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Comment author: Laoch 28 May 2017 06:32:46PM *  0 points [-]

Whenever I come across a conversation concerning the mind and it's relation to physics I think of what a Cognitive science lecturer of mine had to say on the subject.

Physicalism is a form of insistence that there is some mind-independent description of the world. Any definition of > the physical brings with it the concomitant necessity to define the mental. I'm sorry if my writing is unclear on this, but > it attempts to point out that there is no "easy route" through an appeal to the physical, as any appeal to the physical necessarily depends on some view of the mystical, magical, never to be seen, mental. Physicalism is thus not any kind of plausible metaphysics.

Comment author: Laoch 24 May 2017 01:50:12PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: entirelyuseless 24 May 2017 01:10:29PM 2 points [-]

"Ahntharhapik" = "anthropic"

"khanfhighur" = "configuration"

Comment author: Chriswaterguy 24 May 2017 05:11:48AM *  0 points [-]

Out of curiosity, do we know anything about the native language of the hero? Ahntharhapik and khanfhighur don't seem to be from existing languages.

Is there anything significant here for the story, or is Eliezer (say) just avoiding the assumption that the hero is an English speaker?

Comment author: accolade 24 May 2017 02:49:06AM *  0 points [-]

Pretty much deader than disco, but my inet-fu was able to dig up the following excerpts of the original article (from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/25019/overcoming-procrastination):

“Too many people set goals that are simply unrealistic. Too big, they want it too soon, and they wonder why they don’t have any results in their life. What happens to a person who is consistently setting big goals that are outside of their scope, outside of their belief system, and they keep coming short of them? What kind of pattern does it set up in their mind? That sort of person starts to say, ‘Why do I bother with this goal setting stuff—I don’t ever achieve anything.’

“Set yourself a goal that is realistic, something you can see that isn’t too far and isn’t overpowering, not too far away, but at the same time, giving you a bit of a stretch, getting you out of your comfort zone. And once you’ve done that, and you’ve built your belief, you’ve built your power, then you set yourself another realistic goal, with another stretch factor. And once you’ve done that, another one. So it’s like a series of stepping stones, still getting you in the same direction, but having a staggered approach. Also, the wrong goal is something that’s too low. It doesn’t stimulate you, drive you, because you’ve done it before or you can do it or it’s simple. It doesn’t give you that drive, to give you that ‘take action step,’ to beat procrastination and help you as well.”

Also since I have evidently no life, I mini-doxed Sam in case someone would like to ask him whether he still has a copy of the whole article, lol:

Comment author: Zaq 24 May 2017 01:38:25AM 0 points [-]

I see three distinct issues with the argument you present.

First is line 1 of your reasoning. A finite universe does not entail a finite configuration space. I think the cleanest way to see this is through superposition. If |A> and |B> are two orthogonal states in the configuration space, then so are all states of the form a|A> + b|B>, where a and b are complex numbers with |a|^2 + |b|^2 = 1. There are infinitely many such numbers we can use, so even from just two orthogonal states we can build an infinite configuration space. That said, there's something called Poincare recurrence which is sort of what you want here, except...

Line 4 is in error. Even if you did have a finite configuration space, a non-static point could just evolve in a loop, which need not cover every element of the configuration space. Two distinct points could evolve in loops that never go anywhere near each other.

Finally, even if you could guarantee that two distinct points would each eventually evolve through some common point A, line 6 does not necessarily follow because it is technically possible to have a situation where both evolutions do in fact reach A infinitely many times, but never simultaneously. Admittedly though, it would require fine-tuning to ensure that two initially-distinct states never hit "nearly A" at the same time, which might be enough.

Comment author: Raemon 23 May 2017 09:05:18PM 1 point [-]
In response to Timeless Identity
Comment author: Variable 22 May 2017 11:37:25AM 0 points [-]

There is no situation where two same objects can be observed in the same place at the same time.

If we were to ignore their physical location and we are looking at a flowing action - time will split them the moment one is copied. Their first experience will be different, creating two different identities.

If we were to ignore the location and observe them both in a certain moment of time. This would be similar to looking at two identical photos of the same person, we would not be able to spot a difference in their identity unless we press the "Play" button again.

I assume there is no identity without time. And where is time, there are no exact copies.

Comment author: Caspar42 18 May 2017 12:11:57PM *  2 points [-]

In chapter 0.6 of his book Evidence, Decision and Causality, Arif Ahmed also argues that Calvinist predestination is like Newcomb's problem.

Comment author: ciruclucli 18 May 2017 08:11:36AM 0 points [-]


Comment author: themusicgod1 17 May 2017 03:08:42PM 0 points [-]

Here's what you actually wanted to link to for "looking back"

Comment author: Raemon 17 May 2017 01:47:42PM 0 points [-]

Yes, will do soon. I kept putting it off because I wanted to do a good summary of said notes but kept not having time. But I'll err on the side of posting something soon

Comment author: Jiro 17 May 2017 12:07:12PM *  0 points [-]

Why are you so convinced that video game characters don't have subjective experiences?

The default for 99.99% of people is to not believe that video game characters are conscious. It's so common a belief that I am justified in assuming it unless you specifically tell me that you don't share it. You haven't told me that.

Comment author: oge 17 May 2017 08:14:05AM 1 point [-]

Hey Ray, would you mind posting the notes from the unconference? With the CFAR hackathon coming up, the notes might give me ideas of hacks to work on.

Comment author: thetasafe 17 May 2017 02:36:39AM 0 points [-]

Sir, please tell me if the 'pdf' you're referring to as taking out every year and asking how much safety would it buy about "Oracle AI" of Sir Nick Bostrom is the same as "Thinking inside the box: using and controlling an Oracle AI" and if so, then has your perspective changed over the years given your comment dated to August, 2008 and if in case you've been referring to a 'pdf' other than the one I came across, please provide me the 'pdf' and your perspectives along. Thank you!

In response to comment by Jiro on Nonperson Predicates
Comment author: John_Mlynarski 15 May 2017 03:13:16AM 0 points [-]

I said no such thing.

There is a way in which people believe video game characters, tigers, and human beings to be conscious. That doesn't preclude believing in another way that any of them is conscious.

Tigers are obviously conscious in the no-nonsense sense. I don't think anything is conscious in the philosobabble sense, i.e. I don't believe in souls, even if they're not called souls; see my reply to arundelo. I'm not sure which sense you consider to be the "ordinary" one; "conscious" isn't exactly an everyday word, in my experience.

Video game characters may also be obviously conscious, but there's probably better reason to believe that that which is obvious is not correct, in that case. Tigers are far more similar to human beings than they are to video game characters.

But I do think that we shouldn't casually dismiss consciousnesses that we're aware of. We shouldn't assume that everything that we're aware of is real, but we should consider the possibility. Why are you so convinced that video game characters don't have subjective experiences? If it's just that it's easy to understand how they work, then we might be just as "non-conscious" to a sufficiently advanced mind as such simple programs are to us; that seems like a dubious standard.

Comment author: gwern 14 May 2017 07:25:42PM 4 points [-]

"Ten Lessons I wish I Had Been Taught", Gian-Carlo Rota 1997:

4. You are more likely to be remembered by your expository work

Let us look at two examples, beginning with Hilbert. When we think of Hilbert, we think of a few of his great theorems, like his basis theorem. But Hilbert's name is more often remembered for his work in number theory, his Zahlbericht, his book Foundations of Geometry and for his text on integral equations. The term "Hilbert space" was introduced by Stone and von Neumann in recognition of Hilbert's textbook on integral equations, in which the word "spectrum" was first defined at least twenty years before the discovery of quantum mechanics. Hilbert's textbook on integral equations is in large part expository, leaning on the work of Hellinger and several other mathematicians whose names are now forgotten.

Similarly, Hilbert's Foundations of Geometry, the book that made Hilbert's name a household word among mathematicians, contains little original work, and reaps the harvest of the work of several geometers, such as Kohn, Schur (not the Schur you have heard of), Wiener (another Wiener), Pasch, Pieri and several other Italians. Again, Hilbert's Zahlbericht, a fundamental contribution that revolutionized the field of number theory, was originally a survey that Hilbert was commissioned to write for publication in the Bulletin of the German Mathematical Society.

William Feller is another example. Feller is remembered as the author of the most successful treatise on probability ever written. Few probabilists of our day are able to cite more than a couple of Feller's research papers; most mathematicians are not even aware that Feller had a previous life in convex geometry.

Allow me to digress with a personal reminiscence. I sometimes publish in a branch of philosophy called phenomenology. After publishing my first paper in this subject, I felt deeply hurt when, at a meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, I was rudely told in no uncertain terms that everything I wrote in my paper was well known. This scenario occurred more than once, and I was eventually forced to reconsider my publishing standards in phenomenology.

It so happens that the fundamental treatises of phenomenology are written in thick, heavy philosophical German. Tradition demands that no examples ever be given of what one is talking about. One day I decided, not without serious misgivings, to publish a paper that was essentially an updating of some paragraphs from a book by Edmund Husserl, with a few examples added. While I was waiting for the worst at the next meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, a prominent phenomenologist rushed towards me with a smile on his face. He was full of praise for my paper, and he strongly encouraged me to further develop the novel and original ideas presented in it.

"Ten Lessons for the Survival of a Mathematics Department":

6. Write expository papers

When I was in graduate school, one of my teachers told me, "When you write a research paper, you are afraid that your result might already be known; but when you write an expository paper, you discover that nothing is known."

Not only is it good for you to write an expository paper once in a while, but such writing is essential for the survival of mathematics. Look at the most influential writings in mathematics of the last hundred years. At least half of them would have to be classified as expository. Let me put it to you in the P.R. language that you detest. It is not enough for you (or anyone) to have a good product to sell; you must package it right and advertise it properly. Otherwise you will go out of business.

Now don't tell me that you are a pure mathematician and therefore that you are above and beyond such lowly details. It is the results of pure mathematics and not of applied mathematics that are most sought-after by physicists and engineers (and soon, we hope, by biologists as well). Let us do our best to make our results available to them in a language they can understand. If we don't, they will some day no longer believe we have any new results, and they will cut off our research funds. Remember, they are the ones who control the purse strings since we mathematicians have always proven ourselves inept in all political and financial matters.

Comment author: Jiro 12 May 2017 08:32:23AM *  1 point [-]

You first implied that tigers are conscious (because people react to them as if conscious.)

I pointed out that people react that way to video game characters.

You then said that tigers are conscious in the same way as video game characters, that is, they're not conscious in the ordinary sense, that is, you admitted you were wrong.

Comment author: John_Mlynarski 12 May 2017 01:53:41AM *  0 points [-]

But saying that e.g. rats are not sentient in the context of concern about the treatment of sentient beings is like saying that Negroes are not men in the context of the Declaration of Independence. Not only are the purely semantic aspects dubious, but excluding entities from a moral category on semantic grounds seems like a severe mistake regardless.

Words like "sentience" and especially "consciousness" are often used to refer to the soul without sounding dogmatic about it. You can tell this from the ways people use them: "Would a perfect duplicate of you have the same consciousness?", "Are chimps conscious?", etc. You can even use such terminology in such ways if you're a materialist who denies the existence of souls. You'd sound crazy talking about souls like they're real things if you say that there are no such things as souls, wouldn't you? Besides, souls are supernatural. Consciousness, on the other hand, is an emergent phenomenon, which sounds much more scientific.

Is there good reason to think that there is some sort of psychic élan vital? It strikes me as probably being about as real as phlogiston or luminiferous aether; i.e. you can describe phenomena in terms of the concept, and it doesn't necessarily prevent you from doing so basically correctly, but you can do better without it.

And, of course, in the no-nonsense senses of the terms, rats are sentient, conscious, aware, or however else you want to put it. Not all of the time, of course. They can also be asleep or dead or other things, as can humans, but rats are often sentient. And it's not hard to tell that plenty of non-humans also experience mental phenomena, which is why it's common knowledge that they do.

I can't recall ever seeing an argument that mistreating minds without self-awareness or metacognition or whatever specific mental faculty is arbitrarily singled out, is kinder or more just or in any normal sense more moral than mistreating a mind without it. And you can treat any position as a self-justifying axiom, so doing so doesn't work out to an argument for the position's truth in anything but a purely relativist sense.

It is both weird and alarming to see Eliezer arguing against blindly assuming that a mind is too simple to be "sentient" while also pretty clearly taking the position that anything much simpler than our own minds isn't. It really seems like he rather plainly isn't following his own advice, and that that could happen without him realizing it is very worrying. He has admitted that this is something he's confused about and is aware that others are more inclusive, but that doesn't seem to have prompted him to rethink his position all that much, which suggests that Eliezer is really confused about this in a way that may be hard to correct.

Looking for a nonperson predicate is kind of seeking an answer to the question "Who is it okay to do evil things to?" I would like to suggest that the correct answer is "No one", and that asking the question in the first place is a sign that you made a big mistake somewhere if you're trying to avoid being evil.

If having the right not to have something done to you just means that it's morally wrong to do that thing to you, then everything has rights. Making a rock suffer against it will would be, if anything, particularly evil, as it would require you to go out of your way to give the rock a will and the capacity to suffer. Obviously, avoiding violating anything's rights requires an ability to recognize what something wills, what will cause it to suffer, and/or etc. Those are useful distinctions. But it seems like Eliezer is talking about something different.

Has he written anything more recently on this subject?

In response to comment by Jiro on Nonperson Predicates
Comment author: John_Mlynarski 11 May 2017 10:50:06PM *  0 points [-]

It seems that you anticipate as if you believe in something that you don't believe you believe.

It's in that anticipatory, non-declarative sense that one believes in the awareness of tigers as well as video game characters, regardless of one's declarative beliefs, and even if one has no time for declarative beliefs.

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