According to current scientific dogma, everything I experience is the result of electrical activity in my brain, and it should therefor be theoretically feasible to simulate an entire virtual world that I could not possibly distinguish from the ‘real’ world. ~ Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari

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Forward Retreat. Mark Tansey 1986 ~ oil on canvas

Before we discuss simulation theory, we have to understand the simulation argument, in which the theory is merely one piece of the puzzle.

In 2003, Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at the University of Oxford, published an essay describing the simulation argument. In essence, his paper outlines three possible outcomes for the future of humanity…

Though I recently completed Udacity’s Deep Learning NanoDegree program, I am fairly new to this subject. In an effort to further my studies, I am currently reading an excellent book on the subject, Andrew Trask’s Grokking Deep Learning. This blog post is directly inspired by this fantastic book.

So, what is a neural network?

Neural Networks are incredibly powerful parametric models that transform your input data into output data using a combination of matrices and differentiable functions. — Andrew Trask

In other words, a neural network is a way of modeling your input data so that math functions performed on…

If you haven’t seen Al Gore’s 2016 TED talk on global warming, watch it now:

Yesterday at work I had the privilege to hear Al Gore give the two hour version of his presentation on climate change. Of course, I have seen An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and have since known about the destructive environmental effects of humanity on planet earth. However, for the past several years, I haven’t thought about it much. …

I am sure I’m not the first person to write about the phenomena that is plaguing the populace of the early 21st century. One might call it the age of social media (whatever that means), but I think there’s more to it. Spurred by the Maslow growth of technology, our society has been swept into a new age.

We live now in the age of the selfie. …

I’m 34 years old. This is the first day of the rest of my life.

I’ve always liked that line, or something like it, from American Beauty. In the movie, Kevin Spacey’s character is waking up from a mid-life crisis. He loses his job, his wife is cheating on him in his mediocre marriage, and he’s looking around and wondering how he got there. What has he accomplished in his life? Who is the man he has turned out to be?

This is the first day of the rest of my life.

The line is supposed to conjure feelings of…

As the fields of green wheat flash before my eyes from the comfort of my air-conditioned car seat, I wonder what it was once like to live as a farmer. After all, humans were farmers for over 12,000 years. It’s only in the past few hundred that we took on more varied roles, where only a small percentage of Sapiens actually tend to the fields.

Is this why part of me longs for this life? To work with my hands, in the mud, sweating under the hot sun, reaping the fruits of one’s labor. …

You will die before ever fully exploring the game world of No Man’s Sky. Think about that. A game in which the ‘map’ is so big, so full of planets and star systems to explore–of thousands of different species to discover–that you physically do not have enough time in your life to see it all.

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a planet in No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is a procedurally generated sci-fi game from the UK studio Hello Games. It is quickly gaining media attention as eager fans await its 2015 release, itching to explore its infinite map.

But what exactly is procedural generation? Surprisingly, the technology has been…

This post is about how caching works in Rails. But it’s also about my first successful journey into getting answers from Rails source code.

If you want to learn how to cache for specific points in your app, I highly recommend episode 115 — Model Caching from Ryan Bates. I set up the same type of caching for a recent work project. Here’s the basics of caching.

Let’s say you have a view page that calls a current_user.total_donations method to see the sum amount of all donations for that user. Your model code might look something like this.

class User

It occurred to me today that writing code is a lot like story telling. Both have an intrinsic nature of being a bit scary or unnerving. Why? Because when doing either you are essentially traveling into the unknown.

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When writing software to handle another user request on a website, a developer doesn’t know what or how much code to actually write. …

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I know the obvious reasons. It’s relaxing, it’s a break from work, from our routine, it’s fun. But what does it really do for us; why is it fun? Why is it so exciting to venture to an unknown country? To explore some place new?

I think the answer may be the same reason people like a good book or an interesting movie. It may be the same reason I like writing code. Or film making, playing guitar, photography and backpacking. What do all these activities have in common? …

Doug Wright

Software guy playing around on the Internet

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