tisdag 5 augusti 2014

My beliefs

I got triggered by a comment about topics to avoid to not alienate anybody. Since I don't run a commercial blog, I felt a need to address exactly the kind of stuff that grinds people's gears. So, here it is; some of my core values and beliefs.

1. Initiation of violence (or threats) is not OK. However, if somebody initiates violence, they have clearly stated what principles they abide by and the appropriate reciprocation is a) an equal amount of violence to set things straight ("an eye for an eye") and then b) another equal amount of violence to demonstrate what the attackers principles would have led to for the victim ("another eye in addition to the first eye")

2. Pacta sunt servanda: Agreements should be honored. If not, enforcement is OK, including physical violence

3. Every man is an island:
I am a libertarian, i.e., I think that every individual is and end in himself. No one has the right to force another individual to do anything. I don't consider this a political standpoint. It is actually apolitical, since I don't acknowledge any politician's right to make my decisions for me. Without the right of force, e.g., taxation becomes null and void.

4. Active death help is ok, as is suicide: This follows from 1,2 and 3 above. If I don't have the right to decide over my own body, then who does? If I don't have the right to kill myself or negotiate somebody else to do it for me, then who is it that has the right to override my decisions?

5. I don't believe in God. There isn't any room among the natural laws for any type of deity that could understand, interact with or care for earth-living biological creatures, nor do anything remotely miracle-like (tweaking the natural laws in a for humans meaningful way). There isn't any room for any meaningful after-life either; once the body is dead, the brain patterns fade and once the pattern is gone it's as vanished as the hole in the river surface after a rock was thrown in. On the other hand, there is definitely room for a superintelligent entity that evolved from biology into artificial intelligence and spread through the universe and then learned to spawn new universes. We may even live in such a secondary universe. That entity would still have neither any saying nor hearing and probably not even any concept of what we are. We may also be first and be the ones to create the first SuperAI. That however is quite unlikely.

6. We have free will. Philosophers have debated this since time eternal and the debate will probably keep on going without ever being resolved. My standpoint is that a) it feels like free will b) I want others to take responsibility as if its free will c) it is possible to stop an action that is underway which underlines both the statements a) and b). The counterargument, among others, is typically that the unconscious, largest, part of the brain initiates action before it even lets the conscious you know what's going on. I still say that that's you and the unconscious decisions are predicated on every other free-willed action you have taken since you were a baby (or earlier). By the way, you can still stop yourself, in particular when it comes to slow and intellectual questions. I don't aspire to exhaust this topic here and now, just brush the surface and state my conclusion.

7. The mind is nothing special. Mind and consciousness are just intertwined electrochemical and physical patterns. They can be replicated in another substrate, e.g. a much faster and more robust nanotube-based computing construct or something more sophisticated. If we have free will and if the mind can be transferred, then an AI can (will) have free will. I admit however that it is difficult to pinpoint how the free will arises from a temporarily fixed pattern that simply reacts to external stimuli but here is an attempt: The body wants to survive. Instinctively it develops patterns for fulfilling needs for nutrition and shelter; that is what the body "wants".

Once the brain matures the body's needs are carried over into the mind (conscious and unconscious) and ever more complex patterns evolve to assist both short term and long term needs, basically fulfilling Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Your specific experiences and choices/happenstances form you and the basis for future choices. That you, not matter where it come from is still constructed from your body's basic needs and the sum of its/your experiences and path along an uncertain environment (or "choices"). That you, for lack of a better word, is you; a you that makes choices that feel like free will and aim to make fulfill your body's needs. It doesn't matter if it's subconscious or conscious decisions or if they in their turn are simple results of earlier factors. It is still the entity you, and you will have to take responsibility for its/your decisions in the aim for survival.

Libertarianism and free will are not logical conclusions; they are practical conclusions for an efficient society. They are also fair in as much as that they are reciprocal and symmetrical. If you leave me alone, I'll leave you alone, but if you don't I won't either (by twice as much). If you take responsibility for your free willed actions, I'll do the same. But if you don't, and claim iressistable urges, I will too express my irresistible urges.

5 kommentarer:

  1. It is refreshing to see someone be so direct. It bothers me that people will refuse to directly address their beliefs, but then infuse them in their advice to the point where following the advice requires adherence to the beliefs. Luckily, you avoid both.

    1. Thank you. That's very kind of you to say

  2. I think my subconscious aim with the post was to encourage others to state their beliefs clearly and directly - at least to themselves. It's part of knowing yourself and that is the most important thing in life, I think.

  3. Interesting insights Mikael.

    I like your ideology on violence. Don't initiate violence, but defend yourself and counter to the extend you can prevent future attacks (kind of like enders game from the movie)

    Anyway, you look really interesting. I'll be stopping by more often in the future (Any posts you'd recommend?)

    Take care,

    PS: Got here from Ludvig

    1. Hi Simon. Thanks for the comment.

      I'll put together a "best of" so far, shortly. In the meantime, I think these are some of the better posts:


      the following are entertaining but not as philosophical or practical:


      In addition, the blog's first five posts are also instructive as to who I am and what to expect from the blog.

      Today's post about exercise and brain plasticity is also a "keeper" I think.