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.. Epistemology
Semiotics and Body Language

.. HUM
A Mind

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
What is Art?
Working With Reality

Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
Bird Brains
Bounded Rationality
Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
Emergence and Cognition
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Taking Things on Faith
The Hard Problem
The I Love You Gesture
The Imagined Order
The Phenomenology of Swim Bladders.
Thinking about medical procedures
Thinking About Risk
Underdetermination and Redundancy
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
What Does Google Know?

A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Blood and Money
Can Capitalism Survive?
Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
Job Destroyers
Money and Value
Money is Different
National Accounts
Necessary Production
Paper Wealth
Post Capitalist Society
Profit Motive Fails
Rentier Capitalism
Social Wealth vs Surplus Value
Spending Money Into Existence
The Metaphysics of Money
The Ontology of Debt
Thinking about Money
Wealth is What Money Buys

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Whatever happened to The Truth?

Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
Evolution Defended
Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
Forces of Nature
Is Natural Selection Obsolete?
Politics and Evolution
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

Free Speech in the age of Twitter
Freedom and Badness
Freedom and Morality
Freedom From and Freedom To
Freedom in the Age of Convoys
Libertarian Coercion

10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

Levels of Abstraction
Levels of Abstraction and Minds
What is a newspaper?

As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

Emotional Plague
Memes: Imitated Behavior.
The Problem with Memes
What is a replicator?

Beyond Rules Based Morality
Freedom and Morality
Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Sincerely Held Beliefs
Sorites Paradox
Stereoscopic Vision and The Hard Problem
The Gorilla in the Room of Science
The Purpose of Science
What is Going On?

If It Walks Like a Duck
Right Wing Freedom
The Sovereign Citizen
Tyranny of the Majority


Constructed Life
Correlation Wins
Quack Doctors
The Great Shattering
The Material Space
Thinking about Interconnection
Too Small to See
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Inclusion and Christmas
Open Society and Falsification
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
To the Moon
We Live in the Present
Why is there a shortage of nurses?
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

Implications of Very Productive Technology
Modest Proposal
Problems with Universal Basic Income
Tormenting Unlucky People
Why there are oligarchs

AI and Art

Not child's play
Jason Allen won a first prize in fine art at the Colorado State Fair recently. He used a system called Midjourney to do it.
An artist uses Midjourney by sending it commands. Stuff like; place a figure in a long gown. Turn it away from the camera . . . . " on and on like that until the picture is done. The winning picture took 90 hours to create working like that. I think it's a wonderful picture. Midjourney works from a database of many millions of tagged images. It doesn't pretend to 'create' anything. It's very good at finding things and interpreting human commands and blending things together. They call it an AI (Artificial Intelligence).

It's interesting that this story made it to the Washington Post.
The first prize involved a ribbon and $320 cash.
The angle was; AI is taking over art!!!! Reading the article we find that this is not the case here. Allen was using Midjourney as a tool like I use Photoshop or Blender or painters use grids and brushes. It wasn't that Allen said; Midjourney, make me a picture and walked away.

But say you could do that. Turn on a machine and it would just churn out pictures for you as long as it was turned on.
Would those pictures be art?
I don't know of any machines that do that now, but I do know of workshops full of oilpainters that do a very similar thing.
Are those pictures art?

I'd say yes.
If somebody takes it home and puts it on a wall and calls it art; who is to say they are wrong? For me, the measure of art is whether a picture engages your attention in a sort of feedback loop that is like - looking causes a thought which causes a look which causes a thought . . . - and it's hard for the viewer to break out of that loop with strong works of art.
This is a viewer based definition.
And whatever works works.

But one might take an artist based definition of art.
I like this one from Jasper Johns when asked how he makes art.
Simple he said. First you do something, then you do something else and carry on like that until you're done.
This is a loop where the artist stimulates themselves to a new action rather than stimulate a thought - and for me this only applies to people.
People come into the world without a purpose and are nurtured and learn. As they grow, purpose emerges in them. They want to do things for their own reasons.

That doesn't happen with machines.
They are created for purposes external to them.
One powerful feature of AI is that once a system is trained to do something it is easy and cheap to copy. The copies don't need to be trained.
I have software that turns speech into computer text and printed material into computer text. This isn't quite AI; it's based on neural networks which are a key component of AI, but makes no claim to intelligence. But the point is that I could download the system and all it's training and install it in only a few minutes.
These systems don't do things for their own reasons. They do things for my reasons.

Returning to Jason Allen's wonderful picture. It wasn't made for Midjourney's reasons. Midjourney just does what it's told. It was made for Allen's reasons. It was Allen going through the feedback loop that Jasper Johns talked about.
One aspect of Allen's picture is the stunning level of detail all realistically presented.
I know a bit about the process of creating a picture like that and it involves a LOT of preparation and study and practice. Artists over the years have developed many tools to aid them - from the mathematics of perspective to tools like the camera obscura that would project an image onto a canvas. All of that is included in Johns' method.

And it's normal to the artist's perspective of art, but not really apparent from the viewer's perspective. Naive viewers can have the illusion that the amazing work they are looking at is the product of some kind of genius. Well - it is - but not the kind of genius where an artist walks up to a canvas and just starts painting away and ends up with a hyper-realistic scene.
But the naive viewer wants to believe in the 'genius' and considers the tools of the trade to be cheating.
It's like; "oh - that's how you do it. My kid could do that. That's not art"

The link between photography and painting has been interesting.
I'd say that the camera obscura that projected an image can be seen as a necessary precursor of photography but once chemists learned how to capture that projected image as a physical image it changed the nature of painting. All of a sudden producing a very realistic image was a relatively trivial task.
This freed a lot of painters from the constraints of representing reality and a hundred year experiment in abstract art ensued.
And photographs weren't considered to be art.
And then you get an Ansell Adams who were saying "look at this" and people were getting into the old feedback loop of art.

What do you think?
I open the floor

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.