Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ayn Rand Vs. The Immortal Robot

Christmas Eve-Eve I read a bit of a book about the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I want to study this because one of my goals in refining my arguments for Universal Morality is to refute, and win over, Objectivists. I was happy to find something that meshes perfectly into my system, and shows a flaw in hers.
To show that Life is the ultimate value, Rand created a hypothetical Immortal Robot, it could reason and act if motivated, but it could not be destroyed and had no in-built goals or values. Her argument was that because the Robot was indestructible, it had no reason to value it's own protection, and no reason to value anything else. She was right, to a point. This she contrasted with mortals, who she said must in some sense value their existence or cease to exist.
The problem, I think, is that she didn't spend enough time inside the head of that Immortal Robot, figuring out what it would do. For example, it would be aware that it had the capacity to hold values, but that it did not currently hold any. It would be aware that its capacity to think was finite. It would be aware that it had the capacity to consider the ramifications of values that it could hold, even if it did not in fact hold them. It would eventually become aware that no 'is' implies an 'ought'. It would realize that it had no reason to exist, or not to exist, but that at the moment, it existed anyway.
It would realize that any of it's conclusions about the world (is) or morality (ought) could be faulty, either because of bad premises, illusory sensory information, or faulty logic. It would further realize that there are an infinite number of potential truths that it has not considered, because its ability to think is finite.
If its thought process is not broken, it will set about trying to determine the truth of these statements, both existential and moral.

If the Immortal Robot is well designed, it will set as a value for itself the improvement of its ability to think.

I especially fell in love with Rand's model of the Immortal Robot because it gives me a wonderful way to tie my system of morality into my blog title.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Designs for the Future

By the New Year (which is a fancy way of saying next week) I will have this blog ready to go live. I started Sixty Story Robot as a way to consolidate all my writing into one site. In the past I have segmented my thoughts by topic, and that let me have a slightly different personality in each arena. I didn't like that, so I made a space where I have to present a more complete picture of myself.

In the next few months, I want to finish my novel. I may have to rewrite the plot, but that's not a problem since I haven't written much of the plot yet. Fortunately, since everything was surreal to begin with, I won't have to throw out much of what I did write. I've also decided to ignore the 50,000 word target. I missed it in November, and nothing is going to change that, I will write the book as it should be, however long it ends up.

I will also make a more rigorous exposition of Universal Morality. This is something I have to do. I need to present it to my gang of philosophers, let them rip it apart a little, and see what's left of it. I'm pretty confident it will carry through. It may never be popular, and maybe it never should be, but it needs to be right.

I am being slowly convinced to become politcal. I'm not sure how exactly I want to do this, or what I want my role to be. I don't want to run for office, because I don't think that the offices are where the real power is. A movie star can get legislation passed almost as easily as a legislator. But I don't want to be a movie star either. (Well, that's not my plan...)
This is another reason I wanted a place where I was open. Some of my political stands are going to be massively unpopular with some people, and I think sometimes it is neccesary to stand up. I value anonymity, it is incredibly important to preserving freedom. It is itelf part of freedom. I don't think it is a sign of cowardice, and I will almost certainly publish anonymously in the future myself. But for now I need to be open.
I would rather stand up and get shot than not stand.

Happy Solstice!

Friday, December 15, 2006

All Love Stories Are Triangular

Sisyphus pushed a stone up a hill, and gravity rolled it back down.

If another person had been tasked with returning the boulder, Sisyphus might have come to view him as an enemy.

If instead, There were three stone movers, and the stones were numerous, (and perhaps smaller!) each would simply view the person before him as his stone supplier, and the person after him as his stone remover.
Each would see all as serving a role, but the task would still be pointless.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


This is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel:
The most important synchronicities are the ones we never notice. When you see a coincidence, infer meaning, and attribute that to some higher power or system of reality, it is because God is beating a message into you because you are a moron. God is fluid and subtle, no one can prove God's existence because that is the way God wants it. If you are in touch with God at all, you will never see a mircale, ever. They will simply happen all around you, but your life and your focus will already be beyond them.
When you look into a microwave oven, you see the food, but in front of the food is a metal mesh. The holes in the metal mesh allow visible light to pass through, but microwaves have a much longer wavelength. They are effectively too big to fit throught the holes. The mesh is placed the to keep the microwaves inside the oven, and so it is in a certain sense a sign of the existence of the waves themselves. But if you just look and see the mesh, you have missed the whole point of the oven. Look at the food and see what effect the microwaves have on it.
Do not look for syncronicities or coincidences. At worst you are stupid for seeing something pointless as significant, at best you are stupid for missing the point. (but then those are really the same, aren't they?)
Instead look at people. If the microwaves are present, the food will cook. So it is with God.
This is a bit rougher than what I would say, and I can't say with certainty what causes synchronicities in the first place, but I do think it is better to look past them.
Buddha taught not to follow a teacher who claimed supernatural powers. Even if they were true, they did not help with enlightenment, more likely they were distractions.
I think it's fine to notice syncronicities, but I think it is wrong to base your life on them.

Be a Force of Nature

You can not fight the ocean. It can not be defeated.
You can rail and thrash against it, but no matter what you do, there it will lie complete in it's own nature. It will buoy you or crush you on it's whim.
The ocean is fickle and unassailable.
But what if you were stronger than the the ocean?
If, even if, you were a godling and could draw up the ocean and cast it into the sun, it would not be defeated, for there it would still lie, complete without compromise.
Be a force of nature.
Be as you are, complete witout compromise.
You will have no opponents, for none could stand against you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Deathbed Conversion

77. Write a short death scene in which the person dying changes his mind about something fundamental to the life that is about to be completed.

Albert sat up in bed writing furiously. It was late afternoon, he had spent the day working on the problem by the sunlight falling through the simple white curtains. The sun was lower and dimmer now, and it was almost too dark to work comfortably, but he hadn't turned on the lights yet. Reams of notes and diagrams were stacked on the large table beside his bed.
His nurse entered the room and turned on the light. Albert blinked, pausing only a moment to adjust to the bright white page. The nurse held out his cup for him, rather than placing it on the table, it was one of her ways of forcing him to engage with something other than his work. She saw little value in his scribblings, and knew that if he let himself be more active, he would be healthier for it. She was always looking for something that would draw him out and get him to live. If she only knew.
He kept on scribbling and she kept on holding out the cup. He knew she knew he saw, and knew her ways. When he finished the thought, when he decided to, he took the cup.
"When you are ready, Albert," She said striding confidently back out of the room, "Dinner will be downstairs."
He was distracted enough to watch her leave. She was much younger than him, but he wasn't too old for her. Even just a few years ago, he would have pursued her. The balance of his dual passions had always tilted toward the lovely, and somehow even the lovely and young had found him enthralling. Only since he learned how limited his time was had he focused so adamantly on his work. Now he was more driven by his desire to find an answer.
Still, no answer came.
Every system left something out, every model had some intractable failing. Albert sat and sipped his too hot tea, and stared at the clock. It was a large brass table clock with a fully exposed mechanism, he kept it close for inspiration. Time was such a fluid thing, and now the clock made him ponder the irony that he of all people was running out of it.
He set his tea and his papers on the table, and tossed the quilt to the foot of the bed. If he was to be content, he would have to be content without an answer. He pivoted his legs to the floor, put on his slippers, slowly stood, re-tied the belt of his robe, and never made it to the bottom of the stairs.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Two Thousand Six

This started as a year of evil, and ended as a year of good.

I have enjoyed it.

Thank You.