Choose a topic

.. Art
Fake art

.. Cognition
General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. Epistemology
Dialectics and Evolution

.. Evolution
What is a Species?
Why are Tropical Birds So Colorful

.. HUM
A Mind

.. Society
Cut Energy Use
Emotional Plague
Improving Democracy
Jesus and the Money Changers
Merry Christmas
Misinformation and disinformation
Moral Hazard
Red flags
Reusable Bags
Sleeping in a tent
Social Media

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Excellence is a Plateau
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
Gender dysphoria
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Intelligence and Motivation
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
Structures of Understanding
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?
What is going on?

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
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
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?

Body Plans
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 Job
A society needs a government.
Babies and Bathwater
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Drag Story Tellers
Family Values
Governance and Power
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
I Distrust the News
Inclusion and Christmas
Its a Free Country
Life Extension
Moral Decline
Open Society and Falsification
Parents, Children, and Community
Rethinking Rights
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Should We Go to Mars?
Social vs Individual Responsibility.
Society and The State
Society evolved
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Common Good
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
The Rule of Law.
Thoughts on Justice
To the Moon
Trial by jury
Virtue Signalling
We Live in the Present
What is to be said?
What made freedom a bad word?
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


Programming is fun

A loop is a structure where the start adjoins the beginning. We can make a loop out of string by tying the one end of the string to the other. Interesting to kittens perhaps. But a loop within a loop makes a lasso which is a tool adequate to capture horses or cattle. These are physical loops. Feedback loops are more abstract (though still physical) sorts of loops. We've all heard feedback loops (say when amateurs set up the audio at a demonstration) - all of a sudden the speakers start screeching with a steadily increasing pitch. A system that formerly accurately amplified the volume of an input sound now uses any input sound to produce the same screech. And it's easy to understand what's happening. The sound from the speakers is input for the microphone which drives the sound from the speakers. This is a loop. The frequency of the screech of an audio feedback loop is determined by how fast a sound can hit the mike and drive the speaker to make a sound to hit the mike. That is the frequency of the screech shows the time for one cycle of the loop to play out. This gives the potential for extremely sensitive measurements - a potential exploited by electron tunnelling microscopes that can both detect and move individual atoms.

It's not hard to see evolution as a feedback loop of sorts. Each generation is the product of the preceding one and produces the succeeding one. But evolution is a strange sort of feedback loop - not all of the products of the loop feed back in and influence it. So when conditions are stable a certain sort of equilibrium is attained. And when conditions change then there new elements get incorporated in the loop. Loops are used a lot in computer programming. Here's a simple one:

for x = 1 to 10
print x,
next x

as you might guess, the output is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
This is much easier than writing
print 1,
print 2,
print 3,
. . . . . especially if the limit was 100 or 1000 or . . . . .

Here's another way to write a loop: z=z+1. Each time you run that statement z gets increased by 1.
Pretty cool huh? Well - fundamental but boring.
How about if we complicate it a bit?
z = z times z + 1
In this case z gets large very quickly - it zooms off to infinity - still pretty boring.
If you add a further twist; make z into a complex number (I won't go into that now) but you get loops that produce the sort of image over by the hill

Cycles are loops and are very common in nature. The planets orbit the sun SORTA returning to the same place each year. When you add the tilt of the earth's axis to the loop the seasons emerge. And the seasons drive the great currents in the air and water.

Chemistry makes possible another sort of loop - self-catalyzing reactions. Wikipedia tells us: (@ {start quote) A single chemical reaction is said to have undergone autocatalysis, or be autocatalytic, if the reaction product itself is the catalyst for that reaction. A set of chemical reactions can be said to be "collectively autocatalytic" if a number of those reactions produce, as reaction products, catalysts for enough of the other reactions that the entire set of chemical reactions is self-sustaining given an input of energy and food molecules (end quote)

This little animation gives a sense of the sort of pattern these reactions can produce:

What loops enable are complex systems that can be self balancing. From this emerges systems that are stable (in equilibrium) but also dynamic and able to respond to changing conditions. A key thing to notice that this responsiveness is a global property of the whole system.

These complex loopy systems can be very complex as we see with living things where loops are involved from the molecular level of cell mechanics to the global level of climate and the seasons.

The ability of animals to behave according to conditions involves an abstract sort of loop - a stimulus/response loop. Stimulus/response loops can be very simple as when a frog snaps up a fly with a flick of it's tongue or very complicated as when Elaine makes a piece of virtual medical equipment.

What are the philosophical implications of loops? Contemplation of systems of loops can give a sense of how the weird mix of order and chaos that we observe in reality is possible. Many people feel that scientific thinking is sterile and lacking in wonder. For me the contemplation of such a simple idea as loops shows how wrong they are.

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.