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pwno comments on Recommended reading for new rationalists - Less Wrong

27 Post author: XFrequentist 09 July 2009 07:47PM

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Comment author: pwno 10 July 2009 12:56:41AM 3 points [-]

It's a good book to introduce people to a reductionist perspective on consciousness.

Comment author: SilasBarta 10 July 2009 01:51:49AM 3 points [-]

Then it's waaaaaay too long to use as an introduction! In any case, I don't feel I gained in any insight on that topic after reading it.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 10 July 2009 07:15:06AM 2 points [-]

Agreed. I found it entertaining fluff (but I was familiar with mathematical logic already). What do those who rate it highly here see in it?

Comment author: Bo102010 10 July 2009 12:24:37PM 5 points [-]

I didn't rate it, but I think it should be on any aspiring intellectual's to-be-eventually-read list. It's so flipping clever!

Metamagical Themas, Hofstadter's collection of Scientific American columns, might be slightly better for rationalist reading. It's thick, but you can pick and choose what columns to read. And there's sections on rationality and game theory that would be titillating to any beginner.

Comment author: SilasBarta 10 July 2009 02:24:14PM 2 points [-]

Now that I will have to agree with you on, but only because the essays are self-contained so you can just read the good stuff. Among other things, here's what's relevant to rationality and AI:

-The discussion on typography, which I found very interesting. Hofstadter makes a good case that general character recognition is AI-complete. ("The central problem of AI is 'What is "A" and what is "I"?'")

-The three-part intro to Lisp, which gives you a good and short (though IMHO too gushing) intro to what's useful about Lisp.

-A great discussion on analogies that starts from "Who is the First Lady (president's wife) of England, if the prime minister is Margaret Thatcher (a woman)?" That's useful for understanding intelligence.

Comment author: Bo102010 11 July 2009 02:49:17AM 0 points [-]

There is an article that explains how perfectly rational people should play a game while realizing the other people are also perfectly rational. You can see some of it on Google Books and an overview at Wikipedia.

Wikipedia - Superrationality has an explanation of his take on the Prisoner's Dilemma.

It's a great book overall, but I did skip a few articles.