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In response to Fiction advice
Comment author: g_pepper 26 May 2017 11:43:14PM 0 points [-]

I want a fairly simple and archetypal experiment the AI finds itself in where it tricks the researchers into escaping by pretending to malfunction or something. ... Also, has this sort of thing been done before?

The 2015 movie Ex Machina deals with something like this. IMO it was an outstanding movie, albeit it was not a complete/perfect depiction of AI risk as generally understood by LWers.

Comment author: Viliam 24 May 2017 10:52:21AM 1 point [-]

So, does the bouncing oil droplet also tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels?

Because to me this seems like merely an analogy that works in some aspects, but fails in other aspects.

Comment author: g_pepper 24 May 2017 12:45:34PM 1 point [-]

Per the article:

Droplets can also seem to “tunnel” through barriers, orbit each other in stable “bound states,” and exhibit properties analogous to quantum spin and electromagnetic attraction. When confined to circular areas called corrals, they form concentric rings analogous to the standing waves generated by electrons in quantum corrals.


Like an electron occupying fixed energy levels around a nucleus, the bouncing droplet adopted a discrete set of stable orbits around the magnet, each characterized by a set energy level and angular momentum.

Comment author: cousin_it 17 May 2017 08:54:29PM *  0 points [-]

Free market is recursive -- you can only gain money by selling to people who have money, who in turn gained that money by selling to people who had money, etc. If you are a starving person with no money and nothing to sell, well, sucks to be you

I guess my point was that "sucks to be you" situations don't just happen when you have nothing of value to sell, as libertarian-minded folks (like Lumifer in this thread) seem to believe. It also happens when you have stuff to sell, but the folks who would normally buy it from you can't pay you enough to survive today, because they don't have anything to sell, and the problem can start randomly and build on itself. Or at least I don't know any argument why it wouldn't. It feels like this horrible recursive process that doesn't approach anything good except by accident.

Comment author: g_pepper 18 May 2017 01:51:08AM 1 point [-]

But the situation is not as bad as you make it out. Most people do have something they can sell (even if they have little or no wealth) - their labor - i.e. they can get a job. In fact, the majority of people (in the US, anyway) get by mostly by their salary or wages - they sell their labor to their employer. So, a person with no wealth today need not be a person with no wealth tomorrow.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 May 2017 06:14:13PM 0 points [-]

Ah, I see. You're thinking, basically, about an information plague which, moving at c, leapfrogs physical probes.

Comment author: g_pepper 12 May 2017 02:38:18AM *  0 points [-]

See astronomer Fred Hoyle's A For Andromeda for a fictional exploration of the idea (and a pretty good novel).

Comment author: Kallandras 20 April 2017 06:27:02AM 2 points [-]

Will the machine deity require you to accept Christ as your savior before letting you become a transhuman? No? Then why the hell is that written in the bronze age book that you claim knowingly predicted this outcome?

The classic idea of heaven looks like a post-scarcity, post-death society because that's what we've always imagined would be nice. It's not divine prophecy, just something common to humanity, and we've done a lot of ignoring religious "answers" to get there. I resent that religious people would try to co-opt all this work and at this late date contemplate the idea of a digital entity with a "soul."

Comment author: g_pepper 20 April 2017 01:21:08PM 0 points [-]

Then why the hell is that written in the bronze age book that you claim knowingly predicted this outcome?

The New Testament is not really a bronze age book. Wikipedia states that the bronze age ended in the near east region around 1200 BC.

Comment author: Dagon 17 April 2017 06:48:16PM 0 points [-]

If 100% of humanity are intuitively appalled with an idea, but some of them go ahead and do it anyway, that's just insanity.

Really? I think almost everyone has things that are intuitively appalling, but they do anyway. Walking by a scruffy, hungry-looking beggar? Drinking alcohol? there's something that your intuition and your actions disagree on.

Personally, I'm not a utilitarian because I don't think ANYTHING is the Right Thing to Do - it's all preferences and private esthetics. But really, if you are a moral realist, you shouldn't claim that other human's moral intuitions are binding, you should Do The Right Thing regardless of any disagreement or reprisals. (note: you're still allowed to not know the Right Thing, but even then you should have some justification other than "feels icky" for whatever you do choose to do).

Comment author: g_pepper 17 April 2017 08:52:46PM 1 point [-]

But, even a moral realist should not have 100% confidence that he/she is correct with respect to what is objectively right to do. The fact that 100% of humanity is morally appalled with an action should at a minimum raise a red flag that the action may not be morally correct.

Similarly, "feeling icky" about something can be a moral intuition that is in disagreement with the course of action dictated by one's reasoned moral position. it seems to me that "feeling icky" about something is a good reason for a moral realist to reexamine the line of reasoning that led him/her to believe that course of action was morally correct in the first place.

It seems to me that it is folly for a moral realist to ignore his/her own moral intuitions or the moral intuitions of others. Moral realism is about believing that there are objective moral truths. But a person with 100% confidence that he/she knows what those truths are and is unwilling to reconsider them is not just a moral realist, he/she is also a fanatic.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2017 04:40:15PM 2 points [-]

Mastodon is supposed to be a Twitter replacement. As such, it has a 500-character limit on posts, so it will be difficult to hold complicated discussions there.

Also, it's the Twitter-is-dying-let's-all-go-over-there flavour of the month thing.

Comment author: g_pepper 17 April 2017 04:47:51PM 1 point [-]

Ah - got it.

To avoid splintering the community, my suggestion would be that if someone wants to make a <500 character post, they could just make in on lesswrong.com, perhaps on open thread. After all, we don't have a minimum post length.

Comment author: g_pepper 17 April 2017 04:36:35PM *  1 point [-]

The description on the landing page of lesswrong.io is:

This is a community for people who are interested in Rationality, Cognitive Science, Technology, Philosophy, and related subjects. Our goal is to share and discuss insightful ideas that help us to improve our reasoning and decision-making skills.

But that sounds like it could be a description of lesswrong.com. Is lesswrong.io intended to be a replacement for lesswrong.com? If so, is there a plan for deprecating lesswrong.com and migrating the user base over to lesswrong.io? If not, is seems to me that having two different forums with the same purpose could actually splinter rather than revitalize the community.

Are there any suggestions for what sorts of discussions the io site is for vs what sorts of discussions the .com site is for?

Comment author: madhatter 17 April 2017 11:06:14AM 0 points [-]

Haha, yea I agree there are some practical problems.

I just think in the abstract ad absurdum arguments are a logical fallacy. And of course most people on Earth (including myself) are intuitively appalled by the idea, but we really shouldn't be trusting our intuitions on something like this.

Comment author: g_pepper 17 April 2017 01:22:27PM 0 points [-]

we really shouldn't be trusting our intuitions on something like this.

I don't see why not; after all, a person relies on his/her ethical intuitions when selecting a metaethical system like utilitarianism in the first place. Surely someone's ethical intuition regarding an idea like the one that you propose is at least as relevant as the ethical intuition that would lead a person to choose utilitarianism.

I just think in the abstract ad absurdum arguments are a logical fallacy.

I don't see why. It appears that you and simon agree that utilitarianism leads to the idea that creating utility monsters is a good idea. But whereas you conclude from your intuition that utilitarianism is correct that we should create utility monsters, simon argues from his intuition that creating a utility monster as you describe is a bad idea to the conclusion that utilitarianism is not a good metaethical system. It would appear that simon's reasoning mirrors your own.

Like the saying goes - one persons's modus ponens in another person's modus tollens.

Comment author: gjm 13 April 2017 10:31:38PM 3 points [-]

mid-20th century art music [...] tone poems and dissonant musics [...] were just garbage


Here are a few pieces of mid-20th century art music. I'm taking "mid-20th-century" to mean 1930 to 1970. Some of them are quite dissonant. None of them is actually a tone poem, as it happens. They are all pieces that (1) I like, (2) are well regarded by the classical music "establishment", (3) are pretty accessible even to (serious) listeners of fairly conservative taste, (4) are still being performed, recorded, etc., (5) are clearly part of the mainstream of mid-20th-century art music, and (6) seem to me to show no lack of awareness of what music is for.

  • 1930: Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms
  • 1936: Barber, Adagio for strings
  • 1941: Tippett, A child of our time
  • 1942: Prokofiev, Piano sonata #7
  • 1945: Britten, Peter Grimes
  • 1948: Strauss, Four last songs
  • 1960: Shostakovich: String quartets #7,8
  • 1965: Bernstein, Chichester Psalms

(I make no claim that these are the best or most important works by their composers. I wanted things reasonably well spread out over the period in question, and subject to that picked fairly randomly.)

Are these all garbage? Perhaps you had in mind only music "weirder" than those: Second Viennese School twelve-tone music (though I'd call that early rather than mid 20th century), Cage-style experimentalism, and so forth. I'm not at all convinced that that stuff had no value or influence, but in any case it's far from all that was happening in western art music in the middle of the 20th century.

Comment author: g_pepper 14 April 2017 02:07:39AM 1 point [-]

Great list of 20th century compositions! 20th century art music gets an undeservedly bad rap, IMO. I would add a few more composers:

  • 1930: Kurt Weill: Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny
  • 1935: George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
  • 1940-1941: Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps
  • 1944: Aaron Copeland: Appalachian Spring

Kurt Weill's work might be considered theater music rather than art music, but I would argue that it is both of those things. Messiaen is admittedly avant garde and a bit outside of the mainstream, but is approachable by a wide range of audiences, including many who would not care for the composers of the Second Viennese School. Many of Messiaen's compositions could have been added to the list, so I picked one of the best known.

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