Choose a topic

.. Cognition
Intelligence and Motivation

.. HUM
A Mind

.. Society
Drag Story Tellers
I Distrust the News
What is to be said?

Structures of Understanding

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
Semiotics and Body Language
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
Should We Go to Mars?
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

Competition and Cooperation

Nature isn't all "red of tooth and claw."

Competition and Cooperation

The evolutionary algorithm is, for me, something about reality that is as significant as gravity. The EA presents something that is inevitable in the sense that
you have something that replicates,
with variation among the replicants
and a selection pressure that makes some replicant replicate more than others
as time goes on the replicants will be better and better at meeting the selection pressure

Darwin first articulated the EA as Natural Selection and he discovered it by studying the biological world in great detail. But as Dawkins and many others have shown, the EA functions outside of biology too. Much as I appreciate the explanatory scope of the EA we have keep in mind that it's a purposeless and mindless algorithm. It has no goal and can't perceive anything. Crucially - the EA doesn't care about anything. The phrase "red of tooth and claw" kind of reaches for that idea.

In an ecosystem everything is competing for resources for survival and replication against everything else. But there's also a countervailing tendency. Sometimes it works for things to cooperate with each other within the competition. We see many many examples of that cooperation in nature ranging from schools of fish to parents that nurture their offspring.

Human society is perhaps unique on Earth in that people aren't creatures instinctively bound to either cooperate or compete with each other. They do both in a complicated hurley burley type interaction.

Among people both competition and cooperation can lead to good or bad outcomes - it depends.

Competition is good if it leads to something being done better or more efficiently for instance - but then what is to be done if that throws people out of work? And that really requires community cooperation. Which kind of sticks in the craw of those who did something better - they may benefit from the cooperation but they also take a "keep your hands off may stack Jack" sort of stance.

And that's good competition. There's also bad competition.
People can compete by slyly passing as much of their costs onto others as they can.
They can compete by cheating in all sorts of ways.
They can compete by intimidation.
They can compete by fraud.

Humans tend to band together into cooperating groups that then compete with others - the group is generally more powerful and so better at competing than individuals. Then of course there is nothing to restrict those internally cooperative groups from competing with other groups in any way they can. I think this is a fractal phenomenon - like turbulence in fluid flows.

These days a lot of people stand against cooperation in the name of 'freedom'. But it's curious thing - these people seem to hate competition. For instance, rather than enable the competition of free elections republicans are cooperating in massive gerrymandering and restrict the vote efforts.

What do you think?

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.