The belief that humans are perfectible leads, inevitably, to mistakes when ‘a perfect society’ is designed for an imperfect species. There is no best way to live because there is so much variation in how people want to live. Therefore, there is no best society, only multiple variations on a handful of themes as dictated by our nature.
Dreams differ not only across a single lifetime or a single night, they also differ dramatically across historical epochs. The dreams of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and indeed the dreams of most peoples of the ancient world, were viewed as direct portals into the spirit world and the realm of the ancestors and gods. Ancient peoples (and traditional peoples even today) often experienced dreams as the place to conduct a transaction with a spirit being who could significantly help or hinder you in your daily affairs.
Some people have denied the existence of consciousness: conscious experience, the subjective character of experience, the “what-it-is-like” of experience. Next to this denial—I’ll call it “the Denial”—every known religious belief is only a little less sensible than the belief that grass is green.
What is your justification in believing that 2 + 2 = 4? You are justified because you understand the concepts involved. You understand what all the terms in that simple sum mean and that, as a result, the sum of two and two is four. Philosophers call that sort of justification a priori justification, and describe it as justification independent of experience. But how could there be such justification? Isn’t all justification dependent on experience?
We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the ‘information age’, we are moving towards the ‘reputation age’, in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others.
Properly conceived, leisure could be the ultimate social safety net for an era of technologically driven uncertainty. It is potentially a space for bootstrapping new “careers,” which may or may not adhere to the traditional forms of self-employment or wage labor. It is also a space where one can move beyond the career-as-identity paradigm altogether, and contribute to one’s community through cultural and civic activities that are ignored in economic models because they are unremunerated.
Built into the standard conception of rationality are two fundamental assumptions. The first is that there is a best way for any life to be. The second is a more technical assumption – I’ll call it the Axiom of Transitivity for Better Than – which holds that for any three choices, if the first option is better than the second, and the second option is better than the third, then the first option must be better than the third.
Using the Vulcan printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house. “It’s much cheaper than the typical American home.” It’s capable of printing a home that’s 800 square feet, a significantly bigger structure than properties pushed by the tiny home movement, which top out at about 400 square feet. In contrast, the average New York apartment is about 866 square feet.
Not long ago, the scientists and software developers who pioneered the World Wide Web thought it would democratize publishing and usher in a more open, educated and thoughtful chapter of history. But while the Internet and its offshoot technologies have improved society and daily life in many ways, they have been an unmitigated disaster for the way we communicate and learn.
“Many a scholar will have a hard time admitting this point, but, beyond the academy, there’s not a single skill set that would be enhanced by reading Virgil. A mechanic or surgeon who reads Virgil will be neither a better mechanic or surgeon—nor a better human being. He’ll just be a mechanic or surgeon who enjoys Virgil. When it comes to being relevant to a larger purpose beyond ourselves, there is no case to be made for reading Virgil. Unfortunately, we persist in making our cases in response to the standard attacks.”
“Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue,” Tom Nichols would write in the preface to The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Expertise and Why It Matters, which was published by Oxford last year and quickly became a bestseller. “To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything.” Further down the page, he would add: “I’m worried.”
“Minds are not made by nervous systems alone but rather by nervous systems in cooperation with many other and far older living systems of our body, including metabolic, endocrine, immune and circulatory systems. Nervous systems are late-comers in evolution. They are useful servants of the older life systems
The internet has made the pace of language change much, much faster. “Now that every English speaker in the world can talk to every other English speaker in the world, the virus is mutating vociferously. The modern grievance airer must keep pace.”
If you look at the early days of science fiction with the author of Frankenstein, and then turn to recent movies Black Panther, Annihilation, and A Wrinkle in Time, you get pretty serious acknowledgement that women are an integral part of the genre. The films “dispute a mainstream perception of science fiction as a masculine genre, using feminine costumes and environments to build the strong-willed characters. Nothing will stop these women from overcoming the perilous obstacles ahead of them.”
The massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.
“[A team of researchers in Italy] created a computer model of human talent and the way people use it to exploit opportunities in life. The model allows the team to study the role of chance in this process. … Their simulations accurately reproduce the wealth distribution in the real world. But the wealthiest individuals are not the most talented (although they must have a certain level of talent). They are the luckiest. And this has significant implications for the way societies can optimize the returns they get for investments in everything from business to science.”
“The knitting project has been a particularly fun one so far just because it ended up being a dialogue between this computer program and these knitters that went over my head in a lot of ways. The computer would spit out a whole bunch of instructions that I couldn’t read and the knitters would say, this is the funniest thing I’ve ever read.”
“A crime happens, and there is a witness. Instead of a sketch artist drawing a portrait of the suspect based on verbal descriptions, the police hook the witness up to EEG equipment. The witness is asked to picture the perpetrator, and from the EEG data, a face appears. … Is it mind reading? Sort of.” And Canadian researchers are just beginning to make it a reality.
President Michael Higgins began calling for philosophy to be introduced to secondary schools a few years ago, citing the need for more critical thinking. Temple Carrig began piloting the first course in 2014. This school year, nearly 60 schools began offering either philosophy electives or philosophy-based modules within other courses. In November, Higgins announced the Irish Young Philosopher Awards, which have drawn applicants from 30 schools.
Whew, Jean-Jacques, WYD? “Rousseau did not pull any punches: according to him, far from contributing to the purification of morals, the sciences and the arts had had the opposite effect. The progress brought about by the restoration of letters in the Renaissance had only been superficial, exclusively affecting appearances; in reality, letters provoke the degeneration of morals, today just as in Antiquity.”
The numbers are, to put it mildly, shite. “That gives us 85 percent male at our most conservative estimate and around 91 percent looking at our two more probabilistic estimates. That would make professional cinematography and its related fields more male than barbers, civil engineers, police officers, taxi drivers and clergy, according to Department of Labor statistics.”
Adam Grant: “As a social scientist, if I want to get a read on your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re up to 12 times more accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t – and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance.”
In some ways, an AI system is smarter than the average child – it can read and store massive amounts of scientific research, for example. But it’s lacking the common sense that most children have, Allen said in a statement. “If we want AI to approach human abilities and have the broadest possible impact in research, medicine and business, we need to fundamentally advance AI’s common sense abilities,” he said.
Videos and anecdotes of octopuses escaping from predators (and research labs), manipulating tools (and researchers), and so on have made the clever cephalopods the internet’s favorite animals after cat and dogs. In a notable bit of debunking (or party-pooping) – subtitled “It’s not a crafty, soulful genius. It’s dinner.” – Daniel Engber argues that we shouldn’t overestimate these mollusks.
Slow Thought is a porous way of thinking that is non-categorical, open to contingency, allowing people to adapt spontaneously to the exigencies and vicissitudes of life. Italians have a name for this: arrangiarsi – more than ‘making do’ or ‘getting by’, it is the art of improvisation, a way of using the resources at hand to forge solutions. The porosity of Slow Thought opens the way for potential responses to human predicaments.
Laurie Frick imagines a future in which your smart watch will know how your body is responding to someone. Then it will combine with Facebook data about their personality. And that will let you know whether that person makes you lethargic, raises your blood pressure or depresses you. “If you start training people that, ‘Look at what’s happening to your inflammation levels or whatever. This is the best thing for you and you can let go of the guilt.’ “
You can start a big fight by calling something a craft instead of an art, but that’s not how it got started. “The Anglo-Saxon word ‘craeft’ is distinct from our modern word ‘craft’ in spirit and in practice. ‘Craeft’ means having the wisdom of one’s surroundings, understanding nature and the seasons, and knowing one’s materials, as well as how objects and systems fall apart.”
Yes, we still get lost … sort of. “The proliferation of digital maps has definitely changed the landscape, if you will, of when and how people lose their way.”
Sure, Black Panther features a black superhero (or several, if you include the women), and it’s breaking box office records, but one of the most groundbreaking things is that “it is told from an Afrocentric point of view; it breaks with the spirit of derision that has always saturated Hollywood films about Africans.”
The race to dominate the personal AI space—to build the artificial intelligence that each of us will use as an all-purpose digital assistant—is closer to being over than most people realize. And Google is poised to win. And if ever there was a business that we can’t let any one company dominate, it’s AI.