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Gender: Female
Current location: India
Member since: Thu Jun 18, 2020, 11:40 AM
Number of posts: 497

About Me

I am an old-timer. I posted here as nam78_two for 4-5 years (2004 or 5 to 2009-10) in the Bush, Obama years.

Journal Archives

K & R.nt

K & R.nt



Nicholas Carr's latest blog post touches on consciousness in a funny way:

What is it like to be a smartphone?

The longstanding assumption, a reflection of the anthropomorphic romanticism of computer scientists, science fiction writers, and internet entrepreneurs, has been that a self-aware computer would have a mind, and hence a consciousness, similar to our own. We, supreme programmers, would create machine consciousness in our own image.

The assumption is absurd, and not just because the sources and workings of our own consciousness remain unknown to us and hence unavailable as models for coders and engineers. Consciousness is entwined with being, and being with body, and a computer’s body and (speculatively) being have nothing in common with our own. A far more reasonable assumption is that the consciousness of a computer, should it arise, would be completely different from the consciousness of a human being. It would be so different that we probably wouldn’t even recognize it as a consciousness.

As the philosopher Thomas Nagel observed in “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?,” his classic 1974 article, we humans are unable to inhabit the consciousness of any other animal. We can’t know the “subjective character” of other animals’ experience any more than they can understand ours. We are, however, able to see that, excepting perhaps the simplest of life forms, an animal has a consciousness — or at least a beingness. The animal, we understand, is a living thing with a mind, a sensorium, a nature. We know it feels like something to be that animal, even though we can’t know what that something is.

If we respected the complex inner lives of non-human life, factory farms would not exist. Species extinction would not be a casual byline while all kinds of banalities and trivialities fill our heads and dominate the news.

Philosophical questions like these would not arise:

Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?


Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?

To make that case, let me start with a claim that I think will be at once depressing and, upon reflection, uncontroversial. Human beings are destroying large parts of the inhabitable earth and causing unimaginable suffering to many of the animals that inhabit it. This is happening through at least three means. First, human contribution to climate change is devastating ecosystems, as the recent article on Yellowstone Park in The Times exemplifies. Second, increasing human population is encroaching on ecosystems that would otherwise be intact. Third, factory farming fosters the creation of millions upon millions of animals for whom it offers nothing but suffering and misery before slaughtering them in often barbaric ways. There is no reason to think that those practices are going to diminish any time soon. Quite the opposite.

Humanity, then, is the source of devastation of the lives of conscious animals on a scale that is difficult to comprehend.

To be sure, nature itself is hardly a Valhalla of peace and harmony. Animals kill other animals regularly, often in ways that we (although not they) would consider cruel. But there is no other creature in nature whose predatory behavior is remotely as deep or as widespread as the behavior we display toward what the philosopher Christine Korsgaard aptly calls “our fellow creatures” in a sensitive book of the same name.

Unless we believe there is such a profound moral gap between the status of human and nonhuman animals, whatever reasonable answer we come up with will be well surpassed by the harm and suffering we inflict upon animals. There is just too much torment wreaked upon too many animals and too certain a prospect that this is going to continue and probably increase; it would overwhelm anything we might place on the other side of the ledger. Moreover, those among us who believe that there is such a gap should perhaps become more familiar with the richness of lives of many of our conscious fellow creatures. Our own science is revealing that richness to us, ironically giving us a reason to eliminate it along with our own continued existence.

I ponder this question philosophically often although I am not what the thoughtless or vacuous could refer to as an "ecofascist". How is it that we see no tragedy in the suffering we inflict on non-human life? Why do we fail to see that the philosophical root of our callousness towards other humans is directly tied to this same vacuous self-absorption? Humanism being something that people at least pay lip service to.

I often think that when people make movies about aliens or ai maliciously killing us, it is really an exercise in human projection. We assume that they would be just like us-vacuous, callous, rapacious, opportunistic and predatory.
Only in movies "they" are not as self deceptive as we are.
They seem to be aware they are "evil" typically.
Of course I am no misanthrope. I don't think humans (at the species level) are evil...merely vacuous and trivial.
I am speaking of course of how a third party-an advanced, intelligent species without our own banal sentimentality about humans would view us. Which would not be the Dr.Who style commercial in defense of the species .

I came online just to k&r this

I rarely have time for anything nowadays and never pay attention to viral videos. This one however, is viral for a reason.

I wish more politicians were like Ms. Porter. It also hits close to home for me. My mother suffers from multiple myeloma. Revlimid is not one of her meds right now but it could be some day.

Fortunately, I live outside the US and our drugs are affordable if expensive. Or else, I too could have had the joy of contributing to Mr. Alles' next summer house or whatever it is the man does with the stuff.

He seems really good at thinking on his feet. "Err ummm..uhhh..it is reminiscent of my errr ummmm compensation." Bright guy...the ripe fruit of a dog eat dog meritocracy.

She has grilled other repellant human beings like Jamie Dimon and Zuckerberg in the past I hear...I'd love to see her take on ecological issues.

Very cool

A remarkable young woman.
I tried to make sense of that problem but stopped when I felt a throbbing about the temples . Maybe another time....bookmarking it.
Very sad about Conway.


I will bookmark all these in my journal and probably not get around to actually carefully reading a single one ...


Missed that

Huh..did not notice that one. I scan retraction watch daily as I am on the mailing list but did not see this.

Neat article

Lots to bookmark....
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