Olivier Breuleux
2013/07/13
Programming
LISO
2014
O-Expressions
S-expressions
Liso
Programming Languages
I have been working on a particular kind of syntax that I call o-expressions. They are nearly as regular as s-expressions while looking much more similar to popular languages. The source is here. ...
Programming
Building an extensible syntax
2014
O-Expressions
S-expressions
Programming Languages
Where I lay out the core principles that I believe make s-expressions great as a syntax for flexible and extensible languages and try to apply them to build an alternative that looks better to the layman. ...

Creation

Le Cube
2011
Nanowrimo
Writing
Français
J'ai écrit un court roman dans le cadre de NaNoWriMo 2011, une histoire de science-fiction dans un univers dystopique. Voici le lien: Le Cube ...
Some art
2011
Drawing
Creation

Programming

LISO
2014
O-Expressions
S-expressions
Liso
Programming Languages
I have been working on a particular kind of syntax that I call o-expressions. They are nearly as regular as s-expressions while looking much more similar to popular languages. The source is here. ...
Building an extensible syntax
2014
O-Expressions
S-expressions
Programming Languages
Where I lay out the core principles that I believe make s-expressions great as a syntax for flexible and extensible languages and try to apply them to build an alternative that looks better to the layman. ...
Quaint
2013
Quaint
Markup
During the past month and a half, I have decided to make my own markup language, which I named Quaint. Now, why would I ever do something like that?
Well, I wanted to have something that was "like Markdown" in ease of use, and aesthetically, but most importantly, I wanted something that I could customize easily. Say I'm writing a document, and I want to highlight a lot of words in a particular way and only in that document. Shouldn't I be able to put together three or four lines of code to tell the system that, say, /word highlights a word? Shouldn't I be able to put that in the document itself?
...
Designing a programming language
2011
Design
Programming
Programming languages
Designing a new programming language is something I have always wanted to do, and seeing the ridiculous number of new programming languages popping up (and disappearing) every few months, I am clearly not the only person who feels inspired by the idea. There is something exciting in designing the very tools that we design libraries and applications with and adapting them to one's own quirks and expectations. ...

Thoughts

Democracy
2011
Politics
Society
Voting
  • Does voting matter in the short term?
  • Does voting matter in the long term?
  • Does the participation rate matter?
  • Should the side with the most votes win?
  • Who should win if the tally is very close?
...
Burden of proof
2011
Burden of proof
Philosophy
Religion
In many arguments where evidence is either inconclusive or hard to come by, the question is raised as to which side has the burden of proof. In other words, if I claim that something is the case, do I have to support my claim, or do my opponents have to support the opposite, or is it neither, or is it both? Should one have to show evidence that God exists, or evidence that he doesn't, or is the burden of proof lying equally on theists and atheists? ...
Morality
2011
Ethics
Morality
Philosophy
Society
Reflecting on morality is an important and enduring pastime within the ranks of humanity. Cultures, religions and interest groups go to great lengths to classify each and every action as being either good, evil, or morally neutral. A sizable field of philosophy, ethics, is devoted to figuring out, by any way imaginable, what should be done in any given situation, and what should not. A lot of things, such as happiness, power and wealth, hinge on what you do and what you don't do, so it is not difficult to imagine how important it is to figure out by what rules a society should abide to run as smoothly as possible. ...
Dreams
2011
Dreams
I like dreaming. Often, I will gain consciousness that I am dreaming, and one of my favorite things to do in that state is observation. I start walking around, running around, flying around using my mind, and I watch. If I am in a city, I look at the names of the streets, at the stores, at the people, at fliers. If I am in a natural landscape, I will take off and look below as my field of vision gets filled by forests, rivers or ocean. I try to let go of my mind, let it run wild, and watch as consciously as possible. ...
Utilitarianism
2011
Ethics
Morality
Philosophy
Society
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is the position according to which moral actions are actions that increase the value of a certain objective function. For instance, insofar that "maximizing total happiness" is our objective, any action leading to a world where happiness is higher than it is now is moral. Of course, that objective is not necessarily the one that should be used: perhaps we want to give weight to the preservation of our free will or of our humanity, so that sedating everyone does not become the best utilitarian policy. In any case, no literature really offers any particular mathematical framework allowing for the calculation of the objective function, much less of the expected effect that various actions would have on its value. ...
Free will
2011
Brain
Free will
Philosophy
Regardless of what free will ultimately is, and regardless of whether human beings - or anything else for that matter - has this property, it is undeniable that we are under the strong impression that we are free, and that our choices are our own to make.
For this reason, I believe that the most important thing in a discussion or an essay about free will is to determine what, exactly, it is that we are feeling. By identifying the probable mechanism(s) behind our impression of freedom, we can more easily determine whether that impression is related to any kind of hard reality.
...
Artificial intelligence
2011
Programming
Artificial intelligence
Science fiction
The near future of artificial intelligence, while quite interesting in its own right, remains quite limited and extremely far from offering us machines with human-like capabilities. Of course, that does not stop us from speculating on the paths it might follow and about what it might become in the far future, and I will do just that here.
Artificial intelligence is indeed a very common topic in science fiction, though I rarely find that it is portrayed in a believable manner. In fiction, AI usually takes a quite anthropomorphic turn, sometimes tainted by some extreme form of rationalism. On one hand, anthropomorphizing machines allow us to understand or empathize with their behavior (in all ways that it would end up being similar to ours). On the other, the nature of programming - the determinism of programs, their strict organization - is transposed to AI, leading us to imagine rigid, logical, non-emotional, non-creative beings.
...
Time travel
2011
Science Fiction
Time Travel
The commonly held understanding of time travel is something that is inherently inconsistent: if you were to "travel to the past", from your subjective perspective, there would still be a "before" time travel, and an "after" time travel. If a continuity of subjectivity is implied where you would be in the present and then suddenly you would pop up in the past, clearly, in some sense, you are still traveling forward. That is to say, time travel cannot "cause" a change in the past, nor can it cause any kind of subjective experience in the past, because "going somewhere" is an action that necessarily entails a before and an after, therefore a move forward in time. A cause produces an effect, and the effect always happens in the future with respect to the cause, this is true on a basic semantic level.
Here are a few novel and reimagined ways you might "travel through time", even though ultimately they still make you move forward in time in some sense (they have to, or they would be absurd!)
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Consistency of thought
2011
Language
Philosophy
Society
At the most basic level, a concept is a mental description of a set of possible observations, most of which we learn by example: "this is a cat", "this thing is blue, and so is this other thing", and we quickly learn to extrapolate how to recognize a cat or the color blue in the very early stages of our lives. In order to cement and reinforce our understanding of things, we create new concepts and relate existing ones with negation, conjunction and disjunction. So for instance we will say that cats have pointy ears and whiskers, and through a highly interleaved web of relationships, we can avoid most mistakes and misunderstandings.
Because natural language does not really restrict how concepts can be related to other concepts, there are several known paradoxes involving it. For instance, "the smallest integer that cannot be expressed within ten words" is ill-defined, because the phrase itself contains exactly ten words - if it represented a number, that number would be expressed within ten words, which is contradictory. Resolving that paradox, in itself, is not particularly difficult. It is not particularly interesting either, because the example is contrived and the contradiction is easy to see. But what if the contradiction was harder to see, hidden behind several layers of indirection?
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Polarization
2011
Philosophy
Society
I believe that there is one major problem with the current state of journalism, blogging, commenting and debate, one that rots discourse to its core. The issue is that of polarization.
I have many opinions of my own, and I feel that I can adequately justify most of them. On controversial topics, I hold such positions as atheism, the right to abortion, marriage equality, evolution, anthropogenic global warming, and so forth. I can hold my ground against people who have the same level of knowledge as I do, and I can adjust my opinion if new facts come to light. Furthermore, while it would be politically correct to say that I do, there are many opinions that I do not respect, because I find them hopelessly inane and ill-informed. Intelligent design, for example. I don't feel the need to keep my mind open to all the kinds of nonsense that floats around.
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Abortion
2011
Morality
Philosophy
As it is the case with many other choices, getting an abortion is a matter of weighing the pros against the cons. Among potential reasons to get an abortion are the inconvenience of pregnancy and giving birth, lacking the maturity needed to properly raise a child, the mental strain of bearing the fruits of rape, high risk of genetic disorders (when applicable), and so forth. Potential reasons not to get one are wanting the child in the first place (okay, that one is pretty obvious), the trauma of the procedure itself, or the loss of life that comes as a result of it. ...
Words
2009
Language
Philosophy
The cat is chasing the mouse.
Images and sounds spring to your mind. You see a small, fuzzy, grey cat chasing a small rodent indoors. Some faint daylight illuminates the floor and part of a blue door, which has a small opening for the cat to pass through. A table and some chairs tower over the scene. As you zoom out, you realize that the layout is oddly reminiscent of the kitchen of the house you grew up in, with some alterations. The two animals are frozen, their eight legs floating above the ground. You realize that in chasing there should be motion. A film reels. The two animals start moving, they run through the kitchen, then the living room, then a narrow stone passageway, then the kitchen again...
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Perfection
2009
Introspection
Society
Considering that I set up WordPress over two months ago, it seems that making this first post took me quite a while. Upon pondering why I procrastinated this long on a relatively simple task, I realized that it was because I wanted it to be perfect. ...