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Posts posted by Prometheus

  1. 1 minute ago, Peterkin said:

    I was referring to the foregoing discussion of sacrificing childhood, family life and healthy development in order to raise a prodigy in some relatively frivolous pursuit, like skating, dancing, playing rugby or chess. The "people" in this scenario are 3-7 years old. It's not their free or informed choice.

    And the question i'm asking is how many Olympians, or other top athletes, who have been training since childhood actually say they feel like they've lost their childhood and/or a family life. It's a common narrative, i'd just like to know how common it actually is. Like i said, the vast majority of Olympian accounts i've seen don't lament lost childhoods, but maybe my searches have been biased.

  2. 3 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

    That would be natural - if there were an unbiased process of comparing abilities. Sacrifice - or self and others - to be at "the top" should not be a necessary part of that selection.

    You speak of sacrifice like it's an intrinsically bad thing. People sacrifice everyday, for themselves in the future, for their family, for their beliefs. If you're sacrificing grudgingly, then sure you probably need to re-examine your priorities, but for plenty of people that sacrifice are not only worth it, but are done joyfully. 

    Much has been said of the lifelong injuries Olympians accrue. I found a study estimating about 2/3 have such an injury. But the real question is whether those same Olympians feel it was worth it. I couldn't find a study that tried to quantify this, so i just browsed some personal accounts - the majority i saw were happy with their path (including those who didn't finish in the medals).

  3. 5 hours ago, Phi for All said:

    I'm perhaps jaded by the asshat white males I see in their team-festooned pickup trucks behaving like cavemen while whooping it up on the highways on the way to a game. Sports are promoted as rivalries, and I think far too many people make far too much money keeping humans at each other's throats about one thing or another. What works for arms dealers works for sports as well. It's just business.

    I wish i could say it wasn't so, but it's only part of the story. The people you talk about are very vocal and visible so it becomes easy to think they are all like that, but i think the majority are people who derive great joy on many levels. One that gets missed is the artistry of sport. When Ibrahimovic scored a stunner against England, even the English fans applauded as its beauty was overwhelming. 

    It also seems to vary by sport. Tennis, rugby and football crowds are very different beasts.


    3 hours ago, Peterkin said:

    That would be fine, if talented children were not pushed and driven by their parents and coaches, from a very early age. In some cases, it's parental ambition or vicarious accomplishment; in many cases, it's the only way a kid born without privilege can get an education, climb out of poverty or escape discrimination. And the pressures even after the initial success are not all internal!

    Yeah, you hear some real horror stories. On the flip side, to achieve a deep level of skill in many pursuits, not just sport, starting very young is a huge advantage. How much was Mozart pushed (i have no idea, i imagine at least a bit).

    Also i think there's also a cultural component. The West is very focused on individualism so there might be a reluctance to push a kid toward any profession. In China and India it seems more acceptable for parents to decide what a child might be when they're older. On the average i don't think they are any less happy because of it.


    3 hours ago, Peterkin said:

    ... but the players are just doing a job and advertising a brand of sports gear.

    They are not my favourite footballers, but during press conferences it was good to see Ronaldo remove a fizzy drink for water, while Pogba silently removed an alcoholic beverage from view. Nothing was done, but the UEFA 'reminded' them of their 'obligations' to sponsors.


  4. I find great joy in watching people push the pinnacle of human physicality and exploring it myself to lesser extent. Much has been said of the competitive aspects of sports, but many include cooperation as well. And not just the team sports, solo performers are a part of various communities, fellow performers, coaches, physios etc... I'm sure there are rivalries as well as friendships in these communities - that's the human condition.

    I agree that the consumerisation of sports is a problem, focusing on whatever makes the most money for the people with financial stakes,  but you can hardly blame sport itself for that - it's infected every facet of society, sport is just one more victim.


    12 hours ago, Peterkin said:

    ... and the stakes are so big that they're pushing themselves beyond human capacity, burning out too soon and suffering too many injuries. 

    Some humans will always want to push themselves to the limits, be it climbing mountains, diving from the highest heights or pushing themselves to a permanent injury for a chance at gold. Whether the risks are worth the payoff is a personal thing. I'm sure some regret it and some would do it all again. The only thing that concerns me is that the choice is theirs.


    1 hour ago, Phi for All said:

    We've worked hard so most people don't have to compete for resources, yet the animal in "us" wants the pleasure of crushing "them". The mindset sports encourages in modern, money-oriented settings is similar to modern business practices, and "winning at all costs" takes precedence over "reaching the top together". 

    I think you're choosing to see the worst of the situation - which is undoubtedly there, but it's not all that's there.

    When Saka missed his penalty for England, how many Italians went to console him after the initial celebrations? There is more respect between opponents than you give credit for. Even all the trash talk before many big name boxing and MMA fights is just a circus act encouraged by event organisers to artificially whip up interest - watch interviews after most fights and the fighters will often speak in respectful tones about each other, win or lose. 

  5. I don't know much about this, hopefully a grown up will be along shortly, but one thing you might want to consider is that most climate models run monte carlo simulations - which just means the model is run tons of times on a computer, and a distribution of outcomes is considered. To capture this day-to-day reality it might be worth having a computer next to the whiteboard with some graph updating, like this one.

  6. Without Tycho Brahe's celestial observations, Kepler would have had nothing to base his theory on meaning Newton would have had no way to formulate an inverse square law that led to his theory of gravity. (Assuming the planets are also absent - not sure if the moon would be enough to go on).

    We may still have had something though; apparently Galileo's work was inspired by music and its mathematical properties.

  7. 6 minutes ago, joigus said:

    It's pay-walled, and I can't see an abstract.

    Try here. They measured EEG responses to trans-cranial magnetic stimulation of the cortex from which they derive a 'consciousness' score. Once you have a score you could grade it. Only in humans here, but no theoretical reason they couldn't try it on an animal with a similar cerebral anatomy to us (a few practical ones though). Presumably cats would have a lower PCI, or algorithmic complexity, unless it turns out that its something analogous to chromosomes and more algorithmic complexity does not necessarily equate to 'more' conscious.  Maybe not jellyfish or ants though, but i guess it's a start.

  8. 9 minutes ago, joigus said:

    I suppose what I'm trying to say is that consciousness, in all likelihood, must be very deeply ingrained in very deep physics. Some level of description in which the boundary between being and knowing gets blurry.

    Are you implying some kind of panpsychism in which consciousness is some fundamental feature of existence and is in all things, just to greater or lesser extents?


    11 hours ago, beecee said:

    Spiritual basis, or bias?

    I always find it weird that we are so bamboozled by consciousness when it is the one thing in existence we have direct of. Taking Kant's idea of phenomena and noumena,  things as we perceive them and things as they truly are, consciousness is one thing we know as noumena. Similar to Descartes' thought that the one thing we cannot doubt is that we experience. That experience may or may not be appropriate to the external world - but the conscious experience itself cannot be doubted. 

    Consciousness just seems weird because it's the one thing in the universe we see from the inside out, everything else we see from the outside. That's why i think meditation practices are very useful, and becoming increasingly popular in secular circles from some pretty deep religious roots. There's something empirical about it, you get to observe a mind in detail, but we only ever get a sample size of one.

  9. 4 minutes ago, TheVat said:

    Thinkers who conjure a "hard problem" of consciousness, everyone from Thomas Nagel to Dave Chalmers,

    I once heard that the only hard problem in consciousness was in explaining it to Chalmers. 

  10. I've been learning a little about emperor Julian, the last Pagan Roman emperor. He thought Christianity was a regressive step to classical culture and advocated freedom of religion. With the hindsight of history it's hard to argue he was wrong.


    10 minutes ago, studiot said:

    Because the Ancient Greeks didn't have leaders like Boris.

    I used to think Greek culture was superior to Roman - until i heard Boris argue for the Greeks.


  11. 1 minute ago, studiot said:

    A fair question to which I would observe that time is the problem for the internet.

    Sorry, i do tend to forget this thread is specifically about the internet and not AGI in general, or neural networks specifically, which i've been referring to. 

    To expand your point the questions that occur to me are: Is it possible to engineer sentience into the internet? Would we want to? Is the internet subject to evolution at all - what replicates and how, what is the selection pressure (functionality as measured by human users?). 

  12. 11 hours ago, MigL said:

    The human brain can even form new neuron pathways to regain function after damage has occurred to a particular part of the brain.

    If we accept (and some don't) that sentience is an emergent feature based on particular patterns of information, a computation some people would say, then why does that pattern have to occur at the transistor level? In animals it may just so happen to occur at the neuronal level because that is the first substrate that achieved a sufficient level of complexity for information processing to achieve sentience, but that does not exclude other forms of information achieving the requisite level of complexity. Inside a neural network, the strength of weights between nodes is being strengthened or weakened as learning occurs which is what could be analogous to the strengthening and weakening of neurons in a brain. 


  13. Just now, Butch said:

    The resource, they would be looking for is square footage... does not bode well for the natives.

    I guess the Earth might suit their biology just by chance and their own star is dying so they are looking for a new home. But even then there are plenty of other options that would be open to a species with that level of tech - terraforming another planet, bio-engineering themselves to another habitat, taking to artificial habitats etc. Just from an efficiency perspective these other options seem more viable. 

  14. 5 minutes ago, joigus said:

    they will be looking for resources

    What resources could Earth have that would have them bypass every other celestial body between them and us? It would have to be something biological that this ultra advanced species can't otherwise synthesise. Some form of curiosity seems more likely than this to me (including the curiosity of a cat to a mouse).

  15. 8 hours ago, Peterkin said:

    I have no guess as to the attitude of Hindus and and Buddhists. 

    Hinduism is probably the most diverse religion, which would likely be reflected in their response. Given Buddha and even Jesus have found their into the various Hindu pantheons i don't think they'll have a theological problem. Buddhism explicitly refers to sentient beings rather than humans and doesn't have a creation myth so aliens wouldn't make the slightest difference to their beliefs - other than already having a scriptural basis to extend compassion to the visitors.

  16. 1 hour ago, Goude said:

    When a person's heart stops and brain activity ceases what you have is a dead body.

    The majority of current medical definitions of death cite some form of 'all functions of the brain have permanently and irreversibly ceased'. Cardiopulmonary cessation hasn't been used in most places since around the 1980s


    1 hour ago, Goude said:

    Yes, she and other experiencers were actually dead

    Not by most definitions of death. It needs to be irreversible.

    Given the difficulties of defining life, it is no surprise that defining death adds more shades to the grey.


    1 hour ago, Goude said:

    If science chooses to ignore the NDE they will have to prove the brain is where the personality resides.

    You mean like the plethora of studies that show changes in the brain, due to stroke or cancers etc, can radically alter personality?


    1 hour ago, Goude said:

    I think we can learn from anomalies that people are not born with a blank brains.

    The idea of tabula rasa hasn't been seriously considered by scientists for probably a century. Psychological studies on babies provided the evidence, not NDEs.

    You can learn an awful lot about the human condition from NDEs. And DMT. And dreams.

  17. 40 minutes ago, studiot said:

    Yet the complexity and number of connections is still many orders of magnitude less than that of the human brain and as I already pointed out, possesses no evolutionary capability.

    The counter argument is that the important dynamics occur at a different level of abstraction to the hardware. A single neural network architecture can be trained to give different outcomes, or in the case of reinforcement learning different behaviours. The difference in behaviour is due entirely to different weightings between the nodes in the network, rather than any difference in hardware.

    Another way of saying this is that what is analogous to neurons is not the hardware, but the nodes in the neural network. 

    The question of evolution is slightly different, i think, but fascinating. Does sentience need to evolve or can it be entirely engineered? Tying this to what i said above, there is work in neural networks that is looking to replace back-propagation, the default mode of up-dating neural weights, with some evolutionary algorithm to search the parameter space.

    However, everything i'm saying is specific to neural networks, and the internet is not a neural network (but is starting to include more and more of them).

  18. 36 minutes ago, studiot said:

    So I am suggesting that the system as we know it is not capable of such a feat.

    Is it the system or the substrate you think not capable? Talk about pentiums suggests you think it a matter of substrate - i.e better micro-processors are needed.  Inow suggests it is not so much the hardware, but how information on that hardware is organised/represented.

  19. Again depends. Statisticians would compare incidence in the active and control groups, accounting for type 1 error inflation. Doctors would follow up and assess the severity and likelihood of causal link (which is often subjective - it helps if there is some known or  plausible causal pathway).

    But are the myocarditis cases detected during post marketing surveillance rather than clinical trials? So the adverse event wasn't detected in the clinical trials but only when it was released and used by millions. This happens with particularly rare adverse events.

  20. 5 hours ago, iNow said:

    God, why do people care so much about this ridiculous topic? Isn’t this just the next gay marriage?


    I watch MMA. Some women in the sport have raised concerns about transgender athletes, which is how it came to my attention. Some in the medical have put forward scientific reasons to legitimise this concern, others refute these reasons, and that debate continues within the medical community (links have been provided in the course of this thread). To have these concerns just brushed away as ridiculous, and to equate them with resistance against gay marriage is unhelpful at best. It's the sort of rhetoric that pushes people toward Trump and Brexit, as it exacerbates the us vs them attitude that precludes nuanced debate - the nuance here being that having concerns about transgender athletes does not automatically make you transphobic (although it's likely true that all transphobes oppose all trans athletes and will leverage legitimate concerns to muddy the waters).

    It may turn out that these concerns are unfounded, but i would hope, on a science forum of all places, that the concerns were addressed rather than being dismissed simply ridiculous. It is patronising.

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