Archive for August, 2017

Four Philosophies, V2

August 9, 2017

Thinking some more on Popper’s Three Worlds, here is a set of philosophical disciplines that seem to resonate with the themes of this blog.

  • Phenomenology: the philosophical study or theory of phenomena as distinct from that of the nature of being
  • Epistemology: the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope
  • Ontology: the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being
  • Axiology: the philosophical study of the nature of value and valuation, and of the kinds of things that are valuable

I believe that one could also make a case for associations with phenomenology to the subjective, epistemology to the objective, ontology to the substantive, and axiology to the normative.

Further reading:

(Note that the author of the article above, David Snowden, is the creator of the Cynefin Framework.)



A Digital Universe, V2

August 9, 2017

A digital universe – whether 5 kilobytes or the entire Internet – consists of two species of bits: differences in space, and differences in time. Digital computers translate between these two forms of information – structure and sequence – according to definite rules. Bits that are embodied as structure (varying in space, invariant across time) we perceive as memory, and bits that are embodied as sequence (varying in time, invariant across space) we perceive as code. Gates are the intersections where bits span both worlds at the moments of transition from one instant to the next.

— George Dyson, from Turing’s Cathedral

Further Reading:

George Dyson / Turing’s Cathedral: the origins of the digital universe


Embodied as Structure, Perceived as Memory

Invariant across Time: ¬ΔT
Varying in Space: ΔS

Embodied as Sequence, Perceived as Code

Varying in Time: ΔT
Invariant across Space: ¬ΔS

[*7.82, *7.83, *7.153, *10.14]


The Prisoner’s Dilemma

August 3, 2017

A simple example from game theory shows how two rational individuals might not chose to cooperate if the result for not doing so might be in their favor.

Two prisoners are asked for more information about their common crime. They can each remain silent and thus collude with each other. Or they can confess their participation and thereby incriminate the other prisoner.

Unfortunately there is already enough evidence against them for a sentence, so if they both remain silent they will still serve some time (say 1 year each). However if they both confess they will both serve more time (say 2 years each). And if one confesses but the other remains silent the confessor will serve no time but the betrayed one will serve an even longer sentence (say 3 years)!

The thing to notice is that each prisoner will serve less time if they defect and betray the other prisoner than if they cooperate with them. You might even think the sentences are calculated to promote betrayal!

Further Reading:

William Poundstone / Prisoner’s Dilemma: John Von Neumann, game theory, and the Puzzle of the bomb

Note passage from SEP:

The new story suggests that the Prisoner’s Dilemma also occupies a place at the heart of our economic system. It would seem that any market designed to facilitate mutually beneficial exchanges will need to overcome the dilemma or avoid it.