Jongmin Jerome Baek
Jongmin Jerome Baek
Welcome to my homepage.
I am a software engineer at Microsoft where I work on search and AI infrastructure. I'm invested in making sure AI systems do not magnify human bias, and I study debiasing word embeddings.
Email: Jongmin dot Baek at microsoft dot com
Previously (2017-18), I was founder and lecturer of the UC Berkeley course CS198-79 Philosophy of Computation. Textbook, Syllabus, Website, Discussion Forum, Course Notes.
More previously (2014), I made 6180 the moon. If you are stuck, please email me and I'll help you out.
Philosophy of Computation
- How to Solve Moral Conundrums with Computability Theory
Various moral conundrums plague population ethics: The Non-Identity Problem, The Procreation Asymmetry, The Repugnant Conclusion, and more. I argue that the aforementioned moral conundrums have a structure neatly accounted for, and solved by, some ideas in computability theory. I introduce a mathematical model based on computability theory and show how previous arguments pertaining to these conundrums fit into the model. This paper proceeds as follows. First, I do a very brief survey of the history of computability theory in moral philosophy. Second, I follow various papers, and show how their arguments fit into, or don't fit into, our model. Third, I discuss the implications of our model to the question why the human race should or should not continue to exist. Finally, I show that our model ineluctably leads us to a Confucian moral principle.
- Culture, Computation, Morality, Or: the Poetry of Computer Science, the Computer Science of Poetry
Using computer science to talk about moral philosophy is a sort of perversion. In a sense, all philosophy is a sort of perversion. As a smartypants once said, the purpose of philosophyis the dissolution of philosophy. I know at least a dozen grandmothers and grandfathers, most of them selling fish at a street market, who know everything this book can say and more. The audience I have in mind are the cynics, the highly educated, the "rationalists", who have retreated to their enclave, who refuse to believe anything that cannot be proven, who endorse things like utilitarianism, behaviorism, and The Bell Curve. I believe I can change their minds because they are rational, and rationality is an admirable ontological property. Rationality, for all its faults, does one job very well: when proven wrong, it clips off, however much it hurts, that irrational cancerous outgrowth, the misapplication of ego. What this book has tried to do is to show that the Modern Scientific World View, and its moral philosophy, which purports to be based on rationality, is utterly irrational. I tried to show this using something every "rationalist" would agree as a method for achieving rational truth: theoretical computer science."
- Paper 3: Uncomputability and the Categorical Imperative
When Kant said we must not treat humans as mere means, but ends in themselves, he was saying that humans are arbitrary programs, not specific programs. Therefore, we cannot use them as mere means, and must treat them as ends in themselves. And the sense just used in cannot and must is not that of mere moral indoctrination. It is the authority of mathematics. So Williams has been answered: we legislate to the moral sentiments by right of mathematical fact.
- Culture, Computation, Morality
I point to a deep and unjustly ignored relation between culture and computation. I first establish interpretations of Piaget's and Vygotsky's theories of child development with the language of theoretical computer science. Using these interpretations, I argue that the two different possible routes to Piagetian disequilibrium -- a tendency to overaccommodate, and a tendency to overassimilate -- are equivalent to the two distinct cultural tendencies, collectivistism and individualism. I argue that this simple characterization of overaccommodation versus overassimilation provides a satisfying explanation as to why the two cultural tendencies differ in the way they empirically do. All such notions are grounded on a firm mathematical framework for those who prefer the computable, and grounded on my personal history for those who prefer the uncomputable.
- The Value Function of Human-Compatible AI
It seems that complexity theory has a surprising relationship with morality. Generally, if a decision renders the environment seemingly more complex than another decision, this decision is considered moral.
- How to Do Things With Metaphors
A Markov Chain algorithm can "learn" by being fed some text, and then it can generate some string of words according to the aforementioned assumptions. To give a feel of what this does, I have written a simple Markov Chain algorithm, fed it some of my own poetry, and asked it to spit some back out:
They seep and leap and feel and all other
As you can see, Markov Chains are painfully limited and there is nothing interesting about them, nothing they can reveal about the poetic process, nothing about human cognition. But conceptual science can show us a better way.
mouths seemed occupied with drooling moist. Besides her bed, a bed
full of lava. Why won’t you melt inside of me? Your components are nice,
and they looked at the sky and their faces grew
red, and they sang in despair a lullaby rhythm. The
rain, rolling by like guilty trains.
- Hobbes and Xunzi on Human Nature: the Fixed and the Changing
The object is the fixed, the existent; the configuration is the changing, the variable. (TLP 2.0271, Wittgenstein)