3 May 2013 Leave a comment
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Anything In my Mind and on the Ways to Spread it Out
3 May 2013 Leave a comment
3 January 2013 Leave a comment
Isaac Asimov coined the term Frankenstein Complex to describe the people’s fear for mechanical men. The uneasiness for artificial humanoid is an ancient archetypal feeling that has found, in the twentieth century, a modern embodiment in robotic literature. Since the play R.U.R by Karel Čapek has appeared in 1920 a negative concept of robot has spread out. Only at the end of the thirties, after almost twenty years, things began to change; three short stories were published and robot started to gain sympathetic personalities. I’d like to introduce readers to them.
11 December 2012 Leave a comment
Frankenstein is one of those stories that anyone has heard about but that only a few have actually read. The imaginary of the book has become so much powerful to influence the later literary tradition; some of its narrative elements can be found among the most famous sci-fi authors ever like H. G. Wells and I. Asimov. It is also one of the main fictional reference on Philosophy of Science and Bioethics debates and it concurs to shape the popular perception of technological progress. However its original meaning has been distorted by following theater and film adaptations. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, is a strong humanistic sci-fi novel and it is not at all a lesson about the dangers of science.
5 December 2012 Leave a comment
The emergence of technology has been a switch in human evolution. After having arisen from a proper biological background it has pushed mankind from the uncertainty and the risk of extinction to the results we see today. Compared with our ancestors the average of life is definitely higher: we live longer, healthier and we deal better with the world. At least until a certain point. The power of technology has become so much extended and instability and reverse processes have shown up. People die, directly or indirectly, because of technology, we get physical and mental diseases and the global environment looks every year more inconstant. Are we facing a new switch moment?
The industrial revolution has probably been the tipping point of technological progress: there it changed from resistant to dominant agent and the old fear has given way to opportunities. The reality has become softer and wicker under the hands of progress and space for a new ethics has emerged. I’d like to take a concept from “Why we need better ethics for emerging technologies” by J. H. Moor and make it mine: a foundation of ethics is necessary, as never before, because of the high degree of malleability that today’s technologies have proved to have.
4 December 2012 Leave a comment
Technological artifacts and their ads surround us as never before. Blogs and magazines are plenty of reviews of mobile phones, cars, cameras, TVs or domestic appliances. However, generally speaking, I consider naive the approach reserved to technology by most of the journalists, experts and users. Technology is something really serious to be left in the hand of the consumer society. It envelops us almost 24/7: the houses we live in, the buildings, the streets and, for extension, the towns and the cities. According to recent studies, by the 2008, the cities dwellers reached the majority for the first time in the history and by 2050 they are expected to surpass the 6 billion of unities compared to a world population of 9 billion of people. Mankind has set up an artificial bubble which is irreversibly encroaching and englobing any aspect of life: environmental, social and private. Progress is something we have to learn to cope with and more philosophical and ethical discussions are needed.
9 November 2012 Leave a comment
The main purpose of the following set of articles is to review my personal knowledge on logic. They cover all the basis of propositional, predicate and modal logic as parts of a single unit. The language will be as much colloquial as possible and the discussion will be supported by philosophical references. Hopefully it may be helpful for new students and also for experienced logicians if they may ever happen to have a look at the pages of this blog.
The common frame
In the eighteenth century Kant realized that knowledge is the conjunction of the phenomena of the real world and the ability of our minds to organize them. In his vision rationality and experience mesh together like two gears of the same engine. That clearly leads to an important consequence: whenever we make a statement of knowledge it can be analyzed both in regards to its internal consistency – the statement must be well formed and free from any contradiction – and also as regards to its relations with a defined domain of reference. The two aspects need to be sorted out in the mind of anyone is approaching to logic. We name the first the syntax of the language: it reflects the minds’s ability to manipulate concepts and the deductive reasoning in general. The second is its semantic: it is all about the assignment of meanings to the concepts and the verification of the truth conditions of our reasoning. Logically speaking, if we assume a set of premises Γ (gamma), we say that φ (phi) is a syntactic consequence of the given premises if it is achieved by the pure use of deduction; in symbols Γ ⊦ φ. On the other hand we say that φ is a semantic consequence of Γ when the domain of reference that makes the premises true also makes the consequence true; in symbols Γ ⊧ φ.
25 September 2012 Leave a comment
The Game of Life has been invented by the mathematician John Conway in 1970. It is a solitaire pastime with a set of very simple rules that has evolved in a huge range of possibilities. It has generated interest in almost every field of science and some, like the studies of cellular automaton, owes a significant debt to it. What makes it so fascinating is the ability to simulate real-life-like processes making use of simple patterns and a few basic rules.
Although the use of simulation software is now more appropriate to deal with the infinity possibilities of Life, I think a classic checkerboard is still the best way to understand the rules. Obviously the use of a Go board would be better but also a pencil and a piece of paper might serve the purpose.
The universe of Life is an infinite grid of square cells. At the very start of the game it is occupied by simple patterns of cells which have two possible states, dead or alive. For any cell we consider a neighbourhood, named Moore Neighbourhood, composed by the eight orthogonally and diagonally adjacent cells. It is possible to define a neighbourhood also for patterns of more than one cell.