All posts by Ricardo

About Ricardo

writer and blogger

China’s One Child Policy

Much of the reaction to the recent change in China’s ‘one child policy’ seemed to focus on human rights: specifically the right of a woman to have as many children as she wants. A woman’s control of her own fertility has been dearly bought – for most of history women’s bodies have been controlled by men. In many places today they still are. Nevertheless, it seems to me that this issue has another side that needs […]

do we need a Butlerian Jihad?

humanity's inheritors

Assaulted by any number of articles on the rapid advance of ‘deep learning’, I have been awoken to the reality that the pattern recognition abilities of computers have galloped ahead, so that my cosy complacency that computers were useless at recognising faces, understanding what was in a photograph etc – something that we are so brilliant at – has been overturned. Not only can computers understand what they’re seeing in a photograph, but they will soon […]

Mirror mirror on the wall

Mirrors have a sinister reputation that I feel is well deserved. I may have an explanation as to why this may be so – and it has nothing to do with Narcissus! Meanings of the word ‘sinister’ – like ‘misleading’, ‘intending to deceive’, ‘dishonest’ – as well as those that have to do with the ‘left’, particularly the left hand side of the body – can be applied to mirrors with some justification. For a […]

false dawns

To anyone worried about climate change the announcement by Lockheed Martin that it is developing a fusion reactor that will be ready for market within ten years could be seen as a cause for hope. Though I’ve yearned for this development for years, now I’m not so sure. Our technologies are causing ecological degradation and climate change. But what is technology except an amplifier of the effects that our minds have on the world? It […]

Daoism’s Uncarved Block and the state of our world

The Dao De Jing, the ‘bible’ of Daoism, in various places refers to the Uncarved Block that loses something essential when it is carved. The Uncarved Block could be a baby free to become any version of themselves before their upbringing, their experiences and the culture they are raised in ‘carve’ them into the person that they grow up to be. (This interpretation resonates with a previous exploration of how a thought remains fluid until […]

the intelligence trap

Many believe that human intelligence has escaped the gravity well of ‘animal stupidity’, and that now we roam an unlimited space of thought where everything must eventually come within our understanding. Beneath this belief lies another: that humans are set apart from other animals – an idea that may be an expression of species neuroticism, and that finds its clearest expression in many religions. This special pleading has been eroded by the discoveries of science, […]

anchoring digital texts

A core advantage of digital texts over printed ones is that they remain fluid. Printing a digital text fixes it like a fly in amber. However, a text that exists entirely in a digital form is vulnerable to change, whether accidental or deliberate. If a time came when a printed copy of Moby Dick no longer existed, there would be nothing to stop the integrity of that text being degraded. Even if an accurate digital […]

the Scottish Referendum and the community of Britain

The community of Britain and Northern Ireland, formed by hundreds of years of intermarriage and shared history, is too strong to be broken by Scottish independence. It seems likely to me that all that such independence would be is a ‘coup’ whereby the northern part of that community wrests back some of the political power that is increasingly concentrated in London. Before the north of Britain was deindustrialized, power and wealth was more equitably shared […]

Syrian children

A Crusader castle is the latest victim of the Syrian civil war, but the damage to Syrian children may leave a more permanent wound. When some ancient site or remains are damaged by conflict, by the encroachment of habitation or industry, I feel sad at what may be lost. I felt sad when I heard about the looting of the museum in Bagdad, and a few days ago when I became aware that the Crusader […]

when LEGO lost faith

I believe that LEGO is a toy/tool that once allowed children to build models at a sweet spot intermediate between thought and physical reality, and that, by losing faith in that breakthrough, the company has lost its way. LEGO as I knew it as a child consisted of simple bricks. Complexity was achieved by assembling bricks, rather than being inherent in individual bricks. (Admittedly, the purity of this abstraction was somewhat broken by angled ‘roof […]