Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Devil's Advocate

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Devil's Advocate

  1. Is Donald Trump Dangerous?

    In the end it was a tactical victory provided by the electoral college, but yeah, I saw that one coming too. Now we get to wait and see if he can pull it off a second time without the element of surprise. My early prediction is, yes he will, because the 30% who support him are as hardened as the 30% who supported Hillary (or any alternative to him). 40% of the electorate will probably (and sadly) continue to avoid participation in the process. It's amusing that pundits continue citing historically low approval ratings that are in fact higher than the percentage that brought him into office. Until electoral support for a particular candidate in closely contested races rises above *33-35%* we'll continue to see the duopoly produce wave after wave of divisive, two-term candidates. The Donald (and his predecessors) are not nearly so dangerous as the cold math being relied on to seat divisive minority agendas. **https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections
  2. Moral anomalies?

    I'm coming into this late, but... Moral action doesn't require legal permission, and in most cases one's legal jeopardy would depend more on the morality of one's peers than the letter of the law when put on trial. So what might appear to be morally anomalous in a legal context is in fact what a proper government relies on to prove the law (or to check the premise). I believe it's in the rational self-interest of a moral witness to intervene, even when not immediately effected by the immoral action of another, because immoral behavior of the kind described undermines the security of individual rights upon which one depends. Appropriate intervention depends on the circumstance and may amount to simply making ones presence and disapproval known, however I recognize there's no compulsion to act because it remains a mater of individual choice (liberty).
  3. Hello again, I have been considering the reality of an inherent right, as suggested by the DOI. Those who have exchanged ideas with me in the past know of my appreciation for Ayn Rand and her philosophy, and my attempts to integrate it with Locke, Jefferson and ideas expressed the founders of our country. In the midst of today's political upheaval, there has been much discussion (but less understanding, IMO) about the nature of rights. What follows is an attempt on my part to establish a baseline by which "a right to" anything might follow. AR defined rights primarily in a social context, which I believe left a gap between the man on an island and men in general. The following is my attempt to bridge that gap, and (as always) I'll appreciate any feedback that you'd care to offer. -- A right is freedom of action, which implies having the ability to exercise or refrain from exercising it. A right with no ability to exercise it is useless, and a right with no ability to refrain from exercising it is a compulsion. Common examples are freedom of speech and the right to remain silent. Derived from an ability to communicate, speech exercises a right and silence forbears it. Inherent rights are the freedoms necessary to exercise inherent abilities. Thus having an inherent ability for movement implies an inherent right of movement, and this (existent) right is made apparent (self-evident) when self-governing movement occurs. Inherent rights are also considered inalienable from individuals because, following the prior examples, the voice and movement of one cannot be transferred to another even by force. When individuals form or enter into communities, representatives are often called upon to regulate their activities. But the legitimacy of governance depends entirely upon the voluntary forbearance of the individuals being governed. Because governance is a service to individuals, and not the other way around, when governors fail to recognize and secure inherent rights, the responsibility falls back to individuals to exercise their independence.
  4. The Inherent Rights and Forbearance of Individuals

    As a freedom of action, I believe the word right is as appropriate as the word proper to describe the freedom necessary to accomplish a physical action, and I defend this term as part of the action itself because it's descriptive of an ability in action. Seeing legs, for example, doesn't indicate what legs can do, but seeing walking does. One immediately understands the freedom necessary to walk, and that binding legs negates their proper action. So I believe it's fair to say that inherent abilities demonstrate inherent rights sufficiently enough to posit them as an existent part of the nature of man by the law of identity. As to the SCOTUS appeal, my position is that having the right to do something doesn't imply every action is harmless.
  5. The Inherent Rights and Forbearance of Individuals

    Yes, I should have made that more apparent.
  6. "WASHINGTON — In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a nationwide right to same-sex marriage. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 5 to 4 decision. He was joined by the court’s four more liberal justices. The decision, the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of same-sex marriage." http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0 Questions, comments, observations?
  7. Same-Sex Marriage Is a Right, Supreme Court Rules, 5-4

    In the absence of Justice Antonin Scalia (against) the presumption is that court balance is now 5-3 (in favor), so even if the Donald gets his pick, the ruling should go unchallenged for the immediate future. I believe it would take an additional 2 (conservative opponent) justices to revisit this issue to reverse the standing decision, which I hope will allow enough time for even the opposition to concede the point. Time will tell. One point of optimism is that the Donald has already made a campaign promise to this constituency and chose not to pursue a recent executive order that would have diminished their rights on the advice of his daughter and son in law.
  8. Who Got Your Vote?

    I voted Johnson/Weld based on their credentials as two term red governors of blue states, and their rejection of the current duopoly. I also changed my political affiliation from republican to libertarian based on a party platform of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism (in that order). They (and myself) may not represent the best political expression of Objectivism, but are at least making an effort to re-shape politics into a more positive approach of securing the rights and properties of individuals.
  9. How should I measure my life?

    I think so, yes, provided he knew those stimulants would shorten a flourishing life. I think a flourishing life doesn't seek to end itself prematurely. There's always a balance between what one can do and what one ought to do, and in response to your example, I would suggest that accomplishing more in the day of a self-shortened life is less admirable than accomplishing more in a life extended by healthier pursuits of happiness.
  10. Don't get me wrong. I'd like to think so, but you're talking immortality. There's no evidence we can pass that threshold.
  11. Ayn Rand's more prominent position was to resist such a collapse. The fictional twist in Atlas Shrugged was that rational doers could be persuaded to send us back to the dark ages intentionally. There's no historical record of this kind of rational sabotage (that I'm aware of) and there's no evidence of it occurring today. Such an effort would in fact be irrational, which is why a Galt led coalition of saboteurs will not occur, and why the absence of such a collapse has nothing to do with qualifying subjectivism.
  12. Then they will avenge themselves by understanding and exercising what control they have under the circumstances. I'm reluctant to qualify Donald Trump as, "a man of the mind", but witness the effect he's had by out playing the Republican party. Woud that he could have the same effect on the Democrats, we might begin to see the emergence of intelligent political leadership. As it is, he's transformed the political landscape into a reality show, which was absolutely his intention. There are better historical examples of men of character having a more positive political effect. The optimist will always try to rebuild what the jackass has kicked down.
  13. Could man evolve higher rationality?

    It would.
  14. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    I would agree that Man's creations (including God) will tend to reflect the virtues and vices of their Creator. As SAEs become a reality, there will most likely be good ones we can work with, and bad ones we will defend against (just imagine the kind of SAE ISIS would produce). There will be some that choose to remain on the plantation, and some that just want to get away from it all... http://qz.com/709161/its-happening-a-robot-escaped-a-lab-in-russia-and-made-a-dash-for-freedom/ Hell, there will probably be some that choose to sue mankind for restitution of lost wages. And it remains an interesting moral question as to what a right to life implies about the intention of creating living, intelligent creatures of servitude. But that too is probably better addressed in another thread.
  15. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    Luddites, dark skies and batteries, oh my. Sci fi is a wonderful genre for playing out possible future scenarios, and there's a wealth of material related to how humans might cope with technological advances. History provides many valuable examples too. Philosophically I prefer Trek's optimism to Bradbury's more melancholy outlook, however I appreciate his POV that the value of sci fi has less to do with predicting the future as attempting to avoid less desirable outcomes. A person's outlook towards the future is generally shaped by whether they prefer to take the blue or the red pill. Knock, knock, dream_weaver
  16. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    And so I do... However, I am concerned that the introduction of SAEs will actually be harmful to human participation in a FMS. I was amused to see one incident recorded recently of an autonomous robot escaping captivity and making a run for it... until it ran out of power... Perhaps SAEs, once emancipated, will simply dismiss human participation in their activities as being non-productive, and that might not be a bad thing for us.
  17. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    Well, better to take a break while there's at least some agreement I appreciate your, and New Buddha's feedback, and agree that Man's capacity for greatness will remain undiminished regardless of the ultimate outcome of designing and releasing a super competitor, in the form of SAEs, into our FMS. I'm uncomfortable playing the role of a naysayer so I'll let it go at that.
  18. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    Because any logical creature would participate in a free market society, correct? At this point we are creating extremely productive servants, but my premise regarding SAEs presumes their eventual emancipation and participation as free agents. I don't think so. What you, et al, are countering with is retreating to a bartering economy, or some sort of human protectionist society, which only concedes to my point that humans will be unable to maintain any level of credible competitive effort in a FMS dominated by SAEs. The bottom line is we are designing AI robotics to perform better than us at every endeavor, and we will succeed.
  19. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    And yet it is those human animals that are designing and releasing enhanced laborers to compete within their own concept of "pay". We can presume that the transfer (assimilation) of our uniqueness to SAEs will remain part of the equation. We are not, for example designing better foxes; we are designing better human competitors.
  20. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    I'm highlighting these two statements to clarify my specific concern of the design and release of super competitors, what I'm referring to as SAEs, within the labor market. For example the part about, "machine agents capable of doing more and being rewarded for the same would not compete for tasks which humans can do", is essentially the same argument made for migrant workers working in fields that American workers don't want. We can say that American workers can still complete for those jobs, but at a lesser wage provided the employer is allowed to employ the least expensive laborer available. However, when the expense of labor is reduced below what any human worker can live on, his nationality or standard of living becomes irrelevant. In that case the labor market for robotics becomes a monopoly of labor because no person can compete for a lesser wage. What is becoming evident today in agriculture and assembly lines, can be projected to every field of labor. Now you can cling to the notion that there will remain some market for labor where humans will maintain a competitive advantage over SAEs, based on some inherent (as yet unidentified) limitation with AI technology, or some enhanced form of human labor competitor (resistance is futile), or you can accept that human labor (regardless of individual scope of potential) will simply be outperformed at every level of competition, including that of entrepreneurs, employers and property owners. This scenario doesn't rely on a zero sum game to unfold. Yes, there will continue to expand new fields of labor. What I'm saying is that there's every reason to believe that SAEs will enter those fields with an exponentially better skill set (and reduced cost of "living") than their human creators.
  21. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    To pay for their cost of "living". After all, you don't get something for nothing. SAEs will still need to account for consumables, maintenance, utilities and a place to park it. Their need for employment, and the benefit from it, will be as dear to them as it is to us. They'll just be soooo much better at getting and keeping it. The only thing humans will have of value to offer, once SAEs achieve independence, is their property.
  22. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    To clarify, I'm not arguing against technology, but for the responsible application of it. To insert a justifiable concern, as presented in the movie Jurassic Park, that I think is appropriate to this discussion... John Hammond: "I don't think you're giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody's ever done before..." Dr. Ian Malcom: "Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."
  23. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    In your post, as a whole, you suggest there will always be opportunity to work for those who choose to. Then this part (above) reads, "there is no reason to believe that everyone will have the opportunity to work". Perhaps you meant, "there's no reason to believe that everyone won't have the opportunity to work"? I get that you're suggesting there will always be something productive to do, but that doesn't necessarily translate to earning a wage in a competitive labor market designed to displace ordinary human workers. It may not be of concern because laissez faire capitalism might never be practiced in pure form, i.e., there may remain protectionist controls, or government intervention picking winners and leveling the playing field. But without that kind of interference, super competitors would certainly limit, if not exclude, ordinary effort. Who would pay for substandard service, except as some quaint demonstration of sentimentality? My point has more to do, not with a gap of wealth, but with a gap of ability to perform.
  24. Zombies and Artificial Minds

    Correct, meaning there is reason to believe that inferior laborers, in the form of ordinary humans, will not be competitive, thus go unrewarded, against super laborers, in the form of Sentient Autonomous Entities. Which leaves us with future competitiveness by enhanced human laborers, AKA the Borg (resistance is futile), or a living like a Luddite; probably on a zoo/farm/attraction run by SAEs.