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Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 02 February 2013 08:37:47PM *  11 points [-]

This is addressed by several Sequence posts, e.g. Why truth? And..., Dark Side Epistemology, and Focus Your Uncertainty.

Beliefs shoulder the burden of having to reflect the territory, while emotions don't. (Although many people seem to have beliefs that could be secretly encoding heuristics that, if they thought about it, they could just be executing anyway, e.g. believing that people are nice could be secretly encoding a heuristic to be nice to people, which you could just do anyway. This is one kind of not-really-anticipation-controlling belief that doesn't seem to be addressed by the Sequences.)

Comment author: sark 03 February 2013 12:00:40PM 5 points [-]

"Beliefs shoulder the burden of having to reflect the territory, while emotions don't."

This is how I have come to think of beliefs. It's like refactoring code. You should do it when you spot regularities you can eke efficiency out of. But you should do this only if it does not make the code unwieldy or unnatural, and only if it does not make the code fragile. Beliefs should be the same thing. When your rules of thumb seem to respect some regularity in reality, I'm perfectly happy to call that "truth". So long as that does not break my tools.

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 02 February 2013 08:37:47PM *  11 points [-]

This is addressed by several Sequence posts, e.g. Why truth? And..., Dark Side Epistemology, and Focus Your Uncertainty.

Beliefs shoulder the burden of having to reflect the territory, while emotions don't. (Although many people seem to have beliefs that could be secretly encoding heuristics that, if they thought about it, they could just be executing anyway, e.g. believing that people are nice could be secretly encoding a heuristic to be nice to people, which you could just do anyway. This is one kind of not-really-anticipation-controlling belief that doesn't seem to be addressed by the Sequences.)

Comment author: sark 03 February 2013 11:56:19AM 0 points [-]

"Beliefs shoulder the burden of having to reflect the territory, while emotions don't." Superb point that. And thanks for the links.

Comment author: James_Miller 02 February 2013 07:16:09PM 3 points [-]

If useful doesn't equal accurate then you have biased your map.

The most useful beliefs to have are almost always accurate ones so in almost all situations useful=accurate. But most people have an innate desire to bias their map in a way that harms them over the long-run. Restated, most people have harmful emotional urges that do their damage by causing them to have inaccurate maps that "feel" useful but really are not. Drilling into yourself the value of having an accurate map in part by changing your emotions to make accuracy a short-term emotional urge will cause you to ultimately have more useful beliefs than if you have the short-term emotional urge of having useful beliefs.

A Bayesian super-intelligence could go for both useful beliefs and emotions. But given the limitations of the human brain I'm better off programming the emotional part of mine to look for accuracy in beliefs rather than usefulness.

Comment author: sark 03 February 2013 11:55:17AM 1 point [-]

Good point about beliefs possibly only "feeling" useful. But that applies to accuracy as well. Privileging accuracy can also lead you to overstate its usefulness. In fact, I find it's often better to not even have beliefs at all. Rather than trying to contort my beliefs to be useful, a bunch of non map-based heuristics gets the job done handily. Remember, the map-territory distinction is itself but a useful meta-heuristic.

Comment author: James_Miller 01 February 2013 07:41:37PM 39 points [-]

You want accurate beliefs and useful emotions.

From a participant at the January CFAR workshop. I don't remember who. This struck me as an excellent description of what rationalists seek.

Comment author: sark 02 February 2013 06:47:23PM 9 points [-]

Why not both useful beliefs and useful emotions?

Why privilege beliefs?

In response to "Epiphany addiction"
Comment author: sark 30 September 2012 10:51:07AM 3 points [-]

I don't think we have got the right explanation for our epiphany addiction here. We are "addicted" to epiphanies because that is what our community rewards its members. Even if the sport is ostensibly about optimizing one's life, the actual sport is to come up with clever insights into how to optimize one's life. The incentive structure is all wrong. The problem ultimately comes down to us being rewarded more status for coming up with and understanding epiphanies than for such epiphanies having a positive impact on our lives.

Comment author: Despard 09 July 2012 10:38:25PM 2 points [-]

I'll be in town August 5th-11th for the Fringe - any chance of a meetup during that time?

Comment author: sark 10 July 2012 12:11:15AM 1 point [-]

No problem. I'm here for the entire summer. You may choose to contact myself closer to time and we'll organize a meetup then.

Comment author: sark 10 July 2012 12:08:16AM 0 points [-]

Hi. I will attend! I also wish to apologize for not having had the strength and courage to persist in organizing this meetup past the time it went fallow :P

Comment author: [deleted] 04 July 2012 08:06:05AM *  2 points [-]

Sorry, didn't see you commented until just now.

Why would they value suppression of former values?

Because a new niche -- even one based around subcultural ephemera -- means first dibs on resources for its members (especially the high status ones). This iteration increases as groups move away from subsistence level. If being contrary has no life-threatening consequences, what is to stop contrarians from acting like superstimuli pumps that spoof compression progress?

Comment author: sark 04 July 2012 12:58:06PM 1 point [-]

Ok got it, thanks.

In response to Be Happier
Comment author: sark 15 April 2012 07:46:44PM 11 points [-]

Hi. First of all thanks for the immensely helpful summary of the literature!

Since you have gone through so much of the literature, I was wondering if you have come across any theories about the functional role of happiness?

I'm currently only aware of Kaj Sotala's post some time ago about how happiness regulates risk-taking. I personally think happiness does this because risk-taking is socially advantageous for high status folks. The theory is that happiness is basically a behavioural strategy pursued by those who have high status. As in, happiness is performed, not pursued. Depression and anxiety would be the opposite of happiness. I remember some studies showing how in primates the low status ones exhibit depression-like and anxious behavior.

It may simply be my ignorance of the literature, but it seems strange that all these (otherwise wonderful) empirical investigations into happiness are motivated only by a common folk theory of its function.

Comment author: sark 15 April 2012 06:48:42PM 1 point [-]

Hi, thanks for linking to your post here. It seems relevant to what I tweeted. But please help me understand what you are saying here. I think I'm having trouble at "Subgroups form that may value intentional suppression of their former values". Why would they value suppression of former values?

I'm guessing you're trying to say that subgroups will find their aesthetic more interesting because they experience their aesthetic as providing greater improvement in compressibility given preexisting inculcation in that aesthetic?

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