Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Neo At The Quantum Casino - Part II

Foreword to Part II

According to quantum physics, reality is a probabilistic wave function that collapses into fact only after we
observe it. For example, Schrodinger's cat is neither dead nor alive until we open the box and look inside. Thus, perception is everything.

Neo laughed at Fred's comment about Einstein. Though he himself had studied economics in college his roomate and closest friend was a Dane called Nils who, as it happened, was a physics student with a keen interest in quantum mechanics. Just like Niels Bohr, his famous compatriot .

After getting a crash course on the relative merits of uncertainty and the ERP paradox, he and Nils had spent countless nights debating the Copenhagen interpretation versus Everett's multiverse. So, yeah, Neo knew a thing or two about quantum physics.

Suddenly, he got it. Perception is everything, he chuckled to himself. Most people didn't even see the word Quantum next to Casino because all they cared about was gambling - they didn't bother seeing anything else other than "Casino, so they didn't.

He remembered his experience riding a bicycle to class every day. In one particular spot he had to go against traffic so he rode on the sidewalk, passing by a bus stop. There were usually a few people waiting there, most of them looking in the opposite direction from where he was coming - they were looking for the bus. The problem was that they were blocking his way, so he always rang the bell to warn them. But no one heard him - ever. No matter how close he was and how many times he rang the bell, there seemed to be only deaf people waiting for the bus.

The explanation was quite simple: they didn't expect to hear a biker from the opposite direction, so they didn't hear one. And since they didn't observe him, he simply did not exist - until he drew right next to them and asked politely to go through, causing the probability wave to collapse into the fact of his existence.

Neo also grasped what was happening with the blurry dice: the blonde croupier manufactured reality by announcing the throw. She forced everyone to see a three and four - or any other combination - and thus collapsing all other possibilities of the probability wave into the outcome she wanted.

"It's not a deterministic world, buddy" Neo remembered Nils telling him over and over again. "Reality is created by the way we see things and not the other way around".

Neo snapped out of his thoughts to see Fred smiling at him.

"I sense strongly that you are familiar with the theory of how we operate here.
Believe you me, there aren't many people with your ability. Most think the world exists independently of their perception of it. Well, like W.C. Fields said 'Never give a sucker an even break' - and we at the Quantum Casino surely don't. So, I have a proposal for you - do you want to hear it?"

Neo nodded yes.

"We'd like to offer you a"position at our training program, starting as a trainee croupier. The lady that brought you here is a graduate of the program - and her name is Claudia, by the way.
What do you say?"

Neo didn't have to think long. He accepted on the spot.

End of Part II



    The comment section of Sudden Debt has become inundated by marketeers who somehow believe we can all read Mandarin. Just now I had to get rid of 110 - yes one hundred and ten - such sinospam entries. The price of increased readership, I guess...

    I don't want to apply drastic comment modaration software, so please be understanding if one of your comments ends up deleted by accident (sorry Debrs can't resuscitate yours).


  2. Sigh...
    Looks like my reference to Dune didn't go unnoticed, did it ?
    Your gaming universe looks a lot like the world that the pseudo Reverend Mothers back from the dispersion evolved in (sorry for not using the correct term, but I have Dune in French, and will get back to this point in a minute.)
    No surprise. No credulity, because belief is for the suckers. (In this story at least ; I dare to pray that you are NOT like one of those pseudo Reverend Mothers, so jaded, so blasé, that nothing could EVER EVER surprise you...)
    As far as the "perception is everything", how about THIS observation : the Inuit indians have over 300 WORDS to qualify the physical phenomenon of "snow". It is open to debate whether WE, with our language, can throw together 300 different qualifiers to nuance our perception of "snow".
    But... just what IS our perception of snow without those 300 different ways of "saying" it ?
    WHAT are WE capable of seeing ?
    Perception has its limits.
    And it takes a subtle mind to feel its way around those limits.
    I definitely agree about the influence of what we EXPECT to see.
    That's what thinking is all about.
    And a good deal of what we EXPECT to see is socially determined.
    One example :
    In the space of the last three weeks, I talked to several people about Darwin. (They brought the subject up...)
    You know, all the hype about "survival of the fittest", the incredibly simplistic vulgarisation that Western society has reduced Darwin's thought to.
    People told me, with totally po faces that this formulation was a "fact".
    Hmmm. When I hear the word "fact", my hackles go up. "Fact" according to whom, and within which ideological framework, pray tell ?
    Perception is everything.
    And what you perceive depends on your angle, your place at the gaming table, right ?

  3. Thanks for trying, Hell.

  4. "Perception is everything" does rather beg the question of what perception is,


  5. Barry Ritholtz bills spammers who post links on his website for commercial advertising. I don't know how he enforces payment or if there is a way to attach a lien on their domain names. You might want to ask him what procedures he uses.

    BTW you should see the mile long list of porn sites on your original post about the condo boom on the Spanish coast, the one you linked to a few weeks ago.

  6. Yoyomo, thank GOD I am so naïve...

  7. Great stuff Hell.

    When realities collide:
    This post reminds me of a story of the CEO of the Williams Co. (me thinks) talking to Enron execs about the possibility of a purchase or merger.

    The CEO chuckled at the insistence of the Enron people that all was healthy at the firm, "They thought that if it was on their financial statements it was reality".

    Let's hope Obama is a quick study in the training program and he looks beyond the financial statements of the Casino execs.

    One of the most unappreciated human senses is smell and rot has its own distinct smell and warning.

  8. Agree with Marcus Hell, a really great series of posts.

    I love where "I think" these are going.

    Nothing has really changed, and yet all is now different...

    We all read the same data yet perceive such different meaning in it...

    Our own perception is our own reality...

    I wrote a similar piece a little more than a year ago... Of course it was not on anything so lofty as global economics (rather simply the point of view of my six year old son).

    Look forward to the next installment


  9. Your Roman Empire story ties up so neatley with the American Empire story.

    Bottom line is: History is a vast early warning system.

    Only because mankind is an absolute. As such, history repeats.

    Joe M.

  10. Hell, you are a good story teller.

    Do you bike to work?

  11. Thai, I left you a comment on your piece.

    The internet has THIS as an effect that I have started writing hand written letters to people who publish flesh and blood BOOKS (lol...) and sending them.
    I figure that if you PUBLISH a book, spreading your thoughts and your NAME all over the world these days, you could also be open to receiving COMMENT on what your thoughts produce from the "anonymous" readership (lol).

    This morning the woman on the press review mentioned that the "words" of the Czech president, something along the lines of "the road to hell" were "brutal", and that Citigroup people are saying that we need to be careful with our words (Robespierre's words were apparently "brutal".)
    People over here in Europe are starting to worry about Revolution, my friends. The act of vandalism committed against the house/car of a British banker (? not sure), is making the ruling caste feel a little nervous about the social contract...

  12. awesome post Hell.
    I'm sure everyone interpreted it with their own views on the world.

    thanks again for a masterpiece.

  13. Hell
    long time no see at TOD. See if this makes any sense.

    Shoot me an email if you have time

    Nice work here-

  14. Caveat to "perception makes reality":

    Perception makes the perceiver's reality, BUT...

    there is an objective, master reality and the better the perceiver's modeling program adheres to it the better off the perceiver will be.

    @ Thai,
    Do you have any favorite theories on the evolutionary benefit of dreaming? Dreams seem so real sometimes....there must be a purpose. Also, I read in New Scientist that Buddha and Hume both determined that there is no such thing as the "self"; that its a false construct. So I get to chew on that for a while.

    @ Hell,
    Will there be additional episodes? I want to see how Neo deals.

    @ South Park fans,
    Did you see the episode where Stan tries to return the Margarita maker that his dad financed? Via CDOs and bailouts, it turns out that the US Treasury is actually now the financier. They accept the exchange and determined it to be worth 90 trillion dollars. Nice.

  15. Dink (Hell and/or any others who may be interested- it took me a little while to find this video):

    In light of Hell's wonderful posting on perception and reality, I thought you might like to "think" about the subject of thinking/dreaming/focus/attention/perception/reality a little more by taking the following test:

    VERY IMPORTANT, in order to do this correctly, you need to watch this short clip below EXACTLY AS I INSTRUCT:


    2. The first time you watch the video:

    COUNT VERY CAREFULLY THE NUMBER OF TIMES THE PLAYERS IN WHITE PASS THE BASKETBALL THROUGH THE AIR TO EACH OTHER (i.e. do not count any pass where they pass the ball by bouncing it on the ground to the other players).

    Pay attention carefully so you don't screw the count up as it will matter for step 3 later.

    How many passes do you count?

    Do you count 13?

    3. Now watch the video a second time casually without counting passes.

    Do you notice anything different happens in the same video the second time around?

    Dink, this video should help you think about dreams.

    And of course there is no such thing as self (and yet of course there absolutely is, it is simply a matter of perception/"point of view"/"frame of reference"/etc... it is the very crux of the paradox of super organism vs. individual, atheism vs. religion/God, etc.. and is the biggest misunderstanding most people make when they first learn about evolution and "survival of the fittest".

    Are you a cell (or a "building block") in a vast fractal structure called the super organism?

    Or are you an autonomous individual?

    Or are you paradoxically SIMULTANEOUSLY both? (Just like Schrodinger's cat is/was/will be BOTH simultaneously alive and dead all at the same time?)

    This should help you understand dreams and why there are so many theories on why we dream- they are all quite likely true simultaneously depending how you want to perceive information.

  16. @ Thai,

    I came across this video before and nearly exploded. I dutifully counted and did not notice the...anomoly. How can a person go on knowing that their brain is so limited? It shouldn't take a rocket surgeon to notice a freaking bear! Inhale. Exhale.

    (I could go on about this for hours (and probably will later) because its fascinating. And terrifying. I need this neural equipment to be a finely-tuned machine, dangit).

    I think the biggest misunderstanding about "survival of the fittest" is that its elitest. "Best adapted" criteria is not chosen by the contestants; we rarely know what the contest is even going on until its over. That link you had about the high IQ soldiers demonstrated that perfectly.

    Yes, we're simultaneously many things depending on which matrix your viewing from. From the cat's perspective matrix, Schrodinger was an imbecile...

    (I'm still upset about the bear. I'm considering opening a website called "Brain Treachery". We have to keep an eye on these things; they may be in league with the genes).

  17. @ Thai,

    My that's scary!


  18. Thai:

    I guess I don't get it. What's the big deal that you don't see a bear? (I watched it twice counting both times. I thought that maybe I had miscounted.) I didn't notice the person in the bear suit until I read dink's post and watched it again.

    So what's the point? Why is it such a big deal that you are missing the bear when trying to count passes? There is so much activity going on, you're bound to miss it.

  19. Okie Lawywer,

    I think the whole point of Thai's video is that because an external source had told us to concentrate on only the passes through teh air instead of seeing the video as it is, we will completely miss the gorilla (not bear). Now if you ask a child to watch the video and let him/her describe it to you, do you think they would have miss the gorilla? I think the point is that in our perception of reality, we choose to focus on those things that will fit into our perception of reality and completely ignore other possibilities of realities. What if the point of the video is what was written on the wall while the gorilla and the ball players or just distraction?

  20. Hell,

    How did Claudia and Fred knew that Neo had the ability? Could the point of your story be that Neo is actually an agent to distract us by making the perception of reality the Neo have the ability instead of possibilly that Neo is a psychotic who cannot infer his own perception of reality?

  21. Dink,
    ...Buddha and Hume both determined that there is no such thing as the "self"; that it's a false construct.

    About 35 years ago (when I had more patience for fiction) I read this fantasy novel (sorry, can't remember title) about a mystical realm with mythical creatures and one of them was a hybrid result of two different species mating that weren't supposed to and he was worried that he had neither a gryphon nor a unicorn soul and so he went to the wizard to ask if he had a soul. The wizard told him that he didn't know exactly what kind of soul he had but that only creatures with souls worried about having them. Funny how long forgotten memories can pop back up with the right cue.

  22. Lol, Thai, I didn't have time to watch the video YESTERDAY, and now if I DO watch it, I will no longer be naïve enough to do the "test" in a meaningful way...

    But it sounds like a shining confirmation of all of my mistrust about the activity of COUNTING.
    Y'all know that I try to count as little as possible.
    And, by the way, juggling all those ACCOUNTANT books these days is not exactly counting either...

    This summer I met my accountant for the first time in a restaurant in Santa Fe for dinner. I was really really surprised that for someone who was SO intelligent about international tax issues, she really seemed to be ignorant of the basic philosophical precepts of MONEY...
    Like, she was missing the gorilla in the video, maybe ?

  23. great, quantum physicists stating the obvious.


    what a waste of time that was to read

  24. @ Mike
    "the gorilla (not bear)."

    It just gets better and better....

    "Why is it such a big deal that you are missing the bear when trying to count passes?"

    Thats a fair point. Your neural machine was doing as you instructed it to do. I guess the discomfort lies in that we assume the neural machine realizes that there should be a constant secondary instruction to "alert me of anything interesting besides the primary instruction". The neural machine is not as impressive as we'd like it to be.


    The wizard's answer is valid. I humbly submit that Buddha & Hume may be a little wrong on this "self" thing. Unique genes and unique experiences create a neural matrix that will only exist once. Unlike the traditional concept of "soul", the neural matrix is nauseatingly temporary versus immortal.

    One argument against this theory would be that the matrix is constantly being updated so there is no "permanent self". Hmmm. Guess I'm not ready to debate B&H quite yet ;)

  25. @ Thai

    Thai I showed the film to my son, he's 11 gave him the instructions. He saw the gorilla the first time, whereas you'll recall I didn't. In fact my surprise at seeing it was so great I thought it might be a trick, for example the first time you play the film on a computer you get the film without the gorilla, after a "cookie" defaults the machine to the film with the gorilla. Anyway even if it is not a trick it makes a bit of sense that a younger person would not have wired his brain to the same degree of focus yet.


  26. @SS-

    What a great idea!

    Think about how predators generally have eyes on the front of their head to "focus" on hunting. Then think how herbivores generally have eyes on the sides of their head to broaden their focus for protection. Perspective is always relative to the unique position an information structure (person/animal/entity/etc...) tries to maintain in the complex system we all live in.

    FYI- the next time you think about "illnesses" like ADHA (or your kid has another kids with ADHD in the class), think about the video (It has been made clear by some on this blog that my tendencies in this regard drive nuts). Of course it makes for dangerous drivers (Jewish research, watch out!)

    Or as your "experiment" with your son showed, remember how a human mind "specializes" by maturation (one of those "something gained, something lost" issues).

    Specialization clearly has its advantages (look at presentation I slide 31 onward).

    Yet specialization also has its disadvantages which can always be exploited by others in "evolutionary" complex systems. There is nothing that can be done about this- other than to form teams/alliances (which tend to negate the economic benefit of specialization in the first place).

    In fact most theories around aging center around this idea (but now I am way off topic)

    Anyway, Regards


    I left a comment for Yoyomo on the last thread which said "requires moderator approval". Do you know why?

  27. Aw, shucks, I REALLY regret not having gotten to your video before the comments, Thai.
    But something tells me that I would have seen the gorilla. I have cultivated being the kind of person who sees the gorilla FOR A LONG TIME NOW.
    This is somewhat related to Jesus's idea that in order to get into the select club that "sees" the kingdom of heaven, you have to become like a child again... Promise.
    And I also promise that YOU TOO OUT THERE who did NOT see the gorilla the first time around can LEARN to see the gorilla.
    Fortunately we can learn almost anything which is worthwhile learning, even while aging.
    That's why it's nice to know that there are still some SURPRISES out there...
    And we are NOT machines...
    Not in my book at any rate.
    Thai, you might be interested in Temple Grandin's book, Animals in Translation.
    While I can criticize almost every sentence in this book, it is nevertheless fascinating for the complexity and sophistication of her observations about animals.

  28. BananaRepublic-w/Nukes watch:

    " often do U.S. leaders respond to growing signs of economic dysfunctionality by spouting nationalistic rhetoric that echoes the speeches of Latin American demagogues...instead of facing our problems we extol the resilience of the U.S. economy, praise the most productive workers in the world, and go on and on about America's inherent ability to extricate itself from any crisis. And we ignore our proclivity as a nation to spend, year in year out, more than we produce..."

  29. Ha, have you guys JUST woken up to the fact that we are now living in BANANA REPUBLICS ? (Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday that he "had the banana"... My husband went wild and wrote a poem with all the different meanings for the word/expression "banana" in French. Nicolas Sarkozy MEANT that he was smiling. The form of the banana is a smile, get it ? It took ME a while, I must confess.)
    But in France we also say "to banana someone". Which means to shove it up their ass.
    And a banana, held up in a strategic place looks a lot like... I'll leave that to you guys' imagination...
    Lots of nice word play involved.
    Our president is such a GOOD clown.
    Not like George Bush, who was such a SAD clown...

    I like Glenn Greenwald.
    I like LESS Salon.
    Thai, I sent you another comment on your piece.

    Since it's SUNDAY, I recommend to all you guys and gals (but there aren't too many of US here...) a youtube video called "Extreme Sheep LED Art".
    I'm too dumb to link here, so you'll have to find it.


  30. And bananas are "green" at least before they turn color which may make them environmentally friendly. So it might not be so bad to be a banana republic. I have spent my life in some like Thai, over there in Kenya, if his bio is up to date, and they're rather nice in many respects. People are much more joyful. Thanks for the week end tips Debra.


  31. Hell,
    I've been thinking about something.
    You know how you show all these numbers that reflect American indebtness.
    But since the top 1% own 50% of the wealth and don't have that much debt, the indebtness of the have-not should actually be higher. Couldyou do a focus on how much debt-to-income the other 90% have-nots are at?

  32. This vid does a great job exposing what a scam the Geitner plan is for the American taxpayer.

    How can Obama let this happen?

  33. @ Hell (hat tip Greenie)

    I have pushed you to explain why you think America is not like Argentina. Why do you disagree with this?

  34. Thai, I checked out the Greenwald post.
    Too bad there are 497 letters, but then I wouldn't read or be read on Greenwald's thread...
    One problem with this kind of analysis :
    I can't remember when Citizen Kane was made, and I don't have the film, but... you get my point.
    And Mr. Smith Goes to Washington dates from 1939, right ?
    So... NOTHING HAS CHANGED in our country.
    And this fact does not really explain why things are exploding NOW, does it ?
    I think that one of the major reasons that things are exploding now is a PSYCHOLOGICAL one.
    The U.S. has federated itself a collective semi-cohesive identity by creating an "external" enemy and fighting it. (The Cold War)
    But... what happens when the enemy starts becoming INTERNAL ?
    Like... the war on drugs ? the war on poverty ? the war on crime ? THE WAR ON TERRORISM ?
    What happens to collective identity in these cases ?

    My perception of the U.S. as a third world country (I know that's nasty, but should I say, the fact that the U.S. had lost its exceptionalist status) was confirmed in the Hurricane Katrina debacle.
    A little bit like the shock wave of the Lisbon earthquake in Europe so long ago...

  35. @Thai


    I watched the banking video. I won't dispute its plausibility but the banks may be reluctant to undertake something if made illegal. It is certainly plausible though.

    There is a more important reason, however, that the Administration may be reluctant to push or even allow the banks to fail at this point in time. A bankruptcy or even recievership would oblige the banks to pay off their debt holders with their remaining assets. Depositors go first backed by the FDIC. Anything leftover, there is most often nothing at all, would go to suppliers, e.g. the company that last sold them computers or paper for example, bond holders, preferred share holders and lastly common share holders. Nothing would probably go to any of these, perhaps suppliers might get a little. Yet many of the bond holders are retirement funds, pension funds, charitable foundations, University endowments who thought they weree taking out safe investments to protect their contributors. Having all these people lose enormous portions of their resources at a time when the economy is weak would create further tremendous deflationary pressures, greater unemployment and a chance of furthering the downward economic spiral. This is the argument you don't hear. The Administration has a lot of balls to juggle here. Have a Good Weekend as Deb says. Best.


  36. "This vid does a great job exposing what a scam the Geitner plan is for the American taxpayer.

    How can Obama let this happen?"

    Intriguing video. I'm confused by the apparently benevolent, even sacrificial, behavior of the Federal Reserve in all this. There must be an angle that I'm not seeing. Wouldn't the private investors have to be transparent to the public?

    The barbarians are attacking The Commons and we're not clever enough to defend against them. Still, Obama is better than McCain would've been.

  37. "Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval."

    Am I on double secret probation? ;)