AI and Liberalism

I stumpled upon a German languge article in the NZZ by Slavoj Žižek that deals with the topics of liberalism, humanism and digitalization. It is declared as a translation but I didn't find the source, so I can only provide you with the German text. While searching for the translation I found a greater number of text by the slowenian philosopher dealing with similar topics, so I guess this is more of a general reading recommendation. 

Eben weil die Maschine, die uns liest, als mechanischer Algorithmus blind und bewusstseinslos ist, kann sie Entscheidungen treffen, die nicht nur der äusseren Wirklichkeit angemessener sind als unsere eigenen Entscheidungen. Sie sind es vor allem auch in Bezug auf unsere eigenen Wünsche und Bedürfnisse. Die Maschine kann alle Widersprüche eruieren, Inkohärenzen messen und mit ihnen auf weitaus rationalere Weise umgehen, als unser fiktives Selbst dies vermag.

NZZ: Digitalisierung und künstliche Intelligenz: Das Ende der Menschlichkeit

Image: Zizek in Liverpool By Original photographer: Andy Miah , cropped by User:Michalis Famelis

We all live in a Virtual Reality

Human civilization has always been a virtual reality.  At the onset of culture, which was propagated through the proto-media of cave painting, the talking drum, music, fetish art making, oral tradition and the like, Homo sapiens began a march into cultural virtual realities, a march that would span the entirety of the human enterprise.  We don’t often think of cultures as virtual realities, but there is no more apt descriptor for our widely diverse sociological organizations and interpretations than the metaphor of the “virtual reality.”  Indeed, the virtual reality metaphor encompasses the complete human project.

How VR Gaming will Wake Us Up to our Fake Worlds by Eliott Edge



Image: Virtual Reality Demonstrations; The 2015 ISOJ on the University of Texas-Austin campus, Apr. 18, 2015. Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/Knight Center

Article: Rules for Survival in Autocracies

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:

Rule #1Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization.

NYR Daily - Masha Gessen: Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Wikipedia gives us this definition of autocracy
An autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of a coup d'état or mass insurrection). Absolute monarchy and dictatorship are the main historical forms of autocracy. In very early times, the term "autocrat" was written in coins as a favorable feature of the ruler, having some connection to the concept of "lack of conflicts of interests".

The Limits of Discourse

I could comment this encounter but this is needless. The obvious: Discussion and discourse depend on the willingess to exchange by the debatants. 

Last week, I did my best to engineer a public conversation with Chomsky about the ethics of war, terrorism, state surveillance, and related topics. As readers of the following email exchange will discover, I failed. I’ve decided to publish this private correspondence, with Chomsky’s permission, as a cautionary tale. Clearly, he and I have drawn different lessons from what was, unfortunately, an unpleasant and fruitless encounter. I will let readers draw lessons of their own.

The Limits of Discourse As Demonstrated by Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky


Rhetoric: Cicero, Fischer and Obama

Maccari-Cicero“ by Cesare Maccari - [1]. License via Wikimedia Commons.

In his new book Mythos Redemacht (Fischerverlag), the German linguist Karl-Heinz Göttert compared speakers from the last two thousand years. Surprisingly, he discovered that great modern speeches have very similar characteristics to the classic ones in regards of stylistic devices, form and effect. For example, he recognizes that Obama speeches use a high grade of example based argument structures while former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has a lot of similarities with Cicero who is to be considered as the outstanding speaker of the ancient world.

Dem ehemaligen deutschen Außenminister Joschka Fischer etwa bescheinigt Göttert „ciceronianische Sprachkunst“ [...] Cicero nahe sei Fischer etwa im frechen Sprachwitz, in den klaren Antithesen, in der augenblicklichen Wortschöpfung, im meist ironisch angewendeten Pathos.

Source: Die Presse: "Mythos Redemacht": Goldmund Obama und Cicero Fischer

Spiegel Online postet an interesting interview with Göttert (in German as well): "Brüllerei stößt uns heute nur noch ab"



Harry Potter and Politics

While my generation was politically influenced by Benjamin Blümchens more or less sublime left wing messages, the millenials may attribute their political orientation on Hogwarts education...

Kids who grew up reading the Harry Potter books are voting in U.S. elections. And now a new study says the adventures of the young wizard might have cast an enduring spell on its fans, subtly shaping their values and political views. The Millennial Generation is actually the Muggle Generation.

io9: D​id Harry Potter Influence The Political Views of Millennials?

Google in der FAZ

Einige sehr interessante Artikel zu Google auf FAZ.net, man kommt mit dem Lesen kaum hinterher.
Zunächst hier eine Konversation mit Google:

3. April - Robert M. Maier: Von der Suchmaschine zur Weltmacht - Angst vor Google
9. April - Eric Schmidt: Eric Schmidt about the good things Google does - A chance for growth
16. April - Mathias Döpfner: Offener Brief an Eric Schmidt - Warum wir Google fürchten
17. April - Thomas Thiel Reaktionen auf Döpfners Google-Kritik - Ein Goliath macht sich ganz klein

Und hier einige andere Artikel zum Thema:
7. April - Self-censorship in the digital age We won’t be able to recognize ourselves
10. April - Einsatz im Krankenhaus - Googles wundertätige Datenbrille
16. April - Gegen Googles „Library Project“ - Unterschätzt die Absichten nicht!

SpOn: Stümpernde Scientists

Es geht in dem Artikel zwar vornehmlich um MINT-Fächer, ich könnte aber auch ein Liedchen auf die (digitalen) Geisteswissenschaften singen...

Wir scheinen mitten in der Wissensgesellschaft angekommen zu sein, stümpern aber erstaunlich oft dort, wo Wissen entstehen sollte, nämlich in der Wissenschaft.

Gerd Antes für Spiegel Online - Qualität in der Forschung: "Wir stümpern, wo Wissen entstehen sollte"