Increasingly bizarre typos?

I make weird typos when writing. Sometimes I substitute an entirely different word in place of the correct one; otherwise times I simply a word. Both kind of typos are more common than misspelling a word, indicating that the typo mechanism is operating at a higher level than the spelling or typing itself. This parallels some of the intuition people have about deep neural networks, which is backed up by pretty pictures of what different neurons see.

Not everything happens for a reason

The phrase “everything happens for a reason” came up in a couple contexts recently (conversation with a friend, Radiolab, etc.). It’s a good example of an obviously false statement that contains plenty of useful insight, and is interesting to think about in that context. We’ll get the pedantic out of the way first: “everything happens for a reason” is literally true in the sense that the future happens for the reason that is the past.

People vs. ants

There’s a weird notion in some science fiction (or in some futuristic predictions) that if super intelligent beings existed, they might view us in the same way that we view ants. The main implication is that they would show little to no interesting in talking to us. This is absurd. If ants could talk, thousands of biologists would spend a great deal of their time talking to them. I don’t think they would view us as pets either; people already try to endow our pets with as much intelligence and consciousness as possible, others campaign for their rights, etc.

Consciousness transfer and bungee jumping

I’ve been reading The Age of Spiritual Machines by Kurzweil, and got to the obligatory section where he pontificates about the philosophical issues behind consciousness copying and transfer. In the process I thought of a nice analogy between one of the practical issues involved and bungee jumping. Imagine that your brain is scanned and an improved replica of yourself is created. There are now two copies, and for practical reasons (say population control), you only get to keep one.