Epistemolo-gle, the next trillion dollar challenge

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2 years ago

Some years ago I heard of a project called WolframAlpha, which according to their website, it is a project that aims at:

"Wolfram|Alpha's long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.

Our mission is to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our work builds on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Wolfram|Alpha brings expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people—spanning all professions and education levels."

This is a neat project, is just that despite my efforts, it is difficult for me to differentiate it from wikipedia, similar aggregators or mega libraries of knowledge are not uncommon, and they are interesting and useful, in fact, even before the internet, databases and libraries were widely used throughout the world.

These past couple of years, a new phenomenon has arrived, there is abundance of data, but increasing levels of confusion, with each side accusing each other of producing fake news, each one living a de facto virtual reality world wher people in the know smile to you, encourage anything you say and chime in with things you agree with.

This is sort of new, before the construction of virtual silos people used to interact with a variety of individuals who disagreed with them, and this was unavoidable, but not anymore, now people can spend their entire lives in cages where only their like minded friends enter.

Now the activity of seeking knowledge that refutes our ideas is an entirely voluntary process, which the vast majority neglects since it produces mental friction. It is seen as a chore.

I am not suggesting that no truth exist or that everyone is wrong, I know that truth, facts and logic are firm ground, but even people who stumble upon nuggets of truth in certain areas sometimes behave as if they only adhere to that position since their friends embraced it first.

This is why I think the next step for humanity has to be in the direction of tackling head on the problem surrounding epistemology, which is defined as follows:

"Epistemology, the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge. The term is derived from the Greek epistēmē (“knowledge”) and logos (“reason”), and accordingly the field is sometimes referred to as the theory of knowledge. Epistemology has a long history within Western philosophy, beginning with the ancient Greeks and continuing to the present. Along with metaphysics, logic, and ethics, it is one of the four main branches of philosophy, and nearly every great philosopher has contributed to it."

Source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/epistemology

If a technological project can muster some level of success in resolving or advancing epistemology for the masses, civilization will benefit greatly, since it is surrounding the perception of truth that the most violent fights are happening.

I don't claim to have a framework to solve this, just some unfinished and unpolished informal ideas that might be of use to start out this conversation.

System 1

Aggregate knowledge based on the source, for instance, Idea-A is said in 2021, but idea-A was also said 3 million times in 2020, 2 million times in 2019, etc, etc, till the system can do a pretty good guess of the first time that idea-A was said or a record of it exist, maybe it is 1926, or maybe is the year 1520, once that data is known at leats you have a good notion of the initial context whio gave rise to it.

System 2

Aggregate individual ideas and create a mathematical model to represent them, with a system that contains opposing sides for them, example, for idea 1.3, you have contra-idea -1.3, the exact opposite twin of the idea, with the advantage that people can see both the idea and its opponent, without needing to join in facebook the group that sponsors the idea -1.3.

System 3

Create a database of undisputable facts, like basic mathematics, primitive conceptions around love, etc, no matter how small the initial database is, the edges surrounding consensus might become wide if more people engage with the project.

This is basically what wolfram alpha has done, however, the issue is that wolfram alpha, for what I can tell, catalogues information as single units, while what I am here describing is a system that dynamically takes the undisputable facts in order to produce solid knowledge even in areas that might be disputed.

System 4

The idea-genome-map.

Aggregate publicly available information via newspapers, books, novels and anonymized social media posts so as to map the predominant ideas on each culture and country, to help the users of each culture to see easily the predominant ideas of their culture, skipping a life of navigating their culture uncritically.

System 5

A debate AI system.

Let's say that idea-A is extremelly controversial, but the AI agent has found that the conclusion is most likely true, so the human users, when seeing this idea presented as a fact or truth rebelled, then, the AI agent job would be to engage with the user with questions that serve the purpose of finding if the AI agent is being delusional or misguided, or if instead the human user is delusional instead, once the AI system finds that the human user is the one in delusion, the job of the AI is to try to find points of contact between the AI set of knowledge close enough to the controversial idea-A so as to bridge the gap of disagreement as much as possible, in order to help the human user to accept the true idea, or if not with that particular human, perhaps with other humans who share that same position that is opposed with idea-A.

System 6

Monetize all the possible vectors of contact with users with the help of a crypto token, so that users are incentivized to engage with the system, because, no matter how clever, how right, how useful a system is, if its not used, the goal will never be reached and fake news will triumph.

System 7

Make the system decentralized, and owned by their users, so that goverments cannot shut it down, since ideologically motivated goverments can be hostile to such system if it gets to a level of proficiency capable of exposing delusions that are politically confortable for certain countries or even a majority of them.

Once you have these five systems functional, churning information and organizing ideas instead of websites, people could interact with it as an aide to find more solid positions.

This vision is based on much optimism, and I know humans are capable of making the optimists feel defeated from time to time, specially since many people choose their ideas on emotion and social conformity, rather than logic, but still, I think a system that at least tries to advance the field of epistemology can prove very useful.

After all, if google became a mega corporation categorizing websites, imagine a project that sorts and untangles ideas, it might be wild.

If anyone with the time, resources and drive wants to do it, please do, the ideas describe in this article are open source.

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2 years ago


i havent understood a word from it, but i approved it.

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