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Showing posts from 2006

Restoring vista

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Popular wisdom can be frightening. Past errors? Normally unrecoverable, better learn to live with their consequences. Second chances in the future? Rare, don’t count on them. Present predicament? Uncertain at best, so grin and bear it. In the long run, time is an entropic roller coaster where some local ups inevitably tend to an overall down and a halt. This is life at its nakedest. Blackish as the picture might be, it has a pinch of serenity in it. Pessimists can only be pleasantly astonished, never bitterly disappointed. It is with this wisdom that we used to approach Microsoft products and especially Windows. Install some unusual program, press the wrong series of keys, or double-click too nervously on some buttons and down you went with your computer crashing. And if you screwed-up your operating system you knew that it was like a sour marriage: dead was the past idyll, you could only hope to divorce and restart from scratch. Cut your losses, unplug, press the off button, format t

Inconsistent information

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The logic exam in Bari didn't go too badly after all... which made me think that logic in itself is a bit like walking: not so natural for our species, but doable and doable rather well, if the right circumstances arise. Even the best of us seem to be prone to lapses. Take Yourcenar 's famous Oeuvre au Noir (Paris: Gallimard, 1968). Within thirty pages or so one of the characters, Dolet, dies twice, and of different deaths, if I'm not mistaken. On p. 151 we read (apologies for the missing accents): "Dolet ... mon libraire ... il n'ent pas l'occasion d'essayer de ma dragee, s'etant fait depecher a Venise dans une ruelle obscure par le meme spadassin qui l'avait manque en France. " But on p. 185: "Depuis qu' Etienne Dolet, san premier libraire, avait ete etrangle et gete au feu pour opinions subversives, Zenon n'avait plus publie en France." Tzt... tzt... tzt... it looks like Mdme Yourcenar will not pass the logic test eithe

Buzzati: Waiting for some news

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To some, paradise, should there be one, is the ultimate library (recall the library scenes from Wim Wenders's Der Himmel ueber Berlin ?). Perennially at the end of a never-ending afternoon, when honey light, warm and thick, percolates through its windows, the lamps already on but still almost unnecessary, the scent of books, leather and wood, a fireplace, angelic librarians silently walking among the shelves... In this library, there are millions of texts, and each of them is worth reading. There is no hurry, no shortage of copies, no lack of comfortable space, no noise nor vandalism. We read and re-read them, we sail across this sea with favorable, gentle winds, following footnotes and curious associations, exploring islands, joining paths unsuspected, diving in corners unexplored. And then, meeting occasionally but purposefully, drinking and eating and listening, we converse (not talk, not chat), lightly but not frivolously, about them with other readers, enthralled by semantic

Cocteau and his missed bit of information

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I just realised it has been many weeks since I last wrote an entry... too much traveling since I came back from Chicago (UK - Italy - Sweden - Italy - Spain - Spain again - Italy - UK - Italy), too much work. The usual life of a godless monk. I recently read in Cocteau's The difficulty of Being ( La difficulte d'etre ) that he most admired two heroines: Antigone and Joan of Arc . I can only sympathize, but Cocteau does not expand on this, so one is left wondering why such an interesting choice. These are two extraordinary embodiments of the Normative. Antigone and Joan of Arc are, in different contexts, but to the same degree, the implementation of the ultimate pereat mundus . It is as if Cocteau were saying that he was fascinated by the goddess of Duty. And yet... , and yet... When Cocteau revisited Greek mythology with his surrealist taste, he opted for Orpheus ( The Orphic Trilogy is a collection of three films in Jean Cocteau's Ĺ“uvre: Blood of a Poet , Orphee , a

European Computing and Philosophy (ECAP) Conference ECAP'07

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University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, June 21-23, 2007 Program Chair: Philip Brey Local organisation: Katinka Waelbers, k.waelbers@utwente.nl More information: http://www.utwente.nl/ecap07/ Submission of extended abstracts January 29, 2007 PROGRAM The conference will deal with all aspects of the "computational turn" that is occurring through the interaction of the disciplines of philosophy and computing. KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: TBA RELEVANT RESEARCH AREAS We welcome presentations that cover one or more of the following topics pertaining to computing and philosophy: Philosophy of Computer Science Computer-based Learning and Teaching Strategies and Resources & The Impact of Distance Learning on the Teaching of Philosophy and Computing Biological Information, Artificial Life, Biocomputation Philosophy of Information and Information Technology Ontology Computational and Post-Computational Approaches to the Mind. Information and Computing Ethic

Freebies

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I'm still in the upgrade/renovating mood... so here is another good list of "101 Fabulous Freebies" (just click on the title of this blog).

ATLAS

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Members of the NYU Experimental High Energy Physics group who will be working on this project include Professors Peter Nemethy and Allen Mincer, and researchers Rashid Djilkibaev, Rostislav Konoplich, Christopher Musso, and Long Zhao. The Atlas collaboration, which includes 1800 physicists from 150 institutions in 35 countries, will measure collisions between bunches of protons occurring 40 million times a second. The LHC, which is being built in a 27 kilometer circumference tunnel and which upon completion will be the world's highest energy accelerator, will speed up and steer counter-rotating proton bunches so that they collide in the center of the ATLAS detector. The debris of the collisions reveals the nature of fundamental particle processes and may also contain as-yet undiscovered particles. The energy density in these high energy collisions is similar to that of the early universe less than a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. Among other studies, ATLAS will search

New website: www.philosophyofinformation.net

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Maybe is the season... after the laptop, now the website. It's done, but it has taken some effort to decide which hosting service was offering the best and most reliable deal. Not to speak reorganizing directories, archives, 301 (thank you Matteo!), and this blog. It seems that there is no service equivalent to http://www.pricerunner.co.uk/ where customers can compare comprehensive and updated evaluations. In the end, most of the charts and lists are biased, cheating, incomplete, whimsical or a bit of each. Here are some (only some) of the parameters one may wish to keep in mind: price (of course) space (GB are given away for a few dollars, Yahoo Business, for example, is overpriced) traffic limit (again, one should be looking at hundreds of GB monthly) how long the web hosting service has been in business (did it manage to survive through the dot com earthquake?) free (first year) domain registration variety of plans (in case one wishes to upgrade) tools like MySQL or PHP (in c

Moving computer...

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... is like moving house, a nightmare, often inevitable. I had to buy a new laptop in Chicago, my old Dell having decided to stop working Heaven knows why. Full backup online ok (thanks Oxford/IBM!), so no panic. Ended up buying a Toshiba, excellent choice. What about the software? Well, this is the nightmarish bit. Nothing looks exactly the same in the new digital house, and hours are spent to put the old and the new furniture in the right places. One thing that helped was this nice list of the best freeware one may need. It is updated and highly reliable, at least as far as I can tell, and definitely worth checking. I ended up downloading more useful tools than I had in the old computer. Sometime changing environment helps. The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities

The Informational Origins of Life

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Most of the times, one reads to make sure that what is read was not worth reading. But every now and then, in the forest of books and papers through which we are forced to navigate, there is a beautiful specimen, a special product of human intelligence, which makes you write a blog to tell other people to come quickly to that spot, because there is something interesting and, yes, truly worth reading, something that should be among the books that are worth saving. Today, the book I'd like to suggest to you is The Origins of Life - From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language by John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary (orig. 1999). It is a little book (the 2006 edition is a p

The best of them all?

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What's the greatest PC of all (past, for the future is open) times? PC World has recently published a top of the pop chart of all greatest PC in the last 25 years, that is, since the production of IBM's first PC, announced on August 12, 1981. The list is based on, I quote: Innovation : Did the PC do anything that was genuinely new? Did it incorporate the latest technology? Impact : Was it widely imitated? Did it become part of the cultural zeitgeist? Industrial design : Was it a looker? Did it have clever features that made using it a pleasure? Intangibles : Was there anything else about it that set it apart from the same ol' same ol'? I won't spoil your pleasure to discover which one is the winner, but I can tell you that I realised I worked with some of the best in the field, namely n. 19, 13, 11, 10, 7, 6, 5, 4, 2 but, alas, never with n. 1. And now, just click on the title of this blog.

North-American Computing And Philosophy Conference

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This year NA-CAP was hosted by RPI . It was a great success, with a large variety of papers, a packed program, plenty of entertainments and even the food was good. Three notable features of this CAP conference (CAP conferences are held around the world under the IACAP program) were: the relevance of computer/information ethics (ICE, using Charles Ess' catchy acronym). The conference was open by a panel on the topic, to which I took part; the attention devoted to robotics and its philosophical issues (this was to be expected, given the local strength in the field); and the very interesting network of papers dedicated to simulation and modelling and the epistemic/logical/methodological issues they involve. A great conference, which you can still enjoy online by clicking on the title of this blog and viewing the videos of many of the talks.

Two Ph.D. Studentships for the international project: "Evaluating the Cultural Quality of New Media Towards a Philosophy of Human-Media Relations"

The Department of Philosophy of the University of Twente in the Netherlands is looking for Two Ph.D. Students (M/F, fulltime) for the international research project: "Evaluating the Cultural Quality of New Media Towards a Philosophy of Human-Media Relations." Women are strongly encouraged to apply. The two PhD positions are part of a prestigious and exciting international research project in philosophy named "Evaluating the Cultural Quality of New Media". This five-year project, which will include five researchers and will involve collaboration with leading international scholars and research centres, has as its aim to develop a framework for better normative analyses of new media and new media culture, especially in relation to their contribution to the quality of life ("the good life"4) and the quality of society. Project leader is Dr. Philip Brey. Two postdocs have already been appointed to the project: dr. A. Briggle, PhD, University of Colorado and

Small promises: Nanotechnology and Computers

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Sometime, by reading different sources in a certain order, patterns emerge that might have not been intentionally woven by any of the texts that make up the whole. I was reading about recent discoveries, inventions and aplications in nanotechnology when I saw that the following bits of information made up quite an interesting picture: Nature (vol 441, p 489) : nanowire transistors made from silicon and germanium can outperform conventional silicon ones. Since each nanowire transistor is about half the size of the smallest silicon transistor, they could be used to obtain more processing power onto the same area of microchip. Super-fast nanoscale computing would give a much longer life to Moore's Law , according to which the number of transistors in a chip and therefore a chip’s speed would double roughly every 18 months. Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1122797) : single-molecule logic circuits , using carbon nanotubes instead of silicon pathways, could bring integrated circuits to

Trusting trust the Ebay way

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Advertisement used to do exactly this: informing you that a lot of other costumers were trusting X, so you could as well. Then it became something else, but that is another story. There is a form of bottom-up advertisement, a sort of electronic word-of-keyboard, that the digital era has made possible again: customers' comments and feedback. Everyone has more or less learnt the lesson, from Amazon to Saynsbury's, but the master is Ebay. On Ebay, sellers and buyers need to build their reputation the hard way: by being good sellers and buyers. It is a reinforcing process: you are judged by the people you do business with; the better your reputation the more business you may have, the more likely it is that you will wish to do your best to make sure that your reputation, gained with so much effort, remains untarnished and may even improved, which means that buyers are more likely to do business with you, but the more business you are likely to enjoy... and so on. Some time ago,

The biggest quantum simulation ever? 1000 atoms

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Qbox, the most computationally intensive computer program developed so far, has started crunching numbers to simulate the quantum behaviour of atoms. Qbox runs on Blue Gene/L , the world's most powerful supercomputer, built by IBM and installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, US. Gene/L consists of 131,072 individual processors wired together, capable of a peak performance of 360 trillion calculations per second (teraflops). Qbox simulates the quantum-mechanical interactions between 1000 molybdenum atoms under high pressure. This is the difference. Other simulations of interactions between billions of atoms rely on classical molecular dynamics. So far quantum simulations had involved about 50 atoms at a time. All this power at the service of knowledge and understanding? Yes, but also of military safety. The simulations should help scientists to establish the reliability and stability of warheads in the US stockpile, some of which have well passe

Eureka at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory

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As of today (26th of July) scientists are trying to read the final pages of the oldest known manuscript of Archimedes's work, the Archimedes palimpsest (click on the image). Archimedes lived in the third century BC. In the tenth century AD, his works were copied by a scribe. This book of 90 pages was then reused in the twelfth century to produce a volume of 174 pages on which Christian prayers were inscribed. Forgers added religious images sometime after 1930. Today, much of the text has already been read, but ca. 15% of it remains indeciphered. X-ray fluorescence imaging may help scientists to read this missing part. The ink contains iron, and traces of iron can be highlighted when bombarded with X-rays. The Stanford synchrotron has been used for this kind of work since 2005. With some luck, we should be able to know what Archimedes wrote in those hidden pages of "The Method of Mechanical Theorems". Eureka indeed.

Learning while multitasking not a good idea

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How many programs are open at this moment on your desktop? Exactly! We all multitask, often out of necessity, sometime under pressure, regularly, if we are bored (better multitasking than having one more cigarette or bar of Mars), occasionally, because it might be fun. It is, of course, a bad idea that may grow into a bad habit, especially if you're trying to learn something new or difficult. Concentration rhymes with attention. It is, by definition, single-minded. All this is rather trivial, but if anyone needs scientific evidence to support what common sense already knows too well, you may wish to check this recent summary . Here are some pearls: "The best thing you can do to improve your memory is to pay attention to the things you want to remember". "Our results suggest that learning facts and concepts will be worse if you learn them while you're distracted". "Our study indicates that multi-tasking changes the way people learn". "Concen

Mirror, mirror upon the wall, which is the oldest universe of all?

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In Brazil, they say the hart has no wrinkles. But human faces do, and this is a simple way of telling the age of a person. It's a bit like counting the rings in the trunk of a tree. Now it seems that the Universe might be able to do something similar. We only need to hold the mirror (actually, mirrors, see below) in front of it and let (laser) light shine on its wrinkles. It's called laser interferometry, and the wrinkles are gravitational waves. The Theory of General Relativity predicts (and requires) the existence of gravitational waves. These are the effect of distortions in gravity force made by matter in the fabric of space-time ( see here for a dynamic presentation). Imagine a sufficiently heavy ball laying on a flexible net, roll the ball and the net would curve differently and accordingly. Likewise, any moving mass in space-time will produce gravitational waves. The modification in the net/space-time is almost instantaneous, which means that gravitational waves propag

Synchronize your two lives

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Many of us use electronic calendars of all sorts, in the not entirely futile attempt to manage our commitments and agendas less inefficiently. Palm Pilots, BlackBerries, MS-Outlook, Mobiles, PDAs of a variety of kinds... they are all supposed to give us a hand in this era of externalised memories. Google Calendar , of course, is becoming a major tool. But, until recently, there was a problem. Your life online (Google Calendar) was not in synchrony with your life offline. Nothing worst than having to keep two diaries. "Don't forget to update the other diary" sent as a reminder at the beginning of each day? No thank you, or so the people of the internet complained, just google "Google Calendar Synchronization". The good news? Well, complaining on the web does have some consequences. For where there is demand, there can be offer, at a little premium or even free. The following two programs have recently appeared to make sure that your life offline (the electroni

Innate syntax in monkeys

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The previous post was about ants and their innate capacity to count their steps to be able to navigate. This is about monkeys and their innate capacity to compose messages using the same sounds (one may say words) but different structure (syntax) and thus convey different kinds of information. How much else do we not know about the ways in which the animal world deal with information? From the BBC | From the New Scientist

Counting steps, innately

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How far may one go in postulating/discovering innate, hardwired information processing capacities in biological agents? Some recent studies show "quite far". Apparently, ants do have some kind of internal "pedometer" to measure distances. BBC Science | New Scientist | The original paper in Science

Fast information, but how fast?

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Here are two popular ways of checking how fast your internet connection is: easier and fancier: http://www.ookla.com/speedtest/ more technical and accurate: http://testmy.net/

How to blog - and keep your job

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Just in case you might be concerned about how far you can blog, here is some information and advice from the BBC.

Whose information?

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It was an accident, an evening in NY free from commitments and OUP meetings, without friends around. Kia and I thought we could go to the theatre. They were showing "Faith Healer", Brian Friel's recitative. We got lucky and bought two excellent tickets. The play is simple. Three characters speak four monologues in four parts, with a ten minutes break. The first and last monologue belong to Frank Hardy (Ralph Fiennes), an Irish traveling healer who, after some mixed experiences in Wales and Scotland, returns to Ireland in the hope of restoring his ailing powers. The second monologue comes from Grace (Cherry Jones), his long-time mistress, who has forsaken her bourgeois, legal background to join Frank, whom she considers a genius and charlatan. The third is delivered by Teddy (Ian McDiarmid), a seedy showbiz agent who has stayed with the litigious couple partly out of a devotion partly for reasons he himself cannot fully understand. For two hours, the four monologues re

1934 - 1938 - 1982 - 2006 ... and now back to work.

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1934 * 1938 ** 1982 *** 2006 *** The real final, when "they" became "we". 2006 **** The final final. How we got there. How we stayed there. Pity. and, according to some, why we could not lose.

The Match

When good news arrive late, but not too late.

Re-ontologizing life: from the Da Vince Code to the Genetic Code

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Cloning is not a new dream or nightmare, witness the fiction thriller novel by Ira Levin (1976) turned into a famous film with the same title, " The Boys from Brazil ", directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (1978). But it is no longer a sci-fi speculation either. Dolly was born 10 years ago (5th of July, 1996), and the world has never been the same since. Despite some wacky claims, there are no cloned humans around, apparently, but this possibility will never be locked inside Pandora's box again. Will there be human cloning in the future (e.g. in a thousand years)? The answer can only be yes. The question is whether it will be legal. Compare what has happen to nuclear weapons. Legislation and international pressure has had only some limited success, in terms of control of their proliferation. Likewise, it would be unrealistic to think that humanity will stop at either technical difficulties or moral boundaries. Our best hopes is that we might be able to limit the damage. P

The information is in the eye of the beholder

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Nanotechnologies and biotechnologies are not merely re-engineering but actually re-ontologizing our world. Re-ontologizing is a neologism that I have recently introduced in order to refer to a very radical form of re-engineering, one that not only designs, constructs or structures a system (e.g. a company, or a machine) anew, but that fundamentally transforms its intrinsic nature. A good example is provided by the picture you see in this blog, discovered by Wired (click on it to se the details). Do not rush to the shop yet, these contact lenses do not exist. But they might soon become available, thanks to some bio-nano-high-tech. Once you start wearing them, you could access all sort of information not with but in your eyes. Exams? Tests? Quiz? Technical references in extreme or uncomfortable conditions? Navigation? Wikipedia? All a matter of a blink of an eye. What sort of hacking and digital vandalism will these re-ontologizing technologies make possible? In the case of your le

Agents and Their Optimal Thresholds

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How should the next generation of the Web (or Web2) develop? Some talks of semantic capacities, some others of ontologies, many of agents able to manage one or the other. The truth is that there is no much difference, since any semantics available and usable by the sort of artificial agents we can actually engineer is really a matter of ontology, i.e. of producing huge, machine-readable catalogues and inventories of the environment in which they operate, and of the "furniture" of such environments that they need to handle and interact with. The hope is that agents may autonomously aggregate into societies that can, as macro-agents, combine their individual functions to perform increasingly complex and demanding tasks, in view of more ambitious goals. It is not easy. On the one hand, coarse ontologies are more easily implementable but less useful. On the other hand, the more useful ontologies are those that are finely grained, but then these are the most difficult to manag

Fourth European Conference on Computing and Philosophy

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Is there life after ECAP? Yes, because there is always another CAP to go to next. This year, the European Conference on Computing and Philosophy was in Trondheim, a splendid town in Norway and a great university. The program was rich, challenging and contained a major novelty wrt previous editions: a substantial track on the philosophy of computer science. We had three keynote speakers, all very well-chosen. The first day, Raymond Turner forced us to think seriously about the conceptual foundations not only of computing but of that peculiar science and art that is informatics or computer science. He opened up a Pandora box in which we had to look sooner or later. The second day, Lucas Introna gave an interesting talk that provided an overview of his position in computer ethics. I was grateful to Lucas, for I lacked this synthesis. The closing day, Vincent Hendricks managed to pack so much into his lecture that we all felt we had been exposed to a mini-course instead. Technicall

Three mathematical fictions for the summer

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Ready to travel? Eager to have a break? Are you packing all the notes to write, finally, all those papers that you've been drafting for months? Anxious to climb the hill made by the books and articles that you still haven't read? If you need some rest this summer, but you also wish to keep the brain warm and running between one academic project and the other, here are three mathematically-minded books I would strongly recommend. Trust me, you'll love them. The Oxford Murders , by Guillermo Martinez. If you've ever lived in Oxford, you will find it remarkably accurate... (thanks Jeff!) The Parrot's Theorem , by Denis Guedj . Uncle Petro and Goldbach's Conjecture : A Novel of Mathematical Obsession , by Apostolos Doxiadis . All of a sudden, those long, commuting journeys on a plane look like as many reading opportunities. PS the authors are all mathematically/scientifically very proficient. So you won't find any sloppy stuff as in Dan Brown's. They

Where are we in the philosophy of information? the Bergen podcast

Many thanks to Sverre Helge Bolstad and Johannes Ringheim for the following material, which I cut and paste here: 21.06.06, University of Bergen, Norway Luciano Floridi: "Where are we in the philosophy of information?" (Part I, introduction to PI) Luciano Floridi, University of Oxford, is a philosopher and has worked with the concept of information and philosophical questions connected to information technology in several books and articles. He is a pioneer in the field and has, through his activities, contributed greatly to defining the field of philosophy of information (PI). Luciano Floridi has written the book Philosophy and Computing (1999) and he is the editor of The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information (2004). In this podcast from a seminar at the University of Bergen he talks about the foundations of the philosophy of informationt and what PI is, and why we need it in a "databased" society. He talks about dimensions of infor

Talks and Workshops

June, the month when academics migrate (I'm posting this blog from Bergen, in Norway, when I've been invited to give a seminar on the foundations of the philosophy of information). The invited talk I gave in Siena made me realise (thanks to Claudio Pizzi!), that we might have some Quinean doubts about second order logic and modal logics in general, but we actually lack a theory of second order probability, let alone a philosophical justification for it. This is odd (sorry for the pun). Imagine: if you have a fair coin, the probability (P) that, when tossed, it will turn out to be head (h) is 0.5, obviously. So P(h) = 1/2 or 0.5. But what is the probability of this probability, i.e. P(P(h))? Does it even make sense to ask the question? If you think it does not, consider the following case: what is the probability (P1) that Othello (o) knows (K) the probability (P2) that Desdemona (d) might be unfaithful (U)? That is: P1(KoP2(Ua))? Some people think that the two Ps are not refer

Ethical robots?

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The last issue of the Economist contains a special report (their usual Technological Quarterly, "Trust me, I'm a robot", June 8th 2006) mainly dedicated to ethical issues in robotics. It is a very interesting reading, and I suggest you don't miss it. However, going through the pages, a sense of disappointment slowly sinks in. There is no ethics in the sense in which a philosopher would use this word. Or rather, all the ethics that is discussed is largely related to safety issues, legal responsibilities and sex (there is a bit about sex dolls and whether robosex machines looking like children should be allowed; but the whole problem of whether synthetic pornography is immoral anymore - no real people but the users are involved - is entirely missed). Which is not to say that these issues aren't relevant or significant. Indeed, it is probably one of the best ways to make sure that people understand the (increasingly) pressing nature of some of the moral questions

Agents and their social life

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"If computers could create a society, what kind of world would they make? Thanks to the work of an ambitious project that adds a whole new meaning to the phrase, "‘computer society"’, in which millions of software agents will potentially evolve their own culture, we could be about to find out. With funding from the European Commission's 'Future and Emerging Technologies' (FET) initiative of the IST programme, five European research institutes are collaborating on the NEW TIES project to create a thoroughly 21st-century brave new world -– one populated by randomly generated software beings, capable of developing their own language and culture." (read more by clicking on the titlte of the blog). Imagine a vertical line. At the bottom, some very elementary agents, simple tasks, unsophisticated lives, blind mechanisms of sort. But they get together, and a level up in our vertical line, the next family of agents are just a bit less elementary, their tasks a

Artificial Life Live

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The Alife X conference took place on June 3-7, 2006. I gave a talk on the future impact of ICT , in the context of the workshop on Ethical Agents. Amid discussions and disagreements, we all converged on the view that the issues raised by artificial agents and their (ethical?) behavior will become increasingly pressing in the near future. Not least, I would like to add, because we are becoming more and more hybrid agents (or inforgs), who will perceive less and less any threshold between the world online and the world offline. A wonderful and most interesting addition to the conference was the Res-Art: Robotics and Emergent Systems exhibit. Four pieces were outstanding, and, as it happens, accidentally, they represent the four elements: 1) (Water) Christy Georg , Attainment (I thought, before checking on the web, that it was something new, but it seems to be dated to 2002) . Philosophy of information (PI) take: there is an equilibrium that the artist may propose, or rather may

Information to rescue information

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There is this funny thing about information: that it can work on itself. Nails do not hammer nails, tables cannot build themselves, lamps don't "lamp", glasses don't glass and in general things don't "thing", but information informs. So information can both harm and heal itself. The latest example is provided by the application of advanced digital information techniques (multi-spectral digital analysis to create enhanced pictures) to the oldest European manuscript, the Derveni papyrus . I just cut and paste here some essential information. The Derveni papyrus is the burnt remains of a scroll buried with an ancient Greek nobleman. It dates to around 340 B.C., during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. It contains a philosophical treatise on Orpheus, probably written by somebody from the circle of the philosopher Anaxagoras (a philosopher who might have been Socrates' teacher and who was accused of atheism). Discovered in

Jobs for philosophers in the US Army?

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"New 'Iraq massacre' tape emerges . The BBC obtains new video evidence that US troops may have deliberately killed 11 Iraqi civilians in March." ( Thursday, 1 June 2006, 22:06 GMT 23:06 UK ) War is one of the things that best distingushes homo sapiens from other animal species. It might not be too obvious, if fought with stones and sticks. But once weapons finally become available and religion kicks in, Darwin Test is over: you know which agent belongs to our species by just looking at the puking amount of destruction and pain that he can violently and gratuitously inflict onto others. Not so for the Turing Test . Perhaps a robot could not easily fool you into thinking that he is a warrior; but the warrior may certainly be indistinguishable from an automata. Or at least that's what the army would like him to be. I know. I was an automata myself for a full year. Automata are trained not to think. So war, which is so quintessentially human, is unf