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Comment author: eli_sennesh 17 April 2014 11:26:02PM 0 points [-]

However, every step happens voluntarily because what comes after is seen as better than what is before, and I don't see why I should consider the final outcome bad.

So you're using a "volunteerism ethics" in which whatever agents choose voluntarily, for some definition of voluntary, is acceptable, even when the agents may have their values changed in the process and the end result is not considered desirable by the original agents? You only care about the particular voluntariness of the particular choices?

Huh. I suppose it works, but I wouldn't take over the universe with it.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 18 April 2014 07:08:40AM 0 points [-]

So you're using a "volunteerism ethics" in which whatever agents choose voluntarily, for some definition of voluntary, is acceptable, even when the agents may have their values changed in the process and the end result is not considered desirable by the original agents? You only care about the particular voluntariness of the particular choices?

When it happens fast, we call it wireheading. When it happens slowly, we call it the march of progress.

Comment author: jaime2000 17 April 2014 08:48:21PM 0 points [-]

A former poster here (known elsewhere on the net as "James A. Donald")

Where can I find evidence linking the sam0345 account to the identity James A. "Jim" Donald?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 17 April 2014 09:26:12PM 5 points [-]

Where can I find evidence linking the sam0345 account to the identity James A. "Jim" Donald?

Somewhat laboriously, by searching LessWrong for his very first postings and working forwards from there, looking for my replies to him and he to me. I recognised him as James A. Donald as soon as he started posting here, from his distinctive writing style and views, which were very familiar to me from his long history of participating in rec.arts.sf.* on USENET. As evidence, I linked to other places on the net where he had posted views identical to what he had just posted here, expressed in very similar terms. He never took notice of my identification, even when replying directly to comments of mine identifying him, but I think it definite.

BTW, while "sam0345" is obviously not a real-world name, I have never seen reason to think that "James A. Donald" is. Searches on that name turn up nothing but his online activity (and a mugshot of an unprepossessing individual of the same name who served 35 years for forgery, and who I have no reason to think has any connection with him). I have almost never, here or anywhere else, seen him post anything personal about himself. He is American, and an Internet engineer, and that's about it. And 10 inches taller than his wife, for what that's worth. I have never seen anyone mention having met him. His ownership of jim.com is unusual, in that it goes back well before the advent of public Internet access and easy private ownership of domain names. Try getting a domain name that short and simple nowadays! They're all taken.

Comment author: pcm 17 April 2014 04:50:23PM 9 points [-]

Bankruptcy is normally means having debts that can't be paid, and Alcor goes out of its way to avoid having anything that could be a debt, and is careful to maintain funds that can be used to continue to keep its patients preserved. This kind of conservatism comes at some cost in its ability to grow, so it doesn't require unusually good management to have a higher than normal chance of continuing to exist.

There seem to have been two cryonics organizations that failed (CSC and CSNY). Some patients at CSNY were unharmed by that failure, so having your organization fail doesn't automatically imply death. Plus people have learned from those failures.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 17 April 2014 05:07:17PM 6 points [-]

Some patients at CSNY were unharmed by that failure, so having your organization fail doesn't automatically imply death.

Your chances of surviving your cryo company going bust may depend on how seriously society in general takes the idea that you aren't dead yet.

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 16 April 2014 12:52:00PM 0 points [-]

Oops, my fail. I thought you were saying 'there's nothing special about the law'.

But surely art really is about convincing other human beings that you've made art. What on earth else is going on?

And I reckon that there are aspects of law that aren't covered, but a barrister who can't convince is completely useless in court.

Off to update my estimate of my own written-irony perception skills.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 17 April 2014 12:39:04PM *  3 points [-]

This is the sort of question that you have to already know the answer to, to be able to ask. I won't attempt a definition, but as we all know, it involves such things as "the creation of things of beauty", "the expression of a truth that nothing else can express", and so on. That is what art is. We all know that that is what art is.

But for purposes of contradiction, suppose otherwise. Suppose art was entirely about convincing people that you have made art. Then the statement is a definition of art as being the fixed point of the formula "X is about convincing people you have made X". What in this formula picks out the class of works that, when we look at the real world, we see everyone calling art? There is nothing. If this is truly a statement of everything that art is, we should be able to insert a made-up name in the definition and convey the same information: "pightlewarble is about convincing people you have made pightlewarble". The fact that the revised sentence conveys nothing, yet "art is about convincing people you have made art" conveys something, demonstrates that the latter only communicates something because we already know something about what art is.

When such a sentiment is expressed, what it is intended to communicate is a criticism of art as practiced in the speaker's time and place. The claim is that what is being produced is not art, and that it fails to be art precisely because its creators have concerned themselves with nothing more than getting an artistic reputation among a similarly corrupt audience, and have failed to aim at making art at all. The "art" that the sentence is about is being asserted to be not art. The real meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning.

A similar analysis applies to every one of the examples I gave. All of them, when seriously uttered, mean the opposite of their literal reading.

Of course, the artist wants an audience, the lawyer must persuade the court, and so on. But these are not the terminal goals of the activities, and to take them for such is wireheading.

Here is another example. Tomorrow I will travel some 300 miles to Glasgow. How will I know when I have arrived? Well, if all goes to plan, the train will be pulling into Glasgow at about when the timetable says, there will be an announcement on the train, I will see signs on the platform saying "Glasgow", I've been there several times before so it will probably look familiar, and so on. (Btw, I also expect to be both busy and offline most of the weekend.)

So is travelling to Glasgow entirely about convincing myself that I have travelled to Glasgow? Of course, I have to reach the state of being convinced, just as the lawyer must convince the court etc. But the real goal is not to merely be convinced that I am in Glasgow, but to actually be there. In the real world of here and now (a place not as well frequented by LessWrongers as it might be) the only way of achieving the perception is to achieve the reality. Were this not so, my ability to achieve my real goal would be compromised, and I would have to find some other way of detecting when the goal was achieved. Compare the task of flying an aircraft in turbulence and poor visibility. A pilot who thinks that keeping the aircraft level is about feeling that the craft is level will crash. He has to trust the instruments above his physical sensations, and the instruments are there because the sensations are unreliable under those conditions.

Would you get on a train, if maintenance of the railway system was literally entirely about filling in the forms saying that the maintenance had been done?

In response to Polling Thread
Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 April 2014 12:03:44PM 1 point [-]

Do you own any Bitcoins?

If so, how many?

Submitting...

Comment author: ChristianKl 16 April 2014 11:43:25AM *  4 points [-]

You can't detect whether a systematic bias in the sampling method exists by looking at the results.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 April 2014 11:49:16AM 0 points [-]

Leaving aside the sample size, a sample value of zero cannot be an overestimate.

Comment author: Tenoke 16 April 2014 08:40:57AM 9 points [-]

You are bound to 'find' that BPD is overrepresented here by surveying in this manner. (hint: medical student syndrome)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 April 2014 10:13:16AM -3 points [-]

The five results so far go against that.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 April 2014 08:02:24AM *  2 points [-]

Is anyone going to be at the Eastercon this weekend in Glasgow? Or, in London later in the year, Nineworlds or the Worldcon?

ETA: In case it wasn't implied by my asking that, I will be at all of these. Anyone is free to say hello, but I'm not going to try to arrange any sort of organised meetup, given the fullness of the programmes of these events.

Comment author: almondguy 16 April 2014 05:10:27AM *  4 points [-]

I did something like this over the past few years with some Gmail accounts. I've permanently lost access to those accounts because I didn't keep the answers. Just remember to protect yourself from yourself.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 April 2014 06:02:35AM 2 points [-]

How do people remember all their passwords? I write all of mine down. Er, that is, store them in an encrypted file with a long password that isn't written down anywhere. At last count there were about 200 different sets of credentials. All of the passwords are meaningless, vaguely pronounceable strings, so just remembering them all isn't an option.

Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 16 April 2014 12:44:42AM *  2 points [-]

parenting is about convincing other humans that you are a good parent

What if you convince everyone that you're a good parent while poisoning your child?

And everyone else can believe you're dead and you can still be alive. In fact sometimes in order to live you have to convince everyone you're dead.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 16 April 2014 05:31:20AM 1 point [-]

What if you convince everyone that you're a good parent while poisoning your child?

Quite. Those were all intended to be bad arguments. Bad at a caricature level of badness. But Poe's law, I guess.

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