The Inevitable Takeover by Our Own Creation

I was watching yet another excellent performance by Denzel Washington(I know, I know, let’s hold the debate for another time) in Crimson Tide (1995), and while half-way through the movie, I realised something very wrong yet profoundly true situation:

Humans are very inefficient in operating mechanical machineries.

In the movie, Denzel and crew were onboard the U.S.S Alabama nuclear submarine enroute to the Sea of Japan waters, in response to a potential nuclear threat by Russian rebels who took control of one of the Russian ICBMs.

Around day 2 of their journey, there was a fire broken out from what it appears to be the kitchen area. Although the Navy has proper procedures to handle all kinds of situations, including fire on board, but most of the crew appears to be somewhat in panic situation. The only person cool-headed enough to handle the situation and eventually saved the day would nonetheless be our hero – Denzel.

And at this moment, the captain (played by Gene Hackman) decided to perform a missile drill, with the reason of while at war, everything will go wrong. And this is the best time to perform a drill while there’s another simultaneous situation going on.

Just when Denzel done putting out the fire, he heard the drill from the announcement. As the Executive Commander, he had to rushed back to control centre to be part of the missile drill process. Now, even our cool-headed Denzel wasn’t calm anymore, and was not in a best state of performing the missile drill. Noticeable panting and delay in his speech was observed.

Keep in mind that while all these were happening, the rest of the crew on board were dashing up and down between putting out the fire and running checks to perform the missile drill. Furthermore, there were also emotions involved as tension built up between Denzel and the captain on the latter’s decision making.

And it was at this very moment that I realised there’s just too much room for error when the task of delivering and launching nuclear missile from a sub is left to humans to handle.

Just imagine for a second, what if the task is left to computers instead? An autonomous nuclear submarine roaming underneath the ocean indefinitely, without the need to resurface for supplies.

First of all, there probably won’t be a fire if there’s no kitchen in the sub. No kitchen means no cooking with fire. And there wouldn’t be the need for Denzel to run from the kitchen to the command centre if the launch was handled by the computer alone. There might not even be a passageway if there’s no human.

All control and operations of the submarine will be controlled by an actual command centre from the Pentagon via satellite, where the autorization of performing critical actions such as the launching of nuclear missiles will be centralized with clarity and certainty.

Moreover, the sub can be made much, much smaller, by eliminating many sections that were essential for housing a human crew, such as the cabin, food storage room, toilets and bathrooms, dining area, pantry, kitchen, the rec room if there’s one, and not to mention chair spaces in front of the computers in the control room. I’m seeing at least 50% space saving, which can be put to other uses such as maximizing the fuel content, or housing a larger, more powerful propulsion system.

And in the event if the sub is involved in a torpedo situation(it did happened in the movie) with another sub and was unfortunately destroyed, no human life will be lost. Heck, the sub could even go kamikaze in the event where there’s no chances of surviving in a battle.

Of course, I’m aware that there are certain things humans are still better than computers, such as intuition and reasoning. I was about to say pattern recognition and decision making but this may not be true anymore due to the recent advancement in Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Neural Network showcased by some of the big corporations in the tech sector.

When this is applied to space exploration where unmanned, fully-automated vessels were sent out to space, curiosity might also be a valid reason to send humans to such space expeditions. But apart from that, if the mission or objective of the operation is to perform monitoring or patrolling, resource or data gathering, and other repetitive work, it is best left to computers for optimum efficiency and competence that will ensure reliability and responsiveness.

And we humans should be best left with the task of discovering and solving problems, making sense of data and information, and innovate through creativity and intuition.

28. October 2017 by Ken
Categories: Future, Worth Pondering | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Reversed Domain Name

What if the structure of the current domain name were reversed?

Current domain name: maps.google.com.my
Reversed domain name: my.com.google.maps (looks familiar?)

We all know that in UNIX system, file hierarchy starts with the root (/) and followed by sub-directories. An example would be /home/user/web/images/cat.jpg

So why not the same rule applies to domain name as well? Before we go any deeper, let’s understand the components of a fully qualified domain name.

We will talk a little bit about the first part of the URL, which is the scheme that is used to determine the protocol of the request. In the above example, https is translated into HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. The colon indicates the end of the scheme, and the double forward-slashes separates the scheme with the rest of the URL.

Moving forward, the rest of the URL shouldn’t be too foreign to everyday users, as it is usually the first thing you type into the address bar in your browser.

Now, I believe something must have caught your attention right at the end of the URL. The trailing dot. The dot represents the root zone of the DNS and it’s usually omitted in everyday use but it is there in every request that you make.

So as you can see from the DNS(Domain Name System) hierarchy diagram above, wouldn’t it be more logical to have the domain name structure to start from the top with the root, instead of ending with it? Let’s see some examples:

Without sub-domain:

com.google/search
com.yahoo/weather
com.facebook/profile.php
com.uber/register
com.amazon/shipping
co.hotel/bookings
co.stripe/pay

With sub-domain:

com.google.maps/search
com.google.mail/inbox
org.wikipedia.en/wiki/URL
org.wikipedia.cn/wiki/China

Country code TLDs:

uk.co.churchill/history.html
jp.tokyo2020/medals
my.nike/new
my.ikea/bathroom
my.cafe/menu.html
my.taxi/book
my.com.google.maps

In the last example, I have previously mentioned that it might looked familiar to some of you. Back in the early days of the internet, there is something called Usenet where early users logged on to meet other users in different channels called newsgroup, organized by different categories and interest. For example:

comp.lang.c

which is an interest group for the C programming language within the Computer Science community.

Other examples include:

comp.os.linux
comp.os.windows
sci.math
alt.binaries.mp3

..and many more.

As you can see, the naming follows a clear hierarchy where one can expect to find when they read from left to right, as they zoom into specific topic of interest.

So, why not domain name be like that too? Isn’t such naming structure where one travels from the top of the root, and as you travel down the hierarchy with each separating dot, zooming in to a more specific domain, and finally reaching your destination server, actually makes more sense and logical?

Let’s imagine a scenario where you are looking for a piece of furniture from ikea in your country, say, Malaysia. So you know where you want to go, you start with the country code, which in this case, .my, and followed by the organization domain name, which is ikea. By now, you would have .my.ikea(if you remember the dot that represents the root zone is optional). And then you would like the content to be presented in English, so you added the sub-domain, .en. There. You have reached your destination by means of deduction: .my.ikea.en

Now, that piece of furniture is a bar stool, and it should be in the kitchen department. And as like before, you start from the department and slowly zoom in to the specific product: .my.ikea.en/kitchen/dining/barstool/ingolf

As you may have recognized, the later part of the domain after the domain name is nothing new. We have already been doing this following the file system hierarchy of our computer.

And best of all, no more awkward placement of Malaysia’s country code .my at the end of the domain name, which usually doesn’t sound quite right when pronounced. my.mrt definitely look and sound way more natural then mrt.my, don’t you think?

17. July 2017 by Ken
Categories: Technical | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Of Being Lucky

Being lucky actually means preparing for the right moment.

Do not complain about life. Millions of less fortunate people would like to trade places with you.

31. January 2015 by Ken
Categories: General | Tags: | Leave a comment

Spilled Curry

I spilled curry on the kitchen floor today.

29. January 2015 by Ken
Categories: General | Leave a comment

Meaning of Life

It occurs to me today that according to a computer the meaning of life is 42.

26. January 2015 by Ken
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Best Life Advices

Stumbled upon a post on reddit asking about best life advice. Here are some good ones:

“Learn something about everything, and everything about something”

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is right now.”

“Eye contact. Back straight and chin up.”

“Don’t look at what people say…look at what they do.”

“Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.”

“Be good or be good at it.”

“Buy a plunger before you need a plunger.”

“If you say no to one social arrangement you say no to 100 more that will come out of it.”

“We judge ourselves based on our thoughts. The world judges us based on our actions.”

“If you’re the smartest in the room you are in the wrong room.”

“You deserve what you accept”

“Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent”

Good luck!

12. January 2015 by Ken
Categories: General | Tags: | 4,570 comments

Imperfect Perfection

In photography, the perfect shots are the one that contains imperfection within.

In life, perfection is an illusion. If there’s no imperfection, we won’t see perfection.

Comparison is human nature. We see the imperfect in ourself through the seemingly perfection of others.

In work, we feel our work is perfect when our competitors are imperfect.

Therefore, stop trying to attain perfection. There will never be one. Instead, embrace imperfection. Sometimes life needs to be a little imperfect so that we will appreciate the ‘perfect’ moments.

11. January 2015 by Ken
Categories: General | Tags: , | 8,391 comments

In Need of Learning

I find that when learning a skill or knowledge, it is more effective when you have immediate application for it.

If you are just learning something because everyone else is learning, or for your own “future-proof”, chances are you will not learn it well, and will face the risk of forgetting everything soon after you stop learning. You will also have a high chance of abandoning the learning progress due to boredom.

However, if you have an immediate need of a skill or knowledge, it is logical that you will be more alert & focus in your learning. Moreover, you will have the chance of applying the knowledge, further enforcing the skill in you.

So, don’t rush or be greedy to want to learn everything. Overwhelming yourself do more harm than good. The right time to learn something will come, and you will know it by then.

10. January 2015 by Ken
Categories: General | Tags: , | 5,712 comments

Limitations

Do you agree that limitation breeds creativity?

Sometimes, having “unlimited” of everything is not a good idea. It makes you feel “small” and overpowered.

Last time, education used to be expensive. But today, anyone who have access to the internet can learn anything from coding to playing the guitar. But how many are actually using said resources to do serious learning?

Today’s computers & personal devices have almost unlimited capabilities. The smartphone on your hand has more processing power than the computer NASA used to launch the first men to the moon.

But are you using it fully? Or all you do was just liking your friend’s holiday pictures on facebook & posting on instagram?

I remember when I had a nokia brick phone, I will try to look for all ways to make my phone do the things that are not supposed to do. For example, buying a data cable so that I can load new Java games into my phone that I found on some obscure website.

I also loaded a custom firmware into my first digicam Canon A720 IS so that I can play reversi on the screen by using the d-pad. (Yes it is possible: http://chdk.wikia.com)

Today, we have full featured DSLR, powerful iPads, connected smartphone, we should be able to do much more. But it seems that is not the truth.

So sometimes, I like to have things the basic way. I believe imposing limitation can actually makes you more creative.

You don’t have to have everything to get started. You will never be ready, or be enough of resources. If you want to start or do something but realised you don’t have enough resources, my advice is to do it anyway and make do of what you already have.

Who knows what you might discover along the way due to limitations?

09. January 2015 by Ken
Categories: General | Tags: | 5,367 comments

Flash

Recently when I’m going through the tutorials of iOS8 using Xcode, it really reminds me of the Flash days. Yes, that Adobe/Macromedia Flash.

flash5-spanish

Can’t even find an English screenshot

 

It was 2001+ when I discovered Flash & immediately fall in love with it. The multimedia capabilities was unprecedented at that time. It made creating games & animations possible for everyone with simple tools.

I even bought my first programming book to learn ActionScript. It is almost 700 pages but I managed to read it from cover to cover! I would then print out the full documentation of ActionScript & studied it thoroughly.

I’m so glad I did, as it has helped me built my foundation in programming.

oreilly_actionscript

I hope I can master Xcode & iOS App programming like how I used to mastered Flash almost 10+ years ago.

08. January 2015 by Ken
Categories: General | Tags: | 4,753 comments

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