Category Archives: Philosophy

Virtual Assistants

Why you’ll fire Siri and do the job yourself:

I spoke to ObEN co-founder and CEO Nikhil Jain this week. He told me ObEN’s technology generates a 3D, computer-generated representation of the user’s face with a single selfie.

ObEN also learns to copy your voice. Once it’s got your voice down, it can do things with your voice that you cannot — speak Chinese, for example, or sing.

That “personality” is based not only on how you speak, but on what you know as well. It’s even possible to add knowledge manually.

Hard to imagine anything going wrong with that.

Space Is Not A Global Commons

Scott Pace gave an important speech that is sure to upset many in the international space community at the Galloway Symposium a couple weeks ago. Laura Montgomery comments.

Speaking of Henry Hertzfeld, every time I see him, for over a couple decades now, we argue about the viability of reducing the cost of launch through reusability of rockets. I wonder what he’s thinking these days?

Merry Christmas

I want to wish the best of the season to all of my Christian readers. As my gift, here is Psalm 53, being sung to the Pope in Aramaic.

[Christmas-afternoon update]

Richard Fernandez has thoughts on the Left’s continually failed attempts to purge the holiday of its meaning:

“Happy Federal Holiday” is about as information empty as you can get and perhaps that is deliberate. It advances not just another phrase, but a completely different world view, a universe safely empty of everything but numbers on a calendar.

Eventually anyone indoctrinated in this tradition will find accounts of the Federal Holiday Truce of 1914 or “I’ll be Home for the Federal Holiday of 1943” hard to comprehend. Nor will they be able to understand why anyone in Mosul should want to observe the Federal Holiday of 2017. Yet how could it be otherwise? To understand history one has to understand why such events as Christmas are and you cannot do that in a meaning-free universe.

The effort to erase Christmas will probably fail for no other reason than that it meets a human need that a mechanical bureaucratic day off cannot fulfill. Humanity needs a time to mark the growth and change in the family, an occasion to renew hopes and put aside fears and a chance to remember something we once knew: that everything’s going to be alright in the end. It really will.

The best Christmas present I could get would be for the corrupt officials at the Obama Justice Department (including the IRS) to finally be confronted with actual justice in the New Year. And I continue to be very happy that She lost.

Meaningless Words

Thoughts from Sarah Hoyt on the ideological incoherence (and, as always, psychological projection) of the left:

All I was doing was pointing out he had no proof of his statement and in fact, there was plenty of proof to the contrary. Where it got interesting was his tactic in the argument. He started by calling me a snowflake and saying I was obviously hurt by what he said. I told him I wasn’t in the least hurt, just amused at his lack of reasoning, and furnished him with another half dozen names of great/rich writers. He tried to call me snowflake again, and then told me to go copulate with myself but in more common words. When that failed, he said he was deleting the thread because he’d obviously hurt people. Note that in none of this had he hurt me, not even with the profanity, nor had I or any of the people who agreed with me on that thread implied we were hurt. Somewhere between amused and appalled is not hurt.

I was discussing this argument with a friend later, and he said I was making the mistake of interpreting the words as words. Or of thinking any kind of thought was behind first calling me snowflake, and then saying he’d hurt people’s feelings.

He said that the whole thing was more a reaction on the level of “when I’m called snowflake it hurts me, so I’ll call her snowflake and that will hurt her” and when we didn’t cave to his argument, he couldn’t figure out how to get out of it other than apologizing for hurting our feelings.

He – he’s an academic – pointed out this is the whole point of post-modern analysis, be it of literature or society: words have no meaning and can be assigned arbitrary meanings according to the emotions they elicit.

He says that’s why the left is more and more resorting to shouting random slogans and words until it gets them the reaction they want. Not because they don’t know the meanings of words, but because they reject the idea that words have inherent meanings.

Like “pedophilia.” Or “liberal.”

Reversing Aging

A long but interesting interview with George Church:

Certainly if you could fix all nine hallmarks at once that would do well. Reversal of aging has been demonstrated in simple animals. Some people will dismiss those as too simple — because they have such a short life already, it’s not surprising you can make them live longer. But I think it’s quite clear that aging is programmed in some sense. It’s not like you’ve been programmed to die at some age, but the laziness of evolution has resulted in your program to not avoid dying.

Over evolutionary time, to use analogy, it was not cost effective to invest a lot of your precious food to live longer because you’re going to get eaten by a wolf anyway. Now we have plenty of excess food, and rather than becoming obese let’s spend that on living longer, by spending extra ATP on repair and rejuvenation. That’s something 20-year-olds do fine, but after 60 you stop investing quite as well.

Yes. There has been no evolutionary pressure for us to live longer, but it’s absurd to think it would violate any laws of physics (and ultimately, even biology comes down to physics) that prevent us from living indefinitely long lives. And how soon could it happen?

The simple answer is, I don’t know. Probably we’ll see the first dog trials in the next year or two. If that works, human trials are another two years away, and eight years before they’re done. Once you get a few going and succeeding it’s a positive feedback loop.

That’s pretty exciting, but still: faster, please.

But I did come across this:

If you find that in the western world we’re eating a lot of marbled cow that didn’t exist in the ancient days, all you have to do is get rid of the marbled cow and you’re all set.

Except I’m not aware of any scientific evidence that marbled cow is a problem. I wonder how up on nutrition he is?