I've noted before that religion is a tricky thing to define. Simple definitions, such as belief in gods, have a tendency to leave out movements that everyone agrees is religious, such as non-theistic versions of Buddhism. We can be a bit more inclusive by including any belief in a superempirical reality, but that still leaves … Continue reading Defining religion polythetically
One of the things about consciousness I've tried to call attention to on this blog is the ambiguity of its most common definitions, such as Thomas Nagel's definition of it being "like something" for a particular system. The problem is that when people try to get more specific, they come up with a wide variety … Continue reading Consciousness semanticism
I rarely post about contemporary events, particularly ones involving any kind of armed conflict. Too often we don't have a clear view of what's happening, and what we do know comes through the fog of war. Which I definitely think is the case in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It's often years, sometimes decades, before we … Continue reading Some history possibly related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
This Scientific American video, shared by Aeon, is pretty good if you're looking for a quick basic primer on quantum computing. It's short, less than nine minutes. Although I do have a beef which I'll discuss below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLnGp1WTNFQ Decoded: How Does a Quantum Computer Work? The beef, which is pretty common with popular explanations of … Continue reading Decoded: How does a quantum computer work?
Often when I mention that I'm a functionalist in terms of the mind, someone references the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on functionalism. Strange to say, but I've never gone through that entire entry. This week I poked around a little in it, mostly in the objections section. Most of the objections either strike me as more … Continue reading The function of qualia
In one of the final chapters of his book: Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, David Chalmers asks, have we fallen from the Garden of Eden? "Eden" in this case is a metaphor for living in a world where everything is as it seems, matching our pre-theoretical view of reality. In Eden, everything exists … Continue reading Universal functionalism
David Chalmers in his book: Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, eventually gets around to addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room for any discussion of the simulation hypothesis. Can consciousness itself be simulated, and if so, would the resulting entity be conscious? This issue, I think, is what makes many react with far sharper … Continue reading Can consciousness be simulated?
David Chalmers in his book: : Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, has a discussion on information and reality. He identifies different types of information: semantic, structural, and symbolic. Semantic information is what we colloquially think of as information, it's the patterns that tell someone or something about reality. A map of a city … Continue reading Information, computation, and reality
Recently I recommended Alastair Reynolds' new book Inhibitor Phase. In subsequent conversation with Wyrd Smythe, I remembered that there were a couple of books in Reynolds' backlist that I had missed. One of these is Century Rain, a novel that, based on Wyrd's assessment, was definitely worth reading. Century Rain is a standalone novel, one … Continue reading Century Rain
Sean Carroll's February AMA episode is up on his podcast. As usual, there were questions about the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (which I did a new primer on a few weeks ago). This time, there was a question related to the correlated outcomes in measurements of entangled particles that are separated by vast … Continue reading Many-worlds and Bell’s theorem