Choose a topic

.. 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


Difference that makes no difference.

It is said that information is a difference that makes a difference. In a way this is a bit poetic and obscure but it captures an abstract aspect of information. Physically, information can stuff like pixels on a computer screen, but the physical changes that happen because of the information can be huge.

Equivalence, in that spirit, might be seen as a difference that makes no difference. For instance, 1+3 is one statement and 3+1 is another statement that is physically different but means exactly the same - a difference that makes no difference.

When I go out about my errands each day, there are many paths I could take to the store.
Each path is different but is equivalent because they all end up at the same place.
Of course some paths are longer and if time spent walking is significant then they are not equivalent in that sense. But many of the paths have the same time spent walking and I can actually feel the equivalence.
As I walk along the crowded sidewalk it doesn't matter if I go left or right around a person coming towards me. It's actually interesting how people unconsciously negotiate with each other how to move so they don't collide.

I'm working my way through a math book (Advanced Algebra and Calculus Made Simple) and in math equivalence has a surprising role. What happens is that there can be many ways of calculating a result; that is, they all give the same result. But some ways of doing it involve much less work.

For instance, say I plot the curve traced by an equation. (That is for each value of x in a range, calculate a y position and plot that on the screen.) There is an easy to comprehend way of doing that called substitution which involves choosing a value of x and calculating the pixel position and plotting it. This can be very slow.
There is a method of doing that that involves an idea called the Remainder Theorem that does the same thing very much faster. It produces a result that is equivalent to the substitution method.
It's like "You take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be to Loch Lomond 'afore ye".

I studied this stuff long ago when I was a physics student at university. Then I went to live in the woods and got out of practice and couldn't do stuff like calculus anymore but I retained some core ideas about it. Years later when I was writing computer programs that simulate physical processes I found I could simulate calculus within my simulation.
But that method is very slow. Calculus would be faster but equivalent and I'm trying to get so I can use it.

I like thinking about the physics that underlies the physics we know. A key concept in the physics we know is that everything is made of something else. Water is made of atoms and atoms are made of protons, electrons and neutrons. The protons and neutrons are made of quarks - but then, what are the electrons and quarks made of?

Nobody knows. One idea is called string theory - that is that everything is made of tiny strings that vibrate in 11 dimensions. The theory is a tad complex and nobody has been able to show that it actually corresponds to reality because so far there is no way to test its conclusions.
An interesting thing about string theory is that seemingly different systems produce the same results.
I don't know more about this than handwaving but Wikipedia tells us that "Type I string theory turns out to be equivalent by S-duality to the SO(32) heterotic string theory. Similarly, type IIB string theory is related to itself in a nontrivial way by S-duality."

Equivalence seems to be an artifact of the way we perceive reality. As Kant said, we work with descriptions of reality and not the "thing in itself". So equivalence seems to be a matter of perspective.
I look out my window at a grove of trees and see a very complex scene. I can go downstairs and outside and look at that grove and see a very different complex scene.
I suspect that equivalence is no more than that.

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.