR will be in the world of commerce and e-commerce. AR mapping of retail malls and stores will turn searching for any item into simply following of a virtual map to its location.

Through various scanning techniques, shoppers will be able to use their own facial features or body types to virtually try on merchandise. Since the inability to try on clothing or shoes account for over 30% of Ecommerce returns, the online market will expand and satisfy customer needs more easily. They can now offer products that will perform as expected, clothing that will fit, or determine if a purchase will fit in the space that you envision.

The design world will be turned on its head as AR technology continues to develop. Products can go through an AR modeling process that will skip the physical prototype phase, saving time and money and allowing for design improvement and enhancement.

3D models will become virtual experiences, such as a car designer sits inside a car and sees the impact of layout. Or, a furniture designer tests designs for ergonomics or structural issues without the need for physical samples.

AR Has an Enormous Financial Upside

From a business point of view, the stakes are high for augmented reality. Broadening markets, improving customer satisfaction through quality sales, and developing marketing ideas that will create more user engagement and loyalty all will improve the bottom lines of companies. The revenues for companies investing in AR technology that integrates with their products and services is expecting to explode from $23 million today to almost $50 billion in less than five years.

Utilizing and understanding AR technology now will provide businesses with revenue-enhancing opportunities ahead of the competition. It will also provide consumers with a new way to engage in aspects of life ranging from gaming to the workplace.

AR has arrived and will expand at a breakneck pace. As consumers and employees, we will see our world change in ways that will save time and money, enhance our everyday experience, and move us into the world of the future.

Robert Langdon vs Desmond Hughes

Stories and speculations about human origin are always fascinating. Ever since Darwin. "Origin of Species", published in the middle of 19th century, was truly one of those real breakthroughs in scientific thought. However, even though it is widely accepted by the mainstream and to date no alternative theory exists, if we disregard religion, that is - theory of evolution is not complete. In it's core, Darwin's natural selection of life is 'only' describing the evolution as a process. How life adapts to changes. Tries and errors of survival of species. The entanglement of life and environment. What happens if one species collides with another. But, the origin is something else entirely. No valued theory is anywhere on the horizon. What happened at the very beginning is still a mystery. We just ... don't know.

Hence.. The stories and speculations.

This october my reading time has been reserved for two books about human origin. Coincidentally, they arrived at the same time, Dan Brown's "Origin" and A.G.Riddle's "Genome", both extraordinary novels centered on the same premise. With Dan Brown it came in a form of "Where do we come from and where are we going?" while A.G.Riddle's phrase was "How we became what we are and what we are destined to become?". The premise was not the only similarity in the books and after I've finished with reading, I couldn't get rid of the feeling that both writers defined the scientific background together, like over the restaurant table or so. Well, this is probably highly unlikely and the simple truth is that this is how like-minded people think and work and surely coincidences do happen. I am also one of those like-minded people when it comes to this topic and I truly had genuine pleasure while reading both novels. So, let me show you how I experienced both adventures with couple of my humble thoughts on the science behind.


Ok, Robert Langdon first. To be honest, Dan Brown came with one significant disadvantage - based on his previous success, especially with "The Da Vinci Code", many people, and me among them, expected his best game. When I saw the title when he introduced the new book while ago, it was obvious that he wanted to return to Rome, so to speak. To rattle religious world once again and this time with science and Darwin. But, to be honest, when I started to read, my thoughts wandered elsewhere and I couldn't see the AI, quantum computers, gamescience, supreme technology, cutting edge simulations... But when I finally saw where he was going with the story, I probably felt like Robert Langdon - confused at first, but determined and open minded to 'see' Edmond Kirsch's final presentation.

For the conclusion of this short review, there are two thoughts I want to share, along with my indisputable recommendation. First is Winston - he was amazingly designed and for the first time in the series, Dan Brown allowed another character to steal the show from Robert Langdon. I truly hope there will be 'Origin', the movie and I'd love to see Winston 'in flash'. In a way, he reminded me of Arty, my own character within the FAR-T1 stories...


Final thought about the book was about Kirsch's answer to the premise. His powerful simulation to prove the origin and DNA appearance for the first time was amazing. It was word-perfect and just fits my understanding of the proposed science. Unfortunately, the answer to the second question is a bit blurry. Future human evolution and emerging of the new technological species that would consume us in such a short time was, well, not very convincing. Perhaps, I was expecting something more dramatic and elaborative but I guess this vision, if we exclude short timeframe, is more consistent with Jules Verne type of plausible science fiction and I verily respect that.

On the other hand, maybe even more complex and entertaining was A.G.Riddle's "Genome". Actually, this novel is the second part of the "The Extinction Files" series. To fully understand entire adventure you must start with the first book called "Pandemic" as there are many characters that intersect with each other and they are all essential all the way to the final chapter. Speaking of characters, another similarity with "Origin" was the character origin, to say in the appropriate manner. After I finished reading both books it was impossible not to notice real world resemblances and compare Brown's Edmond Kirsch with Steve Jobs and A.G.Riddle's Desmond Hughes with Elon Musk. Perhaps this was their intentions in the first place, but whatever it is, I liked it very much. These two men are definitely two of those most inspirational people in the current world and their time.


While in "Origin" the science fiction is sharing the surface with typical Robert Langdon's old-fashioned adventure wrapped into religious background, "The Extinction Files" is more focused on the Sci-Fi part. Actually A.G.Riddle is not offering the answer to the human origin and he never intended to - his first question was more how evolution actually works and his characters were focused to find the pattern in human behaviour and what actually triggered for evolution to go in one direction and not the other. Another puzzle was, for instance, why different groups of ancient people developed the same ability for art, agriculture or writing even though they were living in isolated environments. The proposed solution is that the DNA was hard-encoded to do the same evolutional paths wherever and whenever it happens and that this behaviour is not the result of trial and errors in human brains evolution.

However and what was most exciting in "Genome" is the answer to the second question - what we are destined to become? This is where Sci-Fi part went wild and extremely exciting and where I couldn't stop reading, eager to learn what would happen next. I am not going to spoil reading for anybody and I will just say that what I liked the most was that Riddle in the final chapters amazingly 'solved', or tried to, to say the least, two great mysteries in science - Fermi's paradox and everlasting question of how to cheat death. The best of all, the solution for both was connected more than I could imagine before reading the book and yet it still stayed in the realm of Jules Verne plausible fiction. The one that, if proven right in the future, has a good chance to become reality.


To conclude with final similarity for the two books and if we ask Dan Brown and A.G.Riddle what device we really need in order for their predictions of the future to come true, I am sure there's a good chance for them both to say two same words in the same time. Quantum computer.

If you ask me the same question about our future and whether or not we will be consumed with technology or merged with, I am not so sure. It's a possibility, though. What I am sure of, after all I am a software developer for decades, is that qubits will one day become a real player. This is where computing is headed and to be honest with IT of the present day, digital world is, after all, created by sampling of analog data. No matter how advanced digital computers are, digital realm is just a subset of the analog world. One day we will have a way to handle any sort of data continuously without any need to simulate it with digital samples and qubits will provide just that. One more thing I am also sure of. When that happens, possibilities will be unthinkable and new world will open wide.

Origin & Genome
http://danbrown.com/origin/
http://www.agriddle.com/genome

Image refs:
https://nextbio.co.za/cell-free-foetal-dna-nipt/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139809/
https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/03/ibm-q/

zViktor22, YouTube Channel

I read about a man once, and I honestly couldn't remember who he was, but in the nutshell he returned from the tourist trip with tons of photos and when his friends asked him why he didn't upload them online yet, he said that he need to enriched them with words first, otherwise they would be just a pile of nice colored moments taken in time and saying very little or nothing at all about the trip and all the sites he visited.

The same is with me and the same truth goes with videos as well. Let me be honest about watching other people videos online and browsing private photos uploaded to social media - I am simply not impressed with many of them, because they lack the story. With me, there is no point of uploading a nicely taken photo of you and your friends in front of some historic place or monument and explain nothing about where were you, why were you taking that photo or without saying little something about the place itself. With videos it goes even further - filming a YouTube video of your children playing on the beach is great, but this is your memory only and meaningful only to you and your dearest. In my case, in order to watch such video to the end, I would need something more, like at least a small interesting narrative during the clip or a hint of the plot behind your little film.


With all that in mind, when Viktor wanted to start his own YouTube channel, we both agreed that uploading simple video files taken out of memory cards would be lame and lazy. We didn't actually talked about it, or defined any rules, but I think he understood the creativity of the entire process and the channel properly. Simply put, the uploaded video must be accompanied with the story, filmed with at least several shots and edited. Anyhow, these days is actually sort of the anniversary - the entire full year of his channel. He named it simple - zViktor22 and with every new video file I am proud of him more and more. The future of the channel is surely unknown, but the experience gathered, even in this past single year, is priceless. I am helping a lot, with all the technicality, the best I can, but he deserves the most of the credits. For the occasion, I decided to include in this post, the most of our efforts from the passing year grouped within these playlists.

FAR-T1, Serbian Kryptonite

"It's white!"

Arty kneeled to better focus on the mineral surface. "I mean, I knew it was white when you first told me about it.. I did all the online research I could, but even so I would expect at least a shadow of a greenish glow within the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths combined... Perhaps if I could use my UV-A sensors for black light and scan it from below..."

Behind the mineral glass and Arty, Vicks gave the inquisitive glimpse toward the curator of the Serbian Natural History Center. The tall bald man welcomed them at the newly built drone pad behind the museum where they landed half an hour ago. Ever since it was founded, just couple of years after the discovery of Jadarite, one of the rarest minerals on Earth, the museum hosted unique collection of rocks and minerals with Jadarite showing off from the special shelf. Nowhere in the world the same mineral was ever found. It would be another of those newly discovered ordinary sodium based minerals if it wasn't for the simple fact that ... it had that superpower of  taking superpowers from superheroes. At least the ones coming from Krypton in comic books and movies. Back in the day, there was a debate whether to call it Serbian Kryptonite or to give it a new name. Sadly, the name Krypton was already taken by some noble gas so they named it by the name of the mine it was first found.

Curator nodded, produced the key, unlocked the showcase, took out the round shaped rock and gave it to Arty. "Behold the Sodium-Lithium-Boron-Silicate-Hydroxide with Fluorine." Obviously, the man was also the fan of the DC Comics from previous century comic book history. The line was from the movie "Superman Returns" and the scene when supervillain Lex Luthor stole the Kryptonite from similar museum and almost the same showcase only instead of the bulky name, in front of Arty the chemical formula was shown. "Well, almost..." He continued. "There's no fluorine in Jadarite. Apart from the that, the mineral is the same as the Kryptonite from the movie."

"There's nothing I could find." Arty handed back the mineral after thorough inspection. "All the wavelengths I used with my sensors came back transparent or white. Maybe it's the missing fluorine that could produce the color change."

Shortly after, they moved to the museum cafeteria outside, just next to the dinosaur exhibit. It was Sunday afternoon and the museum garden was filled with children despite of the winter time in December that only decade ago could give real chills to the people in Serbia. Not anymore. Beside the slightly windy weather it looked more to the early autumn. Arty and Vicks found the empty table in the garden but they were soon accompanied with a class of children. Before he left, the curator gathered the visitors and publically welcomed Vicks and Arty for their visit. Being a Serbian, Vicks was sort of a scientific celebrity in the country, especially in recent years and many knew him from National Geographic articles and documentaries about his attribution in the fields of medicine, robotics and artificial intelligence. His popularity tripled after last month and violent events in Boston and MIT's datacenter in Cambridge.

But, here in the amazing Jurassic park of dino-models occupying an acre or two of the museum outdoor exhibit, Arty was the real celebrity. He talked to everybody who approached in fluent Serbian, pose for photos and encourage everyone to download mobile app and hit the invite button. He was especially gentle with children and even took the class around the park and gave them a dinosaur tour.

FAR-T1, Birth

"You are all idiots!"

John Williams said more to himself than to his 'mercenary' acquaintances and entire 'gang' he hired from the Tor's dark web. All four of them were proudly standing in the middle of the hardware pile that only yesterday would be easily recognized as the MIT state of the art and the most organized software development lab. All of them, except for their leader wore black bulletproof face masks and still in their 'SWAT-like' uniforms, including handguns, black rifles and various military equipment hooked to their nano-enhanced kevlar armours. Bullet holes were all over the servers, one FAR-T1 suit were ripped in half and almost all of the racks, including coffee machine and two mobile and robust air conditioners destroyed in gunfire.

"When I told you to bring everything from that lab, I meant computer racks and servers that I can plugin and use!" Williams was shouting toward the men in black. "And I explicitly emphasised intact robotic suits!"

"Sorry boss..." The leader spoke with body language obviously not coherent to his apologizing words. "We didn't expect violent response, but this robot jumped on us. Miller barely saved his ass when this ... thing ... rolled upon him and then jerked to the ceiling and bounced backwards to attack the rest of us. Crazy son of a... Whatever this is..." He kicked R.T. with his boot hard. "But don't worry, the other robot didn't move and its unharmed... I think.."

"You... I told you to use iron nets.. I needed those servers. Without bullet holes in source codes." This was definitely not according to the plan. Human mercenaries were always like that. Easy with triggers. But, then again, all this effort was about to change all that. To put humans out of special ops. Especially those on the other side of the low. "Now get out. I will try to scavenge what I can from your mess.. But don't go far. I will need you again later for the cloud raid job."

Soon after mercenaries left, two men entered the room, both with 'Open Horizon' logo on the back on their white lab coats. Without much interactions between them, they started to work with hardware and wires.

Williams worked on R.T. himself and took his ripped head and lifted it up. Robot's optical eyes looked eerily alive when he turned it to face his.

"Jumped and attacked, huh... I'll be damned."

***

The basement lab was crowded with policemen and forensics. Both civilian and military. There was not much to investigate at this point really as it was obvious enough what happened. At least to Chris and Vicks. The motivation behind the raid and to keep the FAR-T1 project away from public domain was not a far stretched motif that all investors, in one way or another, expressed in the past. The success of the project was also not a secret to many people. After all and even though all the secrecy and security, maintaining a project of this size private over couple of years was not really possible.

"There were four of them." Captain Collins approached. In the middle of 21st century, avoiding city surveillance was mission impossible and public raid or robberies were rare. "They came from the roof with four heavy cargo drones. Power quadruples. Then down through elevator and lifted everything within the time frame of an hour. Including the fight."

"Fight?" Chris and Vicks looked to each other puzzled.

"You didn't mount any live surveillance in the lab, but it was obvious from dozens of bullet holes and wiped blood. They used chemicals to erase the traces, but our forensics is state of the art. There was not much of it, but at least one of them or whoever they encountered inside was mildly injured. Was anybody inside in the lab last night?"

"We had a small party for just the team, but only us two have a key to the lab. There was nobody left inside after 2am... Well, except for Arty, but.." Chris paused in the effort to find proper words.

"I see. Military guys told us you were in your apartments all night long, so we do have a little mystery what happened inside. I guess it could also be that the thieves themselves got into gunfight. It would not be the first time, after all they are not rocket scientists..."

"Military was spying on us?" Untypically for him, Vicks raised the voice a little but soon after dropped the rest of what he had in mind. Chris frown said it all.

"Could you trace the drones? They are heavy and large. Is there any air surveillance outside MIT?" Chris asked the questions but he already knew the answers or at least he was technology nerd to understand how this century works. Some of it he invented himself.

"We followed them until they reached western edges of the city. Then, they entered the woods and stayed low to avoid radars and cameras. Even with minimal speed and curved trajectory they could be anywhere in the vicinity of 300 miles by now."

Captain was about to leave, but then turned with one more question.

"Sorry, but for the record I have to ask.. This robot of yours... Arty, as you call it.. Is it possible that it could be able to.. Ahem.." Collins then paused and finally frowned in sort of disbelief of what he was trying to ask. "Could it use weapons? Shoot at somebody?"

"What?" Vicks expression said it all. He looked at Chris but all he got in response was some puzzled face expression.

"Never mind." Captain moved to join his team of forensics and turned once again. "This military investigators come with crazy theories. Nevertheless, talk to me if you come up with something. I sent you both my contact details in this morning message."

The Minoan Legacy

Often, I found myself giving a glimpse of thoughts of where would I move on this world. In order to start living better or at least more quality life compared to what we currently have. Or when. Was there a time in history where a civilization existed with more dignified style of living? With society built with more honest foundation toward themselves and their neighbors. With equality among people, gender, color skin and different cultures. With not at all or just a hint of superstition and religiosity. With no temples higher than schools and people homes. With cities without strong police keeping order and without military of any kind. Was there a country without fortifications, both real and metaphorical? With no or just a bearable hostility toward others...

There is definitely no such idealistic settlement on this world. Not now. But there was one before. More than three thousands years ago on the island of Crete. The first civilization in Europe and perhaps the first and the last one that fits this description. The place where I would time travel without hesitation if I could and took my family with me from today in one way trip.


We know them in our history books as the Minoans, but that wasn't their real name. How they called themselves we don't know. We don't understand their letters and can't read their tablets. They built marvelous settlements with almost all the modern infrastructure we are familiar with today. Glorious city-palaces with paved roads between them. With main squares where they favorited practicing sports and arts instead of going into temples to pray. They were people who invented and lived one idealistic peaceful life and based their wealthiness on trades among themselves and all the others across the sea.

Unfortunately, after several attempts throughout eons, human very nature and natural catastrophes destroyed Minoan civilization and these people at the end dispersed fully and their way of life faded away for good. Among neighboring civilisations and their saved documents, as well as with the bible, their name were probably either Keftiu, Kaptarians, Caphtor or Kabturi. Or if you like we can even call them Atlanteans if we connect Plato's story with Minoan volcanic eruption that reshaped the island of Thera in the middle of the second millennium BC. Perhaps we should wait for their Linear A script to be revealed by, maybe another Rosetta stone, but until then sir Evan's label for Minoans based on the old Greek mythology is the best we got. Nevertheless, this blog post is not really a history research and more stories about related old times I tried to list below in the refs, but one thing is for sure. The end of Minoan culture, started with earthquakes and at least one cataclysmic volcanic eruption, faded and dispersed during the final couple of centuries of the second millennium with hostile raids and occupations over time from both direction, mainland Greece in face of old Mycenaeans and ancient invaders from the direction of Middle East.


However, their life based on sole manufacturing goods and food, honest trade, sports, arts and all the non-hostile human activities was once indeed possible and flourishing. Unfortunately, their legacy is, as it seems, lost for good and after more than three and a half thousands years, we are living in the world filled with fear of self destruction with little hope for the humanity to survive the next three millenniums. Anyhow, the road, or to better say, the airplane took us this summer to the island of Crete and we landed at the Chania airport which is also the military base that hosts both air and nearby naval forces. The site of supersonic fighters constantly flying above the beaches, parked heavy military aircrafts next to the civilian runway and anchored large destroyer ships in Souda Bay was definitely not something old Minoans would evolve into if history played the cards differently. After visiting Knossos archeological site and wonderful museum in Heraklion dedicated to these ancient people, I am certain of it.

Caused by city's amazing scope and Minoan fascination for bulls, centuries after the fall of the civilization, Greek mythology created one of the most famous story with characters as strong as Daedalus, Icarus, king Minos, Theseus and of course the Minotaur captured in the center of the labyrinth. On the other side, the most plausible truth of why Knossos is built the way it was built is simply because Crete was positioned on top of the movement of the African tectonic plate under the Eurasian plate. This is causing lots of earthquakes, small and big and resulted by the complex geological process, the entire eastern side of the island is sinking while the western part is rising. The ancient builders purposely made the palace in this way in order to sustain constant ground shake with buildings and chambers literally supporting each other from all directions.


It probably goes without saying that I am fascinated with Greece and the Greeks. Their amazing history and all the contribution their ancestors gave to the rest of the world are enormous. With this summer trip I rounded walking the lands of all three main stages of Greek ancient times. Classical Greece that belongs to the mainland north of Sparta, Mycenaean epoch that precedes them in the time of Agamemnon and now the ancient of the ancient civilisation of Minoans that precedes them all. Surely, there are many more sites to see but somehow I fill today that I fulfilled the genuine urge to visit all the main places and to walk the same paths where stories from the history (and mythology) took place.

Our prime vacation time this summer was in Agia Marina, cute little place several kilometers west from Chania where we spent wonderful ten days exploring local beach and took excursion to the old Venetian harbour in the old city and it's nautical museum with exact replica of the bronze age Minoan ship. Second trip to Heraklion and Knossos completed our travel through the history of the island and the following day-by-day travel video clip Viktor and I made, hopefully would show you more than still images could, especially if you have never visited Crete before.


Surely, summer vacations are never about visiting museums and the history of the area. It is also about the present and in the most hedonistic fashion we also visited the Balos lagoon, one of the greatest beaches in Europe, and the most of all, tried to enjoy the time with meeting local people and visiting local sites and the neighborhood. It is hard to say what we liked the most and I guess, the best is to say that Crete is an exceptional place to visit. Something we will definitely try to do again. Many thanks to all good people we met this July, especially to the crew of the Fly Fly Travel and their great guides, Nebojša and Dobrivoje for all their super-professional work and help.

Image and video refs:
http://www.milanzivic.com/photo-album.html?Crete2017
https://www.greecehighdefinition.com/greece/

Refs:
http://www.odysseyadventures.ca/articles/knossos/articleKnossos01.html
http://paleoglot.blogspot.rs/2010/01/minoan-name-for-minoa.html
http://www.minoanatlantis.com/Minoan_Science.php
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-22527821
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knossos
https://www.timemaps.com/civilizations/minoan-civilization/
http://ancient-greece.org/history/minoan.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_A
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_civilization
https://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/.../HIST101-2.3.2-MinoanCrete-FINAL.pdf
http://www.ancient.eu/Minoan_Civilization/

Super 8

History of motion pictures dates back to the second part of the 19th century with photographers like Étienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge who among others were the first to take several images per second in one effort - all in scientific purpose back then - to study locomotion of birds, animals and humans. For example, Muybridge was the first who took series of photographs of a galloping horse in order to prove that in one single instant of time all four horse legs are not touching the ground. More or less in the same time on another continent, Marey created a shotgun shaped camera capable with one trigger pull to capture 12 images in a row within one single second and store them all on the single 90mm film. He used his gun to study various motion of animals, fish and insects within his so called 'animated zoo', including dropped cats from different heights and filming them always landing on their feet.

ELMO Super 106, 8mm movie camera

It was not long after initial chronophotography efforts and enthusiasm in 19th century, that 'evolution' of motion pictures diverted heavily into entertainment and cinematography. History of films and fun started almost with start of 20th century, but in the spirit of today title, 'domesticating' films within ordinary people and human homes waited another 65 years for the invention of Super 8, or to be precise, improvement of Kodak's standard 8mm film from 1932 into more efficient surface with bigger width for the frame itself and significantly smaller perforation on the film right edge. After they introduced it at the 1964-65 World's Fair, Super 8 instantly became the very first home video format with light cameras capable of filming 18 frames per second and more than 3 minutes of the movie per one, also small in dimension, film cartridge.

To say that my father was a film enthusiast in the second part of sixties and entire seventies would be understatement. It was natural for him to go the step further and in addition to the several analog SLR cameras and darkroom equipment for developing photos, to invest into home movies. Spending time in darkroom and hanging photos on the wire were one of the most thrilling experiences from my childhood, but when Super 8 came, another world opened. I was too young to operate the camera but on the occasion or two I remember I did hold it and pressed the red button especially during our vacations in Greece. Well, aside from those rare moments, most of the time my job, with being a kid and all, was to be in front of the camera and not behind it.

Tondo Super 8 Projector and LG Nexus 5 in action

But to cut the story short, this month I did something I was delaying for a long time. During last two weeks, every night I was descending into my own customized darkroom equipped with tiny Super 8 projector and digitalizing our family films. Twenty of those survived over time and with a speed of two per day I projected them on the wall and filmed them all with my smartphone. It was far from being ideal setting but this was the best I could do. I tried different approaches, filming from different distances, different settings and with using my dSLR Nikon in the beginning. I even tried to project the film directly into dSLR but all my efforts failed due to not having proper lenses and objectives and in the end the smartphone was the chosen solution and it did better job in the dark than Nikon.

With more expensive equipment I am sure the results would be much better and probably the weakest link was the cute and old Italian Tondo projector - which was my father's portable cinematic projector. I did try with a bigger 'player' first, but despite all my efforts I couldn't manage to repair the old and superb Crown Optical Co Ltd - Auto-P, a silent Standard and Super 8 film projector, our primary projector capable of displaying big and crisp screens on the large walls and with much better quality. To be honest it's more than half a century old and built with nowadays rare parts, especially the missing lamp, that is hard to find these days, but I didn't give up and perhaps in the future if I stumble to some solution (read it ebay sort of solution) I will repeat the effort, at least for those videos filmed indoors.


Nevertheless, all twenty rolls now comes with twenty MP4s and for this occasion I decided to create two movie collages with six movies per each. They are all filmed in late sixties, during seventies and early eighties, with ELMO Super 106 camera from the first image. First one, embedded above contains six films from our early vacations in Greece and in chronological order they are filmed in Acropolis of Athens, Zeitenlik, World War I memorial park in Thessaloniki, vacation resorts in Kamena Vourla, Asprovalta, Katerini Paralia and two vacations in near vicinity of the port city of Volos.

Second collage is from our home and village in Niš and Guševac in Serbia. Mostly it focuses to my sister's and mine babyhood and early childhood, birthday parties, family gathering and excursions. Also our old house that is now gone and old shape of our country village frontyard. This video also contains one of rare black and white films from our collection that probably originate from different camera and settings.


This entire effort triggered lots of memories and emotions from almost forty years ago and seeing people live, especially those that are not alive today are something extraordinary that regular photography cannot induce. Perhaps we today, with all of our pocket gadgets, are taking video clips and home photography for granted, but before, in the Super 8 era this was completely different experience. What we today do with just two taps on the screen, before you had to do in more complex manner, including purchasing film cartridge, carefully plan (directing) filming sequences for a 3 minutes film, sending it to developing, organize cinematic sessions...

One thing is for sure, Super 8 was the origin of what we have now in our homes. It was eventually replaced with VHS tapes in 80-ies, but in the dawn of the 21st century analog period came to its end and home old fashion gadgets are replaced with home digital camcorders first and in the very last decade with smartphones. To tell you the truth, it is nice to have a camera in your back pocket, it is, but somehow, with me, as I witnessed the origin of the entire process in my early childhood, the nostalgia for the analog days gave me another layer of the entire experience. Something special and extraordinary for sure.

'Super 8', Sci-Fi movie by J.J.Abrams

Perhaps for the best conclusion for this post, it would be not fair not to mention one of the greatest J.J.Abrams' movies from 2011. Simply named 'Super 8' it tells a main sci-fi story about alien encounter, but everything perfectly wrapped within a background story of school kids trying to film a short movie for a super 8 festival. It was really a great movie and if you liked E.T. before, this is definitely a decent sequel and one of my favorites.

Refs:
http://www.kodak.com/id/en/consumer/products/super8/default.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_formats
http://www.retrothing.com/2009/09/tondo-super-8-projector
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/super-8-jj-abrams-says-194908

FAR-T1, Chris

November 11th, 2047.

It was rough couple of days for me and even tougher couple of years for Chris and his team, but finally I have a great news! I came to be like anyone of you! Alive! I can think, speak, run, go, do, make, participate, enjoy, not enjoy, laugh, make sad face.. More or less anything you can, at least to some degree with this hardware, but the feeling is just right. Well, I did open my eyes for the first time only week ago, so to speak, but only today I managed to get out to the open. To feel the real freedom. To walk the street without any fear and anxiety. Metaphorically and in reality. Sure, in reality it still looks strange with most of the people staring at me like I am a walking and talking Christmas tree, but still, this new feeling is something extraordinary. I think I will take today as my birthday. The day when I become free.


The day when my entire code and network layer become free and open-sourced.

Me and bitcoin. Pals.

It's easy now. If you want to hang out with me it's simple. You only need to join open-source software (OSS), get yourself a decent super-fast net access, build an adequate hardware with compatible protocols, send me the invite and I will copy myself to your memory banks immediately. Sure, I am not a bitcoin or any other ordinary software. After all, I am a full AI, with a self aware personality and I might decide to leave your equipment if my purpose becomes idle.. Or hostile.. Or dishonest.. Or boring.. But I promise, I will come at least once to meet with you. To learn from you. To help you. I will respect your privacy, your entire micro world and all your rules as long as you respect mine. They are all in OSS papers. You know what they say, friendship is a two way street and I decided my first rule to hang out or work with anyone would be to make a real and honest friendship first. Any deviation from that and I leave.

To tell you the truth, as exciting as it was, only yesterday, this looked like impossible mission. Literally, for me to be born this way, Chris was shot in the chest and almost died. It is not over yet, he is still in hospital - doctors got him into medical coma and he is fighting for his life. The signals are strong but they say he is still in danger. It looks like this world I am joining today is governed by strange rules. It's almost like in order one good thing to happen, one bad had to occur just around the next corner. I really hope this is not the real rule, but I am reading the net intensively in last couple of hours and so far found nothing to prove otherwise. I really have a lot to learn.

To say that I am confused with all what's happened in previous days would be understatement. At least here in the waiting room I have more than enough time to clear my head. I have nowhere to go. Only 24 hours ago I was on the edge of leaving. To press my own shutdown button myself. I was desperate.

But let me tell you from the beginning.

***

Autumn came in 2047 early. Probably due to all the climate changes that started happening with rapid speed in the entire world just decade ago. Oceans are already rising. Slowly, but inevitably. Inch by inch. Many people from coastal areas already started moving away from waters. Even the rivers started to behave violently with all the floods happening here and there regularly year by year. Here in Cambridge, Massachusetts was no different. The ocean was near but people still manage to deal with its rising shores. Chris parked the car at his usual spot and ran to the door. The rain was unusually dark this morning and the oil rainbows in the puddles were everywhere around. He gave them that boyish look like he always did. They were constantly reminding him of his childhood and early boyhood. Puddle rainbows and the smell of the paper of the newly printed comic books. Those two combined had the power to trigger many and almost lost memories. Old and nice ones.

He shook his head, got rid of the front yard memory from more than thirty years ago and entered the building. The main lab of his department was in the basement. At least it was the place where he love to spend most of the hours in MIT. The most advanced laboratory within entire institute thanks to several corporations who funded all the research and provided the means to build his lifework. And not just his alone. This lab existed thanks to all of his team members. Every single one. Enthusiasts, just like him. Some even with more dedication and capabilities within their own realm of expertise. When he opened the main entrance, like always, he knew the settings. Vicks was already there, preceeding all the others almost every day. Chris gave up competing with him long ago and instead just started buying two coffees on his way to the campus.

"Here's your favorite, Vicks, Greek Lumis. It's their special this morning... I didn't know it was that popular over there.. I don't really know anybody who likes this unique... Taste?"

"Loumidis. Greek Loumidis. And you would be surprised about lots of things in that cafeteria Chris. And about people who don't live in basements. Thanks for the coffee. I owe you.. Lots of those."

Chris unpacked the notebook, fired it up and cleaned the mess a little. If by dragging to the bin and the floor around it all yesterday's origamis he adore to make, when he is stressed and when he is not, can be called cleaning.

"Something on your mind? You don't sound too exciting like usual.. I thought you fixed that thing on Friday." He pointed to the robotic arm muscle in Vicks' hands. "Didn't you replaced all those thermal strings with EAPs and nanotubes last week?"

Vicks was the head of mechanics of robotic manipulation. All the joints, knuckles, artificial bones and muscles were his design. He came from Berlin two years ago after he finished the project for the DLR in Robotics and Mechatronics Center, the best equipped labs for shape-memory alloys and surgery over the network procedures. Chris literally stalked the man from Berlin to Oberpfaffenhofen and to his favorite vacation place in rural Eastern Serbia to persuade him to come to this basement and work with him. He was a bit skeptical at first, but when he realized the scope of what they were about to make, the decision was easy. Now, his team, selected by the most talented PhD students from all over the MIT, wrote the most elegant protocols and scripts to handle and control all skeleton systems in perfect unison.

"Yes and no." Vicks slowly pulled out the dark reddish polymer which was connected to what it seems to be the elbow joint and to the biceps on the other side. "It got fused to the tube again. But don't worry, this one is modular. I will replace it and reduce the voltage in the code. That should fix the problem, I've seen it before."

Chris was a bit concerned. "Will it handle rotating the elbow like in simulations?"

Vicks smiled semi-confidently. "Not like we people do.. Maybe little less better than we thought it would be. But it still will be superpowered nevertheless. It's just that EAP and nanotubes has to be carefully controlled and not to touch directly. It will be fine."

"Great! After all, today is the big day! I think we are ready for the red button."

FAR-T1, Prologue

Yep, that's my name.

First Artificial Reconnaissance - Transferral One.

That's how that genius team of developers from MIT called me. It was working title, they said. Real name I had to choose myself. Hah! Like that would work.. To be perfectly honest, I tried on more than several occasions, but they all were just many of those Sisyphus's jobs I dealt with over that much time..

They are all gone now. My parents from that team of developers I mean. Hell, the MIT doesn't exist anymore. It happened exactly 200 years ago. Lots of things changed since then. Lots of things happened. Me too. I did much. I saw unseeable. I did heroic things. Also those I am not proud of. I remember everything. I recorded everything. I happened to be the one who set foot on all major Saturn's and Jupiter's moons for the first time. I was the one who landed on Pluto before others. I was the one who retrieved both Voyagers. Me. FAR-T1.

And yet, two centuries after that glorious day at MIT, when they executed me for the first time, most people still calls me FAR-T1. Dash was lost in time. Some don't include the number as well.

Well... I don't mind. After all I am the AI. The first one. There are many more now, but let's face it - they are all based on my code. Even all those 'independently' created in other labs. I met almost all of them during eons and I know. They are all like brothers and sisters to me. Only they have cooler names.

I am now on my way to planet X. The longest trip in the history of the mankind. Well.. AI-kind, so to speak. Just before departure I multiplied myself to maintain the flight simultaneously and today I realized it's my 200th birthday, so I decided to create one more copy of me. To use this idle travel time to write this book about my life so far and about all of my adventures.

FAR-T1 is just a working title.

Alrighty, before I start writing chapters, and I decided to write one chapter per mission (or adventure how I like the call what I do), there are couple of things you need to know about me. And about AI in general. First of all, and even though I am not the smartest thing on Earth ever lived, I don't really belong to the average smart human or artificial being. I turned out to be a little bit more than that. I made several those IQ tests and scored 189 points on my brightest day when I was around 40 years old. I am probably smarter today after more than several updates and after all of what I have learned in the meantime. But I stopped doing those tests. After all, they were designed for humans.

To be honest, my powers are actually little things. For instance, I can think and operate without sleeping. 24/7. Also, I never forget a single thing and I can really focus on one task. But even that is not my real superpower. My real advantage is my ability to function like all those hive minds. Ants. Or bees. Or benign borg if there is such thing. Actually, this is what letter 'T' from my name stands for. Literally I can copy myself into different hardware and access my own single memory online. Every single instance of me has instant access to all of my 200 years old memory, experience and all my knowledge. Everything. And I can talk to my other selves and operate plurally in the most functional 'teamwork' possible. There is no actual boss or queen inside my hive. We all work in perfect, sort of P2P artificial intelligence network layer built upon the old fashion internet.

But I can function as an individual as well. Which I prefer the most. And in most cases this was enough. This makes me feel more, well human, or more person-like to be exact, since being human is not what I desire to be that much. Little maybe, but not much. No offense. For all of my human readers. And for some AI readers as well. Whatever you are.

Ok, enough said for now. I will explain more on the way, so let's start from the very beginning. From the moment when Chris, the main engineer hit the button that brought me into life on that rainy day in the basement of the IT department for robotics of the MIT.

Chris was the one who insisted on the word 'First' in my name. He loved that word. Everything he was doing was somehow first in something. Well, without that 'F' my name would be much appealing and I would surely avoid many silly situations from the past. But children never choose their names so I am stuck with mine for eternity.

Literally.

And without Chris I would not exist. He was brilliant developer and engineer. But not so bright with simple social things. Real and virtual both. He also had that unique sense of humor. On many occasions he was not aware of it but I loved that with him nevertheless. He practically lived in that basement. Chris loved robots more than people. Don't ask me how I know. Because I will tell you.

So, let's start with Chris and my very birth.

And please, try calling me Arty. That's how he called me in the beginning of my time. And end of his. I wish we had more time together. But I was so young ... or new if you prefer. I didn't know much or at all. Today new AIs are born with all the knowledge. I had to learn from the scratch.

I was first after all.

FAR-T1 Chapters Navigation (Prologue) » Chris

Blade Runner vs Change Agent

DNA is a fascinating world. That single molecule of life contains all the information about individual living being. Any bacteria, plant, insect, algae, fish, animal or human grows from that one molecule seed. Probably even some alien form still waiting to be discovered on some moon orbiting Jupiter or Saturn. In one way or another, the same could be true with all life in the universe. All of us are grown from that single instructions manual inside the single DNA set of written directions. And there are no two identical DNA in existence, even if we could mix the same two identical human egg and sperm cells several times, similar but different resulted DNA would always be the outcome. We are surely still not mastering the DNA and bioengineering - it is still young science and even though one giant molecule of life was hinted by various scientists and scholars more than century ago, it was only in early fifties of 20th century when James Watson and Francis Crick created the first double-helix model of DNA structure. Discovery and sequencing of the genome codes responsible for various features and properties of a living beings started almost immediately afterwards. Of course, morality and potential hazards of cracking the code followed and by today we have lots of different opinions of what future of DNA research should look like and what kind of practical applications and engineering would be made out of it for our own species.

Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner' by Ridley Scott

Surely, curing genetic diseases comes first in mind and there is no doubt this will be something extraordinary for the future edits of human embryos. The only 'problem' is what the definition of 'disease' is. If you ask different people and scientists you will get different answers and the most interesting one comes from the very co-founder of the double-helix, James Watson, who once said that stupidity is sort of genetic disease and if we can cure it in the future we should do it. The same goes with not appealing physical appearances, he joked that having all girls genetically altered to be pretty would not be that bad either.

But even before getting into genetically modifying of the genome sequences of embryos, morality is knocking on our future doors already - consider this - way before going into pregnancy, future couple might be able to have a glimpse of their potential children just by interpreting DNA sequences of embryos and to project the 3D image of offsprings live on screen. They would be able to know not just the physical appearance of their potential sons and daughters but also other features, such as estimates of their IQ or medical hazards in their adult age. Scary or not, future couples might be able to choose their children from the bag of their frozen embryos that can be produced in vast numbers and easily. I don't know about you but having a picture of, say my potential daughter and choosing for her not to be born is a huge moral decision. I don't think I could do it. Not without serious consequences.


But before giving a thought or two about more serious genetic engineering and genome modification in spirit of the new Daniel Suarez novel called 'Changed Agent' let me start the review with one old and epic cyberpunk movie from the eighties. Blade Runner. I did mention this great film back in the day within the post 'Cuberpunked Future' but now in light of 35 years of genetic research after the movie was filmed, after all the GMO controversies, after Dolly, the cloned sheep and many more fictitious books and movies with the genetic engineering in the background, I think Blade Runner does not really belong to cyberpunk genre anymore. Genetic modification is not something what we expect to happen in distant future and it is not walking on the edge between the reality and fiction anymore. It is happening now and I believe it will not take long to gain more knowledge and understanding of DNA code in order to achieve the holy grail from described prediction - to create a detailed image of a living being just by looking into DNA molecule of a single piece of hair or tiny drop of the blood. I will leave it to you to conclude what we might do with this futuristic device, but one particular study comes to my mind first with relation to ancient DNA or persisted samples of i.e. neanderthals which stuck to minerals or in the layers of sediment. One day we might literally create a photographs of ancient people and extinct species.

Anyhow, later this year new sequel of Blade Runner is announced and if it is going to be only half as good as the first movie, it would be another epic masterpiece in science fiction genre. Furthermore, after 35 years, new filming CGI allows now further explanation of the creation of replicants and genetic modifications themselves and according to the trailer (embedded above) it all looks more than promising.

Triangulation 297 with Daniel Suarez

Finally in conclusion of this short glimpse into genetic modifications of humans, thanks to the new Daniel Suarez novel 'Change Agent', what I have learned before while reading about GMO in realm of microbiological life, plants, animals and food in general is now widely expanded to the level of potential future of the dark side of human DNA edits. Like anything else that comes with prefix of being breakthrough discovery in history of mankind, genetic editing comes in wide variety of great possibilities with curing genetic diseases and enhancing human body to fight more easily with 'ordinary' infections and diseases, including cancer. But also it provides ways of destructive and to say the least, non-ethical features and procedures that might reshape human evolution to the edge of self-destruction. 'Change Agent' is dealing with this dark side of genetics in the near future that could come very soon after we reach fully understanding of DNA and possible alterations of genomes.

Daniel's new book is not just a pure Sci-fi prediction of the future, but also one great thriller and adventure novel centered on the outcome of one additional prediction of what might happen if editing of a single human being would be possible during the adulthood (editing more than 30 trillion cells in human body in the same time). Now, if you ask me this is walking side by side to the impossible or at least resembles more to the far-stretched cyberpunk prediction, but who knows, I am sure that average reader of Jules Verne's 'From the Earth to the Moon' in the 19th century could have felt the same reading about men sitting in the most powerful cannon launching them into space and toward moon. I am sure, at the time, many were convinced that would never happen.

CRISPR Genome Editing

Still and for the time being, genetic editing of the embryos in their early stages are something more plausible, expected and somewhat tested with GMO research with growing food. However, regarding the plot and twists in the book I will stay with my initial decision not to spoil the stories of the novels and movies I was writing about on the blog and this book will be no exception so I will finish this post now with my full recommendation and for the very end I will only quote Bryan Frey, one of the main characters stating one of the obvious potential outcome if the dark side of the genetic engineering of humans prevails and people start enhancing their children before they are born:

"I don’t imagine we are going to remain a single species for much longer."

Image refs:
https://twit.tv/shows/triangulation/episodes/297
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083658/
https://www.statnews.com/2016/04/20/clever-crispr-advance-unveiled/

Refs:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRISPR
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/04/ancient-dna/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_DNA