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Musk's Humongous Mistake

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When Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, he clearly didn’t know that the key assets he was buying lay in Twitter’s 7,500 workers’ heads.

On corporate balance sheets, the assets of a corporation are its factories, equipment, patents, and brand name.

Workers aren’t considered assets. They appear as costs. In fact, payrolls are typically two-thirds of a corporation’s total costs. Which is why companies often cut payrolls to increase profits.  

The reason for this is simple. Corporations have traditionally been viewed as production systems. Assets are things that corporations own, which turn inputs — labor, raw materials, and components — into marketable products.

Reduce the costs of these inputs, and — presto — each product generates more profit. Or that’s been the traditional view.

Yet today, increasingly, corporations aren’t just production systems. They’re systems for directing the know-how, know-what, know-where, and know-why of the people who work within them.  

A large and growing part of the value of a corporation now lies in the heads of its workers — heads that know how to innovate, know what needs improvement, know where the company’s strengths and vulnerabilities are found, and know why the corporation succeeds (or doesn’t).

These human assets are becoming the key assets of today’s corporations. But they can’t be owned, as are factories, equipment, patents, and brands. They must be motivated.   

When Musk fired half of Twitter’s workforce, then threatened to fire any remaining dissenters and demanded that the rest pledge to accept “long hours at high intensity” — leading to the resignations last week of an estimated 1,200 more Twitter employees — he began to destroy what he bought.

Now he’s panicking. Last week he tried to hire back some of the people he fired. On Friday he sent emails to Twitter employees asking that “anyone who actually writes software” report in, and stating that he wanted to learn about Twitter’s “tech stack” (its software and related systems).

But even if Musk gets this information, he probably won’t be able to save Twitter.

Most of Twitter’s employees are now gone, which means most of its know-how to prevent outages and failures during high-traffic events is also gone, most of its know-what is necessary to maintain and enhance computing architecture is gone, most of its know-where to guard against cyberattacks is gone, and most of its know-why hate speech (and other awful stuff advertisers want to avoid) is getting through its filters and what to do about it, is also now gone.

Without this knowledge and talent, Twitter is a shell — an office building, some patents, and a brand — without the capacity to improve or even sustain its service.

Twitter is unlikely to fail all at once. But bugs and glitches will mount, the quality of what’s offered will deteriorate, hateful tweets will burgeon, and customers and advertisers will flee.

As Richard Forno, assistant director of the Center for Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County told the New York Times, “it’s like putting a car on the road, hitting the accelerator, and then the driver jumps out. How far is it going to go before it crashes?”

Not even Donald Trump seems particularly eager to take up Musk’s offer to have him back on the platform.

Safe to say, Twitter is no longer worth the nearly $44 billion Musk paid for it. It’s now probably worth only a fraction of that sum — a fact that should be of no small concern to the bankers who lent Musk $30 billion to purchase Twitter on condition he pay $1 billion a year in interest.

Two lessons here.

First, corporations that regard employees only as costs to be cut rather than as assets to be nourished can make humongous mistakes. Elon Musk is Exhibit #1.

Second, where corporations view employees as costs, the traditional way for employees to flex their muscle is to strike, thereby temporarily closing factories and stopping the machines.

But where employees are a corporation’s key assets, workers’ greater power comes in threatening to — or actually — walking out the door. Elon Musk is Exhibit #2.

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How Often Are Philosophy Articles Actually Cited? Encouraging News

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You hear terrible things.  You hear, for instance, that over 50% of philosophy articles are entirely uncited.  You hear that the average philosophy article is cited less than 5 times.  People will sometimes say things like the "median number of readers for a philosophy article is 1" or "there's not much difference between publishing a paper and throwing it away".  Both of the last two comments appear in a recent Twitter thread launched by Helen De Cruz.  It was reading this thread that inspired me to do the analyses I'll share today.

Generally my reaction to analyses and comments of this sort is to think that they are considerably underestimating how often philosophy articles are actually cited.  The "big data" interdisciplinary analyses often use methods that are a terrible fit for philosophy, such as looking at citations in the past two years.  (Often in philosophy it takes two years or more to write and publish an article.)  Also, I wonder what counts as an "article".  If we're including two-page book reviews, it's little wonder that they'd be little cited, and similarly if we're including publications in predatory or obscure journals.  What would be more interesting to know -- and what I think most people in this discussion really care about -- is how frequently cited are full-length research articles in "respectable" mainstream philosophy journals?

Before you look at my analyses, any guesses?

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Method: I selected six representative general philosophy journals for analysis: two "top ranked" journals (Philosophical Review and Nous), two mid-ranked journals (Canadian Journal of Philosophy and Pacific Philosophical Quarterly), and two unranked but reputable journals (Philosophia and Southern Journal of Philosophy).  I then downloaded the entire table of contents of these journals from the year 2012 -- giving a ten-year citation window -- and excluded anything that wasn't an ordinary full-length research article (e.g., book reviews, editors' introductions, symposium proceedings).  From each journal, I randomly selected 15 articles and noted their total number of citations in Google Scholar.

Although this is not a large database, the results from this carefully designed search are, I think, striking.

Overall, the mean article was cited 31 times, and the median number of citations was 20.  For the elite journals the mean was 50 and the median was 36; for the mid-ranked journals the mean was 25 and the median was 8; for the unranked journals, the mean was 17 and the median was 12.  Only three of the 90 articles (3%) were cited zero times.

Here's a more specific breakdown, journal by journal.  Of course with only 15 articles per journal, there will be lots of noise in the numbers when considered at this fine a grain.


[histogram of total citations by article for articles published in 2012 from six representative general philosophy journals; click to enlarge and clarify]

You might wonder if the articles that were cited just a few times were really just cases of self-citation (an author citing their own earlier work, rather than citation by another author); but this was not the case.  Although there was naturally a bit of self-citation, most citations were by other authors even for the articles with just a few citations.

You might wonder whether the articles mostly gather citations in the first several years, with citation rates falling off substantially by year ten.  I didn't collect these data systematically, but a sampling of articles finds generally that about half of the citations are since 2018, with no substantial decline at the end.  Presumably, then, these articles will continue to gather citations post-2022.  I would estimate that these articles have collected only half of the citations that they will eventually collect, and perhaps they will collect many more if there is a long temporal tail into the future.  If we double our citation estimates to account for this, the mean article will receive 62 citations over its lifetime and the median article will receive 40 citations.

ETA 12:37 p.m.: Since Google Scholar doesn't tend to include books as sources of citation (though it does include books as targets of citation), we should probably bump these numbers up even more.  Ballpark guess: between monographs and articles in anthologies, about one-third of all philosophy citations appear in books.  If that's right, actual citation rates would be about 50% higher.

I draw the following general conclusions:

(1.) Very few articles published in mainstream general philosophy journals remain entirely uncited.  My estimate of 3% might be off, due to the smallish sample size and the particular journals selected; but it's highly unlikely that non-citation rates of mainstream general philosophy articles are anything near 50%.

(2.) The majority of articles are cited often enough to be "in the conversation".  While an outsider to academia might not think that ten citations is much impact, I submit that a more appropriate perspective is this: If your article is cited at least ten times, then it is having an impact on other specialists in your subfield.  Your article isn't falling into the void.  It is part of the conversation, and other scholars are reacting to it.  A journal article needn't have a huge influence outside its subarea to be successful.  The beauty of academic journals is that they host technical pieces that often can only be appreciated by a few dozen specialists.  If academia is worthwhile, then continuing those specialists' conversations is worthwhile, and high citation rates for technical pieces should not be expected.  (I intend this ten citation criterion as an approximately sufficient condition for impact, not a necessary condition.)

(3.) Articles in elite journals are cited only about three times as often as articles in unranked but reputable journals.  To me, this was the most surprising result, and part of me wonders whether we'd see different results if we looked at different years or different unranked but reputable journals.  Philosophical Review is much more prestigious in the eyes of the typical mainstream academic philosopher than is the typical unranked but reputable journal.  I find this result encouraging, especially given the tiny acceptance rates at the elite journals (Philosophical Review reports accepting about twelve articles per year out of 600 submitted).  Publishing in unranked journals is not shouting into the void.  It is not defeat.  The dynamic is less jackpot-or-nothing than I would have expected.  You don't have to get into a top-ten journal to have an impact.  Philosophers do regularly read and cite articles from the less prestigious journals.

(4.) Citation skew is much less extreme than it could be.  Another respect in which philosophy citation practices are not jackpot-or-nothing is revealed by the smallish differences between the means and medians.  Of course the means are higher: There's right skew in the data, a tendency for high-end outliers to pull up the mean.  But it's not like most articles are cited 0-5 times and a few are a cited hundreds of times.  Authors can reasonably expect that a decent article in a decent journal will have at least a moderate impact on their subfield.

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A critical juncture for the West

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As the Kremlin takes the major step of national mobilisation to fight a war of aggression against a nascent Western democracy, and once again repeats nuclear threats against the West as a whole, it would seem that our values and way of life are under threat from an outside actor. And sure enough, we are threatened. But the biggest threat we face at this perilous and delicate historical juncture is not external. Vladimir Putin is a mouse in comparison to what threatens our way of life from within, ostensibly in the name of our very Western values.

Before I begin elaborating on what I have to say, it is important that you understand what I mean by 'the West': despite the name, it's not a geographical location or even an ethnicity, but a system of fundamental values and way of life. For historical and bio-evolutionary reasons, these values and way of life still correlate with particular geographies and ethnicities, but to me this is entirely circumstantial. For instance, one of the most unambiguously Western voices in the media today is Fareed Zakaria. And a disproportionate number of those who threaten the Western way of life today are caucasians born in the Western hemisphere. So no, to be Western is not an ethnicity or a domicile; it is to espouse a system of fundamental values and a way of life.

But what way of life? What fundamental values? It is almost inevitably unfair and inaccurate to summarise the answer to these questions in a simple statement. Yet, with that in mind, I will try: to be Western is to hold the uniqueness of individual expression in the highest regard. For us, people are not mere numbers, anonymous drones or cogs in a sociopolitical machine; people are unique individuals who must be allowed to express themselves in their own way, for each and everyone has something unique and valuable to contribute. And by 'expression' I mean much more than just freedom of speech, although the latter is entailed by it as well: individual expression is about being in the world in our own unique ways. This individual expression is as much embodied in speech as it is in art, philosophy, science, profession, hobbies, relationships, and behaviour in general. Westerners hold as sacred our right to be who we are, and to live life in our own unique ways—as determined by our muses, daimons, souls, or whatever you want to call it—as long as doing so does not infringe on the rights of other individuals to do the same.

Notice that this high regard for individual expression has two corollaries: individual liberty and social tolerance. To be able to express ourselves in our own unique ways we must have the freedom, enshrined in laws and institutions, to do so. And because others have the same right to express their unique selves as we do, it is incumbent on all of us to tolerate the choices of others (again, as long as they don't infringe on our own liberties).

As such, the fundamental value of individual expression, when shared in a society, implies tolerance for another's tastes, preferences, dispositions, and so forth. For to argue against another's right to self-expression is to argue against one's own right. This way, one overarching, shared value unfolds into a fertile field for the growth of a variety of divergent peculiarities. I may be a heterosexual man disposed to philosophy and science, who enjoys baroque music, but my freedom to express myself in these ways implies tolerance to, say, a homosexual woman who does art for a living and likes to listen to heavy metal (as long as her freedom to be herself does not infringe on my freedom to be myself). This is how the Western way of life works. We celebrate and encourage our differences, for in their complementarities lies our collective strength. The sum-total of our innate natural drives—of what our muses, daimons, souls, inspirations, aspirations, etc., lead us to do in life—produces our culture, our economy, our science, our technology, our art, and everything that makes us a significant force in the world.

Arguably, no country in the world is fully Western, just as no country is fully non-Western. Even the two major nations today that seem to embody the very antithesis of Western values—Russia and China—do grant limited individual freedoms to their citizens. What I am trying to get across is a matter of degree, not of black-and-white pigeonholing.

In this spirit, the important thing to realise is that, in order to properly uphold the fundamental value of individual expression, Western societies must ensure that government is never driven by individual agendas. This may sound contradictory at first, but it surely isn't: when government becomes about one or a few individuals, who then enforce their peculiar dispositions and views on the entire population, liberty and tolerance die; the vibrant colours of individual expression disappear into a dull and grey background of artificial conformity, without the life-force of nature to propel them. The governments of Western societies must, instead, be driven by institutions and the rule of law, which channel and harmonise our distinct individual drives.

And this is why nations like Russia and China, in which one individual becomes the perennial face and driver of government, above institutions and the rule of law, are by and large incompatible with Western values and ways of life. This doesn't necessarily mean that they are a threat to us: it would be supremely arrogant to think that Western values should rule the entire world. Different peoples are entitled to their own value systems; to inherit and shape their own cultures and ways of life, just as we are entitled to ours. But when a sovereign people that chose the Western path—as Ukraine explicitly and overwhelmingly did in 2013 and 2014—is cowardly assaulted by a foreign power, then that foreign power does become a threat to all of us, Westerners.

Yet, neither Russia nor China are the greatest threats to Western values today. That dishonour goes to those among us who, through to the very freedoms granted to them by Western political systems, seek to undermine our values. Those among us who admire and pander to foreign dictators, who seek to emulate the slick, sanitised veneer of authoritarian regimes, who misuse our open political systems for personal gain, who see themselves as being above institutions and the rule of law: those are the true enemies within. Their approach to public service is acid to the Western way of life. They must not be tolerated, for—as philosopher Karl Popper once observed—the one thing that tolerant societies must never tolerate is intolerance itself.

Ironically, these demagogues claim to want to protect our Western values: think of how the extreme right—embodied in e.g. Marie le Pen in France, the Trump/MAGA movement in the USA, and the Hungarian regime of Victor Orbán—leverage precisely their people's anxieties about threats to their traditions and way of life. Yet, their attitudes and actions embody the very antithesis of the values they claim to protect: cults of personality taking precedence over institutions and the rule of law; disregard for the personal liberties and rights of minorities; adopting lies as a matter-of-course way of government (which is precisely what the Russian and Chinese governments do); disregard for objectivity, facts, reason, evidence and coherent argumentation; and so on. How can the West be protected by a psychopathological Trump, who idolises a criminal Putin, and even a deranged Kim? Who repeatedly lies through his teeth without a shimmer of shame? Who uses the (often legitimate) grievances of his base solely to advance his own egomaniacal personal agenda? How can European ways of life be safeguarded by those who want to acquiesce to Russian expansionism? How can the West be protected by elements who regard facts, science, tolerance and thoughtfulness as weaknesses, and who argue by puerile, reason-free, knee-jerk emotionality? These elements are the greatest threats to the West, not Putin or Xi.

But I am an equal-opportunities critic, and so I don't give the so-called 'left' (I use scare quotes here because it is ludicrous to think that everything in politics can be pigeonholed in one of only two categories) a free pass either. For we must try to understand how demagogues in our midst, who constitute the biggest threat to Western values today, have come to gather support precisely from those who are anxious about losing their Western way of life. How on Earth could this happen?

I won't pretend to know the full answer to this question, but I will risk a partial hypothesis: when the legitimate grievances and anxieties of a large segment of the population are systematically dismissed, and even pooh-poohed, by urban elites, people are left with no psychologically tenable alternative but to lend their support to anti-elite demagogues (who, ironically, are often themselves members of the urban elite). This seems to be particularly the case in the USA, where so-called 'liberals' seem to be quick to dismiss and alienate what I will describe as traditional, heartland mentality. The deplorable views of a very few (they are always there, aren't they?) motivate quick and utterly irresponsible generalisations, reflected in the labelling of almost half the country as 'deplorable.' Is this a Western attitude? Does this reflect social tolerance? Reason? Thoughtfulness? Respect for individual expression?

I live in a country where almost half the land is under sea level. These so-called 'polders' are kept dry by the continuous running of pumps—originally powered by windmills—and various other water defences, which are erected and maintained by the collective effort of the population. As such, the Netherlands is a nation where a failure to respect your neighbour's views and reach some form of consensus would swiftly lead to the literal loss of half the country. If we start fighting each other and fail to cooperate, the pumps stop running and we get more than just our feet wet. Western values here are a matter of life and death; literally.

Yet, isn't this also the case across Western societies today? Flooding is just one of many ways a country can be lost. If respect for individual differences isn't achievable, what is the way forward for, say, the USA? Another civil war? Secession? The Russian and Chinese governments would love it, wouldn't they? How do you think they would react to an opportunity like that? Nonetheless, the mere attempt to understand the other side in one's own society seems to be seen today as weakness, even a betrayal of the cause! This is perilous, for it can quickly make the pumps stop running.

We tend to screw things up by going too far in our well-meaning attempts to correct the ills of our time. History is bursting full of examples. For instance, Martin Luther correctly diagnosed the many ills of the Catholic Church of his time and tried to fix them. But soon enough protestantism went so far as to reduce religious service to some form of legal audience. Even priests started dressing like judges. And when the Catholic Church reacted to it and tried to revitalise religion in the form of the counter reformation, we got the Inquisition. How adorable.

Similarly, we go too far in recognising the ills of our society when this recognition leads to generalisations, alienation, and even hate. There is nothing shameful about trying to understand where the other side is coming from. There is nothing treacherous about engaging in dialogue. Maybe new vistas will open, to the surprise of all parties involved. For even the urban literati may have something to learn from rooted heartland mentality. After all, we are never born in a vacuum, without a past and a historical context, without traditions and ancestors, without a relationship with the land under our feet. Realising this for the first time, after years indulging in the superficiality, uprootedness and lack of teleological context of so-called 'liberal' thinking, can be a sobering and very healthy experience.

Let me try to make my point more concrete with a couple of very polemical examples. Like many urbanites, having pondered the question of abortion for a while, I've come to the conclusion that, on final balance, women must have the right to choose. If abortion ultimately proves to be a sin, then it is their responsibility whether to commit the sin, not lawmakers'; for sovereignty over our own bodies must be the red line. However, I do not dismiss the question lightly as a slam dunk, as some of my urbanite peers do; no, an embryo is a life. The day we take lightly the decision to end a life is the day of our doom as a civilised society. The pro-life movement, even if ultimately wrong, is not baseless or deserving of unexamined contempt. Recognising it as such is a precondition to a sane dialogue under the values of a truly Western society.

Immigration is another polemical example. As an urban literati, I am keenly aware of the tremendous boost in value and injection of vitality that our societies and economies stand to gain from motivated, law-abiding, hard-working immigrants. I am also keenly aware of the population bomb that will soon explode under the feet of our affluent Western societies, for the simple reason that—for decades now—we haven't been making enough babies to continue to live as before. As our population ages, we will run out of younger people to nurse us in hospitals when we get sick, deliver our groceries, maintain our houses, and so on. Technology hasn't yet advanced enough for us to replace people with machines for everything that matters. And so I understand the opportunity former German Chancellor Angela Merkel spotted in 2015, when suddenly a million young and healthy Syrians, many of whom well educated, showed up at the gates of Germany (alongside Japan, Germany stands to suffer the most from its coming population implosion). It must have felt like Christmas.

Yet, I was there during that fateful new-year's-eve in 2015, when the behaviour of young male immigrants towards German women scandalised German society. Hence, I take seriously a real, concrete problem that 'liberals' often dismiss, underestimate or overlook: cultural compatibility.

Societies evolve their mechanisms based on the characteristics of the prevailing local culture. In northern Europe—the culture I am most familiar with—social mechanisms are largely based on very high social trust. In Denmark, for instance, it's usual for farmers to build wooden huts next to the nearest road, and then load them with farm produce. They hang a little board showing the prices and place a little cash box on a counter, so people can come and pick up what they need, leaving the proper amount of money behind. The huts are not manned: the whole thing is based on the trust that nobody will steal the money or the produce, and everybody will pay the proper amount.

Another example: until about 20 years ago, Dutch train stations had no gates. You could enter the station from the street, proceed to a platform and then board a train, with nobody checking if you have a ticket. Even during the train trip itself, only very seldom would a conductor ask to see your ticket. And if you didn't have one (because, of course, you just forgot to buy one, or you didn't have time to do it before the train's departure), they would charge you just twice the normal amount for one.

Predictably, changes in the prevailing culture, partly caused by immigration, have led to a new prevailing calculus: it's more economical to never buy a ticket, and pay twice the price in the rare occasions you would be asked for one. And thus, today, Dutch train stations are filled with electronic gates, surveillance and ticket checks.

People used to a traditional culture of social trust profoundly resent these changes. They are robbed of the feeling they previously had, that they live among people they can trust and count on, even if they don't know them personally; and that they are themselves trusted. An impersonal and alienating ethos of suspicion, isolation and antagonism takes over. It violates one's core values, traditions, ancestral ways of life in a manner that hits one hard and deep, for it robs one of social cohesion and coziness. It makes one feel like an alien in one's own country.

The 'liberal' urban literati are often blind to these psychological facts. Liberalisation by the defacement of culture and traditions is hard on heartland people—damn, it's hard on me—and understandably so. We ignore their grievances at our own peril, for a demagogue like Trump will know exactly how to appeal to, and manipulate, precisely those grievances.

Snob elitism, contempt for heartland mentality and tradition, generalisation and alienation, are every bit as antithetical to Western values—to the respect we owe to other people's liberties and peculiarities—as Trumpism and the criminalisation of abortion. The day we collectively realise this, is the day we will cut the lifeline of demagogues like Trump, le Pen, Orbán, and countless others. And as bonus, it will also be the day the Putin's and Xi's of this world will understand that they can't win.

For liberty is not only more vibrant, it is stronger than authoritarianism, as Ukraine is now demonstrating to anyone who cares to watch. It is a geopolitical myth to think of China's or Russia's governing and economic systems as, in any sense whatsoever, stronger than those of 'messy' democracies. China, in fact, has an incredibly fragile economy dependent on massive imports of oil, food and know-how; all of which, in turn, depend on the West (yes, even China's oil imports depend directly on the USA's ability to secure shipping lanes from the middle east to Shanghai and Beijing). Russia, in turn, makes essentially nothing; they have so little economically-relevant know-how that we can dismiss it altogether. All they can do is extract stuff from their ground and ship it through pipelines (made by Germans), for they don't even have the required infrastructure to liquefy gas. All of Russia's cutting-edge wonder weapons, supersonic missiles and the like, depend on imports of Western technology: integrated circuits, software, electronic systems, etc. And so do China's.

Our noisy external rivals are paper tigers, for authoritarianism can never hope to match the strength of a free society's sum-total of individual creativity and drive. They are not the real threats. The real ones are within, internal parasites of the strength nurtured by liberty. Luckily for us, the way to neutralise this threat is to double-down on our values: respect for individual expression and tolerance for the dispositions of others. Should we do this through the mighty tool we call a 'vote,' our way of life will survive.

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It’s Time To Rethink The Change Gospel

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In a nutshell, we are talking about change more, but doing it less. That’s a problem. Managers who want to be seen as change leaders launch too many initiatives. Employees, for their part, get jaded...

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Why you can’t rebuild Wikipedia with crypto

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Whenever a fresh disaster happens on the blockchain, increasingly I learn about it from the same destination: a two-month old website whose name suggests the deadpan comedy with which it chronicles the latest crises in NFTs, DAOs, and everything else happening in crypto.

Launched on December 14th, Web3 Is Going Just Great is the sort of thing you almost never see any more on the internet: a cool and funny new website. Its creator and sole author is Molly White, a software engineer and longtime Wikipedia contributor who combs through news and crypto sites to find the day’s most prominent scams, schemes, and rug pulls.

Organized as a timeline and presented in reverse chronological order, to browse Web3 Is Going Just Great is to get a sense...

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Exploring mind-bending questions about reality and virtual worlds via The Matrix

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Virtual worlds might be digital, but they can be as real and meaningful as our physical world, philosopher David Chalmers argues in his new book, <em>Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy.</em>

Enlarge / Virtual worlds might be digital, but they can be as real and meaningful as our physical world, philosopher David Chalmers argues in his new book, Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images | David Chalmers)

There's a famous scene in The Matrix where Neo goes to see The Oracle. He meets another potential in the waiting room: a young child who seemingly bends a spoon with his mind. Noticing Neo's fascination, he tells him, "Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth." And what is that truth? "There is no spoon," the child says.

The implication is that the Matrix is an illusion, a false world constructed by the machines to keep human beings sedated and docile while their bodies serve as batteries to power the Matrix. But what if this assumption is wrong, and the Matrix were instead just as real as the physical world? In that case, the child would more accurately have said, "Try to realize the truth. There is a spoon—a digital spoon."

That's the central argument of a new book, Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, by New York University philosopher David Chalmers. The Australian-born Chalmers is perhaps best known for his development in the 1990s of what's known as the hard problem of consciousness. Things like the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli; the brain's ability to integrate information; and the difference between wakefulness and sleep can all be explained by identifying an underlying mechanism.

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