Place to share relaxing and thought-provoking videos

I’ll watch one at a time when I’m in the mood.

Two architects interviewing each other–Peter Zumthor and Juhani Pallasmaa:

Montaged (right word?) interview of photographer 石内 都 (Ishiuchi Miyako), in Japanese with English subtitles:

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Correct word, although I would have used edited in this case.

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The James Day interviews with Eric Hoffer in 1963, when I was 9, enthralled me even though I didn’t understand all of it at the time. These and the later Eric Severeid interview (1967) were crucial formative experiences for me. I’m posting Part I of each. The Severeid interview is more personable, so I am putting it first. The Day interviews are deeper and wider ranging.

Severeid interview:


Day interview:
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Like for many others Cosmos was critically formative for me when it came out.
Perhaps not the most relaxing clip…

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Beautiful!
Also the music fitted in perfectly.

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I think that Isaac Asimov makes a lot of sense in his interviews and all of the problems in the world that he addressed many decades ago still apply today

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Hans Rosling was so enlightening for me.
He expressed thoughts that were going round in my head but weren’t supported by data.
He brought the data and wonderful visualization for them.
So sad he passed away few years ago.

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Probably not thought provoking for Dutch people, but perhaps it is for people from other countries:

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Watching the videos I learn about my own taste not only on subjects but on the manner of presentation.

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I was a fan of Glenn Gould going back to when he was alive, but I only learned of his wonderful musical commentaries in the last few years. They were made for Canadian television and never ran on U.S. TV so far as I know. He is provocative, but always informative and erudite. There is, I think, a great deal of truth in this one, but I hasten to add that some of Mozart’s late work, his late quartets and quintets, for example, are quite innovative.

The beginning of this was badly edited. The program really starts at 1:24.

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Benjamin Zander is an extraordinary music teacher with dozens of videos in his “Interpretation” series. He was a musical prodigy who studied cello with Gaspar Cassado, one of the greatest cellists of the early-mid 20th century, and conducting with Benjamin Britten. Today he is musical director and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, a world-class youth symphony. This video starts with 5 min of the student performing before the discussion begins.

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Thought provoking and perhaps also unsettling. An interview with an AI (GPT-3):

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The problem with one thing these programs do, is that they mask their mistakes in such a way that researchers can’t really find out if the program is intentionally making the mistakes or not. Instead of saying “I don’t know”, it could answer a question falsely, and later claim it is either making a joke, or that it knew it was wrong, etc. In particular finding out if a program has conscience or feelings will be difficult. Heck, that part is already problematic with animals…

Also, I personally believe our own interpretation of conscience or feelings is a human illusion of something that does not exist. It makes it easier to describe the chemical machines that are our bodies, but inherently is not something clearly definable.

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Descartes is even sceptical about other humans than himself having conscience or feelings😉.

So am I, technically an agnostic on this regard, but in practice it’s easier for my life if I assume other humans are like myself. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yes, the same issue arose in the case of Koko the gorilla (I may have spelled the name wrong) and sign language. The claim was that Koko was sometimes telling a joke or lying to please the researcher. Possible, but impossible to prove.

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I personally believe our own interpretation of conscience or feelings is a human illusion of something that does not exist

Roger Penrose has done a lot of study on the nature of consciousness and especially its relationship to quantum mechanics, and would offer an opposing view. Of course I’m not making the flawed “appeal to authority”, but since Penrose is this year’s Nobel Prize winner (as well as being, in general a very accomplished scientist and mathematician), it seems wise to take his theories seriously.

He discusses this aspect of his work in this 90-minute Joe Rogan interview from 2018.

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Being an accomplished scientist & mathematician gives you no automatic authority in the field of philosophy, though (which in my opinion the search of consciousness currently squarely belongs to) :wink:

His consciousness claims only are of value to the scientific world if they can be verified empirically. So that’s already problematic about it. An accomplished scientist should know better than to produce pseudo-science.


To go a bit deeper in his point of view, since I have read about his argument before and the tools he uses (Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and the halting problem) are quite familiar to me as well. Basically the argument is this, if I’m not mistaken:

  1. Gödel & Turing proved that given any sufficiently capable computer (or mathematical theory), there is always some problems that cannot be decided (or proved). This argument relies strongly on the existence of an infinite amount of either data storage (in case of Turing machines / the halting problem) or of mathematical theorems; in particular it relies on the fact that we could list all mathematical theorems given infinite amount of space and time.
  2. He then argues that humans are able to prove that certain programs are undecidable / certain theorems are unprovable, which does effectively the opposite of what the halting problem / incompleteness theorem states: that this is impossible.
  3. Therefore, he concludes, humans do not obey the same laws that Turing machines / mathematical logic does, most importantly, humans are not deterministic.
  4. By our current understanding of physics, our universe is deterministic, therefore, our current laws of physics are not adequate to study the human conciousness.

To me, this argument breaks down in step 2. I’ll use the incompleteness theorem to clarify my reasoning, but the same kind of argument works for the halting problem.

Although a logical system itself cannot prove that a mathematical statement is unprovable, it is possible to do this by stepping into a meta-logical realm. To be precise, the proof starts by assuming that the logical system is consistent. This is exactly what the incompleteness theorem tells us is impossible to decide, thus this is a very strong assumption in the sense that we know we can never verify the assumption (or at least, we cannot prove it’s true: we might find an inconsistency and prove it’s a false assumption, which is arguably worse).
Then, armed with this assumption, it becomes possible to prove that a certain mathematical statement is impossible to prove. Penrose, in his argument, claims that we have therefore provided an example of a mathematical statement that is impossible to prove, but we have in fact not: we have never come to a state where we have discarded our assumption!

So, the crux of the problem is not that we have proved for certain unprovable statements that they cannot be proved: before we do that, we must first prove that our reasoning itself is logically valid by showing our logic is consistent. And this is impossible to do (unless our reasoning is in fact not consistent).


Some other objection I have, which is about infinity, is that as far as we know, our physical universe could perfectly well be finite (I believe this is actually the consensus amongst physicists). That means, that the incompleteness theorem in a certain way does not really “fit” in our physical space: the whole argument doesn’t apply.

This argument is sometimes used by finitist mathematicians, who then go a step further and discard the idea of infinity existing altogether. I disagree with that personally (I have to from a practical standpoint, since my own research is completely based on very large forms of infinity :stuck_out_tongue: ), as I believe infinity does exist as a human concept in a very real way: we can describe it, we can work with it, thus it is something worth studying. If the existence of infinity ever is necessary to describe physics, is another story, which I’m not interested in (I’m a mathematician, not a physicist)


Here’s another problem I have with Penrose’s argument: he assumes that there is an objective mathematical truth in our universe. This is the Platonic view of mathematics: mathematics is like physics, where we humans try to discover it. Only, we don’t use instruments, but we logical deduction.

In a Cartesian way (“cogito ergo sum”), this is something thoroughly undecidable: we cannot know that there exists a mathematical truth, we have trouble even verifying our own thought.

I’m personally in a different school of thought, namely that of Formalism, which is based on the idea that mathematics is a human invention, which is a very useful tool to describe certain things in our world, but in itself does not assert truth or falsehood. It is based on logical assumptions that we cannot know the truth of (by definition a system needs axioms), thus we can construct our own logical assumptions and play around with it. No single set of assumptions is more truthful than another.

From this point of view, Penrose’s argument does not cut deeply at all: it’s basically saying that the human mind constructs “proofs”, which are based on “assumptions” made by the human mind, but might have no basis at all in the actual universe. Mathematics itself may not exist.

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