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Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.


Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
What is Art?
Working With Reality

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
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
Uncertainty and Unpredictability

Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
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

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?

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
Open Society and Falsification
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Problem with Hedonism
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


Give structure

I've noticed a thing with the physical distancing behavior that most of us do these days is that most people willingly comply.
For example Vancouver has about 80000 businesses. City inspectors only found 19 not in compliance with the lockdown. All but one of those came into compliance after a warning. That one lost their business license.

The effects are quite dramatic. The streets are empty. Very many businesses are closed. Millions (even in Canada) have had to apply for assistance. There are 'men with guns' prepared to enforce physical distancing, but in general they find an order to go home suffices.

I find that for most situations, compliance with laws is pretty automatic mostly because it's just the easiest thing to do.

I have experience with what it's like if compliance with laws isn't automatic like that; the intellectual property laws and the prohibition on pot are examples. When millions of people disobey a law it becomes basically unenforceable.

Though most people are pretty automatically responsive to laws, we know that a certain percentage aren't. The astonishing thing is how much they get away with it. Landlords get ordered to fix their buildings; they just ignore it. You get people who rent a place and move in and then refuse to pay rent. It's astonishingly hard to evict them and then once evicted the person just moves on to a new victim.

But, be that as it may, laws are a part of what gives a society structure. Without laws things are pretty unpredictable and survival for everyone gets hard. Plato thought that the best sort of governor would be a benevolent philosopher king who acted for the common good. But what's the common good? Aristotle preferred the rule of law. Even the benevolent dictator had to be constrained by laws. Which of course begs the question of where the laws come from but Aristotle was right about how it's better for the dictator (or society) to be constrained by law.

We are creatures made of muscle and bone. The bone, our skeleton, is a constraint that enables more freedom.
It's like the difference between a jellyfish and a fish.
According to this way of thinking, any set of laws is better than none.
But also, some laws are better than others.

I'm a child of my age and so I like democracy. I don't think that's just bias though - I think that democracy is better at passing laws that create a strong social system. Democracies have complex systems that strive to maintain a 'rule of law' rather than a rule of dictators.

The difference is that dictators can make, and often do, make rules and decisions that are arbitrary and capricious. But also, the dictator is just one person who decides things that seem reasonable at that scale of reality.

At the social level society is a hurley burley of very many competing influences. Democracy provides systems where those influences can act on each other more or less directly.

So it's a feature and not a bug that democratic society is pretty chaotic - that let's it find what to do in a chaotic environment. Also democracy takes advantage of a ratchet; when a beneficial thing is done, the benefit is felt by society as a whole and is hard to undo for narrow reasons. This drives society to make things better and better.

There are laws in society and there are laws in reality.
These are similar, but different in an important way.
Both sorts of laws indicate a kind of regularity in the space where they are relevant.

But physical laws are descriptive laws. They are concise descriptions of how things work in a physical sense. Physical laws don't order reality around; physical laws are descriptions of what reality is like. Reality gets no choice. People are not much like atoms because people do get to choose among alternatives.

In society laws are not just descriptive; they are prescriptive. They tell people what to do. And they do run into that attitude expressed by the line; "Hey! Who are YOU to TELL ME?" But luckily for us all, that is usually an outlier attitude.

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.