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Showing posts from April, 2019

Well, So What?

Various readers have at times dismissed the idea that the pervasive and incessant use of smartphones is really something radically new in human history. David Samuels at Wired knows they are wrong:

"The machines and systems that the techno-monopolists have built are changing us faster than they or we understand. The scale of this change is so vast and systemic that we simple humans can’t do the math—perhaps in part because of the way that incessant smartphone use has affected our ability to pay attention to anything longer than 140 or 280 characters."

Now THAT’S out of touch!

A female hiring manager at Microsoft has posted, on an internal discussion board:
“Does Microsoft have any plans to end the current policy that financially incentivizes discriminatory hiring practices? To be clear, I am referring to the fact that senior leadership is awarded more money if they discriminate against Asians and white men...”

I've been losing my head when your not around...

Here's the out-of-touch David French at National Review:

"If you spend any time in an American university, a major American corporation, or the governments of America’s deep-blue urban regions, you’ll find pervasive animus against religiously orthodox Christians. Christians working in those spaces write to me all the time, telling me that they must tightly regulate their speech and tightly control their social media, lest they endanger their careers."

That, rob, is why traditional Christians find progressive tech companies difficult places to work: not because those companies are "fair" to women, but because those companies hate traditional Christians. GitHub publishes the percentage of "non-binary" employees they have, and worry that they are under-represented. Meanwhile, they don't worry at all that Christians are under-represented... because their ideal for Christian representation is 0%.

I'm out of touch, they're out of time

In showing how little my worry about progressive intolerance is "weird" and "out-of-touch", I cited an episode of Silicon Valley that exaggerated the anti-Christian bias in tech companies for comic effect.

At that point, lyin' reader rob accused me of mistaking paraody for reality, as if I were citing the SV episode as a series of events that actually happened.

Of course, what I saying was, "See, even the writers of this comedy series see the anti-Christian bias of tech companies." And the thing is, lyin' rob knew this. He was just trying to score rhetorical points. Meanwhile, the other lyin' rob completely shifted his attack on Edward Feser, from "Oooh, he thought he could use a definition to say what is and isn't a computer!" to "No, no, what I meant was he used a bad definition!"

So I've shut down comments, because these clowns are not even remotely arguing in good faith, and I don't have the time to waste t…

Judgment cannot be a computation

Reader rob contends that "surely" when we judge that a computer is running algorithm A correctly, we are using an algorithm ourselves (let's call it B) to make that judgment.

But that can't possibly be right. Because, if judgment is just an algorithm, to have any confidence at all that algorithm B judged algorithm A's performance correctly, we would have to run algorithm C to check algorithm B. And then we would have to check algorithm C with algorithm D. And so on, ad infinitum.

So, either:

1) Judgment is itself algorithmic, and we really have no idea if any algorithm at all is correct, because we will always eventually wind up at the top of our stack with some completely unchecked algorithm, and so we will have no reason to suspect that any of the other algorithms were correct either.

Or:

2) Human judgement is not algorithmic in character.

Of course, I am far from the first person to note this. And here is a lengthier discussion of this point.

PS: Reader rob wa…

Conservatism, Old and New

My review of two new books on conservatism for History, Review of New Books, is complete and online at my website. I'll have to take it down once HRNB publishes it, so read it while you can!

Fair's fair!

Reader rob smeared me as "weird and out of touch" for noting how intolerant progressives and progressive institutions are today. No, he complains, they are only being "fair"! So let me share three items of interest.

At one large organization where a friend works, two black cafeteria cooks were asked to prepare a special meal in honor of African-American history month. No doubt, they thought back to their own childhood and prepared on meal of ribs, collard greens, and cornbread. A much higher status member of the organization came to the cafeteria and was sorely offended by their "stereotyping." She got them fired. So this highly privileged woman got two much less privileged, minority workers, who were probably supporting families on their low wages, thrown out of work because they had offended her progressive ideology by implying that African-American people ever ate African-American cuisine. Hey, fair's fair!

At another large organization where a fr…

Algorithms and mathematical functions CANNOT be material

And here's a proof:

"Every physical process, no matter how long (even infinite), is indeterminate among incompatible pure functions; (2) so, no such process can be IDENTICAL with any of them, nor can it uniquely determine a function among processes that is IDENTICAL with any pure function. [That follows from the arguments used by Wittgenstein, Goodman, Kripke and many others.] (3) But we know beyond any doubt that WE think in forms that are pure functions (addition, squaring, conjunction, modus ponens) and are not indeterminate among incompatible functions. THEREFORE, our thinking, in so far as it is the realization of a determinate pure function, cannot be any material process or any function among material processes. Thus, human thought, as intelligent, is immaterial." (https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jross/aristotlesrevenge.htm)

In short, an algorithm cannot possibly be a material thing, as any physical process whatsoever could represent infinitely many algorithms, and so…

Being a "realist"

Most scientific materialists pride themselves on their "realism," their tough-minded rejection of "religious fantasy."

These are the same people who continually entertain completely fantastic, utterly ridiculous rubbish like "the universe might be a simulation," "one day we can upload our brains into a computer," or "every time we make a choice, the universe branches into multiple copies." These "ideas" are literally as dumb as thinking "my house is supported by millions of tooth fairies."

And as a bonus, here is Ed Feser on this sort of nonsense.