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I also found it frustrating that Lanier refused to engage on specifics.

Which is ironic, because I also came to the conclusion that the problem here was it was a discussion between (someone acting in the role of) a philosopher and (someone acting in the role of) an engineer, and it was the engineer who was refusing to talk about specifics.

Where I term philosophy the stuff you do with topics you don't have enough solid information yet to make a full-fledged science out of (as touched on in the discussions of the natural philosophy phase which preceded the science of biology, etc.)

Lanier may be correct that ignoring the philosophical side may make you a better scientist for certain strict definitions of scientist, but it may also fail to make future scientists better scientists. Just because the philosophical work precedes the formation of a full fledged science doesn't mean you can skip it. It's important for people to be thinking about these things even if we don't know much about them.

It's a very different kind of work from engineering though, and it may be that Lanier is uninterested in that work. I know I get quickly bored and frustrated when I try to spend much time doing that kind of work. But I try to distinguish between things that bore me and things which are unuseful.


bah. moving too fast, forget to close an em tag. in the preceding comment, only the first paragraph should be em'd as a quote.


When I play against a superior player, I can't predict exactly where my opponent will move against me. [...] But I can predict the consequence of the unknown move, which is a win for the other player; and the more the player's actual action surprises me, the more confident I become of this final outcome."

Interestingly, playing an opponent which selects completely randomly from the range of possible moves gives a similar result: you never know what your opponent will do, but you can predict with a fair amount of confidence that you will win. And the more their actions surprise you (because you didn't spend any time thinking about such a remarkably dumb move as that), the more confident you become in your prediction of the result.