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Tag Archives: contemporary culture

Capitalism, being made of large corporations, tends to have lots of systems, because systems diminish the cost of communication between groups of people, which corporations are. But that is not to say that capitalism likes systems or needs them nor has a systemic nature. Just like Wall St buildings are made of brick and mortar, but bricks are not capitalist per se.

But there in a nasty property of Capitalism (or Corporatism) that could be confused with a system, and that i believe should be avoided, but that will probably not be if we confuse it with”system”: Sameness.
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One expression of contemporary common sense is that we are all seeking comfort. It seems so obvious, in a way, but it also feels completely wrong in many other ways, and i puzzle a lot about what exactly makes this particular idea so tempting.

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A few weeks ago i stumbled upon Scott Aaronson’s post called “The Toaster-enhanced Turing Machine”. As you might guess from my title, i misunderstood what it meant. But, actually, i really liked the thing i understood instead, so i’ll post my own version. Which is:

A Turing-machine enhanced toaster is just a Turing-machine.

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A primate brain, say a chimp’s or a bonobo’s grey matter, sees the world in monkey terms. That is to say, it first and foremost is part of a band of other monkeys, it tries to figure out who’s boss and who’s to be exploited, who is enemy, who controls the food, etc. Mostly it is all about «who»s. Inside the head, it is a lot of monkeys. Primates are social animals and the pecking order is way more important than anything else. The same brain also helps with spacial navigation, cause-and-effect modelling, literature criticism and so on, but those are side-effects.

But the thing is: Those side effects turn out quite impressive. So: How, exactly?

Science, Art, Pornography, Philosophy, J-Pop, Mathematics, Culinary, Religions, Traffic Jam, Po-Mo, Bureaucracy, 4chan — all of those (and many others) are one way or another a product of human brain activity. Now if all brain activity is monkey business, if all the brain does is deal with the politics of ape packs, then how exactly do we understand all of those things? Read More »