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Hopefully_Anonymous comments on Identity Isn't In Specific Atoms - Less Wrong

24 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 19 April 2008 04:55AM

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Comment author: Hopefully_Anonymous 20 April 2008 01:44:10AM 0 points [-]

"Anonymous, you don't seem to understand the reductionist thesis: the claim is that there isn't any consciousness-stuff; it only seems like it because we're stupid—which is also a remarkable claim, in its own way, but it beats the alternatives."

It beats the alternative that "we don't know enough to make a claim right now"? For example, I think that's the leading claim about what preceded or sparked the big bang, beating out other 'remarkable' claims like that we're in an infinite cycle of big bangs, that our big bang resulted from a black hole forming in another universe, etc.

Here I'm defining 'consciousness-stuff' in what I think is the most reasonable and useful way for this discussion, that there may be something to subjective consciousness more than whatever can currently fool the best human observers in 2008 into thinking it's subjectively conscious. This is probably a higher bar than 40th percentile ability level human observers of 2008 BCE, but perhaps a significantly lower bar than the best human observers of 2038. If the best human observers of 2038 have singificantly improved knowledge and technology, they might be able to make more nuanced discernments between what is or is not likely subjective conscious than the best humans can in 2008. If so, in all practical respects, I think that those differences they'll be able to discern can be called "cosciousness-stuff" of which we're current unaware. Here I'm not specifically referring to a tagged electron, or a tagged factored subspace, but rather, when Eliezer writes:

"None of this should be taken as saying that you are somehow independent of the quantum physics comprising you. If an anvil falls on your head, you will stop talking about consciousness. This is experimentally testable. Don't try it at home."

I'm referring to consciousness-stuff as the minimal distinguishable elements of reality required for the maintainence of the subjective conscious experience which Eliezer implies in the above quote could be ended "if an anvil falls on your head".

In my opinion, this is a more interesting place to bring the discussion, than to look for easy dragons to slay such as (scare quotes) "These people think individual electrons are discrete entities. I can show that the best science disproves that and thus end any concern that post-cryonic reanimation or post-uploading I won't have an experience of being 'alive' or 'conscious'.