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Steps of a stair are plainly contrived, that human legs may use them in mounting; and this inference is certain and in fallible. Human legs are also contrived for walk ing and mounting; and this inference, I allow, is not altogether so certain, because of the dissimi larity which you remark; but does it, therefore, deserve the name only of presumption or con jecture? Good God! Zealous defenders of religion al low, that the proofs of a Deity fall short of perfect evidence!

For what other name can I give them? Now, however much I may dissent, in other respects, from the dangerous principles of CLEANTHES, I must allow, that he has fair ly represented that argument; and I shall endea vour so to state the matter to you, that you will entertain no farther scruples with regard to it. Were a man to abstract from every thing which he knows or has seen, he would be altoge ther incapable, merely from his own ideas, to determine what kind of scene the universe must be, or to give the preference to one state or si tuation of things above another.

For as nothing which he clearly conceives, could be esteemed impossible or implying a contradiction, every chi mera of his fancy would be upon an equal foot ing; nor could he assign any just reason, why he adheres to one idea or system, and rejects the others, which are equally possible. Again; after he opens his eyes, and contem plates the world, as it really is, it would be im possible for him, at first, to assign the cause of any one event; much less, of the whole of things or of the universe.

He might set his Fancy a rambling; and she might bring him in an infinite variety of reports and representations. These would all be possible; but being all equally pos sible, he would never, of himself, give a satisfac tory account for his preferring one of them to the rest. Experience alone can point out to him the true cause of any phenomenon. For aught we can know a priori, matter may contain the source or spring of order originally, within itself, as well as mind does; and there is no more difficulty in conceiving, that the several elements, from an internal un known cause, may fall into the most exquisite ar rangement, than to conceive that their ideas, in the great, universal mind, from a like internal, unknown cause, fall into that arrangement.

The equal possibility of both these suppositions is al lowed. Throw several pieces of steel to gether, without shape or form; they will never arrange themselves so as to compose a watch: Stone, and mortar, and wood, without an ar chitect, never erect a house. But the ideas in a human mind, we see, by an unknown, inex plicable oeconomy, arrange themselves so as to form the plan of a watch or house.

Experience, therefore, proves, that there is an original prin ciple of order in mind, not in matter. From similar effects we infer similar causes. The causes, therefore, must be resembling.

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I was from the beginning scandalised, I must own, with this resemblance, which is asserted, between the Deity and human creatures; and must conceive it to imply such a degradation of the Supreme Being as no found Theist could en dure. That all inferences, CLEANTHES, concerning fact, are founded on experience, and that all ex perimental reasonings are founded on the suppo sition, that similar causes prove similar effects, and similar effects similar causes; I shall not, at present, much dispute with you.

But observe, I intreat you, with what extreme caution all just reasoners proceed in the transferring of experiments to similar cases.


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Unless the cases be exactly si milar, they repose no perfect confidence in ap plying their past observation to any particular phe nomenon. Every alteration of circumstances oc casions a doubt concerning the event; and it re quires new experiments to prove certainly, that the new circumstances are of no moment or im portance. The slow and deliberate steps of philosophers, here, if any where, are distinguished from the precipi tate march of the vulgar, who, hurried on by the smallest similitude, are incapable of all discern ment or consideration.

But can you think, CLEANTHES, that your usual phlegm and philosophy have been preserved in so wide a step as you have taken, when you compared to the universe houses, ships, furniture, machines; and from their similarity in some circumstances inferred a similarity in their causes? Thought, design, intelligence, such as we disco ver in men and other animals, is no more than one of the springs and principles of the universe, as well as heat or cold, attraction or repulsion, and a hundred others, which fall under daily ob servation.


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It is an active cause, by which some particular parts of nature, we find, produce al terations on other parts. But can a conclusion, with any propriety, be transferred from parts to the whole? Does not the great disproportion bar all comparison and inference?

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Would the manner of a leaf's blowing, even though per fectly known, afford us any instruction concern ing the vegetation of a tree? But allowing that we were to take the opera tions of one part of nature upon another for the foundation of our judgement concerning the ori gin of the whole which never can be admitted yet why select so minute, so weak, so bounded a principle as the reason and design of animals is found to be upon this planet?

What peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call thought, that we must thus make it the model of the whole universe? Our partiality in our own favour does indeed present it on all oc casions; but sound philosophy ought carefully to guard against so natural an illusion.

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So far from admitting, continued PHILO, that the operations of a part can afford us any just conclusion concerning the origin of the whole, I will not allow any one part to form a rule for an other part, if the latter be very remote from the former. Is there any reasonable ground to con clude, that the inhabitants of other planets pos sess thought, intelligence, reason, or any thing similar to these faculties in men?

When Nature has so extremely diversified her manner of opera tion in this small globe; can we imagine, that she incessantly copies herself throughout so im mense a universe? The narrow views of a peasant, who makes his domestic oe conomy the rule for the government of kingdoms, is in comparison a pardonable sophism. But were we ever so much assured, that a thought and reason, resembling the human, were to be found throughout the whole universe, and were its activity elsewhere vastly greater and more commanding than it appears in this globe: yet I cannot see, why the operations of a world, con stituted, arranged, adjusted, can with any pro priety be extended to a world, which is in its embryo-state, and is advancing towards that con stitution and arrangement.

By observation, we know somewhat of the oeconomy, action, and nourishment of a finished animal; but we must transfer with great caution that observation to the growth of a foetus in the womb, and still more, to the formation of an animalcule in the loins of its male parent. Nature, we find, even from our limited experience, possesses an infinite num ber of springs and principles, which incessantly discover themselves on every change of her posi tion and situation.

And what new and unknown principles would actuate her in so new and un known a situation, as that of the formation of a universe, we cannot, without the utmost temerity, pretend to determine. Admirable conclusion! Stone, wood, brick, iron, brass, have not, at this time, in this minute globe of earth, an order or arrangement without human art and contrivance: therefore the universe could not originally attain its order and arrange ment, without something similar to human art. But is a part of nature a rule for another part very wide of the former? Is it a rule for the whole?

Is a very small part a rule for the uni verse? Is nature in one situation, a certain rule for nature in another situation, vastly different from the former? Could you even blame me, if I had answered at first, that I did not know, and was sensible that this subject lay vastly beyond the reach of my fa culties?

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When two species of objects have always been observed to be conjoined together, I can infer, by custom, the existence of one, where-ever I see the existence of the other: and this I call an argument from experience. But how this argu ment can have place, where the objects, as in the present case, are single, individual, without pa rallel, or specific resemblance, may be difficult to explain.

And will any man tell me with a serious countenance, that an orderly universe must arise from some thought and art, like the human; be cause we have experience of it? To ascertain this reasoning, it were requisite, that we had ex perience of the origin of worlds; and it is not sufficient surely, that we have seen ships and cities arise from human art and contrivance You know, that the vulgar often distinguish reason from experience, even where the question relates only to matter of fact and existence; though it is found, where that reason is properly analyzed, that it is nothing but a species of experience.

Have you other earths, might he say, which you have seen to move? Is not the moon another earth, which we see to turn round its centre? Accusations of Russian influence via social media on the U. Earlier, in the summer of , participants in this canvassing submitted concerns about misinformation in online discourse creating distorted views.

When opinions based on misinformation are given the same weight as those of experts and propelled to create online activity, we tread a dangerous path.

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Online social behaviour, without community-imposed guidelines, is subject to many potentially negative forces. In particular, social online communities such as Facebook also function as marketing tools, where sensationalism is widely employed and community members who view this dialogue as their news source gain a very distorted view of current events and community views on issues.

This is exacerbated with social network and search engine algorithms effectively sorting what people see to reinforce worldviews. And these entities sure know how to circumvent any protection in place. Russian troll armies are a good example of something that will become more and more common in the future. Soon, everyone will have to take off their shoes and endure a cavity search before boarding the internet.

Most respondents said it is likely that the coming decade will see a widespread move to more-secure services, applications, and platforms and more robust user-identification policies. Some said people born into the social media age will adapt. Some predict that more online systems will require clear identification of participants.

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Some experts in this canvassing say progress is already being made on some fronts toward better technological and human solutions. The future Web will give people much better ways to control the information that they receive, which will ultimately make problems like trolling manageable. David Karger. Free speech will remain possible, although AI filtering will make a major dent on how views are expressed, and hate speech will be blocked. Of course, any filters and algorithms will create issues around what is being filtered out and what values are embedded in algorithms.

Second, software is getting better and more nuanced in sentiment analysis, making it easier for software to augment our filtering out of trolls. Third, we are at peak identity crisis and a new wave of people want to cross the gap in dialogue to connect with others before the consequences of being tribal get worse Brexit, Trump, etc.

In the not too distant future all this work will yield results. Trolling, doxxing, echo chambers, click-bait, and other problems can be solved. We will be able to ascribe sources and track provenance in order to increase the accuracy and trustworthiness of information online. Technology will mediate who and what we see online more and more, so that we are drawn more toward communities with similar interests than those who are dissimilar. Lindsay Kenzig. Some experts expect that these trends will continue and even more partitions, divisions and exclusions may emerge as measures are taken to clean things up.

For instance, it is expected that the capabilities of AI-based bots dispatched to assist with information sorting, security, and regulation of the tone and content of discourse will continue to be refined. There will still be some places where you can find those with whom to argue, but they will be more concentrated into only a few locations than they are now. There will also be private spaces maintained by individuals and groups for specific purposes.

An increased demand for systemic internet-based AI will create bots that will begin to interact — as proxies for the humans that train them — with humans online in real-time and with what would be recognized as conversational language, not the word-parroting bot behavior we see on Twitter now. The unfortunate aspect of this iteration of the filter bubble means that while free speech itself will not be affected, people will project their voices into the chasm, but few will hear them.

The expert comments in response to this canvassing were recorded in the summer of ; by early , after many events Brexit, the U.

Some participants in this canvassing said they expect the already-existing continuous arms race dynamic will expand, as some people create and apply new measures to ride herd over online discourse while others constantly endeavor to thwart them. That is terrifying if we do not have sound, smart, calm leadership. A share of respondents said greater regulation of speech and technological solutions to curb harassment and trolling will result in more surveillance, censorship and cloistered communities.

While several respondents indicated that there is no longer a chance of anonymity online, many say privacy and choice are still options, and they should be protected. Terrorism and harassment by trolls will be presented as the excuses, but the effect will be dangerous for democracy.