When All the Digits Flip Out....

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Condensed from http://www.msnbc.com/bbs/msnbc-y2k/index.asp, posted here for discussion.

When All the Digits Flip Out... January 1, 2001 is the start of the Third Millenium and the start of the 21st century.

December 31, 1 would be the end of the first year, and December 31, 2000 is the end of the second calendar millenium (and the end of the 20th calendar century) on the Gregorian scale. There is no year numbered 0 in the Gregorian system. Years are counted like objects in space (which their symbolic representations are), but intervals are measured like distance and timespan, starting with zero.

See also: JR Stockton's Critical Dates http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/critdate.htm#Y2k

The end of the year 1999 marks the end of a base 10 computational year, decade, century, millennium. Getting machines to count is relatively simple, but getting them to count in base 10 is a bit more complex.

In counting, consider the computational aspect of each "flipping of the digits" and a special case when "9 goes to 0 and carry the one". This clever arithmetic scheme (which requires the concept of "zero as placeholder") was figured out by the Arabs, along with algebra and algorithms. They also figured out a lot of the stars and named as well as counted them. They learned to count large numbers of things using procedural methods of algebra and algorithms. There is evidence that much of the Arab's knowledge and ideas (including vedic scripture) came from Africa. There is a theory that genetically everyone on earth can be traced back to an African black woman who lived about 200,000 years ago (giving credit where credit is due). Whether she was kicked out of a garden for misbehavior and has had an attitude ever since, I don't know.

The "carry operation" part of the program logic is doubled for 2-digit transitions and tripled for 3-digit transitions, etc. The millennial boundary is a computational nodal point and only exists within the context of the representation model. In this case it is base 10 algorithms being carried out in base 2. So computationally there is a millennial boundary (frequency is: fMillennial = 1/1000.) at the end of 1999-12-31-23:59:59 and this can be considered the end of one millennum and the start of the next. In this case (and the next example), all the digits (except for the ones digit of DD) are going to flip.

Switch over to base 2 (which, by the way is base 10 in base 2) and counting and measuring millennia is similar to measuring memory, the millennium is 1024 years, and that's when and how often software has to do the extra digit carry work..From this view the millennium ends in 2047-12-31-23:59:59, that's when the high bit flips out. In this case you might rename it as the 'megannium.'

Since the Machine Logic World operates on base 2, the use of base 10 is purely an artifact of how many fingers most people have and what they should do when they run out of counting fingers. In base 16 (hex), the (8-bit, 2-digit rep) overflow-carry point is 255 going to 256, with a secondary harmonic when 15 goes to 16.

In any base, there are two points that can be considered end of the millennium, the one where the digits flip (end of 1999), and the one where the counted amount of time reaches a multiple of 1000 (end of 2000). Although both are arbitrary, the second is relatively insignificant. If time is considered symmetric, another critical point can be theorized as occurring at the end of 1998.

Not only is the timing of the symbolic (end 1999 and start of 2000) or enumerative (end of 2000 and start of 2001) end of millennium and start of next millennium points arbitrary (due to an arbitrary base system), but it is doubly arbitrary because there could be a phase shift in our time scale and no one would know the difference. Time is considered a non-zero monotonic linearly increasing function.

The People Flipping-out Scenario

In other words, y2k is a purely artificial (in the sense of man-made) problem. The response will be pure artifice as well. Catastophic y2k sequela is the technology pendulum swinging back the other way.

Amount of personal or social disruption will be a measure of the degree of civility acquired via civilization. It's what's left after taking away the convenience of technology. What else is there to be concerned with? An ecological economic is necessary to exist without the Machine.

So get a notebook with solar panels and a cell phone to make money, then start a garden and live in nature. Read The Way of the Scout by Tom Brown.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), October 29, 1998


I have argued frequently in this forum that our preparation for, and reaction to, any events that actually occur can either amplify or dampen the overall severity and that, within certain limits, we have a choice.

What the above article fails to acknowledge is that computer technology has also 'artificially' increased the carrying capacity of the human habitat. Can humans, as a species, survive without computers? Certainly, they did for thousands of years. But can we survive in the same numbers and population densities as we do today? Not one chance in a quadrillion. The trick here is to either remain on the 'up' side of the carrying capacity curve or to not actively participate in the 'down' side.


-- Arnie Rimmer (arnie_rimmer@usa.net), October 29, 1998.


I think the real problem is a rapid shift from high tech to low(er) tech. China, India and Indonesia certainly have a much lower 'technology per capita' rating, but *do* have huge populations. Certainly, if we all become hunter/gatherers, then carrying capacity comes into play. But it seems to me that up to a certain point, it's more the sudden loss of technology which would have devastating effects. Few of us could easily shift from our current system to one of self-sufficiency.

I'm not so sure I agree with the concept of Y2K as being 'artificial' or 'unnatural.' I understand that we sometimes use these terms to distinguish 'man-made' from 'not man-made'. But I often get the feeling that these words imply something else. Sort of a 'violation of natural law'. Now, I'm not saying we should slash and burn, pollute, or slaughter animals and plants. But I do believe that we are just as 'natural' as everything else. Whales are known to beach themselves, for no apparent reason. Maybe Y2K is our way of doing the same.

Done ramblin'.

-- Mike (gartner@execpc.com), October 29, 1998.

I agree with all 3 of you. Y2k is not Apocalypse and has nothing to do with the turn of the millenium, we did it to ourselves. (I think that's what Jon's giberish was getting at? ;))

Carrying capacity was artificially acelerated for the western technology-happy countries (and other less developed countries which recieved our crumbs),

and the chinese didn't need our technologie, they had thier own well established successful culture to do the same but over a much longer period.

I have a hunch the Chineese won't hurt as much as we will...

-- Chris (Catsy@pond.com), October 30, 1998.

1. Population capacity

Most estimates I've seen are that the population capacity of Earth is about 10 billion. I think we're at 6 now and have enough room for everybody to get along for some time.

This type of estimate may be assuming the presence of a functional infrastructure.

The population capacity of a given habitat will depend mostly on the amount and type of natural resources available in its vicinity. The main factors are energy, freshwater, and food (agricultural potential). In the current context, the issue is not so much whether or not we have computers, but "how much is a gallon of water, a gallon of gas, and how does that affect the price of food." Most likely embedded systems are involved in resource distribution and may have failures, but there is no reason to believe there would not be post y2k: 1. some gas, 2. some trucks that work, 3. some people looking for a job and wanting to make money, 4. some farms and agribusinesses growing food.

Technically, what the world's population capacity is so dependent on is industrialization; using energy and resources to make machines, appliances, and gadgets. This is not likely to vanish overnight either.

Not clear about the idea of 'survive without computers.' Is this referring to what happens if all the computers on the earth disappear or are otherwise somehow rendered forever useless. Computers are here to stay. People will still be running programs on computers even if all the chip foundries and computer makers were to vanish off the face of the earth. Some of them probably are underground.

2. Artifice

Artifice is the endproduct of humanity, it is the effect of anthropology on ecology. In a bigger sense it is the Impact of the Machine. But in the sense used here (both the creation of the problem and the solution of Y2k is artifice), it means 'made by man', it does not carry any connotation of non-genuine.

For example consider Artificial Intelligence, the field of study where people are telling machines how to exhibit intelligence. (the exact meaning of 'intelligence' has no consensus in the field). If you want to draw the distinction between people and machines in a dualist way, you have Natural Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence. People use their NI along with tools and machines to develop AI. But in it's own way either type of activity may be regarded as 'natural' and either can be seen as 'artificial' as well.

Point is, people working together got the world into this problem, and people working even better together need to get the world out of this problem. Problem is (after the technical side), all the emotionality and irrational religious beliefs that are competing for dominance throughout the world. The whole y2k situation is an explosive mix. No wonder the government is planning to clamp down.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), October 30, 1998.

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