31 May 2010

It seems I’m a psychological reductionist :)

The Personal Identity Game

Your choices are consistent with the theory known as psychological reductionism. On this view, all that is required for the continued existence of the self is psychological continuity. Your three choices show that this is what you see as central to your sense of self, not any attachment to a particular substance, be it your body, brain or soul.

Jose Saramago despre dumnezeu si teoria jocurilor

Din Calatoria elefantului de Jose Saramago:

Hamalii s-au pus deja in mișcare. Conviețuirea cu militarii ii făcuse, aproape fara sa-si dea seama, sa capete anumite obiceiuri de disciplina precum cele care pot rezulta din ordinul de încolonare, de exemplu, invatasera sa se organizeze intr-o coloana formata din doua sau trei rânduri, pentru ca nu e indiferent cum sunt dispuși oamenii, intr-un caz, coloana ar avea cincisprezece rânduri, o întindere exagerata, usor de dezorganizat la cea mai mica tulburare personala sau colectiva, in alt caz, ea ar fi redusa la un solid bloc de zece rânduri, căruia nu i-ar lipsi decât scuturile ca sa semene cu țestoasa romana. Cu toate acestea, diferența e mai ales psihologica. Sa ne gândim ca oamenii au înaintea lor un marș îndelungat si ca e firesc ca, in cursul lui, sa stea de vorba ca sa treaca timpul. Or, doi oameni care trebuie sa meargă împreuna timp de doua sau trei ore fara oprire fara oprire, chiar imaginandu-ne ca e mare dorința de comunicare, vor sfârșit in mod fatal, mai devreme sau mai târziu, prin a cădea intr-o tăcere stânjenitoare, mai știi, chiar urandu-se. Cate unul s-ar putea sa nu fie in stare sa reziste tentației de a-l arunca pe celalalt in râpa. Au dreptate, așadar, cei care spun ca trei a fost socoteala pe care a făcut-o dumnezeu, numărul păcii, numărul concordiei. In trei, cel puțin, oricine va putea sa tacă timp de câteva minute fara sa bata prea mult la ochi. Cel mai rau ar fi daca unul care s-a gândit sa-l elimine pe altul ca sa-i ia mâncarea, de exemplu, l-ar invita pe al treilea sa colaboreze la condamnabila lui acțiune, iar acesta i-ar răspunde cu teama, Nu pot, i-am promis sa-l ajut sa te omoare pe tine.

29 May 2010

De la Craig Venter la genomul Neandertalienilor

Topics:

Craig Venter’s artificial life 
Christina on the future of synthetic biology
John on the decoding of the Neandertal genome
How much like Neandertals are we?
A primer on fossil forensics
Paleoanthropology and synthetic biology: the hidden connections

26 May 2010

The non-aggression principle

A woman hired somebody to mow her lawn. The hired person accidentally hurts himself very badly with the lawn mower. The woman, under the influence of a powerful hallucinogenic drug, gets out of the house and just watches the man from a relative distance as he is suffering. The contract between the two did not stipulate anything about such a situation. However, a neighbor observes the suffering man and tries to come to his help. After a warning, the woman shoots the neighbor down for trespassing on her property. After two hours, the injured man has bled to death. The woman decides that, after all, she likes better the grass growing freely. She returns to the house and calls the morgue. The market value of her property and of neighboring properties diminishes slightly, but justice will be served: she is suing the lawn mower producer for damages.

In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. (Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness)

“No one may threaten or commit violence ('aggress') against another man's person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.” (Murray Rothbard, The Myth of National Defense)

Rules should be judged by the incentives they create, but there are no objective criteria for judging. Social experiments matter, while rational deduction can never really be distinguished from rationalization.

16 May 2010

Robotics Revolution and the Future of Evolution