Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: kilobug 08 June 2015 02:31:05PM 2 points [-]

I see your point, but I think you're confusing a partial overlapping with an identity.

There are many bugs/uncertainty that appear as agency, but there are also many bugs/uncertainty which doesn't appear as agency (as you said about true randomness), and there are also behavior that are actually smart and that appear as agency because of smartness (like the way I was delighted with Emacs the first time I realized that if I asked it to replace "blue" with "red", it would replace "Blue" with "Red" and "BLUE" with "RED"), I got the same "feeling of agency" there that I could have on bugs.

So I wouldn't say that agency is bugs, but that we have evolved to mis-attribute attribute agency to things that are dangerous/unpleasant (because it's safest to mis-attribute agency to nothing that doesn't have it, than to not attribute it to something that does have it), the same way our ancestors used to see the sun, storms, volcanoes, ... as having agency.

Agency is something different, hard to exactly pinpoint (philosophers have been going at it for centuries), but that involves ability to have a representation of reality, to plan ahead for a goal, a complexity of representation and ability to explore solution-space in a way that will end up surprising us, not because of bugs, but because of its inherent complexity. And we have been evolved to mis-attribute agency to things which behave in unexpected ways. But that's a bug of our own ability to detect agency, not a feature of agency itself.

Comment author: gurugeorge 07 June 2015 12:09:56AM 1 point [-]

I remember reading a book many years ago which talked about the "hormonal bath" in the body being actually part of cognition, such that thinking of the brain/CNS as the functional unit is wrong (it's necessary but not sufficient).

This ties in with the philosophical position of Externalism (I'm very much into the Process Externalism of Riccardo Manzotti). The "thinking unit" is really the whole body - and actually finally the whole world (not in the Panpsychist sense, quite, but rather in the sense of any individual instance of cognition being the peak of a pyramid that has roots that go all the way through the whole).

I'm as intrigued and hopeful about the possibility of uploading, etc., as the next nerd, but this sort of stuff has always led me to be cautious about the prospects of it.

There may also a lot more to be discovered about the brain and body too, in the area of some connection between the fascia and the immune system (cf. the anecdotal connection between things like yoga and "internal" martial arts and health).

Comment author: kilobug 08 June 2015 01:22:52PM 1 point [-]

I'm really skeptical of claims like « the "thinking unit" is really the whole body », they tend to discard quantitative considerations for purely qualitative ones.

Yes, the brain is influenced, and influences, the whole body. But that doesn't mean the whole body has the same importance in the thinking. The brain is also influenced by lots of external factors (such as ambient light or sounds, ...) if as soon as there is a "connection" between two parts you say "it's the whole system that does the processing", you'll just end up considering the solar system as a whole, or even the entire event horizon sphere.

There is countless evidence that, while your body and your environment have significant influence on your thinking, it's just influence, not fundamentally being part of the cognition. For example, people who have graft or amputations rarely change personality, memory or cognitive abilities in any way comparable to what brain damage can do.

Comment author: kilobug 04 June 2015 08:43:28AM 1 point [-]

A little nitpicking about the "2 dice" thing : usually when you throw you two dices, it doesn't matter which dice gives which result. Sure you could use colored dices and have the "blue 2, red 3" be different than "blue 3, red 2", but that's very rarely the case. Usually you do the sum (or look for patterns like doubles) but "2, 3" and "3, 2" are equivalent, and in that case the entropy isn't the double, but lower.

What you wrote is technically right - but goes against the common usage of dices, so it would be worth adding a footnote or precision about that, IMHO.

Comment author: kilobug 26 May 2015 08:18:39AM 5 points [-]

I'm not really sure the issue is about "direction", but more about people who have enough time and ideas to write awesome (or at least, interesting) posts like the Sequences (the initial ones by Eliezer or the additional ones by various contributors).

What I would like to see are sequences of posts that build on each other, starting from the basics and going to deep things (a bit like Sequences). It could be collective work (and then need a "direction"), but it could also be the work of a single person.

As for myself, I did write a few posts (a few in main and a few in discussions) but if I didn't write recently is mostly because of three issues :

  1. Lack of time, like I guess many of us.

  2. The feeling of not being "good enough", that's the problem with a community of "smart" people like LW, with high quality base content (the Sequences), it's a bit intimidating.

  3. The "taboo" subjects (like politics) which I do understand and respect, but they limit what I could write about.

There are a few things I would like to write about, but either I feel I lack the skill/knowledge to do it at LW level (point 2) or they border too much the "taboo" subjects (point 3).

Comment author: Vaniver 20 April 2015 01:33:11PM *  2 points [-]

My view on the "Fermi paradox" is not that there is a single filter, cutting ~10 orders of magnitude (ie, from 10 billions of planets in our galaxy with could have a life to just one), but more a combination of many small filters, each taking their cuts.

I don't think that the Great Filter implies only one filter, but I think that if you're multiplying several numbers together and they come out to at least 10^10, it's likely that at least one of the numbers is big. (And if one of the numbers is big, that makes it less necessary for the other numbers to be big.)

Put another way, it seems more likely to me that there is one component filter of size 10^6 than two component filters each of size 10^3, both of which seem much more likely than that there are 20 component filters of size 2.

Comment author: kilobug 22 April 2015 09:07:38AM 1 point [-]

I don't see why it's likely one of the numbers has to be big. There are really are lots of complicated steps you need to cross to go from inert matter to space-faring civilizations, it's very easy to point a dozen of such steps that could fail in various ways or just take too long, and there many disasters that can happen to blow everything down.

If you've a long ridge to climb in a limited time and most people fail to do it, it's not very likely there is a very specific part of it which is very hard, but (unless you've actual data that most people fail at the same place) more likely that are lots of moderately difficult parts and few people succeed in all of them in time.

Or if you've a complicated project that takes 4x longer than expected to be done, it's much less likely that there was a single big difficulty you didn't foresee than many small-to-moderate difficulties you didn't foresee stacking on top of each other. The planning fallacy isn't usually due to black swans, but to accumulating smaller factors. It's the same here.

Comment author: kilobug 20 April 2015 11:35:17AM 4 points [-]

There is a thing which really upsets me with the "Great Filter" idea/terminology, is that implies that it's a single event (which is either in the past or the future).

My view on the "Fermi paradox" is not that there is a single filter, cutting ~10 orders of magnitude (ie, from 10 billions of planets in our galaxy with could have a life to just one), but more a combination of many small filters, each taking their cuts.

To have intelligent space-faring life, we need a lot of things to happen without any disaster (nearby supernova, too big asteroid, ...) disrupting it too much. It's more a like a "game of the goose", where the optimization process steadily advance but events will either accelerate it or make it go backwards, and you need to reach the "win" cell before time runs out (ie, your star becoming too hot as the Sun will be in less than a billion of years) or reaching a '"you lose" cell (a nearby supernova blasting away your atmosphere, or a thermonuclear warfare).

I don't see any reason to believe there is a single "Great Filter", instead of a much more continuous process with many intermediate filters you have to pass through.

Comment author: kilobug 07 April 2015 08:46:14AM 1 point [-]

Nicely put for an introduction, but of course things are in reality not as clear-cut, "rationality" changing the direction and "desire" the magnitude.

  1. Rationality can make you realize some contradictions between your desires, and force you to change them. It can also make you realize that what you truly desire isn't what you thought you desired. Or it can make you desire whole new things, that you didn't believe to be possible initially.

  2. Desire will affect the magnitude because it'll affect how much effort you put in your endeavor. With things like akrasia and procastination around, if you don't have strong desire to do something, you are much likely to do it, especially if there is an initial cost. That's what Eliezer calls "something to protect".

Of course those two are mostly positive feedback between rationality and desire, but there also be can negative feedbacks between the two, usually due to human imperfections.

Comment author: kilobug 20 March 2015 02:33:00PM 1 point [-]

Interesting idea, thanks for doing it, but saddly many questions are very US-centric. It would be nice to have some "tags" on the questions, and let the users select which kind of questions he wants (for example the non-US people could remove the US-specific ones).

Comment author: lwmdw45 16 March 2015 07:18:16PM *  1 point [-]

Isn't it a little out of character for Harry to blithely assume that Hermione can't possibly die in her dementor mission? He doesn't even know how Horcrux 2.0 works--is there any good reason to think that the Horcrux will preserve your life if you deliberately fuel your magic with your life to kill dementors? (It's basically just a body-hopping spell, not a life-preservation spell.) Would a horcrux restore to Harry the life and magic he used to revive Hermione?

It just seems suspiciously out of character that Harry has now suddenly turned into an optimist with regard to Hermione's survival. He even says to himself he would never let her risk the mission if he thought it was actually dangerous, which means that he apparently actually fully buys into her immortality.

It will be tragic for Harry if she is dead again, for real, next week. Not because death is tragic per se, but because it will utterly blindside him.

Comment author: kilobug 16 March 2015 09:00:49PM -1 points [-]

Yes, it is a bit suspicious - but then Azkaban and Dementors are so terrible that it's worth the risk, IMHO.

And I don't think Harry is counting just on the Horcrux, I think he's counting on Horcrux as last failback, counting on the unicorn blood and the "she knows death can be defeated because she did went back from death", and maybe even Hermione calling a Phoenix.

Comment author: kilobug 15 March 2015 11:20:23PM 6 points [-]

The chapter 122 in itself was good, I liked it, but I feel a bit disappointed that it's the end of the whole hpmor.

Not to be unfairly critical, it's still a very great story and many thanks to Eliezer for writing it, but... there are way too many remaining unanswered questions, unfinished business, ... to be the complete end. It feels more like "end of season 1, see season 2 for the next" than "and now it's over".

First, I would really have liked a "something to protect" about Harry's parents.

But mostly, there are lots of unanswered questions : how does magic work ? What destroyed Atlantis ? Where do the Deadly Hallows and the Stone come from ? What is the thing threatening to destroy the world ? What exactly are the effects of all the transformations on Hermione ?

And many plots arcs not finished : will Hermione managed to destroy the dementors, and with which consequences ? How will the political landscape reshape, but in UK and worldwide ? How will Harry manage to find a safe way to save the muggles too ? How will Hogwarts evolved ? How will Harry manage the Elder Wand ?

View more: Next