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Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Steelmanning Divination · 2019-09-04T17:52:38.475Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

According to the REBUS and the Anarchic Brain model, the self-developmental benefits of psychedelics would be due to a temporary relaxation of the hierarchical information processing of the brain.

Normally our top-down processes suppress very low-prior bottom-up signals as noise. Psychedelics selectively inhibit the top-down network, allowing anomalous bottom-up signals to propagate. If a lot of anomalies had been suppressed by strongly-held high-level beliefs, this can cause large updates.

Note that these updates are not necessarily correct and the new beliefs can also become sticky, so I wouldn't recommend untutored experimentation.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-17T13:13:29.967Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Because people don't just passively consume books and movies, people also try to change objective states of affairs.

Deterministic or not, we are the process by which change happens. I now wonder what kind of agency would satisfy your objection. Must our choices be uncaused causes? If not, what kind of causal influence is permitted?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-12T15:24:00.096Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree and didn't intend that to be the main thrust of my reply. Let me repeat:

How do we disambiguate between objective indeterminacy in a nondeterministic world and subjective indeterminacy in a deterministic one?

I'm asking because I expect the two to be subjectively indistinguishable and your answer should help shed light on the nature of our disagreement.

I'd also like to hear your take on the books-and-movies question.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-12T12:37:36.294Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unless you want to postulate some sort of branching-future superposition, there will be one eventual outcome. How do we disambiguate between objective indeterminacy in a nondeterministic world and subjective indeterminacy in a deterministic one?

It now occurs to me to wonder how antideterminists feel about books and movies. Does it diminish their enjoyment to know that the plot has already been determined?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-11T18:47:08.203Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You consider a number of choices. You judge them according to your decision criteria and choose the one that seems best. What difference does it make if some hypothetical omniscient observer could tell in advance which choice you'll make? You'll still choose just one, and you want it to be the best one.

In what sense is the unchosen counterfactual a real one?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-11T09:34:33.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you sure that isn't the same type of confusion? The way your decision process goes does make a difference to the outcomes of the universe. Again, being predictable-in-principle is a property of the process, not an external imposition.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on AI Alignment Open Thread August 2019 · 2019-08-09T16:22:20.913Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW
It seems fairly likely to me proto-AGI (i.e. AI that could autonomously learn to become AGI within <~10yrs of acting in the real world) is deployed and creates proto-AGI subagents, some of which we don't become aware of (e.g. because accidental/incidental/deliberate steganography) and/or are unable to keep track of. And then those continue to survive and reproduce, etc...

Now I'm wondering if it makes sense to model past or present cognitive-cultural information processes in a similar fashion. Memetic and cultural evolutions are a thing and any agentlike processes that spawn could piggypack on our existing general intelligence architecture.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-09T09:32:01.247Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, let me try to put it this way.

Imagine someone giving you orders while holding a gun to your head. That situation feels distinctly unfree, even though you're entirely free to disobey and take the bullet to the head.

Our intuitive sense of freedom may actually refer to a lack of externally imposed constraints on our decision process, as opposed to some inherent internal quality. The mistake would then be imagining determinism as an external imposition when it would in fact be a quality of the decision process itself.

Does that help?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-09T05:13:27.300Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not giving up, updating. The whole point is that determinism (or timelessness for that matter) need not invalidate our notions of agency, consequence or morality. If it feels like it does, that's a bug in the system.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T18:07:08.633Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
If determinism is true and compatibilism is false.

Huh. Going by the wikipedia definition of compatibilism, it seems like a distinction without a difference. How does it help in your view?

I have pointed out what people worry they are going to lose under determinism.

This feels like worrying about losing the colors of the rainbow if optics is true. Maybe add that worry to the list of potentially mistaken intuitions.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T17:22:23.094Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You keep commenting on determinism but given your intuitions, you end up sounding a bit like "Nondeterminism, therefore X." In reply, people tell you something like "If determinism, then Y."

This is the important point. If determinism is true, then nondeterminist intuitions are mistaken. What's the point of participating in discussions of determinism if you keep applying intuitions that take its falsity as an axiom?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T16:27:36.483Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Tu quoque, my friend. From my perspective, your reasoning is tacitly relying on intuitive assumptions that don't apply in the (hypothetical) domain of a deterministic universe. In other words, you're implicitly assuming your conclusion.

If determinism is true, you're already a deterministic being in a deterministic universe. I suppose there's a mental trick of flipping the perspective from the outside to the inside, but that may require taking the hypothesis more seriously than you're likely to do.

Remember, people like me started out with the intuition of nondeterminism. We've already worked through the basic objections about things like choices, consequences and morality. If your wish is to engage productively on this topic, you may want to rethink your approach.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T15:19:26.690Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1. The problem with that is, the standard intuitions implicitly assume that determinism is false. It's hard to have a productive discussion about a counterintuitive topic if the contrary intuitions keep firing.

2. I believe that determinism is plausible but I don't have strong ontological commitments at this time. Based on the trajectory of the conversation, I suspect you have a strong (implicit or explicit) commitment to nondeterminism. Do you?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T14:23:49.669Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1. True. However, as long as we are discussing determinism, it is proper to avoid the intuitive confusion.

2. Help me out here. Which unstated assumptions do you think I have?

I'm engaging in this conversation because you seem to be almost-but-not-quite arguing against determinism in a way that suggests you may be operating from nondeterminist intuitions. I've been trying to figure out if that was the case and discussing the philosophy as it comes up.

What are your own assumptions on this? How do your intuitions mesh with the possibility of living in a deterministic universe?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T13:31:33.383Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I know. My claim is that the issue stems from the way our moral intuitions are grounded in the intuitive notion of free will. If we update to a deterministic world-model without updating the intuitions, we get the confusions you describe.

To clarify, deterministic agents rewarding and punishing deterministic agents only seems more problematic than the nondeterministic case because of our nondeterminist intuitions.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T13:06:48.336Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, these dissonances usually result from an ontological-type mismatch, eg. a free-willed agent judging the choices of a deterministic one. Within-universe, moral choices and moral judgments are of the same ontological type and the dissonance cancels out.

These kinds of moral judgments only make sense between roughly equal agents anyway. If one is so much more capable that it can model the other as basically deterministic, it is better off exerting influence through causal channels.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-08T09:31:43.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Counterfactually, if your decisions were different, the future-ward implications of those decisions would be different. In that sense, they do have a point.

I wasn't trying to ask whether one should believe in determinism or not. I was asking what effects belief in determinism should have.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-07T18:42:35.433Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Belief in determinism is correlated with worse outcomes, but one doesn't cause the other; both are determined by the state and process of the universe.

Wait, how does determinism obviate cause and effect? A timeless universe would, but deterministic causation is still causation, right? Not that it matters for the point at hand.

(I'd prefer a better term than "correlated", there's still some logical determination going on there. Not sure what to replace it with, though.)

The point is, it doesn't matter if we live in a deterministic universe. Our values are still best served by pursuing them with our full effort, even if from some omniscient outside perspective the whole thing were predetermined. If modeling ourselves as deterministic would diminish our efforts, we'd be making a mental mistake.

If we do live in a deterministic universe, then free choice is simply what the unfolding of the determination feels from the inside. As far as I can tell, the ontological details don't make much empirical difference and our intuitions are well-optimized for performance. I think I've somehow managed to update for the possibility of a timeless universe on the intuitive level but the difference is so small it's hard to tell. Feel free to stick with what you have, I guess.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-07T15:39:36.073Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My mind keeps wanting to interpret your take on determinism as a fatalistic fallacy. Let me try to get some clarity on this.

If belief in determinism causes someone to make poorer choices, they're doing it wrong. Do you agree? If not, why?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Open Thread July 2019 · 2019-07-15T05:44:45.713Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, this is exactly what I was looking for. Not a new idea then, though there's something to be said for semi-independent reinvention.

The obvious munchkin move would be to develop a reliable means of boostrapping a basic mental model of constructivist learning and grounding it in the learner's own direct experience of learning. Turning the learning process on itself should lead to some amount of recursive improvement, right? Has that been tried?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Open Thread July 2019 · 2019-07-14T17:10:10.295Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed I was confused about how humans can learn novel concepts from verbal explanations without running into the symbol grounding problem. After some contemplation, I came up with this:

To the extent language relies on learned associations between linguistic structures and mental content, a verbal explanation can only work with what's already there. Instead of directly inserting new mental content, the explanation must leverage the receiving mind's established content in a way that lets the mind generate its own version of the new content.

There's enough to say about this that it seems worth a post or several but I thought I'd float it here first. Has something like this been written already?

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-13T12:02:08.449Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I get the feeling that we've been talking past each other. I took you as mixing levels in a confused way but you may have been trying to address what you took as someone else's confusion.

I broadly agree with your last two comments and feel like you've somewhat misunderstood what I was trying to say. I think our views are more-or-less compatible but articulating them to the point of mutual understanding may be more effort than it's worth.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-12T17:26:49.987Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, subjective experiences are real. Point is, there's no term for them or any of our other mentalistic concepts in physics. You can redefine them to fit but it seemed to me that TAG was trying to apply the intuitive notion of meaning in the context of physical determinism. Hence, leaning further into the frame in order to propagate the update. Once you get the mind as a physical thing, it adds up to normality again.

Related: Thou Art Physics.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-12T11:32:27.316Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Category error. "Meaning" is not a thing in the deterministic frame. It's cause and effect all the way down. If you want to think in terms of deterministic physics, you have to think entirely in terms of deterministic physics.

Try grokking timeless physics if you haven't yet. Visualizing yourself as a four-dimensional atemporal structure should help clarify the intuitions.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Matt Goldenberg's Short Form Feed · 2019-07-12T10:06:21.934Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ontologically distinct enlightenments suggest path dependence. That seems correct on reflection; updating and reframing.

Enlightenment is caused by a certain observation about mind/reality that is salient, obvious in retrospect and reliably triggers major updates. The referent of this observation is universal and invariant but its interpretation and the resulting updates may not be; the mind can only work with what it has.

In other words, enlightenment has one referent in the territory but the resulting maps are path dependent. This seems consistent with what I know about spirituality-related failure modes and doctrinal disagreements. Also, the sixties.

So yeah. Caution is warranted. Just keep in mind that your skull is an information bottleneck, not an ontological boundary.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on How can guesstimates work? · 2019-07-11T17:33:34.522Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's some mix of genuine improvement and legibility bias.

We really have learned more about the world and made many aspects we care about more legible. On the other hand, we also tend to focus on what we see and ignore what we don't, so improved legibility in some areas may make us more likely to pay attention to those at the expense of others.

Things get extra tricky if we optimize too hard on legible metrics. To the extent illegible things matter, we can goodhart and incur illegible technical debt that's masked in the short run by legible improvements.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-11T16:09:46.466Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · LW · GW
MWI is deterministic, so how much striving you do or do not do is determined.

Deterministic or not, you are the process by which it is determined, and conversations like these are inputs for the process. This adds up to normality: you'll keep on determining whether you believe in the intuitive notion of free will or not.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Matt Goldenberg's Short Form Feed · 2019-07-11T07:16:33.616Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
At the extremes, people have one of four life goals: To achieve a state of nothingness (hinayana enlightenment), to achieve a state of oneness (mahayana enlightenment), to achieve a utopia of meaning (galts gulch), or to achieve a utopia of togetherness (hivemind).

These are not distinct things - they're alternative ways to frame one thing. All roads lead to Rome, so to speak. The way I see it, full enlightenment entails attaining all four at once. Just don't get distracted by the taste of lotus on the way.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Religion as Goodhart · 2019-07-08T13:09:12.868Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The SSC sequence (plus a whole bunch of other things) inspired me to think of deities as mythic representations of cultural collective intelligence. The God-shaped hole could then be understood as a psychological adaptation for collective intelligence, and religions as collective intelligence operating systems.

There's a lot more that could be said on this topic but it seems to deserve its own sequence. Perhaps I should write one.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on Whence decision exhaustion? · 2019-06-29T11:57:37.311Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Speculation based on my experience with and research on the sorts of transformations that spiritual practice and psychedelics sometimes facilitate:

This has to do with our sense of meaning and fittedness-for-purpose of our mental frameworks. When we try to go against these, we expend willpower and become fatigued. When the task is meaningful to us and fits well with our frameworks, we engage effortlessly, like water flowing downhill.

I've had major transformations that exhibit this pattern: some previously interesting activities become dull and boring, and some new activities become meaningful and interesting. If I try to persist in the old activities, I quickly become fatigued and lose interest. Once I switch to the new activities, I can spend hours with effortless focus. Sometimes I'd had prior experience with the "new" activities and found them boring at the time.

Comment by aleksi-liimatainen on What is your personal experience with "having a meaningful life"? · 2019-05-23T11:09:43.726Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with Gordon, though I'm not entirely satisfied with his articulation. This topic is notoriously difficult to talk about given how the referents are entirely mental and phenomenological.

John Vervaeke's ongoing lecture series, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis, seems to be getting at this. We'll see where it goes.