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April 7th, 2017

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Friday, April 7th, 2017 11:35 am
Went to see Christof Koch speak last night at the Melbourne Neuroscience Seminar Series on Consciousness in Biological and Artificial Brains. It was good enough talk, concentrating in finding the physical location of the seat of consciousness (shades of Descartes), and not really moving into the second part. I cornered him after the presentation and suggested that perhaps it would be better to differentiate between consciousness, sapience, and sentience because his entire talk was about correlations with the first two, and the confusion between these was the equivalent of lay-person confusion between mass and weight, and with similar implications. His response was to hand-wave that this was a high-level concern (on the contrary) and besides, philosophers like Dennett and Chalmers also use it in an experential sense. But this sociological fact is part the research problem itself. The ambiguity over the term itself limits our capacity to investigate the problem clearly. It seems to me that only linguistic-pragmatic philosophers (such as Karl-Otto Apel) are addressing this matter with sufficient rigour.

On a related matter, have continued my work with the good folk at the University of Freiburg on cluster-cloud hybrid high-throughput systems. Initially we were looking at a short paper to be published in a relatively low-entry journal, and as part of those investigations the initial candidate turned out to be too low entry - I have discovered that approximately half of a recently published paper is completely plagairised. I have written to the journal editors about this unacceptable behaviour, however I suspect I will not receive a reply. Since then I've been in correspondence with László Babai about publication in Theory of Computing instead, which would be much better. Also attended a Linux Users of Victoria meeting on Tuesday night with two talks, one on SAGE-math and multithreading.

For the past several years I have been paid significant attention to the events in Syria, written the occasional article, and conducting two interviews. Recently I was inspired to give a substantial donation to Medecins San Frontiers following a hospital bombing. and of course in the past few days there has been a massive chemical gas attack, almost certainly carried out by the government. The Syrian government of course denies their responsibility, and the Russians will back their client state. I find myself in the troubling realisation that, when it comes to human rights and war crimes, that the fascist Baathist regime in Syria has reached the point where they are worse that the successors to Al-Qaeda. This obviously is not an assessment taken lightly. My longstanding order of preference in this multi-faceted conflict is being changed. Breaking News The US has just fired 60 tomahawk missiles at Shayrat Military Airport near Homs.