Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

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Homes as self-expression

Times past: home as self-expression; for older people that remains the case. Zum kennen another person - one good approach would be to visit, to spot artifacts they leave around (books, trophies, stuffed hunting victims, sculpture, art, photographs, etc), using these as ways to jump into conversation. Khalil Gibran: 「In truth we only talk to ourselves, but sometimes we talk loud enough that others may hear us」 - distinction between house as a reminder to ourselves of our constructed identity (JCのmask?) versus what we expose to others can be slim. (point - to learn another, we don't learn their real self because that self is almost the same across all of humanity - we really *do* want to learn their mask - the dream or story in which they wrap their bare material life that probably differs little from all of humanity - without such fabrications we would be barely human and probably not sane - posturing is the most natural thing for social animals)

Problem: Those of us, transhumanists and geeks, are half moved-out of our houses, emotionally. New generations likely will be moreso (I wonder how much they will have to learn to achieve this given hardware failures, or will moving to a new laptop be like moving to a new apartment?) - the environment we construct is intensely personal in the digital world, yet we don't typically share this with others. I don't think personal webpages (or other equivalents like facebook) count - they are something new (concept of public and private rooms of a house: vague precedent, but too different to really apply).

Possibility: 「house as expression」 as a particularly American thing, or for very wealthy others. I understand that the world is divided on how often people have other people over, with public places being far more widely used in some cultures (maybe this is just due to some places typically having very small dwellings and a better public sphere?).

I wonder - I supppose if I were expecting guests on my computer and that they were going to share my account, I could tweak some things to be comfortable with that. With a significant other, I probably wouldn't even feel the need to do that - just as I would expect us to mutually have that shared house-learning, I wouldn't mind the digital equivalent. I suppose the difference is that with my apartment, things are already segmented mostly into a public-private divide (even without rooms, people would have to do more than open drawers or look around to find anything I'd not want them to see (from memory boxes to other things)). In practice, will digital homes be private for most people? Do we lack the easy partitioning that the physical world has as a cause for that kind of thing?

I guess in practice nobody really does visit my apartment, but if they don't mind the cat fur and actually wanted to hang out, they could, which is the point.

Slashdot recently had a story about a controversy where a university took blood samples from a tribe in order to do medical research, and apart from that research they did a few other things that made the tribe a bit uncomfortable (for example, confirming that like all Amerindian tribes they have ancestry from Asia rather than being "born from the earth").

To repeat my comment there,I hold:

    We should have little specific sympathy for the tribesmen's origin myths being challenged
    We should take that violation of consent seriously - it's not about property, it's about the integrity of human subjects research and the validity of the promises we make when we deal with people
    The data, being already collected, should not be destroyed out of any property-like concerns
    The data is nontheless a black eye on an academic unit that has breached its promises. Their IRB should be furious. In order to regain the trust of those they have betrayed, it is likely a very good idea to bury the data unless real (and retroactive) consent can be acquired. Whatever people were responsible should be dealt with using normal IRB-like practices.
    If there is not yet strong IRB-type protection for this kind of research, it needs to be established post-haste. IRBs are not (only) meant to deal with legal threats - they protect the reputation of research. It is entirely appropriate for them to decide that legally permissible things are not worth the bad PR (and they have done so many times).
To expand a bit about it, it has a very good analogy to how I think we (seculars) should be sensitive to those who only eat kosher or halal food - it's not that we have to respect these particular diets (or the religious reasoning behind them), but if we present food to someone as having a certain property and we know it's important to them that it has that property, it's not acceptable to do so under false pretenses. Even if we don't recognise the properties involved (e.g. was a prayer to Allah done to sanctify the meat?), presenting it inaccurately would be inappropriate. And so it is with IRBs - while there are circumstances where being forthright (or even honest) is not necessary (or even where it is appropriate to lie or perform grave omission), absent very strong reasons otherwise we should respect people's autonomy on these matters and be honest with our agreements with them on these types.

Working through the 「Fundamentals of Neuropsychology」 book - I am reminded how fascinating the topic is on a warm-fuzzy level. I worry that that like amounts to a crush - remembering that I took the class *before* the neuropsych job at CMU and didn't dive in as much as I thought I would then. But.. I don't think Cognitive Modelling is my cup of tea, so maybe it in fact would be as good as it feels now. Dimly-remembered analogy - it's hard to tell the difference between a crush and love, except in hindsight.

Wonderings from yet another story I have that never saw the light of day:

「Recreativity」 - ability/tendency to recreate a cultural entity when people are placed in a situation that lacks it

If we imagined taking a few people out of their society and onto a blank earth (fairly close to the premise of that story, minus a number of interesting complications), would they usually be more recreative of their moral/religious/ethical traditions or their scientific ones? Absent the rare person (Hafiz in Islam - I don't know if there's a particular term in Judaism, Christianity, or other faiths) who has memorised the texts and versed in all the traditions, very few people would be able to preserve more than a sliver of their religious traditions. Generationally, would we manage to keep the difficult virtues we have built in modern societies over such a move? More interesting recreativity - between existing cultures when people or families move.

Idea of taking on the heavy burden of standing up to what is and make a new order, holding it out to others to take while living it - declaring 「I am a source」, perhaps 「I am a potential parent to a new society」.

Sketching: Tried sketching the creature below recently (I've long had a fascination with them - did a report on them in middle school if I recall correctly) - not easy!

(click for larger)


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