Posts

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 …

Free Education in the Lemon Market

I had a recent conversation with an American of my generation. It was about education and inequality in the United States. She explained to me how a young person over there can't afford an education anymore and that without a university degree she can't get employment. I remarked that while this might be mostly true, education in of itself today is essentially free with the likes of Coursera and YouTube. Essentially college courses are available online for anyone to watch and when it comes to the likes of Coursera they also come with some sort of certificate of having attended the course and passed the exams.
We shifted to where this type of education might be most useful, and naturally given my background I suggested programming. Programmers for a long time have been self taught. In fact, it is estimated that nearly half of all developers are self taught (1). Therefore as far as I was concerned here was one of the most highly paid professions in the United States with no barr…

Neither the Israelis nor the Arabs want Peace

Every international body agrees that the solution for the Israel Palestine conflict is the so called "two state solution". It divides the land of Historic Israel into two nations: one for the Arabs and the other for the jews. It is taken for granted that if this solution is not achieved neither side will ever have peace and they will both be stuck in a state of perpetual war. That may be the case, but what should not be taken for granted is that the state of perpetual war- at least for the foreseeable future- isn't what both sides want. Yes, the people on the ground, especially in Palestine are suffering and paying a heavy toll in this conflict.  But I will argue that there are strong vested interests and strong incentives to keep the conflict going on for as long as possible.
For a start, a look at the Israeli policies tell us that there are at least two alternatives to the two state solution. The first is the ignominious one state solution that will turn Israel into an …