Experimenting with Adelson’s Checkerboard Illusion

Can you change how things seem? Phenomenological slideshow test below! Scroll past all the text (if you must).

Edward H. Adelson‘s (1995) Checkerboard Illusion, or “Checkershadow Illusion“, remains one of the best lessons on how deceptive our perceptions can be, and it affords a great opportunity for phenomenological experimentation, which I promote with a slideshow below. Above is an inspired variation on Adelson’s original by a digital artist who goes by butisit at DeviantArt. Continue reading “Experimenting with Adelson’s Checkerboard Illusion”

The Wada Test for Philosophers: What is it like to be a proper part of your own brain losing and regaining other proper parts of your brain?

Evidently, good answers to this question are not confined to the wilds of science fiction and thought experiment. In fact, I think there are actually people with a pretty good idea: patients of the Wada test.
These are people who have had their brain hemispheres anesthetized one at a time so that the rest of the brain—the complementary other hemisphere and the subcortical regions—remains functioning in some ways, and by all accounts conscious. Some of these patients report on their conscious experiences afterward, for example, describing what it is like to have one’s language dominant hemisphere temporarily shut down, finding oneself at a complete—albeit only temporary—loss of words. Continue reading “The Wada Test for Philosophers: What is it like to be a proper part of your own brain losing and regaining other proper parts of your brain?”

Was the Liar solved?

I vaguely recall that somewhere Karl Popper expresses his suspicion that some philosophers are unwilling to accept a solution to a challenging problem because they have become so fond of the problem. I wonder if this applies to the Liar Paradox and a “simple solution” that Eugene Mills supports. As Mills sees it (and I’m effectively convinced) the Liar is not paradoxical, but plain false, and though it appears to truthfully say it is false, it does not truthfully say so. So it’s just false. Continue reading “Was the Liar solved?”

Thinking about Rights to Freedoms

A right is a normative rule establishing that society owes or allows something to certain parties. Some rights guarantee freedoms. Rights to freedoms are the focus here. When thinking about freedom it is useful to keep in mind that freedom is not a simple property that an individual may or may not have, nor is it a simple state of affairs that may or may not hold in a society. Freedom is instead a complex relation with variables that need specification. Continue reading “Thinking about Rights to Freedoms”

Rosenblatt’s Perceptron

Frank Rosenblatt was pioneering neural networks and connectionist machine learning in the 1950s with the Mark I Perceptron. While the term perceptron now refers primarily to a learning algorithm, Rosenblatt’s perceptron was the physical machine that executed it.

In a 1958 New York Times article (below), Rosenblatt conveys an ambitious (prescient?) vision of the future of machine learning. The article refers to Rosenblatt’s perceptron as “the embryo of an electronic computer that [the Navy] expects will be able to walk, talk, see, write, reproduce itself and be conscious of its existence.” Continue reading “Rosenblatt’s Perceptron”

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