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Joe Moe: on 3/21/17 at 13:12pm UTC, wrote I wish I visited this forum Earlier. I would have liked to participate in...

Anonymous: on 6/5/14 at 14:07pm UTC, wrote Brad, Very interesting Thanks. In that case I think I'd like you to read...

Vladimir Rogozhin: on 6/2/14 at 16:51pm UTC, wrote I fully agree with you, Brad. My high score. Philosophy really is the...

Brad Arnold: on 5/29/14 at 5:12am UTC, wrote That is a very good question Peter. Using the theory of functionalism that...

Brad Arnold: on 5/29/14 at 5:04am UTC, wrote I, myself, have been described as a "technophile," so have great sympathy...

Brad Arnold: on 5/29/14 at 4:50am UTC, wrote "Everything is relative" is sort of like the phrase "everything in...

Brad Arnold: on 5/29/14 at 4:39am UTC, wrote Vladimir, I agree that functionalism (as outlined in my essay) necessarily...

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FQXi FORUM
October 15, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Humanity Ought to Steer the Future Using the Philosophy of Functionalism by Brad Arnold [refresh]
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Author Brad Arnold wrote on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 15:35 GMT
Essay Abstract

The best functioning organisms will tend to survive, which ought to be our main goal in crafting policies. Methodologies can be established that pick the best practices.

Author Bio

I am a member of Mensa, and a USCF National Master at chess. I am a Transhumanist and a nihilist.

Download Essay PDF File

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Joe Fisher wrote on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 16:29 GMT
Mr. Arnold,

Is there no way you could rewrite your fine essay using a smaller font size, and ask the Foundation to substitute the rewrite for the presented one. It was somewhat distracting to read because of the many end of line word breaks.

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Author Brad Arnold replied on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 04:27 GMT
I apologize for the font and formatting choices, but after converting a .txt document to .pdf, and then publishing it, I reverted to my nihilist roots and refused to care about it's obvious deficiencies.

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Wesley Wayne Hansen wrote on Feb. 14, 2014 @ 19:13 GMT
I enjoyed your little art piece but, given that you're a self-proclaimed nihilist, I'm surprised you bothered. So the question I ask is this: does form follow function or does function follow form? You seem to suggest the prior, nature selects those forms which function the best, but what if it's the other way around? If your premise is true consider religion. Most scientists and certainly all nihilists find religion foolish but yet it has resisted the onslaught of natural selection for millenia: why? Be careful of that question for it could cause your nihilist platform to crumble . . .

With regards

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Author Brad Arnold replied on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 04:40 GMT
I forwarded the tautology that the best way to steer humanity was by selecting the best policies, as in the ones that function the best. You are correct, that the ideally best functioning may not be optimal unless human psychology, sociology, economics, etc are considered. In other words, ought follows is, rather than the other way around, but the dynamic of what is is partially human values of what ought to be. In that sense, form follows function, but function is partially form.

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on Feb. 18, 2014 @ 08:20 GMT
Dear Brad,

The best functioning organism is the Virus and only Virus will survive finally on earth, if Humanity does not Steer the Future in the right pathway. Then Virus will also go because of its dependency. Universe is eternal whereas the Earth is not, but we may able to Steer for prolongation, to some extent.

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Author Brad Arnold replied on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 05:11 GMT
It is true that the virus is optimal in some sense, but it seems mindless. Humans, on the other hand, have the free will to be consciously dynamic. I am recommending the selecting of maximization functions based upon the enlightened self-interest of the group.

What you may be referring to is the "Profit Maximization Paradox" where 'it is broadly assumed that maximizing functional performance will maximize profitability, but such an assumption leads to inconsistent results and pervasive alignment issues. The answer to the paradox is a basic recognition of its existence, and therefore examination of current performance metrics in the light of how they impact profitability and life time value.' In other words, balancing the short, medium, and long term, rather than simply trying to maximize profit mindlessly (like a virus).

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Feb. 20, 2014 @ 23:14 GMT
Brad,

Yours would seem to be the perfect answer to the overreaching essay Question. But as in most things the devil is to be found in the details. Evolution takes eons, but human biology psychology and society and the terrestrial environment are so complex, and the means of global catastrophe so readily at hand that disaster could strike long before any desirable future to speak of can be achieved. A more creative route for Humanity's salvation than evolution is needed.

Good luck to us all

Vladimir

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Author Brad Arnold replied on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 05:44 GMT
I applaud you for pointing out that evolution is a long term phenomena, whereas avoiding short-term extinction is a more immediate phenomena. In that sense, we are our own worse enemy, for instance, environmental degradation and the Tragedy of the commons. As you can see from my bio, I am a Transhumanist, but I am also a Singularitarian. Therefore, I believe that technology will (in the next twenty to thirty years) develop super intelligent artificial intelligence. Then all bets are off, with hundreds of monomaniacal Einsteins working on every maximization problem, and coming up with potential solutions our limited human minds might not even grasp. OTH, some fear that the Singularity might actually be a human extinction event. It is hard to find any piece of high technology that isn't dual-use, and I doubt Mankind's Salvation lies in avoiding high technology because of it's inherent danger.

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Turil Sweden Cronburg wrote on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 13:52 GMT
I’d never heard of Dawkin’s Information Bomb idea of a different sort of exploding cosmological body. Thanks!

And, regarding your “Exponential growth is hardwired

into the system” comment, you might find my own paper interesting... I offer a highly organized (if very general) map for how we can, indeed, “cut present-day problems down to a manageable size”.

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John C Hodge wrote on Apr. 10, 2014 @ 20:32 GMT
Do you accept that survival should be the only goal?

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Author Brad Arnold replied on Apr. 11, 2014 @ 05:06 GMT
Wow, that is a great question. While I believe that survival, and therefore best functioning, ought to be the main goal, it is a means to an end, which is F = T ∇ Sτ, or in other words the equation for intelligence, which is maximization of future freedom. Due to space restraints, it is best to cite this link to further explain: http://www.ted.com/talks/alex_wissner_gross_a_new_equation_f
or_intelligence

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Author Brad Arnold wrote on Apr. 11, 2014 @ 05:03 GMT
Wow, that is a great question. While I believe that survival, and therefore best functioning, ought to be the main goal, it is a means to an end, which is F = T ∇ Sτ, or in other words the equation for intelligence, which is maximization of future freedom. Due to space restraints, it is best to cite this link to further explain:...

view entire post


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James Dunn wrote on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 15:31 GMT
We tend to agree on similar foundations. I am promoting the certification of common sense.

http://www.ua-kits.com

I am currently taking applications for Board Members to act in the development of the Certification Agency.[\b] support@ua-kits.com

I created the website and business model to support an actual actionable development of the essay submitted. This is to be a 501(c)3 that is supported by a diversity of business models. The intent is to scale the efforts globally.

Functionalism identifies relationships and acts upon them with logical priorities. The attempt is to eliminate all contradiction from efforts.

Common Sense = Self-Esteem + Critical Thinking + Predicting Consequences

Let me know if you have an interest to create actionable functionalism.

I disagree in part with total functionalism, because art and expression need not be functional to be an emotional benefit. Picasso never produced anything I found interesting, but other forms of art I enjoy. So included should be the emotional, social, and communication processes that support functionalism; i.e. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

James Dunn

FQXi Submission:

Graduated Certification for Certification of Common Sense

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2045

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James Dunn replied on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 15:42 GMT
Optimization is goal-centric. When there are competing goals, there can be compromise, thinking outside the box to provide for everyone, or the more likely scenario, unethical allocation where opportunities are allocated to support personal agendas.

The diversity of options to consider to support optimal functionalism would require all of us to be hooked up to a supercomputer to act upon choices in real-time.

This is why policies are used. They save human resources a great deal of time and provide a level of ethical consideration while still being competitive in providing business services.

I do believe that business operations needs to slow down. Impulsive decisions is often where corruption lives. Unethically Allocating opportunities and/or resources and entrenching themselves in processes to prevent correcting their corrupt activities. Adding a time-delay in making decisions allows for more time for ethical evaluation and organizing an effort to stop corruption before it becomes entrenched.

James Dunn

FQXi Submission:

Graduated Certification for Certification of Common Sense

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2045

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 05:28 GMT
I thank you very much for the invitation, but I am a schizoid. I agree with you, and laud your efforts, but I must point out that technological progress is exponential, and will soon outpace conventional human organizations. For instance, in about ten years, we will have the first AI that credibly passes the Turing test. In about thirty we will have a supercomputer that exceeds the processing power of all human brains combined. In addition, it is predictable that manufacturing and settlement activities will be conducted outside our gravity well within our lifetimes. The result will be less cooperative and compromising involving top down bureaucracies, and more competitive and enterprising involving widely diverse independent companies and settlements.

In other words, I can understand forwarding a formula for efficiently directing actions, but I think the days of allocation of scarcity and the dictating of policies are near an end.

By the way, in reference to your statement: "So included should be the emotional, social, and communication processes that support functionalism; i.e. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos." I totally agree that the three pillars of argumentation (i.e persuasion) ought to be included in any expression of functionalism, because to impose an artificial external paradigm of functionalism, rather than a consensus organic internal paradigm of functionalism would be inefficient, since there will be natural resistance from the participants.

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 03:38 GMT
Dear Arnold

I agree with you regarding the use of the philosophy of functionalism.

Because, according to my absolute theory : the function is to decide the value of everything.

The highest point for you with best wishes - Hải.CaoHoàng

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Author Brad Arnold replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 05:46 GMT
Yes, in object oriented programming there are the objects (i.e. variables), and the functions (i.e. formulas). How can the variables be evaluated except via the formulas that operate on them?

I believe that people get sidetracked because of the implicit belief in intrinsic value, which accords objects some transcendent meaning apart from the functions. It is a fundamental misunderstanding because everything is relative, and leads to all order of dysfunctional and schizophrenic prescriptions.

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Anselm Smidt wrote on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 15:50 GMT
Gesellschaft verurteilt Galileo. Funktion ist oft eine begrenzte Sicht.

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Author Brad Arnold replied on Apr. 25, 2014 @ 05:40 GMT
"society condemned Galileo. feature is often a limited view."

I agree that pure functionalism (as in Galileo declaring that the Earth revolves around the Sun, in essence implying that the Earth isn't the center of the universe) is often opposed for political reasons. As stated in an earlier reply I made to a comment, I believe that "consensus organic internal paradigm of functionalism would be more efficient, since there will be natural resistance from participants."

Let me also state that you can develop a mathematical model of the Earth being the center of the universe which still obeys all the mathematical laws of motion, thus pacifying the political objection. The problem is always the imposition of "an artificial external paradigm of functionalism."

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on May. 3, 2014 @ 20:05 GMT
Dear Brad,

I read with interest your essay in which you express clearly and distinctly your philosophical position. But do not belittle whether you hereby opportunities Philosophy, emphasizing the philosophy of functionalism for more reliable steering the future of Humanity? At the time from philosophy of consciousness, I naturally turned to ontology, philosophy of physics and mathematics to get to the primordial meanings and structures of being, the nature of information and time, absolute generating structure. Picture of the world of physics should be the same rich meanings of the «LifeWorld»(E.Husserl) as the world picture lyricists. Otherwise it will be difficult to steer the Future. Do you agree?

High regard,

Vladimir

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Author Brad Arnold replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 04:39 GMT
Vladimir,

I agree that functionalism (as outlined in my essay) necessarily incorporates both ontology (i.e. a branch of metaphysics - the philosophy of the nature of being), as well as the more practical business of optimization. After all, there is mathematical optimization, and then there is the more vague psychology of optimization, and how can we separate "reality" in a physical sense, from "reality in a psychological (or more abstractly a philosophical) one?

Although, I will say that functionalism in terms of simple Darwinism is pretty straight forward. After all, we are entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts, and generally optimization in it's various shades (in other words, in both the short and long run) is pretty clear.

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Vladimir Rogozhin replied on Jun. 2, 2014 @ 16:51 GMT
I fully agree with you, Brad. My high score. Philosophy really is the support that will help Humanity more reliably steer the Future.

I invite you to read my ideas .

Sincerely,

Vladimir

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on May. 5, 2014 @ 02:21 GMT
Dear Author Brad Arnold

You think: "everything is relative"?

On time be a child I was educated like that, but now I can confirm that that is the reason why we were confused and could not understand anything - because if everything is relative will that mean can not have the truth !

I would be very grateful if you could provide an example of the Relativity.

Hải.CaoHoàng

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Author Brad Arnold replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 04:50 GMT
"Everything is relative" is sort of like the phrase "everything in moderation," in that it is absurd, since the statement itself seems to be an absolute (i.e. everything in moderation but moderation??). Instead, I beg charity for what I am referring to, and at least depend upon it's widespread usage to provide me with some cover.

A generic explanation of "everything is relative" is:

"Generally speaking, what is meant by this is not that there aren't any absolute truths in the world, but rather that in the realm of morality, ethics, and religion, there is no truth with a capital “T”. In other words, there is no ultimate fact in morality and religion by which all other viewpoints must be judged.

More to the point: an objective point of view is absurd, since a point of view must necessarily be subjective. In other words, absolute truth is by definition unknowable, so everything is relative.

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Ajay Bhatla wrote on May. 11, 2014 @ 22:52 GMT
Brad,

I agree that natural selection is the key operative driving function of nature. The Anthropocene, is thus, reality, till humanity gets unselected by itself or another species.

Everything is, thus, just the noise of natural selection at work?

Any comments on my attempt (my essay here) to raise the crescendo of noise?

- Ajay

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Michael muteru wrote on May. 16, 2014 @ 12:09 GMT
HI Brad

very informative,Point on,not beating by the bush.natural selection carries the day but can homa sapiens sapiens cheat nature again like it has always done,to perpetuate the race read/rate /review on how and why .in my essay LIVING IN THE SHADOWS OF THE SUN: REALITIES, PERILS ESCAPADES MAN, PLANET AND KARDASHEV SCALE.MAKING THE GREAT TRANSITION by Michael muteru ,here http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2101.for me its 6/10 ,Though the text is a bit chareed. thanks all the best.

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Author Brad Arnold replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 05:04 GMT
I, myself, have been described as a "technophile," so have great sympathy for the emotive face you put on the Anthropocene. Let me comment that the word "play" can be misinterpreted, just as the word "game" is when one applies a less than deadly meaning to the survival of our species and our lives. OTH, I personally believe that play is life, and so is gaming, and ought not be uncharitably be interpreted to detract from the seriousness of the subject.

One other thing: I have been having a hard time lately with the elevation of "science" into an objective truth. Science is simply a natural philosophy aimed at discovering the truth, or more practically to further the advancement of technology, which is simply the science of techniques. Simply stated, science is a means to an end, not an end in itself, or the only means to the end. Some of the most close minded people belong to the "scientific community," and more concretely I suspect an unknown Einstein would have a hard time getting his papers published in the current peer-reviewed journals (which is a sort of seal of approval in the scientific community for any new contribution).

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Peter Jackson wrote on May. 16, 2014 @ 19:46 GMT
Brad,

Very interesting. Two questions;

1) If somebody found a great breakthrough in our coherent understanding on nature and the universe, i.e. unifying all physics. Do you think it'd likely be a good thing?

2) If that new understanding revealed that we were all going to be sucked into the AGN ('SMBH') at the centre of the universe in a few Bn years, re-ionized and blasted back out as part of a quasar jet, to form the next iteration of the galaxy. Would it be best if he kept quiet about it?!

Of course there are other considerations and implications, i.e. we probably won't last till then anyway, and if it's an infinite cyclic process the next thing any of our brain cells will know will be when they're part of some other sentient being in a future galaxy (and probably universe).

Best wishes.

Peter

(P.S. If it's 'no' to 1 perhaps don't read my essay!)

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Author Brad Arnold replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 05:12 GMT
That is a very good question Peter. Using the theory of functionalism that I wrote about, the answer would simply be mu (i.e. not yes or no, but it is out of context) since we would shortly be nothing.

I came across the following article that puts your question into better context:

http://www.firstpost.com/tech/study-says-universe-on
-verge-of-collapsing-1288121.html

If this theory is correct, then the Expansionist theory of the universe (i.e. after the Big Bang, the universe will keep travelling outward indefinitely) is incorrect, but it also means that if such a phase shift could be artificially induced, then such technology would be an existential threat to all live in our universe.

My point is that knowledge of such dangerous technology almost certainly ought not be shared, but knowledge that a phase shift is abstractly possible to occur naturally in the far future is virtually irrelevant (according to Functionalism), but interesting.

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Anonymous replied on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 14:07 GMT
Brad,

Very interesting Thanks. In that case I think I'd like you to read my essay if you haven't yet (and score it to hopefully counter the shower of 1's it's had alongside the high ones). I think yours is exceptionally interesting and am now scoring it so strap in.

So how about this scenario; The universe WILL shrink again but not for some time, and we'll immediately get recycled and return, but in the meantime the galaxy is going to do the same much sooner. (PR Paper in print now). Now I have a breakthrough in fundamantal understanding of nature that will allow us to progress quick enough to escape this galaxy before it does so.

The question is; Do I try to make it known? ...or do I just keep quiet so we all get wiped out in the short term rather than in another 10bn years?

I'm only half convinced we're worth saving this time around. Let's imagine I've kept quiet, it's a few centuries on and I'm found out, but too late to use it in time. Would you say "thanks", or "you silly sod"?

My essay's a real case but set as an allegory in the future. I'd be interested in your views.

Thanks, and best wishes.

Peter

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Joe Moe wrote on Mar. 21, 2017 @ 13:12 GMT
I wish I visited this forum Earlier. I would have liked to participate in this contest

urgent essays

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