Thanks for the reference. I have found a
BBC documentary of the same stripe (…”Machines of Loving Grace”…) on
btjunkie.com in three parts. I’ll watch it as soon as I get time. Your
description indicates it might be of great usefulness to our construction of the
self interest ontology.
Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Ali Hashemi
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 6:47
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Self
Interest Ontology going offline
Relevant to this discussion is Adam Curtis' recent documentary, All
Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.
He briefly follows how the notion of "self-interest" as
defined by Ayn Rand, exploded in American culture over the past half century
and the effects it has had. Episode 1 is the most relevant. It also
contains some useful commentary about the promises and roles of computers and
technology, which are also relevant for the purported purposes of this discussion
in this forum. If one were so inclined, one might even find the
documentary available for streaming on a popular video website.
On that note, interested parties might also take a gander at Neil
Postman's speech to the German Informatics Society back in 1990 -- exhorting
them to examine how do new technologies affect people and which interests do
they serve better? ( http://www.mat.upm.es/~jcm/postman-informing.html )
It was ultimately an appeal to technologists (including computer scientists,
ontologists etc.) to consider more carefully how interest affects the adoption
of new technologies and decides which research streams are worth pouring money
On Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 2:35 AM, doug foxvog <doug@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On Sun, August 14, 2011 23:01, Rich Cooper said:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: doug foxvog
> Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2011 5:32 PM
> >> The
> >> the persons who act to further the
> >> interests of others (or the interests of
> >> the group or groups to which they
> >> belong), ultimately serve their own
> >> self-interests. A dilemma, a big social
> >> quandary which mothered two polar types of
> >> human society: capitalism and socialism.
> > Capitalists and socialists differ only (IMHO) in
> > the particular way they construe their
> own self
> > interests. Capitalists (i.e.
> businessmen) believe
> > that they can advance their own self
> interest by
> > offering products and services (at a
> nice profit)
> > to markets composed of people who have
> shown they
> > will pay for such. Socialists (i.e.
> rabble rousers)
>> An interesting definition
> Would you characterize Che Guevara's and Fidel
> Castro's killings, imprisonments and torture acts
> as non socialist? How about Lenin, Stalin,
> Khrushchev, and so on.
I contrasted state Communism with socialism. I was
referring to the motivations of those who call themselves
> Remember that Hitler's
> party was called, in German, the National
And lots of countries call themselves democracies when
they are not. Hitler was distinguishing himself from
the socialists (and the state Communists) by labeling
his party nationalist. Socialists are normally internationalist
-- they are concerned about the oppressed anywhere in the
world. Hitler wanted people's concerns to be restricted
to those he considered true Germans. Roma ("Gypsies"), Jews,
and homosexuals did not fall in this category.
> Dictators who decide they have the
> ability to enforce their view of acceptable
> behaviors play upon our human moral basis to
> justify their acts, but that doesn't make them
Of course. And it is the antithesis of the caring
for the public good which i was referring to.
> In less gruesome examples, what about Roosevelt's
> stacking of the Supreme Court,
FDR asked Congress to increase the number of seats
on the Supreme Court because the Republican judges
were ruling that many of the measures he was taking
to try to get us out of the depression were unconstitutional.
This has to do with party politics, not socialism.
> his insistence on
socialist values like stealing
By "stealing", you mean "taxing". All
must rely on taxes to fund themselves (unless they
actually do steal the funds or control some resource
such as gold or oil which they can sell).
had federal taxes since shortly after the
Constitution came into force. One of the largest
reasons that the Articles of Confederation did not
work is that the national government had no taxing
power. Income taxes were added to the Constitution
a couple decades before FDR took office.
> from those he considers well off
> to pay for those he considers Democratic voters.
The spending also pulled the businesses out of the
> What about Obama's rhetoric
> about bankers and businesses as "needing to pay
> their fair share" when more than 51% of American
> citizens pay nothing at all,
The figure cited was that 51% of US "tax units" in 2009
(which would be households, individual taxpayers, and
businesses) paid no INCOME tax. All employed people
(including self-employed) paid FICA taxes, with everyone
earning under ~$250,000 paying one percentage and everyone
earning more than that paying less. The tax did not
apply to earnings on investments, which are earnings which
those with low wages normally do not have much of.
At the end of the Eisenhower era (when US finances were good)
most income tax collected by the government came from businesses.
The very wealthy paid a high percentage of their earnings over
a certain figure (that was far higher than the average wage).
The tax rates for the wealthy were reduced tremendously, those
for businesses were reduced appreciably, and those for the majority
of people were reduced little. In fact, including the FICA tax,
the tax rates on the poorest in society have gone up, even though
they may not pay INCOME tax.
Income tax rates in the US
are now the lowest they have been since
> and 53% receive some kind of check from the government?
This number includes Federal employees (including the military),
private contractors, and those receiving unemployment compensation,
social security, medicare, medicaid, veterans benefits, and federal
> Who exactly gets to decide what the "fair share"
> of each group is, and when it isn't enough?
The people's representatives in Congress in our system.
and other people try to influence such votes.
> > believe they can organize others to force
> > their own self interests into being through mobs,
> > IMHO.
>> Certainly state Communists were into
>> forcing their
>> ideas onto others. Socialists, on the
>> other hand,
>> try to better the lot of others because
>> their empathy
>> causes them to suffer when others suffer.
>> They are idealists who feel that most others would
>> care for people who are suffering as they do if
>> only they
>> make them see the injustices. They have
>> thus struggled for the rights of "oppressed"
>> workers, of racial minorities, of women, of
>> migrants, of gays, and of colonial peoples.
> Note that, in the process of manipulating these
> large groups of voters and contributors,
> socialists (communists who won't admit their
> complicity with historic
I'm not sure how someone can be complicit with
actions taken by others before one was born (or
became politically aware). Are all (non-Native)
Americans complicit in slavery and the genocide of
> communism so they can claim the moral high ground)
You should see socialists of various stripes use
their publications to attack Communists and socialists
of other stripes.
> are acting in their own self interests.
Working in other's interests is working in one's own
self interest? I guess if one feels a calling to
help others it becomes in one self interest.
> Is Obama doing this for the benefit of unborn
> generations, or the poor?
For the current economy of the US. It is in his
interest that the US
economy improves. If so, it
would make his re-election easier. Similarly, some
Republicans feel that blocking anything that Obama
does is in their self interest. If the US economy
does not recover well (other than for the big business
community) they feel they would do better in the 2012
So we have the situation that Obama and the Democrats
are trying to improve the economy, and the Republicans
are doing everything they can think of to make Obama
and the Democrats fail. This is the sort of problem
that occurs when some people only think of their own
self interest and have no concern for the society
> How did he justify the war on Libya without even
> obeying the legal requirement present the plan to
He actually did notify Congress on time. His excuse
for violating the law requiring the cessation of
hostilities if Congress does not approve is that the
situation has changed and that we are no longer at
> Why has he not even pretended to offer
> a budget for the entire term of his office? Why
> does he accuse the Tea Party members of refusing
> to "compromise",
Because he gives in 90% on their demands, when they
threaten to destroy the US
credibility in the world
economy on a matter that the Congress regularly
passes in a pro-forma manner.
Congress had already voted for a certain level of expenditure
and a certain level of taxation, with the mathematical result
that the debt would increase. Voting against the debt rising
according to the mathematics reminds me of the Indiana legislature
voting to change the value of pi to 3.000 (to make calculations
> by which he means they should do
> it his way and take more taxes from the wealthy so
> he can continue to spend the US under the table,
> ruining the chances of future generations to live
> as well as we did?
If the wealthy paid the tax rates they did when you were a kid
(or at least when i was a kid; for all i know, you are 24 years
old) the US
wouldn't be in such financial trouble. Note that
under Clinton, the US was running a surplus, quickly
away at the Reagan debt, with a healthy economy. GHW Bush
cut taxes drastically (with a compliant Democratic Congress)
and more than doubled military spending, with the not so surprising
result of causing high deficits. Of course, under Bush, caring
about the deficits was not in the Republican's self interest.
With the banking crash caused by crooked banksters taking advantage
of reduced regulation, Bush asked Congress for a $700,000,000,000
bailout of the banks. This saved the banks, but not the economy,
so Obama had to ask Congress for a similar sized stimulus package.
He asked for and Congress passed too small a package, so the stimulus
barely made up for the cut in spending by the states and was not
sufficient to really restart the economy.
Even though the Federal Government was bailing out the banks, it
did not require them to make safe loans (which businesses needed
to rehire the positions they let go) or to put a moratorium on
foreclosures (which would have kept people in their homes and
by not flooding the housing market with cheap homes help maintain
the prices of real estate). These failures to act do not seem
to me to have been in Obama's self interest.
> The Democrat
"Democrat" is a noun. "Democratic" is the adjective.
> justifications are legendary. Look
> at the Keynesian policies, which have not worked.
They worked in the Great Depression, and in most recessions
since then. Keynesian economics says that a far stronger stimulus
was needed to counter the "Great Recession" according to the
current Nobel Prize winner for Economics. So Keynesian policies
were not tried in this case.
> Look at QE1, QE2, the possible QE3 to come, and
> the onerous taxes on businesses that are so high,
> they won't bring home money made in other
> countries due to the high tax rates?
Many of the major US
companies are paying little-to-no income
tax. The tax code is so riddled with loopholes that they can
route funds through a post office box in the Cayman
officially make their money in that cubbyhole to avoid paying US
taxes. Such tax loopholes need to be closed.
> Republicans are not better, by the way. Just not
> socialists. Since you didn't bring up the kinds
> of behaviors they prefer (outlawing stem cell
> research, insisting that the government control
> abortions, creating a monetary system based on
> paper willfulness instead of on gold (Nixon),
Actually, FDR took us off the gold standard.
> and so on. I don't mean to single out Democrats, its
> just that you responded to the consideration I had
> given socialists, of which the present day
> Democrats are the latest incarnation.
I guess if you can confuse socialists with Nazis (who were
fascists who were further right than the current Republican
party, i can understand that you could label Democrats with
the same term.
If you read current socialist literature in the US (I haven't
looked at one of their publications this year), i'm sure you'll
find them criticizing Obama and the Democrats for doing everything
for the capitalists, and ignoring the working class and the poor.
> > I know that others will disagree; sorry for
> > the honesty if it affects anyone negatively, but I
> > stand by this belief.
> Personally, I appreciate your honesty and
> directness on this issue and others. How are we
> all to get a deeper understanding of our own
> behaviors as well as other people's behaviors
> without such debates? The self interest ontology
> development absolutely requires such honesty among
> us interested participants. The danger is in (as
> I did) discussing only socialists and not their
> countervailing parties and principals. I don't
> mean to do so, but I personally am more aware,
> perhaps, of the errors of socialists than of
> robber barons.
> > History shows that there are good people
> > who help others (Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother
> > Theresa, .) but they are so rare as to be
> > handily noted.
>> There are tremendous numbers of people who
>> help others, although not so many as on the scale
>> of those you mention. Look at those who run soup
>> kitchens, run shelters for battered women, for
>> example. Those who struggle against racial
>> oppression, wars they consider unjust, and other
>> types of oppression that don't immediately
>> affect them should also be lumped in this
> Yes, our self interest drives us in such
> directions. Have you noticed that women group
> together to talk about how to make things better
> for women? In the past, men grouped together to
> make things better for men. We all talk about
> making things better for children, but that is
> because we are genetically predisposed to take
> care of our children, otherwise we wouldn't find
> our genes in the future generations.
> >> I believe these human issues are more
> >> actual than the talks about the microorganisms
> >> self-interests, like the pathogens are more
> >> egoistic, while the harmless micro-organisms, as
> >> intestinal flora, look more altruistic creatures :).
> I do too,
You are responding to yourself.
> but it is far more complex, full of more
> subtle manipulations, and less open to objective
> debates since it is OUR self interest, not the
> bacteria's, which we have to discuss to do so.
> Most of us have trouble looking at objective
> notions that are contrary, or even neutral, to our
> self interests. Others of us use objectivity to
> deny to ourselves that we are guilty of it - a
> suppression or repression of said guilt makes it
> easier for us to practice our self interest
> without considering the gates of Buchenwald.
> > Evolutionary theorists, like Adam
> > Smithians before them, believe that altruism is
> > based on shared genetic propensities that
> > benefit the common gene pool.
>> Adam Smith knew nothing about a gene pool.
>> This may be a reason that altruism developed, but
>> it also may have developed because it helped a
>> small band of people, and thus the altruistic
>> individual, stay alive as well.
> True; I like your telling of it better than my own
> original posting. Adam Smith, though, may have
> read Darwin's
work, since it caused such a stir.
> Weren't the two contemporaries? I don't recall if
> they were or not.
Adam Smith was a century before Darwin.
>> Be that as it may, morality derived from
>> altruism has become a social phenomena that is
>> taught to most members of society, and is seen as
>> a good in its own right.
> That is correct; we have all worked to get others
> to be altruistic toward us and the causes we
> individually care for.
That's not what i was saying.
-- doug f
>> -- doug f
> Thanks for your thoughts and contributions on
> these topics and on the self interest ontology;
> please continue debating it, and modeling it, so
> we can make progress in getting a small scale
> working model that may be the foundation for
> future continued research and development.
> Have you noticed that Isaac Asimov's three laws of
> robotics are designed to force robots to perform
> in OUR self interest, not the robots'?
With "us" being humankind, not one specific person.
Altruism was coded into the positronic brains, thus
it was in the self interest of a robot to protect people
and to obey their orders (so long as people were not
harmed). FWIW, Rule 3 is for a robot to perform in
its own interest, which would be purely it's self-interest.
As a matter of fact, in one of his last stories, a Rule 0
was added, which had priority over Rule 1. That was that
a robot must take an action necessary to prevent the
extinction of humankind. Rule 1 became subservient to it:
A robot may not take an action that causes a person to come
to harm or through inaction allow a person to come to harm
unless such action violate Rule 0.
> If we are
> ever to really implement AI, it will require a lot
> of rework, IMHO, to our view of how the robots'
> self interests are best served.
> > Remember that all humans share more than
> > % of our genes, even 97% with
> chimpanzees and
> > bonobos, so I think the altruistic model
> as common
> > self interest works. That is why I
> > it into Use Case 1. At the bacterial
> level, there
> > is minimal conversation, but messages
> > signs, as JFS points out) are simplest
> at that
> > level, and we can build on top of that
> once we
> > have an ontological vocabulary for doing
> > "What are the various
> > cause some people to be libertarians,
> > others to be socialists,
> > progressives, others to be various
> > flavors
> > of conservatives or
> > Your Worldview, Philosophy,
> > Values, and Religion. Ultimately, the
> > scope and level of your
> > there are universal truths of
> > society to be recognized by
> > movements. One of them: the lack of
> > social cohesion (material
> > conditions; order, safety and freedom;
> > social networks and
> > inclusion and integration;
> > equality, equity and life
> is a
> > principal reason of social
> > instability.
> > Azamat Abdoullaev
> > Agreed, but we have to start somewhere
> small to
> > enable growth to these larger scale
> topics. We
> > can't start with the high level because
> it is too
> > complex, and we will be debating again
> instead of
> > modeling. Lets start here, as JFS
> suggested, at
> > the bacterial level and move upward from
> there so
> > we can make some progress.
> > -Rich
> > ----- Original Message
> > From: "doug
> > To:
> > <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > Sent: Friday, August 12,
> > Subject: Re:
> > Ontology going offline
> > > An ontology of
> > include all needs, at the base and
> > > apex
> > > of Maslow's hierarchy.
> > include Manfred Max-Neef's set of
> > > "fundamental
human needs", which
> > overlaps Maslow's hierarchy. Max-Neef
> > > includes qualities,
> > actions, interactions, and settings
> > > in his "Human
> > >
> > > On Thu, August 11,
> > lange said:
> > >> I follow the
conversation of a
> > self-interest ontology, with great self
> > >> interest. I
would be happy to
> > included in its continued discourse,
> > >> but
> > >> would be even more
> > ontology focused on lower levels of
> > >> Maslow's hierarchy
of needs, in
> > of survival--with special attention
> > >> aimed at
> > composed by a person's trajectory
> > >> toward
> > >> desired metabolic,
> > cognitive and ??? phenotypes.
> > >
> > > Merely dealing with
> needs will
> > not provide the terminology
> > > necessary to explain
> > human action. What are the
> > > various trade-offs
> > people to be libertarians, others to
> > > be socialists, others
> > progressives, others to be various
> > > of conservatives or
> The right
> > would label the left (and itself)
> > > differently than the
> > would be interesting to explain this
> > > using formal
> > >
> > > -- doug f
> > >
> > >> Does this sound
> > >>
> > >> Best,
> > >>
> > >> matthew
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> On Wed, Aug 10,
2011 at 7:33
> PM, Rich
> > Cooper
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>> Dear John,
> > >>>
> > >>> I agree;
ontology of self
> > should be part
> > >>> of the list
> > examples,
> > >>> including
political ones, are
> > to illustrate
> > >>> points in self
> > we four
> > >>> have divergent
> > every
> > >>> political
issue we raised in
> > forum, and I
> > >>> don't see how
we can avoid
> > examples in the
> > >>> future.
So the problem
> remains; many
> > people
> > >>> simply can't
> > (or other
> > >>> self interest
> impinge on
> > their self
> > >>> worth.
That is what I regard
> as the
> > problem we
> > >>> had on the
> > >>>
> > >>> If you have
> how to
> > do that
> > >>> without
upsetting people like
> > Menzel, I
> > >>> would be happy
> it. But
> > it wasn't
> > >>> ONLY Chris, at
least a couple
> > others preferred
> > >>> to avoid it.
> > >>>
> > >>> Or maybe we
can convince Peter
> > split off a
> > >>> second list
that relates to
> > interest
> > >>> specifically -
that would be
> > anyway than
> > >>> having
political (or other
> > self-interest) issues
> > >>> discussed in
an open forum
> > people get upset.
> > >>> I have no
desire to be
> involved in
> > flames or name
> > >>> calling, and
would prefer that
> > discuss it in a
> > >>> way that
doesn't create the
> > opportunity for such.
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>> But if you
believe we can
> discuss it
> > without
> > >>> getting into
> > unconvinced still)
> > >>> I am game to
try it a bit
> > >>>
> > >>> How do the
other two of us
> feel about
> > this?
> > >>> Should we go
back to the list,
> or is
> > it too
> > >>> problematic to
> > >>>
> > >>> -Rich
> > >>>
> > >>> Sincerely,
> > >>> Rich Cooper
> > >>> EnglishLogicKernel.com
> > >>> Rich AT
> > >>> 9 4 9 \ 5 2 5
- 5 7 1 2
> > >>>
> > >>> -----Original
> > >>> From: John F.
> > [mailto:sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx]
> > >>> Sent:
Wednesday, August 10,
> 2011 5:14
> > PM
> > >>> To: Rich
> > >>> Cc:
> > AzamatAbdoullaev; doug
> > >>> foxvog
> > >>> Subject: Re:
> > going offline
> > >>>
> > >>> Rich,
> > >>>
> > >>> There is
nothing wrong about
> > ontology that
> > >>> includes
> > >>> such as
> would be
> > an important
> > >>> part of any
> > >>> ontology that
> > action of any
> > >>> kind.
> > >>>
> > >>> The complaints
> > issues, which
> > >>> don't belong
> > >>> on this forum.
> > >>>
> > >>> As I said, the
> > interest for
> > >>> humans belong
> > >>> to the issue
of self interest
> for any
> > living
> > >>> things, and it
> > >>> should be part
of the same
> > That is
> > >>> certainly
> > >>> a topic for
> > >>>
> > >>> John
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
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