October 7, 2020

Here are the words, as we know them. I sure there's a lot of mutation over time. Also, it sounds vaguely like there might be something old-timey racist in its general vibe, but looking at the actual lines it's tough to see anything offensive... - "a for 'of"? "hallum scallum"? a "Buck" bowling 'em?

One sort, two sort
little jig'a'jam
bobtail dominick
little tory tam
virgin mary
hallum scallum
jingle 'em
jangle 'em
bowl 'em buck

william william
tremble toe
he's a good fisherman
catches hens
puts 'em in pens
some lay eggs
some not
how brow limble lock
sit and sing 'til 12 o'clock
the clock fell down
the mouse ran around
o u t spells out
What we call reality is just when we all agree about our hallucinations.
Baba Brinkman, quoted by Anil Seth.
This is after Harris quotes Chris Frith calling consciousness "a fantasy that coincides with reality" - the idea that we absorb raw sensory data but really live in our interpretation of that data, not in the data itself. Our day to day conscious life is closer to what we experience while dreaming, only hopefully a bit more well-grounded in the external objective world.
Contrary to what most people assume, we can echolocate to some degree. If you hold your hand in front of your face and hum and then move your hand back and forth, you'll notice that your humming reveals to you the location of your hand. So you can be a lousy bat whenever you want.
Sam Harris

[The Frontal Cortex] does impulse control, emotional regulation, long-term planning, gratification postponements, executive function. It's the part of the brain that attempts to tell you, "You know, this seems like a good idea right now, but trust me, you'll regret it. Don't do it." It's the most recently evolved part of our brains. Our frontal cortex is proportionately bigger and more complex than that of any other primate. And, most interesting, it's the last part of the brain to get fully wired up. The frontal cortex is not fully online until people are, on average, about a quarter century old. It's boggling, but it also tells you a lot about why adolescents act in adolescent ways; it's because the frontal cortex isn't very powerful yet. And that has an interesting implication, which is that if the frontal cortex is the last part of the brain to fully mature, by definition it's the part least constrained by genes and most shaped by experience. So the frontal cortex is your moral barometer, if that's the right metaphor. It's the Calvinist voice whispering in your head.
Robert Sapolsky
I think I have trouble absorbing the consequences of a brain that doesn't come into its own until later in life. Ever since I myself was a teen, my method of dealing with younger kids was to treat them more or less as adults, to take them seriously and with respect. (It's usually pretty effective, and the kids seem to appreciate it...but I think one ex properly sussed that it put me at risk for being the "buddy dad" type and leaving the more authoritarian stuff for "mean mom".)

I treat kids that way because my strongest emotional driver is the need to be compliant with objective, unemotional reality, and my intuition (which is pretty much wrong, but then again I've never put much stock in intuition...) is that rational clear reasoning is available to everyone. Also because it's often fun and funny to take kids seriously, and it feels like it's good practice for them. But I realize now that it's based on a false premise.
I completely agree. My MIT colleague Erik Brynjolfsson in our business school put this eloquently on a panel at a recent AI conference: "If we can't ensure that everybody gets better off after this huge explosion of wealth, then shame on us." Shame on us!
Max Tegmark, on what humanity might reap from advancements in AI and automation

Setting up a new webcam... I do love webcamtoy.com

When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it's easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label *racist* should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination. The problem with this framework–besides being a gross misunderstanding of how racism operates in systems and structures enabled by nice people–is that it obligates me to be nice in return, rather than truthful.