November 27, 2016: Business Meeting

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Sunday Agenda

  • Check in
  • Opening Blessing
  • Review WWWs
  • Weekly event logistics
  • Review Agenda
  • 20 minutes Strategy/Tactics Talk
  • 10 minutes Practices maintenance
  • 10 minutes on Winter Solstice
  • 10 minutes on Concerning Speech blog post
  • Evaluations
  • Closing Blessing


  • Brandon … feeling pretty good … I was crazy before I went for a run with Shelley, and felt a lot better after
  • Ben … I’ve been having a nice vacation so far and feel pretty good about requesting matches from Microsoft for the donations I’ve made in the past year

Opening Blessing

As we live in the world, there are times when many things are upsetting. May we remember that even in those times, we have much to be thankful for. May we find a spirit of gratitude in our hearts. --Blessed Be

WW(W)s from last time

  • Brandon … spend 15 minutes every day on Machine Learning … ongoing
  • Brandon … make a daily 1 minute video check-in for Ben and Eric … ongoing
  • Brandon … Meditate regularly with Eric … ongoing
  • Ben … meditate regularly with Eric ... ongoing
  • Ben … spend at least 15 minutes a day on Flight in a Cage … ongoing
  • Ben … Send Brandon/Eric a video message each day about what I did … ongoing
  • Eric … Send Brandon/Ben a video message each day about what I did … ongoing
  • Eric … Work on Buckleberry at least 15 minutes a day… ongoing
  • Eric … Meditate regularly with Ben … ongoing
  • Eric … Meditate regularly with Brandon … ongoing

Weekly Events Logistics

Service rotation: Eric, Ben, Shelley, Brandon
  • Dec 3 Service: 8:00 AM PDT / 11:00 EDT … Eric
  • Dec 4 Business Call: 8:00 AM PDT / 11:00 EDT

Strategy Talk

Six Thinking Hats

  • Green … brainstorming
  • Yellow … positive (Sunny) evaluation
  • Black … negative (Shadow) evaluation
  • Red … emotional
  • White … logic only
  • Blue … process (noticing which hat is happening, actively selecting a hat)

Red Hatting

  • Start a Shiny Party that promotes science better than any existing party, as well as voting reform using ranked-choice ballots and auditable cryptographic proof of who's voting so we wouldn't have to trust the voting-machine companies. Also promotes ConsensusPolling and other methods for better decision making in a networked age.
    • Eric … mixed, honors my dad’s efforts toward rank choice, discouraged that we could succeed, worried that it might take us away from the core of SolSeed
    • Brandon … optimistic that now is an opening that I haven't felt for these things before, worried that it would detract from the core, worried that it would become a slog
    • Ben … highly doubtful that this would get anywhere and frightened that if it did, it would take on a life of its own that would pull it away from green values

Work on ways to preserve good things about civilization through a climate-disrupted dark age

  • Work with the Long Now Foundation
  • We could start an open-source collaborative project to build a tech tree like in Civilization-type games, but with instructions for how to really do it, and a focus on making the resulting civilization sustainable
    • Ben … afraid this may be the only worthwhile thing on the list, sounds like sad to work on (sucking energy rather than giving energy)
    • Eric … excited about it, hopeful that it could bring us together with a lot of other groups, and relaxed that it wouldn’t strain us and we could work on other things too
    • Brandon … repelled by the dark age part of it, attracted by the positive future parts of it, sounds fun to work on a game, worried that it would be divisive of our core group

Deepening our practices (internal audience)

  • Work on a mechanism to have asynchronous services
  • Work on stabilizing our new blog-writing practice and promoting our own blog
  • Improving our celebrations, e.g. hold more events in places with dark skies so we can see lots of stars and the Milky Way
    • Brandon … confident that this top level goal will make progress in some or all of these directions based on our the inertia of SolSeed
    • Ben … un-confident that our blogging practice is going to get seriously going without a strategic effort, ashamed to have told people in our newsletter that we started the blogging practice and then have had it never happen
    • Eric … shiny excitement about the asynchronous services, comfort and connection excitement about the blog writing practice, defensive at the "improve our celebrations" piece because I love our celebrations and it feels disloyal

Recruiting (external audience)

  • Re-start the book program (we have a bunch of PotS copies)
  • Create one or more videos about the concept of Shiny Green
  • Create videos of us talking about our visions
  • Create a Lauren Olamina page on Facebook and speak as the 7 year old Lauren Olamina (hopefully with the help of an actual black woman) … follow her life and journal as her
  • Contact some possibly kindred people such as David Duemler
  • Hold a Star Trek 50th Anniversary celebration
    • Eric … content with who we have, but happy that we had a book program and would be happy to continue with it, proud of the videos before they even exist
    • Brandon … optimistic that the videos might follow from the blogging practice as we seek content for it, ambivalent toward the book program, attracted to the idea of more people like us but repelled by the logistics of doing the program
    • Ben … attracted wonderful to have more members, frightened of rejection if we approach people directly, excited to work on video where you were holding me accountable to getting it finished, confused about how the book program is supposed to help exactly

Place Making (largely internal audience)

  • Build a SolSeed temple
  • Build a SolSeed shrine
  • Build the Auberge Paradis and Buckleberry bed-and-breakfast resorts (external audience)
  • Build a Gaia shrine at Buckleberry
  • Start un-farming termites at Buckleberry
  • Build an astronomy tower on top of the Hill at Buckleberry with a planetarium in it.
  • Try un-farming goats at Buckleberry using fermented saw dust as feed.
    • Brandon … pretty attracted to the shrine, it feels right-scale for what we could do, we could do something cool for $10,000 as opposed to $1 million or something
    • Ben … I am so excited by the idea of building something cool with SolSeed’s name on it that it makes me want to ignore the challenges of raising funds and battling zoning and so forth … I am inspired by the idea of building a temple in Portland and having it be the way that we go mainstream … that’s the way I feel about it

Art (internal and external audience)

  • Re-start the Gaia statue Kickstarter project
  • Build a big model of the Milky Way with many blue and yellow lights representing stars, and green lights that can be turned on to symbolize life spreading … maybe bring it to Burning Man
  • Re-start the music video project for The Seed
  • Start a new music video project, e.g. Rise Anew
  • Make posters and t-shirts and sell them online … we could have a whole separate brainstorm about what imagery to create for these
    • Ben … I feel personally drawn to doing this work … I love it when you motivate me to make art that I would otherwise be too lazy or distracted to make … I feel a duty to make art that says important things (i.e., motivate people to see possibilities) which Rise Anew would be an example of
    • Brandon … I feel great when I work on beautiful masks or the Galaxy Plate or other aesthetic expressions of the SolSeed convictions … I want to do it as a way of just expressing myself

Science fiction (external audience)

  • Finish and publish Flight in a Cage
  • Try to publish some of our short stories in science fiction magazines
  • Apply for one of us to attend the Clarion West science-fiction writers workshop
  • Hold a SolSeed discussion panel at a science fiction convention
    • Brandon … I feel like an enthusiastic cheerleader for this effort, … not sure that I would be able to contribute directly, I feel like others have it covered better and I don't have a lot to contribute, although I'm happy to contribute … but I love it and feel it could be amazing for us
    • Ben … I have mixed feelings, on the one hand I love science fiction and feel that my SolSeed work is partly an expression of that love for envisioning spacefaring futures … on the other hand I’m dissatisfied with my ability to write fiction that really shows people the importance of SolSeed’s ideas ... and am worried that defining it as fiction will actually push people away from helping us try to make such a future real.

Sharing our ideas (external audience)

  • Write a series of blog entries commenting on and critiquing the developing SpaceX plans to colonize Mars from a Humanistic Pagan / Earthseed perspective
  • Re-start the SolSeed:The Book of Life project / Write our own version of The Millennial Project
  • Promote the Concerning AI podcast more to reach a wider audience
  • Start a Kickstarter to print more copies of Happy in the Sun and start creating new kid's books about Empathy and Wisdom
  • Blogging about our projects
    • Ben ... I would feel very proud if we finished something like SolSeed: The Book of Life ... it would make SolSeed feel more real to me because I could give people this book and say “This is us!” … our idea sharing schemes feel important but kind of less life-giving than the idea of making art or building things
    • Brandon … I'd like to have this stuff, but I don't want to make this stuff … and like Ben, I find more juice in more aesthetic expression of what SolSeed means and can mean

Research (external audience)

  • Research the Simulation Hypothesis and possibly add simulism to our religion … write a paper explaining the objective evidence for it (if there is any) and how it could be falsified (or perhaps how the “we are not a simulation” hypothesis could be falsified).
  • Do something related to the "reactionless" microwave thruster, e.g. an analysis of how much power it would take to move something big
  • Publish an AI Paper
  • Do some more simple CELSS experiments
    • Brandon … If we hadn't just recently talked about the Art category, I would feel more inspired by this, but comparatively I just feel much more inspired by the art … again, the art is a lot more heart, and this is a lot more neocortex
    • Ben … in general I would love to have scientific results to show the world, but I don’t want to do the hard work to get them ... CELSS experiments would be what I felt most passionate about doing if I had enough passion … the Simulation Hypothesis repels me because it feels like a resurrection of the Sky God mythos.

Practices maintenance

  • Ben: Our WWWs have practices that we are supposed to be doing on an ongoing basis. What can we do to further motivate ourselves to actually do them and then get to cross them off? Or maybe it is better to ask “What is blocking us?”
  • Brandon: I get into a downward spiral where I don't feel like I'm making progress, so I don't want to report on the fact that I'm not making progress, and then I feel guilty about not reporting, but that's even less progress which feeds back into the downward spiral.
  • Ben: What if we were okay with the daily videos being about just what is happening in our lives and renewing our social bonds of friendship if we don’t have anything else to report (or maybe even if we do)?
  • Brandon: What if Ben and I agree that even if we do nothing else this week, we'll do the 1-minute video every day, and that will count as a Super Green success for the week?
  • Ben: It feels too easy for me because I don’t have work (my job). But I would be fine with giving Brandon a Super Green for that.
  • Brandon: I think it will be very hard for me, so I'll take a Super Green for that.
  • Ben: My Super Green will be working on my story every day.
  • Brandon: Wow, awesome!

Winter Solstice

  • On the day of (Wednesday), Brandon has work and Shelley's family will be down in Portland
  • If we do a weekend, it would need to be the 17th/18th
  • Ben would like to do another Space Elevator Solstice, preferably in Seattle (or Redmond?)
  • Shelley really counts on the last weekend before Christmas to get herself together for Christmas, shopping and wrapping presents
  • So let's aim to do the Space Elevator event in Portland, probably at the Sanders place
    • Shelley would prefer doing that on a weekend, so let's aim for the evening of Saturday the 17th
    • Maybe try to make two climbers, and try new designs
    • Shelley wants to know how many people we're imagining coming
  • Shelley thinks the kids would also like to do a Solstice play (with the Holly King etc), maybe just as a family on the actual Solstice or the day before
    • Shelley feels this is a holy time to celebrate darkness and light

Concerning Speech

The Concerning Speech project is meant to provide people who are interested in machine learning/AI (just Brandon to start with) with a problem that is tractable and illustrative of the space of machine learning problems. In particular, it begins to create the sense of what the Curse of Dimensionality is, and how/why feature engineering is still a black art. So Brandon wants to create visualizations that people can play with to tweak parameters and try different features in order to get their feet wet easily.

For example, a speech signal in its native form is a time-varying magnitude of the displacement of the microphone membrane. So to train, you can record a couple seconds of speech and end up with a point in a several-thousand-dimensional space, where each audio sample is one dimension. That would be a feature taken over a 2-second time window at the 20-KHz sampling frequency. That is the most naive feature you can think of, practically, and immediately runs into all sorts of problems.

The next sort of feature that people turn to is energy at various frequencies. This is decomposing the signal using a Fourier transform approach and determining the weights of various frequency bands, with a much lower sampling granularity, maybe 10 samples per second instead of 10,000. So now you have 20 dimensions over a 2-second window.

In order to make it as accessible as possible to the most people, I want the playground/worksheet to be in Web standards so that people can immediately interact with it in their browser. Examples of similar workspaces include, JSFiddle, etc. To visualize the data, we will use the D3 graphics library. To interact with the audio, we will use Aurora.js, which is a Node and browser package for loading, decoding, and playing audio files. There is already a good start on creating a dataset that is called Librispeech, which is using the Librivox audio recordings of public-domain works (books, plays, poems, etc). I want to tie Concerning Speech directly to that as well.

The reason it's called Concerning Speech is because it's going to be launched on the Concerning AI podcast. I'm not concerned that this project could get out of hand and produce an Artificial General Intelligence. But I am concerned that it might launch the career of the person who instigates everything getting out of hand.


  • Ben … I love talking about future projects that we could do, and I love building cool LEGO things like the space elevator climbers, and I love using our practice to motivate each other to work on things we care about
  • Brandon … Ditto, and I really like working in person. I hadn't been prepared to venture out this evening, so it took a minute for the idea to take hold, but I had a blast, so thanks for coming up with it. And it makes me really want to have more face-to-face.

Closing Blessing

The world we live in is not always easy to live in. The work we want to do in the world often seems impossible in the face of what we know about the world. But we can be grateful that we have each other and can be together in our highest aspirations and support each other in working to make them real. -- Blessed Be

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