Monday, 28 March 2016

In the far future

I wonder what it will be like in the year 802,701? Or in the 111,394th Century approximately 11 million years from now? Will human beings be long gone? Will there still be complex life on Earth? Or will the Earth be wholly devoid of life due to some catastrophic event? Such an event will surely be very unlikely. Perhaps gigantic creatures like dinosaurs will exist then. I'll probably never know.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Amazon Reviews of Books

I don't like it when authors implore you to review their book on Amazon. Those who didn't really like the book will ignore it, but those who did like it might consequently leave a review. The result is that the overall rating will be skewed upwards. I've even had emails from authors asking me to leave a review!

Amazon reviews are more or less hopeless anyway. The majority of the time people simply leave 5 stars. I have no idea why. Haven't left many reviews on Amazon, but out of 184 novels I've read since 1st Jan 2011, the average score I've given them is 54/100, which equates to 3 stars (3 stars is a score from 41-60 inclusive).

Consiousness IS what I think it is.

I'd just like to say something about the claim that people make that consciousness isn't what we think it is. They claim that science has shown we are wrong about so many things that we once thought was obvious and this even includes consciousness itself.

Now, I don't actually agree that we are so very wrong about everything, but I'll let that pass and concentrate on consciousness. Consciousness could not be anything other than what we experience it as being. That is to say there can be no gap between what we experience, and the experience itself. The pain of cramp just is what we experience it as being. As is greenness, as is hope, as is despair etc.

Now what we think consciousness is, is what it feels like to us. Since consciousness could not possibly be anything other than what it feels like to us, it cannot possibly be the case that we are mistaken about the nature of consciousness. In other words consciousness is what we think it is since it is nonsensical to suppose it isn't.

Note that in saying this that one is not claiming anything else. It is not being claimed that it survives the death of our bodies, or that it has psi abilities etc (although one comes close -- if not actually to assert -- to saying that consciousness is not material).

All this is bleedin' obvious of course, but I keep hearing people say to me that consciousness is not what I think it is! (or words to that effect).

Julian Baggini's Heathen Manifesto

Reading atheists, please read my heathen manifesto.

In section 2 (Heathens are naturalists) the author Julian Baggini says:

[W]e believe in naturalism: the natural world is all there is and there is no purposive, conscious agency that created or guides it.
I imagine this also applies to any sub-section of the natural world too. So that my body as well as the entire physical realm as a whole, is not guided by a purposive, conscious agency either -- including these very words I write now!

Or if sub-sections of the natural realm can be conscious -- i.e organisms and perhaps computers -- what makes it reasonable to suppose the totality of the natural world is not guided by a purposive conscious agency?

The problem is that many self-professed naturalists don't think through what they believe, and even if they do they tend to be poor at philosophical reasoning. And they don't realise that the widening of the eyes and interest people display when they tell them they are naturalists is because people think that they're being told that they are a naturist! (NB a naturist is not a naturalist!)

I wonder why people are unable to understand that atheism and organised religion do not exhaust all options. Most curious.

When I move again

Next time I move home, which might be soon, I fancy some quaint old dwelling with lots of character set in an idyllic picturesque countryside setting with gentle rolling hills. What I emphatically do not want is a terraced house set in a fragmented urban dystopian hell with plenty of chavs to keep me company!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Dust if you must

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better,
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come 'round again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not always kind.
And when you go and go you must,
You, yourself, will make more dust.

Author Unknown

Monday, 21 March 2016

Most Norwegians are apparently atheists

Independent newspaper article:

Majority of Norwegians 'do not believe in God' for first time in country's history

It should have asked "do you believe in "God" construed as some kind of all-embracing awareness or intelligence lying behind all things as a whole".

In the poll by the Independent, 70% of readers vote that it's a positive change for fewer and fewer people to believe in a God. Are they being serious?? More than 2/3rds of people think that it's a positive change thinking that the Universe and all it contains is simply a brute fact and that the Universe and all our lives are purposeless and ultimately absurd? It's not as if we even have any good reasons to believe such a thing.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Frighteningly Life-Like Smart Robot

Read this article about life-like robots here.

That is impressive. However, it is astonishing that people don't understand that it's not conscious at all. It simply says what it's programmed to say. Maybe stores everything people have said to it and repeats it back.

Hanson puts a timeline of 20 years on the full integration of robots that have become “indistinguishable from humans.”
Ha Ha, he's got to be kidding. Maybe a few hundred years. However, the fact that they might not be distinguishable from humans doesn't alter the fact they wouldn't be conscious. At least not if it's a digital computer. And I suspect that when one gazes into the eyes of such an android, one would feel there's nothing there inside. Not merely because of psychological cues, but also through anomalous cognition (psi).

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer

From The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer

In relation to uploading a human brain to a computer within the next 30 years i.e. by 2046, the Russian internet millionaire Dmitry Itskov says:

I'm 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it.
And I'm 100% confident that it won't happen. We shall see! Hopefully I'll still be alive in 2046. And if I'm not I still hope this blog will be available for people to see!

Capital Punishment

The issue of capital punishment has all sorts of angles that need to be considered. There exists the possibility of executing an innocent person. But we could leave that issue aside for the moment. Then there's the issue of the purpose of executing. Is its purpose to act as a deterrent, or as an appropriate retribution or punishment instead?

Does it in fact deter? If it does should we execute people if the net sum of peoples lives are saved even if we regard capital punishment as barbaric? Or it retribution or punishment sufficient in itself even if it has no deterrent?

What about the cost of keeping them in prison for many years compared to execution?

What about the issue of the ultimate origins of our behaviour? Is it me who determines my behaviour? Or are we mere meat robots whose behaviour is determined by physical laws rather than our conscious intents? In which case why would any punishment be justified?

Who should we execute? Anyone who illegally and with premeditation murders someone else? What about a woman who murders her husband as a result of being beat up by him day after day, year after year? Or murdering anyone who has made your life a living hell? What about murder due to a hopeless all-consuming jealousy?

Is executing, in fact, a greater punishment than spending many years languishing in prison? That also depends on what will actually happen to that person after death.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Teaching Philosophy

From here:
The importance of teaching philosophy in schools cannot be underestimated. In a world where most of humanity is running on the treadmill with the blinders on, it is paramount that we re-evaluate our own perspectives from time to time, and look at the big picture.
People thinking too much for themselves might indeed be disruptive to society as a whole?

Personally I think teaching children to be able to think for themselves sounds like a very important element of what education ought to be about. And I do get concerned that people have this propensity to simply repeat things as if it is blindingly obvious and anyone who questions something is a fool.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

What I'm really interested in.

I am interested in what the world is, what I am, what we all are. I'm interested in why I'm here. Did I have a choice in being here? Am I supposed to be doing something now I am here? If so, then what? Is it possible I might never have existed? Does the Universe have a purpose? Do we have some ultimate purpose? Do all things have some ultimate purpose? Or are our lives and the Universe ultimately absurd? Is this the only reality? Or are there many realities or dimensions, whether afterlife realms, parallel Universes, or even magical lands like Narnia? I want to know what all things mean. These are the questions I'm interested in.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Naturalism and Materialism are necessarily false

Thoughts exhibit intentionality. Naturalism is the view that all of nature is determined by laws and processes that have no plan, no intentions, at their foundation. Therefore this entails that thoughts cannot literally be identical to a physical process. Since thoughts cannot be derived from physical processes either (i.e they are non-reducible), and thoughts exist, this entails naturalism is false. A fortiori materialism is false too.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Technology and time travelling

Imagine if we could go back in time, say to 1810, and explaining to someone in that year what 2014 will be like with the Internet, mobile phones (cell phones) etc. Even if they comprehended what you meant they'd think you were completely barmy.

A caveman suddenly appearing in a modern city

Imagine a caveman from 100,000 BC suddenly being transported in time to today and placed for a brief time into the middle of a modern city. ...