Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

What is “representation” in the human brain and AI systems?

Neuroscience is beginning to make sense of what’s going on inside the human brain—a seemingly inscrutable organ of even great complexity. We can now see what some patterns of activity are, and we have an inkling of what they are doing, of how they track the environment, and subserve behaviour. The post What is “representation” in the human brain and AI systems? appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesPlaying to lose: transhumanism, autonomy, and liberal democracy [long read]Essenes in Judaean Society: the sectarians of the Dead Sea ScrollsUnderstanding black holes: young star clusters filling up [More]

Eco-fascism and Overpopulation

 A post by Jacopo Simonetta  "Eco-fascist" is the usual insult directed at anyone who dares to mention overpopulation. This is funny to me because, as far as I know, fascists are usually concerned with denatality, race purity and similar morbid fantasies, but not with overpopulation who is just about the number of persons and not about skin color and so on.Here, I will not go back over the purely demographic aspects of the issue to which several posts have already been devoted (on "Effetto Cassandra" and on "Apocalottimismo", both in Italian).  Instead, I would like to talk about this singular cultural taboo, characteristic (though not exclusive) of industrial civilization.To begin with.To understand what we are talking about, let us consider that today there are almost 8 billion of us with a growth rate of about 80 million per year, it means 220,000 per day, over 9000 per hour, 75 per second.  This means an estimated human mass of about 400 million tons.  The world's average human population density is 55 people per square kilometer (excluding Antarctica), which means a square of not much over one hundred steps per side per head.  In Italy we are about 200 per square kilometer, which means half a hectare per person, but if we consider only the agricultural surface the square becomes only 40 steps per side (about 2000 square meters).However, the number of people is only one of the factors involved because we use livestock, fields, industrial [More]

Eco-fascism: an insult against those who propose that overpopulation is a major problem

 A post by Jacopo Simonetta  "Eco-fascist" is the usual insult directed at anyone who dares to mention overpopulation. This is funny to me because, as far as I know, fascists are usually concerned with denatality, race purity and similar morbid fantasies, but not with overpopulation who is just about the number of persons and not about skin color and so on.Here, I will not go back over the purely demographic aspects of the issue to which several posts have already been devoted (on "Effetto Cassandra" and on "Apocalottimismo", both in Italian).  Instead, I would like to talk about this singular cultural taboo, characteristic (though not exclusive) of industrial civilization.To begin with.To understand what we are talking about, let us consider that today there are almost 8 billion of us with a growth rate of about 80 million per year, it means 220,000 per day, over 9000 per hour, 75 per second.  This means an estimated human mass of about 400 million tons.  The world's average human population density is 55 people per square kilometer (excluding Antarctica), which means a square of not much over one hundred steps per side per head.  In Italy we are about 200 per square kilometer, which means half a hectare per person, but if we consider only the agricultural surface the square becomes only 40 steps per side (about 2000 square meters).However, the number of people is only one of the factors involved because we use livestock, fields, industrial [More]

Epistemic Calibration Bias and Blame-Aversion

People typically treat having an importantly false belief as much more problematic than failing to have an importantly true belief.  They're more concerned about being over-confident than being under-confident in their credences.  But why?  Is such an epistemic asymmetry warranted?I'm dubious.  The ideal is to be epistemically well-calibrated: to have just the degree of confidence in an important proposition that is warranted by your evidence, such that in the long run exactly X% of your "X% confident" beliefs turn out to be true -- no more and no less.  Moreover, it seems to me that we should be equally concerned about miscalibration in either direction.  If we are underconfident (or withhold judgment entirely) when our evidence strongly supports some important truth, that's just as bad, epistemically speaking, as being correspondingly overconfident.In thinking about this, it's important to distinguish two dimensions of confidence: what we might call credal value and robustness.  To see how these come apart, note that I might have weak evidence that something is very probable.  My credence in the proposition should then be high -- for now -- but I should regard this credal value as tentative, or likely to change (in an unknown direction) in the face of further evidence.  "Bold beliefs, weakly held," to put the idea in slogan form.This distinction carries over, in obvious fashion, to expected-value [More]

Republican Response: False False Flag

After being incited by President Trump, his followers attacked the nation’s capital. After the mob departed, some Republican legislators emerged from hiding and responded to the attack by accusing Antifa of being behind it. This echoed the right-wing media’s narrative about a false flag operation. While there does seem to have been at least one [More]