David Ross (dyvyd) wrote,
David Ross

Turing Our Cookie-Cutter Brains

So all science really begins in psychology too.  Nothing exists but that we think it does, Shakespeare might have said.  I do know he had Hamlet say that all is "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought" though.  While Darwinians may bring more scientific veracity to the table than the Creationists, for instance, who's ultimately to say that is so?  Who can ultimately say that an alledgedly known fact of science is in any sense more "true" than the hallucinations of a witch doctor if you want to push the issue?  If nothing can be known except through the possibly flawed black-box of our perceptions, then all we can say of any of our ideas, beliefs, sciences, is that they are humanly conceived.

Humanly conceived.  That's a pretty big disclaimer to have to put on a package!  I'm not sure if I were God or a sentient alien I'd be very impressed with a product so conceived.  And proud of itselt too, when humility would be far more appropriate.

W must be admired for his method of attempting to tease out, to show the gaps, the blind spots in our thinking.  This is a fun thing to do, but I am not sure that it actually works to our advantage.  It can't fill in, for instance, the perceived lacks with anything palpable. 

Aside: Advantage! Like the word Progress, it must have first been used by a salesman.

Still, I admire the human struggle for objectivity-- this perhaps is the holy grail.  Do we get closer to it when we void our emotional baggage?  Closer yet when we apply the scientific method, or go the mystical route that voids the self?

Alan Turing, who I understand was a student of W, turned practical instead of fatalistic in the dark shadow cast by W's philosophy.  He conceived of a machine that could calculate any mathematical proposition, any algorithm, by following a set of instructions.  The silver lining to W is that a true understanding of rules is not necessary to achieve an operationally-defined implementation.  It is merely the deep thinkers that become hamstrung, like Hamlet.  The rest of us just go with our best take on what we think we know.  

This is in fact the American capitalist credo:  Just tell me what I need to know to make a buck.  And like anything else, this idea will work until something new is needed. 

I am very impressed with the importance of the circle, the line, and their real counterparts: the sphere, the beam of light.  We can look at the sun and think: sphere. We can draw a circle as a symbol for a sphere.  Then we can apply the idea of circle to everything imaginable.  Let's pretend the universe is an endless batch of cookie dough.  Now we have this idea of a circle and we need to describe reality.  So we make it a tool, a cookie cutter, and we line it up and cut the whole universe into little circles of dough. Sure some of it is left over on the cutting board.  But that can be safely discarded or baked by heretical thinkers.  For the rest of us we are happy with our round cookies.  How we humans love our round cookies!
Tags: artificial intelligence, philosophy, psychology

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