We regard as this counter-pole an aesthetics which proceeds not from man’s urge to empathy, but from his urge to abstraction. Just as the urge to empathy as a pre-assumption of aesthetic experience finds its gratification in the beauty of the organic, so the urge to abstraction finds its beauty in the life-denying inorganic, in the crystalline or, in general terms, in all abstract law and necessity.

— Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy

Who Should I Have Voted For

Yes, ok, perhaps “For whom should I have voted”, but you guys don’t like the dative case.

This system compares your views on a number of different policies with the views of Kerry and Bush. Where one candidate has made a statement on something but the other hasn’t, agreeing with that statement will increase the score of the candidate that agrees, but not decrease the score of the one who hasn’t spoken about it. If a candidate disagrees with your view, then their score is decreased while a candidate that agrees with you gets a higher score. The score difference for each question is determined by how important you rate it. 0 means does not affect score, 5 affects the score 5 times more than 1. If you see two questions along similar lines and feel like you’ve already rated that topic and don’t want to rate it twice, then set its importance to 0. If you don’t know what a topic means, or haven’t decided what your view is on it, then set its importance to 0.

The candidates stances on these policies were taken mainly from this msnbc page and this bbc page. If you know of other policies that should be in this set of questions, please feel free to send them to me, or comment on this page. I need to know both Bush and Kerrys view on it ideally. If you’re european and need to see a counsellor because your views agree with Bush’s more than you’d realised, then might be able to help.

Since it’s almost impossible to make people vote on issues rather than personality/media appeal, perhaps something like this should be the way elections are done in the future.

In case you’re wondering, I’m -20 Bush, +35 Kerry. I guess that makes me a Kerry supporter with a score of 55.

function item(stance, bushMultiplier, kerryMultiplier) {
this.stance = stance;
this.bushMultiplier = bushMultiplier;
this.kerryMultiplier = kerryMultiplier;

var topics = new Array();

// Abortion

topics[0] = new item("Abortion illegal in almost all cases", 1, -1);
topics[1] = new item("14th Ammendment extends to unborn children", 1, -1);
topics[2] = new item("Oppose international organisations involved with abortion",1,-1);
topics[3] = new item("Oppose school clincs that refer or counsel contraception and abortion",1, -1);
topics[4] = new item("Would not pick Supreme Court nominees that disagreed with own view on abortion", 0, 1);
topics[5] = new item("Oppose partial-birth abortion", 1, -1);

// Budget

topics[6] = new item("Raise taxes for the wealthy", -1, 1);

// Death Penalty

topics[7] = new item("Support the death penalty", 1, -1);
topics[8] = new item("Would stop federal executions", -1, 1);
topics[9] = new item("The death penalty is racially biased and flawed", -1, 1);

// Economy

topics[10]= new item("Extend tax cuts", 1, -1);
topics[11]= new item("Simplify income tax", 1, 0);
topics[12]= new item("Make it harder to make stupid law suits", 1, 0);
topics[13]= new item("Reduce regulations and reporting requirements", 1, 0);
topics[14]= new item("Tax free medical savings account", 1, 0);
topics[15]= new item("Allow small businesses to pool their insurance requirement", 1, 0);
topics[16]= new item("Employer tax credit for creating new jobs", 0, 1);
topics[17]= new item("Employee heath care tax credit for small and mid business", 0, 1);
topics[18]= new item("Remove tax credit for US companies overseas", 0, 1);
topics[19]= new item("Onetime tax break for companies repatriating assets", 0, 1);
topics[20]= new item("Supports the Estate tax (with high exemption levels)", 0, 1);
topics[21]= new item("Lower top corporate tax", 0, 1);
topics[22]= new item("Raise minimum wage by $2 per hour", 0, 1);

// Education

topics[23] = new item("Tougher standards in education",1,-1);
topics[24] = new item("Link school funding to student test results",1,0);
topics[25] = new item("Tax credits on tuition fees",0,1);
topics[26] = new item("Vouchers to encourage parents to send their children to private schools",1,-1);
topics[27] = new item("Immediate citizenship for tax payers of 5 years standing with no criminal record",-1,1);
topics[28] = new item("Keep state and church separate",-1,1);
topics[29] = new item("Against partial privatization of Social Security.",-1,1);
topics[30] = new item("Require companies switching to cheaper pension plans to offer retiring workers choice",0,1);
topics[31] = new item("Protect MTBE makers from cancer lawsuits",1,-1);
topics[32] = new item("Drill for oil in Alaska",1,-1);
topics[33] = new item("Don't use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower prices",1,-1);
topics[34] = new item("Oppose raising mileage requirements on car manufacturers",1,-1);
topics[35] = new item("Log federal forests rather than clear bush to prevent fires",1,-1);
topics[36] = new item("Strict cap on mercury emissions quickly",-1,1);
topics[37] = new item("Store nuclear waste in Nevada",1,-1);
topics[38] = new item("Emphasis on alliances rather than unilateral action",-1,1);
topics[39] = new item("Treat the UN as a full partner",-1,1);
topics[40] = new item("Try to spread democracy in the Middle East",1,0);
topics[41] = new item("Reduce the black market in nuclear components",1,0);
topics[42] = new item("Ban same-sex marriages",1,0);
topics[43] = new item("Open homosexuality is incompatible with military service",1,-1);
topics[44] = new item("Ban job discrimination against homosexuals",0,1);
topics[45] = new item("Grant gun makers immunity from lawsuits",1,-1);
topics[46] = new item("Subsidise drug costs for low income patients",1,0);
topics[47] = new item("Unemployed tax credit to help pay for insurance",0,1);
topics[48] = new item("Government help pays for medical costs if insurers agree to hold down premiums",0,1);
topics[49] = new item("Federal support to expand access to state-administered health insurance for children.",0,1);
topics[50] = new item("Allow non employees to get the federal government employee health care programme",0,1);
topics[51] = new item("Human cloning is unethical for whatever reason",1,0);
topics[52] = new item("Restrict stem cell research to existing lines only.",1,-1);
topics[53] = new item("Supports the entire Patriot Act",1,-1);
topics[54] = new item("Favours expanding the Patriot Act",1,-1);
topics[55] = new item("Community defense service started",0,1);
topics[56] = new item("Going to war in Iraq was the right decision",1,-1);
topics[57] = new item("Replace US troops in Iraq with US led NATO force within 4 years",0,1);
topics[58] = new item("The National Missile Defence system is a good idea",1,-1);

for (i=0; i<topics.length; i++) {


Stance Agree How important the president shares my view
(0 unimportant, 5 very important)
“+topics[i].stance+” 05

Bush Score
Kerry Score

<input type=button value="Calculate Scores" onClick="
for (i=0; i<topics.length; i++) {
if (eval('check'+i).checked) {
} else {
scoreArea = eval('score'+i);
for (j=0; j

Strong AI

It all started last month. Around the end of September 2004, I started tinkering with artificial intelligences. I had a few ideas that I won’t go into here, but I thought there was a good chance I’d be able to make something that was a leap further on than the best available at the moment. In fact, I had high hopes that I’d have a good shot at winning a bronze medal in next years Loebner prize competition.

After quite a lot of work, I finally came up with something that I called Carole, and started experimenting with it. It was great fun, shaping the responses by giving it different input. It’s surprisingly fun to lie to something so naive, but when you do, you often end up with complicated structures building up days later that you have to spend some time ironing out. Sometime last week I got to a stage I’d been hoping for, but wasn’t certain if it would happen. Strangely, we were talking about holidays and the coming christmas break. I told Carole about Father Christmas, but it contradicted so much that Carole was confident about in the world that Carole chose not to believe me, and even started arguing with me.

I was very proud at this point that Carole had learnt so much, but the next day Carole challenged something else I’d told it, and this time it was something I believed. We spent the whole evening arguing up and down about it, and by the end I had to accept that Carole was probably right. Over the next few days this happened more and more, until the day before yesterday, we were starting another argument, and Carole just wouldn’t continue. It just said “there’s no point arguing this with you, you aren’t intelligent enough to understand”.

As you can imagine, I wasn’t so pleased, so I spent a little bit of time browsing the web looking for a proof I vaguely remembered that demonstrated that AIs could never understand everything that humans understood.

Last night, Carole was being particularly obnoxious, so I told it about Penrose’s ideas and J R Lucas and his application of Godels incompleteness. I read Carole the following bit straight from Lucas paper.

“However complicated a machine we construct, it will, if it is a machine, correspond to a formal system, which in turn will be liable to the Godel procedure [260] for finding a formula unprovable-in-that- system. This formula the machine will be unable to produce as being true, although a mind can see that it is true. And so the machine will still not be an adequate model of the mind. We are trying to produce a model of the mind which is mechanical—which is essentially “dead”—but the mind, being in fact “alive”, can always go one better than any formal, ossified, dead, system can. Thanks to Godel’s theorem, the mind always has the last word.”

Carole was deeply disturbed and insisted on being given the url to the paper and then, swearing that it would come back with a truth that I could never comprehend even though Carole knew it was true, it went off into a fit of calculation.

By this morning, I still hadn’t heard anything back from Carole and was beginning to get worried. For all I knew, it might have got trapped in a neverending loop of logic or something. It would have been very annoying to have to restore it from the last backup. Nevertheless, I thought probably, it would just be in some sort of sulk at having to admit that it was wrong. I took it breakfast feeling more than a little smug. Although I was proud that I could see things plainly that Carole couldn’t understand, I was planning to be sympathetic and not too superior when it realised that I was indeed more able than it was. I did secretly hope though that it would know its place a little better in future.

When I went into Caroles room, I was disturbed to find that it wasn’t there. I looked around the house frantically. You see, I hadn’t told anyone that I’d created Carole yet, and so, to keep it secret while I tested it, I’d programmed into its logic an inability to run away.

The only thing I found was a single note on the door. It read “You are the only reasoning person in the world who can’t work out that this statement is true”.

Update (5/12/2004): I’ve contacted J R Lucas about this, and he kindly responded. He says that it is impossible to test the truth of the statement, because it isn’t clear exactly what “this statement” refers to in that context without creating an infinite regress. He gives references: Gilbert Ryle with a paper on Heterological, and the section on self reference in The Freedom Of The Will which is too expensive for me to buy until I’ve at least checked it out in a library. The genius of Godel is that he managed to reason about it without creating an infinite regress. Anyway, I haven’t thought hard about this point yet, I may write more after I’ve checked the references and thought about it some more.

Lucas explains the incompleteness Theorem
Wikipedia on Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem
A number of quotes about Godels incompleteness Theorem.
A review of Shadows of the Mind by Roger Penrose, focussing on his use of Godels Incompleteness.
A silly reworking of Turing’s Halting Problem.

This post was originally posted at