Meeting the Epicurean challenge: a reply to Christensen

  • I immediately reject the opening paragraph:


    Epicurus was not stupid enough to say that we aren't harmed by being killed and there is no text anywhere close to that effect. We don't suffer pain after we die, but we certainly are deprived of much future pleasure by being killed earlier than we would otherwise die from natural or other causes.

    It baffles me why people think that they can ascribe to Epicurus the most absurd propositions.

    Or maybe what I should say is that is amazing how shameless people can be in twisting the words of the dead when they are no longer around to defend themselves.

  • pasted-from-clipboard.png

    ..the account proposed by Hershenov

    ..Marquis' argument....

    ..Christenson's criticism....

    If this isn't an example of the maze of words that Acadamia leads people toward I don't know what is.

    Hiram if you read further into that and get something out of it please post further.

    Thanks for posting this so we can keep on top of developments.

  • Hiram thank you for sharing this article.

    Start Quote

    "From the article For instance, the purpose of modern medicine is generally construed as being therapeutic: it is concerned with saving lives and assumes that a longer life

    all things being equal is better than a shorter one.[7] Epicureanism implies that patients are not harmed if their lives are shortened by disease, depriving them of a FLO, contrary to one of the fundamental reasons for practicing medicine."

    End Quote

    Modern medicine is preventative as not every ailment has a cure/therapy. Therefore, as the old proverb goes; an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.

    We are inching towards Personalized Medicine; Advances in molecular biology, integrative biology, medicine and AI/Machine-learning will enable you to get a diagnosis through perhaps your phone, and very likely will replace the role GP general practitioners.

    Epicurus, by directing people to remember pleasant memories or enjoy the company of friends when suffering something, did offer a therapy but by practising prudence he also directed prevention. Safe sex, avoiding trans-fats, I think Epicurus would have endorsed a particularly prevention-heavy medicine.

    Death is nothing to us. That said, how we die is important. For long time in Canada, terminally ill patients were deprived of the right to die on their terms and were forced to suffer unnecessarily.

    Death with dignity however has changed that, somewhat, a lot of work is left to be done.

    Joy to the World!

  • Hi Cassius, where can I post a blog on this subject. I've written something more detailed. Don't know if I, as a guest, can contribute a blog post through NewEpicurean or through Society of Epicurus?

    Please let me know.



    Joy to the World!

  • Oscar I will be happy to post an article at too. I don't have it set up to allow self-use at this point but if you would send it by email (or just start a new thread) I will be glad to post it.

  • Oscar:

    Other than taking workload off GPs for trivial stuff like a cold or a broken bone, AI is more suitable to replace specialists than GPs. Things like the GPs personal long-term contact with the patient, his ability to draw on wider knowledge and experience and hopefully to think out of the box, the consideration that a symptom which superficially calls for one specialist may be caused by a problem for which another specialist would be the much better choice to channel the patient to, are likely to be much more difficult to encode than what most of a specialist's knowledge and ability consist of. AI solutions will necessarily suffer from "political correctness" and the need to play by the book to avoid lawsuits. A GPs personal advice to a specific old person to take a glass of sparkling wine a day to boost circulation is unlikely to come from an AI solution.

  • Martin, I appreciate your perspective. Let me offer you how generalists may arise from machine-learning.

    Once upon a time, we'd all go to a say record/movie/book store. There, if we were lucky we'd hopefully connect with the owner/employees and develop a relationship where valued-customers would be important enough for store employees to learn enough about us so as to make useful suggestions. This sort of relationship one comes to cherish at ma & pa establishments. Now, living in an urban setting with many more people than the store employee can keep track of efficiently and effectively, the prospect of such a meaningful relationship is dim and it can be overwhelming.

    Today, however, there exist solutions. Interestingly, it requires no direct human-human relationship as fancy algorithms learn about customers and make recommendations. Personally, I love shopping through Amazon. Why? Because it gives me the ma & pa feeling when I go on and get recommendations so precisely matching my interests and thoughts that it has an uncanny resemblance to a sort of deity who can read my mind ;)

    Of course, there are political and socio-economic concerns but I should emphasize that the most beautiful part and why I would invest my life to work in developing smart machines for example, is because the machines are not conscious. If they were conscious, I'd be hesitant about such development.

    Now, to address the general practitioner. I believe machines of the future, in health care, will mimic the general practitioner. Will keep track of steps walked, calories eaten, whether the patient is stressed following the heart beat, health sexual and social life and the such. I need to stress that this is still in its infancy, however slowly, we'll surely get there.

    I'm in agreement with you Martin, I'm also inclined to believe that many tasks deferred to specialists will be replaced. However, I'm not interested in replacing specialists because for me that is the much easier task at hand. For me the challenge is to develop such a machine that will take greatest care of say my aging mother for example.

    There are definitely concerns and below I've provided you a wonderful TED talk on the dystopia-esque potential for such technology. But a parting thought,. as an Epicurean, I understand and value freedom of right to self-determination and choice. Many people think such work has the goal to replace humans but my view is to augment and extend human potential. There's simply too many people and not enough doctors to be able to treat all their patients with 100% focus and commitment. We humans are irreplaceable, however, the tasks we do are replaceable. Remember that there was once a job in the UK, people paid for wake-up calls and someone doing this job would have a book with the addresses of customers and would use a long stick to knock on the window. Today, we set alarms. I think the future is bright but here is a concerning aspect that I'm cognizant must be carefully addressed.

    Joy to the World!

  • Martin, today I attended an amazing lecture by Dominik Moritz, a German computer scientist from the University of Washington. He discussed automated-reasoning for generating interactive visualization also using machine-learning and making visualization possible at the scale of very large data sets. WOW. I was enthralled and brought to the edge of my seat pondering the many possibilities and filled with questions.

    I copied and pasted details from the talk below for anyone interested:

    Title: "Visualization for People + Systems" Presented By: Dominik Moritz, University of Washington

    Abstract: Making sense of large and complex data requires methods that integrate human judgment and domain expertise with modern data processing systems. To meet this challenge, my work combines methods from visualization, data management, human-computer interaction, and programming languages to enable more effective and more scalable methods for interactive data analysis and communication.

    More specifically, my research investigates automatic reasoning over domain-specific representations of visualization and analysis workflows, in order to produce both improved human-centered designs and system performance optimizations. My work on Vega-Lite provides a high-level declarative language for rapidly creating interactive visualizations. Vega-Lite can serve as a convenient representation for tools that generate visualizations. To create effective designs, these tools must also consider perceptual principles of design. My work on Draco provides a formal model of visual encodings, a knowledge base to reason about visualization design decisions, and methods to learn design rules from experiments. Draco can formally reason over the visualization design space to recommend appropriate designs but its applications go far beyond. Draco makes theoretical design knowledge a shared resource that can be extended, tested, and systematically discussed in the research community. The Falcon and Pangloss systems enable scalable interaction and exploration of large data volumes by making principled trade-offs among people’s latency tolerance, precomputation, and approximation of computations. A recurring strategy across these projects is to leverage an understanding of people’s tasks and capabilities to inform system design and optimization.

    Biography: Dominik Moritz is a Computer Science PhD candidate at the University of Washington. He works with Jeffrey Heer and Bill Howe in the Interactive Data Lab and the Database Group. Dominik’s research develops scalable interactive systems for visualization and analysis. His systems have won awards at premier academic venues and are available as open source projects with significant adoption by the Python and JavaScript data science communities.

    Joy to the World!