Saturday, August 11, 2012

FOURTY-FOUR: impossible, open thinking, study

 //I have been sitting on this rant for a while now because I keep disagreeing with myself and what I have written. I decided to post it anyway, along with the current update of what's going on with "freespaceships".

It is the general opinion about a mass collaborative space program that it is impossible. Well judging from the responses and the general lack of responses I got from people including the "crowd" I spammed on

There are legal  issues with open designing hardware, there are economical issues of gathering funds and resources to carry out construction, maintenance, and operation of hardware, there are technological issues of actually doing things in orbit or on the surface of objects in space.

Truckload of problems.

So how can one person solve all those  problems? Which is what I am trying to do.

The short answer is: There is no way a single person could do all of that.

The long answer is: Follow the example of problem solving know hows in history or in our current times and just simply break it all up into tiny little pieces of problems and solve them one at a time.

The problem is, breaking it all up into tiny pieces is in itself a problem.

I cannot see the actual problem field because I am not an expert in any of the broad fields or sub fields that are encompassed by legal, economical, and technological fields.

 So two obvious solutions are to become an expert in all the fields, or to outsource the whole thing to experts out there, but neither can be accomplished without serious time and money investment which I cannot afford. //actually I can afford some of it, this is why I enrolled in some coursera courses, see how much of an "expert" I can become in the following years//

To become an expert I would need to devote time that I am spending on trying to support myself and my wife by doing actual work. To outsource the problem to experts I would need to devote time to find the experts, find  out the specific problems, and convince the experts to solve them somehow. This is usually accomplished by offering money, which would require me to become substantially more wealthy than I am now.

I could keep going with my open thinking effort, the point is I have been running in circles in my head because of simple issues that I hit right at the point when I try to break down the large problem into small pieces.

From out of the mess I have been crystallising some key ideas that might be of some use: /they are mostly repeats of stuff I have read or have already written/
I don't need to design the actual collaborative system that runs the space program, I need to figure out the algorithm that grows the system from a simple seed.
I need to figure out ways to simplify the problem to chunks I can handle myself.
I need to build a simple system that has within it the capacity to grow and redesign itself as it draws in more involvement from other people.
I need to keep it simple, and I need to keep the problem chunks simple all the way along.

Other stuff needs ranting:
form dictates function dictates form dictates function dictates form dictates function dictates form....

Never give up, never surrender!

Now back to freespaceships:
The system isn't really about designing, manufacturing, and maintaining space hardware, it is about organising human collaboration. We already have several systems out there, I am only aware of a very tiny fraction.

 But the system I have in my head /which is very vague and is more like a shadow of a system/ hasn't arisen yet. I have this conviction that it could potentially be part of how we colonize space. Because a society that grows to inhabit its solar system would need systems that reliably organise and coordinate the collaboration of millions if not billions of it's members WITHOUT the current issues of resource allocation, and destructive internal conflicts.

One of the key issues is the waste of human capital. We have billions of human brains potentially all capable of solving high level problems like ISRU but they are mostly busy with trying to stay alive in turbulent political/environmental/economical niches where survival is hard. They cannot even afford to ponder about the possibilities of life on another planet, they have the pressing issue life in their corner of the world being extremely tough.

Anyway I am getting sidetracked.

Simple system, self changing, self monitoring, potential for growth.

I got stuck with our wiki because it takes too much effort for one person to grow it into useful size and it seems to be pretty useless. I want something smarter than a wiki. :) So I got back on track with learning JAVA instead.

I need a database with a nearly automatic entry method and update method. So basically I need to be able to just simply dump links into the thing, and let it sort out the data I am looking for, make the entry for the database and revisit the site to update itself, and also make fancy stat charts about the sites and also itself. Well it would be better if it was a smart bot that did all the searching, organising and presenting data by itself.

This sounds like a duplication of already existing systems out there, and it probably is. But since I have no access to those systems, I will have to try and reinvent the wheel so I can have a go at rolling it around. //unless I find what I am looking for while working on the problem, my guess is I would only need to find the right software out there and just implement it to this problem.//

Other notes about "freespaceships" //note I am using "freespaceships" as a title for something that will most certainly won't be called as such//:
So I envisage a problem pool, a resource pool, and product pool.

We have the problems like buying a screw, or how to stabilise a satellite, how to get more people play our game, how to abide by laws of all sorts of different countries.

We have a resource pool that contains all of us, all of our shared thoughts, shared designs, shared knowledge, shared finance, shared tools etc...Anything we can share that can help us reach our goal is a resource we have.

We will have products. Like a space port, space station, off world research facility, holiday resorts, factories, things we sell to people to get their money to fund our operation.

Problem pool we all go to, dip our hands in, grab a chunk we can manage, we solve it. I guess we might need a solution pool to put it back into. If we fail at solving we attach notes and our work to the problem and we put it back into the pool. At any given time each problem should be visible to all and also who is working or has worked on the chunk.

Solution pool would have solutions to problems. Probably solving problem chunks would involve looking into the solution pool to find solutions before trying to come up with our own.

Resource pool we would go to to get tools, or money, or people to help us solve the problem.

Product pool is where we put the solutions that then we can use to acquire resources to put into the resource pool.

//That above was the rant waiting to be published, I did minor edits as I re-read it.

Now the current update:

So I watched some more TED, more inspirations, I found a great project I was unaware of, and now I am hooked.

It is coursera , a website that offers a whole heap of online courses for free.

I was hooked straight away because it solves the problem of me being a dunce. Hopefully.
I enrolled to a couple of courses that I thought would be extremely relevant for my attempts of trying to solve the "mass collaboration problem" for my hypothesised "freespaceships" project.

The courses I am taking:
-Algorithms prt1: this will help me learn more advanced JAVA than the basic tutorial I am doing. I already set up both Eclipse and DRJAVA to be able to do the exercises, and I am ready to have a crack at this. They also have a neat online book with heaps of resources for noobs to un-noobise themselves.
-Machine Learning: awesome course, I already watched 3 weeks worth of videos on it trying to get a head start and also trying to see where I would potentially get really stuck cause of my lack of "smarts". I can't wait to implement the algorithms there for something more relevant for "freespaceships", or my other pet project "Sugarglider Environmental Robotics". I want to make smart drones to do all my current work while I am floating around in space. :)
-Gamification: this is essential for a fun and entertaining system to engage people and keep them involved. I love games. I would love to play one that can get me and a couple of million other people to the moon in 30 years if played right.
-Social Network Analysis: again an obvious course because I am trying to grow a social network. A pretty large one too. Hopefully this course will help me understand networks better. More knowledge means less dumb ideas. Hopefully. :)
-Networked Life: Another course on network, but this one seems to be more general.
-Artificial Intelligence Planning: this is a course on using AI for planning. Covers a wide range of different topics and approaches. This is also absolutely essential for a space program of any sort. :)

So I am absolutely not discouraged yet by the difficulty of creating "freespaceships". I am actually enjoying the whole process so far.

On another note I also had some more chats with J. Simmons at Mach30. I got an account at ODE so "freespaceships" is officially connected to MACH30 now. Hopefully freespaceships will become something useful in the future and be an integrated part of the global network of maker spaces, individuals, organisations that will get us to the moon to have a cup of tea.

Wife is forcing me to play some munchkin with her and a friend so I have to go now. :D

Signing out!

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