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Messages - sciborg2

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General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« on: January 17, 2020, 09:00:08 pm »
"You're saying that evil is a means to an end, never an end in itself. But what if evil was more than just a label for antisocial behavior? What if evil was a real force working in the world, capable of drawing people to its service?"
-Matt Ruff, Bad Monkeys


"We stood facing each other like two libertines...I think it was then that I told him truly why I was not on his side -

Because the Good was more of an Adventure."
-Calasso, Ruins of Kasch

A series of extracts from one of Philip Dick's essays written in 1977 entitled "If You Find
This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others"

    An odd aspect of these rare, extraordinary ideas that puzzles me is their mystifying cloak of - shall I say - the obvious. by that I mean, once the idea has emerged or appeared or been born - however it is that new ideas pass over into being - the novelist says to himself, 'But of course. Why didn't I realize that years ago?' But note the word 'realize.' It is the key word. He has come across something new that at the same time was there, somewhere, all the time. It truth, it simply surfaced. It always WAS. He did not invent it or even find it; in a very real sense it found HIM. And - and this is a little frightening to contemplate - he has not invented it, but on the contrary, it invented HIM. It is as if the idea created him for its purposes. I think this is why we discover a startling phenomenon of great renown: that quite often in history a great new idea strikes a number of researchers or thinkers at exactly the same time, all of them oblivious to their compeers. 'Its time had come,' we say about the idea, and so dismiss, as if we had explained it, something I consider quite important: our recognition that in a certain literal sense ideas are alive.


    What does this mean, to say that an idea or a thought is literally alive? And that it seizes on men here and there and makes use of them to actualize itself into the stream of human history? Perhaps the pre-Socratic philosophers were correct; the cosmos is one vast entity that thinks. It may in fact do nothing BUT think. In that case either what we call the universe is merely a form of disguise that it takes, or it somehow is the universe - some variation on this pantheistic view, my favorite being that it cunningly mimics the world that we experience daily, and we remain none the wiser. This is the view of the oldest religion of India, and to some extent it was the view of Spinoza and Alfred North Whitehead, the concept of an immanent God, God within the universe... The Sufi saying [by Rumi] 'The workman is invisible within the workshop' applies here, with workshop as universe and workman as God. But this still expresses the theistic notion that the universe is something the God created; whereas I am saying, perhaps God created nothing but merely IS. And we spend our lives within him or her or it, wondering constantly where he or she or it can be found.


    "We in the field [of science fiction writers], of course, know this idea as the 'alternate universe' theme. ...Let us say, just for fun, that [such alternate universes] DO exist. Then, if they do, how are they linked to each other, if in fact they are (or would be) linked? If you drew a map of them, showing their locations, what would the map look like? For instance (and I think this is a very important question), are they absolutely separate one from another, or do they overlap? Because if they overlap, then such problems as 'Where do they exist?' and 'How do you get from one to the next' admit to a possible solution. I am saying, simply, if they do indeed exist, and if they do indeed overlap, then we may in some literal, very real sense inhabit several of them to various degrees at any given time. And although we all see one another as living humans walking about and talking and acting, some of us may inhabit relatively greater amounts of, say, Universe One than the other people do; and some of us may inhabit relatively greater amounts of Universe Two, Track Two, instead, and so on. It may not merely be that our subjective impressions of the world differ, but there may be an overlapping, a superimposition, of a number of worlds so that objectively, not subjectively, our worlds may differ. Our perceptions differ as a result of this. ...It may be that some of these superimposed worlds are passing out of existence, along the lateral time line I spoke of, and some are in the process of moving toward greater, rather than lesser, actualization. These processes would occur simultaneously and not at all in linear time. The kind of process we are talking about here is a transformation, a kind of metamorphosis, invisibly achieved. But very real. And very important.


    Contemplating this possibility of a lateral arrangement of worlds, a plurality of overlapping Earths along whose linking axis a person can somehow move - can travel in mysterious way from worst to fair to good to excellent - contemplating this in theological terms, perhaps we could say that herewith we suddenly decipher the elliptical utterances that Christ expressed regarding the Kingdom of God, specifically where it is located. 'My Kingdom is not of this world,' he is reported to have said. 'The Kingdom is within you.' Or possibly, 'It is among you.' I put before you now the notion, which I personally find exciting, that he may have had in mind that which I speak of as the lateral axis of overlapping realms that contain among them a spectrum of aspects ranging from the unspeakably malignant to the beautiful. And Christ was saying over and over again that there really are many objective realms, somehow related, and somehow bridgeable by living - not dead- men, and that the most wondrous of these worlds was a just kingdom in which either He himself or God himself or both of them ruled. And he did not merely speak of a variety of ways of subjectively viewing one world; the Kingdom was and is an actual different place, at the opposite end of continua starting with slavery and utter pain. It was his mission to teach his disciples the secret of crossing along the orthogonal path. He did not merely report what lay there; he taught the method of getting there. But, the secret was lost, the Roman authority crushed it. And so we do not have it. But perhaps we can refind it, since we know that such a secret exists.


    Since at the resolution of every encounter of thesis and antithesis between the Dark Counterplayer and the divine Programmer, a new synthesis is struck off, and since it is possible that each time this happens a lateral world may be generated, and since I conceive that each synthesis or resolution is to some degree a victory by the Programmer, each struck-off world, in sequence, must be an improvement upon - not just the prior one - but an improvement over all the latent or merely possible outcomes. It is better, but in no sense perfect - i.e. final. It is merely an improved stage within a process. What I envision clearly is that the Programmer is perpetually using the antecedent universe as a gigantic stockpile for each new synthesis, the antecedent universe then possessing the aspect of chaos or anomie in relation to an emerging new cosmos. Therefore the endless process of sequential struck-off alternate worlds, emerging and being infused with actualization, is negentropic in some way that we cannot see.


    If I consider the term by which I designate him - the Programmer and Reprogrammer - perhaps I can extract from that a partial answer. I call him what I call him because that was what I witnessed him doing: He had previously programmed the lives here but now was altering one or more crucial factors - this in the service of completing a structure or plan. I reason along these lines: A human scientist who operates a computer does not bias nor warp, does not prejudice, the outcome of his calculations. A human ethnologist does not allow himslef to contaminate his own findings by participating in the culture he studies. Which is to say, in certain kinds of endeavors it is essential that the observer remain occluded off from that which he observes. There is nothing malign in this, no sinister deception. It is merely necessary. if indeed we are, collectively, being moved along desired paths toward a desired outcome, the entity that sets us in motion along those lines, that entity which not only desires the particular outcome but that wills that outcome - he must not enter into it palpably or the outcome will be aborted. What, then, we must return our attention to is - not the Programmer - but the events programmed. Concealed though the form is, the latter will confront us; we are involved in it - in fact, we are instruments by which it is accomplished.


    "In February of 1975, I had passed across into a third alternate present - Track C, we shall call it - and this one was a garden or park of peace and beauty, a world superior to ours, rising into existence. I can [thus] talk about three, rather than two worlds: the black iron prison world that had been; our intermediate world in which oppression and war exist but have to a great degree been cast down; and then a third alternate world that someday, when the correct variables in our past have been reprogrammed, will materialize as a superimposition onto this one ... and within which, as we awaken to it, we shall suppose we had always lived there, the memory of this intermediate one, like that of the black iron prison world, eradicated mercifully from our memories.

Raymond Tallis questions an argument for panpsychism.

The case Goff presents for panpsychism is to a considerable extent based on the failure of alternatives – dualism and materialism – to explain consciousness. He devotes excellent chapters to demolishing these views.

According to dualism, there are immaterial minds and there are physical things. Because minds are not located or extended in space, we cannot see minds by peering into brains. This idea, famously mocked by Gilbert Ryle as the notion that we are ‘ghosts in machines’, has many problems. One of the most striking is that it cannot account for the central role the mind seems to play in our ability to do things. How could an immaterial entity influence the behaviour of a material object such as a brain? If a non-physical mind were intervening in the brain, there would be all kinds of things going on for which we would have no neuroscientific explanation. Such anomalous activity is not observed, so there is no such intervention, Goff argues.

Materialism fails because there is nothing in the brain as objectively (neuroscientifically) observed that is remotely like subjective experience. Here Goff’s critique mobilizes some of the well-known thought experiments in recent philosophy. Among them is Frank Jackson’s story of Mary the genius neuroscientist. For reasons that are not made clear, she has spent her entire life in a black-and-white room, where she has mysteriously acquired complete objective knowledge (whatever that may mean) of the science of colour. When she is liberated from the room into the outside world, she acquires something new: awareness of colours. This is often (incorrectly) described as additional ‘knowledge’, although it is in fact experience. The point however is upheld: experience is not reducible to or captured by objective knowledge. More specifically, what neuroscientists observe in the brain and nervous system does not get anywhere near subjective, qualitative experience. More generally, science-based materialism does not account for, or accommodate, consciousness – least of all the consciousness that is manifest in the ‘what it is like to be’ of a conscious subject.

The elusiveness of experience has persuaded some materialist philosophers to deny that experience is real. They argue that consciousness is an illusion. But this claim does not withstand a second’s thought; for in order to fall victim to the illusion of consciousness, one would have to be conscious of it.

Panpsychists step into the explanatory gap left by the failure of both dualism and materialism to make sense of the relationship between the mind and the brain. They correctly recognize that this is not just a little local difficulty to be resolved as brain science advances. What is needed is a radical rethink of the place of consciousness in the order of things.

Goff draws on arguments put forward by the physicist Arthur Eddington, developing ideas advanced by Bertrand Russell, to the effect that the physical sciences tell us nothing about the intrinsic nature of the ‘stuff’ that makes up the world. They describe only the manner in which bits of the stuff interact with each other. We know what they do, but not what they are. There is, however, a place where the veil of scientific appearance is torn; namely our own brains. We know from first hand experience that brains are conscious. Indeed, consciousness is the only fundamental feature of which we can be certain. If brains are representative of the stuff of the world, it is therefore reasonable to conclude that such stuff has consciousness as one of its fundamental features. (Indeed, Goff holds that the physical properties of particles – mass, charge, spin etc – are themselves forms of consciousness.)

Goff defends this extraordinary extrapolation from brains to the entire universe on the grounds of simplicity of explanation – grounds that, after all, drive science. It is more economical to propose that matter has one kind of intrinsic nature rather than two. But the suggestion that everything in the universe is like the brain raises an obvious question: what it is about the brain that makes it seem to be uniquely associated with subjective consciousness? Why do you and I have viewpoints underpinning integrated worlds, while socks and clouds and pebbles apparently do not?

One manifestation of this puzzle is the so-called ‘combination problem’: “How do you get from little conscious things… to big conscious things, like human brains?” Here we seem to have replaced one explanatory gap with another at least as wide. In the hope of making the combination problem a topic for ‘a new science of consciousness’, Goff translates it into the question of how a disunified brain, made of trillions of conscious particles, becomes a unified brain with a single consciousness. He hints that quantum entanglement might provide a model for such unification, but is not able to indicate what is or might be distinctive about the brain that it uniquely makes use of such entanglement. So long as this ‘emergentist’ model lacks details, it is only a promissory note. Worse problems arise out of the fact that observation – that is, observation by a conscious, macroscopic subject – is required to confer definite values on the quantum elements that go into the making of the brain, and which are supposed to help solve the combination problem.

Philosophy & Science / Re: Metaphysics as Two Cows?
« on: January 14, 2020, 09:49:56 pm »
Glad you like them Tao, I wish I could do ones more specific to certain philosophers but I figure that's the job of someone like H who's put in the hard work of understanding these philosophical types.

These “xenobots” are living machines designed by an evolutionary algorithm

Meet the xenobots: Tiny living robots have been created using cells taken from frog embryos. Each so-called xenobot is less than a millimeter across, but one can propel itself through water using two stumpy limbs, while another has a kind of pouch that it could use to carry a small load.

Okay, but ... why? The early research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help the development of useful soft robots that can heal themselves when damaged. Because they are made of living tissue, they also decay once they stop working. The researchers, from Tufts University, the University of Vermont, and the Wyss Institute at Harvard, hope such living robots could one day be used to clean up microplastics, digest toxic materials, or even deliver drugs inside our bodies (although this is obviously still all a long way off).

How are they made? The robots are constructed from heart cells, which spontaneously contract and relax like tiny pistons, and skin cells that provide more rigid structure. Once it is set loose, a robot’s cells have enough energy to keep it wriggling and squirming for up to 10 days.

Intelligent design: The xenobots were created using an evolutionary algorithm, which mimics natural selection by generating potential solutions and then repeatedly picking and mutating the most promising ones. The algorithm conjured thousands of random configurations of between 500 and 1,000 skin and heart cells and each one was tested in a virtual environment. Many were useless lumps. But those that showed potential—such as being able to move—were tweaked and used to seed the next generation. After running this process 100 times, the researchers built the best designs out of living cells.

Are there ethical concerns? This first crop of xenobots are very basic. But future versions could be made with nervous systems and sensory cells—even rudimentary cognitive abilities—which would allow them to react to their environment. It is far from clear whether we should treat such robots as machines or living creatures.

General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« on: January 14, 2020, 01:16:35 am »
"Eventually, I believe, current attempts to understand the mind by analogy with man-made computers that can perform superbly some of the same external tasks as conscious beings will be recognized as a gigantic waste of time."
 -Thomas Nagel

Philosophy & Science / Metaphysics as Two Cows?
« on: January 14, 2020, 12:00:10 am »
Idealism: You have two cow thoughts. Who needs milk? That's more than enough.

Panpsychism: You have two cows made up of thousands of cow particles. How this works, nobody knows.

Materialism: There are no cows, no milk, no you. Just atoms in the Void.

Dualism: You have two cows. You make a bunch of hamburgers, and now you have two infinitely precious cow souls which is way better than actual cows.

Creationism: Those cow fossils were put in the ground by Satan. Also, in the Garden of Eden cows gave out strawberry and chocolate milk.

Nondualism: By milking the cows, you are milking yourself....Stop snickering and get those filthy thoughts out of the One Mind!

Mysterianism: I think you have two cows, but I'm too lazy to check.

Agreed - face to face interaction with deities is not handled in 5e or older systems. Maybe it's simply never meant to be, but a card system would be appropriate in lieu of dice.

Well the older systems - 1e & 3.5e - did stat the gods, which I always found kinda ridiculous unless you wanted to run an Illiad type game.

But I wouldn't want there to necessarily be interaction between the gods and mortals. I was thinking more like in the god game you are creating the world or at least the current world state as a negotiation/competition without randomness. Then the PCs on the mortal side - who may or may not be the players in the god game - have to live in that world use the dice based systems of D&D and similar games.

 For example if Poseidon really, really wants to punish Odysseus by sending his ship far of course from home he can probably do it. The other gods like Athena would then be able to spend their points helping Odysseus bit by bit on each island they visit since Poseidon had used up his points. PCs playing mortals then play out the adventure on the varied islands Odysseus and crew visited.


These diceless systems seem really useful for playing gods. I could see a game where you play entities like the Hundred one session using Glitch/Amber Diceless/etc and then deal with the fall out of divine intervention in a more conventional system (5e, Pathfinder)

Interesting RPG idea that's running a Kickstarter at the moment.

It's a game about people, people like you and me, more or less, people who were like you and me, until they stumbled on a “glitch”—a lesion, a crack, an unfixable and irredeemable break in the fabric of reality; and that glitch broke them, in turn. And for a while, infected by the malice of the endless void beyond the world; for a while, their eyes made open to the true nature of the world, they thought that the answer, the best answer, the only answer, to that break was to end the world itself ...

... until they realized that was dumb.

Now, they solve mysteries!


You can play Glitch for light fun and laughs. You can play it for an experience that'll get under your skin. (It's honestly like most RPGs in that way.)

What the game's tuned for is mostly "light-hearted fun, that can sometimes get quite real."

It's a game of stories, like most roleplaying games; a game of you crafting a story; so all that "something beautiful" stuff, all that "something to make your life better" stuff I wrote earlier: that isn't anything to do with whether you're having light fun or a deeply gripping experience; it's in the kinds of stories I want to help you to tell.


Functionally, Glitch is a "diceless" RPG. That means its rules system focuses more on resource allocation than on randomized results. That doesn't mean that it's predictable or mechanical or even particularly deterministic; it just means that it gets its unpredictability, not from dice, but from the players ... from the stew of collaborating and conflicting perspectives that you all playing it will bring unto both the story and the game.

When you play Glitch, you'll be taking on the role of a character of your own creation. As you play them, you'll take actions premised on one of their five basic traits. On one of their four divine abilities, one of their four expressions of elegant and supernatural inhumanity...

Or on their fifth attribute, which could be loosely understood as "cope."

When you take action within your character's means, it will be "free." When you go beyond those means, there is a Cost. It's not a very big Cost, to be clear; pushing one's limits is sometimes healthy and sometimes unhealthy, but, just like people in the real world, characters will probably push themselves in healthy and unhealthy ways all the bloody time. The effects aren't bad at first, and they do have ways to deal with them.

But enough Cost—piled up, with time—can bring even the strongest person tumbling down.

You can think of this basic system, if you're familiar with it, as an improved and polished version of the system found in Nobilis.

General Misc. / Re: Watchmen [TV series] [Open Spoilers]
« on: January 12, 2020, 02:46:48 am »
Watched the first episode.

Good stuff ->  I'm sure I'll finish this, just not in the right mood for it.

General Earwa / Re: On the Nature of the No-God
« on: January 08, 2020, 01:39:25 am »
So, sort of a non-sequitur, but rather than make a whole new thread, I decided to dredge up a dead one.

So, I had a conversation with FB a while back and an idea came to me.

Mind you, I am mostly just going to vomit this out there, before I forget it again.

So, we have the idea, from the Mutilated, the somehow the No-God needs a "code" taken from the death of people.  We also have, from Bakker, extra-textually, the notion of the No-God as a p-zombie.  Last, we have a notion, that the closure of the world, is the "death of meaning" again from Bakker extra-textually.

So, what if the purpose of the No-God, is, essentially, something like what we would call an AI, who's "job" it is to "solve" the question of neural-correlates (the Code) then "overwrite" that Code with one that enforces a Materialist (that is, Physicalist, or Nihist, if you like) paradigm, where matter is nothing but material and there isn't anything else, nothing has "eternal" significance or meaning in reality.

The thing being, that the Cubit, or the notion of an Absolute (or a One, "big Other," God, or gods) means that the notion of Spirit (that is, Soul) is implicit in Earwan consciousness (not Mind, but specifically consciousness, as in, self-consciousness).  Note, that Bakker "forumulates" Earwa's working as a sort of mind in-itself, so, not only is the No-God working on the individual's neural correlates, it is working on extrapolating that outward, onto the survivors, as a "new" Code.

That is why there is a threshold that the population needs to be reduced to.  Because, the results can only be extrapolated so far.  The machine only so much "memory" to work with, enforcing a new Universal can only "deal" with so many Particulars.

So, in this sense, the Inchoroi, the Ark, and the No-God are Materialist "angels" or sort.  The No-God takes the place of God, as the "big Other," as a way to enforce an Absolute, but that being, of course, an Absolute Materialism.

Mostly this is some stream of consciousness nonsense, but maybe someone salvages something from it.

Nice! I had posited something similar among the Westerosi, that the bleakest but arguably most interesting ending would be the shearing of souls from bodies. So everyone on Earwa, due to Physicalist Closure or at least Closure from the Outside, thinks they are saved from damnation even as their actual souls are being tormented forever in Hell.

General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« on: January 06, 2020, 09:54:27 pm »
'Emergence of mind from no mind at all is sheer magic.'

– Prof. Sewall G. Wright


"This path to the primordial religious experience is the right one, but how many can recognize it? It is like a still small voice, and it sounds from afar. It is ambiguous, questionable, dark, presaging danger and hazardous adventure; a razor-edged path, to be trodden for God's sake alone, without assurance and without sanction."

 -Carl Jung

General Misc. / Re: Quotes
« on: January 02, 2020, 10:31:00 pm »
'Like a geometer, who sets himself to measure, in radii, the exact circumference of the circle, and who cannot find, by thought, the principle he lacks, so was I, at this new sight: I wished to see how the image fitted the circle, and how it was set in place, but my true wings had not been made for this, if it were not that my mind was struck by lightning, from which its will emerged.

Power, here, failed the deep imagining: but already my desire and will were rolled, like a wheel that is turned, equally, by the Love that moves the Sun and the other stars.'


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