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Jack comments on Taboo Your Words - Less Wrong

72 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 February 2008 10:53PM

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Comment author: Jack 12 March 2010 06:48:36AM *  0 points [-]

Careful here. You may sometimes find that there was no coherent concept there to begin with, that the notion was simply semantic cotton candy whipped up out of the ambiguity of language.

I'm actually pretty sure there is no coherent concept of free will as people usually understand it. I'm not sure it is simply cotton candy whipped up out of the ambiguity of the language, in fact I think if "free" means uncaused the concept is actually outright contradictory.

Also, it occurs to me that it just isn't always going to be possible to shed concepts like this. Eventually you just bump your head against fundamental concepts that can't be dissolved. This can be solved if you can perfectly represent the concepts mathematically, but if you can't I don't know where to go from there. This may have been happening in in the discussion of qualia a while back.

Comment author: pengvado 12 March 2010 08:54:21AM 0 points [-]

You don't really mean "can't be dissolved", right? Rather, there are some concepts which you may demonstrate to be incoherent, without simultaneously providing an explanation of how the mistaken concept came to be and what it should be replaced with. Such a concept is not dissolved yet.

Comment author: Jack 12 March 2010 09:18:01AM 0 points [-]

I mean something a little stronger than that. Like "can't be dissolved by unmodified human brains". I think some concepts may be basic to how we think, embedded in us through evolution and that because they're so basic it won't be possible for a normal human mind to dissolve them. In addition some of these concepts maybe somehow incoherent or confused, but the point in the second paragraph is independent of the first and could have been a standalone comment to the OP.

Comment author: Amanojack 12 March 2010 09:50:41PM *  0 points [-]

Eventually you just bump your head against fundamental concepts that can't be dissolved. This can be solved if you can perfectly represent the concepts mathematically, but if you can't I don't know where to go from there.

There may be undissolvable concepts in communication (words, mathematical symbols), which is an interesting question in its own right, but as single intelligences we aren't limited to communication devices for our thinking. Are we?

In answer to "where to go from here," I think we can imagine things far subtler than we can reliably convey to another mind. My answer has always been to think without words.

Comment author: calcsam 09 May 2011 08:00:24AM -1 points [-]

Amanojack, could you explain that more?

Comment author: wedrifid 09 May 2011 08:49:27AM -1 points [-]

Amanojack, could you explain that more?

Got a Tardis handy?

Comment author: Amanojack 10 May 2011 06:18:16PM 3 points [-]

About thinking without words?

When I was 10 years old I had a habit of talking to myself. Gradually my self-talk got more and more non-standard to the point where it would be impossible for others to understand, as I realized I didn't need to clarify the thoughts I was trying to convey to myself. I would understand them anyway. I started using made-up words for certain concepts, just as a memory aid. Eventually words become exclusively a memory aid, something to help my short-term memory stay on track, and I would go for minutes at a time without ever using any words in my thought processes.

I think the reason I started narrating my thoughts again is because I found it really hard to communicate with people due to the habits I had built up during all those conversations with myself. I would forget to put in context, use words in unusual ways, and otherwise fail to consider how lost the listener might be. You can have great ideas, but if you can't communicate them they don't count for anything socially - that is the message from society. So I think there is effectively some social pressure to use natural languages (English, etc.) in your thought processes, obscuring the fact that it can all happen more efficiently with minimal verbal interference. I think words can be strong corrupting influence in the thought process in general, the short argument being that they are designed for the notoriously limited and linear process of mouth-to-ear communication. There is a lot more I could say about that, if anyone is interested.

Comment author: k4ntico 27 November 2011 10:36:00AM *  0 points [-]

I think it solves lots of problems to view the matter of intelligence as a property of communications rather than one of agents. Of course, this is just a matter of focus, in order to clarify the idea you'll have to refer to agents. Receiving agents first of all, as producing agents are less of a necessity :) Which is in line with the main virtue of the move, that is to reframe all debates and research on intelligence that got naturally promoted by the primitive concern of comparing agent intelligence - to reframe them as background to the real problem which is to evolve the crowds - the mixtures of heterogeneous agent intelligences that we form - towards better intellectual coordination. To be honest and exhibit a problem the move creates rather than solves: how should the arguable characteristic property of math to allow intellectual coordination to progress without exchanging messages, be pictured in ?