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.. Cognition
General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. HUM
A Mind

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
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Excellence is a Plateau
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
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What is Art?
Working With Reality

Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
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Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
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Gender dysphoria
I Lost My Knife
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Is free will an illusion?
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Thinking about medical procedures
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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
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A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
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Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
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Money is Different
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Wealth is What Money Buys

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
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Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Whatever happened to The Truth?

Body Plans
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Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
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Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
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Politics and Evolution
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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
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10 Views of Landscape
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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
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Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
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Sorites Paradox
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What is Going On?

If It Walks Like a Duck
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Constructed Life
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A Job
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Sex and Gender
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Social vs Individual Responsibility.
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Society evolved
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To the Moon
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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

Necessary Illusions

We work in realtime

I'm reading Dennett's From Bacteria To Bach And Back. It's an excellent book; a sort of rehashing of the ideas he's developed about cognition since Consciousness Explained (gad - has it really been 30 years?) He examines the distinction proposed by Wilfrid Sellars between the "manifest image" and the "scientific image" The scientific image deals with the physical reality of photons and atoms and rocks and stars. It's an image of how and what reality is.
The manifest image deals with the meaningful world we perceive.
Ideally, the scientific image is the same for everyone. But the manifest image varies from person to person; sometimes by a lot. The manifest image is full of necessary illusions. Free will is one.

(quoting Dennett)
The traditional view of free will, as a personal power somehow isolated from physical causation, is both incoherent and unnecessary as a grounds for moral responsibility and meaning. The scientists and philosophers who declare free will a fiction or illusion are right; it is part of the user-illusion of the manifest image. That puts it in the same category with colors, opportunities, dollars, promises, and love (to take a few valuable examples from a large set of affordances). If free will is an illusion then so are they, and for the same reason.

This is not an illusion we should want to dismantle or erase; it’s where we live, and we couldn’t live the way we do without it. But when these scientists and philosophers go on to claim that their “discovery” of this (benign) illusion has important implications for the law, for whether or not we are responsible for our actions and creations, their arguments evaporate.

Yes, we should shed the cruel trappings of retributivism, which holds people absolutely responsible (in the eyes of God) for their deeds; we should secure in its place a sane, practical, defensible system of morality and justice that still punishes when punishment is called for, but with a profoundly different framing or attitude. One can get a sense of this by asking yourself: If—because free will is an illusion—no one is ever responsible for what they do, should we abolish yellow and red cards in soccer, the penalty box in ice hockey, and all the other penalty systems in sports?
(end quote)

I've criticized the idea of free will for the same reasons that Dennett does; the idea implies doing things without reasons which is absurd. But most of our thinking takes place on a pre-conscious level so we are generally not aware of the mechanics behind the choices we make. We just go with "I made a choice" of my own free will. The illusion is that something called the will made the choice.
There is no such something.
There are many physical processes that enable us to make choices. But we have to be unaware of them for them to work. Our conscious processes are too slow. So we end up with the necessary illusion: I made a choice.

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.