Notes from Class with Fernando Flores

Today in CS378, Fernando Flores came to speak with us. I would give an explanation of the class and his work, but I don’t think I can. The class has largely been taught without giving definitions or explaining concepts, but instead discussing ideas and trying to tie them together into a holistic sense of what’s going on. In any case, I took some notes (mostly quotes and paraphrases) on interesting things that Fernando said in the same spirit that Terry Winograd explained after class that he took notes in: you definitely can’t recompose anything that Fernando said from them, but they might be interesting things to think about and digest. Also note that this isn’t of general interest. There may be some people who would enjoy these notes (such as my Uncle David, who introduced me to this field and Terry’s work), but flip on past if you like. I’m not really going anywhere with these notes beyond what you see.

  • we are already thrown into our normative context
  • a lot of philosophy is based on truth
  • in reality, you “bring it forward” with you with logical performance
  • not processing information; more interpretation, performing as a minister
  • email is treated like “information” – there are no commitments with it
  • synchronization of people is dependent on the commitments they make
  • in Mexico, they don’t have a culture of commitment; by workshop, they figured it out
  • commitments are for humans: can’t really be automated
  • so far has failed in politics: it’s about hope, image, not commitments
  • how does such an efficient society end up with such messed up government?
  • short answer: politicians don’t distinguish between promises & expectations
  • politicians do things in public life that are very different from private life
  • 3 ways for a promise to fail
  • 1) competence – within a domain, can you do it?
  • 2) sincerity – you can lie all you want
  • 3) care – caring about the person, which is context-specific
  • trust is an assessment
  • unfortunately, we are thrown in culture of trust – “thrown assessment”
  • “The Tea Party is a mood against Obama”
  • this is pre-history; it’s a sentiment
  • Occupy Wall Street is using the financial system
  • “Projects need to be related to the concerns they are”
  • Objectivity
  • so we’re objective to the point of our experience
  • in World of Warcraft, he had a “poverty of world” – not something you can do strictly by description
  • can reprogram your history with games
  • problem with the US today: we’re based on ideas of social mobility and life always getting better
  • this may not be true anymore
  • can the internet bring the “disposition of being” universally? (question from Kevin, not me)
  • technology affects people in different places differently
  • Heidegger’s concern: we have a metaphysical blindness of the west in how we conceptualize language
  • most people think that language is about passing information
  • some take the commitment interpretation
  • astronomy: “how do people with such poor instruments have such big interpretations?”
  • “what ar the central concerns of people?”
  • we’re trying to build tools, but we’re in a history
  • 3 concerns to care about
  • 1) care – issue, not a problem
  • 2) wonder – mood, questions
  • 3) dwelling – being mortal, having an identity in a culture
  • “thinking is synonymous with calculation, not mood or listening” – this is a mistake often made at places like Stanford
  • “we need to bring sacredness back to tradition”
  • Churchill did this, to create unity
  • you can guarantee success, but you can all be on the same page
  • US has a problem of mood right now
  • we’re realizing we’re not the world power and can’t solve everything
  • design is manipulating us for care – anticipating ready-to-hand
  • but we can’t always anticipate
  • wonder has to do with design because we deal with materials with properties we don’t control (Dean)
  • accidents need to coalesce in a space, and they develop a possibility
  • “a little bit of whim, a little bit of contingency, and a little bit of wonder”
  • a big question with the internet has to deal with identity
  • “the essence of language is poetry” – not logic, not precise in concept
  • Steve Jobs built a sentiment that no one else has
  • “Who said that geniuses and good people need to be saints?”

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