Jottings

Jottings III: the problem with propositions

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 propositions that each can be assessed for truth and probability. It is quite possible that given the description we are given the sentence actually is indivisible and should be assessed as a single proposition. When asked, then, to assess the probability of this sentence and…

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Jottings

Jottings II: Style of play, style of thought – human knowledge as a collection of local maxima

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 anchored in human cognition and ultimately perhaps in our embodied, biological cognition — should we then not expect the same to be true for other bodies of thought? Let’s say that a “body of thought” is the accumulated games in any specific game space, and…

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Jottings

Jottings I: What does style of play tell us?

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 term these clusters “styles” of play. We at least have a naive understanding of what this would mean. But what about the distribution of these clusters overall in a game space – are they equally distributed? Are they parts of mega clusters that describe “human…

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Fake news, The Fake News Notes

Authority currencies and rugged landscapes of truth (Fake News Notes #9)

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 dimension to the universe of news, or information. How would one do this? There are obvious ways like importing trust from an off-line brand or other off-line institution. When we read the New York Times on the web we do so under the reflected light…

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Innovation, Innovation policy, Uncategorized

Innovation III: What is the price of a kilo of ocean plastic?

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 would then need to do is to require the contributors to pay a part of some price – per kilo, hour etc – and define some upper limit for their engagement. This would of course equate to a sum, but the point would be to…

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Artificial Intelligence

Future of work – second take

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 bakers to wanting more doctors, and well, what should the bakers do? It is really hard to become a doctor! There are other possible perspectives, however. One is to ask how both the market and the jobs will change under a new technological paradigm. First,…

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Uncategorized

Innovation and evolution I: Speciation rates and innovation rates

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 innovation at certain points? Cambrian explosions seem different from purely vertical evolution, from single cell to multi-cell etcetera. Are speciation rates related to extinction rates? Will increases in extinction rates trigger increases in speciation? If these are entirely decoupled in a system it will have…

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Philosophy of Questions

There are no singular facts (Questions II)

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 defended as knowledge – they can be deemed true or false, and the sum total of that body of propositions is all we know. We can add to it by adding new propositions and we can change our mind by throwing old propositions out and…

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Philosophy of Questions

Socratic epistemology, Hintikka, questions and the end of propositional logic (Questions I)

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 a force. Under simple conditions demand and supply meet in a market. These propositions can then be true or false and the value we assign to them decides if they are included in our knowledge. The way we assign truth or falsity can vary. In…

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The Fake News Notes

Weil’s paradox: intention and speech (Fake News Notes #8)

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 authors in any way and contained no direct advice for readers. There it would be possible to find, set out in their full force, all the arguments in favour of bad causes. It would be an excellent and salutary thing for them to be so…

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The Examined Life

Lessons from Lucy Kellaway

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, and she notes that it depends on if you derive your sense of self-worth from external or internal sources. Perhaps, she argues, older people can drop the need for external validation and instead build their sense of self-worth on their own evaluation of themselves. As…

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Philosophy of thinking

What is your cathedral?

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 projects that take longer than a year – in fact, that seems long to some people. A three month project, a three week sprint is preferable. And there is some truth to this. Slicing time finely is a way to ensure that progress is made…

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