22 May 2002 kholmes   » (Journeyer)

I know my diary entries are intermittent but so is my life. Thanks to badvogato for a very questionable certification.

On God

Really, I don't intend on arguing against the existance of God. There are perhaps as many spoken unrational arguments for the existance of God as there are spoken unrational arguments against his existance. And lately, I have concluded that little true wisdom can be percieved from logic alone. As Spock once said "Logic is only the beginning of wisdom, not the end." Wise man for a vulcan.

However, a conclusion on God's existance isn't needed to wonder why people believe in God. Since there is no proof and no real evidence for him, why do so many cherish this belief? And that is why I said that is just one other common dilusion that we as humans invoke. It answers many of our philosophical wonderings--which it seems just as much to human nature.

It seems that perhaps the most devout (if this word has any true meaning here) atheists are materialists and can't believe in a God since they, by definition, don't believe in spirit. Also, it seems that many of these materialists exist here in the hacker and technical cultures since it is the material world that we spend so much of our time with. And it is harder to believe in spirit when you learn of the magic computers bring are really the products of the material world--of electrons flowing through semiconductors, forming logic gates which provide the basis of further and further abstractions. In fact, it is the materialists who most believe in artificial intelligence (pardon the vague use of "believe") since they believe that human intelligence can also be taken apart just as a computer can be built.

In my last paper in English I wrote how I believed that artificial intelligence was possible with computers and how I thought that computers are universal machines. I no longer hold that view. Because while some believe that the nature of computers are numbers and the on/off nature of Boolean values, some more thought leads me to believe that the nature of today's computers is symbolism. Because while in the material world digital signals rise and drop to certain levels, it is we humans who interpret these signals as one's and zeros. In fact, there can be no real computation without programmers to hold within their minds what these symbols represent. That is why we need programmers and is why computers can't really program themselves.

But imagine a computer capable of symbolism. It simply boggles my mind. But I believe that intelligence requires the ability to symbolize and therefore AI with computers isn't possible. Not that I'm an expert or anything.

On RMS

Heh. Not trying to parrellelize "On God" with "On RMS" or anything, BTW.

But I can't understand how people can expect someone as fiercely individual and independent as Stallman to submit his will to a more collective will. That is the very nature of compromise and it is what people are asking of him. People talk of dividing the community as a bad thing. While, there are pros and cons--there is one release- critical bug in the community as I see it is an unproven theorem of "popular, therefore good". And that is why most people here seem to be after. They want more users, they want businesses to use the software they create. When people speak of user interface policy--I can only think that its the noncommercial form of marketing. Since it seems that a nice interface is whatever interface that will draw the most users.

Let me point at a different goal. "Whatever allows me to do what I want to do is good." Extend this philosophy to a community of users and developers and you get Unix and you get Emacs. You get a flexible environment to achieve your own goal.

The thing is that humans are not very sophisticated. Most of us will only use a computer as a fancy typewriter, arcade machine, or messaging device. But for the rest of us who have sophisticated needs, we have almost everything we need to meet them needs. This is what attracts me to free software.

But I have to say the Stallman's ideals have been very influential to me. The concept that software should be free is a very challenging philosophy to understand. I am still uncertain on its validity. If anyone wishes, I can elaborate.

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