Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Making of Blade Runner: Like Tears in Rain

I always wondered how Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? became Ridley Scott's cyberpunk noir Blade Runner. Watch this documentary to find out!

See also Philip K. Dick's First Science Fiction Story.

Not Davos

Sorry again for the pause in blogging -- I've been on the road. These are photos from meetings I attended in Los Angeles and on the east coast. The selfie below is with Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico and Secretary of Energy.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Seminars, Colloquia, and Slides I have known

I think I've made this Google drive folder publicly readable. It contains slides for many talks I've given over the years, going back almost to 2000 or so.

Topics include black hole information, monsters in curved space, entanglement entropy, dark energy, insider's guide to startups, the financial crisis of 2008, foundations of quantum mechanics, and more.

(Second slide is from this talk given at the Institute for Quantum Information at Caltech.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Oppenheimer on Bohr (1964 UCLA)

I came across this 1964 UCLA talk by Oppenheimer, on his hero Niels Bohr.

Oppenheimer: Mathematics is "an immense enlargement of language, an ability to talk about things which in words would be simply inaccessible."

I find it strange that psychometricians usually define "verbal ability" over a vocabulary set that excludes words from mathematics and other scientific areas. A person's verbal score is enhanced by knowing many (increasingly obscure) words for the same concept, as opposed to knowing words which describe new concepts beyond those which appear in ordinary language.

Is it more valuable to have mastery of these words: esoteric, abstruse, enigmatic, cryptic, recondite, inscrutable, opaque, ... (all describe similar concepts; they are synonyms for not easily understood),

or these: mean, variance, standard deviation, fluctuation, scaling, dimensionality, eigenvector, orthogonal, kernel, null space (these describe distinct but highly useful concepts not found in ordinary language)?

Among the simplest (and most useful) mathematical words/concepts that flummox ordinary people are statistical terms such as mean, variance, standard deviation, etc. One could be familiar with all of these words and concepts, yet obtain a low score on a test of verbal ability due to an insufficiently large grasp of (relatively useless) esoteric synonyms.

See also Thought vectors and the dimensionality of the space of concepts , Toward a Geometry of Thought and High V, Low M

Added from comments:
I'd like to clarify something that was probably confusing in the original post and my subsequent comments. 
One of the things I noticed in the SAT reading comprehension sections my kids were looking at is that one is NOT being asked to making subtle distinctions between nearby concepts/words. One is merely being asked to know that X (esoteric word) is a synonym for Y (common word), without having to know the subtle difference between X and Y. 
So, if my kid didn't know that "Brobdingnagian" is a synonym for "big" they might not be able to answer a multiple-choice question about a paragraph containing the sentence: "But of course the error was of Brobdingnagian proportions." To answer the question doesn't require knowledge of Gulliver's Travels -- I could un-befuddle my kid (allowing him or her to easily answer the question) just by saying "Brobdingnagian means big"! 
So, at least this psychometric exam (the SAT) isn't even testing fine distinctions -- it just tests whether you know that X1, X2, ... , XN are synonyms of a very primitive concept like BIG. What is the value of taking N larger and larger (in this sense; not the fine distinction sense)? Surely there are diminishing returns...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dangerous Knowledge and Existential Risk (Dominic Cummings)

Dominic Cummings begins a new series of blog posts. Highly recommended!

It's worth noting a few "factor of a million" advances that have happened recently, largely due to physical science, applied mathematics, and engineering:

1. Destructive power of an H-bomb is a million times greater than that of conventional explosives. This advance took ~20 years.

2. Computational power (Moore's Law) has advanced a million times over a roughly similar timescale.

3. Genome sequencing (and editing) capabilities have improved similarly, just in the 21st century.

How much have machine intelligence and AI progressed, say, in the last 20 years? If it isn't a factor of a million (whatever that means in this context), it soon will be ...
Dominic Cummings: ... The big big problem we face – the world is ‘undersized and underorganised’ because of a collision between four forces: 1) our technological civilisation is inherently fragile and vulnerable to shocks, 2) the knowledge it generates is inherently dangerous, 3) our evolved instincts predispose us to aggression and misunderstanding, and 4) there is a profound mismatch between the scale and speed of destruction our knowledge can cause and the quality of individual and institutional decision-making in ‘mission critical’ political institutions ...

... Politics is profoundly nonlinear. (I have written a series of blogs about complexity and prediction HERE which are useful background for those interested.) Changing the course of European history via the referendum only involved about 10 crucial people controlling ~£10^7 while its effects over ten years could be on the scale of ~10^8 – 10^9 people and ~£10^12: like many episodes in history the resources put into it are extremely nonlinear in relation to the potential branching histories it creates. Errors dealing with Germany in 1914 and 1939 were costly on the scale of ~100,000,000 (10^8) lives. If we carry on with normal human history – that is, international relations defined as out-groups competing violently – and combine this with modern technology then it is extremely likely that we will have a disaster on the scale of billions (10^9) or even all humans (~10^10). The ultimate disaster would kill about 100 times more people than our failure with Germany. Our destructive power is already much more than 100 times greater than it was then.

Even if we dodge this particular bullet there are many others lurking. New genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR allow radical possibilities for re-engineering organisms including humans in ways thought of as science fiction only a decade ago. We will soon be able to remake human nature itself. CRISPR-enabled ‘gene drives’ enable us to make changes to the germ-line of organisms permanent such that changes spread through the entire wild population, including making species extinct on demand. Unlike nuclear weapons such technologies are not complex, expensive, and able to be kept secret for a long time. The world’s leading experts predict that people will be making them cheaply at home soon – perhaps they already are.

It is already practically possible to deploy a cheap, autonomous, and anonymous drone with facial-recognition software and a one gram shaped-charge to identify a relevant face and blow it up. Military logic is driving autonomy. ...
Dangers have increased, but quality of decision making and institutions has not:
... The national institutions we have to deal with such crises are pretty similar to those that failed so spectacularly in summer 1914 yet they now face crises involving 10^2 – 10^3 times more physical destruction moving at least 10^3 times faster. The international institutions developed post-1945 (UN, EU etc) contribute little to solving the biggest problems and in many ways make them worse. These institutions fail constantly and do not – cannot – learn much.

If we keep having crises like we have experienced over the past century then this combination of problems pushes the probability of catastrophe towards ‘overwhelmingly likely’.

... Can a big jump in performance – ‘better and more powerful thinking programs for man and machine’ – somehow be systematised?

Feynman once gave a talk titled ‘There’s plenty of room at the bottom’ about the huge performance improvements possible if we could learn to do engineering at the atomic scale – what is now called nanotechnology. There is also ‘plenty of room at the top’ of political structures for huge improvements in performance. As I explained recently, the victory of the Leave campaign owed more to the fundamental dysfunction of the British Establishment than it did to any brilliance from Vote Leave. Despite having the support of practically every force with power and money in the world (including the main broadcasters) and controlling the timing and legal regulation of the referendum, they blew it. This was good if you support Leave but just how easily the whole system could be taken down should be frightening for everybody .

Creating high performance teams is obviously hard but in what ways is it really hard?

... The real obstacle is that although we can all learn and study HPTs it is extremely hard to put this learning to practical use and sustain it against all the forces of entropy that constantly operate to degrade high performance once the original people have gone. HPTs are episodic. They seem to come out of nowhere, shock people, then vanish with the rare individuals. People write about them and many talk about learning from them but in fact almost nobody ever learns from them – apart, perhaps, from those very rare people who did not need to learn – and nobody has found a method to embed this learning reliably and systematically in institutions that can maintain it. ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Brexit in the Multiverse: Dominic Cummings on the Vote Leave campaign

It's not entirely an exaggeration to say that my friend Dominic Cummings both kept the UK out of the Euro, and allowed it to (perhaps) escape the clutches of the EU. Whether or not you consider these outcomes to be positive, one can't deny the man his influence on history.
Wikipedia: Dominic Mckenzie Cummings (born November 1971)[1] is a British political advisor and strategist.

He served as the Campaign Director of Vote Leave, the official and successful campaign in favour of leaving the European Union for the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016.[2] He is a former special adviser to Michael Gove. He has a reputation for both his intelligence and divisiveness.

... From 1999 to 2002, Cummings was campaign director at Business for Sterling, the campaign against the UK joining the Euro.

... Cummings worked for Michael Gove from 2007 to January 2014, first in opposition and then as a special adviser in the Department of Education after the 2010 general election. He was Gove's chief of staff,[4] an appointment blocked by Andy Coulson until his own resignation.[5][7] In this capacity Cummings wrote a 240-page essay, "Some thoughts on education and political priorities",[8] about transforming Britain into a "meritocratic technopolis",[4] described by Patrick Wintour as "either mad, bad or brilliant – and probably a bit of all three."[7] He became known for his blunt style and "not suffering fools gladly", and as an idealist.

... Dominic Cummings became Campaign Director of Vote Leave upon the creation of the organisation in October 2015. He is credited with having created the official slogan of Vote Leave, "Take back control" and with being the leading strategist of the campaign.
Posts about Dom on this blog.

How did he do it? Perhaps we can learn from Bismarck, a historical figure Dom admires greatly -- see Brexit, Victory over the Hollow Men.
The scale of Bismarck's triumph cannot be exaggerated. He alone had brought about a complete transformation of the European international order. He had told those who would listen what he intended to do, how he intended to do it, and he did it. He achieved this incredible feat without commanding an army, and without the ability to give an order to the humblest common soldier, without control of a large party, without public support, indeed, in the face of almost universal hostility, without a majority in parliament, without control of his cabinet, and without a loyal following in the bureaucracy.
For a detailed 20 thousand word account of the Brexit campaign, including a meditation on the problem of causality in History, and the contingency of events in our multiverse, and the unreasonable effectiveness of physicists, and much, much more, see this recent post on Dom's blog:
On the referendum #21: Branching histories of the 2016 referendum and ‘the frogs before the storm’

... Why and how? The first draft of history was written in the days and weeks after the 23 June and the second draft has appeared over the past few weeks in the form of a handful of books. There is no competition between them. Shipman’s is by far the best and he is the only one to have spoken to key people. I will review it soon. One of his few errors is to give me the credit for things that were done by others, often people in their twenties like Oliver Lewis, Jonny Suart, and Cleo Watson who, unknown outside the office, made extreme efforts and ran rings around supposed ‘experts’. His book has encouraged people to exaggerate greatly my importance.

I have been urged by some of those who worked on the campaign to write about it. I have avoided it, and interviews, for a few reasons (though I had to write one blog to explain that with the formal closing of VL we had made the first online canvassing software that really works in the UK freely available HERE). For months I couldn’t face it. The idea of writing about the referendum made me feel sick. It still does but a bit less.

For about a year I worked on this project every day often for 18 hours and sometimes awake almost constantly. Most of the ‘debate’ was moronic as political debate always is. Many hours of life I’m never getting back were spent dealing with abysmal infighting among dysfunctional egomaniacs while trying to build a ~£10 million startup in 10 months when very few powerful people thought the probability of victory was worth the risk of helping us. ...

... Discussions about things like ‘why did X win/lose?’ are structured to be misleading and I could not face trying to untangle everything. There are strong psychological pressures that lead people to create post facto stories that seem to add up to ‘I always said X and X happened.’ Even if people do not think this at the start they rapidly construct psychologically appealing stories that overwrite memories. Many involved with this extraordinary episode feel the need to justify themselves and this means a lot of rewriting of history. I also kept no diary so I have no clear source for what I really thought other than some notes here and there. I already know from talking to people that my lousy memory has conflated episodes, tried to impose patterns that did not actually exist and so on – all the usual psychological issues. To counter all this in detail would require going through big databases of emails, printouts of appointment diaries, notebooks and so on, and even then I would rarely be able to reconstruct reliably what I thought. Life’s too short.

I’ve learned over the years that ‘rational discussion’ accomplishes almost nothing in politics, particularly with people better educated than average. Most educated people are not set up to listen or change their minds about politics, however sensible they are in other fields. But I have also learned that when you say or write something, although it has roughly zero effect on powerful/prestigious people or the immediate course of any ‘debate’, you are throwing seeds into a wind and are often happily surprised. A few years ago I wrote something that was almost entirely ignored in SW1 [Southwest London] but someone at Harvard I’d never met read it. This ended up having a decisive effect on the referendum.

A warning. Politics is not a field which meets the two basic criteria for true expertise (see below). An effect of this is that arguments made by people who win are taken too seriously. People in my position often see victory as confirmation of ideas they had before victory but people often win for reasons they never understand or even despite their own efforts. Cameron’s win in 2015 was like this – he fooled himself about some of the reasons why he’d won and this error contributed to his errors on the referendum. Maybe Leave won regardless of or even despite my ideas. Maybe I’m fooling myself like Cameron. Some of my arguments below have as good an empirical support as is possible in politics (i.e. not very good objectively) but most of them do not even have that. Also, it is clear that almost nobody agrees with me about some of my general ideas. It is more likely that I am wrong than 99% of people who work in this field professionally. Still, cognitive diversity is inherently good for political analysis so I’ll say what I think and others will judge if there’s anything to learn. ...
After reading these 20 thousand words, perhaps you'll have an opinion as to whether Dom, one of the most successful and experienced observers (and users!) of democracy, agrees with Robert Heinlein that The Gulf is Deep ;-)

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Gulf is Deep (Heinlein)

The novella Gulf predates almost all of Heinlein's novels. Online version. The book Friday (1982) is a loose sequel.
Wikipedia: Gulf is a novella by Robert A. Heinlein, originally published as a serial in the November and December 1949 issues of Astounding Science Fiction and later collected in Assignment in Eternity. It concerns a secret society of geniuses who act to protect humanity. ...

The story postulates that humans of superior intelligence could, if they banded together and kept themselves genetically separate, create a new species. In the process they would develop into a hidden and benevolent "ruling" class.
Do you still believe in Santa Claus?
He stopped and brooded. “I confess to that same affection for democracy, Joe. But it’s like yearning for the Santa Claus you believed in as a child. For a hundred and fifty years or so democracy, or something like it, could flourish safely. The issues were such as to be settled without disaster by the votes of common men, befogged and ignorant as they were. But now, if the race is simply to stay alive, political decisions depend on real knowledge of such things as nuclear physics, planetary ecology, genetic theory, even system mechanics. They aren’t up to it, Joe. With goodness and more will than they possess less than one in a thousand could stay awake over one page of nuclear physics; they can’t learn what they must know.”

Gilead brushed it aside. “It’s up to us to brief them. Their hearts are all right; tell them the score—they’ll come down with the right answers.”

“No, Joe. We’ve tried it; it does not work. As you say, most of them are good, the way a dog can be noble and good. ... Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men. The little man has no way to judge and the shoddy lies are packaged more attractively. There is no way to offer color to a colorblind man, nor is there any way for us to give the man of imperfect brain the canny skill to distinguish a lie from a truth.

“No, Joe. The gulf between us and them is narrow, but it is very deep. We cannot close it.”

China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay (Minxin Pei)

Minxin Pei is an exceptional observer of modern Chinese politics, although he tends toward the pessimistic. In his new book he has assembled a dataset of 260 major corruption cases involving officials at the highest levels, covering roughly the last 25 years.

There is no doubt that corruption is a major problem in China. Is it merely a quantitative impediment to efficiency, or an existential threat to the CCP regime? See also The truth about the Chinese economy.
China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay
Minxin Pei

When Deng Xiaoping launched China on the path to economic reform in the late 1970s, he vowed to build “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” More than three decades later, China’s efforts to modernize have yielded something very different from the working people’s paradise Deng envisioned: an incipient kleptocracy, characterized by endemic corruption, soaring income inequality, and growing social tensions. China’s Crony Capitalism traces the origins of China’s present-day troubles to the series of incomplete reforms from the post-Tiananmen era that decentralized the control of public property without clarifying its ownership.

Beginning in the 1990s, changes in the control and ownership rights of state-owned assets allowed well-connected government officials and businessmen to amass huge fortunes through the systematic looting of state-owned property—in particular land, natural resources, and assets in state-run enterprises. Mustering compelling evidence from over two hundred corruption cases involving government and law enforcement officials, private businessmen, and organized crime members, Minxin Pei shows how collusion among elites has spawned an illicit market for power inside the party-state, in which bribes and official appointments are surreptitiously but routinely traded. This system of crony capitalism has created a legacy of criminality and entrenched privilege that will make any movement toward democracy difficult and disorderly.

Rejecting conventional platitudes about the resilience of Chinese Communist Party rule, Pei gathers unambiguous evidence that beneath China’s facade of ever-expanding prosperity and power lies a Leninist state in an advanced stage of decay.
Pei discusses his book at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law in the video below. Here is another video with an excellent panel discussion beginning 1 hr in.

This debate from a few years ago between Pei and venture capitalist / optimist / apologist Eric X. Li is very good. James Fallows is the moderator.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

AlphaGo (BetaGo?) Returns

Rumors over the summer suggested that AlphaGo had some serious problems that needed to be fixed -- i.e., whole lines of play that it pursued poorly, despite its thrashing of one of the world's top players in a highly publicized match. But tuning a neural net is trickier than tuning, for example, an expert system or more explicitly defined algorithm...

AlphaGo (or its successor) has quietly returned, shocking the top players in the world.
Fortune: In a series of unofficial online games, an updated version of Google’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence has compiled a 60-0 record against some of the game’s premier players. Among the defeated, according to the Wall Street Journal, were China’s Ke Jie, reigning world Go champion.

The run follows AlphaGo’s defeat of South Korea’s Lee Se-dol in March of 2016, in a more official setting and using a previous version of the program.

The games were played by the computer through online accounts dubbed Magister and Master—names that proved prophetic. As described by the Journal, the AI’s strategies were unconventional and unpredictable, including moves that only revealed their full implications many turns later. That pushed its human opponents into deep reflections that mirror the broader questions posed by computer intelligence.

“AlphaGo has completely subverted the control and judgment of us Go players,” wrote Gu Li, a grandmaster defeated by the program, in an online post. “When you find your previous awareness, cognition and choices are all wrong, will you keep going along the wrong path or reject yourself?”

Another Go player, Ali Jabarin, described running into Ke Jie after he had been defeated by the program. According to Jabarin, Jie was “a bit shocked . . . just repeating ‘it’s too strong’.”
As originally reported in the Wall Street Journal:
WSJ: A mysterious character named “Master” has swept through China, defeating many of the world’s top players in the ancient strategy game of Go.

Master played with inhuman speed, barely pausing to think. With a wide-eyed cartoon fox as an avatar, Master made moves that seemed foolish but inevitably led to victory this week over the world’s reigning Go champion, Ke Jie of China. ...

Master revealed itself Wednesday as an updated version of AlphaGo, an artificial-intelligence program designed by the DeepMind unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

AlphaGo made history in March by beating South Korea’s top Go player in four of five games in Seoul. Now, under the guise of a friendly fox, it has defeated the world champion.

It was dramatic theater, and the latest sign that artificial intelligence is peerless in solving complex but defined problems. AI scientists predict computers will increasingly be able to search through thickets of alternatives to find patterns and solutions that elude the human mind.

Master’s arrival has shaken China’s human Go players.

“After humanity spent thousands of years improving our tactics, computers tell us that humans are completely wrong,” Mr. Ke, 19, wrote on Chinese social media platform Weibo after his defeat. “I would go as far as to say not a single human has touched the edge of the truth of Go.” ...
We are witness to the psychological shock of a species encountering, for the first time, an alien and superior intelligence. See also The Laskers and the Go Master.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

20 years after the Sokal Hoax

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice article on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Sokal hoax. Has anything changed in the last 20 years? Sokal's parody language resembles standard academic cant of 2016.
Wikipedia: The Sokal affair, also called the Sokal hoax,[1] was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University and University College London. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the journal's intellectual rigor and, specifically, to investigate whether "a leading North American journal of cultural studies – whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross – [would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions".[2]

The article, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity",[3] was published in the Social Text spring/summer 1996 "Science Wars" issue. It proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. At that time, the journal did not practice academic peer review and it did not submit the article for outside expert review by a physicist.[4][5] On the day of its publication in May 1996, Sokal revealed in Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax, identifying it as "a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense ... structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] he could find about mathematics and physics."[2]
The Chronicle article describes Sokal's original motivation for the hoax.
Chronicle: ... It was all a big joke, but one motivated by a serious intention: to expose the sloppiness, absurd relativism, and intellectual arrogance of "certain precincts of the academic humanities." His beef was political, too: He feared that by tossing aside their centuries-old promotion of scientific rationality, progressives were eroding their ability to speak truth to power. ...

ALAN SOKAL: In the spring of 1994, I saw a reference to the book by Paul Gross and Norman Levitt, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels With Science. My first thought was, Oh, no, not another one of those right-wing diatribes that tell how the Marxist deconstructionist professors are taking over the universities and brainwashing our children. There had been a whole spate of such books in the early 1990s — Dinesh D’Souza and others.

My second thought was "academic left and its quarrels with science"? I mean, that’s a little weird. I’m an academic leftist. So I decided to read it. I learned about a corner of the academy where people were employing either deconstructionist literary theory or extreme social constructivist sociology of science to make comments about both the content of science and the philosophy of science, often in gross ignorance of the science. The first thing I wanted to do was go to the library and check out the original works that Gross and Levitt were criticizing to see whether they were being fair. I found that in about 80 percent of the cases, in my judgment, they were.

... I thought, well, I could write an article to add to the Gross and Levitt critique, and it would probably disappear into a black hole. So I had the idea of writing an article that would be both a parody and an admittedly uncontrolled experiment: I would submit the article to a trendy journal and see whether it would be accepted. Writing the parody took maybe two or three months.

Before I submitted it I did show it to a few friends — I tested them blind to see how long it would take them to figure out that it was a parody. The scientists would figure out quickly that either it was a parody or I had gone off my rocker. But I mostly tried it on nonscientist friends, in part to see whether there were any obvious giveaways. ...
The following paragraphs are taken from Sokal's paper (the first two from the beginning, the last from the end):
There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in "eternal" physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the "objective" procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.

But deep conceptual shifts within twentieth-century science have undermined this Cartesian-Newtonian metaphysics1; revisionist studies in the history and philosophy of science have cast further doubt on its credibility2; and, most recently, feminist and poststructuralist critiques have demystified the substantive content of mainstream Western scientific practice, revealing the ideology of domination concealed behind the façade of "objectivity".3 It has thus become increasingly apparent that physical "reality", no less than social "reality", is at bottom a social and linguistic construct; that scientific "knowledge", far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it; that the truth claims of science are inherently theory-laden and self-referential; and consequently, that the discourse of the scientific community, for all its undeniable value, cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities.


Finally, the content of any science is profoundly constrained by the language within which its discourses are formulated; and mainstream Western physical science has, since Galileo, been formulated in the language of mathematics.100 101 But whose mathematics? The question is a fundamental one, for, as Aronowitz has observed, "neither logic nor mathematics escapes the `contamination' of the social.''102 And as feminist thinkers have repeatedly pointed out, in the present culture this contamination is overwhelmingly capitalist, patriarchal and militaristic: "mathematics is portrayed as a woman whose nature desires to be the conquered Other.''103 104 Thus, a liberatory science cannot be complete without a profound revision of the canon of mathematics.105 As yet no such emancipatory mathematics exists, and we can only speculate upon its eventual content. We can see hints of it in the multidimensional and nonlinear logic of fuzzy systems theory106; but this approach is still heavily marked by its origins in the crisis of late-capitalist production relations.
See also Frauds!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Will and Power

This video might help you with your New Year's resolution!

The claim that one has a fixed budget of will power or self-discipline ("ego depletion") may be yet another non-replicating "result" of shoddy social science. Note that the ego depletion claim refers to something like a daily budget of will power that can be used up, whereas Jocko is also referring to the development of this budget over time: building it up through use.

Jocko on BJJ and mixed martial arts:

See also My Navy SEAL Story.

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