Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 18th, 2015

Does it matter to Debate Machine Consciousness?

“I think therefore I am.”

“What about thinking? Here I make my discovery: thought exists; it alone cannot be separated from me.

I am; I exist – this is certain. But for how long?

For as long as I am thinking; for perhaps it could also come to pass that if I were to cease all thinking I would then utterly cease to exist.

At this time I admit nothing that is not necessarily true.

I am therefore precisely nothing but a thinking thing; that is a mind, or intellect, or understanding, or reason – words of whose meanings I was previously ignorant.

Yet I am a true thing and am truly existing; but what kind of thing? I have said it already: a thinking thing.” – René Descartes 

In 1637, when he published, The Discourse on Method, René Descartes unleashed a philosophical breakthrough, which later became a fundamental principle that much of modern philosophy now stands upon.

Nearly 400 years later, if a machine says these five powerful words, “I think therefore I am,” does the statement still hold true?

If so, who then is this “I” that is doing the thinking?

In a recent talk, Ray Kurzweil showed the complexity of measuring machine consciousness, “We can’t just ask an entity, ‘Are you conscious?’ because we can ask entities in video games today, and they’ll say, ‘Yes, I’m conscious and I’m angry at you.

But we don’t believe them because they don’t have the subtle cues that we associate with really having that subjective state. My prediction that computers will pass the Turing test and be indistinguishable from humans by 2029 is that they really will have those convincing cues.”

If artificial intelligence becomes indistinguishable from human intelligence, how then will we determine which entities are, or are not, conscious—specifically, when consciousness is not quantifiable?

Though the word consciousness has many commonly held definitions, this question can be answered quite differently when filtered through the many existing philosophical and religious frameworks.

With two particularly conflicting viewpoints being the common Eastern and Western notions of what exactly consciousness is—and how it comes to exist.

At the heart of many Eastern philosophies is the belief that consciousness is our fundamental reality; it is what brings the physical world into existence.

By contrast, the Western notion of consciousness holds that it arises only at a certain level of development.

Looking at these two opposing belief systems, we can see that to answer, “What and who is conscious?” can pull drastically different responses.

“Fundamentally, there’s no scientific experiment that doesn’t have philosophical assumptions about the nature of consciousness,” Kurzweil says.

We’d like to have an objective scientific understanding of consciousness, but such a view remains elusive.

“Some scientists say, ‘Well, it’s just an illusion. We shouldn’t waste time with it,” Kurzweil says. “But that’s not my view because, as I say, morality is based on consciousness.”

Why does all this matter?

Because as technological evolution begins intersecting our biological evolution as a species, the lines between “human” and “non-human” entities will begin blurring more so than humanity has ever encountered, and a new era of identity, and the surrounding ethics and philosophy, will take center stage.

What happens if a non-human conscious entity travels into another region of the world where its consciousness is not believed to be real?

Or more broadly, how will we treat intelligent machines ethically as their intelligence approaches our own?

If morality is based on consciousness, does a machine become an “I” if it has one?

(If Morality is a set of behaviors disseminated by the power-to-be and communities are coaxed to follow suit, then an artificial intelligent consciousness is political by nature)

Note: It is Not a matter of morality: It is this lapse of time  of uncertainty we need to determine whether our act is Good or Bad. Give a machine the illusion of needing some time to decide and you can be fooled. 

“If artificial intelligence becomes indistinguishable from human intelligence, how then will we determine which entities are, or are not, conscious?”

“I think therefore I am.”
In 1637, when he published, The Discourse on Method, René Descartes unleashed a philosophical breakthrough, which later became a…

Dismantled and fed to profit-hungry corporations? Case of Greece

Greece is heading towards its third “bailout” (Fourth bailout after parliament voted for it).

This third bailout of €86 billion is on the table, which will be packaged up by international lenders with a bundle of austerity and sent off to Greece, only to return to those same lenders in the very near future.

We all know the spiralling debt cannot and will not be repaid.

We all know the austerity to which it is tied will make Greece’s depression worse. Yet it continues. (Nothing will do unless liquidity for internal Greek market is made available)

Nick Dearden, Wednesday 12 August 2015

If we look deeper, however, we find that Europe is not led by the terminally confused. By taking those leaders at their word, we’re missing what’s really going on in Europe.

In a nutshell, Greece is up for sale, and its workers, farmers and small businesses will have to be cleared out of the way.

Under the eye-watering privatisation programme, Greece is expected to hand over its €50 billion of its “valuable state assets” to an independent body under the control of the European institutions, who will proceed to sell them off.  (In order to ward off China from buying everything of value?)

Airports, seaports, energy systems, land and property – everything must go. Sell your assets, their contrived argument goes, and you’ll be able to repay your debt.

But even in the narrow terms of the debate, selling off profitable or potentially profitable assets leaves a country less able to repay its debts.

Unsurprisingly the most profitable assets are going under the hammer first. The country’s national lottery has already been bought up. Airports serving Greece’s holiday islands look likely to be sold on long-term lease to a German airport operator.

The port of Pireus looks likely to be sold to a Chinese shipping company. Meanwhile, 490,000 square meters of Corfu beachfront have been snapped up by a US private equity fund. It has a 99-year lease for the bargain price of €23million.

According to reporters, the privatisation fund is examining another 40 uninhabited islands as well as a massive project on Rhodes which includes an obligatory golf course.

Side-by-side with the privatisation is a very broad programme of deregulation which declares war on workers, farmers and small businesses.

Greece’s many laws that protect small business such as pharmacies, bakeries, and bookshops from competition with supermarkets and big businesses are to be swept away.

These reforms are so specific that the EU is writing laws on bread measurements and milk expiry dates.

Incredibly, Greece is even being told to make its Sunday opening laws more liberal than Germany’s. Truly a free market experiment is being put into place.

On labour, pensions are to suffer rapid cuts, minimum wages are to be reduced and collective bargaining is to be severely curtailed while it is to become easier to sack staff.

All of this is far more extreme that many of Greece’s “creditor” countries have implemented themselves. Changes to tax includes a massive hike to that most regressive of taxes VAT, on a wide range of products.

Of course, reforms in some areas of Greece’s economy might be a good idea, and indeed Syriza came to power promising to make serious reforms in, for instance, taxation and pensions. But what is being imposed by the lending institutions is not a series of sensible “reforms”, but the establishment and micromanagement of radical ‘free market’ economics.

The privatisation and deregulation bonanza opens vast new swathes of Greek society to areas where big business has never been able to set foot before.

The hope is that this will generate big profits to keep big business growing, as well as providing an extreme model of what might be possible throughout Europe.

Although what’s even more distasteful than the hypocrisy of European leaders forcing policies onto Greece that they themselves have not dared to argue for in their own countries, is the cynicism of those same leaders imposing policies that will benefit their own country’s corporations.

The intensity of the restructuring programme currently being agreed for Greece should dispel any lingering notion that this is a well intentioned but misguided attempt to deal with a debt crisis.

It is a cynical attempt to set up a corporate paradise in the Mediterranean, and must be resisted at all costs.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“selling off profitable or potentially profitable assets leaves a country less able to repay its debts.”

Greece is heading towards its third “bailout”. This time €86 billion is on the table, which will be packaged up by international lenders with a bundle of austerity and…

Facts about infidelity? Are you in the mood for further surprises?

Love isn’t so much an emotion, says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, as it is a brain system, one of three that’s related to mating and reproduction. It’s those other two systems that explain why human beings are capable of infidelity even as we so highly value love.

Here Fisher explains more about cheating — why it occurs, how common it is and how a study shows it could potentially correlate to a gene

1. Pairbonding is a hallmark of humanity.

Data from the Demographic Yearbooks of the United Nations on 97 societies between 1947 and 1992 indicate that approximately 93.1% of women and 91.8% of men marry by age 49. More recent data indicates that some 85% of Americans will eventually marry.

Further reading:

2. However, monogamy is only part of the human reproductive strategy.

Infidelity is also widespread. Current studies of American couples indicate that 20 to 40% of heterosexual married men and 20 to 25% of heterosexual married women will also have an extramarital affair during their lifetime.

Further reading:

3. Brain architecture may contribute to infidelity.

Human beings have three primary brain systems related to love.

1) The sex drive evolved to motivate individuals to seek copulation with a range of partners; (Why do I lack this fantastic drive? I need a rebirth, quick)

2) romantic love evolved to motivate individuals to focus their mating energy on specific partners, thereby conserving courtship time and metabolic energy; (I like converters. Particularly catalysts)

3) partner attachment evolved to motivate mating individuals to remain together at least long enough to rear a single child through infancy together. ( On the basis that raising a first child is the most unhappy of events soon after giving birth)

These three basic neural systems interact with one another and other brain systems in myriad flexible, combinatorial patterns to provide the range of motivations, emotions and behaviors necessary to orchestrate our complex human reproductive strategy.

But this brain architecture makes it biologically possible to express deep feelings of attachment for one partner, while one feels intense romantic love for another individual, while one feels the sex drive for even more extra-dyadic partners. (A multifunctional system, working in absolute parallel modes)

Further reading:

4. Infidelity has been a reality across cultures. It was also common among the classical Greeks and Romans, pre-industrial Europeans, historical Japanese, Chinese and Hindus and among the traditional Inuit of the arctic, Kuikuru of the jungles of Brazil, Kofyar of Nigeria, Turu of Tanzania and many other tribal societies.

Further reading:

5. There are different types of infidelity. (Better, a taxonomy for infidelity?)

Researchers have broadened the definition of infidelity to include sexual infidelity (sexual exchange with no romantic involvement), romantic infidelity (romantic exchanges with no sexual involvement) and sexual and romantic involvement.

Further reading:

6. Myriad psychological, cultural and economic variables play a role in the frequency and expression of infidelity. But one thing is clear: infidelity is a worldwide phenomenon that occurs with remarkable regularity, despite near universal disapproval of this behavior.

  • Infidelity: who, when, why,” by Irene Tsapelas, Helen Fisher and Arthur Aron in The Dark Side of Close Relationships II
  • 7. Mate poaching is a pronounced trend. In a recent survey of single American men and women, 60% of men and 53% of women admitted to “mate poaching,” trying to woo an individual away from a committed relationship to begin a relationship with them instead.
  • Mate poaching is also common in 30 other cultures.Further reading:

    8. Infidelity doesn’t necessarily signal an unhappy relationship. Regardless of the correlation between relationship dissatisfaction and adultery, among individuals engaging in infidelity in one study, 56% of men and 34% of women rated their marriage as “happy” or “very happy,” suggesting that genetics may also play a role in philandering.

    Further reading:

    • Sex differences in type of extramarital involvement and marital dissatisfaction,” by Shirley Glass and Thomas Wright in Sex Roles
    • Infidelity: who, when, why,” by Irene Tsapelas, Helen Fisher and Arthur Aron in The Dark Side of Close Relationships II
    • 9. Studies show the possibility of a gene that correlates to infidelity. In 2008, Walum and colleagues investigated whether the various genes affect pair-bonding behavior in humans; 552 couples were examined; all had been married or co-habiting for at least five years.
    • Men carrying the 334 vasopressin allele in a specific region of the vasopressin system scored significantly lower on the Partner Bonding Scale, indicating less feelings of attachment to their spouse. Moreover, their scores were dose dependent: those carrying two of these genes showed the lowest scores, followed by those carrying only one allele. Men carrying the 334 gene also experienced more marital crisis (including threat of divorce) during the past year, and men with two copies of this gene were approximately twice as likely to have had a marital crisis than those who had inherited either one or no copies of this allele.
    • Last, the partners of men with one or two copies of this gene scored significantly lower on questionnaires measuring marital satisfaction. This study did not measure infidelity directly, but it did measure several factors likely to contribute to infidelity.Further reading:

      10. Several scientists have offered theories for the evolution of human adultery. I have proposed that during prehistory, philandering males disproportionately reproduced, selecting for the biological underpinnings of the roving eye in contemporary men. Unfaithful females reaped economic resources from their extra-dyadic partnerships, as well as additional males to help with parenting duties if their primary partner died or deserted them.

    • Moreover, if an ancestral woman bore a child with this extra-marital partner, she also increased genetic variety in her descendants.
    • Infidelity had unconscious biological payoffs for both males and females throughout prehistory, thus perpetuating the biological underpinnings and taste for infidelity in both sexes today.
    • (So, here is why Homo sapiens species prevailed over all the other Neo-Cortex species)
    • Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist who studies the brain in love. She is the Chief Scientific Advisor for dating site and the author of five books on love, sex and relationships, including Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love.
  • Patsy Z shared TED link

    “Infidelity doesn’t necessarily signal an unhappy relationship,” and more surprising facts from Helen Fisher:

    Anthropologist Helen Fisher studies what happens in the brain when we’re in love.
    Here she gives 10 facts about why we cheat.




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