Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Plato at the Googleplex
First off: I absolutely love Plato at the Googleplex. It’s delightfully written, informative, and thought-provoking. The chapter we were assigned for this class meeting really struck me as a great dialogue. The discussion was a great examination of ideas, and it was cleverly written, funny and with characters provoking each other, helping it feel real and keeping it interesting. I’ve found that nothing opens a person up to thought or emotion better than laughter.
I think the idea of EASE (Ethical Answer Search Engine) brought up a rather unconscious idea of today, that the answer of the many is better than the answer of the few. The best part of their discussion of that idea was when Plato made them realize the fatal flaw; that even the formation of the algorithm for EASE would have “ethical presuppositions built into it” (108). The ideas of the moral expert and the crowd-sourcing are two extreme ends of their discussion, and at the end Cheryl seems to favor a sort of compromise; a group of people she calls “super-arguers” (115), who are experts who argue and put forward ideas, examine each others, and repeat. Basically, except with different words, she seems to be calling for philosophers, the likes of which we’ve been studying in this class.
Another big point of this chapter, which was already touched upon in the first chapter, is the fact that philosophic ideas become part of our understanding of the world. Because we have absorbed their thinking, we don’t even notice that we’ve done so. Cheryl used the example of the concept of slavery. Can any of you tell me when you devided, after logical thought and consideration, that slavery is wrong? Or have you simply always understood that? One of the points of this chapter is that philosophy effects your life in ways we don’t even understand yet. Cheryl mentioned her fear of what the failure of our time will be, some fact that we don’t think about or notice, and yet people of the future will look back upon our actions with censure and dislike.