25 September 2013

Why do they hate America?

I think the Democrats in Congress, and Obama, are missing an opportunity to really stick it to Boehner, McConnell, and especially Cruz and Paul and their ilk. Toying with the Full Faith and Credit of the US as a strategy of political blackmail is unquestionably directly harmful to the interests of the nation as a whole. Furthermore, it is a direct and unequivocal subversion of the way the Constitution provides that policy be made. Therefore, QED, it is grotesquely unpatriotic.
This needs to be said. Over and over and over again.

09 September 2013

Laws of nature and a postulate regarding artificial consciousness

​♦ W​
hen you have an idle moment, look at this short précis of Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos. I bought this little book for my kindle. I think I agree with this pretty much entirely. My working assumptions remain the following:
1.  Mind (subjectivity) is integral with nature. Nature cannot exist without mind, and vice versa. And no mere physical subsystem within nature can replicate mind. Hence, artificial consciousness is not a very, very difficult technological problem. Rather, it is impossible, and will always remain so. (I am open to, but have little fear of, being proven wrong on this point).

2.  FTL (travel faster than light) is a pipe dream. Never existed anywhere in this unbelievably vast universe and never will, for reasons explained previously. I am open to being proven wrong here too, and would love it if I were. (This is a separate issue, but I thought I'd throw it in).

If I ever do manage to write a science fiction story/novel(s), it will accept those two premises as laws of nature. For the second I have a workaround in mind; for the first, it actually makes writing about a grand scale of things easier. Because, if artificial mind is actually possible, we natural minds are doomed, and not too far in the future; which, if you think about it translates to the following:   Natural minds sometimes evolve in odd crannies of space and time, but don't last; because the universe of Mind is essentially entirely cybernetic. 

I happen to think that this last descriptor doesn't fit the available evidence, but that it actually does follow pretty much inexorably from the postulate Artificial Consciousness is feasible and its operational principles will likely be discovered by any sufficiently advanced biological-origin civilization.  Many scientific technologically oriented folks nowadays blithely assume something pretty close to this postulate is true, but I submit to you that it almost certainly is not, because if it were, at 13.8 billion years of age, our universe would already almost certainly look vastly different from how it does, in fact, look.*
. . . .
*If it's not clear why that's the case, I'd be delighted to explain my thought process.