Dreams and Projects

I have lots of dreams

I guess I'm a daydreamer. Some day or another, I should classify them as to which has more or less chances to realize in some longer or shorter time. If you can hint me about how some of these dreams may/can/cannot/have-already come true, I'm interested that you tell me about it.

I have a dream that one day, I may participate in world's first meta-interpreter for classical music: some day, machines will be able to play music better than humans do. Art will not disappear for that; it just cannot disappear at all, least all life is dead on earth. It will only be shifted from one field to another: instead of art lying in interpretation of music (well, there will always be music interpreter too, just like there still are painters, blacksmiths, and practitioners of all kinds of arts made obsolete by technology), it will reside in making and programming mechanical interpreters or parts thereof, that is, metainterpretation of music.

Meanwhile I hope that I can help facilitate the development of such software that will automatically recognize a music piece from its tune, or other similar information, compute the "distance" between music scores, etc; writing such software would greatly help understanding what music is, what we like about it, etc.

I have a dream of a Universal Distributed Database: some day, there will be a world-wide associative knowledge system on something like the Internet. People will browse it according to ideas, not addresses or keywords. The difference is that ideas have powerful semantics, that they are defined in local contexts, that you can manipulate them, abstract over them, modify the context. In contrast, addresses and keywords are absolute, global annotations, that you cannot manipulate, because they lie in a semantically flat space. People will be able to annotate the database, and to filter other people's annotations. At last, human knowledge will not be lost, but will accumulate and increase, yet survive inevitable noise through filtering. Les paroles s'envolent, les écrits restent...

I have a dream that I may participate in the beginnings of the UDD by writing the first meta-book about philosophy and morals. Its title would be "On Relevance" (De la Pertinence), and it would explain what is relevant in ideas and what is not; for example, names per se are not relevant, neither are expressions, or languages; but what is relevant is the relations between those names, expressions, languages; and what gives some meaning to the names is the context that binds names or sentences to ideas. The syntax is relevant only as far as it denotes some semantics. The meta-book would try to define what wit, irony, comedy are, and would propose some semi-automatic stylizer (a meta-"exercice de style", that we could train with Queneau's story?).

I had a dream that someone would write a meta-sequel to Kafka's Castle, or that there would be a permanent competition and exhibition about writing and reading such a meta-sequel.

I have the nightmare of what mankind may become on Earth. Civilization will have stagnated or cycled (at or between a high or low levels). At some stage, they may reach a point where there is plenty for most; and by the uniformity of civilization, people will forget that diversity made selection and survival possible; because they reach some point that they believe lasts forever, they will ignore the study of their past and will be unable to foresee the future. Thus they will decline and civilization will disappear at the first crisis. My hope is it can survive this first crisis, because it won't have wasted all its resources yet. Or perhaps it can spawn a subrace that spreads into space?

I once had the dream that I be the master of the world, adored by all, surrounded by loving worshippers. Then, I thought about what such thing could mean. Would it mean that I'd be somehow happy in such an environment? Well, sure, but if arbitrary hypotheses can be made freely, then I could much more surely say that I certainly would be happy if I were happy.

Of course, I could be doing that because of the pleasure it brings to wonder about such things. But then, such things being completely impossible, this pleasure (not so great) will waste my time without helping me anyhow about my social life (or other pleasures), and could only make me less adapted to the world. Thus, again such dreams are irrelevant, and are only a time-waster for when there's nothing else to do.

I have a dream that french political actors would cease to be such hypocrites: they promote natality of french citizens, arguing that France needs young people to pay for the elders' retirement pension. But if there is a disbalance between what workers produce and what non-workers consume, increasing the amount of workers will not solve anything, but make things worse and worse: the additional workers will be non-workers as much as anyone else during their early and late days, so if there is a disbalance between production and consumption, multiplying people will only multiply the disbalance. As we can see, what counts is the ratio between what people produce and what people consume.

Increasing the population won't increase the ratio, on the contrary, the human reachable earth resources being limited, and their growth not being possible to increase accordingly at will, this would mean dividing the total welfare in more shares. Surely what the voters of those natalist laws mean to increase the number of young white men, seeing that the demographical weight of the white is shrinking against that of the other "races". But by their hypocritical cowardice, they won't admit it, and will grant allowances to all, not only depriving the country's economy, but worsening the problem they would like to solve by helping the non-white in the same proportion as they help the white, and attracting economical immigration, which also deprives the poor countries from very work-like people.

Only by increasing the production/consumption ratio can the problem of retirement pensions be solved, and this means people will have to consume less and/or produce more (work better or longer). Unhappily, trade unions, led by demagogic ex-communists, not only reject any such notion, but demand that people be paid more to work less, arguing that such is inevitable progress. Actually, they want to harvest the fruits of progress before progress happens, and by eating the crop, they only gear and reverse progress.

Every day, I awaken in this nightmare.

Help !

Pyramid schemes are illegal. Social security and state-funded pensions are pyramid schemes.

I have a dream that I'll live to see informational democracy: we are currently living under the Ancien Régime of information age, information being in the hands of the privileged bureaucrats at the head of large corporations, public administrations, lobbies, armies. If mankind is to survive, if a free civilization is to develop, this Ancien Régime should eventually fall and let place to a régime where information is cheaply available to all with very low overhead. The way to such régime may be quite tortuous; we may fail and civilization as we know it can return to dark ages; with the end of the current golden era, progress may be seriously put back and regress may take over; the informational régime may only slowly become a democracy; but the road to success cannot avoid informational democracy.

I have a dream that I live in a town where automated system exist that everyone use to share information, so as to minimize waste, rackets, frauds, that people currently suffer because information is too expensive, and is covered by all kinds of secrets, judicial, administrative, professional, etc, which are said to protect people from each other, but actually concentrates power in the hands of those who do have access to information, and only protect those who do have dark secrets to hide.

For instance, people would do much more car-pooling, reducing toxic gas emissions from explosion-engines, because passengers would know who wants to go where, at what time, by what means, with how many free places in the cars; while car-holders could trust the passengers because they can know about them, and everyone can know that there was an implicit contract between them.

Similarly, information about where to buy what product with what objective characteristics and customer feedback, at what price, with what additional service, would be readily available, and automatic processors would be available to manage and optimize one's purchases according to one's own criteria. Prices would be down for the consumer, up for the producer, because the racket of intermediate people would be over.

I have a dream that young people would be taught to respect what they do and do what they respect.

In particular, this would mean that there would no longer be a centralized education system with all even-aged pupils being forcibly learning the same thing in the same class. Instead, there would be different school systems, that could try various different teaching techniques, until it can be found what the advantages and disadvantages of each technique are, so the parents can choose. Through such freedom, information would be larger, and enhancement would be possible, whereas the french centralized system will not generate information, so that the centralized rulers of education are blind and the whole of France is their blind's experimentation field. Surely, there should be some control that rules or neutrality with respect to religion, race, etc, be respected in schools, exams, competitions. But this does not mean centralized control of the whole of education.
Note that the same reasoning applies to any unduly centralized management.

Computer-aided education also needs be liberalized before it can bear any fruits. Currently, it costs so much to develop a product and market it, that we have a racket and no progress. If educational software and meta-software were free (see the GNU manifesto for that), at last could people's creativity express. Instead of buying commercial crap for gold, the french ministry should better have a competition for universities to develop free educational software, which would even be cheaper for them!

But even without talking about techniques and technologies, it should be understood that children are an important part of the goal of our life, not just objects at their parents' convenience and responsibility until they become adults. Anyone has responsibilities, and people involved in mass-production of goods, services, and information (i.e. the mass-media) have a great responsibility when they teach children to be bored, to not respect anything, to ask for pleasures as due instead of being reward of a work. How can school be useful at all, if society teaches children to despise natural resources and human work?

I have a dream that the myths of democracy would be over, so that we could have a better democracy.

For instance, there's the myth that people should wait for solutions to happen from the government, while the government should wait for the solutions to be suggested by the people. With that myth, the French no longer think or do anything about society, so have no idea to suggest to a government, but instead will each fight for his own privilege, so the government can neither follow inexistent popular ideas, nor take any unpopular measure.

Another myth is that people would have a magic knowledge of problems and solutions without being informed. All kinds of secrets cover political, judicial, and commercial operations. Both publication of information and access to published information are very expensive, being controlled by big national or multinational groups. The result is that people are not well informed, when they are at all, so that democracy cannot work properly.

Yet another myth is that people would all have equal judgement and that hence each vote must have an equal importance. Surely, the first proposition is obviously false, as if all people were equally capable, choosing a random vote would have the same effect as taking the sum. The second is also false, for we already admit that the opinion of children doesn't count, while the age of the end of childhood is somehow arbitrary; of course, it is not obvious what system is better than this simple one, but surely this has to be considered.

I sometimes dream that all warnings against "photocopillage" (french for something like "photocoplunder") be replaced by warnings against "editoracket" (in English, would be "publisheracket").

I have nothing against paying reasonable rights to the authors, who did the actual informational work, and even that a small part goes to the publisher, in so far as he did some work proper (e.g. correct mistakes, misspellings, etc, typeset the paper, etc). But I see no reason why we should pay an enormous amount to publishers with a little part going to the author, and wouldn't be able to edit part of the work ourselves on our own media, righteously paying the author, but no more the former publisher as such (for we now are the publisher!).

BTW, how much rights do the inventor of the transistor merit, one hundredth cent per transistor? Ahem. Not enough money in the world to pay him. If he'd tried, I could have managed, but the whole world's industry would have been set twenty years aback. What about the have-rights of the inventor of alphabet? If I invented stupidity and earned rights about them, I'd be the richest man in the world! Will we pay rights to our MPs for the laws they publish? How much "rights" does merit a doctor who just saved his patient's life?

Surely an author must be paid somehow. But declaring that this should be proportional to the number of times the work is published/read/used/etc is a lie. There is no absolute criterion to judge the value of an informational contribution, and only a fair market can give a good approximation. And the market cannot be fair when information is hidden, as is the case currently (at least as long as the publishers are paid). Giving publishers the power to crush the authors only makes things worse.

I have a dream that people someday understand that liberalism is not capitalism; that socialism is the worst kind of capitalism: centralized capitalism.

Socialists tend to believe that riches just sit there, ready to be shared; but they are not. Riches are the result of a complex production machine, in which the long and hard work of the whole society is involved. Should you break the machine, and there will be no more riches left to distribute. You just cannot consider the problem of the distribution of riches independently from the problem of their production.

I have a dream that the government would require that only free software be used in public institutions and agencies, and whenever needed, fund the development of free software instead of pay racket money for the use of proprietary software.

Likewise, it would stop negociating with hostage-takers in general, and implicitly promote the rule of law and freedom over any form of legal plunder. If hostage-takers knew for sure that the government would never give in, just because it couldn't, then they wouldn't be taking hostages to begin with.

For some other dreams, see