The socialist worldview

When people have basic differences in the internal model that they use to navigate the world around them their behaviours and opinions can easily seem irrational and senseless to one another. Understanding somebody’s basic world-view is necessary in order to make any sense of their behaviour: at some level all belief systems that humans adhere…

The birth of mass internet communication

December 1997. I’m sitting in a very ugly room. It’s in the bowels of Trinity College's Westland Row buildings. Fluorescent strip-lights throw a harsh light on a dozen pizza-box sized blocks of beige plastic arranged on cheap chipboard tables that run around the edge of the room. Beige keyboards, screens and chairs sit in front…

The very untrendy left

The last three posts were a long digression from my narrative into the world of computational cognitive science. It ended up taking a lot longer than expected. I knew what I wanted to say in advance, but I underestimated how many details would need to be explained to make it accessible. The reason for the…

The great generalisation machine

This is the third and final instalment in my series of articles about the brain and rationality. The first article looked at the troubles encountered by artificial intelligence researchers. The second looked at the complexity of the environment and the complexity of the brain and concluded that any attempt to rationally calculate decisions was entirely…

Navigating an endless ocean of complexity

This is the second instalment of my article about the brain and its capacity for dealing with complexity. The first part looked at some of the early roadblocks encountered by Artificial Intelligence researchers. This article looks at the nature of complexity itself and the brain's architecture.... Alan Turing, one of the greats of computer science,…

The brain of the beast

The journey starts in a plain, unfurnished apartment on the second floor of a high-rise housing complex on 214th and Broadway, Inwood, New York City, a down-at-heel Spanish-speaking neighbourhood just a few hundred metres from the tip of Manhattan Island’s Northern extension. From 214th st, Broadway runs north for six more streets to an old…

The limits of counter-culture

In the last installment of my narrative, I described how I fell into the orbit of the French Anarchist Federation and turned my back on the counter-cultural anarchist-influenced world that I had been moving within. This might seem like a relatively minor development from an ideological point of view – a migration between two different…

What is the left?

In the last episode of my narrative, I described the Fédération Anarchiste’s mobilisation in response to the fascist attack on the Plume Noire. This pulled me into active, explicitly political activism for the first time and exposed me to a whole new world which I had only been vaguely aware of until then. For, while…

Afghanistan: what the hell happened there?

Two weeks ago the NATO forces in Afghanistan handed over formal control of security to local Afghan forces, with the US aiming to withdraw a big majority of troops by the end of 2014. The Afghan state is corrupt and weak, with authority barely extending beyond Kabul. By contrast, the Taliban must be extremely disciplined…