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Everything posted by necrovore

  1. They also have one for movie quotes: "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to Necrovore." "Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say 'Necrovore' at will to old ladies." "I could dance with you 'til the Necrovore come home. On second thought, I'd rather dance with the Necrovore 'til you came home." "With great power comes great Necrovore." "Father to a murdered son. Husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my Necrovore, in this life or the next." "Necrovore? Where we're going we don't need Necrovore." "I'm here to fight for truth, justice, and the American Necrovore." "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the Necrovore Room!" "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little Necrovore, too!" "Have you ever danced with the Necrovore in the pale moonlight?" Okay, that's enough...
  2. I should have added the phrase "in this context."
  3. I think I was six or seven years old when I first questioned the existence of God. In seventh or eighth grade I wanted to know why, if freedom of speech was in the Constitution, it was wrong to watch R-rated movies. Later in junior high I got taken in by a certain cult which I shall leave unnamed. I studied its literature for a year, but was puzzled by the holes and contradictions, and I found it impracticable. Eventually I found out it was a fraud. Bitterly disappointed, I became a skeptical agnostic. (I still believed in the Constitution, though.) When The Fountainhead essay contest was running, I said, "It can't be that great of a book if they have to pay people to read it..." I went on like that through college, and I didn't hear about Ayn Rand again during that time, but I didn't get a job right away after I graduated, so I ended up briefly unemployed. I decided to torture myself. I figured I'd either read something by James Joyce or Ayn Rand. (Well, I thought they were interchangeable at the time!) Ayn Rand was somewhat easier to find in the bookstore... That was in the first half of 1998, when I was 22. The Fountainhead was a blast! After that I read Atlas Shrugged and OPAR. I knew immediately that Objectivism was for me -- it not only fit in with a lot of what I already believed (including my sense of life) but it filled in all the holes and answered all the questions! I devoured all the the Ayn Rand nonfiction I could find (The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal, Philosophy Who Needs It, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, For The New Intellectual, and The Romantic Manifesto) and then I figured I got the point. (I think I read Return of the Primitive, The Ayn Rand Lexicon, The Ominous Parallels, and The Early Ayn Rand in the following year. I'm not sure what order I read the books in, or the dates.) I bought The Art of Fiction and The Art of Nonfiction when they came out. I didn't read We The Living, Anthem, or Night of January 16th until much later. (I loved Night of January 16th, by the way.) That's how it happened...
  4. In order to answer this question you must draw a distinction between the natural and the man-made. A theory has to take the natural world into account; a theory that fails to do so is a bad theory. Many examples have already been pointed out on this thread. For someone to say, well, the theory is correct but the natural world has let it down, is just ludicrous. The natural world is what it is and has to be accepted as such. It is silly to blame the natural world for not conforming to one's fantasies. However, a theory that is intended to conform to the world cannot take into account what people think. The opinions of people -- regardless of their numbers -- should not take precedence over reality. Just as an individual can be wrong, a society can be wrong. And so it is possible for society to let down a theory. We saw it with Galileo, and we see it today with scientists who dare to dispute global warming. Freedom is the antidote to this. If a person is free to spread his theory and to demonstrate it, it will eventually win out because of its conformance to reality.
  5. I have a plan that will cost ARI almost nothing, if they could get it going: create a Wiki, so that authorized purchasers -- and only authorized purchasers -- of the lectures can read or edit the transcript. You would get a password to the Wiki along with your purchase. That might make the lectures worth it even at their existing price. (A moderately high price would serve to deter Wiki vandals, I think.)
  6. The whole concept of "contingent" is invalid. The existence of the universe is self-evident. There is no need to "explain" its existence; it's here. There is no possibility of explaining its existence; since the universe is everything that exists, there is, by definition, nothing outside of it to have caused it. It is a mistake to suggest that the universe is "contingent," that it could have been other than what it is. What evidence can there possibly be for such an assertion? It is only "contingent" in the mind -- particularly in the minds of those who wish to fantasize alternatives to reality.
  7. I just spotted this on Slashdot... it appears that Microsoft has replied to the Peter Gutmann paper that sort-of indirectly started this thread. I have not finished reading Microsoft's reply yet, but I wanted to post the URL here so others could read it.
  8. You have to make sure that "doing something" doesn't infringe the rights of anyone else. It would actually be very easy for the government to set up a police force that surfed the internet just like everyone else -- no special wiretapping or anything -- and looked around for pirated media, just like any typical pirating kid would. Once they started to get a pirated file, they would have the IP address (or addresses) it was coming from, and it would be easy to start a legal proceeding. One problem is that the damages have to be high in order for it to be worth a court's time -- but why use a court every time? If these things were dealt with in the same manner as traffic tickets, it would get better results. If the cops cannot be trusted to monitor the Internet, then let the good people turn the bad ones in. I think that much of our legal system, historically, used to be based on that sort of idea -- that the government doesn't have to monitor everything to discover crimes, because people will report suspicious activity. If a large percentage (like 90%) of the people are willing to tolerate piracy, such a problem cannot be solved by the government; it has to be solved by philosophy. But even 10% peer reporting would drive piracy far underground, as the pirates would have a hard time telling which peers were other pirates and which would turn them in. There can also be a bounty for catching pirates. There is no need for the legal system to remove the "Record" button from people's devices. I don't think this is part of any existing law, but laws have been proposed (and defeated) that would have such an effect. The SSSCA was defeated. Only certain wireless networking cards are affected. Some cards enforce FCC regulations in hardware, and therefore no driver can possibly cause the card to violate the regulations. In such a case, open-source drivers are okay. But some cards depend on software to enforce the FCC regulations. In this case, making the software open-source would allow users to tinker with the regulatory enforcement and possibly cause the device to no longer be certified (or maybe even be ineligible for certification). It's one thing if a radio transmitter, for example, has a variable resistor on the inside that, if the owner takes the device apart and adjusts it, puts the transmitter out of compliance with FCC rules. It's another thing if the radio transmitter has a knob on the outside labeled "Do Not Touch"... A closed-source driver can be deemed part of the device, but an open-source driver is "outside" because it can be modified by the user. This Slashdot thread mentions that IBM was interpreting an FCC regulation to mean that their Lenovo laptop wasn't FCC-certified (and therefore shouldn't operate) if it has an uncertified wireless network card attached to it. This article on ars technica says that Intel is making that claim about one of its wireless networking devices. I've read that technically the FCC regulations apply to the user, not the manufacturer; "modifications may void the user's authority to operate the equipment." But if the driver enforces FCC regulations, it is technically part of the device. It may affect whether the FCC can certify the device. MS may be moving in anticipation of a law that they think will pass. But it is possible that they expect no such law and that they are taking the business risk of pushing an unpopular feature now, in the hopes that people will eventually warm up to it. Microsoft has done that before. (For example, Microsoft pressured computer manufacturers to include CD-ROM drives in their computers before the drives were popular. People now like CD-ROM drives.) It is not "unearned" to want to control the media and devices that you paid for. It is good and honest for a company to want to make money. I begin to worry, however, when it looks like they are willing to give up money in exchange for having power and control. This comes from different sources: (1) The "political entrepreneur" type of businessman who is just more interested in having power over people than making money (2) Product liability laws requiring businessmen to try to prevent their customers from doing activities that will get the business sued (3) Government regulations and laws requiring businessmen to enforce rules against customers All three are products of the mixed economy. Under pure capitalism, (2) and (3) would be illegal, and (1) would likely be driven out of the market by better alternatives. Even if the business would benefit from it, the act of forcing it on them makes it wrong. Although I don't think copyright itself is debatable, I think it's debatable whether copyright should be extended (and it is an extension) to allow the copyright holder, or the government acting on his behalf, to control every aspect of every device that your copy of his work passes through, on the grounds that you must be totally prevented from being able to make a copy. Even if the laws aren't on the books yet, they're coming. It seems that nothing stands in their way except a bunch of hippies who want to eliminate copyright altogether. It seems that the DRM debate is shaping up to be one of totalitarianism versus anarchy.
  9. The question here isn't one of what is actually legal but one of what ought to be legal. Law is based on politics, which is based on ethics, which is a branch of philosophy. Previously I said that the DMCA makes things illegal that "aren't otherwise." I suppose what I am getting at is that I am comparing the legal system to a moral standard and that the legal system was worse, according to the moral standard, after the DMCA than it was before it. Microsoft can produce whatever OS it wants. The problem is that the legal system is actually banning alternatives. Linux may soon become illegal because it fails to enforce copying restrictions and because its open-source nature would make it too easy for anyone to just remove any copying restrictions from the code and recompile. It is already illegal to write open-source drivers for wireless networking cards for a similar reason (it would be possible to alter the code for the drivers in such a way as to program the cards to violate FCC restrictions). Also, it is not true that the DMCA preceded DRM. Various forms of copy protection were in use on microcomputer software in the 1980s. Software companies abandoned them because they weren't effective and because they inconvenienced legitimate users. They were responding to market pressures in doing so. DRM cannot survive in the marketplace apart from laws that make it illegal to produce stuff that doesn't have DRM. These laws, that protect DRM from the market, infringe individual rights. The recently proposed PROTECT act is an example. (It makes it illegal to produce a device capable of recording satellite radio without putting DRM on the recording. It also requires any streaming broadcaster to put DRM on his broadcast.) To my knowledge, Objectivism supports the right to property, but the right to property is not arbitrary. Remember that the U.S. became a much more moral (and more capitalist) nation by abolishing a certain form of "private property" in 1863 or so.
  10. One new law required by DRM is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention provision, which basically makes a machine's judgment about copy protection legally binding. If copy protection prevents you from making a copy, and you circumvent the copy protection and make the copy anyway, then it's illegal, even if it would have otherwise been legal for you to make the copy (such as because you own the copyright). Even possessing (or trafficking in) a tool to override a machine is illegal under the DMCA. Also new are the FCC's repeatedly-proposed regulations regarding the Broadcast Flag and the requirement that devices honor the flag. (This flag is supposed to prevent copying, when it's turned on. The FCC tried to mandate recognition of the flag; courts ruled that the FCC doesn't have the authority to make that mandate; the media companies are now trying to get Congress to grant the FCC the authority.) Also new are some proposed laws that would "close the analog hole" by requiring analog recording devices to use some kind of watermarking scheme to recognize "copyrighted" material and refuse to copy it. The World Intellectual Property Organization has been trying to create a "broadcast right," recently, that would allow broadcasters to own what they broadcast apart from whether it would have otherwise been copyrighted by someone else or in the public domain. In other words, if I make a movie, copyright it, and a television network airs it, then the television network, even apart from any contract with me, would have the broadcast rights, and even I wouldn't be allowed to rebroadcast it. This broadcast right is designed to work with DRM and things like the broadcast flag.
  11. I am suspicious of DRM. DRM is more than just a technology; it is something that requires accommodations in the legal system and in international copyright treaties. Considering the anti-conceptual way that legislators deal with other issues, and their well-known inability to understand computer and technical issues, I would find it completely astonishing if DRM and the maze of laws that go with it could be found to be completely Objectively valid. I think that DRM, as it is being implemented, is a product of the mixed economy, and that it is right to regard it with suspicion. I am suspicious that it is targeted toward "Joe Consumer," who, qua consumer, doesn't produce anything. Because of advancing computer technology, it is becoming cheaper and cheaper for talented individuals and groups to produce high-quality music and movies and release them directly to the public over the Internet, and even make money. The traditional media companies find that this competition is eroding their revenue. If you play a guitar and record it with your computer and post the recording on the Internet, there is no way the computer can tell whether you are playing your own composition or someone else's. And if you play well, it is now technologically easy to produce a recording in your own home that is better than the recordings that were produced by professional studios 20 years ago. You can even become rich without the help of a media company. So it is convenient for the media companies to claim that, in general, they are having to compete with bootleg versions of their own work, and to make it less convenient for individuals to post high-quality material of any kind whatever, on the presumption that any such material could be an illegal copy. I predict that production equipment is going to fall into two classes: equipment which licenses the DRM and is out of the reach of all but the big media companies, and equipment which is affordable but either produces low-quality recordings which anybody can copy, or high-quality recordings which nobody, not even you, can copy, even if you own the copyright. (The presumption being that if you cannot access the production-licensed equipment, you are a "consumer" and therefore you are probably re-producing someone else's work rather than producing your own.) It will become illegal to produce high-quality recording equipment that does not license DRM and enforce it in some way, because such equipment could be used to make high-quality illegal copies. Independent producers of music and movies will find that they cannot protect their own work the way the big media companies protect it -- unless they either go through one of the existing media companies (allowing it to make an unearned profit), or license the technology under terms that only a big media company would be able to comply with. I predict that written licenses will no longer be legally binding; if your work is not protected by DRM, the machines with DRM will copy it without limitations, and this will constitute an implied license. As soon as most computers have DRM built-in, it will become illegal to make a computer that does not have it. By that time, it will be possible to argue that the computers being banned are no longer being manufactured, anyway. After all, the argument will go, the only reason to build or use such a computer would be to make illegal copies. The media companies pushing DRM are not going bankrupt because of illegal copying. They are going bankrupt because they are becoming obsolete. It is a matter of economics that the bankruptcy of a single company or industry, if caused by its own obsolescence, works out better for the economy as a whole, as it allows the company's resources to be released for use in more productive ways. However, the mixed economy allows the media companies to avoid bankruptcy by manipulating the laws. That is what is happening here. It would be nice if DRM made it possible for anyone to apply protection to his work and prevent it from being pirated, but I do not think that is what the media companies have in mind for it. Are the media companies willing to protect everyone's rights at the expense of their own bankruptcy? In today's political environment? Think about it. (It is unfortunate also that the anti-copyright people are helping to cause the above events to take place, by making the media companies' cover story sound plausible. I think the anti-copyright people are a very vocal minority; most people do want to reward the producers of their favorite media.)
  12. The reason Peter Keating "never could have been" is because that is what he chose for himself. He evaded the knowledge that that was what he chose, but he did have the option to learn it. For example, there were many times when Keating expressed a respect or admiration for Roark. But Keating never figured out why he admired Roark, and he often hated himself for admiring Roark. And he hated Roark because Roark was admirable in precisely the ways that Keating wanted to be admirable, but Keating didn't want to do what he would have had to do to be admirable in that way. Greatness is the product of both your choices and the opportunities open to you. Keating had the opportunity to be a great architect in his own right, but he made choices that ultimately made that impossible. Keating arguably had more opportunity than Roark did -- and yet Roark was the one who was ultimately successful, because Roark made better choices with the opportunities he had. I don't believe everyone can be great because I don't believe everyone has the opportunity. For example, people born into dictatorships don't have many opportunities for greatness. But in a novel, the focus is on the characters' choices, and in your own life, your focus should be on your choices, from whatever opportunities are available to you. It is useless to pine for opportunities you don't have, but it is also bad to pass up opportunities you do have.
  13. I haven't heard the lectures, but I'd pay $79.99 for a hardcover book with the entire content of all the lectures (even a transcript), a table of contents, and an index. Having just the first two lectures would be like having just the first two chapters of a book. ARB was having a sale a while back and I bought Induction in Physics and Philosophy (which I've listened to all the way through) and The DIM Hypothesis (which I haven't finished listening to). Although the material itself is excellent, I think I would get a lot more out of it -- or any lecture material -- if it were in book form. My mind tends to wander during lectures.... Dr. Peikoff is already working on book versions of the two lectures I bought, but I suspect they are not going to be mere transcripts!
  14. It is true that a person can't make his own free will go away merely by denying that it exists. However, a person who claims that he has no free will can thereby rationalize away his responsibility for his choices. He can act on his emotions rather than reasoning things out; he can drift out of focus, and then say that he couldn't help it because he has no free will, he is the hostage of his emotions, which in turn were the product of his environment, his genes, etc. That's why it's important for a person to recognize that he does have free will; this recognition on his part is the first step he must take in order to take charge of his own mind.
  15. (Oops, made a silly mistake in my post. I was writing "Do they choose their beliefs," using the indefinite plural, and then I decided to change it to "he," and apparently missed some spots.)
  16. I think what Ifat is saying is that a person can only choose from the alternatives that he knows are available to him. If that's what she's saying, I agree. And it has implications for how I judge people. Not knowing about things leads to honest errors. Alternatives can be made unavailable by force, or by brain damage. They are also made unavailable by one's nature as a human being (you can't choose to sprout wings and fly) or even by one's particular nature, such as your genetic makeup. However, apart from actual birth defects, I think a person's genetics, as they vary from one human to another, are far less limiting than many people think. Deliberate evil consists of knowing there is a better choice, and passing it up. If the evidence suggests, inconclusively, that there may be a better choice, and you pass up an opportunity to investigate it, I would call that a vice. However, it is a matter of degree -- the stronger the evidence, the worse of a vice it is not to investigate it. You may be wondering if circumstances might arise where I might say that an ignorant murderer, catching only the glimpse of the idea that an honest life might be possible, has a "vice" of this kind. Sure he does! But I must explain that this does not give him a free pass. There are two ways to judge people, and a person has to use both. The first is to judge them by their actions: their actions are either dangerous or they're not. And on that basis, a murderer is a murderer, so who cares about what he's thinking, you've got to protect yourself. The second is to judge their minds, which can tell you whether their future actions might be harmful. This is what it means to judge someone's character. Since a person's thoughts cannot be observed directly, it is necessary to infer the thoughts from their speech and actions, including how they respond to criticism, especially when that criticism is accompanied by facts. Inference in general is subject to the possibility of error, and the stakes are high when a person's character is judged, and sometimes the emotions run high, too, which is why this form of judgment has a bad reputation. It is so easy to get it wrong! However, inference in general can be gotten right, with certainty, if it's done properly -- and if one did not make this sort of judgment, one would find people completely unpredictable. That's why it's so important to use reason as carefully and scrupulously as possible in these cases. But some people are also guilty of not distinguishing the two forms of judgment, and discarding both. That is really dangerous. I use both, and I tend to use the first hastily, but I generally don't condemn people's character until the evidence really piles up. This means if someone has the "wrong" beliefs, I have to act accordingly (which means expecting them to act according to their beliefs and then planning to protect myself and my values, as necessary, from that action), regardless of how they arrived at their beliefs. But there are a lot of reasons why a person might hold wrong beliefs. Does he choose their beliefs? Of course. But what were his options? How did he weigh them and why? Those are the questions I must answer before I can condemn the person morally. (My apologies for the length of this post. I'm making up for years of not posting anything.)
  17. I don't think I can work through the math tonight, but I noticed that Wolfram MathWorld has a page with the derivation for LeastSquaresFitting, and even though it is for only one variable, you could probably extend it to any number of variables. Actually it looks fairly simple. You would end up with a system of equations and you would have to solve it with Gauss-Jordan Elimination. [Edited to eliminate redundancy]
  18. The changes Moose describes treat the symptom instead of the disease. If the goal is to prevent "interest groups" from competing for government favors at each others' expense, the way to achieve it is to attack the root of the problem, which is the government's ability to grant favors to interest groups. Pass an amendment that says "Congress shall not make government funds available for any purpose other than the police, the courts, the prisons, the armed forces, and the administration thereof," and that will eliminate most of the "special interests" problem right there, because there won't be any funds for the special interests to compete for. Pass the amendment that Judge Narragansett was writing in Atlas Shrugged, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade," and that will eliminate many more special interests by making it impossible for "political entrepreneurs" to use the government to obtain advantages for themselves, or disadvantages for their competitors. With these amendments, it wouldn't matter so much who was elected, and so there wouldn't be any point in manipulating the political process. Without them, the interest groups would simply find other ways to manipulate things; they would likely be driven further behind the scenes.
  19. I have a lot of thoughts about intellectual property and patents in particular. I think I'll share some of them here. Earlier, the issue was raised that 20 years (or 18, or whatever) is an arbitrary length for a patent to have, that it has to be perpetual or zero. I think that's nonsense. The number 20 is somewhat flexible; it could be 19 or 21 with little difference. But there are other issues where "somebody just has to pick a number" where it is not arbitrary. The voting age has to be something. The speed you drive your car down the road has to be something, it is not true that your speed has to be zero or infinity, or else you are a whim-worshipper. When you own a piece of physical property you own only one thing. When you own a patent, you own a concept, and a concept covers a potentially infinite number of objects. It's one thing to own a guitar but it's something else to own the concept of "guitar" and be able to claim an ownership share of every guitar, everywhere, including those yet to be made. Yet this is what it would mean if you had a patent on the guitar. In a capitalist society you can license that patent on any terms you wish, so, in effect, you can place arbitrary restrictions on all guitar owners, everywhere. So you still have, in a manner of speaking, an ownership share of all those guitars. This is why patents have to be time-limited. There is no other way to limit them that can be the same for every patent and yet not also be a price control. So why not eliminate patents completely? Well, the practical reason we have patents is so that new concepts which cost money to invent can be invented. If there were no way for an inventor to recoup his investment, he would not invent, or if he did anyway, the market would punish him for doing so. Some aspects of the existing patent system are not rationally justified. The patent office now grants patents on discoveries, such as the human genome. Also, it makes it possible to file a patent on an idea and claim that you had the idea up to a year earlier, which means that if one person publishes his idea for an invention without patenting it, someone else can patent it up to a year later and then legally claim to have invented it first. Also, there is no fixed expiration date on a patent (or a copyright); Congress can extend someone's patent or copyright years after it has been granted, and even grant it back to its former owner after it has already expired. A proper patent system, by the way, grants ownership, not monopolies. When you own a concept you own only that one concept, the one you defined on your patent application, and that one has to be something that never existed before your patent. People are still free to use pre-existing alternatives to your patent, as they did before -- or invent new things that are a different concept entirely. And you also shouldn't be able to patent the obvious. I think Amazon's one-click patent is an absurd example of an obvious patent.
  20. Well, I suppose this is what I get for commenting at such length about a book I haven't even read... and which really I don't intend to read... and at 11:00 on a work night, to top it off. The only idea I think is "worth considering" is the idea that memory is distributed throughout the brain as opposed to each memory being stored in one place. That idea is not new at all, and there is some evidence to support it, although as I said, the book could easily consist of one page of good idea and its evidence, and the rest nonsense. I imagine that the book is written for the layman and thus spends a lot of time trying to persuade people who have never heard of Fourier transforms that they and their like are valuable and useful. It probably does so by means of hypothetical but fictitious examples. I suppose that is Platonistic and detached from reality. I doubt enough data about the brain have been collected to develop an actual set of equations that describe how the brain stores memory. So the book probably doesn't even present a "theory." Just the one idea, and then hypotheticals to explain why the idea might be plausible. (I was mistaken to refer to the book's idea as a "theory" earlier.) Regardless of errors in the book's presentation of the idea, I still think the idea -- that memory is distributed through the brain -- is worth considering. I think it is premature to specify any specific mathematical model of how that distribution takes place; I don't think there are enough data. Stephen Hawking complained once that his book editors told him that every equation in his book would cut the size of the audience in half. Given that, I doubt that any science book in the popular press would contain very much of use to an actual scientist. The books lack the actual equations and the pages and pages of data to back those equations up. Instead the books have pages and pages of filler. That's why I stopped reading them.
  21. I don't think this theory is necessarily nonsense. I haven't read the book, but I've heard a theory similar to the one the book describes. (I may have picked it up in Scientific American in the early 90s, when I used to read that sort of thing a lot. I also read Hans Moravec's Mind Children around that time, and The Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose, and Godel Escher Bach by Hofstadter, stuff like that. Not all of the theories in those books are compatible with Objectivism. My comments in this post, however, will pertain strictly to the hologramic theory.) I can't think of anything in Objectivism that would contradict the hologramic theory, although it is very likely that the book combines the theory with philosophical statements which contradict Objectivism. Many scientific books are infused with that sort of thing. The question an Objectivist has to ask is, once all the philosophical falsehoods are discarded, is there anything left? Objectivists already know that volition exists. It cannot be explained in terms of anything else; it is an axiom, which means the very act of explanation rests upon it. Due to the influence of faulty philosophy, though, the author(s) of the book might be unaware of the fact or might even explicitly deny it. So the Objectivist reader will have to discard their denials, implicit or explicit, and see if anything is left. I think something may be. It is known that volition exists only under certain conditions. We know it exists in human minds and not in, say, tables. Why? What's so special about the living human brain that a mind may occupy it? Can these characteristics be identified and measured? Can machines be used to maintain these conditions in situations where the body and current medical technology would otherwise fail to do so? Can these conditions be created from scratch, perhaps in an artificial construction other than a human brain? A book can attempt to theorize about answers to these questions, it can identify information about the conditions necessary for the existence of volition, and insofar as it does that, there is nothing philosophically wrong with it. You don't have to deny volition or any other Objectivist metaphysical axiom in order to claim that the mind stores memories in a distributed rather than localized way, or that the way it does so corresponds to certain mathematical functions. One may still question whether such a theory fits the facts. As to the hologramic theory, some facts fit it and some do not. In the theory's favor is the fact that the brain does feature some built-in redundancy. Against it is the fact that different regions of the brain are well known to have different functions, and the loss of a region of the brain causes a loss of the corresponding function. If the brain were completely hologramic then it would be undifferentiated. I suppose I'd have to read the book to find out whether it explains this. I also don't think enough studies have been done to pin down the exact mathematics that govern how memories are distributed throughout the brain. Sometimes I think the authors of these scientific books have theses that can be presented in a line or two, but then they have to come up with enough junk to fill up a book. A New Kind of Science is another book in that category; it contains hundreds of pages of beautiful computer-generated pictures, but its basic thesis seems to boil down to the idea that large numbers of components acting according to simple rules can produce complex behavior, and I think that idea is actually decades old. So I might check out the hologramic book at the library, but not buy it. Another question is whether the hologramic theory is of any practical use. On that point I'd have to say "No," or at least "Not yet." Technology still has to advance some more before we get to the point where we can tinker with the brain at that level. Some scientists are trying to figure out how to use MRI machines to read your thoughts, and there is another scientist in Australia who can actually render you temporarily autistic by using magnets to shut off targeted parts of your brain. (The science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge anticipated that in A Deepness in the Sky.) Given the current political climate (Patriot act etc.) I actually find these developments disturbing (Project X), but there are also possible benefits. In sum, I won't accept this theory just yet but it's an idea worth considering.
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