Monthly Archives: April 2007

6 posts

Open Source Scholarship

The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture threatened legal action for Shelly Batts’ use of use of a a chart and a table on Retrospectacle, her science blog. Though the issue was quickly resolved in favor of Batts, a bright, and unwelcome spotlight has been trained on the use and abuse of intellectual property by academic journals. Misgivings about the academic publishing industry are further aggravated by the nefarious dealings of some of the publishers (most notably, Elsevier’s involvement in the international arms trade) and the fundamental question: In the age of open web-accessible journals, what use are […]

Herbert Simon, the Attention Economy and Whuffie

“…in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it” – (Simon, H. A. (1971), “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World”, in Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, p. 40-41). The role of reputation in a post scarcity […]

Ethics for Kill-Bots

John S Canning, an engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Centre, proposes (PDF) that “machines target other machines and men target men” be incorporated into the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC). Some wags at Slashdot are likening this suggestion to Asimov’s three laws of robotics. My take? Like all conventions, it is only as good as its being implementable, and expedience usually chases out good intent, and law. There are serious incentives to defect from such a treaty, due to the potential killing capacity of autonomous and guided machinery. Such rules of engagement for robots is, nonetheless, something we need […]

Defending Philosophy of Science, Conclusion

Here is the messy conclusion to the thread on the applicability of Philosophy of Science: Johnny, I hate to join in this debate, as I’m not very interested in Philosophy of Science, but could you please read these questions again and answer them properly: >Lolawalser:Next, is your contention that biochemistry and applied sciences have laboured all this time employing methods without the backing of “sound theory”? If it is, can you show it is true? Let me simplify: do you think that all the achievements of biochemistry etc. have been serendipitous, discovered by methodologically blind people groping around? You replied […]

Defending Philosophy of Science

I seem to have a gift for being drawn into trenchant conversations. The latest involves the usefulness of philosophy of science: I stated: …normative PoS has little bearing on what we (a geotechnical engineering consulting firm) do. This worries me a bit. LolaWalser, asked: Why does this worry you? I think that the philosophy of science should work to advance the sciences and, in turn, the sciences should take methodological recommendations (in part) from PoS. I see problems in both directions. I worry that philosophers, with some important exceptions, do not perform the requisite work to bring PoS into the […]