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Conscious_Bob comments on Amputation of Destiny - Less Wrong

26 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 December 2008 06:00PM

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Comment author: Conscious_Bob 01 January 2009 12:34:58PM 1 point [-]

I read Amputation of Destiny and your subsequent replies with interest Eliezer, here's my contribution.

The Problem With The Minds could also read The Entire Reason For The Culture/Idiran War. The Idirans consider sentient machines an abomination or to quote Consider Phlebas;

'The fools in the Culture couldn't see that one day the Minds would start thinking how wasteful and inefficient the humans in the Culture themselves were".

It's not a plot flaw, it's a plot device and it occurs throughout the series.

Your Living By Your Own Strength Point I don't agree with either as you appear to negate important backstory about the Culture. People leave and join the Culture all the time. The Culture itself splits occasionally as a yearning for personal fulfillment afflicts Minds as well.

The wish to become stronger is fully exhibited by Culture Citizens, I think your analogy doesn't fit. We are told that Culture Citizens all have physical and mental enhancements that put them several notches above their non Culture counterparts on the strength scale. Strength is therefore valued, so is intelligence but they are not the most valued...

I think in common with ourselves and within the non confines of Culture society there is a wish to attain status and respect because many apply to Contact and Special Circumstances. Special Circumstances in particular gives access to more offensive levels of technology.

Read Matter for an account of upgrades and assignments to a person becoming a special circumstances agent and how they made her feel.

This brings me to how it all ties together. You've mentioned that the Minds overshadow the humans this is wrong. First of all Culture citizens have an intimate relationship with Minds and can form friendships and dislikes with them the same as any other being. In Culture society sentience is the most valued thing of all. This is not to say that the humans are blind to the obvious differences in abilites, far from it. In the main they don't feel the need to change themselves to AI, what with the good s**t, ability to change sex and whatnot. It's even considered rude for organics to take on the forms of conventional AI like drones and vice versa. To be sentient within the Culture is to claim equal status with all in the Culture.

Contrast this with the Idirans in Consider Phlebas, their religion gives them the right to rule lesser beings within their influence.

That's why I think the Narnia/Culture comparison isn't right. The Narnia books as you've said have a christian fable at their heart, however Aslan is not a central character, Aslan is THE central character, both creator and destroyer. Although religion plays a prominent part in Consider Phlebas, religion is not the central pillar the Culture is built upon. The Minds may have godlike powers but they're not gods themselves. Billions of humans live within the Culture, billions more and all the rest live quite happily without it.

The nonperson predicate point I find very interesting. It's good to get opinions on AI from specialists such as yourself and certainly I'm not going to use a novel to outpoint proper research. I would like to mention Look To Windward though. As part of the backstory it mentions that the problem with creating AI without the taint of their creators is that the results almost instantly sublime so while the author may be paying lipservice, he isn't ignoring it.

Could it be that the Minds themselves yearn for a purpose? This is only my question.

I like your later point you make about subliming albeit I think this has been undergoing a process of refinement. In fairness it's an authors right to embellish and improve a work in progress, provided there are no inconsistences.

Thanks for the right of reply Eliezer.