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Voltairina comments on Leave a Line of Retreat - Less Wrong

59 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 February 2008 11:57PM

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Comment author: Voltairina 14 October 2014 02:13:04PM *  1 point [-]

Well, a world that lacked rationality might be one in which all the events were a sequence of non-sequiters. A car drives down the street. Then dissappears. We are in a movie theater with a tyrannosaurus. Now we are a snail on the moon. Then there's just this poster of rocks. Then I can't remember what sight was like, but there's jazz music. Now I fondly remember fighting in world war 2, while evading the Empire with Hans solo. Oh! I think I might be boiling water, but with a sense of smell somehow.... that's a poor job of describing it -- too much familiar stuff - but you get the idea. If there was no connection between one state of affairs and the next, talking about what strategy to take might be impossible, or a brief possibility that then dissappears when you forget what you are doing and you're back in the movie theater again with the tyrannosaurus. If 'you' is even a meaningful way to describe a brief moment of awareness bubbling into being in that universe. Then again, if at any moment 'you' happen to exist and 'you' happen to understand what rationality means- I guess now that I think about it, if there is any situation where you can understand what the word rationality means, its probably one in which it exists (howevery briefly) and is potentially helpful to you, even if there is little useful to do about whatever situation you are in, there might be some useful thing to do about the troubling thoughts in your mind.

Comment author: CCC 14 October 2014 02:34:32PM 2 points [-]

While that is a world without rationality, it seems a fairly extreme case.

Another example of a world without rationality is a world in which, the more you work towards achieving a goal, the longer it takes to reach that goal; so an elderly man might wander distractedly up Mount Everest to look for his false teeth with no trouble, but a team of experienced mountaineers won't be able to climb a small hill. Even if they try to follow the old man looking for his teeth, the universe notices their intent and conspires against them. And anyone who notices this tendency and tries to take advantage of it gets struck by lightning (even if they're in a submarine at the time) and killed instantly.

Comment author: Voltairina 15 October 2014 12:46:08AM 4 points [-]

That reminds me of Hofstadter's Law: "It will always take longer than you think it is going to take. Even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law."

Comment author: JustinMElms 22 July 2016 11:02:37PM 0 points [-]

I like both Volairina and your takes on the non-rational world. I was having a lot of trouble working something out.

That said, while Voltairina's world is a bit more horrifyingly extreme than yours, it seems to me more probably that cause and effect simply did not exist. I can envision a structure of elementary physics that simply change--functionally randomly--far more easily than that causality does exist, but operates in the inverse. I have more trouble envisioning the elementary physics that bring that into existence without a observational intellect directly upsetting motivated plans.

All that is to say, might not your case be the more extreme one?

Comment author: CCC 17 August 2016 03:02:59PM 1 point [-]

...it's possible. There are many differences between our proposed worlds, and it really depends on what you mean by "more extreme". Volairina's world is "more extreme" in the sense that there are no rules, no patterns to take advantage of. My world is "more extreme" in that the rules actively punish rationality.

My world requires that elementary physics somehow takes account of intent, and then actively subverts it. This means that it reacts in some way to something as nebulous as intent. This implies some level of understanding of the concept of intent. This, in turn, implies (as you state) an observational intellect - and worse, a directly malevolent one. Volairina's can exist without a directly malevolent intelligence directing things.

So it really comes down to what you mean by "extreme", I guess. Both proposed worlds are extreme cases, in their own way.

Comment author: JustinMElms 18 August 2016 04:30:17PM 0 points [-]

Fair point.