This post was prompted by a question raised over here.
I’ve been thinking about visual representations of machine language for some time now. I had an idea pour itself into my brain, oh, nearly a year ago, that has been consuming my thoughts ever since.
We live in a world of ones and zeroes and complex machine processes. All of these processes are simplified by heavy lifting engineers, designers, and developers, and are served up to you over this magical thing we call the Internet. Twitter, Facebook, email, blogs, news outlets, search engines. Most people use these tools on a daily basis but have fairly little to no experience or understanding with the processes behind the scenes. Indeed, as the world marches rapidly on in this grand technological revolution, the magic seems ever more elusive, and so it will continue. Talk of singularity exacerbates or exemplifies (I suppose depending on how you look at it) this idea of consummation, a grand unifying theory of intelligence and the universe. (I would state that God is the singularity, but I’ll leave that for another post.) Still, what we see as magic, is represented in our modern world usually and practically by ones and zeroes, machine code, language.
Unfortunately, most engineer/mathematician types are so tied to their own familiar mathematical/computational worlds, they often forget to consider other paradigms.
Artists, for example, are often conditioned to think of the world in a very fluid way, usually untethered by mathematical models. Much of what happens in art is archetypal or symbolic, and often doesn’t follow any seemingly conventional logical arrangement. There are, of course, very strong exceptions to this. Music, for instance, especially in its theory, often requires strong left brained processes and so forth. In truth, I would argue that even the most right brained activities are not devoid of left logic, but rather are more complex mathematical paradigms, like chaos theory is to the beauty of fractals. So the cross-over from left to right and back again is not necessarily a schism, but a symbiotic coupling. Humans, in other words, utilize both sides of the brain.
Lately I’ve been thinking about a more artful representational approach to math and machine language — even in a banal world of ones and zeroes. The world has been thinking about machine language in terms of familiar mathematical, numeric, and alphabetic conventions for a fairly long time now, and it’s not exactly easy to realign the cosmos. Yet in a way, it also happens naturally. Wikis, wysisygs, drafting tools, photo and sound editors, blogging tools, and so forth, all these tools do the heavy mathematical and machine code lifting behind the scenes to make for a more artful end experience for the user.
But we rarely think of doing the same lifting for coders themselves. To be sure, code is symbolic, by its very nature, lingual. But I think it is possible to turn the whole thing on its head, and adopt a visual approach. What this would look like is anyone’s guess, but in a way we see it everywhere as the whole world of machine learning is abstracted more and more over time. As machines become more and more complex and can do more and more sophisticated things, there is a basic necessity to abstract and simplify those very processes, for ease of use, design, architecture, development, and…you name it.
That all said, I do not believe machines will ever learn anything on their own without human input. But, as I suggested earlier, that is another debate, as to the character of religion, God, science, and the universe.