Rational Systems

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Survival /
@ K. 2001 03 27

“Rational” “system.” Can these two words meaningfully go together? Does the phrase scan? Is it an absurdity, an oxymoron …? Or is it a redundancy: sense will improve, not diminish, by the elimination of one of the words?

Lets skip to a branch from a decision that the answer to the first question is yes: rational system is not an automatic absurdity, rational systems are possible. Let this branch be one which asks: Do we have any? Do any rational systems exist?

Actually, lets skip to a sub-branch even there: Do we have any rational systems which are at the same time cultural systems? In other words, quite independent of whether there are rational systems in the universe, are there any rational systems in human culture that the culture is conscious of or in any way responsible for?

Put it this way: church, state … government, school … are any human institutions rational systems? Do any human institutions contain any rational systems? If not, is it an impossibility? or is it just that it hasn’t happened to happen?

I can easily see any religious leaping to claim that his church is a rational system, or at least that his church contains rational systems. Ditto, the normal citizen. But what if falsification is added? Are any of the systems claimed to be rational capable of standing up against independent testing?

Refresh Rate

The first thing I as a falsifier would look for is the refresh rate of the falisifiability. The suitability of the monarch is, in a monarchy, reviewed at the time of the death of the incumbent monarch. [note] The US presidency is reviewed by voters every four years. Is the review rate in either system frequent enough? A professor is given a chair, a judge is given a bench, an editor is given a job … kind of more like the falsifiability refreshment rate of a monarchy than that of the US brand of democratic republic.

Princeton University invited Albert Einstein to live and work at its Institute for Advanced Study. I am sure that Princeton regarded itself as a rational system and Einstein as a rational individual: so rational, they wanted him around regularly, shedding his light on their rationality.

Here’s what I’d change. I’ve already made this suggestion in a legal context: now I recast it more generally.

First I said that a courtroom should be viewable by any but that only rational entities should have privilege of input. The rational witness may speak, the sub-rational witness may not; he may only witness the proceedings, not comment publicly on them. I proposed that an AI be programmed to give simple variants of the Wason Test. (See Falsification.) Court convenes at 9 AM. Everyone may arrive, only test passers may enter. That goes for everyone: the judge may arrive, but may not enter without passing this moment’s Wason Test. Take the implications further on your own.

Imagine a day at the White House where the President was admitted to the Oval Office but not allowed to speak once he got there. What would the government do if the AI granted speech that morning to two Cabinet members but denied it to their boss as well as their brethren? What if all citizens could show up at the polls, but only 0.0084% of them could then actually push a pin through anything?

Imagine an Inquisition in which none of the inquisitors were admitted or permitted the power of speech? Inquisitions resulted in something called an auto da fe: an act of faith. The inquisitors may have all the faith in the world, but the harm they can do with it is limited. Imagine a Princeton and an Advanced Study Division at Princeton in which one morning Einstein and Planck could go in; that afternoon after lunch, Planck returns to his place, Einstein is excluded, but Feynman and the twelve year old Bobby Fischer flow right through the stile.

Princeton Advanced Study
thanx aip

What if Castro led the revolution but then no one was admitted back into Trujillo’s old palace? Imagine a car that only operated if the driver were both sober and rational. Imagine an oil tanker that paused in an Existence Twilight Zone if the pilot had a seizure. Imagine a public information organ in which the keys of the journalist’s word processor functioned in accordance with something more than mechanical pressure from the journalist’s fingers. At home, his machinery would work under all conditions: it’s just his diary. But in the office; no: higher standards must prevail. Imagine the publishing program that allowed assemblance of the stories only in accordance with the editor’s AI-monitored objectivity. (That organ would have no ads regardless of the will of the organ’s owner or the sponsors’ willingness to spend.)

The further we go into the future world the more we’re going to have to realize that the Mercury Astronauts are better as cargo than as pilots. If the public can master the Wason Test in all possible variants day after day, then the public may be “in charge.” If the public can’t, then the public should be disenfranchised along with the drunken captain, the ambitious prince, the bought judge, and the blood-glutted god.

Do you notice in all my jeremiads that I never ask to be given the pilot’s license? I never run for office. I don’t want the keys to the city, the bench, or the chair. I don’t want to control you. I only want control to be taken away from you. (Not by god, not by man; by nature!)

The other day I was cleaning up the trash the public had thrown into Little Charlie Bowlegs Creek near the Hardee County border of Highlands Hammock State Park. A park officer, state level, came and stopped me, wanted to know by what authority I was on restricted lands. When this Lisa Yokem’s radio to the ranger station didn’t legitimatize me on the first hail, I suggested that we proceed with the work while waiting for a ranger to pick up, invited her to help if she wished. Wrong thing to say while she was bent on demonstrating power: especially since I hadn’t genuflected when I saw her gun. She informed me that no one was moving until she could confirm that I wasn’t trespassing.

There I was — arrested — from my good work till she found credentials she could recognize.

Note: She wasn’t picking up the trash. Neither I bet had she arrested any of the litterers. Hundreds of pounds of trash in the creek in the state park proves how well Environmental Protection and the Florida Park Service had been doing its job. Furthermore know: I pull hundreds of pounds of trash from the same hundred foot stretch of creek every couple of years, have been for more than a decade.

I’ll offer this incident in more detail as the fifth file in my series Help! Police! The fact that I had both made advance arrangements with the park’s captain and checked in at the ranger station before proceeding will number merely among my arguments for my “legitimacy.” I shall argue that the creek is more mine than the state’s: I take better care of it. (By that argument, I see the public as having no right to it at all: it was their trash I was picking up.)

I Believe


Refresh Rate: The suitability of a god, in a religion, is reviewed only by the death of the religion.

Social Survival

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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