Blog: Ancestral Home of the Future

Ancestral Home of the Future
Ancestral Home of the Future
Date: 2019-Jan-19 15:00:11 EST

For Thu-Fri of this week, a coworker and I visited Janelia research lab in Virginia. Our project is heavily tied to them - we got our dataset from them (from a specimen that in turn was collected by another overseas collaborator), we use a lot of their software, and our PI came from there. It was fantastic to sit down with people we knew as well as people doing similar tasks to ours (on a bigger scale out there). The campus is also amazing, and a bit surreal. In some ways it's the kind of place I've long dreamed of living in - secluded, academic, embedded in nature. Although I realise that I may have too much noise in my soul to ever be content in such a place for more than a few months. Still, it was a great place to visit and I hope we get to do it again at some point. And following my habits from visiting the mothership when I worked at Dropbox, I had a big list of things I wanted to learn from each meeting and made sure I got through most of them, leaving me with a lot of followup for next week. There was one thing - the sharp distinctions from the inside of the building to the outside led me to fantasise about the facility being on Mars instead of in the woods. I think that would work and it'd be pretty amazing.

I had a migraine for much of Friday, sadly. And although it was mostly bearable, it started to get pretty bad near the end of the day, making the transit home nightmarish. Migraines are already pretty nightmarish to begin with, but mixing in travel makes it the worst thing I've experienced; this has occasionally happened before. Glad it's over now, but while that's going on, it's one of thise "I wish I could just die right now" kinds of things. Not sure, were an easy way to actually do that present itself during the travel+migraine experience, that I'd actually resist the temptation.

Deeply fascinated with this bizarre star system. I love how much we're learning about the quirks that nature occasionally produces. I was also thinking on the train ride back, in the tail end after the migraine ended, how I'm actually proud of our star for being massive enough that we think it will fuse helium for awhile. Go Sun.

I've been pretty unhappy about the direction one of my former employers, MongoDB, has taken with their recent license change that no longer makes them simply OpenSource. They're using their license to prevent competition, based on the idea that only they should be able to provide MongoDB as a service. As a result, while Amazon's new compatible database as a service is also not opensource, I welcome it because it still provides some level of alternative to MongoDB and we need that now. More ideally the community will either build more ways to break out, or we'll find a way to kill the company. While I have a lot of fondness of a lot of people I knew while there, I wouldn't mind the latter. I believe it needs either a lot of changes (starting with the CTO and this license stuff) or to end, from the perspective of industry-openness and good governance.

I was weirded out to see the ACLU call for big tech companies not to sell face-recognition to governments, in that it's a pretty clueless thing to ask for on the tech front. The technology is no longer in the "you need a dedicated research and development staff to spend years" phase. It's in a "you need a small number of the right academes and a few engineers" phase - probably 10 or less of the right people to produce something good in a year. And nations can just hire that if they want to. Meaning there's little point in pretending it can be capped. As of right now, it's going to work as well as the surface justification of crypto bans on repressive nations - there's no way in the modern world to keep that code out of a nation (the actual/functional useful thing it does is make it hard to do business with those nations by preventing businesses from using those technologies across those borders).

Looking forward to catching up with someone I used to work for early next week - haven't seen him for around 17 years. I guess I'm old enough now that thse numbers are a thing. Still seems weird to me. Also going to an IQ2US debate (my first) at the end of the month.

I'm wary of Cortez's efforts here to elect more people like her until we see more of how she's going to function in office. Part of it is that she's so new, but part of it is also that I'm hostile to some forms of progressivism and I'm not sure whether she is (or will become, or will remain) in that "we must redo culture and weaken free speech" crowd or not.

I'm disturbed by China's control over Churches and need to control narratives within its nation. It's not that I think Christianity is that great to begin with - it's a largely shallow philosophy tied to a fairy tale - but even highly disturbing things in that shape (like scientology or objectivism) should be evaluated (and ideally rejected) for what they are. Revisionism is terrible enough that even if there are legitimate social harms from a perspective's power, it outweighs them.