Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Superintelligence and physical law

10 AnthonyC 04 August 2016 06:49PM

It's been a few years since I read http://lesswrong.com/lw/qj/einsteins_speed/ and the rest of the quantum physics sequence, but I recently learned about the company Nutonian, http://www.nutonian.com/. Basically it's a narrow AI system that looks at unstructured data and tries out billions of models to fit it, favoring those that use simpler math. They apply it to all sorts of fields, but that includes physics. It can't find Newton's laws from three frames of a falling apple, but it did find the Hamiltonian of a double pendulum given its motion data after a few hours of processing: http://phys.org/news/2009-12-eureqa-robot-scientist-video.html

Comment author: JohnH 22 April 2011 07:59:22PM 0 points [-]

I am actually familiar with the Church-Turing Thesis, as well as both Godel's incompleteness proof and the Halting problem. The theory that humans are Turing machines is one that needs to be investigated.

Comment author: AnthonyC 13 December 2015 08:38:11PM 0 points [-]

'The theory that humans are Turing machines is one that needs to be investigated."

Yes, but that question isn't where we need to start necessarily. It is a subset of a possibly much simpler problem: are the laws of physics Turing computable? If so, then humans cannot do anything Turing machines cannot do. if not, then the human-specific question remains open.

We don't know, and there are many relevant-but-not-too-convincing arguments either way.

The laws of physics as generally taught are both continuous (symmetries, calculus in QM), and quantum (discrete allowed particle states, Planck length, linear algebra in QM).

No one has ever observed nature calculating with an uncomputable general real (or complex) variable (how could we with human minds and finitely precise instrumentation?), while any computable algebraic or transcendental number seems to be fair game. But, building a model of physics that rules out general real variables is apparently much more difficult.

Even if there are general real variables in physics, they may only arise as a result of previous general real variables, in which case whatever-the-universe-runs-on may be able to handle them symbolically instead of explicitly. Anyone here who decides to read my many-years-late wall of text have any idea what the implications would be of this one? Possibly may or may not allow construction of architectures that are not Turing computing but also not fully general, limited by whatever non-Turing-computable stuff happens to have always existed?

If space and time are quantized (digital), that makes for more even trouble with special and general relativity - are the Planck length/time/etc.somehow reference frame dependent?

Also, see http://lesswrong.com/lw/h9c/can_somebody_explain_this_to_me_the_computability/

Comment author: random_guy 05 October 2008 12:42:39AM -2 points [-]

What probability do you guys assign to the god hypothesis being true?

Comment author: AnthonyC 13 December 2015 06:57:59PM 0 points [-]

The main issue with your question is the word "the."

There are vastly many possible ways to define the word "god," any one of which could exist or not. But most of those are also individually vastly complicated and exceedingly unlikely to exist unless there is some causal process that brought them into being, which in the eyes of many actual current human believers of a particular version would disqualify them from godhood.

Comment author: Consequentialist 04 October 2008 08:40:50PM 2 points [-]

What I don't understand is that we live on a planet, where we don't have all people with significant loose change

A) signing up for cryonics B) super-saturating the coffers of life-extensionists, extinction-risk-reducers, and AGI developers.

Instead we currently live on a planet, where their combined (probably) trillions of currency units are doing nothing but bloating as 1s and 0s on hard drives.

Can someone explain why?

Comment author: AnthonyC 13 December 2015 06:43:19PM 1 point [-]

"trillions of currency units are doing nothing but bloating as 1s and 0s on hard drives"

This seems very unlikely. Most people with significant savings have it invested in stocks, bonds, or other investments - that is, they've given it to other people to do something with it that they think will turn a profit. Of the money that is sitting in bank accounts, most of it is lent out, again to people planning to actually do something with it (like build business, build houses, or buy things on credit).

Comment author: michael_vassar3 04 October 2008 07:59:12PM 8 points [-]

More parents might let their toddler get hit by a car if they could fix the toddler afterwards.

There are an awful lot of types of Buddhism. Some allow mind annihilation, and even claim that it should be our goal. Some strains of Epicurianism hold that mind annihilation is a) neutral, and b) better than what all the religions believed in. Some ancient religions seemed to believe in the same awful universal fate as quantum immortality believers do, e.g. eternal degeneration, progressively advanced Alzheimers forever more or less. Adam Smith suggests that this is what most people secretly believe in.

It would take quite a black swan tech to undo all the good from tech up to this point. UFAI probably wouldn't pass the test, since without tech humans would go extinct with a smaller total population of lives lived anyway. Hell worlds seem unlikely. 1984 or the Brave New World (roughly) are a bit more likely, but is it worse than extinction? I don't generally feel that way, though I'm not sure.

Comment author: AnthonyC 13 December 2015 06:34:39PM 0 points [-]

Eight years late reply, but oh well.

I think one of the problems with UFAI isn't just human extinction, or even future human suffering. It's that some kinds of UFAI (the paperclip-maximizer comes to mind) could take over our entire future light cone. preventing any future intelligent life (Earth-originating or otherwise) from evolving and finding a better path.

Comment author: [deleted] 18 November 2015 06:51:25AM 7 points [-]

I think you can differentiate between people who say that about a skill, and people who say it about a concept.

Consider driving: I recall driving being a System 2 activity for at least a year while I was learning. It was certainly stressful enough to induce tears on a regular basis (give me a pass, I was a teenager). Slowly, driving under normal conditions became integrated into System 1, and now I don't feel like crying when I have to change lanes. Sufficient practice of any skill can turn it into a System 1 activity.

Currently, programming is a System 2 activity for me. My husband, however, has more than a decade of experience programming. When he helps debug my code, he doesn't painstakingly go over every line, first thing. He glances, skims, says "This doesn't look right..." and then uses a combination of instinct and experience to find my error. I can't imagine being a professional programmer until it's a System 1 activity at least half of the time.

So: the difference between saying "System 1 is integral to my profession and execution of a skill," and "System 1 is all the evidence I need for the existence of a deity" is very large. In the first case, we can take the statement as evidence, appropriately weighted against the speakers track record with that skill, that System 1 has been beneficial. In the second case, people are saying the equivalent of "My instinct = God, and that's the only test I need!" The weight that bears in your Bayesian calculation should be nothing, or almost nothing, because there is no way to develop a God-detecting skill and integrate it into System 1.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Non-communicable Evidence
Comment author: AnthonyC 20 November 2015 09:21:18PM 3 points [-]

I can't imagine being a professional programmer until it's a System 1 activity at least half of the time.

This. In just about every field. It helps that in programming, and some of the sciences, that there is quick feedback. I have a physics degree but my job is fuzzier than that. After 4 years a lot of the time judgments start as "This doesn't sound right " and a lot of the work is reconstructing a communicable line of reasoning.

Comment author: Galap 19 September 2014 04:14:35AM 3 points [-]

I don't agree that metals and heavy elements are necessary for industry and spaceships: you can do quite a lot with light elements, particularly carbon (for example plastics, carbon fiber, etc.). Also, biology makes all of its structure through lighter elements.

That being said, I think you're very much on the money with the general idea: I also thought something similar while reading the artifcle (that the filters are likely multivariate and interdependent), but not in as well thought out a way.

Comment author: AnthonyC 17 August 2015 10:36:13AM 0 points [-]

We can do quite a lot with light elements now, after we spent millennia figuring out metals. We still use a lot of metal equipment and catalysts in the manufacturing of polymers and carbon fiber. I'm sure there are processes for making them without metals, but getting civilization going in the first place would be much harder without elements heavier than iron.

Scope sensitivity?

1 AnthonyC 16 July 2015 02:03PM

Just wanted to share a NYT article on empathy and how different circumstances can reverse the usual bias to feel more empathy for 1 suffering child than 8, and a bunch of other interesting observations.


Comment author: AnthonyC 23 May 2015 05:12:39PM 3 points [-]

As at least one of the other commenters pointed out, you're proposing to withdraw 10% a year, so of course the higher-average-return works better. The rule of thumb for safet is usually said to be around 4%/yr. Ass you point out, most Americans don't have nearly enough retirement savings.

In the simulator, the crossover where 50/50 becomes safer is around 5%/yr withdrawal rate for a 30 yr retirement, and around 6.5% for 20 yrs.

Comment author: seer 26 March 2015 10:53:27PM 4 points [-]

That's not what I was talking about. I mean how over the past century anything decent has been rejected as at best bourgeois, and at worst sexist and homophobic.

Comment author: AnthonyC 27 March 2015 01:35:49PM 0 points [-]

I think seer and Nancy are using two different definitions of "decency."

"modesty and propriety" vs. "polite, moral, and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people"

Also, if we take google's usage-over-time statistics, the big drop in usage of the (English) word "decency" happened in the 1800s: http://bit.ly/1D5ZF55

View more: Next