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Quantum Randomness and Freewill

The white billiard ball hits the red ball. The red ball hits the green ball. The green ball hits the blue ball which falls in the hole. Such is the stroke of a master pool player. Everything was planned, and money was exchanged. Our intrepid billiard player won the match.
Let us consider a thought experiment. What you may ask? A Gedankenexperiment in German or thought experiment is a way to examine a hypothesis or theory to think through its consequences. One of the most famous Gedankenexperiments is Schrodinger’s cat. In this experiment of indeterminism, we consider a random quantum process – such as the decay of a uranium atom – that controls a gun. The gun is in a box aimed at a cat. Because of the indeterminism of the process, we think that while we haven’t opened the box and made our measurement the cat is in a state of being dead and alive at the same time. Which of course is impossible and gives us more insight into quantum mechanics.
Quantum mechanics and physics is known to …

Musing on the Techno-Resurrection and Consciousness Metaphysics

A few nights ago, I finally got around to watching something on Netflix. It was a show called “Altered Carbon”. You might have heard of it, it is Big. The basic premise of the show is that in some distant future people have a device inserted into the connection between the spinal cord and the brain called the “Stack”. This “Stack” stores all the electric signals that happen in the brain. When someone dies, his “Stack” gets inserted into another body and animates the brain. As such the other body will have the consciousness of the previous person and so, they claim, people end up living forever. Of course, with sci-fi scenery, sex, drugs and violence you suspend disbelief and get on with the story, which is entertaining. But this post is not about entertainment, it is about a branch of philosophy long seen as a form of mental masturbation: Metaphysics.
So, let us step in the world of the consciousness metaphysicist armed with his favorite tool: A thought experiment. Let us imagine that …

Time to Declare a Victor in the Middle East? And move on…

The single thing that has characterized the Israeli Palestinian conflict is how intractable it has been to solve. People on the different sides have ascribed this intractability to “The Other Side” not willing to compromise. Other parties from the West have taken a higher ground and blamed both sides equally for their problems. I think assigning blame is a good exercise for historians to ponder when there aren’t such political or national interests at stake. Where the people are concerned, however, what really matters is an expedient solution that allows both sides to live and enjoy the maximal amount of well being. This might not be a “two State Solution”. Maybe to end the conflict, it should be done so on one party’s terms. Maybe that means a one-state solution, but only for one party. And a “No State” solution for the other. Is that possible?
As the saying goes to the victor goes the spoils. The Jews being the consistent victors in the various wars waged against them (or by them, …

A Bigger Global Middle Class

I was reading an article in The Economist Magazine about India's Middle Class. It says that Big companies are disappointed at the size and consumption habits of this Indian middle class. It seems over there, inequality is on the rise, and therefore most of the gains are going to the top so-called one percenters. Hence not much is trickling down to the middle class which in turn can't afford to consume as much as the world's large companies expect of them.

Inequality has been a significant topic in recent years. It has been given more impetus with Economists like Thomas Piketty, Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Gordon.  And the statistics seem to prove them right. When we look at the world's  global Gross Domestic Product, this figure is about 78 trillion US dollars. If divided equally among people this translates to 10,000 USD per person. However, nearly a half of the global population lives on 2.5 dollars a day. These people living on less than a thousand dol…

The Hard Truth of Jerusalem

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways -Saint Paul

A week or so ago a story was circulated in Lebanese Facebook circles. Apparently, school children at the Lycee Français in Lebanon were told that Lebanon borders Israel by their French teacher. It was a hard truth for one school girl to swallow. She promptly corrected her teacher that the country that Lebanon borders to its south is “Palestine”. Of course, a search on Google Maps will reveal the hard truth to that schoolgirl. The Lebanese authorities have opened an investigation into this story and are looking into legal actions. The Arab World has been faced with hard truths for over 100 years now. And most recently when American President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state, the whole Middle East went out in flames. You would think that this fact like the reality of Google Maps shouldn’t come as any shock to…

SuperIntelligence: A book Review

“The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.” Eliezer Yudkowsky





AI is a very hot topic today, mainly because of the revolution in pattern recognition which comes under the heading of Deep Learning. Hollywood conditioned us to think of Artificial intelligence as a dangerous technology that will bring forth the end of human civilization. If you are a fan of these ideas, then Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence will not disappoint. In his book, the author asks the question “What would happen when machines achieve a level of intelligence far beyond anything that humans are capable of?”, he calls this ability Superintelligence.
Before we get to the review, a little background is in order. First, there is a wide consensus today among computer scientists that the brain is nothing more than a computer and it is possible to create an artificial version of the brain by programming a computer with …