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How AI turned William James into a Drug Warrior

letter to the editors of New Scientist

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher




October 6, 2023

In response to Daniel Cossins' 2018 article about "Discriminating Algorithms:

We need another article from Daniel, this time about "Politically Correct Algorithms" (aka "Philosophically Anachronistic Algorithms").

I recently visited deepai.org where I queried the AI version of William James. I wanted to know what James thought about the ongoing push to outlaw laughing gas in the UK and the US. The use of laughing gas, after all, convinced William James that we must study altered states in order to understand ultimate reality and the true nature of consciousness.

The response of the AI version of William James sounded suspiciously modern. Regarding laughing gas, he suggested that we "limit use to professionals."

That statement reflects a classic Drug Warrior lie: namely, that the only stakeholders in the legalization debate are the impressionable young people whom we fail to educate about substance use. But James was not programmed like that. He did not attend DARE classes as a kid that indoctrinated him in the drug-hating beliefs of Christian Science. He did not watch endless TV shows as a kid whose plots were tweaked by the White House to promote Drug War prejudices. He would have recognized, when pressed for elaboration, that laughing gas could be a godsend for the depressed and a worthy replacement for alcohol. Nor would he have advanced the elitist doctrine that only professionals should use the substance in order to achieve altered states.

You may say that these claims are debatable, but that is my whole point. It is wrong for AI algorithms to put modern answers in the mouths of historical figures by assuming that they would share our modern prejudices.

The AI programmers should instead have the honesty to respond to questions like mine with a humble disclaimer, stating that the query is far too "fraught" to conduce to a quick answer based on the parsing of Big Data.

Instead, they pretend that no answer is too hard for them, even if they have to falsify history in order to keep up that air of omniscience.




Next essay: There is nothing to debate: the drug war is wrong, root and branch
Previous essay: Physics has found a theory of everything

More Essays Here


LAUGHING GAS

Laughing gas is the substance that gave William James his philosophy of reality. He concluded from its use that what we perceive is just a fraction of reality writ large. Yet his alma mater (Harvard) does not even MENTION laughing gas in their bio of the man.
In a sane world, we'd package laughing gas for safe use and give it to the suicidal -- saying, "Use before attempting to kill yourself." But drug warriors would rather have suicide than drug use.
Now drug warriors have nitrous oxide in their sights, the substance that inspired the philosophy of William James. They're using the same tired MO: focusing exclusively on potential downsides and never mentioning the benefits of use, and/or denying that any exist.
WILLIAM JAMES

William James knew that there were substances that could elate. However, it never occurred to him that we should use such substances to prevent suicide. It seems James was blinded to this possibility by his puritanical assumptions.
So he writes about the mindset of the deeply depressed, reifying the condition as if it were some great "type" inevitably to be encountered in humanity. No. It's the "type" to be found in a post-Christian society that has turned up its scientific nose at psychoactive medicine.

essays about
ACADEMIA

Drug War U.
The Semmelweis Effect in the War on Drugs
Physics has found a theory of everything

essays about
LAUGHING GAS

Listening to Laughing Gas
Forbes Magazine's Laughable Article about Nitrous Oxide
Keep Laughing Gas Legal
William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas
The Criminalization of Nitrous Oxide is No Laughing Matter
Speaking Truth to Academia
How the Drug War is Threatening Intellectual Freedom in England
Why the FDA should not schedule Laughing Gas

essays about
WILLIAM JAMES

Drug War Agitprop
William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas
Why the FDA should not schedule Laughing Gas
How the Drug War is Threatening Intellectual Freedom in England
The Criminalization of Nitrous Oxide is No Laughing Matter
Keep Laughing Gas Legal
Listening to Laughing Gas



front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans



You have been reading an article entitled, How AI turned William James into a Drug Warrior: letter to the editors of New Scientist, published on October 6, 2023 on AbolishTheDEA.com. For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at abolishTheDEA.com. (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)