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Eliezer_Yudkowsky comments on Open Thread: July 2010, Part 2 - Less Wrong

6 Post author: Alicorn 09 July 2010 06:54AM

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Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 July 2010 09:04:11PM 5 points [-]

"Frogs have subjective experience" is the biggy, there's a number of other things I already know myself to be confused about which impact on that, and so I don't know exactly what I should be looking for in the frog that would make me think it had a sense of its own existence. Certainly there are any number of news items I could receive about the frog's mental abilities, brain complexity, type of algorithmic processing, ability to reflect on its own thought processes, etcetera, which would make me think it was more likely that the frog was what a non-confused person of myself would regard as fulfilling the predicate I currently call "capable of experiencing pain", as opposed to being a more complicated version of neural network reinforcement-learning algorithms that I have no qualms about running on a computer.

A simple example would be if frogs could recognize dots painted on them when seeing themselves in mirrors, or if frogs showed signs of being able to learn very simple grammar like "jump blue box". (If all human beings were being cryonically suspended I would start agitating for the chimpanzees.)

Comment author: DanielVarga 25 July 2010 07:14:12AM 3 points [-]

I am very surprised that you suggest that "having subjective experience" is a yes/no thing. I thought it is consensus opinion here that it is not. I am not sure about others on LW, but I would even go three steps further: it is not even a strict ordering of things. It is not even a partial ordering of things. I believe it can be only defined in the context of an Observer and an Object, where Observer gives some amount of weight to the theory that Object's subjective experience is similar to Observer's own.

Comment author: Blueberry 29 July 2010 12:15:57AM 1 point [-]

I thought it is consensus opinion here that it is not.

Links? I'd be interested in seeing what people on LW thought about this, if it's been discussed before. I can understand the yes/no position, or the idea that there's a blurry line somewhere between thermostats and humans, but I don't understand what you mean about the Observer and Object. The Observer in your example has subjective experience?

Comment author: Utilitarian 23 July 2010 08:19:37AM 3 points [-]

I like the way you phrased your concern for "subjective experience" -- those are the types of characteristics I care about as well.

But I'm curious: What does ability to learn simple grammar have to do with subjective experience?