Re: Is vs. Ought (was: A Physicist Experiments With CulturalStudies)

Ross A. Finlayson (
Tue, 23 Nov 1999 19:04:21 -0500

Robert J. Bradbury wrote:

> On Sun, 21 Nov 1999 wrote:
> > I don't by any means wish to discourage "amateur" discussion (in fact, it's
> > one of the things I value most about this forum), but history and politics
> > are DEEP subjects. Yes, there's a lot of hogwash that gets propagated in
> > these fields (just as there is in economics and art), but it's not all
> > hogwash, by any means. For good or bad, rigorous science ISN'T yet possible
> > in the study of human history, politics and law (and may never be), but that
> > doesn't mean that one can't find some truth, if only a relative and
> > contingent truth.
> While history & politics could be subject to "rigorous science" using
> computer technology and/or simulations, I question whether law, or art
> could be.

Of note, "Jurimetrics." There are certainly rigorous schools of art, of which I know little, I am thinking the Realists.

> It is said that the historians, "write" history and that seems true.
> However, in the face of future "perfect" records of history, that becomes
> false. In the face of specific and exact records of history and the
> ability to process all the information, the interpretations of the
> historians become much less significant. Presumably, there is some
> review process by which those individuals who "accurately" condense
> the information become recognized as authorities. The chaos effects
> (mentioned by Damien) limits the accuracy of these in interpretations
> but that is where simulations might provide missing data. With
> abstract models of the human mind, historians could create "simulated"
> Hitlers or Sadaams with various mental prioritizations. Those that result
> in the reality we have documented would be presumed to be the most
> explanatory. This extends further into politics (as we now see
> where candidates don't stand for anything other than what the people
> want to hear as determined by the pollsters.

I think the adage "history repeats itself" was in many ways more true prior to this vast assemblage of recorded information and collective memory of which you speak.

I remember a science fiction work read, the author and title of which escape me, that had as a feature very accurate computer simulations of personalities. In the book's case, these were used to expose highly corrupt officials for the monsters that they were, as the simulation, once trained, would answer any question absolutely within the farme of reference of the target subject, who if evil would reveal that. Much of the rest of the book was about eco-disaster. Anyways, these simulations, as disembodied "lie detectors", were an interesting concept, yet it would certainly be a long time before a) a remote analysis of a person could yield exact personality behaviors, although within statistical bounds, whatever descriptors were available could be used to identify demographic norms, or b) any computer simulation could be taken as credible, or, in the case of a "negative" impression, non-libelous.

Heh, heh, in terms of jurimetrics, vote for Hal! (HAL.) Heh heh. "Open the isolationist trade policy, HAL." "I'm afraid I can't do that." CTRL-ALT-DEL, or alternately, shutdown -h now, or alternately, HERF now.

> Now, law and art may be much less tractable.
> Law seems to have highly specific historical, cultural, technological
> (e.g. evidence) and scientific (e.g. "expert" witnesses) aspects.
> The variety of chaotic variables may put it beyond "rigorous science"
> (though it may be entirely rational) and perhaps force it into the realm
> of limited simulations.

I think Jurimetrics, mentioned above, has as a purpose to quantify legalistic variables. Yet it is certain that no imminently forseeable electronic weight and balance of law could be Solomonic in judgment. When it comes to traffic tickets and parking tickets, as well as the very large amount of boilerplate corporate paperwork, maybe a lot could be accomplished. One of my favorite concepts is Patent-bot, the intellectual property assimilator fuzzy intelligence.

> Art, seems to have passed through the phase of "rigorous science",
> where the artist was simply learning and expressing the reality
> of perception (e.g. the "physics" of art)). Art seems to have
> gone through some interesting "observer" stages (realism, e.g.
> Thoreau or William Dean Howells in literature, or impressionist
> artists in painting).
> Greg/Natasha, if you read this -- have/should Law & Art be subject to
> some absolutes (akin say to the Hippocratic Oath in medicine) or have
> they become (and/or will they continue to be) subject to the
> whims or desires of the client/purchaser? (i.e. a system in
> which the value is market driven rather than "rationale acceptance"
> driven?)
> Robert

Well, I think the Asimovian (?) laws should be applied to any AI, intrinsically, within some kind of non-alternative hard-wired framework. That is, similarly to Java, any motive AI should operate within a "sandbox", subject to the protection of humanity.

Ross F.