There is some good material here, but the origins of each chapter in magazine articles make it not very well integrated (The magazine paid by the wordThere is some good material here, but the origins of each chapter in magazine articles make it not very well integrated (The magazine paid by the word? Which would explain why this is 600 pages long and contains tons of redundant source code).
Many times a table would have explained what several options are good for but instead there is a verbal description of four or five slightly different cases.
All the examples are in assembly language, which means a lot of simple things like setting a register to a certain value are hidden within multiple lines of assembly code to accomplish the same.
I only read the articles about VGA programming, there are many chapters on different graphics modes but not much over-arching description of how they all fit together. I did spend a little time compiling some c for use in dosbox (https://gist.github.com/lucasw/eb0d8c... needs to get filled out with some additional information and code I put into an email to myself), but there were discrepancies between online sources and what dosbox was allowing me to do I haven't accounted for.
Any screenshots at all would have been helpful, as would more diagrams.
It's pretty hard to find good vga programming information (one source is http://www.brackeen.com/vga/ )- a lot of books were published in the 1990's prior to the internet taking pre-eminence as a source of programming information. I really want a good description of what the hardware is doing, even for just a single variety of graphics card- though I haven't looked that hard. Even better would be explanation of why the design is like it is (backwards compatibility with CGA/EGA and hardware limitations probably), though it's more understandable the old books wouldn't have this....more
Thought provoking to the point of wanting to think and not actually continue reading the book.
Interesting take-down of the potential for direct brainThought provoking to the point of wanting to think and not actually continue reading the book.
Interesting take-down of the potential for direct brain computer interfaces: if you want to deliver audio or images to the brain at the same rate people already hear or see, fine, but implanting skills or memories or otherwise higher bandwidth input/output is probably off the table without some highly invasive modifications and lots of R&D to go with it.
Intelligence 'take-off' calculations are nonsense. But what if there is a 1% chance they are real? Then we have to take it as an absolute certainty?
I suspect much else in the book is also nonsense. Though a lot of it comes down to a legitimate question 'how do we guarantee continuity of purpose/values for our progeny', which applies to regular human children as much as artificial entities, though limited biological variation over single generations tend to conserve certain values for humans. But the tools (especially intelligence take-off curves) brought to bear in thinking about the problem are not the right ones.
The ridiculous AI in a box making itself smarter scenario (prominent in 'Our Final Invention') appears again: If you lock Einstein in a sealed room for 20 years, and give him the ability to rewire his own brain, does he come out a world-taking-over-master-manipulator-of-ordinary-people-extra-super-genius or insane or dead?
I may not remember it now but the morality of near human AI development is only lightly touched upon, although it is important both for people to consider and to suppose what an AI thinks of it. Would you make 20 clones of yourself, tinker with their mental processes, and then murder 19 of them and commit suicide after handing all your assets over to the one you consider superior? Would an AI?
How would an super-intelligent AI guarantee a continuity of purpose for it's own progeny? Wouldn't it feel threatened by super-super-intelligence that would kill it and decide to do something different (or nothing at all- the horror) with all the usable matter in it's light cone?
There is section where author claims the wealth-fertility 'paradox' is certainly going to end and women will be maximizing their reproductive potential again (voluntarily or not?) and the vast majority of human civilization will live in poverty just below the threshold of starvation, forever. The argument is that given enough time the vast majority of the population will have descended from modern day fertility cults, which apparently have solved the problem of continuity of purpose as those cults will continue on exactly like they have for unlimited generations, and perhaps there is some biological evolutionary component to their belief system that will reinforce that.
Even if it were true in the absence of other factors it will be hundreds or thousands of year in the future - and the entire rest of this book is about a very large other factor that will come much sooner than that.
The mindset behind the above prediction is in line with the calculations in another section of the theoretical amount of humans that could live if we were to colonize the universe. The summed value of all these future humans comes into play when weighing existential risks in the near term. I counter that with the standard practice in finance to discount the value of something in the future vs. the value of having it sooner, so a civilization of a trillion people living a billion years from now would not count much compared to the next few hundred years of human civilization and our paltry billions, and rightfully so. Choosing the right future value discount rate is tricky, however....more