Choose a topic

.. Cognition
General Artificial Intelligence
Observing My Experience

.. HUM
A Mind

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

What Does Google Know?

Living with AI

What Does Google Know?

We all know Google it's a vast web of machines that does amazing things like show everyone ads that are chosen for them personally. I get shown ads tailored to old people. Though Google gets it wrong a lot - I have no idea why they are so sure I have gutters to clean :-) And I can manipulate it a bit by being careful about which ads I click on and also what sorts of things I search for. (Hint: don't search for bomb making instructions :-)

I think that Google is an artificial intelligence but - hey - what is intelligence?
I'm not even sure how to be clear about that with humans or dogs and cats let alone a huge network of machines.

But Google shares many capabilities with people. It has a means of perception. It has memories. It has huge inference engines using that. And the inference engines do the things like deciding which ad to show me. But like I say - inference engines are pretty easy to fool. We all have experience of that sort of thing: a mirage is the result of a fooled inference engine. I don't think the output of the inference engine is what Google knows. Google knows that I've clicked on ads for sawmills but never for diapers. It knows my pattern of interests - that's information placed straight in their databases It infers from that that I'm an old guy.

I do that sort of thing all the time myself. I know that I just got a call claiming to be from the government and that I should call back to avoid being charged. I infer that the message is from a scammer.

I like thinking about how we share our mental capabilities with other forms of life. For instance - I don't think frogs have inference engines though I do think they know things based on perception. A frog sees flies and doesn't infer that there is food there - it just snaps out it's tongue and eats.

It's more than just the ads. I amuse myself writing computer code in a few languages. I often have to do searches to find the correct syntax or function call. After a search or two for those things it gets so I only have to type a few characters before Google starts offering me relevant choices - type another character and it's narrowed down to what I want. This is amazing - and my claim is that it's based on knowledge When I'm working with php google presents me with information relevant to php at a few keystrokes When working in python or linden scripting language the same thing happens.

So what does this all imply about knowing? Well - one thing - knowing is not a connection to some sort of absolute truth. It's something taken to be true but it can be mistaken (as with mirages) It does imply that knowing is similar to believing - we take what we know as fact without further examination. and it must be so - knowing is not a process of endless fact checking - it's being able to act in real time.

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.