One of the limitations of photography — especially that which eschews unrealistic post-processing — is that it provides limited means for expressing emotions. There is no link between the feelings in your mind and the data your sensor collects, unlike the stroke of a pen in forming a word of brush in making a drawing.

Nonetheless, photography is art-by-doing. An unaltered photo is a credible statement: I was at this place, these things were around me (Exif data can make it especially intimate). In that spirit, I tried to take a walk to express grief and pain photographically. When you’re sick with these feelings — when your brain feels like it’s being pulled apart — one answer is to travel somewhere strange and remote. To listen to the night wind blowing across something enormous and cold.

I’m working on practicing non-self-destructive ways of handling overpowering emotions.

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Life since October has been a potpourri of different kinds of intense stress. I thought that the uncertainty of finding a new supervisor over the summer was intense, but it turns out the stakes of a PhD (succeed or fail) are pretty low and the risks involved are mostly ego- and finance-related.

By contrast, uncertainty about having a stable place to live permeates all elements of life, like static hiss behind music. It’s worse when accompanied by feelings of powerlessness.

Worse by far is stress from friends in serious trouble. The feeling of responsibility has a different tone from efforts to resolve large-scale economic and political problems: the feeling is that critical outcomes can turn in the span of hours to weeks depending on what you do or do not do. Furthermore, decision-making is undertaken under overlapping types of uncertainty, from not knowing what’s really going on from day to day and hour to hour to never being sure if any action will have a helpful or a deleterious effect.

I have certainly been earning my new proliferation of grey hairs.

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2018-02-10

in Δ

Helplessly watching someone you love suffer can teach and change you more than years of academic study, expert help, and suffering of your own.

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Slashdot reports: “Researchers at the Technische Universitat Wein have created a simulation of a simple worm’s neural network, and have been able to replicate its natural behavior to completely mimic the worm’s natural reflexive behavior.”

When it comes to bodies, at least down to the level where quantum uncertainty becomes important, there seems to be no reason why sufficiently powerful computer hardware could not produce an excellent simulation. In the long term, that could allow things like the development and practicing of surgical techniques on simulated bodies; improved testing for safety in diverse applications; and research into animal physiology.

Perhaps brains are different; there may be something about consciousness that keeps it from being modelled by any conventional computer, regardless of its memory and processing capabilities. Still, it’s possible that consciousness can also be simulated, or re-created in a digital form, perhaps with the aid of quantum computers.

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