Firefox problems

UPDATE:  Your Firefox extensions acting up could also be the problem.  I’m checking this now and have removed several like “StumbleUpon, a custom toolbar, and a Video downloader.   If this works I’ll try reinstalls to see if I can duplicate the problem but in meantime see this list of problems for extensions: Firefox Extension problems.

I should have listened to Mark Cuban some weeks ago when he noted the problems with Firefox.   I’d been chalking up the slowdowns and surfing problems to a problem 512meg chip I’m in the process of replacing in the laptop, but it’s now clear the trouble is with Firefox.     I just reinstalled the latest version and still no luck – as a process Firefox quickly grows to absorbing 99% of my CPU capacity and everything slows to a crawl.   I’m using IE for now until this shakes out or my new chip brings me to 1 meg RAM on this laptop which should be enough to compensate for the problem.   I read somewhere that Firefox could be using all of my 512 meg as part of normal operations, and that his is *not* a firefox memory leak.

So, if you are experiencing the Firefox problems consider more memory or switching to IE!

3:10 to Yuma gets * * * * Quacks

You don’t want to miss this excellent western, filmed and acted much in the tradition of the old westerns but with some exceptional scenes that would leave even John Huston in awe of the filming technique. 3:10 is a complicated exploration of the two key characters – a sociopathic robber / gunslinger and a mildly disabled civil war farmer, played brilliantly by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.  The film is set in Arizona but was filmed in New Mexico and on sound stages.  The film is set in an early, post civil war Arizona.    Bale and Crowe cross paths and wits dramatically in this western action morality play. I felt that some of the action was unneccesary to the plot though this is a film where the violence is part of the story, and the chase scene in the train tunnels was a stunning example of bringing the exitement of an old western to a modern audience.

New York Times Movie Reviews are now available online.  Fantastic.  Thanks, Dave Winer, for pointing this out.

Why “recursive self improvement” could be the key to enlightenment.

This excellent article by Michael Anissimov describes two versions of how things could shake out in the coming Artificial Intelligence revolution, and suggests that it’s more likely strong AI (that is, computer-like devices that think pretty much like we do) will lead to an explosive increase in intelligence as a result of “recursive self improvement”.    The idea is that the intelligent machines will operate much faster than our brains can function, but will also tend to improve on their own designs.  

For humanity, design improvements on our brain architecture have been a very-very slow process governed primarily by evolutionary challenges.  Basic analytical intelligence almost certainly emerged in animals as an adaptive advantage in terms of survival.   Unlike our cousins the higher apes, human brain power has combined with community history to allow us to build technologies that last through many generations, and more importantly to *improve* as new people grapple with new problems.  This technological explosion is a fairly recent phenomenon but should still be considered a very slow process compared to the type of progress you would expect to see in an environment driven purely towards advancing the technologies surrounding “intelligence”.

If Anissimov and many others in strong AI research are correct, the time between the advent of conscious, recursively self improving computers and a massive explosion of intelligent machines could be very small – a few years or even possibly just a few moments.    

Currently, we humans do a handful of physical transformations that take us off of the slow evolutionary treadmill.   Glasses are a simple technology that changes us.   Corneal transplant and heart stints are “advanced” technological enhancments to our bodies.    Cell phones and computers are technological enhancements to our brains (and yes, the company called “BrainGate” has now connected computer chips directly to brains allowing human brains to directly interface with computers to do simple tasks).   

Still,  earth’s painstakingly slow evolutionary processes has yet to develop a creature that will be able to rebuild itself every few days into a vastly superior version of the former self.   We appear to be within a few  decades of that type of entity.

The implications of this re-evolutionary development cannot be overestimated.