Virtual currencies, or back to the future.

Hi there, today’s topic: the bitcoin versus capitalism.
Did you know ? A whole bunch of people believe that good old fiat money like we know it, might see its reign over the world reduced to only a share of the reign, or ideally, be scraped altogether. Those people are the early adopters of crypto-currencies.

It’s not just some crazy doctors’s experiment

You don’t just put 80 billion dollars into an experiment (that’s more than the USA ministry of education’s yearly budget).
No it’s real and here to attempt some amount of change. And not just an AirBnB/uber-ish kind of change, rather a turn-the-continents-over-their-heads kind of change. Because it could very well sound the death knell of uncle Sam’s buck. And auntie Merkel’s Euro. And the rest.
Buuuuut I’m not here to speak of this. Rather, I’d serve you with some orthogonal ideas.

Indeed I postulate that a virtual crypto coin, say bitcoin (call it BTC), holds more hard value than fiat money we own today.
What’s that ? How can a bunch of bits have more “hard value” than the metal coins I have in my wallet ?
Well that’s because there is no amount of debt, that composes a BTC. One bitcoin, is exactly what its worth, just like a coin of gold is worth its own intrinsic value as a precious metal. However, the zinc and copper coins we use as cash to trade a fiat currency-like dollars, have no value per se, they represent a “IOU” (promissory note). The bank acknowledges it owes you 2 dollars when you possess a coin with written “2” on it. But the coin itself, is not 2 dollars. So what is ? Until first half of last century, real dollars’s value was kept as gold. So a bank needed to have as much gold piles in reserve as they issued coins and notes/bills.
That started to be a problem when the population of earth started to count in billion. And a little problem called world-war-2-in-need-for-big-bucks as well.
Behold, the fractional reserve banking system.
Now, by law, banks are authorized to create money out of thin air when, and only when, a loan is extended. I’ll repeat that slowly, getting money from a bank institution when financing something means new money is created out of nothing.
And because today, lots of money in circulation are deposits made by recipients of payments made by borrowers, the hard value of a dollar has reduced to about a cent (no joke). This means, that 99% of the money currently flowing this earth, is devoid of value, since it’s pure magic.

Well, this does not happen in BTC. Or not nearly as much. It is impossible to create new coins other than spawning a new block, that is valid, has a high proof of work, and is finished before other competitors. Knowing the difficulty is adjusted so that it takes 10 minutes to compute, and about 12.5 BTC are distributed to the contributors of the computation. This value of 12.5 halves every 4 years, and integrating over this decreasing exponential gives us the number of 21 million.
21 million is the maximum number of bitcoin that will ever exist.
This means multiple things:

  • BTC cannot create debt money
  • BTC is deflationary
  • Fractional reserve is inapplicable

So no fractional lending means that financing institutions will have to actually own the money they give out. Which will reduce the liquidity of the whole society. What do say I ? Reduce not it will, divide by 100 rather; since the reserve percentage imposed by law, has been lowered decade after decade, to a single digit value today.

That poses a serious problem to a system that Americans, I believe, tend to like a lot (Europeans too but they don’t want to admit it), and that is nothing less than capitalism itself.

Which I will not discuss here, but rather I will argue that mister crypto coin, announces a retrogression of the economic system.
Wait what ? How a super cutting edge technology full of jigowatts could be a retrogression ? And what the heck is this word anyway, retrogression !
Nevermind the word, but yes by my vision of things, the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are simply a suggestion to go back to before the abandon of the gold standard in 1933 by Roosevelt.

A friend once told me during discussions at the bar following the 2008 crisis, “without loans, the society is frozen”. I was a bit shocked, befuddled, taken aback.
It took me years to come to terms with this short string of words “without loans, the society is frozen”… I have thought about it from all angles during countless hours, but I finally came to conclusion that it has got to be true.
Indeed, having free loans means that we are compressing time. You see, time is money, and that’s not just a saying. We literally (mathematically) integrate effort over time to generate money. This is due to work. We work to create something, this has an added value, and that’s quantifiable with a price tag. Someone giving you money for what you built, is just trading time he spent to do some equivalent effort.
I often think of it this way, buying an apartment 200k means that it would take me 25 years to build it by myself. Using a bank loan, I can profit right now of 25 years of efforts. That’s very Einseiny, hypercubal even ! We are playing quantum physicists.

If loans were not free, it means there is no time compression, loans extended would amount to exactly their value of work, work that has been done in the past; not in the future. So it would become way harder to get one, because of lack of supply. And should you get one, the interests should mathematically be a hundred times higher than today, since we are effectively going from 1% of reserve to 100% of reserve.

In that way, a crypto-currency is a come back to 1933.
Nice 🙂

Well, having money that represents hard value, and is not generated out of thin air, has an air of seduction to it, doesn’t it ?
Surely not to everyone. Big names of the capitalist game, like Buffet, Musk, Morgan, Tillerson and co, they didn’t become that rich just with money they’ve made and re-invested. The “invest & compose returns” snowball effect, is multipliable by a wonderful thing called “leverage”. And that is accessible only when you are lucky (through consumer sales), or use a loan. There are thousands of big sharks up there who will not sit and see their opportunities of leverage go down the sink. Governments first. They are the first ones who spend like idiots and thus needs tomorrow’s time, right now. What’s it gonna be with BTC ?


This is the second angle of the consequences. A finite money supply means that if you consider this:
unity price = supply / amount of stuff in economy
When supply is a constant, and stuff increase, then price must decrease. That’s why BTC is deflationary by nature. Either we cool down the economy (and slow down the huge amount of waste we are doing anyway), either the prices will go down. It’s not a problem because it means that one BTC is going to be worth more. Deflation gives value to the money. That’s nice because people’s savings and deposits gain in value, for free. But that’t not nice because it becomes better to sit on cash than to bring it out to invest in stuff, because while it’s out there, the investment may bring less return than just sitting on it.
That’s another challenge that an intrinsically deflationary currency like BTC is facing.

I hope I’ve given you food for thoughts. be well !


Racial discrimination is ridiculous

Why is discrimination wrong ?

I think in the past decade, we are witnessing a resurgence of racial hatred around the world.

Greeks are lazy
anti-japanese sentiments among chinese and koreans
anti-chinese sentiments in the world (c.f. modern purloin of south china sea islands)
anti-russian (c.f. crimea annexation)
anti-syrian migrants
Austria’s extreme right winning elections

Is this all just a feeling ?
Possibly. A cognitive bias called exposition bias, enabled by media over-coverage.
Unfortunately this could be the same issue than the self-fullfiling prohecy:
(A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a person unknowingly causes a prediction to come true, due to the simple fact that he or she expects it to come true)
Applied in this case I mean that the society is self-reinforcing hatred by propagating bullshit.

This has a tendency to easily get traction among mobs, why ? that’s another psychological effect covered in the book 1984.
If the internal society is unwell, or somehow ill-at-ease, the discomfort will have a propensity to make people look for culprit, re-inforce group cohesion, and point outside.
In 1984 it is the virtual enemy: EurAsia.
Today’s government are using this effect, point and accuse the outsider of being responsible for all internal issues.
Europe is responsible for Britain discomfort.
USA is responsible for North Koreans discomfort.
Japan is responsible for China’s suffering.
Terrorists are responsible for USA’s troubles.

Of course not. The true issue is yet again, a psychological one. On the matter of being depressed I believe.
Our societies do not fulfil individuals enough so that they are at peace enough with themselves.
The cause ? Not sure. But some ideas:
– too much individuality, some people have proposed that the way of living separated from our group in individual or couple apartment is part of the reason.
Personally I think it varies greatly between persons who have strong dependencies on others for social validation, and people who can live alone just great and are better this way. We all need our time alone for zenitude.
– too much materialism. That contender seems more prone to be the real cause.
Some trends such as minimalism, seems to be the way out of this for some people. Also depicted in the movie “Up in the air” with George Clooney. I Love it because I identify a lot with this.

We are rotting in an environment that’s not suited to our nature it seems, and that places us in a relative average discomfort. The economy is strongly linked to this. Economic depressions causes mental depressions as well. If this isn’t materialism at its best, I don’t know what is.

So there we have it, and internal mal-etre is the real cause for racism. But because it is unrelated, even if racial issues could be solved, like by closing the borders, it would not cure the primary cause for this mal-etre.
Therefore, it’s wrong. Not the “god say it’s wrong” kind of wrong, but the “1+1=3” kind of wrong.

Now let’s move on the pragmatic reasons why it’s wrong.
THe best way to realize it, is to live it. I have been the target of racial hatred as a white person in Japan, so rarely that I only remember one case. But still just this one case of getting insulted of “shitty foreigner” shocked me to the core. But that’s one thing, the pernicious issue is in the details, we are segregated as forgeiners in any country. You don’t have the right to vote, you need a special id-card that’s not the same than normal citizens. And in a homogeneous country like Japan you stand out a lot, so people behave according to cliches and prejudice, which is deeply annoying.
I am addressed to in English right out of the bat, or not even spoken to at all, with people using hand waving signs and expressions to communicate, rather than Japanese which I understand very well.
Some kids try to shout “hello” at me in the street, they mean well I’m sure but it’s totally wicked.
Take the opposite situation in Los Angeles:
An asian-looking guy walks down the pavement, no American would dare shout “konnichiwa!”.
Why ? Because you don’t suppose the asian-looking person is indeed a foreigner at first sight, you suppose they have Asian ancestry but are American citizens so you address them in English normally.
Shouthing “konnichiwa” would be derogatory and dangerously border line. The person could even be Korean or Chinese and the greeting would fall flat, even will become horribly negative because these countries don’t like each other.
It’s like shouting “guten tag” to an Italian because he looks caucasian. He’d be like “wtf” ??
Another quite sad observation is the discrimination in lodging, the owners of the apartments decide who can rent and who can’t, based on if they tolerate foreigners or not. And that’s not even illegal here.
I can tell you that getting the real estate agent telling you “you can’t live here” because the owner said so, feels infuriating. It’s like being told that you are a lesser piece of shit.
I also got police control, 2 times. That’s not nice to be assumed suspicious by default.

So all these little things are very upsetting and disturbing, and taints the experience of living abroad.
Realising how it feels, is the only true way that one can understand how racial discrimination is an absurdity and total wrongness all and by itself.

The third reason, is that no country is uniform. Each time some French say “I’m a good Gallic”, I’m saying to myself that he can’t be that stupid ? The country is made up from dozens of barbarians invasions from the South, the North, the East and watnot over the centuries. It’s the same everywhere. Japan was quite protected on its Island, but humanity could not spawn of of god’s ass in Africa and Japan simultaneously, so any human being anywhere today is just a human, who migrated from the source of origin anyway. Hitler thought Ayrians were superiors, so if they are, Donald Trump cannot be superior too ? Mathematically there could be only one superior. Since everyone claims his own superiority, in truth no one is.

To conclude,
When did it all already happen in the past ?
world war 2.
So where do you think this could be heading ?
should we be afraid ?

Light rendering (2)

Hi guys,

part1 : light rendering on maps

Allow me to post a follow up, on the implementation of light mapping in projet SERHuM.

I am doing final gathering right now for global illumination, it is totally broken still, but definitely we observe some results.


On this image I set the sampling to 90% stratified to exhibit the bugs better. But we can see that the light that should be coming from the diffuse reflection of the wall on the right is definitely flowing somewhere at least. And we can see some beginning of truth in the indirect occlusion behind the cylinder.

Here is a schematic drawing I made in an attempt to explain how the final gather algorithm works:


The grey dots are the photons existing in a “floating cloud” which is called a photon map. Personally I decided to spawn them out of the lumels I previously lit in a first pass.

The second pass would be to create indirect lighting by going from the lumels again, in all directions (primary rays in red), gather k-nearest-neighbors (KNN) photons around the hit position, and tracing back to the starting lumel. If the secondary rays hit something in the way back, they are shadowed, if not, they can add some illumination. We use a double Lambert N dot L, one with the photon normal and one with the origin point normal.

Unfortunately, this algorithm is pretty slow because it costs O(lumels × samples × photon_density × average_radius) which is damn expensive. But I have hopes of being able to apply some tricks like cone tracing later on. First if this works at all, this will be a nice achievement in itself.

Let’s see an image computed with full random primary rays (or so I think):


There is one thing going well in this image, and that we expect:
The darkening of the zone behind the cylinder. This is a soft shadow because the wall on the right is an area light, so that’s ok.
But the ground is very unexpected, because it’s dark, it has no reason to be darker than the left-side wall. It has a slightly steeper angle I concede, the left side wall is straight facing the right, so lambertian are closer to 100%, but even though the ground is tilted, it should get an average of 45°, (√2/2)² = 50% energy. Here we have almost zero on the left (where the lambertians are actually higher) and some noise on the right, where the lambertians should be close to zero because of steep incidence to the rays coming from the wall. Weird. That’s a bug somewhere.
Also the banding we see on the rooftop and the cylinder, that’s sign of some spurious self occlusions ?

to be continued…

PS bonus: a capture of the photon cloud with cluster coloring. (Cluster = one spatial cell for the KNN lookup)


Windows and paths

Microsoft doesn’t get it…

11 years late to the party (in 1981), Microsoft arrives and lay a path identifier system mess.


So first thing they do different is to make use of backslash as path separator.
The world was using slash, so maybe they said to themselves “hey let’s be trendy and invent something similar but different”.
Thank you for the MeSs, MS.
They also decided it would be convenient if slashes were supported also, so they said they should be equivalent.
Here the true story :
They even knew it was bad, they fixed it, and then they kept it. …wait wat ?

Except slashes and backslashes ended up not being equivalent, and most times backslashes are mandatory, in the console if you want completion, in command line arguments you often get problems with forward slashes, and to locate network paths it never works with slashes, e.g. \\othermachine.
Of course, the drive letter is wrongness incarnated, first it limits them to 26, and if you want more, forces you to use mount points, thus creating a first inconsistency. If something is not simple and elegant it should be thrown away and refactored, right now.

How do you relate paths between two different drives ? you just can’t.

in Unix you would simply do:


in windows:


except that’s forbidden. that’s right, this style of path is forbidden, they explicitly rule it off. good job again MS.

If this mess wasn’t enough, they decided that paths were historically limited to 260 letters and that was too small, and we should have a way of having more.
Instead of just doing so that we can have more (simply), they said, to use more, use the a special long path form, with this prefix “\\?\”
Hem.. they never learn do they ? if it’s not unified it’s just increased costs for support all over the world. And guess what, nobody bothered.
Not even them, they don’t support this form in 90% of their own API. Good job MS ! And the irony, is that even in this form there is a limit at 32767 characters, not even unlimited.

Of course, it doesn’t just end there, in 1993 they wanted to allow non latin characters, so they thought they will encode characters on 2 bytes each instead of one, and they implemented a crappy UCS16 which of course cannot support all of the world scripts since there are more than 65536 of them, and of course, it makes the old form and the UCS form binarily incompatible, and also endian sensitive. Good job MS !

Unix chose UTF-8 which has many advantages as listed here
In Unix, you don’t get bullshit long form prefix; you can make relative paths cross-drives; you don’t get special prefixes for network paths; you get binary compatibility for any language in the world, and of course, only forward slash is used as a separator. Which allows the backslash to be used as escape character like it should be, or regex escape. Escape in Windows is just… you guessed it.. a mess ! yes. You need to use quotes and you always need to try it thrice before getting it right.

That’s not even the end of it just yet, because the drive-first-mandatorily form was an inconvenience, they recognized the superiority of the Unix form, and in NT you can specify \Device\HarddiskVolume and network and even pipes in a unified fashion, way to go MS ! But… this is mostly internal and anything not-a-driver or working with NtQueryObject cannot use these forms… gg.

So once again, you get a system-over-system-over-system anti pattern, redundancy everywhere, incompatibility, emulation, legacy, and a stinky smell of crap everywhere. This, is MS’s world.

Light rendering on maps

Or also said “lightmaps”. I have finally came to try to implement a full fledge lightmapper for projet S.E.R.Hu.M.
projet S.E.R.Hu.M. is my highschool (2002) attempt at copying the Valve’s gold engine, and make a game out of it.

I’ve never come close, but I still like to develop on its codebase for experiments, or just random progress on it. It is a piece of art, like a sculpture, but that would take a lifetime to complete.
I always wanted to make this, it was one of the main excitement perspective I had when I first started the project “oh yeah when I need to make lightmaps, juicy tech in sight !”
But in 2002 I had no idea how to process radiosity, and I thought a direct lighting raytracer would be just enough. And it could. As long as you manually place lights everywhere, like probes.

But, now that I am an educated senior graphics programmer, I have no problem grasping some algorithms, notably Henrik Wann Jensen’s photon map approach, with final gathering.
As you can see if you follow the link, this method dates back 1996. Many newer crazier method have followed, the one I’m using is actually a later variant, but still from about the 2000’s.
Today, we have Metropolis light transport, augmented with low variance estimators, implanted in stochastic path tracers; and the whole thing runs on GPUs. Pretty crazy stuff.

Today we have a myriad, power 10, of crazy, impossible to understand, graphics rendering methods:
Some are easier…

And that is all very well, but I will not implement something I don’t fully get. I have actually implemented LPV, they can be seen in a product called LumenRT 2015.
Check them out:

But, I didn’t want to redo a tech I already implemented, so I went for my old target, lightmaps. This way I get to implement final gathering, yay !

First I had to do a mesh parameterizer. This wasn’t very easy, it was fun, but I did a crappy job, mesh parameterization is crazy hard. So I did an ad-hoc tech that works well with blocky architectural designs that we get out of Worldcraft (sorry Hammer).
I decided to make a database of individual triangles, each would bear information on its surface, and maximum edge length. Then I regrouped similar pairs together, with preference if they actually share an edge in 3d. This would give me a list of quads.

Then, comes the packing, I took this idea, it worked awesome. Plus some personal pepper on it to make it more adapted to my case, for the final seasoning.

Now we’re ready to render stuff. I took the approach of visiting the lumels from the lightmap, then I would reproject the lumel in 3d by interpolating the coordinates from the vertices. From this 3d point, I can finally do actual lighting; this is where embree comes into play.

Embree is freaking awesome. This is a beautiful piece of software that is made by intel to run fast, on intel architectures. And fast, it is. I managed to get 19 million intersections per seconds (corei7) in my use case without working on packaging rays or streaming rays (and another paper here), at all.

I quickly had direct lighting, with broken results at first. Notably all black. Then I got some black and some white, then some stuff that looked ok mixed with weird black seams. Then I managed to get it to work completely.


This is a view of one of the firsts results I had, This shows my classic warehouse scene with 3 or 4 spot lights at the ceiling.
We can still see what seems to look like a bug, the top iron seams are very bright. This is because their triangles are too stretchy, my sorting algorithm decided to ban them, I intend to treat this kind of geometry per vertex later.

You can see the difference from the flat lighting I had before, this is what you would get, without lightmaps:


Some other spot light view from inside the tall observatory stair case:


I am not sure if the attenuation formula is right. This is not easy to get, because of non physical units used, and the fact that infinitely small lights makes no sense, so how do you design a formula that makes sense ? Will all formulas I used to see, the light intensity is infinity, at light position, then after 1 meter, it becomes “original artist light value”, or if you are lucky/unlucky, it could be 1 meter divided by Pi. Why 1 meter ? because intensity = lightcolor / distance. (or distance squared) You see that intensity is equal to lightcolor when distance is 1. So in world units, if your unit is a meter, it means you attenuate from 1 meter. What if your unit is not meter ? your attenuation varies. THAT is the pain in the butt. This smells arbitrariness to me. One day I’ll sort this out.
Until then, I use a contraption, some empirical technique where the artist specifies from what distance in world he/she wants the attenuation to be 95% (so 5% energy remaining). In the middle I use a distance squared curve, because that’s the most physically correct.

However, you find a lot of renderers that use linear attenuation. I now know why. This is because in the past, we never use gamma correct color encoding. We made all lighting computations in gamma space instead of linear space. Which is a total mistake. It breaks everything. Of course, now that I know, I didn’t make that mistake.
I even went so far as to create a color class that can store its current working space, and convert from one to the other on demand. It will pop some asserts in case of mixed operands during computations. Yay !

The final goodies is the lighting from the sky. This is much more interesting than plain stupid direct lighting. I made a monte carlo sampler into a cube map I prepared with cubemapgen, that pre-bakes irradiance. However, one does not simply evaluate the ambiant occlusion of a lumel. This is where the monte carlo sampler plays its role. It sends many random rays towards the sky and count how many passes. Many means I can take the cube map sample almost as-is. Few means we lay in the dark.

Let’s see some images


Here we see the effect of ambient occlusion, the parts indoors don’t get light from the sky.
You can also see the noisy grain, this is due to the random sampling. I experimented with stratified sampling and got some results, but I also have banding. I am not sure which artefact I prefer !

The same image with 4000 samples per pixel:


Unfortunately this level as it is, takes about 1 hour to compute at this quality of sampling. Not good. I need a drastic cut. My target is one minute per level.

Now let’s see simply more images with some comments to go with them.


This is an example of how smooth the lighting gets with 4k samples per lumel.


This shows noise in the random sampler.


This exhibits the seaming problem everybody has eventually with a mesh parameterizer. Mine is particularly bad, so I get particularly bad results.


This is 50% stratified, so we get some noise, but… not fully randomly.


Here is 100% random, we can clearly see the grain on those otherwise clean walls !


Nice ambient occlusion effects, in the test map.

More to come !

On the importance of Air Travel

The great petrol shortage issue.

Here is my stance on what humanity should do to preserve its level of world connectivity and speed and convenience of travel and richness of merchandise exchange, for the next centuries.
There is currently a huge fuss over nuclear power, and the need for green energies, and sustainable development.
Of course, everybody or almost, simply agrees to the fact that this is good. I also do.
But, we are missing the point. The goals are dual:
1- not die.
2- continue to live, comfortably if possible.

Goal 1 is related to specie survival. Humanity. Just that. This is because global warming is not a joke, and has the potential to seriously threaten hundreds of species which in turn would de-stabilize the ecosystem and our food chain.
This will affect prices first. Because of more hail, more heavy rains, and more brutal storms, agriculture will suffer heavy crop losses. We can counter those losses by paying ultra expensive protective green houses and the likes.
If this is not done, and crops are lost, supply will have to come from another place, which will be in the state of over-demand, and the prices will rise.
This is to put in addition with fishes disappearing because of Oceanic acidity increasing and cause a wide food chain rupture.
In short, the riches will need to pay their food a hundred times more, and they will be able to afford it. And the poor will die.

This is already too late to reverse, unless we actively find cheap solutions to remove the CO2 from the oceans and the air as well to a lesser extent.
In the meantime it would be wise to not worsen the situation by stopping our fuel consumption, now. And also on another front, replant all the forests where applicable.

This needs to take the shape of a massive and immediate transition to hydrogen power, generated thanks to nuclear power.
Allow me to develop. Nuclear power generates local heat, and steam : water vapour. Plus, once a year, a good ton of radioactive material that needs to be plunged into the decay pool. Then 10 years later vitrified and burried.
People need to understand, this is an extremely little amount, compared to the power produced. And The whole cycle is CO2 neutral, it does not impair the atmosphere. Which is the vital part.

Check this out:

This comic strip should give you a sense of why Uranium is good, and coal is bad.

Goal 2, relates to the problem of diminishing standards. When petrol is no more, we will have to give up on many things.
Computers will probably still exist, because the pieces can be transported by boat, there is no urgency. And boats can run on steam, or wind like back in the days, or batteries like submarines, or nuclear power like aircraft carriers.
But we won’t have coconuts no more. Nor bananas for that matter, or strawberries, oranges etc. god knows the size of the list.
Taking the bicycle to work is doable, but when it rains its not going to be a happy day.
Moving all your stuff when a family moves home will require an expensive transport service that will operate with what’s available.
Constructing a building will cost tremendously more because of the need to convey concrete and heavy steel pillars.

Now if you are convinced, let’s continue to the main thesis, transition to hydrogen. Because hydrogen combustion engines work the same than current petrol combustion engines, the industry transition would not be as painful as, say, everybody back to cycling.
Two main transportation modes should transition : ground and sea.
Because boats do not crash, and cars are small devices (relatively) that stay on the ground, this is the safest place to start.

This in turn, would allow to let the sole industry given the right to use petrol to continue to function : Air transport.
Planes cannot function on hydrogen, because it would mean to try to patch tanks so that they never leak. Which at the scale of the machines we are talking about, is very difficult.
It would also augment the weight too much due to necessary re-enforcements.

This is why it is of ultimate importance :
Air travel, is the only thing that allows to go to the other side of the planet, in less than 2 days. It could even be a direct flight between two big destinations. Only a few hours to connect continents !
This is grand, this is actually the grandest thing humanity has ever had.
Air travel can get your mail delivered in 48 hours, wherever. This is plain crazy.
It can allow you to travel anywhere in the world in the space of your two weeks vacation a year. This is crazy, and we need to realize it.
It allows people to eat coconuts in Nordic countries.
This is key to worldwide stability and mutual understanding, as little as it is today, of other cultures by people who dare to travel. This is also key to multiple businesses. This fast material world connection is of ultimate importance, and it needs to be saved.
It also is the only way to rescue Alpinists, or connect boats to icy regions like Siberia or Greenland. It is thanks to it that we have google maps. The list goes on !
It can only work in world where petrol exists for it.
When petrol is going to cost a hundred dollars a litre, and this will happen, nobody will ever be able to fly again but a handful of super riches. This is not desirable for the good of humanity.

Therefore we need to spare whatever we can from now on, and dedicate it all to Air transport, and switch everything else to something else, hydrogen for example.

Is our knowledge base illusory ?

Is everything we believe in, illusory ?

No, that's my short answer.
Allow me to elaborate.
First, why even incur the question at all, I think it is because lots of people feel the need for a proof of existence.
This manifests itself in Descartes "cogito ergo sum". And can be found recurrently in many medias.
"The matrix" movies revolves entirely around that concept, and it grossed a total of 1.6 billion dollars. Which is a good image of how it matters to us.
Further, the song from Daft Punk "I remember touch", speaks of this fact again.

These metaphysical schemes are applicable to a less generic-life oriented, and more concrete question "are the things I believe in, false?". Which would refer to one's knowledge.
We find common knowledge to be refuted throughout the ages, like Earth's flatness. Or the Sun's rotation around the earth.
And furthermore, how about intentional lies ? Some forces could maneuver the world's knowledge to steer it into the direction they want, and we absolutely witness this kind of things in what we call "propaganda", or "disinformation".
Product commercials, advertisements, political extremes arguments fallacies, or organizations (like Greenpeace) shouting exaggerated and distorted facts, omitting voluntarily the contradictory facts to bury chances of discussion, and make their case stronger...
All of this can impair one's will to trust this world, and one's own knowledge base, because all that we learn, come from outside, or prepared conceptions. Prejudice etc..

But, I am convinced, forces in humans psychology exists, that makes the tendency to seek truth, stronger in average. Which if generalized to all of what we know, should result in a global mass movement of knowledge and information, tends to some degree of truth.
This tendency I speak about, is the compelling force a mathematician feels when seeking for the purest proof for a demonstration. Or for a theorem.
Achieving a beautiful proof is like enlightenment for a mathematician. Its like becoming Buddha. The ultimate goal of any craftsman, engineer, or scientist, is always to achieve perfection.
For example, as a programmer, it feels the best when I manage to write the shortest automaton that solves a problem. The clearest to read and convey the intent, the most robust and generic, without handling of special cases in separated paths.
It is the same for physicists, the all want to unify the laws of interactions into the big one, unique law of everything. Because this is purer, more satisfying.
I am not very familiar with the literature world, but I'm convinced anybody dealing with creativity, also seeks this kind of perfection. Who wouldn't want to paint a picture so realistic that one couldn't distinguish it from a photograph ?
Or not necessarily realistic, but in the abstract arts as well, or poetry, or simple novels, don't they feel better polished when the vocabulary is wider, repetitions fewer, and the style lighter ?

Doesn't most journalists seeks to expose the truth ? Photographers try to expose the quintessence of subjects ?

Now, on the other hand, what kind of gratification one feels when stating a lie ? I bet not much. Lies are uncomfortable. They are hard to allow face keeping, they crumble easily, unstable dangerous. They can bring shame...
And doesn't it feel so good when you state a truth one day, if its verified and you can tell "I told you so" ? This is just inherent psychology to humans. Truth is easier, more comfortable, and gratifying.
Only people with dysfunctional education work with an unbalance at this level. Let's take the example of the Cardinal of Mazzarin. He wrote in his manifesto, that he decided that truths or lies would be equal, as long as any serves his interest better.
This kind of personality, is in-fact rare. Is it the result of some global education fallacy ? Have we all humans been manipulated (hear educated) into this way by some higher non-caring authorities, like Mazzarin, to keep us under easier control ?
Possibly, but there are reassuring proofs of the opposite, like monkeys feeling guilt. Also we have often witnessed that unnatural educations tends to create discomfort and instabilities, like the strict education.
Desperate Housewives character Bree is dysfunctional in the way she interiorize (hide) troubles, and this spreads difficulties and unease all over her family.
This is also covered in the movie "The Tree of Life" where a strict father leads to the death of his son.

Now to get back at the original thesis, if we take all of the above-stated as hypothesis, the conclusion is necessarily that truth prevails. Therefore our knowledge should deserve our trust, in general.
Beware, this is no excuse for not doubting. I stand by the old principle of always doubting. This is also doubt, that allows truth to break through. Like a genetic algorithm tries possibilities to find good local maximals, doubt allows this natural selection to improve over itself, so always doubt.