Friday, August 05, 2011

Social work

This discussion continues to be absorbing, especially the part where Karl Schroeder asserts:
The *point* is to build methods of interaction that compensate, insofar as possible, for the biases, bad habits, ingrained social responses etc. that make certain kinds of decision-making difficult to scale.
He also mentions what some of those are, many of which I've not heard of before. I want to know more about Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety, the Erroneous Priorities Effect and SDD.
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Life lessons

All these quotes are taken from Bertrand Russell's "What I believe". I'm excerpting them Temple of Zeus in Athens at Athens.Image via Wikipediabecause they seem to encapsulate the view of many people in the early years of the 20th century, though they are also salted with his own particular views. Some are obvious, some hilarious and others may not be entirely relevant in a world where Cthulic entities have broken through but they are helping me get into the mindset of the times.

  • Both upward and downward, both in the large and in the small, science seems to be reaching limits.
  • Physical science is thus approaching the stage when it will be complete, and therefore uninteresting.
  • God and immortality, the central dogmas of the Christian religion, find no support in science.
  • If the world is controlled by God, and God can be moved by prayer, we acquire a share in omnipotence.
  • Happiness is non the less true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do though and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.
  • It is we who create value and our desires which confer value. In this realm we are kings, and we debase our kingship if we bow down to Nature. It is for us to determine the good life, not for Nature - not even for Nature personified as God.
  • The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
  • All moral rules must be tested by examining whether they tend to realise ends that we desire.
  • When I say that the morality of conduct is to be judged by its probable consequences, I mean that I desire to see approval given to behaviour likely to realise social purposes we desire, and disapproval to opposite behaviour.
  • Outside human desires there is no moral standard.
  • Current morality is a curious blend of utilitarianism and superstition, but the superstitious part has the stronger hold, as is natural, since superstition is the origin of moral rules.
  • Capitalists, militarists, and ecclesiastics co-operate in education, because all depend for their power upon the prevalence of emotionalism and the rarity of critical judgement.
  • We, who belong to great democracies, should find a more appropriate morality in free Athens than in despotic Imperial Rome.
  • The important point is that, in all that differentiates between a good life and a bad one, the world is a unity, and the men who pretends to live independently is a conscious or unconscious parasite.
  • And conscience is a most fallacious guide, since it consists of vague reminiscences of precepts heard in early youth, so that it is never wiser than its possessor's nurse or mother.
  • I do not wish to suggest that revolutions are never necessary, but I do wish to suggest that they are not short cuts to the millennium. There is no short cut to the good life, whether individual or social. To build up the good life, we must build up intelligence, self-control and sympathy.
  • It is in moments of panic that cruelty becomes most widespread and most atrocious. Reactionaries everywhere appeal to fear..., and the sole effect of their appeals is to increase the danger against which they wish to be protected.
  • If we are again to have progress, we must again be dominated by hope.
  • But courage in fighting is by no means the only form, nor perhaps even the most important. There is courage in facing poverty, courage in facing derision, courage in facing the hostility of one's own herd.
  • Life should not be too closely regulated or too methodical
  • Science can, if it chooses, enable our grandchildren to live the good life, by giving them knowledge, self-control, and characters productive of harmony rather than strife. At present it is teaching our children to kille ach other, because many men of science are willing to sacrifice the future of mankind to their own momentary prosperity. But this phase will pass when men have acquired the same domination over their own passions that they already have over the physical forces of the external world. Then at last we shall have won our freedom.
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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Sight seeing

Humans have made a world in which they are comfortable - especially when it comes to how we sense it. When we have robots living alongside us then perhaps we should make the world more hospitable to them too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Look out

Some rigorous thought about the future in terms of energy and economic growth shows where the limits lie. Other people have been contemplating the future as well. I wonder what is actually going to happen? This collaborative book might be a sign of the direction we are headed.

Cover me

Searching for an unrelated topic and I came across the website of Chris Foss. I don't want to think about how many SF books I own that have his art on the cover. It gives me a real hankering for some good space opera.