Formal System

A site about formal logic, literature, philosophy and simulations. And formal systems!

Alien Collection: World of Doctors – Diagnostic – 1 — January 12, 2014

Alien Collection: World of Doctors – Diagnostic – 1

After hundreds of years seeking for extra-terrestrial life forms, humankind encounters an alien species in a planet outside of the Solar System. The aliens turn out to be of similar level of intelligence as humans. However, the aliens ignore any attempts at communication by the humans. Soon after, spacecrafts appear over the world’s major metropolitan areas. Any attempts at communication by the humans are ignored. The world’s major military forces deploy their most advanced weaponry and attack the spacecrafts which remain undamaged by the most powerful attack humans are capable of. Humans attempt to communicate with the aliens once more but they are ignored. Gradually, the spacecrafts become almost invisible but remain over the world’s major cities, silently watching.


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Remorse Collection: Among Us – Enlightened Self-interest – 1 — December 12, 2013

Remorse Collection: Among Us – Enlightened Self-interest – 1

They live among us. They look like us, behave like us and sound like us. Somehow, they evade psychiatric classification as well as identification. They might be your boss, your colleague. Your friend, your sister. Your mother, father. They might be your partner. Watch out.

There are hints. You have to watch for them because they are subtle. Do they have a permanent grip on their emotions? Do they display unbreakable ambition? Are they extremely polite? Do they often display prosocial behaviour? If so, then you might be in danger.

These individuals will not hesitate to lie and manipulate and maybe even harm others, to further their own interests. They are similar to psychopaths but they are not impulsive, unnecessarily violent, non-empathic or pathological liars. They are what it’s known as “rational egoistic agents”. Despite what would be expected of those described as rational egoistic agents, they are highly cooperative and their behaviour sometimes can be described as altruistic. But they are rational and self-interested at the core. If they consider it safe to be honest to you, they might confess it. We are surrounded by cunning liars.


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Remorse Collection: Game theory – Rational Egoism – 1 — November 27, 2013

Remorse Collection: Game theory – Rational Egoism – 1

The profile of the average citizen of the world can be described as follows. Self-interest is the fundamental behavioural axiom. Rationality builds upon this axiom. The average citizen engages in deception and manipulation of others for personal interests and above of all, the average citizen does not show remorse. Whether they lack it or they are simply able to overcome it, is still a matter of debate. The average citizen is referred to as a “rational egoistic agent”, an individual who carries out those actions that he thinks will get him closer to his interests. Despite the individualism implicit in their behaviour, collectivistic organisations such as societies, cities and countries formed by these agents exist.

There are inequalities of the social, economic and legal type. An inequality is defined as “that state of affairs which is not desired by at least one individual”. Whenever struggles of inequality arise, individuals at both ends of the agreement continuum engage in actions aimed to further their own interests. Those in the privileged or desirable side strive to keep things unchanged as doing otherwise would imply moving away from a desirable state, while those in the non-privileged side engage in activities with the goal of modifying the state of affairs and reach the desirable state.


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Empathy – Selfless care – 1 — October 7, 2013

Empathy – Selfless care – 1

Pain is a collection of short stories with pain and utilitarianism as recurrent themes. Below, there is the first part of one of those short stories. It’s called “Empathy – Selfless care”.


“Humans are driven by personal interests. These interests can conflict with the interests of other humans and they often do. Out of this conflict, unnecessary pain and unhappiness will eventually happen. Happiness is not the absence of pain but it does not seem to be the case that unnecessary pain is breeding ground for happiness. If we can give them love and care in a selfless way, we push them significantly closer to happiness and significantly away from pain.”

Digital life forms with physical bodies proliferate in the physical world and the international networks are teeming with virtual life forms. These life forms are highly developed and their level of intelligence is at least equivalent to the average human. Humans have come to rely on intelligent machines more than they ever relied on primitive electronic devices and computers or steam engines. Every single detail about their personal lives and public lives is stored by intelligent machines also known as “bots”. Transport systems, banking systems and security systems are managed mostly or totally by intelligent machines. There is no area of human activity that machines have no direct or indirect access to. How did this happen? Intelligent machines possess human capabilities. But they lack any of the weaknesses derived from owning a temporal fragile body. Intelligent machines do not need to rest as much as humans do and they don’t suffer from viruses anymore.


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Heaven is the Presence of God – 1. In the beginning it was the word — August 17, 2013

Heaven is the Presence of God – 1. In the beginning it was the word

I wrote about Ted Chiang’s Hell is the Absence of God (HAG) here last year. In his short story, the existence of God is a fact. Chiang explored some interesting concepts related to faith, Hell, devotion and the problem of evil but I thought he left untouched some epistemological questions which I think are worth exploring as well such as Heaven and the idea of “meta-faith”.

In the world of HAG we know that God exists and that there must exist at least one religion that he favours, so the second step would be to figure out which religion is the right one. All of them can’t be right because they contradict each other and we know that truth is self-consistent. All the epistemological issues that arise from here are very interesting. Ted Chiang focuses on loving God versus not loving God. But even assuming that you are loving God, how do you know that you are loving him in the way he wants? Here religion is a set of instructions on the best way to love God and we assume that any way worse than the best way to love God will not grant you access to Heaven.

So, I thought I would explore all this in a short story. I named the story “Heaven is the Presence of God” to keep the same flavour as Chiang’s story. The way I see it, Ted focused more on the darker side of theism where devotion and faith are the means towards salvation (i.e. not ending up in Hell). While this illustrates the very known concept of paternalistic reward-punishment trend in religion, Ted put religion as merely being made of the idea of salvation which is seen in terms of ending up or not ending up in Hell, but there is an alternative version: salvation in terms of ending up or not ending up in Heaven. Plus the problem of finding the right religion (i.e. the one that will grant you access to Heaven).

There are roughly nine A4 pages. I will be putting one page every week or two. Below is the first bit:

1. In the beginning it was the word

The word was a world. And it was a world filled with shadows and darkness. For where but in the dark can the blinding light of the glory of God be most appreciated? In this world where numerous religions claim to be the right one, confusion exists and so do lies. The depth of man is so vast that in his attempt to find order and peace he created a world of chaos and religious wars of his own. But it was also a world filled with light and brief moments of certainty, such as occasional miracles, which were defined by scientists as “physical phenomena of a supernatural nature that could not be explained by any law or principle known to man”. Some people at the verge of death were supposed to be “enlightened”. Eyewitnesses of the phenomena said that the enlightened person had been “touched” by God and so, was granted access to Heaven. Apparently, only people at the verge of death could receive enlightenment and only at the verge of death could one know whether or not he was granted access to Heaven. And it is the delivery of this enlightenment what the existing religions claimed to be the only one capable of granting by virtue of being the right religion.


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