Tuesday, September 27, 2022

If we take Tolkien at his word and read LTR as a ‘true mythology

 As Thomas Cromwell says to Thomas More in Mantel’s Wolf Hall, a lie is no less a lie because it is a thousand years old.

When funding for youth centres from local councils evaporates, libraries are sold to property developers, and support for the elderly is slashed so that a carer can barely find the time to meet your basic needs much less take you for a walk, the result is atomised, lonely, fractured communities

Mantel’s main body of work was occupied with revealing the legacy of over-empowered and unaccountable monarchs, and the courtiers and cardinals who serve their whims, be they sexual or political. She understood that historical mysticism about royalty helped us to make sense of the very modern trend of poring over the royal family’s every move in the tabloid press. We can revere it and also kid ourselves that it is known and accessible to us by deciding who plays what in the cast: who is the comely princess, the Jezebel, the beloved but wayward son. At once “one superhuman”, Mantel said, “and yet less than human”.

That in us there is a basic human impulse to feel that you are part of something larger,

Pound tumbles below $1.09 after Kwarteng’s £45bn tax cut package FT

A budget that harms everyone except the very rich Mainly Macro. Commentar Commentary

Tech Crunch: “Deepfakes, AI-generated porn and a thousand more innocent uses — there’s been a lot of news about neural network-generated images. It makes sense that people started getting curious; were my photos used to train the robots? Are photos of me in the image-generating training sets? A brand new site tries to give you an answer. Spawning AI creates image-generation tools for artists, and the company just launched Have I Been Trained? which you can use to search a set of 5.8 billion images that have been used to train popular AI art models. When you search the site, you can search through the images that are the closest match, based on the LAION-5B training data, which is widely used for training AI search terms. It’s a fun tool to play with, and may help give a glimpse into the data that the AI is using as the basis for its own. The photo at the top of this post is a screenshot of the search term “couple”. Try putting your own name in, and see what happens… I also tried a search for “Obama,” which I will not be sharing a screenshot of here, but suffice it to say that these training sets can be… Problematic..”

See also Ars Technica: “Artist finds private medical record photos in popular AI training data set. LAION scraped medical photos for AI research use. Who’s responsible for taking them down?…”

AFP monitoring dark web for Optus details after major cyber attack

The AFP is monitoring the dark web as fears grow stolen Optus customer data is already being sold online.

David Zahl (Director, Mockingbird Ministries), Low Anthropology: The Unlikely Key to a Gracious View of Others (and Yourself)(2022):

Low AnthropologyMany of us spend our days feeling like we're the only one with problems, while everyone else has their act together. But the sooner we realize that everyone struggles like we do, the sooner we can show grace to ourselves and others.

In Low Anthropology, popular author and theologian David Zahl explores how our ideas about human nature influence our expectations in friendship, work, marriage, and politics. We all go through life with an "anthropology"—an idea about what humans are like, our potentials and our limitations. A high anthropology—thinking optimistically about human nature—can breed perfectionism, anxiety, burnout, loneliness, and resentment. Meanwhile, Zahl invites readers into a biblically rooted and surprisingly life-giving low anthropology, which fosters hope, deep connection with others, lasting love, vulnerability, compassion, and happiness.

  1. Video interviews with philosophers, including Elizabeth Anderson, Elizabeth Barnes, David Boonin, and a dozen others –conducted by Simon Cushing (Univ. of Michigan – Flint)
  2. Philosophy of vigilantism, moral ecologies, why we should annihilate our enemies, and more — in the latest issue of the open-access Washington University Review of Philosophy, focused on war and violence
  3. “The demand that philosophy be personally helpful… sounds wrongheaded to someone with the training of a mainstream contemporary philosopher” — Helena de Bres (Wellesley) begins a series of essays on academic philosophy’s relevance to life
  4. How to read philosophy — a guide you might consider sharing with students and others new to philosophy, by Charlie Huenemann (Utah State)
  5. “We’ve got to resist this idea that the problem can be identified as some set of students or some particular ideology” — Teresa Bejan (Oxford), Agnes Bolinska (South Carolina), Janice Chik (Ave Maria), Francisco Gallegos (Wake Forest) and others are interviewed about a program on “teaching civil discourse”
  6. “I’m skeptical… that the dying have good advice for the living. We seem to have, at best, pretty empty advice that you’ve seen elsewhere already. At worst, it’s actively bad advice for anyone who isn’t dying soon” — Jesse S. Summers (Duke) on what he has learned from having cancer
  7. Meta-analysis finds that trigger warnings, contra both their advocates and detractors, have almost no effect — results indicate they have “no effect on affective responses to negative material nor on educational outcomes” and “no effect on engagement with material, or… increase engagement with negative material under specific circumstances”
  1. “Schelling’s philosophy of oneness might provide a foundation on which to anchor the fight for our climate and our survival” — historian Andrea Wulf thinks that Friedrich Schelling is just what the environmental movement needs (NYT)
  2. Philosophy professor Robert Pinto (Windsor), who died in 2019, was “one of tens of thousands of residents in Canadian long-term care homes without a psychosis diagnosis that have been prescribed antipsychotics” — some commentary from Shelley Tremain, who links to a CBC investigative report
  3. “We have to get used to the idea that there may be agents around who are just as intelligent and capable and involved and… committed or reliable as humans and that we need to think about how they matter” — Peter Railton (Michigan) is interviewed by Katrien Devolder (Oxford) about how we should understand and interact with AI
  4. How “dialogically dense” are different works of philosophy? — a machine learning algorithm can determine the extent to which an author mentions other persons, and Alexander Klein (McMaster) used it to compare the works of James and Dewey
  5. “If we take Tolkien at his word and read LTR as a ‘true mythology’ of our own earth, then we will find that the text metamorphoses chillingly from a quaint otherworldly fantasy into a literal transcription of one of the most malignant ideologies of the past millennium: the racist ‘Aryan Myth’” — a previously unpublished piece by the late Charles Mills (now unpaywalled)
  6. “We must be mindful of the way scientific and political discourses are intertwined—and of the limitations of what science communication and popularization by itself can achieve” — evidence suggests that anti-science attitudes among the public aren’t owed to a lack of knowledge, but a lack of trust, write Catarina Dutilh Novaes (VU Amsterdam) and Silvia Ivani (Univ. College Dublin)
  7. “If a lion could speak, we could not understand him.” But what about a dolphin? — a professor of cognitive psychology, a neuroscientist, and a neurobiologist discuss dolphin language