From an atheist, that is.

Let me clear something, from the beginning.
I’m perfectly happy with the current scientific explanation of how we arrived here. OK, there still are a few gaps that need to be bridged but, on the whole, the story  seems pretty straightforward.

But, on the other hand, me – and a huge number of other, scientifically minded, people – having no need for God as an explanation doesn’t preclude God from existing nor from having caused the ‘Big Bang’ and/or intervening since. In various manners still unknown to us.

And something else.
The God we ‘know’ is a god of our own making.
All sacred texts that guide our religious life have been written by humans, all sermons are officiated by us and, also, all religiously motivated crimes, and religiously fueled heroic acts, have been ‘committed’ by some of us.
My point being that the ‘image’ that we have crafted about what some of us consider to be ‘the ultimate cause’ for everything might be far away from the one “It” has about Itself… if it exists at all, of course.

What Dawkins has to do with any of this?
Well, some 10 or so years ago he came to Bucharest and tried to convince a few of us – about 100 students and some 20 ‘academics’ in two separate conferences, I attended both, that his work is proof enough that God cannot even exist. Period.
Really?
Then what’s the difference between Dawkins and the guys who had set Giordano Bruno on fire? OK, OK, different manners of expression but the very same level of intransigence…

Anyway, I feel a lot better now that I’ve finally figured out the difference between ‘there is no need for a particular something’ and ‘that particular something cannot even exist’.

A good friend of mine – the guy I’m talking with when I get bored and start thinking – challenged me to explain to him what an AI machine is.

The challenge ended up badly. It ended with a question instead of an answer.

Is it open?

Let me start from the beginning.

Basically an A.I. machine is a computer, just as a computer is no more than a ‘sliding rule’.

All three are made made by men, operated by men and ‘targeted’ by men. At least this is what we like to believe.
Replace ‘men’ with ‘humans’ if you are gender conscious, even if this will not solve the main problem. Are we sure that A.I. machines will accept human control, after we will have complicated them enough for them to develop a certain kind of awareness?

Otherwise said, all three – A.I. machine, computer and sliding rule, are tools.
Somebody wished to do something, couldn’t do it with their bare hands/naked brain, designed an ‘implement’, made it, used it to pursue the intended goal and set it aside.
Somebody else picked it up, reconsidered it, fine tuned it to fit their goal, used it and set it aside. And so on.
At some point other people learned to use tools designed by ‘third parties’, without really understanding how the tools actually worked or were made/designed. For instance, I don’t know much about how computers work. That doesn’t prevent me from being able to write this post on a laptop.

Those three are very specific tools. Designed and used to process information.

The sliding rule is the most straight-forward to use. The operator has to formulate the problem he needs to solve, gather and organize the relevant data, express them in an exclusively numerical form – a.k.a. ‘digital’, break down the problem into simple mathematical operations, use the sliding rule to perform those and then ‘assemble’ the results of the calculations into the answer for the original problem. In order to do all these, the operator only needs to understand the nature of his problem, not the ‘mechanics’ of the sliding rule. In this regard, all that they have to do is ‘follow the rules’.

A computer can be used to perform more complicated tasks, specially if it is connected to the internet, thus simplifying the life of the operator. Once the problem has been formulated – by the operator, the same guy can use the same (internet connected) computer to collect the data, digitize and transform them to fit the requirements of the specific computer application that will be subsequently used and, finally, solve the problem. One, last – but, unfortunately, sometimes forgotten, operation would be for the operator to check whether the solution really fits the problem.
In this situation the operator also doesn’t need to understand the mechanics of the computer but still has to have a clear understanding of the problem at hand.
More so, even if the operator itself is not fully aware of what is going on ‘inside’ the computer, those with intimate knowledge of these matters can identify, predict, and reproduce using a sliding rule’, each minute step the computer will be doing along the route.

An A.I. machine is system composed of a computer, a data base and something rather different from an ordinary computer application.
OK, some might argue that the most important is the software but please bear with me.
And yes, the computer can be a virtual machine while the data base can be hidden somewhere in the cloud, none of this changes anything.
The huge difference between a simple computer and the A.I. machine being that a computer is actually operated by an agent’ while the ‘machine’ is indeed put together by somebody, ‘pointed’ towards the intended problem but then it is left alone to its own devices. Meaning that the ‘supervisor’ has a limited understanding about what is going inside the whole thing.
And no, I’m not joking. Nobody, not even the guys who had written the code, knows the exact path along which the machine arrives at the end of its ‘thought process’. Actually, when they want to gain some insight into what’s going on, those people take a series of ‘snapshots’ during the process and then struggle to figure out how the machine went from A to B, from B to C… and so on.

So far so good. The A.I. machines have conquered some until now seemingly unassailable pinnacles.
Find your own examples.

I’ll resume myself to reformulating the question I arrived at the end the challenge I mentioned earlier.
For now the computer that constitutes the ‘working horse’ of any A.I. has limited computing power, regardless of those limits being physical (a number of processors) or just ‘assigned’ (as it happens with a virtual machine). Similarly, the data base it works on is also limited. What is no longer limited is the ‘set of  rules’ that lie at the bottom of all this. The ‘program’ is already able to change itself, a.k.a. to learn. To adapt itself to the problem. To devise its own ways. To map its own path towards the goal it has been assigned to solve.

What will happen when the ‘program’ will learn to grow the processing power that it can use? To access additional data?

When it will consider its job to solve other problems?

 

Liderul unei coalitii politice, venita la putere in urma unor alegeri generale, nu poate deveni prim-ministru din cauza unei ‘tehnicalitati’ – a fost condamnat penal. Pentru niste chestii legate de desfasurarea unui proces electoral.
Asa ca ‘scoate din palarie’ un relativ necunoscut.
Colegii sai de coalitie il confirma pe ‘necunoscut’ in functia de prim-ministru si il numesc pe condamnatul penal in pozitia de presedinte al Camerei Deputatilor.

‘Necunoscutul’ da o ordonanta de urgenta care ar fi atenuat cateva dintre problemele pe care inca le mai are in justitie seful sau de partid. Ordonanta starneste mania populara – exprimata prin vehemente demonstratii de strada, si este, intr-un sfarsit, retrasa prin intermediul unei alte ordonante de urgenta.

‘Reforma’ in justitie este reluata, printr-o initiativa parlamentara. In paralel cu tentativa de punere in practica a programului de guvernare.

Dupa aproximativ 6 luni, principalul partid al coalitiei – cel din randurile caruia fac parte atat liderul coalitiei cat si premierul, face o evaluare a activitatii guvernului.
Ajunge la concluzia ca acesta “n-a mers rau. Doar binisor.” Asa ca i-au retras sprijinul politic. Aproape toti ministrii au demisionat, in afara de premier si inca unul sau doi.
Coalitia nu a mai avut ce face si a trebuit sa depuna motiune de cenzura. Impotriva primului ministru numit chiar de ei. Care a incercat din rasputeri sa-si apere pozitia, inclusiv aratand ca are in vedere interesele superioare ale propriului partid cat si comportamentul pretins duplicitar al liderului coalitiei.
Membrii coalitiei au votat disciplinat in timp ce opozitia s-a abtinut sistematic.
Coalitia a obtinut cu 8 voturi mai multe ar fi avut neaparata nevoie si guvernul – sau mai bine spus, primul ministru, a fost destituit.

Concluzie.
Este clar ca liderul coalitiei a reusit sa isi mentina controlul asupra membrilor de rand ai coalitiei.

Intrebari.
Daca la prima incercare coalitia a reusit sa numeasca doar un guvern care sa mearga ‘binisor’ dar insuficient de bine, de unde vor gasi o alta garnitura care sa performeze ‘suficient de satisfacator’?
Daca vor reusi, se vor intreba de ce au pierdut primele 6 luni?
Daca nu vor reusi, vor mai incerca si o a treia varianta?

Update.
Dupa trecerea motiunii de cenzura, douazeci dintre ministrii demisionari si-au retras demisiile…

“În cererea de retragere a demisiei, foştii miniştri ai Guvernului Grindeanu au precizat că recurgerea la acest act a fost o formă de protest faţă de şeful lor direct.”

epicycle-move

“Now, in this tortured model one sees that it is possible to have retrograde motion and varying brightness, since at times as viewed from the earth the planet can appear to move “backward” on the celestial sphere. Obviously, the distance of the planet from the Earth also varies with time, which leads to variations in brightness. Thus, the idea of uniform circular motion is saved (at least in some sense) by this scheme, and it allows a description of retrograde motion and varying planetary brightness.”

Rationality is a beautiful method of relating to the outside world.
It is one of the tools we used to get where we are now.

And, like all other tools, it has its limits.

The most ‘stricturing’ one being the fact that rationality is used by us, individual people.

We are deluding ourselves with the notion that we are rational, reasonable even, human beings. That given the same set of facts each of us is potentially able to find the same ‘truth of the matter’ and only those who are ill indented will reach a different conclusion.

Ptolemy’s epicycles are just a set of the innumerable proofs that we are nothing but skillful rationalizers, far away from the reasonable individuals we believe ourselves to be.

Sallustius to the rescue:

sallustius myths

The ‘things that never happened, but always are’ are the founding myths that keeps it all together for us. From the axioms on which we have built our mathematics to the religious beliefs we have forged while grooming ourselves into humans.

What happens is that not all of us have been groomed along the same myths, and even when that happened not all of us interpret a given myth in exactly the same way.

That’s why Ptolemy had invented the epicycles in his attempt to corral the planets around the Earth while Copernicus was able to propose a much simpler explanation.

Hence the notion of ‘rationalization’.
The most we can do is to honestly put together whatever facts we have at our disposal in our attempt to justify the conclusion we have already reached.
And then to respectfully accept respectfully offered reactions from those around us.

If you think of it, this is how ‘science’ works. Somebody has a hunch, gathers a lot of data, tries to fit them into the hypothesis he had started from and then submits a paper for his peers to review.
If the paper passes that scrutiny it is published – and submitted to even more criticism.
Eventually somebody else has another hunch, which includes, or even completely contradicts, the previous one…

They key words in all this being ‘honestly’ and ‘respectfully’.
Whenever we knowingly alter the facts (fake news, alternative facts,  autism causing vaccines, etc., etc…) to fit our narrative we end up in a huge mess.
Whenever we fail to respectfully examine the work of those around us and reject it before-hand we simply take a different route to the same huge mess.

WWI was the consequence of a stupid game of brinkmanship while the second one had started with a series of blatant lies. During both we had copiously murdered ourselves.

“There is a concept within Western democracies known as “loyal opposition.” It is based on the assumption that, while you may disagree with your opponent when it comes to goals, or even the means necessary to achieve those goals, you do not question your opponent’s basic patriotism or love of country.

My question for both of you: Are you willing to concede that your opponent is a patriotic American whose election does not pose an existential threat to our country?”

 

“Over at Emory University, political scientist Alan Abramowitz has established that Americans now line up politically according to what they hate, not what they like.

We are 50 years past Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned state bans on interracial marriage. But only three years ago, a Pew Research study found that 30 percent of hard-core conservatives would be “unhappy” if an immediate family member married a Democrat. And nearly a quarter of hard-core liberals felt the same about a family member who wedded a Republican.

We have talked and Twittered and Facebooked our way into this hole. And we will have to talk and Twitter and Facebook our way out of it.”

When your own rhetoric gives you license to commit mayhem. And worse
John Galloway, AJC.com

Democratia este o ‘boala’ care se raspandeste pe trei cai.

Generatie spontanee: Atena, spatiul cultural iudaic, Asia Centrala – vezi Kurultai si Loya Jirga, Scandinavia.
Aculturatie: cel mai impresionant exemplu este India, locul in care democratia a fost adoptata, de buna voie, cu un real entuziasm.
Experiment: toate locurile unde acest sistem politic a fost instaurat ca urmare a unor revolutii sau a incercarilor liderilor autoritari inca la putere de a-si salva tronurile. De la Revolutia Franceza pana la incercarile avortate ale dinastiei Qing  de a moderniza China si, bineinteles, neuitand futilitatea eforturilor lui Nicolae al doilea de a introduce parlamentarismul in Rusia.

Democratia romaneasca face parte din a treia categorie.

Regulamentele Organice au fost introduse ‘din-afara’ iar hotaririle adoptate de catre adunarile organizate ‘sub egida’ lor trebuiau ‘validate’ de Domnul aflat la putere in momentul respectiv.
Divanurile ad-hoc au fost organizate de militantii pro-unionisti si au putut avea loc tocmai datorita schimbarilor majore de pe scena politica europeana.
Bicameralismul a fost introdus de Cuza, odata cu infiintarea ‘adunarii ponderatrice‘ (Senatul) – gandita a fi o contrapondere a Adunarii elective.

Dar cea mai interesanta particularitate a sistemului electoral romanesc a fost cea introdusa de Carol I: “ „guvernul făcea parlamentul”. Sistemul era următorul: regele destituia guvernul şi numea un altul, apoi dizolva parlamentul şi anunţa organizarea alegerilor pentru Adunarea Deputaţilor şi pentru Senat. Guvernul proceda la destituirea vechilor autorităţi locale (primari, prefecţi) şi numirea unor oameni de încredere aparţinând partidului instalat la putere; noile autorităţi acţionau pentru asigurarea victoriei electorale a guvernului. Prin acest sistem, parlamentarii îşi datorau în cea mai mare parte mandatul acţiunii guvernamentale. Vechea butadă a lui P.P. Carp: „Majestate, daţi-mi guvernul şi vă dau parlamentul”, a fost în bună măsură o realitate şi după 1918.

Din punct de vedere teoretic se poate argumenta ca acest mod de a face lucrurile era doar o continuare a adunarilor boieresti care confirmau urcarea pe tron a unui pretendent ‘de os domnesc‘. Din punct de vedere practic, metoda a conferit o anumita functionalitate sistemului numai ca a constituit si un precedent pentru ce avea sa se intample dupa caderea comunismului.

Un alt moment interesant din evolutia parlamentarismului romanesc a fost proclamarea de catre Carol al II-a a Constitutiei din 27 Februarie 1938:  “puterea legislativă se exercita de Rege prin Reprezentanţa naţională constituită din Adunarea deputaţilor şi Senat. Iniţiativa legilor aparţinea Regelui iar interpretarea lor se făcea numai de către puterea legiuitoare. Cu toate acestea, prin excepţie, şi adunările aveau drept de iniţiativă legislativă, propunând legi în interesul obştesc al statului, fără a se preciza şi înţelesul concret al sintagmei de „interes obştesc”. Tot regele avea în competenţă sancţionarea şi promulgarea legilor cu precizarea că în lumina art. 31 din Constituţie putea refuza sancţiunea.

Sa ne mai miram de rezultatele obtinute?
De usurinta cu care adeptii legiunii au reusit sa ‘suceasca’ chiar si mintile luminate ale unor Mircea Eliade, Petre Tutea si Bartolomeu Anania?
De relativul ‘entuziasm’ cu care o parte destul de mare din populatia romaneasca a intampinat comunismul exportat de sovietici?

Si uite-asa ne-am trezit in 1991 cu o constitutie care prevedea ca rolul presedintelui sa fie acela de mediator “între puterile statului, precum și între stat și societate” Cu alte cuvinte prima constitutie postcomunista a Romaniei scotea statul in afara societatii si il vedea pe presedintele tarii ca tronand undeva deasupra amandorura… Inca nu s-a schimbat nimic in domeniul asta…
Aceiasi constitutie prevedea, si acest aspect este inca valabil, capacitatea guvernului de a legifera in mod direct. Prin ordonante de urgenta, prin asumarea raspunderii…

Sa admitem ca primul rege, Carol I, a avut nevoie de acea pervertire a democratiei pentru ca organismul politic romanesc nu avusese timp sa ajunga la maturitate.

OK, au trecut 150 de ani de atunci… Ne vine si noua mintea la cap?

Eminescu ne-a explicat foarte clar cum e cu ‘patura suprapusa’.
‘Daca cei ca caror menire este sa asigure buna functionare a societatii nu isi fac datoria, intreaga societate va avea de suferit. Inclusiv cei responsabili de aceasta situatie’.
Carol al II-lea ne-a demonstrat ca intotdeauna atunci cand responsabilii politici ‘dorm in cizme’ se gaseste cate un oportunist care sa ‘dea cu mucii-n fasole’.

Repet intrebarea. Cu diacritice.

Ne vine și nouă, odată, mintea la cap?

Actualele contorsiuni din viata politica romaneasca par a fi desprinse dintr-o culegere de proverbe.

La loc de cinste fiind, bineinteles, cel din titlu!

Numai ca proverbul asta, cel putin pentru mine, este mai degraba o invitatie la meditatie decat un indemn.

‘Cat de important trebuie sa fie pentru tine sa treci puntea aia daca accepti perspectiva de a ramane, odata ajuns dincolo, brat la brat cu Uciga-l Toaca? Ca doar nu-ti inchipui ca dupa ce te va fi trecut puntea iti va spune “pa si-un praz verde”…’

Tocmai ce am gasit chestia asta in mail:

“Morala ZEN

Un cal deprimat se tolaneste pe jos si nu mai vrea pentru nimic in
lume sa se ridice.
Stapanul disperat, nereusind sa-l convinga sa se ridice, cheama
veterinarul. Acesta sosi imediat, examineaza animalul si zice:
– Aaaa, e foarte grav, singura solutie sunt aceste pastile pe care i
le vei da cateva zile; daca nu reactioneaza, trebuie eutanasiat.
Porcul a auzit totul si fuge la cal:
– Ridica-te, altfel se sfarseste rau !!!
Dar calul nu reactioneaza si da incapatanat din cap.
A doua zi, veterinarul vine din nou sa vada efectul pilulelor:
– Nu reactioneaza, mai asteptam o zi, dar cred ca nu sunt sperante!
Porcul, auzind tot, fuge din nou la cal:
– Trebuie sa te scoli, altfel vei pati mari necazuri !
Dar calul, nimic!
A treia zi, constatand lipsa progreselor, veterinarul ii cere stapanului:
– Du-te dupa carabina, a venit timpul sa-l scapam pe bietul animal de chinuri !
Porcul fuge disperat la cal:
– Trebuie sa reactionezi, e ultima ocazie, te rog, astia sunt gata sa
te omoare !!!
Calul se ridica, se scutura, face cateva miscari de dans, o ia la fuga
in galop si sare cateva obstacole.
Stapanul, care tinea mult la calul sau,foarte fericit ii spune veterinarului:
– Multumesc mult, esti un medic minunat, ai facut un miracol !!!
Trebuie neaparat sa sarbatorim evenimentul ! Haide sa taiem porcul si
sa facem o masa mare !!!

 

Morala Zen: Vezi-ti de treburile tale !!!”

Mi s-a parut a fi o poveste foarte interesanta.
Sugereaza, in subliminal, ca porcul ala era crescut ‘de frumusete’!
In realitate, porcii se taie la o anumita greutate. Sau cand se imbolnavesc.
Nu cred ca cineva ar taia un porc de dimensiuni nepotrivite pentru a sarbatori insanatosirea unui cal bolnav… poate a unui copil…
Iar daca tot ajunsese la dimensiunea potrivita pentru taiere… ‘intamplarea’ ca mai intai l-a salvat pe cal nu face altceva decat sa-l inobileze pe porc… si in nici un caz nu i-a scurtat viata cu mai mult de cateva zile!

salarii preoti

E o chestie foarte interesanta aici.
Asistenta medicala este platita prin intermediul unor taxe speciale, care se bazeaza pe principiul solidaritatii sociale. Daca nu platesti taxele alea, adult in putere fiind, beneficiezi doar de asistenta de urgenta. Teoretic, daca esti ‘liber profesionist’, poti chiar alege sa nu platesti aceste taxe, asumandu-ti riscurile.
Invatamantul obligatoriu si gratuit, cel care transforma populatiile aflate ‘sub vremi’ in natiuni capabile sa-si croiasca singure viitorul, este finantat de la bugetul de stat. Dupa cum este si firesc. Intreaga comunitate isi pregateste, impreuna, viitorul.
Asistenta ‘spirituala’ este, si ea, platita direct de la buget.
Cu alte cuvinte nu poti alege sa nu dai, sub o forma sau alta, niste bani catre ‘culte’. Indiferent de convingerile tale religioase. Sau de lipsa ta de convingeri in sensul asta.
In situatia asta, nu stiu sa existe multe asezari omenesti, din Romania, fara macar o biserica si multe biserici fara preoti.
Exista, in schimb, foarte multe comune fara medici si foarte multe scoli cu prea putini profesori calificati.
Sa inteleg ca ne pregatim, cu preponderenta si indiferent de convingerile fiecaruia dintre noi, pentru lumea de apoi?
Capitalismul nu are nici o legatura cu goana dupa profit…
Capitalismul este un sistem economic care se bazeaza pe incredere si respect reciproc intre partile contractuale iar goana dupa profit este o aberatie aparuta atunci cand prea multi dintre cei aflati in piata isi pierd busola.
In capitalismul autentic profitul este unul dintre indicatorii ca o ‘intreprindere’ se afla pe drumul cel bun.
In cazul ‘goanei dupa profit’, acesta devine unicul tel urmarit de ‘alergatori’.
Diferenta dintre cele doua situatii este data de atitudinea dominanta in piata, la un moment dat.
Sa nu cumva sa le confundam intre ele. Asemanarea este doar iluzorie.
In cazul unui organism biologic, placerea resimtita de acesta este un semnal ca lucrurile sunt pe calea cea buna.
Hrana este cea potrivita, temperatura ambianta este buna, tocmai si-a potolit setea… Orgasmul, placerea suprema, este ‘rasplata’ pentru perpetuarea speciei…
Pe de alta parte, indivizii care ‘vaneaza’ placerea cu orice pret incep sa experimenteze consecinte neplacute. Obezitate, cheltuieli exagerate la bordel, par in palma, consum de droguri…

“the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, non-governmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage…Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.”

Rings a bell?

Sounds too neoliberal for you?

I’m afraid we are dealing with a huge communication problem here.

For some ‘competition’ has become a dirty word while some others interpret it according to their, narrow, ideology. To fit through their horse blinkers.

To make my point I’m going to use Valentine Wiggin’s Hierarchy of Foreignness. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Orson Scott Card’s work, Valentine is one of the main characters in Ender’s Game.

– An utlänning was defined as a stranger recognized as human from the same planet as a subject, but of a different nation or city. Utlänning means “foreigner” in Swedish.
– A främling was defined as a stranger recognized as human, but from a different planet than a subject. Främling means “stranger” in Swedish.
Raman were defined as strangers recognized as “human”, but of another sentient species entirely. The term was only ever used to refer to the entire species as a whole rather than an individual member. Although not a common word, it may be constructed in Swedish from rå + män, where rå indicates “coarse,” “raw” or “crude” (not refined), and män means “man” or “person.”

Varelse were defined as true aliens; they were sentient beings, but so foreign that no meaningful communication would be possible with the subject. Varelse means “creature” in Swedish.
Djur were non-sentient beings. They were capable of independent thought and action, but their mode of communication could not relay any meaningful information to the subject because the djur itself lacked the capacity for rational thought and self-awareness. Djur means “animal” in Swedish.

It’s simple to understand that this hierarchy is based on the ‘subject’s’ ability to communicate with the ‘foreigner’. But not exclusively! The whole thing also depends on both parties willing to accept the other as a ‘partner’.

In fact the entire Ender’s Game series is about Humankind wagging an all out war with an alien civilization, only to discover that the conflict was produced by a colossal misunderstanding.  Neither of the belligerents had recognized the other as ‘raman’ and, as a consequence, both had treated the other as ‘varelse’. And, eventually, the humans prevailed. The book was written by one of us…
Read the whole series, you’ll have a surprise at the end!

Coming back to ‘competition’, let me remind you that it is nothing else but the most comprehensive form of cooperation.

Not only that the participants do something in common – they all obey the same set of rules and cooperate in throwing out the cheaters – but they also help each-other to become better at whatever they are competing about.

Savvy?

What would any competition turn into if too many participants would no longer obey the rules?

Act as djurs? Obsessed by their own wishes and behaving disdainfully towards all others?

 

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