Re: JOIN: Joshua Fox

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Tue Feb 07 2006 - 06:56:16 MST

 Nineteenth Century Socialist
> philosophers
> honestly thought they had a firm _scientific_ basis,
> and they were
> wrong. How can we be sure that we are different?
> Joshua

Friedrich Engels wrote "Socialism, Utopian and
Scientific" in 1880. It became, along with the
"Communist Manifesto", the most influential popular
presentation of the Marxist position in the late
19th century. In it he states that socialism became
a science with two discoveries attributed to Marx.

The first is that history can be explained by the
economic relations between classes which derive
from the technical means of production. The second
is that capitalism functions by paying workers less
than the full value of their labor.

We consider a theory scientific if it explains
historical observations and makes correct predictions
of future observations. The above 'discoveries'
are of the nature of observations. They are not
in a form that we can use to test them against
past and future observations.

So while Engels thought there was a scientific basis
for socialism, we would not consider it so.

Ludvig von Mises, in his "Human Action" (1949)
proposed a theory of human action. It states that
humans do things because they are not perfectly
satisfied. What they do at any given moment is
determined by what they think will give them the
most increase in satisfaction. Different people,
or the same person at different times, have
differing expected increments of satisfaction
from various activities. These are caused by
differences in inclinations, physical circumstances,
experience, etc. Thus we don't all do the same
things or individually the same thing all the time.

This theory is testable in that you can look for
counterexamples (people who act against their
expected satisfaction) and do experiments. It
is thus a scientific theory.

Different people on this list have different ideas
about the Singularity, so I am only talking about
my own here. That there is a time of fastest
technological change is a mathematical certainty.
Whatever you use to graph level of technology,
somewhere on the graph it will have maximum positive

Whether that time of fastest change, which is what
I call the Singularity, is still in the future, and
whether it involves rapidly self-improving AI, is
in my mind open to debate.



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