Re: belief, faith, truth

From: Benjamin Udell <>
Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 13:15:12 -0500


I can't speak for the others here, but, in my case what drew me here was the subject of multiverses/universes. My interest is in amateur one in philosophy.

However, I think that there is a convergence of philosophical & AI interests, to which many older philosophers seemed a bit blinkered or at least somewhat indifferent, possibly because of traditional classifications, largely Comtean and tree-like, of fields of research, which fail to attend to inter-family bands of common research interests. Maybe to some extent the "linguistic-analytic" school's views of philosophy did likewise by tending to place philosophy outside the normal system of research and by placing subjects like ontology & metaphysics largely outside of philosophy or any serious research.

It's a convergence which, in my case, dawned on me years ago, from a philosophical viewpoint, on the basis of issues of classification of research, at a time when I knew next to nothing about AI (I still know rather little). It simply occurred to me that ontology, whether in the sense of ontics (what things exist?) or of ontology (traditional philosophical sense -- philosophical structure of kinds of being) -- would be relevant to a sufficiently intelligent computer program, so I googled on "ontology" and lo and behold, found programming & AI stuff involving "ontologies" all over the place. What Bruno is doing involves both ontology & epistemology.

Apparently it's been obvious to them for quite a while to computer scientists, & is in sci-fi, too. In the 1974 movie _Dark Star_ (which I didn't see till many years later) one of the astronauts teaches phenomenology to the ship's computer in order to get it doubt itself. That scene is a bit silly and campy, but it's hard to watch it without considering the issues of philosophy FOR artificial intelligences.

You didn't ask about this, but the convergence of both sets of interests with that of "grand" cosmologies or whatever they're called, seems to have some root in the fact that assertions about the ultimate nature of everything tend to lead us into reasoning on -- and about -- the basis of views about the nature and roles of knowledge, inference, observation, etc., themselves. It's already a broad subject; the "sciences of reason" -- & of reason's crackups -- stretch from the maths of order and conditions of math induction's applicability, to deductive theory of logic, to philosophy, and to the studies of intelligent life as we've known it -- human & social studies (which I suppose will recognize AI as a new housemate or roommate as it advances). That's a cross-family band marked by some degree of distinctive overall research interest. (I would be interested to know whether the disciplines which study order (including among the real numbers, among alephs, etc.), and deductive !
 theory of logic, have anything like the reputation for "dysfunctionality" or "pathology" which philosophy & the human & social studies have among less abstract & more empirical fields.)

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle helps science by leveraging the limits of knowledge into producing lots of information, both practical & theoretical, about physical events. One can discern nowadays an effort in something like a hope of leveraging the character & limits of knowledge and inference and the kinds of systems or creatures which have them, into yielding information about the "big questions." Anthropic principles, quantum immortality debates, etc., seem among examples of such efforts.

Best, Ben Udell

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jeanne Houston" <>
To: "Brent Meeker" <>; "Stathis Papaioannou" <>; <>
Sent: Sunday, February 05, 2006 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: belief, faith, truth

    I am a layperson who reads these discussions out of avid interest, and I hope that someone will answer a question that I would like to ask in order to enhance my own understanding.
    There is an emphasis on AI running through these discussions, yet you seem to delve into very philosophical questions. Are the philosophical discussions applicable to the development of AI (i.e., trying to grasp all aspects of the mind of man if you are trying to develop a true copy), or are they only interesting diversions that pop-up from time to time. My thanks to anyone who wishes to respond.

Jeanne Houston

----- Original Message -----
From: "Brent Meeker" <>
To: "Stathis Papaioannou" <>;
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2006 2:02 PM
Subject: Re: belief, faith, truth
Received on Sun Feb 05 2006 - 13:18:24 PST

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