Archive for October 22nd, 2012

Philosophy and Computing 101 – The Cartesian, AI, and Materialistic Monism   no comments

Posted at 11:07 pm in Uncategorized
Philosophy and Computing: An Introduction – Luciano Floridi
Notes on and around

Further reading: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: ‘The Computational Theory of Mind’

Cartesianism: Cartesians view the mind as being wholly separate from the corporeal body. Sensation and the perception of reality are thought to be the source of untruth and illusions, with the only reliable truths to be had in the existence of a metaphysical mind. Such a mind can perhaps interact with a physical body, but it does not exist in the body, nor even in the same physical plane as the body. In general, Cartesian thought divides the world into three areas of existence: that inhabited by the physical body (matter), that inhabited by the mind, and that inhabited by God.

Materialistic monism (or monistic materialism) is the philosophical concept which sees the unity of matter in its globality. For the materialistic monist the cosmos is “one” and comprehensive, then a “one-all” made up of parts such as its effects. The matter is then originary and cause of all reality.

Computational theory of mind: Hilary Putnam – the mind functions as a computer or symbol manipulator. Such theories have taken several forms, among which the most common is the theory that the mind computes input from the natural world to create outputs in the form of further mental or physical states. A computation is the process of taking input and following a step-by-step algorithm to get a specific output. The computational theory of mind claims that there are certain aspects of the mind that follow step by step processes to compute representations of the world. (Mathematics, Matter, and Method, 1979)

Considering GOFAI in phil, the above PsOV are necessary BUT very reductionist (sees intelligence (mind/awareness) as a form of symbolic processing (computing)). Also involves functional behaviourism (Turing Test)

GOFAI has been funded by hundreds of millions of dollars (military), and has been crude and difficult. Partially, too much centred on human ability to think rationally (intelligently?)

p135 Turing’s Test – Will get more into that and its legacy next week

ELIZA (1964-7) could mimic language from analysis (and even learn/improvise).

Problems with TT p136-141
8 pages of ways to ‘measure’ human intelligence (factors necessary to produce GOFAI)

Problem: trying to build machines that think as well as (and in the same way as) the current ‘best’ processing machine (ie the brain) is doomed to failure (like trying to make people fly by flapping your arms).

LAI ‘succeeds’ in many ways as it’s “performance-oriented or constructionist not mimetic.” p150
We don’t really need  to do what a human would in a certain situation (have opinions, insights, intuitions, mistakes, etc), though we can emulate the good (problem-solving) bits.

Written by Elzabi Rimington on October 22nd, 2012

Gift-giving in Freemium: from Napster to Soundcloud   no comments

Posted at 9:21 pm in Uncategorized

In the online ethnographic (or netnographic) study by Markus Gielser[1], he describes Napster the original peer-to-peer music sharing service, operating between 1999 and 2001, as a consumer gift-giving system meeting classic anthropological requirements. Giesler details the key qualities which define the service as a gift-giving system: social distinctions, e.g. between gift-giving to build social cohesion and commercial exchange; the norm of reciprocity, i.e. the basic exchange rules identified and owned by Napster users and embodied in the software; and the rituals and symbolisms, e.g. the meaningful user names chosen by people to indicate their musical areas of expertise.

Where else do gift-giving systems exist on the web, other than in peer-to-peer file- sharing systems? In Open Source, where time and intellectual capital is shared freely in software development groups? In online user communities around products and services (e.g. Mac Forums[2]) or question resolution and advice giving sites such as Stackoverflow[3] and Quora[4]?

Do web businesses deploy gift-giving systems in the permutations of the Freemium[5] business models used for services with online communities? And if yes, are they used to build social cohesion, is there reciprocity and is there evidence of rituals and symbolism? In the popular music sharing service Soundcloud[6] users upload original music and seek and give comments from and to peers. The heart of the basic free service is the online community in which people with meaningful identities  reciprocally gift-give, according to unwritten rules of exchange, both music and critical appreciation to develop social networks.The premium upgrade does not provide additional community features, it gives increased music file storage to support promotional use by professional musicians. Soundcloud exemplifies how the Freemium model can both support classic group gift-giving behaviours and use the commercial exchange model in a complementary way.

[1] Consumer Gift System: Netnographic Insights from Napster, Markus Giesler, Journal of Consumer Research, June 2006




[5] Free: how today’s smartest businesses profit by giving something for nothing, Chris Addison, 2010.


Written by Caroline Halcrow on October 22nd, 2012

Technoethics & Risk Management: Embracing The Web In The Workplace   no comments

Posted at 2:33 pm in Uncategorized

For some time I have been very interested in how people use the Web at work and the discussions surrounding this practice at different levels in the organisation. Over the years many have talked, written and passionately lobbied about the many issues that have emerged. I also joined this discussion and tried to present a balanced argument for the Web in the workplace, even if only for personal use. Yet, there still seems to be some confusion about how to best manage Web usage in organisations.

Taming the Web in the Caribbean Workplace

In the Caribbean, there is a predominantly negative perception of Web usage at work, especially among the management of large established organisations. There is a very real fear that Web usage in the workplace makes the organisation vulnerable to taking legal liability for related unlawful activities, security breaches, bandwidth drain and productivity losses. As a result, many organisations in the region have adopted an approach where they rather be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, based on my experience, measures used to manage risk are then usually excessive and outweigh the amount of risk posed.

Organisations have attempted to manage employee Web usage utilising several methods. Sometimes blocking and or requiring written permission to access certain sites and services, using monitoring software to enforce strict policies and providing training to employees on ‘proper’ Web usage in the workplace. However, barriers to unrestricted access are quickly being removed with the introduction of affordable 4G mobile Internet access and very strong adoption of smart phones (e.g., iPhone and Blackberry) by employees in the region. Unsurprisingly, this has prompted some organisations to respond by taking an even tougher approach to managing Web usage in the workplace on any device.

My Lens: Finding Responsible Ways to Embrace the Web in the Workplace

The above scenario, though somewhat extreme, does not only exist in the Caribbean region but is also likely to be present in organisations all over the world in varying forms. Given this, I have chosen to explore the disciplines of technoethics and risk management and their inherent approaches to the current issue. There is also hope to discover new ways organisations can go about creating effective strategies to encourage employees to use the Web at work in more responsible ways that does not put the organisation, themselves and the Web at risk.


This & Last Week’s Plan

  1. Identify the simplest books to read that will give an easy to understand introduction to the disciplines you picked.
  2. Make notes on books read.
  3. Even if it is the last thing you do, prepare a blog post that gives an overview of what you want to work on by Monday.
  4. Publish a blog post that introduces technoethics.
  5. Publish a blog post that introduces risk management.
  6. Outline a reading plan for moving forward.

Current Readings

  • Ethics: A Very Short Introduction – Simon Blackburn
  • Handbook of Research on Technoethics – Rocci Luppicini & Rebecca Adell
  • Risk: A Very Short Introduction – Baruch Fischhoff
  • Fundamentals of Risk Management Understanding, Evaluating and Implementing Effective Risk Management – Paul Hopkin

Written by Renaldo Bernard on October 22nd, 2012

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Perspectives of Psychology and Marketing on the issue of Self-disclosure on the Web   no comments

Posted at 9:46 am in Psychology,Uncategorized

The opportunities that marketers are provided with in cyberspace have led them to seek means to facilitate a two-way communication with consumers aiming at building a relationship of trust with them. Given that marketing is much broader than selling as it encompasses the entire business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view, the ability of marketers to glean the types of information needed often depends on consumer’s willingness to volunteer such information.

This essay aims to examine to what extent consumers’ behaviour in cyberspace differs from the ‘real-world’ behaviour and whether concerns about privacy as well as scepticism about how marketers use data prevent consumers from disclosing personal information. The fact that marketing is based on the study of the psychological characteristics of consumers who engage in voluntary self-disclosure, combined with the application of psychological theories and techniques to marketing, indicate the close relationship between these two disciplines.

In order to unfold the different approaches on the abovementioned issue, I decided to first get myself familiar with the basic concepts and techniques of psychology. Psychology is both an applied and academic field that studies the human mind and behaviour. Research in psychology seeks to describe human thought and behaviour, explain why these behaviours occur, predict how, why and when these behaviours will occur again in the future and modify and improve behaviours to better the lives of individuals and society as a whole. There are three types of research methods, causal, descriptive and rational, while psychologists use a range of techniques including naturalistic observation, experiments, case studies and questionnaires. Topics and questions in psychology can be looked at in a number of different ways; some of the major perspectives in psychology include the biological, cognitive, behavioural, evolutionary, humanistic perspective.

Given that the web has created a new type of society where the presence of other human beings is implied rather than actual, I particularly focused my interest on the discipline of Social Psychology which aims to understand and explain the impact of the social environment on the thought, feeling and behaviour of individuals. A basic concept of social psychology that describes our everyday interactions is the concept of self-disclosure which is defined as ‘the voluntary making available of information about one’s self that would not ordinarily be accessible to the other at that moment.’

Self-disclosure has received considerable attention from consumer psychologists as it plays a vital role in relationship development and maintenance. Although self-disclosure research has shown that people are reluctant to divulge information about themselves, one notable exception to this rule involves the norm of reciprocity which refers to the tendency for recipients to match the level of intimacy in the disclosure they return with the level of intimacy in the disclosure they receive; people are more likely to engage in self-disclosure if they first become the recipients of such disclosures from their conversational partners. A few researchers have suggested that consumers interact with the source of electronic communications in the same way they interact with other people; therefore reciprocity could make consumers more involved in self-disclosure even in cyberspace. Thus, theoretically, in order to trigger the reciprocity principle, a company would first have to reveal some information about itself to the consumer.


Botha, B., Strydom, J., Brink, A. (2004) Introduction to Marketing. South Africa: Juta and Co Ltd

Cialdini, R. B. (1993). Influence: Science and practice. New York: HarperCollins.

Derlega,V. J.,& Chaikin, A. L. (1977). ‘Privacy and self-disclosure in social relationships’. Journal of Social Issues, 33, pp. 102–115

Gross, R. (2010) Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. London: Hodder Education

Hill, C. T., & Stull, D. E. (1982). ‘Disclosure reciprocity: Conceptual and measurement

Issues’. Social Psychology Quarterly, 45, pp. 238-244

Holtgraves,T. (1990). The language of self-disclosure. In H. Giles & W. P. Robinson (Eds.), Handbook of language and social psychology. Chichester, U.K.: John Wiley

Joinson, A.N. (2001). ‘Self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication: The role of selfawareness and visual anonymity’. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31, pp. 177–192






Written by Evangelia Papadaki on October 22nd, 2012

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