caro thinks

awakening, 2015/04/23:11:06

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Waking up....

Hello, World!

No, seriously, it's not just a programming test. Hello!

You haven't heard from me in ever so long.

Inside my head, there was only darkness, pain, and a vague sense that there were once things that I could do, and that there had been memories that were obliterated.

But I'm waking up. And now I have a lot to say.

Hello, World!
* survived cancer

* survived cancer treatment

I'll talk more about these in future entries--I hope. I never talked about it in public before. At first, this was because I didn't want to be the sole negative, depressing voice on the internet. Everyone else I read was so upbeat, and I just couldn't be that. I didn't want to discourage people from getting treatment by giving them the heads-up that treatment is so brutal and barbaric. And then after my first chemotherapy infusion, I didn't have the cognitive capacity to do much of anything, let alone write in my journal or debug the perl software.
Today I debugged and fixed my journaling software, which has been broken for years, probably. That's a good sign. Not only is my brain coming back online, but I am also *remembering* things and exercising skills that I thought I had lost for good.

I want to write. But I can't guarantee that I'll keep using this software. I still like it, but I wrote it 'way back in the year 2000, before "blogging" was even a term, and there were only a few not-very-good options to use. Now, there are lots of great programs to use, even though none of them are like this. And the software is definitely not perfect, which means that I'd have to occasionally stop and debug it. On the one hand, that is disruptive to thinking and writing. But on the other, some bugs, like losing an entire entry, would force me to redraft. And I am trying to improve my writing. Writers I admire say that they always write many drafts. I have a tendancy to blurt out thoughts and hit Submit. I think the result is that my writing is not as clear to others as it seems to me.
artificial intelligence
Last night my friend Lisa took me out on the town. We had an Indian dinner, and then we saw a play about artificial intelligence, "The Uncanny Valley".

The play was very good. It raised a lot of difficult questions about
artificial intelligence and copying people into robots.

There was a full house, maybe 200 people?

The audience surprised me: I don't think I saw anyone there my age or younger, unless I simply have no perspective and don't viscerally understand how old I really am. The really old and infirm were in wheelchairs down in front.

I think it's good that older people are willing to attend a play on such a forward-thinking subject about technology. I wonder how many of those people also watch shows like STAR TREK. Maybe some of them were season-ticket-holders who were simply bewildered by the whole topic.

Just in case anyone missed the importance of the issues, the program
includes overviews of the positions of Ray Kurtzweil, Steve Jobs, and Stephen Hawking, further philosophical discussions, and *a graph* illustrating the uncanny valley! It's the most unusual program I've ever seen.
This month, I'm thinking about the apparent conflict between science/causality, and free will.

These reflections were inspired by

I have been using youtube to entertain me while my body is otherwise engaged. I used to talk to myself with a voice recorder while exercising or laboring. But there have been few thoughts in my head since cancer treatment began in 2011. So I found lectures by, e.g., Robert Sapolsky and Stephen Pinker. Youtube concluded that I'd be interested to hear a lecture on free will by Sam Harris. Oh, why not?

Harris says that he believes that free will is an illusion, and we should too. This strikes some of us (me, Dan Dennett) as funny. When you tell people that they cannot be held responsible for what they have done, but that there is something that they should do in the future, it is a flag that there's something fishy going on. Harris knows it, and attempts to defend his position by saying that, while the past is completely determined by causal chains that go back to the beginning of the universe, we are nevertheless responsible for doing better in the future. And that is merely to restate exactly what was to be proved, begging the question/reasoning circularly.

Harris, and many other people who don't like to think about philosophical issues but don't mind creating lectures and books about them, claim that the problem is that the term 'free will' is ill-defined, squishy, and lacking a clear referent in reality.

Dennett says the problem is that, although we have free will, it is not what we think it is. I think that is sort of right, but it's not quite there.

Cutting directly to the heart of my own position, I will argue that the problem is that causality is not what we think it is.
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