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Lim's Poetic Notes



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Mon Jul 18, 2022 11:45 am
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Liminality says...



The Linguist Says . . .



I really don't mean
to interrupt, no, please
go on talking.
There are paper bats
in your breath,
and I'm just recording the way
they flutter.
The sound is fast
and difficult to capture.

-- The Linguist

Please don't feel
like this is
a lesson
in how to use words.
Simply observe
a paper bat
flap its wings
upon exhale.

-- The Linguist


_______

Just some poems with the vibes of a Linguistics textbook.
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370 Reviews



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Reviews: 370
Sun Jul 31, 2022 2:06 pm
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Liminality says...



On Existential Threats to Humanity and Acting Before the Script Says So



cw: discussions of death

Spoiler! :
Let us try
not to die
in ignominy.
Not to wobble
as a tower might
and crumble,
spreading dust
over the surface
of the Earth,
choking out
the pink worms.

We ought to have
a little more dignity,
to weave through
chilly winds,
walk through
beaten streets
with a cool eye
constant through
shifting dawns
turning dusk.

Let us be
like the surveying leaf
as it dances
searching the air
to learn how
it has a partner,
or another day
to live.
Let us give joy
to ghosts onlooking.
Let us make geometry
out of this mess

just so when we drift
to touch the ground
we become the ground
and not another
vacuous epoch in space.
That is when
I say
we have permission
to die.


__

You know when I signed up for my courses this semester I did not expect to be going to a class teaching us how to think about preventing the apocalypse, but here we go. (Specifically, it is about technology ethics and technological ideas that could lead to human extinction.) I think it's been interesting, even though it's a scary topic. This poem is kind of about my personal stance on what kind of response is preferred, capturing the 'aesthetic' of that response. I'm against panicking on principle, but I'm also against doing nothing on principle, so this kind of thing is what you get.

In lieu of having a very good prose explication of this poem (and really, that's why I wrote it as poetry), here are some poems to contrast mine with:

Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo
If We Must Die by Claude McKay
Poet Wrestling with {Artificial} Intelligence By Rosebud Ben-Oni
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Sun Jul 31, 2022 4:26 pm
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Starve says...



Nice work! Did y'all discuss
Spoiler! :
Roko's Basilisk
too?

(Spoiler warning: don't click if you take Redditors seriously)
  





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Tue Aug 02, 2022 3:13 pm
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Liminality says...



Thanks!

Spoiler! :
Oh no, we didn't discuss that one, though Yudkowsky did come up a bit. Hah, it kind of sounds like a creepypasta the way the website I read phrased it, but I can kind of see how it ties into AI as a 'superoptimizer' and the King Midas problem.

It's always tricky to figure out how a superintelligent machine might work because you always have to make certain assumptions, though I think the premise that there's no 'ceiling' to an AI's performance in achieving their goal is quite common among all the problems of superintelligence.

Based on a very quick read, I think it does work as a thought experiment, but it doesn't really seem to do anything 'extra' to some other ones I've heard before (like 'tell an AI to make the world full of smiles and it will invent a poison to spread in the air and paralyse our facial muscles', or 'tell an AI to minimise human suffering and it will kill all humans, because no humans -> no human suffering). The idea that an AI might specifically target people that are concerned about the dangers of AI is probably a new-ish extrapolation? But tentatively, it's kind of not as bad as the doomsday scenario where the AI wipes out all of humanity in my opinion.

It does reiterate a good point about the problem with making AI that want us to align with 'ideal human values' though (Yudkowsky's extrapolation). Sometimes it's the means rather than the ends that are the problem.

Thanks for sharing!
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Sun Aug 14, 2022 1:41 am
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Liminality says...



Grue - a list poem



t = 0 : dinosaur times, layers of mineral rock like skin growing from the Earth's core -- sleepy detox routine
t = 1 : once upon a time, there was a girl named Grue --
t = 2 : her mother told her, get a grue emerald ring for my birthday, will you? There must be something you can do with that six-figure salary
t = 3: all grue things are ___ before the time and something else after
t = 4: Grue met a girl called Green at the town square - and she said "I like gemstones because they're stable characters."
t = the time: Grue and Green blinked at once
t = 6 : and Grue just knew the emeralds had changed colour
t =
what if the past is just
a flitting wing? one second it might
go extinct, cosmological bombing.

____


Nelson Goodman introduced the 'grue' problem to illustrate his New Riddle of Induction. What was the Old Riddle, you ask? If you've ever heard of Hume's Problem of Induction . . . Yeah, it's that. Basically, Hume argued all our inductive inferences (where we infer generalities of unobserved instances based on specific instances we have observed) assume the Principle of Uniformity of Nature -- that the unobserved will resemble the observed, but we have no rational reason to believe this principle.

Meanwhile, Goodman's riddle is about how when doing induction, we seem to allow certain inductive inferences to be made but others are 'obviously' invalid. He gives a few examples, but grue is the most famous one. In 'our language' 'grue' would mean 'is observed before time t and is green OR is observed after t and is blue'. Up until time t, it seems that every green object X observed would support the hypotheses both that 'all Xs are green' and 'all Xs are grue' - but these hypotheses yield contradictory predictions -- one that X to us will change colour and the other where it will stay the same.

Something interesting about this to me is how Goodman argues from this apparent symmetry that which inductive inferences are allowed might be language-relative -- as in, if you spoke a language with the basic colour terms grue and bleen (blue before t and green after), then the grue hypothesis would be allowed and green disallowed.

This is a poem from the perspective of someone who speaks the language of grue. At the moment, I'm starting to suspect that Goodman's problem is better illustrated with a different example than the grue-green one, and that's what I'm looking into right now - but the grue problem certainly captures the imagination and that's why I wrote this poem about it.
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Fri Oct 07, 2022 4:34 am
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Liminality says...



Between Paradigms: Somonka



Oh but she was an
icon among the rabble,
a lily amidst
rough, dry weeds, the reek of soil,
mud immeasurably wet.
-- X.


And she was but an
icon. We plucked her out
and peeled her off from
the grass beds and the wild buds;
finally they could breathe.
-- Z.




Spoiler! :
According to Thomas Kuhn, scientists in different paradigms use language in a slightly different way. They use the same terms differently, so I have shown the first speaker having an appraising use of the word 'icon' while the second is dismissive, suggesting they have two different meanings. I was also inspired by the idea that scientists in different paradigms would 'talk past' one another, and that was the feel I was trying to give off in this somonka. I'm personally more sympathetic to the second speaker & the second tanka in this pair, but I wonder if it shows.
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