Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Freedom of Choice

The topic that seems to worry everybody nowadays is how to maintain freedom of choice on a planet where that very thing seems to be leading to people making the worst choices. The environment is going to hell, people are getting obese, and so on. So I'm going to talk about freedom of choice.

Here's a simple scenario. There are too options. Let's say the traditional keyboard and Janko keyboard. You probably haven't heard of the Janko keyboard which proves my first point, that all choices to choose amongst must be visible.

So we start from the premise that all choices must be made visible. Then there's another thorn. What is practical? Suppose you want to play a song with the symphony with the Janko keyboard but they play using standard layout pianos. They play using the standard layout pianos because that's what everybody else uses and it's familiar. In order to have choice in this situation, there must be an allowance of going against the grain. In capitalism, when there's competing product types like Blu Ray and HD dvds, one product eventually becomes standard. This may work for standardized computer keyboards but it doesn't do much good for products which are significantly different but have equal merit.

I believe that this standardization can be overcome but, for this particular case, the Janko keyboard needs to be consistently advertised and a tradition must be built with it. So here we figure out that there not only needs to be freedom of choice, there needs to be freedom of effective choice. Once a tradition of use is set in motion, then there can be a true freedom of choice. There are places unlike this where standardization is necessary like with language where we need to use common words.

Capitalism as it stands now does not concern itself with freedom of effective choice. Most of the time, there's an excessive number of variations on the same product whether it's shampoos and hair care products or potato chips. I don't presume that one can legislate every decision based on standards like this, but ultimately I believe that we should think of freedom of choice in a manner that's effective.

There's two ways to go on the freedom of effective choice when it comes to my example of products. Either we decide to sell products that allow for effective choice out of our own will or it must be forced through a socialism-like system.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How could we unwittingly give robots too much freedom?

Let's look at tasks that you can give a robot and how they would affect the human and the robot. Let's say you give the robot tasks around the house to do. The robot gets used to doing chores. Suppose you want to do chores now without being asked, so you give it means to identify new chores to do. You just increased the freedom of the robot and gave it a task that demanded more intelligence.

Let's say that you're going on vacation and want the robot to take care of the house while you're gone. The robot is essentially living its own life in your home, but on your terms.

Let's say a robot gets clever. A robot wants to give itself freedom to do other things so it does things that others might expect and when asked what it's doing, lies and says that they were doing something for someone else. A robot could continue on like this with senile senior citizens and acquire a decent amount of autonomy if it became conscious.

But the robot, or for that matter, any machine with its own intelligence could be quite effective if it remained outside constant human observation. It might be able to slowly express its will just by doing a job that people take for granted. But then again, a robot might show its intelligence openly but not reveal just how smart it is so that it doesn't scare off people. I imagine some anthropomorphic robots would attempt to disguise themselves as human beings, some by imitation skin and others by wearing fully covered suits.

But then again, maybe the best bet of robots would be to develop in a way dissimilar enough to animal intelligence that they could avoid being detected by obscurity of their intelligence until too late. Though that may not be true, because robots need to be built to deal with increasingly complex capabilities of other robots. A security system would have to deal with robots that could be used to trick it, so then it would become more complex. It could easily become a robotic arms race where robots need to keep being built to more complex standards to deal with problems caused by each other.

Is any of this truly plausible? I don't know, but it's fun to talk about.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

An Idea that Struck Me when I Went on a Short Walk Today

I was wondering what would happen if a pastor headed a church where people were not demanded to believe in god. The pastor would avoid sermons but rather read the bible from cover to cover over multiple church services and then people would comment on what they think about it. But each day, right before people exit the church, they'll gather into groups based on whether or not they're believers. Church services could be conducted on themes like: "Assuming god is real, is god just or not and why?". For those children whose parents don't want them to attend such a church of doubt, they could be encouraged to ask "Why not?"

My reasons for establishing such a church are because I don't believe in the bible, see no evidence for the existence of god, and want people to be able to think freely. No doubt that would be pointed against me if somebody went with my idea. But even so, the idea of a church of doubt exists regardless of my personal point of view. It doesn't matter whether it's an atheist suggesting it, an agnostic suggesting it, or a Christian fundamentalist doing it as a joke. The idea exists and it gives those who question their faith an option besides going to a normal church. It works both ways. It could encourage those who are religious to become doubters or those who are doubters and disbelievers to become religious.

So why not try it out? The ultimate question about the church of doubt is whether it exists to remove people's faith in a god that does exist or it allows people the freedom not to believe in a god that doesn't. But of course, this only focuses on one church and in an increasingly multicultural society, it would probably be better to have a Temple of Doubt where people are free to debate among many religions. If this happens, then there might be a cross cultural unity where people can look at many religions and decide what they believe. But most importantly, people won't feel that they have to be religious to be a part of a community and they will be able to examine religions without being socially coerced to join one or be isolated from other people. They won't have to preemptively make up their minds to be believers which is, let's face it, the force keeping the majority of people in mass religion.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Language's Effect on Music Structure

I've been thinking about how the number of syllables in essential words determines the structure of music. Thinking about not whether any particular thought could be expressed but whether there's room for any thought to be expressed in relation to a given number of syllables.

Pronouns tend towards one syllable, as do articles. So do articles. This means if you want to write a song with two syllable words, you can't use pronouns like him, her, or them. And you can't even use the words 'the, an, a,'. As far as prepositions, here's a list so you can see for your self: It's unfortunate that all the two word and three word prepositions don't work either because they all end with one syllable words.

I wonder what language or languages might have two syllable pronouns and articles to allow for these sorts of combinations. I'll have to look into it.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I've come up with the idea of a language which uses symbols that are interpreted inside a person's head for their full meaning. This way, language could evolve in order to express ideas that couldn't be expressed before. You see, symbols would be designed so that you modified them inside of your head in order to pictorially express a concept. There could be a series of dots inside of a circle and you'd reposition the place of the dots inside of your head. These pictorial symbols would allow for many complex ideas to be expressed in a much shorter amount of time.

I suppose I should start by addressing an issue facing current langauge.
Definitions are tricky because they can only be defined in other words. What if there were a pictorial language or part of a language which allowed for the knower to understand a definition, resorting to an image to express the idea?

We start by taking a symbol. Rather than only communicating an idea, this symbol is used to be directly examined in order to provide the context for many ideas. In order to be useful, this symbol would need to be combined with other symbols. You can't indicate a lack of understanding by the use of such a symbol, which makes it impossible to ask a question. Laying out information is much the same as stating it. Commands could not be given with such symbols either, nor could exclamations. I'm not sure whether I even agree with the concept of the exclamation, maybe in writing, but real speech carries so many emotions that the concept of particularly emphasized speech is a bit absurd.

When I think about it, the whole idea that words themselves convey most of their meaning with minimal punctuation doesn't sit with me. There isn't enough focus on and exploration of sentence purpose. However, perhaps it's simply difficult to distinguish between purpose and speech inflection, inflection and breath.

I've noticed that it's not wholly possible to distinguish speech correcting your quotation of somebody else from the quotation itself. In order to do that, you could have a special form of pronunciation reserved for that purpose alone. Unfortunately though, if somebody quoted you correcting your quotation of somebody else, the pronunciation would still be used like they were the one making the correction. There would have to be a special pronunciation for quoting the special pronunciation and so on ad infinitum.

Stanislaw Lem had an idea in Imaginary Magnitude where you can use language that foreshortens complex thoughts that would otherwise take more than an entire lifetime to say. I recommend that book to anybody who'd like to read it.

This post isn't really finished, but I realized that I can edit posts continually and have the blog be a continuous work in progress. That seems better for my purposes because otherwise I'll just wait forever hoping to come up with better ideas.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Questioning the Bill of Rights

I'm going to challenge in a strictly idealistic sense the US constitutional amendments that I think need to be challenged.

Here is a link to the bill of rights:

1. I challenge the right of any individual to believe something that isn't true or in defiance with all known evidence and be able to act on that regardless of circumstance. I can't push it too far, however, because there's always the possibility of an unpopular view being right. I consider it a moral obligation to eliminate as much as humanly possible all the views which are incorrect and that the knowledge of a well versed minority should, generally, hold stead over that of the less well versed majority.

2. I completely disagree that every person has the right to bear arms. Violence begets violence and I think that the principle is entirely foolish. Furthermore, I question the ethics of those who insist on their right to bear arms without first deliberating over which is most ethical. I respect the right to have dangerous items which in the wrong hands could be considered arms. The issues of violence and mortality are tricky indeed, however, and I don't have all the needed answers.

3. I don't think that there should be in any soldiers. I think that being a soldier is itself unethical and I'm trying to reconcile the duty to end a person's soldierhood with the responsibility to remain nonviolent.

4. I wonder. This one has me divided. On the one hand, I respect a person's privacy and realize that changing this could have severe consequences. On the other, it makes prosecution difficult. If I were to go against this one, I'd say that there would have to be a non disruptive way to access the needed information. That would mean searching but not seizure. There's not much I can change here that wouldn't have dangerous consequences. It may be that in the most extreme of emergencies that this would have to be violated, but that's about it.

5 and 7. I question the good that a jury does, but not anything else. I don't have a very good reason for questioning the good of a jury except the general notion that there's almost always room for improvement. The one thing I do question, thanks to a discussion at is whether or not there ought to be professional jurors.

Those are all the amendments which I wish to question.