Hasta la vista 2011

2011 is about to end, but I’ve done waaaaay too much this year, and am waaaay too busy, to feel like writing a blog post summing it all up !!!  But anyway, here’s a very partial and crude approximation…

The kids are growing up !! …

  • Zade is in high school now …
  • Zeb is 18 and in January starts his junior year of college, majoring in film and history, at Marlboro College in Vermont
  • Zar just turned 22, graduated UMD College Park in May with a BS in Mathematics and a BA in Japanese, and will be spending a year (at least) teaching English in Japan, starting in April….
  • Egads!!  Can I possibly be old enough to have sired such large and aged offspring??  Most of the time it doesn’t quite feel like it; it somehow feels like I should still be in my late 20s….  But my memory banks tell me otherwise….  (And now and then, especially if I haven’t been getting enough sleep, I actually do feel 45 ;-p )

And on the other hand, my dad is retiring in June after his next semester at Rutgers ends; and my  mom plans to retire as Executive Director of PathwaysPA in 2013.   Hard to believe they’re both nearing 70 — their  minds are still in great shape and they’re so active!!  Hope I’m equally well off when I reach that age (though not as much as I hope aging and the legacy human condition will be obsoleted well before that time!!).

The big news for me this year happened in late fall — I got an apartment (actually the top floor + roof of a village house)  in Hong Kong, in a charming little village near Tai Po, 30  minutes drive north of Kowloon.   It’s semi-rural and peaceful, right next to the  mountains and the sea, and a lovely respite from the crowds and chaos of urban HK.  Adam Ford did some recent video interviews of me in the village — some from the rooftop courtyard of the house, some from a little path nearby.

I’ve also kept my house in Rockville Maryland (near DC) and am spending time both places now (Zade is going to high school in Rockville; she’s too attached to her school chums to feel like shifting to a Hong Kong high school…!)

What’s going on in Hong Kong?  I’ve co-founded a project aimed at applying AI to the Hong Kong stock  market, a new firm called Aidyia Holdings.  If this goes well, then after some time has passed it will generate enough $$ that I can make a significant contribution to funding AGI R&D myself.  Wish me luck!

Also, OpenCog is rolling along reasonably well, with a project involving OpenCog and intelligent game characters going on in the M-Lab in Kowloon Tong (Hong Kong), co-funded by the HK government and Novamente LLC.  Being in HK a lot lets me keep more involved with this project as well.   My massive tome on OpenCog and AGI, Building Better Minds, has been “almost done” for a long time — and it really IS almost done!!   It needs some attention to the figures and references, and some updating and proofreading, but even though I only have spare time for it lately, it’s bound to get done fairly soon….

And Novamente LLC and Biomind LLC, the AI and bioinformatics startups I founded and now Chair, are still rolling right along, with active projects in areas including computational neuroscience, life extension biology, nontraditional combinations of traditional Chinese medicines, music recommendation and psychological data analysis.

The AGI conference series that I founded a few years back is going strong — AGI-11 was at Google and AGI-12 will be at Oxford, and AGI-13 in Beijing.  The Humanity+ futurist conferences I’ve been involved with are cruising along too, H+@HK in Hong Kong took place just a few weeks ago and was great fun 😉 …

Is everything going as I’d wish it?  Well, not exactly.  On an everyday level things are good — I’m having fun, doing lots of interesting stuff, traveling cool places (the family trip to Mongolia this summer was AWESOME!); and my personal life is filled with people I love.  On the other hand, my progress toward seeing my AGI designs realized — or completing my theoretical framework for explaining general intelligence — is still frustratingly slow, and it’s an ongoing struggle not to let this fact peeve me too much.  I’m trying to work toward getting AGI built and understood in the  most effective and rational way I can, consistent with my own emotional makeup and needs, and  my responsibility to my family — but this requires an ongoing series of tough choices and compromises.  So overall things are exciting, emotionally and intellectually rich, often a bit frustrating but rarely boring….

One thing I note is, I don’t seem to have much time for avocations like writing wacky fiction or recording  music these days.   Practical and research work plus family stuff keeps me too busy.  But I do improvise on the piano at least 30 minutes every day, and am sure to walk outside a bit each day to keep the stress down and the meat infrastructure in OK shape….   Overall I’m a bit busier than I’m comfortable with, but I reckon I can keep going at this pace for a few more years without getting toooooo stressed.

And so it goes…

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