Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Butterfly Effect

Considering this character’s ability to go back in time and change past events, one may be posed with the question “if you could go back to change something, would you?” This question seemed to result with equal responses for and against going back. The main argument for not wanting to go back was for the life lessons that were learned during the experiences. Some argued that they learned important lessons from these events that were worth the consequences, encouraging them to leave things as they are.

The film suggests however, that this is not necessary. In the film the character remembers his past including the knowledge he had in his adulthood prior to going back. When he goes back in time it is the retention of the memories from his adult life that aid him in redoing events. Considering this, going back in time could then be thought of as a learning experience. Each time the character goes back in time he acquires new knowledge and memories. Therefore, he knows the outcome of the events as they are and could then go back in time and learn of new outcomes. Repeating an event ten times for instance could provide the person with ten times the knowledge.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Names, Identity, and Existence

In the discussion on Tuesday, I was reminded of a note I read somewhere a while ago. I believe that a question came up that related identity to a persons or things name - I think that this question can be reversed in an interesting way. That is, if something can not be named, does it exist? There are of course things that are not yet named, because we do not know about them - but once we do, they CAN be named. Is there anything that can exist but cannot be named? Theoretically, there might be things that are never discovered by science - but then can't they be named "those things not discovered"?

Penn from Penn and Teller becomes Nietzche


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

check out a clip from flatland to illustrate how we do not know the paths that exist for us

Going Back to A.I. and Empathy

When we were discussing Artificial Intelligence and what it means to be human, we discussed empathy and sympathy, feelings and emotions.  These things are believed to be part of the human condition and if artificial intelligence cannot express feelings or emotions, they do not "qualify" as human.

How do you program an emotion into a computer?

Mirror neurons may provide an answer to that.  From Wikipedia: "A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.[1][2] Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting."

Some scientists believe that mirror neurons are what cause us to feel sympathy and empathy for others.  If we could program a similar set up for artificial intelligence, would that qualify the program as a human?

Interesting link on moral ontology


I don't agree with him on all fronts, but it's an interesting read nonetheless.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brief thoughts on Zarathustra's first speech

If I understand correctly, something Existentialists were insistent on was people living passionately-- really caring about what they say they care about, acting on the virtue/justice they say they have, etc.

I'm thinking that, near the beginning of his prologue, Zarathustra is admonishing the people to live their lives, instead of lukewarmly diddling through life:

What is the greatest experience you can have? ...The hour when you say 'What matters my happiness? ...What matters my reason? Does it crave knowledge as the lion his food? ...What matters my virtue? As yet it has not made me rage. ...What matters my justice? I do not see that I am flames and fuel. ...What matters my pity? Is not pity the cross on which he is nailed who loves man? But my pity is no crucifixion.' Have you yet spoken thus? Have you yet cried thus? Oh, that I might have heard you cry thus!

I'm guessing that the Uebermensch, or Overman, is (in part) the sort of person who really lives their life:

Where is the frenzy with which you should be inoculated?  Behold, I teach you the overman: he is this lightning, he is this frenzy.