Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Archive for July, 2005

It’s Udder madness

Posted by Sam D on July 28, 2005

No, there is nothiong about cows in this post. Or is there? Although “May contain Cows” is a little more problematic than “May contain Nuts” you can never say for sure. Someting for the vegetarians to think about eh?

Not alot happening news wise in the Singularity stakes. Just the same old usually collection of people, most desperately trying to get there first, and thus ignoring other projects that interlink with their own. One example of this is the Cyc program, which is trying to create an A.I. with ‘common sense’, completely ignores projects such as The Semantic Web. Why is this important? Because Cyc’s designers have claimed that one day it will be able to harvest information from the web in an autonomous manner. The Semantic Web, which aims to make as much of the information on the web acessable, and understandable to machines as possible, clearly should be of interest to Cyc. But on their website, you would think that Xml never happened.

And so it goes on. Many philosophers of Language and Mind ignore the attempted developments in AI. All philosophers seem to ignore the rise of ‘The Singularity” as a, or even the Telos of humanity. Critique of all of these activities seems very thin on the ground. Are we doing the right research? Are the assumptions that this research is based upon sound or even plausible? Is it the right thing to do? (something that many researchers just assume) Could we stop it even if we wanted to? Or is it that the social/economic conditions under which we exist will never allow it to happen? Will capitalism be compatible with these events unfolding? If not what will that mean?

No one is asking these questions. And no one is trying to answer them.

To some extent I sympathise those with who argue that many questions like these are simply not important compared to actually trying to create human-level AI. But unless the foundations of the science involved are sound, you are not going to be building shit! If this is half as signifigant as some think it might be, do we really want a bunch of people such as the ASF being at the helm? Or is this all ethnocentric navel gazing; a bunch of white people arrogantly trying to reincarnate God into the MAchine while the rest of the world goes to hell around them?

Enough of this ranting and wallowing. I have important things to do, like learning set theory so I can use it to prove St Anselm wrong. I hope it works. They key is this: No Universal Set.

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Stuff or whatever.

Posted by Sam D on July 22, 2005

I’ve changed the settings so that anyone can comment. Since some registered users do not allow their profiles to be viewed, I see no difference really

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Posted by Sam D on July 22, 2005

Here is just a small amount of the Lojban resources that I have found. Please tell me if you would like to know more.


Lojban Wiki

Lojban and Godel Numbers

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Trite Remarks.

Posted by Sam D on July 22, 2005

Trite Remarks.

I liked this blog, will write more about it later.

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Herbert on Atrocities.

Posted by Sam D on July 20, 2005

“Atrocity is recognized as such by victim and predator alike, by all who learn about it at whatever remove. Atrocity has no excuses, no mitigating argument. Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself—a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred.”

* The Apocrypha of Muad’Dib (Frank Herbert, Children of Dune, 1976)

Perhaps this is a timely sentiment for all sides of the current conflict to reflect on, no matter where it came from.

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Posted by Sam D on July 20, 2005

“Everything is already there in….” How does it come about that [an] arrow points ? Doesn’t it seem to carry in it something besides itself? – “No, not the dead line on paper; only the psychical thing, the meaning, can do that.” – That is both true and false. The arrow points only in the application that a living being makes of it. ( Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, p454)

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Is it a chicken or is it a cow?

Posted by Sam D on July 20, 2005

Apologies for not posting much this past few days. I’m back at work at the library and at uni for semester 2. Now that I have the urge to publically post about Kripke out of my system, maybe I can move on to more interesting material.

On a side note, it’s really cold here. Go ahead and laugh Norther Hemisphere people, particularly those that will inevitabley claim that Australia doen’t have real winters. Well we don’t, but apparently no one here knows how to build houses either, so even though it only gets down to about 5 degrees centigrade my place is the exact same tempreture inside as out. Never mind.

Crap! While I was writing the above, the garbage truck went past and I realised I hadn’t actually put the bin out. The bastards.

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In a Hyper-Capitalist Future not too far away

Posted by Sam D on July 15, 2005

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Ode to Stuff

Posted by Sam D on July 15, 2005

Where to begin?

I’ve been working more on my thesis the past week. Not writing alot, just reading some of the main propositions over and over, trying to see where the problem is. I know there has to be a problem somewhere, but what is it? Eventually I get bored and research more exciting topics, such as the Singularity and A.I.

Which leads me to the thought that one day I’m going to upset some cyberneticist, because I think that several of them are just plain wrong in their approach. There will be the inevitable “Philosophers don’t know shit about (in this case) A.I.” response. But I don’t much care. What I think I do understand is at least some of the foundational philosophy behind the work. Those who know me will probably know what comes next; Yes I am still pushing the anti-dispositionalism adgenda.

In a nutshell, if you defend ‘dispositions’ as a straight solution to Saul Kripke‘s sceptical problem, then you are completely wrong about how( language and) the human mind works. It would be no surprise then if your attempts at creating A.I. fail, becasue you aren’t even trying to emulate the right thing. Here is an example: ” Human beings, and, possibly, suitably complex machines, are capable of individually giving meaning to the symbols they use, in isolation from other speakers, by virtue of their second-order dispositions to maintain their first-order dispositions to use those symbols in response to environmental input” .

Damn, back at Kripke again!


In other interesting reading MP finds a quote that I liked and leads to interesting questions. For me it is: If you don’t believe in Modernity and you don’t believe in Post-Modernity, then what exactly do you believe in, and how in name of all that is holy do I coherently categorise this worldview?

In news closer to my geographical location, a decent argument seems to be unfolding at Dialectic, (the blog of the University of Newcastle Philosophy Club) about Terrorism. Stay tuned for when the knives really come out.

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The Low Beyond

Posted by Sam D on July 8, 2005

For those interested in he Singularity, here is Eliezer Yudkowsky’s page : The Low Beyond

This guy is one frighteningly intelligent individual and has alot of interesting stuff to say. While I am not sure that I buy into his conclusions (I don’t feel I know enough to be critical at this point) I wonder if the peculiarly archaic brand of navel-gazing we indulge in as philosophers has any relevence at all. I wish that there were such a thing at Newcastle Uni as “Philosophy of the Future” or perhaps more correctly “Philosophy of Futurology”. If any of you have been to the ASF site then you would begin to get the idea of how much money is being poured into this and how many people are trying to bring this event into existence as soon as possible. The concentration of power in these organisations should be enough justification for us to turn our critical gaze to their activities.

The ASF is an intersting case in point. They subscribe to many beliefs that dour professionals ike ourselves scoff at, such as the “noosphere” and the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

A glance at some of the articles collected on their site shows that there is plenty here to question and explore.

Surely some of this deserves our attention.

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