As Google CEO Larry Page looks backward, he’s realizing how much his musical education inspired critical elements of Google—especially his impatience and obsession with speed.“In some sense I feel like music training lead to the high-speed legacy of Google for me,” Page said during a recent interview with Fortune. “In music you’re very cognizant of time. Time is like the primary thing.”
“I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do,” he said. “As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.” Page says he learned to appreciate that “artistic component,” in part through music.
Now, Page’s interest in music has taken a new turn. How it will impact Google, if at all, remains to be seen. “The last couple of years I’ve been trying to learn percussion a bit, which has been challenging,” he said.
Part 1 of this series began at the first quarter phase of the Moon on 01-16-2016. Today we’re at the last quarter which is as illustrated above, the visual and geometric opposite of the first quarter. These two positions of the Moon are also the second primary set of binary/polar relationships after the new and full Moon positions. Today, in part because few people farm we’re not as directly connected to the practical value of these polar relations. The full moon is hard to ignore but we’re generally not familiar with waxing, waning or gibbous(when’s the last time you heard someone say that word). Ironically, while science pays less attention, there are many people who are aware of at least the crescent moon phases for religious reasons. Still, our awareness doesn’t change the fact these relationships encode the same valuable knowledge as boolean math and logic gates which power computers. In Part 3, we’ll take an in-depth look at how digital logic drives the relationships which govern how the Moon’s orbit presents the Sun’s light to us.
This is the last of a three part series(links to: Part 1 and Part 2) taken from a forthcoming publication. Dr. Peter Chen is a world reknown computer scientist. His 1976 paper on data modeling is one of the most cited papers in the the field. Chen pioneered an abstract way to describe a database known as Entity-Relationship Modeling(ERM). In 2014’s highly automated and digitized world, with so many people living in developed urban area you’re likely using some service or device whose designers directly or indirectly used ERM or one of its descendants. If you plug into the grid in any way, “likely” becomes certainly. A 2002 paper reflecting on the long-lived success of ERM, says:
Many people asked the author how he got the idea of the Entity-Relationship model. After he kept on getting that kind of questions, the author thought it might be related to something that many people in Western culture may not have. After some soul searching, the author thought it could be related to his Chinese culture heritage. There are some concepts in Chinese character development and evolution that are closely related to modeling of the things in the real world.
Peter Chen, the father of ER modelling said in his seminal paper:
- “The entity-relationship model adopts the more natural view that the real world consists of entities and relationships. It incorporates some of the important semantic information about the real world.
He is here in accord with philosophic and theoretical traditions from the time of the Ancient Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (428 BC) through to modern epistemology, semiotics and logic of Peirce, Frege and Russell. Plato himself associates knowledge with the apprehension of unchanging Forms (The forms, according to Socrates, are roughly speaking archetypes or abstract representations of the many types of things, and properties) and their relationships to one another.
As we saw in Part 2, Shabaka, several hundred years before Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, had preserved this knowledge that had been codified in Memphis much earlier, perhaps several millennia.
ERM deals with the structure of databases but the Memphite technology is also applicable to the dynamics of a database. There are two sets of symmetrical operations that can be performed on most databases
These operations, identified in 1983 are known as CRUD and remain in widespread use. The web’s HTTP protocol is based on a similar set of four operations.
Every day you use the web, you’re using techniques of African Information Engineering!
Following in Leibniz’s footsteps, physicist Stephen Wolfram is seeking to make knowledge computable. One tool he’s using is the cellular automata like the one below
Perhaps connections between African Information Engineering and cellular automata can help African cultures get back in the game.
Part 1 explored the connections between talking drums and information theory. In Part 2 we look at how early human information system engineers in Africa developed classification and communication systems which reflected the inherent symmetry in nature. We also show how those earliest IT systems served as the foundation stones for the binary number system at the heart of all of today’s digital technologies. The call and response initiated by nature’s symmetries is the timeless dance subatomic particles, atoms, molecules, materials, cells, organs, organisms, people, communities, nations, planets, stars and galaxies perform each moment!
The origins the talking drum of are deeply intertwined with the origins of language(gestural aka dance and verbal ) as well as the origins of science and math. Humans have been astute, systematic observers and recorders of natural phenomena for a very long time. Wikipedia’s entry on Science notes that:
knowledge about the working of natural things was gathered long before recorded history and led to the development of complex abstract thinking, as shown by the construction of complex calendars, techniques for making poisonous plants edible, and buildings such as the pyramids.
Unfortunately, the article goes on to say incorrectly
However no consistent conscientious distinction was made between knowledge of such things which are true in every community, and other types of communal knowledge such as mythologies and legal systems.Before the invention or discovery of the concept of “nature” (Ancient Greek phusis), by the Pre-Socratic philosophers, the same words tend to be used to describe the natural “way” in which a plant grows,and the “way” in which, for example, one tribe worships a particular god.
While unpacking all of the various misunderstandings, deliberate distortions that have occurred over the last 500 years is beyond the scope of this post, it is important to identify and correct the unscientific notion that early human thinkers were rooted in and blinded by religious views. Effective systems of classification were essential to survival, preceded religious use and continue to be woven into belief systems. Just because NASA referred to man’s first Moon mission vehicles as Apollo didn’t mean they weren’t capable of distinguishing the spacecraft from a deity or were not scientific. Similarly today, China’s moon spacecraft Chang’e and rover Yutu are named after the moon goddess and her pet rabbit. When Yutu started malfunctioning, scientific diagnostic procedures commenced. When it appeared that the rover might not recover, an anthropomorphic message from the rover was sent out by officials. But I digress. From pre-dynastic times, the Medu Neter(Egyptian hieroglyphics) provided an extensive database of flora and fauna derived in large part from gestures. These dances reflected the recurring theme of symmetry pervasive throughout nature. Symmetry includes common dualities like day and night, hot and cold, dark and light, up and down, left and right, front and back as well as more specialized meanings in physics. Nobel laureate Phil Anderson once said “It is only slightly overstating the case to say that physics is the study of symmetry”. The movement-stillness/left-right,up-down of the dance became the sound-no sound of percussion. High and low pitch sounds emanating from different body parts, the ground, rocks, trees became accents, annotations of the movements. This was before verbal languages took form. We know that drums were without a doubt the first manufactured instruments. It may very well be that talking drums developed in parallel with or even preceded verbal languages in some places. Regardless of when they were first created, it’s clear that they were giving expression to an existing gesture/dance language. We know that this database existed in pre-dynastic Egypt at least as far back as 4000 BCE. It was the google-like, real-time, location-based knowledge repository of its day and found expression in the geographical-political life of the nation as well as within the structure and organization of the various libraries and temples.
We can thank the 25th Dynasty(approx. 700 BCE) Pharaoh Shabaka for recognizing and acting to preserve what he recognized as vital, ancient ancestral knowledge.
The Shabaka Stone provides us with a clear record of the ancient origin of the previously mentioned Roots of Digital Technology which Leibniz recognized as ancient in the 17th century and Stephen Wolfram is applying today. This science known as the Memphite Equation which relates all phenomena in the world to the interactions of two sets of symmetries. In Greece a watered down version of this became known as the classical elements and provided a foundation for students of alchemy such as Leibniz. In the centuries since then we’ve seen incredible advances increasingly specialized fields of science but at cost. For the past half century there’s been a trend toward more unified approaches particularly those where information plays a central role. Stephen Wolfram’s computational knowledge is one such approach.
National Medal of Science recipient Sylvester James Gates wrote the first doctoral dissertation at MIT on supersymmetry a key building block for String Theory. In string theory, everything in the universe is made up of one of two types of particles which always occur in pairs connected by supersymmetry. He has developed A Graphical Technology for Supersymmetric Representation Theory called Adinkra.
For additional information including a must-hear, audio interview, see Uncovering The Codes of Reality. Also there are numerous videos of Jim Gates Secret Life. Upcoming installments of African Information Engineering will include more on Adinkra symbols.
African talking drums were the global leader in long distance communication technology until the telephone began to mature in the late 19th century. Even when the electric telegraph caught up with their speed a half century earlier, the sophisticated math powering talking drums made them more reliable for complex messages. We don’t know precisely when Africans began using advanced math to encode information, but we do know that this math was not formalized until the field of Information Theory was founded in 1948.
Though not stated as directly, the above mentioned facts can be found in “Drums That Talk(When a Code Is Not a Code)”, the opening chapter of the widely acclaimed book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by noted science writer James Gleick. One reviewer notes:
Gleick makes clear that coded messages did not begin with the computer (and uses this vivid example to clarify how information theory operates). … The book explains more fully and more systematically than any other how the foundations of our information order were laid.
Upcoming parts will explore two topics the book and most reviewers omit or misunderstand:
- how and why the talking drum was invented
- contemporary applications of the techniques used
A sizable portion of the Drums That Talk chapter was posted online by Gleick here. Some other reviews and comments follow.
Gleick begins with an examination of sub-Saharan African talking drums, an astonishingly effective technology of long-distance communication. Using systems of repetition and built-in redundancy, drummers could communicate messages using a two-tone drum.
Gleick illustrates the central dogma of information theory through a riveting journey across African drum languages, the story of the Morse code, the history of the French optical telegraph, and a number of other fascinating facets of humanity’s infinite quest to transmit what matters with ever-greater efficiency.
We know about streaming information, parsing it, sorting it, matching it, and filtering it. Our furniture includes iPods and plasma screens, our skills include texting and Googling, we are endowed, we are expert, so we see information in the foreground. But it has always been there.” ~ James Gleick… the talking drums of Africa, a way of relaying messages, in 1841. Around the same time F. B. Morse was developing Morse code. (19) African languages are tonal and are not do not correspond to a representational alphabet. The meaning of their verbal language is conveyed as much by tone (rising and falling of inflections etc.) as it is by distinct words (23). African drum language takes this to the extreme and conveys meaning in tone (24). In order to reduce confusion, extra phrases are added to each short word, (much like the NATO phonetic alphabet) (25-26). Verbosity aids contextualisation.The chapter sets up context and redundancy as key to understanding Gleick’s version of Information.
It has been a long progression toward the infoglut of today. The author chooses as a logical if unanticipated starting point the talking drums of Africa, an information technology that delivers a satisfying amount of signal in all the noise. From those drums to Morse code, and indeed to binary signaling, is a pretty short hop
In his first chapter, James Gleick effectively demonstrates yet another example where Western history has made major misses. African talking drums, poetic and complex, transmitted messages over hundreds of miles without a physical messenger. And this well before American soil was dubbed such.