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Comment author: username2 20 October 2016 11:41:19PM -1 points [-]

Most AI researchers have not done any research into the topic of AI [safety], so their opinions are irrelevant.

(I assume my edit is correct?)

One could also say: most AI safety researchers have not done any research into the topic of (practical) AI research, so their opinions are irrelevant. How is this statement any different?

Lastly this is not an outlier or 'extremist' view on this website. This is the majority opinion here and has been discussed to death in the past, and I think it's as settled as it can be expected. If you have any new points to make or share, please feel free. Otherwise you aren't adding anything at all. There is literally no argument in your comment at all, just an appeal to authority.

Really? There's a lot of frequent posters here that don't hold the Bostrom extremist view. skeptical_lurker and TheAncientGeek come to mind.

But if this site really has an orthodoxy, then it has no remaining purpose to me. Goodbye.

Comment author: dxu 23 October 2016 10:46:24PM -1 points [-]

But if this site really has an orthodoxy, then it has no remaining purpose to me. Goodbye.

Considering that you're using an anonymous account to post this comment, the above is a statement that carries much less weight than it normally would.

In response to comment by dxu on The Moral Void
Comment author: ChristianKl 22 July 2016 09:35:52AM 1 point [-]

People spoke of apples before they knew anything about atoms. Someone did discover at sometime that the entities that we call apples are made out of atoms.

If I would have a teleporter and exchange the atoms one-by-one with other atoms it would also stay the same apple. Especially when it comes to bridges I think there are actual bridges that had nearly total atom exchange but as still considered to be the same bridge.

In response to comment by ChristianKl on The Moral Void
Comment author: dxu 26 July 2016 07:43:06PM 1 point [-]

Your comment is true, but it doesn't address the original issue of whether it is possible to deduce morality from physics. If your intent was to provide a clarification, that's fine, of course.

In response to comment by dxu on The Moral Void
Comment author: entirelyuseless 21 July 2016 11:36:47AM *  0 points [-]

It is not irrelevant. Physics does not contain axioms that have the word "apple" in them, and so you cannot logically go from the axioms of physics to "apples tend to fall if you drop them." That does not prevent you from making a reasonable argument that if the axioms of physics are true, then apples will fall, and it does not prevent you from arguing for morality.

Comment author: dxu 21 July 2016 04:28:23PM *  0 points [-]

This is an equivocation. "Apple" is a term we use to refer to a large collection of atoms arranged in a particular manner. The same goes for the word "bridge" that you mentioned in your other comment. The fact that we can talk about such collections of atoms and refer to them using shorthands ("apple", "bridge", etc.) does not change the fact that they are still made of atoms, and hence subject to the laws of physics. This fact has precisely no bearing on the issue of whether it is possible to deduce morality from physics.

EDIT: Speaking of whether it's possible to deduce morality from physics, I actually already linked to (what in my mind is) a fairly compelling argument that it's not, but I note that you've (unsurprisingly) neglected to address that argument entirely.

In response to comment by dxu on Zombies Redacted
Comment author: entirelyuseless 21 July 2016 10:36:12AM -2 points [-]

Also, regarding the personal things here, I am not surprised that you find it hard to understand me, for two reasons. First, as I have said, I haven't been trying to lay out an entire position anyway, because it is not something that would fit into a few comments on Less Wrong. Second, you are deeply confused about a large number of things.

Of course, you suppose that I am the one who is confused. This is normal for disagreements. But I have good evidence that it is you who are confused, rather than me. You admit that you do not understand what I am saying, calling it "vague hand-waving." In contrast, I understand both what I am saying, and what you are saying. I understand your position quite well, and all of its reasons, along with the ways that you are mistaken. This is a difference that gives me a reason to think that you are the one who is confused, not me.

I agree that it would not be productive to continue a discussion along those lines, of course.

Comment author: dxu 21 July 2016 04:18:54PM *  2 points [-]

...Your comment, paraphrased:

"You think I'm wrong, but actually you're the one who's wrong. I'm not going to give any reasons you're wrong, because this margin is too narrow to contain those reasons, but rest assured I know for a fact that I'm right and you're wrong."

This is, frankly, ridiculous and a load of drivel. Sorry, but I have no intention of continuing to argue with someone who doesn't even bother to present their side of the argument and insults my intelligence on top of that. Tapping out.

In response to comment by dxu on Zombies Redacted
Comment author: entirelyuseless 21 July 2016 10:28:47AM -1 points [-]

"I do not believe etc."

That is my point. It is a question of your beliefs, not of proofs. In essence, in your earlier comment, you asserted that you do not depend on an inductive argument to tell you that other people are conscious, because zombies are impossible. But my point is that without the inductive argument, you would have no reason to believe that zombies are impossible.

Comment author: dxu 21 July 2016 04:13:58PM *  0 points [-]

No, I don't believe zombies are impossible because of some nebulously defined "inductive argument". I believe zombies are impossible because I am experiencing qualia, and I don't believe those qualia are the result of some magical consciousness substance that can be added or subtracted from a universe at will.

In response to comment by dxu on Zombies Redacted
Comment author: entirelyuseless 21 July 2016 03:03:59AM -2 points [-]

I'm not going to respond to all of this, because I don't have the time or energy for it, and I think you are very confused here about a large number of issues; resolving them would take much, much more than a comment.

But I will point out one thing. I agree that zombies are impossible, and therefore that a zombie world is impossible. That says nothing about what is conceivable; we know what we mean by a zombie or a zombie world, so it is quite conceivable.

But the thing you are confused about is this: just because a zombie world is impossible, does not mean that we have a syllogistic proof from first principles that it is impossible. We do not. And so if someone thinks it is possible, you can never refute that. You can only give reasons, that is, non-conclusive reasons, for thinking that it is probably impossible. And the reasons for thinking that are very similar to the reason I gave for thinking that other people are conscious. Your comment confuses two different ideas, namely whether zombies are possible, and what we know about zombies and how we know it, which are two different things.

Comment author: dxu 21 July 2016 06:06:37AM 1 point [-]

just because a zombie world is impossible, does not mean that we have a syllogistic proof from first principles that it is impossible. We do not.

True.

And so if someone thinks it is possible, you can never refute that.

False.

You can only give reasons, that is, non-conclusive reasons, for thinking that it is probably impossible. And the reasons for thinking that are very similar to the reason I gave for thinking that other people are conscious. Your comment confuses two different ideas, namely whether zombies are possible, and what we know about zombies and how we know it, which are two different things.

This is not a matter of knowledge, but of expectation. Basically, the question boils down to whether I, personally, believe that consciousness will eventually be explained in reductionistic, lower level terms, just as heat was explained in reductionistic, lower level terms, even if such an explanation is currently unavailable. And the answer to that question is yes. Yes, I do.

I do not believe that consciousness is magic, and I do not believe that it will remain forever inexplicable. I believe that although we do not currently have an explanation for qualia, we will eventually discover such an explanation, just as I believe there exists a googol-th digit of pi, even if we have not yet calculated that digit. And finally, I expect that once such an explanation is discovered, it will make the entire concept of "p-zombies" seem exactly as possible as "heat" somehow being different from "motion", or biology being powered by something other than chemistry, or the third digit of pi being anything other than 4.

This is, it seems to me, the only reasonable position to take; anything else would, in my opinion, require a massive helping of faith. I have attempted to lay out my arguments for why this is so on multiple occasions, and (if you'll forgive my immodesty) I think I've done a decent job of it. I have also asked you several questions in order to help clarify your objections so that I might be able to better address said objections; so far, these questions of mine have gone unanswered, and I have instead been presented with (what appears to me to be) little more than vague hand-waving in response to my carefully worded arguments.

As this conversation has progressed, all of these things have served to foster a feeling of increasing frustration on my part. I say this, not to start an argument, but to express my feelings regarding this discussion directly in the spirit of Tell Culture. Forgive me if my tone in this comment seems a bit short, but there is only so much dancing around the point I am willing to tolerate before I deem the conversation a frustrating and fruitless pursuit. I don't mean to sound like I'm giving an ultimatum here, but to put it bluntly: unless I encounter a point I feel is worth addressing in detail, this will likely be my last reply to you on this topic. I've laid out my case; I leave the task of refuting it to others.

In response to comment by dxu on Zombies Redacted
Comment author: UmamiSalami 21 July 2016 03:28:31AM 0 points [-]

Well, first off, I personally think the Zombie World is logically impossible, since I treat consciousness as an emergent phenomenon rather than a mysterious epiphenomenal substance; in other words, I reject the argument's premise: that the Zombie World's existence is "conceivable".

And yet it seems really quite easy to conceive of a p zombie. Merely claiming that consciousness is emergent doesn't change our ability to imagine the presence or absence of the phenomenon.

That being said, if you do accept the Zombie World argument, then there's no reason to believe we live in a universe with any conscious beings.

But clearly we do have such a reason: that we are conscious, and know this fact through direct experience of consciousness.

The confusion in your post is grounded in the idea that Chalmers or I would claim that the proof for consciousness is people's claims that they are conscious. We don't (although it could be evidence for it, if we had prior expectations against p-zombie universes which talked about consciousness). The claim is that we know consciousness is real due to our experience of it. The fact that this knowledge is causally inefficacious does not change its epistemic value.

Comment author: dxu 21 July 2016 05:37:02AM 0 points [-]

And yet it seems really quite easy to conceive of a p zombie. Merely claiming that consciousness is emergent doesn't change our ability to imagine the presence or absence of the phenomenon.

Not too long ago, it would also have been quite easy to conceive of a world in which heat and motion were two separate things. Today, this is no longer conceivable. If something seems conceivable to you now, that might just be because you don't yet understand how it's actually impossible. To make the jump from "conceivability" (a fact about your bounded mind) to "logically possible" (a fact about reality) is a misstep, and a rather enormous one at that.

But clearly we do have such a reason: that we are conscious, and know this fact through direct experience of consciousness.

By stipulation, you would have typed the above sentence regardless of whether or not you were actually conscious, and hence your statement does not provide evidence either for or against the existence of consciousness. If we accept the Zombie World as a logical possibility, our priors remain unaltered by the quoted sentence, and continue to be heavily weighted toward the Zombie World. (Again, we can easily get out of this conundrum by refusing to accept the logical possibility of the Zombie World, but this seems to be something you refuse to do.)

The claim is that we know consciousness is real due to our experience of it.

This exact statement could have been emitted by a p-zombie. Without direct access to your qualia, I have no way of distinguishing the difference based on anything you say or do, and as such this sentence provides just as much evidence that you are conscious as the earlier quoted statement does--that is to say, no evidence at all.

The fact that this knowledge is causally inefficacious does not change its epistemic value.

Oh, but it does. In particular, for a piece of knowledge to have epistemic value to me (or anyone else, for that matter), I need to have some way of acquiring that knowledge. For me to acquire that knowledge, I must causally interact with it in some manner. If that knowledge is "causally inefficacious", as you put it, by definition I have no way of knowing about it, and it can hardly be called "knowledge" at all, much less have any epistemic value.

Allow me to spell things out for you. Your claims, interpreted literally, would imply the following statements:

  1. There exists a mysterious substance called "consciousness" that does not causally interact with anything in the physical universe.
  2. Since this substance does not causally interact with anything in the physical universe, and you are part of the physical universe, said substance does not causally interact with you.
  3. This means, among other things, that when you use your physical fingers to type on your physical keyboard the words, "we are conscious, and know this fact through direct experience of consciousness", the cause of that series of physical actions cannot be the mysterious substance called "consciousness", since (again) that substance is causally inactive. Instead, some other mysterious process in your physical brain is occurring and causing you to type those words, operating completely independently of this mysterious substance. Moreover, this physical process would occur and cause you to type those same words regardless of whether the mysterious epiphenomenal substance called "consciousness" was actually present.
  4. Nevertheless, for some reason you appear to expect me to treat the words you type as evidence of this mysterious, causally inactive substance's existence. This, despite the fact that those words and that substance are, by stipulation, completely uncorrelated.

...Yeah, no. Not buying it, sorry. If you can't seeing the massive improbabilities you're incurring here, there's really not much left for me to say.

In response to comment by dxu on Zombies Redacted
Comment author: entirelyuseless 20 July 2016 04:56:26AM -1 points [-]

While I disagree with Eliezer's post, I also disagree with the Zombie world argument as you have presented it. That said, it is not true that your argument is completely analogous with it. One difference is in number 7. In the first argument, we believe we are living in a world where everyone is conscious for inductive reasons. The fact that other human beings have similar bodies and actions with mine, gives me reason to think that others are conscious just as I am. In your argument, there is simply no reason to accept your #7, since there is no analogy that would lead you to that conclusion.

Comment author: dxu 20 July 2016 07:03:44PM *  0 points [-]

While I disagree with Eliezer's post

Where? How?

I also disagree with the Zombie world argument as you have presented it.

Well, I disagree with the Zombie World argument, period, so it's possible I may have misrepresented it somehow (though naturally, I don't believe I did). Is there something you specifically disagree with about my phrasing of the Zombie World argument, i.e. some objection that applies to my phrasing, but not to (what you consider) the original?

That said, it is not true that your argument is completely analogous with it. One difference is in number 7.

Okay, so it seems like this is the meat of your objection. This being the case, I'm going to devote a rather larger amount of effort to answering this objection than to what you wrote above. If you feel I didn't focus enough on what you wrote above, again, please feel free to expand on any objections you may have there.

In the first argument, we believe we are living in a world where everyone is conscious for inductive reasons. The fact that other human beings have similar bodies and actions with mine, gives me reason to think that others are conscious just as I am. In your argument, there is simply no reason to accept your #7, since there is no analogy that would lead you to that conclusion.

Well, first off, I personally think the Zombie World is logically impossible, since I treat consciousness as an emergent phenomenon rather than a mysterious epiphenomenal substance; in other words, I reject the argument's premise: that the Zombie World's existence is "conceivable". (That's why I believe every human on the planet is conscious--given the structure of their brains, there's no way for them not to be.)

That being said, if you do accept the Zombie World argument, then there's no reason to believe we live in a universe with any conscious beings. The Zombie World (the one that has no consciousness in it, period) is far simpler than both (1) a universe in which I'm the only conscious one, and (2) a universe in which everyone is conscious. In both of the latter cases, you're saying that there's a mysterious epiphenomenal substance called consciousness that isn't there by necessity; it just happens to be there in order to make all the philosophers of consciousness (and dxu-2) right. Let's repeat that for emphasis: there is literally no reason for consciousness to exist in our universe other than to make David Chalmers right when he writes about consciousness.

If you accept that the Zombie World is conceivable, in other words, the next logical step is not to conclude that by sheer luck, we somehow ended up in a universe with consciousness--no, the next logical step would be to conclude that we ourselves are actually living in the Zombie World. There's no reason to believe that you're conscious, or that I'm conscious, or that anyone is conscious; the Zombie World (assuming it's possible) is strictly simpler than all of those cases.

Remember how, in both arguments, step 7 contained the phrase "just trust me on this one"? That wasn't by accident. In order to accept that we live in a universe with any consciousness at all, you need an absolutely tremendous of faith. True, a universe in which I'm the only conscious being might be slightly more complicated that one where everyone is conscious, but that slight increase in complexity is nothing compared with the huge complexity penalty both hypotheses receive compared with the Zombie World hypothesis (assuming, once again, that you admit the Zombie World hypothesis as a valid hypothesis).

Quoting the last part of your comment once more:

In your argument, there is simply no reason to accept your #7, since there is no analogy that would lead you to that conclusion.

If you reject step 7 of my argument because you feel it is unjustified ("there is no analogy that would lead you to that conclusion"), then you must reject step 7 of (my phrasing of) the original Zombie World argument as well, because compared to the Zombie World itself, the latter claim is virtually just as unjustified as the former. Your objection is acknowledged, but it plays no role in determining the conclusion of the original discussion: you must either accept both arguments as I presented them, or accept neither.

TL;DR: I concede that the final steps of each argument were not exactly analogous. However, this does not change the fact that if you accept one argument, you must accept the other, and hence, my original contention remains unchallenged.

In response to comment by dxu on The Moral Void
Comment author: entirelyuseless 20 July 2016 04:51:44AM -2 points [-]

You asked, "How do you get a statement" etc. I was answering that. In the same way we get all our other statements.

Comment author: dxu 20 July 2016 06:21:36PM *  1 point [-]

So, just to be clear, I was objecting to this part of TheAncientGeek's comment:

For instance, if objectivism works in a more math-like way, the a counterintuitive moral truth would be backed by a step-by-step argument leading the reader to the surprising conclusion in the way the reader of maths is led to surprising conclusions like thr Banach Tarski paradox.

My comment was an attempt to point out (in a rhetorical way) that math requires axioms, and you can't deduce something your axioms don't imply. After all, there are no universally compelling arguments--and in the case of morality, unless you're specifically choosing your axioms to have "shoulds" in them from the very start, you can't deduce "should" statements from them (although that doesn't stop some people from trying). You can, of course, have your own personal morality that you adhere to (that's the part where you choose your axioms to have "shoulds" in them from the beginning), but that's a fact about you, not about the universe at large. To claim otherwise is to claim that the laws of physics themselves have moral implications, which takes us back to moral realism (i.e. an external tablet of morality).

Your comment is true, of course, but it seems irrelevant to my original objection.

In response to comment by dxu on The Moral Void
Comment author: TheAncientGeek 20 July 2016 03:36:28PM 0 points [-]

How do you get a statement about how you should build a bridge so it doesn't fall down?

Comment author: dxu 20 July 2016 06:11:50PM 1 point [-]

Presumably, you get such a statement from the laws of physics, which allow you deduce things about quantities like force, stress, gravity, etc. I see no evidence that the laws of physics allow you to deduce similar things about morality.

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