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About Axiom

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  • Real Name
    V. Silagadze
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    University of Waterloo
  1. I definitely sympathize with you. I'm familiar with the lack of intellectual property rights in China from the engineering R&D side of things - and I imagine the same issues arise on the art front. That being said, I see the lack of attention to copyright as a relatively minor flaw (for now.) Consider how far the country has come in the last 20 years. Lack of copyright law seems like a blemish compared the the complete lack of property rights that existed there in recent memory. Also consider that these reproductions have nothing but a positive effect on the well being of the artist they are copying. I don't imagine anyone considering a $100 reproduction of a $100k work of art is in the market for the latter. Anyway, I generally look at this development as a positive sign. The guys who are making this happen are clearly ambitious - and they are brilliant at what they do. They are aphilosophical, and are simply responding to incentives set by the political system they're in. So yes, they aren't Ayn Rand heroes, but they are a hell of a lot better than the communist thugs that preceded them. Regarding the quality of the reproductions; I certainly have no illusions that the copy is anywhere near the quality of the original. In my mind it's not a contest between the $100 copy and the $1.8million dollar original. It's between the $100 copy and a (shitty) $200 print at artrenewal. It's not a hard decision to make
  2. I just recently acquired a reproduction of one of my favorite paintings. It cost me less than $100, including shipping. All thanks to the magic of slave labor globalization. There is a city called Painting Village in China where the entire local economy revolves around creating art reproductions. It's a pretty incredible example of entrepreneurship actually. Here's an example of one posted on ebay: http://cgi.ebay.ca/Pelt-Merchant-of-Cairo-...Z150274976457QQ
  3. You may be interested in this Brain Terminal
  4. Canada

    I'm curious as to where you got the 2/3 statistic - it sounds too high too me. I recall seeing numbers much lower a while ago (...it was in the National Post when the private/public hospital opened up). Re: polemic Isn't that how all elections are run these days? when was the last time you saw a conservative defeat that wasn't a result of a pragmatic platform? I remember reading line by an Objectivist intellectual (Tracinsky?) that was about the Microsoft anti-trust trials: "when they loose in court they conclude that it isn't a result of compromising on their principles, but that it is because they don't compromise fast enough" Sums it up nicely. Pragmatists never learn.
  5. Canada

    For those of you who haven't heard but are at least remotely interested, the Liberals won again in Canada. They've got a minority government this time (i.e, less than 50% of the seats in the house) but I don't think they will have any trouble keeping up the march towards socialism - not with the NDP (the actual communist party) having more than enough seats to make up the difference. So for all of you who live in Canada and predicted a conservative victory, I must now officially claim my I-told-you-so. Canadians have become so complacent and cowardly that there is absolutely no chance in hell that we will get any change from the status quo in the near future. No matter how many scandals the Liberals get into, Canadians will still stick with them because that is the only "system" they know. I'm eagerly awaiting my graduation so that I can get the hell out of here and move to the US. -- Vecheslav Silagadze
  6. Hologramic Theory Of Mind

    Pietsch presents a new approach to thinking about neural computation - rather than looking for "literal comparisons" between the behavior of the brain and the results produced (i.e, mental states) he introduces the idea of the mind being created in a transform space, i.e, existing one level of abstraction above the physical operation of the brain. Instead of the actions of neurons being directly responsible for mental states, it is their actions within the context of a transform space. So in order to understand what's going on beneath the surface one has to look at it from "within" the transform space. Think of it this way - if you were to look at the operation of an ALU unit inside a pentium chip you would see a literal relationship between the actions of the logic gates and what they represent (i.e, binary code), but if you were to look at the binary code for a .jpeg image you would see no literal relationships, because the binary code is a kind of transform space one step removed from the actual information contained in the file, which might be a picture of a tree. The tree is the literal, and the binary code serves as a useful in-between state for the information because it is easy to deal with for a computer (and note it is the exact opposite for humans - the binary code is incomprehensible, but the image itself is self evident.) This is the whole reason to have transforms - to convert information into another form in which it is easier to work with. This is what Laplace transforms do and this is what Pietsch believes (and I think I am beginning to agree with him) the brain does to do it's own computations. The hologram concept comes in to provide an analogy of what such a transform space might actually look like and how it would operate. There is hardly any Platonism in it - especially since every conclusion and proposition he makes is directly tied to experiment. I don't know of any other conceptual framework (and keep in mind that this is all that Pietsch is presenting here: a conceptual framework about how to think about the problem, not a working model) that even comes close to naturally fitting in with the seemingly contradictory experimental results coming out for neuroscience in recent years. Specifically the incredibly plastic nature of brain circuitry, and of course Pietsch's own shufflebrain experiments.
  7. Hologramic Theory Of Mind

    No, that is not a correct interpretation. If anything I think this is one of the few theories I've seen that actually has some hope of accounting for a non-physical phenomenon like the mind. The rest either completely dismiss the mind (i.e, consciousness) as a byproduct, or at best explain it in terms of bizarre quantum effects that have nothing to do with consciousness (as though through sheer weirdness they can account for how the mind works.) I'm far from knowledgeable about this subject, but what interests me specifically is how this theory can be applied to AI. I've been doing some work with artificial neural networks, and this might point to another approach (or a new angle on an existing one.) If anyone is interested I'm building a neat little quadruped robot that I plan to test new control systems on. Should be finished in a few months (I'm still putting together the schematics in SolidWorks).
  8. Hologramic Theory Of Mind

    Not much I'm afraid. He leaves that to the philosophers.
  9. Hologramic Theory Of Mind

    I've recently read Dr. Paul Pietsch's book "Shufflebrain: The Quest of Hologramic Mind." In it he presents a rather unique theory about how the brain gives rise to the mind, and provides descriptions of a number of experiments (which he collectively calles shufflebrain) that seem to support what he is proposing. The book is available for free at http://www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/shufflebrain.pdf and you can visit Dr. Pietsch's homepage at http://www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/ The thesis of the book is that the brain stores the mind as codes of wave phase, with the same characteristics as a hologram. And just as with a hologram the entire message (i.e, the mind) is contained in every subset of the medium (i.e, the brain). Essentially the brain is then a group of independent, but very flexible "modules" that code for various functions (in the most general sense of that word). A few startling preditions are made, and then experiments are described in support of them. Be warned though, that a few chapters in the book get highly mathematical - in very layman's terms though. It's certainly understandable without much of a background in maths (if you try hard enough) but ideally you would have at least a Calculus 3 background. Here are some quotes: Note: He uses the term memory in a very general sense in the book. "I use the term memory in reference to all the brain's stored information, whether learned, innate, or installed by some still unknown means. I use the term interchangeably with stored mind." And now the juicy parts: "I am an anatomist. I say that with pride and satisfaction, even now. And during much of my career, I was certain beyond a conscious doubt that the truth about life would reduce directly and explicitly to the architecture of the things that do the living. I had complete faith, too, that my science would one day write the most important scientific story of all: How a brain gives existence to a mind. But I was wrong. And my very own research, which I call shufflebrain, forced me to junk the axioms of my youth and begin my intellectual life all over again." Page 3 (of the .PDF file) "... Memory often survives massive brain damage, even the removal of an entire cerebral hemisphere. In the 1920s the celebrated psychologist Karl Lashley ... demonstrated that the engram, or memory trace, cannot be isolated in any specific compartment of a rat's brain. Certain optical holograms invented in the early 1960s, the most common today, exhibit just what Lashley had alleged of memory: A piece cut from such a hologram--any piece--will reconstruct the entire image. For as unlikely as this may seem, the message exists, whole, at every point in the medium." Page 3 "... what about the mind after the loss of a visual lobe of the brain? Halstead's group had something to say about this, too. The twenty-two year old secretary had scored 133 points on an IQ test before surgery. A month after the operation, she again scored 133. And five weeks after the operation, she left the hospital and returned to her job--as a secretary, no less! About the filing clerk, whose IQ also remained unchanged, Halstead et al. wrote, "Immediately on awakening from the anesthetic, the patient talked coherently and read without hesitation. At no time was there any evidence of aphasia [speech loss] or alexia [reading deficits]. Thus, in spite of the loss of half the visual areas of their cerebrums, despite a halved, or nearly halved, view of the external world, both young women retained whole visual memories. They are far from unique. Three floors below where I sit, there is an eye clinic whose filing cabinets contain thousands of visual-field maps and case upon case documenting the survival of a complete human mind on the receiving end of severely damaged human visual pathways." Page 15 "...in a hologram, the carrier of meaning--or phase-- cannot be reached with an eraser or a knife. Unlike our sheets, the hologramic code ought to survive any anatomical changes we can make. Herein is hologramic theory's most astonishing prediction: shuffling the brain will not scramble the mind!" Page 56 "What is memory, then? If we transfer the principles we've developed to hologramic theory, we can define a specific memory as a particular spectrum of Ds in transform space. Again, what are Ds? They are phase differences --relative values, relationships between and among constituents of the storage medium--of the brain! Thus in hologramic theory, the brain stores mind not as cells, chemicals, electrical currents or any other entity of perceptual space, but as relationships at least as abstract as any information housed in the transform space of a physical hologram. The parts and mechanisms of the brain do count; but the Ds they establish in transform space are what make memory what it is. If we try to visualize stored mind by literal comparisons with experience, we surrender any chance of forming a valid concept of the hologramic mind, and quite possibly we yield all hope of ever establishing the existence of the noumenon where the human brain stores the human mind." Page 93
  10. Can a new language lead to better thinking?

    This discussion has raised enough doubt about my original position for me to put it into my "probably false, interesting ideas" pile. I'm by no means married to the view - it just seamed reasonable to me. But back to the original topic: For those of you who have access to HBL (Harry Binswanger List www.hblist.com), there was a discussion on a while back about Aristotle's book Categories. The consensus seemed to be that the whole book was an attempt to clear up a misconception that arose out of the structure of ancient Greek. I may be misremembering here, so perhaps someone who has access to the archives would be kind enough to look it up - I'd love to re-read it.
  11. Can a new language lead to better thinking?

    Isn't that what we are talking about here? arbitrary strings of numbers? In any case, I found the place in the book where Dehaene describes the findings, and it was on page 102 -103, under the chapter "The Cost of Speaking English". I didn't see any references provided - he simply asserts it. I asked a simple hypothetical question in my first post on this topic, which was how difficult would thinking become if words averaged 50 characters? could you seriously claim that it wouldn't have any effect? if not, then clearly the efficiency of language has at least some impact on the efficiency of thinking.
  12. Can a new language lead to better thinking?

    My copy of the book is unfortunately in a different coutry at the moment, so I won't be getting to it for a while However, I'm sure you could track down the specific page in the book easily by using the Amazon.com book search tool. Regarding the ability to remember more numbers with shorter words: why is this so surprising? just try to remember a string of short words vs a string of long ones - wouldn't you expect to be able to remember more words if they are shorter? words for numbers are just placeholders for concepts - perceptual level references. If the percept is a complicated one, it is more difficult to remember, of course.
  13. Can a new language lead to better thinking?

    Sure. I read it in The Number Sense by Stanislas Dehaene. I recall it had a few studies referenced there (I'd look it up, but I don't have the book handy at the moment.)
  14. Can a new language lead to better thinking?

    I recall reading a while ago that chinese speakers are able to remember longer strings of numbers than ensligh speakers - 9 numbers as opposed to 7. The reason for this is usually attributed to the fact that numbers are much shorter words in chinese than in english. On an intuitive level, this makes sense. Just try thinking about a given subject while expanding all of the normally used acronyms. So thinking something like ¨NASA is incompetent ATM and should be privatized ASAP¨ as ¨National Aeronautics and Space Administration is incompetent at the moment and should be privatized as soon as possible.¨ To take an extreme example, just imagine the average word had 50 charactrs - not only would you find it difficult to hold thoughts in your head, Id wager you would find it nearly impossible.
  15. Mark Skousen's critique of Ayn Rand

    Re: Say's Law Three points: First, Say's Law is the most important economic principle that is almost universally ignored in academia (...I've never seen it taught.) Second, Thomas Sowell wrote a great book (his doctoral dissertation) on Say's Law. I'm sure your local university library will carry it. Third, Say's Law states that supply constitutes its own demand, which is simply an econo-speak way of saying that you can't have consumption without production. Demand is *not* "I want it", demand is "I want it and can afford to buy it", and there is no such thing as "I can afford to buy it" without an "I have produced the means to buy it" (at least not in a Capitalist system.)