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

Necessary Production

Makers and takers

My favourite teacher in art school would confront unexpected and disruptive happenings in his class by saying "This is a wonderful opportunity to . . . .", learn or re-think or re-imagine what we were doing. So if somebody had an accident in the darkroom that produced an interesting effect he'd get us to actually SEE what had happened and think about what we could do with it.

But since we face severe social and environmental problems; maybe this is a wonderful opportunity too. We must rebuild. Do we want to re-establish what we had before?
Lots of people do. They were doing quite well before.
Lots of people don't. They weren't doing that well.
But the way things were working before already had many visible cracks even if you were doing well.

I've written for years that automation has caused a problem of over production. Automatic production can produce vast amounts of material goods with relatively little human intervention. The 'little human intervention' means that the production of goods in itself won't provide enough income to enough workers to buy up all that is produced.

But it also means huge profits to the factory owners if they can sell what they make. In the recent past service industries provided that income. Long story short - it seems to me that service industries are basically supported by rich people buying services of some sort from less rich people. And now, automation in the form of artificial intelligence is taking over service industries of all sorts too. Imagine you're a lawyer serving people who can afford to pay. In the last 30 years you've reduced expenses by automating stenographers and receptionists.

Next it's the law clerks.

What'cha gonna do when the client can just buy lawyer software like they buy tax software now? So we have looming before us this huge problem of not enough good jobs for all who need them.

And it's coming on fast: I've read projections are saying lots of trouble from that in 5 to 20 years I started talking about the UBI about 10 years ago (I called it a stipend) At the time people thought no way that would fly in America. And by this year it was a popular idea that was a central plank on a presidential candidate's platform.

And now, in the face of the pandemic, governments all over the world are handing out money to alleviate the economic damage of the pandemic. And that damage involves massive unemployment and so everyone getting cheques from the government that looks a lot like the UBI.

The lockdown in response to the pandemic has brought the idea of 'essential industry' to the fore. Bingo - a bunch of industries were shut down. Everything from gift shops to restaurants to movies and theatres and on to concerts just went poof for the foreseeable future. Airlines reduced service a lot due to a complete lack of customers. And cruise ships couldn't even find a port to land at.

But lots of work was deemed essential. The idea is that if that work is not done then it's impossible to keep people alive in a locked down economy. The list is long; health care workers, first responders, bridge tenders, workers in many supply chains. In fact, the list is a large majority of workers. We may get 25% unemployment because of the lockdown but that means that 75% are still working somehow.

Let's have a look at the industries that employ those unemployed workers. They are basically living (even at the best of times) off the surplus produced by the necessary workers. My focus so far has been just on production and of course that's not the whole story. In our society (especially) if it's profitable to do something then it will be done. And that works if it's profitable to produce material goods that are useful. But it's hard to find things that are profitable that can grow exponentially. Sports and mass entertainment are good examples of this. If a musician can get 50 people to pay $5 for a gig he may eat that night. But if it's 50000 people for 50 nights a year he get's rich. And those riches support a big crew and supporting industry.

I do think that musicians that can entertain millions are quite worth the money they earn.

I think it is important to distinguish between profit and material production.

The problems we face in the future that stem from automation and the lack of work will be, if we are not careful, is that people will live in poverty in the midst of plenty because it's not profitable to serve them. And maybe the pandemic will help us drop the scales from our eyes when it comes to profit. The pursuit of profit is a mindless endeavor. Whatever is profitable will be tried by someone or other with no concern at all for broader social implications.

Maybe it would be better to focus more on production and just distribution of that which we need to survive and happy and try to do what is best

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.