M-THEORY or MEMBRANE THEORY
See: STRING THEORY
MacARTHUR, Douglas (1880-1964)
American imperialist general, who was in charge of the war in the Pacific during World War II, the viceroy of Japan (1945-1951), and the military director of the “U.N.” (i.e. American controlled) imperialist forces during the Korean War. In Korea he wanted to extend the war by attacking China, including quite possibly with nuclear weapons. Because of these reckless demands (even by imperialist standards) he was removed from his position by President Truman in April 1951.
See also: BONUS ARMY
MACH, Ernst (1838-1916)
Austrian physicist and philosopher. Mach was one of the founders of “empirio-criticism”, a form of positivism or idealist empiricism. Mach viewed reality as a “complex of sensations”, which is a prominent form of subjective idealism. Lenin strongly criticizes Mach’s views, and subjective idealism in general, in his important philosophical work, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (1908).
One of Mach’s idealist notions was that a great many entities we talk about in science, such as molecules and atoms, do not actually have any real existence, but are merely “theoretical constructs” which we have found to be useful in conceptualizing how the world works despite their non-existence! In the case of atoms and molecules, it was only in his old age, shortly before his death, and long after the further absolute confirmation of the existence of molecules and atoms by many experiments, and with Einstein’s theoretical explanation of Brownian motion which depended on the actual existence of atoms and molecules, did Mach finally, yet still reluctantly, admit that atoms probably really did exist.
See also: NEUTRAL MONISM, VIENNA CIRCLE
MACH’S PRINCIPLE (or CONJECTURE) (Philosophy of Science)
The vague hypothesis that “mass there influences inertia here”. According to Mach both inertia and gravitation are consequences of the general distribution of matter in the universe.
Mach was an extreme relativist. While Newton argued that there were such things as “absolute space” and “absolute time”, Mach would have none of either. He argued that the notions of rest and motion are meaningless except against a material background as a reference. More specifically, he argued that the local physical laws observed on the earth depend on the large-scale distribution of matter in the universe, or—as is often said—upon the existence of the “fixed stars”. Newton had pointed out that if you spin two spheres tied together around a point between them there will be a tension on the rope, a tension that is not there if the two spheres are not spinning. This he took to be a method of distinguishing one type of relative motion from absolute rest. Since Mach was determined to explain all motion as being entirely relative, he had to explain why there was tension in the rope in one case and not the other. The best he could come up with was to claim that “somehow” the existence of the rest of the matter in the universe creates the inertia in the spheres that causes the rope between them to have tension when they are spun relative to that external mass (the “fixed stars”). He used a similar argument about why the water in a spinning bucket has a concave shape even after the bucket itself is no longer moving relative to that water.
The modern view in physics is that both Newton and Mach were at least partly wrong; the result is sort of a dialectical synthesis of the ideas of absolute and relative space in the form of inertial frames. (See the Wikipedia article on inertial frames.)
Einstein had great respect for Mach as a person and for his early writings on mechanics, but as time went on he had more and more negative attitudes towards Mach’s philosophical views, such as his notion that the laws of science are merely economical ways of describing a large collection of facts. And with respect to “Mach’s Principle” (which, ironically, Einstein himself had given that name to and was for a long time quite enthusiastic about), he eventually concluded that “As a matter of fact, one should no longer speak of Mach’s principle at all.”
See also below, and: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DEEP LEARNING
MACHINE LEARNING — Reliability Of
“It can be a scary thing to trust a decision that we don’t
understand—and it should be scary. Machine-learning algorithms learn from whatever is
in their training data, even if their training data is full of the behaviors of biased
humans. In other words, when we are using machine-learning algorithms, we get exactly
what we ask for—for better or worse. For example, an algorithm that sees hiring
decisions biased by race or gender will predict biased hiring decisions, and an
algorithm that sees racial bias in parole decisions will learn to imitate this bias
when making its own parole decisions. After all, we didn’t ask those algorithms what
the best decision would have been. We only asked them to predict which decisions the
humans in its training data would have made.
“The moral of this story is not to expect artificial intelligence to be fair or impartial or to have the faintest clue about what our goals are. Instead, we should expect A.I. to merely try its best to give us exactly what we ask for, and we should be very careful what we ask for.” —Janelle Shane, “The Spooky Side of Machine Learning”, New York Times, Oct. 28, 2018.
[Of course this is only in reference to what is being called “artificial intelligence” today. More genuine artificial intelligence would include many additional algorithms beyond those of the single focus predictions or decisions of current A-I programs, and could conceivably even include explicit moral and class points of view. Naturally, in bourgeois society both the tacit and explicit viewpoints and moral perspectives will inevitably be those of the capitalist ruling class. A-I programs, like everything else in bourgeois society, will always reflect bourgeois goals and biases. —Ed.]
MACHINE TRACTOR STATION (MTS)
A local centralized facility making tractors and other agricultural machinery available to collective and state farms (kolkhozy and sovkhozy) in the Soviet Union. MTSs were initiated in 1927-28, and existed until 1958 in the Khrushchev era when the machinery was transferred to individual collective farms.
“The tractor had long been seen as the key to collectivization. In the autumn of 1927 the large Shevchenko Sovkhoz in the Ukraine managed to acquire 60 to 70 tractors, which were organized in ‘tractor columns’ to work its own fields and those of neighboring Kolkhozy or peasant holdings. The example was imitated elsewhere; and in 1928 Shevchenko established the first Machine Tractor Station (MTS) with a park of tractors to be leased out to Kolkhozy and Sovkhozy in the region. In June 1929 a central office, Traktorsentr, was set up in Moscow to organize and control a network of state MTSs. Peasant prejudices against the innovation, and perhaps against the degree of state intervention involved in it, were hard to overcome. Tractors were sometimes denounced as the work of [the] Anti-Christ. The success of the experiment seemed, however, to have been limited mainly by the supply of tractors; in the autumn of 1929 only 35,000, most of them of American manufacture, were available for the whole of the USSR. Everywhere it came, the tractor was a powerful agent of collectivization.” —E.H. Carr, non-Marxist British historian, The Russian Revolution from Lenin to Stalin (1917-1929) (1979), ch. 16.
MACHINE TRANSLATION (From One Language to Another)
The translation of a text written in one natural language (such as Spanish) into another natural language (such as English) by a computer program. Machine translation is improving though it is still quite crude for the most part. The algorithms used by even the best current (2018) machine translation programs, such as those available on Google, are very deficient because these programs really do not understand the meanings of the words and sentences they are “translating”, particularly in the specific contexts where they occur. Precise and high quality machine translation will require something approaching human-level intelligence on the part of the translation program.
“The process of translation depends crucially on the intermediate phase in which memories and concepts are triggered—an unavoidable phase usually called ‘understanding’. And this process involves putting together all the indications that grammar gives us about how the ideas fit together in a sensible patern. No translation worthy of the term can afford to ignore the meaning of the text to be translated, and meaning can be grasped only if complex grammatical constructions are taken into account, which means making a precise linguistic analysis of the text, which today’s translation engines are unable to do.” —Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander, Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking (2013), p. 376.
MACKINDER, Halford (1861-1947)
English geographer and imperialist politician most famous for his “Heartland Theory” which is often said to mark the beginning of the subject of geopolitics. The essence of this theory is summed up in his oft-repeated aphorism: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island [Eurasia plus Africa]; who rules the World-Island commands the world.” [Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality (1919), p. 150.] Mackinder was indeed an imperialist thinker, who was greatly concerned about the growing inability of British naval power to continue dominating the world.
Britain, along with many other imperialist countries (including France and the United States) invaded revolutionary Russia after the end of World War I in order to try to suppress the Bolsheviks who had achieved working-class power and had begun to create a socialist system beginning in October 1917. Mackinder was fiercely anti-Bolshevik and was therefore sent to Southern Russia where he was British High Commissioner in late 1919 and early 1920. In that position he promoted British imperial interests and worked to support and unite the White Russian forces in the Russian civil war (i.e., those forces opposed to the Bolsheviks who fought for the return of the Tsar).
A term used (mostly in bourgeois economics) to refer to the study of the whole economy, or large areas of the economy, as opposed to microeconomics.
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