knowledge and options

The School of Athens (detail). Fresco, Stanza ...

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what is knowledge?

Knowledge is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as

(i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject;

(ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information;

or (iii) be absolutely certain or sure about something: .

Philosophical debates in general start with Plato’s formulation of knowledge as “justified true belief.” There is however no single agreed definition of knowledge presently, nor any prospect of one, and there remain numerous competing theories. Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association and reasoning. The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject with the ability to use it for a specific purpose if appropriate. See knowledge management for additional details on that discipline.

and now Which Of These Ten Magical Items Would You Choose? And Why?

  1. A pot that can produce 1,000 kilograms of any food a day.
  2. A bracelet that keeps weather perfect wherever you go and within a 250 kilometre radius.
  3. A necklace that allows you to touch books and instantly absorb knowledge from them, without reading.
  4. An unlimited bottle of perfume that will make you wildly attractive to the opposite sex (or same sex if you’re gay), which cannot be used on anyone you love.
  5. A watch that allows you to reverse time by a minute or less per day.
  6. A bell that when rang fixes any one object at a time, excluding living things, within a minute.
  7. A chocolate bar, with twelve pieces, that makes anyone who eats a single piece invincible and youthful until the age of 160.
  8. A no fuel required, maintenance free, eight person van that can take you anywhere on the planet within one second.
  9. A remote control that allows you and another person to change, superficially, into anyone you want; the effect lasts until you decide to revert.
  10. An immortal dog that poops out one gold coin every time it goes to the bathroom.

    here is the appropriate answer to those options and it’s reason.

  1. Caviar sells for around $2,000 per pound. The cheapest I could find in a quick search is $270 per pound. If you sold 1,000 kg of caviar at $200/lb, you would make about $441,000. The problem here is the economy would not scale very well with this tactic. You would also require a significant initial investment (canning factories and distribution) but could start slow by selling to local grocery stores and restaurants and severely undercutting the competition. Eventually this could make you very wealthy. You can also feed about 1,000 people every day with this amount of food. If you ever feel like pulling a Thoreau, go for it. You would only need to sort out clean water and shelter.
  2. This bracelet’s biggest benefit is that it would allow you to live anywhere on Earth. Almost all land is claimed by some country or another. However, some very remote and otherwise uninhabitable areas, like Marie Byrd Land, could be claimed and occupied. If any country chose to threaten your new territory or take it by force, you could simply leave and allow it to revert to the wasteland it once was. Eventually the international community would get the point and you’d have your very own country. The downside here would be the unspeakably awful environmental damage you could do by melting western antarctica.
  3. Your ability to learn anything printed at such a rapid pace could prove extremely useful. Career changes would always be possible, gaining professional credentials would require little more than some paperwork and a trip to the library, and you would have the opportunity to better your knowledge and potentially yourself by absorbing works in the Humanities. Bear in mind, this ability only allows you to learn things that other people know. Creativity and innovation sold separately.
  4. A scenario: Meet a stranger. Stranger is wildly attracted to you (fuck yeah, perfume) and you are attracted to them. Begin dating. You end up falling in love. The moment this happens, your newfound love realizes he or she is no longer attracted to you. You realize that this perfume causes people who mean nothing to you flock to you, but anyone who matters in your life treats you like a strange dream. You learn to never love another person again.
  5. This watch is dangerous simply because no one is sure how time works. Take it to vegas. Watch a few spins of the roulette wheel and use your watch to go back one minute. Will that marble land in the same slot? Or, will the change in your involvement affect the outcome of the spin? Furthermore, that it is limited to one minute would mean that you are only able to redo quick decisions and would only be able to do so in the moment. Since you can do this once per day, you only get one do-over if you mess up. To my mind, this could get out of hand fairly quickly.
  6. This bell would allow you to very cheaply and easily start a repair shop. It works quickly, but it is also limited to your own physical location. You could open a ferrari repair shop and make a lot of money in one minute, but much like the food maker, this would be difficult to scale. Beyond the ability to make money, you could do good by restoring the worlds damaged historical artifacts, recover lost manuscripts, or anything else museums world-wide would enjoy.
  7. Grant yourself and 11 friends what amounts to 2 extra healthy, adult lives. This could go either way, depending on whether your life is shitty or not. I’m not sure how you could use this to generate profit or do much good in the world.
  8. The usefulness of this van would depend on whether or not it requires roads, or if it could simply materialize in any location. Museum heists could be simple if the latter is true. Transporting anything in large amounts would be fast but tedious, given the size of an 8-person van compared to, say, a freight train.
  9. The amount of evil that you could do with this remote control is enormous. You could very easily destroy lives, hundreds of lives, every single day. You could use it for good, but any good that could be done would necessarily be based on deception.
  10. A very low estimate for the cost of gold would be something like $200/oz. or $3,200 per pound. This is marginally higher than selling rare foods under option 1, but only if your magic dog can shit out 1,000 kg of shitgold in a day. Unlike the food maker, you are limited here to only gold. If gold becomes worthless, so does your dog.

In light of the above, option 1 seems to be the best. With this option, a lot of unfortunate consequences are avoided, you are able to make money, you could remove yourself from society if you want, and you could help a lot of starving people. Plus, the value of the foodstuffs will likely go down when you start pushing it out by the kilo; and the shitgold won’t be worth as much as regular gold once people find out where it’s coming from.



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