Archive for June, 2013

Call me suspicious, but I’d hazard a guess that this might not be genuine.

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A long time ago, when I was an undergraduate, I studied a module about Artificial Intelligence and philosophy of mind. It covered Searle’s Chinese Room argument, the Turing test, traditional AI vs connectionism. That sort of thing.

I think the main consequence of this was a realisation that I preferred intellectual history to that kind of philosophy. The impression I got was that debates trying to sort out the relation between “the body” and “the mind” didn’t appear either to have achieved their aim or to have said much of interest along the way. Better to relate a course of events and a line of thought. But that’s by the by.

One of the ideas mentioned in this course was that “the mind” was a Turing machine. I thought I had a pretty good argument for saying it wasn’t, but I never had the opportunity to state it. Now, let me see: how did it go again?

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One criticism of contemporary life is the tendency to treat everything, and everyone, as a resource to be optimized and exploited. This was part of the idea behind Ian Bogost’s satire on Zynga-style social games, Cow Clicker:

In social games, friends aren’t really friends; they are mere resources. And not just resources for the player, but also for the game developer, who relies on insipid, “viral” aspects of a design to make a system replicate.

Now, it’s one thing to treat someone like a resource, but it’s something else to use that sort of language about someone with their knowledge, even to their face. Yet it happens. It really is quite bizarre.

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I’ve recently started doing a bit of work for a non-profit IT organization. Submitting a bug-fix turned out to involve some yak shaving that I really can’t be bothered to describe, which gave rise to this:


I knew there was a reason I’d been avoiding upgrading my Ubuntu installation. (I mean, apart from the obvious one.)

For what it’s worth, I think the upper button probably said something like “Show details”, since clicking caused a text pane (also containing a large number of squares) to appear. The lower button presumably said “OK”.

Once upgraded I ran into other trouble of various kinds. Fortunately, this was a virtual machine, so I could just rollback to a previous state. Also, there’s more than one way to shave a yak.

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