The art of dislodging the truth

The American philosopher, John Searle, most notable contribution is arguably a thought experiment called the “Chinese Room” which is best explained in a 90 seconds youtube link below.

What would be the equivalent of the “Arab Room”?

A Middle Eastern civilian outside the room would slip a paper into a room, describing their suffering. The person inside the room is an Alien.
The alien does not understand what it mean to be human, but is intelligent and highlights key words to geographically locate the civilian’s nationality, correlates the civilian suffering with references to left, right politics, calibrates the finding further with nationalistic and/or religious affiliations, anchors it with historical milestones such as rise of Wahhabism, Belfour declaration, Sykes-Picot, Zionism, Ba’athism and slips under the door an articulate response to the civilian.

The civilian that receives the information believes that person inside the room understands the meaning of their suffering; while in reality the person inside the room has no concept what it means to be a human.

What if the Alien inside the room, is a human who 100% believes he is an Alien? Would that change anything?

What if the Alien inside the room, is a human who 100% believes he is holy? Would that change anything?


Bunch of Blogs

Recently checking some Lebanese blogs:

Lebanese modern fusion recipes, can’t wait to try the curry and fish as instructed by a Lebanese chef.

Collection of Lebanese pop culture, great nuggets.

Lebanese Satire blog, Karl Sharro was introduced to me by a friend and he is terrific.

where we first met by Marc Matar

NDU Photography Program

This series started as an attempt to prove that memories of places remain even when time changes everything about a space.

Memory that remains intact in people’s mind is what I translated in timeless images of a place where lovers first met, where their story started.

In a country where everything keeps changing in an unusually fast time-lapse, consuming everything around it from landmarks to culture and history, the project comes as an homage to people’s souvenirs, a cruel look at the reality of where things were 30 years ago and where they are right now; an untold story of the now grandparents that were once lovers with a remarkably romantic past.Marc_mattar-1Marc_mattar-2Marc_mattar-3Marc_mattar-4Marc_mattar-5Marc_mattar-6Marc_mattar-7Marc_mattar-8Marc_mattar-9Marc_mattar-10

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Alien Intelligence

Tim Urban latest epic-blog on Artificial Intelligence is superb, you can check it out here. Though it is 75 pages long.

I put together 1 picture, condensing what Tim has already condensed based on his research. The powerful idea is simple, the exponential rate of technological advancement, as we have already from the past suggests that











AI at human level experience might not be as far away as it seems.

The most powerful notion that has to be understood, that Artificial Intelligence is just another way of saying Alien Intelligence which is just another way of saying, we have no idea what it means, which is even more alien when you know that humans are creating it. The terrifying aspects of AI is how fast it can get to become superintelligence, which is another word of saying that by all human definition it would have all the powers that we now attribute to God.

here are several quotes of quotes that I found cool to quote:

“movies have really confused things by presenting unrealistic AI scenarios that make us feel like AI isn’t something to be taken seriously in general. James Barrat compares the situation to our reaction if the Centers for Disease Control issued a serious warning about vampires in our future”

“Donald Knuth puts it, “AI has by now succeeded in doing essentially everything that requires ‘thinking’ but has failed to do most of what people and animals do ‘without thinking.’”

“Nick Bostrom uses the term “the village idiot”—we’ll be like, “Oh wow, it’s like a dumb human. Cute!” The only thing is, in the grand spectrum of intelligence, all humans, from the village idiot to Einstein, are within a very small range—so just after hitting village idiot-level and being declared an AGI, it’ll suddenly be smarter than Einstein and we won’t know what hit us”

“But it’s not just that a chimp can’t do what we do, it’s that his brain is unable to grasp that those worlds even exist—a chimp can become familiar with what a human is and what a skyscraper is, but he’ll never be able to understand that the skyscraper was built by humans”

“” [computer program that has a goal to hand] write and test as many notes as you can, as quickly as you can, and continue to learn new ways to improve your accuracy.It seems weird that a story about a handwriting machine turning on humans, somehow killing everyone, and then for some reason filling the galaxy with friendly notes is the exact kind of scenario Hawking, Musk, Gates, and Bostrom are terrified of. But it’s true. And the only thing that scares everyone on Anxious Avenue more than ASI is the fact that you’re not scared of ASI”

“That leads us to the question, What motivates an AI system?
The answer is simple: its motivation is whatever we programmed its motivation to be. ”

“Of everything I read, the best shot I think someone has taken was Eliezer Yudkowsky, with a goal for AI he calls Coherent Extrapolated Volition. The AI’s core goal would be:
Our coherent extrapolated volition is our wish if we knew more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, had grown up farther together; where the extrapolation converges rather than diverges, where our wishes cohere rather than interfere; extrapolated as we wish that extrapolated, interpreted as we wish that interpreted ”

“Many of them are trying to build AI that can improve on its own, and at some point, someone’s gonna do something innovative with the right type of system and we’re going to have ASI on this planet. The median expert put that moment at 2060; Kurzweil puts it at 2045; Bostrom thinks it could happen anytime between 10 years from now and the end of the century, but he believes that when it does, it’ll take us by surprise with a quick takeoff. He describes our situation like this:
Before the prospect of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb. Such is the mismatch between the power of our plaything and the immaturity of our conduct. Superintelligence is a challenge for which we are not ready now and will not be ready for a long time. We have little idea when the detonation will occur, though if we hold the device to our ear we can hear a faint ticking sound.”

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously

I thought about that sentence today.

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. A sentence composed by Noam Chomsky in 1957, as an example of a grammatically correct sentence but semantically nonsensical. Even though, far greater human specimens have concluded that Chomsky is right, after careful deliberating I concluded that Chomsky is wrong, his sentence has meaning, and proof is below.

After an hour and 15 minutes conversation with a Syrian friend whom since 2008 has been living in a wealthy Arab state, I asked him what he thought about the Spiral events in Syria.

He responded as follows:
After deliberating about the situation in Syria, and I’m not a conspiracy subscriber, I came to this based on my own research, but after watching all the Daesh militants wearing all black, a color that blatantly represents evil, and how they dress the prisoners in all color orange, which is a color that typically western prisoners wear, and noting the production value of these videos, and the lack of accents by the people committing the crime, it became clear that these people are paid or are agents of the West, using videos to communicate to western audience, in order to enrage western population and empower the western government to act in the Middle East to reshape a new vision of the “middle east.” Today we are in the winter of this struggle.

I was silent, because suddenly the quality of my thoughts awoke and I realized how colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

true story

The Years Of Writing Dangerously

So true

The Dish

Thirteen years ago, as I was starting to experiment with this blogging thing, I wrote the following:

[T]he speed with which an idea in your head reaches thousands of other people’s eyes has another deflating effect, this time in reverse: It ensures that you will occasionally blurt out things that are offensive, dumb, brilliant, or in tune with the way people actually think and speak in private. That means bloggers put themselves out there in far more ballsy fashion than many officially sanctioned pundits do, and they make fools of themselves more often, too. The only way to correct your mistakes or foolishness is in public, on the blog, in front of your readers. You are far more naked than when clothed in the protective garments of a media entity.

But, somehow, you’re liberated as well as nude: blogging as a media form of streaking. I notice this when…

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What is the point?

I came across Tim Urban blog post what makes you you?

And it was a delight. I enjoyed how he tackled this question not by simply taking us down Ontology lane by providing quotes from Aristotle to Heidegger, but by rather by narrating a series of thought experiments. It’s a lengthy post and it should be read, as any summary takes away from the pleasure of experiencing the meandering of your own thoughts, like a centipede they get nudged, probed, stretched and dropped. The two main sources that Tim heavily relied on were: The free course from Yale Professor Shelly Kagan’s, & Derek Parfit’s book Reasons and Persons, which both now are on my reading list. Tim also teamed with Kurzgesagt to present this YouTube video on the same topic

The post starts with 3 theories of the Self:

1) The Body Theory: Physical body and its incidentals, including Cells, bones, DNA, the pieces and/or the sum.

2) The Brain Theory: The Gray Matter inside your skull only is you.

3) The Data Theory: The Stuff inside the gray matter is only you, memories, thoughts, etc..

With each theory the holes are exposed right away. However, with series of thought experiments listed below:

A. The Torture Test

B. The Teletransporter Thought Experiment

C. The Split Brain Experiment

D. The Cell Replacement Test

E. The Body Scattering Test

F. Continuity

As you read through the various tests, the idea of what you think you are oscillates. The interesting part as the sequence of the narrative changes while pondering the same thought experiment, your opinion on what you value most about yourself: data, brain, or body subtly shifts too.

What is my conclusion? I think when you experience the impermanence of your thoughts in successions, you are indulging in a part of you that is akin to when you are staying at a five star hotel; you are accessing your own luxury, you are just visiting this hotel, and while you are here, use the robe, order-in food, look out the window, get a message, get drunk, watch TV, have sex, and when you check-out don’t forget to thank the establishment.

All this short-lived pondering, much like the life span of a fly, leave me with vague colorful streaks, that somehow represents the slow shifting of a new perspective relative to an old perspective, and vice-versa, rummaging the space of this fleshy building like a wild young boy, and my older self is there snapping pictures from hundreds of cameras that are stringed along the interior walls. To what purpose? To celebrate the fact that we are hacking our own mind, using our own words, and then sharing a piece of you to prove we are not alone.

I think at some point we realize that we can’t crack the ceiling, we can’t be the architect, so we might as well enjoy being an interior designer.

It was an interesting read through-out, did I say interesting already?