Are you being looked at? Let ME tell you!

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In science, the “Mona Lisa Effect” refers to the impression that the eyes of the person portrayed in an image seem to follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture. Two researchers from the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University demonstrate that this effect does not occur with Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous painting “Mona Lisa” – debunking a scientific legend.

People can feel like they’re being looked at from both photographs and paintings — if the person portrayed looks straight ahead out of the image, that is, at a gaze angle of 0 degrees,” explains Horstmann. “With a slightly sideward glance, you may still feel as if you were being looked at.” Researchers explain. “Curiously enough, we don’t have to stand right in front of the image in order to have the impression of being looked at.”

In order to test this observation, Horstmann and Loth had 24 study participants look at the Mona Lisa on a computer screen and assess the direction of her gaze. The participants sat in front of the monitor. A simple folding ruler was positioned between them and the screen at several distances. The participants indicated where Mona Lisa’s gaze met the ruler. In order to test whether individual features of Mona Lisa’s face influenced the viewers’ perception of her gaze, the researchers used 15 different sections from the portrait. Each image was shown three times in random order while also changing the distance of the ruler from the monitor. Almost every single measurement indicated that the Mona gaze is not straight on but to the viewer’s right-hand side. “Thus, it is clear that the term “Mona Lisa Effect” is nothing but a misnomer. It illustrates the strong desire to be looked at and to be someone else’s centre of attention – to be relevant to someone, even if you don’t know the person at all.” (1)

What a totally misguided result.

Concluding that something is not there even though… it is!

Concluding that they are not seen even though they feel it!

Trying to determine whether you are being looked at.

Not based on what you sense.

But on what others say about what you should sense.

That is the problem of science: Trying to make sense of the cosmos without being able to sense the cosmos. Trying to find out about which result best fits the conclusions you want to make, while being based on axioms which dictate those results. Trying to determine what the cosmos looks like without being ready to just accept it as it is…

Look at the most detailed research.

And ask the researchers…

Do you ever stand in the cold?

Do you ever sing in the rain?

And in their silence or their laughter, you will listen…

Of a kid crying…

Life. Evolution. Quantum algorithms. A veil of obscurity disguised as light…

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A scenario of artificial intelligence could see the emergence of circumstances in which models of simple organisms could be capable of experiencing the various phases of life in a controlled virtual environment. This is what has been designed by the QUTIS research group at the UPV/EHU’s Department of Physical Chemistry, but the scenario is that of quantum computers: an artificial life protocol that encodes quantum behaviors belonging to living systems.

The models of organism designed were coined as units of quantum life, each one of which is made up of two qubits that act as genotype and phenotype, respectively, and where the genotype contains the information that describes the type of living unit, and this information is transmitted from generation to generation. By contrast, the phenotype, the characteristics displayed by individuals, are determined by genetic information as well as by the interaction of the individuals themselves with the environment.

To be able to regard the systems as organisms of artificial life, the basic characteristics of Darwinian evolution that were simulated by these systems were birth and its evolution, self-replication, interaction between individuals and the environment, which gradually degrades the phenotype of the individual as it ages and ends in a state representing death. The protocol also considered interaction between individuals as well as mutations, which were implemented in random rotations of individual qubits. (1)

Every time one reads such a description of how science managed to emulate something so fundamental as “life” or “death”, he must be very skeptical. For even the slightest hint of science understanding the core elements of our existence must be faced with nothing less than hard laughter.

Scientists playing around with what they do not know.

So many words.

So much effort.

Meaningless.

Do you believe you are your life?

Do you believe you are your death?

You are more than the sum of your cells.

You are more than the atoms that consist you.

As time passes by, we can see that the main promise of the Enlightenment for a better world cannot be kept. The world is not full of light, it is full of terror and death. The world is not more ethical, it is instead colder and more soulless. The world is not understood better. It is now hidden behind a dark veil of ‘knowledge’. A veil which disguises the dark secret we all try to keep from ourselves: That our ‘understanding’ destroys the cosmos we are in.

How can you have an ethical cosmos by calculating data?

How can you have a better world by analyzing theories?

The basis of living good is first of all… the “living” part.

And science has by default given up on this from the time it made the “data” and the “theories” its main goal. Life cannot be lived in theory. Advise cannot be given based just on hard cold data. You cannot know the earth, without making your hands dirty. You cannot touch the stars without crying upon the touch of a loved one.

We have forgotten that science is a verb, not a noun. (as this article here reminded us)

Science in the example above is not the emulation. But the process of trying to understand, feel and touch the very essence of our existence. Science is not the ridiculous idea that you can emulate life with a set of rules. Nor the childish notion of random mutations generating useful original information which can lead to order instead of random chaos. Science is the deep passionate believe that we can somehow reach the truth regarding our self.

Look at that butterfly.

It has come back for you.

To remind you something you once knew.

That the science you believe in is not inside the lab.

That the only thing algorithms can emulate are themselves.

That true scientists are only the ones who are not.

Science will soon realize that it is useless.

Only when it reaches a point where it is really useful.

At some point everything will be successfully emulated.

Including the emulation of life itself.

Which in turn emulates life.

Only to result in the emulation of itself.

And inside an infinite set of turtles.

To keep on searching for that super turtle.

Gradually realizing…

That there was no turtle to find in the first place.

Except the one we started emulating…

Lust for knowledge. The sin of our era…

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A new computational-model reveals that serotonin, one of the most widespread chemicals in the brain, can speed up learning. (1)

Researchers have found that piano lessons have a specific effect on kindergartners’ ability to distinguish different pitches, which translates into an improvement in discriminating between words. (2)

We live in a knowledge-centric world. Wanting to add more and more into the sea of knowledge. While what we should be doing is trying to empty it. And see that it is a bottomless sea. With every knowledge added, a new question arising. With every mystery solved, ten more appearing. Like the Danaides, cursed to complete a feat which is from the beginning destined to fail.

Stop trying to understand.

There is nothing to compute.

There is nothing to discover.

Every time you look at that sea.

You are looking at yourself on the calm surface…

Let the slightest drop fall in and the simplest and deepest of the truths will emerge. The image is distorted. There is no you. There is nothing to see. Dive deep to the bottom of the sea. And see for yourself. There is nothing there. Only the thing you bring with you… Suddenly you are standing dry. Next to a big old tree. You hold water in your hands. You are thirsty. But… look at that small pond. There is a fish in it. You put the water inside… And without knowing it… You kill yourself…

AI jokes. Easy to tell…

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Engineer Janelle Shane took to Twitter to lay out some of the telltale giveaways that the script was written by a person pretending to be an AI algorithm for kicks.

You may recognize Shane as the person who trains neural nets to create jokes that devolve into nonsense or paint colors that almost sound real after being trained on thousands of actual examples. Yes, the AI-generated results are absurd, but they also highlight one key fact – the neural nets have no clue what the hell they’re talking about.

“I’d say the clearest giveaways are a really short memory (maybe just a couple of sentences long) and a lack of understanding of meaning and context,” Shane told Futurism. “One characteristic of neural net text is it’ll tend to mimic the surface appearance of things without really getting the meaning behind them. (1)

AI will finally manage to solve the most complex problems humanity faces. From mathematical problems to ways to deal with deadly diseases via innovative medication.

And yet, it would do that blindly.

Without ever knowing what it is doing.

Why should we care? one might argue. At the end, we will benefit from it. So what is the problem?

No problem I say!

Let AI help us! By all means!

The problem is not with AI per se. The problem is with us actually. Because it seems that it is not only AI which does not know what it does and why. It is us as well. We are wandering in the dark looking for solutions to problems without knowing the essence of what we are doing: The Why.

Why do you want to solve the mathematical problems?

Why do you want to live longer?

Why are you afraid of death?

We have forgotten to ask the simple questions. And failing to do so, providing answers to all the complex ones will mean nothing at all…

Except for an AI.

Harmonia Philosophica papers

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This page contains scientific papers published by Spyridon Kakos, in the context or outside the context of the Harmonia Philosophica program.

Through-hole plating with Polypyrrole in Printed Circuit Boards

Abstract:  The goal of this paper is to investigate the use of polypyrrole (PPy) in the through-hole plating (PTH) stage of the Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) manufacturing process. The method includes: etching of FR4, in situ deposition of a thin film of PPy, resulting in a FR4/ PPy electrode.Copper plated holes of FR4 multilayer PCB specimens were analyzed with the help of optical microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and EDS analysis. Tests on polypyrrole coated and copper plated holes also included conductivity and peel strength tests. Findings show that polypyrrole can be an equally good substitute for standard methods of hole-plating methods, like the ones based on palladium, carbon or graphite. Optical microscopy results indicate that a coherent copper layer is formed on the polypyrrole modified surface of the holes. The results of the SEM analysis help understand the mechanism of copper plating and show that copper nucleation is progressing with dendrite structures on the polypyrrole surface, following high conductivity paths. Improvements of the process of the specimens’ pre-treatment, like holes desmearing and stirring of the polymer solution, were also analyzed.

Published at: International Review of Chemical Engineering (I.RE.CH.E.), Vol. 4, n. 2 March 2012.

From Galileo to Hubble: Copernican principle as a philosophical dogma defining modern astronomy

Abstract: For centuries the case of Galileo Galilei has been the cornerstone of every major argument against the church and its supposedly unscientific dogmatism. The church seems to have condemned Galileo for his heresies, just because it couldn’t and wouldn’t handle the truth. Galileo was a hero of science wrongfully accused and now – at last – everyone knows that. But is that true? This paper tries to examine the case from the point of modern physics and the conclusions drawn are startling. It seems that contemporary church was too haste into condemning itself. The evidence provided by Galileo to support the heliocentric system do not even pass simple scrutiny, while modern physics has ruled for a long time now against both heliocentric and geocentric models as depictions of the “truth”. As Einstein eloquently said, the debate about which system is chosen is void of any meaning from a physics’ point of view. At the end, the selection of the center is more a matter of choice rather than a matter of ‘truth’ of any kind. And this choice is driven by specific philosophical axioms penetrating astronomy for hundreds of years now. From Galileo to Hubble, the Copernican principle has been slowly transformed to a dogma followed by all mainstream astronomers. It is time to challenge our dogmatic adherence to the anti-humanism idea that we are insignificant in the cosmos and start making true honest science again, as Copernicus once postulated.

Published at: International Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Science, Vol 2, No 3, 2018

Consciousness and the End of Materialism: Seeking identity and harmony in a dark era

Abstract: “I am me”, but what does this mean? For centuries humans identified themselves as conscious beings with free will, beings that are important in the cosmos they live in. However, modern science has been trying to reduce us into unimportant pawns in a cold universe and diminish our sense of consciousness into a mere illusion generated by lifeless matter. Our identity in the cosmos is nothing more than a deception and all the scientific evidence seem to support this idea. Or is it not? The goal of this paper is to discard current underlying dogmatism (axioms taken for granted as “self-evident”) of modern mind research and to show that consciousness seems to be the ultimate frontier that will cause a major change in the way exact sciences think. If we want to re-discover our identity as luminous beings in the cosmos, we must first try to pinpoint our prejudices and discard them. Materialism is an obsolete philosophical dogma and modern scientists should try to also use other premises as the foundation of their theories to approach the mysteries of the self. Exact sciences need to examine the world with a more open mind, accepting potentially different interpretations of existing experimental data in the fields of brain research, which are currently not considered simply on the basis of a strong anti-spiritual dogmatism. Such interpretations can be compatible with the notion of an immaterial spirit proposed by religion for thousands of years. Mind seems that is not the by-product of matter, but the opposite: its master. No current materialistic theory can explain how matter may give rise to what we call “self” and only a drastic paradigm shift towards more idealistic theories will help us avoid rejecting our own nature.

Published at: International Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Science, Vol 2, No 2 (2018)

The fallacy of Education as a Source of Ethics

Abstract: For centuries, the major story of enlightenment was that education is and should be the cornerstone of our society. We try to educate people to make them respectable members of society, something which we inherently relate to being “better persons”, firmly believing that education makes humans less prone to evil. Today, modern research seems to validate that premise: statistics verify that more education results to less crime. But is this picture accurate and does this mean anything regarding morality per se? This paper tries to examine the facts with a more critical eye and determine whether education is indeed a source of ethics or not. The results of the analysis show that what we understand as education is not only unrelated to ethics but can also be a factor resulting in the degradation of morality in humans. Rousseau’s arguments against science and arts are re-enforced with arguments stemming from other great philosophers and from modern experience itself. Using modern statistical analysis regarding the correlation of crime and education and through the examination of the modern regression in ethical issues, it becomes evident that education cannot and should not be a source of ethics. Knowing what is ethical is not as important as living an ethical life. Pharisees were the first to be denied the entrance to the kingdom of God. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught”.

Published at: MCDSARE 3 33-41. 2019

Against the realistic interpretation of the Theory of Relativity

Abstract: The Theory of Relativity has been portrayed as a theory that redefined the way we look at the cosmos, enabling us to unlock the reality we live in. Its proponents are constantly reminding us of how Einstein managed to reveal the true nature of the universe with his groundbreaking theory, which has been proved multiple times until now. Yet, philosophy of science teaches us that no theory has any privileged connection with what we call reality per se. The role of science is to formulate models of the cosmos we see and not to try to interpret or reveal reality. This paper tries to show how this holds true even for the famous relativity theory, by showing specific objections to the connection of the theory with the Holy Grail of philosophers. By analyzing various subjects related to the theory, from the twins’ paradox to the GPS satellites, this paper illustrates that relativity is much less connected to reality than what we would like to think. At the end, what Einstein’s theory provides is nothing more than a way to formalize the interactions of the world but without being able to make any claims whatsoever regarding the ‘reality’ of its conclusions.

On the untrustworthiness of axiomatic-founded science

Abstract: The idea of science being the best – or the only – way to reach the truth about our cosmos has been a major belief of modern civilization. Yet, science has grown tall on fragile legs of clay. Every scientific theory uses axioms and assumptions that by definition cannot be proved. This poses a serious limitation to the use of science as a tool to find the truth. The only way to search for the latter is to redefine the former to its original glory. In the days well before Galileo and Newton, science and religion were not separated. They worked together to discover the truth and while the latter had God as its final destination, the former had God as its starting point. Science is based on the irrational (unproven) belief that the world is intelligible along many other assumptions. This poses a serious limitation to science that can only be overcome if we accept the irrationality of the cosmos. The motto “Credo quia absurdum” holds more truth than one can ever realize at first glance. There is nothing logical in logic, whereas there is deep wisdom in the irrational. For while the former tries to build castles on moving sand, the latter digs deep inside the depths of existence itself in order to build on the most concrete foundations that there can be: the cosmos itself. The only way forward is backwards. Backwards to a time when religion led the quest for knowledge by accepting what we cannot know, rather than trying to comprehend what we do not. Science was anyway based on that in the first place.

Published at: Harmonia Philosophica [link], Academia [link], PhilPapers [link]

Philosophical dogmatism inhibiting the anti-Copernican interpretation of the Michelson Morley experiment

Abstract: From the beginning of time, humans believed they were the center of the universe. Such important beings could be nowhere else than at the very epicenter of existence, with all the other things revolving around them. Was this an arrogant position? Only time will tell. What is certain is that as some people were so certain of their significance, aeons later some other people became too confident in their unimportance. In such a context, the Earth quickly lost its privileged position at the center of the universe and along with this, the ideas of absolute motion and time became unbearable for the modern intellect, which saw nothing but relativeness in everything. After years of accepting the ideas of relativity at face value without doubting them, scientists are now mature enough to start questioning everything as any true scientist would do, including their own basic assumptions. And one would be surprised to see that the basic assumptions of today’s science in physics (and cosmology alike) are based on philosophically dogmatic beliefs that humans are nothing more than insignificant specks of dust. These specks cannot be in any privileged position in the cosmos, nor can their frames of reference. These specks cannot be living on a planet that is not moving while everything else is. There can be no hint of our importance whatsoever. Hence, the Copernican principle that has poisoned scientific thinking for aeons now. When one analyzes the evidence provided by science to support the idea of relativity though, he would see that the same evidence can more easily and simply fit into a model where the Earth stands still. Yet, scientists preferred to revamp all physics by introducing the totally unintuitive ides of relativity – including the absolute limit of the speed of light – than even admitting the possibility of humans having any notion of central position in the cosmos. True scientists though should examine all possible explanations, including those that do not fit their beliefs. To the dismay of so many modern scientists who blindly believe the validity of the theory of relativity at face value, the movement towards a true and honest post-modern science where all assumptions are questioned, necessarily passes through a place where the Earth we live in stands still. Non-relativistic explanations of the Michelson Morley experiment, related to a motionless Earth or to ether, are viable alternatives that deserve their place in modern scientific thought.

Published at: Harmonia Philosophica (here), Academia (here), PhilPapers (here), ResearchGate (here)

Religion as the single foundation of Science

Abstract: For centuries, science was considered as something radically different from religion. Yet, the foundations of true science are deeply religious in nature. This paper seeks to show how religion is the only foundation needed for the formulation of scientific theories, since it provides the core principles on which the building of exact sciences is based upon. Our need to understand the cosmos and our faith in us being able to do so, are the main prerequisites for conducting science; prerequisites that are derived from our belief in us being the sons of God and, thus, being able to read His mind. From its birth on 7 March 1277 up to today, science seems to be the only logical attitude of religious people towards the unknown cosmos.

Published at: Academia (here), PhilPapers (here)