geekgirl

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    Sarah T
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  1. I have to say, this is totally interesting... but out of my usual areas of expertise, as well. Maybe there are answers in Artificial Intelligence research? Perhaps my question may be a bit oblique: how would one even devise a test for such a thing? And doing so, what would the answers even mean? If the test subject is found to form concepts in a particular way; it doesn't presume that it would be the only way, does it? Some autistic kids have show some pretty unusual thought processes; there may be many ways. The process could also change given the context; i.e. subject in danger, intoxicated, brain damage, etc. Plus, couldn't there be some sort of bias inherent in the exploration? After all, we are using our concept formation process to form a concept about itself, right? The reason this topic intrigues me so much is I dated a programmer that worked on one of those automated vehicles for the first DARPA challenge, and possibly the biggest problem in the whole AI field right at the time was pattern recognition... getting software (intelligence?) to recognize an object. They aren't anywhere near getting software to think about abstractions, but solid objects is a good first step. His team was using embedded 3d reference images of certain objects the vehicle would encounter, and the software would scan constantly against these reference images. The problem was that it was hard to recognize a 3d object when you didn't know how it was rotated, if it was partially obscured, badly lit, etc. (And it used waaaay too much processing power) That whole line of thinking eventually didn't pan out... now they try to get the "eyes" to recognize certain artificial constructs (edges, right angles, etc) and deduce from there against another reference catalog. this works somewhat better, but its still clunky. (Really makes you appreciate what the brain does effortlessly every day.) Once you have an object "understood" though, AI can handle it pretty well. All the casinos have sophisticated AI security that tries to identify every person it sees, all the time. Once it identifies you as a person, it creates space for you in it's system, and will tag you on every video surveillance throughout the casino. The security people can actually ask the system what subject X has been doing, and it will pull up all the video from all the cameras you appeared in, and lay it out chronologically. Kinda scary, really. But the only reason they can do that is because the system already knows what a human looks like. For years, Homeland Security and the NSA have been persuing a similar kind of system for deducing patterns in chaotic pools of data. (The NSA's been at it with project Eschelon since the 90s.) The best way I heard it described was that they wanted a system that would recognize that 7 of the people about to board a plane had cell phones purchased at the same store, yet they weren't sitting together. I bet the NSA has some interesting insights into pattern recognition. (a sister to concept formation?) But the system still required an operator to define the searches. Which is why I wonder if this is even possible. All the approaches they try have the same thing in common: they need to know what it is before they recognize it, essentially. Roughly, AI has to borrow our concepts so it can form its own. Perhaps all of ours are borrowed too? (ok, enough wine for me, tonight!)
  2. If you have any culture in you, it has been put there by the creative works and actions of other people. Culture, by it's nature and definition, requires more than one person. Its a collaborative effort. The culture - the social environment that surrounds you - largely defines the direction of growth of the individuals in it. The quickest way to destroy (or re-build) a country is through its culture. To think it of so little importance as to defend (or even, recognize) is a little short-sighted.
  3. I totally agree with you in principle. And a priority should be given to establishing reliable, consistent, fair, LEGAL, avenues for immigration. But what concerns me is the overall size of the wave we are talking about. This wave of Latino immigration is as large as all the previous waves (Irish, Italian, etc) combined. England's a perfect example of what I worry about. Labour Party docs that were leaked form the 80s show that they were explicitly working on loosening immigration controls to ensure future voting blocs - precisely what the Left here is seeking to do. Many years and millions of immigrants later, England has given every job created in that time to immigrants, so their employment has remained stagnant. And British culture - where is it? Where are the monty pythons, young ones, absolutely fabulouses, and fawlty towers? There's nothing "uniquely British" anymore, it seems. They traded their prosperity and identity for a Labour lock on power. Can't immigration be a danger to one's culture and economy simply because of the un-regulated size of it?
  4. I totally hear you. I'm a freelance web/graphics/flash designer programmer server tech who just fled the northeast for virtually the same reason. All the tech companies out there have laid off their IT staff, the region is littered with design colleges RISD, BROWN, BU, etc., and all the students are saturating the market doing work for almost free to "get started on their portfolios". (There's over 50,000 students in my fields of expertise in Boston alone). It's not quite the same as seeing your job go overseas; but it's certainly being priced out of the market. Plus, there's huge competition with sites like squarespace - which have essentially automated many of my skills. So, my profession is constantly being outsourced to robots. (And, I have to admit, they do a really good job at squarespace) On the positive side, if you've ever seen this episode of 30days: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0833623/ I found it eye-opening. Some of the outsourcing can be a good thing, and ultimately - in an odd way, beneficial to us. I'm not sure its beneficial enough in the long run, however, to offset the destruction all of this is doing now. The only secret I have found to dealing with it is to constantly keep moving, evolving, and adapting.
  5. My God, SJW, you really are in your own little world, aren't you? It's just a topic on a web forum, get a grip. I am using it as a tool to get to know YOU. Why would I even care enough to shift blame in any way? What, exactly, is at stake that I would need to resort to such "tactics"? Like I said in the original post, it's not like there's any wrong answers... I'm just trying to understand yours, that's all. You should be happy I made the effort; you're really not that interesting. In fact, really... who cares?
  6. I guess we need to start comparing crayons again... who would you consider a contemporary conservative and/or liberal? Because if you're talking classicly liberal (pre 30s), then I'd agree. But if you're talking about the current generic liberal class identity which is really just cover for progressives... things are a lot muddier.
  7. Hint: communication is a two-way street. It is just as important for me to attempt to understand you, as it is for you to attempt to make yourself understood. I can seemingly grasp everyone else's crayon box - whether I agree with their arrangement or not - pretty easily. Yours, not so much. The reason I keep asking questions is that I am trying, trying to understand. I still haven't decided whether you are trying to make it a deliberately complicated process or not. You probably do think its cute. And that's probably why you're doing it. But you know what, after a while, even curious people like me are just going to shrug and say, "really, who cares?"
  8. I totally did not know that. I knew that cable companies were required to make the space and carry it, but I didn't know they actually funded equipment/staff/production/etc. That makes it even cooler and even more in line with what I like - a private corporation that does it better! I guess it means the hunt for Things The Government Does Well goes on...
  9. Here's another helpful excercise. In a discussion with a liberal friend - (actually, she fancies herself a socialist, but really leans more Marxist... and then, surprisingly, has frequent bouts of Libertarianism she hasn't quite integrated ;) ) - about the "center" of the political media universe. Everyone keeps trying to portray FOX news as hard Right and MSNBC somewhere near the center, but I think most media saavy folk know that's not quite right. But a stupidly simple smack-the-forehead idea appeared: the center of the political media universe is CSPAN. Right? I used to do a lot of audio/video production in the late 90s, and I totally love the hands-off approach CSPAN uses. Very little editing. Almost zero commentary. Dreadfully boring at times. My favorite part, really, is how they leave the mics on long before and after normal coverage wraps, so you can hear the reporters talking freely off script. (sometimes you hear the juiciest stuff!) I've done audio editing for conservative talk radio and podcasts, and I always was able to grab good media from CSPAN. I'll even go so far as to say CSPAN has been one of the few govt expenditures I can support. Looking back on it, they're boringly impartial and have done more for transparency than any single entity I can think of. My last really big coding job (still ongoing, in some ways) was a broadcast streaming network for a record label back east... and when I saw CSPAN finished digitally archiving all of its broadcasts online, well, it made me horny, baby. A toast to CSPAN! (and that's the last of the pink champagne) So what about that? Can we agree that CSPAN is a good reference point for center? If not, what else?
  10. See JR's comment above. Conservatives may not be individualists, but what they believe is a hell of a lot more individualistic than marxism or communism. You have to start playing ball with at least the people who like the same game. Can a baseball player play with a softball player? Sure. A cricket player? Maybe. Hockey? Not likely. The problem with humans is they're all different; so if you're waiting for another player with your exact appreciation of the game and your exact stats... you may be sitting on the bench alone a long long time. Nope. I am not, nor have I ever been a member of the communist party. One minute the communists are on the left and the conservatives are on the right, the next you appear to put all govt on the chart and yourself, off the chart. The overall impression is fuzzy with a chance of lunacy. Your political classification is like a little pinball machine - zipping back and forth, pinging and buzzing, lotta lights... but what it all means in the end <shrug> i don't know. I offered this topic not only because I think it's revealing in some ways and I'd like to get to know all of you, but this kind of exercise can help get one's own thoughts in order. If I feel like I'm playing a game of hot/cold with you... that because I think that's how you roll. If I seem like I don't have a clue what you think; that's because I don't. But you should consider it positive for the moment that at least I consider you interesting enough to try to find out. That, I can understand... but you're back in my crayon box now. I divide along individual/group. The more group-centric your ideology, the more you are going to inevitably trample on individual rights, and vice versa. Not seeing one better than the other shows a complete lack of discrimination, does it not? One thing Rand taught was to discriminate. "Once you have determined that one side is black and the other is white, you have no justification for choosing a mixture of the two." (from The Cult of Moral Grayness) I am supposing that this admonition would also include resigning everything to black and going home, as well. I get the feeling that we have very similar crayon boxes, actually, but I also get the feeling that you take your individualism to the point where you constantly look for reasons not to agree. To remain alone, perhaps?
  11. If you want to reject the Left/Right paradigm, I think that's a good idea, but once you've done that, it's a stolen concept to be using the term "Left" to smear everyone that fits under its heading. Really all you've done is reject the term Right, which is interesting. The "Left" has traditionally been associated with civil liberties. In fact if you start talking about the Bill of Rights some on the Right would start accusing you of being a Leftist. Thomas Paine is categorized on the Left, and many on the Right are happy with that, particularly the religious Right. Broad strokes, keep it simple. Once you start discussing the origins and evolution of "liberal" and start importing "right and left" from the European Political scene... well, its all downhill from there. In that sense, Left/Right as terms are not very useful. But there most definitely are two sides, there most definitely is a Left and Right... there is one side of joiners and another, loners. You seem to place any form of govt on the right side of the spectrum, and total freedom on the left - are you an anarchist? A people can only handle as much freedom as they can be responsible for. A truly enlightened people could make anarchy work.
  12. Mary Lee Harsha: I'm not sure a perfect system is possible, or even desireable. A blog I read once made the case that Freedom of Religion is not about religion, it's about thought. There's that Bill Maher line about how he "doesn't believe in an old man sitting up in the clouds that gets angry when I masturbate..." But there are people that do. And they need to be allowed to think that. People need to be able to believe whatever outlandish stupid crazy thing they want... because every great Truth started as a heresy. A perfect system would be sterile. I guess the best you can hope for is a framework that can withstand the battering and be flexible enough to survive. It's really quite amazing how long this constitution has survived, given the treatment its endured. That being said, one of the most recent travesties of justice: Hamdan Vs. Rumsfeld. I mean, regardless of what you think about holding people at GITMO... Stevens just turned the whole applecart over and walked away. Total idiot.
  13. Exactly! The Harmony of the Spheres! (But, add a little chaos, and the whole thing goes to hell...) And if you wanted to get really nuts, you could start to make comparisons of the urge to join and the urge to stay apart with the weak and strong forces.
  14. I divide along individuality, you divide along truth. Perhaps we argue different sides of the same coin? What I don't understand is why you put communist at the polar opposite of fascist; they are really very similar. I mean it's not a big leap from Mussolini's "fascism is everything inside the State, nothing outside of the State" to the State owing everything. Could we say that the more irrational you are, the more likely you are willing to sacrifice your individuality to a collective? How would a theocracy fit into this, or a monarchy?
  15. After perusing much of this site, I have to say one of the more confusing things is what I've always called, "the crayon box problem". This, of course is from the old stoner joke: "Dude, how do I know if what I think is blue, and what you think is blue, is really blue?" Answer: "Check the f'ing crayon box." The philosophical portion of the question is virtually ancient, and can even go back to Plato and his "pure forms" argument. The overall problem when we start talking in abstractions and ideas, is that there is no universal crayon box to refer to. Which brings me to Left and Right. I was excited when I saw the Left/Right Libertarian topic on the list - but it was just a link to a confusing article from someone with a another totally different crayon box to refer to. Some of you, I think have a totally different crayon box from everyone else. Some of you are unsure of where the colors go, they just keep their most used ones up front. And one of you even seems to keep a special box that has crayons labeled in spanish, and they seem to enjoy refuting everyone's english color chart questions based on them. (Blue? There is no such thing. I have a crayon labelled, Azul, which you obviously are too stupid to understand). I think this is because they desperately want to think that their crayon box is *special* and *better* somehow. <whew> So, in the interest of clearing some of this up (or muddying it further), I thought I'd share how I organize my crayon box, and some of you can open your boxes... keep in mind, there ultimately are no right answers. There may be general agreements on some things, but it's kind of a quantum thing - I expect it to get more confusing as we look at it. For me, I believe the fundamental political conflict throughout all of human history is the individual vs the group. On the Right side of the spectrum, are the individuals. The ideologies on this side are Libertarianism, Conservatism, Objectivism, etc.... with anarchy being as far right/individualistic as you can get. The individuals on the Right tend to stay apart... they are The Loners. On the Left, are the groups and collectives. Socialism, Communism, Progressivism... the far far Left being a complete totalitarian dictatorship. They are The Joiners. What this has done for me through the years, it has explained a few oddities which I continually see popping up as questions around here. Like: Why don't Objectivists comment on current events? Which really boils down to a question of proselytization. The unstated comparison involved in this question has to do with non-objectivists, which seem to constantly proselytize. Objectivist's failure in this regard has been attributed - by some - to Rand's faulty ideas, or the Objectivist's inability to live up to them. (Or, confusingly, both.) However, in my crayon box, the answer is simple: Individuals don't proselytize. Groups do. (Usually, for the sake of creating new group members). A bunch of loners are not going to suddenly start indoctrinating people to "not be a Joiner". Loners are much more tolerant of individual differences... Joiners are engaged in a constant effort to destroy the differences and assimilate. Kinda like the Borg. They don't like differences, or lumps under the blanket... they want their blankets smooth and featureless. This is why the Left always tries to impose standards of behavior onto people; they think the best solution to people who don't agree with them is to convert or destroy them. The Right just ignores them. This is why the Right always seems disorganized. We don't have "community organizers" on our side. Why we don't want unions. Why we're inherently distrustful of any organized portion of our society (say, HHS) compelling the disorganized elements to submit and comply. And the Left, if you notice, is all about unions and groups and mass protests. They are drawn to consolidations of power just as much as we are averse to it. It also explains the Tea Party Movement. The TPM has been unusual in that it is one of the first times (in my memory) that the Right has actually gotten together as a group and did anything. The Left always marches - getting a bunch of Joiners to go join a march is easy; getting a bunch of Loners to show up in the same place and cooperate is quite a trick. SO there is a natural tension between Left and Right - the urge to join, the urge to stay apart. Most of the media coverage of TPM has been from the Left and is focused on how disorganized they are. Then, there's the criticisms of their message: too many people, and they don't even believe the same thing. Then they try to tar the movement as exclusionary - racist, bigoted, etc. These are all the things a Joiner would fear, aren't they? The loose, de-centralized organization is exactly what you would expect from a movement on the Right; a movement of individuals. The only unifying theme throughout all of it is the terror of the Loners as they see the Joiners taking too much control. The thing that terrifies the Left most about the TPM is that its happening at all. Literally thousands of parties and millions of individuals later, and the Left still cannot grasp what they want or why they're there... and the usual tactic of humiliation just doesn't work like it used to. And it reveals the shameless ploy behind all their Leftist marches: it's a fraudulent imitation. A rip-off of the Real Thing. When thousands of individuals gather somewhere to demand a redress from their govt, it's a powerful thing. Some of the finest moments in our history have been when we have come together as individuals to be a part of a collective effort. So, when a small minority of the population wants to take more control from the rest of us, what do they do? They get all their unions and 527 groups and coalitions for change and national socialist workers parties and united for change community organizers to show up and give the appearance of a mass of individuals. This is fundamentally important: the Left seeks power by imitating a powerful, natural, individualistic phenomenon. That's why the Left's marches are almost always astro turf; while the Right's marches are almost always grass roots (and, as such, happen far less frequently). This is also why - if you've read my posts - I don't really care about the finer points dividing various individuals and their interpretation or adherence to some Objectivist screed... in a movement of individuals, it's to be expected that we all have different crayon boxes. That's the beauty of it. To sit around and debate the differences between Red, Fire Red, Sunset Red, and (my favorite) Corvette Red is pointless while there's a wave of blues outside the door, waiting to crash in and steal everyone's crayon boxes. The intolerance a few of you seem to have for anything that does not adhere to your strict interpretation of Objectivism is counterproductive; it only serves to keep us apart. We should be embracing the Red, and not worrying about the shades. Those of you that aim to stay "above the fray" by calling the rest of us posers, are the worst kind of purists. Puritanical, even. It's like you have one Crayon in your box, and you're not going to tell anyone what it is. All that being said, how is your crayon box set up? Are there any colors I've missed in mine? It might be helpful to start in broad strokes - because like most quantum things, it can devolve into a mess at the finer level.