Tag Archives: liberal

Mr Brooke On Reason

“Young ladies don’t understand political economy, you know,” said Mr. Brooke, smiling towards Mr. Casaubon. “I remember when we were all reading Adam Smith. THERE is a book, now. I took in all the new ideas at one time–human perfectibility, now. But some say, history moves in circles; and that may be very well argued; I have argued it myself. The fact is, human reason may carry you a little too far–over the hedge, in fact. It carried me a good way at one time; but I saw it would not do. I pulled up; I pulled up in time. But not too hard. I have always been in favor of a little theory: we must have Thought; else we shall be landed back in the dark ages”.

(Middlemarch”, by George Eliot: Part 1 Chapter 2).

I read “Middlemarch” at A-Level and the above quote, of Mr Brooke has stayed with me. Brooke is a Liberal (unlike his Tory neighbour Sir James Chetham). And yet there is in Brooke’s statement (above) much with which the person of a conservative disposition would agree, although today of course most people would deplore his dismissal of the intellectual capacities of women!

“The Devil’s Dictionary” by Ambrose Bierce (definition of Conservative)

“Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as
distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with
others”.

(Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/972/972-h/972-h.htm 

Your politics are written in your face

Researchers claim that in future artificial intelligence will be able, with a high degree of accuracy, to determine an individual’s political opinions, their level of intelligence and their propensity to criminal behaviour.

The researchers acknowledge that such software could be misused (for example to target people on the grounds of propensity to criminal behaviour even when they had committed no criminal act. They acknowledge that many people with criminal tendencies never, in fact commit crimes).

As regards political leanings, the researchers acknowledge that software will be most accurate in pinpointing those on the far-right or left rather than the majority of the population who occupy the middle-ground of the political spectrum.

While I am not a scientist (my degrees are in history and politics), it strikes me that the decline of religious faith has led to a growth in (sometimes) uncritical belief in the claims of scientists. Science is, perhaps in danger of becoming a secular religion where claims are taken as gospel (pun intended)!

Of course scientists will object that their research is peer reviewed and subject to rigorous examination. In contrast, they will contend religion is based purely on faith and it’s claims are, therefore unverifiable. Good science is certainly subject to rigorous peer review and a combination of peer review and the passage of time will prove (or disprove) the claims of the researchers.

I am, as I say above no scientist. However, on the face of it the claims made by the researchers appear to me to be reductionist in nature and overly simplistic.

For the article please visit, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/12/artificial-intelligence-face-recognition-michal-kosinski