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Leszek Aleksander Moczulski
W pewnym wieku, po człowieku.
Jestem starczy, wystarczy.
/Bronisław Maj w Dwójce, 18-12-14


Harari, Youval Noah
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
 …  We flesh-and-body mortals must take full responsibility for whatever we do - or don't do.
 …  Escaping the narrow definition of self might well become a necessary survival skill in the twenty-first century.
 …  So what should we be teaching? Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching ‘the four Cs’ – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. More broadly, schools should downplay technical skills and emphasise general- purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, to learn new things, and to preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations. In order to keep up with the world of 2050, you will need not merely to invent new ideas and products – you will above all need to reinvent yourself again and again.
 …  In the middle of town there is a large concrete building divided into many identical rooms, each room equipped with rows of desks and chairs. At the sound of a bell, you go to one of these rooms together with thirty other kids who were all born the same year as you. Every hour some grown- up walks in, and starts talking. They are all paid to do so by the government. One of them tells you about the shape of the earth, another tells you about the human past, and a third tells you about the human body. It is easy to laugh at this model, and almost everybody agrees that no matter its past achievements, it is now bankrupt. /18-11-30/18-12-09


В письмах к Эйнштейну
 …  Франк стремился добитьсс от него публичного осуждении действий советской власти, надеесь, что оно будет способствовать прекращению репрессий.
 …  анализировал официальные источники (советские газеты) того времени и пытался показать Эйнштейну их политическую и идеологическую ангажированность, особенно при освещении громких судебных процессов.
Вопросы философии. 2018 11/111-116 И. Оболевич, А.З. Цыганков /18-12-08


Attenborough .. in Katowice
 …  "Right now, we're facing a man-made disaster of global scale," Attenborough told delegates from almost 200 nations. "Our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon."
 …  "Leaders of the world, you must lead," Attenborough concluded. "The continuation of our civilizations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands." /18-12-07


neurons .. representing the passage of time
 …  lateral entorhinal cortex, or L.E.C.
 …  the neurons in the L.E.C. are creating “timestamps” that record the order of unfolding events.
 …  It’s encoding ongoing experience.
 …  Take the same route to work every day, and the trips may blur in your mind.
 …  the two inputs “are mixed together,” a memory acquires a where and a when.
 …  our brains must have something like a “sense” of time
 …  “time” isn’t an absolute thing that our brains can “track” or “measure”; it’s more like an organizational system for making sense of change
 …  (Helpfully, physicists suggest that time may be an illusion.) /18-12-07


neuroscience
 …  IBM’s Jeopardy winning computer Watson is a serious threat
 …  the advance of AI seems to pose a cultural threat
 …  Nobel Prize .. neuroscientists
 …  the human brain doesn’t work the way conscious experience suggests at all. Instead it operates to deliver human achievements in the way IBM’s Watson does. Thoughts with meaning have no more role in the human brain than in artificial intelligence.
 …  belief/desire pairings somewhere in our brains
 …  information about means
 …  we have an innate mind-reading ability more powerful than other primates. .. to track other people’s actions
 …  fMRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation studies have localized a brain region that delivers this mind-reading ability.
 …  powerful mind reading for the cooperation and collaboration that resulted in Hominin genus’s rapid ascent
 …  the theory of mind .. has no basis in what neuroscience tell us about how the brain works
 …  how brains record and store the information we mistakenly describe as beliefs about the world in which we find ourselves.
 …  It’s not giving the neural circuits content, treating them as containing statements about where the rat is. Experimenters decode firing patterns. Rats don’t. They ‘re just driven by them.
 …  What makes some neural firings into location-recorders and other firings into odor-recorders is just their place in the causal chain, the pathway to further behavior. Rats choose among alternative pathways as a result of neural firings produced by previous experience. But it’s not because these neuron circuits contain statements about anything. The neurons don’t represent to the rat the way it’s world is arranged. So they don’t work any thing like the way beliefs have to work, pairing up with desires via shred content about means and ends.
 …  physiological identities between the structure of rat and human brains
 …  ever since Freud psychologists have diagnosed the illusions, delusions and confabulations in the mind
 …  The theory of mind is just another one of these illusions, useful for survival and success in the Pleistocene
 …  our brains the neural circuits neither have nor need content to do their jobs
 …  Watson may beat us at Jeopardy, but we are convinced we have something AI will always lack: We are agents in the world, whose decisions, choices, actions are made meaningful by the content of the belief/desire pairings that bring them about. But what if the theory of mind that underwrites our distinctiveness is build on sand, is just another useful illusion foisted upon us by the Darwinian processes that got us here? Then it will turn out that neuroscience is a far greater threat to human distinctiveness than AI will ever be. /18-11-30


Poland bans the publication of polls just before elections.
 …  Tomatoes (in Polish, POmidory) are code for the Civic Platform (PO), a centre-right party; red beetroots signify the Left Democratic Alliance.
 …  Most countries also ban electioneering on election day itself. Such embargoes are a joke.
 …  Poles have merrily tweeted about the “prices” of “products” that sound suspiciously like political parties since at least 2011. “PIStachios”
 …  Banning pre-election polls makes access to information less equal. Parties and big firms can pay for private surveys. Astute voters can sift for credible data via foreign websites or the betting markets. Other voters are unlikely to do any of these things. In the absence of reputable polls, bogus ones proliferate and mislead. Lifting the ban and letting pollsters poll seems wiser, and not just in Poland. /18-11-30


Driverless Car
 …  Waymo .. Under a new name, the Google sibling plans to methodically build a futuristic rival to Uber and Lyft
 …  early December
 …  a test group of 400 volunteer families who have been riding Waymos for more than a year
 …  After all, there will still be some backup drivers, customers will have to wait to join, it will only operate in a tiny geographic area with ideal driving conditions, and it’s still years away from being a profitable, stand-alone business.
 …  62,000 plug-in hybrid Pacifica minivans and 20,000 fully-electric I-Pace SUVs
 …  The age-old guessing game of how long it will take for cars to drive themselves has come to an end. The better question now: How long will it take them to reach me? /18-11-21


Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing?
 …  Sean M. Carroll in: arXiv.org Physics, History and Philosophy of Physics
 …  It seems natural to ask why the universe exists at all. Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it. But there might not be an absolute answer to why it exists. I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.
 …  It was Leibniz .. Principle of Sufficient Reason
 …  God is the reason the universe exists, but God’s existence is its own reason, since God exists necessarily. .. Aristotle’s .. unmoved mover
 …  Hume .. and Kant [9] doubted that the intellectual tools we have developed to understand the world of experience could sensibly be extended to an explanation for existence itself.
 …  Bertrand Russell .. “I should say that the universe is just there, and that’s all,” .. Ludwig Wittgenstein .. we should remain silent: “It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists.”
 …  The naturalness of the impulse to ask why the universe exists does not imply that the question is coherent or answerable.
 …  Our experience of the world, which is confined to an extraordinarily tiny fraction of reality
 …  the existence of the universe is unlikely to be the kind of thing that has a reason why.

 …  What Does “Why” Mean?
 …  Aristotle .. Modern physics sees things differently. Rather than being a story of effects and their associated causes, the universe is described by patterns, called the laws of physics, that relate conditions at different times and places to each other, typically by differential equations.
 …  While we don’t currently know the once-and-for-all laws of nature, nothing that we do currently understand about physics implies any necessary obstacle to thinking of the universe as a fully law-abiding, self-contained system.
 …  Perhaps it is the minimal imaginable universe, or the most symmetric
 …  The emergent nature of causality can be traced in part to the fact that the entropy of the universe was very low in the past
 …  explanatory regression: given any purported reason why reality exists, why is that reason valid?
 …  “Why is there something rather than nothing?”:
Creation: There is something apart from physical reality, which brings it into existence and/or sustains it. This hypothetical entity is often identified with God in the literature, but there is not necessarily any strong connection with a traditional theistic conception of the divine.
Metaverse: Just as we can sometimes explain events within the universe by appeal to a causal web describing the universe as a whole, perhaps what we think of as reality is part of a larger context, a metaverse that could help explain the existence and properties of our universe. (We’re imagining here something more profound than the traditional cosmological multiverse, which is just a universe in which conditions are very different in different regions of spacetime.)
Principle: There is something special about reality, in that it satisfies some underlying principle, perhaps of simplicity or beauty.
Coherence: Perhaps the concept of “nothingness” is incoherent, and the possibility of reality not existing was never actually a viable option.
Brute fact: Reality itself simply exists, in the way that it does, without further explanation.

 …  What Do “Something” and “Nothing” Mean?
 …  Why is there anything inside the universe, rather than just empty space? Why is there space at all? Why is there anything we would recognize as “a universe”? For the first question, the relevant notion of “nothing” is “empty space,” while for the second it is the non-existence of reality altogether.
 …  special relativity .. spacetime itself can begin or end .. there was such a singularity in the past
 …  quantum mechanics .. no consensus about what the ultimate ontology of quantum mechanics actually is
 …  a “vacuum,” defined as the lowest-energy state
 …  “empty space” isn’t quite the same as “nothing there.” Even in the emptiest lowest-energy state, there are still field degrees of freedom at every point in space
 …  Reeh–Schlieder theorem
 …  multiple kinds of vacua .. a true vacuum that is the lowest-energy state, and false vacua that have no particles in them, but whose energy density is higher than in the true vacuum.
 …  Due to the phenomenon of spontaneous symmetry breaking, the most symmetric vacuum (in which the expectation value of all the quantum fields vanishes) is generally not the true vacuum.
 …  nothing is unstable
 …  In the context of creation of something from nothing, we must also face the issue of “quantum fluctuations.”
 …  A quantum state is simply a quantum state, and a true vacuum state will be stationary, with nothing “fluctuating” at all.
 …  The situation diverges from our Newtonian intuition even more dramatically when we turn to quantum gravity, in which spacetime itself has a wave function.
 …  One consequence of quantum gravity is that the distinction between “empty space” and “space filled with stuff” is blurred, practically to invisibility.
 …  The best we can say is that our current incomplete understanding of quantum gravity is fully compatible with both the possibility that the universe has lasted forever, and that it had a first moment in time.

 …  The Possibility Question: Can the Universe Simply Be?
 …  whether physical reality requires something external to itself
 …  Schrödinger’s equation Ĥ | Ψ 〉 = iℏ ∂/∂t | Ψ 〉
 …  quantum states evolve eternally toward both the past and the future
 …  Ĥ|Ψ〉=0 .. If theWheeler-DeWitt equation is correct, it presents us with an immediate challenge, known as the “problem of time”: there is no time parameter in the equation, so what is “time” supposed to mean?
 …  time might be emergent, rather than fundamental
 …  if the universe doesn’t exist, there is no time, and hence there are no processes.
 …  The question is not whether a universe could pop into existence out of nothingness, but whether a universe with a beginning can be entirely described by an appropriate set of laws of physics without the help of any external cause.
 …  the notion of cause and effect as being appropriate to higher-level emergent descriptions of the world rather than the fundamental level
 …  a most perfect being, as the notion of “perfection” is not rigorously defined
 …  Hume emphasized, there is no being whose non-existence would entail a logical contradiction
 …  The idea of a universe created by a greater being, for some specific purpose or having some particular properties, seems somehow more satisfying than a universe that existed without a brute fact. (Our idea of satisfying explanations has, needless to say, been trained on our experience within a tiny fraction of reality, not on the existence of the whole of reality itself; but we work with what we have.)
 …  there is no logical or empirical reason why such an entity must exist; the universe can just be.

 …  The Naturalness Question: Why This Particular Universe?
 …  the universe and its laws of nature are the simplest that they could be, given .. the existence of intelligent observers.
 …  Perhaps .. all of the laws of physics applying to our universe can be encapsulated in a single succinct principle.
 …  “landscape” of physically realizable possibilities .. In string theory, estimates for the size of this landscape throw around numbers of the form 10500.
 …  anthropic principle
 …  the universe simply seems to have far more stuff in it than any reasonable anthropic criterion would imply; there are more than a trillion galaxies, with of order a hundred billion stars and planets in each of them, none of which is necessary for our existence here.
 …  the properties of our particular universe cannot be solely attributed to the fact that intelligent observers exist within it

 …  The Reason Question: Why Does Anything Exist at All?
Creation
 …  whatever reality is, it’s natural
 …  “laws of nature” are inexplicable in the absence of some entity that ensures those laws are obeyed .. we should be suspicious
 …  to explain the existence of a creator.
Metaverse
 …  Cosmologists use the word “multiverse” to refer to something that is actually more prosaic than it sounds: a single connected spacetime, but with regions (“universes”) where conditions are very different from each other.
 …  a collection of truly distinct realities (noninteracting, not stemming from a common past, not necessarily with the same laws of physics), one of which is our own.
 …  it does not directly provide an answer
Principle
 …  Perhaps our universe is the simplest subject to certain conditions, or perhaps all possible realities actually exist. Such an answer would again face the explanatory regression problem
Coherence
 …  “nothing exists” might not, despite the seeming naturalness of the formulation, actually be a coherent idea.
 …  what does “been” really mean in such a construction?
 …  perhaps the universe exists simply because there was no coherent alternative.
 …  Perhaps our language and modes of thought are tricking us
Brute fact
 …  In Kepler’s time, the question of why there were precisely six planets .. was a natural one to ask
 …  We are always welcome to look for deeper meanings and explanations. What we can’t do is demand of the universe that there be something we humans would recognize as a satisfactory reason for its existence.
/18-11-15


... ... ... 2014