Living in Europe – public transportation

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Outside the first snow is lying, the first snow of this year, this winter. The coldness and white darkness outside my window directs my thoughts inward, toward the brigt days of summer. It also makes me reflect about what makes living here so special. One of the first perks coming to mind is public transportation. Yes, I know, it varies, but what I often experience is an integrated public transportation network that takes you almost anywhere. One example is this bus that took us from Tegernsee in Germany up a pay road into the mountains. Mind you, most of the bus stops in the valley were there because a trail head happened there not because of settlements. Only very few people live up there. It’s one of the many “hiking” buses I have taken while living in the vicinity of the Alps. Oh, and in case it did not come across: this I love!

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Our stories, our world: let us be sensible

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Previous blog posts in this series:

Part 1, Restating the problem

Part 2, The I in you

Part 3, Meta-modelling

Part 4, Let us think about it

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In my previous blog post I laid out approaches toward understanding the issue of “artificial idiots,” where the approaches rely on rational thinking as the modus operandum. In that blog post, I also laid out what I expect from a good understanding of the issue at hand.

In this instalment I am looking at alternative approaches, i.e. approaches that do not have their exclusive base in rational thinking. Continue reading

Frequency of publication – update

Dear all,

My publishing frequency has been very low as of lately, and I just wanted to inform everyone about the story behind it and the implications for the future.

(1) I am writing “research-heavy” blog post (check, for instance, the literature  list in my most recent post), and I have finally come to the realisation that writing such posts takes more of my leisure time than what I had anticipated.

(2) Life at work has been CRAZY this year, but its going to get calmer next year.

(3) One of the outcomes of the conference I arranged together with Justin McKeown and Rob van Kranenburg has been that  I have commenced several scholarly activities with contributors of the conference, which leaves even less time for blogging.

(4) I have finally started cleaning out old projects (mostly in the scholarly realm) and I am getting them ready for publication in suitable journals, etc.

Conclusion

This does not sum up to me abandoning this blog, but I am abandoning a firm publication roster. I will publish what I have once its ready, in time, and the resulting publication pattern will be rather sporadic and maybe even bursty.

The near future

Four blog posts are already in the pipe and almost finalised, and they will go up before the end of January. Among those is the -so far- final part in my series “Our stories, our world.” After that: your guess is as good as mine. Once I get some of my scholarly publications “out of the way,” I’ll most likely write some focus blog posts about topics they address that might be of interest for my “regular” readers.

Subscription is the way to go

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Our stories, our world: let us think about it

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Previous blog posts in this series:

Part 1, Restating the problem

Part 2, The I in you

Part 3, Meta-modelling

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So far I have laid out the problems are that arise when we talk about our (future) interactions with distributed, not too intelligent, artificial agents (part 1), and I also investigated the underlying reasons for this issue (part 2 and 3). In this blog post, I am compiling my ideas about how we could overcome our shortcomings by thinking about this topic rationally but in different ways than discussed so far. In a forthcoming blog post I will address approaches that rely on alternative to rational thinking.

Continue reading

Our stories, our world: meta-modelling

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Previous blog posts in this series:

Part 1, Restating the problem

Part 2, The I in you

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In my blog post “Restating the problem,” I re-introduced the topic of “artificial idiots” and my believe that our current approach to talking about the dynamics between us and “artificial idiots” is lacking and sometimes even defective. Furthermore, the importance “artificial idiots” already play in our daily life, and that they will play in the near future justifies a deeper investigating into why it is that our narrative about “artificial idiots” fails and how we might rectify this situation.

In the next blog post “The I in you,” I elucidated how we tell stories, why we do it the way we do, and what shortcomings our traditional narration has when it comes to artificial intelligence that is simple but pervasive.

In this blog post I am addressing why even a scientific approach toward our interactions with “artificial idiots” is burdened with shortcomings. Continue reading

Our stories, our world: the I in you

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Previous blog post in this series: Restating the problem

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As discussed in the first instalment of this blog series (see above), I believe that our current patterns of how to portray interactions between us and “the others,” namely artificial agents, is not adequate for grasping how our future might look like, namely a future that is sated with fairly but not too intelligent distributed and interconnected agents. In such a future, our interactions with “artificial idiots” will be much tighter and intimate than with existing IT. However, the language we currently use for describing our interactions with machines only work if the machines are simple and deterministic in their behaviour, or when their level of intelligence approaches that of humans, or even surpasses it. Currently, we do not possess a narrative style for describing anything between the above extremes, i.e. a symbiosis with “artificial idiots.”

But maybe our way of talking about the world we live in, about how we interact with machines, can be modified. Addressing this question is the task of this blog post.

Continue reading

Metaphysics – A Very Short Introduction

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“A Very Short Introduction” is a book series published by Oxford University Press. Among friends I call it the Dummy series for geeks (hm, actually serious geeks). Fittingly I discovered the Very-Short-Introduction series while visiting Oxford. I entered Blackwell’s off Broad Street, and I was met by a discount box overflowing with Very Short Introductions (three for the price of two). “Exactly my kind of book store,” I thought. I dug through the discount box and took a large pile to the café on the next floor, thumbing through the small volumes while sipping on a chai-tea late. It was a lovely September day.
The first few volumes I read were either very solid (European Union, Human Rights) or outright brilliant (Okasha’s volume on Philosophy of Science). After having stumbled over a sub-par volume earlier this year (Privacy), my faith in this series was reinstalled by Stephen Mumford’s introduction to metaphysics. His introduction is almost on the same level as Okasha’s introduction to the philosophy of science, and were it not for a technical short coming, I would give Mumford’s introduction a four out of five.

To the the bright side count Mumford’s jargon-free style and the casual journey he invites the reader on to increasingly thorny topics (from the question to what is a table to question like whether things that do not exist can have causes – think the absence of air). I also a appreciated the literature list he provides (sorted by entry-level) and I already ordered one of the books.

The only grief I have about the book that it does not link the topics discussed to the terms by which they are discussed in the metaphysics literature (modality, holism, realism, etc.). This does not need to be addressed in the main text (the free flow of which I enjoyed), rather it can be addressed in a short appendix. Otherwise a very enjoyable book and a perfect introduction to this topic.

If you are a novice to this topic definitely have a look at Mumford’s joyful little book (with a big scope).

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