Monday, June 11, 2012

Troll, trolley, and Tweedledee

It’s interesting to see that my posts on Sam Harris’s FB page got deleted. Lately I’ve been highly critical of Sam ever since he posted on his blog his support for racial/religious profiling. So aside from my own critique I’ve been posting articles on Sam’s page with a common theme: the War on Terror is a never-ending pretense and Sam’s BIGGEST BLIND SPOT is the National Security State
But I will still be watching you, Sam, and I will continue to passionately and compassionately point out your intellectual blind spot if the situation calls for it. Good thing I have my own blog which cannot be censored by Sam or his intellectual groupies.
Language is a sort of collective brain, and the internet truly producing collective intelligence. But just as particles, molecules, cells, and organs had to evolve to work together to produce the freedom from constraint which is the virtual reality machine of the brain, so human societies have to learn to cooperate if we are to evolve to higher levels of complexity, and with this, freedom for any and all. Only when parts and whole interpenetrate, and work as systems which exceed the sums of their parts, is the emergence of complexity, and with this, the evolution of something like the brain, possible. There are ethical lessons to be learned from studying the emergence of complexity, the evolution of life and thought, and the seeming attempt to bring freedom into matter, from quantum to the brain and beyond.
Last week the Economist ran a cover story on a philosophical topic: the ethics of robots. Not just the usual ethical question one might ask about the ethics of developing robots in given situation, but the ethics of the robots themselves. The Economist is nothing if not pragmatic, and would not ask such a question if it weren’t one of immediate importance. As it turns out, we are increasingly programming machines to make decisions for us, such as military robots and Google’s driverless cars… These sorts of questions lend appeal to studying the ethics of the trolley problem, beyond the pedagogical uses I recommended before. 
Running away from the trolls - Hindustan Times New Delhi, June 09, 2012 Namita Bhandare @namitabhandare
There’s another category of Twitter user. It’s the dedicated party line follower. There are the Congressis, but considerably more vocal and energetic on Twitter are Hindutva loyalists. These are not politicians (Sushma Swaraj, @SushmaSwarajBJP, for instance) or journalists who make no secret about their affiliations. Oh no. These tweeters describe themselves as ‘right wing fanatic’, ‘Modi fan’ or, a bit more subtly, ‘deshbhakt’. He (and the rarer she) prefers Bharat to India, though he is often located in the US and loves the words, ‘paid media’, ‘Congressi agent’ and ‘Hindu warrior’. And they tweet from anonymous handles that make it easier for them to heap vile abuse…
It’s hard to explain the psychology of trolls. The worst are guided by a vile ideology of hate, hunting in packs, venomous in their rants and secure behind their anonymity. They follow each other, call out to each other and encourage each other to collectively attack a common ‘enemy’… But when Twitter dwindles to a platform for abuse it loses its sheen.
Who let the trolls in? by Kanchan Gupta - Welcome to the New Virtual World Order!
Trolls, we were told by way of introduction to these supernatural beings, traced their origin to Norse mythology. They were not particularly handsome in their appearance, lived in mountain caves and had their own social code. Human beings steered clear of them as they did of human beings… Meeting a troll in the misty mountains of Hobbitland would have been a thrilling, if not delightful, experience. Meeting a ‘troll’ on an online forum, especially an open forum like Twitter, can prove to be neither thrilling nor delightful… In the virtual world of social media, it’s absurd to feel angry or violated, not the least because the millions out there give a damn about your feelings.
At The Washington Post, Lisa Miller argues that, contrary to the beliefs of religious figures and political pundits, technology is good for religion.
A Wake-Up Call to the NationCentre Right India Sunday, June 10, 2012 Jaideep Prabhu · 5 Comments The following article is a spoof on a similar, recent article. The point is to show how easily an argument can be framed if the burden of evidence is not placed on it. We should be careful of what we say. But for now, just chuckle along!
Ibn al-Dunya 23 hours ago in reply to Prashanth K.P. Sir, you take the article too seriously :-) If you are a regular reader of CRI, you would have noticed another article ( I wrote in response to the article I am spoofing in this one. Someone can basically turn that around on this one, except that I am joking in this one whereas the original article was real. Hence, all your points are acknowledged, and I point out again that this article is a spoof :-)

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