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

The Great Shattering

Speculative physics

I've been very interested in physics most of my life. I studied physics in university to the second year level before I went to live in the woods (another topic :-) I had demonstrated to me the math behind a lot of physics and got to do "experiments" (really demonstrations :-) that convinced me that physicists know what they are talking about.

Since that time my study of physics has been via magazines and books and my own research writing programs that simulate physical systems. I've been interested in how to ground the fact that we can think in physical structures like atoms. And I've got an inkling of the sorts of things that make atoms like quarks And I've got an even weaker inkling of the things that enable quarks - there are competing accounts about that; String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity.

I admit that the math of vibrating systems has always been hard for me and so I only get string theory via excellent narratives by people like Brian Greene. Neat stuff but I can't get deeper into it than that.

To my surprise I can get somewhat deeper into Loop Quantum Gravity because it conceptualizes reality as being like a huge cellular automaton. And as it happens I've worked with CAs quite a bit Lee Smolin is my goto guy for Loop Quantum Gravity.

But Steve Wolfram went into Cellular Automatons in huge detail in New Kind of Science. He showed (I thought) that CAs could do a lot of things that are similar to the way reality works. A CA is conceptually pretty simple. You have nodes that interact with each other according to a set of rules. Conway's Game of Life is a famous and easy to understand example. And I think that LQG imagines reality to be, at base, something made of nodes that interact according to a set of rules.

All well and good.

Then I think about the Big Bang. It's not that I doubt the idea - it's been well confirmed by many strands of evidence. But then I encounter the idea of an expanding universe and I must say that I really don't understand that; what does it mean for something like a universe to expand?

I pondered that in the context of the nodes in LQG. Perhaps distance is, at base, a count of the number of nodes between one node and another. Hmmm - I wondered - what if one of the properties of a node in LQG is that it splits (after some interval) and then those nodes split and so on. This would kind of be similar to the sort of chain reaction we see with nuclear fission. The result would be that two nodes that started out close together would get farther and farther apart with time - an expansion Time would be the number of splitting intervals between one event and another.

Yeah yeah - this is about as speculative as things get :-)
I call it The Great Shattering.

But let me push the idea a bit further and see if it fits with the idea of a multiverse and darwinian evolution The multiverse idea involves universes with different fundamental parameters just spontaneously popping into existence all the time like particles in a quantum foam in our universe.

So I visualize nodes with various properties popping into existence in the multiverse all the time. Each of those would be a seed for a universe but how it developed would depend on it's properties. Perhaps most nodes don't have the properties required to create a functioning CA - we happen to live in a universe made by a kind of node that does make a functioning CA.

Darwinian evolution involves replicators, variation, and a selection pressure. Dawkins and Dennett spoke about how this amounts to an algorithm that is not limited to the substrate of biology.

So in this context, what's the replicator? I'd say that the splitting node would be the replicator. I posit here that when a node splits each child shares the properties of the parent - but with some variation. If some of the variant nodes were better able to interact with the other nodes in the CA then over time the resulting CA would be more and more stable.

Whew - OK - that's as far as I can push that idea :-)

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.