The Collector of Dystopias

Photographer: Pawel Janiak | Source: Unsplash Star Wars and Scotch Tape I am a technophile; always was and always will be. It doesn’t prevent me from agreeing with Gandhi’s critique of technological modernity. Instead, we can have fun asking such questions as: What would a charkha computer look like? One thought: Ok, I am not sure the…

Bits of India: Introduction

Photographer: Ron Hansen | Source: Unsplash The big news from my part of the world is that India organized the biggest, most expansive (and perhaps most expensive) elections ever conducted. Narendra Modi and the BJP were the clear winners. Not the outcome I desired, but that’s not the point of this series. Instead, let me start…

Computing Climate Change

Photographer: Markus Spiske | Source: Unsplash In my previous essay, I arrived at an unoriginal idea: that the computer is a mental telescope through which we can view the world. I didn’t say the universe is a computer because that would be really unoriginal but more importantly, because I am not interested in the universe. I…

The Software Eaten World

Photographer: Markus Spiske | Source: Unsplash In accounting for the furniture of the universe, several intellectual traditions have settled upon two great organizing principles: Materialism: the world’s made of stuff and only stuff. If you can’t kick it, it don’t exist. Idealism: the world’s conjured by the mind. If you can dream it, it exists. While…

The Theory Formerly Known as Mathematics

It was my second year of graduate school. I had been in the US for a year. I had cracked my qualifiers. I knew the difference between pop tarts and Belgian waffles. I felt confident enough to start talking to non-mathematicians. After a few failed attempts, I met an economist (I will call her N)…