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Comment author: shev 21 January 2017 11:57:40AM *  1 point [-]

Ah, of course, my mistake. I was trying to hand-wave an argument that we should be looking at reals instead of rationals (which isn't inherently true once you already know that 0.999...=1, but seems like it should be before you've determined that). I foolishly didn't think twice about what I had written to see if it made sense.

I still think it's true that "0.999..." compels you to look at the definition of real numbers, not rationals. Just need to figure out a plausible sounding justification for that.

Comment author: mwengler 21 January 2017 04:02:49PM 1 point [-]

I suppose you might be right for some people. For me, the fact that repeating infinite decimal expansions are rational is deeply deeply ingrained. Since your post is essentially how to square your feelings with what turns out to be mathematically true, you have a lot of room for disagreement as there is no contradiction in different people feeling different ways about the same facts.

For me the most fun thing about 0.9999.... is that 1/9 = .11111... and therefore 9x1/9 = 9x.111111..... and this last expression obviously = .99999...

You should also do a search on "right" in your post and edit it, you use "right" one time where you really need "write" I think it is "right down" instead of "write down" but I'll let you do the looking.

Comment author: mwengler 21 January 2017 10:47:33AM 3 points [-]

The OP states:

A very good question is "what kinds of objects are these, anyway?" Since we have an infinite decimal they can't be rational numbers.

This is just wrong. A rational number is a number that can be written as a fraction of two integers. Lots of infinite decimals are rational numbers. 1/3 = .3333333..., 1/9 = .1111111.... 1/7 = .142857142857142857... etc.

Comment author: turchin 13 September 2016 08:22:51AM 0 points [-]

If we adopt criteria of identity based of same location, next-moment-of-me will be not me, as I move, Earth move etc. It results in situation where I will die every millisecond.

We could also imagine situation where Omega put my copy in my location, but instantly moves me to the next room.

Comment author: mwengler 11 January 2017 03:52:43PM 0 points [-]

Clearly we can differentiate between different-location-same-time and different-location-different-time. Two things in different-location-same-time are different things. Two things different-location-different-time may be same thing or may be different thing depending on the path through time. Your mathematical style of abstraction in thinking about identity will only be useful at explaining the real world if it is matched to real world processes, and does not ignore important real world insights.

Comment author: turchin 12 August 2016 04:56:09PM 0 points [-]

I am going soon to publish Identity map which will sum up my research of the identity problem.

1) If twins are really similar, there will be indexical question for them. Each of them will not know if he is twin 1 or twin 2. So in practical situations they should think that any event which affect one of twins has 50 per cent situation to happen with them. So consciousness will not jump from one twin to another. It is already shared in this example.

2) Philosophers are well aware of the problem and it is called "other minds problem" and "hard problem" of consciousness. the main problem here is that if we adopt idea that consciousness could be different without any physical difference between the copies, we adopt the idea of p-zombies and reject physicalism that is modern version of materialism. It almost the same as to say that immaterial soul exist. It is very strong statement.

Comment author: mwengler 11 September 2016 11:00:46PM *  0 points [-]

if we adopt idea that consciousness could be different without any physical difference between the copies, we adopt the idea of p-zombies and reject physicalism that is modern version of materialism. It almost the same as to say that immaterial soul exist. It is very strong statement.

Not relevant to the problem. If you create a copy of me, the copy is not identical, if for no other reason than it occupies a different location than I do. I agree that if it occupied the same location that I do, atom for atom and quark for quark, that could lead to the concern you express. But copies cannot occupy the same location, and so there is no problem having the copy to the left be one consciousness while the original to the right is a different consciousness.

The strongest claim I might accept would be that both the original and the copy have "valid" claims to be the continuation of the pre-copying single consciousness that was me back then. But no matter how you slice it, killing the original when you make the copy is still destroying a separate consciousness, even if the remaining consciousness thinks it is the only continuation of the pre-copy consciousness.

In response to The map of p-zombies
Comment author: mwengler 12 August 2016 03:00:21PM 1 point [-]

1) I do not understand why our experience of identical twins does not play into most discussions of my copy being "the same person as me." We know that twins do not share the same consciousness (unless Occam's razor is wrong and they are all lying.) We know from that that if we made a copy without destroying the original that the copy and the original would not share a consciousness. So why isn't at least the possibiliy (I would estimate overwhelming likelihood) that a copy is a different consciousness than the original, and that destroying the original kills one consciousness while making a copy creates a different consciousness, and that these are separate processes?

2) Does philosophy talk somewhere about what I would call "outer" and "inner" worlds? I know I'm conscious because I participate in my inner world. I figure by Occam's razor that you are conscious, but I don't have direct experience of your consciousness, because I can only see you in my outer world. We don't talk anywhere near as much about "inner" world because we don't share that with others, while our "outer" experiences are shared, and we have evolved a host of techniques including language and science for processing "outer" experiences. But "inner" experiences don't benefit from language and science because they are, so far, locked away inside us, not social phenomenon. Because I think the idea that our copy is a continuation of our own consciousness is a mistake we can make if we don't realize there is an "inner" experience quite distinct from our "outer" experiences. So sure, my copy thinks he is continuously conscious, and therefore may think my consciousness has jumped into him, but that is because to my copy, I am part of his "outer" world. But if a non-destructive copy of me was made, I think it is obvious from what we know about twins that despite my copies eloquence at explaining his continuity from me, that I, the original, would resist being killed as superflous. Yes in everybody else's outer world, where consciousness of others is indirectly inferred, they can't tell that my copy is not a continuation of my consciousness in separate matter. But in my inner world, it seems pretty clear that I, (the original) would know.

Comment author: Viliam 30 May 2016 08:44:53AM *  -1 points [-]

Some people believe that altruism has evolved through helping your relatives or through helping others to help you in return. I was thinking about it; on the surface the idea looks good -- if you already have this system in place, it is easy to see how it benefits those involved -- but that doesn't explain how the system could have appeared in the first place. Anyone knows the standard answer?

Imagine that you are literally the first organism who by random mutation achieved a gene for "helping those who help you". How specifically does this gene increase your fitness, if there is no one else to reciprocate?

Or imagine that you are literally the first organism who by random mutation achieved a gene for "helping your siblings". How specifically does this gene increase your fitness, or the fitness of the gene itself, if your siblings do not have a copy of this gene?

In other words, it seems simple to explain how these kinds of altruism can work when they are already an established system, but it is more difficult to explain how it could work when it is new.

And this all is a huge simplification; for example, I doubt that "helping those who help you" could be achieved by a single mutation, since it involves multiple parts like "noticing that someone helped you", "remembering the individual who helped you" and "helping the individual who helped you in the past". Plus the problem of how to start this chain of mutual cooperation.

My guess is that... nygehvfz pbhyq unir ribyirq guebhtu frkhny fryrpgvba. Yrg'f rkcynva vg ol funevat sbbq jvgu bguref. Svefg, vaqvivqhnyf abgvpr jub vf tbbq ng tngurevat sbbq, naq gurl ribyir nggenpgvba gbjneqf tbbq sbbq pbyyrpgbef. Gung znxrf vzzrqvngr frafr orpnhfr vg vapernfrf fheiviny bs gur puvyqera, vs gurl nyfb trg gur trarf tbbq sbe tngurevat sbbq. Nsgre guvf nggenpgvba rkvfgf jvguva gur fcrpvrf, gur arkg fgrc pbhyq or fvtanyyvat: vs lbh unir fbzr rkgen sbbq lbh qba'g npghnyyl arrq, oevat vg naq ivfvoyl qebc vg arne bgure vaqvivqhnyf, fb gung bguref abgvpr lbh unir zber sbbq guna lbh pna rng. Ntnva, guvf znxrf vzzrqvngr frafr, orpnhfr vg znxrf lbh zber nggenpgvir. Abgvpr ubj arvgure "urycvat lbh eryngvirf" abe "urycvat gubfr jub uryc lbh" jnf arprffnel gb ribyir urycvat vaqvfpevzvangryl. Npghnyyl, gubfr pbhyq unir ribyirq yngre, nf shegure vzcebirzragf bs be nqqvgvbaf gb gur vaqvfpevzvangr urycvat.

Comment author: mwengler 30 May 2016 05:35:24PM 4 points [-]

My first thoughts reading your post are 1) You start WAY TOO LATE IN THE GAME. You are essentially talking about altruism as a conscious choice which means you are well into the higher mammals.

Virtually every sexually reproducing creature devotes resources to reproduction that could have been conserved for individual survival. As you move up in complexity, you have animals feeding their young and performing other services for them. As would be expected with all evolved cooperation, the energy and cost you expend raising your young produces a more survivable young and so is net cost effective at getting the next generation going, which is pretty much what spreads genes.

How big of a leap is it from a mama bird regurgitating food into her baby's mouth to you helping your neighbor hunt for wooly mammoth?

If you were the first organism to get the gene to feed your babies or do whatever expanded their survivability, then obviously that is how that gene propagates, your babies have the gene.

As you get to the more complex forms of altruism of primates and humans, you also get to strong feedback mechanisms against non-cooperators and free-riders. The system may not be perfect but I think it allows a path from feeding babies or burying eggs in the sand to modern altruism in humans where no wierd "how do we start this" behaviors bump up to stop things.

Comment author: iarwain1 13 May 2016 02:25:24PM *  2 points [-]

In our world, classical mechanics (Newton + Maxwell and their logical implications) holds for most everyday experiences at slow speeds (relative to the speed of light) and at scales larger than the atomic realm.*

Question: Is this necessarily true for every possible world that matches our macroscopic physical observations? Is it possible to construct an alternative set of physical laws such that the world would function exactly as our world does on a macroscopic, everyday level, but that would violate Newton's laws or Maxwell's laws or thermodynamics or the like? Again, I'm not talking about violating those laws in extreme cases (close to the speed of light, tiny scales) where these laws don't really apply even in our world. I'm talking about a world where even the everyday approximate equations of physics, as expressed in classical mechanics, do not apply.

Said another way: If you messed with Newton's equations or Maxwell's equations or thermodynamics even a little bit, would the world necessarily function differently in such a way that we could tell that you'd messed with the laws? Would it function so differently as to be unrecognizable?

Or said yet another way: Do our macroscopic experiences entail that the equations of classical mechanics are at least a very good approximation of the underlying physics?

I'd especially appreciate sources / references / links to further reading.

[*Leaving aside the types of modern technology which bring quantum mechanical effects into the everyday observable world.]

Comment author: mwengler 14 May 2016 05:36:32PM 4 points [-]

I may not understand the question's point, because as I read it the answer is a very obvious "Yes." We determined Newton's laws and Maxwell's equations from observations of our world. So the planets in orbit around the sun, the moon around the earth, and an apple falling to the ground all lead to gravitation. The attraction between wires carrying current in the same direction (magnetic), the functioning of transformers (change in magnetic field produces electric field) and radio and light all fit together to give Maxwell's equations.

So yes, a world with the macroscopic physical observations as ours does not violate Newton's or Maxwell's laws because our world with those observations doesn't violate those laws. If Newton's or Maxwell's equations were different, the world you saw would necessarily be different.

What am I missing here?

Comment author: mwengler 03 April 2016 03:15:43PM 1 point [-]

That Artificial Intelligence is going to do a lot of the same things that Natural Intelligence does.

Comment author: DSimon 10 February 2016 05:44:28PM 1 point [-]

Taboo "faith", what do you mean specifically by that term?

Comment author: mwengler 11 February 2016 03:38:29PM 0 points [-]

Taboo "faith", what do you mean specifically by that term?

Good idea. I mean that EVERYBODY, rationalist atheist and christian alike, starts with an axiom or assumption.

In the case of rationalist atheists (or at least come such as myself) the axioms started with are things like 1) truth is inferred with semi=quantifiable confidence from evidence supporting hypotheses, 2) explanations like "god did it" or "alpha did it" or "a benevolent force of the universe did it" are disallowed. I think some people are willing to go circular, allow the axioms to remain implicit and then "prove" them along the way: I see no evidence for a conscious personality with supernatural powers. But I do claim that is circular, you can't prove anything without knowing how you prove things and so you can't prove how you prove things by applying how you prove things without being circular.

So for me, I support my rationalist atheist point of view by appealing to the great success it has in advancing engineering and science. By pointing to the richness of the connections to data, the "obvious" consistency of geology with a 4 billion year old earth, the "obvious" consistency of evolution from common ancestors of similar structures across species right down to the ADP-ATP cycle and DNA.

But a theist is doing the same thing. They START with the assumption that there is a powerful conscious being running both the physical and the human worlds. They marvel at the brilliance of the design of life to support their claim even though it can't prove their axioms. They marvel at the richness of the human moral and emotional world as more support for the richness and beauty of conscious and good creation.

Logically, there is no logic without assumptions. Deduction needs something to deduce from. I like occams razor and naturalism because my long exposure to it leaves me feeling very satisfied with its ability to describe many things I think are important. Other people like theism because their long exposure to it leaves them feeling very satisfied with its ability to describe and even prescribe the things they think are important.

I am not aware of a definitive way to challenge axioms, and I don't think there is one at the level I think of it.

Comment author: mwengler 10 February 2016 03:56:29PM 1 point [-]

This comment is in reply to some ideas in the comments below.

In my opinion, my rationality is as faith-based as is a religious person's religious belief.

Among my highest values is "being right" in the sense of being able to instrumentally effect or predict the world. I want to be able to communicate across long distances, to turn combustible fuel into safe transportation, to correctly predict what an interstellar probe will find and to be able to build an interstellar probe that will work. Looking at the world, I see much more success in endeavors like these from science and rationality than from religiosity or appeals to god. And so I adopt rationality as it supports my values.

I also want to raise healthy, happy, "good" children. My one child who dabbles in alcohol, drugs, and petty theft, I am pretty sure I could "help" him by going to church with him. I've known many people who are effective at doing things I see as good because, it seems, of their religious beliefs and participation in churches and religious communities. I liked being a Lutheran for a few years. One night I told our pastor that I just didn't believe in god. He told me he thought half the church had that happening. Even so I couldn't stay engaged.

I feel the loss of religious faith as a sorrow, or a pain, or a burr under my saddle, or something. But I can't justify it, or more importantly, I can only pretend to believe, actual belief does not seem to me to be a real option anymore.

And it turns out I have enough "faith" in scientific rationalism that I won't even pretend I believe in god. I choose to believe that staying consistent with rational principles will payoff more for me and those I care about than will falling back to the more accessible morality of religious faith. It is a leap of faith, especially in light of "rationalists win." If my son were to become an heroin addict and devote his life to petty theft, jail, and shooting up, AND I could have prevented that by bringing him to church, I will have paid a price for my faith, as much as any Christian Martyr who was harmed or whos family was harmed because he did not deny his Christian belief.

People who think their rationality does not come from a faith they possess remind me of religious people who think their belief in god is just right, that it does not come from a faith that they possess or have chosen.

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