23 FEB 2015 by ideonexus

 Outside Context Problem

The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbors were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation wa...
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18 MAR 2013 by ideonexus

 Humans are "Tool Complexes"

Humans are tool complexes—hands for certain tasks, feet, ears, teeth. etc., for others. Using their human tool complexes, human minds, comprebending variable interrelationship principles, invent detached-from-self tools—the bucket can lift out more water from the well than can a pair of cupped human hands—that are more special-case-effective but not used as frequently as their organically integral tools. Humans invent craft tools and industrial tools. The latter are all the tools that c...
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Similar to a memeplex body of knowledge or a biological complex of living things.

01 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Thinking About Aliens Stretches the Imagination

The virtue of thinking about life elsewhere is that it forces us to stretch our imaginations. Can we think of alternative solutions to biological problems already solved in one particular way on Earth? For example, the wheel is a comparatively recent invention on the planet Earth. It seems to have been invented in the ancient Near East less than ten thousand years ago. In fact, the high civilizations of Meso- America, the Aztecs and the Mayas, never employed the wheel, except for children's t...
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The possible life that could evolve in other environments is an imaginative treasure chest.

(TODO: The wheeled organisms described here appear in the Amber Spyglass by Pullman)