Saturday, May 31, 2014

On Guilt

What if you were replaced in the middle of the night with an exact replica? They would have the same body, same memories, same thoughts, etc. as you? Would you even know? Maybe it happened last night and you're the replica. You have no way of knowing whether or not that is the case.  So the universe where that happened and the universe in which we are living are indistinguishable.  But in the other universe, *guilt* makes no sense.
Why would I feel guilty about something that happened yesterday?  That was another guy.  I was just born last night. It's true that I am an exact replica of the guy that did that thing.  So I should be careful not to do the same thing as he did. But to feel bad about it (to feel like I'm "bad" because of it) makes no sense.
In fact, those who believe that there are "good" people and "bad" people are really asking for trouble.  Each of us makes millions of decisions over a lifetime.  Some of them will be "good" -- considerate, wise, or courageous.  Some of them will not.  We all will make "bad" decisions.  For those who think that they are "good" people, these "bad" decisions must build a sneaking suspicion in the back of the mind that they really are "bad" people.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dear @Microsoft, about Excel

Dear Microsoft,

If MS Excel had the following functions, it would be quite a bit more useful:

1) Horizontal Sort
2) Join
3) Use the numerical output of a function as a row-number (or column-name) index
4) Allow the user to compile complex operations for efficiency

There is, of course, some possibility that it already has some or all of this functionality and I just don't know how to employ it.  Please let me know if you need any other information.  I would be happy to serve as the supervisor for this product update. Given a small team of programmers, I predict an approximate 1-year turnaround.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Mystery of Consciousness

Consciousness is no great mystery. It consists of the ability to remember what you were thinking two seconds ago and to think about the fact that you were thinking about it. That's all there is.
Humans have powerful, logical minds. This is a relatively new invention.  The mind is surrounded by ancient chemical signals that flow through it and the rest of the body.  The mind believes it is in control of the body just like humans, in general, believe that they are in control of the natural world.