I’ve never seen the show Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, but I recently received an invitation to be interviewed for an episode or two.
What should I say?
On the one hand, it would probably be fun. I do like to talk, especially about science and philosophy.
But on the other hand, a quick look on the internet reveals that the show seems to be mostly about promoting pseudoscientific conspiracy theories. Which is something I probably shouldn’t associate myself with.
I guessing that the general principle of don’t support the deniers by engaging with them will apply here.
The robots may be becoming human, but they don’t seem to like it. It seems that a roomba has committed suicide.
It sounds like they won’t be giving it a funeral, though.
. . . or, at least, we’re treating them as if they are.
Funerals for fallen robots.
I know of at least one researcher on artificial intelligence who’s going to think this is a bad idea.
QFT. Is that what the kids today say?
In Group A, we have people who are not in federal prison today:
NSA employees who abused national security apparatus to wiretap their wives and girlfriends in violation of federal criminal law are not in federal prison today.
[and on, and on. Go read it.]
Came upon the following story of a 68-year-old man who had his vision repaired after being nearly blind his whole life. Fortunately (?) he fell down some stairs and required major reconstructive surgery, during which they fixed his eyes as well.
(Story’s from here, where there’s a clearer version of the video too — I’m guessing YouTube is out of focus to get you in the mood for the story).
Being a philosopher, of course, I thought immediately of Molyneaux’s Problem, posed back in the 17th century:
whether a man who has been born blind and who has learnt to distinguish and name a globe and a cube by touch, would be able to distinguish and name these objects simply by sight, once he had been enabled to see.
From M. Thomas’s account, it seems that Molyneux’s question should be answered in the negative. Once a blind person gains his or her sight, it seems that it still takes further learning/training to be able to associate the visual information with the tactile information.
Given my rationalist leanings (not in being committed to innate ideas, but in being inclined to think that reason plays a bigger role in knowledge than does experience), I’m mildly surprised by this. But it seems to be fairly well established empirically.
Here’s another case from a couple years ago that supports the claim that previously blind children couldn’t visually identify objects that they knew by touch.
I have mixed feelings about Andrew Sullivan.
He’s one of the brighter writers out there who calls himself a conservative. But that may be damning with faint praise.
He’s clearly created a profitable niche for himself in the very narrow borderlands between the left and right wings of U.S. politics. He considers himself a conservative Catholic, and likes to take occasional shots at liberalism. But he’s also a gay proponent of gay rights, and holds a lot of the right-wing Republican craziness in disdain.
I do appreciate some of his writing and insights. But he’s often painfully wrong. He’s been known to come belatedly around to correct position on important matters (e.g., the Iraq war), but those of us who saw the rightness of the position all along are often unimpressed that it takes him months or years to see the light.
Anyhow, the latest bit of Sullivan being mostly wrong has to do with Snowden and Greenwald. (I’ve mentioned before that when Sullivan and Greenwald disagree, my money’s going to be on the latter.)
And this time I got to correct him in public: Continue reading
A nice visual representation (the accuracy of which I can’t personally vouch for):
The image says it was made by G. William Domhoff of US Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is where I grew up, but the only university I know of there used to be called UCSC, for the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Maybe they’ve changed their name to the “University of Socialism” or something . . .