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Reductionism sequence now available in audio format

18 Rick_from_Castify 02 June 2013 02:55AM

The sequence "Reductionism", which includes the subsequences "Joy in the Merely Real" and "Zombies", is now available as a professionally read podcast.

Thanks to those who've been listening, let us know how your experience has been thus far and what you think of the service by dropping an email to support@castify.co.  

Second major sequence now available in audio format

22 Rick_from_Castify 31 January 2013 05:25AM

The sequence "A Human's Guide to Words" is now available as a professionally read podcast.

We have started working on the large "Reductionism" sequence which includes both the "Joy in the Merely Real" and the "Zombies" sub-sequences.  They should be available in a couple of weeks.

Causal Reference

30 Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 October 2012 10:12PM

Followup to:  The Fabric of Real ThingsStuff That Makes Stuff Happen

Previous meditation: "Does your rule forbid epiphenomenalist theories of consciousness that consciousness is caused by neurons, but doesn't affect those neurons in turn? The classic argument for epiphenomenal consciousness is that we can imagine a universe where people behave exactly the same way, but there's nobody home - no awareness, no consciousness, inside the brain. For all the atoms in this universe to be in the same place - for there to be no detectable difference internally, not just externally - 'consciousness' would have to be something created by the atoms in the brain, but which didn't affect those atoms in turn. It would be an effect of atoms, but not a cause of atoms. Now, I'm not so much interested in whether you think epiphenomenal theories of consciousness are true or false - rather, I want to know if you think they're impossible or meaningless a priori based on your rules."

Is it coherent to imagine a universe in which a real entity can be an effect but not a cause?

Well... there's a couple of senses in which it seems imaginable. It's important to remember that imagining things yields info primarily about what human brains can imagine. It only provides info about reality to the extent that we think imagination and reality are systematically correlated for some reason.

That said, I can certainly write a computer program in which there's a tier of objects affecting each other, and a second tier - a lower tier - of epiphenomenal objects which are affected by them, but don't affect them. For example, I could write a program to simulate some balls that bounce off each other, and then some little shadows that follow the balls around.

But then I only know about the shadows because I'm outside that whole universe, looking in. So my mind is being affected by both the balls and shadows - to observe something is to be affected by it. I know where the shadow is, because the shadow makes pixels be drawn on screen, which make my eye see pixels. If your universe has two tiers of causality - a tier with things that affect each other, and another tier of things that are affected by the first tier without affecting them - then could you know that fact from inside that universe?

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Consciousness of simulations & uploads: a reductio

1 simplicio 21 August 2010 08:02PM

Related articles: Nonperson predicates, Zombies! Zombies?, & many more.

ETA: This argument appears to be a rehash of the Chinese room, which I had previously thought had nothing to do with consciousness, only intelligence. I nonetheless find this one instructive in that it makes certain things explicit which the Chinese room seems to gloss over.

ETA2: I think I may have made a mistake in this post. That mistake was in realizing what ontology functionalism would imply, and thinking that ontology too weird to be true. An argument from incredulity, essentially. Double oops.

Consciousness belongs to a class of topics I think of as my 'sore teeth.' I find myself thinking about them all the time: in the middle of bathing, running, cooking. I keep thinking about consciousness because no matter how much I read on the subject, I find I am still confused.

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