all posts tagged 'philosophy'

Life's absurdity is a cause for happiness

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Sisyphus is forced to push a heavy boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down; for all eternity. Camus famously compared Sisyphus’ condition to the human condition. We too are fated to complete mundane, meaningless tasks, to chase desires and achieve goals only for them to be replaced by new desires and goals; always returning back where we started. Ronald Aronson argues it is our awareness, our human self-consciousness, of this condition that makes us superior to it.

I didn't read Camus in college1, so this concept of imagining Sisyphus happy is brand new to me.

If you also don't have much exposure to philosophy, give this article a try. It's certainly given me motivation to try reading The Myth of Sisyphus for myself.

  1. Although I did listen to The Magnetic Fields quite a bit. Sometimes, I lament not going through a brooding phase, and then I revisit the albums I listened to heavily in college and think, "oh yeah, I definitely had a brooding phase." 

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The Robot Report #1 — Reveries

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Whenever I talk about a knowledge win via robots on the socials or with humans, someone snarks, “Well, how do you know it’s true? How do you know the robot isn’t hallucinating?” Before I explain my process, I want to point out that I don’t believe humans are snarking because they want to know the actual answer; I think they are scared. They are worried about AI taking over the world or folks losing their job, and while these are valid worries, it’s not the robot’s responsibility to tell the truth; it’s your job to understand what is and isn’t true.

You’re being changed by the things you see and read for your entire life, and hopefully, you’ve developed a filter through which this information passes. Sometimes, it passes through without incident, but other times, it’s stopped, and you wonder, “Is this true?”

Knowing when to question truth is fundamental to being a human. Unfortunately, we’ve spent the last forty years building networks of information that have made it pretty easy to generate and broadcast lies at scale. When you combine the internet with the fact that many humans just want their hopes and fears amplified, you can understand why the real problem isn’t robots doing it better; it’s the humans getting worse.

I’m working on an extended side quest and in the past few hours of pairing with ChatGPT, I’ve found myself constantly second guessing a large portion of the decisions and code that the AI produced.

This article pairs well with this one I read today about a possible social exploit that relies on frequently hallucinated package names.

Simon Willison writes:

Bar Lanyado noticed that LLMs frequently hallucinate the names of packages that don’t exist in their answers to coding questions, which can be exploited as a supply chain attack.

He gathered 2,500 questions across Python, Node.js, Go, .NET and Ruby and ran them through a number of different LLMs, taking notes of any hallucinated packages and if any of those hallucinations were repeated.

One repeat example was “pip install huggingface-cli” (the correct package is “huggingface[cli]”). Bar then published a harmless package under that name in January, and observebd 30,000 downloads of that package in the three months that followed.

I’ll be honest: during my side quest here, I’ve 100% blindly run npm install on packages without double checking official documentation.

These large language models truly are mirrors to our minds, showing all sides of our personalities from our most fit to our most lazy.

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How philosophy can solve your midlife crisis

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Happiness often follows a U-curve in which middle age is uniquely stressful, with a heavy dose of responsibilities. That’s all the more reason to seek out atelic activites when the midlife blues hit: meditation, music, running, or almost anything that brings inner peace. But self-reported happiness does increase later in life.

Oddly, as Setiya observes, many of the most consequential choices we make occur in our 20s and early 30s: careers, partners, families, and more. The midlife crisis is a delayed reaction, hitting when we feel more weighted down by those choices. So the challenge is not necessarily to change everything, he says, but to ask, “How do I appreciate properly what I now am doing?”

My daughter turns 7 tomorrow. I’m feeling like I’m finally hitting a point with that relationship where I am not needed as heavily, and I’ll soon be able to indulge in atelic activities more frequently.

The beautiful thing is that I’m now able to enjoy some of these activities with my kids as they get older.

I think that’s the part of parenting I was looking forward to the most: getting to do cool stuff (like go on rides and play Pokémon) with two really cool little people.

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Ten Commandments For Living From Philosopher Bertrand Russell

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I know, I know… another list.

Really, though, this is a list where I found it hard to choose just one to highlight here. I think I’m gonna go with this one:

When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

I’ve been doing this with my own kids, and it is forcing me to really take a good look at my values. After all, most arguments come to a point where the disagreement can either be won by finding mutual moral ground, or avoided by realizing you just aren’t even speaking the same language.

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