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In response to Causal Universes
Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 November 2012 06:13:09AM 20 points [-]

Mainstream status:

I haven't yet particularly seen anyone else point out that there is in fact a way to finitely Turing-compute a discrete universe with self-consistent Time-Turners in it. (In fact I hadn't yet thought of how to do it at the time I wrote Harry's panic attack in Ch. 14 of HPMOR, though a primary literary goal of that scene was to promise my readers that Harry would not turn out to be living in a computer simulation. I think there might have been an LW comment somewhere that put me on that track or maybe even outright suggested it, but I'm not sure.)

The requisite behavior of the Time Turner is known as Stable Time Loops on the wiki that will ruin your life, and known as the Novikov self-consistency principle to physicists discussing "closed timelike curve" solutions to General Relativity. Scott Aaronson showed that time loop logic collapses PSPACE to polynomial time.

I haven't yet seen anyone else point out that space and time look like a simple generalization of discrete causal graphs to continuous metrics of relatedness and determination, with c being the generalization of locality. This strikes me as important, so any precedent for it or pointer to related work would be much appreciated.

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 28 November 2012 07:16:54PM *  3 points [-]

I know that the idea of "different systems of local consistency constraints on full spacetimes might or might not happen to yield forward-sampleable causality or things close to it" shows up in Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science", for all that he usually refuses to admit the possible relevance of probability or nondeterminism whenever he can avoid doing so; the idea might also be in earlier literature.

that there is in fact a way to finitely Turing-compute a discrete universe with self-consistent Time-Turners in it.

I'd thought about that a long time previously (not about Time-Turners; this was before I'd heard of Harry Potter). I remember noting that it only really works if multiple transitions are allowed from some states, because otherwise there's a much higher chance that the consistency constraints would not leave any histories permitted. ("Histories", because I didn't know model theory at the time. I was using cellular automata as the example system, though.) (I later concluded that Markov graphical models with weights other than 1 and 0 were a less brittle way to formulate that sort of intuition (although, once you start thinking about configuration weights, you notice that you have problems about how to update if different weight schemes would lead to different partition function values).)

I think there might have been an LW comment somewhere that put me on that track

I know we argued briefly at one point about whether Harry could take the existence of his subjective experience as valid anthropic evidence about whether or not he was in a simulation. I think I was trying to make the argument specifically about whether or not Harry could be sure he wasn't in a simulation of a trial timeline that was going to be ruled inconsistent. (Or, implicitly, a timeline that he might be able to control whether or not it would be ruled inconsistent. Or maybe it was about whether or not he could be sure that there hadn't been such simulations.) But I don't remember you agreeing that my position was plausible, and it's possible that that means I didn't convey the information about which scenario I was trying to argue about. In that case, you wouldn't have heard of the idea from me. Or I might have only had enough time to figure out how to halfway defensibly express a lesser idea: that of "trial simulated timelines being iterated until a fixed point".

Comment author: AlphaOmega 17 November 2012 01:37:18AM 1 point [-]

Just a gut reaction, but this whole scenario sounds preposterous. Do you guys seriously believe that you can create something as complex as a superhuman AI, and prove that it is completely safe before turning it on? Isn't that as unbelievable as the idea that you can prove that a particular zygote will never grow up to be an evil dictator? Surely this violates some principles of complexity, chaos, quantum mechanics, etc.? And I would also like to know who these "good guys" are, and what will prevent them from becoming "bad guys" when they wield this much power. This all sounds incredibly naive and lacking in common sense!

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 17 November 2012 04:27:37AM *  36 points [-]

The main way complexity of this sort would be addressable is if the intellectual artifact that you tried to prove things about were simpler than the process that you meant the artifact to unfold into. For example, the mathematical specification of AIXI is pretty simple, even though the hypotheses that AIXI would (in principle) invent upon exposure to any given environment would mostly be complex. Or for a more concrete example, the Gallina kernel of the Coq proof engine is small and was verified to be correct using other proof tools, while most of the complexity of Coq is in built-up layers of proof search strategies which don't need to themselves be verified, as the proofs they generate are checked by Gallina.

Isn't that as unbelievable as the idea that you can prove that a particular zygote will never grow up to be an evil dictator? Surely this violates some principles of complexity, chaos [...]

Yes, any physical system could be subverted with a sufficiently unfavorable environment. You wouldn't want to prove perfection. The thing you would want to prove would be more along the lines of, "will this system become at least somewhere around as capable of recovering from any disturbances, and of going on to achieve a good result, as it would be if its designers had thought specifically about what to do in case of each possible disturbance?". (Ideally, this category of "designers" would also sort of bleed over in a principled way into the category of "moral constituency", as in CEV.) Which, in turn, would require a proof of something along the lines of "the process is highly likely to make it to the point where it knows enough about its designers to be able to mostly duplicate their hypothetical reasoning about what it should do, without anything going terribly wrong".

We don't know what an appropriate formalization of something like that would look like. But there is reason for considerable hope that such a formalization could be found, and that this formalization would be sufficiently simple that an implementation of it could be checked. This is because a few other aspects of decision-making which were previously mysterious, and which could only be discussed qualitatively, have had powerful and simple core mathematical descriptions discovered for cases where simplifying modeling assumptions perfectly apply. Shannon information was discovered for the informal notion of surprise (with the assumption of independent identically distributed symbols from a known distribution). Bayesian decision theory was discovered for the informal notion of rationality (with assumptions like perfect deliberation and side-effect-free cognition). And Solomonoff induction was discovered for the informal notion of Occam's razor (with assumptions like a halting oracle and a taken-for-granted choice of universal machine). These simple conceptual cores can then be used to motivate and evaluate less-simple approximations for situations where where the assumptions about the decision-maker don't perfectly apply. For the AI safety problem, the informal notions (for which the mathematical core descriptions would need to be discovered) would be a bit more complex -- like the "how to figure out what my designers would want to do in this case" idea above. Also, you'd have to formalize something like our informal notion of how to generate and evaluate approximations, because approximations are more complex than the ideals they approximate, and you wouldn't want to need to directly verify the safety of any more approximations than you had to. (But note that, for reasons related to Rice's theorem, you can't (and therefore shouldn't want to) lay down universally perfect rules for approximation in any finite system.)

Two other related points are discussed in this presentation: the idea that a digital computer is a nearly deterministic environment, which makes safety engineering easier for the stages before the AI is trying to influence the environment outside the computer, and the idea that you can design an AI in such a way that you can tell what goal it will at least try to achieve even if you don't know what it will do to achieve that goal. Presumably, the better your formal understanding of what it would mean to "at least try to achieve a goal", the better you would be at spotting and designing to handle situations that might make a given AI start trying to do something else.

(Also: Can you offer some feedback as to what features of the site would have helped you sooner be aware that there were arguments behind the positions that you felt were being asserted blindly in a vacuum? The "things can be surprisingly formalizable, here are some examples" argument can be found in lukeprog's "Open Problems Related to the Singularity" draft and the later "So You Want to Save the World", though the argument is very short and hard to recognize the significance of if you don't already know most of the mathematical formalisms mentioned. A backup "you shouldn't just assume that there's no way to make this work" argument is in "Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk", pp 12-13.)

what will prevent them from becoming "bad guys" when they wield this much power

That's a problem where successful/practically applicable formalizations are harder to hope for, so it's been harder for people to find things to say about it that pass the threshold of being plausible conceptual progress instead of being noisy verbal flailing. See the related "How can we ensure that a Friendly AI team will be sane enough?". But it's not like people aren't thinking about the problem.

Comment author: michaelcurzi 16 November 2012 10:58:23PM 1 point [-]

People pursuing a positive Singularity, with the right intentions, who understand the gravity of the problem, take it seriously, and do it on behalf of humanity rather than some smaller group.

I haven't offered a rigorous definition, and I'm not going to, but I think you know what I mean.

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 17 November 2012 01:40:37AM *  17 points [-]

you know what I mean.

Right, but this is a public-facing post. A lot of readers might not know why you could think it was obvious that "good guys" would imply things like information security, concern for Friendliness so-named, etc., and they might think that the intuition you mean to evoke with a vague affect-laden term like "good guys" is just the same argument-disdaining groupthink that would be implied if they saw it on any other site.

To prevent this impression, if you're going to use the term "good guys", then at or before the place where you first use it, you should probably put an explanation, like

(I.e. people who are familiar with the kind of thinking that can generate arguments like those in "The Detached Lever Fallacy", "Fake Utility Functions" and the posts leading up to it, "Anthropomorphic Optimism" and "Contaminated by Optimism", "Value is Fragile" and the posts leading up to it, and the "Envisioning perfection" and "Beyond the adversarial attitude" discussions in Creating Friendly AI or most of the philosophical discussion in Coherent Extrapolated Volition, and who understand what it means to be dealing with a technology that might be able to bootstrap to the singleton level of power that could truly engineer a "forever" of the "a boot stamping on a human face — forever" kind.)

In response to Value Loading
Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 23 October 2012 12:32:22PM 5 points [-]

See also "Acting Rationally with Incomplete Utility Information" by Urszula Chajewska, 2002.

Comment author: lukeprog 14 May 2012 10:07:06AM 62 points [-]

I don't think this response supports your claim that these improvements "would not and could not have happened without more funding than the level of previous years."

I know your comment is very brief because you're busy at minicamp, but I'll reply to what you wrote, anyway: Someone of decent rationality doesn't just "try things until something works." Moreover, many of the things on the list of recent improvements don't require an Amy, a Luke, or a Louie.

I don't even have past management experience. As you may recall, I had significant ambiguity aversion about the prospect of being made Executive Director, but as it turned out, the solution to almost every problem X has been (1) read what the experts say about how to solve X, (2) consult with people who care about your mission and have solved X before, and (3) do what they say.

When I was made Executive Director and phoned our Advisors, most of them said "Oh, how nice to hear from you! Nobody from SingInst has ever asked me for advice before!"

That is the kind of thing that makes me want to say that SingInst has "tested every method except the method of trying."

Donor database, strategic plan, staff worklogs, bringing staff together, expenses tracking, funds monitoring, basic management, best-practices accounting/bookkeeping... these are all literally from the Nonprofits for Dummies book.

Maybe these things weren't done for 11 years because SI's decision-makers did make good plans but failed to execute them due to the usual defeaters. But that's not the history I've heard, except that some funds monitoring was insisted upon after the large theft, and a donor database was sorta-kinda-not-really attempted at one point. The history I've heard is that SI failed to make these kinds of plans in the first place, failed to ask advisors for advice, failed to read Nonprofits for Dummies, and so on.

Money wasn't the barrier to doing many of those things, it was a gap in general rationality.

I will agree, however, that what is needed now is more money. We are rapidly becoming a more robust and efficient and rational organization, stepping up our FAI team recruiting efforts, stepping up our transparency and accountability efforts, and stepping up our research efforts, and all those things cost money.

At the risk of being too harsh… When I began to intern with the Singularity Institute in April 2011, I felt uncomfortable suggesting that people donate to SingInst, because I could see it from the inside and it wasn't pretty. (And I'm not the only SIer who felt this way at the time.)

But now I do feel comfortable asking people to donate to SingInst. I'm excited about our trajectory and our team, and if we can raise enough support then we might just have a shot at winning after all.

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 21 October 2012 10:10:58AM *  13 points [-]

these are all literally from the Nonprofits for Dummies book. [...] The history I've heard is that SI [...]

\

failed to read Nonprofits for Dummies,

I remember that, when Anna was managing the fellows program, she was reading books of the "for dummies" genre and trying to apply them... it's just that, as it happened, the conceptual labels she accidentally happened to give to the skill deficits she was aware of were "what it takes to manage well" (i.e. "basic management") and "what it takes to be productive", rather than "what it takes to (help) operate a nonprofit according to best practices". So those were the subjects of the books she got. (And read, and practiced.) And then, given everything else the program and the organization was trying to do, there wasn't really any cognitive space left over to effectively notice the possibility that those wouldn't be the skills that other people afterwards would complain that nobody acquired and obviously should have known to. The rest of her budgeted self-improvement effort mostly went toward overcoming self-defeating emotional/social blind spots and motivated cognition. (And I remember Jasen's skill learning focus was similar, except with more of the emphasis on emotional self-awareness and less on management.)

failed to ask advisors for advice,

I remember Anna went out of her way to get advice from people who she already knew, who she knew to be better than her at various aspects of personal or professional functioning. And she had long conversations with supporters who she came into contact with for some other reasons; for those who had executive experience, I expect she would have discussed her understanding of SIAI's current strategies with them and listened to their suggestions. But I don't know how much she went out of her way to find people she didn't already have reasonably reliable positive contact with, to get advice from them.

I don't know much about the reasoning of most people not connected with the fellows program about the skills or knowledge they needed. I think Vassar was mostly relying on skills tested during earlier business experience, and otherwise was mostly preoccupied with the general crisis of figuring out how to quickly-enough get around the various hugely-saliently-discrepant-seeming-to-him psychological barriers that were causing everyone inside and outside the organization to continue unthinkingly shooting themselves in the feet with respect to this outside-evolutionary-context-problem of existential risk mitigation. For the "everyone outside's psychological barriers" side of that, he was at least successful enough to keep SIAI's public image on track to trigger people like David Chalmers and Marcus Hutter into meaningful contributions to and participation in a nascent Singularity-studies academic discourse. I don't have a good idea what else was on his mind as something he needed to put effort into figuring out how to do, in what proportions occupying what kinds of subjective effort budgets, except that in total it was enough to put him on the threshold of burnout. Non-profit best practices apparently wasn't one of those things though.

But the proper approach to retrospective judgement is generally a confusing question.

the kind of thing that makes me want to say [. . .]

The general pattern, at least post-2008, may have been one where the people who could have been aware of problems felt too metacognitively exhausted and distracted by other problems to think about learning what to do about them, and hoped that someone else with more comparative advantage would catch them, or that the consequences wouldn't be bigger than those of the other fires they were trying to put out.

strategic plan [...] SI failed to make these kinds of plans in the first place,

There were also several attempts at building parts of a strategy document or strategic plan, which together took probably 400-1800 hours. In each case, the people involved ended up determining, from how long it was taking, that, despite reasonable-seeming initial expectations, it wasn't on track to possibly become a finished presentable product soon enough to justify the effort. The practical effect of these efforts was instead mostly just a hard-to-communicate cultural shared understanding of the strategic situation and options -- how different immediate projects, forms of investment, or conditions in the world might feed into each other on different timescales.

expenses tracking, funds monitoring [...] some funds monitoring was insisted upon after the large theft

There was an accountant (who herself already cost like $33k/yr as the CFO, despite being split three ways with two other nonprofits) who would have been the one informally expected to have been monitoring for that sort of thing, and to have told someone about it if she saw something, out of the like three paid administrative slots at the time... well, yeah, that didn't happen.

I agree with a paraphrase of John Maxwell's characterization: "I'd rather hear Eliezer say 'thanks for funding us until we stumbled across some employees who are good at defeating their akrasia and [had one of the names of the things they were aware they were supposed to] care about [happen to be "]organizational best practices["]', because this seems like a better depiction of what actually happened." Note that this was most of the purpose of the Fellows program in the first place -- to create an environment where people could be introduced to the necessary arguments/ideas/culture and to help sort/develop those people into useful roles, including replacing existing management, since everyone knew there were people who would be better at their job than they were and wished such a person could be convinced to do it instead.

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 21 October 2012 09:46:55AM *  2 points [-]

If you have a lot of experts and a lot of objects, I might try a generative model where each object had unseen values from an n-dimensional feature space, and where experts decided what features to notice using weightings from a dual n-dimensional space, with the weight covectors generated as clustered in some way to represent the experts' structured non-independence. The experts' probability estimates would be something like a logistic function of the product of each object's features with the expert's weights (plus noise), and your output summary probability would be the posterior mean of an estimate based on a special "best" expert weighting, derived using the assumption that the experts' estimates are well-calibrated.

I'm not sure what an appropriate generative model of clustered expert feature weightings would be.

Actually, I guess the output of this procedure would just end up being a log-linear model of the truth given the experts' confidences. (Some of the coefficients might be negative, to cancel confounding factors.) So maybe a lot easier way to fix this is to sample from the space of such log-linear models directly, using sampled hypothetical imputed truths, while enforcing some constraint that the experts' opinions be reasonably well-calibrated.

You have 2 independent measurements

I ignored this because I wasn't sure what you could have meant by "independent". If you meant that the experts' outputs are fully independent, conditional on the truth, then the problem is straightforward. But this seems unlikely in practice. You probably just meant the informal English connotation "not completely dependent".

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 15 August 2012 06:19:53PM 1 point [-]

I will try to get across what I mean by calling states of consciousness "intrinsic", "objectively existing", and so forth; by describing what it would mean for them to not have these attributes.

It would mean that you only exist by convention or by definition. It would mean that there is no definite fact about whether your life is part of reality. It wouldn't just be that some models of reality acknowledge your existence and others don't; it would mean that you are nothing more than a fuzzy heuristic concept in someone else's model, and that if they switched models, you would no longer exist even in that limited sense.

I would like to think that you personally have a robust enough sense of your own reality to decisively reject such propositions. But by now, nothing would surprise me, coming from a materialist. It's been amply demonstrated that people can be willing to profess disbelief in anything and everything, if they think that's the price of believing in science. So I won't presume that you believe that you exist, I'll just hope that you do, because if you don't, it will be hard to have a sensible conversation about these topics.

But... if you do agree that you definitely exist, independently of any "model" that actual or hypothetical observers have, then it's a short step to saying that you must also have some of your properties intrinsically, rather than through model-dependent attribution. The alternative would be to say that you exist, you're a "thing", but not any particular thing; which is the sort of untenable objective vagueness that I was talking about.

The concept of an intrinsic property is arising somewhat differently here, than it does in your discussion of squares and rectangles. The idealized geometrical figures have their intrinsic properties by definition, or by logical implication from the definition. But I can say that you have intrinsic properties, not by definition (or not just by definition), but because you exist, and to be is to be something. (Also known as the "law of identity".) It would make no sense to say that you are real, but otherwise devoid of ontological definiteness.

For exactly the same reason, it would make no sense to have a fundamentally vague "physical theory of you". Here I want to define "you" as narrowly as possible - this you, in this world, even just in this moment if necessary. I don't want the identity issues of a broadly defined "you" to interfere. I hope we have agreed that you-here-now exist, that you exist objectively, that you must have some identifying or individuating properties which are also held objectively and intrinsically; the properties which make you what you are.

If we are going to be ontological materialists about you-here-now, and we are also going to acknowledge you-here-now as completely and independently real, then there also can't be any vagueness or arbitrariness about which physical object is you-here-now. For every particle - if we have particles in our physical ontology - either it is definitely a part of you-here-now, or it definitely isn't.

At this point I'm already departing radically from the standard materialist account of personhood, which would say that we can be vague about whether a few atoms are a part of you or not. The reason we can't do that, is precisely the objectivity of your existence. If you are an objectively existing entity, I can't at the same time say that you are an entity whose boundaries aren't objectively defined. For some broader notion, like "your body", sure, we can be vague about where its boundaries are. But there has to be a core notion of what you are that is correct, exact, fully objective; and the partially objective definitions of "you" come from watering down this core notion by adding inessential extra properties.

Now let's contrast this situation with the piece of lumber that is close to being a square but isn't a perfect square. My arguments against fundamental vagueness are not about insisting that the piece of lumber is a perfect square. I am merely insisting that it is what it is, and whatever it is, it is that, exactly and definitely.

The main difference between "you-here-now" and the piece of lumber, is that we don't have the same reason to think that the lumber has a hard ontological core. It's an aggregate of atoms, electrons will be streaming off it, and there will be some arbitrariness about when such an electron stops being "part of the lumber". To find indisputably objective physical facts in this situation, you probably need to talk in terms of immediate relations between elementary particles.

The evidence for a hard core in you-here-now is primarily phenomenological and secondarily logical. The phenomenological evidence is what we call the unity of experience: what's happening to you in any moment is a gestalt; it's one thing happening to one person. Your experience of the world may have fuzzy edges to it, but it's still a whole and hence objectively a unity. The logical "evidence" is just the incoherence of supposing there can be a phenomenological unity without there being an ontological unity at any level. This experiential whole may have parts, but you can't use the existence of the parts to then turn around and deny the existence of the whole.

The evidence for an ontological hard core to you-here-now does not come from physics. Physically the brain looks like it should be just like the piece of lumber, an aggregate of very many very small things. This presumption is obviously why materialists often end up regarding their own existence as something less than objective, or why the search for a microphysically exact theory of the self sounds like a mistake. Instead we are to be content with the approximations of functionalism, because that's the most you could hope to do with such an entity.

I hope it's now very clear where I'm coming from. The phenomenological and ontological arguments for a "hard core" to the self are enough to override any counterargument from physics. They tell us that a mesoscopic theory of what's going on, like functionalism, is at best incomplete; it cannot be the final word. The task is to understand the conscious brain as a biophysical system, in terms of a physical ontology that can contain "real selves". And fortunately, it's no longer the 19th century, we have quantum mechanics and the ingredients for something more sophisticated than classic atomism.

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 16 August 2012 08:04:05PM *  2 points [-]

It wouldn't just be that some models of reality acknowledge your existence and others don't; it would mean that you are nothing more than a fuzzy heuristic concept in someone else's model, and that if they switched models, you would no longer exist even in that limited sense.

Or in a cascade of your own successive models, including of the cascade.

Or an incentive to keep using that model rather than to switch to another one. The models are made up, but the incentives are real. (To whatever extent the thing subject to the incentives is.)

Not that I'm agreeing, but some clever ways to formulate almost your objection could be built around the wording "The mind is in the mind, not in reality".

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 08 August 2012 10:42:22PM *  3 points [-]

You need to do the impossible one more time, and make your plans bearing in mind that the true ontology [...] something more than your current intellectual tools allow you to represent.

With the "is" removed and replaced by an implied "might be", this seems like a good sentiment...

...well, given scenarios in which there were some other process that could come to represent it, such that there'd be a point in using (necessarily-)current intellectual tools to figure out how to stay out of those processes' way...

...and depending on the relative payoffs, and the other processes' hypothetical robustness against interference.

(To the extent that decomposing the world into processes that separately come to do things, and can be "interfered with" or not, makes sense at all, of course.)

A more intelligible argument than the specific one you have been making is merely "we don't know whether there are any hidden philosophical, contextual, or further-future gotchas in whether or not a seemingly valuable future would actually be valuable". But in that case it seems like you need a general toolset to try to eventually catch the gotcha hypotheses you weren't by historical accident already disposed to turn up, the same way algorithmic probability is supposed to help you organize your efforts to be sure you've covered all the practical implications of hypotheses about non-weird situations. As a corollary: it would be helpful to propose a program of phenomenological investigation that could be expected to cover the same general sort of amount of ground where possible gotchas could be lurking as would designing an AI to approximate a universal computational hypothesis class.

If it matters, the only scenario I can think of specifically relating to quantum mechanics is that there are forms of human communication which somehow are able to transfer qubits, that these matter for something, and that a classical simulation wouldn't preserve them at the input (and/or the other boundaries).

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 08 August 2012 07:54:43PM *  6 points [-]

Some brief attempted translation for the last part:

A "monad", in Mitchell Porter's usage, is supposed to be a somewhat isolatable quantum state machine, with states and dynamics factorizable somewhat as if it was a quantum analogue of a classical dynamic graphical model such as a dynamic Bayesian network (e.g., in the linked physics paper, a quantum cellular automaton). (I guess, unlike graphical models, it could also be supposed to not necessarily have a uniquely best natural decomposition of its Hilbert space for all purposes, like how with an atomic lattice you can analyze it either in terms of its nuclear positions or its phonons.) For a monad to be a conscious mind, the monad must also at least be complicated and [this is a mistaken guess] capable of certain kinds of evolution toward something like equilibria of tensor-product-related quantum operators having to do with reflective state representation[/mistaken guess]. His expectation that this will work out is based partly on intuitive parallels between some imaginable combinatorially composable structures in the kind of tensor algebra that shows up in quantum mechanics and the known composable grammar-like structures that tend to show up whenever we try to articulate concepts about representation (I guess mostly the operators of modal logic).

(Disclaimer: I know almost only just enough quantum physics to get into trouble.)

A monadic mind would be a state machine, but ontologically it would be different from the same state machine running on a network of a billion monads.

Not all your readers will understand that "network of a billion monads" is supposed to refer to things like classical computing machinery (or quantum computing machinery?).

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 08 August 2012 10:28:03PM *  5 points [-]

His expectation that this will work out is based partly on [...]

(It's also based on an intuition I don't understand that says that classical states can't evolve toward something like representational equilibrium the way quantum states can -- e.g. you can't have something that tries to come up with an equilibrium of anticipation/decisions, like neural approximate computation of Nash equilibria, but using something more like representations of starting states of motor programs that, once underway, you've learned will predictably try to search combinatorial spaces of options and/or redo a computation like the current one but with different details -- or that, even if you can get ths sort of evolution in classical states, it's still knowably irrelevant. Earlier he invoked bafflingly intense intuitions about the obviously compelling ontological significance of the lack of spatial locality cues attached to subjective consciousness, such as "this quale is experienced in my anterior cingulate cortex, and this one in Wernicke's area", to argue that experience is necessarily nonclassically replicable. (As compared with, what, the spatial cues one would expect a classical simulation of the functional core of a conscious quantum state machine to magically become able to report experiencing?) He's now willing to spontaneously talk about non-conscious classical machines that simulate quantum ones (including not magically manifesting p-zombie subjective reports of spatial cues relating to its computational hardware), so I don't know what the causal role of that earlier intuition is in his present beliefs; but his reference to a "sweet spot", rather than a sweet protected quantum subspace of a space of network states or something, is suggestive, unless that's somehow necessary for the imagined tensor products to be able to stack up high enough.)

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 08 August 2012 10:02:29PM *  11 points [-]

You invoke as granted the assumption that there's anything besides your immediately present self (including your remembered past selves) that has qualia, but then you deny that some anticipatable things will have qualia. Presumably there are some philosophically informed epistemic-ish rules that you have been using, and implicitly endorsing, for the determination of whether any given stimuli you encounter were generated by something with qualia, and there are some other meta-philosophical epistemology-like rules that you are implicitly using and endorsing for determining whether the first set of rules was correct. Can you highlight any suitable past discussion you have given of the epistemology of the problem of other minds?

eta: I guess the discussions here, or here, sort of count, in that they explain how you could think what you do... except they're about something more like priors than like likelihoods.

In retrospect, the rest of your position is like that too, based on sort of metaphysical arguments about what is even coherently postulable, though you treat the conclusions with a certainty I don't see how to justify (e.g. one of your underlying concepts might not be fundamental the way you imagine). So, now that I see that, I guess my question was mostly just a passive-aggressive way to object to your argument procedure. The objectionable feature made more explicit is that the constraint you propose on the priors requires such a gerrymandered-seeming intermediate event -- that consciousness-simulating processes which are not causally (and, therefore, in some sense physically) 'atomic' are not experienced, yet would still manage to generate the only kind of outward evidence about their experiencedness that anyone else could possibly experience without direct brain interactions or measurements -- in order to make the likelihood of the (hypothetical) observations (of the outward evidence of experiencedness, and of the absence of that outward evidence anywhere else) within the gerrymandered event come out favorably.

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