"Det svåraste är här att låta obestämdheten riktigt och oförfalskat komma till uttryck."

April 17, 2014

In English

FuturICT – is this the approach to research we want in the EU?

The European Union has a research policy agenda that varies wildly. In one project, FuturICT, it has set out to examine the following, according to their website: The ultimate goal of the FuturICT flagship project is to understand and manage complex, global, socially interactive systems, with a focus on sustainability and resilience. Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies probably constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century and is equally important for the development of novel robust, trustworthy and adaptive information and communication technologies (ICT), based on socially inspired paradigms. Oooookay. That is pretty ambitious. Now, …continue reading

Beekeeping and the turn away from technology

At lunch, during the conference in Stockholm last week, I sat down with a conference attendee I have met a couple of times previously. She works on human rights issues and is deeply involved with the Internet, but she had arrived at the end of the road. She was taking courses in beekeeping, because she wanted to turn away from technology and do something “real” as she put it. Her issues with new technology were many, but foremost was the way our technology destroys time. Not time as a physical phenomenon, but experienced time. Our ability to concentrate on something …continue reading

Thoughts on the conference today, the Stockholm principles and an industry standard for shoes

Back at the hotel, tired. The conference was thought-provoking and very interesting. I hope my panel was interesting. Sifting through the twitter feeds I find many smart comments, re-tweets and a heartening number of people referring to me as alternative “Google geek” and “Google guy”. I have become a standing figure in a drama, like a figure in Noh or Commedia dell’Arte, I guess. I will refrain from guessing who I am. But fair enough. So, in my panel I ended up trying to make the argument for government transparency reporting. This time I tried to set it up in …continue reading

The Fear of Facebook and the Ellulian illusion

The Atlantic has an article in its latest issue about the new loneliness that we suffer from even though we are more densely connected through social networks than ever before. It goes on to explore the notion that Facebook is a part of the problem: The question of the future is this: Is Facebook part of the separating or part of the congregating; is it a huddling-together for warmth or a shuffling-away in pain? It is hard to read the article and not feel that it is another one in the long array of neo-luddite texts that want to make …continue reading

Happiness, Physics and Death

Will knowledge about what our world is like help us craft a philosophy to deal better with our lives? It is not a trivial question. Knowing what the world is like could be both a blessing and a curse. There are those who think that the universe, such as it is, must have meaning for it to be possible for us to sustain meaning — this is in part the sense in which everything is allowed if God is dead in Dostoyevsky — but a perhaps more interesting position is to build meaning of sorts from established meaninglessness. Lawrence M …continue reading

Turing tests II: Wittgenstein and Voigt-Kampff

Could a machine think? — Could it be in pain? — Well is the human body to be called such a machine? It surely comes as close as possible to being such a machine. But a machine surely cannot think! — Is that an empirical statement? No. We only say of a human being and what is like on that it thinks. We also say it of dolls and no doubt of spirits too. Look at the word “to think” as a tool. Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations 359-360 Wittgenstein’s note comes to mind as I continue thinking about Turing tests. …continue reading

Mathematicians up in arms and they invite you to join!

I just finished an excellent little paper by Henry Cohn and Douglas N Arnold. It is called “Mathematicians take a stand” and encourages all mathematicians to join a boycott against publisher Elsevier. The boycott — over at Cost of Knowledge — has its root in the growing prices of academic journals and how they slow down the dissemination of research and hamper the human project of building our knowledge together. Today more than 8000 researchers – not only mathematicians –  has agreed to boycott the publisher if they do not allow for other easier ways for researchers to distribute their …continue reading

Alternative Turing Tests I: The Double Test and the Network Test

Lately the notion of testing systems for intelligence has occupied some of my free time. One thing that interests me is alternative designs for the well-known Turing test. There are quite a few variants already out there, but I wanted to add two more. The first is the double Turing test, where the computer is tasked with determining if the interlocutor on the other side is human and the human is tasked with detecting a computer: The salient question becomes if the algorithms are different. We know they will be, since we have seen reverse Turing tests and captchas, but …continue reading

The Barlow Theorem

The more I think about it, the clearer it seems to me that with the reduction in the cost of technologies comes the increased need for controlling people if you want to control the technologies. There is a tipping point somewhere, where a technology hits the mainstream and essentially through ease of use and availability becomes very hard to control. Think about mobile phones and regulating who takes pictures where, or go back further and think about writing. How would one regulate writing in our society? That is a technology that has passed the point of regulability in a sense. …continue reading

Cyberlibertarianism 2.0

Mathias Klang has written an interesting piece on my last post about the next Internet war. His theory is essentially that “power abhors a vacuum” and that the powers that exist now will re-assert themselves when they are challenged. I agree. I only think that the price gets higher in each iteration of that process. We have lived through the first cycle of Internet policy where Barlow gave way to Lessig who gave way to Wu&Goldsmith, essentially going from “the net will set us free” over “code will regulate us” to “nation states can still lock you up and torture …continue reading