Manual The Pig That Wants to be Eaten

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The first 20 puzzles weren't all that interesting. But than I started to really think about what each story was asking - how was it the same or Julian Baggini. Both entertaining and startling, The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten offers one hundred philosophical puzzles that stimulate thought on a host of moral, social, and personal dilemmas. Synopsis - It is discovered that the woman behind a screen at a Chinese clairvoyant's booth is actually not deaf and mute. She in fact is a he, and also does not understand the spoken Chinese messages passed by customers from under the screen.

He uses a computer to translate the messages, and write meaningful replies back in Chinese. So the jig is up. But is it wrong for a computer to replace a language-processing mind? This is a strange one. The novelty behind a clairvoyant's booth in Beijing was that the fortune teller was a deaf and mute girl, Jun.

No one was able to see her as messages were written and passed back and forth from under a screen. No customer cared if the output he received came from an unseen source until it was revealed that the mystic was a man, John, who relied on a computer as part of the fortune-telling process. The computer did not make the fortunes merely translated.


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So what's the problem? The girl is a man. A computer is used to translate questions and predictions passed under the screen. Does the customer then lose out in the purchase of services? Yes and no. A customer still gets his fortune but not under the same circumstances he thought were in place.


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If the ultimate outcome is the prediction on a piece of paper was it, yes all is ok. If the delivery was essential to the outcome, then there is a failure in expectations. Sort of like knowing the answer to a complicated math problem without showing the sums. Similarly it could also be like fried chicken being presented beautifully on platter, not knowing the waiter dropped the pieces on the kitchen floor earlier. Baggini wants the reader to look into the metaphysical aspect of having a brain.

Is it purely a machine or need it be attached to an external living entity which understands how a problem is solved to qualify as a mind? It seems so. I know my brain processes the light signals entering my eyes into meaningful information but at the same time the eyes, the optic nerves and neurons simply can't give that meaningful information on their own. The sum is greater than its parts. Can a computer not replace its functions to some degree?

Yes of course but it's a lot more work to develop artificial intelligence. The computer in the story translated the Chinese but was not used to develop the clairvoyant messages. Perhaps the translations themselves weren't exact and John had to apply an unexact science to figure out what the messages were. It is this unscientific, fuzzy logic that makes us human, and our brains very powerful.

When does a computer have a mind?

Other Titles by Julian Baggini

I don't know but it'll be creepy if it thought like us. Friday, March 26, I Am A Brain. Synopsis - When Ceri Braum had her deteriorating body disposed of and her brain kept alive, linked to a mike, speaker and camera, she wasn't quite as happy as she thought she would be.

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Was being all brain good enough to represent her a person? I remember an episode of the Twilight Zone where a doctor disassembled the body of a man and hooked him up to an array of sensors so that he could live without his body. It all went well with the brain resting in a jar of fluid in a lab and taking in all the sanitized cleanliness around it.

The man's wife then appeared, taunted the brain with vile words and then kissed the doctor full on. The brain felt anger and betrayal but could not do anything but sit there helpless. It's a fact that the brain controls most of what the body does. Our thoughts and memories start and are stored in the brain. These help us learn and solve problems. The brain controls the body to a great degree.

If we are defined ny our actions and the actions themselves are usually the result of our thoughts, it's easy to accept the brain as the definition of who we are. This logic is perhaps individualistic. From a other person point of view, speech, touch and even facial expressions define who a person is. Human-human interaction goes beyond the brain. We look into people's eyes, react to a smile, ask about a frown, nudge shoulders, and connect through in so many ways.

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher by Julian Baggini

Though these actions may start in the brain as thoughts but it is the physical execution of these thoughts through our bodies that define us from a social standpoint. Connections are made from the heart. Perhaps after a while with the brain. A brain can't climb a mountain. A brain can't make curry chicken. A brain can't drive a car. The brain can develop ideas and envision outcomes but it needs the body to take up and fulfill the challenge.

Actions speak louder than thoughts and words. I believe that yes a brain is our control center but we are little, hollow, even purposeless without the body.

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Wednesday, March 24, Nature The Artist. Sypnosis - The curator of a museum loves a piece of rock she believes was carved into present artistic magnificence by a famous artist. When the truth is revealed, that the rock is merely a rock unshaped by man, she is flabbergasted and worse, needs to decide if it belongs in her museum alongside other 'real' works of art?

I've always thought of art as something that evokes a response.

Applause or criticism, a response no less. In that vein, almost everything around qualifies as art. But there's a trick to it. Not everything qualifies. Plastic packets of food at a supermarket may look ordinary but if one stood far away and caught the big picture, one would a riot of rectangular shaped colours. To me that's interesting, and worthy of a photograph.

I'm the train as I write this so let's take a localized example - a hand grab. On its own it might be a boring piece of plastic but when a line of them with different hands grasping for support at various angles, all of a sudden the visual becomes interesting. The lowly hand grab describes the human need for external strength and support in this wavering, unsteady modern existence.

Art is everywhere. It all depends on how we want to look at it. The author has brought across some examples of how the definition of a work of art has transcended brush and canvas to more ordinary, in fact, everyday objects. From Mona Lisa to Duchamp's urinal. From traditional, and sometimes a protrayal of fantasy, to modern and sometimes very real.

Abstract pieces have gone for millions at auctions. Art schools teach all manner of art these days and traditional brush and palette techniques are a mere smidgen of what's taught. So it would quite impossible to put a rigid definition of what by its nature is meant to develop with creative expression. If we are open to what art could be, then perhaps the boundaries are also not important.

If the curator's museum had a specific role to display works from specific artists, then the rock would have no place there.

The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten : 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher [Paperback]

If the curator was cool with nature's creations on display especially one which did not require tending or cleaning up after then the rock would be a perfect, accidental overstayer. Monday, March 22, Pre-emptive Justice. Synopsis - Minority Report the movie sort of covers it. The police predict who's going to commit a crime and arrest them before they do it. Though crime is down by staggering numbers, some feel that it isn't right to punish people for crimes not yet committed. It is a very good, cool movie. A peek into the future where cars you don't need to drive park in your apartment, holograms follow you in a store, and your eyes let the world know your past and present.

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And like in the movie, things started going wrong when evil people in charge of the predicting waifs did bad things, did more bad things to cover up their folly and hence manipulated justice. So the basics - is it ok to lock people up for a future crime? This is one of those situations where the folks in favour of this system assume that they are the best people to make that decision, that they are morally and ethically superior and they would never be arrested under this system.

And that's a problem. We assume the profiles of criminals quite readily. Uneducated riff raff from broken homes are the ones responsible for all thefts, murders and shootups, perhaps all evil intent. Today's crimes are also not so basic. Theft and murders are biblical wrongdoings, and fail in complexity to white collar hoodwinking, cyberattacks and intercontinental mafia gangland drug-fuelled vendettas.