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consider2 comments on In Praise of Boredom - Less Wrong

23 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 January 2009 09:03AM

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Comment author: consider2 21 January 2009 12:56:10PM 1 point [-]

Ben Goertzel's patternist philosophy of mind is suggestive here. It is boring when the same patterns repeat themselves. It's not about whether the pixels change or stay the same. It's about whether you can detect a unique pattern each time.

This may explain Eliezer's preference for the mid-level. If you are too specific, you don't see any patterns. If you are too general you miss many lower-level patterns. And also the balance between triviality and intractability of problems. If it's trivial you already have the pattern, if it is intractable you can't see any.

Intelligence may be the same algorithm each time it is applied, but as long as it generates/detects new patterns in the problems it encounters, there is no cause for boredom. Intelligent people get bored more quickly, because they can assimilate more patterns per unit time. But I like to think we all experience the same 'subjective novelty-time', so there is no need to make yourself stupid to extend your experience of novelty.

"it's easier to become bored with the game as a whole than with that particular part of it."

That has to do with our limited working memory capacity. When we conceive of "the game as a whole" we don't download the whole game into working memory. There is no space. Since the game really isn't in working memory, the conscious you does not detect any pattern. Playing the game though, is fun. Not because jumping in mario is instrumental to scoring points, but because arriving at a particular goal through particular means constitutes a pattern. Of course, mere permutations on fragments of the journey aren't as exciting techniques within strategies within stories because well, 'permutation of elements in a set' is a pretty common pattern...

What about detecting patterns in the clouds, in coincidences, in astrology, in pi, in the noise? Very quickly boring because when we go meta, we see there are no patterns linking these disparate atomic patterns.

So the recipe for interestingness is: objects, patterns, recursion. This is best demonstrated in axiomatic systems constructed by mathematicians. But it is also the same recipe with an interesting life in general.