A brief note today, about something to look into more. Could the energy consumption of a civilization be a measure of its complexity? If so, we could easily say that our civilization is becoming more and more complex - since we are consuming more energy all the time. There is something intriguing about this measure… Fortsätt läsa Energy and complexity (Philosophy of Complexity II)
I have heard it said, and have argued myself, that complexity is increasing in our societies, and that evolution leads to increasing complexity. I have also known that this is an imprecise statement that needs some examination - or a lot of examination - in order to understand exactly how it can be corroborated or… Fortsätt läsa Progress and complexity (Philosophy of Complexity I)
The idea of regulatory sandboxes is getting more traction as the legislator is trying to grapple with regulating new technology while still allowing it to develop in unexpected ways. These sandboxes present a number of problems (i.a. how do you graduate from them?), but are worth thinking about. This is a useful piece with criticism… Fortsätt läsa A good, but skeptical, note on Sandboxes
As I return to this notebook, or collection of musings, I find that everything has changed. Not in the dramatic way of everything has changed but in the rather more subtle way of everything has changed. A shift in the way we see ourselves and the societies we are in. The day before yesterday I… Fortsätt läsa What a year it has been
Doubt comes too cheap. The idea that you are allowed to suspend belief and doubt anything without an effort or valid reason is key to understanding the challenge to our democratic discourse. When you doubt something you should really have to show why you doubt it, and not just why you believe something.
Hartmunt Rosa has observed, in numerous essays and texts, that it is useful to analyze our age with a mental model built around acceleration. He finds that we accelerate along three different axes — technological, social and subjective — and that this acceleration has profound impact on the way we can live our lives. It is, for example, hardly… Fortsätt läsa Hartmunt Rosa and the acceleration of our lives (Rosa I)
One thing that has been occupying me recently is the question of what speech is for. In some senses this is a heretical question - many would probably argue that speech is an inalienable right, and so it really does not have to be for anything at all. I find that unconvincing, especially in a… Fortsätt läsa Models of speech (Fake News Notes XI)
There are plenty of studies of gossip as a social phenomenon, and there are computer science models of gossiping that allow for information distribution in system. There are even gossip learning systems that compete with or constitute alternatives to federated learning models. But here is a question I have not found any serious discussion about… Fortsätt läsa Gossiping about AI (Man / Machine XII)
Plato's use of the idea of a noble lie was oppressive. He wanted to tell the people a tale of their origin that would encourage them to bend and bow to the idea of a stratified society, and he suggest that this would make everyone better off -- and we clearly see that today for… Fortsätt läsa The noble and necessary lie (Fake News Notes X)
In a previous post we discussed computational vs "biological thinking" and the question of why we assume that chunking the world in a specific way is automatically right. The outcome was that it is not obvious why the sentence (i) Linda is a bank teller and a feminist should always be analysed as containing two… Fortsätt läsa Jottings III: the problem with propositions
Pursuant to the last note, it is interesting to ask the following question: if human discovery of a game space like the one in go centers around what could be a local maxima, and computers can help us find other maxima and so play in an "alien" way -- i.e. a way that is not… Fortsätt läsa Jottings II: Style of play, style of thought – human knowledge as a collection of local maxima
If we examine the space of all possible chess games we should be able to map out all games a really played look at how they are distributed in the game space (what are the dimensions of a game space, though?). It is possible that these games cluster in different ways and we could then… Fortsätt läsa Jottings I: What does style of play tell us?
One model for thinking about the issue of misinformation is to say that we are navigating a flat information desert, where there is no topology of truth available. Now hills of fact, no valleys of misinformation. Our challenge is to figure out a good way to add a third dimension, or more than one single… Fortsätt läsa Authority currencies and rugged landscapes of truth (Fake News Notes #9)
A thought experiment. What would happen if we crowdsourced a price - not just a sum - per kilo of ocean plastic retrieved? This would require solving a few interesting problems along the way but would not be impossible. First, we would need to develop a means to crowdsourced prices rather than sums. What we… Fortsätt läsa Innovation III: What is the price of a kilo of ocean plastic?
When we speak about the future of work we often do this: we assume that there will be a labor market much like today, and that there will be jobs like the ones we have today, but that they will just be different jobs. It is as if we think we are moving from wanting… Fortsätt läsa Future of work – second take
As we explore analogies between innovation and evolution, there are some concepts that present intriguing questions. The idea of a speciation rate is one of these concepts and it allows us to ask questions about the pace of innovation in new ways. Are speciation rates constant or rugged? That is: should we expect bursts of… Fortsätt läsa Innovation and evolution I: Speciation rates and innovation rates
There is more to explore here, and more thoughts to test. Let’s talk more about knowledge, and take two really simples examples. We believe we know the following. (i) The earth is round. (ii) Gravity is 9.8 G Our model here is one of knowledge as a set of propositions that can be justified and… Fortsätt läsa There are no singular facts (Questions II)
The question of what knowledge is can be understood in different ways. One way to understand it is to focus on what it means to know something. The majority view here is that knowledge is about propositions that we can examine from different perspectives. Examples would include things like: The earth is round. Gravity is… Fortsätt läsa Socratic epistemology, Hintikka, questions and the end of propositional logic (Questions I)
Simone Weil, in her curious book Need for Roots, notes the following on the necessity for freedom of opinion: [...] it would be desirable to create an absolutely free reserve in the field of publication, but in such a way as for it to be understood that the works found therein did not pledge their… Fortsätt läsa Weil’s paradox: intention and speech (Fake News Notes #8)
I have been following, with increasing interest, Lucy Kellaway's second career as a teacher, and the movement she has started around a second career aimed at giving back. It makes a lot of sense. In her latest column she muses on what happens with status as you change from high-power jobs to become a teacher,… Fortsätt läsa Lessons from Lucy Kellaway
Time is a funny thing, and the perspectives that you can get if you shift time around are extraordinarily valuable. Take a simple example: not long ago it was common to engage in building things that would take more than one generation to finish - giant houses, cathedrals and organizations. Today we barely engage in… Fortsätt läsa What is your cathedral?
Just finished this excellent and surprising science fiction book. It explores several different themes - our ability to start anew on a new planet, our inherent nature, our relationship to nature and plants (!) and the growing suspicion that we are always doing someone else's bidding. It is also beautifully written, with living characters and… Fortsätt läsa Books: Semiosis by Sue Burke
Our study of thinking has so far been characterised by a need to formalize thinking. Ever since Boole's "Laws of Thought" the underlying assumption and metaphor for thinking has been mathematical or physical - even mechanical and always binary. Logic has been elevated to the position of pure thought, and we have even succumbed to thinking that is… Fortsätt läsa Computational vs Biological Thinking (Man / Machine XII)
The following are notes ahead of a panel discussion this afternoon, where we will discuss the need for a legal structure for digital persons in the wake of the general discussion of artificial intelligence. The idea of a digital assistant seems to suggest a world in which we will see new legal actors. These actors will buy,… Fortsätt läsa Digital legal persons? Fragments (Man / Machine XI and Identity / Privacy III)
In his chapter on intelectronics, his word for what most closely resembles artificial intelligence, Stanislaw Lem suggests an insidious way in which the machine could take over. It would not be, he says, because it wants to terrorize us, but more likely because it will try to be helpful. Lem develops the idea of the… Fortsätt läsa The free will to make slightly worse choices ( Man / Machine XI)
Why do we develop artificial intelligence? Is it merely because of an almost faustian curiosity? Is it because of an innate megalomania that suggests that we could, if we want to, become gods? The debate today is ripe with examples of risks and dangers, but the argument for the development of this technology is curiously… Fortsätt läsa Stanislaw Lem, Herbert Simon and artificial intelligence as broad social technology project (Man / Machine X)
I just got a copy of the latest Scandinavian Studies of Law, no. 65. I contributed a small piece on Law, Technology and Time -- examining how the different ways in which time is made available by technology changes demands on the law and legislation. It is a first sketch of a very big area,… Fortsätt läsa Law, technology and time (Law and Time I)
I have picked up Cass Sunstein's latest book on cost / benefit trade offs, and am enjoying it. But it seems to me that there is a fundamental problem here with the framing. The model being put forward is one in which we straight-forwardly calculate costs and benefits for any choice and then we make… Fortsätt läsa A small note on cost and benefit
In the literature on memory it is almost mandatory to cite the curious case of the man who who after an accident could remember no more than a few minutes of his life before resetting and then forgetting everything again. He had retained long term memory from before the accident, but lacked the ability to… Fortsätt läsa Memory, Ricoeur, History, Identity, Privacy and Forgetting (Identity and Privacy II)
The discussions and debates about privacy are key to trust in the information society. Yet, the our understanding of the concept of privacy is still in need of further exploration. This short essay is an attempt to highlight one aspect of the concept that seems to be crucial, and highlight a few observations about what… Fortsätt läsa The Narrated Self (Identity and Privacy I)