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Comment author: rule_and_line 22 August 2014 04:45:29PM *  2 points [-]

Could you give this some more context? My reaction was to downvote.

The word "only" gives me vibes like "language exerts a trivial or insignificant influence on our consciousness". I don't know any of Kroetz's plays, but given that he is a playwright I feel like I'm getting the wrong vibe.

Comment author: Qwake 24 August 2014 04:15:07AM 2 points [-]

My interpretation of the quote was not that language exerts a trivial influence on our consciousness but that language is an imperfect form of communication.

In response to Memory is Everything
Comment author: polymathwannabe 22 August 2014 01:21:07PM 0 points [-]

you will not be harmed physically or mentally; you will simply experience excruciating pain

That's not possible. A full week of unending pain beyond extreme thresholds will leave you with serious PTSD. If you get Obliviated afterwards, that will only get you more screwed up, with persistent anxiety for no discernible reason.

Comment author: Qwake 23 August 2014 04:05:32AM 2 points [-]

That might be true in reality but in the hypothetical for omega to completely erase the event from both your conscious and subconscience

Comment author: Qwake 22 August 2014 05:05:02AM 4 points [-]

Language exists only on the surface of our consciousness. The great human struggles are played out in silence and in the ability to express oneself.

Franz Xavier Kroetz

Memory is Everything

-3 Qwake 22 August 2014 04:48AM

I have found (there is some (evidence)[http://mentalfloss.com/article/52586/why-do-our-best-ideas-come-us-shower] to suggest this) that showers are a great place to think. While I am taking a shower I find that I can think about things in a whole new perspective and it's very refreshing. Well today, while I was taking a shower, an interesting thing popped into my head. Memory is everything. Your memory contains you, it contains your thoughts, it contains your own unique perception of reality. Imagine going to bed tonight and waking up with absolutely no memory of your past. Would you still consider that person yourself? There is no question that our memories/experiences influence our behavior in every possible way. If you were born in a different environment with different stimuli you would've responded to your environment differently and became a different person. How different? I don't want to get involved in the nature/nurture debate but I think there is no question that humans are influenced by their environment. How are humans influenced by our environment? Through learning from our past experiences, which are contained in our memory. I'm getting off topic and I have no idea what my point is... So I propose a thought experiment!


Omega the supercomputer gives you 3 Options. Option 1 is for you to pay Omega $1,000,000,000 and Omega will grant you unlimited utility potential for 1 week in which Omega will basically provide to your every wish. You will have absolutely no memory of the experience after the week is up. Option 2 is for Omega to pay you $1,000,000,000 but you must be willing to suffer unlimited negative utility potential for a week (you will not be harmed physically or mentally you will simply experience excruciating pain). You will also have absolutely memory of this experience after the week (your subconscious will also not be affected). Finally, Option 3 is simply to refuse Option 1 and 2 and maintain the status quo.


At first glance, it may seem that Option 2 is simply not choosable. It seems insane to subject yourself to torture when you have the option of nirvana. But it requires more thought than that. If you compare Option 1 to Option 2 after the week is up there is no difference between the options except that Option 2 nets you 2 billion dollars compared to Option 1. In both Options you have absolutely no memory of either weeks. The question that I'm trying to put forward in this thought experiment is this. If you have no memory of an experience does that experience still matter? Is it worth experiencing something for the experience alone or is it the memory of an experience that matters? Those are some questions that I have been thinking about lately. Any feedback or criticism is appreciated.

One last thing, if you are interested in the concept and importance of memory two excellent movies on the subject are [Memento](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0209144/) and [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338013/0). I know they both of these movies aren't scientific but I thought them to be very intriguing and thought provoking.    

Comment author: jazmt 17 August 2014 07:47:16PM 5 points [-]

according to this website (http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/viewpoint/article_876e97ba-1aff-11e2-9a10-0019bb2963f4.html) it is part of 'aphorisms for leo baeck' (which I think is printed in 'ideas and opinions' but I don't have access to the book right now to check)

Comment author: Qwake 18 August 2014 05:31:57AM 1 point [-]

Thank you for finding the source (I read it in a book and was to lazy to fact check it).

Comment author: Qwake 17 August 2014 03:32:17AM 9 points [-]

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.

Albert Einstein

In response to comment by Capla on Truth vs Utility
Comment author: RichardKennaway 15 August 2014 09:08:37AM 2 points [-]

Why decline another Omega thought experiment? Because they usually amount to no more than putting a thumb on one side of the scales and saying, "Look, this pan goes down!"

Why decline the offer of a wonderful dream? Because it's a dream, not reality.

Comment author: Qwake 16 August 2014 01:53:32AM 0 points [-]

Yes but as stated above if there is superintelligent being capable of making perfect stimulations of reality than the Copernican Principle states that the probability of our "reality" not being a stimulation is extremely low If thats the case it would be obvious to choose Option 1, it being the stimulation that yields you the most utility

In response to Truth vs Utility
Comment author: [deleted] 13 August 2014 06:53:07PM 0 points [-]

Making the assumption that since #2 comes with 'No strings attached' it is implying safety measures such as 'The answer does not involve the delivery of a star sized super computer that kills you with it's gravity well' since that feels like a string, and #1 does not have such safety measures (implying you have infinite utility because you have been turned into a paperclipper in simulated paperclippium is an interpretation), I find myself trying to ponder ways of getting the idealized results of #1 with the safety measures of #2, such as

"If you were willing to answer an unlimited number of questions, and I asked you all the questions I could think of, What are all question answer pairs where I would consider any set of those question answer pairs a net gain in utility, answered in order from highest net gain of utility to smallest net gain of utility?"

Keeping in mind that the questions such as the below would be part of the hilariously meta above question:

"Exactly, in full detail without compression and to the full extent of time, what would all of my current and potentially new senses experience like if I took the simulation in Option 1?"

It was simply an idea that I found interesting that I wanted to put into writing. Thank you for reading.

This was an interesting idea to read! (Even if I don't think my interpretation was what you had in mind.) Thank you for writing!

In response to comment by [deleted] on Truth vs Utility
Comment author: Qwake 14 August 2014 04:39:38AM 0 points [-]

Interesting interpretation of my scenario. I don't know about other people but I personally wouldn't mind being a paperclip in paperclippium if meant realizing infinite utility potential (assuming paperclips are conscious and have sensory experience of course).

Keeping in mind that the questions such as the below would be part of the hilariously meta above question:

"Exactly, in full detail without compression and to the full extent of time, what would all of my current and potentially new senses experience like if I took the simulation in Option 1?"

As for this question, that is pretty ingenious but avoiding the conflict of my scenario entirely! No need to undermine my thought experiment unneedlessly! :) Anyway thanks for the nice comment.

Comment author: shminux 13 August 2014 06:26:51PM *  1 point [-]

A proponent might argue: 'the current simulation is a hopeless case, why stay?' And a proponent might counter: ''you run away from responsibilities'

Note that this is nearly isomorphic to the standard moral question of emigration, once you drop the no-longer useful qualifier "simulation". Is it immoral and unpatriotic to leave your home country and try your luck elsewhere? (Provided you cannot influence your former reality once you leave.)

In response to comment by shminux on Truth vs Utility
Comment author: Qwake 14 August 2014 04:22:25AM *  0 points [-]

That's not quite the question I am trying to convey with my conundrum. What I wanted Option 1 and Option 2 to represent is a hypothetical conflict in which you must choose between maximizing your utility potential at the cost of living in simulation or maximizing your knowledge of the truth in this reality. My point with in sharing this scenario did not have anything to do with the probability of such a scenario occurring. Now, everybody is free to interpret my scenario any way they like but I just wanted to explain what I had in mind. Thank you for your criticism and ideas. By the way.

Truth vs Utility

1 Qwake 13 August 2014 05:45AM

According to Eliezer, there are two types of rationality. There is epistemic rationality, the process of updating your beliefs based on evidence to correspond to the truth (or reality) as closely as possible. And there is instrumental rationality, the process of making choices in order to maximize your future utility yield. These two slightly conflicting definitions work together most of the time as obtaining the truth is the rationalists' ultimate goal and thus yields the maximum utility. Are there ever times when the truth is not in a rationalist's best interest? Are there scenarios in which a rationalist should actively try to avoid the truth to maximize their possible utility? I have been mentally struggling with these questions for a while. Let me propose a scenario to illustrate the conundrum.


Suppose Omega, a supercomputer, comes down to Earth to offer you a choice. Option 1 is to live in a stimulated world where you have infinite utility (on this world there is no, pain, suffering, death, its basically a perfect world) and you are unaware you are living in a stimulation. Option 2 is Omega will answer one question on absolutely any subject truthfully pertaining to our universe with no strings attached. You can ask about the laws governing the universe, the meaning of life, the origin of time and space, whatever and Omega will give you a absolutely truthful, knowledgeable answer. Now, assuming all of these hypotheticals are true, which option would you pick? Which option should a perfect rationalist pick? Does the potential of asking a question whose answer could greatly improve humanity's knowledge of our universe outweigh the benefits of living in a perfect simulated world with unlimited utility? There is probably a lot of people who would object outright to living in a simulation because it's not reality or the truth. Well lets consider the simulation in my hypothetical conundrum for a second. It's a perfect reality and has unlimited utility potential, and you are completely unaware you are in a simulation on this world. Aside from the unlimited utility part, that sounds a lot like our reality. There are no signs of our reality of being a simulation and all (most) of humanity is convinced that our reality is not a simulation. There for, the only difference that really matters between the simulation in Option 1 and our reality is the unlimited utility potential that Option 1 offers. If there is no evidence that a simulation is not reality then the simulation is reality for the people inside the simulation. That is what I believe and that is why I would choose Option 1. The infinite utility of living in a perfect reality outweighs almost any utility amount increase I could contribute to humanity.

I am very interested in which option the less wrong community would choose (I know Option 2 is kind of arbitrary I just needed an option for people who wouldn't want to live in a simulation). As this is my first post, any feedback or criticism is appreciated. Also many more information on the topic of truth vs utility would be very helpful. Feel free to down vote me to oblivion if this post was stupid, didn't make sense, etc. It was simply an idea that I found interesting that I wanted to put into writing. Thank you for reading.

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