An explosion of robotic “life?”

In the Cambrian period, there was an “explosion” of life.  During that time, over 500 million years ago, pretty much all the major animal phyla evolved over just a few million years.  I’m starting to wonder if we’re not experiencing an explosion of robotic “life.”

Consider the following:

All these advances in robotics happened in the very recent past.  It suddenly struck me that the massive surge in robotic innovation might not be a parallel to what happened to life on Earth.  Why is robotic development experiencing this sudden growth?  I theorize that it isn’t the result of any planning by anyone, but rather by the unintended achievement of a technological “sweet-spot” where technical capacity and cost have hit values that allow a whole new generation of ideas to be pursued.  And each idea that is tried leads to even more ideas.

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Religion causes god

Atheism makes sense.

A line of argument that one can pursue against the existence of “god” is that there are other explanations that are both simpler and more consistent with everything else we know about the universe.  That is, we aim to find a better explanation for things than “god.”  In this post, I will present the sketch of one such argument.  The details are not particularly robust as I have not yet had the time to research things fully.  However, the gist of the argument should be clear, and I welcome corrections of fact.

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Technology, analogy, evolution, and Don Norman

an old and a new Mini.

Technology drives analogy & evolution in design.

According to Don Norman, technology comes before identification of need. That is, you can only recognize a need if you already know about the technology that can be used to address it.  It’s not a conventional idea, and it can rub some people the wrong way, but – as I’ve written before – I think he’s right.

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Persons, Dolphins, and Margaret Somerville


Can dolphins be persons?

Margaret Somerville, a bioethicist at McGill University, is still pushing her Christian-based views as if they were science.  Recently, she’s taken on the emerging controversy about the rights that dolphins may deserve. The short version is this: dolphins’ brains appear to be functionally more like our brains than are the brains of primates. So some experts are suggesting that we should grant dolphins the status of “non-human persons.”  Somerville disagrees because she thinks humans are “special” and that personhood should be reserved exclusively for us.

I got turned on to this while listening to CBC Radio One’s The Current (19 January 2010 – the audio clips of the story are at the CBC website).  Shortly thereafter, on the 25th of January, an article by Somerville appeared in the Ottawa Citizen and soon thereafter spread to other places on the web.  The article was more lucid than her interview for CBC, but still suffers several problems.

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God by Practise: Swing and a Miss

The Atheism Bus in London

This is putting it mildly.

Some, like religious historian Karen Armstrong (author of The Case for God), have argued that while you can’t prove God, you can come to understand the necessity of God “by practise.” I find this kind of argument quite specious.

One example I’ve heard to explain this God-by-practise thing, is dancing: you can’t learn to dance by reading a book. To learn to dance one must actually practise. Similarly, the argument goes, you can’t know God except by living an appropriate life to gain the right mindset and experience set to reach a certain kind enlightenment.

I disagree.

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