Monday, March 21, 2011

Persian empire

The Persian Empire, around the time of Ahashverosh, contained the highest fraction of world population of any empire ever.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


"Working AI is not even remotely on the horizon, it is still completely unknown how it could be done. And this also means it is completely unknown whether a working AI would have issues like motivation, etc.. What is also completely unknown is whether an AI would actually be as smart as a human being and how much computing power it would need to even get to human average level. There is some indication that when you look at interconnect, the human brain is within one order or magnitude of what is possible in this universe. Get larger, and you get slower because of longer ways. Get smaller, and you cannot fit in as many interconnects."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Bears and Avos

Yes, the debate over this video ended long ago, but I wanted to say something about it anyway.

From the video: "Is it your mesorah to pick only the most fantastical, irrational sources from the vastness of Jewish tradition and call anything else kefirah?"

I do think there is a tendency in the charedi world to see things this way. And the logic behind this approach is easy to understand.

In the last couple hundred years, Western civilization has accomplished a great deal by use of reason. At the same time, one cannot help noticing, religion has retreated in many different realms. Understandably, one can see this as a zero-sum game. Many charedim believe they are choosing religion at the inevitable expense of reason. Thus, all other things being equal, they tend to prefer the irrational and anti-humanistic over the rational and humanistic. They feel that the further an idea is from rationality, the further it is likely to be from rational atheism.

It is sometimes hard to determine what the Torah desires from you – particularly, which of the diverse and occasionally mutually exclusive approaches in the sources you should follow. When there is no other way of deciding between the sources, an understandable first step is to eliminate those which are associated – even if you can't fully clarify how – with atheism.