The Starting Problem

So, as we said in the last post, to find out how different we really are from a cold-steel-smart-robot, let’s figure out what  a smart robot would do given an objective, and compare that to our way of doing it. If we do similar, why would we think we are different from a smart robot?

So let’s say we builded an army of smart compliant robots today. Smart means that if we speak with one of them, we couldn’t say that isn’t human. Compliant means, they will try to do whatever we say to them. Just to have fun, we’ll allow them to die. They do know it, but they don’t know when.

Let’s command  them to achieve an objective: you aim not to die. This objective impose a problem: how to achieve it?. Now the problem, how not to die, does it has a solution? Yes, at least all the achievements done by living things, just before they die. So even more, it has multiple temporary solutions. Lucky robots. But they don’t really know that. Unlucky robots.

Why is so difficult? Because it has implicit dependency on future, and let’s agree, we don’t know what is going to happen in the future. So given this uncertainty, one thing we could do is trying a lot. Just try a lot of solutions and those which doesn’t accomplish, well, they’ll find death. But don’t worry, we have an army of robots.

So we pick one of them. What does he does? Nothing, and he died. Because he ran out of energy. So this robot wasn’t that smart.

So we pick another. What does he does? Knowing of the recent tragedy, he desperately looks for energy. He build some machines and he enjoy his life until he die. He has done well, but could be done better? I mean he has lived his long life, but finally he has died, not accomplishing his objective.

We pick up robots until one of them comes with a strategy: reproduction.  He will try to reproduce himself as a manner to extend part of him through time. Nice, now we have a lot of robots, identical  every single one of them, just as our previous army. So is like cheating. What do we do? We kill all of those funny reproducer robots. Is not that hard, as they are the same copy of each other we need to identify one lethal thing to one, and we apply that to the rest of them.

We pick another robot and what do we find? Sex. The smart one has intentionally made a robot, similar to him, but not identical. Every time they reproduce, their child will be built some combinatory of characteristics of his parent, plus a random characteristics. Why? because their offspring will be always a different robot, providing different strategies and solution to the problem. Clever one.

As you may see, just with few assumptions we find similar cold solutions to a big problem, just as our beloved warm humanity. So far, nothing tell me I am not a robot. I’ll keep searching for a difference.

Thinking Feelings

Sometimes, when a feel and think regard to situations that surround me, I feel happiness and wonderment for life. When I’m with my family and my friends in a country day, I feel that nothing more is needed.

At other times, when a I see my relatives suffering, I feel pain and sadness. Not just my relatives, but the extent that I care.

Adam Smith’s book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, described these sentiments as a result of how we imagine we would feel in the place of someone who is suffering. This means that happiness or sadness would be as result of reasoning.

If we consider that reasoning changes as we learn, our sentiments could change as we learn more.

Interesting. In a romantic embrace, I use to think that feelings/sentiments were completely detached from thinking; that we could have fire in our hearts and cold ice in our minds. That always simplified my life, not asking too much about feelings but focused on feel them in a given time. That helped me to overcome difficult times.

If our feelings are results of reasoning we would be tempted to understand them using reasoning. Beside the hard work that I believe involves, the findings scare me. What if we were mere logical machines acting as we were programmed? That sounds even worst than Matrix! At least they were humans fooled by machines.

So that’s wat I’m going to do in future posts: suppose that we are programmed to solve one problem and think what could lead us. The problem will be: no to die.

Letter About Education

In 2011, I was asked about the chilean students manifestations. Following was my answer:

Dears,

Following, I will try to expose my vision regard the subject that gather us. It’s blurry, because I won’t define every single subject, thinking in the precious time we have.

I believe, that to give an structured opinion about education, some guide questions must be answered.

  • Why we want education in a society?

I believe that education must be an society tool to make individuals contribute to society at its fundamental problem. This fundamental problem is just, not to die. Not to die, is the fundamental problem for all living things. People, as a society, is considered as a living thing. Well, now considering that the problem impose and objective:

  • Which is the living thing objective?

Let’s suppose that all living things have the objective to increment the hope of successful descendants of their society or group. That means, continuity in time of the group (or not to die). This leads us to define the group extent. 

  • Which is the group extent?

To determine the extent, try to solve the next question: How could I get more successfully results to keep my offspring living; fighting for my own wellbeing, or society’s? →Is me?, my family?, my neighborhood?, my country?, the world?. The answer is free for all the living things.

Been defined the group extent, I could jump into solve how maintain my offspring :

To this, the living things chose a very clever method: let’s give a lot of solutions of the problem. The solutions that works, should give more solutions through reproduction. The solutions that doesn’t, just die and have no descendants. This method is a little bit slow. Slow to the others, but for the humans. The humans have learned how to improve this method, and it’s done by education. This is the great achieve of the human beings: transfer the successful tools from our ancestors through education. This is the answer for the first question.

From this, it follows that people who are not receiving good education, are being restricted for a good chance of successful descendants.

Let’s suppose that there are two groups called Pg (Privileged Group) and NPg (Non-privileged Group). Pg sees NPg as competitors. As competitors they look forward for the same objective. The objective cannot be shared: just one of them can accomplish the objective. Pg doesn’t even want NPg at all. Pg doesn’t want NPg to successfully have descendants, so one way to deny NPg to have successful descendants is not giving them education.

Now, I think that problem is that Pg sees NPg as competitor. The attack to NPg is wrong: not sustainable through time. This because the different solutions given by NPg could be useful, as probably other solution given an unmeasured uncertainty. In other words, everybody counts on solving the fundamental problem. This means, everybody should have access to good quality education.

Education as a Start

In Chile, 2011 social manifestations soared with power never seen in the last three decades. People, leaded by students, marched through the streets within an inspiring force. More than once, 100.000 people marched in one single day at Santiago. Sebastian Piñera, the chilean president, had to give national speeches about it. Four ministers passed through the charge. The fourth had been constitutionally accused. The whole society was talking about students manifestations: on the streets, at home, even at parties. So you must had an opinion about what was going on. I had mine.

For me, some questions remained without answer:

  • Is this really a big movement?
  • Why the students are so motivated?
  • Why profit is so bad at education?

I read and heard, but none of the answers where deep enough for me. So I jumped into thinking to find the principles that could explain the movement. I took enough time to give the answers that gave me peace of mind. In the core of that answers, I think, you could find answers to more aspects related with society.

Let me try to answer some questions:

  • Is This Really a Big Movement? 

The first thing you notice about the student mobilization is size, big one. Around 100.000 people marching on the streets (Ver 1) . Once, 500.000 gathered (Ver 2), two times the biggest mobilization made by students until now (Ver 3). So yes, this is a big movement. Not just that, is the biggest student mobilization at Chile, ever. Nowadays, not a single political party in Chile is able to gather those people. Indeed, if gathering people is a sign of representativity, this movement, is more representative than any political coalition. So it is a big movement and the government must take it seriously, and do something serious about it.

  • Why the students are so motivated? 

Other thing that is noticeable from the students movement is motivation. During these past two years, had been a lot of massive marches. Even today (Ver 4). So isn’t just an excuse to stay at home in cold mornings. Even I marched one or two of them. But why are some thousands still marching?. Surely there are more than one reason. Let’s propose some.

Let’s says there are two reasons why someone could be very motivated/incentivated at something:

  • when you really want something that could be nice to achieve/obtain (forward motivation).
  • you feel deprived of something you already have or deserve (backward motivation or an attack).

Let’s add that the latter is stronger than the former.

With this, is obvious that the educational movement is boosted by the latter. That means, education is thought as a right; a right that has been taken away. Something that isn’t completely a lie, because, in Chile, there was a time when education was free of charge to the students, and good quality. When obtain a grade used to depend on your efforts, not your daddy’s.

Why would education been considered as a right? Well, it is a right, at least, it is an Human Right.

Why would they feel attack? Because they think they are playing not a fair game. Why they feel they are note playing a fair game? Because they see players with advantages. Even more, the advantaged are trying to block the non-advantaged.

If you consider education as a tool to participate and generate wealth to both; the individual and the society, why would you be private someone from education?. The only thing that I could imagine is when someone sees a possible benefit on it, as for example, advantage in a competitive society.

Someone could think that liberty is having multiple options, and choose one of them . What else gives more liberty than infinite options?. Considering that education gives you options, this is what you private someone if you don’t give him education. In other words, lack of educations is lack of freedom.

  • Why profit is so bad at education? 

As Michael J. Sandel noticed in What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, I believe that markets affects the value of the things traded, diminishing them. So if we consider education as a method to exploit the unique abilities from individuals to put them in service to society, why would we restrict that with money barriers?. So this is the answer: monetary profit in education led to barriers that restrict its purpose.

  1. There been four:  1) 30/06/11, 2)22/09/11, 3)28/06/12, 4)11/04/2013

  2. Not a in a march, but in a concert.
  3. Made in 2006 by pinguins
  4. 09/05/2013