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Logic: A Study Guide — Computability, arithmetic, Gödel

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I mentioned a couple of days ago that, in the last four months, the newly available PDFs of my Intro to Formal Logic and Intro to Gödel’s Theorems have both been downloaded over 3.5K times (and that’s ignoring an initial flurry of downloads of the Gödel book by people who clicked on a probably misleading link posted elsewhere). In the same period — without any advertising at all — the Teach Yourself Logic Study Guide has been downloaded 7.5K times. I mention this to explain again why I feel I ought to give the TYL project some love and spend some quality time updating the Guide: if it is being downloaded that much, with a big surge at the beginning of semesters, it must be being recommended as useful. So I guess I really ought to make sure it is as useful as it can be, and indeed make sure it reflects what I now think about which texts to recommend.  The last full version was a pretty rough-and-ready layered accumulation of bits and pieces of various vintages: it is well past time for an end-to-end rewrite. But heavens, it’s necessarily a slow job, as I revisit texts old and new! Anyway … here now is the latest version of the new-style Guide up to the rewritten Chapter 6. This reworked chapter covers three inter-connected topics: (a) the elementary informal theory of arithmetic computability, (b) an introduction to formal theories of arithmetic and how they represent computable functions, which leads up to (c) Gödel’s epoch-making incompleteness theorems My reading recommendations for this chapter haven’t changed a lot. But a feature of the revised Guide is that (after the preliminary chapters), each chapter has a section (or two) giving an extended overview of its theme, from five to ten pages long. These overviews are supposed to be elementary indicators of some of the topics covered by the recommended reading.  They can certainly be skipped (that’s clearly signalled): the overviews are included just for those. . .

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News source: Logic Matters

The Secret of the Human Eyes: How Evolution Shapes our Perceptions

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   This post is reproduced from my blog "The Proud Holobionts" where I explore how the new concept of "Holobiont" can find applications not only in biology, but in many fields dealing with complex systems, including the human economy, memetics, and ecosystems  The short movie abov, Vikaari, has recently appeared on the "Dust" site and I think has several interesting features, relevant to the concept of holobionts.  It is very well done as a movie, although it is deeply contradictory in many aspects. For one thing, it is a narrative disaster. First, the movie tells you that the "Vikaari", children born without a visible iris in the eyes, are good people, while being the target of Nazi-like bad guys. Then, we see the Vikaari killing their pursuers using their psychokinetic powers in bloody and cruel ways, apparently without any regret. Needless to say, this completely destroys the narrative tension of the movie and leaves you totally baffled about what the filmmakers wanted to say.Indeed, I think the filmmakers were badly confused on several planes. First of all, in their decision of presenting this "new race" of children as something that will replace current human beings, engaged in destroying their own planet. Is this a hope or a fear? Difficult to say, but surely evolution doesn't work in that way. And then, why the choice of iris-less eyes as a defining mark? It is rare that people consciously perceive the characteristics of the irises of their fellow human beings. But the shape of the iris tells us much of the genetic inheritance of a person. On this point, the film-makers got it right, although in reverse. A human being without a visible iris is not a modern human. The iris is an easily modified, highly visible human trait. There is a whole genetic story in the human iris. From what we can say, light-colored eyes have been rare in the remote past, although DNA studies indicate that they already. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert at Wigmore Hall

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Of recent concerts live streamed by Wigmore Hall, this stands out. Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert’s Piano Sonata in C, D840 ‘Reliquie’, and the great Sonata in G, D894. This, surely, is Uchida at her very best, bringing out the depths, with miraculous moments. Truly impressive Schubert. The post Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert at Wigmore Hall appeared first on Logic Matters.

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News source: Logic Matters

Autonomous Assassination

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The assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh might have been conducted by a remote-controlled weapon. While this is still a conventional assassination, it does raise the specter of autonomous assassination automatons—assassin bots. In this context, an assassin bot would be capable of conducting its mission autonomously once it was deployed. Simple machines of this kind already exist—one could think of the land mine as an autonomous assassination device—once deployed it “decides” to activate according to its triggering mechanism. But when one thinks of proper assassin bot, one thinks of a far more complicated machine—one capable of seeking and killing its target in a sophisticated manner. Also, it could be argued that a mine is not an assassination machine—while it can be placed in the hopes of killing a specific person, they lack the hallmarks of an assassin. That is, they do not seek a specific human target to kill them. As such, a proper assassin bot would need to be able to identify their target and attempt to kill them. To the degree that the bot can handle this process without human intervention it would be autonomous. The idea of assassin bots roaming about killing people raises moral concerns. While the technology would be new, there would be no new moral problems here—with one possible exception. The primary ethical matters of assassination involve questions about whether assassination is morally acceptable and debates over specific targets, motivations, and consequences. But unless the means of assassination is especially horrific or indiscriminate the means are not of moral concern—what matters morally is that some means is used to kill a person, be those means a punch, a poniard, a pistol, or poison. To illustrate, it would be odd to say that killing Mohsen Fakhrizadeh with a pistol would be acceptable but killing him as quickly and painfully with a knife would be wrong. Again, methods can matter in terms of being worse or better ways to. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

A few thoughts about self-publishing

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A very enjoyable walk down to my favourite library, the Moore library, in the winter sun. But not, sadly, to then read and write, and think, and idly look out of the windows, and take a coffee break, and write again. It will be a good while yet before all that is possible. I was just donating, via their dropbox, copies of IFL2 and GWT. Time for an update, perhaps. How have things gone since I got the copyright back from CUP, and have been able to give away IFL2 and IGT2 as freely downloadable PDFs? I’ve just checked: since late August, IFL2 has been downloaded over 3.6K times. And after a quite crazy initial flood (when someone posted a direct link at Hacker News, without saying that the link was to a full book!), IGT2  has been downloaded another 4K times. The two books have sold well over 200 each of the inexpensive print-on-demand versions. (It is very early days for GWT … I’ll report back on that in the New Year.) I didn’t at all know what to expect. Or rather, I was expecting something like that ratio of freely downloaded PDFs to bought copies: but I had little idea how many would be tempted by the books overall. I guess I am pretty pleased. And it certainly seems to have been worth the small effort of making the print-on-demand versions available. I did ask online, and got enough responses to suggest that there is a significant minority of readers who significantly prefer to work from “real” books as opposed to onscreen PDFs (which is one reason that libraries should have hard copies available); and some of that minority said that they are prepared to pay a modest amount to get the hard copy too. And so it has turned out. By the way, as I’ve remarked before, I wasn’t thrilled to bits to be using the Amazon-provided service. But for this kind of enterprise, it does seem the best and easiest option on various counts. And since sales are small, and I’ve only rounded up the price from the minimum possible by. . .

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News source: Logic Matters

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