The Blog at the End of the Internet

fatal attraction

there are moments in everyone's life when one feels life is, well, downright crummy. When all hope is lost, when despair washes over the body, when even breathing appears to an exercise in futility. Every second passes as heavy as walking with feet firmly entrenched in buckets of cement. It is at times like these that one tends to notice the allure of the netherworld, the enticing dream of eternal sleep, the almost captivating brilliance of darkness beyond. It is not a suicidal fascination - just a thought, the idea of...disconnection. A hypothetical reality, conjured up to perhaps muffle and silence the obscene sounds of life, to create an illusion of non-existence, to drown in the mirage itself. It is therapeutic, not because it improves our appreciation of life(in the way that cold makes us appreciate the warmth), which it doesn't, but because of the expectation, the anticipation of that reward waiting for us in the future. Is it possible to lead life this way, life as a means to attain death? could we possibly go to work, raise a family, and run through our daily routine, with the comforting prospect of a blissful afterlife resting peacefully at the back of our heads, because of the comforting prospect?

robot and a mirror


Slashdot discussion

(which makes me wonder, could Slashdot be Slashdotted?)

some snippets -

"There is a much deeper problem in the title than this. It is, quite simply, impossible for one being to prove its self-awareness to another. We may be able to make some sort of educated guess as to things being self-aware, but there is no way we can directly observe or experience the self-awareness of another being. This is by definition, since self-awareness is that recognition of one's own existence a a separate entity that is unique to and inseparable from that entity - it is not merely the reaction of the bio-machine to its environment no matter how complex and seemingly independent that reaction. The Star Trek TNG episode "The Measure of A Man []" gives a fairly good explanation of the problem."

"The ability of two perfectly identical twins (hypothetically) to distinguish themselves, IMO is not self awareness, that's self identification."

"the question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than whether a submarine can swim." - Edsger Dijkstra

" Q. Are you aware?
A. Yes.
Q. Are you aware that you are aware?
A. Yes.
Q. Are you aware that you are aware that you are aware?
A. Yes.
Q. Are you aware that you are aware that you are aware...?

So, you see it leads to a never ending chain of awareness. In Hindu philosophy, the ultimate awareness, the 'unseen see-er', the entire infinite chain of awareness, is the Atman, or the supersoul that transcends the individual.

In the AI realm, we could build a machine that had two components: a perception system (vision, sound, whatever) and a detection-of-perception system ( a 'true' output if it percieves a system that can percieve ). Once the perception system falls on the system itself, it will detect a perception system. It will 'know' that it 'knows'. Then, it will detect another perception system in the original act of perception. Then, it will detect that act of perception, and in turn that act of perception... ad infinitum

The self's perception of the self has this hall-of-mirrors quality that does not occur when the self perceives others of the same kind.

You can take it one step futher and detect other self-aware systems if you can somehow detect this self-detection in other systems. However, I haven't figured out a logical argument for how to do this. "

"Among serious theorists, it is pretty widely accepted that we will never reach a goal of true, hard AI (as in, something we created which is truly every bit as smart, independant, creative and "alive" as us, or even more) by cobbling together algorithms like this. It will come about by building the right sort of neural-net building blocks, arranging them in roughly the right kind of networks (probably via genetic selection algorithms rather than manually), and then teaching it much in the way one raises and teaches a small child. That's *if* we can solve the huge problems that still lie in our way going down that path (not the least of which is raw processing power)."

The 12 Questions

how many robots does it take to fix a light bulb?
(analytical ability)

who forgives the priests?
(religion and belief systems)

Mirror mirror on the wall...
(self-awareness and existential dilemma)

what is life?