Tag Archives | Philosophy
If we were in fact drawing closer to the scenario he describes fifty years ago, what would the drug in question be?
Aldous Huxley, speaking at U.C. Berkeley in 1962, outlines his vision for the ‘ultimate revolution’, a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and will pose little opposition to the ‘ruling oligarchy’, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book, “Brave New World,” to George Orwell’s “1984″ and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears…they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”
Yale Scientific Magazine presents a fascinating Myers-Briggs-style test of what your societal fears reveal about your political and personal orientation. As a bonus, the amusingly-true chart of what people expect hierarchist communitarians, individualist egalitarians, etc., to look like:
“Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of people to fit their perceptions of risk and related facts to their group commitments,” says Dan Kahan, professor at Yale Law school and a CCP researcher. Researchers in the CCP measure people’s “worldviews” along the two dimensions of hierarchy-egalitarianism and communitarian-individualism.
This framework relates to the theory of anthropologist Mary Douglas, the originator of “the cultural theory of risk.” The theory postulates that people’s perceptions of risk should reflect and reinforce the combinations of values defined by the intersection of these two “worldview” dimensions.
Can the future truly be changed, or are we on a predetermined path? Chris Woebken and Sascha Pohflepp on grasping at the fabric of reality:
Hermann Minkowski’s light cones gave us a visual idea of how the possible may be situated within relations of causality. Then, in the mid-20th century, those ideas were carried into the realm of geopolitics by the threat of nuclear war.
With a flight time of 30 minutes between the Soviet Union and the United States, rocket technology shrank the future to a point where speculation became a key asset in the arsenals of the superpowers. Big think tanks like the Californian RAND Corporation, scientists, and engineers were systematically mapping out possibility spaces.
Is civilization the mind’s attempt to commit suicide? Via the Institute for Emerging Ethics and Technologies, Piero Scaruffi writes:
Ultimately, the most structured society will be a society in which every action has to comply with some rules, i.e. its citizens will de facto be robots with no brains. Why does brain/mind want to get rid of brain/mind?
Every animal tries to create some order around its natural environment. Likewise the history of human civilization is largely the attempt to control nature and structure life. Human societies are environments in which the chaos of nature is greatly reduced. This allows for humans to predict the future and therefore minimize threats to their survival.
One chaotic component of nature is humans themselves, the interaction among them. Societies invent rules and regulations to order and structure the interaction among humans. The process of turning children into adults is largely a process of forcing them to obey rules, from “good manners” to language itself.
Fascinating philosophical discourse via Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio
The prime futurist fear is that humanity will create some advanced technology with an ostensibly positive purpose, but it will buck our control and undo the world as it pursues some twisted version of the ends it was programmed to achieve. Quiet Babylon writes that this artificially-sentient oppressor has already arrived:
One of my favorite recurring tropes of AI speculation/singulatarian deep time thinking is meditations on how an evil AI might destroy us.
Here’s an example: The scenario imagined is where there is a button that humans push if the AI gets an answer right and the AI wants to get a lot of button presses, and eventually it realizes that the best way to get button presses is to kill all the humans and institute a rapid fire button-pressing regime.
You would have this thing that behaves really well, until it has enough power to create a technology that gives it a decisive advantage — and then it would take that advantage and start doing what it wants to in the world.
Consider getting drunk and going to the movies this weekend. From 1844′s Human Requirements and Division of Labour Under the Rule of Private Property, Karl Marx says:
The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save – the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour – your capital. The less you are, the more you have; the less you express your own life, the greater is your alienated life – the greater is the store of your estranged being.
When Christianity was the West’s main system of control some of the finest minds in the world were employed to articulate brilliant, complex, philosophical arguments in defence of the various paradoxes which sprout from a belief in the bible. These “experts” were capable of ingenious and amazing responses to the major stumbling blocks presented by the religious belief systems of the day.
If God is all powerful can he make a rock which nothing can move?
Answer: Yes of course.
Paradox: Can he then move that rock?
Either way his power appears to have limits. 
Wrangling round questions such as these gained articulate and clever people a lot of power and status back in days gone by. Don’t get me wrong, St Thomas Aquinas and his mates probably believed what they said. It’s just a lot of it, from the perspective of 2013, now seems like very clever, interesting, well-written, bo—cks.… Read the rest
Before his death, William S. Burroughs offered this bizarre and profane but likely true and wise life advice for the young and optimistic: