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Web 2.0, lottery and colors

Posted by Raimondo Fanale • Tuesday, August 22. 2006 • Category: Beyond Web Pages (ex web 2.0), La mia città
You might find the title of this post a bit strange. It's certainly quite different when compared to all the buzz on Web 2.0 that you read about in blogs, web sites, and traditional media. I took a look at things from a different perspective and will avoid discussions on the exact definition of just what web 2.0 but refer to what John L. Pollock refers to as the theory of rationality and its implementation in an artificial rational agent. 

Programmers and philosophers alike are acquainted to the paradox of the lottery (it's a problem of procedural epistemology), a paradox which involves the falsification of a reasoning.

In a nutshell: suppose you own a ticket of the lottery and know the number of tickets (say 1 million). The lottery publicizes that there will be a sole lucky winner. I own 1 ticket so I have a 0.000001 probability of winning, and it's highly unlikely that I'll win the lottery just as unlikely for the other participants who purchase one lottery ticket. In this way not one ticket is deemed to be the winning one, and yet we are certain that 1 ticket is going to win first prize.

The paradox is a considerable one, the method of resolution is quite interesting: explicitly negate the possibility to believe that each and every element (i.e. Ticket) of contradictory propositions is contradictory.

Let's take another look at things from a slightly different point of view and closer to “informatics”: the verification of colours based on our perception. Perception of colours is certainly reliable, but such reliability cannot be greater than 99.9%. So how can we be sure about colours or the lottery ? We may paradoxicalally assume they are a mass falsification of the reasoning.

On to yet another more explicit consideration: falsification of a reasoning is the base of diffusion of our actual experience and knowledge. A machine does not known the state of another machine, it is either know or communicated. A man, infers, based on the possibility to communicate his reasoning and not only the data of a proposition. Therefore if a publicity states we can win the lottery, the the new modern automobile is beautiful in its blu color (and the tonality of blu is not mentioned), or that internet web sites must have a white background (which is a big debate amongst web designers and ongoing for the past 12 months), here the “mental laziness” is satisfied by a proposed resolution and “ paradoxicalally falsified”

One last brief example: folksonomy endangers the basic principle of knowledge. Something is true because many say so, but many say so because others have also said so, or who said it are so called authorities. Thus the paradox of the lottery and colours occur once again: perception is fallible but accepted if provided as part of the solution, replicated and falsified by common perception.
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  1. La folksonomy non viola in senso assoluto le norme della conoscenza, ma le porta alle estreme conseguenze. O, meglio, ci rende evidente quello che da sempre succede. Aristotele con l' "ipse dixit" ha dominato la cultura occidentale per un migliaio di anni, le basi della matematica sono degli assunti indimostrabili ed una visita in qualunque scuola durante una lezione di fisica farà crollare il sogno di una cultura basata sulla verificazione delle fonti anche allo scientista più incallito. L' autorevolezza ed il riconoscimento sociale sono da sempre stati utilizzati come fonte di conoscenza, anche se la cosa è una palese contraddizione.

    L'abitudine a considerare la scienza come una costruzione con solide basi condivisibili e comprensibili da tutti nasce con Bacone, continua per tutto l'Illuminismo e termina (saltando qua e là per mere questioni di spazio) con il principio di falsificazione di Popper, che con l'affermazione del principio di falsificazione sancisce il passaggio definitivo alla scienza come noi la conosciamo (o, meglio, analizza e formalizza quello che già succedeva da tempo, in maniera neanche totalmente condivisa dagli altri epistemologi).

    La visione ideale che noi abbiamo della scienza, come una torre d'avorio non toccata dalle meschinità del mondo materiale, autonoma ed indipendente, e soprattutto certa e dimostrabile, tutto sommato è soltanto un sogno, un prodotto che ci è stato venduto come tale perché il bisogno di sicurezza, da sempre, è maggiore del desiderio di verità.

    La folksonomy si situa i questa scia, ma ne rende evidenti i presupposti. In fin dei conti, volendo riassumerla in una analogia, assomiglierebbe molto alla fine del mito vaso di Pandora, quando dopo la liberazione dei mali del mondo, esile e fioca rimane sul fondo la speranza di poter capire sul serio quali sono i presupposti della conoscibilità e della conoscenza umana.

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