kenstauffer

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Everything posted by kenstauffer

  1. Why does a match go out when you blow on it?

    It was an argument by convection
  2. Is free will an axiom? Or is it just my free will that is an axiom? I understand the argument in OPAR that I have free will and why this must be an axiom. Because any attempt to refute my own possession of free will leads to contradictions etc... But when I conclude that somebody else has free will, do I not have to [a] identifty the person as human, identify myself as human, [c] know that organisms of the same species share all basic capacities, therefore other people have free will just like me. Thus, other people's free will is not an axiom TO ME. It is a inference I make based on a long complex chain of reasoning. What I am getting at, isn't free will a subective experience, like pain, the color red, etc.. Does this not partially eleminate the quest for a new force of nature to explain the existence of free will? Let me elaborate... Imagine a consciousness that is far advanced from my own (advanced means it has a capacity to understand every atom and connection in my brain). This consciousness could observe me and predict my actions, and from its perspective I do not violate any laws of physics. From this god-like consciousness perspective everything I do is fully in accordance with the physical laws and no "free will" force of nature is needed to explain my behavior. Could free will be an axiom only because oneself does not have a capacity to "get outside" of ones awareness and thus see the determinism that is really taking place? That ends the best way I can express this idea. Below is an elaboration using the Halting problem..... Halting Problem and Free Will: The halting problem is this, "Does an algortihm exist that can determine if another algorithm halts on some input?" The answer is no. No such algorithm can be written. But if the turning machine (computer) is finite, then the halting problem is solvable.
  3. Singles?

    You'll know it when you see it.
  4. "What do you believe is true..."

    They are implicit in any proof. Proof rests on the idea that the law of identity has been established. Prove the law of identity, without the law of identity.
  5. Jokes

    That's okay because greatest number of people on this forum got it.
  6. Richard Dawkins Annoys Me!

    I'm a huge fan of Richard Dawkins. He is by far the most well written scientist I have had the pleasure to read. He is ruthlessly rational but in some respects he annoys the heck out of me. His most recent book, "The Ancestor's Tale" includes a lot of Bush/USA bashing and he routinely praises socialistic/altrustic government policy, while admitting that biologically it leads to disaster. This is what annoys me about him. Objectivist Ethics is not the same as Darwinism, but there is a harmony between them. Mainly because Objectivist Ethics begins by recognizing the biological fact that life is conditional, and then proceeds to explore the special way man survives (his mind), and that man differs from other organisms because he creates wealth rather than expropriating it from other sources. I just wish Richard Dawkins could see this, then he would be the perfect! :-) Any other Richard Dawkins fans out there? He is definately motivated by a hatred of creationism and views the USA as the main source of these ideas, and he is sadly correct (both in his hated and his identification of the USA as the main source), but I think he is guilty of bashing all republicans for the errors of the religious right. I unfortunately, live in the center of creationism (Texas). I went to Dinosaur Valley Texas State Park last week, where you can view actual dinosaur tracks that are 100 million years old. Well, I loved it , but some religious nut has created a giant museum next to the park called the "Creation Evidence Museum". I laughed my head off, then was angry, then sad. It amazed me how threatened Christians are of the *Fact* of Evolution. Not to defend religion, but if Christianity survived Galilio why can in not survive Darwin?
  7. I am a materialist when it comes to the mind and consciousness. Of course, this puts me at odds each time "free will" is mentioned in Objectivism. How can a materialistic viewpoint escape the inherent predeterminism in such a view? Some objectivists have "resolved" this issue by citing the axiomatic nature of free will, and thus ending all further inquiry into the subject. (but existence is an axiom too, but that doesn't mean chemists and atom smashers are wasting their time). Others have reconciled free will with materialism by proposing a new force of nature that allows consciousness to manipulate matter. See my previous post to see how I believe free will is consistent with my materialism. For this new topic I just want to explore the halting problem, and how it is solvable for Finite Automata The Halting Problem: The halting problem arises in the context of turing machines that have inifinite storage capacity. It has been proved that no general algorithm can be written that will determine if an arbitrary algorithm will halt. (I.e, you cannot predict the algorithm's behavior. Can you smell the parellels with free will?). The Halting Problem for finite Automata: If you have a turning machine with a capcity for N states, then I can build a larger turning machine that simulates the smaler one. Whenever I detect a repeated state then I know the algorithm DOESN'T halt. But if the simulated program reaches a HALT state, then I know the algorithm halts (duh!). Futher, (and most important) my larger computer will always terminate and give an answer. Since the finite nature of consciousness is not a debated fact in Objectivism, then I believe free will need not be incongruent with materialism.
  8. self-service checkout machines

    You probably think that Jim Taggarts idea to remove diner cars was a great example of conservation of resources. Maybe we should require fast food customers to clean the bathrooms. Then this savings could be passed on to the customer, instead of being wasted on hiring a person to clean the toilets. Heck I bet you can clean toilets faster than most people.
  9. self-service checkout machines

    Here is my take on self-checkout, which I loath.. As long as products have bar codes that must be located before they can be scanned, then it doesn't make sense to make the customer scan their own products. The checkout person is much faster because they know where the barcode is located on the the eggs, milk etc... Whereas for me it is a waste of my time that I could spend on doing soemthing like enjoying life. I hate self-checkout because I find it very degrading to be put into the position of a minimum wage highschooler to buy food. Why did I go to college and spend thousands of dollars and hours learning to use my brain, if when I go to spend my money I end up doing it all myself? Sorry to sound like an elitist jerk, but we all derserve a rich life filled with labor savings technology; not reduced to car pooling in diamond lanes, communal buses, pumping gas, checking your own oil, and checking your own groceries. Screw Albertson's and Wal-mart. I deserve better!
  10. When the filament in a lightbulb has current pass thought it the filament heats up, causing it to glow and give us light. In atomic theory, the atoms in the filament are excited, the electrons in the atoms go to a higher orbital shell then quickly return to more stable state, this is when the energy is released in the form of a photon. Where are the photons coming from? Are the photons "inside' the fillament, inside the electrons, inside the atom or what? Can this go on forever? Will a particular closed system (except for the light being emitted) run out of photons? (presumably the energy source would be fixed in this closed system, so that when the enrgy source depletes the generation of light would also cease. But is this limiting condition? or could you have a large enough battery such that the supply of photons depletes before the battery?)
  11. Moral Dilemma #4

    The reworded quote is much better. In that case: I wouldn't pry further (unless Brad wants to get more specific). I would continue my plan to call Willis. I wouldn't say anything to him (unless he says something about his former friendship with Brad).
  12. Moral Dilemma #4

    I would get Willis's number and then throw out Brad's (metaphorically speaking) What Brad does and says in this example reveals more about himself than Willis. I would wonder if Brad is trying to indirectly punish Willis rather than protect me from him. Unless Willis is a suspected serial killer (purse snatcher, crack dealer, etc...), Brad's first response to my request should be "Sure, no problem.". This example also establishes that Willis and Brad are friends (or were friends). Brad doesn't hesitate to trash his former friend for a relative stranger. That speaks volumes about Brads character. Let consider what Brad is accusing Willis of doing. Brad's accusations are sufficiently vauge that Ayn Rand or Leonard Peikoff could be accused of the same. Either Brad has a very rigid/intolerant standard for who people should associate with (unlikely considering he is outgoing and social), or Brad is subconsciously trying to punish Willis for something (there may be other possibilities). Both of these speak poorly for Brad, not nessasarily for Willis. Finally, Brad doesn't appear to have any problem telling me what to do (don't call him, if you are smart). This is a very presumptious attitude, and I personally don't like to be dealt with this way. What to do? Insist on the number, call Willis, and wait for more information about Brad's character.
  13. Honesty and space flight

    On Apollo 13, the networks did not carry the capsule broadcast live, is it moral for mission control to withold this from the astronauts?. If the atronauts had explicitly asked if the networks showed their broadcast what should mission control had said? On Apollo 12, lightning caused problems during the launch. Ground controllers were able to verfy the safety of going to the moon. However they had some concern that the pyrotechnics for the re-entry parachutes might not work. Was it wrong to say nothing of this fact to the crew? In both cases, mission control seems to be limiting the information given to crew (rather than outright lying), in order to protect the crew from the facts of reality. Are these examples of lying? What principle makes these interactions justified? Are these just real-life examples of life-boat scenarios?
  14. Archimedes and the siege of Syracuse

    A productive methodology I somtimes apply for questions like this is to ask myself if there are examples of this technology in the animal kingdom. Given lifes amazing propensity for discovering things like sonar, etc... then it isn't unreasonable to conclude that mirrors are probably not an effective weapon, as life has not converged on this strategy. It's not proof, but I think it's a worthwhile strategy when first "peeling the onion" on such questions. Another element of such thinking, is to try and imagine a series of small incremental steps that each have survival value leading up to the "mirror based weapon". (it's not a requirement that each step be useful as a mirror-based weapon, it just has to be useful for something)
  15. Narcissism

    Just out of curiosity why are there so many N's in your life? How frequent is this disorder in society?
  16. Halting Problem and Free Will

    Primes are proven to go on forever.
  17. Narcissism

    This link concerns Michael Moore, and how he may have Nacissistic Personality Disorder http://www.mooreexposed.com/mental.html It made sense to me. When I was reading up on N's the one thing that struck me as a very useful diagnostic trait is that N's are happy with bad attention just as well as good attention. This differentiates them from most people (who to some extent want attention too) because most people avoid the bad kind of attention. An example of bad attention comes from the world of crime. A serial killer, when caught, will enjoy tremendously the court appearances, the angry crowds. This relates to Micheal Moore specifically, because he seems to not care about the kind of attention he is getting.
  18. Halting Problem and Free Will

    If that's true then you are a millionaire.
  19. Halting Problem and Free Will

    It is unknown if the loop terminates, as the goldbach conjecture is still unsolved. (My comment for the GOLDBACH said it always terminates, but that doesn't mean it always returns TRUE, if it is found to return FALSE for any 'n' input, then the conjecture is false, so far this function has returned TRUE for values as high as 2 x 10^17)
  20. Halting Problem and Free Will

    I screwed up... Arghhh. I need to change the final loop to be "not GOLDBACH()". Does this loop terminate?        halt := False        n := 2        repeat             if NOT GOLDBACK(n) then                      halt := True;                        n := n + 2;        until halt = True
  21. Halting Problem and Free Will

    This is my implementation for the Goldbach conjecture..   function PRIME(n)  -- True if n is prime  -- (This algorithm terminiates for all n) function GOLDBACH(n)  -- True if 'n' is the sum of 2 primes, else False.  -- (This algorithm terminiates for all n) begin  for x = 1 to n   for y = 1 to n    if PRIME(x) and PRIME(y) and (x + y) = n then     return TRUE  return FALSE; end Does this loop terminate? halt := False n := 2 repeat  if GOLDBACK(n) then   halt := True;  n := n + 2; until halt = True
  22. Halting Problem and Free Will

    But in this case the human is not doing anything that a machine couldn't programmed to do. In a context in which the algorithm parameters are limited (i.e has finite number of states.), then a machine can solve the halting problem too.
  23. Halting Problem and Free Will

    This just occured to me, My argument is very similar to Penrose's (The Emperor's New Brain) on the subject of consciousness. 1. QM is wierd 2. Consciousness is wierd 3. Therefore consciousness is based on QM My argument is: 1. Turing/Godel/Halting Problem is wierd 2. Consciousness is wierd 3. Therefore consciousness is based on Turing/Godel.
  24. Halting Problem and Free Will

    Stephen your reply is much appreciated. In particular, That's a great question. One I haven't asked myself (but should have) for ages. Somewhere, long ago, I got stuck on this turing/godel/computer analogy and have not been willing to let it go. Part of the reason is that I only half heartily accepted the Objectivist position on volition. "volition" never jived with my scientific billard-ball view of the universe. Also, when I was exposed to the ideas of Godel/Turning/Halting problem in college, I was blown away by the results. Again, my billard-ball view of the world made it hard for me to accept the fact that a formal notation powerful enough to express arithemetic is insufficient to prove ALL true statements of that notation. (Godel's incompletness)
  25. Halting Problem and Free Will

    Human beings cannot solve the halting problem. Remember that the halting problem applies to all algorithms. This would mean that I could give a human any algorithm, and if they can solve the halting problem, then they can always report: "YES" the loop terminates, or "NO" the loop goes on forever. If this were true, I could give a human a simple loop that iterates over all the integers (starting at 0) and terminates only when fermat's last theorem is FALSE. If a human told me that this loop terminates, then I have a refutation of Fermat's, if the human told me the loop goes on forever they have established the truth of Fermat's last theorem. In otherwords, being able to solve the halting problem, implies humans could trivially solve all currently unsolved problems in number theory. (Fermat's was a bad example as it HAS been solved in this specific case, but subsitute any currently unsolved problem in number theory to make my example compelling again)