Life, the Universe, and Everything

A Course Blog for GET1029/GEK1067

Month: October 2020 (page 1 of 4)

More about the Principle of Indifference

As stated in W11 Slide #36, the Principle of Indifference says:

  • When faced with n > 1 possibilities that are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive, and you have no evidence about their relative likelihoods, a probability equal to 1/n for each possibility.

I also gave two examples in the lecture:

  • Example 1:
  • Paul graduated from either JPJC, ACJC, or SAJC (and exactly one of them), but you don’t know which and you don’t know the likelihood of him going to any one of them.
    Assign a probability equal to 1/3 to the possibility that he went to SAJC. 
  • Example 2:
  • You have one lucky draw coupon, and you know that one coupon from a pile (numbered 000,000,000 to 999,999,999) will be picked. Each coupon give you one chance of willing. Assign a probability equal to 1/1,000,000,000 to the outcome where your coupon is the winning coupon.

Now, the “probability” we are talking about is not something about the world–about where Paul actually went to school, or which coupon is the actual winning coupon. Rather, we are talking about the level of confidence you should have, if you are being rational, in one of the options being true, given that you don’t know yet.

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Quiz 08 Debrief

Ok, not bad, though the averages dropped a bit from the last one mainly because of Questions 4 and 6. Click through to see…

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Other Reads in Preparation for the Last Topic (sort of)

The long-held notion that the processing power of computers increases exponentially every couple of years has hit its limit, according to Jensen Huang (CEO, Nvidia). But not everyone agrees.

This isn’t the first time Huang has declared Moore’s Law to be over. He’s made similar comments over the past couple of years.

Intel, for its part, doesn’t think Moore’s Law is dead. Companies are just finding new ways to keep it going, like Intel’s new 3D chip stacking. The manufacturing technology it calls Foveros stacks different chip elements directly on top of each other, a move that should dramatically increase performance and the range of chips Intel can profitably sell.

“Elements of this debate have been going on since the early 2000s,” Intel Chief Technology Officer Michael Mayberry said in an EETimes post in August. “Meanwhile, technologists ignore the debate and keep making progress.”

A piece from Robert Chau of Intel, suitably titled “A bright future for Moore’s Law”.

Could Apple’s 5 Nanometer Chip Is Another Signpost That Moore’s Law Is Running Out?

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Videos vaguely “In Preparation” for the final Topic…

What is a super computer? (Or making American super computing great again…)

A super computer that mimics the human brain:

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W10 Q/A

Update: A few items from the archive added to the end.

Here goes…

Is there a clearer and stricter definition of ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ and what it means for something to be a mental state or a physical state?

Unfortunately, no. And there’s a reason too–it’s actually an extremely complicated topic, how the “physical” in “physicalism” should be defined (for those sleepless nights). Nonetheless, there is a sort of method to the madness here–at the end of the day, the theories are meant to illuminate basic and intuitive notions we already have. Those notions might need to be revised given a more rigorous analysis and empirical investigation, but they are the starting points. If we don’t already notice that some things have mind, or mental attributes, and others don’t, we won’t even be in this conversation at all. For our purposes, that more basic and intuitive understanding is thus all that we need to get the topic off the ground. It won’t stop there of course, if you are pursuing this more deeply.

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Listverse: 10 Fascinating Ways Our Brains Can Be Manipulated

10 Fascinating Ways Our Brains Can Be Manipulated


Supervenience and Reduction

Just some additional notes from the archive. As I said in Slide #15, by Physicalism or Materialism, or more accurately, Reductive Physicalism, I mean the combination of three distinct ideas.

We are Physical Things—We are basically a physical thing with both mental and physical characteristics rather than a composite of a purely mental thing and a purely physical thing.

Mind-Body Dependence—What mental characteristics we have depends on what physical characteristics we have.

Mind-Body Reductionism—Mental characteristics are just (configurations of) physical characteristics , with other names.

And Mind-Body Dependence (Slide #17) itself is a composite of the following three ideas:

(1) Physical characteristics are more fundamental than and explain mental characteristics.

(2) Mental characteristics supervenes on physical characteristics–Two things have different mental characteristics only if they have different physical characteristics.

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Crash Course Mind-Body Problem, etc.

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Podcast Episode #07

Compatibilism and Semi-Compatibilism. (This was actually recorded much earlier–together with Episode #05. Now finally released.)

Quiz 08 Hints

  • Question 2

Abe’s statement has been edited.

  • Question 3

Small edits made to the question. Ok, some of you seem to be getting lost in the story. I’ll put the below down to help you.

  • Scenario in Abe’s Statements
    • Lena is religious, privy to religious experiences, her experiences count as evidence for the existence of God, believes that God exists;
    • Will and Gene are not religious, not privy to religious experiences; Will believes that God doesn’t exist (while Gene believes that God exist);
    • Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–Epistemic Uniqueness is true in the disagreement between Lena vs Will over whether God exists, because the scenario shows that both Lena and Will can never have the same evidence, and if they can never have the same evidence, their opposite but equally justified beliefs can never be rationally based on the same evidence?
  • Scenario in Dave’s Statements:
    • The Scenario in Abe’s Statements, plus:
    • Lena’s testimony also count as good evidence for God’s existence; she told both Will and Gene about her experiences;
    • Will and Gene are equally smart and have thought equally hard about God’s existence;
    • Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–the Epistemic Permissivist who says that Will and Gene are equally justified in their own beliefs (on the same evidence) would be begging the question against both of them.
  • Scenario in Tess’ Statements:
    • Same set up as in Dave’s Statements.
    • Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–If someone agrees that the disagreement between Gene and Will (based on the same evidence) can never be resolved in such a way that both Gene and Will are equally justified, then this person cannot also consistently subscribe to Epistemic Permissivism?
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