Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Undeserved Gifts

Notion::(In_Quantum_Physics::Randomness)Assertion::(Previous::Allows_Free_Will)Counterargument::(Randomness::Unlike_Choice)Counterargument_Supplement::(Randomness::Unlike_Rationality)Counterargument_Counterargument::(Nature_Of_Randomness::Not_Without_Regularity)Counterargument_Counterargument_Supplement:: (Nature_Of_Randomness:: Study_Of_Data_With_Unknown_Regularities_and_Inputs)

Yes, what I'm musing over, again, is, if we were to grant that randomness andstatistics are not concerned with things truly random, but instead withunknown causes of variation (A difference that might be seen as akin to howgeometry studies abstract things, like circles, that have no existence inthe world but are nontheless practical to study), does this weaken this (3)?

Argument map:1) Free will is nonsense because the universe is, on a large scale, deterministic, and quantum effects may weaken this on the small scale, but on the whole produce sufficiently deterministic results on a large scale (that is, in aggregate) that the system is deterministic at the level that the brain operates2) The brain may be fine-grained enough that quantum effects directly play a role in its function, therefore the determinism argument is not decisive for free will, and reasonable people may still believe in it, imagining the soul is what fits into those quantum spaces3) Quantum effects are random, and randomness is very different from notions of free will or the soul

Of course, there are a lot of other interesting possible objections to #3,but depending on one's understanding of the philosophy of statistics, thisis a pretty strong route to take. Not being a believer in free will, souls,or consciousness (at least, most of the content -- you might be able to defineit in a way I wouldn't deny it) myself, this argument poses an interestingchallenge to me. There really are a lot of interesting assumptions andphilosophical assertions behind some bits of science that it's fun to take alook at. Unlike, say, my car, when I peek under the hood, it leaves me thinking.

And now, an analysis of this.In case the news story goes away by the time you read it, it's a 2-sidedpicture, on the left, a picture of Clinton, on the right, of BushJr. Theleft caption says "I did not have sex with that woman", the right captionsays "Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin,mustard, and VX nerve agent.". The bottom caption says "America impeached theguy on the left for lying.". Is this fair? Things that appear prettyuncontroversial, at least to me:1) Clinton was, if not lying, mispresenting himself in that statement.2) If BushJr was lying about that and used it as a pretense to war, he belongs in prison. It's much more serious than lying about personal behavior.3) BushJr's statement was incorrect

What's the problem? We can imagine a number of situations, ranging from themost horrific lie to mistaken belief based on good evidence, that might've been.It's really hard to tell after the fact, given the information we had. Let'spresent a few scenarios...

1) BushJr gets intelligence reports that mostly concur that Hussein can and wasplanning to produce such weapons, and used them as a primary reason to invadeIraq2) BushJr wants to invade Iraq for other reasons, and uses normal speculationand unreliable suggestions to form a justification fo invading Iraq, with thebelief that there probably were no such weapons3) BushJr was eager to invade Iraq, but needed a solid reason, and jumped onslightly convincing evidence as a way to justify his invasion4) BushJr has a hunch Saddam is up to no good, and uses slightly convincingevidence to fuel a hunch, which he believes will be borne out, that Saddam isproducing such weapons...

Yes, there are a lot of possibilities. So, dear reader, I ask you, how wouldyou judge BushJr in each of these cases? In the case of #2, are there anyreasons you could imagine that you would be comfortable with him wanting toinvade Iraq under false pretenses? Oil? Concerns for the Kurds? Ending hisgeneral abuses?

Speaking of political things that may disgust, Macedonia admitted to a realshocker recently -- their security forces lured some Pakistani immigrantsinto one of their cities, on promises to ferry them further into Europe, andthen were surrounded and shot by said security forces. The Macedonian governmentdid this to claim they were terrorists, and were apparently (!!) aiming toimpress the international community with their willingness to fight terrorism.Now the involved government officials are being charged with murder. Accordingto an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, "It was a monstrous fabrication to getthe attention of the international community". Word back to Macedonia:We're all really impressed, let me tell you. I guess the pro-America folk arehappy not to be the only people with egg on their face. The Muslim world isprobably not amused.

Ahh, the undeservedness...Another person with my name wrote a peacenik article, andI'm getting some sympathetic comments from random people who apparentlyplugged "Pat Gunn" into google and found me (yes, google loves me). While Iappreciate her pacifism, I don't deserve the praise that belongs to her.On another note, but in the same key, I got a term paper back from myCognitive Neuropsych class, and I got a B on it. I'm ok with the grade, butI really don't think the paper was very good -- although I had a kickass title(Cognitive Neuropsychology's Silver Hammer -- was a paper analyzing an attackon Cog Neuropsych as being like hitting a car with a hammer, with specificanalyses), my paper's main point was muddled, and my examples were prettygeneric. The paper didn't really feel like it *worked*. Oh well.

Oh, you may be amused by the story of this Atkins couple.

I briefly was amused at really big buildings.

If you're using Redhat 9, it's time to get on FedoraLegacy.

I recently read about OptInRealBig's lawsuit against SpamCop.It's not the first time spammers have sued spam blacklisters.. In readingthe specific list of charges, and asking Debb about them, I find myselfdisturbed that some of them are actually real torts. In particular,apparently these are all mostly the same thing:Tortuous Interference with ContractInterference with Contractual RelationshipIntentional Interference with Prospective Economic AdvantageNegligent Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage

What they mean, apparently, is that a third party, spamcop, is getting involvedwith and interfering with their contract with their ISP (as well as other ISPs),and preventing them from entering new, similar contracts. No doubt there are abunch of rules about when this should be actionable in court, but I can'timagine these rules being actionable ever being a good thing. They seem to meto be rules designed largely for the benefit of big business, and they also seemto me to not obey a commonsense and good ideal of contracts -- if you're notparty to a contract, you don't have to care about it because it doesn't bind youin any way. A lot of laws and torts, I believe, that are on their faceproblematic have all sorts of carefully-crafted exceptions and things thatneed to be met (or not be met) in order for them to apply/be actionable. In thiscase, I have a hard time imagining any good, nonplutocratic reason for these toever apply/be actionable. In any case, best of luck to spamcop, and if theyfail, we'll need to collectively build a distributed, hard-to-sue-or-shutdownsystem to squash spam companies.

Oh, Google is starting its IPO.There's an interesting thing to be learned about how stock in corporationsworks -- apparently companies have a lot of lattitude in how they can setthese things up. I wasn't aware of this, and it's a fun factoid. I alreadyknew about preferred and regular stock, and I guess this is a slight variant.

And now, a story. When I was young, I was visiting a friend somewhere, andwas playing the old NES8 game Metroid with them. Later, when it was time toAhh, actually, it was a relative, I think. Anyhow, when it was time for meto head back to Brecksville, I saved the game, and grabbed a pen to write downthe password.. and they asked why I was bothering, because they thought Metroidhad a battery in it. I told them, no, Metroid didn't have a battery -- Nintendomade sure that game boxen were marked for games that used batteries, and thebox for Metroid lacked such a thing. They said that it must have a battery --how else could all the information in the game be stored in the small list ofnumbers in the password? I said that I was pretty sure the password I waswriting down would work on my copy of Metroid, but couldn't explain how thepassword, which they thought was a security thing, was linked to the 'saved'game, although I pointed out that that the "JUSTIN BAILEY ------ ------"password always led to the same state. Indeed, now I understand, having donea lot of programming since then, how the password could indeed store all thedata needed in a metroid game, with plenty of room to spare. Let's work throughit, going on my bare memory. There are 24 spots in the password, and I believethat each spot can hold any letter, one of 10 digits, and at least 4 punctuationcharacters. That's at least 38 distinct values for each position, and 38*24 is912 bits of information, or about 114 bytes. We know that the vast majority ofthe possible codes one might guess don't work, so let's imagine 2 bytes of thoseare used as a validating checksum, leaving us 112 bytes to work with. Whatare most of the things in a saved game in metroid? What does 112 bytes need toremember? A few things...Which Energy Tanks Have been found (8 binary values, or 2 bytes)Whether the 'long beam' has been found (true or false, 1 bit)Whether the 'varia' has been found (true or false)Whether the 'jump boots' has been found (true or false)Whether the 'morph ball' has been found (true or false)Whether the 'morph bombs' has been found (true or false)Which weapon is equipped (Normal, Ice, or Wave, 3 values, probably stored in 4 bits)Which Missles have been found (8 binary values, or 2 bytes)Whether Kraid Has been killed (2 values, or 1 bit)Whether Ridley Has been killed (2 values, or 1 bit)Whether Samus's 2nd form is unlocked (2 values, or 1 bit)Which doors have been opened (Maybe 24 binary values, or 3 bytes)Which elevator the save is at (maybe 8 values, or 1 byte)

I may have forgotten a few things, but let's add that up. I get68 bits, or about 8 bytes. By that calculation, there's a lot of roomto spare, as we're using only 1/14th of the total space available withthis estimation. In other words, despite the large number of possiblestates, it all easily is encoded, with room to spare, in the space availablein a password in that game. In fact, it would all fit in merely 4 charactersand still leave us room for a lot of extra state (if I'm not forgettinganything, it'll fit exactly into 3).

And finally, a last proof-of-concept for the real doubters.. If you reallydoubt that information can be so encoded, consider the following:Imagine if you were asked to simply enter all the above information indialogue after dialogue, when you're restoring. Would you agree thatthat would faithfully restore all the data from your game? If not, whatdifference could you see while restoring? If anything, we could encode thatby adding a few more bits of representation. If so, we could easily couldinefficiently encode all 13 of those variables, giving each of them one ofthe 16 positions, and assigning each value a particular character.

Anyhow, this explains very easily how this purity test can encode, in it's resultsall those values in just 6 numbers. (note that those arn't my results, it'sjust 111111).

Finally, you *will* enjoy these:BeefALo

Tags: philosophy, politics, science

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